Tuesday, 19 August 2014

So much for hope then as the veneer of democracy is ripped away

American police and law enforcement officials have taken advantage over the years of Israel's expertise in various facets of what is called counter-terrorism.

In 2002, Los Angeles Police Department detective Ralph Morten visited Israel to receive training and advice on preparing security arrangements for large public gatherings.

In January 2003, thirty-three senior U.S. law enforcement officials - from Washington, Chicago, Kansas City, Boston and Philadelphia - traveled to Israel to attend a meeting on "Law Enforcement in the Era of Global Terror."  The workshops helped build skills in identifying terrorist cells, enlisting public support for the fight against terrorism and coping with the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

Also, in 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established a special Office of International Affairs to institutionalize the relationship between Israeli and American security officials. “I think we can learn a lot from other countries, particularly Israel, which unfortunately has a long history of preparing for and responding to terrorist attacks,” said Senator Susan Collins (R) about the special office.

In November 2011, a delegation of senior American law enforcement officials, including police commanders, security experts and FBI agents, went to Israel for a joint training seminar with Israeli counter-terrorism officials sponsored by the Anti-Defamation.

In early September 2012, the New York Police Department (NYPD) opened an Israeli branch at the Sharon District Police Headquarters in the Israeli coastal city of Kfar Saba. The NYPD decision to open an Israeli branch rested on the fact that the Israeli police is one of the major police forces with which it must maintain close work relations and daily contact.

In September 2013, a special team of bomb squad members from cities along the U.S.-Mexico border travelled to Israel in an effort to improve techniques and tactics for dealing with illegal immigration and IED attacks.

The world were shocked by images coming out of a place called Ferguson, Missouri in the US, a small city that erupted into anger over the police murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the suburb of St. Louis was transformed into a war zone. SWAT teams decked out in battle fatigues and goggles descended on the city, wielding high-power shotguns and automatic rifles and driving armored attack vehicles. Peaceful protesters and journalists were confronted at gunpoint and attacked with tear gas, rubber bullets, rifle-fired bean bags and flash-bang grenades. The police imposed arbitrary curfews and issued dispersal orders without any legal basis.

The forces involved may technically be local police, but what they are engaged in is essentially a military occupation. They look like the military, act like the military and have close ties to the military. Not only have police been armed with military equipment, they have been given a new set of rules. They are being trained to employ the methods used by the US and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza and Ukraine.

President Obama, who said  “While I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown, giving in to that anger by looting or carrying guns, and even attacking the police, only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos,” he said.  “It undermines, rather than advancing, justice.”

What justice, his words as always are nothing but excuses for the system he represents, so much for hope then as the veneer of democracy is ripped away. This is what martial law looks like in Ferguson, Missouri, USA.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The ghosts of Gaza: Interview with a front-line resistance fighter

This is a very interesting read, an interview with a Palestinian resistance fighter in Gaza which was published on Saturday by the Ma’an news agency, which I have been using as a sauce for up to date information for some time now, of course it’s not my only sauce but if brings I find the reality as it is on the ground in Gaza and Palestine, it publishes news around the clock in Arabic and English, and is among the most browsed websites in the Palestinian territories.

I came across this interview with a Resistance Fighter which in the western press and media would be referred to as a Terrorist. There can be nothing more further from the truth, these are ordinary Palestinians who are defending their homeland, their families and their way of life which under international law in an occupied country is permitted, of course our media vilifies and calls them extremists, this article helps to dispel that image that’s why I have reproduced it on my blog.
The ghosts of Gaza: Interview with a front-line resistance fighter

The sound of explosions and gunfire have fallen silent after over a month of all-out Israeli military assault on Gaza, bringing an end to the bloodshed that since July 7 has killed at least 1,980 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians -- as well as 67 Israelis, 64 of whom were soldiers.

A series of ceasefires including the current five-day agreement have helped the smoke and dust clear from the horizon, and despite Israeli violations -- including firing on two different Palestinian fishing vessels -- the current peace seems likely to hold, if just for a while.

Scenes of utter devastation across Gaza demonstrate the lethal force Israel has used during its attacks, which have included the destruction of homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, and many other civilian structures. The wiping out of entire families sheltering in their homes, the killing of patients in their hospital beds, doctors, paramedics, United Nations humanitarian aid workers, and members of the press, meanwhile, have elicited calls for investigations into possible war crimes.

Throughout the entire assault, meanwhile, Palestinian fighters remained in their bunkers and hideouts confronting invading Israeli troops, taking up sniper positions, launching rockets, and fighting invisibly like ghosts in evacuated neighborhoods.

Amid the recent calm, Palestinian resistance fighters have slowly emerged from their underground locations for some rest after more than a month of fierce fighting against invading Israeli forces.

After repeated attempts, Ma'an got a hold of Abu Muhammad, one of the fighters from the Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.

Security and caution are essential during military escalations, so being hidden from camera-equipped drones is a tough mission for Palestinian resistance fighters, especially when being interviewed.

Abu Muhammad -- not his real name -- is 40 years old and a father of five children, the oldest of whom is 10 years old. He has been engaged in the fighting since the start of Israel's large-scale offensive last month.

He said that he had told his children he was traveling out of Gaza for medical reasons in order to obscure his disappearance -- and in case something happened to him. But his wife knew from the beginning that he was off to the war front to serve as a resistance fighter and might never come back.

"I miss my family very much, but I am on a duty to defend my people and retaliate against the invaders' attacks that killed hundreds of civilians," Abu Muhammad said.

"I try not to contact them a lot -- when I speak to my children, I calm them down and say that things will be alright. My wife starts crying whenever I call; emotions run high. I try to make my calls very short."

Although the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades is the armed wing Fatah, Hamas' political rival, during times of Israeli attacks all factions and parties become united under coordinated command.

Wearing a black and yellow face mask and carrying an automatic rifle, Abu Muhammad told Ma'an that he has been a fighter for the past twenty years.

He also stressed that he opposes Fatah's relinquishing of the armed liberation struggle in favor of endless negotiations, the strategy of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

"Our enemy only understands the language of power. Look what has happened over the last twenty years of peace talks: more colonization and land theft, killing and destruction," he said.

"Now look how the resistance is imposing its conditions (on Israel)," he said, referring to Hamas' insistence that the eight-year Israeli siege be lifted as a condition for any long-term peace agreement, which Israel is now considering.

"The resistance is an asset to the Palestinian people," he added.

When asked what he thinks of Israel's main condition for an end to hostilities -- the disarmament of Palestinian resistance factions -- Abu Muhammad's response was unequivocal: "Whoever agrees to this condition is a traitor."

"We have the right to resist and defend ourselves," he continued. "Our enemy has nuclear warheads and the most advanced weapons in the world; why is this entity allowed to arm itself? We are under military occupation and have the right even under international law to resist the occupiers."

Approximately 1,980 Palestinians have been killed and over 10,000 injured in the last month of Israeli attacks. The vast majority of those killed were civilians, including more than 450 children according to the United Nations.

A number of fighters were also killed, though it is not yet known how many of the victims were combatants and to which factions they belong.

Soon after an earlier Egyptian-mediated 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire went into effect, al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, published a story about 29 of its fighters who took part in fierce clashes with Israeli forces and managed to stay alive for several days inside a tunnel 25 meters deep in the eastern part of al-Qarara near Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Al-Qassam said in the report that each fighter ate only half of a date every day and drank only half a cup of water.

While Hamas has in the past been accused of exaggerating its claims -- particularly regarding the numbers of soldiers it has killed -- during this war it was of the most reliable sources for accurate accounts of the fighting on the ground. The Israeli military, in contrast, consistently delayed the release of information and downplayed the losses of its fighters, which reached staggering proportions not seen Israeli forces were kicked out of Lebanon in 2006 by Hezbollah.

Israel says that 64 of its soldiers were killed and more than 1,000 were injured throughout the course of the fighting. The fiercest confrontations took place near the border in northern and eastern areas of the Gaza Strip, including Beit Hanoun, eastern Shujaiyya, and areas east of Khan Younis and east of Rafah.

Although Israeli forces have withdrawn from Gaza's cities and talk of a permanent ceasefire looms large, the resistance fighters of Gaza remain deployed across the field, vigilant in case of a collapse in negotiations.

Abu Muhammad said that he would not return back to his family until the battle is officially over, but added that he cannot wait to hug his children and have a meal with his family upon his return.

"We will not rest until we liberate our occupied land," Abu Muhammad said.

"Resistance is a winning card. Politicians, especially Fatah leaders, must understand that the olive branch will not liberate Palestine. We gave the olive branch and peace process more than 20 years, but we still live under Israeli occupation." 

Thank You  

Thank you for this wonderful and informative article, if only we had such newspaper reports exposing and telling the truth back here in the UK. I believe that the people of Gaza have the legitimate right to defend their homeland by way of resistance, after all their land has been stolen the country invaded with the help of the US and my own countries complicity in this crime. I would like to wish Abu Muhammad and his comrades all the very best for the future. 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Netanyahu finds supporters and allies amongst the descendants of murders

Mass child killer Binyamin Netanyahu, commandant of Gaza concentration camp Palestine, which we know all too well, is a place with no basic human rights.  Netanyahu, did a spot of entertaining the other day, so delighted was he to welcome over New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for a visit to his Zionist state that Netanyahu fell into overdrive mode, this being one of the many opportunities that he seizes upon to undermine and weaken the Obama administration back in Washington, you see the Israeli government and the Obama administration don’t really get on that much, but that’s an other story.   .

I found his welcoming remarks to Governor Cuomo, somewhat interesting if not revealing,  especially about Netanyahu his attitude and character.

“I want to thank you for coming here, for standing clearly with Israel, representing the American people and the people of New York, and also representing the rejection of this false symmetry that is, has made. Just as you wouldn't put America and ISIS on the same moral plane, you'd never put Israel and Hamas on the same moral plane. Remember that Hamas celebrating 9/11; they celebrated the murder of thousands of innocent people, including thousands of New Yorkers. They celebrated! They were standing on the roofs cheering while all the people of Israel grieved with the United States. When the United States killed Bin Laden, they accused the United States and condemned the United States of committing crimes. This tells you where Hamas is and Israel is on the other side.”

I thank you for coming here and standing on the right side of the moral divide."

What a joker this man really is; he then went on to say that Hamas continues to do these horrible things that ISIS does:persecute Christians, persecute gays, persecute women, he insisted that they basically reject modernity and that they are a terrorist tyranny that is imposed on their people.

What I found astounding however and in the statement that he made, was and; if there was ever a man, who believed in his own lies, then Binyamin Netanyahu is he!

He also went on about human shields with the twist, that if people reject being used, they are executed and put to death.

This is the kind of moral divide that is evident today in the world he said; “and on one side you Israel and the United States representing democracies committing to human rights, committing to a real future for our people”.

Having considered his remarks, I think the man a born liar and that’s putting it mildly. There is not one shred of evidence provided by him or anyone for that matter that proves any of this.

For his part Governor Cuomo a snigering and grovelling so-called New Yorker in subservience of his pride with the head zionist, the cringing submissiveness of true love was on display here and as soon as he opened his mouth it fell out like a descending bomb sent to kill or maim, wound and injure the many.

Governor Cuomo confirmed for me that New York is not my kind of town when he said to Netanyahu “we want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, we want to stand in solidarity with you.” Cuomo said he understood the situation, that he and his delegation supported the right of Israel to defend itself against terror.

It is said that Cuomo has ambitions to run for the Presidency at some point, God help us in our hour of need if that ever happens is all I can say. Governor Cuomo is for me a really good example of why I feel that the US is nothing more than a force for evil in the world, the seeds of which were first planted with the genocide of the indigenous (Red Indian) native of the Americas and the Western Hemisphere present there 13,500 years ago. It is hardly surprising then that Netanyahu finds supporters and allies amongst the descendants of murders.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Whatever it takes to save our hospitals

Late summer brings a surge of protest against plans to close down swathes of hospital provision, even as its revealed a growing lack of beds means patients are waiting hours in ambulances.
This weekend a health-related camp issued a plea.
'Urgent appeal for long metal pins and heavy duty guy ropes/draw ropes - urgently needed at camp!'   
Not a plea from Medical Aid for Palestine in ravaged Gaza, but from the ‘accidental camp' set up in the Hunt-stricken Stafford Hospital, now facing an additional threat from the remnants of Hurricane Bertha.
Just a few short years ago, none would have believed it possible that a community would need to defend a hospital in this way.
But the cuts are biting.
Public health is crumbling. This week hospitals have reported a 71% rise in patients admitted suffering from malnutrition since 2010, including a 31% rise in the yesteryear Vitamin C deficiency disease, scurvy. Echoes of Daniel Defoe and Proust in the 21st century.
We learn too that the equivalent of three early intervention Sure Start centres have been closed each week since the election. 623 communities with reduced life chances and the loss of important public health projects.
Hospitals have been left “full to bursting”, in the words of Jamie Reed, Shadow Health Minister.
“A&E departments get full and there is nowhere left for anyone to go. We have fewer beds than almost any country in Europe,” explains President of the College of Emergency Medicine, Dr Cliff Mann.
New figures obtained by Labour under Freedom of Information show an 87% rise in the number of patients being forced to wait half an hour or more in the back of an ambulance until there is space for them in A&E. 280,000 patients suffered “handover delays” of at least 30 minutes last year, with 30,000 forced to wait for an hour or more. Some West Midlands patients waited as long as 8 hours.  
Thousands of frightened and vulnerable people are being held in the backs of ambulances for hours.
But ambulances too are full to bursting. In Stafford, such waits tie up a local NHS ambulance service already struggling since losing chunks of its income and business to a private company, NSL, which bid low to wrest the contracts from the NHS (and now wants to jack up the price it gets paid by the taxpayer).
And acute beds are full, exacerbated by huge cuts to social care. Those in need of more than 15 minutes' support visits have found themselves stranded in hospital wards for extended periods, unable to be discharged into the community.
The knock-on effect is that hospital waiting times for elective surgery are at a 6 year high. Jeremy Hunt has been forced to admit failings and allocate an emergency fund, if only to placate disgruntled patients in key Tory constituencies.
Nonetheless, Hunt persists with his wider hospital closure plans, ignoring the many warnings.
Clara Newman spent 15 hours of the last two days of her 92-year life on a trolley, after a wait with a delayed and frustrated ambulance crew. Powerless to do anything, the overloaded Princess Royal Hospital could do no more than tend to her as best as they could until a bed was finally available. In the meantime the chest infection for which she’d been admitted spread into her bloodstream and she lost her life.
A&Es are full. Ambulances are full. Acute beds are full. No wonder communities are worried and scared about further cuts to come.
At Lewisham Hospital, Jeremy Hunt planned to close 60% of services. Had campaigners not stopped him in the High Court, the remaining A&Es would not have coped. King's is already the busiest A&E in the country with some of the longest trolley waits, as we saw in ’24 Hours in A&E’. The other alternative, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Woolwich site, was found by the CQC to be 'not fit for purpose' in its February 2014 inspection.
Epsom A&E was similarly being prepared for early closure. It has been reprieved by dint of being located in the constituency of Coalition bright boy MP Tom Brake. It seems the rescued facility has emerged as being 'worth it'.

But elsewhere, chaotic and reckless closures are being forced through in the face of opposition from communities and staff.
In North West London, by the Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust and Hammersmith CCG, where local MP Andy Slaughter has been branded a ‘liar’ for highlighting concerns.
In Manchester - where planners have been accused of ‘incompetence’ and ‘unintelligible gobbledegook’ as they attempt to cover over the holes in their re-configuration plans with patronising ‘consultations’.
In Stafford - where having tried and failed to win a judicial review against hospital services closures at her own financial cost, Labour parliamentary candidate Kate Godfrey has called upon sitting Stafford MP Jeremy LeFroy to call out Hunt by resigning to trigger a by-election.
Planners say they are saving lives. But their evidence is based almost entirely on specialist trauma unit figures - whilst studiedly ignoring the needs of other emergency patients.
A new study from the US shows that closures of emergency rooms bring with them a 5% increase in fatalities. In Newark and Nottinghamshire, A&E closure led to a horrible 37% increase in death rates. A 1% increase in mortality per additional kilometre in an ambulance - if you can get one in the first place.
Evidence is a powerful tool. And it’s something our current government dislike intensely. So much so they sometimes try to delete it from the internet - like their infamous ‘no more top down reorganisation’ pledge. As @EvidenceUK tweeted: '5 times David Cameron told this NHS lie. 5 times ToryHQ deleted it from their Site. Tks@GabrielScally for unearthing'.
Change can either be sudden and shocking or stealthily applied under the radar - until, that is, the individual stories of distress can be patched together into a Bayeux Tapestry of pain and needless loss of life.
The legislative barbarianism of the Health and Social Care Act, along with a starvation of funds, has reduced and undermined services to the point they can be maligned, attacked as not fit for purpose, and withdrawn.
The Secretary of State - stripped of his duty to secure a comprehensive health service - has a land grab in mind for our hospital buildings, as he inadvertently revealed on BBC Question Time.
Is there anything out there which will make this government care? A few nudges from key groups like the Royal Colleges may possibly concentrate their minds in the run up to a General Election. A few brave individuals are taking court challenges - such as 35-year old disabled patient Danny Currie, who is taking legal action against the cuts that threaten to close the East London GP surgery he uses.
And some campaigners are talking tougher still. A member of the Save Stafford Hospital Campaign... warns that if managers lie or use ‘fudged figures’ to justify closures, they ‘will be held liable for manslaughter personally if anyone dies or becomes seriously ill as a result of his actions.'
Labour’s Shadow Health Team have presented their own plans for an integrated care solution.

Is there yet still time to save our NHS? This is certainly no time for prevarication. On 16th August campaigners will set out from Darlington in a fight to preserve the very best our public sector has to offer.
The 999 March for the NHS  will set out to replicate the Jarrow Marchers route - landing in Parliament Square on the afternoon of 6th September. It's the brainchild of a group of 'Darlo Mums' who invite us all to join in for a mile, 10 miles or even for the full 300, with all ages welcome.

By Jos Bell

The Socialist Way

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