Thursday, 27 November 2014

Tower Hamlets a Flourishing Democracy



Tower Hamlets a Flourishing Democracy (Part One)

Last night I went along to join a lobby of Tower Hamlets Council as an act of solidarity with hard working and committed trade unionists, organized by Unison and workers employed by the authority in what I consider the front line of deprivation, that damaging lack of material benefits considered to be the basic necessities in society and which in this borough blights the lives of so many, but more about that in a moment.

The lobby was well supported and a testament of determination by the workforce to do all it can to protect jobs and services from the savage swinging axe that is attached at a right angle to George Osborne’s arm and being used to great effect to cull the services provided by local authorities up and down the country.

Trying to keep this post as short as I can... I decided to stay for the full council meeting, as I was intrigued to find out for myself what the Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman and his administration was really like and how did it operate in comparison to what I had read and heard in the the local and national media, you know I discovered the complete opposite, so I’m going to say this, what a lovely man is Lutfur Rahman, there is nothing pretentious or ostentatious about the man, that was my first observation and the second was just how skillful were his team of Tower Hamlets First Councillors in performing their duties as the peoples representatives.

This is a team who are determined to bring home the commitment made to the electorate in May, which includes waging a fight against poverty and improving lives of their constituents whether they voted for them or not.  

The one thing that stands out above anything and everything else is the improvements that have been made to the housing stock, the improvements in such a short time are like grease lighting. I work some of the time in Tower Hamlets so I've seen this appearing in the blink of an eye, there is much more of course, such as more housing or like free school meals and the educational and training support given to young people.

Lutfur Rahman has said:

“Supporting vulnerable children and their families is one of my top priorities and we continue to work with our partners in tackling child poverty. In light of central government cuts, we must work even harder to ensure our services reach those who need them most.”

Recent figures indicate that that Tower Hamlets houses and contains areas with some of the highest levels of child poverty in the UK, but despite the council’s efforts, the borough’s child poverty levels have risen from 42 per cent in 2013. In both Bethnal Green and Bow, and Poplar and Limehouse, almost 50 per cent of children live in poverty. So if it’s a crime to tackle this, if its a crime to tackle bad or the lack of good social housing  then Lutfur Rahman and his Councillors are guilty of it and they would be the first to put their hands up and own up... proudly to the crime of that I am now in no doubt.  

Part One

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

In the eyes of a child

Most days I confess I bring this photo up on my computer, it has such an effect on me, looking into his innocent and beautiful brown but tearful eyes. I have no idea who he is, all I know he’s a child of Gaza, come across him somewhere on the internet and instantly he started to pull the strings of my heart, what suffering, what pain this young soul carries I will never know or even be acquainted with in my life.

His quivering lip, his posture in and amongst the dusty bombed ruins of Gaza sets my mind on fire, how can anyone do this to children, but they do and with bloody impunity and the blood money of American capital and of course let us not forget for one split second the complicity of our own government in this wholesale genocide.

They say and I’ve heard it said many a time that Gaza is one big open prison the largest in the world not mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records and yet this is a record-breaking fact.

Every morning when I get up the first thing on my mind is Gaza and not just the children but everyone, we have to do as much as we can all of us to free these people and the thousands of children who are suffering just like that little endearing chap I’ve fallen in love with, together in our thousands and in our millions we must bring such pressure to bear on Zionist Israel, whatever it takes to put a stop to all this and put a smile back on that child's face.

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. 

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