This counter-terror plan is in ruins. Try one that works

Seumas Milne writes that “ministers want Muslims to accept shared values. Luckily they already do, including opposition to wars of aggression.”

The British government’s brand new counter-terrorism strategy is already in disarray – and ministers have only themselves to blame. The souped-up plan to fight al-Qaida, confound dirty bombers, halt suicide attacks and confront “extremism” in the country’s Muslim community was unveiled by the prime minister with much fanfare on Tuesday. But even before the 175-page “Contest 2” document had been launched, the credibility of its promise to engage with the Muslim mainstream had been thrown into question by the decision of Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, to cut all links with the Muslim Council of Britain.

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Tom Hurndall: A brave man who stood alone

Tom Hurndall was murdered by the IDF in Gaza.   Mr Hurndall’s father described a “culture of impunity” saying “they just lied continuously … it was a case of them shooting civilians and then making up a story. And they were not used to being challenged.”  Now as Hurndall’s journals are to be published Robert Fisk writes “I wish I had met Tom Hurndall, a remarkable man of remarkable principle.”

I don’t know if I met Tom Hurndall. He was one of a bunch of “human shields” who turned up in Baghdad just before the Anglo-American invasion in 2003, the kind of folk we professional reporters make fun of. Tree huggers, that kind of thing. Now I wish I had met him because – looking back over the history of that terrible war – Hurndall’s journals (soon to be published) show a remarkable man of remarkable principle. “I may not be a human shield,” he wrote at 10.26 on 17 March from his Amman hotel. “And I may not adhere to the beliefs of those I have travelled with, but the way Britain and America plan to take Iraq is unnecessary and puts soldiers’ lives above those of civilians. For that I hope that Bush and Blair stand trial for war crimes.”

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Terrorist Children

‘Police identify 200 children as potential terrorists’, the Independent reports. Orwell could not have imagined this. This is Labour Party’s Britain, where a child can be criminalized for adopting “bad attitudes towards ‘the West'”! Soon enough, even infancy won’t protect you from the long hands of the state. Blair was more forthright. He had once told an interviewer that criminal behavior should be monitored even before birth (implying it is genetic). And now we got the bovine home secretary giving the most imaginative dystopians a run for their money. Notice the tone of the reporter (Mark Hughes, Crime correspondent). He treats this news as if he were reporting on a lost umbrella. Pathetic.

Drastic new tactics to prevent school pupils as young as 13 falling into extremism

Two hundred schoolchildren in Britain, some as young as 13, have been identified as potential terrorists by a police scheme that aims to spot youngsters who are “vulnerable” to Islamic radicalisation.

The number was revealed to The Independent by Sir Norman Bettison, the chief constable of West Yorkshire Police and Britain’s most senior officer in charge of terror prevention.

He said the “Channel project” had intervened in the cases of at least 200 children who were thought to be at risk of extremism, since it began 18 months ago. The number has leapt from 10 children identified by June 2008.

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Please tell me, where is Israel headed?

In a guest post on Stephen Walt’s Foreign Policy blog John Mearsheimer argues that unless the US government stands up to the lobby, there are only two possible outcomes in Palestine: ethnic cleansing or apartheid. Personally, I favour the third, even if its a novel one: one person, one vote. Otherwise we will have to endure longer the racist state in our midst.

Benjamin Netanyahu is in the final stages of putting together Israel’s next government, which will be opposed to a two-state solution. Most importantly, the new prime minister and his Likud Party are firmly against a Palestinian state. The Labor Party, which will be part of the governing coalition and which has been identified with the two-state solution for the past two decades, did not insist that Likud support that policy as a condition for joining the government. Its leader, Ehud Barak, merely asked for and got a vague statement saying that Israel was committed to promoting regional peace. Avigdor Lieberman, who heads Yisrael Beiteinu, the other major party in the ruling coalition, is not likely to push to give the Palestinians a viable state of their own. His main concern is “transferring” the Palestinians out of Israel so that it can be an almost purely Jewish state.

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Campaign Against the Guardian

guardian230309Following the Guardian’s excellent feature Gaza War Crimes Investigation the Zionist Federation and Israeli Embassy have coordinated a disingenuous campaign against the paper.  The same story has also been picked up by ‘Honest’ Reporting and pro-Israel writers such as Melanie Philips whose article in the Spectator is embarrassingly titled The Guardian goes to Pallywood (I’m really surprised this clown gets her work published).

It’s worth remembering that the brutal assault on Gaza is a greater crime than any of the war crimes contained within it.  Noam Chomsky explains that “it is […] a mistake to concentrate too much on Israel’s gross violations of jus in bello, the laws designed to bar practices that are too savage. The invasion itself is a far more serious crime.” 

UN envoy, and expert on international law, Richard Falk agrees, describing the attack on Gaza as a war crime of the “greatest magnitude” stating it had no legal justification and may represent a “crime against peace”.  This is because Israel had not employed all peaceful options and ignored Hamas’s calls for a ceasefire based on an easing of the siege.  The siege is also an attack against the people of Gaza, a collective punishment that breaches Geneva conventions.  Clearly Israel’s action most certainly were not defensive; given Israel’s illegal occupation and colonisation of Palestinian lands, it can only be seen as part of an ongoing aggressive policy. Continue reading “Campaign Against the Guardian”

Neo-Con Ideologues Launch New Foreign Policy Group

The neocon hydra sprouts another head. Another important report from Daniel Luban and Jim Lobe, the world’s finest investigative journalist.

WASHINGTON, Mar 25 (IPS) – A newly-formed and still obscure neo-conservative foreign policy organisation is giving some observers flashbacks to the 1990s, when its predecessor staked out the aggressively unilateralist foreign policy that came to fruition under the George W. Bush administration.

The blandly-named Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) – the brainchild of Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, neo-conservative foreign policy guru Robert Kagan, and former Bush administration official Dan Senor – has thus far kept a low profile; its only activity to this point has been to sponsor a conference pushing for a U.S. “surge” in Afghanistan.
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Blood and Religion

To add to my earlier comments about Jonathan Cook, here is a video interview in which he discusses his book Blood and Religion: Unmasking the Jewish and Democratic State. His focus is on those Palestinians who hold Israeli nationality. Their plight illustrates problems at the heart of Zionism which the two-state solution can do nothing to solve. A good source of video interviews, documentaries and reportage from Palestine can be found at Palestine Video.

Divestment campaign gains momentum in Europe

Once again, the Swedes lead the way – the latest news from the BDS front in Europe:

The Swedish national pension fund AP7 is the latest institution to follow the socially responsible investment example of Dutch ASN Bank by excluding the French transportation giant Alstom from its portfolio. Alstom was excluded because of the company’s involvement in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

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Blue Gold

Sunday, March 22 was World Water Day. The environment editor of the Sunday Herald Rob Edwards did a decent report on the growing water crisis around the world which includes interviews with my friends Tommy Kane and Kyle Mitchell, two of the world’s leading experts on water. However, the article did not emphasize how privatization is exacerbating the crisis. Here I produce in full warnings from both Tommy and Kyle, who later today will also be introducing the Scottish premiere of the award-winning film Blue Gold: World Water Wars at 7pm in Strathclyde University’s McCance Building, Lecture Theatre 1. (There will be a wine reception to follow.) The event is open to all, so if you are in the vicinity do drop by.

Tommy writes:

In Scotland despite – or possibly because of – the overwhelming rejection of water privatisation at the now famous Strathclyde referendum there has been a concerted, clever and tacit campaign by legislators, regulators, think tanks and businesses to turn Scottish Water into a private company in all but name. By changing its corporate structure, outsourcing contracts to private companies and tapping into the Private Finance Initiative a public sector body has been almost overwhelmingly commercialised. Worryingly, these changes are conducive to a future private ownership structure.

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