Approved Reading

Via Support Hicham Yezza an article in The Register by John Ozimek talks about the implications of how Hicham Yezza and Rizwaan Sabir were treated and the lack of support for academic freedom from the University Vice Chancellor-

Following Mr Sabir’s release, the police wrote to him. Allegedly, they warn that he risks re-arrest if found with the manual again and add: “The university authorities have now made clear that possession of this material is not required for the purpose of your course of study nor do they consider it legitimate for you to possess it for research purposes.”

This is all very peculiar, and oddly reminiscent of the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’ (aka Prisoners, Temporary Discharge for Health Act 1913), a response to the unsportsmanlike tendency of some suffragettes to go on hunger strike whilst in prison. Multiple deaths would have been a PR disaster. So this Act allowed prisoners to be sent home to fatten up, before being returned to custody.

What the Police appear to be saying is that you can be given the all-clear as a bona fide researcher of terror material in the morning – then re-arrested the same evening for the same offence. Surely not, one might think, but that possibility is within the bounds of the Law.

It doesn’t help that the list of materials that could assist a terrorist is very wide. It would certainly encompass broad swathes of chemistry, physics and biology – as well as current military training. This has therefore provoked the accusation, in some quarters, that the Act is likely to be applied in a selective and racist fashion – with individuals whose skin is not quite white being far more likely to be asked to justify what is on their bookshelves or hard drive.

What of the University Authorities? One reason this case continues to sputter along is the Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham University, Sir Colin Campbell, who also refuses to lie down.

In July, he stated: “There is no ‘right’ to access and research terrorist materials. Those who do so run the risk of being investigated and prosecuted on terrorism charges. Equally, there is no ‘prohibition’ on accessing terrorist materials for the purpose of research. Those who do so are likely to be able to offer a defence to charges (although they may be held in custody for some time while the matter is investigated). This is the law and applies to all universities.”

Sir Colin is very keen to claim that the case did not touch upon issues of “academic freedom”. In a letter to the Times, he claims that “the University of Nottingham has always fully embraced this principle and continues to do so. Claims to the contrary … are careless, entirely false and bear little relation to the facts.”

Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? But perhaps, by opting for what might be considered the “Nuremberg Defence”, he is missing the point. Yes, this is the law, but one might have hoped for greater insight into the question of whether it should be so from a senior member of a university. Sir Colin is buying into the notion that there are “dangerous books” out there – and the only way to avoid danger is to check with authority first. But once the authorities start to dictate what books or documents we may possess, we are on a slippery slope.

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We’re Incredibly Corrupt, Yeah!

The OECD while a big fan of the free market and all that crap still manage to accuse NuLabour’s corporatist friendly regime of being like totally frickin’ bent guvnor (and this was before the BAE investigation was dropped)-

Leading industrialised nations have fired a stinging broadside at Britain over its failure to tackle corporate bribery overseas, at a time when other countries are pursuing big-name multinationals.

The anti-bribery working group of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development attacked London’s performance in a letter delivered to the government in June, the Financial Times has learned.

The letter – sent before the House of Lords backed the scrapping of an investigation into BAE Systems’ Saudi arms deals – is a sign of how Britain’s failure to bring cases against its multinationals is alienating European and US allies who are pursuing their companies.

The message suggests London can expect a tough time at the next meeting of the OECD anti-bribery group in October, where members could take the embarrassing and unprecedented step of pushing for Britain to be suspended.

One person who has seen the letter said it was “particularly undiplomatic” and laid out the “full menu” of criticisms about Britain’s performance on tackling bribery by its businesses and nationals overseas.

The letter attacked Britain over its failure to bring a single overseas bribery case or to deliver on a years-old pledge to update its anti-corruption laws. It also raised concerns that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) would downgrade its commitment to tackling corporate foreign bribery, because of plans for it to focus more on public education and consumer crimes such as share scams.

Yes the all new SFO as noted before will focus on working with business, not y’know investigating them, so do you think a/. this will make us less corrupt or b/. Hey stop laughing.

Posted in Capitalism, Inequality. Tags: , , . Comments Off on We’re Incredibly Corrupt, Yeah!

The Bolivia Lie

Via BoRev. Inca Kola News does a breakdown of the votes complete with loads of graphs and maps and all that good demographic stuff, the conclusion? Would you be surprised to hear the opinions of the wealthy conservatives (and, ahem, in places fascists) minority were being misreported as a nationwide split that favours autonomy, just like the Bush regime want, no go on, try to be surprised. The resounding smackdown the referendum gave to this fiction is being spun stubbornly to continue the ‘split’ meme. Corporate media with this predictable nonsense you are really spoiling us!-

Now let’s take the national vote in context to this one single province that lies inside one of nine departments that make up the entirety of Bolivia:

  • Only three of nine provinces voted against Evo Morales as their President, namely Tarija (50.17% No), Beni (56.28% No) and Santa Cruz (59.25% No)
  • The total number of Evo “NO” votes in those three states adds up to 520,314.
  • These “NO” votes, which are in fact the total effective votes against the Evo Morales presidency, represent 15.44% of the total number of votes cast on Sunday 10th August (3,370,783). This is a far cry from the image of a country “divided in two” and more akin to a minor regional dispute.
  • The province of Andrés Ibañez, holding the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, had 301,275 Evo “NO” votes as counted.
  • Therefore we can say that the votes of one single province (basically one single city) represented 57.9% of the total effective autonomy rebel vote.

The press is quick to describe Bolivia as “a country divided”. This is obviously far from the case. In fact, President Evo Morales enjoys popular support in six of the nine departments that make up his country. Two out of every three Bolivians voted for him to continue as their President. And as for the autonomy rebel movement, once you leave the city of Santa Cruz (not the larger department that actually voted for Morales), those who oppose Morales are few and far between.

Last Sunday’s vote was called “exemplary” by the overseeing international neutral observers, and very few if any serious incidents were reported. It was undoubtedly an overwhelming victory for President Morales. However it also showed that the much talked about autonomy movement is not a nationwide curse, but in fact centred very much on one single city. Ruben Costas is now being shown as the Emperor With No Clothes (though perhaps we can leave him his underpants).

Once these figures are looked at closely, it becomes difficult to understand the ostensible claim of Santa Cruz and its push for autonomy. It cannot claim the backing of the wider department, because without the regional capital Evo Morales won the popular vote. By demanding some sort of breakaway from the country of Bolivia, a single city would be trying to usurp a geographical area many times larger than itself. The city of Santa Cruz has, of course, the right to vote the way it prefers. But if it pushed for the autonomy it demands, it would have to leave behind the greater region and become a sort of Bolivian Vatican City!

This is, of course, ridiculous. We should therefore see the call for autonomy for what it is; a single city’s complaint against its national government, something that is common worldwide and not any reason to continue ignoring national laws. The time has come to recognize Santa Cruz for what it is, namely a city bent on anti-democratic behaviour and not the centre of some oppressed nation that deserves the world’s attention.

“there are grey areas in war”

Fox host’s reaction to being told by interviewees Russians saved them and they blame the destruction on Saakashvili for starting the conflict. Although the host is right, just not in the way he means, there are grey areas which is why the poor ickle Saakashvili vs. big evil commie bear is fairy tale crap. They should be reporting on the McCain adviser who was lobbyist for Saakashvili, Condi’s trip and what she really said in private, how many private contractors (US & Israeli) and US military are/were there and their activities, why does NATO still exist, the pipelines and EU energy needs and what the ‘missile shield’ really means to those not allied to the American Empire. Then we would begin to see the context which led to the massive and brutal response by Putin. Watching a cold war tribute version of the great game without a full picture means, well, we’ll repeat this…er, like we are doing.

Posted in Corporatism, Media. Tags: . 8 Comments »

Israeli Military Want To Block Gaza Boats As Intimidation Continues And Expands To Families In Palestine

Haaretz relays government talking points, threats and plays up Hamas benefiting from the flotilla, a framing that seeks to imply anything that helps human beings in Gaza is de facto aid to Hamas, not surprising philosophically given the use of collective punishment by the Israeli authorities. It’s basically stenography for the ever elusive ‘defense officials’-

Defense officials favor forcefully blocking two boats which a group of U.S.-based activists plan to sail to Gaza to protest what they call “the Israeli siege on the Strip,” Haaretz has learned.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Israel is within its rights to use force against the seafarers.

The subject of the Greek-flagged boats which the Free Gaza group said it would sail from Cyprus to Gaza this week prompted defense officials to hold a series of discussions; they said allowing the ships to reach the Gaza coastline could create a dangerous precedent. But the Israel Navy has not yet received any instructions on how to treat the vessels.

According to some officials, Hamas is keen to exploit the initiative by the activists – including Israeli professor and activist Jeff Halper – for its political needs, and could try to greet the seafarers with fishing boats.

The officials believe that Hamas views the drive as an opportunity to underscore the suffering of the civilian population because of Israel’s policies. A position paper by the Foreign Ministry’s legal department says Israel has the right to use force against the demonstrators as part of the Oslo Accords, which names Israel as responsible for Gaza’s territorial waters.

An official in Jerusalem said the Foreign Ministry’s paper means that security forces could detain the vessels upon entry to Gaza’s territorial waters, arrest the passengers and haul the ship to Israel, where the detainees could be interrogated.

So basically that’s a threat from the IDF relayed via newspaper, this is what ‘interrogation’ can mean, less public threats continue and activists with family in occupied Palestine have now found those family members are being threatened-

Other members of our nonviolent project have had their families in Occupied Palestine threatened with violence as well. From these threats, a pernicious pattern of intimidation is beginning to emerge. The question, of course, is just who benefits the most by trying to terrorize and stop us from breaking Israel’s terrible siege on 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza?

In April, 2008, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel released a report stating, “The illegal exploitation of family members, who, in most instances, are not suspects themselves, has on many occasions caused severe psychological suffering to interrogees and to their innocent relatives. In more extreme cases, this method takes the form of psychological torture of a detainee rendering him a victim of a cruel psychological manipulation via the illegal exploitation of a close relative.”

Today in the Israeli newspaper, Haartez, [see above] Amos Harel writes: “Defense officials favor forcefully blocking two boats, which a group of U.S.-based activists plan to sail to Gaza … A position paper by the Foreign Ministry’s legal department says Israel has the right to use force against the demonstrators as part of the Oslo Accords … the Foreign Ministry’s paper means that security forces could detain the vessels upon entry to Gaza’s territorial waters, arrest the passengers and haul the ship to Israel, where the detainees could be interrogated.”

The Oslo accords expired in 1999, but even when they were in place they never advocated or allowed Israel to use deadly force against nonviolent human rights workers. However, Israel has decided to interpret the now-defunct accords as giving them permission to act violently against us.

Given this situation, we, the members of the Free Gaza Movement, would like to make two things very clear to the government of Israel:

1) We are nonviolent human rights activists and we have vowed to take no violent action, in either word or deed, against any other human beings – including against Israeli government and military officials who, apparently, wish us harm.

2) The threats and intimidation that we have received these past few days, though disturbing, do not even come close to the suffering imposed on 1.4 million Palestinians through the illegal and immoral Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Given the enormity of this crisis, we will not be deterred.

We will sail to Gaza, and this siege will be lifted.

Members of the Free Gaza and Liberty, setting sail this week.