Government Giveaway

I was just declaring SORN via the directgov website on an old car that we can’t quite decide what to do with and at the end of the process (which is easy and much simpler than trogging down to a post office so yay for that) I got-

Your SORN declaration has been successful and you have now been automatically entered into a FREE Prize Draw for one of 3 brand-new Seat Ibiza  cars (unless you chose not to be entered in Step 1). Details of the prize winner will be provided at http://www.dvlaprizedraw.org

Huh? So the govt. is doing prize give-aways like any sleazy corporation? Of course it’s a bit cunning as if you win you will be liable for tax etc but still WTF? And SEAT, got a good lobbyist have they? I see I could have chosen not to be entered but I missed it, silly me thinking that when I’m dealing with govt. sites to make legal declarations I have to be on the lookout for raffles! Also as part of the process you can tick a box to avoid you being sent offers and info, again like any business. Which I suppose to the consensus of our parties is true, all is commerce, public service is something plummy voiced actors talked about in black and white films. I have heard the idea that to get more voters it should be run as a lottery with every vote giving you the chance to win a million, which is how these suits think, not that over a third of people don’t vote because of lack of real alternatives, sod that, like we’re deviating from neoliberal dogma even as it destroys itself, nope we’ll retain power by having a minority vote for us by offering them a prize giveaway. Democracy Shmnocracy, Bingo or Sudoku, that’s your political choice.

Gagged Yet Parliament Listened

British troops who hand over prisoners in Iraq to US military personnel could find themselves facing prosecution, according to a legal opinion compiled for parliament. The finding has led to calls for the British government to rethink its current policy and investigate how the US treats its prisoners, and whether torture is employed against them.

Earlier this year the all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition sought legal opinion from Michael Fordham QC on whether a human rights violation would arise under the European convention on human rights (ECHR) and the 1998 Human Rights Act (HRA) if an individual in British detention in Iraq were handed over to US military personnel, “despite substantial grounds for considering that there is a real risk of that person being subjected to torture or inhuman and degrading treatment”.

The conclusion reached by Fordham and his colleague Tom Hickman is that an offence would definitely have been committed. If acted on, the opinion could mean that UK troops would not be allowed to “render” detainees to the US military until it was clear that they would no longer face the possibility of torture or ill-treatment.

What prompted the inquiry was a statement made in February this year by Ben Griffin, a former SAS soldier who was on active service in Iraq. In his statement, Griffin said that he was “in no doubt” that individuals handed over to the US military “would be tortured”. He cited what had happened to those detained at Guantánamo Bay, Bagram airbase and Abu Ghraib prison.

Posted in Media. Tags: . Comments Off on Gagged Yet Parliament Listened

Let Cyrus Explain

The IAEA has verified that all of Iran’s known (declared) nuclear activities are progressing under IAEA safeguards exactly as they’re supposed to be, and are not being used to make weapons. However, the IAEA has said that it cannot legally verify that there are no undeclared nuclear activities in Iran.

Naturally, this point is being manipulated and spin-doctored by the media to make Iran appear suspect. However, the IAEA’s refusal to guarantee the absence of clandestine nuclear activities in Iran is not because there’s actually any reason to suspect the existence of such undeclared activities — rather, its because the IAEA does not verify the absence of undeclared activities for ANY country that has’t signed and ratified the Additional Protocol. In short, it is a legal technicality, which is being exploited and misrepresented by the media for political purposes.

According to the IAEA’s own Annual Safeguards Implementation Report of 2004, of the 61 states where both the NPT safeguards and the Additional protocol are implemented, the IAEA has certified the absence of undeclared nuclear activity for only 21 countries, leaving Iran in the same category as 40 other countries including Canada, the Czech Republic, and South Africa:

“With regard to 21 States with both CSAs [Comprehensive Safeguard Agreements] and AP [Additional Protocol] in force or otherwise applied, the Agency concluded that all nuclear material in those States remained in peaceful nuclear activities. For 40 other such States, the Agency had not yet completed the necessary evaluations, and could therefore only draw the conclusion that the nuclear material placed under safeguards remained in peaceful nuclear activities.”

Iran has signed the Additional Protocol, voluntarily implemented it for 2 years (during which time no evidence of any clandestine nuclear activity was found in Iran) and has offered to ratify the AP once its nuclear rights are recognized. However to allow excess inspections under the AP when Iran is being threatened with bombings is to give away crucial intelligence that can only be used to make such bombings more effective.

Posted in Media. Tags: , . 2 Comments »

Mosque Gassed

In the wake of an alleged attack on a mosque in Ohio during a prayer session celebrating the final days of the holy month of Ramadan, questions are being raised about whether the distribution of millions of copies of an anti-Muslim documentary by supporters of the presidential campaign of John McCain may have contributed to the attack.

During Friday prayers at the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, many of the 300 celebrants were suddenly overcome with fits of coughing and difficulty in breathing. Babies and children who were in a separate room were the most strongly affected, and according to the Dayton Daily News, one child told fire investigators of having seen two men spray something through the window of that room from a white can.

Chris Rodda, who serves as senior research director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), has drawn attention to the attack and speculates that it may have been inspired by the distribution last week, through mailings and newspaper inserts, of millions of copies of a “fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary” called Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.

Obsession was originally released in 2005 and was repeatedly broadcast by Fox News prior to the 2006 election. According to a description at NewsHounds, “The film was hosted by none other than Fox former morning chat show host, E.D. Hill … After a short film clip of generic Jihadists shouting (translated, of course) ‘bomb, bomb, USA, Death to America, and Kill the Jews,’ E.D. explained that Islamic Radicals are the ‘new Nazis and they want you dead.’ … The hour-long film was non-stop footage of various jihadist groups making anti-American and anti-Israeli statements.”

Although there has been no direct link established between Obsession and the events in Ohio, the documentary is clearly having an effect. The founder of the Interfaith Youth Core received a call from a Lutheran pastor, who told him that “his congregation has been involved in several interfaith projects, including allowing a group of Muslims to use the church for worship on Friday evenings while their new mosque was being built. … But recently, this pastor has fielded several angry phone calls from congregants condemning the decision to allow ‘dangerous people’ to use church space. Why these calls now … Last week, his community received the film ‘Obsession’ in the Sunday newspaper.”

Aziz Poonawalla, who blogs at BeliefNet, goes even further in his concerns, warning, “That DVD was intended to bring about precisely this kind of demonization. … Incidentally, it doesn’t stop here. There’s a new Islamophobic film due to be released in early October, in time for Eid al Fitr: The Third Jihad. This is a ‘tsunami of Islamophobia’ that is clearly aimed at influencing the election in November.”

Access Denied

Fail.

Cindy Sheehan:- As of this writing, the corporate welfare plan was rejected by the House of Reps. It is a bad bill, and any of the amendments were only put there to try to pull the wool over our eyes.

Votes:
Democrats: 141 voted “yea” and 94 voted “nay”
Republicans: 65 voted “yea” and 133 voted “nay”

So the bailout was rejected 227 to 206 [228-205] —-with Republicans killing it. It is just “back to the drawing board” for the corporate elite: Pelosi, Reid, Hoyer, Boehner and Bush..we still need to push for a bottom-up bailout!

Posted in Capitalism, Corporatism. Tags: . Comments Off on Access Denied