Israel Blocks Aid Ship

The Israeli navy today prevented a Libyan ship carrying 3,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid for Palestinians from docking in Gaza.

The al-Marwa, carrying food, blankets and powdered milk, attempted to challenge Israel’s tight economic blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has worsened in recent weeks.

But as the ship approached Gazan water at dawn, an Israeli naval ship ordered it to turn back. The al-Marwa headed south and has reportedly docked at al-Arish, an Egyptian port in the northern Sinai just south of Gaza.

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said there was no physical contact with the ship but it was ordered back by radio. “This is a policy we have had for a long time: if somebody wants to bring in humanitarian aid they can do it through the border with Egypt or the Israeli passages into Gaza,” said the spokesman, Andy David.

However as he full well knows Israel have closed their crossings and Egypt likewise is not keen on an open border allowing aid through. It sounds nice and spokesman-y but it’s a bald faced lie that aid can easily reach Gaza by those means. So while FreeGaza got through, Israel didn’t want a pr disaster and the aid they carried was only a small amount, they are keeping the blockade in place. Israel is allowed to stop ships passing through Gaza’s territorial waters, no one enforces international laws and rights for the Palestinians in Gaza. Seige accomplished.

Fight Privatisation Of Welfare

There have been successive ‘reforms’ of welfare, they were and are not ‘reforms’, they are incremental steps towards removing entitlement and privatising the system as desired by Neoliberal ideologues. This is the latest round of betrayals from New Labour and at this time of recession appears very much to follow the principles of shock doctrine, as bad as it already is (eg. private corporations using proprietary medical diagnostic software that is not independently verified to decide who receives incapacity benefit or not) this would be a significant step in privatisation, which as we know is virtually impossible to claw back. Once they get away with this we are far away from any real prospect of repairing the system. So a broad coalition is needed to defeat this attack.

Via Socialist Unity

Compass– This is an urgent call to action. In a statement published on the letters page of yesterday’s Observer and as reported in today’s Guardian, leading welfare and social policy experts have publicly outlined key concerns with major elements of the government’s proposed welfare reforms, calling for an urgent rethink.

We want people to live rich and fulfilling lives, this can be through work but equally through caring, parenting and volunteering. We should also recognise that many long-term unemployed face huge physical and emotional barriers that require enormous care, patience and investment through the state to help them lead their lives to the full. The government’s thinking was conceived in a time of boom. Now we are in recession. There are no jobs to push these people towards.

We never believed it was right to effectively privatise key parts of welfare services and hand them over to organisations to make a profit. Some of the private companies who’ve been lobbying the government to take over our welfare services, include controversial US corporations who’ve made millions in profits out of the suffering of millions who’ve found themselves out of work in George W Bush’s America. Don’t stand by and allow those same companies to force people into unsuitable jobs, making money out of people’s suffering, here in the UK. It is wrong to make profit in this manner from the vulnerable and unemployed. Equally we don’t think it’s right to force people to work for their benefits, particularly as this could equate to people being paid less than the minimum wage, let alone a living wage – Jobseekers Allowance is shockingly low at less than £10 a day.

Instead we want the government to invest in skills training and lifelong learning opportunities and treat caring and parenting as equally valid forms of work which are crucial to both society and the economy.

Just as people deserve dignity, rights and respect when they are in work, so people deserve dignity, rights and respect when they find themselves out of work.

Click on this link now to add your name to the statement:

We urge you to write a letter to your MP asking them to support our campaign and write a letter to the Work & Pensions Secretary calling for an urgent rethink of the proposals. You can also write in support of the campaign to The Guardian letters page and The Observer letters page.

With the recession and thousands more facing the prospect of losing their jobs in the coming months, we believe it’s right for the government to rethink its proposals – please offer your support today and help us win this debate.

Posted in Media. Tags: . 4 Comments »

There May Be Trouble Ahead…

The US Department of Defense plans to deploy 20,000 troops nationwide by 2011 to help state and local officials respond to terror or nuclear attacks and emergencies, The Washington Post said Monday.

Citing Pentagon officials, the newspaper said the plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces.

The first 4,700-strong unit, built around an active-duty combat brigade, is based at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and is already available for deployment, according to General Victor Renuart, commander of the US Northern Command, it said.

Two additional groups will later join nearly 80 smaller National Guard and reserve units made up of about 6,000 troops to support local and state authorities nationwide, The Post said.

They will all would be trained to respond to domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attacks.

The newspaper said that civil liberties groups and libertarians had expressed concern that the plan could undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old law restricting the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month noted by the Post. But the recognition that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe [Hurricane Katrina might be used as an example] prompted “a fundamental change in military culture.”

Perfect shock doctrine sales pitch, you send the military and National Guard into an imperial war of conquest then allow a natural disaster and starved infrastructure to overwhelm the Gulf coast & New Orleans and bingo you get a nice reason to militarise society (even more, 1st BCT already deployed) and ensure the Pentagon keeps sucking up the cash…just as recession bites and the rich siphon off more than ever (banks got the bailout but you? Well they are probably about to close $2 trillion in credit lines, so um live within your means and work harder -hoping that means you get more income, not always a given eh?- Lost your job? Have you considered suicide prole scum?). This is a tell, they expect civil unrest as the corporatists of both parties remain unrepentant for the recession/depression they created. Deployment also gives the Pentagon more political power, what representative with troops deployed in their constituency will move against military spending and lose the troops vote (already any area with bases or industrial plants for war -not ‘defense’- is beholden to the almighty patrio war porn worship), so the Empire goes. This rightfully should be seen as another cost of the Iraq war, the army have crossed the Rubicon. 911/waronterror ™ the fig leaf for the lockdown. The real motor for this, unbound US imperialism, goes unmentioned largely even as its beneficiaries and salesmen are exposed.


Noreena Hertz:- How anachronistic. At a time during which we as a society are collectively suffering from the greed and misdeeds of tens of thousands of bankers – almost all of whom would have taken home at least £100,000 and many more than 10 times that – shouldn’t we be rejoicing that perhaps at least a few of those people who choose to care for the most vulnerable as a profession might not be going to struggle this Christmas?

The nurse in question seems to have earned £100,000 by, in effect, taking on two jobs – half her income was earned in overtime – and having reached the pinnacle of her profession. So she saves, lives and works incredibly hard. Good for her. But as far as nurses in general are concerned, the majority still earn so little that many have to take on third jobs, and most cannot afford to buy their own home. This is no nurses’ pay bonanza. And it prompts a bigger question: how should we determine what is valuable in society today?

Up until a few weeks ago, this seemed straightforward. Apart from the public sector, where the state sets pay rates, we essentially left value for the market to decide. And the market not being an instrument of equity, justice or fairness, but a mechanism for wealth creation and distribution, rewarded bankers and hedge fund managers far more highly than almost anyone else in our society – despite the fact that the actual value they added to society was, it turned out, at best limited. At worst, it’s now clear, their net value was negative – a huge pinata filled with paper money.