ConDems Show Vicious Neoliberal Principles In Attack On Welfare

Given they both agree cuts which will entail more unemployment they are then further victimising the people they make unemployed, a searingly middle and upper class attitude that is based in the ‘scrounger’ idea that is demonstrably dishonest, they know full well their ideology depends on and creates a pool of unemployed to maintain ‘flexibility’ of labour and to lower labour costs. Nevertheless they convey through corporate media allies to condition people to think those needing welfare are ripping off taxpayers and are unwilling to work, ensuring the astronomically higher corporate and tax fraud figures of their supporters and compadres are kept out of the discourse. One can reasonably define a characteristic of neoliberalism is the scapegoating, the othering, of victims of the ideology in order to misdirect opposition from the -already rich- benefactors of neoliberalism. I have not seen anyone else focus on this part of the deal which perhaps also demonstrates the effectiveness of the ideology in informing opinions on this subject. For some people to be rich under this system it requires many others to remain poor, apparently a taboo issue for the self absorbed upwardly mobile acquisitive consumer puppets of marketing whose souls are owned by Visa.

From Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition deal
The parties agree to end all existing welfare-to-work programmes and to create a single welfare-to-work programme to help all unemployed people get back into work.

We agree that jobseeker’s allowance claimants facing the most significant barriers to work should be referred to the aforementioned newly created welfare-to-work programme immediately, not after 12 months as is currently the case. We agree that jobseeker’s allowance claimants aged under 25 should be referred to the programme after a maximum of six months.

The parties agree to realign contracts with welfare-to-work service providers to reflect more closely the results they achieve in getting people back into work.

We agree that the funding mechanism used by government to finance welfare-to-work programmes should be reformed to reflect the fact that initial investment delivers later savings in lower benefit expenditure.

We agree that receipt of benefits for those able to work should be conditional on the willingness to work.

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Spanish Fascists Try To Silence Human Rights Judge

(IPS) – Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón, who became world-famous when he issued the warrant that resulted in former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s arrest in London in 1998, is now facing legal charges himself, which could cost him his job.

Garzón, who sits on the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s highest criminal court, is accused of overreaching his judicial powers for his 2008 decision to investigate human rights crimes committed during Spain’s 1936-1939 civil war and the 1939-1975 dictatorship of Francisco Franco, which were covered by an amnesty issued by parliament in 1977, two years after the dictator’s death.

The high court magistrate began investigating the forced disappearance of some of the more than 100,000 victims of that crime, arguing that under international law no amnesty can apply to crimes against humanity.

In response to legal action brought by “associations for the recovery of the historical memory” which group the families of victims of forced disappearance in different regions of the country, he ordered the exhumation of 19 unmarked mass graves around the country.

One of the graves is said to hold the body of poet Federico García Lorca, who was killed by pro-Franco forces in 1936 in the southern city of Granada.

The charges against Garzón were filed by the far-right organisations Manos Limpias, which calls itself a trade union but is not registered as such, Libertad e Identidad (Freedom and Identity), and Falange, Spain’s fascist party.

The groups accuse him of abuse of power for investigating crimes that were covered by the 1977 amnesty.

On Mar. 25, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Garzón, who argued that he did not overstep the bounds of his jurisdiction, and that his investigation was legitimate. The Court thus ruled that the case against him could proceed.

The case will be put in the hands of ultraconservative Judge Adolfo Prego, a member of the Honorary Board of the extreme-right “Foundation for Defense of the Spanish nation” (Denaes).

The charges against Garzón have triggered an outcry in Spain, from socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero – who pointed to the judge’s fight against terrorism – trade unions, civil society organisations and judicial colleagues.

The two main trade union federations, the UGT and CCOO, issued a statement “publicly expressing our solidarity at this time with Judge Garzón.”

International organisations have also expressed their concern. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) presented an open letter to Spanish judicial authorities requesting that the charges against Garzón be dropped.

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D’oh, Canada

Apartheid torturer allowed to settle and practice medicine in Canada…finally is brought to book for sex crimes, it reminds me of the joke (I think by Mark Steel) about all those white South Africans fleeing democracy.

Topically it is reminiscent of the Vatican’s practices, I think one of the key aspects of the Vatican’s rationale to covering up and enabling abuse was to privilege priests rights above laity, this is not uncommon, occupying troops lives are privileged above the occupied people’s lives etc. This lack of equality and subsequent lack of accountability & justice enables abuses,rapes, murders and torture wherever it exists. Medicine, especially in the area of mental health, also privileges practitioners above patients, various systems try to mitigate this and provide accountability and are of varying degrees of success (and failure). Clearly in this case there was not just an atrocious failure but a very clear tolerance and support of a vicious bigot, made all the worse because he was a psychiatrist with his own diseased views of the world who had immense power over others who would have been very vulnerable. This is not new to psychiatry and Canadian psychiatry, the funding of human vivisection by the CIA is a matter of record. Levin’s career does make one wonder if a a very arrogant and right wing element that was artificially bolstered by Cold War funding, persists in the Canadian psychiatric establishment (for another example see Keneth Zucker) who view the rights of their patients to be little greater than lab rats when it comes to forcing their conservative vision upon the bodies and minds of patients.

A leading Canadian psychiatrist who kept accusations of gross human rights abuses in apartheid-era South Africa hidden has been charged in Calgary with sexually abusing a male patient and is being investigated over dozens of other allegations.

Dr Aubrey Levin, who in South Africa was known as Dr Shock for his use of electricity to “cure” gay military conscripts, was arrested after a patient secretly filmed the psychiatrist allegedly making sexual advances. Levin, who worked at the University of Calgary’s medical school, has been suspended from practising and is free on bail of C$50,000 (£32,000) on charges of repeatedly indecently assaulting a 36-year-old man.

The police say they are investigating similar claims by nearly 30 other patients. The Alberta justice department is reviewing scores of criminal convictions in which Levin was a prosecution witness.

Levin has worked in Canada for 15 years since leaving South Africa, where he was chief psychiatrist in the apartheid-era military and became notorious for using electric shocks to “cure” gay white conscripts. He also held conscientious objectors against their will at a military hospital because they were “disturbed” and subjected them to powerful drug regimens.

South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard that Levin was guilty of “gross human rights abuses” including chemical castration of gay men. But after arriving in Canada in 1995 he managed to suppress public discussion of his past by threatening lawsuits against news organisations that attempted to explore it.

Following the arrest, other male patients have contacted the authorities. One, who was not identified, told CTV in Canada that he had gone to Levin for help with a gambling addiction and alleged he had been questioned about his sex life and subject to sexual advances.

The arrest has raised questions about how Levin was allowed to settle in Canada. Canada admitted other South African medical practitioners accused of human rights abuses, including two who worked with Wouter Basson, known as Dr Death for his oversight of chemical and biological warfare experiments that included the murder of captured Namibian guerrillas.

Levin, who made no secret of his hard rightwing views and was a member of the ruling National party during apartheid, has a long history of homophobia.

In the 1960s, he wrote to a parliamentary committee considering the abolition of laws criminalising homosexuality saying that they should be left in place because he could “cure” gay people.

His efforts to do just that in the army began in 1969 at the infamous ward 22 at the Voortrekkerhoogte military hospital near Pretoria, which ostensibly catered for service personnel with psychological problems. Commanding officers and chaplains were encouraged to refer “deviants” for electroconvulsive aversion therapy.

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A Sorry Apology

Colm O’Gorman:- On Saturday Pope Benedict XVI published his letter to the Irish Church on the issue of child abuse. What was necessary seemed clear. As Pope, acknowledge the cover up by Roman Catholic Church of the rape and abuse of children by priests, take responsibility for it, and show how you will ensure it never happens again.

But the letter failed to do any of this. There was no acceptance of responsibility for the now established cover up, no plan to ensure that across the global church those who rape and abuse will be reported to the civil authorities and children properly protected.

The letter is clearly an effort to restore the credibility of a church rocked by the publication of three state investigations into clerical crimes and church over ups in Ireland. The Pope has seen all three of these reports.

Published in May 2009, following an eleven year State investigation, the Ryan Report detailed the full extent of the horrific abuse endured by children abandoned to the ‘care’ of the church.

It reported ritualized, savage beatings, endemic rape and sexual assault and the exploitation of children forced to work to enrich the bloated religious congregations charged with their care.

Disgracefully, the Pope used his letter and this issue to attack one of his favourite targets, secularisation. We are asked to believe that the secularisation of Irish society led to abuse and cover up. In fact, it is the secularisation of society that finally led to the exposure of the crimes of the church.

The most horrific abuse was perpetrated, not in a secularised Ireland, but at a time when Irish society was dominated, socially and politically, by the Catholic Church.

That the Pope appears to have wilfully ignored this established fact is a blatant and disgraceful deceit.

Some have reported that the Pope issued a heartfelt apology to victims of abuse. In fact the word ‘sorry’ appeared just once in a letter running to almost four thousand seven hundred words.

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Desaparecidos

The excavation of a mass grave on a Granada hillside where the poet Federico Garcia Lorca was murdered during the Spanish Civil War has reinforced calls for the area to be investigated. “Lorca was just one of 4,000 executions on a roadside just a kilometre long,” says Juan Antonio Lopez Diaz, a Granada University professor. “There are so many bodies there that pine trees were planted just to stop them being uncovered by rainfall erosion.”

After years of debate, digging finally began last week at the mass grave where half a dozen men, possibly including Lorca, were killed and buried on 18 August 1936 by hitmen from General Franco’s right-wing Nationalist forces. A huge white tent has been erected, surrounded by a two-metre high metal fence, to ward off the media during the two-month investigation.

There are no such restrictions on area less than a mile away known simply as “the ravines of Viznar”. This is where mass executions of hundreds of other sympathisers of the doomed Spanish Republic were summarily executed.

“We had our desaparecidos [disappeared] way before the term became famous during the 1970s South American dictatorships,” Diaz Lopez added. “During the war in Granada anybody with even the slightest connection to the ‘wrong’ side risked illegal execution. And that went on well into Franco’s regime.”

Neocon Rory Stewart Was An MI6 Operative

Rory Stewart currently vying for selection as a Tory candidate, as Craig Murray reveals

One person I would not vote for is the crusading neo-Conservative Rory Stewart. It is particularly annoying that he is constantly referred to as a former diplomat. Stewart was an MI6 officer and not a member of the FCO.

Three years ago I received a message from the FCO asking me not to mention this as, at that time, Stewart was still very active for MI6 in Afghanistan and his life could have been endangered. I agreed, and even removed a reference from my blog. However now that he is safely and lucratively ensconsed at Harvard, I see no reason to conceal the truth. I is necessary to reveal this so that people can correctly evaluate his political pronouncements on Iraq and Afghanistan, and his motives in making them.

Word.

Those Astroturf Shills For Capital

Click to Embigenify

Click to Embigenify

Image via A Very Public Sociologist’s Twitter (me like the Nambu)

Margaret Talev, McClatchy Newspapers

  • Conservatives for Patients’ Rights is led by health care entrepreneur Rick Scott, the co-founder of Solantic urgent care walk-in centers, which he’s spread across Florida and is looking to expand. While 80 percent of its patients have at least some insurance, Solantic also bills itself as an alternative to emergency-room care and a resource for patients with no insurance. Scott left his job as CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospitals during a federal Medicare fraud probe in 1997 that led to a historic $1.7 billion settlement. He wasn’t prosecuted and got a golden parachute.
  • FreedomWorks, which has been advocating against the overhaul but has not launched TV ads, is chaired by Dick Armey, the former Republican majority leader of the House of Representatives from Texas. But also noteworthy are the group’s other backers and board members. They include billionaire flat-tax proponent and former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes; Richard J. Stephenson, who founded Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which offers alternative as well as standard therapies, sometimes not covered by insurance; and Frank M. Sands, Sr., chief executive officer of an investment management firm whose offerings include a Healthcare Leaders portfolio.
  • Patients First and Patients United are creations of a larger group called Americans for Prosperity. AFP’s Web site describes a grassroots organization with more than 700,000 members that advocates “for public policies that champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint.” It was started by billionaire David Koch, of the Koch Industries oil family, one of the country’s top donors to conservative, free-market causes. The foundation’s board includes Art Pope, a former North Carolina legislator also involved in conservative causes, whose family owns hundreds of discount stores. Tim Phillips, AFP’s president, is a former Republican congressional staffer who helped former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed start up the consulting firm Century Strategies in the 1990s. Clients paid the firm to build Christian grassroots support for various business causes. That included work for since-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.