By All That Is Holy, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tony Blair has been holding discussions with some of his oldest allies on how he could mount a campaign later this year to become full-time president of the EU council, the prestigious new job characterised as “president of Europe”. Blair, currently the Middle East envoy for the US, Russia, EU and the UN, has told friends he has made no final decision, but is increasingly willing to put himself forward for the job if it comes with real powers to intervene in defence and trade affairs. (ht2 at-Largely)

Hell NO! No fucking way! He was instrumental, one of the inner cabal that lied the US & UK into the Iraq war, not only should he not be EU president, he should be prosecuted for his war crimes. His messianic greed for power is astonishing, no wonder he was so close to Bush. Speaking of which-ish

As Bush tries to stave off disaster in Afghanistan, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, flies to London next week to talk to Gordon Brown — George Bush’s closest ally — to find a way to send more troops to Afghanistan. With UK defence minister Des Browne saying recently that Britain could be in Afghanistan for decades (http://tinyurl.com/2lhmqj), Rice will try to get Gordon Brown to commit more troops now, as a lever to get other countries to increase their deployment.

Stop the War Coalition is calling an emergency protest on Wednesday 6 February. We do not yet have details of Rice’s meetings with Gordon Brown but we anticipate that our protest will be at Downing Street, the timing to be announced as soon as her plans are known.

The army have cut basic training by half, to thirteen weeks, to get more soldiers to Afghanistan 

Conservative Libertarian (& His Lawyer) Attacks Blogger

The ‘man’ behind the Guido Fawkes ‘blog’ has thrown his toys out of his pram and is threatening Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads with his pet lawyer. How very libertarian, anyways it appears the money loving gossip hound does not like attention being drawn to his hotlinking ways. This isn’t an isolated incident nor is it unknown for him to use threats of legal action to hide his murky extreme right wing past. So in this wild west of blogging it falls to us people of good conscience to show solidarity against such nefarious ‘libertarians’. At least you won’t need your irony pills tonight.

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The Writing On The Wall

446sendmessage.jpg

Thanks to www.sendamessage.nl (click pic for bigger size) and you too can have any message you want sprayed on the wall by Palestinian artists for a bargain 30 euros (or equivalent dollars) up to 100 characters and all the proceeds go to NGO‘s, FAQ here. My mum will see this on Sunday and I am quietly confident I have cornered the more unusual end of the get well greetings market (ok it’s missing a second ‘as’ so sue me). Now, what other artefacts of oppression can I advertise on? (Crass, moi?)

Also a good opportunity to mention Chest Doc in Palestine again- In summer 2007, a UK doctor spent two weeks in the West Bank. This is his story. Really worth your time to read his account.
(ht2 People’s Geography)

UK ID ‘Coercion’ Document Leak

No 2 ID appeal for the leaked document to be mirrored so here it is on the internet archive (pdf annotated by NO2ID), now spread it around!

The Government is looking at using “coercion” tactics as a way of introducing the controversial ID card scheme, a leaked memo suggests. The Home Office document said that young people could be made to apply for an ID card when they applied for a driving licence.

Gordon Brown has always insisted that ID cards would remain voluntary unless Parliament decided otherwise. But the latest memo – headed Options Analysis – suggests that officials are already thinking about how they can be made compulsory.

It states: “Various forms of coercion, such as designation of the application process for identity documents issued by UK ministers (eg, passports) are an option to stimulate applications in a manageable way.

“There are advantages to designation of documents associated with particular target groups, eg, young people who may be applying for their first driving licence.” (ht2 Andrew & BoingBoing)

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Nuclear Guinea Pigs

I have signed this petition, please think about signing it yourself-

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the effects, on servicemen and women, of the nuclear testing conducted off the coast of Christmas Island in the 1950s.

Between 1952 and 1967 the United Kingdom carried out a number of atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons in the Pacific Ocean and at Maralinga, Australia, involving over 20,000 servicemen. Among these tests were the “Grapple Y” and “Grapple Z” series of six detonations at Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean (November 1957–September 1958), of weapons many times more powerful than those discharged at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • Of 2,500 men surveyed in 1999 30% of the men had died, mostly in their fifties.
  • In their grandchildren spina bifida rates are more than 5 times the usual rate for live births in the UK.
  • More than 200 skeletal abnormalities were reported.
  • More than 100 veterans children reported reproductive difficulties.

(info taken from British Nuclear Test Veterans Association)

Click here- http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/christmasisland/

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Ink Floyd: Your Graffiti On The Israeli Wall

Graffiti by proxy, basically you go to this website and in return for a donation fee (30 euros or equivalent) that goes to Palestinian NGO’s you can write up to 100 characters that go via Holland to artists by the wall who then design & put the text on the wall, they take 3 photos and send it back to you or a friend (no it’s not photoshopped). All explained in this clip:

Or this article. 

So go to sendamessage.nl  I’m thinking up mine now (is it too crass to put the blog address as part of the message? hmmmm, or would that be an amusing way for blogs to engage in a kind of graffiti race), I’ll post the pic once it’s done. (ht2 People’s Geography)

An Appeal To Shannon RN Regarding Centinela Hospital

Thank you Shannon for leaving your long, detailed and passionately righteous comment on this post about Prem Reddy. Another commenter is trying to get in touch with you, this is what they have recently written-

“Shannon” or anyone else with helpful info. Our family is having a nightmare with this hospital. We don’t know what is going on with our family member, and we don’t know who we can trust. We are kept in the dark about everything that KEEPS GOING WRONG with our loved one’s progress. How can there be problem after problem that keeps making things worse, not better? The stay keeps getting longer and longer…it’s like it was intended this way!
please email me at; help.frustrated@yahoo.com

So please if anyone can help do get in touch via the above email or you can leave a comment here or email me at the address beneath HAL.
NB. If anyone thinks this might be a fun opportunity to email abusive messages I will have absolutely no compunction in publicly posting email and ip addresses of the miscreants. People are dying, going broke because of the healthcare situation in America and I stand extremely firmly on the side of life and healthcare for all.

Lockdown, Class War Flavour: Bahrain

Front Line is deeply concerned following the arrest of eleven human rights defenders and the alleged torture and ill-treatment of a number of those arrested. The arrests took place in the days following demonstrations on 17 December 2007 in Manama and other regions of Bahrain, in which a protester, Ali Jessam Mekki, was killed. The demonstrations were organised by members of the National Committee of Martyrs and Victims of Torture to mark the 13th anniversary of the death of two young Shiite men killed by security forces while participating in a demonstration calling for the restoration of democracy. From the 21st to the 28th December 2007, members of the Special Security Forces (SSF) arrested approximately 50 people including at least 11 human rights defenders.

Posted 04/01/2008 On 21 December 2007, at 4.00am Shaker Mohammed Abdul-Hussein Abdul-Aal, member of the Unemployment Committee was arrested; at 8.00am Abdullah Mohsen Abdulah Saleh, member of the Unemployment Committee was arrested; at 8.50 am, Naji Ali Fateel, member of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights (BYSHR) was arrested; at 2.15pm Mohammed Abdullah Al Sengais, head of the Committee to Combat High Prices; at 5.00pm Maytham Bader Jassim Al-Sheikh, member of the Unemployment Committee; On 22 December, at 2.00pm, Majid Salman Ibrahim Al-Haddad, member of the Unemployment Committee was arrested; On 23 December 2007, at 11.30pm, Ahmad Jaffar Mohammed Ali, member of the Unemployment Committee was arrested; On 26 December, at approximately 11.00am, Hassan Abdulnabi, Board member of the Unemployment Committee was arrested; on 23 December, at 2.00am, Nader Ali Ahmad Al-Salatna, member of the Unemployment Committee was arrested; On 27 December 2007, at approximately 11.00pm, Hassan Abdelnabi Hassan, member of the Unemployment Committee was arrested by members of the SSF; On 28 December 2007, at 11.00am Ebrahim Mohamed Amin-Al-Arab, founding member of the Martyrs and Victims of Torture Committee was arrested by members of the SSF.

Take action here.

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Will David Miliband Save Binyam Mohamed?

A British resident being held in Guantanamo Bay may be close to suicide after five years of captivity and torture at the hands of the Americans, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband has been warned in a medical report sent to the Government this week.

The report concludes that Binyam Mohamed, from Kensington, west London, is at the end of his “psychological tether” after guards at the US naval base in Cuba switched off the water supply to his cell when he began spreading his own faeces over the walls.

In his letter to Mr Miliband, Clive Stafford Smith, the legal director of the UK-based Reprieve representing Mr Mohamed, now 29, calls for an “urgent humanitarian intervention” in his case.

Mr Stafford Smith said: “The urgency is underlined today because Mr Mohamed has been repeatedly smearing his cell walls with faeces. This is not because Mr Mohamed is trying to violate the rules (as the US military apparently believes), but because of his mental instability. The military’s response is to cut the water to his cell off, compounding an obvious health hazard.”

A preliminary medical opinion, commissioned by Reprieve, has found Mr Mohamed to be suffering from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr Daniel Creson, a respected psychiatrist from Texas who has extensive experience in the treatment of the victims of torture, warns that the deterioration in Mr Mohamed’s health suggests that he “is reaching the end of his psychological tether”.

Mr Mohamed was born in Ethiopia and came to Britain in 1994, where he lived for seven years, sought political asylum and was given leave to remain while his case was resolved. But while travelling he was arrested in Pakistan on a visa violation and turned over to the US authorities. On 21 July 2002 Mr Mohamed was rendered to Morocco on a CIA plane. His lawyers claim he has endured years of torture in which has been physically abused, including having his genitals cut with a razor blade. 

David Miliband Contact details:-

milibandd@parliament.uk

House of Commons Phone number: (020) 7219 3000
Constituency Fax number: 0191 456 5842
Constituency Phone number: 0191 456 8910

His website: http://www.davidmiliband.info/

Nov 6th, Impeach Cheney Day

Yep, today Dennis Kucinich introduces a privileged resolution to have Vice President Richard B. Cheney impeached. The charges-

Cheney has purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests. 

Cheney purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda in order to justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests. 

Cheney has openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran absent any real threat to the United States, and done so with the United States proven capability to carry out such threats, thus undermining the national security of the United States. 

Cheney led a campaign of retribution against whistleblower Joseph Wilson, including the outing of a covert CIA operative.

Cheney led efforts to torture. 

Cheney played a key role in setting up illegal spying programs. 

Cheney led manipulation of pre-war intelligence.

Cheney created the secret Energy Task Force which operated in defiance of open-government laws.

Cheney’s lawyer, David Addington, advocated the “Unitary Executive Theory” which is used by the White House to defy laws duly enacted by Congress and thereby justify dictatorial action.

Cheney directed massive no-bid contracts to his company, Halliburton, and profitted from the same illegal war he defrauded the American public to launch.

Cheney increased the danger of climate change.

Cheney Suppressed Evidence in California Energy Crisis.

Read the Evidence.

Iranian Union Leader Still In Jail- Updated

Mask of Anarchy has long been on this case and today the International Transport Workers’ Federation has a new video telling the story of Mansour Osanloo-

“the only crime he committed was to create an independent trade union in Iran”. Ebrahim Madadi, Vice-President of the union is also detained in Evin Prison. Their health conditions are deteriorating.

Amnesty action resources here.

Update: Monday 22/10/07

Following major protests last week the ITF is delighted to have learned that on Saturday Mansour Osanloo received the emergency eye treatment that it, Amnesty International and trade unions worldwide demanded. The ITF says that it hopes that this may be a first step towards more humane and just treatment of the prisoners. The campaign for their release continues. 

Hell Yeah!

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Massive Calls For Strong Sanctions Against The Burmese Junta

The Shan Women’s Action Network-

It is very clear that foreign investment in Burma at this time means complicity in the military regime’s oppression of our people and exploitation of our resources. We therefore urge the EU to impose strong new economic sanctions on Burma’s military regime. In particular, we call for an international arms embargo.

Since the publication of our report “Licence to Rape” in 2002, detailing the rape of 625 women and girls in Shan State, SWAN has been exposing the ongoing use of rape as a weapon of war by the regime. With the continual build-up of Burma Army battalions in Shan State, civilians face the constant threat of violence, and women and girls live in perpetual fear of sexual assault.  

The Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma)-

“Now is the time for the EU to put its money where its mouth is. If the Europeans do not have the determination to keep up the pressure, it gives the rest of the world an excuse to backtrack on Burma, as well,”  

The Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB)-

Continuous ignorance by the military government on calls to stop the human rights violation and engage in a dialogue for peaceful transition towards democracy shouldn’t be left overlooked any more. The EU has particularly to show this time that it can no longer expect the regime to move forward a positive change in Burma without any punitive pressure from the international community.

The FDB strongly requests all 27 EU members to take the situation of Burma into their serious consideration and take further steps together by imposing stronger targeted economic sanctions.

As well as yesterday’s call by The Federation of Trade Unions – Burma (FTUB)

Time to inform your elected reps (if you have not already done so) to make the EU an active force for democracy in Burma and not a paper tiger. And many businesses still think they know better than the people of Burma and magically find their profit making enterprises are just what Burma needs, go and visit some via the Dirty List, let them know what you think of their arrogance.

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The Congo On Democracy Now!

In a war that has already killed over 4 million people, Christine Schuler Deschryver describes how women continue to be the victims of “sexual terrorism” in the Congo. John Homes, the UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, called the sexual violence in the Congo “the worst in the world.

If you don’t know about this, worth a listen. Link to donate for City of Joy [will be a refuge for healed women, survivors of rape and torture who have been left without family and community.]

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The Race For Burma

It seems there are two concurrent and in some ways opposing narratives about Burma. Internationally much seems to be moving in a hopeful direction, the reaction to the explosion of resistance is different to ’88, change is possible, meanwhile internally the regime makes some PR concessions but the story is one of a tightening police state, rumours of atrocities and protesters on the run, adapting and overcoming to keep resistance alive.

The Burma Campaign UK are pleased with our Gordon-

The Burma Campaign UK today warmly welcomed the action the British government is taking with regards to the current crisis in Burma. The measures were summarised in a ministerial statement by Foreign Secretary David Miliband today.

“The steps the British government is taking are exactly what is needed,” said Mark Farmaner, Acting Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “They are applying pressure in all the right places. We are very pleased to see the government taking decisive action in this way.”

Only two points are outstanding-

What more could the British government be doing?
•    Support a United Nations arms embargo on Burma.
•    Release the names of companies trading with the regime. For many years we have been calling on the government to publish the names of companies that import goods from Burma into the UK. £26 million of goods were imported last year, but the Treasury refuses to disclose the names of those companies, citing a duty of confidentiality. However, the information could be released if the relevant government Minister decided it was in the national interest to do so. This would give the British public the choice of avoiding purchasing goods from Burma if they choose to do so.

But the mood seems to be Brown is actually doing something more than previous administrations (Thatcher, Major, Blair- not exactly hard, ahem). The UN are ‘debating’ a formal response, it’s hard not to see the realpolitik on show here, countries benefiting from the regime oppose a strong statement, countries who would like a slice of the Burma pie are coming over all concerned about democracy. But any port in a storm, the regime are so bad it is necessary to take support where it can be had, then perhaps the second era of a Burma campaign will be helping them resist a thorough sacking by the forces of neo-liberal ‘economic development’.

What is hopeful is only a very few government’s with vested economic interest in Burma are standing by the regime, overall condemnation is the persistent message (although the ever capitalist authoritarian Singapore leaves a lot to be desired)-

Malaysia’s foreign minister, Syed Hamid Albar, said General Than Shwe should drop any conditions on talks with Aung San Suu Kyi if Burma was to avoid a range of punitive sanctions being urged by the US and EU following the junta’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. “Myanmar [Burma] has no choice but to move towards democracy,” he said. The strong words that spoke for all Burma’s neighbours in the Association of South East Asian Nations came as the UN security council prepared to debate a draft resolution today condemning the repression

Internally the Generals feel enough pressure to make some PR moves, a weak diversionary tactic-

Burma’s military rulers have appointed an official to liaise with detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an apparent concession to the UN. Aung Kyi, a retired general currently serving as deputy labour minister, was appointed to “continue relations [with her] in the future”, state TV said.

Dissected at length at Irrawaddy-

More probable is that this is a clever and calculated diplomatic offensive launched by Than Shwe and his experienced diplomats. The former psychological warfare officer was indeed manipulating in order to deflect external and internal opinion and criticism with the aim of buying time. Than Shwe has had two face-to-face meetings in the past with Suu Kyi and reportedly holds a grudge toward the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

He and his hardliners masterminded a plot to kill Suu Kyi and her supporters in Depayin, a remote area in central Burma where no journalists, film crew or photographers were able to witness the carnage in May 2003. Suu Kyi and her deputy Tin Oo (former army chief in the 1970s) narrowly escaped the thuggish attack and were taken in custody to a safe location by intelligence officers belonging to Gen Khin Nyunt, who was then still in power.

Although no film footage or photographs of the attacks reached the outside world, the incident prompted international condemnation. Than Shwe, however, launched a clever counteroffensive. Shortly after the attack, the regime surprised the world by releasing dozens of photographs of meetings between Suu Kyi and top leaders, including Than Shwe, to demonstrate that the regime had conducted dialogue with her, while accusing her of destabilizing the regime.

Now, after crushing the street demonstrations in Burma, the regime has stepped up its damage-control campaign, with the blessing of China and neighboring countries.

The other moves at perception management and outright corrupt propaganda suggest the regime is indeed less than sincere in its approach-

State-run newspaper the New Light of Myanmar has published its own account of raids on monasteries by government security forces, including allegations of items recovered in the raids.

Burmese authorities blamed some monks, along with 88 generation students and “bogus monks”, for fomenting unrest and threatening monks who did not participate in the recent mass demonstrations in Burma. The paper also denounced foreign media, which it accused of misinformation and fabricating stories about the deaths of monks during the protests.The article defended security officers who had rounded up all the monks during the monastery raids, claiming that they were unable to distinguish between the real monks and imposters and so had to arrest everyone.

Among the items that had reportedly been found during the raids were alcohol, pornographic and sexual materials, women’s clothing, anti-government literature and a variety of weapons. U Gambira, a spokesperson for the People’s Movement Leader Committee, dismissed the claims. “People of Burma and the whole world know whether these accusations being made about monks by the junta are really true or not. Monks are peaceful people and we don’t need to give any answer to the government’s claims as everyone knows the truth. But still, I would like to say this is a very bad thing the [Burmese government] has done,” he said.

This leads into the parallel story, of the continuing lockdown and extermination of dissent, prisoners are moved to unknown locations and some are beaten to death in custody. And another story of mass cremations appears, albeit in a Murdoch rag-

The Burmese army has burnt an undetermined number of bodies at a crematorium sealed off by armed guards northeast of Rangoon over the past seven days, ensuring that the exact death toll in the recent pro-democracy protests will never be known.

The secret cremations have been reported by local people who have seen olive green trucks covered with tarpaulins rumbling through the area at night and watched smoke rising continuously from the furnace chimneys.

And the resistance is now underground, an atmospheric undercover video report from the BBC here. The web is back up partially which is good and bad, the regime reckon they have crushed the uprising so the web is not a threat, which is bad if they are right, but with the web up the resistance can organise more easily and communicate directly with the outside world. So this is the race for Burma, the regime strangling the democracy movement while internationally some real difference in response suggests the military will not be able to revert to their standard operating procedures.

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Total Burma

It was a very fine early autumn afternoon, I mooched along (having had to borrow a car because of the catastrophic, but that’s another story) with camera and met with some fellow concerned souls (Hello all you peeps!) at the Total garage in seaside-tastic Llandudno. We figured to go into the kiosk, lay out our reasoning to the (2) bemused staff then get on with protesting Total’s totally criminal attitude to Burma. First we learned- the staff said they knew nothing about Burma and even less about Total’s role in supporting the regime, not even the recent mass resistance that made the big shiny news programs had impressed upon their awareness. Still being a solidarity action, peaceful and in support of the monks & people of Burma we were awfully nice and set out to tie red cloth bands onto the pumps and accost incoming cars with leaflets and persuasive arguments that they should choose to get their fuel somewhere else and maybe think some on helping the democracy movement in Burma.

I thought tying the cloth to the pumps made quite a nice visual statement and meant people using the pumps would at least be wondering what it was there for, a question we were happy to answer. But we were doing our best to stop them from getting that far by flagging down the incoming cars with much waving of hands and leaflets. There were several reactions, some were open and curious, some were a bit wary and a few of them did the- if I pretend I can’t see them they will go away- thing. Some even decided to change their plans and not fill-up at Total, excellent. Because of local conditions this garage was the only one that took cash for a few miles, the nearby ASDA (spit) was credit/debit cards only, so for those we made allowances and often they were engaged enough to listen to our position. Some people didn’t want to know, some wanted to defend their ignorance with great enthusiasm. Overall it was a productive exercise, some knowledge was shone into some new corners.

Meanwhile, being British and probably not knowing much else to do the staff figured we had sort of ignored their request to stay off their forecourt so it was time for the rozzers. Enter the Fuzz, two constables (male & female) in a van. He was bit shy I think because he didn’t want to be filmed, so I relegated him to just out of the edge of frame, tape kept rolling. It was a fairly usual back and forth, they explained how they are there to keep the public safe and private land sacrosanct and we explained how that was big load of poo given the situation in Burma. But it was a nice afternoon, they were not after any big ‘to do’ and broadly agreed with our ethical position (although I seem to recall the male copper wondering if we got there by car and so as we use fuel our position was fatally flawed, yes by jingo, if you use motorised transport you clearly cannot have any objections to what oil corporations do to get that product to the consumer. I think it’s the same genre of non argument as- if you like it so much why don’t you go and live there- I suspect the Police perhaps train in this rhetorical art or… it may just be the shitty media they consume and a revenue starved educational system).

burmallstills.jpg

Anyways, a compromise was negotiated and we continued although the girl from the kiosk desultorily removed the cloth strips from the pumps (and gave them back) and we made only fleeting raids onto the forecourt made up for by stopping more cars before they got on it. The ‘ringleaders’ of the protest stood their ground with passion and knowledge and I think it showed in the way the cops responded, we were reasonable but not about to meekly do what we were told and they wanted to go and have their tea. So some knowledge was loosed upon the general population, the protesters in Burma were shown not to be alone and some inspiration for further action was unleashed.

Specifically there some things that apply to the locale, if Asda could be persuaded to take cash Total would lose that edge and with some awareness of a boycott it would reduce their revenue. The bigger picture I think is this- Total are the single most visible corporate backer of the Generals, Chevron are also involved bu they are US based and many Bush scumbags have strong ties to them. However Total is a European based concern and the EU should in theory be more open to pressure. So as a large target for a boycott Total make a good one. Taxi drivers and hauliers are the biggest users of fuel if they would be moved to boycott Total it would really hurt the company in the wallet, so I am going to do some research on that. Certainly both industries might find a chance for some good publicity welcome.

PS. The other story relates to my car dying and the subsequent expense and transport problems this has caused, as such I have no chance of making the anti-war demo in the smoke. It’s an important one because formally it has not gained official permission but it is going ahead anyway, that is a really important step and I do think the climate camp’s success against official condemnation paved the way for that. So my best wishes to anyone who makes it. If Gordon wants democracy in Burma he should at least enjoy its fruits at home!

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