Saturday, August 27, 2005 

John Bolton: what a guy!

John Bolton, besides grooming his mustache to look as much like Stalin's as possible, has been busy. Around a month after being made US ambassador to the UN by President Bush, thanks to a recess during which Congress could not oppose or filibuster his choice, he's laid down a number of hugely encouraging amendments to the UN summit agreement, due to take place in September. All in all, he's made around 750 proposed changes to the UN draft. Here's just some of the changes:

Values and principles

We further reaffirm that core values and principles, such as respect for human rights and human dignity, freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, [deleted: respect for nature], the rule of law, shared responsibility, multilateralism, and non-resort to the threat or use of force [inserted: in a manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations] are essential for peaceful coexistence and cooperation among states.

We rededicate ourselves to support [deleted: all] efforts to uphold ... the sovereign equality of all states, respect for their territorial integrity and political independence, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, resolution of disputes by peaceful means, and the right of self-determination of peoples [deleted: which remain under colonial domination and foreign occupation]

We pledge to make the United Nations more relevant, more effective, more efficient, more accountable and more credible [deleted: and to provide the organisation with the resources needed to fully implement its mandates].


We [deleted: remain concerned, however, by the slow and uneven implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium development goals and] reaffirm our commitment to eradicate poverty and promote sustained economic growth, sustainable development and global prosperity for all.

We resolve to... make the fight against corruption at all levels a priority, as agreed at Monterey, and welcome all actions taken in this regard at the national and international levels including the adoption of policies that emphasise accountability, transparent public sector management, competitive markets [deleted: and corporate responsibility and accountability]

[Deleted: We welcome the establishment of timetables by many developed countries to achieve the target of 0.7% of gross national product for official development assistance by no later than 2015 and to reach at least 0.5% by 2009 and urge those developed countries that have not yet done so to make concrete efforts towards allocating 0.7% of their GNP for ODA...]

Protecting our common environment

[Deleted: We recognise that climate change is a serious and long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the world. We call for further technological and financial international cooperation for the sustainable use and management of natural resources in order to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns as a means of keeping the balance between the conservation of natural resources and the furtherance of social and economic objectives.]

We therefore resolve to [deleted: undertake concerted global action to address climate change, including through meeting all commitments and obligations under the Kyoto protocol...].

Meeting the special needs of Africa

We resolve to provide, as a priority, assistance for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment in African countries [deleted: on a grant basis, and encourage pharmaceutical companies to make anti-retroviral drugs affordable and accessible in Africa]

I'm sure you'll agree that all of these changes are excellent substitutions for the originals. I personally cannot wait for the day when the United Nations

Use of force under the UN charter

We also reaffirm that the provisions of the charter of the United Nations regarding the use of force are sufficient [deleted: to address the full range of security threats and agree that the use of force should be considered as an instrument of last resort].

Disarmament and non-proliferation

We also recognise that non-compliance with existing arms control, non-proliferation and [deleted: disarmament] agreements and commitments also threatens international peace and security of all nations and increases the possibility of terrorist acquisition of WMD.

We reiterate our firm commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty [deleted: its three pillars, disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy].


... we commit to end the impunity for the most serious violations of international humanitarian law, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes [deleted: by cooperating with the international criminal court, the existing ad hoc and mixed criminal tribunals and other mechanisms for international justice as well as through strengthening national legal systems].

I'm sure you'll agree that all of these changes are excellent substitutions. There's no way that the UN should have any concern for nature or worry about climate change, bring war criminals to justice through an established international criminal court or dare to suggest that the use of force to settle disputes should be the last resort. Also, corporations should be self-governing and responsible only to their shareholders. Plus, who cares about those damn Africans? It's their own fault for being poor and catching AIDS through their own dumb promiscuity. Why should drug companies lower their prices just for them? Thank God for the straight talking and shooting John Bolton, he's finally shook some sense into a moribund and irrelevant organisation. What a guy.

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New Labour, no compassion part deux.

A day after the Kachepas were deported to Malawi, the government is wasting no time in deciding to start sending back failed Iraqi asylum seekers to quite possibly the most dangerous country on the face of the earth.

The first enforced returns of failed asylum seekers to northern Iraq are expected possibly as early as this weekend despite objections from regional Kurdish authorities and the UN refugee agency.

The Home Office has confirmed that 38 men are being held at immigration detention centres around Britain and that officials are "looking at a number of dates" for their return.

They are likely to be flown on an RAF aircraft, via Cyprus, to the newly opened airport in Irbil, the regional capital. The Kurdish community believes the first flight will leave tomorrow. Many refugees say they could be killed, even in northern Iraq.

There are thought to be as many as 7,000 Iraqis in the UK who have been refused asylum and face deportation. The deportations will begin by the dispatch of single men to Iraqi Kurdistan, which has largely - though not entirely - been spared the onslaught of Islamist suicide bombings.

"We will only return to areas assessed as sufficiently stable and where we are satisfied individuals will not be at risk," a Home Office spokesman said yesterday. "Enforced returns will be taken on a case-by-case basis.

"It's important for the integrity of the asylum system that anyone found not to be in need of protection is required to leave the UK. Enforced returns will commence as soon as we have made relevant arrangements."

The decision to deport was taken in February 2004 but two new factors have stiffened the government's resolve: a reassessment of immigration priorities after the London tube bombings and the first flight this month into Irbil of those returning voluntarily.

Although only 18 people were on the plane arranged by the International Organisation for Migration, it opened up a route that avoids the dangers of overland journeys via Baghdad.

"It has made life a bit easier for those wanting to go back," said Marek Effendowicz of the organisation. "In the last year we have helped 300 Iraqis return from the UK."

But the Home Office decision has triggered protests by human rights bodies and refugee groups who warn it is not safe anywhere in Iraq. One Kurd told the Guardian he was no longer reporting to the Home Office because he feared he would be detained.

The London office of the UN high commissioner for refugees yesterday restated its opposition. "Iraq is still extremely unstable and dangerous," it warned. "No part of Iraq can be considered safe, although ... some areas are more stable than others. The UK government [should also] review its low recognition rate of Iraqi asylum seekers."

Even the regional government in Irbil has warned it does not want to be burdened with unwilling returnees.

It seems somewhat beyond comprehension that we can even consider sending people back to Iraq yet. The Kurdish regions are not by any means safe, as continued fighting in Mosul and Kirkuk has shown. As mentioned above, even the government does not want failed asylum seekers to be sent back at the moment. This is also ignoring the individual plights of some of the asylum seekers; not all fled because of persecution under Saddam's regime. Some are still frightened due to tribal conflicts, and the overthrow of the Ba'ath party has not made that threat go away.

Returning refugees to Zimbabwe was recently stopped thanks to the high court deciding that new evidence is needed to prove that Zimbabwe is "safe". If Zimbabwe isn't safe, Iraq sure isn't. Again, this whole problem can be linked back both to the tabloids and colonialism. There is no way that all the recent problems in Zimbabwe to do with Robert Mugabe would have got so much attention in this country if it wasn't a: a former British colony and b: affecting rich British exile farmers. Rigged elections and removal of "slums" are par the course in Africa. It is the same tabloids and papers which were still supporting apartheid in South Africa 25 years ago that are now campaigning for tough sanctions on Zimbabwe. This is not to say the country is not ruled by a despot with no regard for life; it is. What then is so different about Iraq?

The Sun newspaper (Proprietor R. Murdoch. Every single paper he owns supported the war in Iraq, including those in China.) was the head cheerleader in this country for the disastrous Iraqi adventure. Unsurprisingly, it is also one of the biggest cheerleaders for deporting asylum seekers and other "undesirables". The Labour government has long been afraid of incurring the Sun's wrath, almost as much as it has the Daily Mail. One conspiracy theory was that a meeting with one of Mr Murdoch's associates led to Tony Blair calling a referendum on the European constitution in return for support in the election. True or not, the Sun has a stranglehold on a lot of politicians and the largest circulation of a daily paper. Its influences run wide. It was through such campaigns as "kick out asylum seeker scroungers" that led to Labour adopting a hardline approach to asylum, although the Tory election campaign also has had an impact. We are now also told that the 7th of July attacks have also led to the immigration situation becoming much more important.

In short then, the government is not sending immigrants back to a country governed by a despot, but still at least has a functioning government, while it is prepared to send them back to a country occupied by foreign armies and infiltrated with suicidal insurgents. A typical case of New Labour joined up thinking. 52 innocents were killed on the 7th of July; thanks to tabloid pressure and a lack of empathy, many more will be living in fear of their lives. Congratulations Mr Murdoch and Mr Blair.

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Friday, August 26, 2005 

New Labour, no compassion.

Just when you thought that this government could not sink much lower in the human empathy stakes, what with bombing Iraq and executing innocent Brazilians on tubes, they deport a settled integrated family despite fears for their lives.

The first time they were snatched by immigration officials at dawn before church on a Sunday. On the second occasion, they left 50 Weymouth teenagers weeping as they took a hired van to Heathrow.

And yesterday, Verah Kachepa and her four children were made to go through their third traumatic farewell to their adopted home as the Home Office finally deported the family to Malawi.

Two hundred local people, from pensioners to school children, gathered outside their flat and joined prayers, gave impromptu speeches and applauded the Kachepas on to a coach which immigration officials drove to the airport.

Today Mrs Kachepa, Natasha, 21, Alex, 17, Tony, 16, and Upile, 11, will wake in Zimbabwe before being flown to Blantyre in Malawi. Mrs Kachepa's eyes glazed over when asked what lay ahead.

The Kachepas legally arrived in Britain in 2001. Soon afterward however, Mrs Kachepa's husband left, returned to Malawi and started a relationship with the former dictator Hastings Banda's niece. They were warned never to return to Malawi, and death threats were also made. In response to this, the Kachepa's claimed asylum. They were refused, and have been fighting to stay in Britain ever since. Yesterday, after previously being arrested by immigration officials and held at a detention center, as well also having packed ready to leave only for the incompetence of the immigration service to temporarily reprieve them as no one arrived to put them on the flight, they were deported.

Why? What harm was this family causing to anyone? The family had integrated. The eldest daughter was to study at Southampton University to become a nurse. The eldest son is a talented musician and actor, receiving an award for his part in a short film. Verah Kachepa herself worked in a charity shop and helped out at a pregnancy centre. The whole family had campaigned for racial tolerance and understanding. What more could have been asked of a family? The tabloids constantly moan about "sponging asylum seekers". This family was the very opposite, yet they have fallen victim to the tabloid hate campaign. The government has only recently decided to become "tough" on asylum thanks to the lies and intolerance preached nearly every day by the Sun, Mail and Express. Thanks to stories such as "ASYLUM SEEKERS EAT OUR DONKEYS AND SWANS", a whole part of society which deserves compassion and help has become stigmatised and a scapegoat. The result? Families such as the Kachepas being deported back to countries where they may well end up imprisoned or even killed.

Despite the best efforts of the people of Weymouth who wrote letters, protested and elected a Labour MP who promised to save the family, the Kachepas now face a life of fear and uncertainty. Labour is now likely finished in the Dorset area. Worse than that, the immigration minister and services have shown their true faces. Targets for deportations and the tabloids are more important than the wellbeing of actual people. Not just a sad day for those who knew the Kachepas, but also for those who thought they were living in a country which defended freedom and the right not to live in constant fear.

A site for leaving messages for the family is here.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005 

It's the oil, stupid.

Oil prices have hit a record $68 a barrel after the US reported a fall in gasoline stocks, while China said its crude imports had risen sharply.

Fears that tropical storm Katrina might hit production in the Gulf of Mexico also pushed the cost of oil higher.

US light crude touched $68 a barrel in Asian trade on Thursday before slipping back to $66.95. In London, Brent crude hit $66.56 before falling to $65.69.

Demand from the US, China and India is expected to keep oil prices high.

Maybe the price of oil will drop back when the American driving season finishes. Maybe. One politician suggested that the price of a barrel could hit $100 by 2012. To me that sounds incredibly optimistic. The price of a gallon in the good ol' USA is currently around $3, half of what it costs here in this septic isle, and they're already deluging the phone-ins on the radio stations complaining. It's going to be quite a shock when they start to realise that high oil prices are here to stay, and are likely to get higher year on year. Maybe the US really should take Pat Robertson's advice and put a price on the head of our friend Hugo Chavez, especially after his latest comments that he might supply cheap fuel to poor Americans:

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela hit back vigorously at calls by an ally of President George Bush for his assassination by offering cheap petrol to the poor of the US at a time of soaring fuel prices.

In a typically robust response to remarks by the US televangelist Pat Robertson, Mr Chavez compared his detractors to the "rather mad dogs with rabies" from Cervantes' Don Quixote, and unveiled his plans to use Venezuela's energy reserves as a political tool.

"We want to sell gasoline and heating fuel directly to poor communities in the United States," he said.

Venezuela, the world's fifth largest crude exporter, supplies 1.3m barrels of oil a day to the US. It remains unclear how poor Americans might benefit from the cheap petrol offer, but Mr Chávez has set up arrangements with other countries for swapping services in exchange for oil. Cuban doctors are working in the poorer areas of Venezuela in exchange for cheap oil going to Cuba.

Jamaica yesterday became the first Caribbean country to reach an agreement with Venezuela for oil at below-market terms. The Petrocaribe initiative is a plan to offer oil at flexible rates to 13 Caribbean countries. Jamaica will pay $40 a barrel, against a market rate of more than $60.

Mr Chavez said oil importers such as the US could expect no respite from the oil market, predicting the price of a barrel would reach $100 by 2012.

I'm pretty sure that such talk is simply rhetoric, as you can imagine the huge outcry about subversion and infiltration within the States if such a proposal actually became reality. However, that doesn't stop the main thrust of Chavez's point. The real power soon could be in the hands of those who have the oil. China has been making deals around the globe with countries such as Sudan and Iran which the United States is loath to work with. It all depends whether they decide whether to do business with tyrannical regimes, or take the easy route and bomb them into submission. At the moment, it appears to be advantage China and Chavez.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005 

New photos of Saddam Hussein!

I know that this is what I was waiting for. Here's a brand new picture of this hairy beauty, looking a lot better than in previous photos which showed him washing his underwear:

Personally, I still prefer this luscious shot:

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Dare to justify Palestinian suicide bombings, get deported.

"As long as young people feel they have no hope but to blow themselves up you are never going to make progress."

Who do you think said the above remarks? Was it Yasser Arafat, Omar Bakri Mohammed or maybe even an al-Qaida apologist of some sort? No, it's an exact quote of what Cherie Blair said three years ago on the day of a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

Why do I bring this up? Well, today Charles Clarke published the guidelines or rules which if broken by foreign nationals in this country will result in their deportation:

The list, which the Home Office says is "indicative rather than exhaustive", will cover any foreign-born national "writing, producing, publishing or distributing material, public speaking including preaching, running a website; or using a position of responsibility such as teacher, community or youth leader to express views which foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs; seek to provoke others to terrorist acts; foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts; or foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK."

Although the list does not give the home secretary more powers to deport extremists than he currently enjoys, it specifies behaviours which will define the basis of "not conducive to the public good."

Mr Clarke said: "As I said when the consultation started, we recognise the sensitivities around the use of these powers and intend to use them in a measured and targeted way. These powers are not intended to stifle free speech or legitimate debate about religions or other issues. Britain is rightly proud of its openness and diversity and we must not allow those driven by extremism of any sort to destroy that tradition."

Note that this only applies to foreign nationals. Due to the fact that the government either can't be bothered to introduce new laws which would make the above easier to prosecute or won't face up to the security services opposition to such plans, they've decided to just get them out the country. This is similar to the way a child will clean his room by just pushing everything under the bed. Out of sight, out of mind.

No Trousers Charlie's follow up remarks are also comical. He lists what will be considered not conducive to the public good in Great Britain, then says that this will not stifle free speech or legitimate debate. Tell us Mr Clarke, if Cherie Blair was a foreign national, would comments such as hers lead to her deportation? Suicide attacks within Israel cannot be justified. I personally find that attacks on the IDF in the occupied territories are justifiable, if not in either sides best interest. Does this make me not conducive to the public good in this country?

There seems little point in arguing with the guidelines set out today, as it's unlikely to make any difference whatsoever. Both the Conservative and Liberal Democrats are fully behind the plans. According to a Grauniad/ICM poll on Monday, 73% of the British public believe it's right to give up civil liberties to "improve security". Faced with this, perhaps we'll end up with we deserve. When unpopular political viewpoints can lead to a foreign national being deported, we lose the moral high ground. Charles Clarke and parliament should keep this in mind before carrying out any further expulsions.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005 

Eviscerate the proletariat.

Every so often someone comes along and says that so and so should be killed. It's a pretty regular occurrence. Last year around the time of the US election, Charlie Brooker, who writes a column commenting on TV, covered the debates and wrote this:

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?

Not probably the smartest thing to write admittedly. However, Brooker is a satirist. He writes hilariously and harshly on TV programs, and his column is meant to be humourous. It wasn't meant as a call to arms. Despite this, as can be expected, the right wing lunatic blogger fringe found it and jumped up and down and got the Guardian to print a sort of clarification. Brooker is a journalist, and one pretty low-down the food chain. He's no Seymour Hersh. He doesn't inspire much militancy or garner that much attention in general. Yesterday however, one person who just can't stop saying ignorant and bigoted things stuck his foot in his mouth again. He is Pat Robertson, and he does have a large audience.

Mr Robertson, 75, said on Monday's edition of the 700 Club: "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.

"It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

A spokeswoman for the Christian Broadcasting Network told the BBC: "We are at a time of war and Pat had war on his mind when he made the comments."

Yeah, he had war on his mind. The war being the one between the part of his brain that knows he shouldn't say things he's going to regret later, and the other part the encourages him to spout drivel such as this:

"We have allowed rampant secularism and occult, et cetera, to be broadcast on television. We have permitted somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 million unborn babies to be slaughtered in our society. We have a Court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye and said, 'We're going to legislate you out of the schools, we're going to take your Commandments from off the courthouse steps in various states, we're not going to let little children read the Commandments of God, we're not going to let the Bible be read -- no prayer in our schools.' We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And, then we say 'why does this happen?' Well, why its happening is that God Almighty is lifting His protection from us."

That was two days after the September the 11th attacks. Note he doesn't blame fanatical suicidal terrorists, or any government. No, what he's attacking is society itself. We're bringing all this on ourselves with our decadence and our decision to separate church from state and not live our lives by a book that was written thousands of years ago, which has been mistranslated, and then badly interpreted by people such as himself.

The sad facts of this are that the US probably wants to assassinate Hugo Chavez. The CIA already tried to get rid of him through a shortlived coup in 2002. It failed when huge demonstrations demanded that Chavez be returned to power. He's since won referendums on his changes to the constitution, and attempts to remove him from power. It's surprising the US hasn't done anything to Venezuela in the last few years apart from try to support the opposition without getting overly noticed. Perhaps Robinson knows something we don't. Or maybe he's just a man slowly going senile with a world view that belongs to an era long gone. Whichever it is, don't expect for him to be condemned like Charlie Brooker was. After all, Chavez has won elections. Bush didn't the first time, and may not have done the second. But he sure has a lot more support from those who are important than Chavez does.

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"It is going to be a cleanup day to find those weirdos who think the messiah will come".

Not the words of a Palestinian rejoicing at the Gaza settlements being nearly evacuated, but of the IDF's Brigadier General Hagai Dotan. Ariel Sharon has now, if anything, shown how effectively settlements can be dismantled and the extremists removed. How then does he now stop the pressure on him worldwide to evacuate the larger settlements in the West Bank? Why, by saying there will be no more pullouts and that the settlements will be further expanded, of course!

As Israeli forces removed residents from the last Jewish settlement still to be cleared in the Gaza Strip yesterday, Ariel Sharon sought to win back support from the Israeli right by promising continued expansion of Israel's West Bank colonies and no more unilateral pullouts.

In an attempt to reassure the Israeli right, the prime minister told the Jerusalem Post that he will continue expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which are home to about 400,000 people. "There will be building in the settlement blocks," he said. "Each government since 1967, right, left and national unity, has seen strategic importance in specific areas [in the occupied territories] I will build."

The newspaper said Mr Sharon specifically mentioned further construction in Ma'ale Adumim settlement, designed to link it to Jerusalem despite Washington's objections. He said that Ariel settlement, in the heart of the West Bank, would be annexed as "a part of Israel for ever". The prime minister also said there would be no further unilateral withdrawals.

Is this rhetoric an attempt to stop Binyamin Netanyahu from attempting to overthrow Sharon as Likiud leader? Partly. However, I don't see how Sharon can now continue in this position. Can he really believe that the Palestinans will settle for an emasculated state, with fervent religious Jews and a wall separating them from their land, destroying their economy? Can the military or the country afford to keep the West Bank checkpoints, to keep killing Palestinians who go too near watchtowers, to keep taking loses just to protect some "weirdos who think the messiah will come?"

Let's hope above hope that Sharon sees the error of his ways in constantly expanding the settlements, in believing that Zionism can still exist when faced with a nation growing angrier by the year, with world attention now focused on how quickly and speedily those breaking international law and the road-map can be evicted. Let's just hope that Sharon has seen the light and realised that peace can be achieved not through the barrel of a gun, but through removing those who are blocking it with their houses.

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Wiped off the face of the Earth.

London is probably the city with the largest amount of surveillance cameras in the world. In addition to the thousands of cameras there to make sure we're not breaking any law, such as dropping a cigarette or farting out of turn, there's also the many cameras which police the congestion charge in central London.

Imagine my shock then when it turns out that the cameras at the Stockwell tube station were actually working on the morning in question. They were recording. The tapes had been replaced the previous night before as usual, despite the police taking the 21sts away to help with their inquiries. Just one problem. When the police took away the videos of them wiping Jean Charles de Menezes off the face of the Earth, they "found" that the tapes themselves were blank. A "police source" however has told the Guardian:

But last night a source told the Guardian: "Tapes were recovered with useful material, although they don't cover all parts of the station. There is CCTV coverage from the ticket area but there is an issue about the platform."

Asked if there was no useful footage from either the platform or the train, the source said: "You may be right."

It wasn't the IPCC team which removed the tapes. It was the police, immediately after the shooting. The same police team which undoubtedly planted or paid off the witnesses who told such blatant lies and untruths to the waiting media. Despite all the evidence which is piling up, even the visiting Brazilian team doesn't want to rock the boat.

Brazilian officials have said they do not believe there was a Scotland Yard cover-up over the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

But ambassador Manoel Gomes Pereira said he had been "perplexed" by leaks from the inquiry that contradicted early police and eyewitness reports.

He "completely" trusted the Independent Police Complaints Commission, he added.

The IPCC has said it will end its probe into the shooting this year. Mr Menezes died after being mistaken for a bomber.

The 27-year-old electrician was killed at Stockwell Tube station, south London, a day after the failed 21 July bombings.

In addition to that, the report is now not expected until Christmas, and also won't be published until possible criminal or disciplinary hearings have been held. In other words, we might be waiting years. Unlike the Brazilians, I don't have faith in the IPCC. A public inquiry should be held immediately, with a view to publishing a thorough investigation as soon as possible. Until then we will be stuck with a failed shoot-to-kill policy, trigger happy police and more lies and deceptions from those in high office.

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Monday, August 22, 2005 

Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Here's what all the spilt blood and money has gone towards.

The executions are carried out at dawn on Haqlania bridge, the entrance to Haditha. A small crowd usually turns up to watch even though the killings are filmed and made available on DVD in the market the same afternoon.

One of last week's victims was a young man in a black tracksuit. Like the others he was left on his belly by the blue iron railings at the bridge's southern end. His severed head rested on his back, facing Baghdad. Children cheered when they heard that the next day's spectacle would be a double bill: two decapitations. A man named Watban and his brother had been found guilty of spying.

A three-day visit by a reporter working for the Guardian last week established what neither the Iraqi government nor the US military has admitted: Haditha, a farming town of 90,000 people by the Euphrates river, is an insurgent citadel.

That Islamist guerrillas were active in the area was no secret but only now has the extent of their control been revealed. They are the sole authority, running the town's security, administration and communications.

A three-hour drive north from Baghdad, under the nose of an American base, it is a miniature Taliban-like state. Insurgents decide who lives and dies, which salaries get paid, what people wear, what they watch and listen to.

Haditha exposes the limitations of the Iraqi state and US power on the day when the political process is supposed to make a great leap - a draft constitution finalised and approved by midnight tonight.

There is no fighting here because there is no one to challenge the Islamists. The police station and municipal offices were destroyed last year and US marines make only fleeting visits every few months.

Two groups share power. Ansar al-Sunna is a largely homegrown organisation, though its leader in Haditha is said to be foreign. Al-Qaida in Iraq, known locally by its old name Tawhid al-Jihad, is led by the Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. There was a rumour that Zarqawi, Washington's most wanted militant after Osama bin Laden, visited early last week. True or not, residents wanted to believe they had hosted such a celebrity.

A year ago Haditha was just another sleepy town in western Anbar province, deep in the Sunni triangle and suspicious of the Shia-led government in Baghdad but no insurgent hotbed.

Then, say residents, arrived mostly Shia police with heavyhanded behaviour. "That's how it began," said one man. Attacks against the police escalated until they fled, creating a vacuum filled by insurgents.

Alcohol and music deemed unIslamic were banned, women were told to wear headscarves and relations between the sexes were closely monitored. The mobile phone network was shut down but insurgents retained their walkie-talkies and satellite phones. Right-hand lanes are reserved for their vehicles.

Now insurgents earn praise from residents for allegedly pressuring managers to supply electricity almost 24 hours a day, a luxury denied the rest of Iraq.

The court caters solely for divorces and marriages. Alleged criminals are punished in the market. The Guardian witnessed a headmaster accused of adultery whipped 190 times with cables. Children laughed as he sobbed and his robe turned crimson.

Two men who robbed a foreign exchange shop were splayed on the ground. Masked men stood on their hands while others broke their arms with rocks. The shopkeeper offered the insurgents a reward but they declined.

DVDs of beheadings on the bridge are distributed free in the souk. Children prefer them to cartoons. "They should not watch such things," said one grandfather, but parents appeared not to object.

One DVD features a young, blond muscular man who had been disembowelled. He was said to have been a member of a six-strong US sniper team ambushed and killed on August 1. Residents said he had been paraded in town before being executed.

The constitution talks, the referendum due in October, the election due in December: all are deemed collaboration punishable by death. The task now is to bleed the Americans and destabilise the government. Some call that nihilism. Haditha calls it the future.

Back home in America, where Cindy Sheehan once staged a lonely vigil outside President Bush's ranch in Texas, supporters of the war against Iraq have started their own counter demonstrations. 350 bikers drove past the camp. Other conservatives are due to leave San Francisco and travel down the country, picking up further pro-war enthusiasts on the way. Christopher Hitchens, a man who was once the editor of the Socialist Worker and wrote the Trial of Henry Kissinger, said that Cindy Sheehan was "spouting piffle". A more cerebral Fox News commentator said she was a "crackpot". It's not worth repeating what Rush Limbaugh said.

Is the above story what the latter wanted? Is that what they had in mind? Did they want a state that is likely today to announce a constitution which has Islamic law as its base rather than as a part of it? Did they want over 25,000 Iraqis dead? Did they want 1,970 US servicemen to lose their lives? Did they want to establish a country so corrupt that it makes even Saddam-era Iraq look good? That's what those still supporting the war are now defending. It hasn't made anyone safer. Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction. It didn't have any link with the September the 11th attackers. All that's left is the brutality of everyday life in Iraq, and the brutalisation of politics in the United States and Britain.

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Houston, we have a problem.

Three days since I last posted about the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes, and yet again, the details surrounding his death and subsequent police actions and statements get even worse.

In an interview with the News of the Screws (World, horrible Murdoch Sunday newspaper full of sleaze, adultery and right wing lunatics), Blair said that an officer came to him the day after the shooting and said the equivalent of 'Houston, we have a problem'.

'He didn't use those words but he said "We have some difficulty here, there is a lack of connection". 'I thought "That's dreadful, what are we going to do about that?".'

For one, I refuse to believe that he didn't know within hours, or even minutes of the shooting that they had killed an innocent man. They say a week is a long time in politics. The days following the July 21st attacks were like weeks in themselves. If he wasn't told by lackeys or those lower in command for over 24 hours, then he is head of either an incompetent organisation or one which was interested in covering up its own mess without informing him. Secondly, for an official to tell him that they had executed an innocent man who was not acting suspiciously but was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the phrase "we have a problem" is incredibly callous and offensive. To then repeat that to a right wing rag of the lowest denominator shows a lack of any feelings for the de Menezes family.

The Observer article goes on:

A police source said: 'There is no way those three guys would have been on the train carriage with him [de Menezes] if they believed he was carrying a bomb. Nothing he did gave the surveillance team the impression that he was carrying a device.'

The Observer can also reveal that the de Menezes family was offered £15,000 after the shooting. The ex gratia payment, which does not affect legal action by the family or compensation, is a fraction of the $1 million (£560,000) reported to have been offered the family. Police yesterday denied they had made the offer, which the family has described as 'offensive'.

Members of the firearms unit are said to be furious that de Menezes was not properly identified when he left his flat, the first problem in the chain of events that led to the Brazilian's death.

For the firearms officers involved in the death to avoid any legal action, they will have to state that they believed their lives and those of the passengers were in immediate danger. Such a view is unlikely to be supported by members of the surveillance unit.

For reasons as yet unclear, members of the firearms team have yet to submit their own account of the events to the IPCC. The two members of the team believed to have fired the fatal shots are known to have gone on holiday immediately after the shooting.

In short, the surveillance team and the firearms team are now blaming each other. Secondly, for the members of the firearms team to be allowed to go straight off on holiday instead of giving statements is another badly made decision. When you kill a man, you don't suddenly get out the country or elsewhere unless you have something to hide. They should have been taken off duty but not allowed to leave.

The amount of money offered to the de Menezes family is also an insult, especially the way in which it was conducted. The letter was in English. His parents only speak Portuguese. The offer was also put forward in Brazil without their lawyers being present. It appears almost to be an offer to shut them up. £15,000 and everything will be alright again.

Also now coming increasingly into the frame is the senior police commander in charge on the morning of July the 22nd.

De Menezes took a bus to Stockwell tube station, stopping briefly at Brixton. The surveillance operation logged his every step. An assessment was made on the basis of his demeanour: he was identified as a suspect. By whom? That is still unclear. It is also understood that the senior police officer in charge of the operation, Commander Cressida Dick, had ordered de Menezes at this stage to be detained before he went into the tube station and that he should be alive.

Apart from having a horrendously bad name, Cressida Dick needs to fully explain what she said and how she said it. What did she know and when did she know it? What made the firearms officers misinterpretret her so badly, if the official story is to be believed?

And finally:

The government yesterday entered the dispute to give Sir Ian its full backing. Asked if the prime minister had full confidence in the Met chief, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "Yes."

John Prescott, the deputy prime minister - in charge of the government while Tony Blair is on holiday - and the home secretary, Charles Clarke, also both insisted Sir Ian, the most senior police officer in the UK, retains their full confidence.

Yep, we have full confidence in you "Sir" Ian. You told a press conference on the day in question that a terrorist suspect had been killed when you didn't know the facts. You instantly tried to stop an "independent" investigation. Your force spun what had actually happened and let the media stories go uncorrected. You let vital witnesses go away on holiday. Your force attempted to buy off the de Menezes family. There's no problem here, Houston.

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