Month: June 2012

Suleiman Abdallah Tortured By America

Suleiman Abdallah’s abduction and torture should be a cautionary tale of how individuals are abused when there are few checks and constraints on security services and governments.

The Nation explains:

“In fact, Suleiman never arrived in the United States, and none of the authorities ever disclosed his whereabouts. Suleiman joined the growing list of disappeared prisoners held at undisclosed locations with no access to a lawyer, tracked by a handful of global NGOs.

As in other countries caught in US crosshairs following the attacks of September 11, 2001, a bounty system emerged in Somalia in 2002, whereby people were captured by local warlords and sold to the CIA as “terror suspects” in return for cash. In lawless Somalia, anyone without local protection is highly vulnerable; as with many others, the main operating factor in Suleiman’s abduction appears to have been that he was a foreigner with few local connections.

As East Africa’s quiet war on terror became an increasing focus of my work, Suleiman’s file grew steadily more intriguing. Shuttled through the global system of secret US prisons, he remained mostly invisible. His name appeared in the margins of a confession barred by a Kenyan court in 2005 for having been obtained through torture. A 2007 report from West Point suggested that upon capture Suleiman was initially presented to the CIA as Fazul Mohammed, a Comorian terror suspect who was eventually killed by Somali police in Mogadishu last year. Elsewhere, media reports confirmed that as a young man, Suleiman’s nickname was “Travolta” because of his love of dancing.

But I still had no idea where Suleiman was being held. My questions probing his whereabouts evoked only blank faces from the former US prisoners I interviewed around the world. Finally, in 2008 I learned “off record” that Suleiman was being held at Bagram by American troops. About a year later, I discovered that he had been released. I arranged to visit him at his home on the Indian Ocean. “

A Blog Worth Reading, Mystical Politics

I used to read a lot of blogs, but with limited time, lack of wits and less attention span than the average Lepisma saccharina I can’t keep up with them, however, one that I enjoy savouring is, Mystical Politics.

It is well written, thoughtful and insightful.

I was going to cover something like Bad & bizarre news from Iran, but less is more when covering Ahmadinejad’s henchmen and it is far better than I would have scribbled.

Rev. Sizer, Please, Please Don’t Play The Victim

I suppose that I should be gratified that Rev. Sizer has linked to one of my previous posts, but I am not.

If you read the words of his post what you will see is obfuscation, rhetorical tricks and a desire to play the victim.

What he should have written was a simple apology for his linking, once more, to a racist website.

Rev. Sizer has made a habit of doing this: Palestine Telegraph: July 2011, Ugly Truth: 4 October 2011 Veterans Today: 1 March 2012, and more recently, WindowintoPalestine: 1 June 2012.

Now I can understand the desire to support the Palestinians, it is a most worthy cause, but it is not helped when its Western supporters link to anti-Jewish racism, for the fourth time.

It gives the impression that such Western supporters are more motivated by their animus towards Jews instead of a genuine concern for the welfare of Palestinians.

I am sure this is not the case with Rev. Sizer, however, his inability to distinguish between nonracist material and vile antisemitic garbage suggests that his judgement is faulty in these matters.

And, before he and his supporters drag out the most predictable, I should make it clear that I do not think that he is an antisemite, rather he strikes me as someone of poor judgement who swims in the effluent of modern “anti-Zionism” but can’t see an antisemitic turd when it steams towards him.

So please, Rev. Sizer, for the sake of your own conscience, make a habit of apologising when you are wrong, as in this case and please do not play the victim, it is unbecoming.

Pam Geller & Mitt Romney

The truly awful bigot and English Defence League supporter, Pam Geller, can be seen cosying up to Mitt Romney.





Anyone unfamiliar with the EDL can see its supporter giving the Nazi salute in this video clip:

David Duke, Ex-KKKer, Supports Charles Barron, Anti-Zionist

It is often said that politics makes strange bedfellows, but it really doesn’t sink in until you have seen the white supremacist, David Duke, expressing his support for Charles Barron, an Afro-American.

Barron is not unsurprisingly a vocal “anti-Zionist” and in Duke’s mind hatred of Jews trumps his own profound dislike of Afro-Americans, as the ADL reminds us:

“Perhaps America’s most well-known racist, David Duke was instrumental in the Klan resurgence of the 1970s. He pioneered the now common effort on the far right to camouflage racist ideas in hot-button issues like affirmative action and immigration, successfully appealing to race and class resentments.

Similarly, he was one of the first neo-Nazi and Klan leaders to discontinue the use of Nazi and Klan regalia and ritual, as well as other traditional displays of race hatred, and to cultivate media attention. “

Politicker explains the issue:

“Former KKK Grand Wizard and member of the Louisiana Legislature David Duke released a video yesterday endorsing Charles Barron in his race for Brooklyn’s 8th Congressional district against Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. Mr. Barron, a member of the City Council and former member of the Black Panther Party who, over the years, has made a series of controversial statements against Israel and in support of African dictators Muammar Qaddafi.

He would seem to be an odd choice for a self-described “white nationalist” like Mr. Duke, but in the video, Mr. Duke explains that he thinks Mr. Jeffries has “sold his soul to the international Zio-bankers” while Mr. Barron’s strong past criticisms of Israel outweigh their other differences. ” [My emphasis.]

So for one time neo-Nazi, Duke, his loathing of Jews is paramount, meaning he’ll support almost anyone if they echo his sentiment in that area, even an “anti-Zionist”.

Julian Assange, Rape And The Law

Julian Assange has taken refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy.

I thought that was a strange move, but thanks to Jack Of London I can see why Assange tried to escape the long arm of the law.

The judgement which allows his extradition makes clear that his actions would have constituted rape in Britain, as well as Sweden.

The judgement, which can be viewed as a PDF, is damning in particular paragraphs 121 to 127.

The original Magistrates’ Court ruled that such conduct “would amount to rape.”

From the evidence of the judgements I would agree.

No wonder Assange is trying to learn Spanish pronto!

(H/T: David Allen Green)

Update 1: At the New Statesman, David Allen Green’s short article is generating debate.

Update 2: The Guardian provides good live coverage of Assange’s goings-on.

Update 3: Esther Addley and Beatrice Woolf give a fair summary of events:

“The audacious bid came less than a week after the supreme court finally rejected his appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in connection with accusations of the rape of one woman and sexual assault on another in August 2010, which he denies.

Assange and his supporters have argued that his removal to Sweden could be followed by a possible onward extradition to the US on potential espionage charges, saying he is at risk of the death penalty.

The US government opened a grand jury investigation in May 2011 into the passing of hundreds of thousands of secret US embassy cables to WikiLeaks, the first stage in a process of deciding whether or not to prosecute Assange. No request for extradition to the US has been made, however.

In a statement on its site, WikiLeaks said that in a meeting with Assange’s legal adviser in May, the Australian government had issued “an effective ‘declaration of abandonment’, refusing to protect Mr Assange, or make any requests on his behalf”.

Assange had been given until 28 June to lodge an appeal against the UK court’s decision at the European court of human rights in Strasbourg. Some legal commentators have doubted whether Assange would have strong grounds to take his appeal to the court in Strasbourg.

He may have decided on his dramatic switch in tactics having been discouraged about his chances of success in Europe’s highest court. Assange is currently on £240,000 police bail, a sum posted by a number of high-profile friends and supporters. Last month Assange interviewed the socialist Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa for his TV show The World Tomorrow, broadcast on the Russian state-sponsored channel Russia Today. The WikiLeaks founder described Correa as “a leftwing populist who has changed the face of Ecuador”.

It was unclear whether any explicit or informal offer of asylum had been made by the president during the interview, though the country’s deputy foreign minister said in 2010 that Ecuador would offer him residency without conditions. “

Update 4: Not obvious, but worth pondering, Ecuador’s free speech record at the Guardian.

Update 5: This is good, Julian the Asylum Seeker.

Update 6: The BBC’s World Have Your Say covers the issue too.

BBC Understatement, Racism and Rounding Up

I was about to put out a number of individual posts, but it is probably more worthwhile to include them in a round up:

Surprise, surprise, neofascist killer, Breivik took drugs before going on his murder spree.

I wonder if the chess playing Israeli boycotters will avoid the games of Boris Gelfand?

The singing neo-Nazi, Gary Marsden I’Anson, is on his uppers.

Whilst I had appreciated the level of uranium enrichment completed by the Iranian regime, the actual volume and size of the material, some 6 tons of UF6 enriched to 3.5 percent, was a shock to me. That is a lot of enriched uranium.

Searchlight on Journalist falls for EDL’s absurd claims.

Norm on How much more murder (in Syria)?
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Still No Apology From Rev. Sizer Or His Supporters?

Years back, I was told that men of the cloth knew the difference between right and wrong.

And when you have done something wrong that you should apologise.

Sadly, Reverent Stephen Sizer did not learn that lesson.

True enough, Rev. Sizer has deleted the offending post, but it still available in Google’s cache and as shown below on Twitter:

It would be nice, if Rev. Sizer had the decency and depth of character to apologise for posting yet another link to a racist website.

I don’t expect that to happen.

Because, like modern politicians, many members of the clergy don’t seem to think they can do any wrong or see the need to show a degree of contrition when caught.

However, it would be far better if Rev. Sizer admitted he can’t tell the difference between racist and nonracist material.

He should openly apologise, instead of scurrying around and trying to delete the evidence of his misdemeanour.

It is not as if Rev. Sizer is shy or without the ability to argue his points, his blog has a constant stream of negative material on an almost daily basis.

Perhaps he should dedicate a blog post or two on “Why I, Rev. Sizer, should avoid racist web sites and their material”.

But that would presuppose that he knows the difference between right and wrong? Chance would be a fine thing!

Update 1: Interestingly, it appears that Rev. Sizer has pondered this point from a theological angle, How to do Right When You’ve Been Done Wrong (Psalm 26).

I do, however, wish he’d make the next step in the real world and apologise for his own mistake.

Rev. Sizer Links to Racist Material Again.

[Apologies, by necessity this post has links to racist web sites, as a public record. Sorry.]

Rev. Stephen Sizer has an unfortunate blindness when it comes to racism, or more specifically racism towards Jews.

In the past, Rev. Sizer has linked on at least three occasions to racist material and more recently said he would be more careful.

Yet, like an habitual criminal, he returns to the scene of his crimes, or in Rev. Sizer’s case another racist web site, Window Into Palestine blog.

To anyone with anti-racist sensitivities the title of the piece, The BBC caught out with its Zionist run propaganda machine, would have rung alarm bells, but not for Rev. Sizer.

Had this exceedingly well-educated man of the cloth taken a moment or 2 to study the contents of the Window Into Palestine blog he would have surely seen conspiracy theories (AIPAC and the Zionist Hex on America) and downright claptrap (Jews tried to kill President Truman).

But leaving aside the wierd material which protrudes everywhere from that blog, Rev. Sizer could have browsed the author of the piece, Peter Eyre, and found one of his preoccupations was:

“I also believe that world politics are controlled by Wall Street and London Bankers with Christian and Jewish Zionist at its heart.”

Or searched Peter Eyre’s Space to find that the author believes that the 9/11 and 7/7 atrocities were “false flag operations” and a lot more nonsense besides.

Eyre’s WordPress creation is just as strange and disturbing.

The question is, why are intelligent people like Rev. Sizer drawn to this racist and twisted nonsense?

Update 1: The link seems to have gone dead but fortunately I kept a copy and will upload it shortly.

Update 2: I would hate Rev. Sizer’s supporters to deny that it happened! As Google has cached it as well, but in the first link Rev. Sizer uses http://www.windowintopalestine.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/bbc-caught-out-with-its-zionist-run.html

Update 3: Thanks to the well known antifascist, Luther Blissetts.

He points out that Peter Eyre rants on about the New World Order nonsense as well.

This is but one example of Eyre’s thinking, from the Islam Times:

“What you have just read is also happening in this country on a different scale. We have both political and financial spheres that are totally funded and controlled by Zionist who promote fraud and corruption as a norm.

Before continuing I just want to divert from this financial topic and show just how deeply embedded the entire Zionist run New World Order is in this country. It dictates and controls our politicians and encourages a continuous war against a non existent enemy that they call Al Qaeda or as George Bush put it “A war on Terror” or a war against “The Axis of Evil.”

This aspect is so important in the state of our economy for many reasons:
· It drains vast sums of “Tax Payers Money” and converts that into “Private Sector Arms Sales”
· It allows the New World Order to carry out their “Geo Political Plans.”
· It rockets the price of a barrel of oil to unbelievable levels.
· It acts as an investment for the “Pharmaceutical Industry”

Knowing now that the entire situation in this country is the brainchild of the Zionist NWO it is rather difficult to rectify this out of control movement… “

So what we see with Eyre is essentially an updated version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

This is not the type of author or material that a serious antiracist, as Rev. Sizer suggests he is, should be reading, absorbing and regurgitating as if it is the unvarnished truth.

Update 4: Anyone in doubt about Eyre’s views should watch his performance on the awful RT [from 00:19 onwards]:


[00:19] “…this was no accident, it was a very planned exercise by the New World Order…”

[05:15]“…remember they can take out any country, financially or militarily, that they want to take to take out, this is a master plan of, what I call, the New World Order…”

Update 5: Eyre also believes that 9/11 was the Greatest Illusion Ever Performed. Yuck.

Update 6: I had forgotten that James Mendelsohn had offered Rev. Sizer some sage advice over three years ago, but it went unheeded, If I was Stephen Sizer, Christian Antizionist – James Mendelsohn.

Assad Regime Systematically Killing Civilians

Reuters’ report AI’s opinion on Syria:

“(Reuters) – Syrian government forces are killing civilians in organized attacks on towns and villages that amount to crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said on Thursday, citing evidence from over 20 locations in the country’s northwest.

The rights group repeated its call for the United Nations Security Council to refer Syria to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and to impose an arms embargo.

Amnesty’s findings, detailed in a 70-page report, add to reports of massacres elsewhere in Syria as a 15-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad moves closer to a civil war.

Its researchers visited 23 towns and villages in the Aleppo and Idlib provinces between April and May, conducting interviews with more than 200 people, including many whose relatives had been killed or whose homes had been destroyed.

Amnesty adviser Donatella Rovera told Reuters TV she had found repeated examples of brutality against civilians during two months of unauthorized visits to northwest Syria.

“Wherever I went, in every town, in every village, there was a very similar pattern – soldiers who went in, in very large numbers, for very short but very brutal incursions where they extra-judicially executed young men, burned down their homes. Those who they arrested were then tortured in detention,” she said.

“And that was really repeated in every town and every village that I visited … The bulk, the overwhelming majority of the violations are being committed by the government security forces and their paramilitary militia against the civilian population,” she added. “

Free Mahmoud Sarsak

The plight of Mahmoud Sarsak should make us think about what we mean by justice.

Is it right that young Palestinians are locked up, as prisoners, without a trial?

Internment, unlawful combatants, administrative detention or lettre de cachet.

Many countries do it, the UK, the US, Ireland and even France.

Whatever you call it, locking people up without trial has many names and it is wrong.

France 24 explains Mahmoud Sarsak’s difficulties:

“AFP – In 2009, Mahmud Sarsak set out from Gaza to sign on with a West Bank football team, but what he thought was the start of a dream career quickly spiralled into a nightmare.

Three years later, the young athlete is lying in a bed in an Israeli prison clinic after spending more than 80 days without eating in protest at his being held without charge.

With his case drawing more and more attention, the Israel Prison Authority on Monday told AFP that Sarsak had ended his strike.

But the Ramallah-based Palestinian Prisoners’ Club denied the claim, as did his family, although his lawyer Mohammed Jabarin admitted Sarsak was “drinking milk” in a move which he said did not amount to breaking the strike.

Sarsak, 25, was born in Gaza and dreamed of becoming a professional footballer. As a teenager, he played several times for the Palestinian national team in Europe and the Middle East, attracting favourable attention from coaches.

So when he set out for the West Bank on July 22, 2009, he felt he had a promising career ahead of him.

But he never even got there.

As he tried to pass the Erez crossing into Israel, Sarsak was arrested and has been held ever since under Israel’s so-called unlawful combatants law, which allows suspects to be held without charge under a procedure similar to administrative detention.

Israeli officials have called Sarsak an “Islamic Jihad terrorist who planned attacks and bombings,” but have not made public any charges or evidence against him.

“They want to kill my Mahmud,” says his mother Umm al-Abed, sitting outside a solidarity tent by International Committee of the Red Cross headquarters in Gaza City. “Why isn’t the world doing anything?”

FIFA on Tuesday called on the Israeli Football Association to make contact with the relevant Israeli authorities to secure the release of Sarsak and other players it said were being held.

“In a letter to the Israel Football Association, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter expressed today grave concern and worry about the alleged illegal detention of Palestine football players,” a FIFA statement said.

Sarsak began his hunger strike on March 23 as a wave of similar protests swept through the population of Palestinians being held in Israeli jails. “

Habeas Corpus should apply to young Palestinians, Israelis or those locked up by Kings and despots across the Middle East.

B’Tselem Statistics on Administrative Detention.

How Bahrain held its opponents without habeas corpus for weeks and months.

Assad’s Syria, Blood and PR

Often PR companies are not too choosy as long as their clients pay well.

So it is with those in the business of polishing the image of Assad’s murderous regime, the Indy reports:

“At the very least, it was a case of unfortunate timing.

Vogue magazine invited ridicule and condemnation last year when it printed a glowing profile of the Syrian First Lady in the same month that a violent crackdown on protests in the country began. But the 3,200 fawning words on Bashar al-Assad’s wife, Asma, was just one part of a public relations campaign carried out by Western firms to burnish a friendlier image of the Assad family – the extent of which is still coming to light.

It was later revealed that international PR firm Brown Lloyd James agreed a $5,000-per-month contract in November 2010 to help with the photo shoot and interview, which described the British-born Mrs Assad as the “freshest and most magnetic of first ladies”.

The Vogue interview, headlined “A Rose in the Desert”, was arguably the high point of a public relations blitz designed to make the Assad family appear progressive and accessible. “

The NYT has more:

“For some journalists, Syria has been one of the least hospitable countries in the Middle East, a place where reporters — if they can get in — are routinely harassed and threatened as they try to uncover the repression that has propped up the Assad government for decades.

For other journalists, Syria has until recently been a country led by the cultivated, English-speaking President Bashar al-Assad who, along with his beautiful British-born wife, Asma, was helping usher in a new era of openness and prosperity.

That second impression is no accident. With the help of high-priced public relations advisers who had worked in the Clinton, Bush and Thatcher administrations, the president and his family have sought over the past five years to portray themselves in the Western media as accessible, progressive and even glamorous.”

Neofascists Doing Well in French Election

Greece, Hungary, Germany, etc are not the only countries who have a problem with the Far Right.

According to projections from Le Monde the National Front in France could obtain about 15% of seats.

In certain areas French neofascists have nearly taken half of the available vote, Reuters explains:

“(Reuters) – French far-right leader Marine Le Pen took a commanding lead in the first round of a legislative election on Sunday, raising the prospect of a seat in parliament for her anti-immigrant party as her arch-foe, firebrand leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, bowed out.

National Front leader Le Pen won more than 42 percent of the vote in a working class town in northern France where she has established a base, tapping into unease over high unemployment and years of economic decline.

Before official results were announced, Le Pen said the result in Henin-Beaumont showed that her party remained a powerful political force in France after she placed third in a presidential election last May. “

How depressing.

Jubilee Stewards And Twitter

I have previously blogged concerning the appalling treatment of unpaid stewards during the British Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, but other blogs and media have covered it with greater finesse. I might have missed some worthy contributions, please let me know in the comments box.

This debacle even has its own twitter tag, #jubileestewards.

Belfast Telegraph, Firm in row over unpaid Jubilee stewards to have Olympic fire safety role.

The Edinburgh Eye’s Workfare and the Big Society is very good.

Firm who forced Jubilee stewards to sleep under London Bridge apologises for getting caught.

At the Indy, Jubilee workfare: A Dickensian tale brought to life.

At Channel 4, Concerns over cheap Olympics labour.

The Guardian, Unpaid jubilee jobseekers: Downing Street dismisses criticisms.

The jubilee jobseekers show modern Britain at its worst.

(more…)

Hama, Syria Now And In 1982

Until the uprising just over year ago the coverage of the Syria in the West was piecemeal and even complimentary.

The crimes of the Assad family regime were conspicuously forgotten, as Western Governments and the media tried to suck up to these Syria’s atrocious rulers.

Let us not forget the earlier Hama massacres, from the Syrian Human Rights Committee:

“During the two years, 1980-1981, the city of Hama witnessed several attacks that took the lives of hundreds of religious scholars, prominent people as well as ordinary citizens. But according to eyewitnesses and corresponding reports, what happened during the massacre of February can only be named as ‘mass murder’. Over 25,000 people were murdered by the Syrian authorities, which called upon the Special Forces and defence brigades and selected brigades from the army (brigade 47 and brigade 21) with their heavy arms supported by the air forces. Thus, the city became a large military work area. The canons and rocket launchers bombed the city haphazardly for four continuous weeks, during which the city was sealed off and the citizen’s exit was not permitted.

The breach of the human rights of the detainees committed by the Syrian regime, during the massacre of Hama in 1982, is horrible beyond imagination and description. The regime authorities arrested tens of thousands of citizens randomly. All citizens are accused and liable to arrest and subject to torture and in some cases deliberate murder. Thus many citizens have been killed while under arrest. Until this day thousands of detainees are missing and no one knows anything about them, neither the authorities have given any information about their cases even after 24 years since the massacre. Among the arrested were the scholars, clergymen, doctors, chemists, engineers, technicians, teachers, traders, craftsmen, farmers, and all stages of the society including women. Tens of women were arrested and were subject to torture and death during their time in prison. Some of those women were killed in their houses due to bombing or shooting, and some were killed under torture and others were killed while helping the injured people who were hurt during the bombing and destruction, an example is Um Hassan Dabesh and Aisha Dabesh and Khadijah Dabesh.

Some information tells that many detainees were killed even after the armed operations. On the morning of Friday 26th February, the regime forces started a wide range of arrests. And after the investigations were completed, a group of them were driven to unknown destination; some sources estimate the number of this group to be around 1500 detainees, among them was the Mufti of the city and the head of the scholar society and a number of clergymen and no information was received regarding what happened to them. And in a strange incident, but not the only one, eye witnesses confirmed that the regime troops called in the prisons upon everyone whose surname or nickname was Al-Masri and took them all to the Sereeheyn cemetery where they were all killed. “

Update 1: The contemporary Hama:

“UNITED NATIONS — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad today faced mounting international condemnation at the United Nations on Thursday as Syrian forces blocked U.N. monitors from investigating a fresh massacre site in a village near the city of Hama.

The standoff came as special emissary Kofi Annan acknowledged that his six-point plan for a political transition in Syria has reached a dead end, with both sides refusing to implement it. He said a reinvigorated diplomatic push would be required to avert a full-fledged civil war, and he warned for the first time that any party blocking a political transition should face unspecified “consequences.”

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the monitors came under small-arms fire Thursday as they tried to reach the site of the reported new massacre in Qubair, a small village in Hama province. Speaking at a U.N. General Assembly session, Ban said the incident occurred after the U.N. monitors were blocked from entering Qubair to investigate the alleged killings. Ban provided no details on who had fired at the monitors or whether there were any injuries. U.N. monitors have frequently been fired at since they arrived in Syria to monitor a fragile cease-fire.

Ban condemned the reported massacre as “an unspeakable barbarity” and called on the Syrian government to immediately implement the U.N.-backed peace plan.

The reported killing Wednesday of as many as 78 civilians, most of them women and children, added to mounting pressure on Assad, 46, who has ruled Syria since his father’s death in 2000.”

Jobseekers And The Diamond Jubilee Celebrations

The underbelly of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations has been revealed by the Guardian:

“A group of long-term unemployed jobseekers were bussed into London to work as unpaid stewards during the diamond jubilee celebrations and told to sleep under London Bridge before working on the river pageant.

Up to 30 jobseekers and another 50 people on apprentice wages were taken to London by coach from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth as part of the government’s Work Programme.

Two jobseekers, who did not want to be identified in case they lost their benefits, said they had to camp under London Bridge the night before the pageant. They told the Guardian they had to change into security gear in public, had no access to toilets for 24 hours, and were taken to a swampy campsite outside London after working a 14-hour shift in the pouring rain on the banks of the Thames on Sunday.

One young worker said she was on duty between London Bridge and Tower Bridge during the £12m river spectacle of a 1,000-boat flotilla and members of the Royal family sail by . She said that the security firm Close Protection UK, which won a stewarding contract for the jubilee events, gave her a plastic see-through poncho and a high-visibility jacket for protection against the rain.

Close Protection UK confirmed that it was using up to 30 unpaid staff and 50 apprentices, who were paid £2.80 an hour, for the three-day event in London. A spokesman said the unpaid work was a trial for paid roles at the Olympics, which it had also won a contract to staff. Unpaid staff were expected to work two days out of the three-day holiday.

The firm said it had spent considerable resources on training and equipment that stewards could keep and that the experience was voluntary and did not affect jobseekers keeping their benefits.

The woman said that people were picked up at Bristol at 11pm on Saturday and arrived in London at 3am on Sunday. “We all got off the coach and we were stranded on the side of the road for 20 minutes until they came back and told us all to follow them,” she said. “We followed them under London Bridge and that’s where they told us to camp out for the night … It was raining and freezing.” “

Update 1: Queen Put at Risk by Workfare Provider, expands on events.
(more…)

Antisemitic Attack In Villeurbanne, France

After a brief report on the radio yesterday I haven’t heard much concerning the events in Villeurbanne, France and the antisemitic attack that occurred, but the EJP has more:

“The Interior Ministry says the attack by 10 assailants on the three people was anti-Semitic, and has called for the assailants to be brought to justice. Two of the victims were hospitalized.

The office of Manuel Valls said Sunday that police were mobilized to arrest those behind the attack a night earlier in Villeurbaine, near the city of Lyon.

The ministry said the assailants wielded a hammer and an iron bar.

One youth had an open wound to the head and a girl was struck in the neck, authorities said. The third was hit in the arm.

French Interior Minister Valls, denouncing the assault, said he was “determined to fight against any aggression of a religious nature.

“These extremely serious acts are a deliberate attack against our republic, which allows everyone, without exception, to live freely and in all safety in their religious affiliation,” his office said in a statement.

The victims were hospitalised but later released as police stepped up patrols in the neighbourhood.

The National Bureau of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism said the attackers were of North African origin.

Investigations were under way and no suspects had been arrested.

“We are in the 21st century and there are youngsters assaulting those wearing Jewish skull caps with hammers and bars,” lawyer Alain Jakubowicz of French civil liberties group Licra said.

Lyon is located about 470 kilometres (300 miles) south of Paris. The Jewish community there is about 20,000 strong.

France is home to western Europe’s largest Jewish community, estimated at about 600,000 people, and has faced bouts of violent anti-Semitism.”

Update 1: I can’t see much on the English news feeds, but 20 Minutes in France covers it, and Le Progres in French.

A Syrian Military Officer And Houla

This is a compelling account:

“Raslan served until last Saturday in the Syrian Air Force in the strategically vital port city of Tartous. He had been in Houla on leave when the town was shelled just after 1pm last Friday, then invaded by a civilian militia, known as the Shabiha, in the worst single atrocity of the Syrian uprising.

The officer’s account to the Observer of what took place is among the most important of the testimonies to have emerged since the massacre, the aftermath of which appears to be causing fresh turmoil inside Syria 16 months after the first stirrings of revolt inspired by the Arab spring.

Raslan said he was in his house, around 300 metres from the site of the first massacre in the village of Taldous, when several hundred men whom he knew to be Shabiha members rode into town in cars and army trucks and on motorbikes.

“A lot of them were bald and many had beards,” he said. “Many wore white sports shoes and army pants. They were shouting: ‘Shabiha forever, for your eyes, Assad.’ It was very obvious who they were.

“We used to be told that armed groups killed people and the Free Syria Army burned down houses,” he said. “They lied to us. Now I saw what they did with my own eyes.”

He said the killings in his area were over in around 15 minutes. However, the rampage in other parts of Houla continued until the early hours of Saturday, according to eye-witnesses and survivors.

“Those victims who were slaughtered are people that I knew well,” Raslan said. “These children I knew well, personally. I ate with their families. I had social ties with them. The regime cannot lie about these people, who they were and what they did to them. It was a brutal act by the regime against people who were with the revolution,” he said.

Raslan said that he served on a missile base in Tartous, removed from the grinding everyday savagery of Syria’s uprising. “I knew they had been lying, but I had not been exposed to the effects of it. This was the first time I had seen anything like this.”

He said defections had increased sharply in the days following the massacre and he claimed to know of five defectors who were shot dead as they tried to flee through olive groves not far from Houla the day after the killings.”

Thought Provoking Essay on Islam And Jews

There is an intriguing essay at the JC by David J Wasserstein, So, what did the Muslims do for the Jews?

I can’t really comment around Professor Wasserstein’s thesis as I have only read 3-4 books on the topic, but hopefully it will ignite a productive debate on the interactions of peoples, then and now, the myths and reality.

An extract:

“Within a century of the death of Mohammad, in 632, Muslim armies had conquered almost the whole of the world where Jews lived, from Spain eastward across North Africa and the Middle East as far as the eastern frontier of Iran and beyond. Almost all the Jews in the world were now ruled by Islam. This new situation transformed Jewish existence. Their fortunes changed in legal, demographic, social, religious, political, geographical, economic, linguistic and cultural terms – all for the better.

First, things improved politically. Almost everywhere in Christendom where Jews had lived now formed part of the same political space as Babylon – Cordoba and Basra lay in the same political world. The old frontier between the vital centre in Babylonia and the Jews of the Mediterranean basin was swept away, forever.

Political change was partnered by change in the legal status of the Jewish population: although it is not always clear what happened during the Muslim conquests, one thing is certain. The result of the conquests was, by and large, to make the Jews second-class citizens.

This should not be misunderstood: to be a second-class citizen was a far better thing to be than not to be a citizen at all. For most of these Jews, second-class citizenship represented a major advance. In Visigothic Spain, for example, shortly before the Muslim conquest in 711, the Jews had seen their children removed from them and forcibly converted to Christianity and had themselves been enslaved.

In the developing Islamic societies of the classical and medieval periods, being a Jew meant belonging to a category defined under law, enjoying certain rights and protections, alongside various obligations. These rights and protections were not as extensive or as generous as those enjoyed by Muslims, and the obligations were greater but, for the first few centuries, the Muslims themselves were a minority, and the practical differences were not all that great.”