Ludwig Guttmann And The Paralympics

I wouldn’t normally touch upon this subject, but my curiosity was piqued by the Paralympics. I didn’t know the origins of them or the background to Ludwig Guttmann.

There is a piece at the Science museum, all too brief and incomplete:

“Ludwig Guttmann was a Jewish neurosurgeon who left Nazi Germany with his family in 1939. In Britain he became director of the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, where he helped soldiers with disabilities rehabilitate, and established the Paralympic Games.

At the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Guttmann tried new methods to treat patients with spinal injuries and paralysis sustained in the war. Exercise was used as therapy to help the patients develop strong upper bodies, as they could not walk. Patients were subjected to a gruelling regime of competitive activity, designed to make them psychologically as well as physically strong.

Guttmann watched wheelchair patients use walking sticks to play with a ball and devised a sport called wheelchair polo. The players suffered severe injuries most of the times they played, so did not play the game for long. Then Guttmann tried archery and netball as sports for disabled veterans in wheelchairs. They were a great success as the men at the spinal injuries hospital were able to practise these sports regularly.

On the same day as the Olympics opened in London in 1948, the first Stoke Mandeville Games were held. In 1960 the Olympics were held in Rome, and Goodman arranged for wheelchair athletes to compete in a ‘parallel’ Olympics. The name was shortened to the Paralympics, and now athletes with a wide range of disabilities represent their country every four years.”

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Anti-Muslim Violence Pictured Across The UK

Racism is on the rise in British, again, and TellMamaUK is a great initiative to help combat it.

The graphics below, which covers only a small period of time, shows the sad necessity of Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks):

Faith Matters explains more:

The majority of Muslims being physically attacked, harassed or intimidated because of their faith are women, according to interim results from the UK’s first ever ‘official’ anti-Muslim violence helpline.

Victims have included children as well as pensioners in their 80s. Even Baroness Warsi, the co-chairman of the Conservative Party, and socialite and journalist Jemima Khan, have been subject to online threats picked up and reported to the police by the TELL MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) campaign.

TELL MAMA, which was set up with Government backing at the end of February by interfaith organisation Faith Matters, has chronicled over 140 cases to date and led to the arrests and charging of three far-right English Defence League (EDL) sympathisers, with more cases and arrests likely in the coming months. Approximately 75% of the cases involve female victims, with far-right British National Party (BNP) or EDL sympathisers linked to one-third (33%) of all incidents.

The helpline records a disturbing picture of low-level anti-Muslim harassment: incidents in the workplace, in the street, between neighbours and particularly online, which may not always hit the headlines but have a devastating effect on peoples’ lives.

Dealing With Anti-Muslim Racism & More.

The advent of the MAMA project is most welcome.

Until now it has been hard to quantify the extent and level of racism which faces many Muslims in Britain. Years back when I tried to research the topic I found scattered information, incomplete police reporting and a serious lack of concrete information.

It is going to be a hard and depressing task, to correlate and document the level of racism faced by Muslims on a day-to-day basis in Britain, however, I hope that the MAMA project has the success that the Community Security trust does. Good luck to them.

James Bloodworth looks at a common British habit, When did looking down on others become the national pastime?

Report from Lhasa: February 18, 2012 makes difficult reading:

“Lhasa consists of approximately 1.2 million Chinese and approximately 200,000 Tibetans. The majority of these Tibetans live in an area which is now almost entirely enclosed by military compounds with walls between 10-16 feet; some with barbed wire. This isolation gives the impression of what the Warsaw Ghetto was like. Inside the “enclosed” area groups of armed soldiers, S.W.A.T. teams, and police patrol the streets 24 hours a day. Military drill songs can be heard throughout the day. S.W.A.T trucks and rows of 6 to 15 armored vehicles and tanks come through the area on a daily basis. Each vehicle has 3 to 4 soldiers at the opening turret, armed with assault rifles or machine guns aimed at the Tibetans.

All Tibetans must carry identification at all times. Tibetans residing in Lhasa are required to register with the police. There are approximately 134 new Police station checkpoints in Lhasa for random searches of pedestrians and vehicles. In addition to the military compounds in and around Lhasa, permanent military posts holding 1-10 armed soldiers have been established throughout the city. “

It could be just like Switzerland, that’s what Hirsh Goodman thinks.

Spiegel Online reminds us the Neo-Nazi Terrorist Threat Remains Real.

In local blog news, the Third Estate on How rich institutions, the big parties and the mass media have colonised the blogosphere.

Jeff Goldberg has a worrying piece, Iranian Scientist’s Wife Says Husband Sought Annihilation of Israel. The Fars News Agency has the original copy.

Norms of intervention.

Finally, Bradley Burston makes some excellent points:

“It’s Israel Apartheid Week 2012. Time for people who support Israel to tell the truth. Yes, the settlements are an obstacle to peace. Yes, the occupation, which exists to protect the settlements, is the opposite of democracy. Yes, the present government speaks of two states in theory alone.

In the democracy that was the United States in the year 1840, there were those who said that slavery was essential, irreversible, eternal, God’s will. And that people of color and women of all races should not, and therefore would not, be granted the freedoms and rights of full citizenship, that the only good Native American was a dead one.

And, at the same time, there were those who believed that democracy and equality would become law, however dreadful and protracted the process might be, and they were right.

It is 2012. America’s freedoms, its promises of opportunity and openness to immigrants and minorities, are still under attack, still being tested. The answer is not to dismantle America, but to strengthen its freedoms.

All Americans deserve democracy and self-determination. So do both of the native peoples of the Holy Land, Palestinians and Israelis alike. Just as in 1840 America, in this Holy Land there are people working on both sides, quietly, continually, toward that goal. Not freedom for one people at the expense of the other, but freedom and independence for both.

This is the lesson that BDS has yet to learn. And this is why BDS, and Israeli Apartheid Week, are failures. “

16,375 Far Right Crimes.

Not pleasant, but essential reading:

“In the three months since the news broke, there has been ample evidence to suggest Germany’s far right has been celebrating rather than condemning the killing spree.

At a fascist march in Munich in January, demonstrators blasted the Pink Panther theme tune from loudspeakers, a reference to bizarre videos featuring the cartoon character which the group produced.

Just a few weeks after two core members of the group were found dead in a camper van after an apparent double suicide, football supporters in Zwickau, the eastern town where the NSU members had been living under false identities, chanted “Terrorzelle Zwickau – ole, ole, ole”. A footballer from FSV Zwickau was fined after responding to shouts of “Sieg!” from the crowd during the same match with “Heil!”.

By the German government’s latest estimate, from 2010, there are 9,500 rightwing extremists in Germany who are “ready to commit violence”. That year, 16,375 “rightwing-motivated” crimes were recorded.

The perpetrators are not as easy to spot as they were in the late 1990s, when Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, two of the key NSU trio, were photographed at neo-Nazi marches with shaved heads, wearing bomber jackets and boots with white shoelaces, their trousers held up with red, black and white braces.

But German neo-Nazis are not always so circumspect. Well-publicised internet “hitlists” target leftwing politicians, pubs and social projects. There have been at least 182 murders motivated by rightwing extremism since German reunification in 1990, according to the Antonio Amadeu foundation pressure group. The government put the figure at just 47 in December, though some states are now increasing their own numbers after going back through their files.

Among the general population, intolerance is on the increase. A long-term study by the sociologist Wilhelm Heitmeyer in 2011 showed that every second German believes too many foreigners live in Germany, and 53% would have a problem moving into an area where lots of Muslims lived, an increase of 6% from 2004.

Against this backdrop of tacit racism it is no wonder that detectives appear not to have bothered to investigate rightwing extremism as a possible motive for the 10 killings, according to Katina Schubert, an expert in race relations from the leftwing Die Linke party.

“It’s clear the police and intelligence agencies were racist to the core,” she claimed. “They assumed right from the start that the eight Turks and one Greek man were killed by members of their own immigrant communities. The police briefed that these men were embroiled in drug smuggling plots or other crimes.”

Until the group was uncovered in November, the killings were known in Germany as the “doner murders”, which incorrectly gave the impression all the dead men were kebab sellers, reinforcing the stereotype that that’s what Turks in Germany do.

In Berlin on Thursday, Merkel apologised to the families of those killed. “For years, some relatives themselves unfairly faced suspicion that is particularly oppressive,” said the chancellor. “I ask for forgiveness for that.”

The police in Germany are “blind in the right eye”, say critics. “A 17-year-old in Nuremberg, where I live, was almost beaten to death by a neo-Nazi and the police didn’t take it at all seriously,” said Idil, a 19-year-old student attending an anti-Nazi counter-march in Dresden earlier this month. The boy, a Kurdish friend of hers, was left for dead in April 2010 after remarking on a Thor Steinar accessory carried by his attacker’s girlfriend. “

(H/T:Kirklees Unity)