Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Search

House of Lords - search results

If you're not happy with the results, please do another search
video

Video: UK should avoid Trump’s ‘unpredictable’ Middle East policy – House of Lords

The UK should distance itself from US President Donald Trump's unpredictable foreign policies in the Middle East and draw up its own strategy instead,...

British govt. suffers Brexit vote defeat at House of Lords over status of EU...

Published time: 1 Mar, 2017 19:45Edited time: 1 Mar, 2017 19:55 The 3 million EU nationals...

‘Eccentric’ House of Lords takes perks but contributes ‘nothing’ – former Lord Speaker

The House of Lords has been shamed by a former Lord Speaker, who said some...

House of Lords told to back Brexit bill or face being abolished – reports

Downing Street is attempting to play down a warning that the House of Lords could be abolished if peers try to block the Brexit...

Theresa May shelves plans to strip House of Lords of veto powers… for now

The government has abandoned plans put forward by David Cameron to strip the House of Lords of the power to veto legislation, but has...

Britain’s mass surveillance bill rubber-stamped by House of Lords

A sweeping new surveillance regime is set to become UK law before the end of the year after the Investigatory Powers Bill passed through...

Jews ‘blamed for Holocaust’ at House of Lords event

Israel has condemned a “shameful” event hosted by the British House of Lords in which Jews were blamed for the Holocaust and Israel was...

Could House of Lords block Brexit and force 2nd EU referendum?

The House of Lords could stall the process of Britain leaving the European Union -...

Tory who had moat cleaned on parliamentary expenses sworn into House of Lords

A former Conservative minister, who provoked public outrage after claiming large sums of taxpayers’ money to clean the moat at his country estate, has...

UK House of Lords backs gay marriage

Britain's House of Lords have supported same-sex marriage bill, moving the initiative a step closer to becoming law in England and Wales. The "wrecking" amendment...

Former Northern Rock Chief Admitted To House Of Lords

The man who led Northern Rock bank to its near collapse has been 'elected' to the House of Lords. Viscount Ridley won a special election for hereditary peers to replace Tory Earl Ferrers. He resigned as Northern Rock chairman in 2007 when it was force...

Is The House Of Lords Shooting Range Cost Effective?

The House of Lords should reveal the cost of its "anachronistic" shooting gallery, a Liberal Democrat peer has said. Lord Tyler, a former MP, has raised questions about who pays for the House of Lords rifle range and how Parliament ensures the securit...

House of Lords minor amendment to the Counter-Terrorism Bill – removing your innocent DNA...

Spy Blog | The House of Lords has voted to accept a minor Opposition Amendment regarding the removal of innocent people's DNA profiles, human tissue...

Blair Advisers Oppose Brown’s Terrorism Plan in House of Lords

By Kitty Donaldson | Two of Tony Blair's former ministers and his top domestic security official said they will vote against anti-terrorism laws proposed...

Hacker Appeals To House Of Lords

By Christopher Nickson | A British hacker accused to accessing US military and Nasa computers has taken his case against extradition to the House of...

10 Lords a-sleeping: Fury as lazy Westminster peers claim millions just for turning up

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, unless you’re a peer in the House...

‘We failed completely to break people smuggling in the Mediterranean’ – UK Lords’ inquiry...

Published time: 13 Jul, 2017 21:53 Edited time: 13 Jul, 2017 21:54 While the EU...

‘I, for One, Welcome Our New Insect Overlords!’ How the Chattering Class Bully-Worships Trump

In his review of Bertrand Russell’s Power: A New Social Analysis, George Orwell wrote the following: “Bully-worship, under various disguises, has become a universal religion… ” Orwell...

Britain should avoid Trump’s ‘unpredictable’ Middle East policy, say Lords

The UK should distance itself from US President Donald Trump’s unpredictable foreign policies in the...

Thirst class travel? Lords call time on pre-flight booze at British airports

Published time: 7 Apr, 2017 16:04 Bad news for travelers who enjoy a boozy breakfast. The...

UK parliament rejects Lords amendments to Brexit bill

Published time: 13 Mar, 2017 18:58 MPs have rejected the House of Lords’ amendments to the...

Lords defeat government again, backing second Brexit bill amendment

The House of Lords has backed a Brexit bill amendment requiring parliament to approve any exit deal that Britain makes with the EU, putting...

Lords at odds with official statistics in warning that Brexit won’t cut migration

A House of Lords report warns free movement will not alter net migration into the...

Sovereignty of anti-Brexit Gibraltar must be protected in future Spain trade talks, Lords say

Published time: 1 Mar, 2017 16:20Edited time: 1 Mar, 2017 17:16 Britain is “morally responsible” for...

Peer aims to block Brexit in Lords’ debate as Prime Minister May looks on...

A British peer has launched a campaign against Brexit, vowing to vote against the bill...

UK House of Commons approves Brexit

  ...

House of Commons backs Brexit bill giving PM power to start EU withdrawal

The Brexit bill allowing the UK government to begin the formal process of leaving the...

House of Commons speaker stands by ‘Trump not welcome’ comments

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has defended voicing his opposition to US President Donald Trump addressing Parliament during a state visit. On Monday, Bercow...

Tory MP’s aide arrested over ‘rape in Houses of Parliament’

A Conservative MP’s aide has been arrested on suspicion of rape inside his Parliamentary office. ...

EU’s Mediterranean anti-smuggling mission doomed without stable Libya – Lords

The EU’s operations to stop people trafficking in the central Mediterranean will not work without...

Inaction on Afghan interpreters is ‘inexplicable, inhumane & shameful’ – Lords

Peers have rounded on a Tory defense minister over the government’s unwillingness to resettle Afghan...

British govt may have to accept 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees after Lords defeat

The House of Lords has defeated the government in a vote that could see 3,000...
Britain's housing market is a bubble

Britain’s House Price Crash – 2016 Predictions Mount

Housing in many countries, especially Britain is no longer an investment, it’s now made up of three fundamentals; consumption, crime and concern. The general...

Despite the Spin, Hillary Clinton Bows Down to Wall Street Overlords

(Common Dreams) - “Perfect! Perfect!” exclaimed a woman looking around at the Four Freedoms Park on New York City’s Roosevelt Island as a large crowd...

UK’s Lords and EU Take Aim at Online Anonymity

DANNY O'BRIEN Last week, the UK's House of Lords Select Committee on Communications released a report on"social media and criminal offences." Britain has faced a number...

One year on: Bedroom tax forces households into debt

Mick Meaney RINF Alternative News Since the Bedroom Tax was introduced in 2013, residents on welfare are now struggling to survive. Fearful of eviction, many have...

Home Secretary aims to quash Lords rebellion on plans to make terror suspects stateless

The Home Secretary Theresa May will today call on MPs to vote down a House of Lords rebellion and grant her the power to make...

Lords toilet work costs taxpayer £100k

House of Lords toilet refurbishment may cost UK taxpayer £100,000.Refurbishing two toilets used by peers and VIP guests at the Palace of Westminster may...

Britain's House of Commons votes to legalize gay marriage in England, Wales

Britain's House of Commons has voted to legalize gay marriage in England and Wales. British MPs approved the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill by...

New Rental System Makes It Easy For House Hunters

A new system to make it easier for prospects to rent a house is to be introduced in November, it emerged today. The system aims to be easily...

Lords of Disorder: Billions for Wall Street, Sacrifice for Everyone Else

The president's "sequester" offer slashes non-defense spending by $830 billion over the next ten years. That happens to be the precise amount we're implicitly giving Wall Street's biggest banks over the same time period.

We're collecting nothing from the big banks in return for our generosity.  Instead, we're demanding sacrifice from the elderly, the disabled, the poor, the young, the middle class - pretty much everybody, in fact, who isn't "too big to fail."

That's injustice on a medieval scale, served up with a medieval caste-privilege flavor. The only difference is that nowadays injustices are presented with spreadsheets and PowerPoints, rather than with scrolls and trumpets and kingly proclamations.

And remember: The White House represents the liberal side of these negotiations.

The Grandees

The $83 billion 'subsidy' for America's ten biggest banks first appeared in an editorial from Bloomberg News - which, as the creation of New York's billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, is hardly a lefty outfit.  That editorial drew upon sound economic analyses to estimate the value of the US government's implicit promise to bail these banks out.

Then it showed that, without that advantage, these banks would not be making a profit at all.

That means that all of those banks' CEOs, men (they're all men) who preen and strut before the cameras and lecture Washington on its profligacy, would not only have lost their jobs and fortunes in 2008 because of their incompetence - they would probably lose their jobs again today.

Tell that to Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, or Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, both of whom have told us it's imperative that we cut social programs for the elderly and disabled to "save our economy." The elderly and disabled have paid for those programs - just as they paid to rescue Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein, and just as they implicitly continue to pay for that rescue today.

Dimon, Blankfein and their peers are like the grandees of imperial Spain and Portugal. They've been given great wealth and great power over others, not through native ability but by the largesse of the Throne.

Lords of Disorder

Just yesterday, in a rare burst of candor, Dimon said this to investors on a quarterly earnings call: "This bank is anti-fragile, we actually benefit from downturns."

It's true, of course. Other corporations - in fact, everybody else - has to survive or fail in real-world conditions. But Dimon and his peers are wrapped in a protective force field which was created by the people, of the people, and for ... well, for Dimon and his peers.

The term "antifragile" was coined by maverick financier and analyst Nassim Taleb, whose book of the same name is subtitled "Things That Gain From Disorder." That's a good description of JPMorgan Chase and the nation's other megabanks.

Arbitraging Failure

Dimon's comment was another way of saying that his bank, and everything it represents, is The Shock Doctrine made manifest. The nation's megabanks are arbitraging their own failures, and the economic crises that flow from those failures.

These institutions are designed to prey off economic misery. They suppress genuine market forces in order to thrive, and they couldn't do it without our ongoing help. The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve are making it happen.

We who have made these banks "antifragile" have crowned their leaders our Lords of Disorder.

Once Dimon told reporters that he explained to his seven-year-old daughter what a financial crisis is - "something that happens ... every five to seven years," which "we need to do a better job" managing.

Thanks to fat political contributions, Dimon manages them well. So do his peers. Misery is the business model. And by Dimon's reckoning another shock's coming any day now.

Money For Nothing

Bloomberg's use of the word 'subsidy' in this instance can be slightly misleading. Public institutions don't issue $83 billion in checks to Wall Street's biggest banks every year. But they didn't let them fail as they should have - through an orderly liquidation - after they created the crisis of 2008 through fraud and chicanery. Instead it allowed them to prosper from it, creating that $83 billion implicit guarantee.

As we detailed in 2011, the TARP program didn't "make money," either. Banks received a free and easy trillion-plus dollars from our public institution, on terms that amounted to a gift worth tens of billions, and possibly hundreds of billions.

That gift prevented them from failing. In private enterprise, this kind of rescue is only given in return for part ownership or other financial concessions. But our government asked for nothing of the kind.

Unpaid Debts

Breaking up the big banks would have protected the public from more harm at their hands. That didn't happen.

Government institutions could have imposed a financial transaction tax, whose revenue could be used to repair the harm the banks caused while at the same time discouraging runaway gambling.  They still could.

They could have imposed fees on the largest banks to offset the $83 billion per year advantage we've given them. They still could.

But they haven't. This one-sided giveaway is the equivalent of an $83 billion gift for Wall Street each and every year.

Cut and Paste

$83 billion per year: Our current budget debate is framed in ten-year cycles, which means that's $830 billion in Sequester Speak.  You'd think our deficit-obsessed capital would be trying to collect that very reasonable amount from Wall Street. Instead the White House is proposing $130 billion in Social Security cuts, $400 in Medicare reductions, $200 billion in "non-health mandatory savings," and $100 billion in non-defense discretionary cuts.

That adds up to exactly $830 billion.

No doubt there is genuine waste that could be cut. But $830 billion, or some portion of it, could be used to grow our economy and brings tens of millions of Americans out of the ongoing recession that is their daily reality, even as the Lords of Disorder continue to prosper. It could be used for educating our young people and helping them find work, for reducing the escalating number of people in poverty, for addressing our crumbling infrastructure, for giving people decent jobs.

It's going to Wall Street instead.

Trillion-Dollar Tribute

The right word for that is tribute. As in, "a payment by one ruler or nation to another in acknowledgment of submission ..." or "an excessive tax, rental, or tariff imposed by a government, sovereign, lord, or landlord ... an exorbitant charge levied by a person or group having the power of coercion." (Courtesy Merriam-Webster)

In this case the tribute is made possible, not by military occupation, but by the hijacking of our political process by the corrupting force of corporate contributions.

The fruits of that victory are rich: Bank profits are at near-record highs. Most of the country is still struggling to dig out from the wreckage they created but, as Demos' Policy Shop puts it, "for the banks it's 2006 all over again."

On Bended Knee

"Millions for defense," they said in John Adams' day, "but not one cent for tribute."

Today we're paying for both. That doesn't leave much for the elderly, the disabled, the impoverished, the children, or anybody else who doesn't "benefit from disorder." Nobody's fighting for them in this budget battle.

That leaves the public with a clear choice: Demand solutions that are more just and democratic - or submit willingly to the Lords of Disorder.

BAE case in the Lords

CAAT News | The five senior Judges are technically a committee of the Lords so the hearing took place in a Lords’ Committee...

Blair went to war on a lie, law lords told

By Nigel Morris The mothers of two teenage soldiers killed in Iraq accused Tony Blair's government of going to war "on a lie" as they...

Banking Union Time Bomb: Eurocrats Authorize Bailouts AND Bail-Ins

As things stand, the banks are the permanent government of the country, whichever party is in power.

 – Lord Skidelsky, House of Lords, UK Parliament, 31 March 2011)

On March 20, 2014, European Union officials reached an historic agreement to create a single agency to handle failing banks. Media attention has focused on the agreement involving the single resolution mechanism (SRM), a uniform system for closing failed banks. But the real story for taxpayers and depositors is the heightened threat to their pocketbooks of a deal that now authorizes both bailouts and “bail-ins” – the confiscation of depositor funds. The deal involves multiple concessions to different countries and may be illegal under the rules of the EU Parliament; but it is being rushed through to lock taxpayer and depositor liability into place before the dire state of Eurozone banks is exposed.

The bail-in provisions were agreed to last summer. According to Bruno Waterfield, writing in the UK Telegraph in June 2013:

 Under the deal, after 2018 bank shareholders will be first in line for assuming the losses of a failed bank before bondholders and certain large depositors. Insured deposits under £85,000 (€100,000) are exempt and, with specific exemptions, uninsured deposits of individuals and small companies are given preferred status in the bail-in pecking order for taking losses . . . Under the deal all unsecured bondholders must be hit for losses before a bank can be eligible to receive capital injections directly from the ESM, with no retrospective use of the fund before 2018.

As noted in my earlier articles, the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) imposes an open-ended debt on EU member governments, putting taxpayers on the hook for whatever the Eurocrats (EU officials) demand. And it’s not just the EU that has bail-in plans for their troubled too-big-to-fail banks. It is also the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other G20 nations. Recall that a depositor is an unsecured creditor of a bank. When you deposit money in a bank, the bank “owns” the money and you have an IOU or promise to pay.

Under the new EU banking union, before the taxpayer-financed single resolution fund can be deployed, shareholders and depositors will be “bailed in” for a significant portion of the losses. The bankers thus win both ways: they can tap up the taxpayers’ money and the depositors’ money.

 The Unsettled Question of Deposit Insurance

 But at least, you may say, it’s only the uninsured deposits that are at risk (those over €100,000—about $137,000). Right?

Not necessarily. According to ABC News, “Thursday’s result is a compromise that differs from the original banking union idea put forward in 2012. The original proposals had a third pillar, Europe-wide deposit insurance. But that idea has stalled.”

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, speaking before the March 20th meeting in the Belgian capital, hailed the compromise plan as “great progress for a better banking union. Two pillars are now in place” – two but not the third. And two are not enough to protect the public.As observed in The Economist in June 2013, without Europe-wide deposit insurance, the banking union is a failure:

[T]he third pillar, sadly ignored, [is] a joint deposit-guarantee scheme in which the costs of making insured depositors whole are shared among euro-zone members. Annual contributions from banks should cover depositors in normal years, but they cannot credibly protect the system in meltdown (America’s prefunded scheme would cover a mere 1.35% of insured deposits). Any deposit-insurance scheme must have recourse to government backing. . . . [T]he banking union—and thus the euro—will make little sense without it.

All deposits could be at risk in a meltdown. But how likely is that?

Pretty likely, it seems . . . .

What the Eurocrats Don’t Want You to Know

Mario Draghi was vice president of Goldman Sachs Europe before he became president of the ECB. He had a major hand in shaping the banking union. And according to Wolf Richter, writing in October 2013, the goal of Draghi and other Eurocrats is to lock taxpayer and depositor liability in place before the panic button is hit over the extreme vulnerability of Eurozone banks:

European banks, like all banks, have long been hermetically sealed black boxes. . . . The only thing known about the holes in the balance sheets of these black boxes, left behind by assets that have quietly decomposed, is that they’re deep. But no one knows how deep. And no one is allowed to know – not until Eurocrats decide who is going to pay for bailing out these banks.

When the ECB becomes the regulator of the 130 largest ECB banks, says Richter, it intends to subject them to more realistic evaluations than the earlier “stress tests” that were nothing but “banking agitprop.”  But these realistic evaluations won’t happen until the banking union is in place. How does Richter know? Draghi himself said so. Draghi said:

 “The effectiveness of this exercise will depend on the availability of necessary arrangements for recapitalizing banks … including through the provision of a public backstop. . . . These arrangements must be in place before we conclude our assessment.”

Richter translates that to mean:

The truth shall not be known until after the Eurocrats decided who would have to pay for the bailouts. And the bank examinations won’t be completed until then, because if any of it seeped out – Draghi forbid – the whole house of cards would collapse, with no taxpayers willing to pick up the tab as its magnificent size would finally be out in the open!

Only after the taxpayers – and the depositors – are stuck with the tab will the curtain be lifted and the crippling insolvency of the banks be revealed. Predictably, panic will then set in, credit will freeze, and the banks will collapse, leaving the unsuspecting public to foot the bill.

 What Happened to Nationalizing Failed Banks?

 Underlying all this frantic wheeling and dealing is the presumption that the “zombie banks” must be kept alive at all costs – alive and in the hands of private bankers, who can then continue to speculate and reap outsized bonuses while the people bear the losses.

But that’s not the only alternative. In the 1990s, the expectation even in the United States was that failed megabanks would be nationalized. That route was pursued quite successfully not only in Sweden and Finland but in the US in the case of Continental Illinois, then the fourth-largest bank in the country and the largest-ever bankruptcy. According to William Engdahl, writing in September 2008:

 [I]n almost every case of recent banking crises in which emergency action was needed to save the financial system, the most economical (to taxpayers) method was to have the Government, as in Sweden or Finland in the early 1990’s, nationalize the troubled banks [and] take over their management and assets … In the Swedish case the end cost to taxpayers was estimated to have been almost nil.

Typically, nationalization involves taking on the insolvent bank’s bad debts, getting the bank back on its feet, and returning it to private owners, who are then free to put depositors’ money at risk again. But better would be to keep the nationalized mega-bank as a public utility, serving the needs of the people because it is owned by the people.

As argued by George Irvin in Social Europe Journal in October 2011:

[T]he financial sector needs more than just regulation; it needs a large measure of public sector control—that’s right, the n-word: nationalisation. Finance is a public good, far too important to be run entirely for private bankers. At the very least, we need a large public investment bank tasked with modernising and greening our infrastructure . . . . [I]nstead of trashing the Eurozone and going back to a dozen minor currencies fluctuating daily, let’s have a Eurozone Ministry of Finance (Treasury) with the necessary fiscal muscle to deliver European public goods like more jobs, better wages and pensions and a sustainable environment.

A Third Alternative – Turn the Government Money Tap Back On

A giant flaw in the current banking scheme is that private banks, not governments, now create virtually the entire money supply; and they do it by creating interest-bearing debt. The debt inevitably grows faster than the money supply, because the interest is not created along with the principal in the original loan.

For a clever explanation of how all this works in graphic cartoon form, see the short French video “Government Debt Explained,” linked here.

The problem is exacerbated in the Eurozone, because no one has the power to create money ex nihilo as needed to balance the system, not even the central bank itself. This flaw could be remedied either by allowing nations individually to issue money debt-free or, as suggested by George Irvin, by giving a joint Eurozone Treasury that power.

The Bank of England just admitted in its Quarterly Bulletin that banks do not actually lend the money of their depositors. What they lend is bank credit created on their books. In the U.S. today, finance charges on this credit-money amount to between 30 and 40% of the economy, depending on whose numbers you believe.  In a monetary system in which money is issued by the government and credit is issued by public banks, this “rentiering” can be avoided. Government money will not come into existence as a debt at interest, and any finance costs incurred by the public banks’ debtors will represent Treasury income that offsets taxation.

New money can be added to the money supply without creating inflation, at least to the extent of the “output gap” – the difference between actual GDP or actual output and potential GDP. In the US, that figure is about $1 trillion annually; and for the EU is roughly €520 billion ($715 billion). A joint Eurozone Treasury could add this sum to the money supply debt-free, creating the euros necessary to create jobs, rebuild infrastructure, protect the environment, and maintain a flourishing economy.

_________________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

Like this:

Like Loading...

Related

Filed under: Ellen Brown Articles/Commentary Tagged: | , , ,

Israel’s Secret Nuclear Program

Israel's Secret Nuclear Program

by Stephen Lendman

It's an open secret. It's been known for years. Media scoundrels suppress it. They pretend none exists. 

It's real. It's menacing. Imagine ignoring what threatens humanity. Imagine pretending Iran's peaceful nuclear program does so. Imagine risking regional or global war by doing it.

London's Guardian is an establishment broadsheet. It's usually conformist. Once in a while it's not. 

It wrote many times about Edward's Snowden's revelations. It told readers what they need to know. On January 15, it headlined "The Truth about Israel's secret nuclear arsenal."

Rarely ever would US establishment publications suggest one. Or Israel's chemical and biological weapons. 

They're used freely against Palestinians and other adversaries. Doctors discover injuries never saw before seen. Media scoundrels ignore them.

Israel's nuclear program is one of the world's best known open secrets. It's still not publicly acknowledged. It's hard refuting indisputable evidence. 

Israel began developing nuclear technology decades ago. It did so "deep beneath desert sands," said the Guardian. 

It "us(ed) technology and materials provided by friendly powers…" It did it the old-fashioned way. A "clandestine network of agents" stole it.

It's the "stuff of pulp thrillers and the sort of narrative often used to characterise the worst fears about" Iran's nuclear program. One's military, the other entirely peaceful.

"In reality…neither US or British intelligence believes Tehran has decided to build a bomb..." Its program is the world's most closely monitored. 

Israel's is entirely clandestine. It's illegal. Iran's fully complies with NPT provisions. Israel won't sign the landmark treaty. It wants nothing about its program revealed. It wants freedom to enhance it.

Its open secret reflects "an extraordinary feat of subterfuge," said the Guardian. It produced a powerful arsenal. It's enhanced by long-range delivery systems.

Israel threatens to use all its weapons if threatened. It's used chemical, biological and radiological ones against Gaza and Lebanon. It'll do it again in future conflicts.

Despite open knowledge of its nuclear program, Israel's position is never confirm or deny. In December, former Knesset speaker, Avraham Burg, broke the taboo.

He said Israel has nuclear and chemical weapons. He called official non-disclosure "outdated and childish." He called for "open and brave public discussion."

He said only "regional dialogue, including with Iran" could create a nuclear-free Middle East. Burg is a former Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee member.

He has direct knowledge of Israel's nuclear program. The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel is a right-wing group. It wants Burg investigated. It accused him of "treason."

He revealed a key national security secret, it said. He disclosed what's increasingly common knowledge. Israel's nondisclosure policy is nonsensical.

Western governments play along with Israeli "opacity." Obama won't discuss it. Nor other US officials. Nor media scoundrels. They pretend none exists.

Britain is largely silent. In November, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was asked about it in the House of Lords. She tried being circumspect.

She said what's rarely heard. "Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons programme. We have regular discussions with the government of Israel on a range of nuclear-related issues," she said. 

"The government of Israel is in no doubt as to our views. We encourage Israel to become a state party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

According to the Guardian, countries conspiring with Israel's nuclear program include America, France, Germany, Britain and Norway. It omitted South Africa.

Israeli agents were involved. So was a Hollywood billionaire. Arnon Milchan admitted his role. He did so last month.

He was born in Israel. He supported Israel's nuclear program decades ago, saying:

"Do you know what it's like to be a 20-something-year-old kid (and your) country lets (you) be James Bond? Wow! The action! That was exiting."

He operated in 17 countries. He worked with 30 companies. He brokered deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

It was a challenge overcoming his arms dealing reputation, he said. He had to convince people he didn't "live off selling machine guns and killing."

He risked his life aiding Israel. Israeli President Shimon Peres was its unacknowledged nuclear weapons architect.

He recruited Milchan. Actor Ben Affleck calls him "a very mysterious, exotic figure in Hollywood." Actor Robert De Niro asked about his clandestine activities for Israel. 

"He (said) he was an Israeli and that of course he would do these things for his country," De Niro said.

He had no qualms about being a secret agent. He wasn't concerned about its illegal nuclear program.

He didn't consider its potential harm. He ignored its destructiveness. Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, secretly ordered developmental activities.

It began after Israel's creation. Ehud Avriel was a European operative. He was a later MK. He recruited East European Jewish scientists.

Avraham Marcus Klingberg was enlisted. He later became an Israeli chemical and biological weapons (CBW) expert. He was Israel Institute of Biological Research deputy director.

Ernst David Bergmann was the father of Israel's bomb. He later headed the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC).

In his farewell address to the Israeli Armaments Development Authority (RAFAEL), Ben-Gurion defended his agenda, saying:

"I am confident, based not only on what I heard today, that our science can provide us with the weapons that are needed to deter our enemies from waging war against us."

He and Peres were the leading forces behind Israel's nuclear and CBW programs.

By the early 1970s, Israel had advanced nuclear technology. It had world class scientists. It had several dozen ready to launch bombs. It had delivery systems able to hit distant targets.

France and South Africa were Israel's main collaborators. Washington supplied a five-megawatt research reactor.

It was part of Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" program. Washington became complicit in Israel's illicit development.

Israeli scientists were trained at US universities. They had access to domestic weapons labs.

They got advanced technology transfers. They included supercomputers able to design sophisticated nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

Mordechai Vanunu became a heroic whistleblower. He did so long before term gained prominence. He exposed Israeli nuclear secrets. He revealed what everyone has a right to know.

He was unjustly punished. Israel dispenses it ruthlessly. He spent 18 years imprisoned. He was isolated brutally in solitary confinement.

He's been harassed ever since. His fundamental civil and human rights are denied. He's prevented from leaving Israel. He wants to do so to live free.

Daniel Ellsberg once called him "the preeminent hero of the nuclear era." Vanunu says he's neither traitor nor spy. "I only wanted the world to know what was happening," he said.

From 1988 - 2004, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize each year. His heroism is recognized worldwide.

Israel has destructive chemical and biological weapons arsenals. In 1993, it signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). 

It refused to ratify it. It did so for spurious reasons. It wrongfully claims it's surrounded by hostile neighbors. Israel's only enemies are ones it invents.

It never signed the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). Its policy is CBW ambiguity. It uses banned weapons in all its conflicts.

They include chemical, biological, and radiological ones. Monstrous new weapons are tested. Victims attest to their potency.

Corpses bear witness to hideous wounds, malformations and toxicity. Official policy prohibits discussing anything related to Israel's nuclear, chemical or biological programs. Doing so is considered treason.

Israel's destructive weapons threaten world peace. So do America's. Both countries partner in crime.

Daily events should scare everyone. Warmakers win peace prizes. Peacemakers are vilified. Criminality is rewarded. 

Permanent war is official US policy. Israel is a warrior state. Both countries threaten humanity. It may not survive Obama's second term.

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

US Drone Strikes Putting ‘Global Order At Risk’, Warn European Politicians

The United States is putting "global stability and international order at risk" by pursuing a policy of targeted extrajudicial drone strikes against suspected terrorists, European politicians have warned.

At least to 3,000 people, including a large number of civilians, are said to have been killed by controversial CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen since 2004.

This week members of the European Parliament said they were "deeply concerned about the legal basis, as well as the moral, ethical and human rights implications" of the drone attacks and urged European Union member states to "contest the US attempt to pervert international law".

In a statement the MEPs said: "We cannot remain silent. The European Union and its Member States must speak up against a practice that will set a dangerous and unwelcome precedent for International Law."

British MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford, the Liberal Democrat European justice and human rights spokeswoman, said on Friday: "US drone killings operate in disregard of the long-established international legal framework about when it is lawful to kill people. This sets an extremely dangerous precedent and risks a destabilising effect on international relations. It could even furnish Al-Qaida with a licence to kill in return."

"European complicity in the ‘War on Terror’ after 9/11, in defiance of legal norms whereby terrorist criminals must be brought to justice through due process, still haunts Europe as well as the US. It is incredible that the US is making renewed and reckless attempts to rewrite the international legal code, and we could get hurt again too."
 
"Without agreed law the international community cannot hope to justify military action and prevent human rights abuses. As leaders of that community along with the US, the EU and its Member States must boldly state their opposition to this programme, which disregards our common international legal heritage. Silence will be taken as European acquiescence, with potentially disastrous results."

LIKE HUFFPOST UK POLITICS ON FACEBOOK | FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

The condemnation came after a briefing in Brussels from United Nations Special Rapporteur for Counter Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson QC, who is conducting a UN investigation into the UK and US policy of targeted killings.

Senior British parliamentarians have also raised concerns in Westminster over president Obama's use of drones in Pakistan. Former British Foreign Office minister Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead has warned "action must be taken to ensure that there is accountability and reparations when a drone attack goes wrong".

And Lord West of Spithead, the former head of the Royal Navy and a security minister in the last Labour government, told the House of Lords last month: "War is horrible. Death is horrible. Being involved in the risk is horrible. When one does this remotely from a leafy suburb in your own country and killing people that does make it remote and that does have huge implications and is very worrying and needs a lot of control."

The House of Commons defence committee announced it would conduct an investigation into the British military's use of drones after the RAF decided to expand its use and number of Unmanned Ariel Vehicles.

Pressed by MPs and peers, the UK government has insisted it has only used its own drones inside Afghanistan as the British military's presence there is at the request of the Afghan government. However British intelligence agencies have been accused of passing information to the CIA to help the Americans carry out strikes in Pakistan.

And last month it was reported the UK had a policy of stripping British citizens of their passports on national security grounds - two of who were then killed by US drones.

President Obama's use of drones has recently climbed up the American news agenda following the controversial confirmation of John Brennan as head of the Central Intelligence Agency and Republican senator Rand Paul's thirteen hour senate filibuster against extrajudicial drone killings.

Brennan has previously claimed that no civilians have been killed by drones, based on the Obama administration's decision to designate every military-age male in the target area as a combatant.

On Thursday the White House tried to shut down the debate over whether, as had been initially suggested, Obama had the power to order a drone strike on US soil.

A series of HuffPost/YouGov surveys showed that while a majority of Americans support their use to kill people suspected of being "high-level members of al Qaeda", this is reversed if they are told civilians are at risk of being killed.

Related on HuffPost:

Shadow Lives: How the War on Terror in England Became a War on Women...

Once, as a reporter, I covered wars, conflicts, civil wars, and even a genocide in places like Vietnam, Angola, Eritrea, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, keeping away from official briefings and listening to the people who were living the war.  In the years since the Bush administration launched its Global War on Terror, I’ve done the same thing without ever leaving home.

In the last decade, I didn’t travel to distant refugee camps in Pakistan or destroyed villages in Afghanistan, nor did I spend time in besieged cities like Iraq’s Fallujah or Libya’s Misrata.  I stayed in Great Britain.  There, my government, in close conjunction with Washington, was pursuing its own version of what, whether anyone cared to say it or not, was essentially a war against Islam.  Somehow, by a series of chance events, I found myself inside it, spending time with families transformed into enemies.

I hadn’t planned to write about the war on terror, but driven by curiosity about lives most of us never see and a few lucky coincidences, I stumbled into a world of Muslim women in London, Manchester, and Birmingham.  Some of them were British, others from Arab and African countries, but their husbands or sons had been swept up in Washington’s war. Some were in Guantanamo, some were among the dozen Muslim foreigners who did not know each other, and who were surprised to find themselves imprisoned together in Britain on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda. Later, some of these families would find themselves under house arrest.

In the process, I came to know women and children who were living in almost complete isolation and with the stigma of a supposed link to terrorism. They had few friends, and were cut off from the wider world. Those with a husband under house arrest were allowed no visitors who had not been vetted for “security,” nor could they have computers, even for their children to do their homework.  Other lonely women had husbands or sons who had sometimes spent a decade or more in prison without charges in the United Kingdom, and were fighting deportation or extradition.

Gradually, they came to accept me into their isolated lives and talked to me about their children, their mothers, their childhoods — but seldom, at first, about the grim situations of their husbands, which seemed too intimate, too raw, too frightening, too unknowable to be put into words.

In the early years, it was a steep learning curve for me, spending time in homes where faith was the primary reality, Allah was constantly invoked, English was a second language, and privacy and reticence were givens. Facebook culture had not come to most of these families. The reticence faded over the years, especially when the children were not there, or in the face of the kind of desolation that came from a failed court appeal to lift the restrictions on their lives, an unexpected police raid on the house, a husband’s suicide attempt, or the coming of a new torture report from Washington’s then-expanding global gulag of black sites and, of course, Guantanamo.

In these years, I met some of their husbands and sons as well.  The first was a British man from Birmingham, Moazzam Begg. He had been held for three years in Washington’s notorious offshore prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, only to be released without charges.  When he came home, through his lawyer, he asked me to help write his memoir, the first to come out of Guantanamo.  We worked long months on Enemy Combatant. It was hard for him to relive his nightmare days and nights in American custody in Kandahar and in the U.S. prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and then those limbo years in Cuba. It was even harder for him to visit the women whose absent husbands he had known in prison and who, unlike him, were still there.

Was My Husband Tortured?

In these homes he visited, there was always one great unspoken question: Was my husband or son tortured? It was the single question no one could bear to ask a survivor of that nightmare, even for reassurance. When working on his book, I deliberately left the chapter on his experiences in American hands in Bagram prison for last, as I sensed how difficult it would be for both of us to speak about the worst of the torture I knew he had experienced.

Through Moazzam, I met other men who had been swept up in the post-9/11 dragnet for Muslims in Great Britain, refugees who sought him out as an Arabic speaker and a British citizen to help them negotiate Britain’s newly hostile atmosphere in the post-9/11 years.  Soon, I began to visit some of their wives, too.

In time, I found myself deep inside a world of civilian women who were being warred upon (after a fashion) in my own country, which was how I came upon a locked-down hospital ward with a man determined to starve himself to death unless he was given refugee documents to leave Britain, children who cried in terror in response to a knock on the door, wives faced with a husband changed beyond words by prison.

I was halfway through working on Moazzam’s book when London was struck by our 9/11, which we call 7/7. The July 7, 2005, suicide bombings, in three parts of the London underground and a bus, killed 52 civilians and injured more than 700. The four bombers were all young British men between 18 and 30, two of them married with children, and one of them a mentor at a primary school. In video statements left behind they described themselves as “soldiers” whose aim was to force the British government to pull its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Just three weeks later, there were four more coordinated bomb attacks on the London subway system.  (All failed to detonate.) The four men responsible, longterm British residents originally from the Horn of Africa, were captured, tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment. In this way, the whole country was traumatised in 2005, and that particularly includes the various strands of the Muslim community in Great Britain.

The British security services quickly returned to a post-9/11 stance on overdrive. The same MI5 intelligence agents who had interrogated Moazzam while he was in U.S. custody asked to meet him again to get his thoughts on who might be behind the attacks. However, three years in U.S. custody and five months at home occupied with his family and his book had not made him a likely source of information on current strains of thought in the British Muslim community.

At the same time, the dozen foreign Muslim refugees detained in the aftermath of 9/11 and held without trial for two years before being released on the orders of the House of Lords were rearrested. In the summer of 2005, the government prepared to deport them to countries they had originally fled as refugees.

All of them had been made anonymous by court order and in legal documents were referred to as Mr. G, Mr. U, and so on. This was no doubt intended to safeguard their privacy, but in a sense it also condemned them.  It made them faceless, inhuman, and their families experienced it just that way. “They even took my husband’s name away, why?” one wife asked me.

The women I was meeting in these years were mostly from this small group, as well as the relatives of a handful of British residents — Arabs — who were not initially returned from Guantanamo with the nine British citizens that the Americans finally released without charges in 2004 and 2005.

Perhaps no one in the country was, in the end, more terrorised than them, thanks to the various terror plots by British nationals that followed. And they were right to be fearful.  The pressure on them was overwhelming.  Some of them simply gave up and went home voluntarily because they could not bear house arrest, though they risked being sent to prison in their native lands; others went through years of house arrest and court appeals against deportation, all of which continues to this day.

Among the plots that unnerved them were one in 2006 against transatlantic aircraft, for which a total of 12 Britons were jailed for life in 2009, and the 2007 attempt to blow up a London nightclub and Glasgow International Airport, in which one bomber died and the second was jailed for 32 years. In the post-9/11 decade, 237 people were convicted of terror-related offences in Britain.

Though all of this was going on, much of it remained remote from the world of the refugee women I came to know who, in the larger world, were mainly preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that, with Palestinian developments, filled their TV screens tuned only to Arabic stations.

These women did not tend to dwell on their own private nightmares, but for anyone in their company there was no mistaking them: a wife prevented from taking her baby into the hospital to visit her hunger-striking husband and get him to eat before he starved to death; another, with several small children, turned back from a prison visit, despite a long journey, because her husband was being punished that day; children whose toys were taken in a police raid and never given back; midnight visits from a private security company to check on a man already electronically tagged.

Here was the texture of a hidden war of continual harassment against a largely helpless population.  This was how some of the most vulnerable people in British society — often already traumatised refugees and torture survivors — were made permanent scapegoats for our post-9/11, and then post-7/7 fears.

So powerful is the stigma of “terrorism” today that, in the name of “our security,” whether in Great Britain or the United States, just about anything now goes, and ever fewer people ask questions about what that “anything” might actually be. Here in London, repeated attempts to get influential religious or political figures simply to visit one of these officially locked-down families and see these lives for themselves have failed. In the present political climate, such a personal, fact-finding visit proved to be anything but a priority for such people.

A Legal System of Secret Evidence, House Arrest, and Financial Sanctions

Against this captive population, in such an anything-goes atmosphere, all sorts of experimental perversions of the legal system were tried out.  As a result, the British system of post-9/11 justice contains many features which should frighten us all but are completely unfamiliar to the vast majority of people in the United Kingdom.

Key aspects for the families I have been concerned with include the use of secret evidence in cases involving deportation, bail conditions, and imprisonment without trial. In addition, most of their cases have been heard in a special court known as the Special Immigration Appeals Commission or SIAC, which is housed in an anonymous basement set of rooms in central London.

One of SIAC’s innovative features is the use of “special advocates,” senior barristers who have security clearance to see secret evidence on behalf of their clients, but without being allowed to disclose it or discuss it, even with the client or his or her own lawyer. The resignation on principle of a highly respected barrister, Ian Macdonald, as a special advocate in November 2004 exposed this process to the public for the first time — but almost no one took any interest.

And a sense of the injustice in this arcane system was never sufficiently sparked by such voices, which found little echo in the media. Nor was there a wide audience for reports from a team of top psychiatrists about the devastating psychological impact on the men and their families of indefinite detention without trial, and of a house-arrest system framed by “control orders” that allow the government to place restrictions of almost any sort on the lives of those it designates.

An even less noted aspect of the anti-terror legal system brought into existence after 9/11 was the financial sanctions that could freeze the assets of designated individuals.  First ordered by the United Nations, the financial-sanctions regime was consolidated here through a European Union list of designated people. The few lawyers who specialized in this area were scathing about the draconian measures involved and the utter lack of transparency when it came to which governments had put which names on which list.

The effect on the listed families was draconian.  Marriages collapsed under the strain. The listed men were barred from working and only allowed £10 a week for personal expenses. Their wives — often from conservative cultures where all dealings with the outside world had been left to husbands — suddenly were the families’ faces to the world, responsible for everything from shopping to accounting monthly to the government’s Home Office for every item the family purchased, right down to a bottle of milk or a pencil for a child. It was humiliating for the men, who lost their family role overnight, and exhausting and frustrating for the women, while in some cases the rest of their families shunned them because of the taint of alleged terrorism. Almost no one except specialist lawyers even knew that such financial sanctions existed in Britain.

In the country’s High Court, the first judicial challenge to the financial-sanctions regime was brought in 2008 by five British Muslim men known only as G, K, A, M, and Q. In response, Justice Andrew Collins said he found it “totally unacceptable” that, to take an especially absurd example, a man should have to get a license for legal advice about the sanctions from the very body that was imposing them. The man in question had waited three months for a “basic expense” license permitting funds for food and rent, and six months for a license to obtain legal advice about the situation he found himself in.

In a related case before the judicial committee of the House of Lords, Justice Leonard Hoffman expressed incredulity at the “meanness and squalor” of a regime that “monitored who had what for lunch.” More recently, the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court endorsed the comments of Lord Justice Stephen Sedley who described those subject to the regime as being akin to “prisoners of the state.”

Among senior lawyers concerned about this hidden world of punishment was Ben Emmerson, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism. He devoted one of his official U.N. reports to the financial sanctions issue. His recommendations included significantly more transparency from governments who put people on such a list, the explicit exclusion of evidence obtained by torture, and the obligation of governments to give reasons when they refuse to remove individuals from the list.  Of course, no one who mattered was paying the slightest attention.

Against ideological governments obsessed by terrorism on both sides of the Atlantic and a culture numbed by violent anti-terrorist tales like “24” and Zero Dark Thirty, such complicated and technical initiatives on behalf of individuals who have been given the tag, implicitly if not explicitly, of “terrorist” stand little chance of getting attention.

“Each Time It’s Worse”

Nearly a decade ago, at the New York opening night of Guantanamo: Honour Bound to Defend Freedom, the play Gillian Slovo and I wrote using only the words of the relatives of prisoners in that jail, their lawyers, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, an elderly man approached Moazzam Begg’s father and me.  He introduced himself as a former foreign policy adviser to President John Kennedy. “It could never have happened in our time,” he said.

When the Global War on Terror was still relatively new, it was common for audiences to react similarly and with shock to a play in which fathers and brothers describe their bewilderment over the way their relation had disappeared into the legal black hole of Guantanamo Bay. In the years since, we have become numb to the destruction of lives, livelihoods, futures, childhoods, legal systems, and trust by Washington’s and London’s never-ending war on terror.

In that time, I have seen children grow from toddlers to teenagers locked inside this particular war machine.  What they say today should startle us out of such numbness. Here, for instance, are the words of two teenagers, a girl and a boy whose fathers had been imprisoned or under house arrest in Britain for 10 years and whose lives in those same years were filled with indignities and humiliations:

“People seem to think that we get used to things being how they are for us, so we don’t feel the injustices so much now. They are quite wrong: it was painful the first time, more painful the second, even more so the third. In fact, each time it’s worse, if you can believe that. There isn’t a limit on how much pain you can feel.”

The boy added this:

“There is never one day when I feel safe. It can be the authorities, it can be ordinary people, they can do something bad for us. Only like now when we are all in the house together can I stop worrying about my mum and my sisters, and even me, what might happen to us. On the tube [subway], in class at university, people look at my beard.  I see them looking and I know they are thinking bad things about me. I would like to be a normal guy who no one looks at. You know, other boys, some of my friends, they cut corners, things like driving without a current license, everyone does it. But I can’t, I can’t ever, ever, take even a small risk. I have to always be cautious, be responsible… for my family.”

These children have been brought up by women who, against all odds, have often preserved their dignity and kept at least a modicum of joy in their families’ lives, and so, however despised, however unnoticed, however locked away, made themselves an inspiration to others. They are not victims to be pitied, but women our societies should embrace.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s response to recent proposals that Washington establish a secret court to oversee the targeting of terrorist suspects for death-by-drone and President Obama’s expanding executive power to kill, speak for the world beyond the West.  They offer a different perspective on the war on terror that Washington and Great Britain continue to pursue with no end in sight:

“Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the nineteenth century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.  I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.”

Victoria Brittain, journalist and former editor at the Guardian, has authored or co-authored two plays and four books, including Enemy Combatant with Moazzam Begg. Her latest book, Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2013) has just been published.

Shadow Lives: How the War on Terror in England Became a War on Women...

Once, as a reporter, I covered wars, conflicts, civil wars, and even a genocide in places like Vietnam, Angola, Eritrea, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, keeping away from official briefings and listening to the people who were living the war.  In the years since the Bush administration launched its Global War on Terror, I’ve done the same thing without ever leaving home.

In the last decade, I didn’t travel to distant refugee camps in Pakistan or destroyed villages in Afghanistan, nor did I spend time in besieged cities like Iraq’s Fallujah or Libya’s Misrata.  I stayed in Great Britain.  There, my government, in close conjunction with Washington, was pursuing its own version of what, whether anyone cared to say it or not, was essentially a war against Islam.  Somehow, by a series of chance events, I found myself inside it, spending time with families transformed into enemies.

I hadn’t planned to write about the war on terror, but driven by curiosity about lives most of us never see and a few lucky coincidences, I stumbled into a world of Muslim women in London, Manchester, and Birmingham.  Some of them were British, others from Arab and African countries, but their husbands or sons had been swept up in Washington’s war. Some were in Guantanamo, some were among the dozen Muslim foreigners who did not know each other, and who were surprised to find themselves imprisoned together in Britain on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda. Later, some of these families would find themselves under house arrest.

In the process, I came to know women and children who were living in almost complete isolation and with the stigma of a supposed link to terrorism. They had few friends, and were cut off from the wider world. Those with a husband under house arrest were allowed no visitors who had not been vetted for “security,” nor could they have computers, even for their children to do their homework.  Other lonely women had husbands or sons who had sometimes spent a decade or more in prison without charges in the United Kingdom, and were fighting deportation or extradition.

Gradually, they came to accept me into their isolated lives and talked to me about their children, their mothers, their childhoods -- but seldom, at first, about the grim situations of their husbands, which seemed too intimate, too raw, too frightening, too unknowable to be put into words.

In the early years, it was a steep learning curve for me, spending time in homes where faith was the primary reality, Allah was constantly invoked, English was a second language, and privacy and reticence were givens. Facebook culture had not come to most of these families. The reticence faded over the years, especially when the children were not there, or in the face of the kind of desolation that came from a failed court appeal to lift the restrictions on their lives, an unexpected police raid on the house, a husband’s suicide attempt, or the coming of a new torture report from Washington’s then-expanding global gulag of black sites and, of course, Guantanamo.

In these years, I met some of their husbands and sons as well.  The first was a British man from Birmingham, Moazzam Begg. He had been held for three years in Washington’s notorious offshore prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, only to be released without charges.  When he came home, through his lawyer, he asked me to help write his memoir, the first to come out of Guantanamo.  We worked long months on Enemy Combatant. It was hard for him to relive his nightmare days and nights in American custody in Kandahar and in the U.S. prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and then those limbo years in Cuba. It was even harder for him to visit the women whose absent husbands he had known in prison and who, unlike him, were still there.

Was My Husband Tortured?

In these homes he visited, there was always one great unspoken question: Was my husband or son tortured? It was the single question no one could bear to ask a survivor of that nightmare, even for reassurance. When working on his book, I deliberately left the chapter on his experiences in American hands in Bagram prison for last, as I sensed how difficult it would be for both of us to speak about the worst of the torture I knew he had experienced.

Through Moazzam, I met other men who had been swept up in the post-9/11 dragnet for Muslims in Great Britain, refugees who sought him out as an Arabic speaker and a British citizen to help them negotiate Britain’s newly hostile atmosphere in the post-9/11 years.  Soon, I began to visit some of their wives, too.

In time, I found myself deep inside a world of civilian women who were being warred upon (after a fashion) in my own country, which was how I came upon a locked-down hospital ward with a man determined to starve himself to death unless he was given refugee documents to leave Britain, children who cried in terror in response to a knock on the door, wives faced with a husband changed beyond words by prison.

I found myself deep inside a world of civilian women who were being warred upon (after a fashion) in my own country, which was how I came upon a locked-down hospital ward with a man determined to starve himself to death, children who cried in terror in response to a knock on the door, wives faced with a husband changed beyond words by prison.

I was halfway through working on Moazzam’s book when London was struck by our 9/11, which we call 7/7. The July 7, 2005, suicide bombings, in three parts of the London underground and a bus, killed 52 civilians and injured more than 700. The four bombers were all young British men between 18 and 30, two of them married with children, and one of them a mentor at a primary school. In video statements left behind they described themselves as “soldiers” whose aim was to force the British government to pull its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Just three weeks later, there were four more coordinated bomb attacks on the London subway system.  (All failed to detonate.) The four men responsible, longterm British residents originally from the Horn of Africa, were captured, tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment. In this way, the whole country was traumatised in 2005, and that particularly includes the various strands of the Muslim community in Great Britain.

The British security services quickly returned to a post-9/11 stance on overdrive. The same MI5 intelligence agents who had interrogated Moazzam while he was in U.S. custody asked to meet him again to get his thoughts on who might be behind the attacks. However, three years in U.S. custody and five months at home occupied with his family and his book had not made him a likely source of information on current strains of thought in the British Muslim community.

At the same time, the dozen foreign Muslim refugees detained in the aftermath of 9/11 and held without trial for two years before being released on the orders of the House of Lords were rearrested. In the summer of 2005, the government prepared to deport them to countries they had originally fled as refugees.

All of them had been made anonymous by court order and in legal documents were referred to as Mr. G, Mr. U, and so on. This was no doubt intended to safeguard their privacy, but in a sense it also condemned them.  It made them faceless, inhuman, and their families experienced it just that way. “They even took my husband’s name away, why?” one wife asked me.

The women I was meeting in these years were mostly from this small group, as well as the relatives of a handful of British residents -- Arabs -- who were not initially returned from Guantanamo with the nine British citizens that the Americans finally released without charges in 2004 and 2005.

Perhaps no one in the country was, in the end, more terrorised than them, thanks to the various terror plots by British nationals that followed. And they were right to be fearful.  The pressure on them was overwhelming.  Some of them simply gave up and went home voluntarily because they could not bear house arrest, though they risked being sent to prison in their native lands; others went through years of house arrest and court appeals against deportation, all of which continues to this day.

Among the plots that unnerved them were one in 2006 against transatlantic aircraft, for which a total of 12 Britons were jailed for life in 2009, and the 2007 attempt to blow up a London nightclub and Glasgow International Airport, in which one bomber died and the second was jailed for 32 years. In the post-9/11 decade, 237 people were convicted of terror-related offences in Britain.

Though all of this was going on, much of it remained remote from the world of the refugee women I came to know who, in the larger world, were mainly preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that, with Palestinian developments, filled their TV screens tuned only to Arabic stations.

These women did not tend to dwell on their own private nightmares, but for anyone in their company there was no mistaking them: a wife prevented from taking her baby into the hospital to visit her hunger-striking husband and get him to eat before he starved to death; another, with several small children, turned back from a prison visit, despite a long journey, because her husband was being punished that day; children whose toys were taken in a police raid and never given back; midnight visits from a private security company to check on a man already electronically tagged.

These women did not tend to dwell on their own private nightmares: a wife prevented from taking her baby into the hospital to visit her hunger-striking husband and get him to eat before he starved to death; another turned back from a prison visit because her husband was being punished that day; children whose toys were taken in a police raid and never given back; midnight visits from a private security company to check on a man already electronically tagged.

Here was the texture of a hidden war of continual harassment against a largely helpless population.  This was how some of the most vulnerable people in British society -- often already traumatised refugees and torture survivors -- were made permanent scapegoats for our post-9/11, and then post-7/7 fears.

So powerful is the stigma of “terrorism” today that, in the name of “our security,” whether in Great Britain or the United States, just about anything now goes, and ever fewer people ask questions about what that “anything” might actually be. Here in London, repeated attempts to get influential religious or political figures simply to visit one of these officially locked-down families and see these lives for themselves have failed. In the present political climate, such a personal, fact-finding visit proved to be anything but a priority for such people.

A Legal System of Secret Evidence, House Arrest, and Financial Sanctions

Against this captive population, in such an anything-goes atmosphere, all sorts of experimental perversions of the legal system were tried out.  As a result, the British system of post-9/11 justice contains many features which should frighten us all but are completely unfamiliar to the vast majority of people in the United Kingdom.

Key aspects for the families I have been concerned with include the use of secret evidence in cases involving deportation, bail conditions, and imprisonment without trial. In addition, most of their cases have been heard in a special court known as the Special Immigration Appeals Commission or SIAC, which is housed in an anonymous basement set of rooms in central London.

One of SIAC’s innovative features is the use of “special advocates,” senior barristers who have security clearance to see secret evidence on behalf of their clients, but without being allowed to disclose it or discuss it, even with the client or his or her own lawyer. The resignation on principle of a highly respected barrister, Ian Macdonald, as a special advocate in November 2004 exposed this process to the public for the first time -- but almost no one took any interest.

And a sense of the injustice in this arcane system was never sufficiently sparked by such voices, which found little echo in the media. Nor was there a wide audience for reports from a team of top psychiatrists about the devastating psychological impact on the men and their families of indefinite detention without trial, and of a house-arrest system framed by “control orders” that allow the government to place restrictions of almost any sort on the lives of those it designates.

An even less noted aspect of the anti-terror legal system brought into existence after 9/11 was the financial sanctions that could freeze the assets of designated individuals.  First ordered by the United Nations, the financial-sanctions regime was consolidated here through a European Union list of designated people. The few lawyers who specialized in this area were scathing about the draconian measures involved and the utter lack of transparency when it came to which governments had put which names on which list.

The effect on the listed families was draconian.  Marriages collapsed under the strain. The listed men were barred from working and only allowed £10 a week for personal expenses. Their wives -- often from conservative cultures where all dealings with the outside world had been left to husbands -- suddenly were the families’ faces to the world, responsible for everything from shopping to accounting monthly to the government’s Home Office for every item the family purchased, right down to a bottle of milk or a pencil for a child. It was humiliating for the men, who lost their family role overnight, and exhausting and frustrating for the women, while in some cases the rest of their families shunned them because of the taint of alleged terrorism. Almost no one except specialist lawyers even knew that such financial sanctions existed in Britain.

In the country’s High Court, the first judicial challenge to the financial-sanctions regime was brought in 2008 by five British Muslim men known only as G, K, A, M, and Q. In response, Justice Andrew Collins said he found it "totally unacceptable" that, to take an especially absurd example, a man should have to get a license for legal advice about the sanctions from the very body that was imposing them. The man in question had waited three months for a "basic expense" license permitting funds for food and rent, and six months for a license to obtain legal advice about the situation he found himself in.

In a related case before the judicial committee of the House of Lords, Justice Leonard Hoffman expressed incredulity at the "meanness and squalor" of a regime that "monitored who had what for lunch." More recently, the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court endorsed the comments of Lord Justice Stephen Sedley who described those subject to the regime as being akin to “prisoners of the state.”

Among senior lawyers concerned about this hidden world of punishment was Ben Emmerson, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism. He devoted one of his official U.N. reports to the financial sanctions issue. His recommendations included significantly more transparency from governments who put people on such a list, the explicit exclusion of evidence obtained by torture, and the obligation of governments to give reasons when they refuse to remove individuals from the list.  Of course, no one who mattered was paying the slightest attention.

Against ideological governments obsessed by terrorism on both sides of the Atlantic and a culture numbed by violent anti-terrorist tales like “24” and Zero Dark Thirty, such complicated and technical initiatives on behalf of individuals who have been given the tag, implicitly if not explicitly, of “terrorist” stand little chance of getting attention.

"Each Time It's Worse"

Nearly a decade ago, at the New York opening night of Guantanamo: Honour Bound to Defend Freedom, the play Gillian Slovo and I wrote using only the words of the relatives of prisoners in that jail, their lawyers, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, an elderly man approached Moazzam Begg’s father and me.  He introduced himself as a former foreign policy adviser to President John Kennedy. “It could never have happened in our time,” he said.

When the Global War on Terror was still relatively new, it was common for audiences to react similarly and with shock to a play in which fathers and brothers describe their bewilderment over the way their relation had disappeared into the legal black hole of Guantanamo Bay. In the years since, we have become numb to the destruction of lives, livelihoods, futures, childhoods, legal systems, and trust by Washington’s and London’s never-ending war on terror.

In that time, I have seen children grow from toddlers to teenagers locked inside this particular war machine.  What they say today should startle us out of such numbness. Here, for instance, are the words of two teenagers, a girl and a boy whose fathers had been imprisoned or under house arrest in Britain for 10 years and whose lives in those same years were filled with indignities and humiliations:

"People seem to think that we get used to things being how they are for us, so we don't feel the injustices so much now. They are quite wrong: it was painful the first time, more painful the second, even more so the third. In fact, each time it’s worse, if you can believe that. There isn’t a limit on how much pain you can feel."

The boy added this:

"There is never one day when I feel safe. It can be the authorities, it can be ordinary people, they can do something bad for us. Only like now when we are all in the house together can I stop worrying about my mum and my sisters, and even me, what might happen to us. On the tube [subway], in class at university, people look at my beard.  I see them looking and I know they are thinking bad things about me. I would like to be a normal guy who no one looks at. You know, other boys, some of my friends, they cut corners, things like driving without a current license, everyone does it. But I can’t, I can’t ever, ever, take even a small risk. I have to always be cautious, be responsible... for my family."

These children have been brought up by women who, against all odds, have often preserved their dignity and kept at least a modicum of joy in their families’ lives, and so, however despised, however unnoticed, however locked away, made themselves an inspiration to others. They are not victims to be pitied, but women our societies should embrace.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s response to recent proposals that Washington establish a secret court to oversee the targeting of terrorist suspects for death-by-drone and President Obama’s expanding executive power to kill, speak for the world beyond the West.  They offer a different perspective on the war on terror that Washington and Great Britain continue to pursue with no end in sight:

"Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the nineteenth century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.  I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity."

© 2013 Victoria Brittain

Victoria Brittain

Victoria Brittain, journalist and former editor at the Guardian, has authored or co-authored two plays and four books, including Enemy Combatant with Moazzam Begg. Her latest book, Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2013) has just been published.

Shadow Justice in the UK: Britain’s “Secret Courts”

Civil liberties campaigners vowed to continue fighting Government plans for secret court hearings in sensitive national security cases after MPs rejected stronger safeguards.

Ministers comfortably saw off a bid to reinstate amendments made by the House of Lords despite Labour securing the support of a number of Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs.

Several prominent Labour ex-ministers defied their own party’s position to back the Government in last night’s vote on controversial elements of the Justice and Security Bill.

An attempt to make judges balance national security against the public interest of open justice was defeated by 297 votes to 226, majority 71, in what opponents called a “dark night for British justice”.

Minister Kenneth Clarke insisted the measures were essential to enable sensitive intelligence material to be introduced in a small number of civil cases where the state is being sued.

The alternative, he said, was that the Government would be unable defend the action and could be forced to pay out millions in compensation – as happened with a series of former Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The defeated changes, originally passed in the House of Lords only to be reversed by the Government in the Commons committee going through the Bill line-by-line, would have made the legislation impossible to operate, he said.

The vote came after former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf said the legislation already ensured the operation of closed material proceedings was under the “complete control” of the judge in any case.

Critics complain though that CMPs undermine the principle of open justice and allow the security services to cover up involvement in abuse and torture.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan told the Commons that while he accepted the difficulty of “reconciling the issues of justice and security” the legislation was not “proportionate to the scale of the problem”.

Among prominent Tories backing the amendments was Andrew Tyrie who said they were “about whether people can get to hear the case made against them, and whether we can keep legal safeguards we have had for generations”.

Analysis of division lists revealed seven Liberal Democrats rebelled to support the public interest test amendment, including party president Tim Farron, deputy leader Simon Hughes and former minister Sarah Teather.

The issue is set to provide a renewed confrontation this weekend between Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and his party activists – who last year voted overwhelmingly to oppose the legislation – at the Lib Dem spring conference in Brighton.

Labour former foreign secretary Jack Straw backed the legislation, however, telling MPs it was about “how you protect the sources of information on which intelligence depends”.

Party colleague Hazel Blears, a former counter terrorism minister, also gave her support.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said last night: “History teaches that politicians abandon ancient legal principles at their peril. Today’s cover-up is tomorrow’s scandal.

“The opposition to turning British courts into secret commissions continues. Once again, we look to the House of Lords to defeat Secret Courts and defend the Rule of Law.”

Clare Algar, executive director of Reprieve, said: “This has been a dark night for British justice.

“These plans for secret courts were always dangerous and unnecessary, but the failure of even minor attempts to modify the Bill means that it is even worse than when it first reached the House of Commons.

“MPs must now vote against the Bill altogether if they want to defend British justice.

“Should that fail, the House of Lords will be the only thing standing in the way of plans which would mean the end of the right to a fair trial in a vast range of civil cases.”

Speaking after the vote, Mr Khan said: “It’s disappointing that Labour’s attempts to reintroduce checks and balances into the Government’s plans for closed material proceedings have been defeated by the Tories and Lib Dems.

“This had the support of the Government’s own Independent Reviewer of Terrorism and the Joint Committee of Human Rights. We will be looking to our colleagues in the House of Lords to once again bring some balance to the Government’s plans over the coming weeks”

A Conservative Party source said: “By opposing this Bill, Labour are prepared to accept the possibility of millions of pounds going without challenge to individuals who could be terrorists.

“This raises the appalling prospect of taxpayers’ cash funding jihadist groups.”

Pointing to the presence of former Labour home office ministers Paul Goggins and George Howarth among those voting with Mr Straw against the amendments, they said: “This shows that under Ed Miliband the Labour Party is more interested in playing politics than acting as a serious alternative government.”

The Dirty Secret of Downton Abbey

The British soap is a Rorschach test for how we feel about living in end times.

Photo Credit: Masterpiece Theater

February 22, 2013  |  

Like this article?

Join our email list:

Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.

"Downton Abbey" has got our political knickers in a twist. Whether Americans are conscious of our self-inflicted decline or not, something about watching the comedown of the old British system of aristocracy has transfixed us. Depending on our political leanings, we are by turns nostalgic, indignant or conflicted.

At the National Review, "Downton" offers a ripe opportunity for full-tilt, evidence-free revisionism, giving one Charles C. W. Cooke the opportunity to write giddy sentences like this about the Edwardian period and its aftermath: “There was rather an astonishing level of comity between the servants and the served, for neither socialism nor any serious class organization had yet crept into the great houses of England.”

Never mind that it was quite a boisterous time in the U.K., what with the birth of the Labor Party, liberal rallies, and so on. Cooke’s rose-colored glasses perceive only serenity in the bond between baron and butler.

Over at Forbes, the favored publication of the traditionless free marketeer, "Downton" becomes an admirably fair and balanced portrait of the misunderstood 1 percent: “To portray Lord and Lady Grantham as anything other than drunks, fools, hypocrites or either sexpots or sexual glaciers (or best of all, alternately both),” purrs Jerry Bowyer, “is itself an act of cultural rebellion.” Take that, you pinkos.

Slate’s Katie Roiphe, the product of navel-gazing Northeastern liberalism, is so anxious about a love for the upper-crust that dare not speak its name that her prose ripples with indefinite pronouns and dances around her secret desire to collapse into the benign languor of Lady Grantham. Oh, wait! One must not be too eager. One must keep up appearances. It is Roiphe who best approximates the viewpoint of "Downton" creator Julian Fellowes, who, unlike Roiphe, has recently satisfied his fantasies with induction into the House of Lords.

The Nation’s John Heilpern, a Brit, wants it clear on the record that he is offended by "Downton," and would like to give the naughty liberals a spanking. He sets off on a round of indignant finger wagging, chastising “anglophile Americans” who “swoon over 'Downton' as a superior soap opera” when it is really “escapist kitsch” that revels “insidiously” in class pandering. He performs this dressing down while using terms like “artistocratic toff” to show just how superior he is to swells like Fellowes.

A few center-lefties, especially young feminist bloggerly types, have given the show a cautious thumbs-up, charmed by its dutifully respectful attention to identity politics, those goodies the 1 percent doles out to distract us from economic unpleasantries. For the left-lefties, who have less faith in identity political theater, there is but one acceptable position: horror, which, to the credit of In Brief mag’s Jack Kenchingon-Evans, can be rendered with black humor that is welcoming after slogging through a few of the aforementioned pieties.

I like a period costume as much as the next gal. And I have succumbed, for an entire weekend, to Netflix immersion in Downton's iridescent soap bubbles. The dialogue is sometimes snappy, and watching Maggie Smith in full self-parody as the Dowager Countess is often delicious. The show is shallow and silly, but beside the oceans of crap that flow through my cable television subscription, it often feels like a relief. Except for the third season, which is so bad as to become nearly unwatchable. But I remind myself that even B horror movies can be invaluable for the open window they provide into the anxieties of a particular time. High art seeks to transcend its moment. Popular entertainment, especially the schlocky variety, has no such pretensions and can serve up a remarkable distillation of the common zeitgeist. Its tendency, of course, is to reflect rather than to challenge.

UK Deputy PM snubs Queen again

The British Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has not turn up in a private meeting with the British Queen for the fifth time in seven months.

Clegg missed the meeting with the monarch at Buckingham Palace for the fifth time last Tuesday, bringing excuses that he had to catch a flight to Mozambique.

Surprisingly, however, he attended Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons earlier that day.

Chris Grayling, the Conservative Justice Secretary attended the private meeting with the Queen as Clegg, Lord President of the Council sent him in his place.

According to the reports, Clegg's meetings with the Queen have been awkward since his Lib-Dem colleague Chris Huhne’s resignation from the Privy Council.

Clegg previously sent Andrew Lansley, the Leader of the House of Commons, to represent him in the fourth meeting he had with the British queen in January, saying that he had to attend the House of Lords Constitution Committee in Parliament at exactly the same time.

MOS/

‘Tuesday Was Dunkirk’

On Tuesday a huge majority of MPs lent their support to gay marriage. However those campaigning against the Bill admit only that they lost that battle, not the war.

Following the 400 to 175 Commons vote, several overseas news organisations including CNN and Al Jazeera were quick to report that Britain had made it legal for gay people to marry. But the Bill is still a bill. And is not yet law.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will next be examined line by line by a committee of MPs. Opponents, including the Coalition for Marriage (C4M) campaign group, hope to regroup after the second reading retreat and substantially change the legislation at this stage with a view to eventually killing it.

"Tuesday was Dunkirk," a C4M spokesman told the Huffington Post UK. "There will be lots of amendments given the strength of the rebellion."

The cross-party committee, which includes many pro-gay marriage MPs such as Labour’s Chris Bryant and shadow equalities minister Kate Green, also includes leading anti-gay marriage Conservatives David Burrowes and Tim Loughton.

Green expects MPs to offer amendments designed to ensure the European Court can not force a religious body to conduct a same-sex marriage and to allow teachers to refuse to teach gay marriage if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. But she is also wary of anti-gay marriage MPs attempting to blow the Bill up in committee.

"There is real danger of people looking for an opportunity wreck it," she told HuffPost UK.

And Lib Dem Julian Huppert, who is supporting an amendment to expand civil partnerships to include mixed-sex couples, says he expects many "dinosaur" Tories to try and wreck the Bill.

Civil partnerships for heterosexual couples is also being pushed by some anti-gay marriage MPs. But this is seen as an attempt by them to restrict marriage to religious ceremonies while the state just conducts civil partnerships.

"What we want is equality, marriage should be open to people regardless of their gender," Huppert said. "Some old school Tories are mostly trying to cause trouble and wanttot do things from stop marriages from happening."

Opponents of the Bill are also hopeful it will get bogged down in the House of Lords if it gets out of the Commons.

However as Paul Waugh at Politics Home and Isabel Hardman at the Spectator have pointed out, the arithmetic and experience of past votes appear to scupper the notion that the red benches are stuffed with anti-gay peers.

The 221 Labour peers and 90 Lib Dems combined easily outnumber the 213 Conservatives, even if all the Tories decided to vote against the Bill. Labour expects the dissent on its benches in the Lords to be small, similar to that in the Commons, where 22 Labour MPs voted against the Bill. Throw in the majority of the 178 cross bench peers and there appears to be a progressive majority in the upper House.

But C4M questions how well the Labour and Lib Dem leaderships know the minds of their own peers – expecting their Lordships to take issue with the quality of the legislation as well as the principle of gay marriage. "It is rushed legislation that is full of holes," a spokesperson said.

If last Tuesday was Dunkirk, anti-gay marriage MPs, peers and campaign groups see next Tuesday, the first day of committee stage, as D-Day.

Related on HuffPost:

‘Gay marriage weakens UK PM’s stand’

British Prime Minister and Tory leader David Cameron has weakened his position within his party by pushing through gay marriage bill, Conservatives MPs warned.

UK lawmakers approved same sex marriage bill in the House of Commons last night, tearing the Conservative party in half with 136 Tory MPs voting against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, compared with just 127 backing it, and 35 abstaining.

British MPs warned that Cameron’s defending gay marriage despite oppositions from most of his Tory Party members could jeopardize his position as the party’s leader.

“I think it weakens his position, and given the task that he's got on his hands at the moment... that's not good news,” said Sir Roger Gale, a Conservative MP who opposed the proposed legislation.

“Cameron is not under immediate threat but there is no leadership and no narrative. Kids are running Downing Street,” the quoted an anonymous backbencher as a saying.

Most Conservatives hope they could water down the legislation at later stages the bill has to pass through committee in the Commons and a vote in the House of Lords.

MOS/MOL/HE

Gay Marriage: MPs Back Bill In Commons Vote

MPs have supported David Cameron's plan to allow gay marriage by a majority of 225, despite an estimated 132 Tories voting against the bill.

Party leaders hailed the decision by 400 votes to 175, to give the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill a second reading as a "landmark" in the fight for equality.

But the bill still faces hurdles as it moves into the committee stage and on to the House of Lords after a number of prominent Tories argued the move would undermine marriage, alienate voters and damage the party's election prospects. 

Former minister Tim Loughton told Sky News after the vote that the opposition, which was greater than the number of Tories who backed the bill, was not about Mr Cameron's leadership.

"It is all about a conscience issue about gay marriages where many of us have very considerable concerns about the nature of this legislation, the flaws in this legislation and what it is trying to do.

"This is only the start of it, this has got may months to go through Parliament, but for the moment clearly they have got problems."

More than 50 Tory MPs later rebelled in a whipped vote on the timetable for the bill. Many backbenchers said they believed it should be scrutinised by the House rather than a committee of MPs.

Responding to the vote on Twitter, Mr Cameron said: "Strong views exist on both sides but I believe MPs voting for gay people being able to marry too is a step forward for our country."

Less than two hours before the ballot, he had recorded a statement reiterating that he is a "strong believer" in the issue.

"This is, yes, about equality. But it is also about making our society stronger," he said.

The proposed bill would allow same-sex couples to wed in both civil and religious ceremonies, provided that the religious institution consents.

Officials have stressed that religious organisations can decide for themselves if they want to "opt in" to holding gay weddings. However, the Church of England is barred from performing such ceremonies unless it changes its laws.

The bill would also allow couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "Tonight's vote shows Parliament is very strongly in favour of equal marriage.

"No matter who you are and who you love, we are all equal. Marriage is about love and commitment, and it should no longer be denied to people just because they are gay."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was a "proud day" in the fight for equality.

"The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs supported this change to make sure marriage reflects the value we place on long-term, loving relationships whoever you love.

"Equal marriage builds on Labour's successes in Government which include the repeal of Section 28, equalising the age of consent, the introduction of civil partnerships and changes to the rules governing adoption."

Conservative MPs urge Cameron to delay gay marriage vote, citing re-election worries

British Prime Minister David Cameron (AFP Photo / Justin Tallis)

British Prime Minister David Cameron (AFP Photo / Justin Tallis)

Members of UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party urged him to delay a parliamentary vote on gay marriage, warning it could harm his re-election bid. Conservative MPs are also preparing to defy Cameron’s plan to legalize gay marriage.

Opponents of the gay marriage bill have warned the issue could weaken the party and harm Cameron’s chances of re-election in 2015. Conservative association leader Geoffrey Vero called the bill a “dangerous risk to take with [Cameron’s] core supporters.”

A letter expressing disapproval of the bill signed by more than 20 chairs of local Conservative associations was sent to Downing Street on Sunday afternoon.

"We feel very strongly that the decision to bring this bill before parliament has been made without adequate debate or consultation with either the membership of the Conservative Party or with the country at large," the letter read. "Resignations from the party are beginning to multiply and we fear that, if enacted, this bill will lead to significant damage to the Conservative Party in the run-up to the 2015 election."

Around 180 MPs are prepared to defy Cameron’s plan to legalize gay weddings, the Sunday Telegraph reported. 

­

From civil union to a ‘great institution’

The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill would allow same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies. The bill would also allow couples who have previously entered into civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage, and enable them to change their legal gender without having to end their union.

Civil partnerships for same-sex couples are legal in the UK, and provide the same legal rights as marriage. However, gay marriage supporters have claimed the distinction implies that gays and lesbians are inferior.

Cameron has spoken passionately about his belief in allowing same-sex couples to marry: "I'm a massive supporter of marriage and I don't want gay people to be excluded from a great institution,” he said in a statement.

He even argued that gay marriages are in tune with Conservative values – a claim disputed by many in his party.

“I am far from happy about these matters. These days, marriage seems to be taken too lightly by too many and an important thing to me is not to have marriage vows whether civil or religious devalued,” Conservative Deputy Chief Whip John Randall wrote in the letter to Downing Street.

­

Playing politics

As Conservatives warn that the bill could harm Cameron’s re-election chances, it appears their fears may be warranted.

A poll conducted by ComRes found that 62 percent of British ethnic minority voters believe marriage should only be permitted between a man and a woman. Those same minority voters have been identified by the Conservatives as a key demographic in the next election.

Nearly 70 percent of black voters polled said they believed Cameron’s desire to legalize same-sex marriages was “more about making the Conservative Party look trendy and modern” than his personal convictions.

Despite the overwhelming disapproval from Conservative MPs, the bill has received strong support from most of the Cabinet and younger members of the party, who have written to Tory MPs urging them to vote in favor.

Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs are also largely in favor of the bill, which is expected to be approved in the House of Commons on Tuesday. The bill will then move to Parliament’s Upper House, the House of Lords, which is expected to vote on it in May. It will then return to the House of Commons for a second vote.

David Cameron’s Reelection At Risk As ‘Spiteful’ Nick Clegg Kills Boundary Review

Nick Clegg took his revenge on David Cameron today by successfully killing Tory hopes of redrawing the electoral map in a way that would aid the prime minister's reelection, prompting a serious rift between the coalition parties.

Lib Dem and Labour MPs cheered as they narrowly defeated by 334 votes to 292 an attempt by the Conservative Party to change the number and size of constituencies before 2015.

In an unprecedented move reflecting the split between coalition parties on the issue, Cameron agreed to suspend the requirement for government ministers to exercise collective responsibility for the vote.

To successfully win the vote, the prime minister needed to convince the six SNP MPs and the eight DUP MPs to join him – however he failed to get them on side.

Earlier this month Clegg ordered his peers to vote against their coalition colleagues in the House of Lords and side with Labour in order to successfully delay the planned boundary review until after 2015.

The changes would have seen see the number of MPs cut from 650 to 600. It is thought the new constituency borders would have helped Cameron win a crucial extra 20 seats.

The Conservative Party argues the current arrangement is unfair, as the party has to win a greater share of the national vote in order to win the same number of MPs as Labour.

The 2015 general election will now be conducted on the same constituency boundaries as the 2010 election that produced the current coalition.

Clegg initially supported the boundary review. But after Tory MPs killed off proposals to reform the House of Lords he took revenge by instructing his MPs and ministers to vote against it.

Tory MPs are furious at the deputy prime minister's "betrayal", arguing the Lib Dems were granted a referendum on changing the electoral system in exchange for supporting the boundary review.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt told the Commons "there was never any obligation for Conservatives to support Lords reform" as she attacked the "spite, pettiness and self-interest".

She said the Lib Dems had "exchanged their legendary sandals for flip-flops to keep their options open" for a coalition with Labour after 2015.

The Conservative leader of the Commons, Andrew Lansley, told MPs the Lib Dem alliance with Labour in the Lords was an "abuse of the parliamentary process".

He said for unelected peers to try and "manipulate" the basis on which the Commons was elected was a "democratic travesty".

According to the Labour Party four Tory MPs, David Davis, Philip Davies, Richard Shepherd and John Baron, voted with the Lib-Lab alliance.

Before the vote Philip Davies told HuffPost UK that while he was unimpressed with Clegg's behaviour, he did not want to see his constituency be erased by the boundary review.

“How he has behaved is abysmal, It’s like a primary school child. It suits me on this issue but I don’t endorse his tactics,” he said.

Also on HuffPost:

Mehdi’s Morning Memo: Did He Really Say That?

The ten things you need to know on Tuesday 29 January 2013...

1) DID HE REALLY SAY THAT?

Uh-oh. Yesterday, a Tory MP made a link between women wearing short skirts and then getting raped. Today, the papers go after a Tory cabinet minister for allegedly comparing gay marriage to incest - from the Guardian:

"Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, became embroiled in a row over equal marriage yesterday amid claims that he likened it to incest. The minister, who opposes David Cameron's plans to grant gay couples the right to marry, denied equating equal marriage with incest after Pink News reported that he had linked the two issues.

"Hammond released a statement after Pink News said he had made the comments to two students at Royal Holloway, University of London, on Friday. The website reported that Hammond 'told students in Surrey that allowing gay couples to marry would be like sanctioning "incest" ... when the students asked why the MP [opposed] same-sex marriages he responded by likening the current ban on equal marriage to 'incest', where it is illegal for two siblings to enter into wedlock.'

"A spokesman for the defence secretary said: 'It's untrue. He didn't equate equal marriage to incest.'"

2) BOUNDARY WARS

Today the Lib Dems will vote against the Tories in the Commons for the first time since the coalition was formed. My colleague Ned Simons reports:

"Furious Tory MPs will attempt use a Commons vote on Tuesday to overturn a Lib-Lab alliance that could cost David Cameron the next election.

"Earlier this month Lib Dem peers sided against their coalition colleagues and joined with Labour in order to delay a planned redrawing of the electoral map until after 2015.

"... Nick Clegg initially supported the plan. But after Tory MPs killed off proposals to reform the House of Lords he instructed his MPs and ministers to vote against it.

Cameron needs SNP and DUP votes in order to overturn a Lib-Lab alliance on this - but some of his own MPs may vote against him. There's a hilarious quote from Philip Davies in the piece:

"Shipley MP Philip Davies has confirmed he plans to vote with Labour and the Lib Dems in the interests of self-preservation.

"Davies, who is no fan of the coalition, told HuffPost UK that while Clegg’s decision to oppose the changes helped him personally, he was less than impressed.

"'How he has behaved is abysmal, It’s like a primary school child. It suits me on this issue but I don’t endorse his tactics,' he said."

Ahh....

3) HEY BMES, WE LOVE YOU

The Tories seem to have finally woken up to the fact that they probably need a few more BME voters on side if they're going to win a majority at the next general election - from the Times splash:

"Big companies would be urged to publish the ethnic breakdown of their workforce under Conservative plans to help to repair the party’s image with Black and Asian voters.

"David Cameron has told the Cabinet to come up with policies to appeal to ethnic communities amid fears that without them the party will struggle to win an outright majority. One idea would encourage Stock Exchange-listed companies to state how many ethnic minority employees they have and how many they have recruited over the past year."

Er, call me cynical, but I suspect BME communities will want a bit more than that, in order to wipe out the Tories' dodgy legacy on race issues - from Enoch Powell to the primary purpose rule.

4) CHILD MINDER? IT'S HARDER TO BE AN ANIMAL MINDER

It's long been claimed that the political party which can come up with a method for cutting soaring childcare costs will be able to vacuum up votes from 'hard-working families' in the 'squeezed middle' - from the Independent:

"Nursery staff and childminders will be better paid, require more qualifications and look after more children under a government drive to improve a childcare system lagging well behind its European counterparts.

"... After criticism that students need more qualifications to look after animals than children in England, childcare professionals will be required to have a GCSE grade C or above in English and Maths... Staff to child ratios will be relaxed to bring England more into line with the continent, but only when nurseries hire qualified people. Nursery staff will be able to look after four babies up to a year old instead of three as at present..."

Labour, and some childcare experts, say the plans could jeopardise child safety and won't cut costs in the long-run. According to the Indy, the opposition also "released figures showing that more than 400 Sure Start children's centres closed during the Coalition's first two years after £430m earmarked for them was cut from council budgets, with more than half of those that are still open no longer providing any onsite childcare".

5) MISSION TO MALI

Ever heard of the phrase 'mission creep', Dave? On Mali, our prime minister is getting more and more stuck in.

From the Guardian's splash:

"Britain is prepared to take the risk of sending a 'sizeable amount' of troops, to Mali and neighbouring West African countries as David Cameron offers strong support to France in its operation to drive Islamist militants from its former colony.

"As news emerged that insurgents retreating from Timbuktu had set fire to a library containing thousands of priceless historic manuscripts, Downing Street said the prime minister told François Hollande on Sunday night Britain was 'keen' to provide further military assistance to France.

"... Downing Street is adamant that British troops will play no part in combat."

Hmm. Let's see how long that line holds...

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this weird video of 'classic movies' from the perspective of Google Street View.

6) 'NOT GUILTY'

We have a date. From the Sun:

"Former Cabinet Minister Chris Huhne will stand trial next Monday over claims he got his ex-wife to take a threepoint drive fine for him. The Lib Dem MP, 58, denied perverting the course of justice in court yesterday. He spoke only to confirm his name and enter a 'not guilty' plea."

7) MY FRIEND RUPERT

Who says King Rupert's power has waned since Leveson? Top Tories who have their eye on their party's leadership still seem keen to get the media mogul's backing - despite everything.

From the Guardian:

"George Osborne has become the latest person revealed to have attended a private dinner last week with Rupert Murdoch at the media mogul's apartment in Mayfair.

"... Murdoch regularly assembles some of London's elite for dinners, and last Tuesday's event was no different. Described by insiders at News International as a collection of 'very interesting people', the dinner was also attended by Boris Johnson and several NI executives and editors and given a sprinkling of Hollywood stardust with the attendance of the London mayor's fellow Old Etonian, Damian Lewis, star of Homeland - a Fox21 production."

8) LUCKY GEORGE

Perhaps Osborne, in between dining out with foreign billionaires, should keep on eye on his own backyard. From the Mail:

"Chancellor George Osborne is facing a personal backlash over the HS2 route, which carves through the countryside in his Cheshire constituency of Tatton.

"Tory councillors questioned the value of the project, with one calling it an 'enormous waste of money'.

"Mr Osborne insisted it was essential for the economy, describing it as an 'engine for growth'."

My favourite bit of the piece:

"Mr Osborne will not be financially affected by the new line as he sold his £900,000 constituency home in January last year. Documents released yesterday revealed that officials at one point considered a route for the line that would have gone much closer to his old house than the final route."

Meanwhile, the Telegraph adds:

"The Government faced claims of hypocrisy after it emerged that the northern section of the HS2 network, the route of which was unveiled yesterday, would include a £600million 'detour' around parts of the Chancellor's seat of Tatton in Cheshire.

"... A spokesman for Mr Osborne insisted that he played no part in choosing the route. A Department for Transport spokesman said Mr Osborne's constituents had not been given special treatment."

Hmm...

9) 'TOTALLY BANKRUPT'

Meet the French Liam Byrne (via the Daily Mail):

"Socialist France is 'totally bankrupt', a senior government minister admitted yesterday. Michel Sapin, President Francois Hollande's jobs minister, appeared to be saying that his government's tax-and-spend policies were not working.

Mr Sapin said: 'There is a state but it is a totally bankrupt state. That is why we had to put a deficit reduction plan in place, and nothing should make us turn away from that objective.'

"... Pierre Moscovici, the finance minister, insisted: 'France is a really solvent country. France is starting to recover.'"

Poor Pierre. Silly Sapin.

10) QUEEN GIVES UP HER THRONE TO SON

"Easy, Charles," the Mirror explains, "it's Queen Beatrix of Netherlands."

Oh.

The paper adds:

"Her decision will undoubtedly open up the debate about Britain's ageing monarchy as the Queen, 86, and Prince Philip, 91, prepare for another busy year of royal engagements.

"But while it is common in the Netherlands for monarchs to "retire" - Beatrix's mother and grandmother both abdicated - Britain's Queen has made it clear she sees her role as a "job for life".

"So as Willem-Alexander becomes the first Dutch king since 1890 on April 30, at the age of 46, Britain's Prince Charles, 65 this November, remains no closer to taking over as monarch."

Poor ol' Charles.

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From today's Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 41
Conservatives 35
Lib Dems 10
Ukip 9

That would give Labour a majority of 78.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@Mike_Fabricant Irony: Labour has now adopted Conservatives' pre 2010 route for HS2, while the Conservatives have accepted Labour's route (Birm to London).

@TomHarrisMP Why oh why can't we have more televised debates about "independence"? It's like the Scottish media are just trying to avoid the subject...

@Queen_UK Don't get any ideas, Charles. A party hat is the closest you'll be getting to a crown any time soon. #abdication #beatrix

900 WORDS OR MORE

David Owen, writing in the Guardian, says: "My plan to save the NHS - in the nick of time."

Rachel Sylvester, writing in the Times, says: "Why the 'ethnicity effect' terrifies Tories."

Benedict Brogan, writing in the Daily Telegraph, says: "A big play from Osborne could stop Labour hijacking his legacy."


Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan ([email protected]) or Ned Simons ([email protected]). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol

Furious Tories Attempt To Overturn Lib Dem ‘Betrayal’ On Boundary Review

Furious Tory MPs will attempt use a Commons vote on Tuesday to overturn a Lib-Lab alliance that could cost David Cameron the next election.

Earlier this month the Lib Dem peers sided against their coalition colleagues and joined with Labour in order to delay planned changes to the electoral map until after 2015.

The changes, which will see the number of MPs cut from 650 to 600 and the boundaries redrawn, are thought to benefit the Tories to the tune of around 20 extra seats.

Nick Clegg initially supported the plan. But after Tory MPs killed off plans to reform the House of Lords he instructed his MPs and ministers to vote against it.

The squabble is potentially one of the most serious coalition splits since 2010 as many on both sides see it as pure political tactics rather than an argument over policy.

David Cameron’s uphill task to win a majority in 2015 is made even harder if the boundary review does not happen before the next election. He is hoping he can overturn the Lords vote today.

However it is a near impossible task, as the 57 Lib Dem MPs combined with the 255 Labour MPs total 312, enough to defeat the 303 Tories.

The prime minister is relying on support from the minor parties to swing the vote in his favour. If the six SNP MPs and eight DUP MPs vote with him he can win.

However he also faces the problem that not all Tory MPs can be relied to vote on party lines as the cut in the number of seats could see many out of a job.

Shipley MP Philip Davies has confirmed he plans to vote with Labour and the Lib Dems in the interests of self-preservation.

Davies, who is no fan of the coalition, told HuffPost UK that while Clegg’s decision to oppose the changes helped him personally, he was less than impressed.

“How he has behaved is abysmal, It’s like a primary school child. It suits me on this issue but I don’t endorse his tactics,” he said.

The SNP has denied it has done a “deal” with the Tories on to vote with them. However on Monday afternoon a spokesperson for Alex Salmond’s party refused to confirm which way its MPs would vote.

But other minor parties look sure to vote against the Tories including Brighton’s Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.

Conservative MPs are furious at Clegg for sabotaging the boundary review. They believe it was the agreed price for allowing the Lib Dems to hold a referendum on changing the electoral system and that Lords reform was not part of any deal.

On Monday Tory MP Sarah Wollaston accused the Lib Dems of “betraying” the coalition.

“If the Lib Dems abandon the coalition agreement on boundary reform they will be seen to be abandoning fairness for narrow-self interest,” she said.

The Conservatives argue the current arrangement is unfair, as the party has to win a great share of the national vote in order to win the same number of MPs as Labour.

Related on HuffPost:

Lib Dem MP ‘Condemned’ By Own Party For Criticising Israel Ahead Of Holocaust Memorial...

A Liberal Democrat MP has been condemned by his own party for his "use of unacceptable language" in criticising Israel's treatment of Palestinians on the same day as pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day.

In a statement on his website, Bradford East MP David Ward said he had signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons "honouring those who died during the Holocaust."

david ward facebook

David Ward is Lib Dem MP for Bradford East

In the same statement, which has since been taken down, he commented:

"Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza."

A Lib Dem spokesman told the BBC the remarks, which come ahead of Sunday's Holocaust Memorial Day, were a matter of "deep regret".

He said: "This is a matter we take extremely seriously. The Liberal Democrats deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable."

Around six million Jews were gassed, starved and shot dead throughout the Holocaust.

While the Jewish Chronicle said Ward had "compared modern Israel to the Nazi regime", blogger Mark Valladares at the Liberal Democrat Voice welcomed "his attempt to demonstrate some respect towards both sides in this seemingly never-ending dispute."

He writes: "As usual, in any matter related to the Israel/ Palestine debate, elements of the pro-Israel lobby, or troublemakers... have chosen to interpret these remarks as being a direct comparison of the holocaust with modern events in Gaza and the West Bank.

"If you're minded to do so, you probably will. On the other hand, if you lean towards a pro-Palestinian position, you might welcome any recognition by a politician that the Israeli government is behaving in an unacceptable manner.

"For me, David’s words act as a reminder that some pretty dreadful wrongs have been committed against both sides, and suggest that past events should influence future behaviour."

Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust told the Jewish Chronicle Ward had "abused the memory" of the victims of the Nazis.

She said: "I am deeply saddened that at this sombre time, when we remember those who were murdered by the Nazis, Mr Ward has deliberately abused the memory of the Holocaust causing deep pain and offence.

"These comments are sickening and unacceptable and have no place in British politics."

The incident is already drawing comparions to Baroness Jenny Tonge, who resigned the Lib Dem whip in the House of Lords in February last year, after refusing to apologise for claiming Israel would not "last forever".

The Liberal Democrat peer, who once said she would consider becoming a suicide bomber if she were Palestinian, was roundly criticised for the remarks.

Speaking at an event at Middlesex University, Baroness Tonge said Israel would one day lose the support of the United States and would then "reap what they have sown".

"Beware Israel," she said. "Israel is not going to be there forever in its present performance. One day the United States of America will get sick of giving £70 billion a year to Israel."

Huffington Post UK has sought comment from Ward's office.

  • An ultra Orthodox Jewish man visits the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. Israel will be marking its annual remembrance day for the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in World War II on Thursday. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • An ultra Orthodox Jewish man looks at a pile of books on display at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Two ultra Orthodox Jewish men visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Two ultra Orthodox Jewish men visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • A Holocaust survivor lays flowers next to the names of concentration camps during the annual ceremony on Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem, Thursday, April 19, 2012. Israel is marking its annual remembrance day for the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in World War II. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Israelis pause during a two-minute siren in memory of victims of the Holocaust in the market in Jerusalem, Thursday, April 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • Israelis pause during a two-minute siren in memory of victims of the Holocaust in the market in Jerusalem, Thursday, April 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • Israelis attend the opening ceremony of Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

  • Israelis attend the opening ceremony of Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

  • Israeli soldiers stand at attention during the opening ceremony of Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the opening ceremony of the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the opening ceremony of Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Mehdi’s Morning Memo: The Great Political Sulk

The ten things you need to know on Tuesday 15 January 2012..

1) 'THE GREAT POLITICAL SULK'

Last week, the PM and Deputy PM were renewing their vows and extolling the virtues and achievements of their coalition government. Last night, the latter's party blocked a key proposal of the former's party, prompting a Tory peer to denounce the deputy prime minister for his "great political sulk".

From the Daily Mail:

"Angry Tories rounded on Nick Clegg for staging a 'sulk' after Libs Dems last night voted down constituency boundary reform.

"The Government was defeated by 300 votes to 231 in the Lords, where Lib Dem ministers voted against their Tory Coalition partners for the first time. Reforms will now be delayed until 2018.

"Last night Tory peer Lord Dobbs said Lib Dem leader Mr Clegg had staged 'a great political sulk'.

"David Cameron has vowed to equalise constituency sizes, but the Lib Dems are furious over what they see as a betrayal after contentious plans to reform the House of Lords failed."

The Tories desperately need this policy in order to secure around 20 extra seats at the next election and the prime minister is said to be prepared to use the Parliament Act in order to overturn the Lords amendment in a Commons vote later this month. But does he have enough support in the lower house to do so? The SNP has said it now plans to join Labour and the Lib Dems in voting against the boundary changes.

Good luck, Dave!

2) CAMERON'S EUROPE SPEECH, PART 101

Whatever happened to Great British Sovereignty, eh? The prime minister, it seems, doesn't even have the power to decide which day to give a speech on.. er.. repatriating powers..

Due to German objections, it'll now be on Friday, not next Tuesday, explains the Times splash:

"David Cameron will this week light a five-year fuse under Britain’s place in Europe after being forced, under pressure from Germany, to bring forward his long-awaited EU speech.

"..[A]rrangements for his EU speech slid into disarray yesterday when he was forced to change the date because of objections from Angela Merkel.

"The German Chancellor advised Mr Cameron during a telephone call on Sunday night that his preferred date of January 22 would be viewed poorly in Berlin and Paris.

"No 10 planners and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office failed to notice that next Tuesday is the 50th anniversary of the Elysée treaty, a key date in the Franco-German calendar, which is being marked by elaborate commemorations."

Whoops!

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that the UK is in "danger of putting at risk the fight against terrorism and organised crime if the Conservatives win a battle within the coalition to end British involvement in a series of European Union justice measures".

Oh dear. Oh, and Nick Clegg has just been on the Today programme saying the Lib Dem position on a referendum has not changed: "We need to give the British people the reassurance that if there is a new [EU] treaty.. in the future.. then, of course, we should have a referendum at that point." He also said a premature referendum could have a "chilling" effect on the UK economy.

3) NEW YEAR, NEW WAR

The French government has had strong backing from the UN Security Council overnight, for its ongoing attacks on Islamist rebels in Mali, but is urging African Union troops to take over the mission as soon as possible. The Guardian reports on its front page that " an Islamist militant leader warned the French government its intervention in Mali had opened the 'gates of hell'."

Meanwhile, the Independent splashes on a "warning" to Number 10 from the UK military's "top brass":

"Defence chiefs have warned against Britain becoming enmeshed in the mission against Islamists in Mali, pointing out that any action could be drawn-out and require significantly greater resources than have so far been deployed.

"The most senior commanders are due to make their apprehension clear at a meeting of the National Security Council with the Prime Minister today. They have the backing of the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond."

Has the military learned the lessons of Iraq and especially Afghanistan? You'd hope so. Right?

4) MALI: BY NUMBERS

15.8m number of people living in Mali
90 percentage of population which is Muslim
53 average life expectancy
550 number of French troops deployed so far
1960 the year Mali gained independence from France

(via Huffington Post)

5) THE ROYALS' 'NUCLEAR DETERRENT'

Republicans like me are always accused of exaggerating the political and constitutional power of the good ol' monarchy.

Well, check out this astonishing report in today's Guardian:

"The extent of the Queen and Prince Charles's secretive power of veto over new laws has been exposed after Downing Street lost its battle to keep information about its application secret.

"Whitehall papers prepared by Cabinet Office lawyers show that overall at least 39 bills have been subject to the most senior royals' little-known power to consent to or block new laws.

".. In one instance the Queen completely vetoed the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999, a private member's bill that sought to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament.

".. Charles has been asked to consent to 20 pieces of legislation and this power of veto has been described by constitutional lawyers as a royal 'nuclear deterrent' that may help explain why ministers appear to pay close attention to the views of senior royals."

Out-rageous!

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of the funniest moments from Sunday night's Golden Globes awards ceremony.

6) GOD VS THE COALITION

Have ministers been attacking senior civil servants in recent weeks in order to distract attention from country's economic problems and their own political difficulties? That's the view of GOD - Gus O'Donnell - as reported in the Independent:

"In an unprecedented intervention, the recent Cabinet Secretary Lord O'Donnell accuses ministers of undermining civil service morale by blaming officials for self-inflicted difficulties..

"'There is a correlation between attacking the civil service and a Government's standing in the polls,' Lord O'Donnell told The Independent. 'The fact is that the eurozone crisis has meant the economy has not recovered as fast as everyone would have liked. But that is not the fault of the civil service.' Lord O'Donnell also warned of the dangers of rushing through new policies without sufficient thought.

"'No one could argue that this Government has been prevented (by the civil service) from pursuing radical policies,' he said. 'Just look at health, education and welfare. They are not short of radical policies. The issue is whether they are the right policies.'"

Ouch.

7) LOWER PENSIONS FOR ALL!

As I pointed out in yesterday's Memo, the centre-right papers have been very excited about the government's plans for a new flat-rate stat pension, which would help stay-at-home mums. Today's Independent, citing research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), pours cold water on the policy:

"According to the IFS, 'the main effect in the long run will be to reduce pensions for the vast majority of people, while increasing rights for some particular groups, most notably the self-employed.' It said this verdict applied to people born after about 1970. 'In the long run, the reform will not increase accrual for part-time workers and women who take time out to care for children. In fact, in common with everyone else, these groups would end up with a lower pension.'"

8) CHRISTIANS, UNITE!

From the BBC:

"The European Court of Human Rights is due to deliver a landmark ruling in the cases of four British Christians who claim they suffered religious discrimination at work.

"They include an airline worker stopped from wearing a cross and a registrar who did not want to marry gay people.

"The four insist their right to express their religious beliefs was infringed."

Watch this space. The ruling is expected at around 9am.

9) DEADBEAT NATION

Barack Obama, re-elected and reinvigorated, took the fight over the debt ceiling to the Republicans yesterday, with some pretty strong rhetoric - from the Huffington Post:

"President Barack Obama issued a strong warning to Republicans on Monday that he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling or allow Republicans to use it as a bargaining chip.

"'To even entertain the idea of the United States of America not paying our bills is irresponsible. It's absurd,' Obama said in a press conference.

".. If the country failed to meet these obligations, Obama argued, investors around the world would question the credibility of the United States.

"'We are not a deadbeat nation,' Obama said. 'So there's a very simple solution to this: Congress authorizes us to pay our bills.'"

Meanwhile, The Hill reports:

"'I'm a pretty friendly guy. I like a good party,' Obama said during his press conference Monday at the White House. He joked that, 'now that my girls are getting older, they don't want to spend that much time with me anyway, so I'll be probably calling around, looking for somebody to play cards with.'"

10) BORIS BEAR

Sorry, what?

From the Times:

"A 12ft sculpture of a polar bear named Boris has been unveiled in Sloane Square to raise awareness of the plight of the species. It was unveiled by the Mayor of London’s father, Stanley Johnson, who is an environmental campaigner."

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 44
Conservatives 31
Lib Dems 11
Ukip 9

That would give Labour a majority of 124.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@TomHarrisMP Thinking of writing an article about how Twitter's increasing unpleasantness and intolerance is making it less relevant.

‏@DAaronovitch I enjoy the incredulity with which Government Nick Clegg reacts to evidence of Opposition Nick Clegg. #bbcr4today

@joshgreenman We are not a deadbeat nation. We are a dubstep nation.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Rachel Sylvester, writing in the Times, warns Cameron not to morph into a "pub bore": "A tough line on Europe and shirkers may be popular, but the Prime Minister has to play the measured statesman."

Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, says: "On the economy, Europe, tax and the NHS, the trajectory is all in favour of Ed Miliband. Now his party can start to dare."

Will Straw, writing in the Daily Telegraph, says: "A referendum would give pro-Europeans the chance to win the case for democratic reform."


Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan ([email protected]) or Ned Simons ([email protected]). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol

Lib Dem Peers Help Labour Defeat Tories Over Boundary Changes

Labour and Lib Dem peers joined forces on Monday to defeat David Cameron over plans to re-draw the electoral map, leading the Tories to accuse Nick Clegg of trying to "fix the next election" in his favour. The House of Lords voted to delay any change ...

Lord Fowler Says A Royal Charter For Press Regulation Is ‘Absurd’

The government will look “absurd” if it rejects the Leveson Report’s recommendations for the regulation of the press in favour of a Royal Charter, a former chairman of the Conservative Party has said.

Lord Fowler, also a former chairman of the House of Lords Communications Committee, has urged David Cameron to reverse his opposition to Lord Justice wrLeveson’s suggestion for the statuatory underpinning of the independent self-regulation of the press.

On Friday peers will debate the Leveson Report, the recommendations of which has split parliament, the coalition and the Tory party down the middle.

The prime minister dismayed many anti-phone hacking campaigners when he decided to reject Leveson’s call for a new system of press regulation to be backed by a new law.

Opponents of the plan, including editors of national newspapers and magazines, have argued that any state involvement in regulation will seriously threaten the freedom of the press.

However Lord Fowler told The Huffington Post UK that in reality the Leveson plan as “modest and moderate” and should be adopted as soon as possible

“The whole thing is in a bit of a muddle, I think that the obvious thing to do would be implement the Leveson report and the proposal on statutory underpinning,” he said.

“There has been enormous amount of black propaganda about what all this is going to mean and a number of people have accepted what they say.

“There was an ex-cabinet colleague of mine who couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about, they said [Leveson] was a very modest measure, and that’s true.

“Those who say this is statutory control, I think that that’s inaccurate. I think it's simply not statutory control; it’s a very modest underpinning."

It has been reported that in an effort to find a solution to the impasse, the government is considering an alternative option that would see a new system of press regulation overseen by a Royal Charter - granted by the privy council and independent of parliament.

The privy council is headed by Nick Clegg and made up of other cabinet ministers and other members of the government – leaving open the possibility government could withdraw any new regulator the right to regulate the press if it dislikes how it acts.

Lord Fowler said because of this the idea in many ways was “worse than the Leveson proposals” as it went too far the other way towards state control.

“I think it’s a bad idea. First of all a Royal Charter is a very arcane and antique system,” he said. “It gives power to the privy council, which is not exactly a democratic body.”

“It effectively is saying the government is going to take a big part of the control.

“Behind close doors my understanding is, and I wouldn’t swear to this, my understanding is they trying to make the Royal Charter thing work.

He added: “But I think it will just look absurd if the government says we’re not going to have underpinning, but instead now have a Royal Charter.”

The former Tory chairman observed that a Royal Charter, which he said is in effect “stitch-up” between the government and the Corporation, oversees the BBC.

Mehdi’s Morning Memo: 1% For You, 32% For Us

The ten things you need to know on Friday 11 January 2013...

1% FOR YOU, 32% FOR US

Who says MPs are out of touch, eh? From the Mirror's splash:

"Grasping MPs sparked fury yesterday - by demanding a £20,000 pay rise.

"A poll showed 69% thought their £65,738 salary was not enough.

"Just days after capping benefits and branding hard-up families scroungers, they whined that they should get an average 32% increase."

That would take their salary to £86,250. According to the Guardian, the survey of MPs carried out by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) found that Conservatives - the guys and girls behind the below-inflation 1% rise in benefits - were "the most likely to believe they were underpaid, with 47% saying so, while 39% of Labour MPs and 9% of Liberal Democrats held the same view".

Personally, I think there is a case to be made for higher salaries for MPs - but clearly now is not the time to make it. It's difficult to disagree with Unison's Dave Prentis: "At a time when millions of workers are getting zero pay rises, the idea that MPs believe they deserve a 32 per cent increase is living in cloud cuckoo land."

2) HERE COME THE GERMANS

First, Barack, now Angela. From the Times:

"David Cameron's hopes of negotiating looser ties between Britain and Brussels are all but impossible, according to an ally of Angela Merkel.

"Gunther Krichbaum, chairman of the Bundestag's European Affairs Committee, said that the Prime Minister's strategy was unwise and risked opening a Pandora's box that would threaten European stability.

"He also urged Mr Cameron not to "blackmail" the rest of Europe with threats as he tries win opt-outs from EU treaties."

The paper notes how his intervention comes "after President Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for Europe warned that Britain would be diminished in America's eyes if it marginalised itself within the EU.

"The flurry of diplomatic activity underlines the high stakes for Mr Cameron and his Europe policy with Britain's closest allies. The Prime Minister will promise a referendum in the next Parliament on a new relationship with the EU in a speech this month."

However, the Sun reports that

"David Cameron will hit back at President Obama’s attack on his EU referendum plan by unveiling a major European ally — the Dutch.

"The Sun has learned the PM will spell out his vision of a post-crisis Europe on January 22.

"And he will almost certainly make the speech in The Hague. Dutch leader Mark Rutte will back his bid to fight for powers and money to be returned to nation states."

3) GIVE MONEY, GET A JOB

You could not make this up. From the Independent:

"A Conservative Party donor and venture capitalist whose charity funds two academy schools was appointed an education minister today.

"Labour raised questions about a possible conflict of interest after John Nash was named as the successor to Lord Hill of Oareford, who was promoted to Leader of the Lords on Monday following the surprise resignation of Lord Strathclyde.

"Mr Nash, his family and companies have donated about £300,000 to the Conservatives since the mid-1980s. The charity he founded, Future, sponsors the Pimlico Academy and Millbank Primary Academy in London. He is a former chairman of the British Venture Capital Association."

Nash will be made a peer but won't take a salary and won't take any decisions in which his charity is involved.

Well, that's okay then.

4) BLAIR'S BANKING UNION

There was a time, not so long ago, when Tony Blair had to make do with a modest MP's salary.

Nowadays, however, as the Times reports, the ex-premier is able to do things like this:

"Tony Blair is in talks about a commercial alliance with one of the most highly paid bankers in the world.

"The combination would bring together Michael Klein's unrivalled contacts in global finance with the former Prime Minister's relationships in politics and government, particularly in the Middle East.

"The discussions, which could lead to a merger of their companies, highlight Mr Blair's ambitions for his commercial operations, which generate millions of pounds a year from advising governments and companies around the world.

The paper says "Mr Klein was co-head of Citigroup's investment bank, which made billions of dollars of losses on holdings of mortgage securities in the financial crisis".

A shameless alliance? You tell me.

5) 'SOCIAL ENGINEERING'

The former defence secretary and darling of the Tory right, Dr Liam Fox, has written a letter to 60 constituents. So what, I hear you ask?

Let the Daily Mail explain:

"Liam Fox has become the most prominent Conservative yet to announce that he will vote against gay marriage.

"The former defence secretary dismissed David Cameron's 'absurd' plans as a form of 'social engineering' that is 'divisive, ill-thought through and constitutionally wrong'.

"In a letter seen by the Daily Mail, Dr Fox said same-sex unions will alienate Conservative Party members and weaken the Church.

"He warned that pressing ahead with plans to introduce gay marriage is enraging 'sections of the British public who are not normally stirred to political anger', and called for a rethink before 'things get out of hand'."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR..

Watch this video of two cats sharing one bowl of food. Go on, you know you want to..

6) PHONE HACKING, PART 557

The Guardian splashes on "the first hacking conviction":

"Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn, 53, was found guilty of misconduct in public office at Southwark crown court after the jury decided she had tried to sell information from the phone-hacking inquiry, which was set up in 2010, to the News of the World."

Meanwhile, my colleague Ned Simons reports:

"The government will look 'absurd' if it rejects the Leveson Report’s recommendations for the regulation of the press in favour of a Royal Charter, a former chairman of the Conservative Party has said.

"Lord Fowler, also a former chairman of the House of Lords Communications Committee, has urged David Cameron to reverse his opposition to Lord Justice wrLeveson’s suggestion for the statuatory underpinning of the independent self-regulation of the press.

"On Friday peers will debate the Leveson Report, the recommendations of which has split parliament, the coalition and the Tory party down the middle."

7) WERE THE CURTAINS DRAWN, MATTHEW?

From the Daily Mail:

"Skills Minister Matthew Hancock missed his chance to publicise a flagship policy to help unemployed youths become more employable - by oversleeping.

"The red-faced minister was spurned by ITV's Daybreak after he was late for his primetime breakfast slot just before 7am.

"He has admitted that he could not get out of bed on time, despite the broadcaster sending a chauffeur-driven executive car to get him from his West London home."

8) 'THE RAPE OF JUSTICE'

A shocking story on the front of the Independent (with an eye-catching infographic as its image):

"Fewer than one rape victim in 30 can expect to see her or his attacker brought to justice, shocking new statistics reveal.

"Only 1,070 rapists are convicted every year despite up to 95,000 people – the vast majority of them women – suffering the trauma of rape – according to the new research by the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Office for National Statistics.

"The figures have reignited controversy over the stubbornly low conviction rates for sex crimes, as well as the difficulties in persuading victims to go to police in the first place."

9) 'BARBARIC SLAUGHTER'

Is Pakistan's Sunni majority engaged in a war on its Shia minority? From the Guardian:

"The vicious double bombing of a snooker club capped one of the bloodiest days in Pakistan for many months yesterday, leaving more than 100 people dead and hundreds injured in three different attacks.

".. Many of the dead and wounded, Murtaza said, were from the Shia sect of Islam, which extremist groups drawn from Pakistan's majority Sunni population regard as heretics.

"Shias, many of whom are members of the Hazara ethnic community in Quetta, have been particularly targeted by sectarian terror groups. Human Rights Watch said the government's failure to protect Shias 'amounts to complicity in the barbaric slaughter of Pakistani citizens.'"

10) 'ONESIE NATION' LIB DEMS

'Call Clegg' on LBC yesterday morning didn't go so well for the deputy prime minister. Even though he had a little 'help' from his friends..

From the Daily Mail:

"After half an hour of tough questioning, Nick Clegg must have been relieved to get a light-hearted question about whether he had worn a onesie.

"But caller 'Harry from Sheffield', was later unmasked as Harry Matthews, 20, a Liberal Democrat student activist and former intern in Mr Clegg's office - who bought the outfit for him.

".. He describes himself online as 'King of the Young Liberals', and gave Mr Clegg the green Incredible Hulk onesie at a party.

"Speaking afterwards, Mr Clegg denied the call was a stunt, saying: 'Of course I had no idea who the guy was.'"

Nick Clegg's 'Incredible Hulk onesie' can be seen here.

The Huffington Post UK's picture desk has done a mock-up of Clegg wearing his green onesie here.

“My core philosophy," the Lib Dem leader joked in front of the parliamentary press gallery lunch yesterday, "is of the Onesie Nation"

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 42
Conservatives 31
Lib Dems 11
Ukip 10

That would give Labour a majority of 112.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@DavidJonesMP Huge gap in my zeitgeist awareness. Until today I didn't know what a onesie was and thought it was pronounced "oh-kneesy".

@StewartWood Big paradox for UK Eurosceptics that their view that EU membership holds back our engagement with US & China is not shared by the US & China

@caitlinmoran Nadine Dorries: "The teenagers ask me a lot of questions now." "What about?" Unspoken answer: what it's like eating balls. #bbcqt

900 WORDS OR MORE

Philip Collins, writing in the Times, says: "If David Cameron wants to win in 2015 he must find a big problem to take on. Championing care of the elderly fits the bill."

Menzies Campbell, writing in the Guardian, says: "Britain's future in Europe must be defined by its national interests, not those of the Conservative party."

Fraser Nelson, writing in the Telegraph, says: "The Tories have a moral mission – and David Cameron should say so."


Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan ([email protected]) or Ned Simons ([email protected]). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol

MEPs Cost £1.79m A Year Each, Three Times The Cost Of Westminster MPs

MEPs cost £1.79m a year, compared to MPs who cost £590,000 and peers who cost £130,000, figures published by the government reveal.

On Wednesday the Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Sassoon, revealed the cost of politicians in a written parliamentary answer given to Labour peer Lord Stoddart of Swindon.

The cost of parliamentarians is based on dividing their number by the overall amount of money spent on members.

In Westminster the House of Commons, which has 650 MPs, costs £385m a year and the House of Lords, which has had between 821-831 members, costs £109m.

However the 736 members of the European Parliament, which sits in Brussels and Strasbourg, cost European taxpayers £1,332bn.

SEE ALSO: Obama Tells Cameron Not To Hold Referendum On EU

Also on HuffPost:

‘Full And Frank’: Has The Coalition’s Audit Had A Polish?

The government's much anticipated mid-term audit has been criticised for failing to provide the "completely unvarnished" assessment of the coalition the prime minister had promised.

The 119 page document details the government's pledges and what it has done to fulfil them - but the document seems to have had some Ronseal added, with the government breezing over U-turns such as its failure to implement House of Lords reform.

The document merely notes: "The Government took the decision not to proceed with the Bill following second reading in the House of Commons and the lack of support for the necessary timetabling motion."

david cameron and clegg

The government published an audit of the coalition government's first two-and-a-half years in office


The audit was released after Number 10 adviser Patrick Rock was seen carrying a "restricted" document warning of "broken pledges" in the coalition agreement, which suggested the government had delayed publication to avoid overshadowing the favourable media coverage they expected to receive from Monday's mid-term review.


Tom McTague

Looks like Mr Cameron has applied a bit of Ronseal to his unvarnished Coalition audit. Funny that.


Rob Merrick

That so-called audit...only 'failings' I can find Cam/Clegg admitting to are per-passenger APD and Post Office card account discounts?

The self-assessment also notes that the badger cull to help control bovine TB has been "postponed" and a free vote on repealing the hunting ban has "not yet been taken forward."

The Labour party has released its own "audit of broken promises", listing 40 areas in which it said the coalition had failed to live up to its pledges.


Robert Hutton

No10 has just explained to me the significance of the different colours of boxes on the audit. It's hard to type fast when laughing,


John Ashmore
I am taking a break from tweeting due to being overwhelmed by the sheer candour of the Coaliton's mid-term audit. #zzzzz

Top of the list of broken promises identified by Labour was the failure to balance the nation's books within five years - something which is not now expected to happen until 2018 at the earliest.

On deficit reduction, the government say it is their "most urgent priority", failing to note borrowing has risen since they came to power.

Michael Dugher MP said: "It turns out that the document David Cameron tried and failed to cover up is now itself a cover-up.

"There's no mention of his government's failure on growth, of the double-dip recession or of £212 billion extra borrowing. It tries to gloss over David Cameron's broken promises on the £3 billion NHS reorganisation and 7,000 fewer nurses, and doesn't even mention his tax cut worth £107,000 for 8,000 millionaires while millions of hard-working families on low and middle incomes are paying more.

"This is a government that lurches from failure to fiasco. They promised change but things are getting worse, not better, and they stand up for the wrong people."

The audit said that the independent Office for Budget Responsibility had confirmed the government was "on course to meet our fiscal mandate" of balancing the books, which was based on a rolling five-year period and not on the fixed target date of 2015.

The government on: NHS reform

Promise: We will ensure that there is a stronger voice for patients locally through directly elected individuals on the boards of their local primary care trust (PCT). The remainder of the PCT’s board will be appointed by the relevant local authority or authorities, and the Chief Executive and principal officers will be appointed by the Secretary of State on the advice of the new independent NHS board. This will ensure the right balance between locally accountable individuals and technical expertise.

Audit: In light of the abolition of PCTs, we are ensuring greater democratic legitimacy in healthcare through the transferral of responsibility for public health to local authorities. We are also introducing Health and Wellbeing Boards (within local authorities), which will set the overall strategies for healthcare in their localities.

READ: The full coalition audit

Second British Tory minister steps down

British Prime Minister David Cameron has faced a fresh setback as he lost his second minister Lord Marland in as many days.

Tory business minister Lord Marland told Cameron of his resignation decision on Tuesday, January 8, a day after the departure of Lord Strathclyde as Leader of the House of Lords.

Marland, 56, said he was frustrated with the grind of Whitehall and prefers to concentrate on business career.

“He has been frustrated by the day-to-day business of government. He also wants to get back to the private sector and there isn’t the time to do that and perform all the duties of a minister at the same time”, a senior government source told The Daily Mail.

Marland’s surprise resignation decision could be seen as a sign of ongoing difficulties within the Conservative Party who spent much of last year fighting with the backbenchers.

MOS/MOL/HE

Mehdi’s Morning Memo: The Poor Get Poorer Next Up, Pensioners

The ten things you need to know on Wednesday 9th January 2013...

1) THE POOR GET POORER. NEXT UP, PENSIONERS

Surprise, surprise - from the Huffington Post UK:

"The Government’s controversial plans for a real-terms cut in working-age benefits have cleared their first Commons hurdle by 324 votes to 268, majority 56.

"...The vote followed a tempestuous five-hour debate in parliament in which senior Tory and Labour MPs clashed over the benefits bill.

"Some four Liberal Democrats, including former minister Sarah Teather, rebelled against their leadership to vote against the below-inflation cap, while former leader Charles Kennedy and backbencher Andrew George voted in both lobbies - the traditional way of registering an abstention."

Much was made ahead of yesterday's debate - by Lib Dem rebels such as Sarah Teather and even Tory MPs such as Sarah Wollaston - of the crude and divisive rhetoric of 'strivers vs shirkers', of 'scroungers' and 'skivers'. The morning after the vote, little has changed - consider the splash headline on the front of today's Daily Express:

"Party Is Over For Benefit Skivers"

Charming. The harsh truth, hoever, is that benefits are now at their lowest levels since the founding of the welfare state more than 60 years ago. And as the economist Stewart Lansley has written, the government's Benefit Uprating Bill "marks a new low in the post-war history of welfare in the UK... it is unprecedented since the war. The last deliberate political move to lower the real incomes of the poorest members of society was more than eighty years ago in 1931."

Speaking after the vote, Barnardo's chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said: "By voting to break the link between benefits and inflation today, MPs have risked condemning children in Britain's poorest families to growing up stuck in the poverty trap, as their parents struggle to cover basic costs of living."

But onwards and upwards, eh? Or should that be downwards? The Times and the FT both splash on news that the coalition may be turning its attention to pensioners' benefits next; from the Times:

"David Cameron is being urged by senior Conservatives to scrap benefits paid to richer pensioners as part of an overhaul of the welfare system.

"Ministers are pressing Mr Cameron to ensure that payments such as the £300-a-year winter fuel allowance are withheld from wealthy pensioners."

The FT says:

"Wealthy pensioners will no longer be insulated against the full force of austerity measures after the next election... Tory strategists said it was time to stop shielding better-off pensioners from cuts.

"In a sign of things to come, Iain Duncan Smith is looking at stopping winter fuel payments to pensioners living in Spain, Greece and other warm countries by applying a 'temperature test'."

No mention in any of these reports that means-testing tends not to work, or that Britain has one of the worst rates of pensioner poverty in the European Union.

Still, let's not forget that it was benefit claimants and the elderly who caused the crash with their dastardly credit default swaps and excessive bonuses. Oh wait...

2) '70 MISSED PLEDGES'

From the Telegraph:

"David Cameron and Nick Clegg will on Wednesday publish a candid assessment of the Coalition’s successes and failures that was excluded from its Mid-term Review, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

"The Deputy Prime Minister declared last month that the Government would provide voters with an audit of which targets it had missed and which it had achieved alongside the official review.

"But the annex, which consists of about 100 pages, was not published on Monday. Its existence emerged only when one of Mr Cameron’s senior advisers was photographed in Downing Street on Tuesday carrying a document that discussed the advantages and disadvantages of releasing it. The audit is understood to concede that the Coalition has missed dozens of pledges covering pensions, road building and criminal justice.

"... However, its existence was unknown to many ministers and advisers.

"It is understood that the Coalition has missed more than 70 pledges."

Oh dear. But to be fair to the coalition, that's 70 out of the 480 measures in the 2010 coalition agreement, i.e. less than 15%. Then again, to be unfair to the coalition, didn't they just mark their own answer papers? How is that credible?

3) LABOUR'S DAVID BOWIE

More news from DavidMilibandWorld. Let's begin with Ann Treneman's Times sketch, which focuses on David Miliband's impressive and impassioned intervention in yesterday's welfare debate in the Commons, in which the former foreign foreign secretary denounced the coalition's benefit uprating bill as "rancid":

"It seems that Bowie is not the only David making a comeback these days. Mr Milibanana, as he will always be to me, has made it clear that he is a man chafing in the confines of the cell that he has made for himself. Yesterday was a David Bowie moment and he was loving every moment of the attention."

"... He sat down, a man in search of applause. David Bowie's new single is called Where Are We Now?. In Mr Milibanana's case, though, the real question is, where is he heading?"

Well, the Mirror's Jason Beattie might have an answer for us. He begins his 'exclusive' interview with the Labour leader today with this paragraph:

"Ed Miliband today paves the way for his brother's political comeback by revealing time has healed their bitter rift. In his first major interview of 2013, the Labour leader fuels speculation David could return to the Shadow Cabinet by also refusing to guarantee that Ed Balls will stay on as Shadow Chancellor until the 2015 general election."

Beattie adds:

"Although they did not spend Christmas Day together, they did have a family get together to exchange presents.

"[Ed] and Justine gave David and Louise some wine 'and other gifts'. David gave his brother a book on the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

"'Look, of course it was a bruising leadership contest and as time goes on that sort of recedes and that's good for our relationship,' says Ed..."

Meanwhile, the Telegraph's James Kirkup notes how the elder Miliband took a bit of a dig at "the political tactics of Gordon Brown":

"Mr Miliband, who quit the Labour front bench in 2010 when his brother Ed beat him to the leadership, said trying to use the [welfare] issue against the Opposition showed ministers were taking a similar approach to the former prime minister.

"'This rancid Bill is not about fairness or affordability,' he said. 'It reeks of politics, the politics of dividing lines that the current Government spent so much time denouncing when they were in opposition in the dog days of the Brown administration. It says a lot that within two years it has fallen into the same trap.'"

Ouch.

4) PRIVATISE, PRIVATISE, PRIVATISE

Oh look: yet more privatisation of bits of the public sector. So much for the coalition staying on 'the centre ground'.

From the Guardian:

"The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, will today outline plans for the wholesale outsourcing of the probation service with private companies and voluntary sector organisations to take over the rehabilitation of the majority of offenders by 2015.

"The public probation service is to be scaled back and 'refocused' to specialise in dealing only with the most dangerous and high-risk offenders and public protection cases. The majority of services will be contracted out on a payment by result basis."

According to Harry Fletcher, of Napo, the probation union: "This move is purely ideological. It is being rushed through without proper thought to the consequences. It will be chaotic and will compromise public protection."

Juliet Lyon of the Prison Reform Trust isn't impressed, either:"Why not build on the success of joint work by probation, police and voluntary organisations, rather than break up the probation service and put the public at risk?"

5) LORDS-A-LEAPING

From the Sun:

"Trade Minister Lord Marland last night became the second Tory peer to quit in two days.

"The blow to David Cameron came just 24 hours after Lord Strathclyde said he was resigning as Leader of the House of Lords.

"Lord Marland told the PM he felt his ministerial responsibilities were making it difficult for him to sell British business around the globe.

"...Friends of the former businessman said he shared Lord Strathclyde's frustrations with being in a Coalition Government with the Liberal Democrats."

Oh dear.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of a bird (!) dancing to Dubstep.

6) SO HOW 'LIBERTARIAN' IS UKIP?

The UK Independence Party's critics on the left and the right were rubbing their hands with glee last night.

From blogger Sunny Hundal's Liberal Conspiracy website:

"UKIP is facing a backlash tonight from its own members after the chair of Young Independence (the party’s youth wing), Olly Neville, was abruptly ousted from his role.

"His offence? Stating his opinion in the media that Cameron was right to pursue the legalisation of same sex marriage. So much for the party’s dedication to libertarianism.

"Olly Neville himself published emails on Twitter that recounted his removal as chair."

Former Tory MP Louise Mensch weighed in from New York, via - where else? - Twitter:

"So #UKIP show themselves to be every bit the bunch of loons we thought they were - sacking a youth leader for supporting gay marriage."

Meanwhile, Ukip spokesman Gawain Towler tweeted:

"@OllyNeville removed as YI Interim Chair for misrepresenting UKIP policy (not marriage views)."

Hmm...

7) THE PRO-EU FIGHTBACK BEGINS...

...with - what else? - a letter to the Financial Times:

"British business leaders have warned David Cameron that the UK premier risks damaging his country's economy by taking it out of the EU, if he seeks 'wholesale renegotiation of ... membership'. Mr Cameron will this month set out, in a speech in the Netherlands, his plan to renegotiate Britain's membership and put the outcome to a referendum in the next parliament.

"But leading business figures, including Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group chairman, and Chris Gibson-Smith, chairman of the London Stock Exchange, warned, in a letter to the Financial Times, that Mr Cameron's renegotiation plan could fail.

"'...To call for such a move in these circumstances would be to put our membership of the EU at risk and create damaging uncertainty for British business, which are the last things the prime minister would want to do,' the letter said.

"Other signatories are Roland Rudd, chairman of the Business for New Europe campaign group; Sir Roger Carr, CBI president; Lord Davies of Corsair Capital; Gerry Grimstone of TheCityUK; Jan du Plessis of Rio Tinto; Sir Michael Rake of BT; Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP; and Malcolm Sweeting of Clifford Chance."

8) WATCH OUT! THE CYBER ATTACKERS ARE COMING

From the BBC:

"The UK is at risk of an attack in cyberspace because of government "complacency", MPs have warned.

"The Defence Select Committee said the threat that cyber attackers posed could 'evolve at almost unimaginable speed', and called for rapid action to protect national security.

"The committee also said the British military's reliance on technology could leave it fatally compromised."

9) 'TROLLING', UNIONIST-STYLE

There's been violence on the streets of Belfast for six nights in a row, with 60 police officers injured and the police bill soaring to more than £7 million.

So how best to calm things down? Why not fly the Union Flag to mark Kate Middleton's birthday?

Eh?

From the HuffPost UK:

"[P]olice are gearing up for a tense day as the Union Flag is flown for the first time since the controversy over its use, to mark the Duchess of Cambridge's birthday.

"The occasion of Kate's birthday is one of the United Kingdom's official 'flag days.'"

This won't end well.

10) CONGRESS VS COCKROACHES

You think our elected politicians in Westminster are unpopular? Check out the US Congress's latest approval ratings over in the United States. According to a new report from Public Policy Polling:

"Our newest national poll finds that Congress only has a 9% favorability rating with 85% of voters viewing it in a negative light. We've seen poll after poll after poll over the last year talking about how unpopular Congress is but really, what's the difference between an 11% or a 9% or a 7% favorability rating? So we decided to take a different approach and test Congress' popularity against 26 different things.

"And what we found is that Congress is less popular than cockroaches, traffic jams, and even Nickelback... Now the news isn't all bad for Congress: By relatively close margins it beats out Lindsey Lohan (45/41), playground bullies (43/38), and telemarketers (45/35)."

Hurrah!

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 44
Conservatives 32
Lib Dems 10

That would give Labour a majority of 120.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@OwenJones84Desperately waiting for coherent, confident opposition to Tories' onslaught on working poor and the unemployed from Stephen Timms #newsnight

@Mike_Fabricant I regret to admit that instead of listening to @owenjones84 on #newsnight , I was mesmerised by a zit on his forehead.....#

@BorowitzReport AIG suing the US government is like a drowning man who's been pulled from the ocean kicking the lifeguard in the balls.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Mary Riddell, writing in the Telegraph, says: "Labour believes George Osborne will be snared by his own welfare benefits trap."

Daniel Finkelstein, writing in the Times, says "Cameron holds the aces": "In the struggle between Europhiles, Eurosceptics and Europhobes, the middle ground is stronger than people think."

Seumas Milne, writing in the Guardian, says: "This economic model isn't delivering jobs or decent wages. The real scroungers are greedy landlords and employers."


Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan ([email protected]) or Ned Simons ([email protected]). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol

Lord Marland: Second Minister Quits In Two Days

Prime Minister David Cameron has lost his second minister in two days, as Lord Marland stepped down as minister for trade. The peer's resignation comes just a day after the departure of Lord Strathclyde as Leader of the House of Lords. A Downing Stree...

Mehdi’s Morning Memo: Dave Won’t Win

The ten things you need to know on Tuesday 8th January 2013...

1) DAVE WON'T WIN

Last March, I penned a column which was entitled: "Why the odds are against a Tory majority."

Almost a year later, I can't help but notice that some shrewd Tory politicians are lining up to agree with me. Former Tory MP Paul Goodman wrote last week: "Two years out from 2015, one fact is already evident: David Cameron will not win an overall majority."

Today, the influential Tory peer and pollster Michael Ashcroft joins the fray. From the Huffington Post UK:

"David Cameron's chances of winning the next election are 'remote', top Tory donor and election strategist Lord Ashcroft has warned.

"Writing on the ConservativeHome website this morning, the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party cited bookmakers' views that an overall majority for Labour is the most likely result in May 2015.

"'With the polls as they are, and political prospects as they currently seem, it would be hard to argue that the bookmakers are seriously misguided. Any realistic survey of the political landscape surely shows the odds are against the Tories metaphorically as well as literally,' he said.

"Ashcroft added: 'The odds on a Conservative majority look comparatively remote.'

"The peer concludes that the combination of traditional Labour voters and disaffected Lib Dems means Ed Miliband 'ought to be able to put together 40 per cent of the vote without getting out of bed' at the next election."

"Without getting out of bed"? Uh-oh.

2) DIVIDE AND RULE

Ahead of today's Commons vote - on the below-inflation 1% rise in benefits and tax credits announced in George Osborne's Autumn Statement last month - the Guardian splashes on Nick Clegg's attack on "Conservative efforts to single out the 'undeserving' poor":

"With the debate over welfare savings likely to form one of the central political battlegrounds of 2013, the deputy prime minister, speaking at a joint press conference with David Cameron at Downing Street, said: 'I don't think it helps at all to try and portray that decision as one that divides one set of people against another, the deserving and the undeserving poor, people in work and out of work.'

"It is understood Clegg is also involved in a backstage battle on how to ensure that coalition plans for childcare will particularly help the working poor, rather than offer reliefs to the middle class.

"... In a sign that the Lib Dem indiscipline may spread to the Commons as the pressure of the election nears, the former children's minister Sarah Teather announced she would be rebelling in Tuesday's vote to formally break the link between benefits and inflation."

As the FT's Jim Pickard observed on Twitter: "Anyone would think Teather has a tiny majority in a not very affluent London seat."

Meanwhile, Labour MPs will be delighed to see the latest report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies. From the Telegraph:

"Seven million working families will lose money under Coalition plans to cut the value of benefits payments, economists have estimated.

"The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that the changes set out in legislation to be debated in the Commons today will affect far more working households than workless ones.

"... The average loss will be £165 per year, the IFS calculated."

My own take - "Strivers vs Shirkers? Ten Things They Don't Tell You About the Welfare Budget" - is published online here.

Oh, and Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, has just been on the Today programme, defending the 1% squeeze on benefits and tax credits and claiming no benefit claimants have been "demonised" on his "watch". Er, okay...

3) RONSEALED WITH A RESIGNATION

Downing Street spin doctors won't be too pleased with this morning's headlines, in the wake of yesterday's Dave&Nick show in Number 10.

The FT front page headline reads:

"Strains crack coalition show of unity"

The Times front page headline reads:

"Coalition heads for new rift as Tory quits Cabinet"

The paper reports:

"David Cameron is ready to open a new split with Nick Clegg over Tory-friendly boundary changes, as a departing Cabinet minister laid bare the tensions at the top of the coalition.

"Lord Strathclyde, who resigned as Leader of the House of Lords yesterday, conceded that his 'irritation' with the Liberal Democats had prompted him to complain that the coalition in the Upper House was broken. He also criticised Mr Clegg for changing his mind on the boundary review, an issue over which he feels betrayed by the Lib Dems, The Times understands.

"Mr Cameron signalled yesterday that he was ready to confront Mr Clegg again over the issue. The Prime Minister regards it as very much alive, despite Lib Dem efforts to kill it off."

As for the actual 'performance' delivered by the two men inside their wood-panelled room in Number 10, well, to be blunt, it was pretty dull - and the sketchwriters weren't particularly impressed, either. Writing in the Times, Ann Treneman picks up on the PM's bizarre analogy ("To me it's not a marriage," he told reporters, "it is, if you like, it's a Ronseal deal, it does what it says on the tin"):

"Nick's face had that expression that married couples will recognise as one of carefully constructed blankness. Dave had just compared their relationship — the most powerful crucial relationship in the nation — to a tin of wood preserver. Surely this took winter gardening tasks, not to mention product placement, to an entirely new realm. After all, what Ronseal Shed and Fence Preserver actually says on the tin is: 'Colours, Waterproofs and Preserves Against Rot and Decay.' It says nothing about boundary changes and House of Lords reform."

Writing in the Mail, Quentin Letts says:

"As a work of drama, the two men gave performances that were controlled rather than inspiring.

"It was really just a PR exercise, something to stick in the Downing Street diary, something they could all point to when asked, on getting home to their better halves, 'so what did you do today, dear?' Was it perchance a little flat? Possibly. As flat as publican's ullage? Less fizzy than week-old taramasalata? That might be a touch harsh."

But here's a question: why on earth did David Cameron allow Lord Strathclyde, the veteran leader of the Tories in the Lords, to announce his resignation from the Cabinet on the same day that the coalition was doing its very public self-assessment? Where's Andy Coulson when you need him, eh?

The Independent's splash headline sums it up:

"Resignation of top Tory lord leaves a stain on PM's 'Ronseal' relaunch"

4) DEBATING DAVE

So what else did we discover from the Downing Street presser? My colleague Ned Simons reports:

"David Cameron has insisted he is in favour of TV election debates, but refused to commit himself to taking part in 2015.

"Speaking at a joint press conference in Downing Street on Monday, Cameron was challenged over whether he would sign up to the head-to-head clashes at the next election.

"'On TV debates, I'm in favour of them, I think they are good and I think we should go on having them, and I will play my part in trying to make that happen,' he said."

There's a simple solution that would force Dave to commit to participating in pre-election debates with Clegg and Miliband in 2015 - the broadcasters should just threaten to replace him with Nigel Farage.

5) 'CALL CLEGG'

Forget TV debates - talk radio is what it's all about. Nick Clegg's decision to moonlight as a 'presenter' on LBC has upset the Sun:

"The Deputy PM stunned Westminster by announcing he will appear on Call Clegg every Thursday morning.

"Critics branded the decision a desperate attempt by the Lib Dem leader to win back voters.

"Some Lib Dems fear the show is a gamble that could backfire, with Mr Clegg facing a torrent of abusive calls.

"The new half-hour slot at 9am will be part of Nick Ferrari's morning show on LBC and will be aired across London — and online for other parts of the country."

Set your alarm clocks!

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of 'Hard of Hearing' Darth Vader, the rather wonderful creation of comedy writer Jon Friedman.

6) TORTURE? THAT'S OLD NEWS

Yesterday, this Memo reported on the row in the United States over President Obama's decision to nominate Vietnam veteran and former two-term Republican senator Chuck Hagel to be his new defence secretary. The neoconservatives in Washington DC don't like the fact that the plain-speaking and independent-minded Hagel doesn't seem too keen on bombing Iran or giving a pass to Israel in the occupied territories.

So shouldn't the real 'row' be over Obama's other national-security team nomination? The decision to nominate the torture-tainted White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan - also the architect of Obama's drone policy - to be the new director of the CIA?

The Guardian reports:

"To replace the disgraced general David Petraeus at the CIA, Obama picked his counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan. That choice attracted criticism because of Brennan's involvement with the Bush administration's backing for harsh interrogation techniques that many have described as torture, although Brennan denies he supported their use."

The FT adds:

"Mr Brennan's tenure at the agency during Mr Bush's presidency drew criticism from liberals when Mr Obama considered naming him CIA director after the 2008 election. Mr Brennan denied being involved in the Bush administration''s much-criticised interrogation techniques but still withdrew his name from consideration."

Yet the paper concludes:

"White House officials say they do not expect Mr Brennan to face similar trouble this time, given his four years of service in the Obama administration."

Guardian blogger Glenn Greenwald makes the case against Brennan, and reminds us of his actual record, here.

7) AUSTERITY WATCH, PART 412

From the Times splash:

"Downing Street was accused of playing politics with soldiers’ jobs last night, as commanders voiced fears that thousands of Army redundancies were leaving critical roles unfilled.

:Documents seen by The Times show how No 10 has leant on military chiefs to accept voluntary rather than compulsory redundancies when 5,000 posts are due to be cut this month.

8) PLEBGATE VS...ORDINARY CRIMES?

Is the Met's investigation into the 'Plebgate' row distracting the police from tackling more mainstream crimes? That seems to be a real concern for the Home Affairs select committee chair.

From the Mirror:

"An MP yesterday raised concerns over the number of police working on specialist operations — including the 'Plebgate' investigation.

"Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz asked Theresa May if the Met had enough people to deal with 'bread and butter' policing in London.

"Last week The Mirror revealed how more than 800 diplomatic protection group officers will be quizzed about Andrew Mitchell's 'pleb' row.

Later today, the committee will grill Met commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe on Mitchell, plebs and the Downing Street coppers. Watch this space.

9) 'WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER'

From the Mail's splash:

"The boss of an energy giant that has doubled its prices in just seven years could pocket a £13million payoff.

"Phil Bentley, who is to leave British Gas within months, has presided over above-inflation hikes that have pushed average bills past £1,300 a year.

"The latest punishing rise of 6 per cent comes as millions endure the greatest squeeze on living standards since the 1920s."

10) SORRELL'S STRIKER

My favourite story of the day, via the Guardian front page:

"Ronaldo, the World Cup winner and highest scorer in the tournament's history after spells at Inter and AC Milan as well as Real Madrid, plans to spend several months in London from next month studying advertising at the global ad firm WPP, run by Sir Martin Sorrell. He retired from football in 2011.

"'Eighteen years have passed and I've hardly studied at all; I feel a great need to become a student again,' Ronaldo told Brazil's Meio & Mensagem newspaper. 'I've learned a lot in life, travelling, living abroad, just in the school of life. But I also have to immerse myself in something.

"'Learning from Martin Sorrell will be perfect. I won't leave him alone, I'll be asking him questions the whole day, just like a striker. He's going to have to tell me everything.'"

You wouldn't want to take on WPP's lunchtime five-a-side team from now on, would you?

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 41
Conservatives 32
Lib Dems 11

That would give Labour a majority of 96.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@PickardJE Coalition mid-term review. 75 per cent what they've done; 20 per cent what we already knew they said they would do next. 5 per cent new-ish

@Labourpaul The 'Ronseal deal' line is all over the media - but was it scripted or an ad lib?

@PeterHain Labour voting tonight against cuts of up to £1300 for 4.6m women, half working. Two thirds hit by tax credit and benefit cuts are women

900 WORDS OR MORE

Rachel Sylvester, writing in the Times, says: "The austerity Government’s pledge to do what it says on the tin beyond 2015 shifts the centre of political gravity."

Steve Richards, writing in the Independent, says: "Forward, say Cameron and Clegg. But to where?"

Aditya Chakrabortty, writing in the Guardian, produces an "obituary" for the welfare state: "After decades of public illness, Beveridge's most famous offspring has died."


Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan ([email protected]) or Ned Simons ([email protected]). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol

Coalition’s ‘Silly’ Claim Over Scottish Independence Leaves PM ‘Floundering’

David Cameron has come under fire for negative campaigning over the case for Scottish independence after the Treasury produced figures claiming that Scots would be £1 worse a year off outside the United Kingdom.

At a joint press conference with his deputy Nick Clegg to mark the Westminster coalition's mid-term review, the prime minister said that winning the emotional battle over the ties that bind Scotland to the rest of the UK will be as crucial as the economic arguments in the independence referendum contest

Mr Cameron said there were "arguments of both the head and the heart" that needed to be made as he claimed Scotland would be worse off on its own.

But as well as the economic argument, he insisted that the campaign to preserve the union must also win the fight for the hearts of Scottish voters by showing "we are stronger together".

The £1 analysis, using an analysis of oil revenues over the course of devolution and produced by Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander was intended to expose the SNP claim that people would be £500 better off a year as a "myth" but independence campaigners seized on the £1 cost as being a "price worth paying".

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson condemned the PM's comments.

"As the UK coalition's botched relaunch shows, the No campaign has started the New Year firmly on the back foot," he said.

"Danny Alexander's silly claim that an independent Scotland would cost people in Scotland £1 over a whole year had David Cameron floundering, and resorting to the old fears and smears that Scotland would be worse off with independence - even though the UK Treasury are no longer saying this.

"In the space of 24 hours, the No campaign has broken the Scottish Labour deputy leader's promise that they would fight a positive campaign.

"The reality is the latest figures show that Scotland is financially stronger than the UK as a whole to the tune of £2.7bn - or over £500 per person in Scotland."

cameron scotland

The PM insisted that financial considerations were only a part of the decision facing Scots

Mr Cameron said he expected that the No campaign would be able to show "categorically" that Scotland would be worse off.

He said: "I think there are important arguments of both the head and the heart that need to be made in this great debate about the future of our United Kingdom and I profoundly hope that Scotland will vote to stay in the United Kingdom.

"I think when it comes to the arguments of the head, things like would Scotland be better off, I think we will be able to show, categorically, that Scotland would be worse off, would be less well off."

He said there would be a changing pattern as North Sea oil runs down and also said there would be uncertainty over jobs in the defence and financial services sectors if Scots voted for independence.

But Mr Cameron insisted the financial considerations were only a part of the decision facing the Scottish people.

"There are arguments of the head, but I profoundly believe we must win not only the arguments of the head but also of the heart: that we are better off together in the United Kingdom, there's a solidarity that we show each other, if different parts of the United Kingdom have a difficult time we are all there ready to stand behind those parts of the United Kingdom.

"We are stronger together, we are better off together, we are safer together.

"So those heart arguments will also, I think, win the day."

Mr Cameron praised Labour former chancellor Alistair Darling, who is leading the No campaign, for doing a "fantastic job".

But Mr Robertson mocked the PM for failing to remember wich campign he was backing.

"Embarrassingly, the prime minister couldn't remember the name of the No campaign - first calling it the 'Yes campaign', and then 'Alistair Darling's campaign'," he said.

"Since David Cameron and Nick Clegg's infamous rose garden media appearance, the Westminster government's promises on issue after issue lie in tatters.

"Pledges on meeting borrowing reduction targets, on reversing years of decline to Scotland's defence footprint and on reforming the House of Lords - to name but a few - have all been abandoned.

"The coalition's track record has been an appalling one and people are understandably fed-up of decisions on key issues affecting Scotland being made by a Westminster Government that has been rejected by people in Scotland.

"Decisions affecting Scotland should be made by people in Scotland, who by definition care most about getting them right.

"Only a Yes vote in next year's referendum will give us that opportunity and ensure that Scotland is no longer paying the price of being tied to a failing Westminster system."

Lord Strathclyde Resigns From The Cabinet

Lord Strathclyde, the Conservative leader of the House of Lords, has stepped down with immediate effect, to revive a career in business. He was appointed to the Lords by Margaret Thatcher in 1988, serving as leader of the Tories in the upper house for...

And You Still Think They Work For You?

On 23rd September the Orwellian sounding UN Regional Information Centre for Western Europe announced that:

For the first time the European Parliament will be represented at the UN General Assembly opening next Tuesday in New York ... Parliament’s inclusion in the official EU delegation “shows the honest commitment of European Heads of State and Government to further democratisation and parliamentarisation of the European Union” ... the official EU delegation will also include European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton.

What a hypocritical statement from the EU evidenced by the fact that democracy has been hijacked by the likes of Van Rompuy, Barroso and Ashton who were never been directly elected by the voters of the EU in the first place. We all know from past experience that rather than deliver on their promises politicians from both the UK and EU deliver the exact opposite. Who could possibly forget their demonstrated contempt for the will of the people evidence by their total disregard of previous results of various referenda.

The UN news release also made reference to the fact that ‘Othmar Karas, Vice President of the European Parliament will focus on access to justice, the rule of law and the essential role that parliaments play in it at Wednesday’s meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), on the occasion of the high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the rule of law’. We, at the UK Column, suggest to our readers that they really mean is LESS access to justice and a shift away from the rule of law.

The Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU)

Inter Parliamentary Union building

The IPU is the international organization of Parliaments. It was created in 1889 on the initiative of two parliamentarians, William Randal Cremer (United Kingdom) and Frédéric Passy (France). In June 1889 the founding act of the Inter-Parliamentary Conference of the Union was signed. This provided the origins for today’s form of institutionalised multilateral co-operation and advocated the establishment of corresponding institutions at the inter-governmental level. In 1919 the League of Nations is established some 30 years after the IPU. By 1943 an IPU meeting in London established a European Sub-Committee. This Sub Committee is now known as the 12+ Group within which the British Group Inter Parliamentary Union (BGIPU) operates at Multilateral Assemblies.

Following the end of the second world war, the League of Nations morphed into the United Nations when the UN Charter was signed on 26 June 1945 by the representatives of 50 countries. In September 1975 Her Majesty the Queen addressed the inaugural ceremony of the IPU Assembly in London: In 1992 the Earth Charter also known as Agenda 21 is signed. In 1995 a cooperation agreement between the UN and the IPU is signed. On its website the IPU states that it ‘supports the efforts of and works in close co-operation with the United Nations, whose objectives it shares. The Union also co-operates with regional inter-parliamentary organizations, as well as with international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations which are motivated by the same ideals’.

Worldwide there are there are currently 162 Members and 10 Associate Members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Since its establishment the IPU has transformed itself from an association of individual parliamentarians into the international organization of the Parliaments of sovereign States. The IPU is financed primarily by its members out of public funds. The site of the Union’s Headquarters is Geneva (Switzerland).

The British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU)

The website of the BGIPU tells us that:

The main stakeholders in the work of the BGIPU include the Speakers and senior officials of both Houses of the UK Parliament, all British Parliamentarians, APPGs and Inter-Parliamentary Groups of the British Parliament, particularly the UK Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

For the benefit of readers the APPGs refered to are All Party Parliamentary Groups. These include groups such as the APPG United Nations Group and the APPG for Global Governance.

If you still hold the mistaken belief that the Westminster Parliament represents the will of the British people please take note that:

The BGIPU works closely in cooperation with the IPU Secretary General and the staff of the IPU in Geneva and New York, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other governmental and nongovernmental organisations, such as those comprising the United Nations key institutions and agencies. The BGIPU is also very keen to establish links with non-partisan think tanks, charities and membership’ organisations.

The 126th IPU Assembly took place in Kampala on 5 April 2012. One resolution unanimously adopted was entitled ‘REDISTRIBUTION OF POWER, NOT JUST WEALTH: OWNERSHIP OF THE INTERNATIONAL AGENDAS’.

The following extract from that resolution provides a flavour of the thinking and future direction of the IPU.

The 126th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union

Believes that, notwithstanding the current financial and economic concerns, climate change, by far the greatest challenge facing humanity, should be consistently and effectively addressed through a fair, transparent and equitable process, fully engaging all sections of civil society and respecting the principles of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, in particular equity and common but differentiated responsibilities;

Calls for sustainable development to be given the highest political priority and welcomes the proposal of the Global Sustainability Panel in the context of Rio+20 to create a global sustainable development council;

Strongly encourages compliance with the requirements of equity and renewal of political commitment to sustainable development based on the Rio principles, both of which should be key objectives of Rio+20 and vital components of legitimate global governance;

Members of the UK delegation from the House of Commons included Mr Robert Walter MP Leader of the Delegation Conservative Party, Chairman of The British Group IPU, UK Representative to the 12+ Group; Rt Hon Ann Clwyd MP, Labour Party, Vice-Chair of The British Group IPU Executive Committee; Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Democratic Unionist Party; Mr Nigel Evans MP, Conservative Party, Deputy Speaker of The House Of Commons, UK Representative to the 12+ Group; Lord Faulkner of Worcester, Member of The House of Lords, Labour Party.

Lord Judd

Members of the delegation from the House of Lords included: Lord Popat, Conservative Party; Lord Rennard MBE, Liberal Democrat Party and Lord Judd, Member of The House of Lords, Labour Party

Judd was a member of the Commission on Global Governance. The Commission was established in 1992 with the full support of United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. It produced a report containing many controversial proposals ‘Our Global Neighbourhood’ in 1995. Sitting alongside Lord Judd in the Commission was Maurice Strong. Strong’s appointment as Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Environment and Development—best known as the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 had resulted in the UNs Agenda 21 programme being implemented by all states belonging to the UN system of Governance including the UK.

We have repeatedly exposed the covert activities of UN stealth agents Common Purpose within our institutions which include the Civil Service, Local Government, the NHS, The Police, and various Charities & Professional bodies. Through their activities in connection with the IPU our politicians have clearly abandoned their duty to represent the interests of their constituents preferring instead to act in compliance with an almost secret globalist agenda. The silence of our mainstream media signifies their complicity in this deception.

National Farmers Union: Making Government Policy Since 1947

As has been widely reported, the planned badger cull, a government initiative in response to the alleged rise in Bovine TB in cattle, has been postponed. What is most interesting about the reports is that they highlighted the fact that the decision did not come from DEFRA, but did in fact come from the National Farmers Union, who claim to be a benign organisation that is simply a voice for farmers; not affiliated with any political party.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Lord De Mauley, repeated to the House of Lords the following statement that Owen Paterson, Minister for DEFRA, made to the House of Commons: 

Today I have received a letter from the president of the NFU on behalf of the companies coordinating the culls, explaining why they do not feel they can go ahead this year and requesting that they be postponed until next summer. In these circumstances, it is the right thing to do and, as they are the people who have to deliver this policy on the ground and work within the science, I respect their decision. I have placed a copy of the letter in the Libraries of both Houses.

Seems plain enough, even democratic perhaps, that an organisation may make a request of Government and Government should accede. However, the statement 'I respect their decision' was perhaps a slip up, since a decision is far more definite than a request and is not reliant upon a response - it goes beyond authority.

Taking a look at the letter that was sent out by the NFU to its members, Peter Kendall, President of the NFU, writes:

Therefore, along with the directors of the companies we have taken the decision not to proceed at this stage and to delay activity until as early as possible next year.

There is no mention of a request to government, or a decision being passed down from government. Peter Kendall is clearly of the belief that he and the directors of the companies involved have taken the decision.

The cull postponement has been attributed to bad weather, excessive populations of badgers, and a legal challenge from the Badger Trust.

Whilst the debate over whether or not a badger cull is necessary is important, what should be glaringly obvious is that more and more power is being exercised by companies and organisations that claim to be independent of government. 

According to 'Corporate Watch', the UK government is legally obliged by the 1947 Agriculture Act to consult the National Farmers Union when making policy; a fact confirmed to the UK Column by the NFU. 

It is not mentioned at all in the 'about us' section on the NFU Website that the organisation contributes to policy. Having spoken to a number of farmers about this, not one has said they knew the NFU was helping to shape policy directly.

The NFU's relationship with the Government is further supported by 'National Archives', which states, in regards to the NFU's inclusion in the 1947 Agriculture Act:

The government's aim was to maintain high levels of agricultural production through a system of guaranteed prices negotiated annually by the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Farmers' Union.

The unveiling of this close relationship will not surprise those farmers that believe the NFU was 'pulling the strings' during the Foot and Mouth disaster in 2001.

The NFU is a much more powerful Union than it appears. It does not change as Parliament changes and is therefore, in effect, much like a branch of the civil service; unelected by the wider public, but which does make and control government policy. How many farmers, or members of the non-farming community for that matter, are aware of this? Apparently not many, since the NFU only has 47,000 members actively farming (of the approximate 96,000 members in total). There are 300,000 or so active farms currently in Britain.

The NFU dubs itself the voice of farming, but how can it be? With little more than 15% of farmers actually members - many 'ordinary' farmers complain that they don't have time to take part, or that they believe the NFU does not represent their interests - if this was a democracy, a meagre 15% of support would not, and should not, allow an organisation to have a say in the making of policy which will effect not only farmers but the wider public as well.

Internally, the NFU appoints its officials to a council that is appointed by the NFU council. When asked how councillors were appointed, the NFU representative explained that councillors worked there way up 'through the ranks' of various policy boards, elected by the NFU council.

The NFU does permit farmers a vote, but those votes do not necessarily correlate with the outcome, since it is the NFU council which casts the final and deciding vote. It is not clear whether the council is obliged to represent the opinion of the NFU members, or exactly what the finer details of how the council operates are. The NFU representative suggested that those would be clarified in the NFU's constitution, but that it is only available to members; a submission confirmed by the NFU website. This in itself is a remarkable admission - it seems that one cannot view the constitution before consenting to it.

It is becoming clear is that our nation is being governed and manipulated by various organisations, companies, quangos and NGOs that, unknowingly to the public – and unelected by the public – are shaping the policies that effect our daily lives. That is not to say that the NFU does act nefariously, but the opportunity is there and as events are demonstrating, power is regularly abused for the benefit of a an individual or small elite. Democracy must be truly representative of the people, or there is no democracy.

EU delaying in hope Westminster MPs will derail Brexit, MEP tells RT (VIDEO)

Officials in Brussels are hoping pro-Remain MPs will overturn the outcome of last year’s EU...

Britain’s new Middle East minister visits Israel & Palestine… but no mention of 2014...

During his first official visit to Israel and Palestine as minister for the Middle East,...

The UK High Court Is Wrong

The decision by the UK High Court to block a bid by a former chief of staff of the Iraqi army to bring a...

War crimes? Third of Britons want Tony Blair tried over Iraq invasion

A third of Britons want former Prime Minister Tony Blair to be tried over his...

Galloway: ‘Law is an ass’ for blocking Iraq War prosecution of Tony Blair

The High Court ruling that Tony Blair cannot be prosecuted for taking Britain into the...

Attempt to prosecute Tony Blair over Iraq War blocked by High Court

Published time: 31 Jul, 2017 09:43 Edited time: 31 Jul, 2017 13:58 Britain’s High Court...

Blocking Tony Blair’s prosecution for Iraq War ‘an attack on democracy’

The High Court’s refusal to prosecute Tony Blair over the war he launched in Iraq...

Ghost train? 60,000 bodies to be exhumed to make way for Britain’s high-speed railway

Published time: 28 Jul, 2017 15:58 The British government has admitted its plan to construct...

Grave robbers targeted Princess Diana’s burial site 4 times, brother reveals

People have been trying to steal from or dig up Princess Diana’s grave, with four...

Donald Trump working on ‘big’ UK trade deal, takes a swipe at EU

Published time: 25 Jul, 2017 14:44 US President Donald Trump says he is working on...

Tory MP under fire for ‘n****r in the woodpile’ Brexit remarks (AUDIO)

Published time: 10 Jul, 2017 17:05 Edited time: 10 Jul, 2017 17:16 A Tory MP...

Hackers behind UK Parliament cyberattack not state-backed

Published time: 6 Jul, 2017 15:56 The massive cyberattack on British MPs’ emails last week...

Prince Harry says nobody wants to be king, republicans tell him he’s ‘free to...

Published time: 22 Jun, 2017 12:26 Prince Harry says nobody in the royal household wants...

Jeremy Corbyn didn’t bow to the Queen at state opening of Parliament (VIDEO)

Published time: 21 Jun, 2017 12:29 Edited time: 21 Jun, 2017 13:03 Labour leader Jeremy...

‘Brexit means Brexit’ tour of London offered to Americans… for a mere $6K

The New York Times is cashing in on Britain’s split from the EU by offering a ‘Brexit Means Brexit Tour’ of London to American...

Britain drafts laws empowering it to impose sanctions post-Brexit

Britain is rushing to create new laws that will allow it to introduce sanctions against...

Politically correct officials institutionally biased against Christian refugees, says ex-archbishop

Published time: 13 Apr, 2017 12:18 Christian refugees fleeing persecution in the Middle East face “discrimination”...

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone defends Hitler comments as ‘truth’

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone said he will not apologize for his apparently anti-Semitic comments...

Freedom of speech must trump safe spaces in universities, minister says

Published time: 21 Mar, 2017 17:18 Freedom of speech will be enshrined in law at university...

Spanish Brexit negotiator suggests British expats should keep their EU rights

Madrid is seeking a Brexit deal that will allow British expatriates to remain in Spain with full access to their EU benefits. Jorge Toledo, the...

Theresa May to trigger Article 50 in coming days when Brexit bill gets Royal...

Prime Minister Theresa May says the government’s Brexit bill will get Royal Assent in the...

Queen gives Royal Assent to Brexit bill, allowing PM Theresa May to trigger Article...

Published time: 16 Mar, 2017 10:43Edited time: 16 Mar, 2017 11:09 Queen Elizabeth II has given...
video

Video: Brexit Greenlight: UK Parliament passes trigger bill

The UK Parliament has given the green light for the country to leave the EU, as the House of Lords passed a landmark Brexit...

Brexit could be invoked within days as bill faces final parliamentary hurdle

Britain is poised to begin its departure from the EU as early as Tuesday, as the Brexit bill allowing Prime Minister Theresa May to...

Sturgeon announces plan for 2nd Scottish independence referendum

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced plans for a second Scottish independence referendum in a...

Leaving EU with no deal could leave Britain in worst trading position of rich...

Leaving the EU with no deal in place with the bloc could put the UK...

Lord Heseltine fired by Theresa May for rebelling against ‘hard Brexit’

Former cabinet minister and life peer Lord Heseltine was sacked as a government adviser after...

Ex-Tory leader Hague wants early election to make Theresa May more attractive to EU...

Former Conservative leader William Hague has called for snap elections to give Prime Minister Theresa...

May to resist Brexit Bill amendments, but Tory rebels vow to fight for EU...

Prime Minister Theresa May will forge ahead with her Brexit Bill without amendments proposed by the House of Lords and Labour MPs. Rebels in...

Blame fat kids for NHS crisis says ex-surgeon & shadow health secretary

The NHS is in crisis and fat kids are to blame, a leading doctor warned,...

'We can't ignore the people': Parliament backs Brexit bill in landslide vote (VIDEO)

Britain’s departure from the EU moved a step closer on Wednesday evening, when MPs voted...

Brexit trigger date confirmed as MPs start 2-day debate on how to leave EU

MPs are beginning two days of debate on the bill to trigger Article 50, which will give Prime Minister Theresa May the go-ahead to...

Brexit bill to trigger Article 50 to be presented before Parliament

Legislation paving the way for the government to start the Brexit process is expected to be presented to Parliament on Thursday, igniting months of...

‘Brexit bill’ expected in parliament ‘within days’ as Supreme Court ruling rocks government

The British government has pledged to introduce a Brexit bill in parliament “within days” in...

British Army fails to attract new recruits, missing manpower target by thousands

Army recruiters missed their targets by a margin of 2,500 troops in 2016, new figures...

London university ‘monitoring’ emails to stop students ‘being drawn into terrorism’

King’s College London is warning staff and students their computer activity could be monitored as...

Porn censorship & age checks breach human rights, says UN official

Online checks controlling whether children are accessing pornographic sites have been defined as a breach of human rights by a United Nations (UN) official. The...

Stalkers could face 10yrs in jail as offenses surge in Britain

Stalkers are to face a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail after the government...

London’s 328-year-old Lloyd’s insurance market plans EU move in the coming year

After 328 years in the city, Lloyd’s of London will become one of the first major UK businesses to confirm moving part of its...

Give UKIP chief Farage peerage to boost UK-Trump relations, says influential Tory MP

Euroskeptic politician Nigel Farage, who also appears to be Donald Trump’s British advisor, should be given a peerage and awarded the role of middleman...

Is UKIP head Farage about to become ‘Lord Nigel’ to boost Britain’s relations with...

Prime Minister Theresa May has apparently refused to confirm or deny whether she could give...

‘Bomb proof’ Brexit bill could be rushed through parliament

British Prime Minister Theresa May has created a “bomb proof” Article 50 Bill with the...

Fappening 2.0? Details of 5mn online porn users hacked & leaked

Profile details of 5 million consumers of online pornography have been hacked and leaked in...

British spies say ISIS leader escaped Mosul as Iraqi forces stormed city

The leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who urged his followers to “not retreat”...

Palestinians demand UK apologize for 1917 Balfour Declaration that helped create Israel

A campaign by Palestinian activists demanding the UK issue a formal apology for supporting the idea of a Jewish state in the Middle East...

French nationals suffer post-Brexit abuse, claims ambassador

Many of the 300,000 French nationals living in Britain are reassessing their futures in the...

British spy powers threaten freedom of expression, UN told

Human rights groups warned the United Nations this week that a new British law allowing...

British politicians desperate for dual Irish citizenship after Brexit vote

Desperate to hold on to EU citizenship following Brexit, the number of British MPs and...

PM Theresa May doesn’t know what she’s doing on Brexit – Alex Salmond to...

New British Prime Minister Theresa May has no idea what she’s going to do about...

Open democracy? Brexit negotiations may be kept so secret not even Parliament will be...

Until Article 50 is initiated and Britain officially begins the process of leaving the European...
video

Video: ‘Suffering of Syrians is horrendous’: UK Baroness Cox on her trip to Aleppo,...

RT spoke with Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of the UK Parliament's House Of Lords, who has just returned from Damascus in Syria, where...

‘Peace in Syria can’t be reached through Western interference’ – UK’s Baroness Cox to...

Bashar Assad has enormous support both from his people and unarmed opposition groups for his fight against Islamic State, despite the West’s push for...

Cameron’s ‘cronyism’ could cost Eton pal top diplomatic job in Paris

One of David Cameron’s best pals is to be investigated by Westminster officials claims arose that he was attempting to get the top diplomatic...

Cameron could face inquiry grilling over ‘cronies’ honors list

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron could be hauled before MPs for a grilling about his controversial resignation honors list, a Conservative MP has...

A Preview of The Coming War Between America and China

John Pilger John Pilger is a world-renowned journalist, documentary filmmaker and author. He has twice won Britain’s highest award for journalism. His films have won...

Mass surveillance, deportations & nuclear weapons: What to expect from UK’s new PM

Theresa May will replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister on Wednesday. What do we...

Iraq war 'was illegal,' Blair's former deputy acknowledges

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was illegal, Lord Prescott, former deputy prime minister to Tony...

Envelope of 'white powder' triggers security alert at UK Parliament

Parts of the Westminster parliamentary estate in London were on lockdown on Thursday afternoon following...

Exposed: MI5, GCHQ have 15 secret bulk data collection warrants in force

Fifteen “secret warrants” are in force to enable British intelligence services to collect bulk data...

UK police commit 2,300 data breaches in 4.5yrs – report

Some 800 UK police staff were responsible for more than 2,300 breaches of personal data...

Craig Murray on The Truth About Chilcot

The death toll from the horrific recent Iraq bombings has risen over 250. If Blair had not been absolutely determined to attack Iraq on...

Spies could hack entire towns under new surveillance bill

Spies will be empowered to hack the electronic devices of entire towns under the government’s...

Snoopers’ Charter ‘goes too far’ says retired Met assistant 

IPBill The Liberal Democrats are planning to meet the Investigatory Powers Bill with strong resistance in the House of Lords, a list of key...

Europe’s War on Refugees is Repeating the Mistakes of the War on Drugs

Ververidis Vasilis | Shutterstock.com   The EU’s “war on people smuggling”, escalated last week by David Cameron, appears to be modelled on the failed “war on drugs” –...

Europe’s War on Refugees is Repeated the Mistakes of the War on Drugs

Ververidis Vasilis | Shutterstock.com The EU’s “war on people smuggling”, escalated last week by David Cameron, appears to be modelled on the failed “war on drugs” –...

‘Tony Blair lied on Iraq and will be exposed by Chilcot report’ – Corbyn

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s lies about weapons of mass destruction and his secret war...
video

Video: Operation Sophia: EU naval mission to stop people smugglers ‘failing’

The European Union's naval mission, launched in response to the migrant crisis, has failed, according to a UK House of Lords report. Critics say...

Uncertain future for Britain’s 2mn EU expats in face of Brexit

A vote to leave the EU would result in years of “complex and daunting” negotiations...

Cameron U-turn offers hope to lone child refugees in EU at risk of abuse

David Cameron has caved into demands for Britain to take in more child refugees who...

History will judge UK on failure to accept 3,000 refugee children stranded in Europe...

Britain must not turn its back on vulnerable child refugees stranded in Europe because history...

Corruption & bribery rife in UK, 28% of bosses say

Corruption and bribery is widespread in Britain, according to more than one in four top...

Project Fantasy or Project Fear? EU Referendum campaign officially begins

Britain’s EU referendum campaign officially kicked off on Friday, with both sides warning of the...

Panama Papers: Revelations show sheer scale of UK links to off-shore tax havens

The UK government’s pledge to crack down on off-shore tax schemes and money laundering has...

#RefugeesWelcome beamed onto White Cliffs of Dover ahead of far-right demo

Campaigners have responded to an anti-immigration protest taking place in Dover this Saturday by projecting...

VIP pedophile probe ‘ruined my life’ – Harvey Proctor

Former MP Harvey Proctor says the highly-criticized Operation Midland - the inquiry into VIP child...

ISIS brutality must be classified as genocide – UK peers

Cross-party peers in Britain’s House of Lords have ramped up their campaign to have the...

‘Does Osborne know he’s destroying lives?’ Disgruntled disabled Tory sabotages website

A life-long Conservative and disability campaigner has quit the Tory party in dramatic fashion by...

Jihadist links? UN probes boss of oil firm chaired by ex-Tory leader Michael Howard

Leaked correspondence reveals that the director of an oil firm chaired by former Tory leader...

Trade Union Bill may violate human rights, Tories’ own watchdog warns

The Conservative government’s Trade Union Bill may impose “potentially unlawful” restrictions on the right to strike, the government’s own human rights watchdog has warned...

Tories ‘plotting to silence critics’ — Lord Kerslake

Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative-led government is plotting to silence critics by diminishing trade unions and limiting journalists from scrutinizing its practices, the former...

Poll: British public evenly divided over EU

As British Prime Minister David Cameron is preparing to attend an EU crucial summit in Brussels, a new poll has found that the British...

Plans to scrap Human Rights Act delayed until 2016 — Gove

Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights has been delayed for...

Ex-PMs Gordon Brown & John Major condemn Osborne’s attacks on welfare

Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has blasted Chancellor George Osborne’s plan to cut tax credits for low income families, saying they will push...

Axman cometh: Osborne defies critics with fresh round of austerity

Chancellor George Osborne announced fresh spending cuts for several government departments on Monday in the wake of his embarrassing defeat in the House of...

UK government to legalise universal state surveillance

By Robert Stevens Conservative home secretary Theresa May introduced before Parliament the government’s proposed Investigatory Powers Bill yesterday. The 299-page draft Bill is a fundamental assault...

Democracy In Britain ‘Catastrophically In Decline’

A study by Democratic Audit into the state of democracy in Britain conducted in 2012 that looked at the previous ten years warned that...

Met police close investigation into politcian corruption reports

UK police have closed an investigation into reports on a high-ranking politician’s corruption because of “insufficient evidence” against him. Police said in a statement that...

How America Double-Crossed Russia and Shamed the West

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org SUMMARY (to be documented below) The conditionality of the Soviet Union’s agreement to allow East Germany to be taken by...

‘Two-thirds of Britons say have no clout in UK laws’

A new poll in the UK shows its democracy is faltering to deliver since as many as two-thirds of Britons believe they have barely...

​End regressive, ‘stupid’ war on drugs, campaigners tell Cameron

Families of people who have died or been imprisoned due to UK drug legislation handed a letter to Number 10 on Tuesday, as the...

“Blame it on Gaza” say UK Politicians

It has no nukes, no navy, no air—force, no tanks, no phosphor bombs, no subs, no guided missiles, no exits, nowhere to run… its...

Crimea: Was It Seized by Russia, or Did Russia Block Its Seizure by the...

Eric Zuesse Both before and after Crimea left Ukraine and joined Russia in a public referendum on 16 March 2014, the Gallup Organization polled Crimeans...

Iraq Inquiry to cost taxpayer £10mn

The Inquiry into the invasion of Iraq in 2003 will cost the taxpayer £10mn, peers have been informed. Ongoing since 2009, the Chilcot Inquiry...

The Destruction of Human Rights

Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state Amberhawk Training According to most of the broadsheets, if there is a Conservative government after the next...

David Cameron Wants To ‘Make It Easier To Take Passports Away’

David Cameron will make a statement to the House of Commons later today on proposals for new legislation which will “make it easier to...

UK minister resignation over Gaza fuels Tory revolt

Following the resignation of UK foreign office minister, Baroness Warsi, Prime Minister David Cameron is struggling to quell a growing revolt over his contentious...

“Big Brother Britannia”: Bouncing Parliament. Surveillance and Police State by Emergency in the UK

You have to give him some credit. The soul of the prison warder who inhabits the public school boy is not always easy to...

Don’t Emulate the United States’ Terrible Surveillance Oversight, Britain

DANNY O'BRIEN The UK government is currently forcing through Parliament a wide-ranging set of changes to that country's digital surveillance and data retention law. The pace of...

Law before equality: Non-UK residents may face ‘discriminatory’ cuts to legal aid

The UK government’s attempt to make residence tests a requirement for those seeking legal aid in Britain has been mitigated by the high court...

Lord Blencathra is ordered to apologise for signing lobbying contract with tax haven

Melanie Newman Conservative peer Lord Blencathra — formerly known as David Maclean — has been ordered to apologise to the House of Lords for signing a contract...

British government planned a 100,000-strong Syrian proxy force

Steve James British plans developed in 2012 for the creation of a huge “rebel” army to march on Damascus and overthrow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad...

Access all ministers: billionaires and lobbyists at lavish party with David Cameron

Nick Mathiason, Melanie Newman and Tom Warren Today, the Bureau can reveal the billionaires, lobbyists and foreign interests who attended one of the most important private Conservative...

Tory MPs To Be Ordered To Re-Introduce EU Referendum Bill To Fight Ukip Surge

David Cameron will make one more attempt to get his plan for a in/out EU referendum by 2017 into law before the 2015 general election. The...

Masters of Black Propaganda: The BBC is Barrel Bombing Night and Day

Dr. David Halpin RINF Alternative News Black propaganda is revealed immediately by its motto. ‘Nation shall speak Truth unto Nation’; it strangles truth in most minutes...

The EU’s “Economic Time Bomb”

Ellen Brown  RINF Alternative News “As things stand, the banks are the permanent government of the country, whichever party is in power.” — Lord Skidelsky, House...

Lawyers oppose Government citizenship-stripping powers

The Home Secretary’s proposed expansion to controversial citizenship-stripping powers has encountered mounting opposition in the House of Lords. Some of the most prominent lawyers in...

The Corporate Global Banking Elite v Humanity

Justin Walker  RINF Alternative News The Bradbury Pound Centenary (1914-2014) has been launched with the signing of a House of Commons Early Day Motion by five...

Britain and the European Court of Human Rights

The cart of legal sobriety is truly getting away when parliamentarians start seeking exemptions from laws in the name of upholding them. The European...

The Birth of a Police State: UK Police to be Granted Sweeping New Powers

scriptonitedaily.com November 11, 2013 The UK Government is about to pass legislation which will make any behaviour perceived to potentially ‘cause nuisance or annoyance' a criminal...

RINFORMATION

USA Topics 9/11 Agenda 21 Assassinations Banks Bush, George Jr Boston Bombings Bohemian Grove CIA Cointelpro Corruption DARPA Democrats Disinformation Congress Drones Eugenics FBI Federal Reserve Guantanamo HAARP ...

Morals faded away from UK politics

There is no trace of morals in Britain™s political scene even if politicians prescribe ethics for other countries.Britons were particularly amazed at the news,...

UK mil bases, controversy, human rights

UK overseas mil. bases embroiled in controversiesDebates over Scots™s likely vote to independence from Britain in the planned Autumn 2014 referendum and its impact...

British peer urges greater Muslim unity

Britain™s first male Muslim Life Peer has called for strengthening Muslims™ unity based on dialogue during the seventh international meeting of the World Forum...

The 40th Anniversary of Pinochet’s Rise to Power in Chile

Chileans observe their own anniversary on September 11, as today marks the 40th anniversary of the military coup that removed the revolutionary Marxist President...

UK Nat’l Service bill awaits 2nd reading

The British parliament are set for the second round of debates on a bill that restores the Prime Minister™s version of the military service...

Manning Wronged and Miranda’s Right

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/manning_wronged_and_mirandas_right_20130825/ Posted on Aug 25, 2013 ...

Author Of Terror Law: UK Authorities Acted Illegally By Detaining Miranda

“Publication in the Guardian is not instigating terrorism.”Steve WatsonInfowars.comAug 21, 2013 One of the...

The Age of Regression

London. I have known my postman for more than 20 years. Conscientious and good-humoured, he is the embodiment of public service at its best. The...

How We Are Impoverished, Gentrified and Silenced — And What to Do About It

I have known my postman for more than 20 years. Conscientious and good-humoured, he is the embodiment of public service at its best. The...

British govt. legalizes gay marriage

British members of parliament (MPs) have clinched a new law aimed at legalizing gay marriage after the initial bill was amended in the House...

Cocaine found in 9 UK Parl. toilets

Cocaine traced in 9 UK Parl. toilets including in no-public-access areasTraces of cocaine have been found in nine toilets of the British parliament, including...

Britain to use secret evidence in court

  By ...

Who’s at the top of Britain’s Tory party?

Prime Minister David Cameron shaking hands with Israeli regimeâ„¢s agent in Britain, Daniel Taub.by Stuart-Littlewood Ten years ago Tam Dalyell, the ËœFather of the...

Welby makes false start in Holy Land

Before he left for the Holy Land I telephoned Justin Welbyâ„¢s office for details of his first visit as the new Archbishop of Canterbury,...

Payday loans summit in UK ‘a sham’

Some British firms charge annual interest rates of more than 5,800% on some loans.A summit to tackle payday loans in Britain has been slammed...

UK lobby group raps Commons toilet bid

A British lobby group has condemned the UK parliamentâ„¢s bid to spend up to £100,000 on refurbishing two toilets used by members of the...

Governments-Bank-Corporate sector fraudulently create deficits and then impose austerity measures

Governments fraudulently create deficits and then impose austerity measures This article will use Australia as an example but be assured the same story exists all over the world It may appear to be rather complex and more of a jig-saw puzzle to most but to those that understand the workings of the share market, financial, […]

The Disease of Caretaker Governments

A tear should be shed, though keep in the singular. Australia’s first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard and probably last for some time, is...

The Disease of Caretaker Governments

A tear should be shed, though keep in the singular. Australia’s first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard and probably last for some time, is no more.

Bahraini activists rap torture by regime

Bahraini human rights activists say the torturing of the countryâ„¢s prisoners has been intensifying amid an international spotlight on the Persian Gulf nation, Press...

UK Protesters to Canadian PM: 'Keep Oil Peddlers' Out of Europe

Greeting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he arrived at the UK's Parliament Thursday morning was a barrage of environmental activists who came to...

UK Protesters to Canadian PM: 'Keep Oil Peddlars' Out of Europe

Not crumpets and tea. Protesters with the UK Tar Sands Network rallied outside of Parliament Thursday against the presence of Canadian PM Stephen...

UK Protesters to Canadian PM: 'Keep Oil Peddlars' Out of Europe

Not crumpets and tea. Protesters with the UK Tar Sands Network rallied outside of Parliament Thursday against the presence of Canadian PM Stephen...

Financial Scandals Draw Heat On Bilderberg Secrecy

Kurt NimmoInfowars.comJune 5, 2013 Secrecy at the Bilderberg conference — where corporate kingpins, government...

Bilderberg Group Gathers Global Elite at UK Hotel

The famed–and much derided–Bilderberg Group is meeting this week in Britian to discuss whatever it is the world's super elite discuss at their secretive...

Bilderberg Group Gathers Global Elite at UK Hotel

The famed–and much derided–Bilderberg Group is meeting this week in Britian to discuss whatever it is the world's super elite discuss at their secretive...

Who will be Attending the Bilderberg Meeting? What Will be Discussed Behind Closed Doors?

Each year, the Bilderberg venue brings together leading members of the financial and corporate elite, politicians, handpicked scholars, journalists and scientists. There are participants...

Which Bilderberg name did you notice first?

James Highamnourishingobscurity.comJune 4, 2013 Some days ago, this blog said the Bilderberg meetings were just theatre....

Which Bilderberg name did you notice first?

James Highamnourishingobscurity.comJune 4, 2013 Some days ago, this blog said the Bilderberg meetings were just theatre....

Which Bilderberg name did you notice first?

James Highamnourishingobscurity.comJune 4, 2013 Some days ago, this blog said the Bilderberg meetings were just theatre....

Breaking: Official Bilderberg Attendee List Released

FRA Castries, Henri de Chairman and CEO, AXA Group DEU Achleitner, Paul M. Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Deutsche Bank AG DEU Ackermann, Josef Chairman of the Board, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd GBR Agius,...

UK parliament hit by lobbying scandal

The Indian ExpressJune 2, 2013 Britain’s cash-for-questions row on Sunday got murkier as it claimed the...

UK Lord embroiled in lobbying scandal

Lord Laird (L), an Ulster Unionist peer and former MP in seen here in a news programme with the BBC.A member of the UKâ„¢s...

UK PM urged to halt gay marriage plan

Religious leaders have urged British PM David Cameron to reconsider gay marriage plan.Leaders of Britain's major faiths have called on British Prime Minister David...

British peers plan gay marriage revolt

British Lords are planning to block the governmentâ„¢s proposed gay marriage bill.Members of Britainâ„¢s House of Lords are preparing to block the coalition governmentâ„¢s...

UK gay marriage bill passes Commons

A bill to legalize gay marriage in Britain passes its final Commons hurdle despite fierce opposition from Tory MPs.A bill to legalize gay marriage...

‘An Historic Mistake’

Labour has accused David Cameron of "an historic mistake" after he called off talks on press reform. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg joined the criticism, saying he was "disappointed" and "surprised" at the Tory leader's decision. They were speaking ...

32% Of Ministers Linked To Corrupt ‘Finance-Energy Complex’

New research by anti-poverty campaign group, the World Development Movement (WDM), has revealed that 32% of ministers in the UK government, including top cabinet ministers, are linked to UK finance and energy companies fuelling climate change.

Succession Bill clears the Commons

New laws allowing a first born daughter to succeed the throne have cleared the Commons after only two days of debate in the House of Commons. The Succession of the Crown Bill, which also permits an heir to the throne to marry a Catholic, received an u...

Britain’s Moral Standing ‘At Risk’ Over Plans For Secret Court Hearings

Britain's moral standing in the world is at risk unless major changes are made to a controversial piece of legislation that will see a rise in secret court hearings, a joint report from a senior Tory and a human rights barrister has warned. The Justic...

Voter registration: Data checks ‘accurate as ID cards’

Officials are being allowed to trawl databases including the Royal Mail and the Student Loans Company to track down missing voters in a new...

Britain is Becoming a Dictatorship

The UK's coalition government of Tories and Lib Dems is about to push through legislation creating secret courts that will protect the State at...

UK activists to battle secret justice bill

Press TV | British human rights groups are gearing up for a muscle-flexing with the British government over “secret justice” plan that allows closed court...

Anonymous marks November 5 with hacks, protests

RT | A worldwide day of protests and cyber attacks against governments, banks and security firms has been launched by Hacker collective Anonymous to mark...

How the Police copy and keep your phone secrets

The police routinely copy and keep the contents of suspects’ mobile phones, according to this week’s Sunday Times. In under half an hour the police could...

Secret courts bill hides government cover-ups

Liberties and freedoms enshrined in Magna Carta more than 800 years ago are under threat from the British government’s plans to deliver a bill...

Take Back Parliament campaigners to rally in London again

Fair votes and reform campaigners will be rallying in London's Trafalgar Square and across the country again this Saturday, aiming to Take Back Parliament...

The UK DNA database needs proper scrutiny

Last December the European Court of Human Rights decided in S and Marper v The United Kingdom that the retention by the State of...

Sir Alan Sugar ‘to receive peerage’

Sir Alan Sugar will receive a peerage as part of a new enterprise role in the Government, a source said today. The businessman, who has...

Court limits police surveillance powers

By Dominic Casciani | The Court of Appeal has limited police powers to keep pictures of protesters in case they go on to break...

Soldiers protected by human rights laws

British troops are protected by human rights laws even while fighting overseas, according to a landmark judgment Monday centred on a soldier who died...

Street CCTV has little effect on crime

The Guardian | The use of closed-circuit television in city and town centres and public housing estates does not have a significant effect...

Paying billions for our database state

It is cost rather than privacy concerns that will save us from Labour's megalomaniac surveillance schemes — a point underlined this morning when David...

Privacy group urges sites to say no to Phorm

 Online privacy and civil liberties organisation the Open Rights Group has urged major websites including Amazon, Google, Ebay and Facebook to opt out of...

Peers condemn huge rise in state spying

By LOUISE NOUSRATPOUR CIVIL rights campaigners demanded an end to Britain's "surveillance society" on Friday after the Lords issued a damning attack on the "incessant...

We will never work for the BBC again – actors and directors in Gaza...

By EMILY PYKETT ACTORS and directors have warned the BBC they will not work for the corporation again if it...

BBC staff protest over decision not to show Gaza aid appeal

By Leigh Holmwood The BBC is facing a growing revolt from its own journalists over its decision not to broadcast the Gaza humanitarian aid appeal,...

UK does not need a nuclear deterrent

Nuclear weapons must not be seen to be vital to the secure defence of self-respecting nations Sir, Recent speeches made by the Prime Minister, Foreign...

ECHR decided against the UK DNA Database

On 4 December 2008, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gave its judgement in the Marper case related to the controversial National DNA...

Ex-MI5 chief ‘astonished’ at how many organisations use anti-terror law

By Andrew Sparrow The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) was passed in 2000 to regulate the way that public bodies such as the police...

Taking liberties with information

FT | So much for parliamentary privilege: Damian Green, the frontbench Conservative MP for Ashford, was arrested this week and held for nine hours for...

Fury at Labour MPs ‘Orwellian’ tactics over DNA database vote

Liverpool Daily Post | LABOUR MPs were accused of “Orwellian” tactics last night after voting to make it all-but impossible for innocent people to...

MI5 said Iraq “exacerbated the threat from international terrorism”

By David Morrison | Stella Rimington, the last but one head of MI5, was interviewed by Decca Aikenhead in The Guardian on 18 October...

Policing “target communities”

By Paul Donovan | The decision of the Court of Appeal that the state can place people under control orders (house arrest) without ever...

VIDEO: Centuries of British freedoms being ‘broken’ by security state

Centuries of British civil liberties risk being broken by the relentless pressure from the ‘security state’, the country’s top prosecutor has warned. By Christopher Hope Outgoing...

42-day detention dropped as unworkable

Sean O’Neill | Gordon Brown is preparing for a humiliating climbdown over his proposal to hold terrorist suspects for 42 days after being told...

Former spy chief joins 42-day detention critics

By Duncan Campbell | The government's 42 days counterterrorism legislation came under fresh fire last night when a former director general of MI5 said...

NOAM CHOMSKY: Towards a Second Cold War?

NOAM CHOMSKY | Aghast at the atrocities committed by US forces invading the Philippines, and the rhetorical flights about liberation and noble intent that...

Older generation could scupper £4.4bn National Identity Scheme

By Ian Grant | The cost of the government's controversial £4.4bn national identity card scheme, could rise significantly because of the difficulties reading fingerprints...

Cloned e-passports fiasco renews calls for £4.7bn ID card scheme to be axed

Opposition MPs accused the Government last night of being naive in believing that new microchipped passports would be foolproof against criminals involved in identity...

British NASA hacker to face U.S. trial

LONDON (Reuters) - A British computer expert faces up to 70 years in jail after losing his fight on Wednesday against extradition to the...

Scandal of Diego Garcia Rendition Flights

By Andy Worthington | This has been a bad week for the British government, in relation to two of the running sores of its foreign...

Ex-MI5 chief attacks 42-day plan

Baroness Manningham-Buller tells the Lords why she is against the plans (video) The former head of MI5 has dismissed government plans to extend the time...

Exposed: the arms lobbyist in Parliament

By James Macintyre | A senior arms lobbyist is gaining access to ministers, MPs and peers inside Parliament using a research assistant pass allotted...

The most potent weapon wielded by Murdoch and China

By George Monbiot | If you want to know how powerful Rupert Murdoch is, read the reviews of Bruce Dover's book, Rupert's Adventures in China. Well,...

Royal bugging claims denied

Claims the Royal Family was being bugged by GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) have been denied at the Princess Diana inquest.

CIA Flights Landed on British Island

CIA And Britain Admit U.S. Rendition Flights Used British Territory In 2002 Reversing an earlier claim, the CIA has acknowledged that two U.S. rendition flights...

Widespread bugging by authorities

The inside story of how and why one MP was bugged reveals that eavesdropping by the authorities in Britain is far more widespread than...

Illegal bugging of Muslim MP

Sunday Times: illegal bugging of Muslim MP - Wilson Doctrine breached ? Spy Blog The Sunday Times leads with an interesting scoop, involving two topics about...

British Government Censoring The Web

Frank Fisher When asked to name countries that impose extensive internet censorship, you might think of China, Iran, or North Korea; I doubt you'd think...

Current financial crisis was topic of Bilderberg 2006

The current financial crisis that has happened due to the Sub prime mortgage crisis was a main topic at Bilderberg 2006 in Ottowa. The green...

Will Darling’s data giveaway kill off ID cards?

By John Oates UK Identity Crisis Anti-ID card campaigners believe that yesterday's admission by Chancellor Alistair Darling that the government has lost records and private...

Big Brother Britain: Government and councils to spy on ALL our phones

By JASON LEWIS Officials from the top of Government to lowly council officers will be given unprecedented powers to access details of every phone call...

Market Efficiency Hokum

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News You know the story triumphantly heard in the West. Markets work best when governments let them operate freely - unconstrained...

America and Venezuela – Constitutional Worlds Apart

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News Although imperfect, no country anywhere is closer to a model democracy than Venezuela under President Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias. In...

Reviewing Ferdinand Lundberg’s “Cracks in the Constitution”

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News Ferdinand Lundberg (1905 - 1995) was a 20th century economist, journalist, historian and author of such books as The Rich...

The 3 Americans Who Should Pay for Medicare-for-All

Of course, it will pay for itself eventually, with lower administrative costs and savings on medications and provider fees. Universal health care is getting closer...

Warning Letter to Harvey and Irma Survivors From Katrina Survivor

Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans | CC BY 2.0 Dear Fellow Hurricane Survivors: Our hearts go out to you as you try to return to...

The Goal of ‘Not Losing’ in Afghanistan

Exclusive: America’s adventures in Afghanistan – dating back to the 1980s – have led to one disaster after another with...

‘Wars Are Not Fought to Liberate Women’

Peter Hart interviewed Sonali Kolhatkar about women in Afghanistan for the October 10, 2010, episode of CounterSpin, an interview that was rebroadcast on the...

How the US Can Prevent a Fire Like Grenfell Tower

At least 80 people are missing and presumed dead after a devastating fire in Grenfell Tower, a high-rise apartment building in London. It’s the...

No more Mr. Nice Guy? Jeremy Corbyn sacks 3 frontbench rebels over single market...

Three Labour frontbenchers have been sacked for defying their leader Jeremy Corbyn’s call to abstain...

‘Trapped with no way out’: Grenfell Tower residents raised fire risk fears long before...

Residents of Grenfell Tower in London repeatedly warned authorities that the building was a fire...

‘Buy Rosetta Stone & learn Russian’: John Kerry bashes Trump at Harvard commencement

Former Secretary of State John Kerry took some light-hearted and more serious jabs at President Donald...

America’s Retarded Awareness

Alternative ideas don’t come easily to Americans. It seems that Americans imported colonial hierarchal practices from Europe to cultivate them to their own advantage....

UK's biggest buy-to-let landlord bans curry-eating ‘colored’ people from renting his properties

One of the biggest landlords in Britain has come under fire for secretly banning “colored”...

UK to demand EU pays back £9bn after triggering Brexit talks – govt sources

British Prime Minister Theresa May will demand that Brussels return £9 billion ($11 billion) of...

‘Deport El Chapo’: Will immigration crackdown trump criminal cases?

President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown was designed to get “bad hombres” out of the US, but...

Tillerson & Kelly face ‘tough trip’ to meet with Mexican counterparts

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly met with their counterparts...

Theresa May must withdraw ‘desperate’ Trump state visit invitation, say MPs

MPs of all parties called for “disgusting” US President Donald Trump to be barred from...

Absolution

by Daginne Aignend / February 19th, 2017 The cardinal felt slightly guiltyHe swore an oath of povertyand yet the poorest of peoplehad to pay their...

Feds arrest 680+ undocumented migrants in week-long sweep

More than 680 undocumented migrants have been arrested in a series of raids across multiple US...

‘Do more for child refugees,’ daughter of ‘British Schindler’ tells Theresa May

Theresa May must do more to help child refugees, the daughter of the ‘British Schindler’...

‘Nonsense & downright lie:’ Mexico denies Trump threatened to send troops against ‘bad hombres’

After the AP and Mexican media reported that Trump had threatening to send the US military...

UK accepts Assad could run for reelection, marking shift in Syria policy

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says Britain has changed its stance and now believes Syrian President Bashar Assad could potentially be allowed to run...

Blasphemy? Koran reading in Glasgow church ‘denigrated Jesus,’ says Queen’s chaplain

A church that chose a reading from the Koran for its Epiphany service has been...

What if Renters Got the Same Tax Deductions and Refunds as Homeowners?

(Photo: Unsplash) The era of historic renter militancy has just begun in this country. Thousands rallied in mid-September 2016 in 52 cities in 19 states...

PM May to fight 2020 election on pledge to deliver ‘British Bill of Rights’

Prime Minister Theresa May plans to base her 2020 General Election campaign around a pledge...

Robots could replace almost half of US jobs by 2036

Automation through robots and other artificial intelligence could affect nearly half of all US jobs, a report from the Obama administration has found. Education...

How the Power Elite Rules Us

The 7 “Blind” men and the US Elephant The famous Indian story of the Blind Men and the Elephant is a metaphor highlighting that while...

Over 250,000 will be homeless in England this Christmas, charity warns

More than a quarter of a million people in England will be homeless this Christmas...

Hammond’s first post-Brexit Autumn Statement points to bleak times ahead

Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement as Tory chancellor, and the first since the Brexit referendum,...

Osama bin Laden’s older brother rents out luxury student flats in Scotland

The older brother of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden is one of Scotland’s richest student...

A Third Co-Presidential Term: The American Nightmare Is Just Beginning

(RINF) - In less than three weeks, get used to hearing about president-elect Hillary, she and husband Bill heading back to the White House...

The Establishment’s in Panic

Pressed by moderator Chris Wallace as to whether he would accept defeat should Hillary Clinton win the election, Donald Trump replied, “I will tell...

Double, Double Toil and Trouble

“We came, we saw…he died” boasted a beaming Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, speaking of the 2011 western overthrow of Libya’s leader Muammar Khadaffi. She...

Maintaining Influence in Afghanistan

U.S. Army patrol in Afghanistan (courtesy Wikimedia Commons) Over the past few months, the Obama administration has renewed its efforts to strengthen its position in...

London mayor launches inquiry into foreign ownership of property market

London Mayor Sadiq Khan will launch an inquiry into foreign property ownership as house prices...

Money for rogue landlord crackdown being used to arrest tenants instead

Millions of pounds’ worth of government funds earmarked to combat rogue landlords is being used...

Fabric shut over drug deaths that also taint London’s luxury hotels

One of London’s iconic dance venues has been shut down because of a “culture of...

Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot

Hillary Clinton may be enjoying a comfortable lead in national polls, but she is far from enjoying a comfortable night’s sleep given the ever-widening...

Keep Elites Accountable, But Don’t Dumb the Issues Down

Bruegel’s Tower of Babel. (Photo: rpi virtuell / Flickr) You know you’re a wonk when your nighttime reading is as thick as the latest Stephen...

Anti-Corbyn billionaire urges rebel MPs to split Labour & form new party

Billionaire Labour donor Assem Allam has encouraged MPs opposed to party leader Jeremy Corbyn to...

Return of the slums: 31 people found living in single-family home in London

A landlord was exposed and shamed online after his four-bedroom London property was found to be housing 31 people, including in a backyard wooden...

Emigre Super Bloc Part 4- Clinton’s Jihadis | Will the Super Delegates Vote YES...

By the end of this section, you will understand Islamic terrorism better than most analysts. Where it came from, where it's going,who's driving it...

‘The law has been broken routinely’: Scientist who identified lead contamination in Flint to...

Water departments in at least 33 cities across 17 states were found to have “cheated” for...

British pensioners over 75 increasingly likely to live in poverty

Trevor Johnson A report by Independent Age, a charity for the elderly, reveals that 1.6 million older people live in poverty in the UK, with...

Democrats in Dis-Array

Drop of Light | Shutterstock.com   With rumors flying that establishment Democrats might hand Hillary Clinton her hat before the Democratic Convention to replace her with Joe Biden,...

Homes for Hasidics: Social housing controversy hits NYC

The majority of New York City’s Section 8 social housing vouchers are going to the Hasidic...

Hillary’s Obsequies?

When delegates to the Democratic national convention gather in Philadelphia at the end of July to – almost certainly – nominate Hillary Clinton as...

Roll call of top Tory tycoons exposed in #PanamaLeaks

Tory donors, former MPs and Conservative Lords have been implicated in the Panama Papers, which...

Terrorism: From the Irish Dynamite War to the Islamic State

How many Western leaders are honestly interested in terrorists’ motives? Pictured: bombing in the Irish Civil War. (Photo: Public Domain) The year 2016 is the...

The False Flag of Regime Change

(…Or The Plot Calling The Kettle Black)  Denis A. Conroy (RINF) - The political sphere in the West is experiencing thrombosis; elites are clogging up the...

Hillary Clinton’s Support for the Iraq War Was No Fluke  

(Photo: Zimbio) In March 2003, just before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, about 100 CODEPINK women dressed in pink slips weaved in and out of...

‘Kill the Housing Bill!’ Tenants protest Tory attacks on social housing

(RT) - Thousands will protest the Tory government’s Housing and Planning Bill on Sunday. Far...

Pink-Slipping Hillary: On Remembering the Victims of the Iraq War

The following is an excerpt from False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Clinton , edited by Liza Featherstone and forthcoming June 14 of this year. In March...

Notes on London’s housing crisis

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Allison Smith Surging London home prices decimate living standards Recent employment growth and...

Bedroom tax ‘punishes poor & powerless,’ Supreme Court hears

Disabled people are unfairly impacted by the Tories’ ‘bedroom tax,’ lawyers for five appeal cases told the Supreme Court on Monday. Campaigners for disability rights...

How a Little Pink Flower Defeated the World’s Sole Superpower

(ResoluteSupportMedia / Flickr) After fighting the longest war in its history, the United States stands at the brink of defeat in Afghanistan. How can this...

Hillary Clinton’s Six Foreign-Policy Catastrophes

Eric Zuesse Many commentators have mentioned (such as here and here and here and here) that Hillary Clinton left behind no major achievement as the U.S. Secretary of State;...

Corporations Killed Medicine. Here’s How to Take It Back.

(Photo: taggartjm / Flickr) Along the path toward the creation of a global capitalist system, some of the most significant steps were taken by the...

UK Government announces demolition of council housing

By Simon Whelan Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC “Andrew Marr Show” that his government plans to demolish England’s 100 “worst” council estates. In an...

The Most Complete Criminal Organization

Paul Craig Roberts (RINF) - Unique among the countries on earth, the US government insists that its laws and dictates take precedence over the sovereignty...

Lifetime council tenancies in UK to be scrapped

By Dennis Moore The recent amendment tabled by the Conservative government to the Housing and Planning Bill will end lifetime tenancies for those living in council...

British tenants vulnerable to evictions amid rental crunch

A British housing and homelessness charity has reported the eviction of one tenant in every 90 seconds in England and Wales. According to an analysis of...

Top Democrat in New York legislature convicted of corruption on all counts

By Philip Guelpa Democrat Sheldon Silver, the former Speaker of the New York State Assembly, was convicted Monday on all seven charges of corruption brought before...

Britain’s Government Sponsored National Housing Ponzi Scheme

When it comes to housing policy in the UK, the Conservatives are a one-trick pony. They have form. It is designed around dividing the...

Hillary Clinton Hasn’t Learned a Thing from Iraq

As the first Democratic presidential debate drew to a close, moderator Anderson Cooper posed a question to Hillary Clinton: How might her presidency differ from Barack...

Seymour Hersh’s News Report Banned in U.S., Is Finally Confirmed in Turkey

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org The news-report that the famed investigative journalist Seymour Hersh could not find an American publisher for, and that was...

‘How Many Afghans Have to Grow Up Knowing Nothing but War?’ – CounterSpin interview...

Janine Jackson interviewed Phyllis Bennis about the Kunduz hospital bombing for the October 9 CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Janine Jackson: If you...

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Says Refugee Crisis Is Putin’s Scheme. The Backstory

Eric Zuesse The show aired on September 5th, and interviewed their contracted expert: http://video.foxnews.com/v/4466018186001/european-union-leaders-struggle-to-deal-with-migrant-crisis/?#sp=show-clips https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=2&v=8-RyOaFwcEw TRANSCRIPT, starting at 4:45: 4:45, Interviewer: The other place that nobody seems to want to...

UK MPs get free VIP service at NHS to protect from public

British lawmakers get free VIP service at the National Health Service (NHS) hospital to protect them from public, UK media reports have revealed. According to...

Fake Housing Market, Fake Stock Market and Fake Millionaires

“One in 65 people is now worth seven-figures after surge in the price of property and stock markets” the newspapers have been crowing. “The...

The Stock Market Will Start To Fall In July? The Dow Plummeted More Than...

By Michael Snyder (RINF) - Was last week a preview of things to come? There are quite a few people out there that believe that...

North Africa about to be hit by USA drone programme

By Thomas Gaist The US military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) is preparing to develop at least one new US drone and Special Forces base in North Africa,...

British housing crisis is about to get even worse

SW- The Tories launched their new right to buy scheme for housing association tenants last week. Under Margaret Thatcher’s previous scheme only council tenants could...

Cost of living unbearable for millions of Londoners

By Allison Smith (WSWS) - A recent report published by Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Social Policy reveals that it is much harder to make...

When is a democracy not a democracy? When it’s in Britain

SHAUN LAWSON Imagine a country where the views of well over half of the electorate are discounted and treated as an irrelevance. Imagine a government...

THE ENDURING REALITY OF GOVERNMENT BY WEALTH AND SOME OF ITS CONSEQUENCES

John Chuckman RINF Alternative News If you really want to understand the world in which we live — its endless wars, coups, interventions, and brutality towards...

Six months of war in Iraq: Less ‘skin in the game’ mustn’t mean less...

This week marks six months since the parliamentary vote that committed Britain to a new war in Iraq. British and US air strikes continue to take place on a daily basis though now virtually unmentioned in parliament and the press.  In the past, national media poured... Read More ›

Crazed Washington Drives the World to the Final War

Paul Craig Roberts  RINF Alternative News John Pilger is the kind of well-informed, hard-hitting journalist with gobs of integrity that no longer exists in the Western...

The Most-Censored News Story of 2014 Was ____(What?)_____.

By Eric Zuesse There is only one ongoing news story that’s being systematically censored out of virtually all U.S. news media. This has been the...

Menace on the Menu: The Globalization of Servitude

Colin Todhunter In his book ‘The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective’, economist Angus Maddison noted that India was the richest country in the world and...

Afghan Opium Production Hits All-Time High

Mike Whitney RINF Alternative News 2014 was a banner year for Afghanistan’s booming opium industry. According to a United Nations annual survey released on Wednesday, opium...

How Ebola Will Irreversibly Transform America

Dave Hodges RINF Alternative News Instead of protecting America, this administration is sending 3,000 soldiers, untrained in dealing with Ebola outbreaks, to Africa for reasons that...

The Crazy-Making Fed

Charles Hugh Smith Washington's Blog Reprinted with permission.  The Federal Reserve’s communications and policies are a form of crazy-making double bind. Systems theorist/anthropologist Gregory Bateson developed (with others) the concept...

The New American Elite

Lenin Nightingale  RINF Alternative News There is in many people a natural tendency to serfdom.To bow and curtsy to royalty, to fawn over celebrities, indeed, to...

Obama and the Democrats: The Lesser of Two Evils is Still Evil

Donn Marten RINF Alternative News As the old saying goes, “the greatest trick that the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. It...

The ISIS Fiasco: It’s Really an Attack on Iran

Mike Whitney  RINF Alternative News There’s something that doesn’t ring-true about the coverage of crisis in Iraq. Maybe it’s the way the media reiterates the same,...

The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Naked Truth About the American Police State

“The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself…Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.”—H.L. Mencken, American journalist It’s vogue, trendy and appropriate to look to dystopian literature as a harbinger of what we’re […]

At least 40 UK politicians complicit in alleged Westminster ‘pedophile ring’ — report

A whistleblower who kicked off UK police pedophile probe Operation Fernbridge believes as many as 40 British MPs and peers were involved in or...

‘Consigned to Financial Ruin’: Evictions Fueling Economic Disadvantage

Low-income black women face disproportionately high eviction rates that fuel cycle of poverty, study finds Black women in disadvantaged neighborhoods are the most likely to...

Pushing the Button — Pulling the Trigger

If we believe we could push the Red Button then we should close our 401k and/or IRA accounts and stop funding these unConstitutional wars, the drug lords that are supplying our children with heroin and bootleg merchandise and most importantly help stop funding these criminals on Wall Street and in Washington DC.

Criminal ‘Associates’ Face 5 Years’ Jail Time Under New Law

CORRUPT lawyers, accountants, landlords and couriers could be jailed for five years if they ignore crimes they profit from under a new law. A new...

Edward Snowden, the World’s “Most Wanted Criminal”

Noam Chomsky In the past several months, we have been provided with instructive lessons on the nature of state power and the forces that drive...

Our Economy Wants You to Be In Debt–5 Things You Can Do to Take...

We poured through a debt-resistance manual created by former Occupiers to bring you these practical tips. Liz Pleasant Last month PM Press published the Debt Resisters' Operations Manual –also known...

The Meritocracy Myth: How the Super-Rich Really Make Their Money

Paul Buchheit RINF Alternative News Warren Buffett once claimed that the "genius of the American economy, our emphasis on a meritocracy and a market system and a...

Wall Street’s “Predatory Equity” Rental Scheme

Gottesdiener is the author of A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home. She just wrote the piece “When Predatory...

The Agenda 21 Water Police Are Making Their Move To Enslave America

Dave Hodges RINF Alternative News The globalists murdered Detroit through the various free trade agreements consisting of NAFTA, GATT, and CAFTA. And now, their Agenda 21...

Cops to Inspect Homes Without Notice For Illegal Rentals

Paul Joseph Watson Authorities in Long Island have launched a crackdown on homeowners who rent their house out to “illegal tenants” under a “zero tolerance”...

Another Financial Crisis Is Looming – Here’s Why

David Dayen  RINF Alternative News Bloomberg financial reporter Bob Ivry has written an entertaining new book, “The Seven Sins of Wall Street,” which, instead of rehashing the various...

The British Government’s War on Women

Bernadette Horton RINF Alternative News As David Cameron and Nick Clegg gear up for further huge budget cuts should the Tories, either alone or in coalition,...

From Helen to Hillary: Women in War

Accepted wisdom in U.S. culture, despite overwhelming evidence, holds that the two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan shortened World War II and saved more lives than the some 200,000 lives they took away.

And yet, weeks before the first bomb was dropped, on July 13, 1945, Japan sent a telegram to the Soviet Union expressing its desire to surrender and end the war. The United States had broken Japan's codes and read the telegram. U.S. President Harry Truman referred in his diary to "the telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace."

Truman had been informed through Swiss and Portuguese channels of Japanese peace overtures as early as three months before Hiroshima. Japan objected only to surrendering unconditionally and giving up its emperor, but the United States insisted on those terms until after the bombs fell, at which point it allowed Japan to keep its emperor.

Presidential advisor James Byrnes had told Truman that dropping the bombs would allow the United States to "dictate the terms of ending the war." Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal wrote in his diary that Byrnes was "most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians got in." Truman wrote in his diary that the Soviets were preparing to march against Japan and "Fini Japs when that comes about." Truman ordered the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th and another type of bomb, a plutonium bomb, which the military also wanted to test and demonstrate, on Nagasaki on August 9th.

Also on August 9th, the Soviets attacked the Japanese. During the next two weeks, the Soviets killed 84,000 Japanese while losing 12,000 of their own soldiers, and the United States continued bombing Japan with non-nuclear weapons. Then the Japanese surrendered.

The United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that,"… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated." One dissenter who had expressed this same view to the Secretary of War prior to the bombings was General Dwight Eisenhower.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy agreed: "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender."

It was with knowledge of these undisputed but collectively ignored facts that I recently read a review of a book called The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II.  The women or girls involved did not in any way help win World War II, and the author and publisher surely know that.  These women worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, producing the bombs that would kill, injure, traumatize, and destroy on a scale never before imagined -- leaving us decades later in serious danger of accidental or intentional apocalypse. But the idea that they helped win or end a war is a lie.

That the atomic girls didn't know exactly what they were building is no excuse any more than the Nazi's "I was just following orders" was an excuse.  But these women's ignorance of what they were making would, I think, diminish their heroism had they done something at all heroic.  In reality, they blindly participated in mass-murder by knowingly assisting a war effort, and were willing to do so without being given any of the details. In other words, they proved capable of doing just what millions of men have done. Should we be proud?

The point of the book and the article seems to be that young women did something.  The author describes them as "brave" and compares their bravery to that of U.S. soldiers off obediently killing and dying in the war. The review describes the U.S. government's eviction of 1,000 families from their homes in Tennessee to make room for the nuclear bomb making.  "Only something of the magnitude of saving the nation could possibly justify causing such heartbreak," writes the reviewer. Really? What could justify the mass-slaughter of some 200,000 people?  And what exactly was the nation saved from? Shouldn't such language  ("saving the nation") be made to mean something rather than being tossed around carelessly?  And hadn't the U.S. government just 10 years earlier evicted 500 families to build Shenandoah National Park, neither to save the nation nor to kill lots of foreigners, but just because?

The relationship of women to war has changed dramatically in recent decades, even while remaining the same.  Attractive women recruiting young men into the army can trace their lineage to Helen of Troy.  Women raped and killed in war have a history as old as war.  Women resisters to war are as old as war as well.  But there are at least four big changes. First, women now participate in war, as well as in weapons production, in a major way.  (Why the great ineluctable forces of genetics and destiny that always justify evil in weak minds will allow women to join in war but not allow men to abandon war is not clear to me.) Second, women -- to a limited extent -- participate in making the decision to wage wars.  Third, women are not just secondary victims of war anymore; rather, female babies, toddlers, girls, women, and grandmothers make up about half of wars' casualties, 90% of whom are civilians.  And fourth, with wars no longer solely advertised as ways to seize territory or develop manhood or bring glory to a flag, it has become common to advertise them as a way to bring women their rights and freedoms.

Not the right not to be bombed, of course.  But the right, if they survive the war, to work and drive and vote and endure invasive ultrasounds, or whatever the West believes a woman's rights should be.  In 2001, the United States was told that Afghanistan would be bombed for revenge.  But since revenge is barbaric and vile, and since the criminals being punished were already dead, and since most of the people in Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9-11 and wished no part in any war, it was helpful to add another motivation.  Afghanistan would also be bombed, we were told, for women's rights -- rights that had indeed been devastated following U.S. efforts to provoke the Soviet Union and then arm religious fanatics against it.  Five weeks into the bombing, Laura Bush, the U.S. "first lady," proclaimed: "Because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women."

Of course, when U.S. special forces burst into a home and shot pregnant women, and then dug the bullets out with their knives in order to blame the murders on the women's husbands, the goal was not the advancement of women's rights.  But the war had nothing to do with that in reality.  The U.S. empowered the warlords of the Northern Alliance, whom the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) denounced as "brethren-in-creed of the Taliban and Al-Qaida." RAWA reported: "The war in Afghanistan has removed the Taliban, which so far does appear to be an improvement for women in certain limited parts of the country. In other areas, the incidence of rape and forced marriage is on the rise again, and most women continue to wear the burqa out of fear for their safety."  After over a decade of U.S./NATO liberation, Afghanistan remains one of the worst places to be a woman or to become a mother.  Child marriage, rape in marriage, and prosecution of rape victims for adultery remain legal and accepted.  It was in this context that Amnesty International put up big posters on bus stops in Chicago during a NATO meeting, reading -- without intended irony: "Human rights for women and girls in Afghanistan. NATO keep the progress going!"

"Progress" is rolling ahead in liberated Iraq as well, where the legal age of marriage is being lowered from 18 to 9.  Similarly in liberated Libya, women are worse off.  Similarly in monarchies and dictatorships that the U.S. government chooses to arm rather than overthrow because of their cooperative behavior: women are not enjoying the blessings of freedom unimpeded in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, et cetera -- although many women are struggling admirably to advance their rights by nonviolent and effective means.

Another place women's rights are suffering is in the U.S. military, where studies have found that a third of women are sexually assaulted or raped by their fellow soldiers and commanders. One expert believes that the frequency of such attacks on male recruits is just as high but less often reported.  Of course, if that's true, it does nothing to mitigate the horror, but simply adds to it.  So young women reading about the glories of "saving the nation" by building nukes should think hard before joining the military -- hard enough, perhaps, to oppose it on the grounds that it's mass murder.

There's another story from Oak Ridge that ought to be read more widely, the story of one woman and two men just sentenced to prison for nonviolently protesting the nuclear weapons facility still found there.  Here's a story of heroism and inspiration with no falsehoods, a story of wisdom and thoughtful action requiring incredible bravery and selflessness.  Why we strain so hard to find such stories outside of nonviolent activism would be a mystery to me, were the reasons not readily to be found in the massive investment that war profiteers make in selling the idea of war.

There's a broader story, as well, of heroic women advancing a movement against war and toward a culture of peace.  Here's proof aplenty of that:

http://codepink4peace.org

http://nobelwomensinitiative.org

http://wilpfus.org

http://worldwidewamm.org

http://wand.org

And here's what we're up against: the coming promotion of a woman warmonger as a token carrier of progressive liberalism. Don't fall for it.

read more

Weathering the Economic Collapse: Can You Reduce Any of These 10 Fixed Expenses?

The bells are tolling on the American economy.  Every day, another expert is warning us of the imminent demise of our way of life. If you’re paying attention, you can see it coming, like some huge storm system, bearing down on you. You don’t stand there and wait for itRead the Rest...

From Radical Resistance to Propagating Imperialism

Derek Ide  RINF Alternative News In recent weeks protests against the elected president Nicolás Maduro have captured the imaginations of corporate media outlets and wealthy expatriates...

Obama’s Afghan War Has Failed

Eric Zuesse  RINF Alternative News On 19 February 2014, two polls were issued by Gallup, one showing opinion among Afghans, and the other showing opinion among Americans, and both make...

US and EU Are Paying Ukrainian Rioters and Protesters – Paul Craig Roberts

US and EU Are Paying Ukrainian Rioters and Protesters Paul Craig Roberts A number of confirmations have come in from readers that Washington is fueling the violent protests in Ukraine with our taxpayer dollars. Washington has no money for food stamps or to prevent home foreclosures, but it has plenty of money with which to…

The post US and EU Are Paying Ukrainian Rioters and Protesters — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

They’re Fast-Tracking the Future, TPP Style — But We Can Stop Them

Richard Eskow  RINF Alternative News The “TPP,” or Trans-Pacific Partnership, is our nation’s newest proposed trade deal. It was negotiated without democratic input, and they’re trying...

UK housing benefit changes threaten mass evictions

Eileen Rose  RINF Alternative News Open season has been declared on housing benefit recipients who live in private rented accommodation. The New Year saw one of the...

US-Backed Islamic Terrorism: Dividing the Arab World

Olga Shedrova RINF Alternative News Terrorism came into being as soon as humanity appeared, but the US special services turned it into a threat of global...

US-Backed Islamic Terrorism: Dividing the Arab World, Weakening Russia and China

Photo: Zbignew Brzezinski and Osama Bin Laden in 1981. Terrorism came into being as soon as humanity appeared, but the US special services turned it...

US-Backed Islamic Terrorism: Dividing the Arab World, Weakening Russia and China

Photo: Zbignew Brzezinski and Osama Bin Laden in 1981. Terrorism came into being as soon as humanity appeared, but the US special services turned it...

South Sudan: When the Empire is Your Liberator, You’re Not Really Independent

Glen Ford RINF Alternative News The United States, which boasts that South Sudan owes its independence to Washington, seems poised to repossess the new nation’s sovereignty....