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Is Brexit to blame for the uptick in Northern Ireland violence, and what is...

The murder of journalist Lyra McKee and a spate of recent incidents of violence attributed...

Is Brexit to blame for the uptick in Northern Ireland violence, and what is...

The murder of journalist Lyra McKee and a spate of recent incidents of violence attributed...

Woman gunned down during riot in Derry, Northern Ireland (VIDEOS) — RT UK News

A woman has been killed in clashes between dissident Nationalists and security forces in Northern...

At least 2 killed in reported stampede at St. Patrick’s Day bash in Northern...

Police have confirmed that at least two people died after a stampede allegedly broke out...

Irish politicians call for Northern Ireland Sec Bradley to resign after ‘no crimes’ comments...

A string of Irish and Northern Irish politicians have urged Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland...

Police warn of fake news as Northern Ireland city hit by 3 security alerts...

Rumors spread like wildfire as Derry, Northern Ireland, was hit by three security alerts on...

Kicking Northern Ireland border issue down the road & other key points — RT...

The draft Brexit agreement has prompted several resignations in Theresa May's government and many negative...

Kicking Northern Ireland border issue down the road & other key points — RT...

The draft Brexit agreement has prompted several resignations in Theresa May's government and many negative...

Northern Ireland Minister of State Shailesh Vara resigns over proposed Brexit deal — RT...

In the first resignation following Theresa May’s Brexit agreement, Minister of State at the Northern...

Why is Northern Ireland such a big deal in Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations? —...

Brexit, when it finally happens, could mean that for the first time ever, the United...

Declassified report shows Northern Ireland police told not to arrest MI5 informants — RT...

After almost 40 years in the dark, a declassified report has revealed that Northern Irish...

Not another bloody bridge! Boris Johnson flirts with project to link Britain to Northern...

Despite previous attempts to build bridges falling flat (not literally), UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson...

Video: After Ireland’s Historic Abortion Vote, Calls Grow for Abortion Rights in Northern Ireland - In a resounding win for reproductive rights, the Irish electorate voted in overwhelming numbers to liberalize the country's highly ... Via Youtube

After Ireland’s Historic Abortion Vote, Calls Grow for Abortion Rights in Northern Ireland

In a resounding win for reproductive rights, the Irish electorate voted in overwhelming numbers to liberalize the country's highly restrictive abortion laws on Friday....

Video: After Ireland’s Historic Abortion Vote, Calls Grow for Abortion Rights in Northern Ireland - In a resounding win for reproductive rights, the Irish electorate voted in overwhelming numbers to liberalize the country's highly ... Via Youtube

Brexiteers slammed for undermining Northern Ireland peace treaty — RT UK News

A number of of hardline Brexiteers have been criticized for comments suggesting that the Good...

‘Hooded Men’ torture case ‘could harm Northern Ireland power-sharing deal’ — RT UK News

A dispute over UK government-sanctioned torture has harmed hopes of a Northern Ireland political deal,...

Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland shouldn’t get say on Brexit, Supreme Court rules

Devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should not have a say on the terms of Brexit, the Supreme Court has ruled. The...

Election called as Northern Ireland power-sharing government collapses

Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government has collapsed triggering a second election in eight months as fall...

Royal Marine charged with Northern Ireland-linked terrorism

An active member of the British armed forces has been charged with terrorism offenses by...

Member of British Armed Forces arrested in Northern Ireland terrorism investigation – police

Police have arrested a serving member of the British Armed Forces on suspicion of Northern...

With New Ban on Cultivation, Northern Ireland Joins EU’s Anti-GMO Ranks

Environment minister expresses "concern" that growing GMOs would tarnish nation's "clean and green image" by Deirdre Fulton Yet another European nation has banned genetically modified (GM or...

‘376,000 people in relative poverty in Northern Ireland’

A new study reveals a rise in poverty in Northern Ireland in 2014 with the level going to 21%, up from 19% the previous year. The...

MI5’s Killing Spree in Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland. “Cameron went completely off script at that point and he said ‘Look, the last administration couldn’t deliver an inquiry in your husband’s...

British Army’s secret ‘terror unit’ shot dead innocent civilians in Northern Ireland: claim

Adrian Rutherford Belfast November 21, 2013 A secret Army “terror” unit set up to target the IRA in the early 1970s was responsible for shootings in...

Thousands gather for anti-G8 protests in Northern Ireland

Thousands rallied in Belfast on Saturday, protesting against the coming G8 summit in Northern Ireland's county Fermanagh. The action is part of the peaceful...

Northern Ireland locked down for G8 summit

  By ...

Experts Defuse Bomb Found In Northern Ireland

A bomb discovered and defused in a car in Northern Ireland was destined for a police station, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has confirmed.

The device was found in County Fermanagh, not far from the luxury Lough Erne golf resort where this June's G-8 conference of world leaders will being held.

Sky's David Blevins said the device consisted of explosives packed into a beer keg rigged with timing devices.

PSNI district commander Pauline Shields said: "The people responsible for this have no regard for the lives of anyone in our community.

"It is fortunate that no-one was killed or seriously injured as a result of this reckless act.

"Although investigations are at an early stage it is our assessment at present that this vehicle was destined for Lisnaskea PSNI station."

Residents were told to leave their homes and Army technical officers carried out a clearance operation on the suspicious car and a viable device was made safe.

Ms Shields added: "Once again our community has been disrupted and the lives of residents put at risk by an element intent on causing  loss of life and disruption.

A week ago the Police Service of Northern Ireland discovered a mortar-type device aimed towards New Barnsley police station in north Belfast.

Also last week, three officers escaped injury when an explosive device detonated close to them as they patrolled a coastal path on the outskirts of Belfast.

Sixteen police injured in Northern Ireland clashes

BELFAST (Reuters) - Four police officers were injured during clashes between pro-British and Irish nationalist youths in Belfast on Saturday following another protest against the decision to remove the British flag from city hall. Nationalists threw g...

Northern Ireland Clashes: Four Officers Injured

Petrol bombs have been thrown and a bus set on fire during Union flag demonstrations in Northern Ireland. Officers were pelted with bombs, fireworks and other missiles in the Rathcoole area of Newtownabbey, north of Belfast. A bus was also set on fire...

Police arrest 2, say ‘New IRA’ likely behind car bomb in N. Ireland —...

Police have arrested two suspects believed to be involved in a car bomb detonated in...

Car blast in front of N. Ireland courthouse, terrorism suspected — RT UK News

A car was burned to ashes after a powerful blast shook downtown Londonderry, a city...

British MP suggests threatening Ireland with food shortages over Brexit, Twitter outrage follows —...

A Conservative Party MP has suggested using the prospect of food shortages to force Ireland...

Police say rioters tried to murder them during 6th night of violence in N....

Improvised explosives and more than 70 petrol bombs were thrown at Northern Ireland police officers...

‘Give N. Ireland same control DUP has over this govt’ – MP hits out...

Labour MP Stella Creasy said women in Northern Ireland should have the same control over...

N. Ireland could be given joint EU/UK status – UK source, in plan that...

Northern Ireland will be granted joint UK and EU status, according to an anonymous government...

Stop prioritizing DUP alliance & grant women abortion rights in N. Ireland, rights group...

Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of putting “political manoeuvring” over the rights of...

Hard Brexit warning from Ireland as UK agrees ‘fallback option’ on Customs Union —...

Theresa May’s Cabinet has agreed on a “fallback option” that keeps the UK within the...

Molotov cocktails hurled at N. Ireland police vans during republican parade — RT UK...

Petrol bombs have been hurled at police in Northern Ireland ahead of an unauthorised nationalist...

‘Ireland first!’ EU accused of ‘gangster’ behavior as it halts Brexit talks over border...

The UK must find a solution to the Irish-border issue if Brexit talks are to...

‘No UK Prime Minister could ever agree to it’ – May dismisses EU’s N....

Theresa May has rejected the EU’s plan to include Northern Ireland in a future customs...

Sinn Fein vow to battle ‘the Tory-DUP wrecking-agenda’ after EU release N. Ireland plan...

Theresa May’s Brexit plans have again been thrown into crisis after the EU released its...

Britain’s Dirty War in Ireland, Revisited

Photo by dronepicr | CC BY 2.0 Britain’s dirty war in Ireland, waged throughout the course of the Troubles, marked an especial low point in the...

Will Dublin undo Brexit progress? Ireland clutches veto on EU borders — RT UK...

Published time: 11 Dec, 2017 16:17 London and Dublin are on the brink of a...

Irish PM throws Theresa May under the bus, says UK PM abandoned North Ireland...

Published time: 4 Dec, 2017 22:41 The United Kingdom has gone back on a deal...

Video: Meet the Irish Photographer Documenting Women in Ireland Who Must Travel Abroad for... - In August, Democracy Now! traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where we spoke with abortion rights activist Emma Campbell of ... Via Youtube

Tory-DUP deal indicates British soldiers won’t be prosecuted for N. Ireland 'Troubles' killings

Published time: 28 Jun, 2017 09:29 Edited time: 28 Jun, 2017 09:33 Nestled in the...

Will Tory-DUP deal reignite N. Ireland’s Catholic-Protestant tensions?

Northern Ireland’s Protestant Orange Order has urged the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to use its...

Europe could tempt N. Ireland to leave UK in exchange for EU membership

Top European Union leaders are expected to offer full EU membership to Northern Ireland on...

Video: ‘Ireland is better off as a united country’: Growing calls for N. Ireland...

Sinn Fein, Northern Ireland's largest Irish nationalist party, says independence referendum should be held 'as soon as possible.' RT LIVE ... Via Youtube

Hooded men: Conduct of British Army in N. Ireland ‘on scale of war crime,’...

The torture that detained Catholics in Northern Ireland allegedly endured at the hands of the...

NASA captures spectacular burst of northern lights over Canada (PHOTOS)

A burst of particles from the Sun hit the Earth’s magnetic field soon after the winter...

‘No hard border’ in Ireland after Brexit, premier vows

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has warned of a “vicious” approach by the EU in negotiations over Britain’s exit from the bloc. Speaking among politicians,...

UK to move border controls to Ireland after Brexit to combat illegal immigration

The UK’s tough immigration controls may be moved to Irish ports and airports following Britain’s...

Gay & bisexual N. Ireland men now allowed to give blood, but only 12...

A lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood has been lifted in Northern...

UK-Ireland border checks won’t return after Brexit, says May on first visit to Belfast...

Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out the return of border checks between the UK...

How Brexit could lead to a united Ireland – and wage cuts for thousands

This week’s Brexit vote could have profound implications for Great Britain’s next door neighbor, the...

Pro-choice activists to fly abortion pills into N Ireland – by drone

Pro-choice campaigners plan to fly abortion pills into Northern Ireland using a drone, for a...

Bill Clinton on Brexit: N. Ireland will ‘get whacked’ if Britain leaves the EU

Northern Ireland will be dealt a serious blow if UK citizens vote for a Brexit...

A Terrible Beauty: Remembering Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rebellion

99th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, April 2015. (Photo: Irish Defense Forces / Flickr) This commentary is a joint publication of Foreign Policy In...

Child abuse survivors demand redress from N. Ireland Executive

Survivors of historic child abuse at residential institutions have launched a report urging Stormont to...

Video: Amazing Northern Lights brighten up the sky across the UK

Stunning images of the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, visible across parts of the United Kingdom, were captured at Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland...

Min. warns of drugs misuse in N Ireland

Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots has warned about the consequences of drugs misuse after the recent deaths of eight people in the region. Å“...

N Ireland warns against UK exit from EU

Northern Ireland leaders have warned that a UK exit from the EU would be a Å“huge mistake”. Political leaders of Northern Ireland have warned...

Obama Comment on Ireland's "Segregated" Schools Still Rankles in U.S., U.K.

One week after President Barack Obama made his controversial remarks about religiously "segregated schools" in Northern Ireland, the comments continue to draw sharp rebukes...

Obama Comment on Ireland's "Segregated" Schools Still Rankles in U.S., U.K.

One week after President Barack Obama made his controversial remarks about religiously "segregated schools" in Northern Ireland, the comments continue to draw sharp rebukes...

N Ireland railway staff vote for strike

Railway workers in Northern Ireland will take part in the strike action over pay and terms of conditions, it has been revealed. Over 150 railway...

Cable warns against N Ireland tax cut

British Business Secretary Vince Cable has warned the coalition government against cutting corporation tax in Northern Ireland, saying that it is "an incredibly tricky...

Obama, Cameron, Barroso Push EU-U.S. Merger at G8 Ireland Summit

President Barack Obama, in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, for the G8 Summit, joined European leaders in pushing the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership...

Obama, Cameron, Barroso Push EU-US Merger at G8 Ireland Summit

President Barack Obama, in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, for the G8 Summit, joined European leaders in pushing the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership...

N Ireland all set for G8 police state

British police are preparing one of their most unprecedented security operations, involving water cannons and summary hearings, for next weekâ„¢s G8 summit in Northern...

Protests held in NIreland ahead of G8

Police officers hold back protesters on Piccadilly during a demonstration ahead of next week's G8 summit in Northern Ireland. This article originally appeared on:...

‘N. Ireland suffers fragile security’

ËœDissident republicans still posing threat to N. Ireland securityâ„¢Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers warns against the severe threat dissident republican groups pose to the...

Bombs, riots mar N Ireland 2013 prospect

Northern Ireland has seen no relief from bombings after the New Year with six bombing incidents recorded only this month, including two bombs targeting police officers amid violent episodes of riots.

The police are now investigating a bombing near the house of an officer.

The device was found in the Coolnagard area of Omagh, County Tyrone, on Saturday when officers were investigating another incident on Friday night during which an off-duty police fired shots.

The discovery led to the evacuation of several homes in the area, while army bomb disposal experts dealt with the bomb.

The bombing follows the January 18 letter bomb sent to the head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Chief Inspector Andy Lemon.

That device was luckily intercepted by postal workers at the town's sorting office before the envelope addressed to Lemon found its target.

At the time the Chief Inspector described the incident as a “worrying development” for both himself and his officers and he appeared to have a point when the Omagh device was confirmed as viable on Saturday.

The first week in January ended with a potentially catastrophic bombing in Dundalk, County Louth, that saw army bomb disposal experts team tackles four viable devices planted in a derelict house in a residential area.

The Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) raised serious worries among residents in an area where several houses as well as a restaurant had to be evacuated to avoid fatalities in case the devices went off.

At a time of pro-British flag riots in Belfast over limiting the number of days the City Hall could fly the Union Jack, office of Community Restorative Justice Ireland (CRJI), a community justice group established in collaboration with the British government in the city, was also targeted with a pipe bomb on January 9.

Bomb disposal experts had also to defuse another bomb in Belfast just two days later on Friday January 11.

That was followed with another bombing in the same area on Saturday, which closed down part of the southern Belfast railway line and led to the evacuation of a number of houses.

This comes as the incidents mentioned here do not include other security alerts and evacuations over devices later found to be hoax bombs.

Belfast’s almost two months of flag riots were billed as the most serious episode of violence since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and a threat to the peace accord.

The bombings and the riots are believed to paint a grim year ahead for Northern Ireland especially after Northern Irish police discovered high-powered “explosively formed penetrator devices” (EEPs) from dissident anti-British group IRA in four different occasions over the past months.


Bombs, riots mar N Ireland 2013 prospect

Northern Ireland has seen no relief from bombings after the New Year with six bombing incidents recorded only this month, including two bombs targeting police officers amid violent episodes of riots.

The police are now investigating a bombing near the house of an officer.

The device was found in the Coolnagard area of Omagh, County Tyrone, on Saturday when officers were investigating another incident on Friday night during which an off-duty police fired shots.

The discovery led to the evacuation of several homes in the area, while army bomb disposal experts dealt with the bomb.

The bombing follows the January 18 letter bomb sent to the head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Chief Inspector Andy Lemon.

That device was luckily intercepted by postal workers at the town's sorting office before the envelope addressed to Lemon found its target.

At the time the Chief Inspector described the incident as a “worrying development” for both himself and his officers and he appeared to have a point when the Omagh device was confirmed as viable on Saturday.

The first week in January ended with a potentially catastrophic bombing in Dundalk, County Louth, that saw army bomb disposal experts team tackles four viable devices planted in a derelict house in a residential area.

The Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) raised serious worries among residents in an area where several houses as well as a restaurant had to be evacuated to avoid fatalities in case the devices went off.

At a time of pro-British flag riots in Belfast over limiting the number of days the City Hall could fly the Union Jack, office of Community Restorative Justice Ireland (CRJI), a community justice group established in collaboration with the British government in the city, was also targeted with a pipe bomb on January 9.

Bomb disposal experts had also to defuse another bomb in Belfast just two days later on Friday January 11.

That was followed with another bombing in the same area on Saturday, which closed down part of the southern Belfast railway line and led to the evacuation of a number of houses.

This comes as the incidents mentioned here do not include other security alerts and evacuations over devices later found to be hoax bombs.

Belfast’s almost two months of flag riots were billed as the most serious episode of violence since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and a threat to the peace accord.

The bombings and the riots are believed to paint a grim year ahead for Northern Ireland especially after Northern Irish police discovered high-powered “explosively formed penetrator devices” (EEPs) from dissident anti-British group IRA in four different occasions over the past months.


N. Ireland riots reflect breakup fears?

N. Ireland riots reflect breakup fears?

The ongoing six-week flag riots by pro-British unionists in Northern Ireland have been billed as the most serious episode of violence since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and a threat to the peace accord.

Less highlighted aspects of the treaty, however, suggest the riots are fueled by pro-British unionists’ fears that they are losing their majority in Northern Ireland leading to the province ceasing to be part of Britain based on the very same accord.

Three people were arrested on Saturday after several hundred loyalist protesters took to the streets outside the City Hall in the capital Belfast to voice their outrage against the new flag arrangements over the building.

It was the 37th day of riots that have so far left more than 100 police officers injured along with dozens of protesters and bystanders and have seen officers resort to plastic rounds and water cannons to contain the mobs.

The crisis started after local councilors decided on December 3, 2012 that the British flag should be flying over the Belfast City Hall only for 17 designated days, as it is the norm across Britain, instead of all year round, which was the former norm.

The decision was made after the nationalists, who currently hold 24 seats on the council, could finally outdo their unionist counterparts, who number 21 on the council, and get a yes vote to remove the 107-year-old flag tradition.

The vote also reflected the changing political and demographical landscape of Northern Ireland.

As nationalists now dominate the council, the scales of the Northern Irish population are also tipping in favor of the mostly Catholic anti-British republicans; and that seems to be the sticky point for the pro-British rioters.

The 2011 census found that the Northern Irish population listing themselves as Protestant or brought up Protestant has plunged by five percent to stand at 48 percent since 2001, while the number has grown by one percent to 45 percent for Catholics.

This comes as estimates show Catholics, who are also growing rapidly in Belfast, could overtake Protestants in numbers in the next decades.

That points to the mostly Protestant republicans’ worst fears, rooted exactly in the Good Friday Agreement 15 years ago.

The accord stipulated that that Northern Ireland would remain part of Britain until a majority of the people of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland wished otherwise.

It added, should that happen, then the British and Irish governments are under "a binding obligation" to implement that choice.

Indeed, the agreement ruled that if a majority of Catholics seeking separation from Britain form in Northern Ireland and vote for re-union with the Republic of Ireland, Britain is obliged to approve it.

The flag decision is apparently a strong indicator that the Protestants, who have always prided themselves as ‘the majority’, are now losing to pro-independence Catholics, not just in numbers but a territory they say should remain British.

That explains the persisting riots that in turn reflect unionists’ alarm at the prospect of a united Ireland.


United Ireland ‘makes more sense’

A single economy for the island of Ireland would be good for prosperity, jobs and investment, Sinn Fein has claimed. Party president Gerry Adams called on the Irish and British governments to set a date for a border poll and let the people of Northern...

Protesters pelt Northern Irish police with petrol bombs for sixth night

BELFAST (Reuters) - Police in Northern Ireland came under attack for a fifth straight night on Monday as the province's police chief urged politicians and parents to act to halt the riots on Belfast streets. The violence is some of the worst in the Br...

Flag issue remains divisive in NIreland

Fresh violence continues in Belfast as flag issue divides N. Ireland

Loyalists protesters in Northern Ireland have continued their violent demonstrations over the decision to stop flying the Union flag above Belfast City Hall all year round.

The protests continued for the fifth night in a row on Monday night with police using water canon and fired baton rounds to disperse rioters.

Some rioters deployed sledge hammer to hit police vehicles and burnt small fires in Belfast’s main street.

The riots erupted after Belfast City Council decided to stop flying the Union Jack in all but 17 days in a year.

Police have so far arrested around 100 people, and more than 60 officers have been injured in the unrest.

A police officers’ representative has said that pro-British paramilitary groups are instigating and exploiting the riots which have rocked Belfast in the past month.

The Northern Ireland flags issue divides the population along sectarian lines. Depending on political allegiance, people identify with differing flags and symbols, some of which have, or have had, official status in Northern Ireland.

There have been various proposals as to what flag could represent Northern Ireland’s various communities as a whole.

The Union Jack, the official flag of the United Kingdom, is routinely used on central government buildings in Northern Ireland. It is often flown by Unionists and Loyalists but Nationalists and Republicans dislike it.

The Stormont government used to fly the Ulster Banner from 1953 to 1972 to represent the government of Northern Ireland. The Ulster Banner was the flag of the former Executive Committee of the Privy Council of Northern Ireland.

When the government of Northern Ireland was suspended in March 1972 and dissolved under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, its arms and flag officially disappeared; however, the flag continues to be used by some local governments, such as the predominantly unionist Castlereagh, which continues to fly it outside its offices, and by some NGOs representing the territory.

Ulster separatists who wish to see Northern Ireland leave the United Kingdom use the Ulster Nation flag.

Some Loyalists in Northern Ireland use St Andrew’s Cross, the flag of Scotland, to highlight their Scottish ancestry.

Now, the decision to stop permanently flying the British flag outside Belfast City Hall has sparked some of the worst violence since the 1998 Good Friday peace deal.

In the late 1960s, the conflict between mainly Protestant loyalists, who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, and largely Roman Catholic nationalists, who want it to be reunited with the rest of Ireland, exploded into a political and sectarian war, known as "the Troubles."

The three decades of ensuing violence between loyalists and the IRA claimed nearly 3,600 lives, most of them north of the border. While the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, also known as the Belfast Agreement, effectively ended the conflict, distrust remains between Catholics and Protestants.

Under the terms of the accord, groups on both sides dumped their weapons, and members of Sinn Fein, the political affiliate of the IRA, now work with pro-British politicians in Northern Ireland's power-sharing government.

The Good Friday Agreement created an elected Northern Ireland assembly and devolved government in which power is shared between all sides, with traditional arch-enemies remarkably sitting side by side. The assembly meets in an imposing historic building, Stormont, over which the British flag flies for just 17 pre-agreed days each year.


Northern Irish police clash with rioters for fifth night

BELFAST (Reuters) - Police in Northern Ireland came under attack for a fifth straight night on Monday as the province's police chief urged politicians and parents to act to halt the riots on Belfast streets. The violence is some of the worst in the Br...

Irish Republican Army still active? Still Terrorists?

File under:  What happens over there... Over the years, the politicians and the msm have worked hard to convince us all that the terrorist IRA that killed and maimed many - both in Northern Ireland and the British mainland - are now men of ...

Washington’s Dirty Game

Washington's Dirty Game

by Stephen Lendman

Washington can't hide its dark side. It's too ugly to conceal. Its been exposed numerous times. 

Here we go again. Assistant Secretary of State for European and European Affairs Victoria Nuland was caught red-handed. More on this below.

She's hardcore neocon. She's a career foreign service officer. She's worked with Democrat and Republican administrations. 

Early in her career, she covered Russian internal politics at Washington's Moscow embassy.

She served on the Soviet Desk in Washington. She worked in the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. She served in Guangzhou, China. 

She was Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union. She directed a task force on Russia, its neighbors and an expanding NATO.

She was Clinton's Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott's chief of staff. She was Deputy Permanent Representative to NATO. 

She was Dick Cheney's Principal Deputy National Security Advisor. She was Permanent US Representative to NATO.

She was a National War College faculty member. She was Obama's Special Envoy for Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

On September 18, 2013, she was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for European and European Affairs.

Her husband is Project for the New American Century (PNAC) co-founder Robert Kagan. He's a neocon foreign policy theorist/hardliner.

He advised John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. He served on Hillary Clinton's Foreign Affairs Policy Board.

The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) is PNAC's current incarnation. He's a board of directors member. He represents the worst of America's dark side. So does Nuland.

She supports regime change. She backs neo-fascist governance replacing Ukrainian democracy. 

She's involved in manipulating street thug violence. She's part of a US-instigated insurrection. 

She wants legitimate Ukrainian governance toppled. She wants pro-Western stooge governance replacing it. She lied saying: "We stand with the people of Ukraine..."

She demands Ukrainian President Viktor Yanokovych engage "with Europe and the IMF."

She was caught red-handed urging regime change on tape. Her conversation with US Ukraine ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt was recorded. 

It's circulating on You Tube. It's more evidence of America's dark side. It bears repeating. It's too ugly to hide.

The leaked video is damning. It's four minutes long. It's titled "Maidan puppets." It refers to Kiev's Independence Square.

The Kiev Post (KP) broke the story. On February 6, it headlined " 'F..k the EU,' frustrated Nuland says to Pyatt, in alleged leaked phone call."

On February 4, the Nuland/Pyatt conversation was posted on You Tube. It's unclear by whom.

Both US officials expressed frustration over EU "inaction and indecision," said KP. Nuland was heard saying "f..k the EU." 

Pyatt called opposition figure Vitali Klitschko the "top dog." He heads the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party (UDAR). Pyatt and Nuland agreed he's "too inexperienced to hold a top government post."

A US Kiev embassy spokeswoman had no comment. State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki downplayed what happened.

"I'm not going to confirm or outline details," she said. "I understand there are a lot of reports out there and there's a recording out there, but I'm not going to confirm private diplomatic conversations."

When pressed about the You Tube's authenticity, she said she "didn't say it was inauthentic. I think we can leave it at that."

She was pressed again about the conversation revealing US intentions opposite of public comments about Ukrainians deciding their own future.

She lied saying they aren't "inconsistent in the least bit." Her convoluted explanation doesn't wash. 

She claimed Washington is working with Ukraine's government, opposition elements, as well as "business and civil society leaders to support their efforts..."

Obama wants regime change. He wants Ukraine's democratically elected government toppled. Not according to Psaki.

She lied claiming it's "up to the Ukrainian people themselves to decide their future. (It's) up to them to determine their path forward, and that's a consistent message that we're conveying publicly and privately."

Psaki was hard-pressed explaining why Nuland felt the need to apologize. Doing so shows You Tube dialogue was authentic.

White House and State Department officials barely stopped short of accusing Russia of surreptitiously recording Nuland's conversation.

Psaki called the incident a "new low in Russian tradecraft in terms of publicizing and posting this."

"I don't have any other independent details about the origin of the You Tube video," she added. 

Snowden exposed NSA's systematic global spying. Foreign leaders are targeted. Their phone calls are monitored. Their emails are read. Psaki left that issue unaddressed.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said "since the video was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian government, I think it says something about Russia's role."

He wouldn't comment on what Nuland and Pyatt said. 

Hours before the You Tube surfaced, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin's aide, Dmitry Loskutov, was among the first to tweet information about it, saying: 

"Sort of controversial judgment from Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland speaking about the EU."

According to the Kiev Post, "(t)he leaked phone call appears to have been made following (Ukrainian) President Viktor Yanukovych's Jan. 25 offer to opposition leader Arseniy Yatseniuk to be prime minister and Klitschko to be deputy prime minister..."

In 2005 and 2006, Yatseniuk was Ukraine's economy minister. In 2007, he was foreign minister. 

In 2007 and 2008, he chaired Ukraine's parliament (the Verkhovna Rada). It's a unicameral body.

The All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" is Ukraine's second largest party. Yatsenyuk heads its parliamentary faction.

He and Klitschko refused Yanukovych's offer to join his government. On January 28, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigned. Yanukovych accepted his resignation. He signed a decree. He dismissed other cabinet officials.

He promised more concessions. He appointed a committee to propose constitutional revisions.

It didn't help. At the time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned street violence by "fascistic youths."

He warned against external interference. Russia "stands for a political settlement within the framework of Ukrainian law," he said.

Washington's dirty hands bear full responsibility for street violence. Regime change politics is longstanding US policy. It involves every dirty trick imaginable.

Syria is in the eye of the storm. So is Ukraine. Conditions remain volatile. Nuland/Pyatt intentions reveal what Ukrainians have to fear.

In December 1994, Washington, Russia, Britain and Northern Ireland welcomed Ukraine's accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, saying:

They "reaffirm(ed) their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE (Helsinki) Final Act, to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine."

They "reaffirm(ed) their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of accordance with the Charter of the United Nations."

They "reaffirm(ed) their commitment…to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty..."

Washington is duplicitous. It can't be trusted. It's word isn't its bond. It's history is treacherous. 

It systematically ignores international law. It violates treaty obligations repeatedly. It wants all independent governments toppled. It goes all out to remove them.

It targets Ukraine for regime change. Nuland told Pyatt a UN official she spoke to said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon agreed to send someone to Ukraine to "help glue this thing and have the UN glue it."

She was told Ban will appoint former Dutch Ukrainian ambassador, Robert Serry, as his representative.

"That would be great I think to help glue this thing and have the UN glue it," said Nuland. At that point, she said "And you know, f..k the EU."

"Exactly," Pyatt replied. "And I think we got to do something to make it stick together because you can be sure that if it does start to gain altitude the Russians will be working behind the scenes to torpedo it."

"Let me work on Klitschko," he added. "I think we should get a Western personality to come out here and midwife this thing."

Klitschko "is obviously the complicated electron here," said Pyatt.

"And you've seen some of my notes on the troubles in the marriage (among opposition leaders) right now." 

"So we're trying to get a read really fast on where he is with this stuff." 

"But I think your argument to him, which I think you’ll need to exactly the one you made to Yats (Yatseniuk), and I'm glad you kind of put him on the spot in where he fits in in this scenario." 

Nuland favors Yatseniuk for a leadership role. He's "the guy who's got the economic experience, the governing experience," she said.

"What he needs is Klitsch (Klitschko) and (Svoboda party fascist leader) Tiahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know."

"I think Klitsch going in, he's going to be at that level, working for Yatseniuk. It's just not going to work," she added.

"Yeah, I think that's right," said Pyatt. He urged Nuland to reach out directly to him and "help with the personality management among the three," he added.

The conversation ended with Nuland saying she can get Vice President Joe Biden to call Yanukovych "for an attaboy and to get the deeds to stick."

In December, Nuland spent days in Ukraine. She met publicly with opposition leaders. She joined their street protests. She handed out cookies.

Imagine if Russian, Chinese or other foreign officials acted the same way in Washington. Imagine the public rage. Imagine the threatening response.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers will meet in Brussels. They'll discuss imposing sanctions on Ukraine. Washington threatens its own.

On Thursday evening, Nuland met with opposition leaders Yatseniuk, Klitschko and Tiahnybok. They plotted strategy.

Hours earlier the European Parliament approved an anti-Ukrainian resolution. It called for imposing sanctions. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry responded saying:

"We're disappointed at prejudice with which the European Parliament assessed the Ukrainian government's actions and at the fact that it ignored the vast majority of constructive efforts made by the Ukrainian leadership in relation to the implementation of plans for building trust and engaging into a peaceful and inclusive dialogue with both the opposition and the civilian population." 

"An unbalanced nature of the resolution and calls for introducing EU restrictions don't contribute to nationwide reconciliation and trust in Ukraine and undermine the process of settling the conflict."

Washington manipulated Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution. Yanukovych's earlier government was ousted.

In 2010, he was reelected president. He's targeted again. Orange Revolution 2.0 continues. At stake is Ukrainian sovereign independence.

What's ongoing involves weakening and isolating Russia. Washington's dirty game is transparent. Imperial ruthlessness is longstanding US policy.

All independent states are targeted. So are major rivals. America wants unchallenged global dominance. It wants world resources plundered for profit. 

It wants ordinary people made serfs. It wants them impoverished. It wants vassal states beholden to US interests. It wants them trapped in debt bondage.

It wants ruthless control replacing democracy. It wants subservient stooges replacing legitimately elected officials.

Empire building is dirty. Tactics include bullying, intimidation, sanctions, assassinations, coups and lawless aggression. 

Ukraine's future is at stake. Whether Yanukovych can save its democracy remains to be seen. The fate of 46 million Ukrainians hangs in the balance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

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

Visit his blog site at 

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.

Blowback: When Secret Plans Go Bad

For two decades the US government claimed that its decision to work for the overthrow of Afghanistan's government in the final days of the 1970s was a response to the invasion of Soviet troops. But in January 1998, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security Adviser at the time, finally admitted the truth: covert US intervention began months before the USSR sent in troops.
"That secret operation was an excellent idea," he bragged. "The effect was to draw the Russians into the Afghan trap."
During an interview with the French publication, Le Nouvel Observateur, which somehow never made it into US media, Brzezinski was grilled about the role he played in aiding the Mujahadeen. Former CIA Director Robert Gates had recently claimed in his memoir, From the Shadows, that US intelligence operations began six months before the Soviet intervention.
"According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980," Brzezinski noted, "that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention."
Seizing this opening, the interviewer suggested that perhaps Brzezinski intended to provoke the Soviets into war. "It isn't quite that," the former National Security Advisor replied cagily. "We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would." Nevertheless, when the Soviets tried to justify their invasion with the claim that they were responding to a secret war bankrolled by the US, few people believed them. 
Did he regret anything? "Regret what?" Brzezinski shot back. "That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet Empire."
But what about arming Islamic fundamentalists who might become future terrorists? Brzezinski's reply to that was brazen. "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?" The jury is out on such questions.
Brzezinski's strategy did net some obvious results. The 1980s conflict in Afghanistan, provoked by US leaders as a geopolitical move in the Great Game, led to almost two million deaths and sparked the Taliban’s rise. Afghanistan became open territory for drug traffickers and energy companies eager to build oil and gas pipelines. Meanwhile, millions of Afghanis, including many who once worked with the CIA, paid a price. Eventually, the country served as a base for Osama bin Laden's crusade against the US, Israel, and Arab regimes in the Middle East.
Another prime example of covert manipulation going drastically wrong is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as Zaire during the 37-year reign of Mobutu Sese Seko, and before that the Belgian Congo. In 1960, despite Belgian predictions that European rule would continue for another century, the Congo declared its independence, and out of a largely peaceful revolution emerged a charismatic leader, Patrice Lumumba, who became the nation's first Prime Minister. But US policy-makers considered Lumumba, actually militant nationalist, a communist sympathizer, and therefore a threat to vital interests.
Located in Africa's heartland, the Congo was vital for its vast mineral resources; one of the world's largest copper and industrial diamond producers, it also had gold, manganese, zinc, cobalt, and silver. To be blunt, it was a key source of raw materials for the emerging military-industrial complex. Its uranium, one of the only known sources during World War II, was used in the first atomic bombs.
Even today, it isn't completely clear what sealed Lumumba's fate; some say it was his attempt to have UN troops step in to deal with the violence breaking out between tribes and political parties. In the richest province, Katanga, Moise Tshombe had declared himself ruler, attempted to secede, and recruited Belgian, French and South African mercenaries to fight the new government. However it was decided, Lumumba became a target for removal in the CIA's "golden age" of destabilization campaigns. After less than a year in office, he was deposed in a coup led by Mobuto, an Israeli-trained paratrooper who had Belgian and US backing. Mobuto, then called Colonel, turned Lumumba over the Tshombe, his archenemy.
Some details of Lumumba's assassination remain mysterious to this day. But in 2000 evidence surfaced that President Dwight Eisenhower may have directly ordered the CIA to "eliminate" him. The evidence came from Robert Johnson, who took notes at an August 18, 1960, White House meeting between Eisenhower and his national security advisers on the Congo crisis. Johnson recalled the president turning to CIA Director Allen Dulles, "in the full hearing of all those in attendance, and saying something to the effect that Lumumba should be eliminated." Eisenhower had strict rules for reports filed on National Security Council meetings: no direct quotations. With Johnson's revelation, the reason became only too clear.
Questions also surround the precise chain of events. But according to Lugo de Witte, a Flemish expert on Africa, Belgian officers probably implemented the plan. A document signed in 1960 by Harold Aspremont Lynden, Belgium's minister for Africa, announced that "the main objective to pursue, in the interests of the Congo, Katanga and Belgium, is clearly the final elimination of Lumumba." After his arrest by Mobutu's forces on January 17, 1961, on orders from Belgium's foreign minister, Lumumba was transferred to Katanga, tortured in the presence of Belgian officials, and executed under the supervision of a Belgian captain.
The new nation, whose artificial boundaries had been set in negotiations between Belgium, Britain, France and Portugal, continued to hover at the edge of civil war for several more years.
The US stuck with Mobutu until the bitter end, propping him up as part of its Cold War strategy. As "president for life," he stashed a huge fortune in Swiss banks. It didn’t matter, as long as he was an anti-communist bulwark. His rapaciousness ultimately spread throughout the country's bureaucracy, especially the army. Still, no discouraging words from his overseers.
Much of his loot came from the US; he even pocketed CIA cash provided to support "contras" at work in Angola. None of this made any difference. Mobutu was a "friend," part of an elite club that included Noriega in Panama, Marcos in the Philippines, Diem and Thieu in Vietnam, Pinochet in Chile, Somoza in Nicaragua, Suharto in Indonesia, and the Shah in Iran.
And what did this ally do to his country? According to the World Bank, by the late 1990s the economy had shrunk to its 1958 level, despite a tripling of the population. Public finances were a mess, the national currency was worthless, and the State was insolvent. Upon its independence, the Congo had the highest literacy rate in Africa; by the time Mobutu was forced out in 1997, little more than half of all children were even attending schools. When open at all, they didn't have textbooks and the students often had to sit on the floor. Even the desks had been looted.
In the early 90s, Mobutu announced that he would end his one party state. But the transition never began, promised elections were canceled, and repression continued. Both the Bush and Clinton administrations looked the other way, while mainstream media continued a policy of self-imposed ignorance. Only after his departure did the news that Mobutu was a brutal tyrant begin to reach the general public. By this time, one of the continent's most promising nations was hobbled and deeply divided. A dictator had finally fallen, but the culprits who put him there, some even expressing belated outrage, escaped with impunity.
Iraq: Creating the next enemy
When pre-9/11 covert operations are discussed, officials and pundits are quick to claim that, as bad as things sound, that’s "ancient history." Things were different during the Cold War, when beating communism excused some extreme, often unsavory tactics. But the logic is also reversed to argue, things are different now, in order to excuse the same cynical manipulation and disregard for human life.
An instructive example followed the fall of the Soviet Union, when a credible new enemy was needed. US policy makers quickly turned their eyes toward Iraq, fresh from victory after an eight-year war with Iran and well-equipped with modern French and Soviet weapons. Saddam Hussein was at the peak of his regional popularity.
Based on the theory that domination of the Gulf region by a Hussein-led Iraq could jeopardize access to oil supplies, Colin Powell, then chairing the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called on General H. Norman Schwarzkopf in late 1989 to prepare a blueprint for combat. Schwartzkopf, who would lead Operation Desert Storm a year later, had just taken charge of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), an expanded version of the Rapid Deployment Force established under President Carter.
In May 1990, the National Security Council released a white paper that cited Iraq, and Hussein personally, as "the optimum contenders to replace the Warsaw Pact," using that claim as a justification for increased military spending. Meanwhile, at an emergency Arab summit held in Baghdad, Hussein called for a united front against outside aggression, more Arab coordination, and increased aid to the Jordan and the Palestinian Intifada. In the foreign policy establishment, these were interpreted as fighting words. Four months later Bush drew his line in the sand.
Hussein may well have been tricked into war by repeated assurances that the US felt no obligation to come to Kuwait's defense. It may sound like just one more conspiracy theory. However, this time there is a transcript to support the idea. On July 25, 1990, eight days before the outbreak of fighting between Iraq and Kuwait, US Ambassador April Glaspie held a taped meeting with Hussein, who apparently hoped to make sure the US would stay neutral and not intervene. Obviously, he understood that Saudi Arabia was Washington's key Arab ally, and hosted a significant US military presence in the Gulf. No credible evidence that Iraq planned to attack the Saudis has surfaced.
During their talk, Glaspie clearly suggested to Hussein that the Bush administration understood Iraq's point of view and did not want to meddle in an Arab dispute. At one point, she said, "We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait...we see the Iraqi point of view that the measures taken by the U.A.E. and Kuwait is, in the final analysis, parallel to military aggression against Iraq."
A week later, that proved to be very bad advice.
Protecting the cover story
One covert operation that sparked some outrage at the time was the US training of Indonesian commandos accused of torturing and killing civilians. Despite a congressional ban in the 1990s, the Pentagon exploited a legal loophole that allowed "human rights training" to provide instruction in demolition, sniper techniques, psychological operations, and "military operations in urban terrain." The targets included workers who had lost their jobs during Indonesia’s economic crisis, students opposing President Suharto's military-dominated regime, and East Timorese who wanted independence.
Until support for Suharto became completely untenable, the Clinton Administration defended this as "engagement with an important country" that served US national interests.
Less publicized but equally deadly was US involvement in low-intensity war in Mexico. Under the guise of anti-drug operations, the US provided hundreds of million to Mexico for arms and training beginning around 1995. This included the US training of the Air-Mobile Special Forces Group (GAFE), created in direct response to the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas. After courses at Fort Bragg, GAFE units went on to kidnap, torture, and kill government opponents. Wearing hoods, they would enter homes in the middle of the night to surprise their targets, and raid hotels and restaurants without presenting search warrants.
Although responsibility for a massacre of 45 civilians in Acteal in December, 1997 couldn't be traced directly to GAFE, the incident clearly reflected counter-insurgency lessons learned at the School of the Americas (SOA) in Georgia and other US training centers. Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest who spent more than two decades trying to close the SOA, repeatedly pointed out that the insurgents under attack were usually reformers, human rights workers, and peasants who opposed repressive governments. Despite platitudes about human rights, the US continued to use the same tactics that had marked earlier interventions in Latin America and Southeast Asia.
What we hear about such "humanitarian" intervention is usually just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, 24-hour news and social media promote the illusion that there are few secrets left. Reality is another matter. Assisting the CIA, front groups like the National Endowment for Democracy have funneled funds to countless so-called insurgencies for years. Since declaring Islamic fundamentalism the post-communist global menace, the Agency is known to have run covert operations in most Middle-East states, from Libya and Iran to the Sudan.
Not so safe or secret anymore
While visiting London to promote his memoirs, Henry Kissinger once stormed out of a widely heard radio interview when the questioning turned to his complicity in war crimes. Jeremy Paxman, host of a Radio 4 program, asked the former secretary of state whether he felt like a fraud for getting a Nobel Peace Prize after plotting a coup in Chile and orchestrating slaughter in Cambodia. Kissinger fumed and denied everything, of course, charging that his host was woefully misinformed. But later the same day, he declined to show up for a BBC roundtable discussion.
Kissinger isn't the only former leader who sometimes gets nervous about accountability. Back when former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was fighting extradition to Spain, other potential defendants fretted about the precedent it might set. And the Clinton administration did not help. Instead, it released documents on Chile that not only confirmed what many suspected -- the US actively promoted the coup against Allende and sanctioned the subsequent repression -- but also sparked a hailstorm of related revelations.
The administration's motives were not exactly pure. Bowing to pressure from a Spanish judge, human rights groups, and the families of victims, Clinton had opted to "declassify what we can, so that we can say we did our share." That’s how a White House aide explained it. But the potential to embarrass political opponents didn't escape notice. With Texas Governor George W. Bush emerging as the Republican presidential front-runner, the thought was that his father's connection to Pinochet's crimes could become a factor, or at least a useful attack point, during the 2000 election. It didn’t turn out that way.
Questions persist about what the first President Bush knew and did while serving as CIA chief in the mid-1970s, a period during which Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier and his US co-worker Ronni Moffitt were assassinated in Washington. At the time suspicions pointed to Chile's intelligence arm, DINA, a sponsor of international terror.
According to declassified documents, however, we also know that Kissinger, Nixon, and CIA Director Richard Helms ordered a coup even before Allende assumed office. Kissinger and Alexander Haig worked out the details, described in an October 15, 1970, memo. "It is the firm and consistent policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup," wrote CIA Deputy Director of Plans Thomas Karamessines, who coordinated the operation. "We are to continue to generate maximum pressure toward this end utilizing every appropriate resource. It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG and American hand be well hidden."
Two years later, their goal was achieved. In a victory report, Naval attache Patrick Ryan called September 11, 1972, "our D-day," noting that the coup "was close to perfect." In subsequent years, the State Department received detailed reports on the escalating death toll under Pinochet. Yet, in another memo Kissinger tells the general that the US is "sympathetic with what you are trying to do here."
Years later, as Pinochet faced charges for murder, torture, disappearances, rape, and genocide, the question naturally arose: Why not Kissinger and those responsible for mass mayhem elsewhere? If more documents were declassified, the list of possible defendants would undoubtedly grow.
Even though he ultimately escaped punishment, the Chilean dictator's case did help peel away the facade of deniability, exposing high officials who provided weapons, training, financial support, and direct guidance for some of the worst modern violations of political and civil rights. Given that, is it any surprise the US backed out of an International Criminal Court (ICC), which was established in part to prosecute powerful individuals when domestic courts fail to act?
The treaty establishing the ICC was adopted in 1998, and subsequently ratified by many countries. At the time, human rights groups considered it the most important advance for the cause of international justice since the creation of the UN. But the US refused to sign at first, joining such notable naysayers as Russia, China, Israel, Iraq, and much of the Middle East.
Officially, the US objection was that, as the world's pre-eminent (and most resented) power, it might be subjected to "frivolous" prosecutions. There were also suspicions about the UN itself. By delaying, US officials hoped to obtain a guarantee that no US citizen accused of war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity could ever be brought before the court. In a letter to European Union foreign ministers, Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State under Clinton, implied that if her country did not get its way, it might withdraw from international peace-keeping and humanitarian missions. Pentagon officials went further, threatening to pull forces out of Europe.
In December 2000, the US finally signed, leaving Libya as the only country officially antagonistic the ICC's creation. But shortly after taking office, Bush II revived the old objections, suggesting that the court could expose US soldiers and officials abroad to politically motivated war crimes prosecutions. After 9/11 and the military response in Afghanistan, that looked more like a possibility. Thus, plans proceeded to reshape US relations with the UN. In May 2002, the administration informed the world body that it was nullifying its treaty signature. It was an unprecedented step; no other nation had ever before voided a signature on a binding international treaty. For many countries, the decision was a clear early sign of resurgent US unilateralism.
On the bright side, Kissinger did squirm a bit. Even Bush I sensed that he might not be immune. Predictably, the ex-president called the case against Pinochet "a travesty of justice." Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also became edgy, making discreet inquiries to Britain's Interior Ministry on the likelihood of being arrested while traveling abroad. As an old friend of Pinochet, the Iron Lady was worried about being charged as a war criminal for her actions in Northern Ireland and the Falklands.
The exposure of war crimes by former high officials like Kissinger, although it usually comes decades late and rarely leads to prosecution, does suggest that it may one day be possible to get at the truth about covert schemes and schemers. For Bill Clinton, meddling in Mexico and the Sudan, not to mention in Iraq and Kosovo, could prove damning if more of those stories were revealed.
In May 2002, eight months after 9/11, Bush II almost faced that same problem: premature exposure, in this case of what he actually knew and did before the attacks, could have led to embarrassing revelations about how and why the "war on terror" was launched. But no such luck. It still takes at least a generation, plus political convenience, to get far beyond the veil of disinformation.

Israel and the dangers of ethnic nationalism

An interview with Jonathan Cook, by Joseph Cotto

Counterpunch – 4 November 2013

Cotto: What sort of general impact would you say Zionism has had on the Middle East?

Cook: Zionism was a reaction to the extreme ethnic nationalisms that dominated – and nearly destroyed – Europe last century. It is therefore hardly surprising that it mirrors their faults. In exporting to the Middle East this kind of nationalism, Zionism was always bound to play a negative role in the region.

Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, developing the concept of a Jewish state in response to the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe in the late nineteenth century. One notorious incident that appears to have shaped his views was France’s Dreyfus affair, when a very assimilated Jewish army officer was unjustly accused of treason and then his innocence covered up by French elites.

The lesson drawn by Herzl was that assimilation was futile. To survive, Jews needed to hold firmly on to their ethnic identity and create an exclusivist state based on ethnic principles.

There is a huge historical irony to this, because Europe’s ethnic nationalisms would soon end up tearing apart much of the world, culminating in the expansionary German war machine, the Second World War and the Nazi death camps. International institutions such as the United Nations and international humanitarian law were developed precisely to stop the repeat of such a cataclysmic event.

Once in the Middle East, Zionism shifted the locus of its struggle, from finding a solution to European anti-semitism to building an exclusive Jewish homeland on someone else’s land, that of the Palestinians. If one wants to understand the impact of Zionism in the Middle East, then one needs to see how destabilising such a European ideological implant was.

The idea of ethnic-religious supremacism, which history suggests is latent in many ethnic nationalisms, quickly came to the fore in Zionism. Today, the dominant features of Zionist ideology in Israel are:

  • a commitment to segregation at all levels – made concrete in the separation wall across the West Bank;
  • a belief in ethnic exclusivism – Palestinian citizens inside Israel are even denied an Israeli nationality;
  • a kind of national paranoia – walls are built to protect every border;
  • an aversion, paradoxically given the above, to defining its borders – and with it a craving for expansion and greater “living room”.

All of this was predictable if one looked at the trajectory of ethnic nationalisms in Europe. Instead, we in the West see all this as a reaction to Islamism. The reality is we have everything back to front: Zionism, an aggressive ethnic nationalism, fed reactionary forces in the region like political Islam.

Cotto: If Israel adopted its pre-1967 borders, would this, in your opinion, contribute to the peace process?

Cook: Of course, it would. If nothing else, it would show for the first time two things: one, that Israel is prepared to exhibit good faith towards the Palestinians and respect international law; and two, that it has finally decided to define and fix its borders. Those are also two good reasons why I don’t think we will see Israel adopt such a position.

There is a further, implicit question underlying this one. Can a Palestinian state on 22 per cent of historic Palestine, separated into two prison-cantons with limited access to the sea, be a viable state?

No, I don’t think it can – at least not without remaining economically dependent on Israel and militarily vulnerable to it too. That, we should remember, also appears to have been the view of the international community when it tried to solve this problem more than 60 years ago. The United Nations Partition Plan of 1947 gave the Jewish minority 55 per cent of historic Palestine to create a Jewish state, while the Palestinians, the majority of the population, received 45 per cent for an Arab state.

One doesn’t have to believe the partition plan was fair – as most Palestinians do not – to understand that even the Western-centric UN of that time did not imagine that a viable state could be created on 22 per cent of Palestine, or half of the “Arab state” it envisioned.

That is why I have long maintained that ultimately a solution to the conflict will only be found when the international community helps the two sides to find common ground and shared interests and to create joint institutions. That might be vaguely termed the one-state solution, but in practice it could take many forms.

Cotto: It is often noted that Palestinians live in far more impoverished socioeconomic conditions than Israelis do. From your standpoint, can this be attributed to Israeli aggression?

Cook: In essence, it is difficult to imagine it could be attributed to much else, unless one makes the racist assumption that Palestinians or Arabs are naturally lazy or incompetent.

In terms of Israel’s greater economic success, there are several factors to take into account. It receives massive subsidies from the US taxpayer – billions of dollars in military aid and other benefits. It has developed very lucrative hi-tech and homeland security industries, often using the occupied territories as laboratories for it to test and showcase its weapons and surveillance systems. It also benefits from the financial connections it enjoys with worldwide Jewry. Just think of the property market in Israel, which is artificially boosted by wealthy US and European Jews who inject money into the economy by buying an Israeli condo.

But equally importantly – as a just-published report from the World Bank concludes – it has prospered by plundering and exploiting Palestinian resources. The World Bank argues that Israel’s de facto annexation of 62 per cent of the West Bank, known as Area C in the Oslo Accords, has stripped any nascent Palestinian state of almost all its resources: land for development, water for agriculture, quarries for stone, the Dead Sea for minerals and tourism, etc. Instead these resources are being stolen by more than 200 settlements Israel has been sowing over the West Bank.

Israel also exploits a captive, and therefore cheap, Palestinian labour force. That both benefits the Israeli economy and crushes the Palestinian economy.

Cotto: Some say that Israel’s settlement policies directly encourage violence from Palestinian militants. Do you believe this to be the case?

Cook: Yes, of course. If you came armed with a gun to my house and took it from me, and then forced me and my family to live in the shed at the end of the garden, you could hardly be surprised if I started making trouble for you. If I called the police and they said they couldn’t help, you could hardly be surprised if I eventually decided to get a gun myself to threaten you back. If, when you saw I had a gun too, you then built a wall around the shed to imprison me, you could hardly be surprised if I used the tools I had to make primitive grenades and started lobbing them towards the house. None of this would prove how unreasonable I was, or how inherently violent.

Cotto: Many claim that, if Israel were to shed its Jewish ethnocentrism, Muslims and others nearby would adopt a more favorable opinion of it. Do you agree with this idea?

Cook: Ethnocentrism for Israel means that the protection of its Jewishness is synonymous with the protection of its national security. That entails all sorts of things that would be considered very problematic if they were better understood.

Israel needed to ethnically cleanse Palestinians in 1948 to create a Jewish state. It needs separate citizenship and nationality laws, which distinguish between Jews and non-Jews, to sustain a Jewish state. It needs its own version of the “endless war on terror” – an aggressive policy of oppression and divide and rule faced by Palestinians under its rule – to prevent any future internal challenge to the legitimacy of its Jewishness. It needs to keep Palestinian refugees festering in camps in neighbouring Arab states to stop a reversal of its Jewishness. And it has had to become an armed and fortified garrison state, largely paid for by the US, to intimidate and bully its neighbours in case they dare to threaten its Jewishness.

Ending that ethnocentrism would therefore alter relations with its neighbours dramatically.

It was possible to end similar historic enmities in Northern Ireland and in South Africa. There is no reason to believe the same cannot happen in the Middle East.

Cotto: If Israel were to cease being an ethnocentrically Jewish state, do you think it would be able to survive?

Cook: Yes. Israel’s actions have produced an ocean of anger towards it in the region – and a great deal of resentment towards the US too. And that would not evaporate overnight. At a minimum there would be lingering distrust, and for good reason. But for Israel to stop being an ethnocratic state, it would require a serious international solution to the conflict. The international community would have to put into place mechanisms and institutions to resolve historic grievances and build trust, as it did in South Africa. Over time, the wounds would heal.

Cotto: In the event that Israel were to end its ethnocentrically Jewish policies, do you believe that Islamist militants would hold less of a grudge against the Western world?

Cook: The question looks at the problem in the wrong way in at least two respects. First, Israel’s ethnocentrism – its exclusivity and its aggressiveness, for example – is one of the reasons it is useful to Western, meaning US, imperialism. Reforming Israel would indicate a change in Western priorities in the region, but that does not necessarily mean the West would stop interfering negatively in the region. Reforming Israel is a necessary but not a sufficient cause for a change in attitudes that dominate in the region.

Second, many Islamists, certainly of the fanatical variety, are not suddenly going to have a Damascene conversion about the West because Israel is reformed. But that should not be the goal. Good intentions towards the region will be repaid in a change in attitude among the wider society – and that is what is really important. When George Bush and his ilk talk about “draining the swamps”, they are speaking only in military terms. But actually what we should be doing is draining the ideological swamp in which Islamic extremism flourishes. If the Islamists have no real support, if they do not address real issues faced by Arab societies, then they will wither away.

Cotto: What do you think the future of Israel holds insofar as Middle Eastern geopolitics are concerned?

Cook: That is crystal ball stuff. There are too many variables. What can be said with some certainty is that we are in a time of transition: at the moment, chiefly economic for the West and chiefly political for the Middle East. That means the global power systems we have known for decades are starting to break down. Where that will ultimately lead is very difficult to decipher.

Joseph Cotto writes for the Washington Times.

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Peace Prize Winners to Putin: Release the ‘Arctic 30’

Eleven Nobel Peace Prize winners have called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to ensure that "excessive charges of piracy" laid against 30 Greenpeace activists are dropped, Greenpeace said on Thursday. (Photo: AFP/Miguel Medina)An open letter signed by eleven Nobel Peace Prize laureates to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday is calling for the Russian government to immediately drop the piracy charges and release the 28 Greenpeace activists and two documentarians who were taken into custody last month in the aftermath of a peaceful protest against Arctic drilling off the Russian coast.

The signatories, including Arch Bishop Desmond TuTu and US peace campaigner Jody Williams, called on Putin to treat the international crew—now known as the “Arctic 30”—in accordance with international law and warned against pursuing charges that would criminalize peaceful protest.

"We, like millions of people around the world, are watching this case, eager to see Russian authorities drop the piracy charges, treat the 'Arctic 30' in accordance with international law, reaffirm the right to nonviolent protest, and rededicate efforts to protect the Arctic." —from the letter

In the letter to Putin, the peace campaigners highlighted the importance of Greenpeace's ongoing campaign to stop oil and gas drilling in the world's northern seas, calling the recently opened waters where exploratory drilling is now underway a sign of the terrible impacts already being caused by global warming.

"Arctic oil drilling is a dangerous, high-risk enterprise," the letter reads. "An oil spill under these icy waters would have a catastrophic impact on one of the most pristine, unique and beautiful landscapes on earth. The impact of a spill on communities living in the Arctic, and on already vulnerable animal species, would be devastating and long lasting. The risks of such an accident are ever present, and the oil industry’s response plans remain wholly inadequate."

As for the activists, and the one photographer and one videographer arrested with them, their attempts to receive bail or be released pending trial have been rebuffed. If convicted, they face sentences of 15 years in prison.

In The Netherlands, where Greenpeace International's home offices are located, legal action has been initiated to try to free the crew members and their ship, The Arctic Sunrise. In addition, more than 1.4 million people across the globe have joined a special Greenpeace campaign under the banner of #FreeTheArctic 30.

In a statement in response to the letter from Putin's office, the president's press secretary said Putin simply has no power to influence the decision of the courts.

"Investigative bodies deal with [criminal charges]," said Putin spokeperson, Dmitry Peskov, "and everyone should wait for the end of the investigation process and the court's verdict."

"A law is a law," he said.

The complete letter from the Nobel laureates follows (via Greenpeace):

Dear President Putin,

RE: Drop piracy charges & immediately release the “Arctic 30”

We are writing to ask you to do all you can to ensure that the excessive charges of piracy against the 28 Greenpeace activists, freelance photographer and freelance videographer are dropped, and that any charges brought are consistent with international and Russian law. We are confident that you share our desire to respect the right to nonviolent protest.

As you know, Russian authorities have detained 30 members of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise crew since September 19 when armed Russian authorities boarded the vessel in the Pechora Sea. The crew—which includes Russians and numerous other nationalities—had been engaged in a peaceful, nonviolent protest.

We were heartened by your statement, on September 25th, that you did not believe the Greenpeace crew members were pirates. As you know, the Greenpeace activists were unarmed and used only peaceful means to demonstrate their opposition to the oil drilling operations threatening the Arctic.

Arctic oil drilling is a dangerous, high-risk enterprise. An oil spill under these icy waters would have a catastrophic impact on one of the most pristine, unique and beautiful landscapes on earth. The impact of a spill on communities living in the Arctic, and on already vulnerable animal species, would be devastating and long lasting. The risks of such an accident are ever present, and the oil industry’s response plans remain wholly inadequate.

Equally important is the contribution of Arctic oil drilling to climate change. Climate change in the Arctic and elsewhere threatens all of us, but it is the world’s most vulnerable who are paying the price for developed countries’ failure to act. Now is the time to accelerate our transition away from fossil fuels and move towards a future built on safe, clean and renewable energy.

We urge all states to do their utmost to protect this precious treasure of humanity, while moving beyond a dependency on oil as an energy source. As one of the countries most directly concerned, we call on you to personally lead that effort.

We, like millions of people around the world, are watching this case, eager to see Russian authorities drop the piracy charges, treat the “Arctic 30” in accordance with international law, reaffirm the right to nonviolent protest, and rededicate efforts to protect the Arctic.


Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976) — Northern Ireland
Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976) — Northern Ireland
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Laureate (1980) — Argentina
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate (1984) — South Africa
Oscar Arias Sánchez, Nobel Peace Laureate (1987) - Costa Rica
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Laureate (1992) — Guatemala
José Ramos Horta, Nobel Peace Laureate (1996) — East Timor
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1997) — USA
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate (2003) — Iran
Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Laureate (2011) — Yemen
Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate (2011) — Liberia


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

G8 summit cost British taxpayers £80m

Last month's G8 summit in Northern Ireland has cost British taxpayer a dear £80 million Northern Irish Foreign Minister Sammy Wilson says.

2,000 protesters expected at G8 summit

The British police expect 2,000 protesters at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland tonight as leaders of the group meet in the border town of Enniskillen to discuss the Syrian situation, free US-European Union trade and tax evasion.

Weather: Snow Disrupts Travel And Cuts Power

Britain is continuing to endure extreme winter storms as snow, rain, high winds and freezing temperatures affect large swathes of the country.

The severe weather, which has already claimed the life of one woman , has been extending south, affecting London and parts of Kent.

The Met Office has issued two amber warnings for snow, with Northern Ireland and Wales, parts of northwest and northeast England and the Midlands expecting to see up to 15cm of snowfall over the course of the day.

Tens of thousands of homes in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Cumbria remain without power, while many roads are impassable and runways have been forced to close.

Birmingham Airport has suspended all arrivals and departures due to heavy snowfall, while Leeds Bradford is experiencing heavy delays.

The AA has warned motorists that even short journeys may be difficult, and there could be a repeat of the scenes in southern England last week when hundreds of drivers were stranded in their cars overnight.

In stark contrast to yesterday, there are only two flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected, in place in Britain. Both warnings are for southwest England.

A further 91 flood alerts, where flooding is possible, remain in place across the South East, Anglia, the Midlands and Wales.

The rain has been a particular problem in Cornwall, where a landslide, thought to have been triggered by torrential rain, smashed through a block of flats, partially collapsing the building.

Emergency crews found a woman's body after picking through debris at the Veronica flats in Looe on Friday night.

The body is believed to be that of Susan Norman, who was in her 60s and had been unaccounted for, according to the police.

Sky weather presenter Isobel Lang said: "Southeast England, East Anglia, the Midlands, north Wales, northern England, Northern Ireland and much of Scotland can expect snow today.

"High ground will be worst affected with some heavy snow at times with drifting in the strong winds and also blizzards.

"Low levels could see 5cm to 10cm, two to four inches, of snowfall today although amounts will probably be lower across London."

She added: "Southwest England, south Wales and southern Ireland looks largely dry and relatively mild with some brighter spells.

"A few showers may nudge into the extreme southwest later. Tonight will stay dry with a frost forming in places."

Meanwhile, Electricity North West said about 1,500 properties in Cumbria remain without power but repair work was being held back by road closures, preventing access to some communities.

The company said it was considering using a helicopter to transport engineers to the areas to which power could not immediately be restored.

A complete blackout was reported for between 15 and 30 minutes across Belfast on Friday evening.

Bomb found close to G8 summit venue

A vehicle found abandoned and made safe in Northern Ireland was carrying a viable bomb, security sources said. The device was found in a rural part of Co Fermanagh in the west of the region. Dissident republicans have launched a series of bomb attacks...

APC’s deployed on Kiev streets, emergency as record snowfall turns Ukraine into chaos (PHOTOS)

Published time: March 23, 2013 15:04
A driver stries to clear snow from a road during a heavy snow storm in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on March 23, 2013. (AFP Photo/Sergei Supinsky)

A state of emergency has been declared in Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on Saturday as the city is paralyzed by heavy snowfall and blizzard totally abnormal for March.

"Due to the deterioration of weather conditions [heavy snowfall, blizzards, snow-banks] a state of emergency is declared in the capital," the statement by the Kiev State Administration said.

The situation in the city is so dire that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has signed a special decree urging all government agencies to provide maximum assistance to victims of the snowstorm.

The military is also involved in rescuing the city from its snowbound condition as 550 servicemen are deployed to the capital to aid the community services.An elderly man walks near snow covered cars during a heavy storm in the Ukraine capital Kiev on March 23, 2013. (AFP Photo/Sergei Supinsky)

The government has created a crisis center to tackle the snowfalls, which is being personally overseen by Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov.

“In these difficult conditions, the government calls on everybody to show orderliness, self-restraint, cooperativeness, humanity and, if possible, to join the clean-up efforts in the aftermath of the bad weather, to help each other in tough situations," the government’s statement said.

According to the city authorities, over 50 millimeters of snow fell in Kiev in just one day, which is more than the entire monthly norm of 47 millimeters.

Motorists push a car that is stuck in snow during a blizzard in Ukrainian capital Kiev March 23, 2013. (Reuters)

Community services are ordered to work around the clock, with priority given to cleaning the approaches to the Metro stations and subway stairs, as well entrances to hospitals and grocery stores.

Besides 253 snow-cleaning vehicles, five armored fighting vehicles are being used to tow stranded cars, with 270 trucks, 540 cars, 83 buses and 15 trolleybuses already removed from snow banks.

Dozens of flights in Kiev’s biggest airport, Boryspil, are delayed or cancelled, with the city’s second aerial port, Zhuliany, halting operations altogether.

Meanwhile, bloggers report that some of the city’s residents managed to find joy in the tempest as some daredevils was seen snowboarding in the streets. 

A convoy of snow clearing vehicles work along a main road after a heavy snowfall in Kiev, March 23, 2013. (Reuters)

The weather conditions remain difficult in other parts of Ukraine as well, which led to electricity shortages in almost 400 settlements in the Kiev, Vinnytsia and Poltava Regions.  

The highway services are fighting with snow 24/7 in the north of the country, while the southern regions are suffering from heavy rains.

The snow front is moving eastward and is expected to hit Moscow on Saturday evening or Sunday, lasting until almost the end of March. A gale warning is announced in Russia's capital and the Moscow Region.

The synoptic service say that the current March may become the coldest in Moscow in the last 33 years as they forecast temperatures of around minus 9 or 10 degrees Celsius, which is around nine degrees below average.

A woman removes snow from her car during a storm in the Ukraine capital Kiev on March 23, 2013. (AFP Photo)

Heavy snowfalls are already in full swing in Russia’s Tula and Lipetsk Regions, with snow-clearing vehicles taking to the streets, while the city of Kursk, the administrative center of Kursk Region, which borders Ukraine, was forced to declare the state of emergency, like Kiev.  

Subzero temperatures and snow mixed with rain are causing problems to residents of continental Europe and the British Isles as well, where the current March became the coldest in 50 years.

Russia’s national football team was to play a 2014 World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland in Belfast on Friday. The match was initially rescheduled to Saturday, but subsequently canceled, with stadium employees failing to remove the ice crust from the pitch.

 Snow covers Windsor Park pitch and stadium in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on March 22, 2013 as the 2014 World Cup qualifier between Russia and Northern Ireland was postponed due to heavy snow. (AFP Photo)

Weather: Snow And Rain Warning For Drivers

Motorists have been warned against driving in some areas as heavy rain hit the South West and forecasters said snow could cause widespread disruption further north.

The Met Office has issued a cold weather amber alert - the second highest warning on its scale - as rain, sleet and snow, coupled with strong winds, spread from the South West.

Up to 60mm of rain is expected in some areas, according to the Met Office.

Seventy-nine flood alerts , meaning flooding is possible, are in place as well as eight flood warnings, meaning it is likely.

Police in the South West said they had already received a "significant" surge in call-outs on Thursday evening.

Sgt Dave Opara, based in Plymouth, said: "There has been a considerable amount of rainfall across the force area.

"There will be more to come throughout the night, so the situation is not going to get much better too soon."

Cornwall opened its dedicated control centre to deal with the volume of calls about flooding. Fire crews had already been called out to 50 incidents before 10pm on Thursday.

Newlyn, in the southwest of the county, was reported to be the worst affected area.

Sky's Mark White said: "In Newlyn, a number of properties are underwater.

"The emergency servcies are doing their best to pump out these flooded properties and keep the roads clear but it is very bad at the moment and it is continuing to move east."

Environment Agency spokesperson Pete Fox said: "Heavy rain in southwest England and south Wales on Thursday and into Friday means there is a risk of localised surface water and river flooding in the south west, the southern counties and parts of south Wales.

"The public can sign up for flood warnings and check the latest information on the Environment Agency's website , or follow us on Twitter at @EnvAgency."

Sky News weather producer Joanna Robinson said: "March can be a month of extremes and that’s certainly what we’re seeing this year.

"The cold theme is set to continue, with disruptive snow across parts of the UK.

"Over the next 24 hours, central parts of the UK will be most at risk of significant snow, particularly Northern Ireland, southwest Scotland, northwest England, northeast Wales and the north Midlands.

"There will be drifting in the raw wind and blizzard conditions. Disruption is likely to transport and perhaps even power supplies."

In the South West, an amber alert for heavy rain was been issued for Friday and Saturday, warning of localised flooding and travel problems, while amber snow warnings have been issued for Northern Ireland, the North West and the West Midlands.

Darron Burness, head of the AA's Special Operations Response Team , said: "It's going to be a real witch's brew of driving wind, rain and snow, which will inevitably cause disruption on the roads.

"Drivers should be well prepared as even short journeys can quickly turn bad.

"Drifting snow could repeat the scenes we saw in southern England last week when hundreds of drivers got stuck overnight - it only takes one or two vehicles struggling for grip for the situation to quickly escalate.

"Keep your speed down as visibility could be seriously reduced and there's a risk of localised flooding - just stay out of flood water.

"Also with temperatures set to remain low, any snow that settles will likely persist for several days, so be wary of icy patches.

"Wherever you’re going, take plenty of warm layers, check the travel reports before heading out and stick to the main roads where possible."

The Local Government Association said council gritting and ploughing teams would be out in force to try to ensure main roads remained passable.

Kenny Urges Britain To Stay In The EU

Irish premier Enda Kenny has urged Britain to remain within the European Union.

The Taoiseach, in London for a series of engagements including talks with prime minister David Cameron, insisted Britain has much to gain from its membership.

enda kenny

Enda Kenny (right) watched by the Lord Mayor of London Alderman Roger Gifford, addresses a business event held at Mansion House

"We see the British relationship with the EU as being a two-way relationship - Britain benefits from its membership of the EU, and the EU is better off with Britain as a leading member making a valued contribution," Mr Kenny said.

Ireland is more than half way through its six-month EU presidency term.

Its time at the helm also marks the 40th anniversary of both Ireland and Britain joining the EU.

Mr Kenny said while the country's future is closely tied with Europe, its connection with Britain - its "nearest neighbours" - was stronger than ever.

Speaking during a whistle-stop trip to London, the Taoiseach insisted both nations were like-minded on numerous European issues such as the single market and trade.

He made the comments at a business event at the city's Mansion House, where he also vowed that Ireland would act impartially during negotiations on the controversial financial transactions tax.

He said the state would use its position as EU president to facilitate the discussions, but would strike a careful balance in respecting both sides of the debate.

Ireland and Britain have both opted out of the tax, which is expected to generate up to €35 million (£30.5m) a year from the financial industry.

France and Germany are among 11 states that have signed up to the tax, which will see levies imposed on trades in shares and bonds.

Later, during a lunch at the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce at Savoy Place, Mr Kenny said Ireland looks to the British market as a place where its business could contribute to the state's national recovery.

"For our part, Britain is our biggest market for key sectors such as food and beverages, and of course for tourism," the Taoiseach said.

"Another way of looking at the scale and importance of the British market is that a tiny loss of exports to Britain - between a half and one per cent - would immediately wipe out the hard-won increase in our exports to the developing Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) markets."

Mr Kenny was also attending the London School of Economics and meeting David Cameron in Downing Street, where they were to review progress on a joint statement they signed last year aimed at developing British-Irish relations.

The pair were also planning to discuss current unrest in Northern Ireland following protests over the flying of the Union flag.

In an address to the London School of Economics later, Mr Kenny said Ireland and Britain had travelled a long distance together within the EU.

"The UK is an enormously important partner for us in Europe," the Taoiseach said.

"We greatly value the contribution you make, and we look forward to it continuing long into the future. It is good for Europe, good for Ireland and, not least, good for the UK."

Following the talks at Number 10, Mr Cameron said the two governments were determined to go "further and faster" in deepening relations.

"We are not letting our foot off the pedals; we want to go further and faster with this relationship and we have tasked our teams to identify more we can do to strengthen collaboration in specific sectors to boost growth," he said.

Both leaders said they had instructed top civil servants to work up policy.

After the meeting, the pair went to the House of Commons for what the prime minister called "a small St Patrick's Day celebration".

The Taoiseach joked that he had handed over "the key" to beating Wales at rugby - ahead of the Six Nations decider with England in Cardiff.

Ireland are the only team to have beaten Wales in this year's tournament so far.

"I'll make sure I pass it on," Mr Cameron quipped back.

The Globalization of “Fast Food”. Behind the Brand: McDonald’s

The Globalization of "Fast Food". Behind the Brand: McDonald’s

The Above image of the McDonald label, Copyright McDonald’s 2011

This article was first published in The Ecologist

In the first of a major new series following on from the ground breaking Behind the Label, Peter Salisbury takes a look at one of the biggest brands in the world – McDonald’s – and asks: has the burger giant done enough to clean-up its act?

Chances are that you have had a McDonald’s meal in the past or if not, you certainly know a lot of people who have. It’s the biggest fast food chain in the world, with 32,000 outlets in 117 countries. The clown-fronted burger outfit employs a staggering 1.7 million people, and in the first three months of 2011 alone it made $1.2bn in profits on the back of revenues of $6.1bn. The company has come in for huge amounts of criticism over the past 20 years, for the impact it has on the diets of people worldwide, its labour practices and the impact its business has had on the environment. From Fast Food Nation to Supersize Me by the way of the McLibel trials of the 1990s, plenty has been written and broadcast to tarnish the golden arches’ shine.

Declining sales in the early 2000s, which saw franchises being shut for the first time in the company’s history, caused a major rethink of the way McDonald’s operates, and its recent rhetoric has been that of a firm with a newly discovered zeal for ethical end eco-friendly practices, garnering praise from champions as unlikely as Greenpeace and the Carbon Trust. But is this just marketing hype or has McDonald’s had a genuine change of heart?

The answer is yes and no. First of all, because of the way the company is run, it’s hard to generalise. Around 80 per cent of McDonald’s outlets are run by franchisees who have to meet standards set by the company, but who can – and do – go above and beyond them. Further, McDonald’s branches are run by country and regional offices, each of which are subject to domestic standards. The production of much of the raw products which go into McDonald’s meals, from burger patties to sauces, is subcontracted to different suppliers, making it impossible to assess the company in terms of a single golden standard. Its sole global supplier (for soft drinks) is Coca-Cola.

The UK branch of the company has certainly made great strides since the 1990s, when it became embroiled in the 1997 McLibel court case, in which McDonald’s Corporation and McDonald’s Restaurants Limited sued Helen Steel and Dave Morris, a former gardener and a postman, for libel after they published a series of leaflets denouncing the company.


The judge overseeing the case decided that, although the pair could not prove some of their accusations – that McDonald’s destroyed rainforests, caused starvation in the third world or disease and cancer in developed countries – it could be agreed that the company exploited children, falsely advertised their food as nutritious, indirectly sponsored cruelty to animals and paid their workers low wages: a major blow to the brand in an age of increasing consumer-consciousness.

Since then, the UK branch has committed to a number of initiatives to improve its image, running an aggressive marketing campaign at the same time to portray itself as an ethical employer which is both farmer and eco-friendly. It has also moved to become more transparent, putting ingredients lists for all of its products on its website and setting up another website, Make Up Your Own Mind, inviting customers to voice concerns and publishing accounts of critics’ visits to its production sites.

All of this should be taken with a grain of salt however. It’s not surprising that a multibillion-dollar corporation, which has been hurt in the past by concerns over its practices, will do its utmost to sell itself as a reformed character. And it’s suspicious that any web search of the company brings up a hit list of sites almost exclusively maintained by the company.

Yet research conducted by the Ecologist shows that in many areas the company has improved its record of ethical and environmental awareness over the last decade. The company’s burgers, for example, are now 100 per cent beef, and contain no preservatives or added flavours whatsoever. All of McDonald’s UK’s burgers are provided by Germany’s Esca Food Solutions, which claims to maintain rigorous standards at its abattoirs and production plants, and which works closely with 16,000 independent farmers in the UK and Ireland to maintain high standards.

‘No GM’

Since the early 2000s, McDonald’s UK has maintained that none of its beef, bacon or chicken is fed genetically modified grain. Farmers working for McDonald’s have independently confirmed to the Ecologist and Esca that they have a ‘decent’ working relationship with the company.

In 2007, Esca won the UK Food Manufacturing Excellence Awards for its burgers, and in 2010 McDonald’s announced that it was launching a three-year study into reducing the carbon emissions caused by the cattle used in its burgers (cattle account for four per cent of the UK’s emissions). Meanwhile, all of the fish used in Filet-O-Fish and Fish Finger meals in Europe are sourced from sustainable fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Fries are largely sourced from McCain’s, the world’s biggest potato supplier, and McDonald’s claims that the vast majority are produced in the UK, again by independent farmers. The fries are prepared in-store and are cooked in vegetable oil containing no hydrogenated fats. At the beginning of the potato-growing season, dextrose – a form of glucose – is added as a sweetener, and salt is added after cooking (the company claims to have reduced the amount of salt used by 23 per cent since 2008).

The bread for McDonald’s buns and muffins is sourced from a single unnamed supplier based in Heywood, Manchester, and Banbury, Oxfordshire. McDonald’s would not comment on where it sources the grain for the bakeries but says once more that it does not buy genetically modified crops. Meanwhile, the company has been working with its suppliers and franchise-holders to make sure that they are as energy efficient as possible. In 2010, The Carbon Trust awarded McDonald’s its Carbon Trust Standard for reducing its overall carbon emissions by 4.5 per cent between 2007 and 2009. The company is currently experimenting with a series of energy initiatives based around turning its waste, from packaging – which is 80 per cent recycled – to vegetable oil into energy.


Since 2007, the company – which is one of the world’s biggest coffee retailers – has committed to selling only Rainforest Alliance certified coffee. Although the certification body has certainly been responsible for improving conditions and practices in many farming operations worldwide, it has been the subject of controversy – most recently after an undercover investigation by the Ecologist revealed allegations of sexual harassment and poor conditions for some workers at its certified Kericho tea plantation in Kenya which supplies the PG Tips brand.

Certification issues aside, McDonald’s has undoubtedly become considerably better at taking criticism. In 2006, Greenpeace activists stormed McDonald’s restaurants across the world dressed in chicken suits in protest at the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, which they attributed to greedy soy producers – who in turn were selling their produce to chicken farms, of whom McDonald’s was a major customer. They subsequently praised the fast food chain for leading a unified response among soy buyers, pressuring producers to adopt a ‘zero destruction’ approach to growing their crops. Despite praise from Greenpeace, the Carbon Trust and personalities such as Jamie Oliver who have praised the company for its ethical stance on meat and buying its produce locally, the firm is by no means perfect.

One of the biggest incongruencies in its newly discovered zeal for ethical practices comes from its seemingly differing approaches to the conditions chickens live in depending on whether they produce eggs or are used as meat in Chicken McNuggets and similar meals. The firm proudly trumpets that its UK branch only buys eggs from Lion-certified free-range producers, a laudable effort from a huge buyer of eggs, and that the meat in each nugget is 100 per cent chicken breast (the final product is around 65:35 meat and batter).

Factory farming

Yet by the same token, the company buys most of its chicken from two suppliers, Sun Valley in the UK and Moy Park in Northern Ireland, who are in turn owned by the controversial American firm, Cargill, and Brazil’s Marfrig. Sun Valley has been accused of using intensive chicken farming methods to produce their meat, which campaigners say can typically involve birds being cooped up in giant warehouses for much of their natural lives with barely any space to move. Sun Valley was embroiled in a scandal in 2008 when the activist group Compassion in World Farming secretly filmed poor conditions at its supplier Uphampton Farm near Leominster.

Furthermore, although McDonald’s is happy to advertise the provenance of its beef, dairy products and eggs, it is more circumspect about chicken meat. This may be because up to 90 per cent of the meat it uses in the UK is sourced from Cargill and Marfrag facilities in Thailand and Brazil, where regulations in the farming sector are perhaps less stringent than in the UK.

Meanwhile, the fact remains that despite attempts in recent years to cultivate a more healthy image, McDonald’s primary sales come from fast food in a time when there is increasing recognition that obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the UK and the US. Although the European, and in particular the UK arm of the company, have become increasingly ethically aware, the same cannot be said for the US arm, which uses livestock farmed using intensive methods and fed in some cases on GM crops. And by buying McDonald’s in the UK, you are still buying from the same clown.

Useful links:



Compassion in World Farming:

The Carbon Trust:

Unionist parties fuel NI flag protests

Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister David Ford accuses unionist parties of fueling the flag riots in Belfast.

Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister and Alliance Party leader David Ford has accused unionist parties of fueling the flag riots in the capital city of Belfast.

Speaking at the annual Alliance Party conference, Ford blamed mainstream unionist parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), for provoking the violent protests over the flying of the British flag above Belfast’s City Hall.

“When Unionist politicians say that those who raised the flag issue need to accept their responsibility for what followed, they are right. They need to recognize what happens to when you stir up tension in a divided society, when you encourage protest without knowing where it will lead and cannot bring yourself to call an end to illegality without any ambiguity,” Ford stated.

Belfast’s almost two months of flag riots were sparked by a loyalist mob forcing its way through back gates of Belfast City Hall only minutes after nationalist councilors voted to take down the Union Jack from the building on all but 17 days of the year.

The violent flag riots have led to 150 arrests, dozens of police officers injured and millions of pounds in lost trading.


Horsemeat Scandal Goes Global As World’s Largest Food Maker Pulls Tainted Pasta From Spain...

First it was Ireland, then the entire UK, then Germany, and gradually it spread to all of Europe (except for France of course, where it was always a delicacy). But it was only once its finally crossed the Alps and made its way to the Swiss factories of Nestle, the world's largest food maker, did the horsemeat scandal truly go global. The FT reports that "the escalating horsemeat scandal has ensnared two of the biggest names in the food industry, Nestlé, the world’s number-one food maker, and JBS, the largest beef producer by sales. Switzerland-based Nestlé on Monday removed pasta meals from shelves in Italy and Spain and suspended deliveries of all processed products containing meat from German supplier, H.J. Schypke, after tests revealed traces of horse DNA above 1 per cent. Nestlé said it had informed the authorities....Nestlé withdrew two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini from sale in Italy and Spain. Lasagnes à la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a frozen meat product for catering businesses produced in France, will also be withdrawn."

And now we wait as the panic spreads across the Atlantic to the US, where every food purist, who until recently stuffed themselves full of pink slime and still eats bucketfulls of the mysterious "meat" known as KFC, will accuse their retailer of horseplay, and demand that every burger be triple tested at massive bottom line losses to already profit-strapped food producers everywhere (but will certainly help Madison Avenue as horse ads become the latest advertising meme).

From the FT:

“We are also enhancing our existing comprehensive quality assurance programme by adding new tests on beef for horse DNA prior to production in Europe,” said Nestlé, which just last week said products under its labels were not affected.

The European food industry has already been crippled as the horsemeat scandal unfolds:

Nielsen, the consumer research group, said sales of frozen burgers in the week to February 2 fell 40 per cent, and more than two-thirds of British adults said they would be less likely to buy frozen meat products in the future.

Two people who attended the meeting described it as “constructive”. However, the minister was challenged by several people on how quickly the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Environment acted on intelligence it had received on the food supply chain. One retailer also said an attack by David Cameron on the supermarkets on Friday “had not necessarily been helpful”.

The testing, which some supermarkets already carry out, will mean extra costs for retailers at a time of weak consumer confidence.

Suppliers reckon they will end up bearing the brunt of the cost – adding to the pressure on margins which, some say, caused the problem in the first place.

“The people who in the end will suffer are the food manufacturers, because they will be forced to undertake testing. And the people with the power in this relationship on the whole are the food retailers,” said one industry player.

Many believe equine testing is just the tip of the iceberg. “I am sure this will rapidly move on to other species,” said Adam Couch, chief executive of Cranswick, a meat and pastry goods supplier, which has not been implicated in the scandal.

This is good news for KFC, because once the testing spreads to Yum's restaurant chain, half the DNA that is consumed on the premises will be found to have no earthly basis, and thus, well, "you must acquit".

As for those who are still a lap behind the latest newsflow in the race for the horsemeat-free trifecta, the Guardian has conveniently released the definitive guide to the Equine scandal.

Horsemeat scandal: the essential guide

With the Europewide scandal over the contamination of meat products, from beefburgers to lasagne, showing no sign of abating, study the issue in depth and learn all you need to know about how it came to this with our essential guide.

1. Where did the horsemeat scandal begin?

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland tested a range of cheap frozen beefburgers and ready meals from supermarkets last November for the presence of DNA from other species which were undeclared. It found horse DNA in over one-third of the beefburger samples, and pig in 85% of them.

The majority of the beef ready meals also contained pig DNA but not horse. One beefburger sample from Tesco turned out to be 29% horse instead of beef. Until then supermarkets and enforcement bodies had not tested for horse in beef products, because no one expected it to be there.

There are conflicting reports as to whether the agency began its investigation as random surveillance or after having been tipped off. Because the findings were so serious and likely to do huge damage to commercial interests, the FSAI then spent two months retesting before announcing its findings on 15 January.

The Irish and UK supermarket supply chains are highly integrated. FSAI says it alerted the UK Food Standards Agency in November since what was on sale in Ireland would also be on sale in the UK; the FSA told MPs that it only found out in January. No one knows how long the adulteration has gone on.

2. Where did the horse and pig found by the Irish in beef products come from?

The Irish survey identified three factories as the source of beef products that had been contaminated or adulterated: Silvercrest Foods in Ireland, Dalepak in Yorkshire and Liffey Meats in Ireland. Silvercrest and Dalepak are both subsidiaries of ABP Food Group, one of the largest beef processors in Europe.

ABP pointed the finger of blame at its continental suppliers, with the FSAI saying these were in the Netherlands and Spain. It later said the horsemeat had entered its chain through suppliers in Poland. The Polish government checked its horse slaughterhouses and found no irregularities in labelling. Five weeks into the scandal and the links in the Irish chain have still not been fully established.

Huge blocks of frozen meat at a cold store in Northern Ireland, Freeza Foods, which had been quarantined by officials suspicious of its labelling and state of packaging, were found to contain 80% horse. Freeza Foods said the meat blocks had been delivered to its store by meat broker McAdam Foods but that it had rejected them and only continued storing them as a "goodwill" measure for McAdam. McAdam said it in turn had been sold them by a meat trader in Hull, Flexi Foods, which imports from Poland and elsewhere. ABP confirmed it had been supplied materials by McAdam but the two companies have given conflicting accounts of what the deliveries have been.

ABP has also confirmed that it has been supplied with beef by Norwest Foods, based in Cheshire, with operations in Poland and Spain, which is now also part of FSA inquiries.

The first case of horsemeat being found in fresh beef surfaced this week, when Asda withdrew its fresh beef bolognese. Its supplier was the Irish company Greencore, which said it had in turn been supplied the meat by ABP.

3. Why did some products contain so much more horse than others?

Industry sources and food safety officials believe there are different types of adulteration taking place. Where trace levels of DNA of the wrong species, particularly pig, have been found in beef, the most likely explanation is that they have been contaminated either by failure to clean production lines thoroughly enough between different processing, or that the DNA is present in protein additives widely used in the industry to bulk out cheap so-called value or economy ranges. An economy beefburger can legally contain as little as 47% beef.

Manufacturers add other cheap ingredients including water and fat, and use concentrated proteins to bind the water and fat in. They may appear on labels as "seasoning". One of the cheapest sources of these protein additives is pork rind. It is possible that horse hide is now also being used. The widespread adulteration of cheap chicken breast with pig and beef proteins and water has been uncovered in previous scandals. The beef proteins were derived from hydrolysed cattle hides. It is not illegal to use these protein concentrates so long as they are identified correctly to the manufacturer.

Where horse has been found above trace levels, however, experts believe they are looking at fraudulent substitution of horse for beef. Where horse has been found in high concentrations, they say it suggests industrial scale adulteration.

4. How did the rest of Europe get involved?

Once the Irish authorities had reported their findings, the UK FSA asked industry to test all its beef products for horse. The next round of tests revealed that the "beef" in frozen lasagne and spaghetti bolognese made for Tesco, Aldi and Findus by a French manufacturer, Comigel, was up to 100% horse.

Comigel was making cheap beef meals for supermarkets and branded companies in 16 different countries so the scandal spread rapidly, with horsemeat meals being withdrawn in Germany, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, as well as Ireland and the UK.

5. Is the source of the Irish horsemeat the same as the French one?

The trail of the French manufacturing scandal has taken a different route to the Irish/British one so far. Comigel had subcontracted its ready meal production to a factory in Luxembourg, Tavola. It was supplied with meat by a company called Spanghero. Spanghero had bought meat from a Dutch fraudster already convicted of passing horse off as beef, Jan Fasen.

The Dutch trader ran a company called Draap, which spelled backwards is paard or Dutch for horse. It was registered in Cyprus in 2008, with an offshore vehicle in the British Virgin Islands. It emerged during Fasen's trial in Holland that he had supplied French companies with horsemeat imported from South America and Mexico fraudulently labelled as Dutch and German "beef" going back to 2007.

The horsemeat found in the recent tests on ready meals exported from France was said to have been sourced by Draap from Romania. The Romanian government has said its meat was legally exported correctly labelled as horse. The French government said Spanghero was the first agent to stamp the horse as beef; Spanghero has denied doing so deliberately. Fasen says Spanghero and French manufacturers were in on the deception from the beginning.

6. Why are the supply chains so complex?

The food and retail industries have become highly concentrated and globalised in recent decades. A handful of key players dominate the beef processing and supermarket sectors across Europe. They have developed very long supply chains, particularly for their economy lines, which enable them to buy the ingredients for processed foods from wherever they are cheapest at any point, depending on exchange rates and prices on the global commodity markets. Networks of brokers, cold stores operators and subcontracted meat cutting plants have emerged to supply rapidly fluctuating orders "just in time". Management consultants KPMG estimate there are around 450 points at which the integrity of the chain can break down.

7. Why has it happenened?

Supermarket buyers and big brands have been driving down prices, seeking special offers on meat products as consumers cut back on their spending in the face of recession. The squeeze on prices has come at a time when manufacturers' costs have been soaring. Beef prices have been at record highs as has the price of grain needed to feed cattle. The cost of energy, heavily used in industrial processing and to fuel centralised distribution chains, has also soared. There has been a mistmatch between the cost of real beef and what companies are prepared to pay.

8. How is the meat industry regulated?

Licensed slaughterhouses across Europe are required to have an official vet in attendance when slaughtering takes place – in the UK most used to be directly employed by the government but many are now supplied under contract to the Food Standards Agency by the private company Eville & Jones. Plants over a certain size are also required to have a meat hygiene inspector. A trend to deregulate and leave industry to police itself, begun under the last government, has seen numbers of inspectors fall from 1,700 at the height of the BSE crisis to around 800 now. Smaller cutting plants are no longer subject to daily inspection. The Food Standards Agency has limited powers – it has depended on industry alerting it to the results of tests voluntarily. Enforcement largely falls to individual local authorities and their trading standards officers, and their budgets have been slashed.

9. What about industry claims that it has full traceability?

The industry has previously boasted that it has full traceability of its supply chain which it audits frequently. The current scandal shows that that traceability is not worth the paper it is generally written on. Most of the factories caught up in the scandal have accreditation with mainstream auditing schemes such as that run by the British Retail Consortium but it failed to spot the problem.

10. What happened to government control of food safety and standards?

The Food Standards Agency was set up in the wake of the BSE crisis when it became clear that one agency that co-ordinated all regulation on food safety and quality was needed. Political memories have been short, however. The coalition government broke up much of the FSA in its bonfire of the quangos, so that responsibility in the current scandal is split. The FSA is still in charge of food safety; the Department of Health is responsible for nutritional standards, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs covers labelling and veterinary medicines.

11. Where do the horses come from?

The Polish and Romanian governments have not only protested their innocence of exporting horse as beef but also pointed out that their horse slaughtering industries are not large enough to account for the scale of adulteration that is emerging. Respected animal welfare organisations have warned governments for several years about the growing trade in knackered horses both between Ireland, the UK, France and Belgium, and between North and South America, and continental Europe. Much of the latter is landed via Belgium. The welfare charities have documented horses in the thousands that have been moved by networks of horse dealers without proper passports. They are a mixture of horses bred for racing and pets.

12. What part do UK horse abattoirs play?

There is an established transport corridor for horses for slaughter from Ireland through Scotland or Wales to England and on to Europe. Last week a horse abattoir in Yorkshire, Peter Boddy, was raided along with a Welsh meat trading company. Three men have been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Fraud Act. The Peter Boddy abattoir, now closed, was small, with official records showing it slaughtered 44 horses last year.

13. Why are governments talking about organised crime?

Previous convictions of dealers and traders along with intelligence suggest a link between the horse trade, meat laundering and various forms of trafficking. Lorries transporting horses have been used as cover for smuggling large quantities of cannabis between the UK and Northern Ireland and lorries transporting horsemeat to the continent are believed to be used for people smuggling on the return journey.

14. Is it a health problem?

The government said at first that there was no health risk from horsemeat, but a leading government public analyst pointed out that it could not be sure until it knew the source of the horsemeat. The latest advice from the chief medical officer is that there is a risk but that it is very low.

Horses are routinely treated with an anti-inflammatory drug called phenylbutazone, or "bute". Bute is banned from the human food chain, because it can in rare cases cause a potentially life threatening illness, aplastic anaemia, or bone marrow failure. Since it is not known what triggers the illness, it has not been possible to set any safe level for bute residues in human food. Doses from horsemeat are likely to be very low. Horse passports are supposed to record any bute administered so that animals can be excluded from going for food, but with large numbers of fake passports in circulation, some horses containing bute have been eaten.

Since the scandal the government has changed the rules so that horse carcasses may now only be released for consumption once they have been tested for bute. The first batch of tests found around 4% of horse testing positive. The horse trade from the Americas has similarly been bedevilled by problems with horse passports and drug contamination.

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Horsemeat Found In Schools, Pubs And Hotels

Lancashire County Council has confirmed that horsemeat has been found in cottage pies served at 47 schools.

The council said it has withdrawn the products from all of the schools' kitchens but refuses to say which schools served the contaminated meat.

Lancashire County Councillor Susie Charles said: "Relatively few schools in Lancashire use this particular product but our priority is to provide absolute assurance that meals contain what the label says - having discovered this one doesn't, we have no hesitation in removing it from menus.

"This does not appear to be a food safety issue but I've no doubt parents will agree we need to take a very firm line with suppliers and it is a credit to our officers that we have been able to quickly identify the problem and take the product off the menus."

It has also been revealed that catering company Compass and Whitbread, one of the UK's largest hospitality companies, detected horse DNA in their products.

Contaminated beef lasagne and burgers were sold at Whitbread companies Premier Inn, Brewers Fayre, Beefeater Grill and Table Table.

The firm said the products had been removed from their menus and will not be replaced until further testing has been carried out.

And Compass, which operates across the UK and Ireland, said that sites where it operates had been supplied with burgers from Rangeland - an Irish processor found to have had two consignments of meat with horse DNA.

"This is totally unacceptable. We have informed all of the affected sites of these developments, explained the actions we have taken and issued unreserved apologies," the company said.

Compass said 13 sites in the Republic and 27 in Northern Ireland, including two secondary schools, were supplied with burgers from Rangeland, the 4oz Rangeburgers which have been found to contain 5-30% horse DNA.

The company has catering operations at 7,000 sites and that most of the sites using Rangeland product were offices.

None of the sites where food was withdrawn were hospitals or sporting venues, Compass confirmed.

Compass said it had withdrawn Rangeland produce on February 5 which included 180 cases of suspect burgers.

Officials have also said that burgers containing horsemeat had been supplied to hospitals in Northern Ireland.

David Bingham from the health service's Business Services Organisation, which provides meat for the health trusts, said a range from a company in the Republic of Ireland had been withdrawn.

Meanwhile, pub and hotel group Whitbread said they had sent 30 products to be tested and the company received the results on Thursday afternoon.

A spokesman said: "We are shocked and disappointed at this failure of the processed meat supply chain.

"As an industry it is clear we need the supply chain to deliver products to the highest standards of food integrity and quality that we and our customers expect.

"As a responsible business we shall work with the FSA to implement a robust testing regime to avoid this happening in the future. We would like to sincerely apologise to our customers for any concerns or inconvenience that this may cause."

The news comes as the Food Standards Agency (FSA)  published the results of tests on all supermarket beef products, revealing that 29 of the 2,501 samples contained horsemeat.

There are around 900 more test results to be released, with the next batch to be revealed next Friday.

The agency's chief scientist, Andrew Wadge, told Sky News that he was reassured by the results so far, but retailers need to take responsibility.

"If you're in the business of selling food, you have to make sure you're clear to consumers that what you sell is what it says on label," he said.

Following the release of the FSA results, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the food industry has a lot of work to do in the wake of the scandal.

"It's wholly unacceptable that if people buy products marked beef, they turn out to be horsemeat," he said.

"That's why it was so important to undertake this intensive testing activity to gain a meaningful picture.

"My concern is for consumers. The news for them today is that the vast majority of products tested are completely clear of horse DNA.

"Food businesses now have a lot of work to do. They need to move quickly to complete these tests and they need to show their customers they've taken the right steps to make sure this doesn't happen again."

Bloody Sunday families given cheap deal

Families of the victims of British army forces’ indiscriminate shooting at civilians in 1972 that left 14 civil rights protesters dead in Northern Ireland will get £50,000 apiece in compensation from the government.

On January 30, 1972, British soldiers from the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment shot 26 unarmed civil rights protestors and bystanders in Londonderry, killing 14, including seven teenagers.

The British army formerly maintained that the civil rights protestors were armed, had become violent and had instigated a gunfight.

However, following a public inquiry the Prime Minister finally apologized to the families in June 2010, cleared the protestors’ names and said the shooting by the army was an "unjustified and unjustifiable" attack on unarmed protesters.

The British Ministry of Defense has made the compensation offers to the victims’ families but reports said the sums are a not final settlement and could change as lawyers of the families are negotiating them.

The ministry has also included those seriously injured as eligible to recieve the damages.

This comes as the offer has angered the families of the victims that say the figure is derisory and an insult to the dead and their relatives.


Horsemeat Found In Tesco Spaghetti Meals

Tesco has dropped a major supplier after finding horsemeat in a range of spaghetti bolognase ready meals, which were taken off shelves last week.

The supermarket giant found levels of horse DNA exceeded 60% in tests on its Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese, which was meant to contain only Irish beef.

Frozen food firm Findus and Aldi found the meat in products made by the same company, Comigel, and joined them in dropping the French company as a supplier.

The announcement came as Britain's shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh claimed tens of thousands of horses have disappeared in Northen Ireland and the Government demanded the immediate testing of all suspected products.

Tesco group technical director Tim Smith said the Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese was last withdrawn as a cautionary measure.

The retailer said that of the positive results, most are at a trace level of less than 1% but three showed significant levels of horse DNA, exceeding 60%.

"The source of the horsemeat is still under investigation by the relevant authorities," Mr Smith said.

"The level of contamination suggests that Comigel was not following the appropriate production process for our Tesco product and we will not take food from their facility again.

"We are very sorry that we have let customers down. We set ourselves high standards for the food we sell and we have had two cases in recent weeks where we have not met those standards.

"Our DNA testing programme is underway and will give us and our customers assurance that the product they buy is what it should be."

Last month, Irish food inspectors said they had found horsemeat in some burgers stocked by a number of UK supermarket chains, including Tesco, Iceland and Lidl.

And last week frozen foods firm Findus announced it had taken its beef lasagnes made by Comigel off shelves after some were found to have up to 100% horsemeat in them.

The scandal has spread all over the continent as details of the elaborate supply chain in the meat industry emerge. 

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told the House of Commons that it appeared that "criminal activity" had been at the heart of the scandal.

He told MPs there would be immediate testing of products across the supply chain, including tests at schools, hospitals and prisons.

The Food Standards Agency had also reassured him that the products recalled did not present a risk to the public, but consumers who had bought the Findus beef lasagnes should return them to the shop they had bought them from as a "precaution".

He said the "ultimate source" of the problem was not yet known but agencies were investigating a supply network that stretched across Europe.

Mr Paterson said: "At the moment this appears to be an issue of fraud and mis-labelling, but if anything suggests the need for changes to surveillance and enforcement in the UK we will not hesitate to make those changes."

Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh claimed there were 70,000 horses unaccounted for in Northern Ireland, with unwanted animals given false paperwork before being sold for 10 euros (£8) and then resold to dealers for meat for as much as 500 euro (£423).

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Creagh said: "The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have clear evidence of an illegal trade of unfit horses from Ireland to the UK for meat, with horses being re-passported to meet demands for horsemeat in mainland Europe.

"It is very convenient to blame the Poles and the Romanians but so far neither country have found any problems with their beef abattoirs."

Following earlier cases of contamination, supermarkets across Europe accused  Romanian suppliers of being the source of the contaminated meat.

But the country's ambassador to the UK, Dr Ion Jinga, told Sky News that they were not to blame, saying Romanians love horses as much as people in Britain do.

"It is totally unacceptable to manipulate public opinion using false data without prior check," he insisted.

"It is outrageous for British newspapers to say wild horses have been used as meat.

"In reality all horses are micro-chipped and under surveillance, all wild horse are protected.  

"I have a message: we love horses as much as Britons do."

Earlier Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta insisted any fraud committed in the scandal did not happen in his country.

"Romania cannot accept to be the usual suspect," he told reporters.

"I am very angry, to be very honest."

Britain's Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has said as he described the contamination of beef products as a case of fraud against the public.

Two Charged Over Death Of Policewoman

Two men have been charged over the death of a policewoman whose patrol car was hit by a stolen 4x4 in Northern Ireland. Constable Philippa Reynolds, 27, from the Greater Belfast area, died when the unmarked car she was travelling in turned into the pa...

Mehdi’s Morning Memo: When’s The Banker Bashing Going To Start?

The ten things you need to know on Sunday 10 February 2013...


Supposedly, we've been beastly to bankers for the past five years - that is, since they crashed the global economy through a combination of greed, avarice and rank incompetence. But the banker-bashing hasn't stopped the former 'masters of the universe' dusting themselves off with taxpayers' cash and carrying on with business (and bonuses) as usual.

Check out the splash in today's Sunday Times:

"The boss of Royal Bank of Scotland will be handed a £780,000 bonus just weeks after the bailed-out lender was fined £390m for its role in the global interest rate rigging scandal.

"... The bonanza comes at a sensitive time for the Edinburgh-based lender, which was rescued from collapse in 2008. Last week RBS agreed to pay out £390m, including £87.5m to the British financial watchdog, after admitting staff had manipulated Libor, a key benchmark interest rate. In an apparent attempt to boost their bonuses some 21 RBS traders had been involved in the manipulation."

The paper quotes the ever-quotable Lord Oakeshott, Lib Dem peer and mate of Vince Cable, as saying:

“It is wholly unacceptable that Hester should receive a bonus for 2010 when these scandals were still going on. He had been captain of the ship for two years, but the crew was still robbing the passengers.”


From the front of the Observer:

"Thousands more people will pay inheritance tax to fund a watered-down version of the Dilnot plan for universal state funding for elderly and social care, the government is expected to announce on Monday.

"Pensioners and disabled adults will have to pay up to £75,000 of any care bills they incur before the state steps in under the new arrangement. There will also be an increase in the means-test threshold, so that anyone with assets under £123,000 will automatically receive free care.

The Sunday Times reports, on its front page, under the headline "Stealth tax on inheritance':

"The decision comes just eight weeks after George Osborne, the chancellor, promised to increase the amount in two years’ time.

"Now he has decided it will not go up until at least 2019, leaving thousands of families £95,000 worse off than if the tax free allowance had risen."

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, dodged the question about inheritance tax and funding of social care on the Marr show this morning: "Let's wait until tomorrow's announcement..."

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, deputy PM Nick Clegg says: “We will make sure no-one is forced to sell their home to pay for care in their lifetime, and no-one sees their life savings disappear just because they developed the wrong kind of illness.”

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reports: "The bosses of some of the companies that provide home care for the elderly are receiving millions of pounds in pay, share options and dividends despite 'scandalous' failings in care."

Everyone, say it with me: "We're all in this together."


What will the coalition look like in the wake of the Eastleigh by-election? Will it be a re-run of the fallout from the AV referendum? This time, though, it could be the Lib Dems who have the upper hand.

From the Sunday Times:

"The Conservatives have admitted they face a 'big challenge' to win the Eastleigh by-election triggered by Chris Huhne's resignation.

"Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, who visited the Hampshire constituency yesterday as the party launched its campaign, has acknowledged that the Tories will have to 'battle' to wrest the seat from the Liberal Democrats, who held it with a majority of 3,864 in the 2010 general election.

"The Lib Dem candidate is 60-year-old financial adviser Mike Thornton, who sits on the borough council. The announcement of his candidacy last night made no mention of Huhne, claiming the party's campaign would focus on bringing jobs and investment to the area."

Grayling is right to be worried - a new Survation poll in the constituency for the Mail on Sunday has put the Lib Dems three points ahead: Lib Dems, 36%; Tories, 33%; Ukip, 16%; Labour, 13%.


Last Sunday, this Memo noted how the Observer's Toby Helm had gone to war with Michael Gove after being smeared as a Labour stooge on Twitter by the @toryeducation account.

This Sunday, Helm's back for more - from the front page of the Observer:

"Michael Gove faces accusations that he may have misled parliament over claims of bullying and intimidation by key advisers at the Department for Education.

"The Observer can reveal that a senior civil servant in the education secretary's department has received a secret payoff of about £25,000 out of public funds, after a lengthy grievance procedure involving members of Gove's team, including his special adviser, Dominic Cummings, and the department's former head of communications, James Frayne.

"... On 23 January, however, Gove – who under the ministerial and special advisers' codes is responsible for the behaviour of his advisers (known as Spads) – denied knowledge of any allegations of misconduct during an appearance before the education select committee."



More Gove news - from the front page of the Independent on Sunday:

"The full extent of Michael Gove's plans to revolutionise education are revealed today in a secret memo showing he is considering outright privatisation of academies and free schools. All academies and free schools in England, which are the Education Secretary's personal obsession, would be free to become profit-making for the first time, and be entirely decoupled from Whitehall control.

"Leaked documents of the minutes of a meeting of top Department for Education officials on the future of funding the academies programme have alarmed teaching unions and the Liberal Democrats. Nick Clegg last year ruled out any expansion of the private sector in state schools."

So, can Clegg score a hat-trick against Gove, having so far succeeded in stopping the education secretary's plans to create a two-tier exam system and bring in the 'Ebacc'?


Watch this video of a cat getting its face stuck in a yogurt cup.


The PM has been making the case against Scottish independence on the Downing Street website - from the Huffington Post UK:

"The implications of the referendum next Autumn will affect not just Scotland, but England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Conservative leader said.

"He drew on Britain's Olympic glory to evoke an image of a united Britain, saying: 'Those glorious Olympics last summer reminded us just what we were capable of when we pull together: Scottish, English, Welsh, Northern Irish, all in the same boat - sometimes literally.

"'If you told many people watching those Olympics around the world that we were going to erect barriers between our people, they'd probably be baffled. Put simply: Britain works. Britain works well. Why break it?'"


You may have assumed that the multimillionaire Tory backbencher Adam Afriyie, who most people outside of the Westminster village had never heard of a few weeks ago, might want to cool all the Sunday-newspaper talk of leadership bids, plots and coups. You'd be wrong.

According to the Sunday Times, he's been "secretly consulting" with equalities expert, New Labour supporter and Mandelson ally, Trevor Phillips, on how to win the black vote:

"The MP has won the support of the former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who believes he has been wrongly overlooked by the current leadership.

“'I like Adam and he is a friend. I was extremely surprised that he did not get ministerial office,' Phillips said.

"The support of Phillips, a key new Labour figure, is a coup for Afriyie and suggests he is widening his campaign to position himself as a future leadership candidate beyond Westminster."

And so it goes on...

8) AID

From the Observer:

"Justine Greening's decision to end British aid to India was based on placating Tory backbenchers, instead of combating poverty, according to a damning report from the Institute for Public Policy Research thinktank.

"Will Straw, the associate director of the IPPR, said that the coalition's announcement in November that aid to India would be halted in 2015, was 'a tactic for winning votes at home rather than tackling poverty abroad'."

The paper quotes Max Lawson, the head of policy at Oxfam, saying that there was "no development case to be made for stopping aid to India".

"Three hundred thousand women a year die in childbirth," he said. "It's completely inexcusable that the rich in India allow that to happen – but that's just as true in Nigeria or in Angola, and no one says we shouldn't help poor people in those places."

The problem for foreign aid supporters such as myself is that India is one of the world's biggest economies and, as the right-wing press constantly reminds us, even has its own space programme. It's very, very difficult to make the case for giving foreign aid to a country able to afford rocket ships...


More tax avoidance stuff in the papers - this time, concerning a UK multinational and allegations of tax dodging abroad - from the Observer's splash:

"One of Britain's biggest multinationals, whose brands include Silver Spoon sugar, Twinings Tea and Kingsmill bread, is avoiding paying millions of pounds of tax in an African state blighted by malnutrition, a year-long investigation revealed on Sunday.

"The Zambian sugar-producing subsidiary of Associated British Foods, a FTSE100 company, contributed virtually no corporation tax to the state's exchequer between 2007 and 2012, and none at all for two of those years."


From James Forsyth's Mail on Sunday column:

"Alastair Campbell is working in the Downing Street press office. This news caused more than one No10 aide to spill his coffee last week. They couldn't believe that Tony Blair's intensely tribal communications supremo was now spinning with the Coalition. Order was restored when it was established that although the name was correct, it wasn't that Alastair Campbell. His namesake is helping out with ethnic minority media, I'm told."


From the Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 41
Conservatives 32
Lib Dems 11
Ukip 9

That would give Labour a majority of 96.

From the Opinium/Observer fortnightly poll:

Labour 39
Conservatives 29
Ukip 14
Lib Dems 8

That would give Labour a majority of 112.


@jocarr Interesting. Michael Portillo argues Lords would be "out of its constitutional depth" if they reject gay marriage after Commons vote. #bh

‏@ianbirrell India didn't want our aid - but IPPR says we should have forced it on them. The arrogance of aid apostles...

‏@RanaKabbani54 Instead of privatizing government schools, #Gove might like to nationalize private ones. Educational equality not educational apartheid.


Janet Daley, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, says: "The Prime Minister did the impossible on unifying the Conservative Party on Europe, then chucked the gay marriage grenade."

John Rentoul, writing in the Independent on Sunday, asks: "Is Mr Cameron out of touch, cowardly, lazy...?"

James Forsyth, writing in the Mail on Sunday, asks: "Can Nick Clegg rise from the dead in Chris Huhne's old haunt?"

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

‘Scotland Is Better Off In Britain’

David Cameron has defended the United Kingdom as the government prepares to put the "facts" about Scottish independence to the public.

The implications of the referendum next Autumn will affect not just Scotland, but England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Conservative leader said.

He drew on Britain's Olympic glory to evoke an image of a united Britain, saying: "Those glorious Olympics last summer reminded us just what we were capable of when we pull together: Scottish, English, Welsh, Northern Irish, all in the same boat - sometimes literally.

"If you told many people watching those Olympics around the world that we were going to erect barriers between our people, they'd probably be baffled. Put simply: Britain works. Britain works well. Why break it?"

david cameron overseas students

Cameron drew on Olympic glory to suggest breaking up the union would be damaging to Britain

Mr Cameron insisted Scotland was 'better off in Britain' a day before before the UK government publishes the first in a series of analysis papers about Scotland's role in the union.

The analysis comes one week after the Scottish government published a "road map" from the referendum next year to full statehood in early 2016.

Mr Cameron said Britain has built up "world-renowned" institutions such as the NHS and BBC, and "fought for freedom" in two world wars, leaving "unbreakable bonds".

However Nicola Sturgeon, deputy first minister of Scotland, said: "Instead of spelling out a positive case, David Cameron is simply continuing with an entirely negative attack."

Ms Sturgeon added: "By placing himself at the head of the No campaign, David Cameron is simply reminding people that he heads a government that Scotland didn't vote for and that independence is the only way to ensure that Scotland always gets the government it votes for."

scottish independence

The referendum will take place in the autumn of 2014

Cameron said despite Scotland's clear ability to govern itself, Scotland is stronger and richer in a union with Britain.

He said:"I have no time for those who say there is no way Scotland could go it alone. I know first-hand the contribution Scotland and Scots make to Britain's success - so for me there's no question about whether Scotland could be an independent nation.

"The real question is whether it should - whether Scotland is stronger, safer, richer and fairer within our United Kingdom or outside it. And here, I believe, the answer is clear."


The SNP has published a document outlining how the final transition to independence would take place

Scotland has its own government and parliament in Edinburgh as part of the UK, allowing decisions to be taken that affect daily lives.

Devolved powers include health and education, while Scotland has maintained an independent legal system.

"Scotland within the UK has a system of government that offers the best of both worlds. Why swap Scottish MPs, Scottish cabinet ministers and Scots throughout UK institutions, for one Scottish ambassador in London?"

He criticised the Scottish National Party (SNP) for discussing the final transition to independence before all the facts have been aired.

cameron scotland

Cameron criticised the SNP for assuming a Yes vote

In the "road-map" publication last week, it was suggested that negotiations between Scottish ministers and the UK Government, European Union and international organisations could be concluded by March 2016, assuming a Yes vote in autumn 2014.

It also set out plans for a written constitution, to be devised by the first parliament and the public, which could outlaw "weapons of mass destruction" in Scotland.

Mr Cameron said: "I know those arguing for independence are already preparing their separation transition plan, as though they've got this in the bag, but to me that is wrong. It's like fast-forwarding to the closing credits before you've been allowed to see the movie.

"The Scottish people still have many months to think about this decision and they are hungry for facts, evidence and expert opinion to help them make up their minds.


Supporters attend a rally for Scottish Independence in Princess Street Gardens, Edinburgh,

"As one of Scotland's two governments, the UK government has a duty to help inform people with hard facts. So we'll be providing expert-based analysis to explain Scotland's place within the UK and how it might change with separation - and our first paper is published tomorrow.

"We don't shy away from putting facts and evidence before the Scottish people. We want you to scrutinise, challenge and form your own opinion. This must not be a leap in the dark, but a decision made in the light of day.

"This big question is for Scotland to decide. But the answer matters to all of our United Kingdom. Scotland is better off in Britain. We're all better off together and poorer apart."

Sturgeon said: "The Electoral Commission has called on both sides of the independence debate to provide more information to the people of Scotland and to work together to discuss what will happen in the wake of the referendum.

"We have agreed with the Electoral Commission and published information about the transition to independence following a Yes vote.

"The Prime Minister's remarks suggest he is ignoring the Electoral Commission's advice - despite the previous calls of the Westminster government for the Scottish Government to follow their advice.

Tributes to death crash policewoman

Northern Ireland's chief constable has vowed to bring to justice those responsible for a car crash that killed one of his policewomen. The 27-year-old officer died when her patrol car was involved in a collision with a suspected stolen vehicle in Lond...

Asteroid to pass Earth near miss

A graphic illustrating asteroid 2012-DA14 passing within 17,200 miles (27,520 kilometers) of Earth

NASA says a 150-feet asteroid will pass within 17,200 miles (27,520 kilometers) of Earth on February 15 without any chance of collision.

The US space agency announced on Thursday the megarock will find itself in the closest encounter known ever for an object of this size, the Associated Press reported.

The best viewing location for the asteroid, which would be visible through binoculars or telescopes, will be in Indonesia.

Australia, Asia and Eastern Europe will also offer viewing spots for the rock that was discovered in February 2012.

“This asteroid's orbit is so well known that we can say with confidence that even considering its orbital uncertainties, it can pass no closer than 17,100 miles from the Earth's surface. So no Earth impact is possible,” said Donald Yeomans, the head of NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

He said any damaging impact would be avoided as the rock’s path would put it in the “sweet spot”.

“The object that ... took out the dinosaurs was about 10 kilometers,” Yeomans added.

If the asteroid were to strike the planet, the impact would be equivalent to a 2.4-megaton bomb which could flatten a vast area.

“With an estimated size of the order of 50 meters, (2012 DA 14) is comparable in dimensions to the object that destroyed over 2,000 square kilometers of forest in Tunguska, Siberia, on 30th June 1908,” said Mark Bailey, the director of the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland.

Based on NASA estimates, an asteroid like 2012 DA 14 moves close to the Earth every 40 years.


Russia turn the heat on Iceland

Russia's Vladimir Bystrov controls the ball in the friendly against Iceland (RIA Novosti / Alexey Danichev)

Russia's Vladimir Bystrov controls the ball in the friendly against Iceland (RIA Novosti / Alexey Danichev)

Russia’s football team took their first win of 2013, beating Iceland 2-0 in a friendly game in Marbella, Spain.

­The Russian line-up was somewhat blighted as many squad members prepared for the restart of their football season in March.

The Russians were in control in the first half, but could only create their first real scoring chance during the 43rd minute, which was still enough to take the lead.

Iceland sprung an unsuccessful offside trap and unmarked Roman Shirokov beat keeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson, with a low shot after a good pass from Vladimir Bysrov, 1-0.

In the second half, Russia’s coach, Fabio Capello, introduced a group of younger players into the game, who added pace and emotion into the team’s play.

And it was one of the substitutes, Oleg Shatov, who doubled the teams advantage on the 66th minute.

The 22-year-old marked his national debut with a goal as his powerful blast from inside the box nearly tore the net, 2-0.

The Iceland friendly is Russia’s final test ahead of the crucial World Cup 2014 qualifier away to Northern Ireland on March 13.

Capello’s men currently sit will top of Group F, with 12 points and a comfortable 5-point gap from nearest rivals, Portugal.

Ready Meals Withdrawn Amid Meat ‘Alert’

Frozen spaghetti bolognese and lasagne meals have been pulled from the shelves of two supermarket chains as fears over contaminated meat products spread.

Tesco and Aldi revealed they have withdrawn a range of ready meals produced by French food supplier Comigel as "a precautionary measure".

The move follows concern over contamination of products with horsemeat.

Tesco has pulled its frozen Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese, while Aldi withdrew two products called Today's Special Frozen Spaghetti Bolognese and Today's Special Frozen Beef Lasagne.

A Tesco spokesman said it took the step after Findus beef lasagne was removed from sale.

"Following the withdrawal of Findus beef lasagne, which is produced by Comigel, we have decided to withdraw our frozen Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese, which is produced at the same site, as a precautionary measure," the spokesman said.

"There is no evidence that our product has been contaminated and the meat used in the Findus product is not used in our product.

"However, we have decided to withdraw the product pending the results of our own tests."

Findus UK said it withdrew its 320g, 360g and 500g lasagne meals as a precautionary measure after a labelling issue with its supplier was uncovered. The company insisted it was not a food safety issue.

"Deserving consumers' trust is a key priority for us," said a Findus UK spokesman. "As part of that commitment, we have been constantly reviewing our supply chain."

Aldi has withdrawn two frozen products but would not confirm if the dishes may have been contaminated or mislabelled.

"Following an alert from our French supplier, Comigel, Aldi immediately withdrew its Today's Special Frozen Beef Lasagne and Today's Special Frozen Spaghetti Bolognese from stores as a precautionary measure," it said.

"Comigel has flagged concerns that the products do not conform to specification. They have been withdrawn immediately so that Aldi can conduct its own investigations into the factory concerned.

"These investigations are continuing. We will continue to maintain active scrutiny across our supply lines and will always put the quality of our products and safety of our customers first."

The latest development comes a day after Asda withdrew products supplied by a Northern Ireland company that was storing meat found to contain a high proportion of horse DNA.

Newry-based Freeza Meats had been storing the consignment of meat, which was labelled as beef, on behalf of a supplier in the Irish Republic - Co Monaghan-based meat trader McAdam Foods. Two tested samples were found to contain 80% horsemeat.

McAdam Foods has insisted it had no knowledge that any of its meat contained horse DNA. It claimed the contaminated produce originated in Poland.

The meat had not entered the food chain and was not destined for Asda stores.

Last month, Tesco and a number of other supermarkets removed certain brands of beef burgers from its shelves after they were found to contain horsemeat.

Experts from Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) told the Commons Environment Committee they could not be sure if contaminated burgers were being sold for more than a year.

At least 10 million burgers were put into storage to be dumped following the debacle.

Labour And Lib Dem MPs To Join Tories In Voting Against Gay Marriage

David Cameron's gay marriage proposals are expected to divide the Conservative Party at Tuesday evening's Commons vote.

But while most of the attention is focused on the "rebellion" on the Tory benches, plenty of Labour MPs - and a couple of Lib Dems - are also opposed.


Lib Dem MP Gordon Birtwistle

According to the Labour List website, 14 Labour MPs are set to vote against gay marriage, putting them at odds with the party leadership.

The list includes shadow ministers Tony Cunningham, Stephen Pound and Rob Flello, and more Labour MPs are expected to abstain.

The three main parties are each allowing their MPs a free vote, meaning there is no official rebellion against the party leaderships.

Nonetheless, there is discord even in the Liberal Democrat ranks. Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle has made no secret of his opposition to the plans, telling his local newspaper: “I will vote against gay marriage. Civil partnerships are fine. Gay marriage is just not on.”

Southport MP John Pugh is also against the proposals, on the grounds that the law change "weakens the link between marriage and the family."

The Coalition for Equal Marriage, which has been tracking MPs' voting intentions, says a further nine Lib Dem MPs have yet to declare their intentions.

More anti-gay marriage votes will come from MPs from Northern Ireland, notably the Democratic Unionist Party, despite the fact that the rules will not automatically apply there.

Labour And Lib Dem MPs To Join Tories In Voting Against Gay Marriage

David Cameron's gay marriage proposals are expected to divide the Conservative Party at Tuesday evening's Commons vote.

But while most of the attention is focused on the "rebellion" on the Tory benches, plenty of Labour MPs - and a couple of Lib Dems - are also opposed.


Lib Dem MP Gordon Birtwistle

According to the Labour List website, 14 Labour MPs are set to vote against gay marriage, putting them at odds with the party leadership.

The list includes shadow ministers Tony Cunningham, Stephen Pound and Rob Flello, and more Labour MPs are expected to abstain.

The three main parties are each allowing their MPs a free vote, meaning there is no official rebellion against the party leaderships.

Nonetheless, there is discord even in the Liberal Democrat ranks. Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle has made no secret of his opposition to the plans, telling his local newspaper: “I will vote against gay marriage. Civil partnerships are fine. Gay marriage is just not on.”

Southport MP John Pugh is also against the proposals, on the grounds that the law change "weakens the link between marriage and the family."

The Coalition for Equal Marriage, which has been tracking MPs' voting intentions, says a further nine Lib Dem MPs have yet to declare their intentions.

More anti-gay marriage votes will come from MPs from Northern Ireland, notably the Democratic Unionist Party, despite the fact that the rules will not automatically apply there.

Capello to try out reserves in Iceland friendly

Fabio Capello (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Timkiv)

(22.6Mb) embed video

The Russian national team are preparing for a friendly against Iceland in the Spanish city of Marbella on Wednesday. The game will be regarded mainly as a test for new players in the squad.

­This year will be key for coach Fabio Capello, who is determined to guide Russia to their first World Cup since 2002. The Italian has enjoyed a dream start as Russia's head coach. They top their World Cup group with a perfect record of four wins from as many games.
However, it's 2013 which counts, where Russia will be looking to ensure passage to Brazil next year.

The friendly with Iceland will give Capello a good chance to look at some fringe players – something the Italian is looking to do.

“The most important thing from this training camp, which is a bit longer than usual, is that the new players, especially those who are young, get the chance to feel at home within the squad,” says Capello. “But also so they get to understand what I want from them, and also what the other players expect of them.”

Warm weather training camps are nothing new for the Russian national team. They were first introduced under Guus Hiddink, who took his side to Turkey. Capello has chosen Marbella in Spain as his destination.

The 66 year old has one eye on next month's crucial World Cup qualifier with Northern Ireland but the Italian admits the game against Iceland won't help him much while playing against an apparently similar opponent.

“Iceland is a team that like to keep possession and there playing system is completely different. They don't like to play long ball football up to a target man, like Northern Ireland do, so the friendly with Iceland won't really help us in preparation for this game,” he said.

Once again, Andrey Arshavin and Pavel Pogrebnyak have failed to make the cut. Capello explains that the former Russia captain is not getting enough first team football for his club side Arsenal.

Marat Izmailov is also not included, but it seems as though the Italian is prepared to give the Porto midfielder a chance in the future.

“The Russian season hasn't started yet following the winter break, while the Portuguese campaign is in full swing. Therefore Izmailov would have been in a completely different physical condition to the rest of the squad if he joined our training camp,” admits Capello.
“I have already booked a trip to Portugal, and will be watching Izmailov in Porto's Champions League clash with Malaga.”

Capello has yet to taste defeat during his reign as Russia's head coach. Although Wednesday's game with Iceland is only a friendly, the 66 year-old will be determined to keep his side's unbeaten record intact. And that would provide his squad with a good confidence boost ahead of what will be one of their toughest assignments in Group F, when they take on Northern Ireland in Belfast at the end of March.

Suspect device found at church

A suspect device has been discovered at a Catholic church in Co Antrim. The bomb disposal team was sent to the scene at St Mary's Star of the Sea on the Shore Road in Newtownabbey. The Police Service of Northern Ireland was also at the scene. The Shor...

The Post War II New World Order Map: A Proposal to Re-arrange the World...

The Post War II New World Order Map: A Proposal to Re-arrange the World after an Allied Victory

Published in Philadelphia in early 1942, this ‘Outline of (the) Post-War New World Map’, created by Maurice Gomberg, shows a proposal to re-arrange the world after an Allied victory against the Axis forces. Its title refers to a ‘New World Order’, a vague concept, its many definitions often contradicting each other.

At the core of the NWO, however, is always the notion that a small group of powerful individuals, institutions, industries and/or nations must lead the world in the right direction (i.e. towards ‘unification’). This may be against the world’s own will (and therefore done covertly, at least in some versions of the NWO-story), but ultimately it is for its own good.


http://strangemaps. files.wordpress. com/2008/ 06/1942world1600 .jpg

One of the most recent references to the NWO by a major political figure was made by US president George Bush (Sr), who explicitly used the NWO to refer to US objectives in a Post-Cold War world. The term has a pedigree much older than the Cold War, or even both World Wars. Some might even say – and now we’re straying somewhat prematurely into the field of conspiracy theory – that it goes all the way back to Roman times, as is attested by the (modified) quote of the Roman poet Virgil on the revers of the US Great Seal and (significantly or not, since 1935) on the back of the dollar bill: Novus Ordo Seclorum – literally: ‘A New Order for the Ages’.

In a modern context, it was the British imperialist Cecil Rhodes (who gave his name to Rhodesia) who first proposed a federal world government to be imposed by the US and the British Empire. US President Woodrow Wilson was inspired by a similar concept to draw up his plans for a League of Nations in the aftermath of World War I. Most fascist regimes in the 20s, 30s and 40s of the twentieth century also proposed some sort of NWO – in fact, most styled themselves to be a ‘New Order’. H.G. Wells – he of ‘War of the Worlds’ – wrote ‘The Open Conspiracy’ (1928) in which he describes his efforts to get intellectuals to back the idea of a World Social Democracy and ‘The New World Order’ (1940), in which he details how a generation of struggle will be necessary to overcome the opponents of such a global government.

The footer of the above map reads as follows:

•The United States of America (USA): the US, Canada, all Central American and Carribean states, most Atlantic islands (including Greenland and Iceland), most Pacific islands, Taiwan, Hainan, the Philippines and several now Indonesian islands, including Sulawesi. This was to be the dominant power in the world, military and otherwise.

•The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR): the Soviets were to be rewarded with Persia (Iran), Mongolia, Manchuria, Finland, and all of Eastern Europe, which subsequently would form part of the Eastern Bloc (excluding Albania, but including the real-life maverick state of Yugoslavia, socialist but anti-Soviet) . All of theses states were simply to become member-states of the USSR. Austria and most of Germany, although ‘quarantained’ are shown within the Soviet sphere.

•The United States of South America (USSA): including all South American states, with the three Guianas as a single constituent state and the Falkland Islands part of the USSA.

•The Union of African Republics (UAR): All of Africa as a federation of republics.

•The Arabian Federated Republics (AFR): covering Saudi and all other states now occupying the Arabian Peninsula, plus present-day Iraq and Syria.

•The Federated Republics of India (FRI): Present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Birma (Myanmar).

•The United Republics of China (URC): A federation including all parts of present-day China, Korea, the erstwhile French colony of Indochina (now Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), Thailand and Malaya.

•The United States of Scandinavia (USS): Norway, Sweden, Denmark.

•The United States of Europe (USE): the Benelux countries, the German Rhineland, France, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal and Italy.

•And finally the British Commonwealth of Nations (BCN), including Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and most of Indonesia.

Smaller entities include Eire (the whole of Ireland), Greece (including Albania), Turkey (excluding European Turkey), Hebrewland (the Holy Land plus Jordan) and Japan. The three axis states (Germany, Italy and Japan) were to be ‘quarantained’ until they could be readmitted in the family of nations.

Mr Gomberg possibly took his cue for this map from US president Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose speech about Four Freedoms and a Moral Order (from his State of the Union to the 77-th Congress) he quotes, before outlining his own vision (at the bottom of the map):

“As the USA with the cooperation of the Democracies of Latin-America, the British Commonwealth of Nations and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, assumes world leadership for the establishment of a New World Moral Order for permanent peace, justice, security and world reconstruction.”


1. We, the U.S.A., in cooperation with our allies, for reasons of our national safety and in the interests of international morality, are determined to crush and completely destroy the military power of the Axis aggressors, and their satellites regardless of cost, effort and time necessary to accomplish this task.

2. The old world order of colonial oppression, exploitation of dominions, rival imperialism and mercenary balance of power diplomacy; of majesties, dictators, privileged minorities, plutocratic monopolists and similar social parasites; the corrupted order responsible for the present world cataclysm, endangering our national safety and peaceful process, shall never rise again.

3. A New World Moral Order for permanent peace and freedom shall be established at the successful conclusion of the present war.

4. For reasons of history, economic structure, favorable geography and the welfare of mankind, the U.S.A. must, altruistically, assume the leadership of the newly established, democratic world order.

5. To reduce the burden and criminal waste of armaments expenditures everywhere in the world, the U.S.A., with the cooperation of Latin-America, the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the U.S.S.R. shall undertake to guarantee peace to the nations which will be permanently disarmed and demilitarized after the conclusion of the present war.

6. In order to be able, in the fulfillment of our obligations, to effectively prevent the possibility of a recurrence of another world cataclysm, the invincibility of the U.S.A. as a military, naval and air power, shall be the major prerequisite.

7. For realistic considerations of strategy and our invulnerability, it is imperative that the U.S.A. shall obtain relinquishment of controls of their possessions from all foreign Powers in the entire Western Hemisphere, it’s surrounding waters and strategic island outposts as outlined on accompanying map.

8. For considerations of hemispheric defense and in the spirit and tradition of the new Monroe Doctrine of hemispheric solidarity and the “Good Neighbor” policy, the U.S.A. with the consent of the Latin-American Republics, shall obtain control and protectorate rights of the relinquished territories.

9. To strengthen our position in the Caribbean area which is of obvious importance to hemispheric defense, all possible inducements shall be offered to our neighbors of Central America and the West Indies to facilitate their entrance as equal states of the U.S.A. as outlined on map.

10. To fortify the politico-economic unity of the Western Hemisphere, the U.S.A. shall promote and assist the unification of South America into a well organized, democratic, federated “United States of South America.”

11. The liberated British, French and Netherlands Guiana shall be reorganized as one state of the U.S.S.A.

12. All Powers shall relinquish their controls of their colonial, mandate and strategic island possessions everywhere in the world.

13. The British Commonwealth of Nations, the second military and naval Power of importance cooperating in a binding compact with the U.S.A. as a Power for freedom, shall retain and acquire control such territories, peace-security bases and strategic islands outposts essential for the maintenance of world peace and freedom as outlines on the map.

14. The U.S.S.R., the third military Power of importance cooperating with the U.S.A. as a Power for freedom and the maintenance of world peace, shall acquire control of the liberated, disorganized adjacent areas and those of Germany-Austria to be re-educated and eventually incorporated as equal republics of the U.S.S.R., as approximately outlined on map.

15. A world League of Nationalities with arbitration and supervision powers shall be organized.

16. A World Court with punitive powers of absolute boycott, quarantine, blockade and occupation by international police, against lawbreakers of international morality shall be organized.

17. The U.S.A. with the close cooperation of the United States of South America, the British Commonwealth of Nations, the U.S.S.R. and the World League of Nationalities, shall promote and assist in the unification of the relinquished territories and the areas at present unsoundly divided into well organized democratic and absolutely demilitarized republics as approximately on the map.

18. The areas known as Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal, the island of Corsica, and eventually Italy and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily shall be unified as a demilitarized, federated “United States of Europe.”

19. The areas known as Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Spitsbergen islands shall be unified as a demilitarized, federated “United States of Scandinavia.”

20. The continent of Africa shall be reorganized and unified as a demilitarized, federated “Union of African Republics.”

21. The areas of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Hejas, Aden and Oman, shall be unified as a demilitarized union of “Arabian Federated Republics.”

22. The areas known as India, including Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Burma shall be unified as a demilitarized “federated Republics of India.”

23. The areas known as China, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Thailand, Malaya, Indo-China and Korea, shall be unified as a demilitarized, federated “United Republics of China.”

24. The areas known as Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Crete, Dodecanese and adjacent islands in the Aegean sea shall be unified as a demilitarized “Federal Republic of Greece.”

25. The areas known as Eire and Northern Ireland shall be unified as a demilitarized independent republic of “Eire.”

26. The area of the Holy Land of the ancient Hebrews, at present known as Palestine and Trans-Jordan, and the adjacent requisite regions as outlined on map, for considerations of history and the imperative necessity to alleviate a post war refugee problem, shall be unified as a demilitarized republic of “Hebrewland.”

27. The area known as European Turkey, adjacent to the Dardanelles, sea of Marmora and Bosporus, for considerations of realistic peace strategy shall be placed under joint control of the U.S.S.R. and Turkey.

28. The area known as Turkey shall be a demilitarized independent republic of “Turkey.”

29. All problems of exchange, transfer and repatriation of populations shall be administered by the World League of Nationalities.

30. The criminal perpetrators and their partners in guilt of this hideous war shall be brought to justice and unforgettable punishment administered.

31. All subjects of Japan and all persons of Japanese origin of doubtful loyalty shall be expelled from the entire Western Hemisphere, U.S.A. protectorates and strategic island outposts and their property confiscated for post-war reconstruction needs.

32. All subjects of Germany and Italy and all persons of German and Italian origin known as active supporters of Nazi and fascist ideologies shall be treated similarly.

33. German, Italian, Japanese immigration to the Western Hemisphere, its protectorates and island outposts shall be indefinitely stopped.

34. All persons of German origin in East Prussia and the Rhineland shall be transferred to inner Germany and the regions permanently de-Prussianized.

35. All persons of German, Italian and Japanese origin shall be permanently expelled from their now conquered territories and their property confiscated for post-war construction needs.

36. To cleanse the populations of the defeated Axis aggressors of the intoxication of military chauvinism; to effectuate the removal and destruction of their potential military establishments; to recover the accumulated loot and to re-educate them for their eventual membership in the Family of Nations, the areas of Germany-Austria, Italy and Japan shall be hermetically and indefinitely quarantined and administered by appointed Governors subject to supervision by the world League of Nationalities.

37. All resources, industrial and labor capacity of quarantined areas shall be employed for the post war restoration and reconstruction needs.

38. To reduce the numerical power of the aggressor nations, as a potential military advantage, a Population Control Policy shall be elaborated and applied in the quarantined area.

39. In the New World Moral Order which we seek to establish, besides the essential political freedoms, the following fundamental economic changes are imperative:

(a) Nationalization of all natural resources and equitable distribution of same to all nations…everywhere in the world;

(b) Nationalization of international banking, foreign investments, railroads and power plants….everywhere in the world;

(c) Nationalization of all armaments producing establishments by all military powers;

(d) Federal control of foreign commerce and shipping;

(e) The establishment of a world common monetary system;

(f) World wide limitations of interest rates to a maximum of two percent;

40. To retain the victory and leadership of our united democratic effort….the aim of which is not vengeance or exploitation, but freedom and security to all nations for peaceful progress….the unified “Supreme War Command of the United Nations” at the conclusion of the present war, shall be recognized and transformed into a permanent “Supreme Military and Economic Council” collaborating with the World League of Nationalities in post war construction and to enforce world peace.

41. The “Supreme Military and Economic Council” shall appoint the Governors to administer the quarantined areas until their eventual parole.

For this purposeful beginning we must fight until absolute victory.”

http://strangemaps. wordpress. com/2008/ 06/06/286- the-new-world- moral-map/
1941 Map predicted future …
http://forum. prisonplanet. com/index. php?topic= 57864.msg289305# msg289305

Compare the 1942 Map to the US Commands, which reflect America’s deployment of military might and wars of conquest (Editor of Global Research)

Stand Up for Julian Assange

Last month, on December 13th, 2012, I visited Julian Assange, Australian founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, in the Ecuadorian embassy, in Knightsbridge, London.

It’s been seven months now since Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy and was given political asylum. He entered the embassy after the British Courts shamefully refused his appeal against extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning about sexual molestation (no criminal charges have been made against him). Julian Assange has said he is willing to answer questions in the U.K. relating to accusations against him, or alternatively, to go to Sweden, provided that the Swedish government guarantee he will not be extradited to the U.S. where plans are being made to try him for conspiracy to commit espionage. The Swedish Government refuses to give such assurances.

Mr. Assange is right to be concerned about the dangers of extradition to U.S. The American media has reported that the U.S. Justice Department and the Pentagon have been conducting a criminal investigation into “whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange violated criminal laws in the group’s release of government documents, and should face charges under the espionage act.”

Mr. Assange’s only crime is that he embarrassed the U.S. and other powerful governments with WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of U.S. state department cables and video footage of the 2007 incident with an apache helicopter in which the U.S. military appear to have deliberately killed civilians, including two Reuters employees. These revelations demonstrate crimes against humanity by the United States.

For this truth-telling, he has inherited the wrath of the U.S. government, and has been targeted in a most vindictive way – as has American soldier, Pt. Bradley Manning, currently undergoing a military Court hearing for allegedly leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks. Pt. Bradley Manning has been subjected, according to formal U.N. investigation, to “cruel and inhuman treatment” while being held in solitary confinement in a U.S. prison. In effect, the American government has admitted to the torture of Pt. Bradley Manning, one of their own soldiers.

However, even if the Swedish authorities decide not to charge Julian Assange, the U.S. will probably demand that the British government extradite Assange from Britain to the U.S., to face a Grand Jury indictment. (The U.S. Grand Jury has been sitting for 16 months and it is believed to have reached a verdict to indict Julian Assange and has a sealed indictment ready to unseal at the most beneficial time to the US. The U.S. Grand Jury system is a flawed, unjust legal process, consisting of four prosecutors with defense evidence is allowed. There is no judge and a jury pool is drawn from Alexandria, Virginia, which has the highest percentage of military contractor families in the U.S.)

When I met Julian Assange, I was struck by his bright, intelligent and compassionate mind, and glad to see that in spite of all the persecution and abuse of his human rights, he is in good spirits and good health. For seven months now, he has been confined indoors with no possibility of even five minutes outside in the fresh air, which is a basic right for all political prisoners. If he tried to go outside, he would be immediately arrested by the many British police outside the embassy, and extradited to Sweden or the U.S. (The cost to maintain this police force outside the Embassy is some £11,000 per day).

Unlike most political prisoners, he has no idea how long his virtual imprisonment in the embassy will last--6 more months or 6 years. The diplomatic standoff continues. This is indeed cruel, inhumane and mental torture. His only crime was to tell the truth and bring transparency to the illegal acts of the U.S. Government and its allies around the world.

I believe the U.K., Swedish and U.S. governments are all complicit in the mental torture of Julian Assange, and I appeal to the Australian government, human rights defenders, brave media, and people who love truth and freedom around the world to stand up for Julian Assange and his human rights, and the assurance that he get the chance to answer all accusations against him in the U.K. or Sweden without being extradited to U.S., where he could meet the same “cruel and inhuman treatment” as Pt. Bradley Manning has suffered.

The least we can do is raise our voices to protect Julian Assange--and Bradley Manning--who have made such brave attempts, at the cost of their own freedom, to expose war crimes and defend freedom and democracy.

Mairead Maguire

Mairead Corrigan Maguire won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book, The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See:

1000s mark Bloody Sunday anniversary

1000s mark Bloody Sunday anniversary in Derry, N. Ireland

Thousands of marchers in the Northern Irish city of Derry have marked the 41st anniversary of Bloody Sunday when British army soldiers opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in the killing 14 people.

Reports put the number of marchers at up to 3,000 who listened to an address by Bernadette McAliskey, the main speaker at the Bloody Sunday rally in 1972.

The British army formerly maintained that the civil rights protestors were armed, had become violent and had instigated a gunfight.

However, following a public inquiry the Prime Minister finally apologized to the families in June 2010, cleared the protestors’ names and said the shooting by the army was an "unjustified and unjustifiable" attack on unarmed protesters.

Northern Ireland’s top policeman has confirmed that a murder inquiry will finally be launched but such an investigation is said to take around four years.

This comes as families of the victims of the massacre say members of the Parachute Regiment involved in the killings should be arrested and put to trial as soon as possible.


Iraqis Demand Justice After Troops Shoot Down Six Unarmed Sunni Protesters

Sunni Arab tribes in Falluja (presumably branches of Dulaim) on Saturday demanded that the government turn over to them within 7 days the troops who fired on protesters on the outskirts of the western city of Falluja, killing 6 and wounding 19 on Friday. Otherwise, they say, they will declare jihad on government troops. The protesters came from a nearby village and were attempting to join a demonstration in downtown Falluja, but were blocked by an army road block. When the protesters began throwing stones and water bottles, and then advanced on a police care, attempting to set it ablaze, the troops began firing live ammunition, first in the air and then at the protesters. The army says that the protesters tries to set a police care afire.

Residents carry a coffin during teh funeral of a victim killed in clashes with security forces in Fallujah, January 26, 2013 (Reuters/Thaier Al-Sudani) The mistake of the al-Maliki government was to attempt to prevent people freely from coming to Falluja for a peaceful demonstration in the first place. A second error was to use troops who had automatic weapons and live ammunition, instead of riot police with rubber bullets.

The killings of unarmed protesters has worsened al-Maliki’s crisis. Protesters in Falluja say they will camp out in the city square until their demands are met, and similar protests and small tent cities are popping up in Ramadi, Baquba, Samarra and other Sunni Arab urban centers. Many of them are now saying that al-Maliki must step down, and that they will camp out until he does (thus echoing tactics deployed by Cairo protesters at Tahrir Square in 2011).

During the past few weeks, Sunni Arabs have been regularly demonstrating against the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Initially they were demanding the release of Sunni Arab youth who they assert were falsely arrested. They also wanted an end to ‘debaathification’ or the exclusion of members of the Baath Party from public office (Sunnis were disproportionately prominent in that party). Al-Maliki has released hundreds of prisoners, but has not reached out to leaders in the Sunni-dominated provinces in an attempt to bring them back into the Iraqi mainstream. Because there are also Sunni Arab guerrilla groups who engage in massive terrorism, the Shiite government of al-Maliki views the whole Sunni Arab population as dangerous and as perhaps running interference for the terrorists. (I suppose there is an analogy to the view the British took of Catholic neighborhoods in Northern Ireland during the troubles; but the British were better about trying to develop community policing methods).

It may be that al-Maliki’s support for Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad is among the grievances driving the protesters to come out. Many Sunni Arabs in northers and western Iraq are supporting the Syrian rebels.

Many Sunni Arabs feel cheated because the Iraqi Party, which they largely backed, got the most votes in the 2010 parliamentary elections. But it was still a minority in a divided parliament and it was al-Maliki’s Islamic Mission (Da`wa) Party that was able to form the government by creating a coalition with more than 51 percent of the seats.

One of al-Maliki’s coalition partners in fall of 2010, the Sadr II Bloc of Muqtada al-Sadr, has withdrawn from his cabinet and denounced his government as dictatorial, and although it is strongly Shiite, it is supporting the Falluja demonstrators. Muqtada al-Sadr condemned the killing of the demonstrators, but called on them to pursue peaceful protest and to exercise self-restraint in their continued confrontation with the government.

Theoretically, al-Maliki could, in accordance with the constitution, be removed from power by a parliamentary vote of no confidence. If he lost the backing of more Shiite groups and of the Kurds, his government could fall, which is what many Sunni Arabs are now seeking.

In speeches on Saturday, some in Falluja asked who the Iraqi army serves, implying that it has become a tool of Shiite Iran.

Aljazeera English reports:

© 2012 Juan Cole

Everybody will get their chance against Iceland’ — Capello

Head coach of the Russian national football team Fabio Capello (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov)

Head coach of the Russian national football team Fabio Capello (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov)

Testing new players will be Russia’s priority in the upcoming friendly against Iceland, says national team coach Fabio Capello.

­“The main idea of the upcoming training camp and friendly match is for the rookies to get used to the team and feel themselves part of it,” Capello told “Our task is to give everybody a chance to show themselves. We must regain the winning spirit, which was in the team in the autumn.”

There are several new names in the Russian squad for Iceland, including Igor Lebedenko and Oleg Ivanov of Terek Grozny and Lokomotiv Moscow attacker, Maksim Grigoriev.

Capello was also looking at Porto’s Marat Izmailov, who was on the preliminary list, but didn’t make it into the squad.

“The Russian championship is on a winter break and the season in Portugal is in full swing. His physical condition would be different from the rest,”
the Italian explained. “But I have already planned a trip to Porto’s home match against Malaga in the Champions League.”

Another former Russian international, Pavel Pogrebnyak, who scored several important goals for Reading in the English Premier League, may also return to the team soon.  

“I met up with Reading coach [Brian McDermott] at their base and asked him how Pavel is doing and the coach said he’s just gaining his form. I’ll follow his progress,”
the 66-year-old said.  

Team Russia is scheduled to take on Iceland in Marbella, Spain on February 6.

Capello’s men are doing well in World Cup qualifying as they confidently top Group F on 12 points with main rivals from Portugal 5 points behind.

Russia will play their next official game on March 13 away to Northern Ireland.

Two Die As Winter Weather Keeps Its Grip On UK

A woman has been found dead in the snow after collapsing in snow in Kent as the winter weather takes its toll in the UK.

The woman, believed to be in her 20s, was discovered by a man walking his dog in Church Meadow, Deal, Kent, at 7.30am on Sunday morning, police said.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

A police spokesman said: "The woman's death is not being treated as suspicious but it is unexplained.

"A post-mortem examination will be held later this week."

There has been a spate of accidents as a fresh deluge of snow caused major disruption across parts of the UK, with severe delays expected on the roads, railways and at airports.

One person person died following a crash in snowy conditions on the A12 near Kelvedon, Essex, and drivers are being warned  to take extra care on journeys.

Also in Kent, a man was taken to hospital with broken bones in his face when he was racially attacked after confronting a group of youngsters throwing snowballs at him.

And a teenager was left fighting for his life after suffering head injuries in a sledging accident in Middlesbrough.

Freezing temperatures and a blanket of snow will continue their grip on the UK this week, with up to eight inches of snow forecast today in Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland.

Hundreds of schools throughout the country are closed due to the wintry weather.

Heavy snow fall has closed two major roads across the Pennines, the A628 Woodhead Pass and the A66 between Brough and Bowes.

The Highways Agency said both routes would be closed for some hours and advised drivers to find alternative routes across the Pennines.

In South Wales and the south and east of England, the Met Office is warning motorists of treacherous icy conditions.

The rail network is also braced for another day of snow and ice-related delays and cancellations.

East Coast, Eurostar, First Capital Connect, London Overground, Southeastern, Southern, South West Trains and Virgin trains are all facing disruption.

At Heathrow Airport planes are due to be grounded for a fourth day and passengers are advised to check the status of their flights before travelling to the airport.

Delays are predicted at Gatwick and Stansted ,  Birmingham and Edinburgh airports and passengers are advised to check with airlines before setting out. Manchester said a "small number" of flights had been cancelled.

On Sunday passengers were left fuming after 260 flights were cancelled - 20% of the airport's usual business - and on Monday 10% are due to be cancelled because of expected low visibility.

Letter Bomb: Viable Device Sent To NI Officer

Postal workers have intercepted a letter bomb addressed to a senior police officer in Northern Ireland. The suspicious package, meant for Chief Inspector Andy Lemon, was discovered in a sorting office in Strabane, Co Tyrone. Bomb disposal experts exam...

David Cameron Tells Nick Clegg Lib Dems ‘Need To Be More Diverse’

David Cameron has said Nick Clegg needs increase the number of female Lib Dem MPs, as he promised to appoint more women to his cabinet.

In an interview with the parliamentary House magazine published today, the prime minister said he was committed to honouring a pledge to make at least one third of Conservative ministers women.

But he noted that he could not speak on behalf of his Lib Dem colleagues in government. “Obviously I can’t apply my pledge to the Lib Dems and obviously they need to improve their diversity and I’ll be having a word with the deputy prime minister about that," he said.

"I remain committed to what I said. I want to deliver a more diverse party and I want to encourage more women and more ethnic minorities, more people from different parts of the country, from different backgrounds, into the party at all levels," he said.

The Lib Dems currently have five cabinet ministers in the government - all of them are men. Of the junior Lib Dem ministers, six are women, including Lynne Featherstone at international development and Jo Swinson at the business department.

Cameron has frequently been criticised for not appointing enough women to top government jobs. Of only four full cabinet members are women, Justine Greening (transport), Maria Miller (culture), Theresa Villers (Northern Ireland) and Theresa May (Home Office).

The prime minister said the reason many junior ministers lost their jobs in September's reshuffle was so he could bring in new MPs, especially female and ethnic minority Tories, with a view to promoting them in the future.

“You can’t just catapult people into the Cabinet. You need to give people the chance to shine in junior ministerial jobs so that’s what I’ve done, " he said.

"These reshuffles are important because you can’t just fix it in one go. You need to get the talent moving through the ranks."

Cameron also said there was a "never ending drive" to see more MPs from ethnic minorities elected to parliament.

He told House magazine: "The Conservative Party needed to reach out as I’ve put it in the past people were opening a door hand seeing all white faces and didn’t find that very welcoming, we need to go out and attract very talented people from ethnic minority communities to join the Conservatives, stands as a Conservatives, stand for local government, stand for Parliament, so there’s no let up in that, we’ll go on encouraging that."

Barracks murder appeal ‘scandalous’

A man found guilty of murdering two British soldiers in Northern Ireland has had his convictions quashed. Brian Shivers was sentenced to 25 years for the 2009 murders of English sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, outside Massereene arm...

Violence Flares Again In Belfast

Fresh trouble flared in east Belfast just hours after senior police and politicians on all sides called for peace on the streets.

Officers were attacked again on Monday evening in the lower Newtownards Road area after a series of small demonstrations by loyalists in protest against the decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag above City Hall.

belfast vioence

Policing the riots has already cost more than £7 million

A number of roads were blocked for a time. Some motorists held up in long tailbacks complained that police failed to take tougher action to clear masked demonstrators waving flags.

Bus services in the east of the city were also suspended after what Translink described as "two incidents." Water cannons were called in after mobs attacked officers with stones, bottles and missiles. There were no early reports of injuries.

Earlier senior police and politicians united in their demands for an end to the violent protests which have blighted Northern Ireland over the past six weeks. The first minister, Peter Robinson, branded rioters the enemies of democracy and claimed they were being exploited by elements seeking to wreck the peace process.

"You do not respect a Union flag if you are using it as a weapon to charge against someone," Mr Robinson said. "You are not showing respect for the Union flag if you need to wear a mask when carrying it.

"For many the issue of the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Council is now a cynical cover for the real political agenda which is to destroy the political process."

theresa villiers

Northern Ireland minister Theresa Villiers had talks in Belfast on Monday

Civil unrest has erupted in parts of Northern Ireland since Belfast City councillors voted on 3 December to restrict the number of days the Union flag would be flown over City Hall.

To date 101 police officers have been injured, one of whom is still in hospital.

There have been 112 arrests and 85 people, including a number of children, have been charged with public order offences.

The bill for policing the riots has already exceeded £7 million.

Northern Ireland's top police officer Matt Baggott has called for politicians to act quickly to resolve the crisis.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable revealed his commanders on the ground were revising their tactics, but said sweeping protesters off the streets was not a realistic option.

He said: "Even when the PSNI was 12,000 strong it would not have been possible to take such a rigid approach towards protests. Our approach has always been to be measured and responsible.

"We have simply to put public safety first."

Loyalists threw petrol bombs at police and also at homes and a Catholic church in the neighbouring Catholic Short Strand area.

Conall McDevitt, an SDLP member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and one of the Belfast councillors who voted for the flag to come down, said the attack on St Matthews Church and surrounding houses was a shameful act of hate. He also said the continuing attacks on police were "sick".

Mehdi’s Morning Memo: Withdraw From The EU? ‘Mad,’ Says PM

The ten things you need to know on Sunday 13 January 2013...


It feels like the early 1990s, with the papers full of Europe stories this morning. The best one is in the Mail on Sunday, where it seems the prime minister's allies have been briefing against his Europhobic backbenchers. That'll go down well, won't it?

The Mail on Sunday's Simon Walters reveals:

"David Cameron thinks it would be 'mad' for Britain to leave the EU and is secretly backing a move by Tory MPs to warn of the perils of cutting all our ties with Brussels.

"The Prime Minister was also 'pleased' at US President Barack Obama sending a clear signal that the White House is opposed to the UK leaving the European Union."

".. [T]hose close to Mr Cameron say he does not believe withdrawal is 'realistic or desirable'."

Meanwhile, as the Huffington Post reports:

"David Cameron could slash Ukip's support by more than a third if he promises an in-out referendum on EU membership, according to a poll.

"Research by ComRes for the Sunday People found 63% of the public want a vote on whether Britain should remain in the union.

"Some 33% said they would cast their ballot in favour of a full withdrawal - including two thirds of Ukip supporters, 27% of Tories, 25% of Labour voters, and 17% of Liberal Democrats.

"However, more people - 42% said they were against leaving the EU."

The poll also shows that Ukip could push the Tories into third place in 2014's European elections - Cameron's Conservatives would fall to 22%, one point below Ukip. Uh-oh.


It's not just the Spice Girls who are getting back together again to perform their greatest hits. From the Observer:

"Tory grandee Ken Clarke is joining forces with Labour peer Lord Mandelson in a historic cross-party bid to turn back the rising tide of Euroscepticism.

"The two political heavyweights will share a platform to call for an abandonment of plans to disengage from the European project. Clarke, who attends cabinet as a minister without portfolio, is determined to fight back against the clamour for Britain to step back from the European Union or withdraw entirely.

"Along with Liberal Democrat Lord Rennard, Clarke and Mandelson will spearhead a new organisation, the Centre for British Influence through Europe (CBIE), which will support a cross-party 'patriotic fightback for British leadership in Europe'. The organisation will hold its launch event at the end of the month."

Hmm. Will it affect public opinion? Tory Eurosceptics, like the Spectator's James Forsyth, don't seem too scared of interventions from the likes of Clarke, Mandelson and - yesterday - Heseltine:

"Eurosceptics need to get organised and start pointing out that the people claiming that renegotiation will lead to the sky falling in are, by and large, the same people who were pushing for Britain to join the single currency. If this message is rammed home to the public, then it should be a lot easier to persuade them to take these warnings with a pinch of salt."

"The Britain in Europe crowd was wrong on the most fundamental public policy issue of our time. They need to be reminded of this fact every time they enter the Europe debate."



Ed Miliband has had a strong and high-profile start to 2013 - and will be buoyed by the latest polls (see Public Opinion Watch, below).

The Independent on Sunday reports on Miliband's

".. plans to protect tenants from 'rogue landlords'.

"In a keynote speech on the future of his party, Labour's leader revived calls for a national register of landlords - and greater powers for councils to bar the worst."

Miliband was on the Andrew Marr programme this morning, where he said "'One Nation' is about the way I want to govern this country...about responsiblity going all the way to top of society".

On Europe, he said he thought it was "incredibly dangerous what David Cameron is doing..sleepwalking us towards the exit door of the European Union".

On the economy and the deficit, he refused to give any pledges on reversing Tory cuts - to child benefit or anything else - but highlighted the importance of tackling tax avoidance and changing the law to prevent multinations from dodging tax in the UK.

He also resisted calls to support "means-testing" on welfare and said "the tax system is a fairer way" of redistributing from rich to poor and pointed out the "best way" to cut the welfare bill is to cut unemployment.

On the leaders' TV debates, the Labour leader didn't seem too keen on having Ukip's Nigel Farage join the 'big three' but said he was "relishing these TV debates...I hope they happen".

On Ed Balls, he said Balls was "doing a great job" as shadow chancellor - Miliband even reminded viewers of Balls' prescient speech on austerity at Bloomberg's HQ in August 2010. Now there's an endorsement!

"There is no vacancy for shadow chancellor," declared Ed.


David Miliband isn't coming back to Labour's front bench anytime soon, says the Sunday Telegraph's Patrick Hennessy:

"Mr Miliband, who lost his party’s leadership election to his younger brother in 2010, was said last week to be giving 'serious thought' to coming back to the political front line - with the post of shadow chancellor claimed to be in his sights.

"However, it can be revealed that Ed Miliband has no plans to replace the current shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, or to hand his brother the job of masterminding Labour’s preparations for the next general election campaign."

The Sunday Telegraph story says the elder Miliband's supporters were briefing journos that David might return because they're 'spooked' by the meteoric rise of the shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna.


The Sunday Mirror seems to have set out to prove David Cameron right that Ukip is a party of "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists', containing "some pretty odd people". The paper reports:

"On the [party's official online] forum, senior Ukip member Dr Julia Gasper branded gay rights a 'lunatic's charter' and claimed some homosexuals prefer sex with animals. She added: 'As for the links between homosexuality and paedophilia, there is so much evidence that even a full-length book could hardly do justice to the ­subject.'

"The former parliamentary candidate and UKIP branch chairman in Oxford now faces the sack over her comments.

"Tackled about her remarks yesterday, she said: 'I'm not going to talk about them. It's none of your business.'

"Lecturer Dr Gasper is just one of many Ukip members who use the forum to vent their controversial views.

".. Another member complained about the impact of immigration on the NHS, writing: 'I am informed by past media that Black Caribbean and not Black African have a higher instance of schizophrenia.

"'I wonder if this is due to inbreeding on these small islands in slave times or is it due to smoking grass.'"


Watch this video of a puppy trying to eat an orange.


Fascinating piece on top civil servant Sir Jeremy Heywood by James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday today:

"Sir Jeremy is regarded by friend and foe alike as the most formidable operator in Whitehall," he writes, adding: "Aides who want to give Cameron advice without Heywood's knowledge have been reduced to trying to surreptitiously slip a note into the Prime Minister's Red Box."

Forsyth writes:

"Steve Hilton, Cameron's senior adviser, once tried to wrest control of the box from Heywood by demanding that all the box notes had to go through him as well. Yet the sheer weight of material put paid to this effort. Hilton has since gone on sabbatical, partly in frustration at the extent of Heywood's influence."

He concludes:

"Heywood knows that he is playing a long game. In conversation, he sometimes pointedly refers to the 'current Government'.

"It is a reminder that he intends to be at the centre of power far longer than any politician."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reports on how Hilton:

".. has revealed his 'horror' at the powerlessness of Downing Street to control government decisions, admitting the prime minister often finds out about policies from the radio or newspapers — and in many cases opposes them.

"Steve Hilton, who remains one of Cameron’s close confidants, said: 'Very often you’ll wake up in the morning and hear on the radio or the news or see something in the newspapers about something the government is doing. And you think, well, hang on a second — it’s not just that we didn’t know it was happening, but we don’t even agree with it! The government can be doing things ... and we don’t agree with it? How can that be?'

"He described how No 10 is frequently left out of the loop as important policy changes are pushed through by 'papershuffling' mandarins."


It ain't getting any better. The Sun reports:

"A total of 29 cops were hurt in riots over flying the Union flag in Northern Ireland yesterday.

"Police used water cannon and baton rounds after being bombarded with bricks and fireworks as they tried to separate loyalists and republicans.

".. Chief Constable Matt Baggott said cops acted with 'exceptional courage'. Politicians from Belfast, Dublin and London will discuss the protests this week."


From the BBC:

"French President Francois Hollande has ordered security stepped up around public buildings and transport because of military operations in Africa.

"He was responding to the risk of Islamist attack after French forces attacked militants in Mali and Somalia.

"France's anti-terrorism alert system known as "Vigipirate" is being reinforced immediately, with security boosted at public buildings and transport networks, particularly rail and air. Public gatherings will also be affected.

"The alert will remain at red, the second-highest level at which emergency counter-attack measures are put in place."

Is it wrong of me to point out that the chaos and instability in Mali is a direct result of, and spillover from, the west's intervention in Libya, which France pushed hardest for?

Meanwhile, the HuffPost UK reports:

"David Cameron has agreed to help transport foreign troops and equipment to Mali amid efforts to halt an advance by Islamist rebels in a conflict that has already claimed 120 lives."


From the Sunday Telegraph:

"Defence chiefs have drawn up new contingency plans designed to prevent hostile action by Argentina towards the Falkland Islands.

"A series of military options are being actively considered as the war of words over the islands intensifies.

"It is understood that additional troops, another warship and extra RAF Typhoon combat aircraft could be dispatched to the region ahead of the March referendum on the Falkland Islands' future."

The paper adds, however, that

".. the British government believes that Buenos Aries currently lacks both the political will and military capability to recapture the islands."

Phew. That's alright then.


Conspiracy theorists of the world: you have a new and important ally!

From the Mail on Sunday:

"Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is convinced that a lone gunman wasn't solely responsible for the assassination of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, and said his father believed the Warren Commission report was a 'shoddy piece of craftsmanship.'

".. He said that he, too, questioned the report.

"'The evidence at this point I think is very, very convincing that it was not a lone gunman,' he said, but he didn't say what he believed may have happened."

Oliver Stone will be delighted.


From the Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 44
Conservatives 31
Lib Dems 11
Ukip 8

That would give Labour a majority of 124.

From the Observer/Opinium poll:

Labour 41
Conservatives 31
Ukip 12
Lib Dems 7

That would give Labour a majority of 116.


@PeterHain @Ed_Miliband commanding on Marr programme ludicrous to expect detailed Labour tax and spend now: no idea scale of mess we will inherit 2015

@paulwaugh Memories of 'tax bombshell' Saatchi campaign runs deep in Lab psyche. EdM's remarks about 92 prove it. #marr #kinnockyears

@Mike_Fabricant When Hezza attacks David Cameron about Europe, and Norman Tebbit attacks DC about morality, I know we are getting it about right.


Andrew Rawnsley, writing in the Observer, says: "David Cameron should take tips from John Major about Europe."

Janet Daley, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, says: "A system intended to promote social solidarity has had the opposite effect."

John Rentoul, writing in the Independent on Sunday, focuses on Sir Jeremy Heywood: "A civil servant too effective for his own good."

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

Belfast City Hall raises Union Flag

The Union Flag is being raised on Belfast City Hall today to mark the birthday of the Duchess of Cambridge, but it is unclear whether it will it help or hinder efforts to resolve the crisis over the emblem in Northern Ireland. Five weeks have passed s...

Belfast riots continue for sixth night

Belfast flag riots have continued for sixth successive night.

Violent protests in the Northern Ireland capital of Belfast over the Union flag controversy have continued for a sixth straight night.

Loyalists protesters continued their violent demonstrations in east Belfast on Tuesday for the sixth consecutive night over the decision to stop flying the Union flag above Belfast City Hall all year round.

Protesters attacked Northern Ireland police with petrol bombs, fireworks, bottles, bricks and stones during another night of disorder in the capital Belfast.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said "calm has now been restored" to Templemore Avenue, off the Lower Newtownards Road, eastern Belfast.

Police officers fired baton rounds and deployed water cannon on protesters during the fifth night of unrest.

The pro-British loyalists’ riots began after local councilors decided on December 3 that the British flag should be flying over the Belfast City Hall only for 17 designated days rather than all year round, as was formerly the norm.

The decision has led to a wave of persisting violence by pro-British unionists who want no limitation on flying the Union Jack over the building.

More than one hundred arrests have been made, and dozens of police officers have been injured since the unrest began.

The union flag has been flown at Belfast City Hall on January 9 for the first time since a decision not to display it sparked protests. The move marks the Duchess of Cambridge's 31st birthday.

The cost of policing the Belfast protests over the union flag is reported to have reached over £7 million.


Belfast police fire plastic bullets as loyalists clash with republicans (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Loyalist protesters gather at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)

(4.7Mb) embed video

Police used plastic bullets and water cannon to disperse crowds of rioters in Belfast as they attacked officers with bricks and petrol bombs. The city council said no protest would make them overturn recent limitations on displaying the British flag.

­According to varying estimates, between 400 and 1,000 loyalists gathered in front of the city hall on Monday for a protest, marking the fifth consecutive night of demonstrations.

The peaceful gathering turned violent as a group of 250 was leaving the rally and clashed with a group of republicans.

Police tried to keep the two conflicting parties apart by using water cannons and firing plastic bullets. Five plastic bullets were discharged due to the "level of violence" to which police were subjected, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said.

Officers were attacked with stones, petrol bombs fireworks, paint bombs and other missiles, while some protesters were armed with hatchets and hammers. Rioters erected a barricade on a street and set it on fire.

Protesters were also damaging cars and two cases of attempted carjacking were reported.

Four protesters, two men and two women, were detained for public order offences on Monday, bringing the total to some 100 arrested since the beginning of the month-long conflict. This includes a man who was arrested last week on suspicion of attempted murder.

Loyalist protestors confront riot police at Belfast City Hall, Belfast January 7, 2013. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)
Loyalist protestors confront riot police at Belfast City Hall, Belfast January 7, 2013. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)

According to police, children as young as 10 and 11 were taking part in the rioting. Northern Ireland`s commissioner for children and young people, Patricia Lewsley Mooney, expressed her deepest concerns on the situation explaining that criminal convictions given to children could affect them for the rest of their lives.

Northern Ireland's chief police officer Matt Baggott accused pro-British militant groups of inciting violence and instigating the riots.

The so-called flag riots began in December after the city's council limited the number of days the British flag is to be flown over the City Hall of the Northern Irish capital. The vote stipulated that the flag, also called the Union Jack, is to fly on 17 designated days only, rather than year-round.

The decision inflamed loyalists, who took to the streets of Belfast in large numbers to protest against the change. The demonstrations soon turned violent with loyalists and republicans attacking each other and police. 62 police have been injured in the clashes since the protests began.

Burning debris blocks the Newtownards Road in east Belfast January 7,2013. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)
Burning debris blocks the Newtownards Road in east Belfast January 7,2013. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)

Monday also saw the city council meeting for the first time since the controversial vote took place last month. The city officials spent about an hour discussing the situation around the newly-adopted flag regulations.

Jim McVeigh from Sinn Fein, a left wing republican party, said he and his associates would not be intimidated by the threats and will not change their decision adding that “protests are pointless.”

Wednesday, the Duchess of Cambridge's birthday, is going to be the first of the designated flag days, when the British flag will be legitimately flown over the building.

Meanwhile, some say the flag-riots are a vivid indication of growing tensions between Catholic republicans, who seek reunion with Ireland, and Protestant loyalists, who want to remain under British control.

The current rioting is the worst Belfast has seen since the Belfast “Good Friday” Agreement, signed in 1998, ended 30 year conflict between the two sides.

 Debris burns on the street on the lower Newtownards road after Loyalist protesters gathered at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)
Debris burns on the street on the lower Newtownards road after Loyalist protesters gathered at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)

Police dressed in riot gear protect the City Hall as Loyalist protesters gather at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)
Police dressed in riot gear protect the City Hall as Loyalist protesters gather at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)

A loyalist protestor waves a Union Flag at Belfast City Hall, Belfast January 7, 2013. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)
A loyalist protestor waves a Union Flag at Belfast City Hall, Belfast January 7, 2013. (Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)

Burning debris is seen on the lower Newtownards road as police landrovers and a watercanon confront Loyalist protesters gather at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)
Burning debris is seen on the lower Newtownards road as police landrovers and a watercanon confront Loyalist protesters gather at Belfast City Hall during a city council meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 7, 2013. (AFP Photo/Peter Muhly)

Missiles Hurled In More Belfast Disorder

Northern Ireland's police chief has said loyalist violence over the flying of the Union flag in Belfast will be firmly dealt with for as long as necessary after a fourth night of rioting.

Matt Baggott's warning came just hours before fresh disturbances erupted in the east of the city, with police once again coming under attack.

A mob hurled steel barriers, bricks, fireworks and bottles at officers patrolling Castlereagh Street.

"I want to commend the tireless courage of my officers at this very difficult time," said Mr Baggott.

"Fifty two colleagues have now been injured while protecting the community during a series of violent incidents.

"You may be assured there will be sufficient resources in the event of more disorder for however long is necessary."

Mr Baggott said the Police Service of Northern Ireland would do "everything possible" to maintain law and order and deal firmly with the ugly scenes that had been witnessed over recent days.

He added: "As you have seen in the last few days we will continue to apprehend and put people before the courts."

A protest in the area earlier on Sunday had dispersed, before factions broke away and launched an onslaught on police lines.

Disorder was also reported on Mountpottinger Road and Beersbridge Road, where a car was set ablaze.

So far, 70 people have been arrested in connection with the sporadic rioting. Through special sittings of the city's magistrates court, 47 people have already being charged.

On Saturday, frontline officers reported coming under gunfire. A 38-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

More than 1,000 demonstrators had earlier marched on City Hall, but despite tense scenes and some scuffles the rally passed off without major incident.

As the flag-waving crowds broke up, violence again flared on the Newtownards Road and surrounding areas in the traditionally unionist east of the city.

Around 100 loyalists hurled petrol bombs, fireworks, smoke canisters, bricks and other masonry at officers, the PSNI said. Laser pens were also directed at officers' faces.

Police responded with water cannon and fired three plastic bullets. One officer was injured.

After a meeting of church leaders, politicians and community representatives on Sunday, Presbyterian minister Rev Mervyn Gibson said there were accusations that police used batons against people who were not involved in the rioting.

"There's a genuine feeling that there was a change in tactics, that the gloves were off," he said.

"In these instances, not everybody is a rioter."

He said unionist leaders would seek meetings with the Policing Board, the local police commander and the local policing partnership.

Billy Hutchinson - who leads the Progressive Unionist Party, the political wing of the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force - welcomed attempts by church leaders to ease tensions and called for all protests to be peaceful.

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The Alex Salmond Show! Former first minister announces weekly news program with RT —...

Alex Salmond has launched a new TV show with RT as he vows to battle...

Brits lose faith in May’s handling of Brexit – yet their sense of well-being...

Published time: 7 Nov, 2017 17:02 Edited time: 7 Nov, 2017 17:16 The British public...

400,000 more children will grow up in poverty if Tory tax & welfare policies...

Nearly half a million children across the UK will be living in poverty within the...

Tony Blair has just the trick to fix Brexit woes… another referendum — RT...

Published time: 23 Oct, 2017 16:10 Tony Blair just can’t butt out of the Brexit...

Prince Charles snubbed by N. Irish mayor over Bloody Sunday massacre — RT UK

Published time: 20 Oct, 2017 15:19 Prince Charles was snubbed by the Mayor of Derry...

Macron accuses UK of ‘bluffing’ over threats of no-deal Brexit — RT UK

French President Emmanuel Macron has accused UK politicians of “bluffing” over a “no-deal” Brexit option....

Theresa May makes unannounced dash to Brussels to end deadlock — RT UK

Published time: 16 Oct, 2017 09:20 UK Prime Minister Theresa May is making an unscheduled...

Christian printer refuses to make business cards for trans customer… both accused of discrimination...

Published time: 16 Oct, 2017 10:47 A transgender-diversity consultant was left “gobsmacked” after a devout...

Third time lucky? Theresa May’s clout with Trump tested again over Iran

They may have strolled hand in hand around the White House, but the honeymoon is...

Forget Catalonia – Yorkshire wants independence! UK Parliament to debate new devolution

Westminster will debate on Tuesday whether more powers should be devolved to Yorkshire. The majority...

Tony Blair tipped to become mediator between Catalonia & Madrid

Despite Tony Blair’s failure to secure peace in the Middle East and his launching of...

Would arming all police officers make Britain any safer from terrorism?

Although the UK is often revered for being one of the few nations in the...

Britain is powerless to resist Boeing decision as arms giant controls its fleet

As if relations between Britain and the rest of the world needed any more antagonism,...

Not-so-special relationship? Trump puts America 1st, threatening 4,000 British jobs

The UK-US ‘special relationship’ has been rattled – a once treasured partnership shown to be...

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...

George Osborne says he won’t rest till Theresa May is ‘chopped up in his...

Published time: 13 Sep, 2017 16:09 Former Tory Chancellor George Osborne has reportedly said he...

Tories’ £1bn not enough to stop DUP backing Labour on health service pay

Published time: 13 Sep, 2017 16:16 The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has voted with Labour...

'Evidence tampering; lying witness' cast doubt on Craigavon 2 murder conviction – RT investigates

The ‘Craigavon Two’ were wrongfully convicted of murdering a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)...

No way May! Brussels to ‘block’ direct Brexit negotiations with Macron, Merkel

Published time: 30 Aug, 2017 12:01 Edited time: 30 Aug, 2017 14:12 Downing Street’s reported...

Police fail to find ‘severed human head’ reportedly found by kids in Belfast wood

Published time: 30 Aug, 2017 15:28 Edited time: 30 Aug, 2017 16:09 Police searching a...

EU demands that Britain start ‘negotiating seriously’ on Brexit

Published time: 29 Aug, 2017 09:19 The EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier is “concerned”...

Is British democracy broken? Election monitors issue damning verdict on 2017 vote

British democracy needs a dramatic overhaul following this year’s “hold your nose” general election that...

70yrs since colonial rule ended, is there hope yet for the UK-India ‘special relationship’?

As India celebrates the 70th anniversary of its independence from the British Empire, the nature...

Prince George a ‘gay icon’ article branded ‘sick & outrageous’

Published time: 11 Aug, 2017 14:25 Edited time: 11 Aug, 2017 18:01 An article in...

‘You cannot imagine’ events in Britain: Renowned radical cartoonist talks to RT’s Going Underground

Published time: 7 Aug, 2017 11:22 A renowned political cartoonist who depicted Prime Minister Theresa...

British chancellor rejects Irish-proposed UK maritime border post-Brexit

Border negotiations between the British and Irish governments are at an impasse following a report...

‘No Biblical warrant’: Orange Order tells its members to give up using ‘Catholic’ RIP

Published time: 25 Jul, 2017 18:02 Northern Ireland’s Orange Order has instructed its members not...

Eleventh Night: Bonfire built beside petrol station sparks safety fears (PHOTOS)

Published time: 8 Jul, 2017 18:11 An enormous bonfire built to mark Eleventh Night, Northern...

Top EU negotiator warns Britain won’t enjoy ‘friction-free trade’ after Brexit

Published time: 6 Jul, 2017 12:27 The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has...

‘Monumental failure’: Sinn Fein deadlocked with DUP, UK conservatives dealt another crisis

Northern Ireland's two main political parties have failed to reach a new power-sharing agreement, and...

Theresa May wants to remain PM until 2022… but desperately seeking Lib Dem help

Although Tory rebels reportedly want her gone by the summer of 2019, Prime Minister Theresa...

Tories accuse left-wing students of ‘voting twice’ in general election

Published time: 30 Jun, 2017 15:48 Edited time: 30 Jun, 2017 16:02 Senior Tories are...

#NastyParty: Twitter fumes as Tories find £1bn for DUP but deny emergency workers pay...

Published time: 29 Jun, 2017 11:33 The Tories are facing a barrage of social media...

Fecal bacteria found in drinks sold by UK’s top three coffee chains

Traces of fecal bacteria have been found in drinks sold by Britain’s three major coffee...

DUP MPs ‘worth £100mn each’… £20mn more than Cristiano Ronaldo

Published time: 28 Jun, 2017 16:26 Each of the 10 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs...

‘Where’s your magic money tree?’ Theresa May faces backlash over £1bn ‘bung’ to DUP

UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s billion-pound deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop...

Video: ‘Weak UK prime minister’ signs £1bn power deal with DUP

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party has reached a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, to support her minority ... Via Youtube

DUP is milder form of Klu Klux Klan – George Galloway

Published time: 26 Jun, 2017 16:16 Northern Ireland’s hard-right Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is a...

Tories & the DUP: What does the future hold for Britain’s newest government?

Criticism poured in from all sides after the Conservative Party finally reached a deal with...

Theresa May strikes deal with DUP to prop up minority government

Published time: 26 Jun, 2017 10:13 Edited time: 26 Jun, 2017 10:32 Prime Minister Theresa...

London Fire Fuels Movement to Tackle Inequality in Britain

Didn't Prime Minister Theresa May initially make some proposals to reduce inequality? When she first became prime minister less than a year ago, she spoke...

British population shows sharpest growth since 1947 – ONS

Published time: 22 Jun, 2017 15:48 The population of Britain grew by 538,000 in a...

DUP letters: Party lobbied to stop NI couples marrying in Scotland

Published time: 21 Jun, 2017 14:32 The Scottish Government has released letters from the Democratic...