Saturday, July 30, 2005 

These are the men we're meant to be afraid of?

After the fear-mongering which has been going on ever since July the 7th, and on a lesser scale before that date, it's somewhat refreshing to see that those who we are meant to fear are so pathetic themselves.

Some officers could then be heard shouting to the suspects to strip to their underwear, walk out of the flat, turn into the corridor, and then stop. Officers could clearly be heard addressing the suspects as "Muhammad" and "Mr Ahmed".

Towards the end of the siege they could be heard demanding why one of the men would not come out of the building. He shouted back: "I'm scared. How do I know you won't shoot me?"

In a reply which apparently referred to the shooting of an innocent man a week earlier, one officer is said by witnesses to have shouted in reply: "That was a mistake."

Police said that neither man wanted to leave the building, but, a Scotland Yard source said: "In the end there was so much gas in there that they had no choice."

Eventually, both men could be seen being led away to police vehicles, wearing white paper overalls and gloves, their faces hidden behind boards held aloft by detectives.

We've been told on numerous occasions that Islamic fundamentalists love death as much as we love life. We've been told that these terrorists are cold-blooded, that they care nothing about the innocent blood they spill. We've been told of the ever-changing number of virgins they'll receive when they reach heaven after their martyrdom here on Earth. Instead, we have pictures of two incredibly frightened men stripped naked on a balcony, spitting and cowering. One was too afraid to come out because he thought he would be shot like Jean Charles de Menezes. Inevitably, the fact all four (or five, they now seem to think there was a fifth bomber) have been arrested alive and well raises questions about their level of loyalty or their plans to be suicide bombers at all. You would have expected dedicated suicide attackers to kill themselves if their plans failed. At least one of the bombers left his device on the bus, so he obviously was not intending to be a suicide attacker. Were the rest transporting their bombs elsewhere or going to leave them on the underground before making good their escape? Did they only flee in panic when the bombs detonated prematurely and failed? All these questions will help identify whether these men really were Islamic terrorists or simply some kind of copycats or amateurs.

Along with this we should remember that the government and opposition parties are still talks over new terrorism laws. "Sir" Ian Blair tried to make the idea of terrorist suspects being detained and questioned without charge for up to 3 months sound better by saying it would have to be renewed by a judge every 14 days. There's not many judges who are going to disagree with keeping someone in custody if police say they are damage to themselves or to the public, whether it's true or not. A good comment piece on some of the draconian measures which the police want to be brought in is here.

Finally, if you're here in the UK, desperate times call for desperate measures. It really probably is time to join Liberty. Membership is only £8 if you're unwaged, which is a small price to pay to try protect our greater freedoms.

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Friday, July 29, 2005 

Brian Haw wins battle to continue vigil.

Thank god for the courts:

A man who has held a four-year anti-war protest outside Parliament, has won a legal battle to continue his vigil.

From 1 August all protests in a half-mile zone in Westminster, London, must have prior permission from police.

But the High Court has ruled Brian Haw, 56, from Worcestershire, who claimed he was exempt as his protest pre-dated the new laws, can continue his protest.

But on Friday judges ruled by a 2-1 majority that secondary legislation could not be used to catch Mr Haw, who sleeps in the square in front of a large display of anti-war banners, placards and flags.

They also granted a declaration that Mr Haw is not required to seek authorisation to continue his protest.

A victory for peaceful protest. Maybe this'll show No Trousers Charlie how reactionary his new legislation on demonstrations around parliament is, although somehow I doubt it.

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Robert Kilroy-Silk resigns as leader of Veritarse.

Chatshow host turned MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk tonight quit as leader of the fringe party Veritas, which he set up less than six months ago.

He had earlier joined the UK Independence party and was elected MEP for the East Midlands in 2004, but left after a failed leadership bid.

The former BBC presenter, who entered public life as a Labour MP in the 1970s, now faces calls to quit his European parliament post. Tonight the MEP, who was facing a leadership challenge from disillusioned Veritas members, said he was standing down immediately having "tried and failed" to change the British political system.

In a statement, Mr Kilroy-Silk said: "It was clear from the general election result - and more recently that of the Cheadle byelection - that the electors are content with the old parties and that it would be virtually impossible for a new party to make a significant impact given the nature of our electoral system.

No Mr Silk, we're not content with the "old parties". However, we're not going to vote for a racist who covers his policies with a veneer of legitimacy. It's nice to see he took the easy option of blaming the electorate for being too stupid to see that he is obviously the rightful leader of this septic isle.

In case you forgot, this is how he rather sweepingly generalised Arabs:

"Apart from oil - which was discovered, is produced and is paid for by the west - what do they contribute? Can you think of anything? Anything really useful? Anything really valuable? Something we really need, could not do without? No, nor can I.

"What do they think we feel about them? That we adore them for the way they murdered more than 3,000 civilians on September 11 and then danced in the hot, dusty streets to celebrate the murders? That we admire them for being suicide bombers, limb amputators, women repressors?"

Quite the guy, I'm sure you'll agree. Still, at least he obviously sees himself for the failure he is. Shame he didn't realise that a long time ago.

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Breaking: All four suspects of July 27th bombings arrested.

Perhaps we can now finally get back to investigating who carried out the bombings of the 7th of July.

There were hopes tonight that all four of the chief suspects in the failed suicide bombings of July 21 were in custody after arrests today.

Two of the three remaining main suspects were detained in west London by armed police this afternoon, a security source told Guardian Unlimited.

Italy's interior minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, said later that a London bomb suspect had also been arrested in Rome.

If the reports from Italy are confirmed, all four of Scotland Yard's main suspects from last week's bungled attacks have been arrested, though police have said there may be a fifth bomber, and the size and scope of the cell involved remains unclear.

Today's arrests come after Wednesday's arrest in Birmingham of Yasin Hassan Omar, who is suspected of the attempted bombing at Warren Street. He was the first of the main suspects to be detained.

A security source told Guardian Unlimited that the suspects held in west London this afternoon were Muktar Said-Ibrahim, who police believe attempted to blow up a No 26 bus in Shoreditch, and the unnamed man who is wanted for the attack on the Oval tube station.

The Oval bomb suspect was arrested at Dalgarno Gardens, a block of flats in Ladbroke Grove, after a dramatic siege, the source said. Ibrahim was arrested less than a mile away at a residential property in Tavistock Road.

Mr Pisanu was quoted by the Italian news agency Ansa as sending his congratulations to police in the city, who named the Rome detainee as Osman Hussain from Somalia. He is suspected of attempted to bomb Shepherd's Bush tube station.

During today's operations a third man was arrested at one of the raided addresses in west London where dozens of armed officers, some wearing gas marks and carrying machine guns, were deployed in operations that began mid-morning. Sources said at least one of the properties had been under surveillance overnight.

Some analysts have stated that the now fabled CCTV photo of the 4 supposed July 7th bombers is a fake. While I have no way to verify this, the photo itself always did seem suspicious. A good analysis of it can be found at To show that the above photo hasn't itself been doctored, here's the original on the Met website. I have no wish to entirely delve into the conspiracy theories that are floating around about July the 7th, and how the events of the 21st may well have been a distraction away from the investigation into about the actual bombings which took place on that day. That said, the above does raise questions about the supposed bombers that have been named. The BBC has reported that the Hasib Hussain who travelled to Pakistan was a 16 year old of the same name, not the alleged bomber. There have been similar accusations about how there appear to be two Mohamed Atta's, who were in the US before September 2001.

Maybe now we'll also seem a climbdown in the ramping up of the fear level, especially by "Sir" Ian Blair, who has been repeatedly telling of the threat of further attacks. The less police with guns on the streets, the less chance of more deaths such as those as Jean Charles. Despite this, there's been a further no doubt unnecessary arrest of two women at Liverpool Street station. Expect them to be released shortly, with no apology issued as is usual.

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IPCC denounces Home Office smear of Jean Charles de Menezes.

This is reminiscent of the smear campaign which was directed at David Kelly after he was identified as the source of the Andrew Gilligan report on the dodgy dossier.

The Home Office was strongly criticised today by the man heading the inquiry into the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

Nick Hardwick, chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), said the department should stop issuing "partial information" after government officials released details about the immigration status of the 27-year-old Brazilian electrician, who was mistaken by police for a suicide bomber.

He added that people should "shut up" until his independent investigation had established the facts.

Mr Hardwick's comments came after the Home Office yesterday confirmed Mr De Menezes' visa had expired and implied he had a forged stamp in his passport. Officials said a stamp appearing to give Mr De Menezes "indefinite leave to remain" in Britain had not been in use by immigration officials on the date indicated in his passport. His student visa ran out in June 2003, the Home Office confirmed.

"It's entirely irrelevant information," Mr Hardwick said today. "I'm rather surprised the Home Office should issue it. We won't be releasing partial information until we've independently established the facts.

Even if the Home Office information is true, it's irrelevant to the facts that have emerged and the lies of the police so far. This young man was murdered by the police, for the simple reason they thought they could get away with it, and to further their clandestine campaign to be able to shoot to kill with no investigations into deaths which occur. I doubt this will be the conclusion the IPCC will reach, but they will undoubtedly find that this was an execution carried out by incompetents whose actions must be held to account.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005 

IRA says armed campaign over.

Beginning of the end, or end of the beginning?:

The IRA has formally ordered an end to its armed campaign and says it will pursue exclusively peaceful means.

In a long-awaited statement, the republican organisation said it would follow a democratic path ending more than 30 years of violence.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the move was a "courageous and confident initiative" and that the moment must be seized.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was a "step of unparalleled magnitude".

"It is what we have striven for and worked for throughout the eight years since the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

The IRA made its decision after an internal debate prompted by Mr Adams' call in April to pursue its goals exclusively through politics.

Mr Adams said Thursday's statement was a "defining point in the search for a lasting peace with justice" and also presented challenges for others.

"It means that unionists who are for the Good Friday Agreement must end their ambivalence," he said.

"And it is a direct challenge to the DUP to decide if they want to put the past behind them, and make peace with the rest of the people of this island."

A genuinely huge step forward. What must not be allowed to happen now is two things. Firstly, the IRA must stop its intimidation and criminal activities immediately, as well as disarming. The murder of Robert McCartney has proven to be a turning point, and anything like it must never be allowed to happen again. The McCartney sisters deserve quite a lot of credit in getting the IRA to agree to its own armed disbanding.

Secondly, pressure must now also be firmly applied to the Unionists. Attempts at power-sharing restarting were dashed last December only because of the attempts of the "Democratic" Unionist Party to humiliate the IRA through showing their disarmament. As long as the weapons are confirmed gone by independents, we don't need to see photographs of them being destroyed. That should never have been an issue. What is also an issue is that Unionist splinter groups must now also be heavily cracked down on. The Guardian has reported that there appears to be a bloody feud between the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Loyalist Volunteer Force currently taking place (Echoes of Life of Brian, anyone?). Such armed loyalist groups should also disband forthwith. Ian Paisley must not be allowed to stall any further attempts at returning to devolution.

It's now not only up to the IRA and Sinn Fein, but also Irish and British politicans to make sure that disarmament fully takes place, and that all promises are kept to both parties. This statement must mark the beginning of the end, and not the end of the beginning.

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Met admits to lying about the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes.

Murkier and murkier still:

Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian shot dead in the head, was not wearing a heavy jacket that might have concealed a bomb, and did not jump the ticket barrier when challenged by armed plainclothes police, his cousin said yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with the Metropolitan police, Vivien Figueiredo, 22, said that the first reports of how her 27-year-old cousin had come to be killed in mistake for a suicide bomber on Friday at Stockwell tube station were wrong.

"He used a travel card," she said. "He had no bulky jacket, he was wearing a jeans jacket. But even if he was wearing a bulky jacket that wouldn't be an excuse to kill him."

How on earth are the Met even going to attempt justifying shooting this man as a potential terrorist? It turns out that he had no connection to the suspected bombers, that they let him board a bus, that he used a travel card to get on the tube instead of jumping the barriers and that he was not wearing an suspiciously heavy jacket for the weather at the time.

To make an assumption, the police must have started chasing him when he legally entered the tube station. Whether they shouted a warning at him or identified themselves must be considered to be unknown at this time, especially in light of yesterday's story that they need not shout any warning to a suspect. Did they simply shout 'stop' at him and then chase him? What would you do if you were at a station and being chased by men with guns? It seems as if Jean tried to escape by jumping on a train just about to leave.

The murder of Jean Charles was meant to prepare Britain for what they are going to or want to do. The police want the power to shoot to kill, with no investigations into their actions, as demanded by the Murdoch rag the Sun. They chose a target that they thought they could get away with murdering. He looked like a Muslim. He came out of flats that were under surveillance. In short, they could fill the rest of the gaps in the story in themselves. Unfortunately for the Met, they made numerous errors. He wasn't a Muslim. He was Brazilian, and one who had been living here for 6 years. He had relatives that would contradict their lies. He ran away when they challenged him at the station. They shot him dead in front of commuters who could challenge their version of events. They didn't count on some of the media questioning their barbaric methods. They didn't count on Brazil calling for a full independent inquiry.

Despite this, the Met has lied about the murder from the very beginning. They had stooges at the station who said that the man had a bomb belt under his heavy jacket. Then Ian Blair said that the man was 'directly linked' to their investigation of the July 21st attempted bombings. Once their story began to fall apart, they began to spin further. They leaked to the BBC that his student visa had ran out, since contradicted by his relatives and even Jack Straw. (Update: The BBC is reporting that the Home Office is now saying his visa had ran out, and apparently a fraudlent stamp was on his passport giving him indefinte leave. More spinning or truth? Who knows? Does it make a difference?) Now their facts of the shooting are being exposed as lies.

His murder must not be forgotten. Unless we challenge the death squad mentality which the police, government and some of the media want, more innocent people will die at the hands of the police, in the name of "protecting" the public. We cannot, and must not, let this happen.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005 

Government continues disgraceful censorship over books.


The Foreign Office is threatening action against Craig Murray, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan, if he publishes an unauthorised book attacking the use of intelligence obtained under torture.

Mr Murray was deprived of his ambassadorship last year after the leak of a report in which he criticised the use of torture material by MI6. He said yesterday: "I'm not surprised the government want to ban my book. It contains a lot of information they don't want to have known. None of it concerns national security, but illegal and underhand behaviour by the British government".

I've already posted on "Sir" Jeremy Greenstock's book being censored (censorship and greed) but that was a completely different case. This attempt to censor Craig Murray is a thoroughly vindictive attack on a critic of the government's foreign policy, support for intelligence obtained under torture, and the propping up of some of the worst governmental regimes on the face of the planet.

Craig Murray was the British ambassador to Uzbekistan, until he dared to speak out about its appalling human rights record at a conference in Tashkent. His speech was picked up on by Kofi Annan. It was not until August of 2003 that he was first challenged on trumped up charges, mainly of having sex with girls in his office and hiring "dolly birds" to work in the visa office. He was exonerated of all these charges in January of 2004. He subsequently had a nervous breakdown and suffered from depression, but managed to keep his job until October 2004 when one of his complaints about the use of torture was leaked to the Financial Times. (A good breakdown of the charges and details of some of the methods in the torture by the Uzbeks used is here).

Since then, he stood against the foreign secretary Jack Straw in his Blackburn constituency, winning 2,082 votes. He's been a thorn in the side of the government ever since his appointment. Finally, they've found a way of gaining revenge on a man who has done nothing other than be honest, attack hypocrisy and defend innocent civilians. The dark clouds over the country have just got even blacker.

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State sanctioned death squads can shoot without warning.

Absolutely unbelieveable:

Police have been given permission to shoot dead suspected suicide bombers without any verbal warning, the Guardian has learned.

A police source has told the Guardian that there is no need for officers to verbally warn a suspect before opening fire.

The source said: "If the firearms team are reasonably certain the person is a suicide bomber then there is no need to issue any warning.

Seeing as we can now be shot without any warning, here's some tips to aid our survival: 1.) Don't wear unseasonable clothing, i.e. a bikini in December, sandals in February, a buttplug in August, or a fur suit at any time. 2.) If your skin is any colour other than pale white, invest in either a quantity of chalk dust or tippex: use liberally all over any visible parts of your body. 3.) Go naked. You might get arrested, but hey, it's better than getting shot 7 times in the head, right? 4.) Leave this septic isle and go somewhere safer, such as Israel or Iraq.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005 

Suicide and China.

Suicide is the main cause of death among young adults in China, the state media said yesterday in a report that highlights the growing pressures to succeed in love, work and education in one of the world's fastest changing societies.

Increasing stress, loneliness and a lack of medical support for depression are thought to have contributed to an annual suicide toll that is estimated at 250,000 people a year.

According to the China Daily, an additional 2.5 million to 3.5 million make unsuccessful attempts to kill themselves each year.

The article doesn't make any mention of the human rights issues and ultra-capitalist ethos which defines China, and what effect they may have on the mindset of the young. I often view China as a mirror of the United States, with one major difference. While America has the illusion of freedom, China doesn't even have that. Communist only in name, China is a country which has fast become one of the biggest threats to the world as we know it. Get rich quick, but don't ask for any favours like democracy in return. The sad fact is though, that the young don't even seem interested in overthrowing the tyranny from which they are under. Since the massacre at Tiananmen Square, the only thing occupying most seems to be to become the most consumerist society in the world. Never mind that most of the people in the country are living in crushing poverty, that the regime still runs forced labour "re-education" camps, and executes the most people in the world, what really matters is yourself.

While we continue to disassociate the rise of consumer culture and kleptocratic capitalism with the rise of mental illness and depression, and fail to see the signs that more money and choice does not bring happiness, we'll not begin to even understand why more and more are becoming ill and killing themselves. The more we lie and delude ourselves, the more we will die.

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Brian Haw - hero.

Brian Haw is an unemployed man who sleeps rough every night. You'd probably think he was a drug addict, or an alcoholic if you didn't know anything else about him. The difference is that every night he sleeps in parliament square in the heart of London, where he's been holding a peace vigil since 2001. The Labour party and other MPs view Brian as such an annoyance (he tends to shout through a megaphone when they're in session) and "security risk" that they almost certainly made a special part of the new Serious and Organised Crime Bill especially to deal with him. Unfortunately for them, they drafted this new section of the act rather carelessly, meaning that it does not apply to demonstrations already in effect in Whitehall and the surrounding area. Brian today successfully won the right to challenge the law, and its attack on peaceful protest in the heart of our democracy. Brian, I salute you. He's already survived being arrested and having his display dismantled. He won a case against Westminster council that he was an obstruction. Here's to hoping that he wins this case as well.
An article in the day in the life of Brian (from 2002) is here.

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Monday, July 25, 2005 

8th time lucky.

Just when you thought that the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes couldn't get any worse, it does.

Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian electrician mistakenly gunned down by anti-terrorist police at Stockwell tube station, was shot eight times, an inquest was told today.

Mr De Menezes, 27, died on Friday, the day after the failed suicide bombings on London's transport network. Details of how he died were confirmed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

An inquest, which was opened into his death earlier today at Southwark coroners court, heard that he was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder.

Eyewitnesses to the shooting had reported he had been shot five times after failing to stop when challenged by the plain-clothes officers. His family are considering legal action.

The pen is meant to be mightier than the sword. Maybe the pen on the lawsuit will be.

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GM crops create superweed, unfortunately not the smokable kind.

Modified rape crosses with wild plant to create tough pesticide-resistant strain:

Modified genes from crops in a GM crop trial have transferred into local wild plants, creating a form of herbicide-resistant "superweed", the Guardian can reveal.

The cross-fertilisation between GM oilseed rape, a brassica, and a distantly related plant, charlock, had been discounted as virtually impossible by scientists with the environment department. It was found during a follow up to the government's three-year trials of GM crops which ended two years ago.

The new form of charlock was growing among many others in a field which had been used to grow GM rape. When scientists treated it with lethal herbicide it showed no ill-effects.

Unlike the results of the original trials, which were the subject of large-scale press briefings from scientists, the discovery of hybrid plants that could cause a serious problem to farmers has not been announced.

The scientists also collected seeds from other weeds in the oilseed rape field and grew them in the laboratory. They found that two - both wild turnips - were herbicide resistant.

The five scientists from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the government research station at Winfrith in Dorset, placed their findings on the department's website last week.

A reviewer of the paper has appended to its front page: "The frequency of such an event [the cross-fertilisation of charlock] in the field is likely to be very low, as highlighted by the fact it has never been detected in numerous previous assessments."

However, he adds: "This unusual occurrence merits further study in order to adequately assess any potential risk of gene transfer."

Brian Johnson, an ecological geneticist and member of the government's specialist scientific group which assessed the farm trials, has no doubt of the significance. "You only need one event in several million. As soon as it has taken place the new plant has a huge selective advantage. That plant will multiply rapidly."

I'm not going to pretend that I completely understand the science behind GM crops and foods. In fact, I don't even moderately understand it. What I do understand is that these crops and foods pose a multiude of risks, as these trials and experiments in Canada and America have shown. Before we even consider planting them commercially here, we need to do a lot more experimentation. The advantages have not yet overcome the disadvantages.

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