The Nether-World

August 31, 2006

Public misled over Afghanistan

Filed under: Afghanistan, Bliar — netherworld @ 6:07 am

It seems that once again the British public have been misled over one of Blair’s wars. This time it’s Afghanistan where there have been fourteen casualties since the mission started. The public were not properly informed by Ministers of the danger of the mission and the defence secretary at the time, John Reid, omitted a crucial caveat when talking up the mission according to a senior defence official. The public was told that this was not a combat mission and that there were sufficient troops to accomplish it. Obviously this turned out to be untrue in the light of the recent casualties and fierce fighting with a renewed Taliban. Liam Fox, the Conservative shadow defence secretary said:

“The clear intent of the government was to give the impression that the mission in Afghanistan might be conducted with low levels of casualties, and this was clearly at odds with advice ministers were getting.”
Source

This is despite warnings from the military and diplomats that the mission would be frought with dangers. The Government has feigned surprise at the level of resistance encountered in Helmand Province.

New Labour’s dishonesty over the Iraq war is well documented, and it is now very apparent that the dishonesty is continuing with the Afghan conflict. Leaving aside the immorality of Blair’s wars, it is plain that he and his Party are just not competent enough to conduct them.

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August 28, 2006

Former US President Carter tells it like it is

Filed under: Bliar, Bush, UK Politics — netherworld @ 10:11 pm

I’ve been away from blogging for the last few days so I’m just catching up with what’s been happening in the news. The thing that first caught my eye was this story in The Telegraph about former President Jimmy Carter being “surprised and extremely disappointed by Tony Blair’s behaviour“. If this came from just about anyone else it would be dismissed as understatement but coming from an ex US President, it is quite interesting as ex Presidents are usually expected to keep quiet on such issues and not criticise the current incumbent. He doesn’t stop there:

“I think that more than any other person in the world the Prime Minister could have had a moderating influence on Washington – and he has not. I really thought that Tony Blair, who I know personally to some degree, would be a constraint on President Bush’s policies towards Iraq.” “In many countries where I meet with leaders and private citizens there is an equating of American policy with Great Britain – with Great Britain obviously playing the lesser role. “We now have a situation where America is so unpopular overseas that even in countries like Egypt and Jordan our approval ratings are less than five per cent. It’s a shameful and pitiful state of affairs and I hold your British Prime Minister to be substantially responsible for being so compliant and subservient.”

Carter then goes on to criticise Bush and the Iraq war, something he says he would never have ordered.

“No,” he said, “I would never have ordered it. However, I wouldn’t have excluded going into Afghanistan, because I think we had to strike at al-Qaeda and its leadership. But then, to a major degree, we abandoned the anti-terrorist effort and went almost unilaterally with Great Britain into Iraq.” “My own personal opinion is that the Iraqi people are not better off as a result of the invasion and people in America and Great Britain are not safer.”

Whether this will have any effect on public opinion in the USA is unknown (by me at least), but here in Britain it will be embarrassing for Tony Blair who is portrayed as Bush’s poodle more and more often for obvious reasons. Blair is facing ever increasing pressure to stand down as Prime Minister or to at least announce his departure date. Even some of his staunchest supporters are questioning the wisdom of his staying on at Number Ten. Lord Falconer, on the other hand is still remaining detached from reality loyal, insisting that Blair has more to do before standing down.

“In terms of addressing the attacks on this country by terrorists, in terms of being a world statesman, I don’t think anybody could do the job better than Tony Blair. Now, in my view, is not the time to go.” Source

We’ll see if that position can be maintained after the Labour Party Conference in September and when Knacker of the Yard knocks on the door of Number Ten Downing Street.

Hat-Tip Polizeros 

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August 24, 2006

Blair not welcome in the Middle East

Filed under: Bliar, israel, Lebanon, Palestine — netherworld @ 1:20 am

Recently I have been questioning the wisdom of Tony Blair’s decision to go to the Middle East when he returns from his holiday. Originally I thought that Tony Blair’s international standing on the World stage is now so bad that only Israel would give him a warm welcome. After all the Palestinian’s and Lebaneseare hardly going to fall over themselves with gratitude for Blair’s failure to condemn the atrocities purpotrated against them and his efforts to prevent a ceasefire in Lebanon.

But it was even worse than that. Not even the Israelis want to talk to him. Blair’s sleazy Middle East envoy Lord Levy has been in Israel and Palestine trying to pave the way for Blair’s visit and has been soundly rebuffed by Ehud Olmert.

The Israeli rebuff was reportedly delivered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at private talks last week with Blair’s Middle East envoy, Lord Levy. In a series of meetings to test the diplomatic waters, Levy also met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Downing Street and Levy refused any comment yesterday on his meetings. But a diplomatic source familiar with the talks told The Observer that Olmert’s message was: ‘Not now. After this difficult war, Israelis are simply not ready for new talks with the Palestinians.’
Source

Blair, however, still plans to go ahead with his trip. After all, unlike any other world leader, he has to ask for the permission of the President of the United States before he can play at being a statesman. He was refused permission at the G8 summit but this time his wish has been granted so he’s not going to let a small thing like no one wanting to see him get in the way of his last shot at glory. But he’s got his work cut out. The ceasefire is holding for the moment…just. But there is still little sign of the international force arriving any time soon, and Israel is doing its level best to break the truce, while tensions with Iran are increasing. And all this time the Palestinians have been continuously under attack with much of the elected government kidnapped by the Israelis. He is unlikely to make much progress in Lebanon either. The Lebanese Prime Minister has already dismissed Condoleezza Rice once in this conflict so telling Blair to get lost shouldn’t be a problem for him, although he is expected to be diplomatic and welcome him. Hezbollah, on the other hand has not wasted any time in telling Blair to stay away and why.

TONY BLAIR’S peace mission to the Middle East appeared in jeopardy last night after Hezbollah declared that the Prime Minister would not be welcome in Lebanon because of his support for Israel during the war.

A senior member of Hezbollah’s politburo has told The Times that Mr Blair should stay away from the country because he was “up to his ears in the blood of Lebanese women and children”.
Source

So it’s very hard to see just what his Toniness can expect to achieve on this mission. I’ll reiterate that in my opinion the only reason Blair is insisting on making this ill-advised trip is because his popularity at home is only marginally better than his popularity with Hezbollah. He needs to do something to convince his mutinous party that he really is trying to do something to bring about peace in the Middle East and is capable of some independence from the “crap” Mr Bush. As always with Blair however, it’s appearance rather than substance that matters, especially just before the Labour Party conference where there will be a sizable crowd demanding to know when he is going to stand down. Blair has already been warned by the UN Deputy Secretary General to take a back seat on the Lebanon crisis. He has been snubbed by the Isaelis, humiliated by the Americans, reluctantly tolerated by Fuad Saniora and told to get lost by Hezbollah. This man just can’t take a hint. Not even when 100,000 people marched past his house telling him what they thought of him and lobbing shoes at the gates of Downing Street.

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August 23, 2006

Amnesty International states the obvious

Filed under: Uncategorized — netherworld @ 5:38 pm

DahyaAmnesty International has accused Israel of committing war crimes in its conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The published findings of Amnesty’s report can be seen here. Throughout the conflict there have been repeated warnings that the wanton destruction of civilian infrastructure, the mass killing of civilians and targeting of ambulances amount to war crimes. Usually when Israel kills innocent civilians, as it frequently does in the Palestinian Territories, little action is taken. But the scale of destruction is so huge in Lebanon that Amnesty is calling for a full impartial investigation by the UN. Such an investigation should also look into any war crimes committed by Hezbollah. It is likely to be a long time before any investigation takes place let alone yield any results, but with enough international pressure some sort of investigation may eventually take place.

Amnesty International today published findings that point to an Israeli policy of deliberate destruction of Lebanese civilian infrastructure, which included war crimes, during the recent conflict.

The organization’s latest publication shows how Israel’s destruction of thousands of homes, and strikes on numerous bridges and roads as well as water and fuel storage plants, was an integral part of Israel’s military strategy in Lebanon, rather than “collateral damage” resulting from the lawful targeting of military objectives.

The report reinforces the case for an urgent, comprehensive and independent UN inquiry into grave violations of international humanitarian law committed by both Hizbullah and Israel during their month-long conflict.

“Israel’s assertion that the attacks on the infrastructure were lawful is manifestly wrong. Many of the violations identified in our report are war crimes, including indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of power and water plants, as well as the transport infrastructure vital for food and other humanitarian relief, was deliberate and an integral part of a military strategy,” said Kate Gilmore, Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International.

The Israeli government has argued that they were targeting Hizbullah positions and support facilities and that other damage done to civilian infrastructure was a result of Hizbullah using the civilian population as a “human shield”.

“The pattern, scope and scale of the attacks makes Israel’s claim that this was ‘collateral damage’, simply not credible,” said Kate Gilmore, Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“Civilian victims on both sides of this conflict deserve justice. The serious nature of violations committed makes an investigation into the conduct of both parties urgent. There must be accountability for the perpetrators of war crimes and reparation for the victims.”

The report, Deliberate destruction or ‘collateral damage’? Israeli attacks against civilian infrastructure, is based on first-hand information gathered by recent Amnesty International research missions to Lebanon and Israel, including interviews with dozens of victims, officials from the UN, Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and Lebanese government, as well as official statements and press reports.

The report includes evidence of the following:

  • Massive destruction by Israeli forces of whole civilian neighbourhoods and villages;
  • Attacks on bridges in areas of no apparent strategic importance;
  • Attacks on water pumping stations, water treatment plants and supermarkets despite the prohibition against targeting objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population;
  • Statements by Israeli military officials indicating that the destruction of civilian infrastructure was indeed a goal of Israel’s military campaign designed to press the Lebanese government and the civilian population to turn against Hizbullah.

The report exposes a pattern of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, which resulted in the displacement of twenty-five percent of the civilian population. This pattern, taken together with official statements, indicates that the attacks on infrastucture were deliberate, and not simply incidental to lawful military objectives.

Amnesty International is calling for a comprehensive, independent and impartial inquiry to be urgently established by the UN into violations of international humanitarian law by both sides in the conflict. It should examine in particular the impact of this conflict on the civilian population, and should be undertaken with a view to holding individuals responsible for crimes under international law and ensuring that full reparation is provided to the victims.
Source

At the beginning of the conflict Israel’s army chief of staff, General Dan Halutz, said his military would target infrastructure and “turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years“. This was one Israeli war aim that was actually achieved. The same General also declared that 10 buildings in Beirut would be destroyed for every rocket fired at Haifa.

“Army chief of staff Dan Halutz has given the order to the air force to destroy 10 multi-storey buildings in the Dahaya district (of Beirut) in response to every rocket fired on Haifa,” a senior air force officer told army radio on Monday.
Source

Statements like this expose Israel’s claim that everything they targetted was Hezbollah hiding behind civilians as the obvious lie it is.

The question now is whether anything will actually be done to bring the criminals responsible for all this death and destruction to justice or whether America will once again manage to ensure that they are never held to account.

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A couple of things to do on Thursday

Filed under: Uncategorized — netherworld @ 3:10 pm

1. Defend Freedom of Speech by participating in this clever little stunt:

(via Rachel from whom I’m cheekily lifting most of this because I can’t put it any better.)

A Simultaneous lone demonstration This is a great idea and well worth doing…[Now over to Rachel]

A recent damn-fool law has made it illegal to protest anywhere near Parliament without official police permission, and comedian Mark Thomas is organising a stunt to highlight the danger and stupidity of having this law in a democracy. Please note that taking part in this is 100% LEGAL, and the whole purpose of the stunt is to overload the system by dozens of people all asking for permission to protest all at the same time.

The law: Under section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (.PDF) it is an offence to organise or take part in a demonstration in a public place within the “designated area” (up to 1 km around parliament) if authorisation has not been given by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.Participants may be subject to a fine of up to £1000 and “organizers” face up to a year in Jail.Tsk! We haven’t enough space for this nonsense in our jails. It’s an outrage!

DESIGNATED AREA: Dozens of people have been arrested for not complying with the law even when they are taking part in “Lone Demonstrations” – i.e. if they are one person with a placard.

Many people see this legislation as an assault on our civil liberties and human rights. It’s not always practical to plan a week in advance what government activities you may or may not disagree with. Sometimes a spontaneous response is called for. And surely the most appropriate place to demonstrate against the government’s actions is within the newly “Designated Area”, at the very core of this country’s democratic foundation.

And why is New Labour so concerned about peaceful protestors anyway?If you apply for permission 6 days in advance for a lone protest (ie 1 person) they cannot refuse permission, so in order to highlight the ridiculousness of having to ask for police permission to hold a peaceful demonstration, Mark Thomas is organising a mass lone demonstration evening.

Anyone who wants to demonstrate about any issue can come along, or even if you just want to demonstrate your disgust at having to ask for permission to protest in a supposedly free country. Remember. This will NOT be breaking the law in any way!

In fact the purpose of this is to get as many people as possible complying with a ridiculous law. All at the very same time! Huzzah! Stage 1 – Decide on your protest!

This can be something you feel strongly about or something very silly – it’s up to you. Then you need to fill in the official SCOPA application form (which is very simple) and there is a copy of the form attached. You can get it from here.

Stage 2 – Meet on Thursday 24th August outside Charing Cross police station any time between: 5.30pm-6pm to hand in your SOCPA forms. The address is Agar Street, London, WC2N 4JP and a map is attached. You have to fill in form and hand it in to the police 1 week before you protest, so everyone has to turn up at the same time to give their forms to>the Police. This will mean if 100 people turn up and apply for permission, then the unfortunate police have to license and approve 100 lone demonstrations. (Yes, I know they have more imprtant things to do. That’s the whole point. It’s for the long term good that we do this, so they can get on with catching baddies instead of wasting their time with this nonsense.) If you can’t make it to hand the forms in but want to demonstrate on the 31st, post them to: Ben Stern S2S Suite Z009 Old Truman Brewery 1 Brick Lane London E1 6QL. (Yay Ben! Then I suggest we all go for a pint afterwards.)

Stage 3 – The mass lone demonstrations will be 1 week later on Thursday 31st August and will again be at 6:00pm for 1 hour, so this event is open to those with day jobs. Come along! Join in! Exercise your democratic rights! The more people who come the bigger an impression this will make! EASY-PEASY STEP BY STEP STEP 1 Forward this on to any friends who have a burning issue that they might need to protest about and persuade them to come as well. This is also for anyone who finds it terrible that we have to ask for permission from the Police to peacefully protest outside Parliament. STEP 2 Print out form STEP 3 Fill in form with the issue that you wish to protest about. STEP 4 5.30 – 6pm Thursday 24th August, show up at the same time as other>lone protesters at Charing Cross Police Station. STEP 5 6pm Thursday 31st August, show up and protest about your personal issue in Parliament Square. STEP 6 Consider continuing your protest again at a later date.

Again a group session for shy lone protesters will almost certainly be scheduled. Once again this is COMPLETELY LEGAL – in fact we are encouraging as many people as we can to apply to the letter of law simultaneously. Dozens of people have already agreed to do this so don’t worry that you’ll be doing this on your own. See the links below to learn more about SOCPA, the groups it has angered and the people it has affected. This is also likely to be covered by the press. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about this event. Links: Parliament Square.org.uk Spy.org.uk

 

2. Reward yourself by coming to this:

(Please note that this has absolutely nothing to do with the above protest apart from the fact that I’m trying to get to both events)

Darbuka

Kamel Nitrate, the embassadors of global psychedelic sexy funk break beat dub, will be performing live at Darbucka this thursday, bringing with them the lovely Scarlet Sahara, carrying light in her shimmering waist and rainbows in her silk veil. Kamel Nitrate will be performing new tracks from their upcoming album, extending their live shows for over one hour of indulgent sounds. Making a debut on the night with the Kamels, guest percussionist and man of international rhythms, Barnaby Green.

The enchanted evening will be taking place at Darbucka, a lovely venue where you can just sit back and feel like the Kings and Queens of Arabia and indulge yourself on delicious food and try some of the varied perfumed shishas. Or you can dance the night away with the global exotic rhythms of DJ Karim and feast your eyes on the exquisite tribal belly dance group Atalanta, with most tantalizing and gracious Hannah and her friends. Either way, spoilt for choice I’d say but you have it all under one roof. This is a night for magic to happen, leave your worries outside, come and get pampered….

Hello again

Filed under: Uncategorized — netherworld @ 2:28 pm

This is the first post I’m writing on this blog. The Nether-World was an established blog that I had been running on Blogger, but today it mysteriously vanished (or at least became unaccessable) which is extremely frustrating. So after leaving lots of emails on the Blogger help-line and not getting much…erm, help, I decided to give WordPress a go.

There is of course the possibility that The Nether-World version 1 will re-appear which would be nice because it has some rather good posts on it. But in case it doesn’t I’m ready with this, and if WordPress turns out to be better than blogger then I shall remain here. I was discouraged by the lack of help available on blogger. I haven’t explored WordPress enough to form an opinion as to how good it is yet, so I shan’t be telling everyone to change their links just yet. Anyway so far so good. That’s probably enough text to see how writing a post works. Hopefully I’ll be back with some more interesting content soon.

Hello world!

Filed under: Uncategorized — netherworld @ 1:50 pm

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