Friday, March 30, 2007

Two tales of Dubai

IN FULL SAIL for profit, whatever war is on the horizon? Rising like Sinbad's dream, the world's tallest (330m) and it's said, finest hotel, the Burj al Arab, is symbol of Dubai's properity.
Halliburton is off to join the party.
But those who toil on construction don't see so much of the wealth.

TWO bits of news from Dubai. First, after collecting millions of dollars from the US taxpayer in contracts for the "war on terror" - everything from oilfield repairs and water for troops to the cages at Guantanamo - our old friends Halliburton, so generous they kept vice president Dick Cheney on the payroll after he'd left the board, have patriotically quit downtown Houston, Texas, to get closer to the Gulf action, by setting up heaquarters in the Emirates.
As Solomon Hughes comments in the Morning Star, "As well as being free of taxes, the Emirates are also free of votes, political parties and any form of democracy". (British WMD now run from Dubai, Morning Star, March 30).

In the latter respects not entirely differant from China, where, as reported on the opposite page, Burberry is shifting production of its awfully British clothing, closing the Treorchy factory in Wales with 300 job losses. Oh the joys of profit and patriotism! Let us pursue the cheapest and most-controlled labour, and the poor can do the soldiering, and wave the flags.

Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan has ruled the United Arab Emirates for over 30 years, and created a plush tax-free environment for big business so we'd guess exporting "democracy" to Dubai isn't among Bush and Blair's urgent priorities. As for Halliburton, its departure from God's Own Land-of-the-Free for the land of the tax-free has enraged US Democrats but not aroused much comment in Britain.

Yet the US company is big here. As the Star's Solomon Hughes points out, "It helps run Britain's nuclear deterrent by owning the Devonport nuclear dockyard. Halliburton also transports British tanks across Iraq thanks to the Heavy Equipment Transporter scheme. Under this PFI arrangement, Halliburton supplies not only tank transporters but also drivers with military training who will shoot if necessary".

Halliburton is also involved in building aircraft carriers and army barracks, and has a contract as "logistical support partner" of NATO's Northwood military headquarters. We might add that it has a hand in NHS computerisation and as Cardinal, has been running street cleaning and dust carts in a west London borough, though as far as I know the drivers have not yet been supplied with firearms.

Halliburton's charging on no-bid US contracts brought some troublesome visits from the FBI, but the Blair government seems to have been much more understanding. And with Halliburton's latest move, as Solomon Hughes observes, "everything from our Trident missiles to British squaddies' toilets are now run by a firm based in a Middle Eastern sheikhdom".

Oh dear. Our Trident missiles? I was thinking of giving mine up so I could save a few bob for my old age. But not one of Britain's three main parties is willing to give me the choice.
What about the workers?
And now to our next tale from Dubai. It's the underside of all those magnificent soaring towers of Babel that boast of the sheikhdom's prosperity. It comes via the Building Workers' International(BWI), and while I'm not always inclined to accept everything from international union federations without care, this one seems straightforward enough.

BWI Campaign: ACT NOW to defend migrant construction workers in Dubai!
Take a couple of minutes to make a difference to migrant construction workers in Dubai. Migrant construction workers in Dubai earn an average wage of US $150 per month. Any form of strike or protest is illegal under UAE labour law. The BWI cannot tolerate that around 200 workers from contractor ETA Ascon, who rioted last week, as they do not have any right to strike or collective bargaining are being deported and banned from entering the country, according to the UAE Ministry of Labour.

These workers are from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The workers went on strike on 10 March 2007 demanding an increase in their basic salary, which is US $150 (AED550) per month. They were demanding an increase of around $70 per month but the company granted an increase of about $0.5 per day, as well as a two-way airfare when they take leave every two years. Please pass this campaign on to your colleagues and friends.

For more info and petition see:

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Education After Auschwitz

A young student who set off with his schoolfellows for an educational visit to Auschwitz has been given more of an education than was promised in the itinerary. The busload of young people from Belgium was stopped for ten hours on the German-Polish burder, from Sunday night to Monday morning.

The bus was allowed to set out again Monday, a little before 11 a.m. An agreement had been found between the director of the school and the German embassy in Belgium. But the bus returned with one student less.

A 19-year old Cameroons student who had attended the IPES at Waremmes since 2002 had joined his fellows for the Auschwitz trip. He did not carry a diplomatic passport since his father was no longer attached to his country's embassy. At the German border, the young man was threatened with expulsion to Cameroun. The guides objected to this option and said that the teenager should be repatriated to Belgium pending the treatment of his case.

In spite of the agreements made, we heard yesterday that the young man finds himself held in a detention centre in Germany. I'm hoping friends in Belgium who passed on this glimpse of Europe's immigration and asylum cops at work will be able to keep us posted.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Disabled but Ready and Willing to Defend Jobs

LIVERPOOL makes it to Wembley!
Well, these two big lads did.
Such outsize figures have become familiar on demonstrations by Remploy workers opposing the removal of government work and the threatened closure of sheltered workshops.
It started with workers in the tailoring branch on Merseyside, who make protective wear for emergencies, and found this traffic-stopping way to model their skills and draw attention to their protests.
The other week these two turned up at Brent town hall in Wembley, to cheer and liven up a picket by fellow-GMB and other trade union members protesting plans by the now Liberal Democrat-led Brent council to close Carlyon Print, a council-owned firm in Alperton, Wembley which provides employment for workers with disabilities.
I was there because they asked for support from the Transport and General Workers and other trades unions; and because I used to live in Carlyon Road and every morning on my way to work I would pass the Carlyon workers already waiting outside early, keen to get in and started. Whatever their varied disabilities, ranging from deafness to learning difficulties, they also turn out some skilled work.
The government also says it is keen, to "help" disabled workers into jobs (by cutting their benefits). The Lib Dems in Brent are keen too, to oppose NHS cuts which might put more of a burden on the council to provide services; but neither are half so keen to help people as they are to save money and pass more contracts to the private sector.
The Carlyon Print works has been going for about 25 years, during which it has employed around 30 people, some of whom moved on to other jobs, others have stayed till retirement. If the firm is closed now it will mean 23 workers losing their jobs, and possibly never obtaining other employment. Ten months ago the council in Croydon closed a disabled workplace and 83 disabled workers were thrown onto the benefits system. Ten months later there are still 78 disabled workers out of work.
The other important point made by people who protested at the town hall, including families, is that closure will mean taking away the chance of future skills and employment from youngsters now in school, and yet to find themselves thrown onto the jobs market.
For more on the Carlyon workers fight for their jobs:
Visit the Carlyon Print site itself, and see their work:
Sign online petition supporting the workers against closure:

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Kidnapped in Kenya

passenger manifest for flight FY-AXF,
from Nairobi-Mogadishu, one of several
such documents obtained by Reprieve

MORE than 60 people, including at least four women and six children, have been taken from Kenya and are thought to be held in secret locations in Ethiopia and Somalia. The captives include UK, US, French and Canadian nationals. But, unlike the British embassy staff who went missing in Ethiopia's Afar region earlier this month, they have not been the focus of nightly news coverage on TV, nor have we have heard of "round-the-clock" diplomatic efforts to free them.

The five Brits taken then were released after 12 days "in good health", and said they had been well treated by their captors. There are fears the 63 people taken from Kenya may not be so fortunate.

Two rights charities, Reprieve and Cageprisoners, say they are deeply concerned for the fate of the prisoners, "believed to be held in secret detention in Somalia and Ethiopia, apparent victims of a mass rendition operation from Kenya involving nationals of at least 16 states: Canada, Comoros, Ethiopia, Eritrea, France, Kenya, Oman, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sweden, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Yemen. Among the 63 are least four women and six children. The 63 prisoners were apparently transferred with no observance of any judicial process, and are at serious risk of torture".
Many of those taken were seized in joint US, Kenyan and Ethiopian operations on the Kenyan/Somali border in December 2006 and January 2007. They were initially transferred to detention facilities in Kenya where they were held without charge for up to three weeks. Then according to flight manifests obtained by Reprive and Cageprisoners the 63 were taken from Kenya to Somalia, and some were then moved to Ethiopia.
A British citizen transferred to Somalia in the early hours of Saturday, February 10 described the journey:

"We were woken up late in the night on Friday and told to pack our bags. We just had a few things like toothbrush, socks, t-shirt. From there we were put in the back of a mini-van and driven to an airport. Before the gates were checkpoints with Kenyan soldiers. It looked like a military place but I saw BA and Emirates airplanes there too. We remained in the vehicle. Many other cars were coming.
"Most of the officers were not in uniform. One of the men there was the one who had interrogated me in the first police station. They called him the Major. He popped his head in when I was speaking to a police-man who was bald with a prostration mark. We remained there for a while. More vehicles and police vans kept coming - around 10 vehicles in total. We could see that people were being held in the back of the vans but it was very dark so we could not see how many.
"This was when the bald Kenyan with the prostration mark was talking to us about pre-destination. It sounded as though he was trying to prepare us for something. Francis [the Kenyan anti-terrorist officer] was there as well.
Francis came to our vehicle and he had a bit of paper in his hand. I saw on the bit of paper it had a column with names. I saw my name, and the names of the other British citizens. The next column said "nationality" and opposite our names were 'British'. At the top of the next column it said 'ticket date-booked'. In the next column Francis put a tick. Then he moved onto the next vehicle.
"'Prostration Mark' came to our vehicle. He said to us: whatever happens to you just understand why this is taking place. Other vehicles started driving towards a small jet. Not like a passenger airplane. There were big metal cargo containers with UN written on them next to the jets. Everyone was handcuffed and blindfolded and put on the jet by Kenyans. Our hands were behind us and it was too uncomfortable to lean back.
There were thirteen prisoners on the flight. There were also Kenyan intelligence officers on the plane, but Francis was not one of them. We flew for the whole night and landed in the morning, in daylight, on a runway. I was taken off the jet still blindfolded. I could hear the other prisoners being taken off the jet at the same time, and I could see a little through my blindfold. When I was off the plane I could hear loud Somali voices. I did not hear any Swahili voices. These two facts made me believe I was in Somalia. I was put in the back of a truck with the other 12 people who had been on my plane. I could see the uniform of the officers escorting us through my blindfold. I knew they were Somali not Kenyans as they were wearing Somali army clothes and blue army hats. All I could hear was Somali being spoken".
Kamilya Tuweil, a United Arab Emirates citizen and Arabic/Swahili translator whose case is cited by Reprieve had travelled to Kenya on with an African business associate, Milly Mithouni Gako, and two Omanis. They were staying at the Eden Lodge Hotel in Mombasa where they were arrested by Kenya anti-terrorist police on 10 January - allegedly after refusing to pay a $5,000 bribe. The four of them were taken to police stations, then released within a month -except for Kamilya. On 27 January Kamilya phoned Millie at 3 am to say "They have come for me".
Millie did not hear from her again. But Kamilya's name appears on a flight manifest dated 27 January for African Express Airways flight 5Y-AXF from Kenya to Somalia (depicted above). Back in Dubai, her children wait for more news, or better still, their mother to return.
Meanwhile, Reprieve says that the names on the manifests they have seen include nine women and five children.
Reprieve and Cageprisoners are demanding that the Kenyan and Ethiopian governments and the Transitional government of Somalia make full public disclosure of what prisoners are being held, and where, and allow access for international humanitarian organisations, diplomats and lawyers.
They are also calling on those governments whose nationals have been taken prisoner to make effective representations for their release and return home.
At least one of these governments probably knows more than anyone else about what is going on. A 24-year old US citizen, Amir Mohammed Meshal, now held in Ethiopia, was able to tell Kenyan human rights activists while held at Kileleshwa police station in Nairobi that his interrogators included American FBI agents. A British citizen who was held at Kileleshwa also reported that FBI men were working with Kenyan officers and had threatened a prisoner with torture if he did not give them the information they wanted.
Bush's "war on terror" has extended its tentacles to the north-east corner of Africa, bringing with it American "freedom" - that is, freedom for American agents and their stooges to do what they want with anyone they don't like the look of.
For the full story about this frightening affair visit:

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

US impatient for Iraq oil law, but opposition grows

SCOTTISH MP KATY CLARK has introduced motion on oil in Iraq

FOUR years after invading Iraq in a war we were told was for anything except control of Iraqi oil, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said he fears the Americans will withdraw support for his government — effectively ousting him — if parliament does not pass a draft oil law by the end of June.

The oil law is opposed by many Iraqis for opening the country's oil resources up once again to Western oil companies. Both US and British companies are eyeing their possible fiefs. The main Iraqi oil feilds are in the predominantly Shi'ite south and the largely Kurdish north. But after bringing death, destruction and sectarian division to help carve up Iraq, US policy is concerned now to settle the oil issue in line with strategy, as it enlist its Saudi (and Sunni) allies to impose order and prepare for a threatened war with Iran.

According to an Associated Press report, "American officials have informed the prime minister they want an Iraqi government in place by year's end that would be acceptable to Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt".

Adding to al-Maliki's fears about a withdrawal of American support were visits to Saudi Arabia by two key political figures, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, and Masoud Barzani, leader of Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdish region. "Allawi is there to enlist support for a new political front that rises above sectarian structures now in place," the former prime minister's spokesman Izzat al-Shahbandar told Associated Press.
Al-Maliki tells aides U.S. benchmark deadline is June 30 or his ouster possible

The Iraq government has given oil tenders to foreign firms to drill in the Musan area of southern Iraq.\2007-03-18\kurd1.htm

Meanwhile Iraqis who want to ensure their country's oil wealth is used for the people and reconstruction, not least the oilworkers themselves, are opposed to privatisation and generous concessions given foreign oil companies. They say they can develop and manage the oil industry themselves. And unlike the sectarian parties and gangs and the corrupt politicians in the US-stooge government, the workers' unions are committed to unity, freedom and justice for all Iraqis, whatever their religious background, and whether Arab or Kurd.

Their stand may not get much news coverage, but it is winning some support. In Britain, some Labour MPs are taking up the issue of Iraqi oil. An Early Day Motion submitted by Katy Clark, Labour MP for Ayrshire North and Arran, says:
That this House notes that Iraq's economy is heavily dependent on oil and that decisions about the future of Iraq's oil industry will have a major bearing on that country; further notes that the constitution of Iraq states that oil and gas are owned by all the people of Iraq; expresses concern that the British Government, in its involvement in the drafting of Iraq's new oil laws, has sought the views of international oil companies regarding the possible types of contracts that the Iraqi government should offer; believes that decisions on the Iraqi oil industry should be made by the Iraqi people without outside interference; and calls on the Government to disclose to the House all representations it has made in relation to the oil law.

So far about 20 MPs have signed. See:

Teach in this weekend

There's a Teach-in about Iraqi oil in London this weekend , 11am-5pm, Saturday 24th March 2007. Union Chapel, Compton Ave, London N1 2XDTube: Highbury and IslingtonMap:

With: Greg Muttitt from PLATFORM (author 'Crude Designs: The rip-off of Iraq's oil wealth') Ewa Jasiewicz from Naftana (UK Support Committee for the General Union of Oil Employees in Iraq)

It's supported by: Corporate Watch, Iraq Occupation Focus, Jubilee Iraq, Naftana, Platform, Voices UK and War on Want.

Their statement says:

For the Iraqi people war and occupation has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, relentless insecurity and crippling poverty. But for foreign oil companies the desperate situation in Iraq is a chance to take control of Iraq's oil and make massive profits at the expense of its people. A new law that would transfer control of most of Iraq's oil production from the public sector to multinational oil companies through long-term contracts of up to 20 or 30 years, now looks set to be rubber-stamped by Iraq's Parliament in the next few months.

Whilst the US and British governments, the IMF and the big multinational oil companies have all been active in shaping the new law - which will tie the hands of future governments, depriving them of democratic control over the country's main natural resource - the Iraqi public and Iraqi civil society have been excluded from the process.

Join us on 24th March to: Find out more about the new law, the companies involved, and the US and UK Governments' roles in this smash and grab lawMake plans to take action to stop British companies from joining the race to carve up Iraq's oil wealth.For more information about the campaign visit

For further reading about the Iraqi oil issue, you can look up some recent articles by Munir Chalabi, an Iraqi engineer and political analyst who has been working with Naftana:

ZNet Iraq Political comments on the draft of the Iraqi oil law

Recent article on Iraqi oil “The Future of Iraqi oil as proposed by the Iraqi Study Group” which was published on ZNet web site on the 8th January 2007- the link to the article:

And on Oil Change website- the link to the article:

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Shimon Tzabar

SAD to hear last night that Shimon Tzabar had died. The Israeli (he would of late have preferred to say "Hebrew-speaking Palestinian") writer, poet and cartoonist was 81, and not in the best of health, but he retained a lively wit and good humour, and remained politically aware and active.

Shimon, founder of the informative and satirical Israel Imperial News was born in Tel-Aviv in 1926. In his teens he joined the Zionist underground armed struggle against the British mandate, going on to fight in the 1948 war which established the State of Israel, and serving again in the 1956 Suez-Sinai campaign and the Six Day War of June 1967. It was in a foxhole in the desert that he heard the news that Jerusalem had been taken, Israeli soldiers were at the Wailing Wall, and Golda Meir proclaimed "Our people have waited two thousand years for this moment".

Shimon remarked, "There we were, having believed we were fighting for our very survival, and been told that our leaders strove only for peace, and now it turns out that all they had thought of was a pile of old stones in Jerusalem!"

What really disgusted Shimon, besides the triumphalism, was the way the Israeli government treated the Palestinians, and seized their territories in the West Bank and Gaza, not as some temporary gain to be exchanged as soon as possible in a peace process, but as conquered land to be colonised. It was this new colonialist arrogance infecting Israeli society that drove Shimon Tzabar into leaving his country; and whose absurdity and brutality he felt moved to attack by calling his publication "Israel Imperial News".

I first heard of it from Egyptian humourist Waguih Ghali who had agreed to work with Shimon. Alas, deprived of his own nationality by the Egyptian government and refused permission to live and work in Britain by James Callaghan's government, Waguih became depressed and took his own life in 1969, another victim of our racist immigration laws. I'll write about Waguih some other time, but meanwhile recommend his novel Beer in the Snooker Club.

I first met Shimon himself briefly, when I joined a small demonstration outside the Israeli embassy (in those days you were actually allowed near the railings of Kensington Palace Gardens) organised by Akiva Orr, Moshe Machover and other left-wing Israeli Matzpen supporters, in solidarity with a young guy - he must have been one of the first - who refused to serve in the occupation forces.
(if I'm not mistaken the man's son is also an active refusenik).

Before leaving Israel and settling in London, Shimon Tzabar had been a columnist for "Haaretz" and for Uri Avneri's weekly "Ha'olam Hazeh". He published 27 books in Hebrew, including works of fiction, travel, children's books and poetry. His book in English, "The White Flag Principle" discoursing eruditely on history to prove that it is better for nations to lose wars, has been translated and published in Japanese and in most European languages.

But what nearly became Shimon Tzabar's best-known English work is now difficult to get hold of, having been compulsorily made a very limited edition. In 2004, Shimon produced what looked like a Michelin Guide, complete with familiar green cover, to Israeli prisons and detention centres. The guide gave details of how Palestinian prisoners and detainees had been ill-treated at particular places, together with location details and "how to get there" -if you were not careful.

Michelin were not amused, and threatened to sue him for using their style and trademark, though as Shimon pointed out, he was not trying to compete with them or gain pecuniary advantage, and people were unlikely to think Michelin had published the guide since the title on the cover said: "MUCH BETTER THAN THE OFFICIAL MICHELIN Guide to Israeli prisons, Jails, concentration camps and torture chambers".

Besides, Shimon argued, as an artist, in making use of a familiar commercial logo in his work he was doing no more nor less than Andy Warhol had done with a Campbell's soup tin.
Despite this, Michelin pursued their case - I couldn't help wondering whether they were being pushed along by someone - and it reached the High Court in the Strand. So did I, though my train was late that morning, and I arrived ten minutes after the hearing had been due to start. I got to the lift just as its doors opened and out stepped Shimon, along with friends, including Moshe Machover's lawyer son Danny who had acted as unpaid advisor, Shimon not being officially represented.

"What, case all over?!", I joked, thinking there must have been some break or adjournment ordered while the judge conferred or something. "Yes", they replied, not joking, it was all over. In court, Shimon had agreed not to print any more copies of his not-the-Michelin guide, nor to distribute any more in future. That was that. Since the few hundred copies already printed had run out, and Shimon did not have any money to have more copies printed, he was quite prepared to give that undertaking.

So, as I pointed out, anybody who was fortunate enough to obtain a copy of that scarce first edition now has a valuable rarity, which might be snapped up at auction in future (if only for a Palestinian prisoners charity). As for the rest of us, anyone who knew or met Shimon Tzabar will also have a memory to treasure, of someone who too was valuable, and alas, with his humour and talent allied to principles, also a rarity.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Did Plaza Bank have same architects as Hotel Bristol?

YOU have got to give it to US intelligence. OK, they and their spy satellites and all Washington's armies have not yet caught Osama Bin Laden, or managed to capture Radovan Karadzic, and nor could they find any Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, though you'd have thought the Western companies that supplied Saddam Hussein had kept copies of their invoices.

But four years and many extraordinary renditions since they went to war with Iraq, the US authorities were able to greet the anniversary of that continuing bloody conflict brandishing a great result from the war on terror - a confession after four years in captivity, including six months at Guntanamo, from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who says he masterminded the September 11 attacks.

In fact, KSM reckons he was behind pretty well everything - the Richard Reid shoe bombing attempt to blow up an airliner over the Atlantic Ocean, the Bali nightclub bombing in Indonesia, the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing, the murder of kidnapped American journalist Daniel Pearl and altogether more than thirty plots, both failed and successful.

He has not claimed the bombing of a Cuban airliner off Barbados, because everyone knows that was done by two CIA assets; and nor is he old enough to have masterminded events in Dallas, November 1963, unlike the man arrested causing a street disturbance in Harlesden, north-west London, while wearing a set of lace curtains, and complaining about some cooking oil, in 1967, who told police "If you are looking for the guy who killed Kennedy, I dunnit".

Nor has he claimed the Oklahoma city bombing, which the FBI and other agencies insist was the work of one man, Timothy McVeigh, despite evidence of right-wing US involvment. When the evidence points away from those the government are pursuing, the police agencies know better than to look for a conspiracy.

KSM, who was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on March 1, 2003, by Pakistani ISI agents and handed over to US custody, is believed to have been born in Baluchistan, but spent some of his formative years in Kuwait, where he joined the Muslim Brotherhood at 16, before returning to Pakistan, then studying in the United States, before going to Afghanistan in the 1980s to join the US-backed fight against Soviet forces. He is said to have become an al Qaida member back in the Gulf states.

That KSM is an al Qaida leader seems feasible. That some of his confessed part in planning attacks may be true likewise. He does appear on video of the Daniel Pearl beheading. But the only trouble is the Pakistan authorities had already named someone else as chiefly responsible for that action.

That's not all. In his confession KSM names a whole number of well-known buildings which al Qaida was planning to attack in a follow-up wave after 9/11, including Big Ben and Canary Wharf in London, the Sears Roebuck building in Chicago, and "I was responsible for planning, training, surveying, and financing for the New (or Second) Wave of attacks against the following skyscrapers after 9/11: ...Plaza Bank, Washington state"

The trouble is, Plaza Bank was not founded until 2006, three years after KSM was captured. Two skyscrapers in Seattle, Washington state, have been suggested as likely targets.
"Since al-Qaida targeted tall, high-profile targets it may be a reference to the 76-story Columbia Center, the tallest building in Washington.
The document is the censored transcript of the closed-door tribunal at Guantanamo Bay for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It says he confessed to planning Nine Eleven and 30 other plots. Another downtown Seattle bank is the "Bank of America Fifth Avenue Plaza."
Seattle F-B-I agent Ray Lauer says he could not comment on what Mohammed might have meant or whether the FBI was previously warned to take any special precautions involving such a bank".

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Neither of these suggestions really explains the odd confession. Planning to attack a bank before it even exists may show remarkable foresight, or ...

It reminds me of something. It is like a mirror image of what a defendent-witness in the infamous 1936-7 Moscow Trials confessed. The witness, Holtzmann, said that in 1932 he had gone to the Hotel Bristol in Copenhagen, and while there met Leon Sedov, Trotsky's son, who had taken him to an apartment in the Danish capital where Trotsky was staying.

The trouble with this detail was not just that Leon Sedov was in Paris at the time and had been unable to get a visa to meet his father in Copenhagen. But the famous Hotel Bristol where Holtzman was supposed to have stayed had actually been torn down in 1917, as a report in the Danish Social Demokraten
noted. (The Hotel Bristol subsequantly disappeared from a version of the trial report published by the British Communist Party, though, as Brian Pearce recalls, it reappeared in the ditty "I'm the man that does the dirty work for Trotsky", sung by CP students, who were evidently not embarassed enough to let the truth spoil a jolly song.)

How can a man stay at a hotel that has been demolished? Or plot with fellow-conspirators to blow up a bank that has not yet been founded? Well, it all depends on how much information your interrogators want to hear, what lengths they go to, to make you confess, and whether perhaps you decide to say "yes" to all sorts of questions, figuring that you may not only put them off the scent, but provide a signal to your friends and others that your confession is not to be taken without at least a good measure of sodium chloride.

I'm not saying the KSM confession is all lies. But some probably is. And the similarity with confessions made in other times and places may tell us something about the methods used by the investigators.


Friday, March 16, 2007

West of the Sahara, embers could smoulder into renewed flame

POLISARIO FIGHTER. If international promises remain unkept, then despite the difficulties, Sahrawis may rise again.

WITH continuing struggles in the Middle East and the mass killing and suffering in Sudan, it's some time since events west of the Sahara made it into our news media, but maybe that is about to change.

In the south-western corner of Algeria, around Tindouf, some 100,000 refugees from Western Sahara live in camps. Just like the Palestinians, Sahrawis dream of freedom and a return to their homeland, and the generation that has grown up knowing only exile still keeps that dream, and the will to fight for it, alive.

At the end of February the movement that has led the Sahrawi struggle for national independence, POLISARIO, celebrated the thirty-first anniversary of its proclamation of a government, the
Saharan Arab Democratic Republic.

I remember thirty years ago, going along to a cafe near Paddington station to meet a pleasant and quiet spoken young guy, who wanted to tell me and my left-wing paper's readers about his people's struggle in Western Sahara. The region had seen the departure of Spanish colonial rule, only for people's expectations of freedom to be disappointed when Moroccan troops entered the country from the north, and in alliance with them, Mauritanian forces moved in from the south.

There had been an infigenous freedom movement, Harakat Tahrir, inspired by anti-colonial struggles across the Maghreb in the late 1950s, which led to Algerian independence in 1962. Though this first movement was crushed by the Spanish rulers in 1970, three years later in May 1973 a band of patriots attacked a small colonial fort, and POLISARIO, the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y Río de Oro, was born.

A 1975 UN mission reported that POLISARIO had unrivalled popular support in the country. But that same year, the Spanish government made a secret deal with Morocco and Mauritania, under which they could step into the colonial occupiers' shoes. On October 16, 1976, the International Court of Justice at the Hague rejected Moroccan and Mauritanian claims to Spanish Sahara, and called for a referendum on self-determination. That has still to take place.

Though Mauritania eventually dropped its claims and withdrew from the territory, Moroccon forces, backed by Western supplies and Saudi money, continued trying to suppress the Sahrawis, while POLISARIO fought back using its popular support and knowledge of the terrain, and aided for a time with weapons from Algeria and Libya. Meanwhile thousands of Sahrawis fled into the Algerian refugee camps. After 15 years, having dragged on into stalemate, the war ended in a UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991. Once again the Sahrawis were promised a referendum on independence, supported by the UN secretary general no less.

Another sixteen years, thousands remain in exile, those left behind are being rendered a minority by Morrocanisation, and with Moroccan troops still ruling Western Sahara, the ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the republic did not take place in Laayoune, the country's declared capital, but in the small outpost of Tifariti near the Algerian border.

According to Jacob Mundy, writing in Middle East Report Online, "If it seems that the peace process in Western Sahara has moved at a glacial pace, that is because it has actually moved backwards. From 1981 to 1999, negotiations were premised on a pledge by the late King Hassan II that Morocco would allow and respect a referendum on independence. By the terms of the UN Settlement Plan that underpinned the ceasefire, the UN mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) tried in vain from 1991 to 1999 to stage such a plebiscite. The referendum seemed to acquire a new lease on life in 1997 when then newly appointed Secretary-General Kofi Annan designated former US Secretary of State James Baker as his personal envoy to Western Sahara. But the referendum, and Morocco’s support for it, essentially died with King Hassan in 1999."

Paradoxically, it was King Mohammed VI’s dismissal of Interior Minister Driss Basri, seen as signalling a break with past repression in Morocco, that removed the prospect of a referendum, as Jacob Mundy explains. "Part of Basri’s job under Hassan, besides torturing and 'disappearing' dissidents, was to fix elections. If he could get over 90 percent of Moroccans to approve a constitution, he could surely induce 120,000 Sahrawis to choose integration into Morocco. By mid-1999, however, it was clear that Basri’s tactic -- peopling the voter rolls with Moroccans posing as Sahrawis -- had failed".

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council had seen itself forced to intervene in East Timor, after a referendum on independence there was drowned in bood by the Indonesian army and its sponsored gangs of thugs. It feared the same kind of thing might happen in Western Sahara. UN secretary general Kofi Annan
reported in 2000 that several arguments had been raised against continuing with the 1991 plan, and that “even assuming that a referendum were held…if the result were not to be recognized and accepted by one party, it is worth noting that no enforcement mechanism is envisioned by the settlement plan, nor is one likely to be proposed, calling for the use of military means to effect enforcement.” In other words, if Morocco lost the referendum and decided to ignore the result, there was nothing you could do about it.

Mundy, a Ph.D student at Exeter University, notes that Polisario has come under pressure to accept a scheme proposed by James Baker, and apparently endorsed by King Mohammad, according to which Morocco would grant limited autonomy to local Saharan leaders. But he believes the Sahrawi leaders will come under opposite pressure from their own people, particularly the young, to renew the struggle. (This apparently despite the probability that besides facing US opposition, they would nowadays be unlikely to get Libyan or Algerian support).

" The great success of POLISARIO’s founding fathers is that they fostered a political movement that is now self-sustaining and, more importantly, self-motivating. But that is part of the problem. Having reared younger Sahrawis on the slogan “All the homeland or martyrdom,” the POLISARIO elite is now hostage to its own rhetoric. It has become a practical and logical impossibility for POLISARIO’s leadership to compromise the fundamental goal of independence. To do so would mean that they are no longer POLISARIO; and if they were no longer POLISARIO, then their constituents -- Western Saharan nationalists -- would have no further use for them.

"On October 31, 2006, the Security Council passed Resolution 1720, 'reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which provides for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.' In other words, and despite the nod to “self-determination,” nothing will be forced upon Morocco. The Security Council, here guided by Morocco’s key allies France and the United States, wants a “mutually acceptable” agreement between POLISARIO and Morocco that is negotiated and implemented voluntarily. Out of one side of its mouth, the Security Council calls for a vote on independence; out of the other side, it tells POLISARIO it will not compel such a poll. By clear implication, the Security Council’s conditions for peace in Western Sahara demand that self-determination be sacrificed'.

"Though POLISARIO is feeling international pressure to compromise, it is feeling more internal pressure to fight back -- literally. The same cold logic that gives Morocco comfort generates frustration among Western Saharan nationalists. The refugees, in particular, are keenly aware that their cause is boxed into a corner.

"Tensions have already boiled over in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, where there were unprecedented demonstrations in May 2005. Unlike previous manifestations of Sahrawi discontent, these protests openly called for independence, rather than more rights or more jobs. Since then, the rallies have degenerated into daily minor confrontations between Sahrawi youths and Moroccan security forces. The trajectory of the unrest, known to Sahrawis as the May intifada, is not apparent, in part because of a near blackout of international coverage imposed by Morocco. But Sahrawis are being pushed to contemplate more drastic measures. For the time being, the youths are heeding the calls for non-violence coming from the older activists. Should Moroccan repression escalate, however, POLISARIO could be unable -- or unwilling -- to stop elements of its military stationed along the 1991 armistice line from attempting to draw Moroccan troops’ fire.

"POLISARIO is caught between two antagonistic pressures, autonomy and intifada. How the movement navigates these pressures in the coming months will determine the future of Western Sahara.

"Routine Moroccan quashing of a small demonstration in Laayoune provided the spark that ignited the Sahrawi intifada in May 2005. Yet the underlying causes of the non-violent independence movement come from 30 years of living as a divided population, suffering violent repression and being ignored by the international community and, on top of all that, socio-economic marginalization -- the “Moroccanization” of Western Sahara. The demonstrations of May 2005 came as a shock not only to most observers of the conflict, but to many Sahrawi nationalists as well.

"The red, green, white and black colors of POLISARIO, once rarely seen in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara, have become the symbol of Sahrawi resistance, whether spray-painted onto school walls -- in the shape of the POLISARIO flag -- or braided into the hair of young girls.

"Though not lacking in militancy, the intifada has not gathered sufficient momentum to impel a major rethinking of policy either in the Moroccan palace or at the Security Council. Coercion, of course, plays a large role. A debilitating number of key Sahrawi activists, young and old, languish in Moroccan jails, occasionally teetering on the edge of death after prolonged hunger strikes. But Moroccan security men keep the Western Sahara story out of the global media by refraining from massive displays of force and confining themselves to more intimate and targeted acts of violence. These extrajudicial policing measures are aimed squarely at known activists, as well as their friends and family. The website of the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Violations of Human Rights Committed by the Moroccan State is replete with documented examples of police brutality and “confessions” obtained under severe duress. Another spark could set Western Saharan towns ablaze".

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Another day, another death

OCCUPATION, as a young Israeli army refuser remarked, means that "some 19-year old shmok with a gun is given power of life and death, to do as he wants, to people". We have just seen a bunch of British squaddies walk free after charges that they brutally and sadistically tortured some Iraqi hotel workers, and battered a man to death. An army investigator who did not want his identity revealed testified on TV that he was told to fix the investigation. An officer who was present when the "interrogations" took place has been promoted.

Not that the British army approves of torture and ill-treatment of civilians, you understand. It just fails to prevent these things taking place. But then as we heard from Deepcut barracks, the Army has failed to protect some of its own young recruits from bullying and unexplained deaths in this country, never mind look after "enemy" civilians overseas. Brutality and criminality goes with training to implement brutal and criminal policies for governments.

It's an occupational disease.

And now for an everyday story from another occupation, the one we started with, in Israel-Palestine. It probably won't make the news on TV. It comes via the International Women's Peace Service.

Early Thursday March 8, 2007 around 12:45 am, a car rushing to the hospital carrying a couple and their six-month-old baby boy who was having trouble breathing, was stopped at Atara checkpoint. The family was heading from their village Kufr 'Ain to the nearest hospital in Ramallah, where the parents hoped to secure their son an oxygen tent, which had helped him recover from difficult respiratory episodes in the past.

The soldiers asked for the IDs of the father, the mother, and the driver. The father explained that his son needed urgent medical care, but the soldiers took almost twenty minutes checking the IDs and then the car. The father realized that his son was dying and begged them to let him go. Around 1:05 am the baby died at the checkpoint. Soldiers shined their light on the child's face, saw that he was dead, and finally let the grieving family pass.

On their way back from the hospital-where the baby was confirmed dead-the same soldier stopped the car again for five more minutes.

The International Women's Peace Service, Haris, Salfit, Palestine.
Tel:- (09)-2516-644
Email:- Website:-

Conscience in Revolt

He'd rather be a prisoner than a guard

SOME soldiers decide they don't want to take part in the dirty work of oppressing other people, even if means facing unpleasant consequances themselves. Yuval Lotem is one of the Israeli reservists who objecting to the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and then to the Occupation of Palestinian territory formed the movement Yesh Gvul - literally we have a border, or, there is a limit.

Reservists and nowadays new conscripts too have spent jail terms for refusing to perform service in the occupied territories. In Yuval's case the Army tried to avoid this by offering him alternative service as a prison guard. But he refused to accept this, realising that his duties would include guarding Palestinian administrative detainees, that is, militants held without trial under laws inherited from the British mandate days.

Yuval Lotem is making a short visit to Britain, and he is due to speak this evening, March 15, to a London meeting arranged by Jews for Justice for Palestinians together with the Jewish Socialists' Group. That's 7.30pm at the Rudolf Steiner House, 35 Park Road NW1, which is situated near Baker Street tube.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

It's the Oil. But there's a fight back

'CORPORATE PIRATES' . Protesters have used imaginative means to break media silence on the big business interests looking to profit from Iraq war.
Smiles here after court case cut short, demonstrators charged with invading Iraq business conference walked free, probably because authorities feared they would use the dock as a platform to denounce crimes of the powerful. (Thames Magistrates, East London, September 2005)

"WAR -What is it Good For?", as brought to us by Tony Blair (no not really) and the Ugly Rumours, is on its way to No.1 in the pop charts. and you can buy at

But ask WHO was it good for?, and it isn't a rumour that, along with the United States' strategic goal of controlling the tap for everyone else's fuel while thrusting oil-producing states back into "third World" dependence, goes the chance for big Western oil companies to regain their profit-grabbing pre-eminence.

Despite opposition by most Iraqis and especially the workers' unions in the oil industry, the Iraqi government, with little or no real independence or authority as occupation forces, death squads and sectarian gangs battle on to kill more Iraqis, has agreed a law almost sight unseen (it was first drafted in English, not Arabic) surrendering control over the country's oil reserve to foreign interests.

But this fight isn't over. It has just started. Bearing the brunt of war and destruction that began with sanctions, the Iraqi people are not to be left alone to withstand the multi-nationals. An international campaign has begun.

Hands off Iraqi Oil!

This press release was issued yesterday:

For Immediate Release:
Thursday March 8th 2007

Campaign Against Iraqi Oil Rip Off Launched in UK

Shell and BP to be Targeted

Development, environment, human rights and anti-war groups have come together to launch a campaign against the "rip off" of Iraqi oil by western companies.

'Hands Off Iraqi Oil' is part of an international coalition, which is also gearing up in the US and Italy, as well as Iraq.

In the UK, The Hands Off campaign comprises radical development charity War on Want, oil industry watchdog PLATFORM, investigative researchers Corporate Watch, long-term Iraq campaigners Voices UK, debt-relief watchdog Jubilee Iraq, anti-occupation network Iraq Occupation Focus and Naftana, the UK support group for the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions.

The launch comes just days after the Iraqi cabinet - under intense pressure from the USA and UK and the International Monetary Fund - approved a draft oil law which would transfer control over the majority of Iraq's huge reserves from the public sector to multinational companies, for the first time in 35 years.

The law would allow contracts to be signed with the companies, which would give them exclusive rights to extract oil for up to 20 years.

The campaign supports the view of much of Iraqi civil society that the current oil law, and contracts signed under it, would surrender Iraq's sovereignty and economic future to foreign interests. The UK campaign will target British oil majors Shell and BP, warning them to keep their 'Hands Off' the spoils of war.

Ewa Jasiewicz, researcher and campaigner at PLATFORM said:

'Deals signed under this law should be regarded as a form of robbery. Iraq's oil in this context is war loot, for which hundreds and thousands of Iraqis have died. Oil companies pushing for contracts now should be regarded as war profiteers; partners in the stealing of Iraq's future'.

Louise Richards, Chief Executive at War on Want, said:

'We stand in solidarity with all workers in the Iraqi oil industry at this crucial time in their struggle. Iraq's trade unionists have consistently been denied any say in the future of their country's oil sector, despite their strong and reasoned opposition to privatisation. We salute and support them in their opposition to the theft of Iraq's oil resources.'

A sister campaign has also been launched in Italy. Another is about to launch in the USA. Both are co-ordinating with Hands Off in the UK. The Italian campaign is pressurizing Italian oil company ENI to back out of the bidding process for contracts under the law.

Paola Gasparoli, Iraq Project Manager at Un Ponte Per says:

'We are asking our government which is the main stakeholder in ENI to oppose any attempt to dispossess Iraq of its' resources. To allow the sell-out of Iraqi oil whilst sending money for humanitarian aid and reconstruction is more than farcical, it is immoral. Iraq's oil and gas is not yet privatised - it is now more important that ever to support Iraqi unions and the Iraqi general public in opposing this law'.

The US campaign will target oil company Chevron, including picketing their offices on 20 March, the fourth anniversary of the start of the war.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, trade unions - as well as members of parliament and oil experts - are organising against the oil law. In a recent statement to the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Hassan Jum'a Awad, leader of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions said:

'I particularly say to America "Hands Off Iraqi Oil". This wealth belongs to the people of Iraq and the decent people of the world'.

See for information and updates


PLATFORM - Greg Muttitt 07970 589 611

War on Want - Paul Collins 07983 550728

Jubilee Iraq - Justin Alexander 07813 137171

IRAQ - Iraqi federation of Oil Unions Hassan Jumaa Awad al Assadi 00964 7801 001 196 (Arabic Only)

ITALY - Un Ponte Per Paola Gasparoli 0039 333 544 6280

USA - Oil Change International Antonia Juhasz 001 (415) 846-5447

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Can Flying Saucers from Hollow Earth rescue Ernst Zundel?

ZUNDEL and the boys. in Canada.
Alas, he's now under a different sort of guard. Maybe he'd have been safer sticking to his earlier racket (above).

LOOKING round the world there are more than enough deserving causes to claim our attention - refugees, the homeless, the poor and hungry, the victims of racism, and the kids blown up by cluster bombs.
But real sophisticates will seek out the less obvious - say Slobodan Milosevic, or the Moors Murderers, -and some hearts will even bleed for Ernst Zundel, whom a court in Mannheim, Germany, has jailed for five years on 14 charges of inciting race hatred and denying the Nazi genocide which killed six million Jews.
Zundel's wife Ingrid and supporters are already promising a protest, saying "Is this how Germany treats Holocaust researchers? Join us for an historic demonstration in front of the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. protesting Ernst Zundel's shameful incarceration!Date: May 7, 2007 Time: 11 a.m to 1 p.m. Bring some friends!"
I like that innocuous description - not Holocaust deniers, or even "revisionists", but merely "Holocaust researchers"! Dammit, the man has only just been jailed and already his comrades are showing weakness by adopting bland liberal expressions. What kind of Master Race is this? What happened to "No remorse!"?
Zundel, 67, born in Germany, moved to Canada in 1958, apparently to get out of national service. I guess a man of his calibre must have felt he had better ways to serve the Fatherland than square-bashing in the Bundeswehr, with all that "democratic" nonsense, and talk of the "New Germany". His was the Old one. He wrote a book "The Hitler We Loved and Why" and became a worldwide distributor of Nazi literature, also publishing "Did Six Million Really Die", by the British National Front member Richard Verral. A court case in Canada found that this contained falsehoods and fabrications, but did not breach then existing law.
In 2000, after unsuccessful applications for Canadian citizenship, Zundel moved to Tennessee, where he married his third wife, Ingrid Rimland. It was a marriage of true soulfellows. Rimland has written two novels, Lebensraum, about Ukrainian Germans who "fight to preserve their own race", and The Wanderers, depicting the Nazi invaders of the Soviet Union as liberators.
The FBI gave Zundel a clean bill of health, but in 2003, he was arrested over visa problems, and sent back to Canda. In Toronto he was detained, accused of being a danger to Canadian citizens because of his Nazi links, and deported to Germany in 2005.
On trial in Germany, Zundel demanded a commission to investigate Auschwitz, claimed the law used against him was unconstitutional, and like others before him fell back on his right to "free speech". The court were not impressed.
Herr Zundel has not always been so keen on freedom from censorship. In 1980 he complained bitterly that Canadian and US authorities were not doing anything to ban the Holocaust mini-series on TV, which according to him incited hatred of Christian Germans, Ukrainians and others and did so to justify Zionist crimes.
"By stopping the Zionist 'six million' swindle, we can also stop the spread of Zionist tyranny and terror throughout the world. The following authorities in Canada, however, have not seen fit to enforce the law by stopping the "Holocaust" hate message: Prime Minister Clark... The same dereliction of duty has occurred with the counterparts of these authorities in the United States. It is therefor [sic] on behalf of Truth, Freedom and Justice that I offer my services on this most important subject of the past, present and future. I also offer books and publications about the "Holocaust" hoax. Help us now, before the lies of the past strangle our future. To be informed is not a privilege; it is a duty. Help us before it is too late by contacting me, Ernst Zundel, Spokesman for Concerned Parents of German Descent, 206 Carlton St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 2L1. Tel, (416) 922-9850. Your kind donations will help defray the enormous expenses of our Campaign for Truth, Freedom and Justice!"
In 1994 he produced a leaflet demanding that the authorities should ban the film Schindler's List. You may think Spielberg's film, based on Thomas Kennealy's book, shows how one German found it possible to rescue people from slaughter, but according to Zundel not only did Spielberg exaggerate the death and suffering in Auschwitz but: "The movie generates hatred against Germans, and it should be possible to ban it under 'hate laws' in Canada, Germany, and other countries. Photocopy and distribute this, and join the worldwide campaign to BAN SCHINDLER'S LIST!
Information: Ernst Zuendel at Samisdat Pub., 206 Carlton St., Toronto, Ontario..."
Before he decided to concentrate on disproving the facts of Nazi genocide, Ernst Zundel had made his name and reputation trying to establish a quite fascinating explanation of other phenomena. Ever resentful and suspicious of "Jewish" science like that of Einstein, and of the modern world in general, the Nazis were easy suckers for "alternative" theories about the world, the universe and everything. The Cosmic Ice theory had the stars and planets composed of ice, another had human beings arising in far northern climes (chilly, but,much more confortable for racialists than an African genesis).
Then there were Hollow Earth theories. One had us living on the inner surface of a hollow sphere. The story goes that Hitler dispatched a team of scientists to the Baltic island of Rugen (why there I don't know, though it is noted for tales of underground-dwelling dwarfs) to set up a powerful telescope and photograph the British fleet across on the other side of the hollow world.
A more modest theory, first put forward by a Captain John Cleves Symmes in the United States in 1818 said there was an inner earth, with openings at the poles. Captain Symmes appealed for a hundred "brave companions" to join him on an expedition to find the northern polar opening - which became known as "Symmes' Hole". He appealed to Congress for funding for the expedition, without success. But others eventually set out, and in 1926, Admiral Byrd reported that he had flown over the North Pole, following up three years later with a flight over the South Pole. No holes were spotted, either end.
It takes more than that to deter a Zundel. Marrying the Hollow Earth idea with the 1950s fascination with Unidentified Flying Objects, he spread the view that flying saucers were really developed by Nazi scientists and were issuing from the holes beneath which the new Reich was set up in the Hollow Earth.
" Our discoveries have led us into the production of a number of currently suppressed and sometimes vilified books which are now underground bestsellers. 'UFOs--NAZI SECRET WEAPON?' was our first title, now sold out in 5 complete editions. Our second book, 'SECRET NAZI POLAR EXPEDITIONS', is coming up fast and has sold out 2 full editions. Foreign language translations of these books are selling briskly, and it is becoming obvious to everyone that the media-enforced blockade of the truth has now been broken. Three additional books are currently under production and these will round out our Phase I Publishing Program: 'THE CIA-KGB-UFO COVERUP', 'THE ANTARCTICA THEORY' and 'THE LAST BATTALION'.
Besides the books, you could order an official UFO spotter's card, and for the children there was a working model UFO at $6.95 plus postage, or a flying saucer frisbee at $3.70. But if you were really serious, and had enough money, Zundel - or "Christof Friedrich" - appealing for funds to help his research, proposed to charter a South African plane which might fly from Rio or Buenos Aires and land a swastika flag on some glacier, reclaiming what he said was German territory - New Swabia - while seeking the hole leading to an underground world. Zundel promised this "Antarctic Expedition in Search of Hitler's Flying Saucer Bases and the South Polar Opening into Inner Earth will be the unique event of a lifetime", and they would drink champagne on the plane to celebrate.
Thwarted no doubt by the hidden forces, the search for Hitler's Hole never took off, but as Zundel says " I was young, rich and adventurous then - and we were all roaring to go. I had lots of fun and did up to three and four talk shows a week on that "Nazi-Antarctic-UFO-Find-the Führer's Bases" story".
According to Frank Miele's article "Giving the Devil His Due," in the Skeptic,
"In a later phone conversation, Zündel told me that the UFO book was in fact a ploy. 'I realized that North Americans were not interested in being educated. They want to be entertained. The book was for fun. With a picture of the Führer on the cover and flying saucers coming out of Antarctica it was a chance to get on radio and TV talk shows. For about 15 minutes of an hour program I'd talk about that esoteric stuff. Then I would start talking about all those Jewish scientists in concentration camps, working on these secret weapons. And that was my chance to talk about what I wanted to talk about." '
It seems a pity that Zundel had to turn from seeking the Hole to denying the Holocaust, or as he puts it "I was forced by Germany's enemies to tackle the hoary and fraudulent 'Holocaust' claims". (Zundelsite).
But he has gained some devoted admirers:
"Unlike most Holocaust revisionists (rather an austere, academic lot), Zundel is a hands-on activist – a gentle, good-humored man, kind and honest and with those qualities often found in the strangest places: a fine mind and a good heart."

This writer was surprised that "Despite an impressive defense from heavyweights such as Robert Faurisson, Marc Weber and David Irving who, having just read the Leuchter report, took the opportunity of the trial to proclaim his conversion to Holocaust revisionism, Zundel was again found guilty and sentenced…."
The writer in question, Paul Eisen, was impressed with Zundel's book
"Ernst Zundel was once involved in the publication of a book called The Hitler We Loved and Why, but Ernst Zundel was not the only German who loved Hitler and is probably not the only German who still loves Hitler. Millions of Germans loved Hitler who for twelve years impacted on them as no German has or probably ever will, and, though they never say so, must, deep down still cherish his memory."

This Eisen was appointed by US Professor Daniel McGowan as UK director of Deir Yassin Remembered(DYR). The idea of honouring the memory of that martyred Palestinian village, scene of a notorious massacre by Zionist forces in April 1948, seemed, and is, a worthy project. None of us had heard of Eisen, let alone knew of his views. DYR gained wide support and enthusiasm, and was able to stage a major successful event, but Eisen's musings in the JustPeace UK discussion list increasingly revealed another agenda. Though he empathises with Germans supposedly made to feel collective shame for Hitlerism, he had no problem accusing Jews of collective guilt for crimes going back to the Crucifixion.
Deir Yassin Remembered appeared more like Deir Yassin Forgotten, as Eisen denounced the very people who had been prepared to work with him, ascribing their wickedness to an inescapable "Jewish essence". But if we naively thought Paul Eisen had just strayed off on some unfortunate personal quest, we were put right when we found that one Israel Shamir, aka Swedish antisemite Joran Jermas, a Russian-born writer with curious view on blood libel, remains among DYR's advisers.
Nazis have often tried to infiltrate pro-Palestinian causes, and it suits the Zionist propaganda machine that they should be seen as succeeding. Where Shamir's role might fit such intrigue is open to conjecture. David Irving once backed off a deal whereby the ex-BBC Russian service writer tried to sell him a large selection of Nazi documents. Lord Ahmed failed to get out of an invitation to Shamir to the House of Lords, then found it used against him in the press a month later.
Shamir's website recently featured A Visit in Prison with Ernst Zuendel
By Prof Daniel McGowan. Shamir proclaims Zundel a "prisoner of Zion", and says visiting him was a mitzvah, a great good deed. McGowan doesn't hide behind mere concern for human rights, but praises Zundel's "courage" and "efforts to tell the truth about the Holocaust". In a footnote he suggests the American Civil Liberties Union would not not support Zundel because it looks after "Jewish interests".
Zundel's friends and admirers have not so far paid great attention to his work on Hollow Earth and UFOs from Antarctica, which seems a pity. If the flying saucers can't be got to rescue him, at least Professor McGowan and Paul Eisen could renew the captive's dream by launching an expedition to discover Hitler's Hole and reclaim the lost Aryan Shangri La, the land hidden by the polar ice, New Swabia. If global warming continues it might soon be revealed, anyway.
I've got just the hero to lead the intrepid expedition, a bold figure who has loyally helped spread Eisen's gospel and kept in touch with Israel Shamir too.
That's if he can cancel some of his forthcoming saxophone gigs.
And Deir Yassin, like other sites of mass murder, might yet be properly remembered.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Is the Met assisting hate propaganda?

GUJARAT, Five years ago. Thousands killed.

AWAAZ warns that violent extremists are operating behind "respectable" covers and charities here.
What part do state and media play?

WHEN I first heard a few years ago about some anonymous leaflets circulating in the Southall area of west London, accusing young Muslim men of systematically plying Sikh or Hindu girls with alcohol in order not only to have their wicked way with them but to convert them to Islam, I thought this must be a new stunt thought up by someone around the British National Party or similar outfit.

For one thing, the obsession with sinister but apparently irresistable enemies seducing "Our" women is an old favourite of racist propaganda - for the Ku Klux Klan and its imitators it was over-endowed Black men, for der Stuermer it was lascivious Semites pawing fair Aryan maidens. Goebbels found Julius Streicher's paper a bit pornographic for his taste, but it is credited with helping work up ordinary antisemitism into brutality, sadism and murder.

For another, the idea of introducing young women to alcohol (as though most of them need any introduction these days) in order to persuade them of the joys of Islam seems a peculiar combination. It sounds like the sort of allegation some thick white racialist might put in a leaflet without thinking, having originally intended the accusation against someone else.

Southall has a large Sikh population and a growing Muslim population from varied backgrounds. The white racists got their ass kicked in Southall years ago (indeed almost fried when a skinhead pub was burned to the ground), so after licking their wounds why not turn to trying to stir different sections of Asians against one another? Hasn't the BNP been pretending it does not mind some communities so much, it is only going for Muslims? For now.

Well, that was the way my suspicious mind worked the moment I heard about those leaflets. But it turns out I may have been wrong. Some far-Right forces are at work, but they're not just the usual suspects.

AWAAZ -South Asia Watch, a group formed mainly by young educated British Asians opposed to religious extremism and warmongering in south Asia and elsewhere has issued a statement this weekend asking "Why are the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and a government minister giving credence to dubious Hindu fundamentalist claims?"

It condemns what it believes to be an attempt by London's Metropolitan Police to lend authority to dubious claims being made by Hindu fundamentalist groups in Britain. "These claims mainly centre around the allegation that Muslim students on university campuses are engaging in 'aggressive conversions' or 'forcible conversions' of Hindu and Sikh girls".

On 21 February, the Hindu Forum of Britain and National Hindu Students Forum (NHSF) held a 'Hindu Security Conference' at the London School of Economics. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, was a keynote speaker and a number of senior policemen, including officers from Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist squad and Diversity Directorate, were present.
Tony McNulty, the Minister for Policing and Security, was also a keynote speaker. The audience was mainly composed of about 120 students.

"At a conference workshop on the subject of 'campus security', chaired by a police officer from the Met's Diversity Directorate, NHSF students related
accounts of what they described as aggressive conversions. These were the worst examples they presented: one Hindu male student described how a Muslim friend has suggested he come to a lecture on the meaning of Islam. In another case, a group of Muslim students allegedly told a Hindu male student that he should convert to Islam and predicted that, by the end of the university term, he would do so -- a statement which this student felt carried an element of menace. Both these were defined as examples of 'aggressive conversions'.

"Mention was made of leaflets, alleged to have been produced by Islamic organisations and distributed on campuses, in which instructions were given
on how to convert Hindu and Sikh girls by getting them drunk. Such leaflets have long been used by groups on all sides wanting to stir up trouble in British Asian communities. Police officers, in the past, have generally dismissed them as a hoax.

"The poster for the Hindu Security conference advertised 'radicalisation and
violent extremism' as one of the topics under discussion. But, in fact, the
only extremism under discussion was of the Islamist kind".

When one attendee at the workshop pointed out that many evangelical religious organisations, including Christian ones, attempt to convert students, the police officer chairing the workshop said they were only interested in Muslim attempts at converting people.

Somehow the issue of men getting young girls drunk was linked with the war on "terrorism". An officer from Scotland Yard's SO15 Counter Terrorist Command showed an al-Qaida propaganda video, explaining that it
was important for the audience to know what Muslim students were being
exposed to. A representative of the Union of Jewish Students(UJS) spoke about how Jewish and Hindu students had much in common, because India faced the same problem in Kashmir as Israel did in Palestine.

Any Jewish student who naievely joined a UJS-affiliated society thinking it was just a matter of cultural or religious tradition will thus learn that their opinion not only on Israel/Palestine but Kashmir too is taken for granted by those supposed to represent her or him. Palestinians and Jewish peace activists know UJS too well to be much surprised by anything it does, but MPs, the National Union of Students and anti-racist organisations continue to listen to this Zionist lobby outfit with a respect it does not deserve.

The day after the Hindu Security event, a number of articles on 'aggressive
conversions' appeared in the press. The Metro, distributed free on the London Underground, but an offshout of Associated Newspapers (Daily Mail and Evening Standard) wrote of 'Muslim extremists who try to force teenage Hindu girls to convert' and spoke of a 'new police crackdown' (22 February 2007). Ian Blair was quoted as saying 'There is a feeling in the Hindu community that we have not given them as much attention
as other groups.'

In the Daily Mail (22 February 2007), Blair also spoke of the need to clamp down on 'aggressive conversions' by 'extremist Muslims'. Both newspaper articles reported uncritically the Hindu Forum of Britain's allegations that 'hundreds of mostly Sikh and Hindu girls' are being 'terrorised' into converting.

Awaaz says neither at the conference nor in subsequent newspaper reports was there any solid evidence of coercion. Awaaz strongly condemns any attempt to intimidate or threaten students into religious conversion or religious conformity and believes that this must be tackled by university authorities.

"We condemn, for example, some reported incidents of Islamist groups trying to coerce Muslim women into wearing the hijab. But we believe that the National Hindu Students Forum is grossly exaggerating the issue of 'aggressive conversions' as part of its own political agenda. It is indulging in dangerous and divisive scare-mongering. The organisation itself, and the claims it is making, are being given undue credibility by the police and the government".

It seems my suspicions of a fascist connection were not that far off the mark, even if I suspected the wrong bunch of fascists. Awaaz says the National Hindu Student's Forum is an organisation closely allied to Indian Hindu supremacist groups, such as the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh).

"The RSS, once banned in India because of its fascist and violent history, has a virulent anti-Muslim agenda and pursues this effectively through its sister organisations abroad. Indian groups with links to the RSS are often also anti-Christian (more information on these groups is available on our website: Neither the British organisations nor the Indian ones represent the majority of Hindus in either country.

"Awaaz believes that the NHSF in Britain is trying to turn any kind of
conversion -- whether coercive or not -- into a matter involving the police
and criminal justice system. This agenda has been imported directly from
Hindu supremacist groups in India, such as the violent Vishwa Hindu
Parishad, an organisation that the Hindu Forum of Britain has defended. A
number of anti-conversion laws have been introduced in some Indian states
after successful lobbying by these groups. These are part of an anti-Muslim
and anti-Christian communal politics which has led to restrictions on
religious freedom in India.

"Hindu supremacist organisations in Britain have long targeted campuses in
order to promote their divisive ideology. What is new is the overt collusion
of the police in a political agenda that is itself a serious threat to
community cohesion.

For further information:,,


A short film by Ian McDonald, "Physiological Patriots: The Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh" can be seen on YouTube:

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Labour slap in the face for workers' rights

protest outside agency that recruited non-union, casual labour to replace them in airline catering firm

Labour government ministers and party whips have talked out a private members' Bill that aimed to protect agency workers, and give them rights like those of regular full-time and directly employed staff.

The Temporary Agency Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Bill introduced by Paul Farrelly, the Labour MP for Newcastle under Lyme, and backed by trade unions, had its second reading in the House of Commons today. But supporters say government tactics have ensured the Bill cannot progress to the next stage. John McDonnell MP, who is standing as left-wing candidate for the labour leadership said:" The Government 's tactics today have been an open abuse of parliamentary democracy."

Casualisation and the use of agency labour has been a major factor in undermining workers' rights and conditions in Britain, dividing the working class between those who still have regular employment and fringe benefits and a growing number of insecure, low-paid workers, lacking rights such as sick-pay or holidays, competing for work, and afraid to complain about conditions, even safety, in case they are replaced.

Together with the drive for outsourcing as employers - public as well as private - sought cheap labour and cut corners , it has brought deterioration and dangers for the public too, as seen in the dirty hospitals where people have got more ill than when they went in.

Unions said that Paul Farrell's bill, if enacted, it would prevent "unscrupulous" employers and agencies exploiting workers and undercutting the pay and conditions of permanent employees. Backed by Amicus, the Transport and General Workers Union (T&G), GMB, Unison, Communication Workers Union and the TUC, it required the support of 100 MPs if it was to progress beyond its second reading.

In the 2004 Warwick Agreement, one of the promises with which Labour bought the acquiescence of trade union leaders with its war and other policies was a pledge to introduce domestic legislation to protect agency workers should the European Union fail to reach consensus on a Directive. But just like New Labour, other European governments see "flexibility" in the labour market as their way to reduce unemployment queues. Meanwhile reforms which look good on paper can be trumpeted, ignoring the fact that they don't apply to agency staff.

Derek Simpson, General Secretary of Amicus; Tony Woodley, General Secretary of the T&G; and Billy Hayes, General Secretary CWU said:
"The equal treatment of people at work is a fundamental human right and a basic test of a fair society. Apart from the moral imperative, the ability of unscrupulous employers to create a working underclass will prevent the UK economy becoming the dynamic knowledge-based economy we and the Government believe, is our future.

"Under Labour we have made real advancements for workers. But not for all workers - there has been a systematic discrimination against agency workers, many of whom are the most vulnerable in our workplaces. With agency staff now numbering well over one million workers, and set to grow further still, the government cannot continue to place these workers out with the most fundamental employment protections."

The Temporary (Agency) Workers Directive (TAWD) which was supposed to deal with the problem was effectively halted in September 2005 when the EU Enterprise Commissioner announced plans to shelve a number of initiatives in a bid to cut "red tape". Successful Private Members' Bills have included the Christmas Day (Trading) Bill, The Sunday Working (Scotland) Bill and the Gangmasters (Licensing) Bill. However, the Recruitment Employment Confederation (REC) claims greater regulation is not the answer, and that temporary workers in the UK are already covered by most basic employment rights. Naturally, it too wants "flexibility", and warned that unemployment would rise if agency work was restricted.

"The Private Member's Bills we were due to debate have both been endorsed by the TUC and Labour Party Conferences and had huge support on the backbenches," said Labour leadership contender John McDonnel in a statement tonight. "Deliberately preventing MPs from even having the opportunity to properly debate bills that extend the rights of working people in this country is an absolute disgrace and brings the whole of Parliament into disrepute. "

"Labour supporters will be astonished to learn that the Government has done everything in its power to talk out not Paul Farrelly's excellent bill seeking to give some protection to agency workers but also the Trade Union Rights and Freedoms Bill, which I was introducing to restore to working people the rights stolen by Thatcher."

Actually, the days have long gone when trade unionists and people who would have considered themselves Labour supporters are "astonished" by anything this government does. Disgusted and angry, yes. And while John McDonnell's excellent campaign may have temporary reduced the hemorrhaging of members from the Labour Party, it won't stop trades unionists asking ourselves what we are giving votes and money to the Labour Party for. Even if the question of an alternative has been put on hold while we give the Left a chance to sort the leadership out.

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