Cop who killed Tomlinson has form

July 24, 2010 at 4:27 pm (Jim D, police, thuggery)

Occasionally you learn something interesting from the Daily Mail:

THE PC WHO LEFT UNDER A CLOUD

PC Simon Harwood, the officer who was accused of killing Ian Tomlinson, left the Met in controversial circumstances several years ago while facing misconduct proceedings over an alleged off-duty road rage incident.

The 43-year-old was allowed to retire on ill health grounds because of a leg or shoulder injury before the disciplinary case, which is said to have involved allegations of violence, was heard.

But after surgery on his injury, he rejoined the force as a civilian operator, dispatching officers to calls, and then after being declared medically fit, was accepted to join Surrey Police as a PC.

Later, despite the outstanding disciplinary proceedings, he transferred back to the Met and was deployed in the riot squad.

Ian Tomlinson familySadness and anger: Relatives of Ian Tomlinson react to the decision not to prosecute the police officer who attacked the newspaper seller

Last night Scotland Yard refused to comment on the apparent vetting bungle. It said: ‘It is not appropriate to comment on the officer’s employment history-until the completion of any criminal or misconduct proceedings.’

But a source told a Sunday newspaper last year: ‘No former officer with an outstanding disciplinary matter should ever be given his job back.’

Last night there was no sign of PC Harwood, his wife  –  a practice manager at a GP’s surgery  –  or their two young sons at their £450,000 Surrey home.

Neighbours said the family left the property at around 1am yesterday, hours before the officer was informed of the CPS decision not to charge him.

Colleagues confirmed that PC Harwood had gone to ground ‘for the foreseeable future’.

He has been suspended on full pay for 15 months and insists he did nothing wrong.

A colleague said: ‘Simon’s a good cop and there are many of us who believe he has been hung out to dry over this case.

‘He faces an uncertain future with an inquest and possible disciplinary proceedings ahead.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1296793/G20-policeman-escapes-charges-death-Ian-Tomlinson-protests.html#ixzz0ucKnvBic

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State of the Race: Burnham on Iraq

July 24, 2010 at 4:10 pm (anonymous, elections, iraq, labour party, Max Dunbar)

I like David Milliband but he’s a bit wonky, he makes me think of the ‘tiny head’ scene from The Thick of It, and that may not be what we need to win an election. Andy Burnham, however, comes across as a passionate and interested man, and the NS doesn’t seem to be able to handle him. When so many Labour leadership candidates fall over themselves to apologise for Iraq, and so much of the party has bought into the silo narrative, Burnham’s stance is refreshing.

You took a decision without having all the facts at your disposal.
On Iraq, I voted for it because the leader of the Iraqi Kurds pleaded with MPs to do that at a private meeting here before the war. I asked him outright: ‘Do you think weapons exist?’ And he said: ‘I don’t know, but our people will for ever be suppressed because we can’t be sure.’

And that was the problem with Saddam Hussein — to maintain his grip over his own people, he had to maintain the pretence that he had them. That’s why he had to frustrate [the UN weapons inspector Hans] Blix. He couldn’t let him finish his work, because the minute he finished his work and the world was told he didn’t have any weapons would have been the moment Saddam would have been drummed out of power. I believe there would have been a civil war, which would have been problematic in a different way. The root cause of all this was the failure to remove him at the end of the first Gulf war. And I think the world, because of that, was going to have to come back to the Iraq question.

You say that if Hans Blix’s inspection had run its course and he’d said, ‘Actually the WMDs don’t exist,’ there would have been a civil war, but that’s exactly how it ended up anyway.
It was certainly bloody and it was certainly ugly, there’s no getting away from that. The question is now: is Iraq in a better position than it was? Does it have hope of a better future than it did? Is there more order in the country than would otherwise have been the case? Does the government have more of a chance of making a success of itself in the medium to long term? The answer to those questions is: yes, it does, it has hope of rebuilding itself and not becoming a failed state. And that, for me, justifies the decision, hard as it was.

Is it easier to move on with someone who didn’t vote for the war?
I do feel there is a need to take the party beyond the damaging argument we’ve been through. I’m proposing that, as leader, I will set up a commission on military intervention in the party, in the wider Labour family and also drawing in representation from civic society, to look at Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Afghanistan. The central question is: what, where and under which circumstances should the Labour Party give its endorsement to military intervention? So, essentially, what it would be trying to do is develop a framework for intervention.

I sense you have a view on that already.
I’m not articulating a doctrine of intervention; it’s not a neocon view, it’s absolutely not that. It’s simply that I fear Labour could get it wrong, coming away from Iraq and saying: ‘Never again.’ If you look back at Kosovo and Sierra Leone, while the intervention in Iraq is much more contested and disputed, there are people in Kosovo and Sierra Leone who are, to this day, joyous that the Labour government took a moral lead. Labour cannot give up on that moral lead, which improves lives and upholds human rights. My worry would be, yes, we learned a lesson from Iraq and the [conclusion of the] Chilcot inquiry will be a sobering moment for Labour, but you can’t then [allow] the pendulum [to] swing right back and say: ‘We can never do that again. We’ve now become a country that doesn’t play its role on the world stage.’

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Unite: AWL comes out for McCluskey

July 23, 2010 at 5:49 am (AWL, elections, Jim D, political groups, unions)

After a considerable period of discussion, and some argument, the Alliance for Workers Liberty have come out in support of a vote for Len McCluskey in the forthcoming Unite general secretary election. Their support is, however, sharply critical. Here’s an except from the  AWL statement:

The main left candidate for the General Secretary’s position is Len McCluskey. Despite our criticisms of his record as Unite Assistant General Secretary, and despite the limitations of his election manifesto, the AWL is calling for a vote for McCluskey.

McClusky pledges to make Unite a democratic union (with members having the decisive say in how it conducts itself), a fighting union (which stands up for its members), an organising union (which reaches out to the unorganised), and a tolerant and inclusive union (in which bullying no longer has a role to play).

In response to what he has rightly called “the class war which has been declared against the trade unions by the new government and employers,” McCluskey has declared that “now is not the time to batten down the hatches but to rise like lions!” It is “only organised labour which can defend jobs,” despite the threat of yet further anti-union laws:

“In the depths of a capitalist crisis, working people are to be denied any prospect of resisting. The trade union movement will not see these threats off simply by lobbying, necessary though that is.”

“We have to be prepared to demonstrate, protest and take industrial action where necessary to make it clear that we are not going to be the scapegoats for the bankers’ crisis, and to say that defending union rights is the same thing as defending working people’s living standards.”

In campaign meetings McCluskey has also repeatedly spoken of the need to win back the Labour Party from the Blairites and Brownites: Unite members should join the party as individuals, and also secure delegations to local Constituency Labour Parties from their Unite branches.

McCluskey says the right things about the need to take on the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition’s offensive against the working class, the centrality of the trade union movement to the fightback against that offensive, the use of industrial action where necessary (as it will be), and the need to challenge Blairite-Brownite control of the Labour Party.

But there is a problem. And that problem is the gap between what McCluskey says and what he actually does.

McCluskey wants a democratic union? But that must involve the election of union officials (with officials being paid around what the members whom they represent are paid), and the right of Unite branches to communicate with one another. Yet there is no mention of electing, rather than appointing, union officials, nor of the right to inter-branch communication, in McCluskey’s campaigning material.

McCluskey wants a fighting union which stands up for its members? But time and time again Unite has failed to back up its members who find themselves under attack from their employers, and has allowed itself to be intimidated by the Tories’ anti-union laws. McCluskey has been party to those failures. Reading McCluskey’s campaigning material right now, you would not even be aware of the BA dispute!

McCluskey wants an organising union which reaches out to the unorganised? But when Vestas workers on the Isle of Wight, some of whom were already Unite members, occupied their workplace last year in a fight to save jobs, Unite took a conscious decision not to recruit the rest of the workforce, leaving them to be recruited by the RMT.

McCluskey wants to seize back the Labour Party from the Brownites and Blairites? But in the last Labour Party leadership contest and also in the current one McClusky refused to support the candidate (John McDonnell) who represented the only serious challenge to the Labour right. Again, reading McCluskey’s campaigning material, you would not even know that a Labour Party leadership contest was currently underway!

Calling for a vote for McCluskey does not mean relying on McCluskey to deliver what he says he stands for. McCluskey has not done it so far, in his capacity as Assistant General Secretary. And there is no reason to suppose that he would deliver in the role of General Secretary.

Campaigning for a vote for McCluskey needs to be linked to discussion about what needs to be done to turn the generalities contained in his election manifesto into reality. The election campaign needs to be part of a much broader campaign amongst the union’s rank-and-file members aimed at transforming Unite – in deeds, not just in words – into a fighting union.

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Scientologophobia Watch: The Internet

July 22, 2010 at 7:19 pm (blogosphere, cults, Lib Dems, Max Dunbar, religion, scientology)

This is a guest post by the Church of Scientology UK Media Relations Team

Some might say that the complaint against Cllr John Dixon was a little harsh. A few of our members have privately expressed the view that submitting a formal complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales about a light-hearted statement on a microblogging service was an overreaction that could prove counterproductive as it may generate a lot of bad publicity that would in the end cancel out any positive outcome from the complaint itself.

We know who these people are. They will be spoken to.

Quite apart from Cllr Dixon’s well-documented meetings with Lord Xenu in his volcano prison on Complex 9, his Scientologophobic rant was an assault on our religious freedom and it is right to bring him to justice through the appropriate legal channels (as well as the good old Fair Game policy).

Our case against him illustrates the double-edged sword that is the Internet. In the right hands, the net can be a source of creativity and development for all Scientologists. In the hands of Suppressive Persons, it can be used to demonise Scientologists and defame our religion. Dixon’s lies have been repeated many times on Twitter and Facebook (or ‘XenuBook’ as it should be called) often by shrill atheist/sceptics who seek to mock Scientology and undermine religious faith in general.

We are therefore launching the L Ron Hubbard Posthumous Dictat #373623/A (Renounciation of Suppressive Media Technologies) which declares all social networking users and staff Fair Game. Any Scientologists with accounts on these sites are advised to close them immediately and register with the L Ron-approved ‘Thetanbook’, a friendly, accessible service on which users can post meditations on the teaching of Dianetics in a user-friendly 10,000 words minimum format.

Excelsior!

*click*

(end communication)

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Memo from Liam Fox to the Taliban

July 18, 2010 at 9:03 pm (Afghanistan, Champagne Charlie, David Cameron, insanity, Pakistan, thuggery, Tory scum)

Dear Colleagues,

The new, more realistic, UK administration understands that your traditional values are appropriate for Afghanistan and that so-called “liberal” and “democratic” values – particularly with regard to the inferior, female element of society – are not. We will explain this to the women and girls of your splendid country, some of whom may have been mislead by adventurist neo-cons into expecting that the US and UK would support their so-called “liberation.” We now realise that raising such expectations was a mistake. The good chaps in the Pakistani secret services agree.

Those of you who choose to call yourselves “moderates” are welcome to take power, with or without Karzai. I mean, he’s talked about joining you lot, anyway, hasn’t he?

We’re withdrawing  in 2014, so – to be honest – you can just sit tight ’till then: then move in, neutralise or kill Karzai. The women and girls can be subdued according to your traditional culture which we naturally respect. We’d prefer it if you didn’t tear teachers who’ve taught girls,  limb from limb – but that’s you’re decision of course.  Any locals who’ve helped us – you know, interpreters and suchlike- will be denied immigration rights  to the UK, so you’ll have to deal with them. I trust you’ll be merciful.  Anyway: we’re fucking off in 2014 and you chaps can take over. Good luck! You know where you stand with a Tory/Lib Dem government!

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Liam Fox

(cc: David Cameron), Perfidious Albion

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‘Socialist Worker’ admits it was wrong on Atzmon

July 18, 2010 at 7:22 pm (anti-semitism, jazz, Jim D, mental health, Middle East, SWP, truth)

Gilad Atzmon’s anti-Semitic beliefs

July 15, 2010

Editor’s note: On July 13, SocialistWorker.org published an interview with jazz musician and anti-Zionist writer Gilad Atzmon. After the interview’s publication, we learned of many allegations that Atzmon has made not just highly inflammatory, but anti-Semitic statements about Jews, be they supporters or opponents of the state of Israel–and that he has associations with deniers of the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews. The evidence for these serious charges is damning.

We knew that Atzmon was a controversial figure among opponents of Israel when we ran our article, but not the full extent of these allegations. Needless to say, there was no trace of such ideas in his interview with SocialistWorker.org, or it never would have been published.

Nevertheless, we believe that our Web site, which is committed to the liberation of the Palestinian people and to the struggle against anti-Semitism, should not have published the interview without any reference to the controversy over someone who could make the comments and advance the ideas that he has–whatever his motives or reasoning. We therefore withdrew the article from our site.

I WAS very surprised to go to SocialistWorker.org and see an interview with Gilad Atzmon (“Each village is a reminder,” July 13).

While Atzmon is a very talented artist and outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights, he is also an anti-Semite who should be totally marginalized by the Palestinian solidarity movement.

Atzmon’s sharp critiques of Israeli brutality may draw praise from U.S. listeners, who see major artists take a clear stand on this issue far too infrequently. But the body of Atzmon’s writings show his critique of Israel to be based in a deeper animus towards Jews in general, something of an improvisation off of the themes of classical Anti-Semitism.

In his essay “Tribal Marxism for Dummies,” for example, Atzmon draws a sharp line between Marxism and “Jewish Marxism.” In this noxious formulation, “Marxism is a universal paradigm” while “Jewish Marxism is basically a crude utilization of ‘Marxist-like’ terminology for the sole purpose of the Jewish tribal cause.” According to Atzmon, Jewish Marxists do little more than employ the language of Marxism as a ruse to control leftist movements.

He even goes so far as to say that Jewish Marxists are worse than Zionists: “It is the Jewish Marxist rather than the ‘Zionist’ who exposes the Jewish political ugly attitude in its worst crude form. This is good enough reason to monitor the Jewish left and to understand its philosophy.” Such language would not be out of place in the newspapers of the Black Hundreds.

Atzmon also takes particular aim at the analysis of Israel held by the International Socialist Organization. Moshe Machover, the pioneering Israeli socialist who played a key role in building international socialism in Israel, is for Atzmon little more than another “tribal” Jewish Marxist.

Atzmon dismisses Machover’s detailed description of the class dynamics of the Israeli colonial-settler state as “trivial,” arguing that “The reasoning behind such a lame intellectual spin is obvious. As long as Zionism is conveyed as a colonial project, Jews, as a people, should be seen as ordinary people. They are no different from the French and the English, they just happen to run their deadly colonial project in a different time.”

In other words, the failing of the Marxist critique of Israel is that it doesn’t recognize that the problem is really Jews themselves.

This kind of racist abuse is particularly loathsome in light of the courageous role played by Jewish activists all over the world in exposing Israel’s crimes. Anti-Semitism, though exaggerated and instrumentalized by Zionist apologias, is real, and it has absolutely no place in our movements.

Someone who repeatedly declares that Jewish Marxists are doing little more than hijacking the movement to further their “tribal” interests is poison to our struggle. They should be treated as such.
Paul Heideman, Newark, N.J.

JD: this is not, of course the UK SWP’s  ‘Socialist Worker’, but the publication of a US group kicked out of the SWP’s “international” about eight years ago. They sound as though they’re nutty “anti-Zionists”, but at least they’re willing to admit that they were taken in by the vicious anti-semite Atzmon – something the UK SWP still won’t admit to, despite having  knocked him off their invite list – even for the music – for “Marxism.”

H/t Bruce: welcome back, comrade!

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Mandelson=treacherous scum

July 16, 2010 at 12:06 am (Jim D, labour party, parasites, Tony Blair, twat, wankers)

Letter to the Graun (15/07/10):

As a Labour member I am appalled that some senior members of the party feel it necessary to publish tawdry, gossip-filled books. What an insult to those of us who worked hard at the last election to now see former cabinet ministers acting to enhance their bank balances at the expense of those who need a united party to fight the coalition.

Chris Gale, Chippenham, Wiltshire

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Argentina legalises gay marriage!

July 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm (Catholicism, Champagne Charlie, Christianity, Civil liberties, gay, Human rights, lesbian, LGBT)

Congratulations to the people and the government of Argentina – especially as their enlightened decision is one in the eye for the child-molesting hypocrites of the Catholic Church.

A lesbian couple kisses outside Argentina's congress during a rally to support same-sex marriage.

Argentina has become the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage after the Senate voted in favour.

The country’s Chamber of Deputies had already approved the legislation.

The vote in the Senate, which backed the bill by just six votes, came after 14 hours of at times heated debate.

The law, which also allows same-sex couples to adopt, had met with fierce opposition from the Catholic Church and other religious groups.

Read the rest here.

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The trouble with Hitchens

July 14, 2010 at 9:22 pm (Jim D, literature, Pro-War Left, socialism, wild man)

Tom Unterrainer of Workers Liberty on the strengths and weaknesses of Chris Hitchens. It will, no doubt, enrage those who love The Dude and those who hate him, in equal measure:

hitch-110.jpg

“Any number of questions popped into my mind whilst reading ‘Hitch-22’ – Christopher Hitchens’ recently published memoir – but two in particular kept coming back. The first: was Hitchens really ever ‘one of us’? The second: would it be easier to convince a Hitchens admirer or one of his mortally hostile ‘left wing’ critics of my politics? Why did these questions keep coming back?

“There’s an enviable amount to admire in Hitchens’ journalistic and other written output; some of the positions he defends overlap with most rational socialists’ instinctual sympathies and when all is said and done, there are few public figures who take up the polemical cudgels with such entertainingly brutal effect.

“But at the same time as being an outspoken critic of fascists old and new, a defender of minority national rights and unrelentingly hostile to religious mysticism of all types, Hitchens has been decisively wrong – and it seems to me, in this book at least, grossly disingenuous – on Bush Jnr, the invasion of Iraq and the ‘War on Terror’ more generally.”

Read the full article here

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Genocide denial: here we go again

July 13, 2010 at 2:59 pm (anti-fascism, cults, Max Dunbar)

It seems that every time a genocide happens a group of people, who often have no connection to the events or expertise in the relevant fields, claim very loudly and for their own reasons that the genocide never happened.

The obvious example is the denial of the Holocaust by Neo-Nazi cranks like David Irving and Ernst Zundel who have the obvious motive of rehabilitating fascism. More recently, parts of the far left got into the act by downplaying the atrocities committed by Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbian army in the Balkans during the 1990s – most prominently Noam Chomsky and his Medialens tribute sect. As Oliver Kamm wrote: ‘I don’t mean just that it’s ethically the same approach as Holocaust denial. I mean it’s the same approach.’

Now the vultures descend on Africa. Over a hundred days in 1994 Hutu government and independent militias carried out a war of racist extermination against Rwandan Tutsis. This brief generalisation is accepted by everyone connected with the subject.

Via Michael Ezra, I have found a review of Edward Herman and David Peterson’s book The Politics of Genocide. In it Chomsky disciples Herman and Peterson attempt to do for the Rwandan genocide what they did for the Balkan genocide, and for the same motives – portray the killings as an imperialist lie to justify American expansion.

Gerald Caplan’s piece is long, but essential:

Their main target, which is none of the cases mentioned so far, can be found squarely in the heart of the book. It’s chapter 4, the longest single section, and its purpose is to show that the 1994 genocide of the Rwandan Tutsi never happened. In fact the entire ‘genocide’ in Rwanda is an elaborate American conspiracy to ‘gain a strong military presence in Central Africa, a diminution of its European rivals’ influence, proxy armies to serve its interests, and access to the raw material-rich Democratic Republic of the Congo’.

Yes, in order to blame the American empire for every ill on earth, Herman and Peterson, two dedicated anti-imperialists, have sunk to the level of genocide deniers. And the ‘evidence’ they adduce to back up their delusional tale rests solidly on a foundation of other deniers, statements by genocidaires, fabrications, distortions, innuendo and gross ignorance. In this Grimm fairy tale, everyone who contradicts their fantasies is an American/RPF pawn – Paul Kagame, human rights investigator Alison des Forges, the head of the UN military mission in Rwanda during the genocide General Romeo Dallaire, and entire human rights organisations.

The main authorities on whom the authors rest their fabrications are a tiny number of long-time American and Canadian genocide deniers, who gleefully drink each other’s putrid bath water. Each solemnly cites the others’ works to document his fabrications – Robin Philpot, Christopher Black, Christian Davenport, Allan Stam, Peter Erlinder. It’s as if a Holocaust denier cited as supporting evidence the testimonies of David Irving, David Duke, Robert Faurisson or Ernest Zundel. Be confident Herman and Peterson are now being quoted as authoritative sources on the genocide by Robin Philpot, Christopher Black, Davenport and Stam, Peter Erlinder.

On the other hand, there are other writers on Rwanda on whom Herman and Peterson do not rely. They are many in number and they are totally ignored, except for the late Alison Des Forges, who is shabbily denigrated. In fact they include the overwhelming number of those who have ever written about the genocide. They include academics, human rights activists, journalists who were in Rwanda during the genocide or soon after, and others whose work brought them in close proximity to the events of 1994. Without exception, every single one agrees there was a genocide planned and executed by a cabal of leading Hutu extremists against Rwanda’s Tutsi minority.

There are of course also the many grim testimonies of both Tutsi who somehow survived and Hutu who are confessed genocidaires. Both kinds are now widely available in published collections or online; the three volumes by French journalist Jean Hatzfeld are a good beginning. Not a single such testimony or collection is referred to in ‘The Politics of Genocide’, and in fact I’ve never yet met a denier who had the guts to make his case before an audience of survivors.

Edward Herman and David Peterson have written a very short book that’s not nearly short enough. It should never have seen the light of day. It brings shame to its two American authors, its publisher Monthly Review, and all those who have provided enthusiastic jacket blurbs, many of them prominent in progressive circles – Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Norman Solomon, David Barsamian. If this is what Anglo-American Marxism, or socialism, or anti-imperialism has degenerated into, we can hang our heads in shame for the future of the left.

The Chomskyite/anti-imperialist crowd: still fucked after all these years.

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