Archive | March 15th, 2014

Guantanamo Briton Moazzam Begg faces seven-month wait for hearing on Syria charges


Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg has appeared at the Old Bailey
on terrorism charges relating to the civil war in Syria.

Begg, 45, of Boden Road, Hall Green, Birmingham, appeared via videolink from Belmarsh prison in south east London wearing a dark jumper and trousers. He spoke only to confirm his name.

Mr Justice Sweeney set a provisional trial date at the Old Bailey for 6 October after a plea hearing takes place on 18 July.

The defendant denies providing terrorist training and funding terrorism overseas.

It is alleged that between 14 July and 8 August 2013 he became concerned in an arrangement as a result of which money or other property was to be made available to another person, knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect that it would be or might be used for the purposes of terrorism

He is also accused of providing instruction or training between 9 October 2012 and 9 April 2013 knowing the person receiving it intended to use the skills for or in connection with  preparation of acts of terrorism.

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Tony Benn tributes: Politicians of every hue pay respects to ‘true political warrior’


Andy McSmith finds universal admiration in Westminster for a man of conviction who divided the left

Friday 14 March 2014

On a day of tributes to one of the most admired – and divisive – politicians of the post-war era, one in particular stood out. Not for its effusiveness, but for its honesty.

Denis Healey, who fought against Tony Benn in one of the most bruising heavyweight political contests of the past 40 years, spoke tenderly of the late warming in relations he enjoyed with a man he once loathed.

The Labour grandee, now 96, told The Independent: “I disliked him intensely when we were fighting, because I felt he was raising the wrong issues and using the wrong arguments. But by the end of our careers, we got on very well, and we had useful chats together on television, and so on. In recent years, we got on very well, and we had some very friendly conversations.”

He added: “In those days, for politicians, politics was almost all that mattered, whereas nowadays most politicians are not much more interested in politics than the electorate.”

Benn, who died aged 88, was one of the few politicians who, in his heyday, was a household name, recognised wherever he went.

By the time he left the Commons, in 2001, he was the longest-serving MP in the history of the Labour Party, despite having been told when his father died in 1960 that he had no choice but to leave the Commons and go to the House of Lords. He fought a long battle to establish his right to renounce his peerage.

After Labour’s defeat in the 1970 general election, he  reinvented himself as the leading advocate of a radical left-wing programme that included nationalisation of the main industries, withdrawal from the EU, and unilateral nuclear disarmament.

He also fought to change the Labour Party rules, and was frustrated when in 1980 Michael Foot was elected party leader, with Mr Healey as deputy leader, under the old rules with only Labour MPs taking part in the vote.

After the voting system had been changed in 1981, he fought a bitter five-month-long campaign to supplant Mr Healey in the deputy leadership, which exposed the very deep divisions in the Labour Party, leaving Michael Foot looking like a helpless referee unable to stop two heavyweights from bludgeoning each other to death. Despite securing the block vote of the massive Transport and General Workers’ Union, Benn lost by a margin of less than 1 per cent.

But before he emerged as the voice of the left, he was a hard-working minister, fascinated by technology, who fought hard to create jobs in his Bristol constituency by pushing ahead with the £1.3bn supersonic aircraft, Concorde.

“Ironically, his greatest achievement was the one of which he was later most ashamed, and that was to  get Concorde going at a colossal cost, very much higher than originally imagined. It was a complete loss,” Mr Healey said.

Benn’s death was announced by his four children, Stephen, Hilary, Melissa and Joshua. They said that he died “peacefully early this morning surrounded by his family”, adding: “We are comforted by the memory of his long, full and inspiring life and so proud of his devotion to helping others as he sought to change the world for the better.”

Some leading Labour figures from the 1970s and 1980s maintained a tactful silence yesterday, rather than express the enduring anger they feel against Benn, whom they hold responsible for Labour’s catastrophic defeat in the 1983 general election, which helped to keep Margaret Thatcher in power for a decade.

But the former Home Secretary David Blunkett, who parted company with Benn, politically, in the mid-1980s, writing in today’s Independent, said: “Charming, persuasive, and sometimes deeply frustrating, what you would learn from Tony Benn was to think for yourself.”

The former Prime Minister Gordon Brown described him as “a powerful, fearless, relentless advocate for social justice”, and the veteran leftist Dennis Skinner called him “one of the greatest assets the Labour Party has ever had”. Ed Miliband paid tribute to an “iconic figure of our age”.

David Cameron said: “Tony Benn was a magnificent writer, speaker and campaigner. There was never a dull moment listening to him, even if you disagreed with him.”

The former Prime Minister Sir John Major also paid tribute to “a true political warrior who fought for what he believed – right up to the very end”.

Posted in UKComments Off on Tony Benn tributes: Politicians of every hue pay respects to ‘true political warrior’

An unhappy anniversary: Why the end of Bashar al-Assad is as far away as ever – and how Syria’s rebels lost the plot


Today marks three years since Syrians rose up against their President. In the time since then, unwavering support for the status quo from Russia and Iran, the unwillingness of the West to intervene, and the increasing disarray of the anti-government factions have all combined to ensure that they may never succeed, writes Patrick Cockburn

As the first wave of the Arab uprisings broke in early 2011, President Bashar al-Assad sounded confident that Syria would be immune to the turmoil. He was not alone: at a meeting of 10 foreign ambassadors in Damascus in February that year the diplomats without exception dismissed suggestions that the revolutionary turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia might spread to Syria.

The conviction that Syria was more stable than other Arab states was rooted in the belief that Mr Assad was relatively popular; Syria’s long opposition to Israel and the US gave it powerful nationalist credentials; abject poverty was less than in Egypt and Yemen. Yet, within a month of the ambassadors’ meeting, protests began to gather pace and the government responded brutally and with extreme violence, treating dissent as a revolutionary attempt to overthrow the state, similar to the Muslim Brotherhood insurgency of 1979-82 which concluded with the slaughter of some 20,000 people in Hama. Many believe that it was the government’s overreaction that turned protests into an insurgency. The government claims that from the beginning it was facing an armed Islamist revolt funded and supplied by the Gulf monarchies allied to Western intelligence services.

With what, in retrospect, seems like embarrassing speed, foreign governments – and many Syrians – swung from saying nothing would happen to treating the departure of President Assad as a foregone conclusion.

They cited the precedent of Libya where Muammar Gaddafi had just been overthrown, but this was based on a basic misunderstanding of the situation in both Syria and Libya. The Libyan regime was isolated internationally and had fallen because of the Nato air campaign, not the strength of the rebels. Syria was allied to Russia, which blocked any UN-mandated action, and Iran, which was not going to see its most important ally in the Arab world overthrown.

The decisive year was 2012 when the rebels captured swathes of countryside and took parts of Damascus and Aleppo. But by the end of the year, the government still held all 14 provincial capitals and the most important roads.

One local capital, Raqqa, which lies on the Euphrates, did fall a year ago, but its captors were not the Western-backed Free Syrian Army but jihadi groups, notably the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis).

The higher profile of the jihadists was much in the interests of the government, which had long claimed that the opposition was dominated by al-Qa’ida (true to the spirit of Middle East conspiracy theories, the opposition then claimed that Isis was in league with the government, asserting, against much evidence to the contrary, that the Syrian army and Isis seldom fought each other).

By the end of 2012 it was clear that the rebels could not win without full-scale foreign military intervention. But to many, this was not obvious at the time because government forces pulled back from outlying positions and concentrated on holding strategic areas. A problem for the opposition was that the whole purpose of their exiled movement was to provoke a Libyan-type intervention. When this did not happen, it had no plan B to fall back on.

A Syrian man walks with his son along a deserted street in the town of Maarat al-Numan

A Syrian man walks with his son along a deserted street in the town of Maarat al-Numan (Getty Images).

The current situation is a political and military stalemate. One of the many problems facing any peace talks is that power in Syria is highly concentrated on the government side in the presidency and the security services. Any political “transition” implies power-sharing which would be impossible to implement in the central government given the levels of distrust and hatred. The only feasible power-sharing is on a geographical basis, with each side holding the territory where they are strongest.

If the opposition failed to win in 2011-12, what are the chances of the government winning now? It is advancing in important areas such as the Qalamoun mountains on the Lebanese border and in and around Aleppo, but it is doing so at a snail’s pace and its forces are overstretched. Its main tactic is to seal off rebel-held enclaves and bombard them with artillery and from the air, so that people are forced to flee. This is hardly a way to win the hearts and minds of the population, but the rebels have not found an answer to it.

A strength of the Syrian government is that it has maintained its unity, and its opponents have not. Unlike in Libya, there have been few high-level defections and, while there have been many desertions from the army, whole units have not changed sides. In many revolutions the insurgent side has split after victory and civil wars have followed. But in Syria the opposition has already been fighting its own bloody civil war since 3 January. This tends to discredit all the armed opposition and is, in any case, unlikely to produce a clear winner.

The battle between Isis and the rest of the armed opposition has been good news for President Assad over the past few months. So, too, is the furious dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have been the main funders and suppliers of the rebels. It adds a new layer of complexity to the struggle for Syria, since Saudi Arabia has now declared the Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat al-Nusra and Isis to be “terrorists”, as President Assad did long ago. It is difficult to see how the Saudis and the Americans can successfully create a rebel army capable of fighting both the Assad government and the jihadi insurgents.

To survive is not to win. President Assad remains ruler of a ruined land and does not have the resources to win a decisive victory. But unless the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their allies are prepared to fight a long war in order to exhaust the government in Damascus, there is no reason he should not stay in power.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on An unhappy anniversary: Why the end of Bashar al-Assad is as far away as ever – and how Syria’s rebels lost the plot

‘Bridget Jones Tax’: LGA wants to claw back £200m lost in ‘wealthy bachelor’ council tax discounts to rich singletons living alone


Local Government Authority claims 25 per cent single person council tax discount costing councils £200m a year.

Wealthy people living alone and occupying large homes are costing councils more than £200m a year and should lose their “wealthy bachelor” discount, the Local Government Authority (LGA) has said.

The LGA claims this compulsory system, which requires that councils must give a 25 per cent discount for all homes with only one adult liable to pay council tax, is making it harder for local authorities to protect discounts for struggling families on low incomes.

New research from the LGA claims it is costing councils more than £200m a year to give a compulsory discount to people living in properties rated band E and above where there is only one council tax payer, while these houses are typically bigger and more expensive than the average family home.

Peter Fleming, chairman of the LGA Improvement board, said: “This ‘wealthy bachelor’ discount is subsidising individuals occupying large homes at a time when there is a dire shortage of housing.

“Giving local areas the option of removing this automatic discount would help protect discounts for struggling families and those who need it most.”

But Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis has called the LGA’s proposals the equivalent of a “Bridget Jones tax”, which would unfairly hit those who live alone.

The LGA has stressed that discounts for single people living in smaller homes and all pensioners would remain protected.

The body is calling for local authorities to be given more flexibility in deciding who receives the single person discount, as one in three councils expects it will have to reduce its council tax support for low-income families due to a reduction in Government funding. It has set out its proposals and submitted them to the Treasury ahead of this year’s Budget.

Funding for local council tax support schemes changed in April last year and was replaced by a national council tax benefit. The LGA claims this led to a 10 per cent reduction, equivalent to £410m in Government funding, for council tax support.

The LGA, which represents councils across England and Wales, said the funding gap is expected to hit £1bn and that local authorities are now faced with the decision to either make additional cuts to hard-pressed budgets for local services, or to ask low-paid people who would previously have received council tax benefit to pay more.

Posted in UKComments Off on ‘Bridget Jones Tax’: LGA wants to claw back £200m lost in ‘wealthy bachelor’ council tax discounts to rich singletons living alone

Is your name now ‘banned’ by Zio-Wahhabi regime?


Is your name now ‘banned’ in Saudi Arabia?

The Independant

Kingdom releases 50 names parents are forbidden from calling their children, such as Linda, Alice and Elaine

Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry has banned 50 names they argue contradict the culture or religion of the Kingdom, according to reports by local media.
Parents in the Kingdom will reportedly no longer be able to call their children by names such as Linda, Alice, Elaine or Binyamin (Arabic for Benjamin) after the civil affairs department at the ministry issued a list of the prohibited names.

Binyamin is believed in Islam to be the son of Prophet Jacob, but is also the name of the current Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Some names on the list are allegedly banned by the interior ministry because they are considered “blasphemous,” non-Arabic or non-Islamic, or contradictory to the kingdom’s culture or religion, Gulf News has reported.

The ban was also allegedly justified by the ministry because some of the names were deemed foreign or “inappropriate”.

Other sets of forbidden names include those with royal connotations, such as Sumuw (highness), Malek (king) and Malika (queen).

Some on the list do not fit into any of these categories however, leaving the reason for banning them open to speculation.

The full list of forbidden names as reported in Gulf News is listed below:

Malaak (angel)
Abdul Aati
Abdul Naser
Abdul Musleh
Abdul Nabi
Abdul Rasool
Sumuw (highness)
Al Mamlaka (the kingdom)
Malika (queen)
Mamlaka (kingdom)
Tabarak (blessed)
Rama (Hindu god)
Basmala (utterance of the name of God)
Jibreel (angel Gabriel)
Abdul Mu’een
Nabi (prophet)
Nabiyya (female prophet)
Amir (prince)

The question is:

What names ARE allowed in Saudi Arabia: George Bush, Barack Obama, Shalomo, Sharon and the rest of the Zionist leaders.

Posted in Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Is your name now ‘banned’ by Zio-Wahhabi regime?

استشهد القاضي الاردني الدكتور رائد علاء الدين نافع زعيتر برصاص جنود الاحتلال الاسرائيلي


استشهد القاضي الاردني الدكتور رائد علاء الدين نافع زعيتر برصاص جنود الاحتلال الاسرائيلي على معبر الكرامة “جسر الملك حسين” اثناء توجهه من الاردن إلى فلسطين.

وأكد مصدر حكومي أن الشهيد الذي تضاربت الأنباء جوله هو بالفعل الدكتور رائد علاء الدين زعيتر قاضي محكمة صلح عمان.

وقال مدير المعابر الفلسطينية نظمي مهني إن الشهيد يحمل الجنسية الاردنية وكان قد غادر الاراضي الفلسطينية بتاريخ 26 – 7 – 2011

وأضاف ان الشهيد من مواليد نابلس. بتاريخ 24-4-1976

وزعمت مصادر إسرائيلية ان الشهيد حاول خطف سلاح جندي إسرائيلي على المعبر.

وتظهر الصورة التي نشرتها المواقع العبرية أول محطة تفتيش بعد عبور المسافرين لجسر نهر الاردن باتجاه فلسطين حيث تقوم قوات الاحتلال بانزال المسافرين من الحافلة لتفتيشها قبل دخولهم إلى قاعة المعبر الموجودة في الجانب الاسرائيلي. ما يرجح رواية شهود العيان حول ظروف استشهاد الشاب الفلسطيني

وأكدت مديرية الأمن العام ان الجانب الإسرائيلي أغلق الجسر أمام حركة المسافرين حتى اشعار آخر
وحسب ترصح لسواليف من مصدر قضائي مقرب من الشهيد ان الشهيد يعمل قاضيا في محكمة صلح عمان وان زملاءه يشهدون له بدماثة الخلق وحسن السيرة والسلوك

وأكدت مصادر أردنية وفلسطينية أن الشهيد، الذي كان سيقوم بزيارة أهله في مدينة نابلس بشمال الضفة الغربية المحتلة، هو القاضي في محكمة صلح عمّان رائد علاء الدين زعيتر (40 عاماً) حيث أطلق أحد حراس المعبر الإسرائيليين الرصاص عليه أثناء وصوله للمعبر من الطرف الأردني وتواجده في الجانب الإسرائيلي.
وأكد نظمي مهنا مدير عام المعابر أن جيش الاحتلال اعلن عن إغلاق المعبر في وجه المسافرين، فيما لا يزال يحتجز جثمان الشهيد وتجري اتصالات لتسلمه.
وادعت المصادر العبرية أن الشاب حاول الاستيلاء على سلاح أحد الحراس في الجانب الإسرائيلي من المعبر وتم قتله من الحراس على الفور.
وأكدت وسائل اعلام اردنية أن الشهيد هو قاضي صلح في محكمة عمّان وخريج المعهد القضائي ويحمل درجة دكتوراه بالقانون وقد تزوج منذ ثلاث سنوات تقريباً وهو وحيد والديه.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, JordanComments Off on استشهد القاضي الاردني الدكتور رائد علاء الدين نافع زعيتر برصاص جنود الاحتلال الاسرائيلي

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