Archive | October 3rd, 2015

Palestine Protest asks Labour Party Conference 2015 to end contracts with G4S

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

Last Sunday on 27th September 2015 we organised a protest outside the Labour Party Conference in Brighton demanding the Labour Party end its contracts with the British security company G4S which is complicit in Israel’s torture and caging of Palestinians including young children.

The photo-video report is now available on-line, if you support the action then please share:

http://inminds.com/article.php?id=10687

Messages from the parents of children tortured and caged in G4S secured Israeli dungeons were read out outside the entrance of Labour Conference 2015 (see G4S checkpoint entrance in background)

Every delegate going through the G4S checkpoint to enter the Labour Conference was reminded of G4S’s complicity in Israel’s torture to death of Palestinian father Arafat Jaradat

Labour councils investing millions in G4S were named and shamed

VIDEO:

Timeline:
0:00:00 Start
0:03:25 G4S complicit in Israel’s Administrative Detention
0:08:20 G4S complicit in Israel’s torture & caging of women prisoners – Lena Jarboni
0:13:48 G4S complicit in Israel’s torture & caging of children – Hares Boys
0:31:20 Israel’s G4S Childrens Dungeon – Al Jalame
0:34:55 G4S complicity in Israel’s torture to death of Arafat Jaradat
0:38:30 Naming & shaming of Labour councils with investments in G4S
41:31 End

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SHAME ON YOU ISLAMOPHOBIC PASTOR McCONNELL

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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Image result for pastor James McConnell PHOTO

SHAME ON YOU RACIST ISLAMOPHOBIC JAMES McCONNEL

IRELAND: Muslim leader, who demanded prosecution of Christian pastor for criticizing Islam.

Belfast-Telegraph-Islam-spawn-of-devil

Islamophopic racist pastor from Northern Ireland is facing six months in prison for making allegedly “offensive” remarks about Islam. 

Raied al-Wazzan

Raied al-Wazzan

The controversy began back in May 2014, when Islamophobic RACIST pastor James McConnell, 78, gave a sermon where he described Islam as “heathen” and “satanic”.

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service has said in a press release that McConnell violated the 2003 Communications Act by “sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive.” The offence carries a sentence of up to six months.

Raied al-Wazzan had been leading the push to have RACIST McConnell prosecuted for a year. “This is inflammatory language and it definitely is not acceptable,” he told the BBC back in May 2014. Adding that he would hold RACIST McConnell “responsible for any racial attacks on any Muslim in Northern Ireland.”

Around this time, in early June 2014, Raied al-Wazzan was using the publicity generated by the controversy to lobbying land for a new mega-mosque. “It is a cultural centre that we are looking for and not just a mosque,” he said on local radio, adding in a statement: “We will provide the funds to build the cultural centre but we need the land from the government.”

 

 

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Corbyn victory unmasks Britain’s Guardian newspaper

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The Guardian and Observer

By Jonathan Cook

In autumn 2002 Ed Vulliamy, a correspondent for Britain’s Observernewspaper, stumbled on a terrible truth that many of us already suspected.

In a world-exclusive, he persuaded Mel Goodman, a former senior Central Intelligence Agency official who still had security clearance, to go on record that the CIA knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Everything the US and British governments were telling us to justify the coming attack on Iraq were lies.

Then something even more extraordinary happened. The Observer failed to print the story.

In his book Flat Earth News, Nick Davies recounts that Vulliamy, one of theObserver’s most trusted reporters, submitted the piece another six times in different guises over the next half year. Each time the Observer spiked the story.

Vulliamy never went public with this monumental crime against real journalism (should there not be a section for media war crimes at the Hague?). The supposedly liberal-left Observer was never held accountable for the grave betrayal of its readership and the world community.

Turning the tables

But at the weekend maybe the tables turned a little. The Observer gave Vulliamy a platform in its comment pages to take issue with an editorial the previous week savaging Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour Party leader.

In understandably cautious mode, Vulliamy called the paper’s stance towards Corbyn “churlish”, warning that it had lost the chance to stand apart from the rest of the British media. All had taken vehemently against the new Labour leader from the very beginning of his candidacy.

“We conjoined the chorus with our own – admittedly more progressive – version of this obsession with electoral strategy with little regard to what Corbyn says about the principles of justice, peace and equality (or less inequality).”

In a few months Corbyn has endured more contempt from the fearless watchdogs of the left than the current Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, has suffered over many years..

What do these two confrontations between Vulliamy and the Observer –13 years apart; one public, one not – indicate about the changing status of the liberal-left media?

To understand what’s going on, we also need to consider the coverage of Corbyn in the Guardian, the better-known daily sister paper of the Observer.

All the Guardian’s inner circle of commentators, from Jonathan Freedland to Polly Toynbee, made public that they were dead against Corbyn from the moment he looked likely to win. When he served simply to justify claims that the Labour Party was a broad and tolerant church, these commentators were in favour of his standing. But as soon as he began to surge ahead, these same liberal-left pundits poured more scorn on him than they had reserved for any other party leader in living memory.

In a few months Corbyn has endured more contempt from the fearless watchdogs of the left than the current Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, has suffered over many years.

The Guardian’s news coverage, meanwhile, followed exactly the same antagonistic formula as that of the right-wing press: ignore the policy issues raised by Corbyn, concentrate on trivial or perceived personality flaws, and frame stories about him in establishment-friendly ways.

We have endured in the Guardian the same patently ridiculous, manufactured reports about Corbyn, portraying him as sexist, anti-Semitic, unpatriotic, and much more.

We could expect the rightiwing media to exploit every opportunity to try to discredit Corbyn, but looking at the talkbacks it was clear Guardian readers expected much more from their paper than simple-minded character assassination.

Red neo-liberals

The reality is that Corbyn poses a very serious challenge to supposedly liberal-left media like the Guardian and the Observer, which is why they hoped to ensure his candidacy was still-born and why, now he is leader, they are caught in a terrible dilemma.

While the Guardian and Observer market themselves as committed to justice and equality, but do nothing to bring them about apart from promoting tinkering with the present, hugely unjust, global neo-liberal order, Corbyn’s rhetoric suggests that the apple cart needs upending.

If it achieves nothing else, Corbyn’s campaign has highlighted a truth about the existing British political system: that, at least since the time of Tony Blair, the country’s two major parliamentary parties have been equally committed to upholding neo-liberalism. The Blue Neo-Liberal Party (the Conservatives) and the Red Neo-Liberal Party (Labour) mark the short horizon of current British politics. You can have either hardcore neo-liberalism or slightly more softcore neo-liberalism.

Corbyn is not just threatening to expose the sham of the Parliamentary Labour Party as a real alternative to the Conservatives, but the sham of Britain’s liberal-left media as a real alternative to the press barons.

Corbyn shows that there should be more to politics than this false choice, which is why hundreds of thousands of leftists flocked back to Labour in the hope of getting him elected. In doing so, they overwhelmed the parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), which vigorously opposed him becoming leader.

But where does this leave the Guardianand Observer, both of which have consistently backed “moderate” elements in the PLP? If Corbyn is exposing the PLP as the Red Neo-Liberal Party, what does that mean for the Guardian, the parliamentary party’s house paper?

Corbyn is not just threatening to expose the sham of the PLP as a real alternative to the Conservatives, but the sham of Britain’s liberal-left media as a real alternative to the press barons. Which is why the Freedlands and Toynbees – keepers of the Guardian flame, of its undeserved reputation as the left’s moral compass – demonstrated such instant antipathy to his sudden rise to prominence.

They and the paper followed the right-wing media in keeping the focus resolutely on Corbyn rather than recognising the obvious truth: this was about much more than one individual. The sudden outpouring of support for Corbyn reflected both an embrace of his authenticity and principles and a much more general anger at the injustices, inequalities and debasement of public life brought about by neo-liberalism.

Corbyn captured a mood, one that demands real, not illusory change. He is riding a wave, and to discredit Corbyn is to discredit that wave.

Character assassination

The Guardian and the Observer, complicit for so long with the Red Neo-Liberals led by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, thought they could kill off Corbyn’s campaign by joining in the general media bullying. They thought they could continue to police the boundaries of the political left – of what counts as credible on the left – and place Corbyn firmly outside those borders.

But he won even so – and with an enormous lead over his rivals. In truth, theGuardian’s character assassination of Corbyn, rather than discrediting him, served only to discredit the paper with its own readers.

Corbyn’s victory represented a huge failure not just for the political class in all its narrow neo-liberal variations, but also for the media class in all its narrow neo-liberal variations. It was a sign that the Guardian’s credibility with its own readers is steadily waning.

The talkback sections in the Guardian show its kneejerk belittling of Corbyn has inserted a dangerous seed of doubt in the minds of a proportion of its formerly loyal readers. Many of those hundreds of thousands of leftists who joined the Labour Party either to get Corbyn elected or to demonstrate their support afterwards are Guardian readers or potential readers. And the Guardianand Observer ridiculed them and their choice.

Media like the Guardian are tied by a commercial and ideological umbilical cord to a neo-liberal order a large swath of their readers are growing restless with or feel downright appalled by.

Belatedly the two papers are starting to sense their core readership feels betrayed. Vulliamy’s commentary should be seen in that light. It is not a magnanimous gesture by the Observer, or even an indication of its commitment to pluralism. It is one of the early indications of a desperate damage limitation operation.

We are likely to see more such “reappraisals” in the coming weeks, as the liberal-left media tries to salvage its image with its core readers.

This may not prove a fatal blow to the Guardian or the Observer but it is a sign of an accelerating trend for the old media generally and the liberal-left media more specifically.

Papers like the Guardian and the Observer no longer understand their readerships both because they no longer have exclusive control of their readers’ perceptions of what is true and because the reality – not least, polarising inequality and climate degradation – is becoming ever more difficult to soft-soap.

Media like the Guardian are tied by a commercial and ideological umbilical cord to a neo-liberal order a large swath of their readers are growing restless with or feel downright appalled by.

In 2003 the Observer knowingly suppressed the truth about Iraq and WMD to advance the case for an illegal, “preventive” war, one defined in international law as the supreme war crime.

At that time – digitally the equivalent of the Dark Ages compared to now – the paper just about managed to get away with its complicity in a crime against humanity. The Observer never felt the need to make real amends with Vulliamy or the readers it betrayed.

But in the age of a burgeoning new media, the Observer and Guardian are discovering that the rules are shifting dangerously under their feet. Corbyn is a loud messenger of that change.

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How Mosley helped them ban May Day

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IN one of Jack Lindsay’s novels, mounted police are breaking up a May Day rally in London, and one of the characters remarks to his friend that there are only two capital cities in Europe where people are forbidden to march on May Day, one of them being Madrid under Franco, the other being London under Labour.It’s a long time since I read the book, but I’d guess they were talking about May Day 1950, as part of the story was set around Sheffield, and preparations for the World Peace Congress held in the city that year. Lindsay was a prolific writer perhaps better remembered today as a historian than for his ventures into fiction, which I have not seen around for years, nor heard anybody mention.

The Greater London Association of Trade Union Union Councils (GLATUC) has been commemorating 150 years of history this week, dating from the foundation of its predecessor, the old London Trades’ Council. There was a rally on Saturday, and there’s a celebratory booklet out, with articles on the London Trades Council’s origins, the conditions in 1860, the famous ‘Matchgirls” Strike of 1888 which lit the way for trade unionism in the East End, the Police Strikes at the end of the First World War, and so on.

You can read about Stepney Trades Council and Guernica, how West Ham trades council in docklands helped force the tube stations open as shelters during the Blitz, and Brent trades council hosted Nelson Mandela’s last public meeting in England before he returned to South Africa, arrest and imprisonment.
It’s all well illustrated, and for just a couple of quid it’s all a good read.

GLATUC nowadays arranges London’s May Day march, usually culminating in a Trafalgar Square rally, but in an article entitled ‘The Battle of the Ban’ we read how May Day in London, the labour day festival, was banned for three years running 1948, 1949 and 1950, and how the London Trades Council had to stand up and defy Clement Attlee’s Labour government.

Trouble began with a ‘blast from the (all-too recent) past’. Sir Oswald Mosley’s British fascists had been forbidden from wearing their blackshirt uniforms since the late 1930s, and Mosley himself was imprisoned under the wartime 18B regulations. By the late 1940s however Mosley was trying to revive his movement, hoping to exploit anti-Jewish prejudices that had never gone away in spite of Hitler’s holocaust, and had been given a new lease in response to Zionist attacks on British forces in Palestine.

This issue might be expected to die down with British withdrawal, and soon Mosley and other racists would find a new target, turning their attention to west London, where housing conditions fuelled tension between poor whites and new West Indian immigrants. But for now there were still clashes at places like Ridley Road, in Dalston, and with not only memories of the East End in the 1930s but the horrors of Auschwitz and Belsen fresh in people’s minds, many not only fought the fascists but asked how Labour could tolerate their re-emergence.

Labour Home Secretary James Chuter Ede responded by saying he was considering a ban on all political marches in London. Oswald Mosley then announced that he was going to hold a May Day march, starting from the same place as the London trades council march. The Metropolitan Police obligingly arranged for them to follow separate routes, but on the say there were still clashes, and 30 anti-fascists were arrested.

Chuter Ede announced there would be a three month ban on all processions in London. London Trades Council held a meeting in Trafalgar Square to protest the ban and fascist antisemitic attacks. The government now extended its ban until February 1949. As soon as it ended the fascists were allowed to hold another East End march, which met mass resistance.

The ban was imposed again, this time affecting the 1949 May Day march. Defying the ban, groups of workers met up and marched on the Square, where there was a rally attended by some 30,000 people. frustrated by the defiance, police took out their rage on those leaving the square afterwards, and made arrests.

“The situation now was one where the fascists by their provocative actions could bring a ban on all other political demonstrations and collusion was suspected with the authorities.”
(The Battle of the Ban, in ‘150 Years of Union Struggle’, GLATUC pamphlet).

With the ban on marches imposed again in 1950, and due to end on May 2, Chuter Ede announced he was extending it again. London Trades Council meanwhile had a rally planned for May 7. They urged supporters to come from all parts of London, but avoid giving police any excuse to attack them. The police nevertheless still harassed people coming to Trafalgar Square, making several arrests, and then let the mounted police loose to charge on demonstrators.

Meanwhile, adding insult to injury, across London on the same day, Mosley and his cohort enjoyed a police escort to make their foray into Hackney.

As feeling grew, and the government faced a general election, it did not continue with the bans.
But other things were happening. The Attlee government, trying to hold on to what it could of the British Empire, had been the first in Britain’s history to maintain “peacetime” conscription. One of the slogans on the May Day marches had been to end the war in Malaya, where British forces were protecting the plantation owners and fighting Communist guerrillas. In June 1950 a new war broke out, in Korea.

Later that year, unable to prevent the World Peace Congress being held in Sheffield, the Labour government did its best to strangle it, by for instance banning delegates from overseas attending. Paul Robeson was among those denied a visa.

The Attlee government had also decided that Britain should become a nuclear power as well as taking its place alongside America in the Cold War. Here too, as we see from Christopher Andrews’ new authorised history of MI5, the fascists, however depleted, could have their uses. In December 1947, concerned with the need to step up security in government departments, Attlee minuted:
“We cannot afford to take risks here, and the general public will will support us. Fellow travellers may protest, but we should face up to this. Action should be taken in regard to Fascists as well as Communists, though the former are feeble.”

“Feeble though the tattered remnants of British Fascism were, they proved of some use, for public relations purposes in enabling the government to claim that it was protecting the state against extremists of both left and right. In March 1948, following cabinet discussion, the Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons the introduction of what became known as the ‘Purge Procedure’ , excluding both Communists and Fascists from work “vital to the Security of the State”.
(Christopher Andrew, The Defence of the Realm, p.383).

I well remember the forms one had to fill in for even the humblest of civil service jobs, demanding to know if you were ever a member of a Communist or Fascist organisation. Since the Mosleyites no longer called themselves the British Union of Fascists but had become simply the British Union, and then more confusingly, the Union Movement, I suppose they could honestly say they did not. I don’t know whether they or other far-Right followers have ever been troubled by intrusive “security” probing and blacklisting. Or if the ban on all “extremists” served, as Mr.Andrew says, useful for “public relations purposes”. One must allow the Labour and liberal politicians space to keep up proprieties.

 

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We badly need more donated kidneys. Let’s start paying for them

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The glorious Guardian promoting the legalisation of poor people selling their kidneys to rich people. Simples !

The black market for organs is thriving, but exploitative, and only of use if you’re wealthy or well-connected. We need to find a better way
A kidney from a living donor is removed with keyhole surgery at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel.
A kidney from a living donor is removed with keyhole surgery at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel. Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian.

The need for living kidney donors is dire. Last year more than 4,000 Americans died while waiting for a kidney transplant, and many more people will die if they do not get the proper care in time.

A few months ago, I donated a kidney to a stranger who desperately needed one. I decided I could not morally justify living luxuriously with a back-up kidney when someone else would die without my help. I felt compelled, both by my religion and by my conscience, to sacrifice whatever I could to save another life. The procedure worked, and I am no worse for wear.

I was not financially compensated for my deed (nor would I want to be). But the truth is that a well-regulated market where financial incentives could be offered could save the lives of countless people. Since kidney sales are illegal, they often occur underground, which drives the price up substantially per unit. The inherent unregulated and unsupervised nature of the market makes it difficult to pay such a price unless wealth or connections are in place. It causes terrible harm to the world’s most vulnerable people. Bringing kidney sales out from the shadows could solve both of these problems by increasing the supply of kidneys at a reasonable price and safeguarding the easily exploitable poor.

The impoverished people who sell kidneys are rarely informed of the risks, and lack health insurance or adequate compensation. They are sometimes not paid at all because the transaction was initially illegal and seeking police recourse would be futile. The World Health Organisation estimates that broker-purchased kidneys go for about $5,000, and are in turn sold to wealthy recipients for an estimated $150,000.

Shmuly Yanklowitz
 Shmuly Yanklowitz after the kidney donation operation. Photograph: Shmuly Yanklowitz

There is no doubt that the current unregulated, illegal network is abusive. Organ brokers make false promises – some tell donors that kidneys will grow back after being harvested – and subsequently earn enormous profits over their illegal transaction. The Nepalese village of Hokse, near Kathmandu, is a heart-rending example. It is known as the “Kidney Village”, due to organ brokers persuading so many villagers to go to southern India, where each has sold a kidney to a foreigner to raise funds to pay debts or to support their families. Geeta, 37, mother of four, sold one of her kidneys for the measly sum of $2,000; she used the funds to buy a small house for her family. Her pain was for nought: in April 2015, the earthquake that struck Nepal levelled her modest home. Her family now lives in a structure made of corrugated iron and clear plastic wrap.

In this worst of all possible worlds, only black-market incentives are offered. Since underground organ sales are happening en masse, we must look deep inside and ask vital questions: how can we re-channel this exploitative industry to one that ensures the health of the donor? How can these people be adequately protected in the procedure in such a way that non-coercive consent is ensured? How can exorbitant profit opportunities for organ brokers be eliminated? How do we ensure a level playing field to ensure fair distribution of donated organs? Those who support the prohibition of offering incentives think it will prevent the enormous ills of this abusive black market. But like the prohibition of sex work, it has failed. Miserably.

Though it would be nice if everyone would donate a kidney altruistically, we don’t live in a utopia. And why should society require pure motives from one willing to take a health risk to save another’s life? We don’t expect altruism when paying firemen and policemen. We pay soldiers to fight wars, doctors to treat ill patients and researchers to work in labs handling the Ebola virus. So why should we be troubled by a penurious person being paid for a small medical risk that will save a life, especially considering the mortality rate for kidney donation is less than that of non-essential plastic surgery?

As a rabbi – as a human being who believes in the infinite dignity of the other – I believe saving human life is of utmost consequence. If most people will not donate altruistically, then incentivising people by offering them compensation and benefits should be our ideal. It is vital that we correct today’s exploitative status quo of underground donation trafficking. This will bring sanity to a system that needs it. We can save countless lives. This not a mere apothegm: it is something worth striving for.

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Nurses could be forced to pay tuition fees under new Treasury proposals

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Exclusive: Student nurses and midwives could be forced to pay their tuition fees under new Treasury plans

Nurses from Great Ormond Street Hospital danced for the world at the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games

Nurses from Great Ormond Street Hospital danced for the world at the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games Photo: Getty

Student nurses and midwives could be forced to pay their tuition fees and living costs under new proposals being considered by the Treasury.

Shortages of nurses in the NHS have left hospitals paying up to £2,200 per shift for locum staff, with thousands more being recruited from abroad.

But most of those applying to train as a nurse are turned away, with three times as many applicants as funded places, figures show.

The Councils of Deans of Health and Universities UK have submitted plans to the government’s spending review, due to be published next month,proposing to axe the system of free education.

The plans would see the introduction of tuition fees and the scrapping of bursaries which cover students’ living costs, to be replaced by loans.

The organisations say the current system means the number of places is limited by what the NHS can afford – leading to shortages.

But nursing and midwifery unions last night raised fears that charging for the courses would mean many more potential entrants would be deterred.

Tom Sandford, director of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing raised concerns that such changes could put potential nurses off entering training, deterred by the prospect of large debts, and a low starting salary.

“Financial hardship is the top reason nursing students drop out, and the full time demands of the course make it very difficult for nursing students to earn extra money while they are training,” he said.

The Royal College of Midwives said the plans risked worsening a shortage of 2,600 midwives.

“Financial hardship is the top reason nursing students drop out, and the full time demands of the course make it very difficult for nursing students to earn extra money while they are training.”
Tom Sandford, director of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing

“Future midwives could be burdened with debt and put off pursuing a career in midwifery,” a spokesman said.

The proposals do not suggest a specific level for the loans.

Nurses 'emotionally exhausted' by demand for compassion

A survey of 351 trainee nurses found that those who were required to show more compassion every day were significantly more likely to suffer stress outside of working hours  Photo: REX FEATURES (POSED BY MODELS)

But nurses currently receive a means-tested bursary of up to £5,460 a year to cover living costs, while other students are eligible for loans of up to £7,750.

Tuition fees for other health professions, such as dentists, pharmacists and doctors, cost up to £9,000 a year.

The current proposals, seen by Health Service Journal magazine, could bring the end of free education for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists.

Dame Jessica Corner, chairman of the Council of Deans of Health, said the organisation had asked the government to make changes to the existing system, which she said was “fragile and vulnerable” to service pressures.

Prof Livesley said doctors and nurses are unwilling or are inadequately trained to recognise when a patient is dying because of the lack of life threatening epidemics.   Photo: ALAMY

She said: “It has been a fact over decades that every time there are funding pressures in the NHS that is passed directly on to the numbers of nurses and health professionals that are trained.”

She said the NHS could consider paying back the loan of nurses who commit to work for the health service for a set period of time after completing training.

Dame Jessica said replacing the bursary system – which pays nurses towards living costs – could reduce their level of hardship, as they could borrow more than they are currently paid by bursary.

“The NHS faces severe domestic skills shortages in a number of professions, and the existing grants based system is unable to meet the costs of increasing student numbers to meet national need.”
Universities UK

In its submission to the spending review, Universities UK said: “The NHS faces severe domestic skills shortages in a number of professions, and the existing grants based system is unable to meet the costs of increasing student numbers to meet national need. The proposed change would allow for a sustainable increase in student numbers.”

Last year, 57,000 applicants tried to train as a nurse in England, but just 20,000 places were funded.

Meanwhile, the number of foreign nurses registering to work in Britain rose by one third, as hospitals attempted to increase staff numbers in the wake of the Mid Staffs scandal.

A spokesman for the Treasury declined to comment ahead of the spending review.

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US Upstaged at UN General Assembly – Who’s to Blame?

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Global Research
UN_General_Assembly_hall-300x186

The UN General Assembly this year celebrated its 70th anniversary which is why more leaders than usual attended and participated. While the speeches were typical and mostly irrelevant for people already well-informed about world events, there was one particular point to note that made this gathering more telling than most. 

It wasn’t a point that could be discerned by simply watching the speeches play out on the floor of the General Assembly hall, but rather revealed itself in the reaction to the speeches by American policymakers online.

While they predictably railed against the speech presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin, they also derided US President Barack Obama for being upstaged by his Russian counterpart. But it wasn’t President Obama’s shortcomings nor that of his speechwriters that led to this apparent humiliation. It was American policy itself, owed to the very policymakers being derisive.

Contrary to popular belief, American policy is not created by politicians either in the Oval Office or in Congress. Instead, doctrine, war plans, domestic and foreign economic policy, and geopolitical and strategic plans laid out for years to come, originate in corporate-financier funded think tanks and among the army of academics, industry leaders, and other lobbyists of special interests employed by them. These think tanks and the policymakers that work within them are unelected, transcending political party lines, and political administrations.

The fact that a Democratic US president expanded the wars of his Republican predecessor, and provoked those this Republican opponents failed to implement during their term, illustrates perfectly the continuity of agenda prevalent in Western politics. Like the US often accuses its competitors around the world, the United States itself is ruled by an oligarchy of special interests who simply dress up their singular agenda as partisan politics to maintain the illusion of representative governance.Their wars which in reality serve the singular purpose of achieving and maintaining global geopolitical socioeconomic hegemony are dressed up as “defending the homeland” under Republicans, and “humanitarian interventions” under Democrats. In following the unwarranted wealth and influence wrought from such wars, it can be seen clearly for what purpose they are truly waged.

Thus, the criticism from across American foreign policy circles in the wake of the UN General Assembly, reveals precisely where America’s true problems lie. It was their policy that President Obama was attempting to present to the world at the UN General Assembly. President Obama wasn’t upstaged because he is a poor orator or because he depends on incompetent speechwriters, but because nothing the United States is truly doing around the world could be honestly presented to the public, leaving only the same tired rhetoric and boundless hypocrisy that even the least observant among us are beginning to notice.This can best be illustrated in Syria, where the United States claims to be committed to defeating terrorism, all while it transparently supports terrorist militants in its goal to overthrow the government in Damascus. Thus, President Obama’s talking points during the UN General Assembly regarding Syria rang particularly hollow. Conversely, when Russia stated that it planned to defeat terrorism in Syria, the world could already see clearly that it has been Russia supporting the only force within Syria’s borders confronting terrorism – the government in Damascus.

American policymakers don’t appear to realize or at least be willing to accept that it is they and the special interests they serve that are responsible for America’s decline, its unpopularity, and the rise of competitors able to upstage the US in front of the UN General Assembly, and upon the stage of geopolitics.

These policymakers responsible for America’s current course will never admit that they are not as smart as they believe themselves to be, or that their poor judgement, petty ambitions, egos, and plain incompetence has led to this irreparable decline in American legitimacy and influence.

And because they can never admit it, they can do nothing to resolve it. But maybe that is for the better.

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Should the US Become an Ally of Al Qaeda in Syria?

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Global Research
us-syria-flags-300x224

The key sentence in The New York Times’ lead article about Russian airstrikes against Syrian rebel targets fell to the bottom of the story, five paragraphs from the end, where the Times noted in passing that the area north of Homs where the attacks occurred had been the site of an offensive by a coalition “including Nusra Front.”

What the Times didn’t say in that context was that Nusra Front is Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, an omission perhaps explained because this additional information would disrupt the righteous tone of the article, accusing Russia of bad faith in attacking rebel groups other than the Islamic State.

But the Russians had made clear their intent was to engage in airstrikes against the mélange of rebel groups in which Al Qaeda as well as the Islamic State played prominent roles. The Times and the rest of the mainstream U.S. media are just playing games when they pretend otherwise.

Plus, the reality about Syria’s splintered rebel coalition is that it is virtually impossible to distinguish between the few “moderate” rebels and the many Sunni extremists. Indeed, many “moderates,” including some trained and armed by the CIA and Pentagon, have joined with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, even turning over U.S. weapons and equipment to this affiliate of the terrorist organization that attacked New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001. Lest we forget it was that event that prompted the direct U.S. military intervention in the Middle East.

However, in recent months, the Israeli government and its American neoconservative allies have been floating trial balloons regarding whether Al Qaeda could be repackaged as Sunni “moderates” and become a de facto U.S. ally in achieving a “regime change” in Syria, ousting President Bashar al-Assad who has been near the top of the Israeli/neocon hit list for years.

A key neocon propaganda theme has been to spin the conspiracy theory that Assad and the Islamic State are somehow in cahoots and thus Al Qaeda represents the lesser evil. Though there is no evidence to support this conspiracy theory, it was even raised by Charlie Rose in his “60 Minutes” interview last Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The reality is that the Islamic State and Al Qaeda have both been leading the fight to destroy the secular Assad government, which has fought back against both groups.

And, if these two leading terror groups saw a chance to raise their black flags over Damascus, they might well mend their tactical rifts. They would have much to gain by overthrowing Assad’s regime, which is the principal protector of Syria’s Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other “heretics.”

The primary dispute between Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, which began as “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” is when to start a fundamentalist caliphate. The Islamic State believes the caliphate can begin now while Al Qaeda says the priority should be mounting more terrorist attacks against the West.

Yet, if Damascus falls, the two groups could both get a measure of satisfaction: the Islamic State could busy itself beheadings the “heretics” while Al Qaeda could plot dramatic new terror attacks against Western targets, a grim win-win.

One might think that the U.S. government should focus on averting such an eventuality, but the hysterical anti-Russian bias of The New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media means that whatever Putin does must be cast in the most negative light.

The Anti-Putin Frenzy

On Thursday, one CNN anchor ranted about Putin’s air force attacking “our guys,” i.e., CIA-trained rebels, and demanded to know what could be done to stop the Russian attacks. This frenzy was fed by the Times’ article, co-written by neocon national security correspondent Michael R. Gordon, a leading promoter of the Iraq-WMD scam in 2002.

The Times’ article pushed the theme that Russians were attacking the white-hatted “moderate” rebels in violation of Russia’s supposed commitment to fight the Islamic State only. But Putin never restricted his military support for the Assad government to attacks on the Islamic State.

Indeed, even the Times began that part of the story by citing Putin’s quote that Russia was acting “preventatively to fight and destroy militants and terrorists on the territories that they already occupied.” Putin did not limit Russia’s actions to the Islamic State.

But the Times’ article acts as if the phrase “militants and terrorists” could only apply to the Islamic State, writing: “But American officials said the attack was not directed at the Islamic State but at other opposition groups fighting against the [Syrian] government.”

Unless The New York Times no longer believes that Al Qaeda is a terrorist group, the Times’ phrasing doesn’t make sense. Indeed, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front has emerged as the lead element of the so-called Army of Conquest, a coalition of rebel forces which has been using sophisticated U.S. weaponry including TOW missiles to achieve major advances against the Syrian military around the city of Idlib.

The weaponry most likely comes from U.S. regional allies, since Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other Sunni-led Gulf states have been supporting Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other Sunni rebel groups in Syria. This reality was disclosed in a Defense Intelligence Agency report and was blurted out by Vice President Joe Biden.

On Oct. 2, 2014, Biden told an audience at Harvard’s Kennedy School:

“our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria … the Saudis, the emirates, etc., what were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” [Quote at 53:20 of clip.]

Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front also has benefited from a de facto alliance with Israel which has taken in wounded Nusra fighters for medical treatment and then returned them to the battlefield around the Golan Heights. Israel also has carried out airstrikes inside Syria in support of Nusra’s advances, including killing Hezbollah and Iranian advisers helping the Syrian government.

The Israeli airstrikes inside Syria, like those conducted by the United States and its allies, are in violation of international law because they do not have the permission of the Syrian government, but those Israeli and U.S. coalition attacks are treated as right and proper by the mainstream U.S. media in contrast to the Russian airstrikes, which are treated as illicit even though they are carried out at the invitation of Syria’s recognized government.

Obama’s Choice

Ultimately, President Barack Obama will have to decide if he wants to cooperate with Russia and Iran in beating back Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other jihadists – or realign U.S. policy in accord with Israel’s obsession with “regime change” in Syria, even if that means a victory by Al Qaeda. In other words, should the United States come full circle in the Middle East and help Al Qaeda win?

Preferring Al Qaeda over Assad is the Israeli position – embraced by many neocons, too. The priority for the Israeli/neocon strategy has been to seek “regime change” in Syria as a way to counter Iran and its support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah, both part of Shia Islam.

According to this thinking, if Assad, an Alawite, a branch of Shia Islam, can be removed, a new Sunni-dominated regime in Syria would disrupt Hezbollah’s supply lines from Iran and thus free up Israel to act more aggressively against both the Palestinians and Iran.

For instance, if Israel decides to crack down again on the Palestinians or bomb Iran’s nuclear sites, it now has to worry about Hezbollah in southern Lebanon raining down missiles on major Israeli cities. However, if Hezbollah’s source of Iranian missiles gets blocked by a new Sunni regime in Damascus, the worry of Hezbollah attacks would be lessened.

Israel’s preference for Al Qaeda over Assad has been acknowledged by senior Israeli officials for the past two years though never noted in the U.S. mainstream media. In September 2013, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al Qaeda.

And, in June 2014, then speaking as a former ambassador at an Aspen Institute conference, Oren expanded on his position, saying Israel would even prefer a victory by the brutal Islamic State over continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria. “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia and Israel.”]

So, that is the choice facing President Obama and the American people. Despite the misleading reporting by The New York Times, CNN and other major U.S. news outlets, the realistic options are quite stark: either work with Russia, Iran and the Syrian military to beat back the Sunni jihadists in Syria (while seeking a power-sharing arrangement in Damascus that includes Assad and some of his U.S.-backed political rivals) — or take the side of Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists, including the Islamic State, with the goal of removing Assad and hoping that the mythical “moderate” rebels might finally materialize and somehow wrest control of Damascus.

Though I’m told that Obama privately has made the first choice, he is so fearful of the political reaction from neocons and their “liberal interventionist” pals that he feels he must act like a tough guy ridiculing Putin and denouncing Assad.

The danger from this duplicitous approach is that Obama’s penchant for talking out of multiple sides of his mouth might end up touching off a confrontation between nuclear-armed America and nuclear-armed Russia, a crisis that his verbal trickery might not be able to control.

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As Secret Trade Talks Reveal Cracks, Demonstrators Aim Death Blows at TPP

NOVANEWS

Pacific trade deal opponents hope that if Atlanta round fails, pro-corporate TPP could be knocked off track indefinitely

Global Research
stoptppbanner

Image: A poll released Wednesday by the Coalition for Better Trade shows that a clear majority of voters who can offer an opinion about the proposed TPP say they oppose the deal. (Photo: Citizens Trade Campaign/Twitter)

As trade ministers from around the world continued meeting in Atlanta on Thursday forfinal-stretch negotiations on the corporate-friendly Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), civil society groups demonstrated on the streets in a final salvo against a deal they describe as “a wholesale auction of our rights, our freedoms, and our democracy to multinational corporations who put profits over people.”

High-level officials including Japan’s Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key have warned that if the talks do not wrap up this week, the 12-nation trade agreement could be put on ice for years.”They’re getting close, but we can stop them,” reads the Citizens Trade Campaign’s call-to-action. “If we do, and the Atlanta round fails, many believe the TPP could be knocked off track indefinitely.”

“The window of opportunity to complete [the] TPP is closing so you wouldn’t say it’s impossible to complete the deal if it doesn’t take place in Atlanta, but it does become more difficult,” Key told the Asia Society in New York this week.

Citing such remarks, organizers of Thursday’s demonstration declare: “Very rarely do protests have as much potential for immediate results as this one.”

To coincide with Thursday’s action, activists from SumOfUs.org, MoveOn.org, andActionStation ran a full-page ad in the local alt-weekly Creative Loafing slamming the secretive trade deal.

“In a final effort to strike a TPP deal, companies and governments have once again tried to organize secret closed-door negotiations to lobby against the interests of workers all around the world,”

said Jon Lloyd, campaign director for SumOfUs.

“All the secrecy means we don’t know the gory details of what it contains, but we do know they’re planning attacks on internet freedom, environmental protections, and affordable medication and that is unacceptable.”

In particular, activists in Atlanta are highlighting how the TPP could slash access to affordable medicines. As the Japan Times reports, drug patents, tariffs on automobiles, and market access for dairy products remain among the “thorny issues” for negotiators.

“U.S. negotiators are pushing for the TPP to include 12 years of data protection for life-saving biologics,” wrote Marc Perrone, international president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), in a letter sent Tuesday to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. “This demand puts the profits of big pharmaceutical companies above the health and welfare of every American family and effectively risks lives by delaying access to lower cost generic drugs.”

Perrone continued: “For U.S. negotiators to insist that the TPP protect these high drug prices rather than the hard-working Americans who buy them is completely unacceptable.”

The AARP, which advocates for people 50 and older, chimed in, with senior legislative representative KJ Hertz explaining on Thursday that anti-competitive provisions within the TPP proposal “would extend brand drug patent protections through ‘evergreening’ drug products that provide little to no new value.”

These intellectual property provisions

“also prolong high prescription drug costs for consumers, link approval to market generic or biosimilar drugs to existing patents in a way that protects only brand drugs, and increase data exclusivity periods for biologics that further delays access by other companies to develop generic versions of these extremely high-cost drugs,”

Hertz added.

However, TPP opponents are quick to point out (pdf) that even if a deal is reached this week, Congress will not debate and vote on it until late winter because, as per the Fast Track legislation passed earlier this year, President Barack Obama cannot sign the deal without giving lawmakers 90 days’ notice.

As the New York Times notes, that timeline would put a TPP vote right “in the heat of the states’ presidential nominating contests.”

In a memo to reporters (pdf) circulated late last week, Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach called that scenario a political “nightmare”—at least for the corporate forces pushing the pro-corporate trade pact.

“Ten Presidential candidates have pushed anti-TPP messages in their campaigning, stoking voters’ ire about the pact,” Wallach said. “The political costs of an unpopular ‘yes’ vote for the TPP would increase with every passing week in 2016.”

Meanwhile, a poll released (pdf) Wednesday by the Coalition for Better Trade shows that a clear majority of voters who can offer an opinion about the proposed TPP say they oppose the deal.

“Voters are opposed to TPP, and the Administration and Congress should listen to what they have to say,” said Khristyn Brimmeier, communications director for the group, which is made up of labor, environmental, and public health advocacy organizations.

“Rather than continue to push for a deal based on 25 years of failed policy, the Administration and Congress should heed the public demand for a trade policy that’s transparent rather than one developed in secret and at the hand of global corporations, and one that will keep good jobs at here at home.”

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Obama Issues Executive Order to Monitor Americans

NOVANEWS

Behavior and Develop Psychological Manipulation Programs

Global Research
1984-poster-2

President Obama has ripped a page out of George Orwell’s classic futuristic tome, 1984, in issuing an executive order that directs federal agencies to better manipulate Americans to the will of the government.

They will accomplish this, according to WorldNetDaily, by hiring psychologists who will “experiment and find ways” to achieve manipulation – all in the name of “science.”

“A growing body of evidence demonstrates that behavioral science insights – research findings from fields such as behavioral economics and psychology about how people make decisions and act on them – can be used to design government policies to better serve the American people,”

Obama wrote in an executive order released in mid-September at WhiteHouse.gov.

Pay no attention to your own common sense

The order’s origin comes from a 2013 policy proposal considered by the White House called “Strengthening Federal Capacity for Behavioral Insights”. The new order streamlines applications for federal financial aid as well as automatic retirement payments – two areas where behavioral science lessons applied to government programs have been effective, WND reported.

“[T]o more fully realize the benefits of behavioral insights and deliver better results at a lower cost for the American people, the federal government should design its policies and programs to reflect our best understanding of how people engage with, participate in, use, and respond to those policies and programs,”

Obama wrote, as reported by theWashington Examiner.

The president has never hidden his desire to use the heavy hand of federal authority to employ behavioral control techniques against the American public, a sizable portion of which has routinely opposed his policies on immigration, health care, the military and social spending, to mention but a few. In February 2014, the White House launched a Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, or SBST, and then celebrated its one-year anniversary in this blog post.

“SBST had a successful first year, launching a wide variety of evidence-based pilots with objectives ranging from connecting veterans with employment and educational counseling benefits to helping struggling student borrowers understand their loan repayment options,”

the Obama administration wrote on February 9, 2015.

Now, the team will move forward in pointing out programs that will “most effectively promote public welfare, as appropriate, giving particular consideration to the selection and setting of default options.” The team performs under the guise of the National Science and Technology Council, WND reported.

Welcome to 1984 – in 2015

“It makes sense for us to be able to redesign government so that it can deliver on the functions that the American people are looking for. We should all want a government that’s smarter, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people,” Obama said in 2013.

Who’s not for a redesigned government that is “smarter, quicker and more responsive to the needs of the American people?” It all sounds so good, doesn’t it? In fact, it calls to mind the statement that “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” and “Obamacare’s individual mandate is not a tax.” Notice the president never mentions anything about the hiring of psychologists and the role they will play in manipulating Americans’ thought processes and opinions.

If they can brainwash us into thinking that all government policies are good, that Obama and his minions are benevolent and all-knowing, wouldn’t we then also believe that government had suddenly become “smarter, quicker, and more responsive?”

Two people whose research played a central role in the creation of Obama’s initiative and order are Harvard Law School Prof. Cass Sunstein – who once acted as Obama’s “regulatory czar” – and Richard Thaler, a University of Chicago economist, according to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“The two behavioral scientists argued in their 2008 book ‘Nudge’ that government policies can be designed in a way that ‘nudges’ citizens toward certain behaviors and choices,” theDaily Caller reported.

Welcome to 1984 – in 2015.

Sources include:

WND.com

WashingtonExaminer

DailyCaller.com

WhiteHouse.gov

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