Archive | July 14th, 2014




Isn’t it odd that the Tories say they support the right to strike but never support any actual strikes? From the Telegraph’s splash:

“A million pupils face being turned away from classes on Thursday as teachers go on strike based on a poll of just a quarter of union members two years ago. The Prime Minister pledged to overhaul an archaic law that has allowed members of the National Union of Teachers to disrupt children’s education without any fresh ballots. The move would put an end to union powers to hold an unlimited number of ‘rolling’ strikes based on a single vote that has enabled the NUT to take action three times this academic year alone.”

The papers tend not to be sympathetic to any strikes either so it’s remarkable that the latest ComRes poll shows the public split on whether they think these current public sector strikes are justified. Maybe voters have noticed what Tory MPs refuse to: the biggest fall in living standards in more than 100 years.


The cabinet has been meeting this morning and David Cameron and Nick Clegg are expected to hold a joint press conference later today. Why? From the Daily Mail:

“Emergency legislation will today be announced at Westminster to allow Britain’s spies to access data about the public’s phone calls, texts and internet use. The laws will be rushed through Parliament amid mounting concern about the threat posed to the UK by jihadists returning from fighting in Syria… The law will force mobile phone and internet companies to store information relating to all recent telephone calls, emails and internet searches, so they can be accessed by security officials. There are long-standing Coalition tensions over the issue of communications data. But officials insist the legislation is not intended to give the security services and police any new powers.”

The Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn reports that the Tories have secured cross-party support for the new legislation.


From the Sun:

“A Tory last night announced he is quitting his safe seat — paving the way for Boris Johnson’s return as an MP. Sir John Randall will stand down at next May’s election, leaving a 11,216 majority. BoJo Continued on Page Two Continued from Page One is eyeing Sir John’s seat in Uxbridge, West London — paving the way for a future Tory leadership bid. Its location would let BoJo, 50, serve as an MP — while keeping his promise to see out his full second term as London Mayor until May 2016. A friend revealed last night: ‘Uxbridge is a terrific constituency. Who wouldn’t be tempted to go for it? Boris is intrigued and will certainly make his thoughts known by September.'”


Check out this Vine of the rather awkward silence between Victoria Beckham and Samuel L. Jackson in the Wimbledon crowd a few years ago.


It isn’t just the Home Office that seems to have a problem keeping hold of important files – from the Guardian front page:

“The government’s problems with missing files deepened dramatically when the Foreign Office claimed documents on the UK’s role in the CIA’s global abduction operation had been destroyed accidentally when they became soaked with water. In a statement that human rights groups said ‘smacked of a cover-up’, the department maintained that records of post-9/11 flights in and out of Diego Garcia, the British territory in the Indian Ocean, were ‘incomplete due to water damage’. The claim comes amid media reports in the US that a Senate report due to be published later this year identifies Diego Garcia as a location where the CIA established a secret prison as part of its extraordinary rendition programme.”


How many innocent Palestinians in Gaza have to die to compensate for the three Israeli teenagers murdered in the West Bank? From the Guardian:

“Even this early in Israel’s campaign against Hamas and other militant factions in Gaza the bodies of the civilian victims are beginning to pile up, children and an 80-year-old woman among the dead from the past two days… In all, 43 Palestinians are reported to have been killed by Israeli strikes on Gaza. Many, hospital officials claim, have been civilians. Among the total are 15 women and children, amid claims that in four air strikes only women and children were killed.”

Posted in UKComments Off on TO STRIKE OR NOT TO STRIKE?


By: Mehdi Hasan

Will we see full disclosure? From the Times:

“Westminster’s main parties were last night forced to agree to review their whips’ ‘dirt books’ and disclose any evidence of child abuse. The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties all said that they would trawl disciplinary records of current and former MPs and pass any relevant material to a new inquiry into a possible institutional failure to protect children from paedophiles. That inquiry, set to be one of the largest ever held, will be carried out by Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former president of the family division of the high court, it was announced yesterday.”

Speaking on the Today programme this morning, Peter Wanless, the chief executive of the NSPCC who is heading the separate review into the Home Office’s handling of documents relating to these alleged historic sex crimes, told the Today programme he believed that a person who is told about child abuse and “does nothing about it” should face prosecution.

Meanwhile, the Independent’s veteran political correspondent Andy McSmith reminds us of the historical context:

“Thirty years ago last month, speculation about a paedophile ring inside the British political establishment went global – not for the first time. The Toronto Globe and Mail was one of the newspapers to report on it… In those days, it would seem that adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and the abuse of children were all lumped under one heading of things people really should not do, some of which were illegal.”


Gaza continues its descent into hell, with Israeli jets pounding the strip on Tuesday, killing at least 25 people and injuring more than 70. According to the BBC, “four women and three children were among the dead”.

The Israelis say they’re hitting back against Hamas, which has fired hundreds of rockets across the border over the past 24 hours. The Palestinians, however, point out that, in recent weeks, and since the kidnap and murder of the three Israeli teenagers, the Israeli military has been rounding up and detaining hundreds of Palestinians, killing Palestinian teenagers in the process, and blowing up Palestinian homes, too – oh, and lest we forget, the Israelis have also been blockading Gaza from land, air and sea for several years now.

So what is the point of Israel’s latest military attack on Gaza? Did the moral and political failure of Operation Cast Lead teach the Israelis nothing? Bombing and besieging Gaza only increases the pain, suffering and, yes, anger of the Palestinians who continue to be penned inside the world’s largest open-air prison.
Check out this quote from the parent of a wounded Gazan child, as reported in the Guardian:

“In a room a few doors down, Bashir Abu Tawliah was bending over his unconscious son Muhammad, 16, dabbing a dribble of blood from his son’s broken nose. “He was with his friends in the street when the strike occurred. They were very close. They weren’t involved in firing rockets. What did my son do? What do I want? I want it to escalate. I want them to feel the same pain as we do. Gaza is Hamas. They can’t dismantle Hamas without dismantling Gaza.”


Has Harriet Harman completely undermined Ed Miliband’s attempts to suggest David Cameron has a ‘woman problem’? From the Guardian:

“The deputy Labour leader, Harriet Harman, has spoken of how she felt sidelined as a woman in Gordon Brown’s government as she was passed over for the role of deputy prime minister and told her involvement in a G20 summit was to be limited to dinner with leaders’ wives. In a speech at Westminster on Tuesday night about equality in politics, Harman revealed her experiences of sexism at the very top of government… Harman, deputy to both Brown and Ed Miliband, said: ‘The truth is that even getting to the top of the political structures is no guarantee of equality. Imagine my surprise when having won a hard-fought election to succeed John Prescott as deputy leader of the Labour party, I discovered that I was not to succeed him as deputy prime minister. If one of the men had won the deputy leadership would that have happened? Would they have put up with it? I doubt it.'”

The paper adds:

“Her comments about the G20 summit were rejected by Damian McBride, a former spin doctor to Brown, who was involved at the time. He tweeted: ‘It’s utter bilge from Harriet, done to make her attack on Dave look non-partisan. And shameful timing given the work GB is doing in Nigeria.'”


Are you a good liar? Watch this video which can tell you whether you are or not in just 5 seconds.


Tory Treasury minister Andrea Leadsom won’t be best-pleased with this ‘scoop’ in the Guardian, just a week ahead of an expected ministerial reshuffle:

“An offshore financier who is the brother-in-law of financial services minister Andrea Leadsom has donated £816,000 to the Conservative party since she first successfully ran for parliament at the last election. Peter de Putron, a banker who lives in Guernsey and is married to Leadsom’s sister Hayley, also made a further £1m of donations to a party-backed campaign and a rightwing thinktank. Leadsom herself said that she was unaware of the donations made by a member of her own family, but a Labour MP asked whether the payments in effect amounted to a ‘cash for political office’ arrangement.”

5) ’50 FEET APART’

A fascinating piece from the Times’ Tom Coghlan on the ground in northern Iraq:

“Just 50 feet of paved road and a line of sandbags separate the fighters of the Kurdish peshmerga army from Isis fighters whose black flags flap above the canal bridge at Mullah Abdullah. The town is probably as close as it is possible for a Western reporter to get to the new “caliphate” declared by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis, whose jihadist fighters have taken Iraq and Syria by storm. Thirty kilometres south of the oil city of Kirkuk two would-be states — the caliphate and Kurdistan — confront each other within the borders of what might soon cease to be Iraq.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports on a potential ‘rift’ in the ‘Sunni alliance’ of anti-government militants:

“Sunni militants who overran the city of Mosul last month have rounded up between 25 and 60 senior ex-military officers and members of former dictator Saddam Hussein’s banned Baath party, residents and relatives say. The crackdown potentially signals a rift in the Sunni alliance that helped secure Islamic State fighters swift victory when they rode in from the desert to capture Mosul last month.”

As former Pentagon official Colin Kahl asked on Twitter last night: “When US forces rounded up ex-Baathists in Iraq, it caused an insurgency. Will ISIL’s tactics produce the same result?”

Posted in Campaigns, UKComments Off on OPEN UP YOUR ‘DIRT BOOKS’!



The Church of England, an institution whose origins date back to the sixth century A.D., has far more modern views about the rights of women than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, experts said today.

“In recognizing that women are the equals of men, the Church of England has embraced a position that is centuries ahead of Scalia’s,” Davis Logsdon, a professor of religion at the University of Minnesota, said. “This is a remarkable achievement, given that Scalia was born in 1936 and the Church began in the late five hundreds.”

But Dr. Carol Foyler, a history professor at the University of Sussex, took issue with that assessment. “I date the beginning of the Church of England to 1534, when it was officially established under Henry VIII,” she said. “But regardless of whether the Church is fourteen centuries old or five centuries old, it’s unquestionably more modern than Scalia.”

As for Justice Scalia, he seemed to dismiss the controversy, issuing a terse official statement Monday afternoon. “I do not keep up with the goings on of every newfangled institution,” he said.


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