She Almost Stopped the War

Katharine Gun: Ten years on,  what happened to the woman who revealed dirty tricks on the UN Iraq war vote?

In the run-up to the critical vote on war in Iraq, Katharine Gun exposed a US plot to spy on the UN. As a film of her story is planned, she tells of her anger and frustration – but not her regrets

The Observer, Saturday 2 March 2013

Katharine Gun

[Katharine Gun back in Cheltenham last week: ‘This is the ugly truth of what goes on.’ Photograph: Andy Hall for the Observer]

Ten years ago, a young Mandarin specialist at GCHQ, the government’s surveillance centre in Cheltenham, did something extraordinary. Katharine Gun, a shy and studious 28-year-old who spent her days listening in to obscure Chinese intercepts, decided to tell the world about a secret plan by the US government to spy on the United Nations.

She had received an email in her inbox asking her and her colleagues to help in a vast intelligence “surge” designed to secure a UN resolution to send troops into Iraq. She was horrified and leaked the email to the Observer. As a result of the story the paper published 10 years ago this weekend, she was arrested, lost her job and faced trial under the Official Secrets Act.

The memo from Frank Koza, chief of staff at the “regional targets” section of the National Security Agency, GCHQ’s sister organisation in the US, remains shocking in its implications for British sovereignty. Koza was in effect issuing a direct order to the employees of a UK security agency to gather “the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favourable to US goals or to head off surprises”. This included a particular focus on the “swing nations” on the security council, Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, “as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters”. Continue reading

Britain’s colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition

David Cameron’s ancestors were among the wealthy families who received generous reparation payments that would be worth millions of pounds in today’s money

Sanchez Manning, The Independent

Sunday 24 February 2013

The true scale of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade has been laid bare in documents revealing how the country’s wealthiest families received the modern equivalent of billions of pounds in compensation after slavery was abolished.

The previously unseen records show exactly who received what in payouts from the Government when slave ownership was abolished by Britain – much to the potential embarrassment of their descendants. Dr Nick Draper from University College London, who has studied the compensation papers, says as many as one-fifth of wealthy Victorian Britons derived all or part of their fortunes from the slave economy.

As a result, there are now wealthy families all around the UK still indirectly enjoying the proceeds of slavery where it has been passed on to them. Dr Draper said: “There was a feeding frenzy around the compensation.” A John Austin, for instance, owned 415 slaves, and got compensation of £20,511, a sum worth nearly £17m today. And there were many who received far more.

Academics from UCL, led by Dr Draper, spent three years drawing together 46,000 records of compensation given to British slave-owners into an internet database to be launched for public use on Wednesday. But he emphasised that the claims set to be unveiled were not just from rich families but included many “very ordinary men and women” and covered the entire spectrum of society.

Dr Draper added that the database’s findings may have implications for the “reparations debate”. Barbados is currently leading the way in calling for reparations from former colonial powers for the injustices suffered by slaves and their families. Continue reading

Mindanao: “MILF hails UN, EU, UK, US, other states’ support”

http://www.luwaran.com

October 11, 2012 — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) today said the support of the international community for the recent breakthrough in the GPH-MILF peace process has been overwhelming as it expressed gratitude to world leaders and foreign envoys who have welcomed the Framework Agreement reached between the Government of the Philippines and the (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim has hailed with great satisfaction and utmost gratitude these expressions of support from the United Nations, The European Union, Malaysia, The United Kingdom, Japan, United States Australia, Switzerland, and Indonesia.

“We are deeply honored and humbled, and assured by their support,” Murad told Luwaran in an interview this morning.

Murad particularly took note of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commendation of President Benigno Aquino III for his vision and courage, as well as the commitment of the MILF leadership, in reaching the landmark agreement. Continue reading

UK: The Campaign to Boycott the Companies that Support Apartheid Israel

The companies that are being boycotted are listed and detailed at http://www.inminds.com/boycott-brands.html

The UK campaign distributes these “Boycott Cards” to remind supporters of Palestine and opponents of Apartheid Israel:

Julian Assange’s full speech from Ecuadorian embassy, London

‘Manning a hero, US war on whistleblowers must end’


Aug 19, 2012 by RussiaToday

Julian Assange makes his first public appearance in two months, ever since he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The WikiLeaks founder was granted political asylum on Thursday — a decision that ignited a wave of international responses, with the UK and Sweden opposing the verdict and Latin American countries strongly supporting Ecuador’s move.

Modern Eugenics: UK aid helps to fund forced sterilisation of India’s poor

Money from the Department for International Development has helped pay for a controversial programme that has led to miscarriages and even deaths after botched operations

, The Observer, Saturday 14 April 2012

Sterilisation remains the most common method of family planning in India’s bid to curb its burgeoning population of 1.2 billion. Photograph: Mustafa Quraishi/AP

Tens of millions of pounds of UK aid money have been spent on a programme that has forcibly sterilised Indian women and men, the Observer has learned. Many have died as a result of botched operations, while others have been left bleeding and in agony. A number of pregnant women selected for sterilisation suffered miscarriages and lost their babies.

The UK agreed to give India £166m to fund the programme, despite allegations that the money would be used to sterilise the poor in an attempt to curb the country’s burgeoning population of 1.2 billion people.

Sterilisation has been mired in controversy for years. With officials and doctors paid a bonus for every operation, poor and little-educated men and women in rural areas are routinely rounded up and sterilised without having a chance to object. Activists say some are told they are going to health camps for operations that will improve their general wellbeing and only discover the truth after going under the knife.

Court documents filed in India earlier this month claim that many victims have been left in pain, with little or no aftercare. Across the country, there have been numerous reports of deaths and of pregnant women suffering miscarriages after being selected for sterilisation without being warned that they would lose their unborn babies.

Yet a working paper published by the UK’s Department for International Development in 2010 cited the need to fight climate change as one of the key reasons for pressing ahead with such programmes. The document argued that reducing population numbers would cut greenhouse gases, although it warned that there were “complex human rights and ethical issues” involved in forced population control.

The latest allegations centre on the states of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, both targeted by the UK government for aid after a review of funding last year. In February, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh had to publicly warn off his officials after widespread reports of forced sterilisation. A few days later, 35-year-old Rekha Wasnik bled to death in the state after doctors sterilised her. The wife of a poor labourer, she was pregnant with twins at the time. She began bleeding on the operating table and a postmortem cited the operation as the cause of death. Continue reading

BBC silent on the hunger strike of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners

BBC challenged for ignoring plight of Palestinian prisoners

Glasgow, 25 April 2012
Woman displays portrait of loved one in Israeli prison

Palestinian political prisoners are on mass hunger strike but you’d never know it from watching the BBC.

(Mohammed Asad / APA images)

“I had no idea. How could I not have known?”

I heard those words on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day (17 April) from a teacher, shocked at discovering how Israel abducts, abuses and imprisons Palestinian children — some as young as 12 — in the West Bank because they may or may not have thrown stones at Israel’s wall.

She had tagged along with a friend to a talk given in London by Gerard Horton of Defence for Children International–Palestine Section, and until that moment had been unaware of the brutalities of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Horton’s lecture focused on a new DCI-Palestine report which documents the various traumas Palestinian children regularly face during Israeli military detention (“Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted: Children held in military detention,” 14 April 2012).

The answer to her question is fairly simple: this woman — a member of the educated, professional middle-classes — did not know because she relies on the mainstream media, led by the BBC, for her news. And that media’s silence on the realities of Israel’s occupation is deafening.

Last week, 1,200 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails began an open-ended hunger strike in protest at the illegalities and injustices of their incarceration. Another 2,300 refused food for the duration of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Their action came just weeks after Khader Adnan ended his 66-day hunger strike and Hana al-Shalabi was released (though banished to Gaza) after refusing food for 43 days, both protesting at Israel’s use of administrative detention against them. Continue reading