1

How the World Sees the Caravan


The ferocious terrorists described by Trump.


[dropcap]A[/dropcap]round 80% of the asylum seekers’ caravan heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border come, according to BuzzFeed, from Honduras. They are fleeing intolerable conditions in their country following the U.S.-supported coup against President Manuel Zelaya that happened nine years ago. HuffPost reports that  “thousands of indigenous activists, peasant leaders, trade unionists, journalists, environmentalists, judges, opposition political candidates, human rights activists, and others murdered since a military coup ousted the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya in 2009.” They are fleeing a hell-hole.

In 2012 there were 20 homicides a day in Honduras, which has a population of nine million. Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world, as well as the highest rate of sexual violence. The violence mainly results from urban gangs’ drug trafficking and competition for global markets. MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang (both founded in Los Angeles) are entrenched in Tegucigalpa (the capital), and the industrial city of San Pedro Sula.  Many asylum seekers have been threatened by such gangs and are fleeing from them with the same sense of terror as those trying to escape government death-squads elsewhere in Central America.

One might argue that the U.S. has, through its support for the coup nine years ago, patronage of the current regime, and its vast market for cannabis, heroin and cocaine, helped produce this desperate exodus of Central Americans to the border. People with a hard choice: stay home, let the kids get recruited into a gang, killing or get killed while at least drawing steady pay. Or flee north, facing dangerous challenges, and pray for North American compassion at the end of the road. Anything for safety, food and shelter.

The slow-moving caravan of several thousand people is a latter-day Children’s Crusade. About half of it consists of boys and girls, accompanied or non-accompanied by parents. Donald Trump–citing law enforcement officials–wants you to believe the oncoming horde (which he calls the “lawless caravan”) is ridden with MS-13 gangsters and criminals who have been convicted of crimes ranging from armed robbery to sexual assault. He says “lots of people are saying” George Soros is funding the caravan–it could, that is to say, be linked to what fascists consider “the radical left.”

On Oct. 22 the U.S. commander-in-chief, widely understood in the world to be a bullying buffoon, declared, “Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in.” Thus he announced in advance, to all prospective asylum applicants: “Nobody’s coming in.” And he says he will deploy “anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000” U.S. troops to defend the border against this “invasion.”

No show of Merkel-like compassion. No echo of the Statue of Liberty’s inscription: “Give me your tired and your poor…” Just rage against the brown, the desperately poor, vilifying them to produce warm fuzzy feelings in your racist supporters…

Karen Tumulty on CNN calls Trump our “stuntsman in chief” for threatening to deploy not just National Guard and border control but regular troops.  (One wonders what the troops will think about their deployment on such an unusual mission.) Should anyone so much as throw rocks at a U.S. soldier, Trump has declared that the soldier will respond in self-defense, meaning by gunfire since ” a rock is not much different than a gun.”

Think: rock-thrower. What images come up? David and Goliath. Palestinian boys with their sling-shots, responding to Israeli occupation. What happens to the boys? Too often, they get shot dead. Trump’s thinking sounds very Israeli: when the weak use the weapons of the weak, you shoot them dead. And positively boast about the deployment of “disproportionate force.” Because you want the world to FEAR you, always, big-time.

Plainly Trump hopes to rally his base over this issue before tomorrow’s balloting. He is surely familiar with Hermann Goering’s dictum: “All you have to do is tell [the people] they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.” Trump-backed TV ads depict the mass asylum bid as an “invasion” and Democrats who support as wanting the country flooded with rapists, murderers and drug traffickers.

Will the president’s manifest racism, ignorance, cruelty, and fear-mongering win his party victories tomorrow, or cost them? Polls show his racist rants are most popular in states with least immigration.  These fear tactics could produce a backlash; one hopes so. Or they could work. The world that rarely cares about U.S. midterm elections is paying keen attention to this one. Most rational people are hoping for the Democrats to take the House and stymie the Trump agenda, including plans for war with Iran.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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News

^0America's Goal...

Make every homeless tranny

gender comfortable!

Things to ponder

While our media prostitutes, many Hollywood celebs, and politicians and opinion shapers make so much noise about the still to be demonstrated damage done by the Russkies to our nonexistent democracy, this is what the sanctimonious US government has done overseas just since the close of World War 2. And this is what we know about. Many other misdeeds are yet to be revealed or documented.

Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report

Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.




Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France–“the Jungle”

Photo – Calais Jungle: « From tent to tent, from camp to camp,
these are our lives as a Palestinian nation. »

« When I die, bury me in Palestine and write on my grave :
I am not a refugee anymore . »
-Ahmed, Palestine – poems Voices from the Jungle

=By=
Sabia Rigby

Editor's Note
The fact that the refugee encampment is called "The Jungle" speaks volumes for how those who must stay there are perceived ... and treated. Calais has been home to a United Nations of refugees. The poem above (and picture) are from a Palestinian man. The quote below a Libyan, many others as presented in this article. Where do they go? Where will new refugees go? You read this, hear the voices, and then shake your head at the xenophobic response of the US (at the heart of creation of millions of refugees) who say "You have no home with us - not even those of you who have sacrificed and served under our banner." There are times when the shame of my nation is almost too much to bear.

“I was in jail with a Libyan man, his friends came and broke into the jail and let us go, too. There was fighting everywhere. You pray to be in jail with Libyans, because they do not recognize the current government, they will do what they want.” (spoken by a refugee in “the Jungle”)

Forty-two percent of the people who came to the Jungle are from warring parts of Sudan and South Sudan; thirty-two percent are from Afghanistan. Others are from Syria, Yemen, Iraqi Kurdistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt, and more; they have crossed between 6 and 13 countries to arrive in Calais, with their final goal to reach the U.K. In Calais, it seems they are facing the hardest border to cross.

There are many who have died or been seriously injured in their attempts to cross the border to the U.K.  One couple was trying to cross by train. Her boyfriend made it on; she leapt, wrapped her arms around him, but did not get her bottom half onto the train. She was cut in half. He was deeply traumatized by her tragic death. In another case, a brother and sister tried to cross to the U.K. by truck. They were both hit on the road; he died and she is in the hospital. Most people from the Jungle Camp who are in the hospital were wounded in accidents while trying to get into the U.K. Broken bones and deep cuts on arms, legs, and fingers are the most commonly suffered injuries. Volunteer teams have been visiting refugees; we have had as many as sixteen to visit each time, and during a normal week we visit twice a week. We take food and toiletries and, for those we have come to know, we try and bring a small gift. Last week we spent time in the Jungle relaying information to each community. First, the Calais government won the right to shut down any place of business in the Jungle: restaurants, barber shops, vegetable stalls, and cigarette shops. Second, anyone continuing to work in the businesses can and will be arrested. With the help of others from over twenty organizations, including L’Auberge des Immigrants, Secour Catholique, Refugee Youth Center and The Migrants’ Law Project, we shared pamphlets containing information about the legal rights each person has in case they do get arrested and or harassed. The legal rights information was translated and printed into Arabic, English, Amharic, Farsi and Pashtu.

The Jungle camp was supposed to be demolished on the 17th of October. Instead, the government moved the date to the 24th because that would give them “time” to figure out what to do with the unaccompanied minors. The idea is to register as many minors as possible. Some young people have been waiting more than a year to reunite with family. One volunteer likened the process to a child doing homework on the bus to class, after having weeks to get it done.

On the 24th registration lines were put into place: minors, families, vulnerable people suffering from physical and mental problems, and lastly those who wish to seek asylum in France all lined up. The government thought they would register 3000, but they only managed 1200 registrations. Today, both French and English police are supposed to begin taking down all the dwellings in the Jungle. They have begun destroying dwellings in the Sudanese quarter. The registration lines will continue until further notice.

We asked minors we have come to know about their registration process. Many have registered and are staying in the containers; the containers are supposed to be spared from demolition. One of the children I have grown close to suffers from severe anxiety. Daily, I am reminded of his journey to Calais and the horrors he faced in Libya when his terrors began. The lines are too long; he did not make registration today. He will try again later this afternoon or tomorrow morning. I am nervous for everyone. There is so much misinformation; the refugees of the Jungle and other camps like Isberg hear differing reports which they then share amongst themselves. The tensions grow because we also cannot guarantee them anything. We also are given limited information. Would you trust anyone who cannot give you any guarantees?

 

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Editor's Note
Sabia Rigby co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org). She is volunteering with the St. Maria Skobstova Catholic Worker house, founded by Brother Johannes Maertens, in Calais.

Source: ZNet.


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Denmark: Rogue State

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 2.38.28 PMRon Ridenour
Author, Activist, Journalist


Iron Fist

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Editor's Note
Can it be true that the heart of social democracy is sliding right with the rest of the world? Will it too go quietly into that dark night, or will it resist the dismantling of the public state for conversion to the corporate state?

Scandinavia on the Skids: The Failure of Social Democracy

(Part 6 of a 7 part series on Scandinavia “Socialism”)

Mette Fugl “Do I live in a rogue state?” Mette Fugl’s column was headlined in “Politiken”, June 4, 2016.

Mette Fugl is a major name in Danish Establishment journalism. She worked for the largest broadcast media, Denmark’s Radio (DR), for nearly 40 years, mainly as foreign correspondent. Many view her as a prima donna in mainstream journalism. So it has special meaning that she implies that her traditionally harmless cozy country has become unprincipled, a swindler state.

Fugl outlines recent political and legal developments that warrant the “rogue” characterization.

1. The so-called “respect package”, which permits the state to punish people more severely who act “disrespectfully”, including use of violence but also verbal insults, over for official employees. Clamping down on “rioters” can cross the line of abusing civil liberties, such as the right to assembly and freedom of expression. The “respect package” includes the un-constitutional public listing of people who make “undemocratic” statements, as determined by the current government. Penalties are as high as eight years in prison.
2. The “blackout law”, as the Freedom of Inform Law of 2013 enacted by the Social Democrats is commonly referred to, allows governments to deny public access to important information necessary for democratic decision-making. A recent example is the government’s refusal to reveal documents that the former Iraq Commission collected when investigating what occurred in wars in which Denmark participates. Some evidence concerned Danish military allowing prisoners under its protection to be tortured, and that Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen had agreed to help the US invade Iraq the year before the invasion, and before consulting parliament. When the current government assumed power, in 2015, it shut the commission down.
3. Tax laws that ordinary people cannot understand, and tax officials who don’t communicate and don’t collect taxes from the rich.
4. Politicians who dismiss social critics as liars. Decision-makers who refuse to be held accountable. Officials who scare those who are already scared.
5. Officials who defy international conventions on human rights, and do so with prideful joy. Politicians who virtually stand in front of barbed-wire fences and give the finger to the injured on the other side.

Refugee Bashing: Stringent! Harsh! Sour!—is the flavor of the day

Reference here is to the ever-tightening rules and laws that Danish governments make to prevent life-threatened refugees from finding shelter in this rich country, or once here their lives are made as unpleasant as possible: providing tents as residencies, preventing asylum-seeking children from attending schools, preventing couples and their children from joining one another for three years, confiscating jewelry and cash of asylum-seekers.

While many Danes, and most political parties, have become stingy towards and leery of refugees, a good number of ordinary people have helped refugees who crossed into Denmark from Germany by transporting them to Sweden, especially in September-October 2015. They did this without payment rather because the refugees had relatives or friends there, or because they felt they’d have a better chance of being accepted than in Denmark. These Danes were observed offering help by border police without being stopped. Later, the government decided to punish them as “human smugglers”. A few hundred have been judged guilty and made to pay large fines. (1)

One of the hateful politicians to which Mette Fugl refers is Inge Stoejberg, the Liberal government’s minister of immigrant and refugee “integration”. She is a principle lawmaker of the “respect package” law, which includes the right to exclude foreigners, namely and especially Islamic Inmans, from visiting Denmark if they have made statements that the government considers “anti-democratic” or “threatening” to human rights.

At the same time Stoejberg prohibits opinions and statements she cannot abide she recently pressed charges against two young native Danish women for calling her a “fascist” when the minister was in a bar. Stoejberg claims such a statement falls under a law that forbids people from “cussing-insulting-harassing” persons who are “in pursuance of official duties”, that is, drinking in a bar. This anti-freedom of expression law can cost the outlaw 6-12 months jail time.

“Fascist” is a common term frequently used about people who are fundamentally authoritarian and racists. This is how I presume these women characterize Stoejberg, and not without reason.

Stoejberg ignores the contradiction concerning her wish to deny their freedom of expression and the government backing the freedom-of-press right for “Jylland-Posten” to publish cartoons depicting Muhammad in a light that most Muslims consider blasphemous and “insulting”. The 12 editorial cartoons published on September 30, 2005 caused “Denmark’s worst international relations incident since the Second World War,” according to the right-wing Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen then in office. He and Stoejberg are in the same “Venstre” party.

Danish products were boycotted by many Muslim majority countries, and attacks occurred on Danish diplomatic missions and Christian churches. Violence between demonstrators and police ended in 200 deaths, in several countries.

Last year, the major private bus company, Movia, copied government censorship by removing an advertisement from 35 buses paid for by the Danish Palestinian Friendship Association. The ad depicted two women alongside the statement: “Our conscience is clean! We neither buy products from the Israeli settlements nor invest in the settlement industry.”

Our conscience is clear

Bus Ad: “Our conscience is clean! We neither buy products from the Israeli settlements nor invest in the settlement industry.”

The United Nations has condemned the settlements as discriminatory against the Palestinian people, whose lands have been stolen. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: an occupying power must not transfer its population into its occupied territories.

Yet when a few Jews and others complained about the statement the ad had to come down. The government made no protest. There are 6,300 Jews and 270,000 Muslims living in Denmark.

One of the many rules to make immigrants-refugees lives miserable is reversing the rule that all municipalities must offer asylum-seekers medical checkups. This is especially harmful to those persons who have been tortured. According to Dignity, one of the two Danish private organizations that help rehabilitate torture victims, 30 percent of refugees have been tortured and most have traumas that make it difficult to perform their roles as parents or to be effective workers; in fact, to be integrated. Dignity denounces the new rule, saying that it would result in many torture victims not being identified and thus not receiving treatment.

Under the pretext of supporting women’s rights, the government now forcibly separates married couples if one is under 18—almost always the female—even when the male is 18 and the female is 17. This causes asylum seekers to cry on a daily basis, to feint, and many have attempted suicide.

The tenor of times concerning refugees is so hostile that one can read this: “Seldom is there good news these days. This could have been better but something is better than nothing: About 2500 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean this year. We are only halfway through the year. Much can still happen.”

If the highly respected Danish theologian-philosopher K.E. Loestrup—imprisoned in a concentration camp during WWII for standing in solidarity with Jews—were still alive today, he might have said of these warped persons what he spoke in a 1938 sermon:

To be a human being is to be blameful [responsible], or co-blameable,” that is what we must understand, meant Loegstrup, and if we do not understand that, “we are so blunted and hypocritically calcified that we are no longer human beings.”

The current tenor of immorality has finally woken up some editors and reporters in the mass media, who are sometimes taking a stand for decency, and this is also prompting some otherwise indifferent celebrities to come out of their closets. Sofie Graaboel is one of them.
Graaboel is known international for her roles in TV detective series, such as “The Killing”. When making a production in England earlier in 2016, “The Guardian” asked the shy star actress what she thought about the squeeze on asylum-seekers in her homeland. I read her remarks in the April 2016 edition of the Danish state train magazine, “Ud & Se” (Out and See), which I translate.

“Every morning when I passed by the big TV in the hotel lobby I could see the story tick in from home…It seemed so fierce to me that it was that impression that was put out in the world—that Englishmen suddenly got the unequivocal picture of Danes as people who just wanted to build a wall and frighten others away. This is not the [total] reality.”

Graaboel told the newspaper reporter that she wanted to be proud to be Danish but it was difficult with the current political steps taken regarding refugees.

One of many reasons for the tone of hostility towards refugees and non-white, non-Christian immigrants is the fact that the traditional workers “solidarity” party, Social Democrats, has joined forces with the two other major parties, the blue Liberals and the “blue social democrats”, as former PM Fogh Rasmussen calls the Danish People’s Party (DF). All of them have made rules and laws limiting admission of these immigrants-refugees and reducing their rights and benefits once here.

The former S.D. spokesperson on foreigners, Mette Reissmann, called them “unwanted guests”.

Denmark’s People’s Party was made kosher, in fact, by the Social Democratic party, by its PM in 2001, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, and by S.D. leaders of LO, the major union alliance.

Then a member of one of LO’s unions, I attended a conference, in 2002, concerning social dumping. The major union ideologue, Harald Boersting, was present when I spoke from the podium. I pointed a knarred finger at him, and harshly said:

”By your reaching out to the Danish People’s Party recently, by proposing cooperation, you have taken them in from the cold. You have thereby accepted their major premise for existence: racism and foreign-hatred, splitting the working class. You send out a wrongful, immoral signal to the entire people.

If we do not throw out Boersting and the other career opportunists in leadership, then we workers who know what our interests are must form our own unions. Part of my life was in the US, where race discrimination and war enthusiasm ruled the AFL union alliance. This was a major reason why part of the coalition formed their own unions (CIO). Discrimination within our ranks only supports big capital’s divide-and-conquer strategy, and they laugh at us when we are weak.

“I can only call what LO’s top is doing for what it is: treachery!” A major Danish daily (Ekstra Bladet) and the union magazine “Fagbladet” printed my speech.

There was some applause, but Boersting later became LO’s chairman, and DF’s founder Pia Kaersgaard was given the honorable position of parliament chairperson. The Danish People’s Party and the Social Democratic party are currently speaking for the first time of joining forces to form a coalition government, if they gain the majority next election. In July 2016, a DF theoretician and outspoken anti-Muslim Luthren preacher Soeren Krarup came forth with the proposition that his party could cooperate with the traditional Social Democrats in a coalition government.
Something Rotten in Denmark

Danes cannot remember when or if it has ever been revealed that so many civil servants had taken bribes as now. In June 2015, government auditors charged 13 civil servants with receiving gifts of up to $10,000 each from an IT business, Atea, which sold them equipment for the institutions they represent. Two of the gifts for two government employees who could decide which company would sell equipment received $50-70,000 trips to Dubai and USA. A year later, another 32 civil servants were charged with the same crimes of receiving brides from the same company. We’re talking about major government institutions: national police, foreign ministry, military secret service, state transportation, and even the criminal justice system, including public prosecutors.

A popular blogger, Anne Sophia Hermansen, reminded us that there have been individual cases of gift-taking by individuals in state institutions, including leaders of the Treasury Department and a Conservative business minister, not to mention the Royal Family, but never so many at the same time. In one case, it was not a matter of just receiving gift bribes, but of a police service employee giving two friends work orders amounting to $4 millions without allowing bidding for the jobs.

Hermansen thinks that Transparency International’s usual ranking of Denmark as the least corrupt country is in danger of being replaced by the label “Banana Republic”. And she points the figure to the key cause: the neo-liberal outsourcing of public services to private firms and the privatization of public companies. She especially points a finger at the energy company DONG, part owned and primarily directed by Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs is currently defending itself in a court case in London, in which Libyans claim GS illegally hid state monies from the public during Gaddafi’s regime, in 2010-11.

All readers have heard of the Mossack Fonseca law firm from the famous Panama Papers, and I have already mentioned this scandal as the reason for Iceland’s PM leaving office so I won’t go into any depth. But some Denmark bankers and many of the wealthiest Danes have been major players in this fraud, in which 300,000 so-called off-shore companies were set up as shells for tax evasion.

Nordea Bank Copenhagen

Nordea Bank Copenhagen Denmark
Photo: Roman Hobler.

Journalists digging into the 11.5 million documents released by yet another whistle-blower estimate that $6 trillion (yes trillion) are hidden away in multiple tax havens. The Danes’ “share” is calculated at between $20 and $30 billion. One of the world’s largest banks is the Scandinavian Nordea. It is a prime culprit in assisting its rich customers in hiding their wealth from tax collectors.

Of the 543 banks throughout the world associating with this fraud in Panama, Nordea ranks 11th in creating the largest numbers of false companies between 1977 and 2015, and number six since then—tens of thousand shells in all. Nordea is listed in 10,000 Mossack Fonseca secret documents. Nordea has also falsified dates and names to hide wealth from government tax authorities.

The media has also revealed that some top leaders have been enriched by this fraud. One vice-directed smuggled over one white-washed million dollars through an anonymous account in a Luxembourg branch. He is one of the top executives having assisted many wealthy Danes with doing the same, none of whom have been charged with any crime.

Another example of how Nordea operates concerns associate Vianca Scott. She was selected as the chief executive officer of several hundred companies falsified by her employer, Mossack Fonseca, many of them for Nordea. She also managed 30 shells for eight years after her death, in 2005. #

Governments have known about at least some of Nordea’s illegal activities for some time. Swedish finance inspectors caught Nordea at this tax-cheating game at least twice and fined it $10 million in two cases. But the bank is so rich it can afford to pay fines and continues business as usual.
Besides the tax shelters, the Danish tax department has lost several billions of dollars through its inability, or lack of desire, to collect taxes from people they know owe them money. Part of the reason for this inefficiency is because the government has cut back on tax staff.

The breakdown in public confidence for United States and European governments and the major political parties has reached Denmark. The chief editor of “Politiken”, Bo Lidegaard, is one of those journalists who now dares to write the truth about how “small groups have become incomprehensibly rich”, how “globalization stands weakened in voters eyes,” how ever-growing “inequality is the big sinner,” as he wrote April 10 and June 5, 2016.

Lidegaard is concerned that the very roots of the Constitution are in danger, because some contemporary laws threaten its 19th century authors’ vision—that of humanism opposed to authoritarianism, the very notion of free-mindedness, tolerating various points of view in open debate in which opponents listen to one another.

# The company is so overworked with setting up hundreds of thousands of false companies (shells) and do not expect being exposed that they select one living person to be the director of hundreds of companies, which is not possible in itself, and then when they die they don’t notice or don’t care since there is impunity, and whistle blowers are not expected — a case of oversight.

Next and last: Denmark: Return of the Vikings
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

Notes:

1) Sweden had been quite open in accepting refugees. 162,000 came in 2015. Those accepted were granted asylum permanently. This year, lawmakers have tightened the law and stopped refugees from entering without having gone through procedures prior to arrival. Now, once asylum is granted it is only for three years. The state seeks to deport 80,000 asylum-seekers. Only 20,000 refugees came to Denmark last year, 11,500 from Syria; many of the rest from lands Denmark has bombed.

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Ron Ridenour
Ron Ridenouris the author of six books on Cuba including: “Backfire: The CIA’s Biggest Burn”, Cuba Beyond the Crossroads with Theodore MacDonald, and Cuba at Sea, plus other books such as "Yankee Sandinistas", “Sounds of Venezuela”, and “Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka”. He has lived and worked in Latin America including in Cuba 1988-96 (Cuba's Editorial José Martí and Prensa Latina), Denmark, Iceland, Japan, India. www.ronridenour.com; email: ronrorama@gmail.com

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The Criminality of American and British Illegal Immigrants in Syria.

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 2.38.28 PMFelicity Arbuthnot

Warrior for Peace and Justice

Aleppo children

Children of Aleppo – a lost childhood. (Freedom House.)

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Editor's Note
The supposed avalanche of immigrants into (western) Europe has multiple sources. For Eastern Europeans, it has come with the construction of the EU. Those from Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and ports south in Africa, are casualties of destabilization and war that be laid at the feet on the US and (largely Britain.). Ms. Arbuthnot lays out an excellent argument of the gains and losses of this flow of people into Britain (and Europe), and raises one of the moral challenges of our times -- What responsibility does "The West" owe to the human catastrophe have created?

“It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century. You just don’t invade another country on phony pretexts in order to assert your interests.” (Secretary of State, John Kerry, “Meet the Press”, 2nd March 2014.)

Were it not so serious it would be hilarious. The British have voted to leave the European Union on the basis of the combination of a pack of lies by Government Ministers backing the “out” campaign and a whipped up xenophobia about all those “foreigners” taking jobs, homes, places on public transport etc. A truly shameful throwback to the era of hotels and boarding houses exhibiting signs saying: “No dogs, no blacks, no Irish.” Now they would add: “ no Europeans, no Arabs, no Muslims – only UK passport holders”, were the garbage in the media and spewed by the “Outers” to be believed.

Targets of especially vicious denigration are “illegal immigrants.” Never mind many have fled for their lives, risking their all, from regions the UK has enjoined in destroying, hardly in a position to garner the right paperwork, renew or apply for passport, thinking they will at least find a safe haven on entry. They are treated like criminals and sneered at by a swathe of politicians. They “threaten our way of life” is the political mantra. RIP humanity.

Actually our “way of life” is kept going by those who surmount the bureaucratic hurdles. Before their arrival there were no shops open from 6 a.m., to midnight, take-away food outlets of every culinary culture, ditto restaurants. Nor high streets across the country where “immigrants” have staked their all to somehow buy a premises and gradually build it, working all hours to create a pharmacy, food store, appliance store with handymen on call to fit your choice of item and numerous creative enterprises.

Post Brexit the xenophobia has been targeted at all these, as indeed the surgeons, doctors and nurses who staff the hospitals with dedication twenty four hours a day from all over the world, now wondering if the life they have built from their dedication in and to the UK will survive.

“We want our country back” is the political-led cry, by Minsters and politicians who are served by a waiter from another country, whose food is cooked by a chef from elsewhere, whose expensive hotel room is cleaned, sheets changed by another prepared to work hours, often for minimum wage, few Britons would even consider.

So contrast this with the UK government considering it has the absolute right to send illegal immigrants: “ … carrying an arsenal of equipment including sniper rifles, heavy machine guns and anti-tank missiles” (1) to another country approaching four thousand kilometres away to “threaten their way of life.”

The illegals are UK Special Forces, in Syria to assist the “moderate” head chopping, hand chopping, child-decapitating “rebels.” This gang, known as the New Syrian Army (NSA) have reportedly been trained by the US and UK in Jordan and are fighting US and allied spawned and funded ISIL. Note the surely US inspired name, the: “The New Syrian Army” – the US-friendly terrorists formed by the US in 2015 – surely intended to replace the State’s national, multi-ethnic, Syrian Arab Army (SAA.)

Let it never be forgotten that the entire fake “uprising” was engineered by the US Embassy in Damascus in 2006. (2)

In June this year, according to The Telegraph (3) a presumably self-styled “First Lieutenant” Mahmoud al-Saleh, of the NSA told The Times that he was being assisted by Special Forces: “They helped us with logistics, like building defences to make the bunkers safe,” he said.

Back in May, when an ISIL “armoured vehicle packed with explosives” killed eleven NSA members and injured seventeen others: “The wounded were flown in American helicopters to Jordan. The suicide attack damaged the structure of the al-Tanf base, with British troops crossing from Jordan to help them to rebuild their defences.”

According to The Telegraph: ‘The New Syrian Army’s spokesman refused to comment on the pictures of the Special Forces but acknowledged that they are helping. He told the BBC: “We are receiving special forces training from our British and American partners. We’re also getting weapons and equipment from the Pentagon as well as complete air support.”

Note the “British and American partners.” Was perfidy ever more perfidious? If in doubt, note the following also from The Telegraph:

“The NSA emerged from a $500 million Pentagon programme aimed to create a well-trained rebel force to take on ISIL. However the project was abandoned after the first trained unit sent into Syria was kidnapped by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front. A second batch of trainees defected and gave their weapons away.”

Yet another Pentagon own goal.

Interestingly, The Guardian (4) reminds that the BBC:

“… images depict British special forces sitting on Thalab long-range patrol vehicles as they move around the perimeter of a rebel base close to the Syria-Iraq border.

“The Thalab (Fox) vehicles are essentially modified, militarised and upgraded Toyota 4x4s used for long distance reconnaissance and surveillance missions, which were developed jointly in the middle of the last decade by a state-backed defence company in Jordan and the UK company Jankel.”

The vehicles are surely, coincidentally, not unlike like the long convoys of 4x4s so memorably depicted being driven by ISIL/ISIS. (5)

US Captain Scott Rye denied that a number of the NSA, paid up to $400 a month by the Pentagon (6) had left for contractual reasons. “He said that, while U.S. officials had been clear the program was to train fighters to combat Islamic State, the only document participants had to sign was one committing them to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law, a mandate issued by the U.S. Congress.” (Emphasis added.) This from the military representative of a nation to whom human rights and the rule of law has become a distant memory.

Yet another from the: “you could not make this up” file. The UK with it’s State xenophobia against immigrants, especially “illegal”, whatever the circumstances, the US with it’s 930 kilometres  (580 miles) of barriers blocking their Southern neighbours from entry – send illegal immigrants  on official US-UK government business in to another country to murder and to train people to murder and to overthrow yet another sovereign government.

When someone invents better words than “criminal”, “hypocrisy”, “mass murder”, please let me know.

*****

1. BBC: UK special forces pictured on the ground in Syria.
2. Global Research: Syria and “Conspiracy Theories”: It is a Conspiracy.
3. Telegraph: British special forces pictured on front line in Syria for first time.
4. The Guardian: Pictures appear to show British special forces on Syrian frontline.
5. Daily Mail: U.S. officials demand answers from Toyota after convoys of the carmaker’s trucks and SUVs appear in ISIS videos.
6. Reuters: U.S. military pays Syrian rebels up to $400 per month: Pentagon.

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About the author
Felicity ArbuthnotSenior Contributing Editor FELICITY ARBUTHNOT resides in London, UK, and is an internationally respected expert in Middle East affairs - particularly Iraq which she has visited Iraq dozens of times. She was  a senior researcher on John Pilger's film Paying the Price — Killing the Children of Iraq, which investigated the devastating effect of United Nations sanctions on people of Iraq.[1]   Ms. Arbuthnot is a dedicated pacificist, and her work proves the adage that "the pen is mightier than the sword."

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FIFA slammed over continuing ‘forced labour’ on Qatar World Cup projects

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=By= Graeme Baker

Foreign laborers work at the construction site of the al-Wakrah football stadium, one of the Qatar's 2022 World Cup stadiums, on May 4, 2015, in Doha's Al-Wakrah southern suburbs. AFP PHOTO / MARWAN NAAMANI / AFP / MARWAN NAAMANI

Foreign laborers work at the construction site of the al-Wakrah football stadium, one of the Qatar’s 2022 World Cup stadiums, on May 4, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MARWAN NAAMANI / AFP / MARWAN NAAMANI

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]igrant labourers working on Qatar’s 2022 football World Cup projects continue to face abuse including forced labour and poor living conditions despite promises by organisers and the state to improve their conditions, according to the Amnesty International rights group.

In a report published on Thursday, Amnesty recorded a list of abuses, including the withholding of passports, the ongoing practice of interest-bearing ‘recruitment’ loans, deception over pay rates and work undertaken, the denial of rights to travel home, and physical and verbal abuse by managers. This amounts to forced labour under international law, according to Amnesty.

One group of Nepali workers told investigators they were refused permission to return home to help family in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes last April.

The report was based on interviews between February and May last year with 132 migrant workers rebuilding Khalifa stadium for its use in the 2022 tournament.

Every single worker reported some kind of abuse, the NGO said. At that time, Qatari authorities brought in a new version of its “workers’ welfare standards,” which tackled issues including forced labour, working times, recruitment fees and travel rights.

One Nepali man told Amnesty: “My life here is like a prison. The work is difficult, we worked for many hours in the hot sun. When I complained, the manager said ‘there will be consequences. If you want to stay in Qatar be quiet and keep working’.”

Another worker at the Khalifa stadium told Amnesty he would often wait months to be paid. “At the start of 2014 there was no problem, I was getting my monthly pay and sending back money to my wife to cover my recruitment loan and the rent for our house.

As a consequence of the delays in his pay, the man’s family lost their home. “My family is now homeless and two of my younger children have been taken out of school. Every day I am in tension, I cannot sleep at night. This is a torture for me.”

Amnesty said Qatar’s World Cup supreme committee was “struggling” to enforce standards it had introduced in 2014 after an international outcry over the deaths of scores of construction workers in the country, and reports of poor living conditions.

It said that world footballing body FIFA remained “indifferent” to the conditions of workers, and should be encouraged by sponsors and international groups to push Qatar towards a comprehensive reform plan before World Cup construction peaks in mid-2017.

“Essential steps include removing employers’ power to stop foreign employees from changing jobs or leaving the country, proper investigations into the conditions of workers and stricter penalties for abusive companies,” Amnesty said.

“FIFA itself should carry out, and publish, its own regular independent inspections of labour conditions in Qatar.”

“Hosting the World Cup has helped Qatar promote itself as an elite destination to some of the world’s biggest clubs. But world football cannot turn a blind eye to abuse in the facilities and stadiums where the game is played,” said Amnesty’s secretary general, Salil Shetty.

“If FIFA’s new leadership is serious about turning a page, it cannot allow its showcase global event to take place in stadiums built on the abuse of migrant workers.”

“The abuse of migrant workers is a stain on the conscience of world football. For players and fans, a World Cup stadium is a place of dreams. For some of the workers who spoke to us, it can feel like a living nightmare.”

“Despite five years of promises, FIFA has failed almost completely to stop the World Cup being built on human rights abuses.”

“All workers want are their rights: to be paid on time, leave the country if need be and be treated with dignity and respect.”

Amnesty noted that, on returning to Qatar in February 2016, researchers found that some workers had been moved to better accommodation and their passports returned by companies responding to the group’s findings, but other abuses had not been addressed.

The Khalifa stadium is one of Qatar’s flagship 2022 projects (AFP)

In response to the Amnesty report, FIFA said it was working hard with Qatar’s supreme committee to ensure “continuous improvement” in the treatment of workers on World Cup projects.

Spokesman Federico Addiechi said in a letter: “The workers’ welfare standards in place since February 2014 were described by Amnesty as ‘key protections’. The second version of these standards, finalised in February 2016, have been improved with support of various experts and NGOs.

“One of the many improvements that are part of the second edition is the mandatory requirement for all workers to be in possession of their personal documents, such as their passports, and to have a personal safe for storage.

“While constructive criticism is necessary… it is also important to acknowledge progress and improvements.

“We do not agree with the statement in your letter ‘FIFA took no clear, concrete action to prevent human rights abuses of workers’. FIFA has been integrating human rights components in different aspects of its work, not least through the 2014 and 2108 World Cup sustainability strategies.

“While FIFA cannot and indeed does not have the responsibility to solve all societal problems in a host country, FIFA has taken ‘concrete action’ and is fully committed to do its utmost to ensure human rights are respected on all sites and operations related to the World Cup.”

FIFA said Amnesty’s study was made just as the second version of the directive was coming into force.

Qatar’s ministry of foreign affairs stated that labour reform was a “complex issue,” adding that it was working to restrict summer working hours, ban the withholding of passports by employers (punishable by a 25,000 Qatari riyal ($6,867) fine), and signing bilateral agreements with origin countries to stop the practice of recruitment.

It said Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, last October issued “sweeping” reforms on entry, exit and residency requirements. It noted, however, that they had yet to be enacted.

“Our government takes the issues of labour rights and human rights very seriously and is committed to the ongoing, systematic reform.

“New laws have been enacted – and significant efforts have been made to strengthen the enforcement of these laws,” the ministry said in a letter.

“We believe these reforms demonstrate that Qatar is working hard to improve the lives of its guest workers and that steady progress is being made.

“We are well aware that our efforts are a work in progress, and we appreciate the efforts of Amnesty and other NGOs are making to help us identify areas for further improvement.”


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Source: Middle East Eye

 

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