Sunday, April 24, 2005

Bomb blasts in Iraq, UK man states he was tortured at Guantanamo, Tony Blair tries to dance around the war

Susan e-mails this from Canada's CBC, "Sarah McLachlan teams up with Robbie Robertson:"

Sarah McLachlan has joined forces with Robbie Robertson to record the theme song for an upcoming Steven Spielberg miniseries.
The two Canadian musicians have re-recorded McLachlan's hit song World on Fire from her most recent album, Afterglow.

[. . .]
The two stars re-worked World on Fire as a duet. The video will feature scenes from the TV series.
According to an item in Liz Smith's gossip column in the New York Post, the half-Mohawk Robertson is also currently working on a stage musical about Native Americans.

Susan wondered if it was appropriate for our globe hopping Sundays. Absolutely. Music borders go far beyond the domestic shores of the United States. And besides, like Susan, I really like Afterglow! Seriously, art is important, the mini-series sounds interesting ("the colossal story of the opening of the American West, a dramatic, personal tale of the adventurous exploration of the American wilderness, the clash of two cultures . . .") and we can always note artists from other countries in on globe hopping Sunday. The US isn't the beginning and end of the arts.
Anytime someone wants to have someone whose work has spoken to them, happy to do so. Just e-mail and note it.

From Aljazeera, Lloyd notes "Blasts shake Iraq amid talk of deal:"

Two bombs exploded near a Shia Muslim mosque in Baghdad late on Sunday, killing at least 15 people, a police official said.
The official said 40 people were also wounded at the Ahl al-Bait mosque. A witness said he saw many ambulances rushing to the scene, a crowded market area.
Earlier in the day, two powerful car-bomb blasts in the northern Iraqi town of Tikrit killed at least six people and injured 26.
The first bomb exploded outside a police academy in the hometown of ousted president Saddam Hussein just after 8am (0410 GMT) as recruits were preparing to travel to Jordan for training, police Colonel Abd Allah Ali said. The second blew up 20 minutes later outside a nearby army liaison office.
Police casualties included four dead and 18 wounded, according to Ali.

Zach e-mails to note the BBC's "Huge crowds support Mexico mayor:"

Hundreds of thousands of people have marched through Mexico City in support of the capital's embattled mayor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
They crammed into the city's central square to oppose a decision by Mexico's Congress that has left the mayor facing prosecution in a land dispute.

Mr Lopez Obrador was tipped to win the 2006 presidential election before Congress ended his legal immunity.
His supporters say the decision was a political move to block his candidacy.

From The Independent, Erika e-mails by Severin Carrell's "US guards at Guantanamo tortured me, says UK man:"

A British resident has claimed he was tortured by US guards at Guantanamo Bay, suffering violent sexual assaults, near drowning and an attack in which he was blinded.
The Independent on Sunday has been given a detailed account from Omar Deghayes of repeated abuse by American and Pakistani interrogators over the past three years including electric shocks and sodomy by US guards.
The allegations, made by human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, have persuaded British ministers to take up Mr Deghayes's case.
In some of the most disturbing allegations to emerge from Guantanamo, Mr Deghayes also accuses US and Pakistani interrogators of beating him repeatedly since his arrest three years ago, smearing his face with human excrement, starving him of food, and withdrawing light and clothing.
In a detailed 10-page account Mr Deghayes, whose family fled Libya after his father, a prominent lawyer and trade unionist, was allegedly murdered by agents of Muammar Gaddafi in 1980, claims:
* Pakistani interrogators put him in a "snake room" with glass cases holding poisonous snakes to make him confess, and tortured him with electric shocks;
* Members of the US "extreme reaction force" at Guantanamo Bay blinded him in his already weak right eye with Mace riot control gas and by gouging it with a finger;

[. . .]

From Reporters Without Borders, Trina e-mails "AP cameraman killed and a photographer wounded:"

Cameraman Saleh Ibrahim and photographer Mohammed Ibrahim, both Iraqi, came under fire from unidentified gunmen as they arrived on the scene of the explosion on 23 April near Al-Yarmook square, said an AP colleague who requested anonymity for security reasons.
Both men were very badly injured and their colleague drove them to Al-Jumhuri Hospital in Mosul but Saleh Ibrahim, who had three bullets wounds to the chest, died shortly after being admitted. A doctor at the hospital, Rabei Yassin said that Mohammed Ibrahim, who had shrapnel wounds to the head, was treated there before being transferred to an undisclosed destination under US military escort.
"We are appalled at the death of Saleh Ibrahim, which brings to 55 the number of journalists and media assistants killed in Iraq since the start of the war, in March 2003," said Reporters Without Borders, adding, that it was "extremely worried about the condition of Mohammed Ibrahim."

UK Pete e-mails "Britain’s no choice election" from England's Socialism Today:

SINCE THE INTRODUCTION of universal suffrage, the gap between the world of Westminster and the reality of people’s lives has never been greater. In mid-February, when New Labour launched its election campaign, the country was seized by a feeling of leaden gloom at the thought of another three months of election propaganda. Tony Blair has talked about the danger of the nation ‘sleepwalking into a Conservative victory’, but it is not apathy that is hanging like a pall over the general election, but alienation from all mainstream parties.
Far from being apathetic, the working class in Britain stands on the brink of its biggest conflict with New Labour yet. All local government unions and the civil servants union (PCS) have voted overwhelming (from 66% to 87%) for strike action against the government’s onslaught on pension rights. "Threat of biggest one-day strike since 1926", screamed the Financial Times. While this may be an exaggeration, it would be the biggest number of workers involved in simultaneous strike action for over 20 years. As we go to press, negotiations between the government and public-sector unions are continuing, and a retreat by the government is possible.
Even if the government makes temporary concessions to prevent strike action before the general election, it is clear that it is squaring up for a showdown with public-sector unions. Given the anger and determination of trade unionists, even the most right-wing union leaders are under enormous pressure to lead a fight.
But not one whiff of this class conflict has surfaced in the general election campaign. Never has a general election been so devoid of real political debate. As a result, the turnout is likely to be even lower than the historical low of 59% in 2001. According to a Mori poll in February, only 45% of people were definitely intending to vote, and that this could result in an actual turnout of 51%. Those who will not vote are overwhelmingly working class, ‘traditional Labour voters’.
Even in 2001, New Labour’s lack of a base in society was demonstrated when, for the first time ever, there were more people who did not vote at all than voted for the governing party. If it was to be re-elected with the same vote share but a 51% turnout, then it would have the endorsement of fewer than one in five of those eligible to vote. Labour voters would be outnumbered two to one by non-voters.
New Labour is a severely weakened party and Tony Blair is a damaged prime minister. The parliamentary fiasco over the anti-terror legislation (when a majority in the House of Lords forced the government to backtrack on some of the most authoritarian proposals) further undermined them, but it is the Iraq war that remains the biggest single event in Blair’s transformation from ‘Teflon Tony’ to electoral liability. The latest revelation that the written briefing by the attorney-general, Lord Goldsmith, (the supposed ‘legal basis’ for the war in Iraq) never even existed, has deepened the perception that Blair cannot be trusted. Opposition to the occupation in Iraq is now at a higher level than at any stage since the war began. While a feeling of powerlessness means that this is not, at this stage, reflected in the size of anti-war demonstrations, it is a major element in the extreme reluctance of many who voted Labour in the last two elections to do so again.
Discontent with New Labour goes far deeper than opposition to the war. At root it is an expression of anger at the inequality of Blair’s Britain, and the neo-liberal policies the government has pursued. The most recent opinion polls show that almost 60% of people are deeply dissatisfied with New Labour. However, despite not being in power, 45% of people are also dissatisfied with Tory leader Michael Howard.

From England's The Guardian, Amanda e-mails Michael White's "Opposition goes on Iraq offensive No 10 accused of lying over legal advice:"

The Liberal Democrats and Conservatives yesterday launched a double-pronged attack on Tony Blair, accusing the prime minister of having undermined trust in politicians and lied over the Iraq war.
Labour was last night braced for the prospect that the Iraq war could be a key battleground in the closing stages of the 2005 election campaign after hints that the attorney general's legal advice will finally become public.
The Mail on Sunday published a summary of what it claimed to be Lord Goldsmith's 13-page assessment of the legal pros and cons of the US-led invasion in March 2003, which Mr Blair backed with British troops despite widespread domestic opposition.

Blair aides dismissed the claim. "There's nothing new to this story," said one. But it prompted both main opposition leaders to renew their attacks.
Charles Kennedy demanded that the government bow to the inevitable and show how it became involved in what he called "a dreadful error, carried out on the basis of the wrong arguments and for the wrong reasons".
Mr Kennedy will today make his attempt to raise the profile of the Iraq war in the election campaign by calling for a full public inquiry into the way Britain's decision to commit troops was taken. Arguing that "the British people won't allow it" to be sidelined as an issue, the Lib Dem leader will set out his belief that the 2003 war was illegal and that Mr Blair's conduct "has undermined trust in government and politics generally".

From The Independent, David e-mails Francis Elliott, Severin Carrell and Andy McSmith's "Goldsmith told Blair 'war could be illegal:"'

Today's Mail on Sunday claims to list six "caveats" that were stripped from a summary of the advice published 10 days later on the eve of a crucial parliamentary debate on the war.
They reportedly included warnings that only the United Nations could judge whether Saddam Hussein had defied its order to disarm and that Mr Blair could not rely on the American position that the war was legal.
The disclosure prompted renewed calls for the Government to publish the full advice, to settle once and for all the question of whether Mr Blair misled the country into going to war.
Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary who resigned in protest as Leader of the Commons over the war in Iraq, said: "Many weeks ago, I urged the Government to publish the advice and said at the time that it was inevitable that it was going to become public. I deeply regret that the Government has left this issue to fester, to the point at which it has become public at the worst possible moment for the Government.
"They should've done it in their own time, and made a clean breast of it."
"I resigned when it became evident that we couldn't get a second UN resolution. If this is indeed what the Attorney General said to the Prime Minister at the time, perhaps he should've resigned too."
The fresh claims over the war's legality come at a very critical stage in the campaign. Michael Howard accused Mr Blair of telling lies yesterday as the fight for votes enters a bitter final phase, saying that he could "not even tell the truth" over the war.

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