Friday, 27 February 2009

we have ways of making you talk

I am increasingly concerned about the way government is responding to the recent allegations of collusion with the US torture and rendition program and the way this is beginning to impact on all our lives. Jack Straw's recent refusual to allow public access to information around the issue of torture and rendition on the grounds that " It would not be in the public interest", comes as no surprise. After all he is implicated in the great deceits around this war as much as any one .
The actioning of government anti-terrorist policy is devisive, discriminatory and is creating a climate of suspicion and prejudice. Recently the European Parliament has denounced Ireland and 13 other EU countries for collusion with the US to help the CIA carry out secret 'rendition' flights to transport terror suspects. Amnesty International claims three aircraft involved in US rendition flights had links to Shannon Airport. To mark International Day Against Torture, they published a report on Europe's role in rendition and secret detention. The report claims a number of European states either turned a blind eye to rendition or actively participated in it.
According to a 2006 report from the Council of Europe 14 European countries colluded in or tolerated the secret transfer of terrorist suspects by the US and two of them, Poland and Romania, may have harboured CIA detention centres .
That report listed Sweden, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Britain, Italy, Macedonia, Germany and Turkey as countries 'responsible, at varying degrees ... for violations of the rights of specific persons.'
Seven other countries 'could be held responsible for collusion - active or passive', Ireland, Poland, Romania, Spain, Cyprus, Portugal and Greece.
Germany has rejected the charge.
The home secretary, is to be questioned over allegations that British security services colluded in the torture of terrorism suspects and operated under a "James Bond-style get-out clause".
Suspects say they were repeatedly tortured by agents of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) before being questioned by MI5.
It is claimed British officials put pressure on the Pakistani authorities to get information and "knew very well" they were using torture during their investigations.
The Home Office has already launched an inquiry into claims that UK intelligence services colluded in the brutal treatment of British citizens and residents in Pakistan. I suggest that an independent equiry to investigate both the Home Office and UK intelligence services be expedited with out delay. David Miliband is himself accused of suppressing torture allegations that might embarrass the British government.

In a recent BBC survey more than 27,000 people in 25 countries were asked if torture would be acceptable if it could provide information to save innocent lives.
Some 36% of those questioned in the US agreed that this use of torture was acceptable, while 58% were unwilling to compromise on human rights
Countries that face political violence are more likely to accept the idea that some degree of torture is permissible. Some polls seemed to indicate difference of opinion along religious lines.
A majority of Jewish respondents in Israel, 53%, favour allowing governments to use some degree of torture to obtain information from those in custody, while 39% want clear rules against it. But Muslims in Israel, who represent 16% of the total number polled, are overwhelmingly against any use of torture.
The British poll indicated 72% were against the use of torture and 24% for it.
The survey suggests that nearly a third of people worldwide back the use of torture in prisons in some circumstances.
I find these figures extremely disturbing though not surprising. The issue is well reported through out the media but there seems to be little reaction from the great British public. Have we forgotten the lessons of our own history so soon? Are we really only concerned with the issues that affect our own immediate well being?
If your door gets kicked down in the middle of the night by the men in masks it is far more likely that they will be officers of the British government than terrorists. Perhaps in the end we do get what we deserve and a prolonged reluctance of the UK masses to enage in any effective protest may lead us to the place we dread most. Or - we could get more hands on rather than sitting on arses tutt tutting.......


copyright e d g a r b r o u g h t o n 2009

Monday, 23 February 2009

I thought my mate Ramblin’ was off work last week so I mentioned we might go out some where taking a few snaps or something as long as the some thing was not on a bike. Am I out of condition or what? Still a few hours on the turbo trainer spinning low gears on the bike will soon sort that before the next EB Band gigs in April.
Any way I went to visit Ramblin on Friday and we resolved to head out some where on the Saturday ( yesterday). Ramblin’ needed some bib tights and a jacket for bike riding. He wanted to go to the main warehouse of a well known cycle supplier to get them and their place was on the way to the Sussex Downs and beyond. We like it down that way. After lunch I got a call from Ramblin’ saying he was off on his mission and did I fancy the trip? I was so relieved it wasn’t 8 in the am that I eagerly accepted and after a trawl through the traffic and the bleak environs of the London hinterland, going south, we arrived at the cycle store. Ramblin’ chose his gear and we set off to catch a few pics of the very imminent sunset. Being a practical man Ramblin' headed for the nearest hill and we gawped at the dipping sun and the far off sky line while we snapped away with a our cameras.

The sun dipped out of sight and we headed down to Brighton. ramblin' has a new motor and it it flys. It would make a perfect band car. Fast reliable and steady as a rock. Ramblin’ was well pleased with his toy as he put it through it’s paces down the lanes and down the motorway to the coast.

The whole trip was a buzz. Any one who knows me knows that I love to burn down a road in the darkness especially if it’s in the direction of any sea shore but that wasn’t the high light.
Ramblin’ has been my best mate for years going back to when his son and mine we were very small. It’s fairly easy to begin to take people for granted but I value his friendship as high as any and a lot more than most. Ramblin’ is one of the most serious and seriously amusing, eccentric people I have met and always good company. We have similiar politics, common interests including a love of a wide range of music. On the car stereo we listened to Dave Brubeck, Scratch Lee Perry, Golden Earring ( I know ), some weird trance beats, some strange wonderful Afro / Latin Christmas song and a host of other audio delights. This was all on a CD Ramblin' put together for a Christmas party at his place of work. I can imagine the reaction of those attending ranging from astounded to delighted.

I really enjoyed my afternoon out and evening by the sea at Brighton. Last time we did the trip to Brighton by car I had not long emerged from hospital after a heart attack. Ramblin correctly decided I should get out and about. It was just before Christmas, there was snow on the ground as we set out for ramblin's annual Christmas shopping in the famous Brighton Lanes. We had some fun sliding around on the snow on country roads taking the scenic route in Ramblin’s old Astra. Ramblin's idea of cardio rehab. Aaaargh!

Times change, cars change and towns change. Brighton is not what it used to be. What UK seaside town is? A gentle decline persists. People change also but true friendship endures. Thanks for the ride mate.

ps - Almost forgot. I left a comment on last post announcing JJ as the comp winner. Shop in the Charity shop - win , win. Send me your details by email JJ and I'll send you the goodies.


copyright e d g a r b r o u g h t o n 2009

Monday, 16 February 2009

In 1538 Henry the eighth began the dissolution of the Monasteries. The ruined section of Leiston Abbey pictured above was the result of this purge. How ever every cloud has a silver lining or so they say, and now the place houses an Art Centre and is the UK centre for the development of chamber music.
In 1665 the plague visited upon the people of these lands showed the church to have no direct link with the almighty. Indeed they had no way of showing them selves to be protected by their piety and their prayers for others did nothing to assuage the hungry plague. The clergy dropped like flies as did any one else who came into contact with it. The people soon came to question the authority of the church and it’s pontiffs. Perhaps for the first time the people began to see through the cant and pointless rituals and slowly the church began to lose it’s hold over the flock. This was not the only change that developed out of this terrible time. After the viral carnage and destruction of most of society the practices associated with serfdom began to erode. The few surviving able workers plied their labour with the highest bidders and some managed to obtain their own land for their services. The dreadful plague had liberated the workers who would never be surfs again.
In some towns and villages in England there are still old market crosses that have a depression at the foot of the stone cross. This was filled with vinegar during times of plague as it was believed that vinegar would kill any germs on the coins exchanged at market and so contain the disease. It looks as if the Government might be employing similar nonsense to deal with the current collapse of international monetary systems. In any event there is a sour taste in the mouths of many people in the UK and increasingly, in Europe. As the facts begin to emerge piling one on another, surely there can be no doubt that this system of government and capital is failing badly. It does not work any more.
The reality check is unsurprising. Just as the experts warned there would be no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq others warned of the imminent financial mess we are now experiencing. We are governed by fools and liars and narcissists in denial.
There are a few rather worrying indications that in the face of hard times, sections of society will be easily inclined to discriminate against others who are perceived to be a threat to their economic survival. The borders that restricted the movement of workers within the European community may be removed but I fear we have not heard the last of protectionist demonstrations against foreign labour and the related nastiness that goes with it. We all know where that can lead us.
Recently I heard a home office minister interviewed about alleged British collaboration with US torture as cited in a recent top level UN report. When asked about specifics he answered “The UK government neither condones nor supports torture”. He used the same answer for three separate questions. A chill went down my spine. I thought of the same scenario at the height of nazi control in Germany. The difference would have been that the reporter would have been dragged off after the interview and disappeared. *
On some days are we not just a whisker away from the totalitarian experience? Even so it seems that few crises throughout our history have produced no silver lining in the cloud and although it is not easy to predict the outcome of the Bankers folly nevertheless, people are adapting and changing their lifestyle, spending habits and more in order to cope. I am still waiting for the innovative advice and suggestions from all of you out there. Come on! Tell us what you are doing to adapt and how it is all affecting you and yours. There has been some good stuff in the comments but please – more. The competition is still running.

Post script 17/02/09
A former head of MI5 has accused the government of exploiting the fear of terrorism and trying to bring in laws that restrict civil liberties.
In an interview in a Spanish newspaper, published in the Daily Telegraph, Dame Stella Rimington, 73, also accuses the US of "tortures". Dame Stella became the first female head of MI5 in 1992.


copyright e d g a r b r o u g h t o n 2009