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Image of GCHQ donught buildingHuge tech firms have formed the Reform Government Surveillance group to demand changes to excessive surveillance by world governments. The group has published an open letter to President Obama and Congress:

Dear Mr. President and Members of Congress,

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users’ data secure — deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight. To see the full set of principles we support, visit ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com

Sincerely,

AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo

Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee is dismissive of the call:

“So I start off by recognising that, in the modern world, the terrorists use all the technology available to them.

“It would be foolish for the intelligence agencies in free societies not to start by using that technology.

Isn’t there a contradiction there?

Amnesty International is to start legal action against the UK government through the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. While it’s quite clear that Amnesty is not involved in terrorism, that will be used as the justification since it is the normal BS justification.

 

MPs to honour Mandela today.

Iain Duncan Smith again

I watched the 4th episode of The Revolution Will be Televised last night. First broadcast on 1st December, it’s very good.

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Commentary and analysis on recent UK political events.

Following George Osborne’s Autumn statement there are warnings that the poor will be dead before they are able to retire.

Britain’s poor ‘will die before they retire’

Plans to raise the basic state pension age to 70 for people currently in their twenties were laid out in the George Osborne’s Autumn Statement this week. But with male life expectancy at birth as low as 66 in some of the most deprived parts of the country, public health experts have warned that a “one size fits all” pension age risks condemning many to a life without retirement.

The Mirror has an article on hypocritical Tories praising Mandela when years ago they opposed him, called him a terrorist and for him to be killed.

The ANC started bombing campaigns following the Sharpeville massacre which is regarded as a turning point in South African history.

[8/12/13 Mandela’s Paradoxes Made His Journey Even Greater

… [O]ur celebrity-focused culture virtually ignores the work of the rest of his colleagues during Mandela’s 27 years in prison (1963-1990) that ended Apartheid. The official media picture is as if a man went to jail and solely by example toppled an entrenched system of mandatory racial segregation. That’s not at all how it happened. The organizing – and, in particular, the evolution of it – by so many others remains one of the epic collective heroic stories of the twentieth century.

… Mandela’s absolutely unique evolution on questions of violence and nonviolence and their efficacy in struggle. Mandela began, by his own words, as an expressly Gandhian leader. “I followed the Gandhian strategy for as long as I could,” he later reflected, “but then there came a point in our struggle when the brute force of the oppressor could no longer be countered through passive resistance alone.” He then helped lead the military wing of the movement, received training in guerrilla warfare and sabotage in Algeria, and was arrested when back in his own country for that activity. He was kept in prison longer than his original five-year sentence precisely because he refused to renounce armed struggle, right up through his release in 1990.]

Nelson Mandela dead: Conservative ”hypocrites” heap praise on man they branded a terrorist

1990: ANC’s Heritage–Nonviolence to Guerrilla Attacks : Tactics: The anti-apartheid group is under pressure to negotiate. But many young members are impatient. 

 

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Commentary and analysis on recent UK politics news.

The Conservative-Liberal-‘Democrat’-Conservative coalition intends to persecute benefits claimants and (poor) young people.

Jobless young people without basic skills told to learn or lose benefits

The principles of “earn or learn” have been hotly debated within the coalition, after David Cameron used his conference speech in October to float the idea of taking away housing benefit and jobseeker’s allowance from under-25s who were not in work or training.

The Liberal Democrats have not agreed to all those ideas but appear to have relented on some elements of “earn or learn”, as Osborne announced that 18 to 21-year-olds without basic skills would only get their benefit if they undergo 16 hours of training a week.

On top of this, all 18 to 21-year-olds who are unemployed for more than six months will have to undertake compulsory work experience, a traineeship or a full-time community work placement.

The measures appear to be an extension of the government’s controversial “workfare” schemes – or mandatory work activity – where jobseekers are forced to go on a month of work experience in order to qualify for their benefits.

Autumn statement: how are families and individuals affected?

Missing from the autumn statement were figures on welfare benefits, tax credits and child benefit. Under the Welfare Benefits Uprating Act passed earlier this year, rises in most benefits no longer go up by the rate of inflation but are capped at an increase of 1% until 2016. So Jobseekers Allowance, currently £71.70 for the over 25s who have a record of paying National Insurance, should on that basis rise to £72.42 – an increase of 72p, or enough to buy a tin of Heinz baked beans at Tesco and still have 4p left over.

In the 2010 budget, Osborne said child benefit rates would be frozen for three years, taking effect from April 2011. Since then, the rate has been £20.30 a week for the first child and £13.40 for the second or more. Nothing was mentioned about child benefit in the autumn statement, but assuming the provisions of the Uprating bill are applied to child benefit from April next year, expect another 20p for the first child and 15p for the second.

The basic state pension, currently £110.15 a week, will rise by 2.7% – the rate of inflation – to £113.10. George Osborne also confirmed that the state pension age will rise to 68 nearly 15 years earlier than originally planned, starting for people retiring in the mid-2030s, rather than 2046. It will then rise again to 60 by the late 2040s, and 70 in the decades after that, saving £500bn from pension expenditure over the next 50 years. “We have to guarantee that the basic state pension is affordable in the future, even as people live longer and our society grows older. The only way to do that is to ensure the pension age keeps track with life expectancy,” said Osborne.


COMMUNISTS ON OSBORNE STATEMENT: “Good news for the rich, City and big business”

Communist Party of Britain general secretary Robert Griffiths responded as follows to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement today (December 5)

‘The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement is good news for the super-rich, City speculators and the corporate fat cats. It hands yet more lavish subsidies to big business on top of the tax cuts on high incomes and monopoly profits. There will be extra state finance for exports to China together with tax relief for City speculation in Exchange Traded Funds and for shale gas fracking, business rates and employers’ National Insurance contributions.

But there will be no windfall taxes on energy and retail monopoly profits and no moves to end tax haven status in British overseas territories. Instead, the extra state pension of £2.95 a week from April will be swallowed up in rising household fuel costs while almost one-third of men and more than one quarter of women today will not live long enough to draw their pensions in the mid-2030s at the age of 68′.

Imran Awan discusses terrorism suggesting that the ConDem coalition government is intending measures that “…  will simply further stigmatise Muslim communities.” Awan raises many issues:

  • ‘Terrorism’ and the ‘war on terror’ are poorly defined
  • ‘Terrorists’ and freedom fighters are not clearly distinguished
  • States sanction the use of the ‘terrorist’ label to stigmatise individuals and small groups e.g. the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden
  • Many protest issues are labelled as being of a ‘terrorist’ nature e.g. animal rights activism, anti-capitalism and anti-abortion campaigning
  • States’ use of drones and torture can be regarded as terrorism
  • “[T]he media have vilified and demonised Islam, making it comparable to terrorism”
  • The terrorism label is far less likely to be applied to right-wing terrorism

Image of Guantanamo Bay prisoners

‘Terrorism’ is a wonderfully useful tool for governments engaged in oppression: the huge scale of the surveillance by NSA and partners is justified through the so-called threat of terrorism despite the fact that the fact that the so-called threat cannot justify such oppressive measures. Terrorism permitted the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Terrorism is so important to these oppressive regimes that they have to ensure it’s continuing existence through drone strikes, renditions, the use of torture in prisons such as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay and by [later edit: the]demonizing of Islam and Muslims.

If terrorism didn’t exist these governments would have to invent it. Actually, they did invent it: Glenn Grenwald reports on research by Remi Brulin that it was invented “… by Israel in the 1960s and early 1970s as a means of universalizing its conflicts (this isn’t our fight against our enemies over land; it’s the Entire World’s Fight against The Terrorists!). The term was then picked up by the neocons in the Reagan administration to justify their covert wars in Central America (in a test run for what they did after 9/11, they continuously exclaimed: we’re fighting against The Terrorists in Central America, even as they themselves armed and funded classic Terror groups in El Salvador and Nicaragua). From the start, the central challenge was how to define the term so as to include the violence used by the enemies of the U.S. and Israel, while excluding the violence the U.S., Israel and their allies used, both historically and presently. That still has not been figured out, which is why there is no fixed, accepted definition of the term, and certainly no consistent application.”

Terrorism is bullshit ideology invented, used, nurtured and maintained by USUK and it’s allies to rule the world.

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