BRITAIN: Police Response More Frightening Than th
Posted on July 28th, 2005
LONDON, Jul 26 (IPS) – That an innocent Brazilian was shot dead on the London Underground is tragic; but the near justification of that killing by the police is frightening.
The police have now openly declared a shoot-to-kill policy, and declared that they can shoot to kill just on suspicion. And that suspicion arising not from reliable intelligence or anything like that, but from just how someone may behave somewhere.
Until the other day everyone thought that a Brit licensed to kill was a character in a James Bond film. Now that is official British policy.
London’s police commissioner Sir Ian Blair expressed ”regret” — and no more — over the death of Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes. That ”regret” was accompanied by the remark that there could be more such killing of innocent people.
Ian Blair said the police had a shoot-to-kill policy to stop suspected suicide bombers. ”This is not a Metropolitan (police) policy, this is a national policy and I think we are quite comfortable that the policy is right, but of course these are fantastically difficult times…there are still officers having to make those calls as we speak. Somebody else could be shot.”
Not many police chiefs of cities around the world who carry the responsibility of protecting their citizens would say this. The chilling message is that right or wrong, if an armed policeman is suspicious of your movements, it is okay, in fact required by national policy to instantly shoot to kill.
His predecessor John Stevens spelt out in bloody detail in an article in ‘The News of the World’ weekly what his police had learnt from the Israeli police. ”I sent teams to Israel and other countries hit by suicide bombers where we learned a terrible truth. There is only one sure way to stop a suicide bomber determined to fulfil his mission — destroy his brain instantly, utterly. That means shooting him with devastating power in the head, killing him immediately.”
Charles was shot eight times, seven times in the head and once in the shoulder. Given the police environment these days, he could be penalized for getting one of the eight shots wrong.
But Stevens expressed more than just regret. ”My heart goes out to the officer who killed the man in Stockwell Tube Station,” he wrote. Some people thought at first they had read that wrong. But no, his heart was not going out to the man killed, or to his family and friends; it went out to the policeman who killed him.
The lies after lies that came thick and fast after that shooting uncover just how hollow the suspicions might be on the strength of which they have been given powers to shoot to kill.
First, that he was being watched and shadowed as he left his block of flats to take a bus to the station. That he was then followed to the train and shot when he ran. But there is now no word from the police why they were shadowing a Brazilian electrician — if they were shadowing him at all, that is. They said they shadowed him 15 minutes on a bus, but not a word why they did not intercept him earlier.
Then came the announcement that he had been ”directly connected” to inquiries over the attempts to plant bombs on trains a day earlier. Then the admission that this was not so at all, though the police were ”comfortable” with the policy that made such a mistake possible.
Followed the announcement that he was an illegal immigrant and that he therefore ran when he saw the police. It then turned out he was not illegal at all. And no word why he ran, or even whether it was the case that he was challenged by the police and was running from the police. And there was more, that he came from a suspect neighbourhood, that his jacket was too heavy for that hot summer dayà
It was always frightening to know that you had to do all of nothing, just be somewhere some time to get blown up by a terrorist. Now people know you could be doing almost nothing to get shot by the police. There needs to be as little sense to a policeman’s suspicion as to a terrorist’s madness.
Save us from the terrorists; but please also someone save us from our saviours.
A tragic failure of aid
Posted on July 28th, 2005
It’s Three weeks after the G8 summit. If you want to know how meaningless and hollow the pledges and announcements made at the G8 were you would only have to have caught news stories about the starving in Niger. Billions promised for Africa thundered the headlines….
In the meantime the UN issued pleas for money months ago following drought and a devastating plague of locusts; Niger needed $30 million dollars, a drop in the bucket of development aid. It was not forthcoming. OXFAM and other ngos warned of the impending crisis as far back as last October. Aid is now on its way but too late for many of the victims.
So what went wrong? An Oxfam official said it was “failure in communication for not convincing enough people of the seriousness of the situation in Niger. ” Some failure!
Sadly this is not an isolated instance but all to common. Intervention a few months ago would have cost $1.00 per person to save a life. Just $1.00! Now it is 80 times that according to Oxfam. In 50 days’ time, UN countries are due to gather in New York for an annual meeting where a one-billion-dollar (830-million-euro) emergency food fund is on the agenda. It’s a good idea (But what’s the WFP for then?)
If there was ever a cause to hold concerts about, and march, chant, demonstrate for. This is it. Not the crass, self promoting antics that took place at Live8; toadying to the very financial institutions which take with one hand but don’t give with the other is not the way to make poverty history. It will only help perpetuate. Bisbob take note. By the way has anyone seen Bob Geldof lately. Seriously I’m worried. Is he ok? If you have seen hi, please post a reply and link so my mind can be put at ease.
From West Nile to New Jersey
Posted on July 26th, 2005
Taking a breather from pondering the problems of the world. It’s too hot to think. Its 8.30 am and the temperature is 87 F (30.5 C) but it feels like 92 (33.3 C). The humidity is unbelievable. And George Bush would have us believe there is no such thing as global warming….but it’s too hot for that. It’s been sweltering for a week. Today I don’t feel well, despite the heat I’m feeling slightly chilly. What’s going on? Is it the heat? Am I coming down with the flu?
Moving back and forth from the hot outside external environment to frigid Arctic air conditioned environments doesn’t help my immune system. But wait..I’ve just remembered. I’ve been running in the park..it’s relaxing and very enjoyable. The park has a great lake, but at the moment it looks more like a swamp, there’s green algae all over the surface. Needless to say conditions are ideal for the growth of all formed of winged insects including mosquitoes…and they carry West Nile…could I have west Nile fever? The symptoms are very flu like… Oh what rich irony… all the way from Uganda to NJ, USA and I get West Nile here… I never saw a case in Ug, plenty of malaria though. I’ll wait and see, physician health thy self. Perhaps it really is just a case of feeling under the weather….it’s still hot!
Posted on July 23rd, 2005
It took pictures of dying children on the front pages and telivision screens to get aid to the starving people of Niger. This despite pleas and warning from the UN following a drought and plague of locusts months ago that was the disaster in the making. The UN says it has recieved more pledges in the last 10 days since the pictures went on TV than in the last 10 months. And this was despite LIve8. So if Live8 actually araised awareness, why did it still take a concerted TV campaign to get any attention. It will still take another two months to get a concerted camapaign in place. Perhaps if aid campaigners and other weren’t wasting so much time with carnival events like Live8 more would have happened sooner, maybe… Bob Geldof where are you now?
Putting Prevention back on the agenda
Posted on July 20th, 2005
Prevention, the ugly step child / sister in the fight against AIDS is back on the agenda it seems. While the headlines this week were dominated by the report on the progress or lack thereof of the WHO’s flagship 3×5 treatment initiative, buried among the paragraphs was mention of prevention. And not a moment too soon,for while the push to get AIDS sufferers on ARV’s is increasing, the rate of spread of the epidemic is accelerating at a faster pace.
The steady drumbeat of headlines from Asia leaves one in no doubt how serious the situation is…Asia Faces AIDS Explosion Unless Authorities Step Up Fight, Experts Say
The Economist said Good prevention work has tamed the AIDS epidemic in some countries, yet it is getting much worse in others, going on in more dramatic form…”BOOM!” That, in a word, is how one epidemiologist describes the spread of AIDS in Vietnam. Infection rates may be higher in Africa, but AIDS is growing faster in South-East Asia than in any other part of the world….”
Asia is so important to Africa because of the implications for the future. The World is barely able to cope as it is with the AIDS numbers, struggling to get funds and resources to tackle the epidemic and life saving treatments to those who need it the most. Any substantial increase in numbers on Asia will divide the relatively small pie of AIDS money, and end up diverting efforts and resources from elsewhere; the fight against AIDS in Africa will effectively be doomed.
For the long term survival of the planet, Asia cannot be allowed to become another Africa. The potential numbers of HIV victims from India and China alone is massive. The only way to forestall such a dire outcome is by increasing the emphasis on prevention. Getting drugs and treatment is a worthy effort and is necessary..treatment can be viewed as part of prevention efforts. The recent debates on which method of prevention works or is superior A, B or C have only proven divisive, confusing and ultimately useless. It is incumbent on all the leaders in the Global Health field to have one united, unanimous voice on all the differing methods of prevention be it A, B or C, the world does not have the luxury of dissenting opinions.
The threat of a new wave of AIDS is not restricted to Asia alone. Five countries — which account for about 43% of the world’s population India, China, Russia, Ethiopia and Nigeria are among the countries confronting early- to mid-stage HIV/AIDS epidemics that could become severe public health crises without wide-scale, sustained prevention efforts, according to public- and private-sector HIV/AIDS experts recently attended a conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Task Force on HIV/AIDS.
Back in 2002 I wrote an article entitled “AIDS crisis will get worse in Sub-Saharan Africa” which noted that both Nigeria and Ethiopia are past the 5% prevalence rate among adults, the point at which the epidemic in several other African countries entered the “explosive phase.” Indeed they may be past the tipping point. Together the two countries make up almost a third of the people in sub- Saharan Africa, with a combined population of 200 million.
The recent emphasis in the fight against AIDS has been on drugs and treatment. And while there has been some success, it is just not enough. Prevention must be put back at the top of the AIDS agenda. Prevention is the only way because we have no cure. There is still time, but not much.
I actually wrote this a couple of weeks back but somehow forgot to put it up. Shortly after I wrote it the Lancet came out with an article entitled AIDS is not a problem for Africa alone>.
Was it just a dream?
Posted on July 19th, 2005
It’s like I’ve just woken up from a dream. A week has passed and I have a vague memory of some event was it called Live8 or was it the G8 summit? Is it a dream or a nightmare? There was euphoria, billions had been promised for development and London was over the moon at the success of their Olympic bid… then came a series of bombs in London and everything changed.
Did the G8 actually happen? I seem to recall an editorial claiming the funding promised for Africa was actually bogus, not new, in other words phantom aid, sorry recycled aid…Tony Blair rejected this charge, while at the same time praising Bob Geldof and Bono for their efforts in persuading members of the eight richest countries in the world to increase aid to Africa. Was Live8 a success. who knows, Bono and Geldof are nowhere to be seen to comment on such, missing in action. I hope they’re okay.
Not to be out done, George Bush announced his own initiative, pledging a billion for malaria…promising to double U.S. assistance to Africa by 2010, to at least $8.6 billion a year, to resounding cheers, he’s good at that is our George. I wanted to dance and cheer too, but I was not sure…I’d just read somewhere that of the $5 billion Dubya promised from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) in 2002 only $400,000 dollars had actually been disbursed..and the $8.6 billion? Well it’s supposed to come from (MCA) the so hold the celebrations…
It seems like a dream…I went to bed poor…found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and still woke up poor.
For whom the bell tolls
Posted on July 13th, 2005
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If the land be washed away by the sea, the world is less,just as if it were the house of friend’s or my own home; any person’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
*(adapted from John Donne,”Devotions upon Emergent Occasions” published 1624, London)
The roll call:
- 50+ – London suicide Bombing July 2005
- 1200 Iraq Suicide bombers since May 2005
- nearly 3000 Twin Towers New York 9/11/2001, suicide bombers
- 3000 children a day, Africa from malaria
- 8000, Srebrenica, Bosnia, 1995, Genocide
- 70,000 and counting, Sudan, genocide
- 100,000 and counting, Iraq, from War
- 250,000 Asia , December 2004, Tsunami, earthquake
- 800,000, Rwanda, 1994, genocide,
- 900,000 a year from Malaria, Africa – to date ( 1 million global)
- 5 million, Congo Democratic Republic, war, 1998-2004
- 2 .3 million, Africa in 2003 (3.1 million globally) from HIV/AIDS
- 18 million and counting, Africa, since 1981 from HIV/AIDS (Globally 21 million plus)
How much is a life worth it’s priceless; the cost to humanity is incalculable, we are all affected beasue it is one world, our world
G8 Hijacked by terror
Posted on July 7th, 2005
This morning I woke up to the shocking news of the reprehensible attacks in London. I was/am a Londoner, the attacks took place on my old cycling route from South London to Camden. Immediately a flash of fear went through my head, I have friends and relatives in London.. were they OK? I was in NY when 9/11 happened so I knew better than to call. But I soon got a text saying everyone I know is okay. My heart goes out to those who have been affected. I’m filled with sorrow for the innocents who have been injured or killed.
Being one of the African diaspora when such events occur, it reminds one how interconnected the world is..When the bombings happened in East Africa a few years ago, the same feelings went through my mind..I have friends and relatives who live there.. every time such events happen I’m filled with anger…
I’m filled with anger because terrorism has hijacked the agenda of the G8… if their aim was to disrupt the G8, they succeeded. The G8 was about the poor in Africa, terrorists often claim to be fighting for freedom for the poor, but to often they target the very people they purport to care about..in this case they reveal the lies of their claims and only highlight their callous indifference for life.
Success against Schistosomiasis in Africa
Posted on July 6th, 2005
A disease treatment programme started three years ago by Imperial College London has now treated over ten million African children and adults for schistosomiasis and intestinal worm infections in six sub-Saharan countries. And the cost 25 pence ($0.40) a year.
Now here’s a story to wipe out the bitter after taste of Live8 and all the negativity that surrounded the event. A simple programme with simple measures such as the provision of education and low cost treatment programmes have now helped reduce the burden of illness for over ten million people.
No histrionics, no controversy, only focusing on the problem with solutions,hat’s the way aid should work. All others take note. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have firmly established themselves as leaders in innovative health interventions.
The Truth behind the Live8
Posted on July 5th, 2005
As Bono’s guitar gently weeps and the Live 8 hangover sets in the truth is seeping out the…….. and everyone involved is back peddling from the promises and pledges made in the heady atmosphere leading up to the concerts… The headlines say it all…. Africa should not get its hopes up too high for the G8 summit
There was a time not so long ago in the weeks leading up to a G8 summit the politicians could make dramatic announcements of so called debt relief, and concessions for the poor accompanied by knee jerk cheering from compliant NGO’s, and get away with it,despite the protestations of a few anarchists…. But as time passed by, with little to show for their grandiose claims, the people began to believe the politicians less and less… The politicos needed a new ploy…something that would assure the public they were sincere while ensuring a less than thorough scrutiny of their promises or pledges…
And it came to them a brainwave…rent a crowd of rock stars, get them gather millions of the faithful, to sing, chant and dance…the rock stars would endorse the politicos manifesto, and hopefully the overwhelming glare of the media spotlight, and the blinding light of superstars would conceal the empty promises and divert attention until the G8 was over..At least that was the way it used to work…
But now the singing, dancing and chanting is over,the bleary eyed revelers are on their way home, it hasn’t taken long for the cosy relationship between the MPH (Make Poverty History) and the government to fall apart. The MPH like the virgin whose given it up under false pretences are furious (what do you expect when you lie down with dogs) “…Brown accused of ‘spin’ on debt deal.
In a letter to the chancellor, the chairman of Make Poverty History, Richard Bennett, expressed “dismay and serious concern” at the way Britain was presenting proposals for debt cancellation. “What is being discussed is emphatically not 100% debt cancellation for the world’s poorest countries, but government spokespeople continue to state or imply that it is….”
George Brown for his part defended himself, Brown plays down G8 hopes,”…Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Brown said he told campaigners: “I know that what you will tell us [is] we’ve got to do more. I know that what you will say is that what we can achieve is perhaps not good enough, but we have got to bring the whole of the world together….” Bob, Bono where are you now? Because like you know, all you need is love….
From the point of view of the politicos, Live8 is making it a cruel, cruel summer..an unforeseen consequence was the intense scrutiny the Blair plan has come under. With the thin veneer of insincerity and piety soon stripped away to reveal the real agenda, the re-neo-colonisation of Africa..The Blair witch project as it is indeed, a project full of mischief and craft, witchery, wizardry and sleight of hand…has been revealed to be as empty of promises as the drum that the little drummer boy beats.
Just where have all these so called gullible millions been? Simple mathematics would have helped them out…Note to campaigners don”t believe the hype, especially your own, not if you’re getting in bed with the powers that be..
* Debts written off for 18 Countries: total $40bn
* Debt repayments saved by the group each year: $1.5bn
* Nine more countries to qualify within 18 months takes total to $55bn
* UK’s contribution over next 10 years: $700-$960m
* US contribution: $1.3bn-$1.75bn
* Africa’s total external debt: $300bn
Africans of course did not buy it , as evidenced by a few r headlines and opinions:
Here’s a thought, If indeed the West is so tired of supporting Africa, spending endless billions, wasting money supporting the exorbitant and lavish lifestyles of corrupt politicians, then stop doing it…Really..Let’s make a deal…let us off this debt and the West and Africans part ways. Africa will not borrow any more money from you…and you leave Africa..
No longer will you have to beat yourselves up over starving Africans…or be forced to provide charity…false compassion and weep crocodile tears…Hold endless summits to make promises that you’ll never keep…no longer wracked by the guilt….just walk away…go..beat it and let Africa develope on it’s own…
But of course under the pretense for atoning for their sins of colonialism the West will never abandon Africa… they’ll never leave… that will never happen…because it’s not really about developing Africa…it’s about Africa’s resources..and how do we know; it’s all thanks to Live8 because if it weren’t for the pious, sanctimonious, patronising preaching of those self anointed apostles of development Bono and Geldoff, we would not have examined the Blair’s promises and the Commission on Africa too closely…
For now we know the whole plan was written by big business who see innumerable opportunities in Africa.. The writer George Monbiot wrote in the “The US and Britain are putting the multinational corporations that created poverty in charge of its relief”.Contrary to what everyone thinks, Africa is not a basket case, but a bread basket…. a market bonanza for cheap products and low cost goods, from minerals, to people…
The truth is Africa has paid for itself many times over and will continue to do so…
* Loans received (1970-2002) – $539.4 billion dollars
* Repayments Made (1970-2002) – $549.1 billion
Africa needs to educate it’s people to develope…. so it is chilling to read a report that Africa needs to train a million new health workers, and to hear that the US government has identified a shortfall of a million new health workers in the next decade, preferably from the third world…the UK government that enlightened instigator on the CFA (Commission For Africa) has been called upon by its own health system the NHS to stop actively poaching nurses and doctors from Africa….
And of course with oil now at $60 dollars a barrel, Africa’s oil (even the undiscovered oil) has never looked so good to the lovers of SUV gas guzzling monsters in the US….look for more deals like those made in chad, where the country signed over all the rights to it’s own oil rights to the World Bank in return for a few cents on the dollar…
The West will never leave because they are hooked on cheap products…on buying commodities for pennies on the tonne and selling them back at dollars on the pound…The are hooked on Africans who pay for the privilege of borrowing money on top of the interest they are already paying…
African leaders at their own summit called on the West to forgive all their debt..will they be heard..I don’t think so.