Friday, 29 April 2011

Four-handed in Newsweek

(i) on a plane with Abu Mazen:

he told me bluntly that Obama had led him on, and then let him down by failing to keep pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank last year. “It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze,” Abbas explained. “I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump. Three times he did it."


Abbas is missing the tip of his right ring finger. The story I’d heard seemed to reflect the awkwardness Abbas experienced going from being Arafat’s behind-the-curtain deputy to leading the PLO—and how much he hated crowds. While campaigning for president after Arafat died in late 2004, a horde of people surrounded his car in southern Gaza. Unsure about their intentions, he pressed the electric button of his armored window and closed it on his own finger. But Abbas told me the real story, a version that made more sense. It was his driver, concerned for his safety, who pressed the button. By the time Abbas reacted, the tip of his finger had been severed.
Abbas was due to give a speech in the town, so he bandaged the finger and stayed for two hours. The same driver then ferried him to a hospital in Gaza City, 30 kilometers away. “I found the doctor there, he made the surgery for me,” Abbas told me.
Is the driver still working for him? “No, no, no. I told him, ‘You have to leave,’ and he left.”

(ii) 'War photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed in Libya last week, telling a story no one wants to hear.'

(iii) Old colleague Michael Ware remembers Hetherington and Hondros, and more besides: The news bludgeoned me on a sunny Australian morning

(iv) In many ways, Beltrame seems miscast for the role of Brazil’s top cop. He speaks slowly in a measured tenor, with the singing accent of his native Rio Grande do Sul, Brazilian gaucho territory. A youthful 53, he has sandy hair brushed with gray and wears bookish wire rims. Country aphorisms dot his speech. “We’re eating porridge from the edge of the bowl,” he says: fire with fire in Rio.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

apparently at least 400 people have been killed by the Syrian security forces in the recent crackdown on civilians.

meanwhile, this coming Friday in London, for the UK royal family wedding, the Crown Prince of Bahrain has just politely turned down his invite, setting out his reasons why in a letter to the groom's father.

the Crown Prince's manners toward another unelected powerful man are touching, though sadly his concern for etiquette does not extend to the doctors his security forces are torturing with impunity, or the civilians his security forces are killing with impunity.

Friday, 22 April 2011

like so many civilians in Libya in recent weeks, the British photographer Tim Hetherington has been killed by the merciless Libyan dictatorship.

i read an interview in a men's magazine with Hetherington years ago in which he described how his British Forces brother, Guy, had just got back from Afghanistan or Iraq (frankly i forget which, shamefully, and i can never find the interview online), and how this had affected his brother.

he said that his brother went into a pub and randomly walked up to a group of blokes, and started punching them.

he said that he went into a London cafe with his brother, who nervously scanned exit lines and insisted on sitting away from the windows.

he said that his brother would jump when walking on the pavement if a car pulled up nearby.

RIP Tim Hetherington and your colleague Chris Hondros.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Owen Jones has more on David Cameron, and immigration generally.

In his speech Cameron takes on "forced marriages", cynically conflating the issue with immigration when the vast majority of people entering the country reject it as much as anyone else. There were 1,735 cases of potential or actual cases reported to the Government's forced marriage unit last year - disturbing, yes, but to be treated separately from a debate on immigration. Cameron's intention is clear: to excite the popular imagination into believing the idea that hundreds of thousands of people are arriving on our shores who reject the "British way of life" and that he is the leader to "defend" us from this invasion.


while it has been fashionable to understand inequality in racial terms, class has been tossed to one side. This has encouraged some white working-class people to develop notions of ethnic pride similar to minority groups, promoting an identity based on race to gain recognition in multicultural society. The BNP has tapped into this disastrous redefining of white working-class people as, effectively, another marginalised ethnic minority.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Asian families should speak English at home. I wonder if he says that to the Brits who buy second homes in Spain. Do they have to speak Spanish? How about...friends in Tuscany? Do they speak Italian? The man has no sense of history and proportion.

that's Ken Loach speaking about David Blunkett seven years ago, but it could be someone describing Cameron today.

one obvious end-product of New Labour's lurch to the right on immigration and asylum when in power is this, of course; they shifted the goalposts and here we are now.

Mehdi Hasan has more.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

I was not prepared to document torture and severe abuses when I started researching the human rights situation for migrants in Europe. After all, I was working on Western Europe, the developed world with a rule of law, independent judiciaries, functioning social services, and oversight bodies.

Greek coast guards punctured rubber boats carrying adults and children before pushing them back toward Turkey. Some migrants never made it to shore.

Ukrainian officials tortured migrants and asylum seekers with electric shocks after Hungary and Slovakia deported them, often after denying them an opportunity to lodge asylum claims.

The French airport border police tried to deport a 5-year-old Comorian boy alone to Yemen, a country he had passed through, not knowing where his parents were or why he had arrived by himself.

Various ships passed by and ignored a damaged, leaking, overcrowded rubber boat drifting for days in the Mediterranean. After finally being rescued by a Turkish freighter, the 140 sick and exhausted African migrants had to wait another four days to disembark as Italy and Malta debated which was responsible for taking them.

These abuses do not occur in a vacuum. Rather, they are the consequence of European governments' boundless efforts to deter, stem, or divert the flow of migrants and asylum seekers trying to enter Europe.