Russian aid convoy prompts Ukraine war threats with US backing

Julie Hyland

Truck convoy sets out from Alabino near Moscow, will deliver
humanitarian relief aid to Ukraine.
(RIA Novosti/M. Blinov)

Ukraine and its backers in Washington and Brussels are using Moscow’s dispatch of a humanitarian aid convoy to step up their warmongering against Russia.

The 280 trucks left Moscow Tuesday for the 620-mile journey to Ukraine’s eastern region. Russia’s Foreign Ministry says the convoy is carrying approximately 2,000 metric tons of supplies including cereals, sugar, baby food, medical supplies, sleeping bags and generators. The aid convoy was headed for the border near Kharkiv city, which is controlled by Ukrainian government forces, but had reportedly stopped in central Russia after Kiev said it would not allow it to cross into Ukraine.

Initial reports said that Kiev and Moscow had agreed the convoy with the International Red Cross. Very quickly, however, the Ukrainian regime—installed with the backing of the United States and Germany in February’s coup—was insisting that the convoy would be blocked. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov denounced the convoy as a “provocation by a cynical aggressor”, while Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk described it as “boundless cynicism”.

Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danylo Lubkivsky accused Russia of playing an “absolutely cynical game.” “They are trying to use the pretext of humanitarian aid and assistance, and it seems they are just running out of excuses for their aggression,” he said.

Earlier, Valeriy Chaly, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, said any attempt to move across the border without Kiev’s permission would be treated as an “act of aggression.”

The fascist danger in Ukraine

Julie Hyland

Photo: Fascism is like a fashion now with more and more people getting involved. (Sergey Kirichuk) It has helped to revive 1930s Ukrainian nationalist chants, which even Vital Klitschko has now adopted, shouting "Glory to Ukraine!", to which the crowd reply "To heroes, glory!". Svoboda flags have been a permanent fixture in Independence Square, with pictures from clashes also revealing the presence of militant far-right groups carrying neo-Nazi flags and the red and black Ukrainian "insurgent army" flags. (

A politically sinister propaganda offensive is underway in the media to either deny the involvement of fascists in the US-backed coup in Ukraine or present their role as a marginal and insignificant detail.

The New York Times, for example, asserted, “Putin’s claim of an immediate threat to Ukrainian Russians is empty,” while Britain’s Guardian dismissed as a “fancy” claims that events in Crimea were an attempt to “prevent attacks by bands of revolutionary fascists,” adding that “the world’s media has [not] yet seen or heard from” such forces. — This is an obscene cover-up.

The reality is that, for the first time since 1945, an avowedly anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi party controls key levers of state power in a European capital, courtesy of US and European imperialism. The unelected Ukrainian government, headed by US appointee Arseniy Yatsenyuk, includes no fewer than six ministers from the fascist Svoboda party.

UK police get away with killing of Mark Duggan

Julie Hyland

Mark Duggan, whose death sparked the Tottenham riots,
pictured with his sister.
(Photo: M. Argles / The Guardian)

The eight to two verdict by a coroner’s inquest that Mark Duggan was lawfully killed by London’s Metropolitan Police is a travesty of justice.

The jurors arrived at their findings despite unanimous agreement that the 29-year-old father of six was unarmed when he was shot twice in Tottenham, north London by an armed police officer on August 4, 2011.

Duggan’s killing was the spark for riots that began just two days later in Tottenham after a protest over the young father’s murder and which quickly spread across the country.

From the start, the powers that be had been reluctant to hold any investigation into Duggan’s shooting—not least because of their insistence that the riots were not the result of yet another instance of police brutality, but were down to “criminality”.

As in case of previous police killings, most notoriously the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent Brazilian worker murdered by police in July 2005, misleading information as to Duggan’s shooting was initially given to the press.

The misnamed Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC), which has been involved in the cover-up of every police shooting, briefed the media that when three police cars blocked the taxi in which he had been travelling, Duggan leapt out of the vehicle and began firing at police. A police officer had only narrowly escaped death, it was claimed, when one of the bullets fired by Duggan lodged in his radio.

The witch-hunt of Britain’s Guardian newspaper

Julie Hyland

Ultimately, the mass impoverishment determined upon by the ruling elite can be implemented only through dictatorial means.

The campaign of vilification and intimidation against the Guardian newspaper for publishing the disclosures of former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden is without precedent in a supposedly democratic country.

Raids on newspaper offices, the forced destruction of computer drives and threats to arrest journalists are actions more commonly associated with military dictatorships. But this is exactly what has been meted out against the Guardian, with threats of worse to come.

On Tuesday, a parliamentary debate is scheduled, instigated by Conservative backbencher Julian Smith, on whether the newspaper is guilty of treason for reporting the illegal surveillance programmes operated by the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Smith has already written to the Metropolitan Police calling for the Guardian to be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act and the Terrorism Act 2000.

Thatcher’s funeral: Pomp in the service of political reaction

Julie Hyland & Chris Marsden

Adjectives to describe yesterday’s funeral of former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher are not hard to find: nauseating, obscene, provocative.

She was, after all, the most hated political figure in recent British history—an admirer of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile and the racist apartheid regime in South Africa, who wrought destruction on working class communities throughout the UK.

Thatcher was given a state funeral in all but name, so that there could be no scrutiny of its total costs, estimated at £10 million—the most expensive ever staged.

The ceremony was so militaristic that some compared the scene in London, with armed police stationed every few hundred yards, to a coup. Her coffin set off from St. Clement Danes, the Central Church of the Royal Air Force and site of the statute to “Bomber” Harris—the architect of the fire-bombing of German cities in the Second World War. Mounted on a horse-drawn gun-carriage, draped in the union flag, it was accompanied by 700 armed forces personnel to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

There was more of the political sycophancy demonstrated in the specially recalled parliament last week, with Big Ben silenced for the duration of the funeral and parliament suspended to allow MPs to attend.

The Queen was present for the first time at the funeral of a former prime minister since Winston Churchill’s in 1965. Unlike then, however, Thatcher will not lay in state, precisely because she is so widely despised.

British parliament unites in praise of Margaret Thatcher

Julie Hyland

Clegg has the toughest job praising
(Financial Times)

Wednesday’s reconvening of Britain’s parliament to mark the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a gathering of her political offspring.

Baroness Thatcher, who led the Conservative government between 1979 and 1990, died Monday of a stroke, aged 87. Her premiership was the expression in Britain of a right-wing shift in international politics aimed at removing any obstacles on the accumulation of private wealth at the expense of the working class.

In little over a decade under her rule, the social gains made by [ordinary people] in the post-war period were sent into sharp reverse. By the time she left office in 1990, the proportion of wealth controlled by the richest ten percent of the population had doubled. So too had child poverty.

In the following decades, not only has social inequality become more ingrained. The processes she helped set in motion—of rampant and criminal financial speculation—are directly responsible for the global banking crisis of 2008, and the policies of mass austerity being rolled out internationally: more than £150 billion in spending cuts in Britain alone, and counting.

This social misery accounts for the massive security operation being put into place for her funeral next Wednesday, including threats that police may make “pre-emptive arrests” of potential protestors. It is why, even amid the sycophantic coverage of her passing, the media acknowledged Thatcher as a “divisive” figure. What this means is that she was widely despised by working people and remembered with fondness primarily by a much smaller number of the wealthy whom she served so well.

The parliamentary tribute to Thatcher expressed the sentiments of the rich and powerful towards their political mentor. They united to celebrate as a great stateswoman, even a national heroine, the “shopkeeper’s daughter” who “broke the glass ceiling” to become the UK’s first female prime minister.

Thatcher’s legacy

Julie Hyland & Chris Marsden

Margaret Thatcher with mass murderer Augusto Pinochet

Margaret Thatcher, the friend of Chile’s fascist dictator General Augusto Pinochet and supporter of the apartheid system of racial discrimination in South Africa, has died of a stroke at the age of 87.

Neither the media’s eulogies to Thatcher as a great stateswoman, nor the staging of a day of national mourning complete with military honours, can conceal the fact that she died arguably the most hated figure in British politics.

[Ordinary people] will have greeted the announcement of her demise with cold indifference, contempt, and, in some cases, celebration. Impromptu street parties were underway in several cities within hours of her death.

Comparisons have been made repeatedly between Thatcher and Winston Churchill. They are inappropriate. A right-wing defender of British imperialism, not even Churchill’s opponents would deny his obvious political stature. At a time of acute crisis, he was able to invoke history and make an appeal to social layers far beyond his natural constituency in the ruling elite. In contrast there is not a single intelligent remark that can be cited as coming from Thatcher, only inane sound-bites tailored to a supportive press such as “The lady’s not for turning.”

Margaret Hilda Roberts embodied everything that is narrow-minded and philistine in the English middle class. She was preoccupied solely with self-advancement and enrichment, owing much of her success to having secured a rich husband. Her political talents, such as they were, consisted of the nasty cunning and ruthlessness of the social climber.

Leveson whitewash of Murdoch’s UK media empire

Julie Hyland

Prime Minister David Cameron and Rupert Murdoch

Democracy is a façade behind which plutocrats and their political hirelings operate as a law unto themselves.

On Monday, UK Labour MP Chris Bryant stated that News International’s Management and Standards Committee had stopped cooperating in May with the investigation into phone-hacking and other illegal activities at Rupert Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World.

Using parliamentary privilege, he suggested this was because evidence had emerged that could implicate the billionaire oligarch and his son, James, in criminal practices. News International had been happy to help the police investigation by “chucking overboard” journalists, Bryant said, as long as “the proprietor’s feet didn’t get wet.”

Bryant asserted that News International had destroyed a laptop to conceal evidence of an illegal payment by Murdoch’s Sun newspaper in 2005 for photographs of former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein in his underwear. Bryant said that the illegal payment, involving a US soldier in California, meant that “at some point there will be charges brought against senior directors, quite possibly including James and Rupert Murdoch, as part of the body corporate.”

The fact that even a possible criminal prosecution of Murdoch and son was raised only on this single question, and in the United States at that, underscores the fraud perpetrated by the Leveson Inquiry, set up in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

UK media lines up behind campaign to extradite Assange and silence WikiLeaks

Julie Hyland

The British media has played a venal role throughout the ongoing efforts to witch-hunt and silence WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. But it has plumbed new depths following the decision by Ecuador to grant his request for political asylum.

The WikiLeaks founder sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London on June 12, when it became apparent that UK authorities intended to extradite him to Sweden.

In his statement delivered from a window at the embassy on Sunday, Assange gave fresh evidence of Britain’s efforts to flout international law with its threat to derecognise the embassy and send police to arrest him. He described how he had heard police “storming” through internal fire escapes earlier in the week. He [also] denounced the incarceration and torture of alleged whistleblower, US Army private Bradley Manning, called for an end to the US-led persecution of WikiLeaks, the defence of free speech and resistance to state repression.

Like the British government, which has refused to comment on Assange’s statement, the media had nothing to say on the substance of his remarks. The well-paid hacks of Fleet Street are just as contemptuous towards democratic rights as their political masters. This applies with equal measure to those employed by newspapers that are overtly right-wing, such as the Daily Mail, or nominally liberal outlets like the Guardian.

Report concludes British riots provoked by police brutality and poverty

Julie Hyland

The first comprehensive investigation into the riots that swept London and other parts of England in August has confirmed that police brutality, poverty and social inequality were the primary motivating factors in their eruption.

The “Reading the Riots” study was undertaken by the Guardian newspaper and the London School of Economics (LSE) following the government’s refusal to establish an independent inquiry into the inner-city disturbances. It is the only report based on evidence gathered from those who were directly involved in the events.

The study involved a team of 60 academics, journalists and researchers. They conducted interviews with 270 people who took part in the riots in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham and Manchester. A separate analysis of a database of more than 2 million riot-related “tweets” was undertaken by Manchester University.

Those interviewed were between 13 and 57 years of age, with most aged 16 to 24. They were drawn from all ethnic backgrounds and most had not been arrested for their involvement in the disturbances.

The accounts of those interviewed, who reside in some of the most socially deprived areas in England, refute the claims made by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government, with the support of the Labour Party and the media, that the upheavals were the product of the “criminality” of a “feral underclass.”

This libel was used to justify wholesale police and judicial repression against working class youth. Over 4,000 people were arrested. Specially convened kangaroo-style courts were set up in several areas, sitting for 24 hours in some instances, to dispense summary justice. Hundreds have been imprisoned, mostly for petty offences, and three young men have been jailed for four years for Facebook postings supportive of rioting.

Time and again, those interviewed identified police harassment, poverty and social injustice as the main causes of the riots. Many described the disturbances as “anti-police” riots, citing the police killing of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in Tottenham on August 4 as the major factor that precipitated the eruptions.

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