January 2, 2008 (28 Responses)
I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING… if you’re anything like me you’re thinking “What the fuck?”
The statistic can’t be right. There must be some mistake right? Wrong.
Unfortunately it’s being reported over the airwaves tonight that last month the Dublin Rape Crisis centre had to help one woman per day during December ’07. Between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve,Â the helplineÂ received 12 calls from people who had been recently raped. That’s 31 people who were assisted by the crisis centre and brought to hospital to be treated, in just one month alone! Hell for all we know thats just for Dublin, never mind what happened around the country.
The really scary thing is that these statistics only represent those calls that were reported last month, not the actual figures. Experience suggests the actual numbers are quite a bit higher.
What the hell has happened to Ireland? I remember when a murder being reported on the radio was a big thing, a shock. Now there are murders every sodding day on every news bulletin. These rape statistics are frightening enough, but I did a bit of looking around after hearing of this report and discovered even worse statistics for Ireland as follows… Read more
June 13, 2007 (2 Responses)
IT’S ALL GOING WRONG for Bush & Co. these days. Last week the prosecutions’ cases against the first two Guantanamo detainees fell apart due to the language used in the Military Commissions Act. As if this wasn’t embarrasing enough for the current US administration, a court in Richmond, Virginia last night ruled that President Bush cannot order the military to indefinitely imprison a suspected al-Qaeda operative as an “enemy combatant“.
Given that all the 380 odd remaining detainees at Gitmo are currently classed as “enemy combatants” this poses a bit of a problem for ol’ Dubya and his cronies.
As enlightened as this ruling sounds, it’s not all clear sailing however. The powers that be could simply just decide to transfer the prisoners from Gitmo to somewhere in the mainland USA and then process them from there. At that point the government could still transferÂ detainees to civilian authorities to face criminal charges, initiate deportation proceedings, holdÂ them as witnesses in a grand jury case or detainÂ them for a limited period under the Patriot Act – so basically there are still options, however perverted, to the legal beagles in Bush & Co. should they wish to take them… but it’s still a hugeÂ embarrasment on the part of the administrationÂ in failingÂ actually bring a single successful case against any detainee thus far. And it just goes from bad to worse… Read more
June 5, 2007 (2 Responses)
USÂ MILITARY JUDGESÂ have thrown out cases against two Guantanamo inmates, casting doubt on future tribunals for the 380 detainees at the prison and giving Bush & Co.Â a huge country sized headache in the process.
It seems that the whole thing rests upon the use of the term “unlawful enemy combatants“.Â Both cases collapsed because military authorities had failed to designate the men as “unlawful” enemy combatants, and the chances are that none of the other 380 folks still stuck in Gitmo were classed as “unlawful” either, leaving a massive problem for the Bush legal crew to fix.
The really stupid thing about this however is that the new wording is required as a result of the Military Commissions Act thatÂ George Bush pushed for andÂ signed into existence last year. Whatever about the legalities of detaining people without due process in Gitmo, it seems incredible to me that Bush & Co. would push through new legislation to enable them to prosecute detainees from Gitmo that depends on wording which has not been used for ANY of the detainees thus far. Read more
February 14, 2007 (No Responses)
EUROPEAN COUNTRIESÂ have been “turning a blind eye” to flights operated by the CIA which, “on some occasions, were being used for extraordinary rendition or the illegal transportation of detainees” according to a reportÂ published today.Â The European Parliament Â has produced it’s final report on the alleged illegal activities of the CIA in Europe, specifically the so-called “Rendition” flights and the secret detention facilities.
The report alleges that overÂ 1200 CIA-operated flights used European airspace from 2001 to 2005 and temporary secret detention facilities “may have been located at US military bases” in Europe.Â The report notes that the renditions investigated by the committee â€œin the majority of cases involved incommunicado detention and tortureâ€ during interrogations, as was confirmed by the victims – or their lawyers – who gave testimony to the Parliament’s committee on CIA activities in Europe.
This is not exactly a surprise in some respects because the Council of Europe also investigated the CIA activities and produced their own report as far back as April 2006, citing specific countries for their collusion and noting the lack of co-operation from others during the investigative process. You can read the special file on this topic they maintain on this topic for more information. What is interesting however this time out is the mention that Ireland gets in the European Parliament report, and more interestingly the ‘offical response’ from our illustrious Minister for Foreign Affairs Read more
February 11, 2007 (5 Responses)
DEATH BY CHOCOLATE; you’ve all heard the expression. It’s usually meant as a humourous description of the perfect way to end things, given our love of the stuff. Chocolate has been tagged with all kinds of properties down through the centures; it’s an aphrodisiac, it stimulates serotonin levels in the brain, it’s supposed to help calm you down when stressed, it’s all things to all people. We love it. We eat it, drink it and cook with it. Hell I know some women who would gladly bathe in it. Chocolate however has a very dark secret that most of us aren’t aware of; I certainly wasn’t until I read an article entitled “Death By Chocolate” by Jennifer O’Leary in the Sunday Business Post today.
In short, chocolate is derived from the cocoa bean and almost half the worlds demand for cocoa beans are fulfilled from the Ivory Coast in West Africa. The only problem with this is that it’s common practice in the Ivory Coast to use kidnapped child labour to harvest the cocoa beans, and worse still the children in question are often mutilated to prevent them from escaping the various cocoa plantations and their captors. The secrecy that surrounds this practice is visciously protected; children, people, journalists – anyone who gets in the way – simply vanish when they become a problem to the locals.
“I tried to run away, but I was caught… as punishment they cut my feet, and I had to work for weeks while my wounds healed. I stayed in a large room with other Malian children from a neighbouring plantation.”
The quote above is from a young boy in Mali who was lured to a cocoa farm in the Ivory Coast. His testimony is part of a US court case brought against chocolate giants Nestle by the International Labour Rights Fund (ILRF). However, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg… Read more
January 19, 2007 (2 Responses)
A US ARMY Lieutenant who questioned the legality of the war in Iraq and refused to deploy there when ordered is currently running out of options because a judge has ruled that he cannot use a defence which questions the war or it’s legality. The ruling released Tuesday in the case of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada sets the stage for a Feb. 5 court-martial. Watada could face up to six years in prison for his failure to join his brigade in Iraq last June, as well as for his outspoken attacks on the Bush administrationâ€™s conduct of the war.
Defence attorneys had hoped to argue that the war in Iraq is illegal, in part, because it violated Army regulations that call for wars to be launched in accordance with the United Nations charter. However in a ruling, Lt. Col. John Head said that “whether the war is lawful” is a political question that could not be judged in a military court.
In other words – the proceedings in February are more disciplinary than justice orientated. Questioning the war is no longer an option for this poor sod. Now it’s just a case of how much of a book they throw at him, and how long he will be locked up for as a result.
Now before any of you gung-ho types start branding the lad a coward, please note that he has gone on record as stating that he would be happy to serve anywhere else on the planet and proud to do so for his country, but in the case of Iraq he does not believe that the USA has any right to be there. He came to this conclusion after researching the issue and made his own mind up about it. Unfortunately for him, it’s free thinking like this which will probably condemn him to a very long time behind bars.
I actually admire the stance he has taken; there are times when you just have to stand up for what you believe is right, for your principles, but I don’t hold out much hope of him getting any sort justice in the military tribunal system he now faces with the amount of political pressure that will be brought in to the mix.
Still – it’s easy for me as an outsider (non military, non American) to take such a stance, but I would like to hear from some of my American on this one, I’d like to know what you think of the case.
Let me know where you stand on this one folks!
January 14, 2007 (4 Responses)
EVER GET THE FEELING that you were being watched? Well – these days that itchy feeling at the back of your neck is no longer just instinct, it’s fact. If you live in the USA or Britain in particular, you are being watched, monitored, recorded and filtered every day, in every way… and it looks like it will only get worse.
Think about it. Right now you are probably carrying a cellphone which can pinpoint your location, you use credit cards which are used to track your funds and financial transactions, you have ID cards which ‘remember’ personal data, everytime you browse the Internet you are almost certainly tracked and you are probably monitoredÂ pretty muchÂ everywhere you go by street cameras and CCTV installations.
Big Brother isn’t coming, it’s already here.
The same thing is happening elsewhere, but for now the two biggest exponents of implementing a ‘Big Brother’ society of constant surveillance “for our own good” are the USA and Britain. The usual arguments in favour of such moves are to make life more ‘convenient’ for us, to help us become ‘more efficient’ and of course that old faithful, to make things ‘more secure’. The problemÂ is that what happens in the USA and Britain is usually just a forerunner of what happens everywhere else eventually.
In the US Bush & Co. seem intend on turning the country into a police state, and thus far the only opposition they have met has been legal and political stumbling blocks brought about by organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). If you think I’m exaggerating just consider for a moment the key facts: Patriot Act, Abandonment of due process, Domestic Spying, the Pentagon’s “Total Information Awareness” program… the list goes on and on although here’s one you may not yet be aware of. After signing a postal reform bill called H.R. 6407, the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act,”Â Bush issued a “signing statement” that declared his (Bush’s) right to open the private mail of American citizens without a judge’s warrant. Nothing is safe from monitoring or tampering in the USA at the moment.
By comparison, another State which once aspired to monitor and hold such amounts of information on its citizens was in fact the Communists in Germany between the end of World War 2 and the fall of the Wall in Berlin; they had a file on every single individual citizen, but I’m not sure even they could compare to the job that Bush & Co. seem intent on doing.
Right now this process of implementing Big Brother continues in the USA. Only this week Civil Rights groups came together to oppose theÂ implementation of an additionalÂ 50 surveillance cameras in San Francisco; note the word ‘additional’ here. Believe it or not, the USA is lagging behind Britain in this respect – surveillance is already firmly established in Britain and has been for years now, what the British Government seems to be focused on now is the implementation of massive databases and filtering systems to enable them to process all that data they collect. Back in 2005 it was estimated that the average person in BritainÂ is captured hundreds of times per day on various CCTV cameras – how’s that for an invasion of privacy?
All of this is of course being done for our benefit – if you believe the hype.Â Better security. Enhanced public services. More currency of information. More convenient for us. Safer, smarter, better…
It’s all a crock of shit!
The only thing a surveillance society delivers is control. State control.Â Moves to push the USA towards a surveillance society were already underway long before 9-11 happened, but of course Bush & Co. have been using the so-called “war on terror” as an excuse for encroaching on personal and corporate privacy ever since then. In Britain the same is true and if they manage to perfect the back end systems to sift through all the data that is being generated, well then they pretty much have a full Big Brother solution in place without any real opposition.
The very same process has begun to happen here in Ireland, but to a lesser extent and thus far the only opposition is a legal challenge by Digital Rights Ireland.
It’s time to wake up people. It’s time to quitÂ sleepwalking through life and watching other people make a stand on your behalf. Get off your collective arses and do something.
You need to shake yourself awake, open your eyesÂ and realise that Big Brother and the “Surveillance Society” it implies is not some far off concept, some borrowed ideal from a futuristic novel; it’s a reality and if you live in the USA or Britain – it’s already here and it’s only going to get worse unless you do something about it.
It’s not just about personal or data protection and privacy; it’s about personal freedom. Find the nearest opposition group and get involved, start lobbying for your information rights in a digital world or find some other way to make a difference, but do something before it’s too late.