britain, nazi britain…

Britain’s Gentleman Posturing Comes Undone With Absurd Hypocrisy
Finian Cunningham, Strategic Culture, Jul 13 2020

Toad King Salman bin Abd’ul-Aziz meets Britain’s Sec State for Foreign Affairs
Dominic Raab in Riyadh, Mar 5 2020. Photo: Bandar Algaloud

It’s official Britain at its best, posing as the quintessential gentleman upholding morality while at the same time engaging in despicable double-dealing for grubby interests. The British government announced sanctions against various nations last week, including Russia and the Toads, proclaiming the punitive measures were due to alleged human rights violations. Foreign minister Dominic Raab, summoning throaty British authority, declared to the House of Commons that it sent a “clear message” to the world of British rectitude. The next day, however, London made a separate announcement that it was resuming arms sales to the Toads, despite an international outcry over war crimes committed in Yemen. Thousands of civilians have been killed in Yemen by Toad warplanes bombing that country over the past five years. It is estimated by the UN that the majority of civilian casualties have been caused by air strikes carried out by the Toad coalition. Britain, as well as Pindostan and France, has been arming the Toad military coalition in its war in Yemen. The British arms trade was halted last year as “unlawful” by a court ruling out of concern for civilian deaths. Now though the British government has decided that the arms dealing can resume because violations were deemed by ministers to be “isolated” incidents. How quaint is the self-serving subjectivity of British officialdom. The UK-based Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) slammed the government’s decision, saying it was “morally bankrupt.” CAAT, adding with wry irony, said:

The Toad bombardment of Yemen has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and the government itself admits that UK-made arms have played a central role in the bombing.  The government claims that these are isolated incidents, but how many hundreds of isolated incidents would it take for the government to stop supplying the weaponry?

What’s more, it turns out that the British posturing on human rights and sanctions was only meant for public appearance, not be taken seriously. That’s according to the British government itself. The Independent newspaper reports that British defense minister Ben Wallace immediately phoned his counterpart in Riyadh to “apologize” for the latest imposition of sanctions. It is reported:

The UK government privately showered the Toad with praise.

The “discreet” phone call, which emphasized the importance of British arms sales to the oil-rich kingdom, was not publicly disclosed by London. Instead it was revealed by the Toad state media which boasted about the lavish praise from the British government. Between 2015 and 2019, it is estimated that Britain sold over £5.3m worth of weapons to the Toads, much of that boosted by the war in Yemen. The war has led to the world’s worst current humanitarian crisis with millions of Yemenis facing starvation and death from disease. Images of skeletal children dying from cholera and other preventable diseases should make anyone with a heart tremble with indignation. The UK’s arms trade is fueling that catastrophe. Evidently, British avarice for profits is too great to put a check on its lucrative weapons dealing regardless of the death and destruction it generates.

But that best of British baseness is only matched by its government’s rank hypocrisy in posing as a defender of human rights and wielding sanctions against other nations. The sanctions it imposed on Russia were, according to London, related the death in a Moscow prison of tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in 2009. Russia claims Magnitsky died from an existing medical condition while in detention on massive corruption charges. Faschingstein has used the case as a political stick to beat Moscow with. London is doing Washington’s bidding with its latest sanctions. It also fits the lurid narrative of Russia allegedly running assassination plots in Western states against dissidents and former spies. Thereby stoking a Cold War-style stand-off between the West and Russia. Britain has been doing similar kowtowing to Faschingstein with its belated ban on China’s Huawei telecoms firm being involved in modernizing mobile phone and internet networks.

Moscow has dismissed the latest British sanctions as “pointless” and said it would reciprocate with its own punitive diplomatic measures against London. That’s something which the British government may come to rue as it seeks to drum up wider international business in the post-Brexit world. The price for serving as Faschingstein’s Jeeves-the-butler flunkey could be high indeed. How absurd and surreal for London to lecture others about violations when it is complicit in genocide in Yemen. We could also cite Iraq and Afghanistan among many other foreign aggressions. That feat of preposterousness is a reflection of the insidious efficacy of British state propaganda and “education.” Polls show Britons are more likely (compared with other former colonial powers) to think that the British Empire was a good thing, despite the tens of millions who were killed under British subjugation. One can only hope for the day when the world will actually implement human rights justice and the government in London will be sanctioned to the hilt for the pariah that it truly is.

UK government accused of phoning Toads to apologise after imposing human rights sanctions
Jon Stone, Independent, Jul 14 2020

The UK government privately showered the Toads with praise a day after publicly criticising its human rights abuses and targeting it for sanctions, the Independent has learned. The government was accused of “calling to apologise” to the regime after someToads were included on the foreign secretary’s new “Magnitsky Act” sanctions list on Monday. Defence minister Ben Wallace is understood to have discreetly telephoned his Toad counterpart on Wednesday to reiterate the UK’s support for the regime and its work. The call was not publicised by the British government in the UK, but Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency used the opportunity to boast about it in a press statement issued on Wednesday. According to a statement by the Toad Press Agency:

HRH Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abd’ul-Aziz, Deputy Minister of Defense, received yesterday a phone call from His Excellency British Defence Secretary Mr Ben Wallace, during which the partnership between the two countries was discussed, especially in the defence field, and the efforts made by the two countries to enhance regional and international security.

Toad media reports that the minister “expressed his country’s appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s role in addressing threats to stability in the region,” adding:

He also affirmed the country’s government’s keenness to strengthen defence relations between the two friendly countries, especially in the field of military exports to the Kingdom.

The call comes as Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, announced the lifting of a ban on British arms exports to the Toads. A review of the sales launched by Ms Truss on the orders of a court found “possible” war crimes were being committed by Toad forces in Yemen but said they were likely “isolated incidents” because they had all happened in different places and different ways. Layla Moran, a candidate in the ongoing Liberal Democrat leadership contest, told the Independent:

It looks like the UK government took action against Toad individuals one day, then called to apologise privately the next. This sends completely the wrong message to nations and individuals involved in human rights abuses around the world. The government needs to decide once and for all what kind of global nation they intend the UK to be: a global champion of liberal values or an apologist for human rights abusers.

Twenty Toads were targeted for sanctions in the measures unveiled on Monday, in addition to individuals from Russia, Myanmar and North Korea. The comments reported in the phone call contrast with Dominic Raab’s rhetoric in parliament earlier in the week. Addressing the House of Commons, the foreign secretary, said:

Those with blood on their hands won’t be free … to waltz into this country, to buy up property on the Kings Road, do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge, or siphon dirty money through British banks. You cannot set foot in this country, and we will seize your blood-drenched ill-gotten gains if you try.

Concerns around Toads’ policies include its military’s conduct in Yemen, its domestic human rights situation, and the alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Toad consulate in Istanbul in 2018. A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said:

This week the Defence Secretary spoke to his Saudi Arabian counterpart to discuss wider regional security and export licenses. The Government takes its exports responsibilities seriously.

COVID-19 outbreaks escalate across England
Thomas Scripps, WSWS, Jul 14 2020

A screenshot from the A S and Green Co website showing the small bunkhouses on site
and the wording “Participants are expected to share accommodation.”

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted this weekend, talking about action against outbreaks or possible outbreaks of coronavirus infection:

Each week there are over a hundred local actions taken across the country. Some of these will make the news, but many more are swiftly and silently dealt with.

This statement made to the Telegraph is a marked increase on previously reported figures. The outbreaks are a confirmation that the UK’s epidemic, never fully suppressed, is again spreading out of control. In Sheffield, an outbreak at a warehouse run by Clipper for fashion retailer Boohoo has infected at least 25 workers. Many more had symptoms, but were never tested. Breaking the story at the weekend, the Sunday Times reported the words of a 51-year-old father of two who contracted the virus:

I caught it from the warehouse. There’s no way I should have been working. How is distributing cheap women’s fashion essential?

He explained how he was forced to work 12-hour shifts throughout April and May, saying, “I needed to put food on the table for my kids.” His wife and son have now both tested positive for COVID-19. Another employee told the Sunday Times:

I watched workers from multiple households travelling to the warehouse in packed cars. It saves money.

As in all such cases, workers have been raising safety concerns for months, but have been smothered by the continued inaction of government agencies and local politicians. On Mar 26, a video was circulated on social media showing warehouse employees working close to each other, in clear breach of social distancing guidelines. Labour MP for Sheffield South East, Clive Betts, has received complaints from at least 50 different workers at the site. On Mar 31, eight days into the national lockdown, one wrote to him:

The warehouse is completely full, people are virtually on top of each other with nothing put in place for social distancing, no PPE whatsoever. It’s a breeding ground for the virus and needs closing down ASAP!

Betts did nothing other than to write to Boohoo. Between April and June, Sheffield’s Labour council and Public Health England (PHE) investigated the warehouse and found it had taken “reasonable steps” to ensure workers’ safety. Following the Sunday Times investigation, Clipper and Boohoo were able to respond:

The warehouse has been inspected a number of times by Public Health England and Sheffield City Council and has been approved each time.

Echoing the excuse of corporations the world over, Sheffield Council’s director of public health, Greg Fell, said virus transmission was more likely to have occurred “within households in the local community.” He did not elaborate on the implications of this statement for the “local community,” nor what geographical location he was referring to. This follows a spike of coronavirus cases in Leicester two weeks ago, forcing a local lockdown of the city, which has been widely linked to conditions in unsafe garment sweatshops manufacturing primarily for Boohoo.

Another major outbreak was reported over the weekend on Mathon Farm in Herefordshire, run by vegetable producers AS Green and Co—which supplies major supermarket chains like Tesco, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda and M&S. So far, 74 of the farm’s picking and packing workers have tested positive for COVID-19, and 200 are being required to self-isolate. The seasonal employees, predominantly from Eastern Europe, live in small bunkhouses on site during the harvest season. The WSWS warned in May, when Prince Charles was wheeled out to encourage furloughed and unemployed workers to “Pick for Britain” during the summer harvest:

In the middle of a pandemic, these living conditions are clearly dangerous.

Two workers, Leak Johnson and Brandon Burridge, who joined the farm under the Pick for Britain scheme and left on Jul 2 told the BBC yesterday that they had been required to share a toilet with 60 other people. Their induction to the site had been carried out with 15 other people all sitting on shared benches. Johnson added:

There was nothing about hand sanitiser, we weren’t given any. We were not allowed to wear gloves.

Neither was contacted about the outbreak at the farm and they were barred from their team’s WhatsApp group for asking questions. In Wakefield, West Yorkshire, an outbreak at Urban House asylum centre has put over 200 asylum seekers in quarantine for two weeks. In March, the Independent reported that residents at Urban House were being forced to eat in crowded communal spaces. Mears Group, who run the facility, claimed to have addressed the issue, but a photo was released on April 28 showing residents still being required to eat meals less than a metre from each other. Majid, an Iranian asylum seeker at Urban House, told the Independent:

Everyone is full of fear, stress and anxiety. We’re talking about life or death. In here, there are more than 200 people all living together all day, sharing toilets and eating areas. There is no respect for anyone. There is no respect for life… There is no social distancing in here. Some people are sharing rooms with strangers. To say we are social distancing is just a joke.

A Mears spox said Wakefield Labour council’s director of public health inspected the site on Apr 7 and approved its continued operation. Last Wednesday, a coronavirus outbreak forced Hillingdon Hospital in West London to close its emergency department and tell 70 workers to self-isolate. The UK has an appalling record on health and social care worker safety. A report released by Amnesty International yesterday finds 540 have died with COVID-19. The figure only includes data from England and Wales (not Scotland and Northern Ireland), but still puts the UK second worst of the 79 countries monitored by Amnesty, behind Russia with 545. Coming on the back of a series of significant outbreaks in food processing factories, these events make clear that the Conservative government has created the conditions for a widespread resurgence of the virus. While the average number of daily new infections and fatalities has been declining for several weeks, reflecting the impact of the national lockdown, it has now begun to level off and, by some measures, rise again. These trends will make a mark on hospitalisation and death rates in the coming weeks. Even over the last week, the UK still saw 84 COVID-19 deaths a day on average, higher than any other country in Europe besides Russia. Recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) data:

suggest the percentage testing positive has decreased over time since Apr 27, and this downward trend appears to have now levelled off.

The ZOE COVID-19 symptom-tracker app, with close to 4m users, estimates the number of people with symptoms has begun to increase since Jul 6. The UK’s three-day rolling average of new cases shows the same trend, according to figures from the European Centre for Disease Control, reported by Our World in Data. Government statistics show the R value has increased from a range of 0.7 to 0.9, to 0.8 to 1 nationally, and up to 0.7 to 1.1 in the South West. Independent SAGE, a group of eminent scientists critical of the government’s handling of the lockdown, estimate between 20k and 25k new people are being infected each week in England alone, between 3k and 3.5k a day. A leaked government document ranking the 20 currently worst affected councils in England shows Bradford, Kirklees and Sheffield are all considered in need of “enhanced government support.” Leicester, currently under local lockdown, has 5.7% of tests coming back positive (on a seven-day rolling average). Kirklees has 5% and Bradford 4.3%. Blackburn with Darwen is also relatively high, at 4.9%, and listed as an area of “concern” along with five other localities. If the catastrophe of a renewed surge of the coronavirus is to be averted, workers must arm themselves with the latest scientific and medical knowledge and with a political programme to fight for safe and secure employment. The Labour Party and the trade unions have shown themselves utterly hostile to any such fight. It must be taken up by rank-and-file workplace and neighbourhood committees as part of an international struggle for socialism.

Pandemic and Tory government measures having brutal impact on London’s disadvantaged young people
Harvey Thompson, Charlotte Salthill, WSWS, Jul 14 2020

image-4

The Childhood Trust report, “Children in Lockdown: The Consequences of the Coronavirus Crisis for Children Living in Poverty,” exposes the disproportionate impact of the pandemic and government policies on disadvantaged children and youth in London. The authors engaged directly with children and families living in poverty. They note:

Families who were already enduring hard, challenging lives have had to survive lockdown in the most appalling circumstances. For children in poverty, the crisis has multiplied the impact of the adversities they endure such as hunger, fear, isolation and stigma.

Between 2010/2011 and 2017/2018, funding for local authority services for children fell by £3b. During this decade of austerity, therefore:

A network of charities, community organisations and volunteers are now often the only means of support available for disadvantaged children.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed these already hopelessly inadequate organisations under existential threat. The report is divided into six sections, uncovering different aspects of the social crisis for the capital’s youth that have been exacerbated during the pandemic. London, as a highly socially polarised conurbation, shares these features with urban centres around the UK and internationally. Childhood hunger during the pandemic is addressed in the section Hunger and Food Insecurity, which states:

Research suggests that around 2m children have now directly experienced hunger since Mar 23, beyond the 1.3m children that are entitled to free school meals before the start of the pandemic.

The lack of adequate governmental provision during the closure of schools has led to an increase of food deprivation:

For many disadvantaged children and young adults, the free meal they could receive at school was their only hot meal of the day. Without access to this, they are facing hunger and malnutrition. Moreover, families dealing with unemployment as a result of the coronavirus recession are struggling to make up for this loss.

Popular opposition forced the government to extend the free school meals scheme through the summer, lifting the threat of malnutrition hanging over the heads of 1.3m children. The report, however, criticises the government voucher system, which was supposed to replace school meals following school closures, as being “slow and flawed.” Also cited is a recent HRW statement calling the UK government’s approach a violation of children and young adults’ right to food. Under the section “Homelessness and Temporary Housing Risks,” the study states:

Homelessness among youth is often hidden, as they are less likely to be ‘rough sleepers’ but still experience shelter insecurity. They are more likely to be staying with friends or family, in shelters, bed and breakfast lodging, or sofa-surfing. This instability puts them more at risk as it is difficult to socially distance, making these children and young adults more susceptible to the virus, especially for those who have diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, anxiety and/or depression.

A recent study that appeared in the Lancet, “Impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable children in temporary accommodation in the UK,” highlighted problems facing families living in temporary housing as a result of the pandemic and the government response to it. These include:

  • Overcrowding due to limited space, shared kitchens, and toilet facilities, making self-isolation impossible.
  • Children often have inadequate space to crawl or play and no access to fresh air.
  • No face-to-face contact with general practitioners and health services, including health visitors.
  • Handwashing and hygiene are problematic due to minimal access to soap, water, disinfectants, and bathrooms.

The section “Emotional and Physical Abuse” details how lockdown conditions of youngsters forced to spend much of their time indoors, often in cramped conditions, has increased “the opportunity for them to witness domestic abuse and/or endure emotional or physical abuse at the hands of their family members.” Dealing with “Mental Health Concerns,” the report found:

The COVID-19 crisis is having a significant impact on the mental health of children and young people. They are worried about contracting the virus, spreading it to their family members, and losing loved ones.

The report cites a survey conducted in the first week of the UK lockdown by mental health charity Young Minds regarding the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of children and their ability to access support:

The most pressing areas of concern for children and young adults was relating to worries about their family’s health, the closure of schools, a loss of routine, a loss of social connection and anxieties about their future.

Loneliness and mental health problems can predict “future mental health problems up to 9 years later,” it noted. Also cited are the “COVID-19 Social Studies” conducted by University College London each week of lockdown to measure young people’s “social and psychological experiences during the pandemic.” Over 60k participated in the studies and the findings for 18- to 29-year-olds included:

  • 2 out of 3 are worried about a future recession.
  • 1 out of 2 are worried about unemployment levels rising.
  • Only 7% feel fully in control of their future plans.

The section on “Educational Learning Loss” notes that “the educational attainment gap defined by class and economic status was already a significant challenge before coronavirus.” Citing research by the Education Endowment Foundation, the study confirmed that children and young people who are eligible for free school meals are consistently falling behind their counterparts. The attainment level gap often begins, or is accelerated, on entry to school at age 5 years, and this gap “grows wider at every following stage of education.” These findings underline the significantly lower educational outcomes of young carers, who tend to have higher rates of absenteeism, lower grades and an inability to gain employment. Speaking directly to the educational experience of most young people during lockdown, the report states:

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds have significantly fewer if any resources, including limited access to technology and internet connection, restricted supervision or guidance over educational activities, and an unstable working environment.

Referring to a recent report from The Sutton Trust, which examined discrepancies related to the transition to “online learning,” it found:

Pupils from middle-class homes were much more likely to participate in online lessons (30%), compared to working-class pupils (16%). In private schools, 51% of primary and 57% of secondary students were able to access online lessons every day, more than twice as many as their counterparts in state schools.

While almost half of middle-class parents reported confidence in supporting their children with their schooling during lockdown, only 37% of working-class parents did so. As a result of the policies of the present and previous governments:

Between the years of 2010 and 2020, there have been significant cuts to public spending, especially in areas where the need is highest and conditions are generally worse.

Ultimately, the report is an appeal to the very government and corporations responsible for the increased suffering, before and during the lockdown, of not just the London’s youth but throughout the UK. The Childhood Trust funds a network of more than 200 child poverty charities in London. Its stated intention is to raise money from “London’s corporate sector, trusts, philanthropists and other donors.”

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