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The week in satire Vol. #115

Sun, 2019-04-21 03:15

And what a week it was!

A week in which I’m struggling to get this finished in time for the bank holiday, so without further ado!

The right reacts to Labour’s poll lead with trademark rationality

by John Shafthauer

Despite having much of the media against it, Labour has taken a big lead in the polls. These things tend to go up and down, but many on the right have convinced themselves that socialism is coming. As you’d expect from the greatest minds the right has to offer, these people are acting with trademark grace and rationality:

Panic on the streets of Westminster

Off The Perch caught up with a columnist for the Daily Mail:

I’ve read two books about WWII, and let me tell you – Stalin was a pretty bad guy. Stalin was a revolutionary who fought in a bloody uprising and spent several years imprisoned. Is it fair to say Corbyn would be as bad? I’d say worse, if anything. Stalin was pushed into Marxism by circumstance; Corbyn simply hungers for it like a greedy dog.

In ten years from now, the entire UK will be a desolate wasteland. All the normal people will be slaves on Corbyn’s work-allotments; everyone else will be some sort of post-gender cyborg. It begins with cheaper water rates and ends in genocide. Believe me – I’ve read two entire books. One of them right to the end.

Keep calm and carry on

Of course, it’s not just commentators who are losing it. Politicians and millionaires are having a meltdown too – especially as many politicians are millionaires.

Does anyone think it’s acceptable for legislators to publish like this?

Is there no code of conduct covering this stuff for parliamentarians? Unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/9AkbGro21G

— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) April 14, 2019

Calls for politicians and journalists to display their conflicts of interest

by John Shafthauer

People in the UK can be suspicious of journalists and politicians. These people are supposed to look out for our interests. Sometimes, however, it’s not in their interest to do so:

Sky News anchor (who also happens to be a landlord) decides to turn an interview about housing policy into an irrelevant and patronising rant about her tenants pic.twitter.com/ITlohPAVip

— Jon Stone (@joncstone) April 15, 2019

This is why people are now calling for journalists and politicians to list their sponsors / conflicts of interest on their clothing.

Who funds you?

The woman pushing for this explained:

When Lewis Hamilton does a race in his go-fast cars, I can see exactly who’s sponsoring him. The same can’t be said of politicians. But why? Surely these businesses want people to know they’re sponsoring politicians? Unless the benefits they get from the deal are best kept hush hush.

The Tory MP Liz Truss argued against this:

Look… this is a silly idea. I mean – yeah – so maybe I have taken several donations from the British cheese industry. That’s not why I go on and on about cheese, though. I just really like cheese, okay? I just really like cheese!

Chuka Umunna said:

Forcing politicians to announce their sponsors puts us at an obvious disadvantage. It’s bad enough our rivals have popular policies – they can’t have it all their own way.

Bought and sold

Of course, there is an alternative to the proposal. It’s a bit wacky, but politicians could – and hear me out on this – not take money from corporate interests at all.

Such a move would likely prompt many MPs to quit. On the plus side, such a move would likely prompt many MPs to quit.

Protests a ‘bit inconvenient’ claim people who’ll love climate change

by John Shafthauer

Climate change. That’s a thing. They used to call it ‘global warming’, but it didn’t convey the cataclysmic fuckery we’re unleashing. So they’ve actually stopped saying ‘climate change’ now, and instead, use ‘extinction event’.

If we don’t act now, we’re fucked, basically.

F – U – C – K – E – D.

But still – BEST NOT MILDLY INCONVENIENCE ANYONE WHEN PROTESTING ABOUT IT.

Proportionality

The protest group Extinction Rebellion has been closing down parts of London. Or, as elements of the media are putting it:

Being a big, flipping nuisance for some reason or other – probably just for the attention.

Some protesters with more patience than saints have pointed out that climate change could result in outcomes as progressively catastrophic as:

  • Millions of people dying.
  • Entire countries failing.
  • Billions of people dying.
  • Entire continents failing.
  • Everyone fucking dying.
  • The entire planet becoming a desolate lump of misery on which the only surviving life is rats, mould, and Nigel Farage.

The complainers have responded by whining:

How will making me seven minutes late to work fix anything?

Or:

Obviously someone needs to do something, but why can’t it be somebody else, and why can’t what they do be nothing?

And:

I’m still not convinced it’s real – let’s wait and see. If it completely kills all life on the planet, then I’ll concede I was wrong.

Revolting 

The climate protests are just that – PROTESTS.

PEOPLE AREN’T SUPPOSED TO FUCKING LIKE THEM.

THE POINT IS TO CREATE INCONVENIENCE TO DRAW ATTENTION TO SOMETHING IMPORTANT.

AND IF THE PEOPLE COMPLAINING THINK THEY’RE INCONVENIENCED NOW, JUST WAIT UNTIL THEIR HOUSES ARE SUBMERGED IN FUCKING SEA WATER!

Millionaires declare themselves to be a minority group

by John Shafthauer

Lord Alan Sugar has become the only celebrity/politician/millionaire brave enough to speak out against mild socialism:

I have to do it no one else will @jeremycorbyn is tough to undermine in the eyes of his adoring followers. He’s been spouting same nonsense for 40+ years.His fanatics sense there is a chance to get into power,They look other way when required.Its been a long time coming for them https://t.co/KrljErVjc4

— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) April 17, 2019

Fair enough, right? After all, 50% of the country is owned by 1% of the population. And I don’t know about you, but 99% of the country having a go at the other 1% sounds like bullying to me.

Don't let anyone tell you our country doesn't need radical change.https://t.co/tqRan8TsQy

— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 17, 2019

This is why millionaires have now joined together to fight for their rights.

For the few

Speaking on behalf of his fellow millionaires, Lord Sugar tweeted:

All these jealous loosers [sic] wouldn’t even have jobs if not for me!

When someone pointed out Sugar wouldn’t have anything if not for the many, many, many employees who make his empire possible, he replied:

Another looser [sic] who wants something for nothing! That’s all socialism is – just people with no skills begging for handouts.

Sugar then got on the helicopter he bought with his last tax cut to go to his job at the national broadcaster – a job in which he gets paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to point at millennials and insult the way they sold bean bags to sales executives or some shit.

Few brain cells

Labour has done a lot to suggest it will work for the interests of the many since 2015. It’s not done as much as these panicking millionaires, however.

Every time they open their mouth, more and more people realise what a scam this country is.

Featured image via pxhere / Pixabay / WikimediaPixabay (image was altered)

By John Shafthauer

CanaryPod: Topple Uncaged meets… Lowkey

Sat, 2019-04-20 19:12

Welcome to #ToppleUncaged!

Every week, The Canary will be bringing you a new podcast on the media landscape; hosted by me, Steve Topple.

In a special episode, I spoke with multi-talented musician and activist Lowkey. Soundtrack to the Struggle 2 marks the critically acclaimed artist’s first full album release since 2011. Lowkey is also currently in the midst of a tour. So, I caught up with him in a wide-ranging interview. We chatted about the political and social content of the album, his journey since 2011, Grenfell and more.

Enjoy!

https://www.thecanary.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/REDUCED-Lowkey-Interview-April-2019.mp3

CanaryPod: #ToppleUncaged show notes:

Presented, produced and edited by Steve Topple.

Sound engineering by Gav Pauze.

Follow on Twitter:

Steve Topple @MrTopple; The Canary @TheCanaryUK; Lowkey @Lowkey0nline; Nicola Jeffery @NicolaCJeffery; Gav Pauze @PauzeRadio; Rai Star Music @rai_star113

Use the hashtags #ToppleUncaged #CanaryPod

Stream Soundtrack to the Struggle 2 on Spotify

Find out more about Gav Pauze

#ToppleUncaged theme music: Lost Souls by Lee Wrizzle

All tracks via Lowkey/Mesopotamia Music except Refuse to Kill via Going Underground – YouTube

Featured image via Steve Topple, Maurice – Wikimedia and Covered PR

By Steve Topple

The US is laying groundwork for war with Iran, says former US army colonel

Sat, 2019-04-20 00:45

The current US government is moving closer to war with Iran, according to Lawrence Wilkerson, a former US Army colonel. The former George W Bush administration official was speaking to The Real News Network on 17 April.

Unprecedented provocations

Donald Trump has long had Iran in his sights. But on 8 April, he took the unprecedented step of labelling the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a branch of the Iranian armed forces, a “terrorist organisation”. The Iranian government responded by labelling US Central Command a “terrorist organisation”.

Two days after Trump’s move, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo claimed there were “very real” connections between the Shia-Islam-dominated Iranian government with the Wahhabi-Islam fundamentalist al-Qaeda . The implication is that the White House could use the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which the US Congress passed to go after those who committed 9/11 attacks, to attack Iran; an idea that Senator Rand Paul completely rejected.

‘Setting the stage for war a with Iran’

Wilkerson said that Pompeo’s attempts to link al-Qaeda with Iran is one of the last building blocks:

in setting the stage for a war with Iran; for the use of military force against Iran.

Wilkerson served in three separate Republican administrations; those of Ronald Reagan, George H W Bush, and George W Bush. And he told The Canary that, during that time, he worked on national security affairs at the US Pacific Command, with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the State Department.

‘There is almost no contact between Iran and Al Qaeda’

Wilkerson said:

my experience, as well as my research over the last 15 years in academia, leads me to believe… there is almost no contact [between Iran and al-Qaeda].

He continued:

There have been times where al-Qaeda might have made overtures to the Iranian government or to parts of that government, like the Quds Force or IRGC, but they’ve always been rebuffed

The “greatest state sponsor of terrorism” in the Middle East is not Iran, but Western ally Saudi Arabia

He also noted Iran’s “fierce attacks on the terrorists groups in Syria” and that “Iran itself has been attacked by terrorist groups”, often with the support of the Saudi government and Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).

Wilkerson summarised that:

Iran has been a receptor… of terrorist attacks just like the United States, Europe, and other places have been. So Iran is not a sponsor of terrorism.

And he concluded, as The Canary has outlined previously:

The greatest state sponsor of terrorism in the region, and indeed in the world, is Saudi Arabia—our ally.

In fact, after the 9/11 attacks, the Iranian government made repeated overtures to the US, offering its support in targeting al-Qaeda and toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the US ultimately labelled Iran part of its “axis of evil”.

The march towards war

In 2015, Barack Obama warned that “Without a [nuclear] deal [with Iran] we risk even more war in the Middle East”. For that reason, many saw this deal as Obama’s crowning achievement. In May 2018, however, Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) (aka the Iran Nuclear Deal); and re-imposed harsh sanctions on Iran. Obama had previously admitted that these sanctions had “helped to cripple” the Iranian economy. The British, French, and German governments rejected the move, saying that the International Atomic Energy Agency:

has confirmed in 12 consecutive reports that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the Agreement.

In other words, Trump’s sanctions on Iran are illegal.

Wilkerson argued that national security adviser John Bolton (a key advocate of the invasion of Iraq) was actually ‘orchestrating‘ most of Trump’s policies towards Iran. So while Trump may claim he’s just pushing for a “better deal”, warmongers like Bolton – who have long had Iran in their sights – may be deliberately pushing for war.

US empire’s ‘hit list’

In 2007, former NATO commander Wesley Clark explained[13:47] that a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks, a US government official told[13:51-14:19] him about a secret ‘hit list’ of countries the Bush administration planned to “take out”:

starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran

Why Iran? Well, Noam Chomsky has explained US-Iran policy this way:

Iran is out of control… It’s supposed to be a US client state, as it was under the Shah. And it’s refusing to play that role.

If we oppose both the sanctions and potential military conflict with Iran, we need to speak up now – before it’s too late.

Featured image via The Real News Network-YouTube

By Mohamed Elmaazi

Groundbreaking new theatre show brings a 90s band to life, even though it didn’t exist

Fri, 2019-04-19 23:39

Endless is a new comedy show that explores the rise and fall of ‘N:Dless’, a fictional 90s dance group. It’s sometimes hard to recall the days before Simon Cowell-manufactured pop dominated the charts. But this show charts a decade where consumerism hadn’t yet taken control of festivals, and free parties were still free. Merging an innovative mix of live theatre, music and film, the show also documents a generation that knew how to party.

“Themes of a rock and roll nature”

Endless is the latest play from comedy masters Trifle Gathering. Director and writer Kyla Goodey and Sally Crooks (who plays youngest band member Eggy) have a rich history of producing theatre that:

transports audiences away from the complexities of everyday life to a comfy space where they can laugh and cry at the complexities of other people’s lives.

Their latest show delivers this through a visually stunning blend of live music, comedy, pop videos, and documentary interviews. N:Dless is the band that never quite made it, but didn’t stop trying. It’s clear from the outset that they split up. As the countdown to a reunion begins, the play explains why. It also explores the deeper undercurrents of friendship, creativity and family dynamics along the way. Musical egos and fragile insecurities mix with the totally surreal. With a stunning sleight of hand, the show leaves you convinced that the band did exist and that you always were their biggest fan.

“I only popped out for a lemon”

Audiences witness the intimate, often ludicrous conversations between Sarey (Mary Woodvine), Malcolm (Dean Rehman), Dave (Joe Carey), and Eggy (Crooks). But as decades and years skip, the audience is also moved seamlessly from watching the band perform live at a festival one minute to viewing a reflective documentary about them the next. It could be confusing, but strong performances delivering a powerful script ensure that these transitions are effortless; as does the comedy.

What sets this apart as a piece of theatre is the stunning mix of film and live performance. The N:Dless documentary, in particular, is standout. 90s legends like Simon Ratcliffe from Basement Jaxx and Chumbawamba’s Boff and Harry recall their memories of N:Dless, alongside other lesser-known 90s dance ‘stars’. This level of knowing self-awareness adds another poignant layer of comedy, not least because audiences also witness the band’s unique method of ‘writing’ profound lyrics. And this, in turn, makes seeing N:Dless perform hits like Ripe for the Restroom even funnier too. Where the classic line “I only popped out for a lemon” came from, though, remains a beautiful mystery.

“Coming of middle age music documentary for the stage”

Audience members who danced through the 90s will recognise many familiar characters in this play. The talented cast effortlessly brings long-forgotten stereotypes back to life. From Afghan hats and a didgeridoo to full hands in the air dance numbers, it’s a breath of theatrical fresh air to laugh through these memories. But the play also holds equal appeal for all age ranges. The 90s was a time largely before the internet, mobile phones and the proliferation of people self-documenting their every move. So for those who didn’t dance through it, the play offers a window into, and back to, this time. It also charts a generation that knew how to party – not in pricey clubs but in fields and warehouses across the UK. And that infectious energy shines through.

The richly textured light and shade of Goodey’s script doesn’t hold back. The best comedy is always bittersweet, and she’s a writer who has perfected this interplay. The shift from the highs to lows of the characters and the band’s history make the comedy moments funnier, and also creates truly thought-provoking theatre.

Outstanding acting and beautifully observed characters alongside the multi-media elements give this show a unique quality that extends beyond the decade it records. It’s definitely a show to catch if you can.

Featured image via Steve Tanner and Trifle Gathering, used with permission

By Fréa Lockley

Two doctors speak exclusively to The Canary about Venezuela’s health system

Fri, 2019-04-19 22:04

On 9 April, The Canary published an on-the-ground article looking at the state of Venezuela’s health service. It challenged the corporate media’s general representation of a health service in a state of collapse, while offering critical context about why it is, in many ways, struggling.

Two doctors with significant knowledge on the subject – Rebecca Martínez and Amy Cooper – responded by commenting on the complex reality of healthcare in Venezuela. They spoke exclusively to The Canary about political autonomy, neoliberalisation, and crisis in the country’s health system.

Dr Rebecca Martínez The neoliberal years

Martínez is the author of Marked Women: The Cultural Politics of Cervical Cancer in Venezuela. The book investigates “women’s experiences with cervical cancer, the doctors and nurses who treat them, and the public health officials and administrators who set up intervention programs to combat the disease”. Her work focuses on Venezuela’s neoliberal years during the 1990s, as well as a return to the country in 2008.

The Canary asked Martínez to explain the impact of neoliberalism in Venezuela with regards to its health system:

Neoliberal policies that started taking root in the 1980s were shaping health care across Latin America. These structural adjustment policies backed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund [IMF] failed to deliver the health care benefits promised… From 1980 to 1992, it is estimated that average Venezuelans lost over half of their purchasing power.

The number of poor increased from 7.8 million in 1987 to 9 million in 1989. Public health hospitals experienced a shortage of supplies and resources, which in turn meant that the health of Venezuelans suffered.

She continued by explaining how issues of gender, class, and ethnic inequality were reflected in the country’s health system:

I found that the perceptions of and treatment of women with cervical cancer in Venezuela were very much wrapped in a discourse of modernity, particularly in the context of hygiene, health practices, reproduction, and sexuality. Working-class and poor women were conceptualized as intrinsically “different” (read inferior) from middle- and upper-class Venezuelans.

For example, what doctors communicated (and did not communicate) to their patients about their medical conditions was in part mediated by the perception that working-class and poor patients are unable to properly absorb and react to information.

Ultimately, cervical cancer stigmatized women as socially marginal, burdens on society, and threats to the “health” of the modern nation.

The coup attempt to bring neoliberalism back to Venezuela

Many healthcare officials in Venezuela are concerned about the return of international financial agencies like the IMF and World Bank to the country. The Canary asked Martínez if this was justified. She said:

All we have to do is look at the history of the IMF and World Bank’s austerity programs, not only in Latin America but globally, to answer this question. Inevitably, these programs tend to include the privatization of public enterprises like health clinics and a reduction of expenditures on social welfare projects. This would mean the likely destruction of the now structurally embedded and most popular health care program begun by [former president] Hugo Chávez: Misión Barrio Adentro. This is healthcare that has actually gone into the poor barrios [neighbourhoods] of Venezuela and has provided community-based primary healthcare.

She concluded by talking about the media’s biased approach in Venezuela, saying:

What I see mostly in the media tries to pass for ‘research’ but is a knee-jerk reaction to socialism and the misuse of the word ‘dictatorship.’ Progressive and conservative political circles alike are discussing a ‘humanitarian crisis’ without a critical understanding of the role of US sanctions in causing needless suffering of the Venezuelan people. The media doesn’t mention the Venezuelans living in the barrios who have benefited from healthcare in their communities and what has happened to affect the demise of that healthcare with US sanctions and Venezuelan oil production.

Dr Amy Cooper

Cooper recently published a book entitled State of Health: Pleasure and Politics in Venezuelan Health Care under Chávez. It investigates “how people’s lives changed for the better as the state began reorganizing [Venezuelan] society” between 1998 and 2013.

The Canary asked Cooper about the “hundreds of hours” of research she conducted in Venezuela. She said:

I have studied Venezuelan health care as a medical anthropologist for fifteen years. Between 2006 and 2009, I spent fifteen months in Caracas conducting ethnographic research on Barrio Adentro.

I also conducted interviews with patients, medical professionals, administrators, and community activists. The majority of people who participated in this research were poor and working-class Venezuelans living in the central and western zones of Caracas (Libertador Municipality).

Some journalists argue that it is hard to conduct research in Venezuela. But Cooper continued:

Local and municipal authorities approved the research project but I worked without government oversight and experienced no attempts to chaperone or restrict my access to medical facilities.

Barrio Adentro: a popular programme which empowered poor communities

She then spoke about how Chávez’s Barrio Adentro programme – which instituted thousands of free clinics in poor communities – changed the structure of healthcare in Venezuela:

People told me Barrio Adentro was important because, beyond improving access to medicine, it was the first time they could visit a clinic in their neighborhood or have a doctor look them in the eyes. Barrio Adentro also empowered people by structuring opportunities for historically marginalized Venezuelans to engage in self-care, community health activism, and professional medical training. Health programs operated alongside other Chávez-era social programs that, in spite of their imperfections, undoubtedly improved people’s material conditions and promoted a sense of empowerment and belonging.

The international media, she continued, “largely failed to report on the positive impact of social programs in Bolivarian Venezuela”. Out of 304 BBC reports published about Venezuela between 1998 and 2008, for instance, “only 3 of those articles mentioned any of the positive policies introduced by the Chávez administration”.

Cooper then spoke about Cuban doctors in Venezuela, who have recently been in the limelight of international media:

Criticisms focused on the use of Cuban doctors (sometimes accused of being spies and communist indoctrinators), a lack of integration with pre-existing government medical services, insufficient investment in specialized medical services and hospital care, and the alleged mismanagement of Barrio Adentro itself.

These criticisms, however:

fail to explain the level of animosity that members of the right-wing opposition express toward Chávez-era health policies, evidenced by violent attacks perpetrated against government medical facilities and Cuban doctors. To understand the outsized role of health care in Venezuelan politics requires seeing Barrio Adentro’s popularity and its success in empowering the poor as threats to opposition efforts to delegitimize chavismo [Chávez’s political project].

The dangers of a neoliberal coup

Cooper similarly spoke about the prospect of the return of neoliberalism to Venezuela’s health system:

Politically speaking, re-neoliberalizing health care is not a viable solution, because it would be extremely unpopular. Venezuelans who participated in my research spoke passionately about how neoliberal policies of the past exacerbated social inequalities, increased poverty, and restricted access to health care.

In fact, one study found that barrio residents viewed state-guaranteed access to health care as one of the most important features of the country’s democracy. Neoliberalizing health care is also not a viable solution from a policy standpoint. We know that neoliberal health policies result in worse access to health care and worse health outcomes.

The Canary asked if US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó would likely pursue the re-neoliberalisation of Venezuela’s economy:

It is unclear whether neoliberal health policies would resurface under an opposition-led government. However, Juan Guaidó’s proposed plan for the country involves just that: privatizing and marketizing the provision of social services like health care that people could pay for with an individual account comprising a share of state oil profits. This gives us some sense of what kinds of policies would be on the table if Guaidó’s backers got their way.

Much needed balance

Venezuela’s health system lies at the centre of a wildly politicised debate about the presence of a ‘humanitarian crisis‘ in the country. This debate, in turn, functions to justify possible ‘humanitarian intervention’ in the country.

The discussion, consequently, often loses balance about a health system that, like many others, is cast with complexities and contradictions. By talking to experts like Martínez and Cooper, however, we can form a clearer picture of what’s really going on in Venezuela’s health service.

Featured image via author

By John McEvoy

If there was any doubt the mainstream media was an elitist guard dog, its Red Cross coverage should put that doubt to rest

Fri, 2019-04-19 21:44

If there was any remaining doubt that mainstream Western media outlets were acting as a guard dog for the interests of the rich and powerful, their latest Red Cross coverage should put those doubts to rest.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recently announced it was stepping up its efforts in Venezuela after visiting the country and discussing increased cooperation with its government. The group avoided mentioning the US-backed opposition which has been trying to claim power since January. The ICRC’s tone was serious, but in keeping with its philosophy of “providing neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian assistance”.

The mainstream media coverage of the announcement, however, was far from ‘neutral’ or ‘impartial’.

Politicising aid to serve coup-plotting elites

Many Venezuelans are suffering today amid a severe economic crisis. This is largely due to economic warfare and brutal sanctions from a hostile regime in Washington. The Canary saw the effects of the crisis recently during its time in the country. But the reality on the ground is not what the mainstream media is reporting it to be. As The Canary has reported, these outlets have been shamelessly politicising people’s suffering to the benefit of coup-plotting elites in both Washington and Latin America. It’s been naked propaganda. And it’s led one former UN expert to accuse the media of “manufacturing consent” for regime change in Venezuela.

The media has exaggerated, slung mud at the government wherever possible, and left out any meaningful context. And this can be seen in the Red Cross coverage from both Reuters and the BBC. (Note: Other outlets are worse. But too many people see both Reuters and the BBC as bastions of impartial journalism, when they’re clearly not).

Both outlets elevated the voice of Venezuela’s coup-plotting opposition, which was irrelevant to the story. At the same time, the BBC (as usual) portrayed President Nicolás Maduro as a mad dictator (he won elections in 2018), saying:

He had also blocked the delivery of aid from the US and other countries, saying it was part of “an imperialist plot”.

Reuters also said “Maduro had blocked previous efforts to deliver assistance”, again failing to give proper context.

The BBC, meanwhile, quoted the US (the main backer of Venezuela’s coup attempt) as if it had some sort of moral authority to comment (it most certainly does not). It neglected to mention, of course, the devastating US sanctions that have been significantly increasing Venezuelan suffering.

The truth about aid in Venezuela

Venezuela has long been receiving foreign aid with the authorisation of Venezuela’s government. But Maduro has blocked “aid” from the US largely because it has threatened Venezuela militarily, openly encouraged the Venezuelan military to rebel, and imposed brutal economic sanctions. None of that has stopped mainstream media outlets from being grossly dishonest about Venezuela’s position on international aid, though.

US efforts to force ‘humanitarian aid‘ trucks onto Venezuelan territory without government permission in late February, meanwhile, were very clearly a political stunt. Yet the mainstream media echoed the hostile position of the US state department. It was up to independent journalists on the ground to reveal the aggressive and anti-humanitarian nature of the event.

The UN, meanwhile, expressed concern about the politicisation of aid and – along with the International Red Cross – refused to participate in Washington’s efforts. The Red Cross also slammed “people not affiliated” with it for falsely using its emblems.

You wouldn’t know any of that from reading coup-supporting media outlets, though.

The crises that the Red Cross is focusing on, but the corporate media isn’t

Anyone doing an internet search of Reuters or BBC coverage on the Red Cross in the last month might think Venezuela was the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, or the aid organisation’s main focus. The reality, however, is that the Red Cross’s “key operations” in the Americas are in Colombia and Mexico (two longstanding US allies). Venezuela is not currently highlighted as a ‘key operation’. The organisation also has eight key operations in Africa, six in the Middle East, four in ‘Asia & Pacific’, and two in ‘Europe & Central Asia’. The world’s worst humanitarian crisis, meanwhile, is in Yemen; and Donald Trump is actively resisting efforts to reduce the suffering there.

The establishment media is too obsessed with Venezuela to provide balance, though. So for context, here are some important recent tweets from the Red Cross:

 

#Yemen is the world's single largest humanitarian crisis:

– 22.2 million people are in need of assistance.
– 2.9 million people are internally displaced.
– 14.8 million people lack access to basic healthcare.

— ICRC (@ICRC) April 5, 2019

30.5 million people live in Yemen.

– 20 million people don't have enough to eat.
– 19.7 million people can't get even basic healthcare.
– 17.8 million people don't have safe water.
– 5.4 million people need emergency shelter. pic.twitter.com/9kbEM0TkTI

— ICRC (@ICRC) April 8, 2019

This is not what a school should look like.

More than 2,500 schools in Yemen have been damaged or destroyed by the war, according to @UNICEF. pic.twitter.com/dgrsQXZDfq

— ICRC (@ICRC) April 3, 2019

97% of the running water in Gaza is not safe to drink. So what do the people who live there do?

Diana is 13 years old. Every day she goes to a nearby mosque to bring clean water for her family.

Some people spend as much as a third of their income on water. pic.twitter.com/nlpWOU7a8u

— ICRC (@ICRC) April 14, 2019

Two weeks ago this village in Mali was attacked.

161 people were killed.

Buildings riddled with bullet holes. Cattle stolen. Water undrinkable as wells are now contaminated with corpses.#Media: raw footage available in our newsroom >> https://t.co/iRufurGfch pic.twitter.com/AgRRgmU8NA

— ICRC (@ICRC) April 9, 2019

Women bear the brunt of conflict in South Sudan.

Thousands have endured rape or sexual assault.
Thousands have lost their homes.
Thousands have fled with their children.
Thousands are forced to forage for food.
Thousands are fighting for their family’s survival. pic.twitter.com/aRkB3psuE4

— ICRC (@ICRC) April 13, 2019

Half of Syrians have been forced to flee their homes.

Almost three quarters depend on aid to survive.

The people of #Syria deserve better. pic.twitter.com/7YogoB5Fxn

— ICRC (@ICRC) April 8, 2019

This is what 8 years of war has done to #Syria:

– 7 out of 10 people rely on aid to survive.
– 50% of health facilities are out of service or partially functioning.
– 2 million children remain unable to go to school. pic.twitter.com/ZUf0Wi5Voe

— ICRC (@ICRC) April 1, 2019

Syria.
South Sudan.
Iraq.
Myanmar.
Nigeria.
Yemen.
Afghanistan.

More children are at risk in conflict now, than at any time in the last 20 years.

No child should lose their childhood to war. pic.twitter.com/idrydkmvPT

— ICRC (@ICRC) April 9, 2019

Today, 1 in 6 children live in a conflict zone. pic.twitter.com/o9gIszkPfY

— ICRC (@ICRC) April 2, 2019

Venezuela is likely the focus of attention for Western political and media elites because its government has challenged Western domination (however cautiously) and claims to be socialist. But by devoting more attention to one crisis over others, the integrity of these elites suffers. Because they reveal where their priorities lie. And that’s not with ordinary people who are suffering; but with the interests of the rich and powerful.

Featured image via Pixabay

By Ed Sykes

The Canary spent three weeks in Venezuela. Here’s what we saw.

Fri, 2019-04-19 04:59

This is the latest in The Canary’s series of on-the-ground articles from Venezuela.

 

The Canary spent three weeks in Venezuela speaking to parts of the population largely ignored by the Western media. This is the ‘other’ Venezuela – in photos.

Resistance

On Saturday 16 March, tens of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets to support their government in the face of ongoing external threats. As the coup attempt continues, the Venezuelan government is trying to keep the population mobilised.

Some Venezuelan left-wing groups lament that many protests are organised by the government and not more spontaneous demonstrations of popular power.

The foot protests are joined by protesters on bikes. Pictured below, the organiser is saying: “Trump, hands off Venezuela”.

Following Saturday’s protest, Sunday saw a pro-government rally with music and Tambor – an Afro-Venezuelan dance which has its roots in the era of slavery. Until the election of late president Hugo Chávez in 1998, Venezuela’s Black and Indigenous populations were largely excluded from political decision-making. Chávez, on the other hand, was proud of his African and Indigenous roots.

The same day, one of the capital’s main streets was converted into a pop-up sports complex with boxing, football, biking, and other activities. A child rides a bike in a red Chávez-style beret, and a group from Miranda are about to go-kart down a hill.

At this training ground, meanwhile, Venezuela’s civil militia is mobilising and preparing for a possible external attack.

Daily life

Saturday night in Caracas, and street parties are starting in the city’s poor neighbourhoods (barrios). Beef soup, rum, and Cocuy – a Venezuelan liquor – are shared. From the 1920s, Cocuy was demonised and criminalised. Wealthy rum producers in Venezuela saw Cocuy – cheap and simple to distil – as a threat to their business. They launched a campaign to associate Cocuy with Venezuela’s poor ‘underclass’ – “a cheap liquor only for drunks”. Today, Cocuy holds a fond place in popular Venezuelan culture.

Venezuelans celebrate their carnival roughly a month before Easter. Afterwards comes the Octavita de Carnaval, a prolongation of the party. To celebrate Octavita, various youth colectivos (social organisations) organised a street party followed by a cultural event for children with acting, singing, and dancing.

Before the local community renovated Alameda Theatre in 2013, the building was just rubble and debris. It’s now the cultural centre of San Agustín, Caracas, and host to an alternative radio station. “Even when there isn’t activity, there’s activity,” a local organiser and musician said. And the activity’s not just confined to the theatre’s walls. Here, a group of children cheer-lead to a packed crowd outside the theatre.

The Caracas metro system, which transports roughly two million people per day, re-opens after days out of service.

Struggle

Venezuela’s economy is considerably inflated – due in part to brutal US sanctions. After paying for a soft drink with a US$10 bill, the change in Venezuelan Bolívars wouldn’t fit in my wallet.

Since the economy is so unstable, the bigger supermarkets have introduced scanning systems to help shoppers monitor regularly changing prices.

Night closes in in Antimano, a poor barrio on the outskirts of Caracas. At the time, electricity was still out following a series of nationwide electrical blackouts. Residents look over the hillside to see that, in other neighbourhoods, power is already returning. “We’re usually the first to lose electricity,” they complain, “and last to get it back.”

During blackouts, schools and universities are closed. The local youth are filling their time making home-made kites (part of Creole culture), and gambling small amounts of money on sports games. In better economic times, a local told me, cows could be wagered on games of Creole boules.

There’s no visible shortage of food in Caracas. Despite international media coverage of supermarkets filled with empty shelves, this market looks like any other. The real problem is the price. The minimum monthly salary in Venezuela is incredibly low, while food prices remain high. Helped by a huge volunteer base, the Venezuelan government is distributing food packages to over half of the population.

Autonomous political action

Alpargata Solidaria is one of many collective food markets that have popped up across Caracas. Here, organisers are finding ways to insulate themselves and their community from the worst effects of Venezuela’s economic crisis.

It’s a significant operation: Alpargata Solidaria feeds roughly 900 people, each receiving a 20kg bag of food. The food is distributed by local community members, who have also set up a dance and arts studio here.

Communes are also a means of autonomous political action. I met with commune leader Herminia Ladera in Vargas, outside of Caracas. As we spoke in front of one of the community’s Food Houses, she explained: “If we don’t have community, we have nothing”.

Petare is one of Venezuela’s largest and poorest barrios. A local explained that many poor Venezuelans came to Petare during the country’s oil boom during the 1970s and 1980s, and set up their lives in precarious housing conditions. There was little time for urban planning; residents set up their own electrical systems, meaning hundreds of wires line Petare’s streets. Neighbourhoods like Petare are marginalised, say locals, and the international media focuses on instances of crime while ignoring their strong sense of community.

In housing project Ciudad Mariche, Petare, organisers gather in the local school on Saturdays to offer free educational courses. One local commented: “Chávez gave us the opportunity to study – to make something more of our lives”. The group read poems and sang songs.

There is undoubtedly suffering in Venezuela. What you don’t see in the international media, however, are these stories of community, solidarity, and resistance.

All images via the author

By John McEvoy

Nancy Pelosi angers Brexit supporters by saying trade with US at risk if Good Friday Agreement undermined

Fri, 2019-04-19 04:27

US speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has warned that Brexit could damage trade agreements between Britain and the US. She made the comments during a speech in the Irish parliament on 17 April. She also said the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) must be upheld and not threatened by Brexit.

The Good Friday Agreement

Pelosi told the members of the Irish parliament:

We must ensure that nothing happens in the Brexit discussions that imperils the Good Friday Accord, including but not limited to the seamless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

And she went further, advising that, if Brexit “undermines” the GFA:

there’d be no chance of a US/UK trade agreement.

The importance of peace

Pelosi mentioned the importance of the GFA in its own right. She said that what it has brought to people in both the south and north of Ireland is “reason enough” to protect it. But she also argued:

We treasure the Good Friday Accord because it is not just a treaty, it is an ethic. It is a value. It is an article of faith for us. It is a beacon to the world. We treasure the Good Friday Accord because of what it says is possible for the entire world; a reason to hope, in every place, that dreams that reconciliation will be possible for them too.

US interference?

Not everyone received Pelosi’s comments well. Former politician George Galloway, who is backing Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the upcoming EU elections, said:

This is the second time that a US Democrat has waded into Britain’s internal affairs.

He argued that it was “unwarranted intrusion” in Britain’s politics. This was not to avoid the question of the border in Ireland, however. Because he also claimed that:

There’s nobody more against a hard border in Ireland than me. I fought all my life to wipe out the border completely and reunite the small island of Ireland.

Undermining the “peaceful environment”?

The backstop, and by extension the GFA, has been a sticking point for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and other Brexiteers. DUP leader Arlene Foster has previously argued that the backstop is a “problem” and a “toxicity”.

A hard border in Ireland would undermine the spirit of the GFA. The treaty calls for “the development of a peaceful environment” and “close cooperation” between Britain and both the north and south of Ireland.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons – Unknown/ Wikimedia Commons – David Hunt

By Bryan Wall

‘Out, traitor, out!’ Ecuadorians respond to their government’s betrayal of Julian Assange.

Fri, 2019-04-19 03:00

Protests swept the Ecuadorian capital of Quito on 16 and 17 April, as thousands took to the streets in response to the Lenín Moreno government’s “betrayal” of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Many of the protesters are supporters of former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, who said Ecuador’s withdrawal of Assange’s asylum on 11 April was “a crime that humanity will never forget”. Ecuador’s tightening links with Washington and international finance, combined with an ongoing corruption scandal, are also a source of major concern in the country.

Police violence

Police clashed violently with protesters in Quito on 16 April. The latter could be heard chanting about Moreno: “Out, traitor, out!”:

 

‘Out traitor, out!’ Violent clashes as massive pro-Assange protest hits Ecuador’s capital

DETAILS: https://t.co/IZJnx5dZJw pic.twitter.com/4oVrib84nJ

— RT (@RT_com) April 17, 2019

The video footage showed Ecuadorian police beating unarmed protesters:

 

#Clashes erupt as pro-#Assange protesters rally in Quito, #Ecuador pic.twitter.com/f0wMvnDESn

— Ruptly (@Ruptly) April 17, 2019

In solidarity with WikiLeaks, meanwhile, hackers have also attacked the websites of Ecuadorian and British authorities. Ecuador has reportedly been hit with 40 million cyber attacks since Assange’s arrest.

BBC and the Guardian

Kristinn Hrafnsson, the WikiLeaks editor, said the BBC allowed “utterly disgraced” Moreno to make unproven and unchallenged claims about Assange:

Utterly disgraced president @Lenin Moreno allowed to make outrageous allegations, easily refuted by facts, about #Assange including that he is a “cyber terrorist” and make false claims about WikiLeaks publications. Have you no decency @BBCWorld? pic.twitter.com/sftDuTSLg5

— Kristinn Hrafnsson (@khrafnsson) April 17, 2019

Though Assange was under heavy surveillance in the Ecuadorian embassy, little evidence has been produced to justify claims about Assange’s conduct there. The closest they have come is showing Assange skateboarding in the embassy.

Journalist Jonathan Cook, meanwhile, asserted that “the Guardian is now the go-to place for vassal state politicians” like Moreno and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó:

Notice how the Guardian is now the go-to place for vassal state politicians – Ecuador's Moreno, Venezuela's Guaido – to convey propaganda on behalf of the US national security state. And the Guardian has the gall to call such stenography an 'exclusive' https://t.co/WnyWfD19xn

— Jonathan Cook (@Jonathan_K_Cook) April 15, 2019

The Guardian profited from WikiLeaks after Chelsea Manning shared thousands of military and diplomatic secrets in 2010. Since Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012, however, the Guardian has published stories filled with disdain and unproven allegations about the WikiLeaks founder.

Contravention of all laws

Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters has been an outspoken critic of Washington’s treatment of whistleblowers and journalists. On 17 April, he claimed Assange’s removal from the Ecuadorian embassy and arrest by British police was in:

contravention of all laws – moral, ethical, and actual legal restrictions; it’s actually stunningly appalling.

This sentiment was supported by Ecuador’s former foreign minister, Guillaume Long. According to Long:

When Mr. Assange was apprehended in the… Ecuadorian embassy in London, he was still Ecuadorian. He was naturalised Ecuadorian, and as far as we know… the Ecuadorian state still hasn’t concluded the process of stripping him from his nationality.

So this is really serious. It’s in breach of… certain things in international law; but it’s really in breach of the Ecuadorian laws and constitution.

Assange’s arrest has provoked a serious response in defence of press freedom both inside and outside of Ecuador. May it continue.

Featured image via RT/Screengrab

By John McEvoy

Hunger strikes can work. That’s why we need to get behind the hunger-striking Kurdish activists.

Fri, 2019-04-19 01:57

Campaigners are calling on the public to spend Good Friday on hunger strike, in solidarity with thousands of Kurdish hunger strikers around the world.

The hunger strikers’ demands are simple. They want Turkey to uphold its own law and end the solitary confinement of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Ilhan Sis is “skin and bones”

Ilhan Sis (also known as Imam) has been on hunger strike in Newport, Wales, for 124 days. His hunger strike is believed to be the longest in UK history.

Imam Sis's comrades check him every half an hour. His body is skin and bones and is giving up but his moral remains as strong as iron. Time is running out so everyone must take responsibility for moving this mountain and gather around. JOIN US TOMORROW! https://t.co/CKqTJm4nU3 pic.twitter.com/ZTD8utbzUU

— Freedom For AÖ. (@Hevallo) April 18, 2019

Under pressure, the Turkish government (accused of war crimes against Kurdish communities) has made concessions around the hunger strikes. Leyla Güven, the Kurdish MP who instigated the strikes, began hers while in prison. She was locked up by Turkey for being critical of its invasion of Afrin in northern Syria. Turkey released her after she began her hunger strike, and allowed Öcalan one 15-minute visit from his brother. However, Güven’s demand to break Öcalan’s isolation has yet to be met.

Since then, Turkey has ignored the demands of the thousands of hunger strikers. That’s why keeping up international pressure is so essential. Because the lives of the strikers depend on it.

Hunger strikes can work

On 15 April, Palestinian resistance icon Leila Khaled visited Güven at her home. Khaled is renowned for her militant resistance to the Israeli occupation. And her visit was important for linking up international struggles against colonialism.

Prior to her visit, Khaled had written to Güven. She told her:

In Turkish and Israeli prisons revolutionaries are going on hunger strike for freedom, justice, to stop the ruling system wanting to break the voice of the people who want democracy.

On behalf of myself and in the name of Palestinian women I say that I will use my voice against all attacks against the revolutionaries.

Palestinian prisoners are no strangers to hunger striking. And often, they have succeeded in getting their demands. On 15 April, for example, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners successfully ended their hunger strike after the Israeli prison administration agreed to lift repressive sanctions. And in 2013, Palestinian prisoner Samer al-Issawi guaranteed his release from prison after 266 days on hunger strike.

Join Ilhan Sis for a day of fasting

Activists have done all that they can to persuade the Committee for the Prevention of Torture to use its authority to end Öcalan’s solitary confinement. Now, they’re asking us to join Sis, Güven and the thousands of other hunger strikers for just one day of fasting.

The hunger strikers’ health is rapidly deteriorating. Our last shot at successful action could be now.

Feature image via Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign

By Eliza Egret

Tulsi Gabbard says US wars ‘cost millions of lives’ and ‘strengthen terrorist groups’

Fri, 2019-04-19 01:08

2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard has once again slammed US ‘regime change’ wars. The Iraq veteran tweeted out a video of her discussing US foreign policy with comedian-turned-commentator Stephen Colbert. Gabbard, a major in the Army National Guard, told Colbert:

The United States should not be intervening to overthrow these dictators and these regimes that we don’t like; like Assad, like Saddam Hussein, like Gaddafi, and like Kim Jong-un.

Gabbard is a member of the highly influential invite-only Council on Foreign Relations. She continued by saying:

history has shown us that every time the United States goes in and topples these dictators we don’t like, trying to act as the world’s police, we end up increasing the suffering of the people in these countries; we end up causing loss of life – both American lives and the lives of people in these countries; we end up undermining our own security; what to speak of the trillions of dollars of taxpayer money that’s spent on these wars that we need to be using right here at home.

The text of her tweet was even more explicit, saying “regime change wars cost millions of lives” and “strengthen terrorist [organisations]”:

There are bad people in the world, but we can't be the world’s policeman. Regime change wars cost millions of lives, strengthen terrorist orgs, undermine our national security & waste precious money that should be used to improve the lives of the American people. #Tulsi2020 pic.twitter.com/XtZUr5uO4w

— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) April 18, 2019

Development vs war

US congressman Ro Khanna, meanwhile, recently reiterated this point about investing at home rather than in war. He gave China as an example of how such a policy could turn out:

President Jimmy Carter this weekend offered the most profound insights of any modern politician in what America must do to win the 21st century. “Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody?” Carter asked. “None. And we have stayed at war.”

— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) April 15, 2019

“How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country?” he asked. While China has some 18,000 miles of high-speed rail, the U.S. has “wasted, I think, $3 trillion” on military spending. “It’s more than you can imagine. China has not wasted a single penny on war.”

— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) April 15, 2019

A ‘force for good in the world’

Colbert did box Gabbard into agreeing that the US “is a force for good in the world”. He remained apparently oblivious to her telling him that the US and its allies had covertly supported the arming and training of “terrorists” to overthrow the Syrian government; and that “terrorists” had also used chemical weapons. Colbert’s response was to say that, if the US steps “away from the world stage in a significant way, that might destabilise… the world”; and that he believed it was “a force for good”. To her credit, Gabbard did respond by saying that, in order to “be a force for good”, the US must “actually do good”.

Hard against regime change, but soft on ‘War on Terror’?

It’s worth noting that Gabbard seems not to have come out against the so-called ‘War on Terror‘, which has also caused untold suffering and misery around the world. And there are genuine concerns that Gabbard may still hold an imperial world view. But she has shown growth over the years, and there is no reason that US citizens can’t potentially push her in an even more enlightened direction regarding the entirety of US foreign policy.

Featured image via The Late Show With Stephen Colbert-YouTube

By Mohamed Elmaazi

Lowkey has dropped the most important album of the decade

Fri, 2019-04-19 00:39

Musician and activist Lowkey’s latest album has lit up social media and streaming sites since its release on 5 April. Rightly so, because as an overarching project, it could be the most important albums of the decade.

Lowkey joins #ToppleUncaged

Lowkey rose to prominence in 2008 with the release of his first album Dear Listener, propelling him onto a worldwide stage. The follow up, Soundtrack to the Struggle, cemented his status as one of the most powerful forces in UK music.

Now, Soundtrack to the Struggle 2 marks the critically acclaimed artist’s first full album release since 2011. Lowkey is also currently in the midst of a tour. So, I caught up with him for the #ToppleUncaged podcast. We chatted about the political and social content of the album, his journey since 2011, Grenfell, and more. You can listen to the full interview below:

https://www.thecanary.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/REDUCED-Lowkey-Interview-April-2019.mp3

The first Soundtrack

It’s hard to know where to begin describing Soundtrack to the Struggle 2. Musically sweeping, it demonstrates some glorious genre-smashing. Vocally authoritative, it still displays vulnerability. And overall, the album marks a pointed change in Lowkey’s artistry since 2011’s first ‘Soundtrack’.

Soundtrack to the Struggle (referred to here as Soundtrack 1) was a distinctly angry affair, albeit one of particular genius. Effortlessly blending genres, Lowkey showcased his ability to create music that was food for both the ears and mind. Lyrically, the album’s themes and Lowkey’s thoughts were raw and honest – painting a picture of a man at a place in his life where ‘enough was enough’. It was like Lowkey put everything that filled his mind into Soundtrack 1. It worked and was a watershed moment for UK music.

But this is where Soundtrack 2 is different. Simply put, it’s different because it’s infinitely more masterful.

The return

As with Soundtrack 1, Lowkey is joined by the gorgeous vocals of Mai Khalil on many tracks. And while his musical style hasn’t changed much since 2011, the introduction of some bang-up-to-date sounds seems an intentional move.

The Return of Lowkey, which has amassed nearly a million views on GRM Daily‘s YouTube channel alone, sets the musical tone for the album. It deftly mixes styles and genres to appeal to the broadest range of listeners. The track is solidly grounded in grime. Its signature swooping bass propels it along. The use of synth choral vocals and effects adds to the slightly unnerving feeling. There are nods to drill/trap, with the rattling hi-hats and cymbals and synth samples keeping it fresh. But Lowkey’s smartest move is his rapping. With an instantly memorable chorus and even a chant you can join in with, it’s of little wonder it blew up on GRM Daily:

Musical ingenuity

Lowkey’s musical ingenuity is summed up on Islamophobic Lullabies. It’s a staggeringly accomplished piece of work with musical content that feels like it should be at odds with its lyrics.

It’s a slick RnB track that reminds the listener of Mariah Carey/Snoop Dogg’s Crybaby. A lazy bass guitar sidles in from the outset. It nods at grime with its offbeat drums. But with its doo-wop backing vocals and hypnotising piano, it firmly sticks in the genre. Lowkey creates stunning lyrical content about the Islamophobia ‘industry’ in what seems to be a ballad for his young son. Along with its stripped back video, Islamophobic Lullabies catches the listener completely off guard and delivers an unflinching emotional punch:

But along with musical inventiveness, Lowkey delivers some stellar tracks on more familiar ground.

Pure neo-soul

While he’s grounded in hip-hop, his music is broadly more neo-soul. It was interesting with Soundtrack 1 that he used Lauryn Hill samples on two tracks. But with this album, the neo-soul elements are perhaps Lowkey’s most accomplished musical moments.

The Death of Neoliberalism is an awesome, 70’s soul/90’s hip-hop throwback track. Hitting you in the face immediately with a sharp, anthemic gospel choir while crashing drums give urgency to the track. The combination of a drawn-out then offbeat bass and a walking piano keep the track moving. Nearly out of earshot are an improvising Hammond organ and running strings. And Greg Blackman’s effortless vocals tie the piece together.

Heroes of Human History is pure neo-soul, mixing numerous musical influences into one, gorgeous track. The recognisable hip-hop use of the kick and snare drums are present throughout. Acoustic and electric guitars bring a Latin element while Khalil’s vocals have a distinctly Middle Eastern feel, with elements of chanting going on behind Lowkey’s rhythmic, persistent rap. This is matched with what sounds like a ney flickering behind the scenes; a cabasa‘s rattling presence, and occasional chimes tinkling at the end of bars.

Vocal development

What’s also noticeable in Lowkey’s development as an artist since 2011 is that his vocal ability has been properly let loose. Gone is the angry, incensed 24-year-old, echoing the feelings of millions of disenfranchised people. In its place is a man, and a father, whose voice immediately commands your attention. It demands that you listen to it, stirs your mind, but also moves you with its vulnerability. As he introspectively reflects on Neoliberalism Kills People:

How can I do a ‘Fire in the Booth’

When I’m trying just to maintain?

And since June

Don’t hear the word fire in the same way?

Heard screams, splutters and them gasping for air;

That’s not bars in the booth,

It’s so hard to compare.

If I use fire as a metaphor,

Does that disrespect the people that are never more?

How does that bomb sound sound to those that bled in war…

This moving display of soul-searching is just one example of what sets Lowkey’s voice apart from so many others.

Rapping gymnastics

As a rapper, he now diversifies the pitches at which he operates. From a rumbling near-bass to a rattling near-tenor, he grabs your interest and holds your attention even more. His tone has admittedly deepened with time. Tracks like the superb 80’s soul/world music hybrid Lords of War show this. He puts his ability to use spoken word to haunting effect.

The album’s most vocally skilled track is Goat Flow. OK, so it won’t politically set the world on fire. But that’s kind of not the point. Lowkey reminds the listener that aside from everything else, he is one of the greatest rappers of his generation. Across a grime backdrop, he displays his vocal abilities – using at least 14 different rhyming patterns and getting up to a spit rate of 10 syllables a second at one point:

Hip-hop ballads

But Lowkey is at his musically most powerful when delivering hip-hop ballads.

When he released the haunting 2016 single Ahmed, it touched a nerve with many people, being at the time the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ was hitting the headlines. The combination of Lowkey’s gradually rising rapping pitch; an interpolation of Roxette’s Listen To Your Heart, and Khalil’s mournful vocal riffs set the standard for the rest of the album. The video, with the peerless GlobalFaction, gave the track over 1 million views:

Lowkey repeatedly hits the standard of Ahmed with tracks like the soul-touching Sunday Morning. And another single, the all-encompassing, blunt, dignified, but brutal Ghosts of Grenfell are some of the finest conscious hip hop ballads of recent times:

For the children

But for me, one of the standout tracks is Children of Diaspora. It’s chilling in its simplicity. A resampled vocal laces in with Khalil’s powerful response that answers Lowkey’s rap. The bass guitar is persistent, following a regimental rhythm. The piano matches this, with a group of octave-jumping chord sequences on repeat. Synths add to the sense of something impending. Overall, the stripped back arrangement and production are what helps amplify Lowkey’s message.

It’s one we disagreed on slightly in the interview. He’s not as happy with the track now as he was when he wrote it. But for me, the discussion on how colonialism is still present is an important one in the context of Soundtrack to the Struggle 2.

Because of the way Lowkey has crafted the album and released its lead singles to a younger generation who may not be politically switched on, Children of Diaspora delivers a crucial message. It’s one that they certainly won’t hear in schools. Nor will they hear it from most other urban artists. But to understand the rest of the album it’s one they need to know. And the track, therefore, also sums up what makes the album one of the most important of recent times.

Philosophy for 2019

The masterstroke from Lowkey, unparalleled even by the most respected conscious artists, is when you view Soundtrack to the Struggle 2 as the sum of its parts.

Two of the greatest thinkers of modern times bookend the album: Noam Chomsky on the title track and Naomi Klein on Neoliberalism Kills People. Sandwiched in between this are tracks aimed at Lowkey’s already established audience. Then, he drops tracks which could easily sit alongside grime and drill bangers on YouTube. Overall, the creation is one for the politically conscious, but one that is accessible to those who aren’t. This is the point.

Lowkey has created a project that will switch on young people’s minds, where other music won’t. The Return Of Lowkey will grab their attention. Goat Flow will cement their interest. Then, tracks like Children of Diaspora will begin to help them understand the world. If they listen to Chomsky, then the album is truly a stroke of genius.

What also stands out with Soundtrack to the Struggle 2 is that Lowkey has refined his political and social messages. Gone is the explosion of ideas. In its place are clearly defined themes of corporatism, racism, Grenfell, and abuse of power. And all these ultimately have one root: the neoliberalism he repeatedly refers to.

Credit must also be given to Khalil, who’s consistently intuitive and powerful vocals compliment Lowkey’s perfectly.

Etched onto our consciousness

For many of us, life has been a struggle for countless years. People who think differently, act differently, or are just ‘different’ according to the system are sometimes left on the fringes of society, floundering. Yet it’s often these people who could hold the key to changing our world for the better. In 2011, Lowkey amplified our anger, fear, and voices. Now, with Soundtrack to the Struggle 2, he’s given us hope, resilience, and emotional succour. He’s also potentially helped conceive the next generation of world-changers.

His fearless philosophising on the world coupled with his musical ingenuity will set it apart as one of the albums of the decade. It may not ever be recorded in mainstream music history. But for every person fighting for common humanity, Lowkey and Soundtrack to the Struggle 2 will forever be etched onto their consciousness.

Featured image via Covered PR

CanaryPod: #ToppleUncaged meets… Lowkey presented, produced and edited by Steve Topple

Sound engineering by Gav Pauze via Pauze Radio

All tracks via Lowkey/Mesopotamia Music except ‘Refuse to Kill’ via Going Underground – YouTube

By Steve Topple

Palestinians urge us all to boycott Puma – a ‘proud sponsor of Israeli apartheid’

Fri, 2019-04-19 00:29

Thursday 18 April is sports giant Puma’s annual general meeting. But while the company’s directors and investors celebrate annual growth, a Twitter-storm is taking place, urging us to boycott the brand.

Puma is the main sponsor of the Israel Football Association (IFA), which includes six football clubs in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements. These settlements are located on land stolen from Palestinians, and are gradually swallowing up what’s left of the West Bank.

Settler violence

The colonisers who live in the West Bank settlements routinely terrorise their Palestinian neighbours. Human rights activists accompany Palestinian children to school so that they’re not attacked. And shepherds are frequently targeted as they walk with their sheep in the hills.

Meanwhile, the colonisers continue to kill with impunity. On 18 April, an Israeli settler reportedly killed 42-year-old Fatima Suleiman. He deliberately rammed into her car with his truck. When she got out of her car, he ran her over. According to local news, Israeli soldiers confiscated CCTV footage documenting the murder.

And on 3 April, settlers shot Muhammad ‘Abd al-Fatah dead. The Israeli army erased the evidence of the crime.

Puma normalises Israeli apartheid

More than 200 Palestinian sports clubs have signed an open letter to Puma. They state that:

Palestinian players are routinely attacked, imprisoned and killed. They are denied the freedom of movement to attend their own matches. Palestinian stadiums have been bombed and destroyed. Israel even prevents Palestinians from importing football equipment and developing football facilities.

By sponsoring the IFA, Puma is normalising apartheid. As a brand that is familiar to millions, people see the logo and feel comforted. Puma is, therefore, complicit in enabling Israel to appear as a democratic, peaceful country. Meanwhile, Israeli forces have murdered 3,418 Palestinians in the last ten years.

#BoycottPuma

Activists are calling on Puma to stop sponsoring the IFA. And until this happens, they’re asking you to boycott Puma, arguing that it is a “proud sponsor of Israeli apartheid”.

Take the Pledge!

Let @Puma know you will respect the call from Palestinian athletes to #BoycottPuma until it ends support for illegal Israeli settlements pushing Palestinian families off their land. ►https://t.co/tRWeKZprSK pic.twitter.com/BPUOtoRD9a

— PACBI (@PACBI) April 16, 2019

I’m giving @Puma the boot!

As long as Puma sponsors teams in illegal Israeli settlements pushing Palestinian families off their land, I will respect the call from Palestinian athletes to #BoycottPuma. pic.twitter.com/aGwPB8hTVe

— Mo (@Earthcitizen666) April 18, 2019

Do the right thing

Puma founder Rudolf Dassler was a Nazi party member, so the company has already been on the wrong side of history once.

It now has a choice. Does it want to be on the wrong side of history again? Or does it want to take a stand?

Featured images via PACBI and Operation Dove

By Eliza Egret

In less than three minutes, the BBC broadcasts seven apparent fabrications about Julian Assange

Fri, 2019-04-19 00:07

The BBC has broadcast seven apparent fabrications about Julian Assange in less than three minutes. In an interview, BBC North America editor Jon Sopel failed to meaningfully challenge Ecuadorian president Lenín Moreno on any of his accusations against the former WikiLeaks editor. That’s despite Moreno having a track record as a bullshit artist to the point where he U-turned on the central thrust of his entire governmental programme.

1) ‘WikiLeaks hasn’t published on Russia’

In the interview, the Ecuadorian president alleged that WikiLeaks has never released “information about [Russia]”. And Sopel didn’t remotely challenge the claim. Yet a casual search on the WikiLeaks website reveals dozens of pages revealing negative information about the Kremlin. For example, in 2017, WikiLeaks published documents exposing Russian surveillance companies. And in 2015, WikiLeaks released emails claiming to show “Russia’s Master Plan to Break the Trans-Atlantic Alliance”, which US outlet the Wall Street Journal picked up.

2) ‘Smearing faeces’

On the BBC, Moreno also accused Assange of “smearing his faeces on our embassy’s walls”. And Sopel simply accepted the accusation with a concerned expression. But the embassy is under CCTV surveillance. So if Assange had smeared faeces around, the pro-US media would almost certainly have footage. Indeed, Ecuador released CCTV images to the Daily Mail, which tried to paint the journalist as presiding over a “fetid lair”. The issue is that the images only show a few dirty plates:

SMEAR FACTORY HIGHLIGHT REEL #567:

The Daily Mail argues we should disregard someone's human rights, end freedom of the press and break international law on asylum because that person didn't immediately wash up their dinner plate. pic.twitter.com/6rew0CAJdr

— James Wright (@wrightismight) April 15, 2019

3) ‘Attacked guards’

Moreno then claimed:

In a despotic way, he even attacked some of the guards

But as with the faeces allegation, there would surely be footage of this. And again, Sopel didn’t challenge him.

More to the point, if a refugee – who’s essentially been detained in an embassy for seven years – is smearing faeces on the wall or attacking guards, they probably need urgent medical assistance. The answer is not to revoke their asylum, breaking a fundamental principle of international law and several treaties. ‘Non-refoulement’ means it’s illegal for states to allow the persecuting country, in this case the US, to get their hands on a refugee.

On top of that, the individual characteristics and general behaviour of Assange are irrelevant to upholding freedom of the press. The US indictment against Assange essentially represents the criminalisation of investigative journalism. It defines a journalist’s alleged discussion about protecting a source’s identity as “conspiracy” against a state.

4) ‘Published private photos’

Moreno then alleged that Assange “published private photos of my family”. Yet this is a well-documented fabrication. Because as former counsel of Ecuador Fidel Narváez explains:

Not a single document referring to INAPAPERS, or the president’s family, has ever been leaked or published by WikiLeaks, let alone by Julian Assange, who for more than half a year has not been its editor and who has been isolated for one year under a [“quasi-prison”] regime… by the government of Ecuador.

In fact, La Fuente published the documents, and WikiLeaks merely tweeted about it.

5) ‘Cyber terrorist’

Moreno then called Assange a “cyber terrorist”. But WikiLeaks is a media organisation that publishes accurate information in the public interest. Not even WikiLeaks‘ enemies dispute the truthfulness of its publications. So Moreno’s redefinition of internet-based journalism as ‘cyber terrorism’ is clearly dangerous.

6) ‘Selective reporting’

Moreno also accused Assange of selecting stories “conveniently and according to his ideological commitments”. An amusing allegation, given that anyone who’s taken a pedestrian glance at the corporate media knows that’s a central theme of its reporting. But the same cannot be said of WikiLeaks. Because the publisher has released documents on governments across the world, including the US, Iran, Kenya and China, as well as the UK far right. Given that WikiLeaks focuses on whistleblowers, its publishing seems to depend predominately on which sources come forward.

7) ‘Interfering’

Moreno claimed WikiLeaks has ‘interfered’ in elections. But publishing truthful information about governments in the public interest is not ‘interfering’ – it’s journalism.

In his presidential campaign, Moreno painted himself as a progressive and promised an investment-led government. He then flipped on the Ecuadorian people to roll out austerity, take loans from the International Monetary Fund, and ban former president Rafael Correa from registering a new party. Correspondingly, Moreno’s approval ratings have plummeted to 17%.

Now, it seems Moreno has continued with his bullshit; with the help of BBC News, which failed to meaningfully challenge any of his accusations. This is an absolute shitshow that we must call out.

Featured image via BBC News/ YouTube

By James Wright

Millionaires declare themselves to be a minority group

Thu, 2019-04-18 23:44

Lord Alan Sugar has become the only celebrity/politician/millionaire brave enough to speak out against mild socialism:

I have to do it no one else will @jeremycorbyn is tough to undermine in the eyes of his adoring followers. He’s been spouting same nonsense for 40+ years.His fanatics sense there is a chance to get into power,They look other way when required.Its been a long time coming for them https://t.co/KrljErVjc4

— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) April 17, 2019

Fair enough, right? After all, 50% of the country is owned by 1% of the population. And I don’t know about you, but 99% of the country having a go at the other 1% sounds like bullying to me.

Don't let anyone tell you our country doesn't need radical change.https://t.co/tqRan8TsQy

— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 17, 2019

This is why millionaires have now joined together to fight for their rights.

For the few

Speaking on behalf of his fellow millionaires, Lord Sugar tweeted:

All these jealous loosers [sic] wouldn’t even have jobs if not for me!

When someone pointed out Sugar wouldn’t have anything if not for the many, many, many employees who make his empire possible, he replied:

Another looser [sic] who wants something for nothing! That’s all socialism is – just people with no skills begging for handouts.

Sugar then got on the helicopter he bought with his last tax cut to go to his job at the national broadcaster – a job in which he gets paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to point at millennials and insult the way they sold bean bags to sales executives or some shit.

Few brain cells

Labour has done a lot to suggest it will work for the interests of the many since 2015. It’s not done as much as these panicking millionaires, however.

Every time they open their mouths, more and more people realise what a scam this country is.

Featured image via Wikimedia

By John Shafthauer

Aristocrats own WAY more British land than every homeowner combined

Thu, 2019-04-18 22:44

It turns out aristocrats own six times more British land than every homeowner combined, according to Guy Shrubsole’s new book Who Owns England?

“Dramatic concentration”

Another headline figure is that less than one percent of Britain owns half of the country’s land. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Aristocrats and the gentry still own 30%.
  • Corporations own 18%.
  • City bankers and oligarchs own 17%.

By contrast, members of the public who own a home only control 5% of the country’s land. The rest are left renting at an astronomical cost. And the public sector actually only controls 8.5%.

“A country for the few and not the many”

In response, Labour’s shadow minister for the cabinet office Jon Trickett said:

The dramatic concentration of land ownership is an inescapable reminder that ours is a country for the few and not the many. It’s simply not right that aristocrats, whose families have owned the same areas of land for centuries, and large corporations exercise more influence over local neighbourhoods – in both urban and rural areas – than the people who live there. Land is a source of wealth, it impacts on house prices, it is a source of food and it can provide enjoyment for millions of people.

Meanwhile, chief economist of the Institute for Public Policy Research Carys Roberts said:

We have this idea that the class structures have changed so that the aristocracy is not as important as it used to be. What this demonstrates is the continuing importance of the aristocracy in terms of wealth and power in our society.

Featured image via Rupert Fleetingly/ WikiCommons

By James Wright

The BBC editor accused of not investigating far-right Brexit links now works for No 10

Thu, 2019-04-18 22:08

Following his recent resignation, Conservative MP Nick Boles made a staggering announcement. He indicated that Theresa May’s refusal to compromise on Brexit may be influenced by Robbie Gibb, her head of communications.

This is the same man who was in charge of the BBC‘s live political shows during the EU referendum. New allegations about Gibb suggest the BBC failed to investigate links between Leave.EU and the far-right while he was in charge.

“Brexit group covered up its targeting of right-wing extremists”

A Channel 4 News investigation – Brexit group covered up its targeting of right-wing extremists – reportedly saw leaked emails that revealed Arron Banks “repeatedly lied to cover-up his Brexit campaign’s effort to attract far-right extremists”. Facebook adverts by Leave.EU allegedly targeted supporters of known far-right groups including “the National Front, the BNP, Britain First and the EDL”.

But the emails show that when the BBC contacted Banks about the story, he denied these allegations. On the basis of his denials, it seems the BBC dropped the story. This stands in direct contrast to information from Leave.EU staff. According to Channel 4 News, one employee told Banks:

Those are our ads, we have targeted those groups since the beginning of the campaign as they gain most traction.

Channel 4 News, also saw an email from Banks to the BBC that said:

It’s wholly wrong to say we have targeted extreme right parties… your report needs to reflect this or it will be biased and if we have to we will take whatever legal action we need.

But further emails suggest that Banks and Leave.EU’s head of communications, Andy Wigmore, appealed directly to Robbie Gibb. Between 2008 and 2017, Gibb was head of BBC Westminster and the editor of all live BBC politics shows. He’s now Theresa May’s head of communications.

As Labour’s David Lammy noted, this poses serious questions:

https://t.co/pbNTdJCphb actively courted far right fascists during the referendum campaign. The BBC and Robbie Gibb have serious questions to answer over their failure to run this story in 2016. The truth is ugly but it must be exposed. https://t.co/MvdwYfo6MG

— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) April 18, 2019

BBC dropped investigation

According to Channel 4 News, Banks told another Leave.EU director:

I don’t think they will Run [sic] it after all that lot. You will have a busy week next week since Robbie will react by giving us massive exposure.

The BBC did drop the investigation. It reportedly told Channel 4 News that its story:

is “untrue” and that they had resisted pressure from Arron Banks.

[The BBC] said it dropped the story because their reporter was unable to establish that Leave.EU had targeted far right groups deliberately.

According to the BBC, Gibb wasn’t “the editor involved with the story and had no say in the decision not to run it”. It also denied claims that “editorial standards were compromised in any way”.

Channel 4 News reported that Gibb said:

These allegations are ridiculous and without merit. I remain proud of my contribution to the BBC’s impartial coverage of the 2016 EU referendum campaign.

Questions

The Evening Standard previously described Gibb as a “messianic Brexiteer”. He was widely known as a “hard Brexiteer long before it became fashionable”. Gibb reportedly left the BBC for the “one job he wanted: No 10’s director of communications”.

Following Channel 4‘s investigation, many people on social media questioned these links:

Revealed: Brexit group covered up its targeting of right-wing extremists

BBC dropped the story after threats of legal action and ‘Andy Wigmore appealed to the head of BBC Westminster, Robbie Gibb’

Who is now no. 10 head of comms#Brexitgatehttps://t.co/EyTwABCmZp

— Molly Scott Cato MEP (@MollyMEP) April 17, 2019

That's "hard Brexiter" Robbie Gibb who "wants to destroy the PM’s new search for a cross party compromise", per the recently ungagged Nick Boles. https://t.co/pv5CFVC9zz

— Katie Spalding (@supermathskid) April 18, 2019

There's been a revolving door between No 10 and the BBC for years and it's poisoning the national debate. Craig Oliver was bad enough but now we have the dangerous Robbie Gibb dripping his venom into Theresa May's head, as well as the heads of his former colleagues at the BBC.

— Dominic Carter (@DomCarter90) April 18, 2019

According to Channel 4 News, “Leave.EU questioned our methods and journalistic integrity” when asked for a response. It also allegedly threatened to post a journalist’s “personal phone number on social media”.

As The Canary has frequently reported, there are longstanding concerns about bias in the BBC‘s political coverage. Following Boles’ revelation, the links between Gibb, Downing Street, and BBC politics all need further investigation.

Featured images via Gov.UK and BBC Politics Bot

By Fréa Lockley

13 civil liberties organisations warn against extradition of Julian Assange to the US

Thu, 2019-04-18 21:33

The International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations have issued a statement warning of “serious world-wide implications for freedom of the press” as a result of the US indictment against journalist Julian Assange.

“An attack on basic journalistic activities”

The letter, dated 15 April, says Ecuador’s revocation of Assange’s asylum raises:

serious human rights concerns including the risk of extradition to the United States where he could be subject to solitary confinement that amounts to torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.

The civil liberties groups also warn that the US Department of Justice’s charges:

are an attack on basic journalistic activities such as investigating, soliciting information, cultivating sources, protecting reporters’ identity, and publishing information of public interest.

The letter concludes by saying:

Whistleblowers who provide information and those who publish information of public interest require protection in the name of transparency, journalistic freedoms, and above all, the rule of law.

Justice vs injustice

In addition to US charges related to WikiLeaks revelations, Assange also faces allegations of sexual assault from women in Sweden. The most serious case is currently inactive, but Swedish authorities are reportedly considering reopening it at the request of the injured party. Assange’s lawyer has insisted that “Julian has never been concerned about facing British justice, or indeed Swedish justice”. It is “American injustice”, she said, that concerns him.

The journalist remains in custody in Belmarsh prison in London, awaiting potential extradition to the US.

Featured image via Lonpicman-Wikimedia Commons

By Mohamed Elmaazi

Anti goldmine protesters set to appeal high court decision

Thu, 2019-04-18 19:27

Anti-gold mining residents in County Tyrone are appealing the high court’s decision to dismiss its bid for a judicial review against gold mining company Dalradian Gold Ltd.

The Greencastle, Rousky, and Gortin (GRG) residents group challenged the Department for Infrastructure‘s decision to consider the planning application from Dalradian to mine the Sperrin Mountains for gold.

Judicial review

According to a press release seen by The Canary, GRG took a judicial review to examine “alleged flaws” in Dalradian’s pre-application consultation prior to submitting its application.

Leave for the judicial review against the department was granted on the basis the department:

failed to have regard to material considerations, including substantive flaws in the pre-application community consultation process, when deciding not to decline to determine the planning application pursuant to section 50 of the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

High court decision leads to appeal

GRG’s legal team believes there are “key errors in the high court’s ruling”. So it’s submitting an appeal. It believes Dalradian’s presentation to the public at the pre-application stage was “so far removed from the final proposal” that the Department shouldn’t have considered the application. GRG believes the court of appeal needs to consider it further.

A spokesperson for GRG, Martin Conway, said:

We have taken this matter to the Court of Appeal as we firmly believe that there are still substantive issues of law and fact that have not been addressed following the High Court’s decision in February.

Conway went on to say:

 We are the people who will be directly impacted by a processing and waste storage facility right on our doorsteps.

Local opposition

As The Canary previously reported, local people oppose Dalradian’s plans to mine their community and to use cyanide in the process. This part of the Sperrin Mountains is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The GRG is one of many local groups who oppose Dalradian’s plans.

Variety of opposition

Locals have used different methods to show their opposition to the mine. On 19 January, a local campaigner, Cormac McAleer, climbed onto Dalradian test drilling equipment. McAleer then chained himself to the equipment and brought it to a standstill.

On 12 March, according to a letter seen by The Canary, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) demanded locals remove a protest caravan from a road near the proposed goldmine site. On 13 April, protesters removed the caravan from the ground and placed it in the trees above.

The following day, locals held a sit down protest outside the proposed goldmine site. And on 17 April, amid angry scenes at a FODC meeting, campaigners attempted to gain access to the council chamber.

Future prediction

Before mining can go ahead, it needs the examination of a public inquiry. So while dismissing the residents’ bid for a judicial review, the high court judge also predicted that the court case may be;

the first major staging post in a lengthy legal struggle.

GRG residents told The Canary they will continue to challenge the mine “in the strongest possible way.”

Featured Image Steven Alexander/Flickr and Andrew Parnell/Flickr

By Peadar O'Cearnaigh

These were the scenes in Turkey as Erdoğan’s wife got a ‘humanitarian’ award in London

Thu, 2019-04-18 05:52

On 17 April, the wife of Turkish president and alleged war criminal Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received a “changemaker” award at the World Humanitarian Forum (WHF) in London.

Emine Erdoğan was given the award for her “key role in helping women and refugees, especially offering shelter to over 3.5 million who had to flee Syria”. And while her work must be seen separately from whatever her husband does, she apparently accepted the award:

on behalf of the generous Turkish people, whose hearts ache with a crying child, who see strangers as guests from God.

So it’s a shame her heart wasn’t aching when Turkish police fired water cannon and tear gas at elected politicians in Amed (Diyarbakır) on the same day.

WHF: not so humanitarian

To be fair, it seems the WHF itself is not so humanitarian. Because alleged war criminal Tony Blair is one of the speakers. And former foreign secretary Jack Straw reportedly led the awards panel:

Wife of Turkish dictator Erdoğan is being given a "humanitarian award" by a panel led by former UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

The same Jack Straw who oversaw the Iraq War, extraordinary rendition and used the "War on Terror" to criminalise Kurds in UKhttps://t.co/UXOdro4In2

— Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign (@KurdsCampaign) April 17, 2019

Is there anything more corrupted in this world than Jack Straw – who took the UK into the Iraq War and lied about knowing about extraordinary rendition – giving an award to the wife of Turkish dictator Erdogan, and lecturing us about "humanitarianism"?! pic.twitter.com/mFuakTa8Y2

— Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign (@KurdsCampaign) April 17, 2019

The Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign also highlighted exactly why awarding Erdoğan the award is so problematic:

The "World Humanitarian Forum" (@WHForumLondon) founded by Tony and Cherie Blair is giving an award to the wife of Turkey's authoritarian President, who invaded Afrin last year killing thousands of Kurds and Yazidi refugees, and has destroyed Kurdish towns in southern Turkey pic.twitter.com/E5mWOJoUAU

— Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign (@KurdsCampaign) April 17, 2019

Jack Straw, Tony and Cherie Blair give a "humanitarian" award to the wife of a fascist leader who has politically repressed @UKLabour's sister party HDP, locked up dozens of their elected MPs & mayors and thousands of activists, and colluded in the murder of their supporters pic.twitter.com/1mFncs3DSR

— Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign (@KurdsCampaign) April 17, 2019

Meanwhile in Amed

While Turkey’s heavily pro-Erdoğan press (the result of severe media repression) was lapping up this story, police were on the offensive in Amed.

Despite winning the local elections in many Kurdish-majority areas in southeastern Turkey, some left-wing HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) mayors have not been allowed to take office. People gathered in Amed to protest this decision. And they were met with tear gas and water canons:

#BeingKurdInTurkey

Today in #Amed: Turkish police attacked with tear gas and water cannons a group of Kurds who were protesting against the YSK decision that not allows mayors to take office who were fired due to an emergency decree

(Pictures: @MAturkce) #TwitterKurds #HDP pic.twitter.com/gUn5dyOBIL

— Cahîda Dêrsim (@dersi4m) April 17, 2019

HDP MP Remziye Tosun, meanwhile, was injured and hospitalised after being hit by a water cannon:

Pro-#Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Remziye Tosun falls after being hit by a police water cannon during a protest against results of the local elections, in Diyarbakir, Turkey, April 17, 2019. #Turkey https://t.co/I5AiZ5Tuaq pic.twitter.com/Ba4m4Jyu77

— Libyan (@dovenews) April 17, 2019

HDP press conference in Koşuyolu Park, Bağlar in protest at isolation of Abdullah Öcalan & YSK preventing HDP from taking office in places they won on March 31 local elections. Police blocked the park with armored vehicles & attacked them. Remziye Tosun was injured & hospitalised pic.twitter.com/DRMNKw68QQ

— Penny K King (@PennyKKing1) April 17, 2019

Even if Emine Erdoğan had undertaken the most amazing humanitarian work the world had ever seen, the reality is that this award legitimises the actions of the Turkish state. And there is nothing humanitarian about the way the Turkish state treats its Kurdish communities.

But then again, humanitarian is hardly a word any of us would associate with Blair and Straw in the first place.

Featured image via screengrab

By Emily Apple

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