British Muslim teacher removed from US-bound plane… in Iceland!

February 22, 2017

Juhel Miah is a British citizen, a teacher accompanying students on a trip to Iceland and then, the plan was, to fly on to America.  But it was not to be.

Mr Miah, aged 25, was born in Birmingham and brought up in Swansea.  He attended Swansea University, where he got a first class degree, was one of five adults from Llangatwg community school near Neath, south Wales, who were accompanying a party of 39 children to New York via Iceland last week.  He had no problem entering Iceland.  But when it came to the next leg of the trip, flying on to the USA, everything changed.

At  Keflavík international airport near Reykjavik, Mr Miah was immediately targeted by US officials.  He told the Guardian:

I gave one of the American officials there my passport. My first name is Mohammed. It felt as if straight away she looked up and said: ‘You’ve been randomly selected for a security check.’

“Deep down I thought: ‘Here we go’ but I was polite and followed all the instructions. She took me into this room. There were five or six other officials. Two of them checked me. They made me take my jacket off, my hoodie off, they opened my bag, I took my shoes off. They made me stand on a stool. They rubbed me all the way down. They even pulled my trousers down to check my boxers. They rubbed their hands under my feet. They got a swab and wiped me all over. Eventually they let me go through.”

So he made it onto the plane.  But that was not the end of his ordeal. Not at all.  He was followed onto the Icelandair plane by an American official who told him he had to get off again.  And he was refused permission to reboard the plane and fly on to the USA – without even being given a reason for this treatment.  Instead he was forced to return to the UK, rather than being allowed to  do his job and accompany his students to America.

The US officials refused to give a reason why he was being treated this way.  And Mr Miah cannot think of a good reason.  He has never posted anything at all inappropriate on social media. He has not been to any of the seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya – whose citizens were the subject of Trump’s overturned travel ban. His parents are of Bangladeshi origin. His brother had no trouble visiting Florida last year.  But now, with Trump in office, suddenly Mr Miah is persona non grata in the USA.

He said:

“I hope this isn’t true, I really don’t want this to be true but it all started with the first American official I met and the moment she read Mohammed.

“I just hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else. That’s my number one goal now. I want a reason, an explanation. If it was a mistake someone should just put their hands up and say it was a mistake and it won’t happen again. I would still like to go to America one day. I just hope it boils down to human error and someone says sorry.”

The Welsh first minister, Carwyn Jones, has written to the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, asking for “urgent clarification”. The US has not commented.

Mr Miah has been very kind in his comments, but to a detached reader it is obvious he was targeted and removed from the flight – even though he had a valid travel visa – because he is a Muslim.

This might have an effect on his career.  He was subjected to a humiliating, pointless search before boarding the plane – and then he was removed from the plane as if he was a criminal, with his colleagues and students watching.  Through no fault of his own, Mr Miah has been stigmatised.  The Donald Trump “No Muslim” policy is being enacted, even though it has been suspended by the US court.  But, because no reason was given for his treatment, some might claim there was another reason for it.  The “no smoke without fire” principle.  Donald Trump’s ugly, bigoted, ignorant attitude is threatening an honest teacher’s life.

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The bigot and the whore – you decide which is which

Why hasn’t the foreign secretary Boris Johnson summoned the US ambassador to explain this outrageous behaviour?  Is the clown too busy bumbling around, trying to conceal his extreme right-wing politics from the British electorate?  He is a vile man – but he is our vile man, and should be giving the US ambassador a harsh dressing down.  But no, he won’t get a response – he won’t even ask for a response – because the Tory government’s “hard Brexit” plan means the country must prostrate itself before the eminence noir of “President” Trump.  And good, hard-working people like Mr Miah count for nothing in the dangerous game our government are playing.  Theresa May is getting into bed with Trump, literally as well as figuratively, and when she emerges bow-legged from the monster’s den she will pass the syphilis onto the rest of us.  A syphilitic economy – that’s all we need – financial madness, removal of all the human rights we managed to gain from the EU – a political and moral sickness that is already dirtying our nation when our government connives with Trump to discriminate against British citizens on the basis of religion.


Protest at Israeli drone factory in Birmingham planned for July 2015 – everyone welcome!

June 24, 2015

Activists standing in solidarity with Palestinians will attempt to shut down an Israeli arms
factory in England next month, on the anniversary of Israel’s military operation ‘Protective Edge’, which caused massive  destruction and loss of life in the Gaza strip last summer.  And to counteract the violent nature of the factory, the protest will take the form of “a creative and positive space that meets the needs of justice and solidarity, and not the needs of Israeli multinational corporations that export death for profit.”

Last year, news of the Israeli attacks on Gaza led to demonstrations such as nine activists who occupied the roof of he UAV Engines Ltd factory in Shenstone, near Birminham, which is owned by the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. They shut down the drone engine factory for two days costing the company more than £180,000.

Rooftop protest at Elbit Systems last year.  This year's planned even will be far more peaceful and suitable for all the family.

Rooftop protest at Elbit Systems last year. This year’s planned even will be far more peaceful and suitable for all the family.

This year, on 6 July (the anniversary of the start of the onslaught on Gaza), a more organized demonstration  at Shenstone is planned.  “Block the Factory” will “be transforming the space around the arms factory, converting it from a site of destruction into a fun, creative and child-friendly environment”.

Elbit Systems makes engines for drones, surveillance equipment for the militarized USA/Mexico border and the Israeli Separation Wall, which breaches international law and stretches for hundreds of miles, dividing families and confiscating large swathes of fertile Palestinian land as it goes.  Elbit Systems is just one part of the massive arms industry that makes Israel  the largest per capita arms exporter in the world. Israel is the world’s second largest exporter of military drones, selling thousands all over the world.  And who makes the engines for the drones?  UAV Engines Ltd, whose factory is in Shenstone, near Birmingham.

From Mondoweiss.net:

‘Block the factory’ aims to turn the space around the factory into a fun, creative and inspiring place, rather than one associated with death, destruction, and injustice. Whether it’s by telling stories or holding workshops, making art or flying kites (not drones), playing music or sharing food together, it will be a space for activists to build support networks, find new allies and make new friends.

This mass action is part of the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions  campaign (BDS) and the Stop Arming Israel Campaign, which call on the UK to end its extensive collaboration with the Israeli weapons industry and to institute a two-way arms embargo.  Many groups are involved in the day so far, including:

Boycott Israel Network, NUS Black Students’ Campaign, West Midlands PSC, Drone Campaign Network, Coventry Friends of Palestine, Smash EDO, Manchester Palestine Action, Glasgow Palestine Action, Campaign Against Arms Trade, Stop The Arms Faircoalition, War on Want, and London Palestine Action

The organisers want to make this an inclusive and family friendly affair, believing that diversity makes us better and stronger. So, whether you have never been on a protest before or are a seasoned activist, whether you are disabled, an older person, a younger person, whether you have five children or none, you are encouraged to come and help make this the biggest, most beautiful action yet at an arms factory in the UK.

Better still, there are ways to get yourself or your group actively involved. That could be running a workshop or a creative space, playing music or organising food, or even creating an activity session for children. The organisers stress that the action is what people make it, and welcome ideas and input.

Getting to the demo

Shenstone is a small village outside Birmingham, accessible by National Rail trains. If you are coming from outside Birmingham, this generally means travelling to Birmingham New Street and changing there.

Trains run roughly every 20 minutes from Birmingham New Street, and tickets cost around £4.50. Earliest trains are at 06:01 and the last train returning to Birmingham is at 23:32.

More info at www.blockthefactory.org.

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Ain’t no time to wonder why; whoopee! we’re all gonna die!

April 24, 2014

So the world’s going nuts. Maybe I should write “more nuts”, as I can’t think of any time when the world hasn’t been nuts. But now serious nuttiness is seriously kicking off in Ukraine, which isn’t that far away. Right-wing extremists claim that Russian-backed forces are abducting, torturing and killing Ukrainian politicians. Moscow says that’s bollocks, but they’ve been saying that everything they’ve been accused of is bollocks, including shit we know they did in Crimea. They seem to deny everything automatically, then carry on regardless. Ukraine isn’t in NATO, but there are NATO members in the region. And if one NATO member state is attacked, the rest of NATO jumps to its defence, like if you hit a Hells Angel you end up fighting the entire club. Only these outlaw bikers have tanks and planes and missiles and nuclear bombs. Maybe I’m just being paranoid. Maybe I’m right to be paranoid.

I thought the internet would help usher in an age where truth and propaganda would be more easily differentiated, where it might be easier to see what is actually happening. Instead, news sources everywhere just trumpet their propaganda lines louder, and the only way to find out what’s been going on is to either go there and witness events with one’s own eyes, or to wait for the dust to settle when the “truth” will be whatever the winner says it is.

I can’t go to Ukraine just now, but I really would like to know what’s going on. Not that the knowledge would make any difference: if I went and reported what I saw I would be dismissed as a Nazi or Neo-Soviet puppet, and whatever’s going to happen would happen anyway. No one who really matters cares what international opinion is. So sad: the world has become smaller, in that events a continent away will have more rapid and severe influence on my life; yet in this smaller world my opinion doesn’t matter. I can’t do anything, except post my irrelevant shit here.. In the 1930s I could have gone to fight for the International brigades or Franco, or at least deliver morphine to field hospitals and write home truthfully what I saw. If I tried to do anything like that now I’d probably end up in some Gitmo or other, or shot in the back of the head for being an interfering Europhile. Please, someone tell me no crazy NATO/Russian Federation crap is going to happen. That’s another problem with our modern smaller world: gunfire in Ukraine can blow back big time here.

I don’t actually believe anyone’s going to nuke anyone over this; not right now anyway. Bt there is plenty that could happen that would make life pretty crappy. You know how much natural gas we get from Russia? You know how long our emergency reserves would last if Putin and/or Gazprom decided to turn off the supply? I don’t know: I’m too lazy and fucked to bother asking Google. But I do know that we do not want that to happen. And that’s not even thinking about what effects a shooting war in Eastern Europe could have.

I wish I was one of those survivalist nuts with a fully-stocked nuclear bunker to hide in. Honestly, I do not think anyone’s going to nuke anyone any time soon. But it would be nice to have somewhere to sit and hide. You know, just in case… 😦

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US drone attacks are war crimes claims Amnesty International

October 22, 2013

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have released a report claiming that US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen are war crimes.  The report is issued in conjunction with an investigation by Human Rights Watch detailing missile attacks in Yemen which the group believes could contravene the laws of armed conflict, international human rights law and Barack Obama’s own guidelines on dronesAmnesty International has highlighted the case of a grandmother who was killed while she was picking vegetables and other incidents which could have broken international laws designed to protect civilians.

The reports are being published while  Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif,, is in Washington. Sharif has promised to tell Obama that the drone strikes – which have caused outrage in Pakistan – must end.

Drone strikes are being launched by the CIA into the contentious Pakistani border tribal areas, where it is very difficult to get info.  There are numerous militants in these areas. (How  secret now eh!) People are often terrified of speaking out, fearing retribution from both militants and the state, which is widely suspected of colluding with the CIA-led campaign.  But, from the Guardian:

Amnesty mounted a major effort to investigate nine of the many attacks to have struck the region over the last 18 months, including one that killed 18 labourers in North Waziristan as they waited to eat dinner in an area of heavy Taliban influence in July 2012. All those interviewed by Amnesty strongly denied any of the men had been involved in militancy. Even if they were members of a banned group, that would not be enough to justify killing them, the report said.

When Obama was running for the office of president, he wooed voters with promises that military action in the Afghan/Pakistan area would be wound down. But the attacks go on. He promised to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. But it’s still up and running, regularly subjecting inmates to “rigorous interrogation” (torture to you and me); and of course there are the secret CIA prisons worldwide, where we don’t know the inmates, the charges, the evidence, nothing. And the secret courts, where suspects are convicted on the basis of secret evidence that the defence can’t even look at.

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I know I’ve said I’m tired of all the drone shit in the news nowadays, and that I would try to avoid going on about them. But I saw this story and knew I had to share it. This demonstrates that Obama’s “anti-war” sentiments when he ran for presidential office were a bunch of bullshit. He loves fighting wars (not in person, of course, the cowardly custard tart), and semi-autonomous, remote controlled drones are perfect for him: they can carry out airstrikes and assassinations without running the risk of more soldiers come home in body bags. FFS America, why do you want this moron “ruling the free world”? Every drone strike causes anti-American sentiment to grow more and more. Get rid of your president – I don’t really care how, buy you have to do something!

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UK’s TEMPORA eavesdropping programme could be worse than USA’s PRISM

July 13, 2013

I don’t know what I’ve been doing for the past month, but it isn’t very effective. I thought I’d been keeping an eye on the Edward Snowden/PRISM situation, but I only just found out about GCHQ’s eavesdropping programme TEMPORA.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the UK eavesdropping service GCHQ’s ability to access the internet’s fibre-optic cables has made it “an intelligence superpower”.

TEMPORA stores the intercepted data for 3 days, and the meta-data for 30 days. The data includes actual recordings of phone calls, the contents of emails, Facebook activity, and anyone’s browsing history. That’s right: anyone’s data is collected and stored, not just terrorist suspects.

300 analysts from GCHQ and 250 from the NSA are sifting this data, in what must be the biggest fishing operation to date. TEMPORA was first trialled in 2008, and has been fully up and running since 2011. Lawyers for GCHQ said it would be impossible to list the total number of people targeted by Tempora because “this would be an infinite list which we couldn’t manage”.

We only know about this horrific violation of our privacy because NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked documents about it. Snowden told the Guardian that illegal state-sponsored eavesdropping “is not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight. They [GCHQ] are worse than the US.” The documents’ titles show how huge TEMPORA is: “Mastering the Internet” and “Global Telecoms Exploitation”. GCHQ are intercepting the communications of absolutely anyone, anywhere. The UK may be the leading member of the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

So, I’ve been indignant that the USA might be violating my privacy with no legal reason or oversight – and now I’ve learnt that my own country is doing the same! Nasty spooks are getting their sticky hands on my personal business, the thought makes me shudder!

Oh, and no “It couldn’t happen here” bollocks. It’s happening now, it’s been happening for years, and it’ll keep happening until we force the nasty pigs to back off!

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Snowden Q & A

June 28, 2013

Sorry, I didn’t spot this when it first came online. Other stuff going on… Anyway, here it is now: Guardian readers asking the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden all about PRISM, the other secret documents he leaked, and of course why did he blow the whistle? The USA and its buddies are now claiming he gave juicy secrets to China and Russia, why else would he have been allowed to travel to Hong Kong and Moscow? Just shit-throwing, but when they throw enough shit at you some will stick and you’ll smell pretty bad. Snowden will likely be considered a hero in the future. But the heroes of history are often reviled in their own time. I just hope the USA doesn’t get hold of him; if they do, he’s a dead man. Killed for telling us that our own governments spy on us just cos they can.

We gotta stop acting like the dumb jackasses our governments treat us like. In the words of RATM we gotta take the power back! Cos it’s our power, not theirs; they have it right now cos we lent it to them. Some of us thought they could be trusted; some of us have acted like idiots. But that doesn’t mean we are idiots, and we should be real pissed off what’s been going on. FFS, what more will it take before we see this set-up as the house of cards it really is and kick the foundations out from under it?

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UN votes to recognize Palestine as an “independent state”… and?

December 1, 2012

So, the United Nations voted to recognize Palestine as an “independent state”. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of the motion. As the Guardian says:

The 193-member assembly voted 138 in favour of the plan, with only nine against and 41 abstentions. The scale of the defeat represented a strong and public repudiation for Israel and the US, who find themselves out of step with the rest of the world

But this is very much just a symbolic gesture. Palestine still isn’t a full member state of the UN with voting privileges. It is now a “non-member observer state”, on a par with the Vatican; but its new status gives Palestine more rights, such as acceding to the International Criminal Court. And the word “state” means a lot to the Palestinians, who see this as support from all round the world for its ambitions to become a fully independent nation.

Of course, the vote has not led to any changes on the ground. Israel is still right in the face of the Palestinian authority, and authorising the illegal building of settlements in occupied territory. In fact, Israel just authorised the building of new housing for Jews in occupied East Jerusalem, where Europe and the US have long called on Israel not to build, and where Israel wants to diminish the Palestinian percentage of population. “New housing for Jews”… that phrase makes my blood run cold. This is bare-faced apartheid, for which most of the world shunned South Africa for many years. How can anyone support such a fascist Israel? Yes, Israel has genuine security issues – but so does the rest of the world. That can’t be used as a just reason for such belligerence.

And it gets worse. Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, told the BBC that the Palestinian move was a “massive violation” of the Oslo peace accords, and that if the Palestinian Authority attempted to use the new status to declare an independent state then Israel would have to act and may go so far as “annexing territory” – ie invasion and waging war. It’s obvious that Israel has no wish to make peace with the Palestinian people; it wants to wipe them out, like a gardener might destroy a troublesome ants nest. When will the US stop supporting this belligerent, fascistic Israel?

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