A Tale of Two Incarcerated Women 523


On International Women’s Day yesterday Chelsea Manning was imprisoned yet again, this time for refusing to testify against Julian Assange before a Grand Jury. Chelsea has already suffered over seven years of total imprisonment – no American had ever previously spent more than three years in jail for releasing government secrets to the public, in a land which had historically valued free speech.

I am in awe of Chelsea’s courage in refusing to testify, and shocked at a system that imprisons somebody for contempt of court for maintaining dignified silence.

Chelsea has also done a great service in finally stripping away the last vestige of excuse from the figures who refuse to support Julian Assange, pretending that they do not believe he faces extradition to the United States, and that the legal issue is not about Wkileaks’ right to publish.

The potential charges in Sweden – always based on quite ludicrous accusations – were dropped years ago after he was finally interviewed in the Ecuadorean Embassy by Swedish police and prosecutors, and it became very plain indeed there was no viable case against him.

Chelsea has gone to prison for refusing to participate in the prosecution of Wikileaks for publishing materials that revealed war crimes in the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Chelsea is a whistlebower, not a publisher. Assange is a pubisher, not a whistleblower. If Assange can be prosecuted for publishing official secrets, then so can every newspaper editor or television editor involved in the receipt of whistleblower material. There is a massive, a fundamental, media freedom issue at stake here. Even so, the MSM in the UK do not even have the guts to state the truth about what causes Julian to be confined to the Ecuadorean Embassy, let alone to support his right to publish.

Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe is in jail in Iran for spying for the British. She is certainly not an MI6 officer, and I can’t see that she would have sufficient access to information to make her of much use as an agent (as MI6 calls its informants). That she was involved in training Iranian journalists or citizen journalists in ways the Iranian government did not like is much more probable, but does not amount to espionage. Even if she were some kind of low level informant to MI6 (which I doubt), the Iranian authorities have sufficiently made their point and it is time to let her go.

The British government’s attitude to this case has been particularly interesting and extremely unusual. I cannot criticise them for the things they have done, because they are the things I used to get frustrated with them for never doing. But their handling of this case is truly out of the ordinary.

The UK allows dual citizenship. It has been longstanding Foreign Office policy that the UK does not give consular protection to UK dual nationals in the country where they are also a national. If the other state does not allow dual citizenship, it might not recognise any British standing in the matter. But there is another compelling reason for the standard policy of not assisting in these circumstances.

When working in Embassies, I used to get infuriated by cases where I wished to help people but was not allowed to, because they were dual citizens. It was explained to me, that if in Nigeria alone we accepted as consular cases all the British/Nigerian dual nationals in Nigerian jails, that would already double the FCO’s entire consular caseload worldwide. To accept dual nationals as consular cases everywhere in their other homeland would increase consular work by a large multiple and require a very large increase in FCO resources.

I nevertheless always felt we could do more. That the British government had, prior to yesterday, already done so much to try to help Nazanin Zagahari Ratcliffe, even though she was an Iranian dual national in Iran, was already extremely unusual. That the UK has now “adopted” the case, raising it to the level of a state dispute, is something not just unusual, but which I don’t think has happened since the First World War. Please note this is not the same process as granting Zaghari Ratcliffe herself diplomatic status, which has not been done.

Again, I can’t criticise the FCO for this, because adoption is something I had urged them to do in a past case while I was on the inside, (shout out to my friend John Carmichael), again being told by the FCO it was not possible as we never do it.

Whether the move is effective or wise in this case, is quite another question. It seems to me likely the Iranians will take it as confirmation that she is a spy. I would urge the Iranian government to take this course; they should now declare the the adoption of the case as a state dispute proves that Zaghari Ratcliffe is a spy, and having been proven right before the world, they will let her go as an example of mercy and compassion.

There are two fundamental points here. The first is that Iran has been subjected for years to crippling sanctions and an international campaign of hate spread by western government propaganda and their MSM. Western governments have aligned themselves with Saudi and Israeli sponsored brutal proxy wars against Shia communities across the Middle East, which look to Iran for protection. If the Iranian government is defensive and suspicious, is that really surprising? The week after the British government declare Hezbollah, the political and security organisation of Lebanese Shias, to be nothing but a terrorist organisation, do the Tories really think the Iranians will be looking kindly on them and their demands over Zaghari Ratcliffe?

The second point is that the entire purpose of the state “adopting” a case, is to make available the dispute resolution mechanisms which operate between states. But the UK only a few days ago repudiated the International Court of Justice, the final arbiter of such disputes, over the Chagos Islands. As the UK shows total contempt for international law, this attempt to access its remedies will be met with derision by the wider international community.

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523 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Incarcerated Women

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  • David

    Really nice old friend of mine, Alwyn of the ‘Ministry (probably now DCMS) spent many years in Tehran in telcos, he was a dual Brit/Canuck. It sounded like such a nice place in his reminiscences that I’ve always had a desire to visit. Syrian, NO. Iran, YES.
    Due to the endless (exterior driven, again) hostility that we must show to Iran, and their missing gold, I bet I’d be arrested too!

    Maybe after the chaos of the next month, we might need all the new trade-deals that we can get and the frmr.disg.def.min Dr. Fox can get us a great arrangement for olives, pistachios and dates from Isfahan, our new BFF?

    • Sharp Ears

      I have always wanted to visit Iran since visiting this excellent exhibition at the British Museum in 2009 where my interest in the country was aroused. I have a couple of Iranian friends in this country. Exiles of course..

      This major exhibition explores seventeenth-century Iran through the reign and legacy of one of its most influential rulers, Shah ‘Abbas I (reigned AD 1587–1629)
      Shah ‘Abbas
      The remaking of Iran
      19 February – 14 June 2009
      https://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/past_exhibitions/2009/archive_shah_abbas.aspx

      I think that the excellent Neil MacGregor was the Director of the BM at the time. He was previously at the National Gallery He excels at explanation and his voice is beautiful. He is now in Berlin.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_MacGregor

      • Charles Bostock

        It’s always struck me that the Neil MacGregor programmes on the BBC were a good example of how the elites dumb down high culture for the “benefit” of the masses. Excessive simplification, a somewhat patronising tone, the dispensing received wisdom. But of course programmes like that are cheap to make and the Beeb needs the cash to pay its executives their overly-generous salaries.

        • N_

          a good example of how the elites dumb down high culture for the “benefit” of the masses

          You’re slipping so many unquestioned prejudices in there. What is “highness” of culture? Who are “the masses”?

          I noticed a big difference between Michael Wood’s series on Troy from the 1980s and his series on Alfred “the Great” from the 2010s.

          Obviously this kind of material will always push the self-image of the British elite as the guardian and respecter of world culture, just as David Attenborough’s wildlife programmes (most of which are nonetheless excellent) serve a similar purpose in the realm of natural history. It’s about the brand – the brand that helps the British elite recruit many “helpers” in foreign parts. That was true when Kenneth Clark made “Civilisation” in the 1960s (another excellent series) and it’s true now.

          The globalism is despite the fact that most of the elite, and most of those among the senior executives who are outside of the elite too, have probably never even visited, or wanted to visit, some of the places that are 10 miles from where they were born and where the proletariat lives. So much for interest in and respect for other people’s culture, eh? They would also be so full of their sense of superiority that they would be unable to take part in a proper conversation with a working class person at a bus stop. (It’s probably worth my emphasising here that working class people in Britain are a large majority.) It also has to be observed that for some reason the preferred slave-based ancient civilisation in the hearts of the British elite is the Greek one – which probably has something to do with pederasty.

          Anyway, whereas Michael Wood’s 1980s series about Troy was informative and put across a lot of well-organised information about Troy and the Trojan war, his 2010s series about King Alfred was a complete load of crap which a) focused on London and hardly mentioned the city where Alfred was based, namely Winchester, more than once or twice, and b) kept making me want to vomit because of the sheer number of times that he referred to monarchy as though it is an institution deserving of respect, which was practically every time he said the word “king”. He kept saying the word “king” as though he was referring to a wonderful and magical notion that everyone should be in awe of: the symbol of social organisation as it should be, the epitome of what’s right and what’s good. He might as well have been saying “the Great Helmsman Stalin” or “Heil Hitler”! It’s sad to think he doesn’t have more respect for himself.

          This was of a piece with the teaching of so-called “history” that focuses on the royal f***ing family and conveys idiotic ideas such as “true king” and “claim to the throne”.

        • David

          wow, excellent Kathy , I had two friends who worked in Syria (under Bashir’s father) and they found that a very scary place and I decided never , never. I’m glad that you had a positive experience.
          From my P.O.V. after several years in (mad & bad) Saudi, Syria was ‘very very scary’ and Iran was ‘intelligent & creative’ – Yemen was just somewhere that you illegally crossed the border to go to a market. Isrаеl was the implementing source of Sabra/Shatilla and source of all original sin, hence why I had to remove all M&S labels from my clothes before entering KSA, but that was then. Now it has changed, a bit.

          • kathy

            Yes it was a beautiful country with a fascinating historical heritage and the food was amazing. Sad what has happened to it just like Iraq, the two most important Islamic although secular countries of the region. As I said, I was only there for a two week holiday so can’t speak with any in-depth knowledge of the country. However, I will say that I wasn’t forced to wear a veil which would have been the case in Iran.

        • Deb O'Nair

          I’m sure many elderly Brits can recall their first foreign holiday in the Spain during the late 60’s and early 70’s, under friend of Hitler Franco’s fascist dictatorship

    • Muscleguy

      Ditto but I would not use my British passport to visit Iran, I would use my New Zealand passport instead. NZ has long (since the UK entered the EEC) done business with Iran (and Saudi) largely in food exports and agritech which were not part of the sanctions regime. Most recently helping the Iranians set up a kiwifruit growing region in the NE of Iran.

      NZ also has never been involved in destabilising Iran or supporting the Shah etc and NZ despite being in Five Eyes has a largely non-aligned foreign policy which is recognised. Countries like Iran which we have made friends with keep voting NZ onto the Security Council when our chance comes up. Which shows the advantages of making friends via trade and foreign policy instead of enemies. The UK seems much more interested in making enemies. I would hope iScotland would behave more like NZ.

    • Dungroanin

      Syria had some of the best archaeological sites that our experts and studens used to work on regularly in their summer hols – being part of the crescent of ancient civilisation from which all indo-euopean civilisation arose. So does Iran and as did Iraq.

      Ancient Iraq and Syria have been plundered after the FUKUS forces destabilised the areas and plenty of looting has been done under cover of destruction by isil types.

      You can guarantee many of these ancient sites destruction and looting was done on order – like choosing from the menu. War is and always has been good cover for such activity. Why? Because that is how plundering works. Also ancient artifacts and arts are naturally valuable – they are actual wealth which preserves its worth. Unlike fiat money.

      It wasn’t just oil and pipelines the robber barons were and are after.

      All these ancient places and their peoples are worthy of respect and they are from all reports very welcoming and polite as has been customary in these parts for millennia! And the food is amazing.

      RT had an interview with a Iranian leader, which I recommend, to see how civilised leaders think and talk – compared to the yarboo cowboys of Europe and US!
      (As an aside while watching a newsflash came up that a US diplomat had been caught at Moscow airport with a mine in their bag!)

      • Charles Bostock

        I note that you only mentioned an Iranian leader as an example of how “civilised” leaders think and talk. Have you any thoughts on the leaders of Iraq and Syria? Would you say that they are as civilised, less civilised or more civilised than the leaders of Iran?

        Interesting also was your comment about the food being “amazing”. That is a very important feature of any country, of course, and should be thrown onto the scales when the merits of a country and its leadership are being judged.

        • Dungroanin

          They are as my observation states equally civilised because without the Golden Crescent you Bossie would not even have the bread to know which side it is buttered.

          Run along and yarboo somewhere else.

      • Borncynical

        @Dungroanin

        Well said.

        I too saw most of the RT interview last week with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran President 2005-13). Very impressive in his philosophical and compassionate outlook on the realities of life. Whenever I see such intelligent and unscripted interviews with leaders who are demonised by the West I can’t help but ask myself how the current bunch of British leaders would respond to such searching philosophical questions – the truth is that they wouldn’t, and that says all we need to know about their low levels of intellect. When was the last time any of us saw the Blairs, Camerons, Mays, Johnsons and Williamsons etc of this world open themselves up to philosophical discussion about world affairs, life and mankind in general?? (Rhetorical question as we all know the answer!) Our ‘leaders’ have no more intellect than an amoeba.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I think the UK Government declared Hezbollah to be a terrorist organisation because the Israelis wanted that done and the US backed them up. There is no evidence whatever that the FCO and HMG are capable of independent decision-making these days on such a matter. They do what they are told.

    As for Assange and Manning, it really is about time that the world locked up 100 US spies and threatened them with treason, particularly if treason in such countries carries the death penalty. One case the US will start bombing. 100 cases they will have much greater difficulties.

    All this complaining about US behaviour achieves nothing. Psychopaths do not respond to appeals for decency. They respond to threats which can be backed up with credible adverse outcomes.

    No-one should attempt to treat the USA as decent where foreign policy is concerned as they are incapable of acting with decency in the international arena. They have their chief CIA torturer in charge at the State Department, promoted the chief torturess to head the CIA, brought in the worst animal in US politics since Allen Dulles to rabble rouse about warmongering and have a Congress and Senate packed full of salivating wastrels bunged billions by the MIC.

    And you think a polite request to behave with decorum, restraint and compassion is going to win the day?

    • michael norton

      It is likely, after the shooting down of the Russian surveillance aircraft in the Eastern Mediterranean and the consequent installation of the Russian made S-300 system in Syria, Israel hit an impasse,
      quick phone call to Westminster by Bibi
      and Bibi is your uncle.
      Hezbollah in all its forms is in the naughty corner.
      But as some say Hezbollah are the clients of Iran, this might upset Iran, now we want a favour, seems wrong way round, why not ask Iran for the favour first?

    • Antonym

      Why are people so quick to blame Israel over others like KSA or the US? Who fears Shia power most: the Saudi royals. There is a large minority of Shia in their oil regions. They have a long standing Sunni Shia problem going over centuries. That is why they organized wars on Iran, Syria and Yemen. They have the money plus the leverage over the dollar as oil payment currency.

      • Charles Bostock

        “Why are people so quick to blame Israel over others like KSA or the US?”

        That comment is not entirely accurate, as you would know if you’ve followed the blog for long enough. Basically, the kommentariat is divided in two: there are those who claim that Israel is the instrument of the US (and others), especially in the Middle East , and there are those who claim that the US (and others) are the instrument used by Israel especially (but by no means only) in the Middle East. Never shall the twain meet – funnily, it’s a little like the Sunni – Shia split (but infinitely less important, of course).

  • Charles Bostock

    Murray

    “On International Women’s Day yesterday Chelsea Manning was imprisoned yet again, this time for refusing to testify against Julian Assange before a Grand Jury. ”

    It might be helpful to readers of you spelt out in more detail what Ms Manning is being invited to testify about, what are the questions being put to her that she declines to answer?

    Readers might like to know what you mean when you say she is “refusing to testify” against Mr Assange.

  • Adrian Parsons

    “Even so, the MSM in the UK do not even have the guts to state the truth about what causes Julian to be confined to the Ecuadorean Embassy, let alone to support his right to publish.”

    The MSM are, and always have been, lying, gutless scum, reflecting their position as part of the State’s ideological apparatus. However, things are changing.

    Whereas the “traditional media” were “free for anyone with a radio transmitter/printing press/television studio” (the licence to operate such and products of which were/are all heavily regulated), the advent of a de facto unregulated social media has disrupted both their economic model and, more importantly, their ideological hegemony. In reaction to the latter, the techniques of censorship isolated by Noam Chomsky decades ago as operating surreptitiously in the traditional media of the West (outright no-platforming, a restriction on the ‘acceptable’ sources of facts/news, a restriction on the ‘acceptable’ range of opinion to be aired, the sieving of the ‘experts’ to be called on to comment on current/world affairs according to their ‘ideological soundness’) are now being applied “in plain sight” to the most popular social media platforms as their importance as sources of news/information increases. “Free press liberals” are obediently cheering.

    The now common sight of crowds chanting “fake news” at the MSM at public gatherings is a sight that Noam Chomsky could only have dreamed of in his long, noble career of isolating corruption within that cesspool, albeit at a more intellectual level. The fact that it is coming from the Right is even more significant. This particular toothpaste can never be put back in its tube.

    • Adrian Parsons

      Further to my comment above, Lin Wood yesterday announced (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_VBaAppFfM) the second lawsuit on behalf of Covington High School student Nicholas Sandmann, again for $250M like the first one against The Washington Post but this time against CNN. They seem to have jumped The New York Times (which is a shame), but the silver lining is that the reactionary sewer known as the Guardian could be next in line. $250M, along with the threatened Wikileaks action for their false reporting on Paul Manafort, could hopefully put that “organ” out of business permanently. Although much of their “coverage” of “Trump-Russia collusion” has been under the heading of “Opinion”, it has always been my fervent hope that, once all the Mueller and other detritus has been published and sunk without trace, arses at that “truth-teller” start getting felt in a loving, lawyerly way.

      The full list of the MSM organisations and emotionally/psychologically inadequate snowflakes being sued is:

      The Washington Post
      The New York Times
      Cable News Network, Inc. (CNN)
      The Guardian
      National Public Radio
      TMZ
      Atlantic Media Inc.
      Capitol Hill Publishing Corp.
      Diocese of Covington
      Diocese of Lexington
      Archdiocese of Louisville
      Diocese of Baltimore
      Ana Cabrera
      Sara Sidner
      Erin Burnett
      S.E. Cupp
      Elliot C. McLaughlin
      Amanda Watts
      Emanuella Grinberg
      Michelle Boorstein
      Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
      Antonio Olivo
      Joe Heim
      Michael E. Miller
      Eli Rosenberg
      Isaac Stanley-Becker
      Kristine Phillips
      Sarah Mervosh
      Emily S. Rueb
      Maggie Haberman
      David Brooks
      Shannon Doyne
      Kurt Eichenwald
      Andrea Mitchell
      Savannah Guthrie
      Joy Reid
      Chuck Todd
      Noah Berlatsky
      Elisha Fieldstadt
      Eun Kyung Kim
      HBO
      Bill Maher
      Warner Media
      Conde Nast
      GQ
      Heavy.com
      The Hill
      The Atlantic
      Bustle.com
      Ilhan Omar
      Elizabeth Warren
      Kathy Griffin
      Alyssa Milano
      Jim Carrey

  • Charles Bostock

    I would take it as axiomatic that the Foreign Ministry of an independent Scotland woukd do many of these things much better, avoiding the evasions, inconsistencies, contradictions and turpitudes of policy as currently dorected from London. The record of achievement of the ScotsNats in the areas for which Holyrood is competent should leave no one in any doubt.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    “Even so, the MSM in the UK do not even have the guts to state the truth about what causes Julian to be confined to the Ecuadorean Embassy, let alone to support his right to publish.”

    Because the mainstream media oftentimes functions as an echo chamber.

    Sometimes the MSM ‘journalists’ don’t even bother to research the underlying facts of the story they are reporting on and just mime what a colleague and/or other MSM colleagues said.

  • Goose

    Given the UK is standing by the JCPOA, much to Trump administration’s frustration & annoyance, as you stated, you’d think Iran would show reciprocal goodwill to the UK and simply release Zaghari Ratcliffe. I don’t really trust the super ambitious Jeremy Hunt either, and his diplomatic status move could be aimed at finding future justifications to pull out of said Iran deal. If Iran’s leadership have any sense they’ll let her go asap.

    • Baalbek

      Why should Iran “reward” the UK for honouring a deal it (the UK) signed in good faith? That makes no sense. And it’s not like UK (and EU for that matter) leaders are pushing back hard against the Trump administration breaking international law.

  • Republicofscotland

    Its ironic that FS Hunt is attempting to grant diplomatic protection for Zaghari-Ratcliffe, yet when Ecuador attempted this for Assange the British government point blankly refused to recognise it.

    The Iranian’s look upon Britian as My Uncle Napoleon, and with good reason.

    • Andyoldlabour

      Republicofscotland

      America – the Great Satan
      Israel – the Little Satan
      Britain – the Old Fox

      My wife is from Iran, I have been there a few times, it is a lovely country and the people are very friendly.
      They have good reason to be suspicious of the UK/US because we have a had a negative impact on their country several times.

  • John Goss

    Hardly anybody has the rights we in the west had a quarter of a century ago – before the war on terror. There are people banged up everywhere for no reason (ask Reprieve if you don’t believe me) but as it was international women’s day yesterday here are another two to go with the very principled Chelsea Manning and Zaghari Ratcliffe, for whose clemency you make a very good case.

    “Like many others I had never heard of Maria Butina until she was arrested and imprisoned. She is apparently being held in solitary confinement (23 hours a day without contact) in the Alexandria Detention Centre near Washington. As if that is not punishment enough she is allegedly being tortured using sleep-deprivation techniques. This is what it is believed in some quarters that led to a confession of guilt for not having registered with the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 – which so many other foreign nationals did not realise was a prerequisite in the land of the “free”.

    Do I support her campaigns? No. Do I think she is an agent or officer of Russian intelligence? No. Whatever the real reasons for her arrest it is impossible to say. The fact that she aligns with the Trump camp and gun-law lobby suggests an attempt by the NSA, not for the first time, to smear the President. Way back in 2012 she founded a Russian gun-law group “Right to Bear Arms” following yet another US massacre. To my mind these US massacres demonstrate why the gun-lobby is so wrong. They do not happen in civilised countries unless somebody has got access to a gun.

    There are unanswered questions but her actions, especially regarding gun-laws for Russia, ought to make her a darling of the USA. She courted the very people funded by the west to overthrow Putin, including Alexei Navalny, who encouraged his 220,000 Twitter followers to support her gun-law rally, though he did not go himself.

    Being banged up in some hell-hole for being young, female and Russian appears to be the modus operandi of modern-day western governments. Few are asking – and those that are will not get answers – about the whereabouts of Yulia Skripal, abducted by UK intelligence without trial and never heard of since. Is she alive? Is she in prison? Where is she?

    Yulia Skripal’s last desire was to return to her native Russia when her father, Russian agent Sergei Skripal, had recovered. Is he still ill? She made this plea above seven months ago. We don’t hear about the Novichok farce these days. Yulia and Sergei Skripal have vanished. Since the Novichok incident they have never been interviewed by a single UK or other journalist. They are almost certainly dead.”

    Also thank you for making the comparison with non-adoption of the Chagos Islands resolution and the desire to use the auspices of international channels when it suits our government’s purpose.

      • Ralph

        So deaths of criminals matter then, Craig? How many of them were shot by people in self defence, in particular, by people in their own homes as protection? Or militarised and de-sensitised police, formerly military, returning home from committing barbarities on say the Iraqis, and joining the police.
        Then of course, we could talk about knife crimes in Britain…
        Interesting that you didn’t mention the USG or MIC instead of the NRA.

          • Ralph

            No I’m not, I’m talking about using a gun in self defence, in particular, to defend against criminals.

          • Ralph

            Irresponsible parents? Ban electricity too – how many children have been electrocuted at home?

          • pretzelattack

            im saying those are more likely than the kind of summary executions you seem to be so enamored with. you’re just parroting an nra fantasy.

          • Laguerre

            Ralph

            Reduction of number of people with guns, that’s the point. You sound like an NRA member.

        • Ken Kenn

          I think you’ll find a lot of them have been shot in Cinemas and schools as well as Bars and other gatherings of people
          by white men with big guns and a lot of bullets.

          Read The Washington Post on the matter.

          Why you could even Wikipedia it if you want.

          It works out in the US that it is 120 plus times more likely you will be shot by a fellow patriot than a terrorist.

          Could even be more from memory.

    • jrkrideau

      Whatever the real reasons for her arrest it is impossible to say.
      Innocent until proven Russian would be my guess.

      Her arrest made good copy. And, yes, I believe the FBI would do that. It has been an institutional habit since the early days of J. Edgar Hoover.

    • Adrian Parsons

      “Way back in 2012 she founded a Russian gun-law group “Right to Bear Arms” following yet another US massacre. To my mind these US massacres demonstrate why the gun-lobby is so wrong. They do not happen in civilised countries unless somebody has got access to a gun.”

      100 years before the first Communist parties were formed in Europe, the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution enshrined the right of every US citizen to bear arms and encouraged them to be active members of a non-State controlled militia, i.e. a “people’s army”. Today, in one of the most spectacular of ironies, it is those of a Rightist ideological persuasion who are defending this Communist principle against attacks on it by those on the “Left”!

      The issue of a citizen’s right to bear arms sorts more surely than any other the reactionary from the revolutionary.

      • Deb O'Nair

        Also, given the context of what ‘arms’ meant back in the days of the 2nd amendment compared to 21st century weapons, i.e. today one individual can have the equivalent fire power of an entire militia, perhaps it needs ‘revising’.

    • Goose

      Hillary’s defeat almost psychologically broke certain people. The already bad US – Russia relations under Obama, due to Snowden’s asylum and differences over Syria and Ukraine(Crimea), became an all encompassing hatred with Trump’s unexpected victory, especially in the US media. The fact that the evidence isn’t there matters not. Maintaining the comforting notion that only a combination of Russia and Assange could somehow have put Trump in the White House is almost more important than the truth.

  • Sarge

    Looking at its submission to Trump, Bolton and Abrams on Venezuela, I don’t think ‘the international community’ (as recognized by western media) is in a position to deride anybody anymore. Not even the sad old stuffed Lion.

  • Jimmeh

    @Republicofscotland

    I think that Ecuador accredited Assange as having diplomatic status. The UK government declined to recognize him as a diplomat; which I think is a violation of the rules; accredited diplomats are protected, there is no right for the host government to deny someone diplomatic status a priori. What they can do is expel them, which would mean in Assange’s case that he’d be allowed to leave the embassy, book plane tickets, and leave the country.

    The Ratcliffe case is different; what the UK government has done is to raise what was previously a consular issue to the level of an international dispute. Unlike Assange, Ratcliffe has not been granted diplomatic status.

    I agree with observations to the effect that this is nothing to do with helping Ratclffe; rather, it is Jeremy Hunt using Ratcliffe as a stick with which to beat Iran. He really is a nasty piece of work, all the while talking in soft tones as if he was the very personification of the milk of human kindness.

    Regarding Manning, I don’t understand why she was in the USA in the first place. Under US law, it is a criminal offence to refuse to answer questions from a Grand Jury; there is no similar arrangement in this country. If she wasn’t up for more prison time, then she should have stayed in Wales – if you are in the USA, then you are always within reach of a Grand Jury (whose proceedings are always highly secret).

    She was pardoned by Obama; but the Trump government is marked by nothing so much as reversing everything that Obama did. Just by being in Trump’s USA, Manning was asking to be returned to prison.

    • FobosDeimos

      Ecuador granted Assange Ecuadorean citizenship. Therefore the UK should have accepted or at least process Ecuador’s claim for protection on behalf of one of its nationals. However, the new Ecuadorean president could not care less about Assange, as he is now a close ally of the US. Therefore, Ecuador is now doing nothing for Assange, except (so far) allowing him to stay at their embassy in London.

      • Ort

        “However, the new Ecuadorean president could not care less about Assange, as he is now a close ally of the US.”
        _______________________________________

        I agree with your general point, but not that Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno “could not care less about Assange”. The odious Moreno seeks to curry favor with US leaders, so he “cares” about Assange exactly as one cares about a stone in one’s shoe.

        I believe that Moreno is only restrained from expelling Assange outright because he and his cronies cannot devise a way to renege on their predecessor’s grant of asylum without causing a grave and sustained international protest. Instead, the Moreno government maliciously turned Assange’s “sanctuary” into virtual solitary confinement, ratcheting up the psychological pressure on Assange to “voluntarily” relinquish his asylum.

        Moreno is not indifferent to Assange, and is not merely tolerantly letting Assange twist slowly in the wind. Moreno is the active and conscientious Jailor of Mordor.

  • Andrew S Carter

    Cross-reference this to Sergei & Yulia Skripal – to whom the UK authorities will not allow the Russians consular access

    This is not a case of “dual standards” – it a case of no standards at all: “Rule-based World Order” appears to mean “WE rule, you obey!

    • Ken Kenn

      Good point.

      Who’s rules are the ‘ orders ‘ based on?

      The same one’s that have tried to install a Speaker as a President?

      Whatever the rules are it is notable that the Uk governments of all stripes have obeyed the said rules
      for along long time.

      re: Julian Assange.

      Last time I looked/heard the British want him due to not obeying bail conditions.

      Being as the charge he allegedly skipped bail on is no longer relevant why exactly do they have a right to
      nab him if he leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy?

      No charges – no bail to answer to, surely?

      Or ( and I’m being sarcastic here ) has he done something else wrong whist being in the UK?

      If he has – what has he done wrong?

  • Andy

    Although I have every sympathy for Nazanin Zagahari Ratcliffe it does seem she has been guilty of extreme naivety in regard to her native Iran, particularly in respect to the UKs current attitudes.
    Raising this case to the level of a diplomatic, state dispute also seems to be an act of extreme hypocrisy in light of the case of Julian Assange who’s attempt to gain Ecuadorian diplomatic status was turned down by the UK government. Maybe Iran should take a lead and link the two cases, quid pro quo ?
    Also, if the UK Government was to pay back the money owed to Iran for Chieftain tanks that were paid for but never delivered in 1976 then this might ease the process of release for Nazanin.
    That Nazanin is a pawn is very clear, and sad, but it is also very clear that the UK Government could expedite her release if it really wanted to.

    • Blunderbuss

      “Also, if the UK Government was to pay back the money owed to Iran for Chieftain tanks that were paid for but never delivered in 1976 then this might ease the process of release for Nazanin.”

      Yes, I think so too.

      • Iain Stewart

        Or even better, why not just deliver the tanks at long last (unless they still work after 33 years, of course).

          • Sharp Ears

            I put this up on here age weeks ago.

            21 JANUARY 2019
            BAE Systems has agreed to hand control of the armoured vehicles unit behind the Challenger 2 tank to a German rival, in a £30m deal that represents a further retreat by the defence giant from British military contracts.

            The firm’s agreement, announced on Monday, will give Rheinmetall’s UK operations a 55 per cent controlling stake in its British land systems division.
            /..
            https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/01/21/bae-hands-control-uk-armoured-vehicles-unit-german-rival/

          • Blunderbuss

            Thank you, Sharp Ears.

            What could possibly go wrong? If we had to go to war with Germany again, I’m sure those nice Germans would still build tanks for us.

          • Stonky

            I doubt if Britain still has the ability to build tanks…

            We are very good at tanking the economy (and making poor people pay).

          • Alex Westlake

            The American M1 Abrams and the German Leopard 2 both use Rheinmetall’s gun. Fitting it to the Challenger would mean that it could use the same ammunition as other Nato tanks

  • Tarla

    Going for ‘diplomatic’ casts a huge shadow over a person. Iranians living in Britain will be the subject of ‘intelligence’ gathering and/or propaganda developments and/or if they travel to Iran to ‘train’ journalists – train them in what – spreading dubious anti Iranian propaganda – said person will be of interest. The fact that the UK government after ignoring the UN now wants to take Iran to the UN speaks volumes of their hypocrisy and have been found out.
    Similarly, with the Atoorney General Cox who has the barefaced cheek to claim the backstop violates Northern Irish people human rights in relation to the ECHR protocol 1 article 3 because they can’t take part in elections. This is the country who in 2005 was found in breach of protocol 1 article 3 in relation to a blanket ban on prisoners voting. Fourteen years later it’s come back to bite them on the backside and makes them look exactly what they are hypocrites and two faced.
    The government is doing its damnedest to ban RT from broadcasting in the UK because they put forward an alternative analysis from the sycophantic garbage spewed out my the state controlled and state funded BBC and the rest of the MSM. They’ll be preparing to charge RT jounalists with ‘acting in the interests of a foreign state’ which is in the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act. Expect a clamp down on alternative reporting.
    Furthermore, the CTBS will allowed the UK state to impose a hard border on the island of Ireland due to ‘security concerns’ which can exempt the WTO ‘preferential’ treatment of goods tariffs.
    There’s always been something fishy about Zaghari Ratcliffe and her husband. And the Foreign Office have bent over backwards to help this dual national citizen. Pity this lot didn’t treat Windrush British citizens with the same vigour.

  • Sharp Ears

    The RT report on Chelsea Manning. They call out the Western MSM for their hypocrisy, namely that if Chelsea was a prisoner of the Russian government and not of the US government, they would be all over the case.

    Chelsea Manning off to jail: Mainstream media would care if this was Russia
    9 Mar, 2019 16:

    Chelsea Manning speaks to reporters outside a federal court in Virginia © Reuters / Ford Photo

    Does the American media care that a whistleblower was hauled off to jail for refusing to testify to a secret grand jury? Not really. After all, there’s ‘Russian collusion’ to chase.

    Manning was placed in custody on Friday for contempt of court after refusing to testify in front a grand jury in a closed hearing regarding her disclosure of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    “I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has historically been used to entrap and persecute activists for political speech,” Manning said in a statement.

    https://www.rt.com/usa/453426-chelsea-manning-prison-media-manafort/

    The judge, Claude M Hilton, was appointed by Reagan in 2005. Obviously a useful tool.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_M._Hilton

  • John2o2o

    “As the UK shows total contempt for international law, this attempt to access its remedies will be met with derision by the wider international community.”

    And so it should be!

    I am going to say something which is not politically correct here. Mainly because I feel uncomfortable about doing so and because I believe in free speech.

    While I support and applaud Chelsea Manning for the stand “she” has taken and “her” bravery I am not 100% comfortable with referring to sorry, him as a woman. There, I’ve said it. Have me beheaded.

    There is a very serious issue regarding “transgender” athletes being able to compete in women’s sports and having a built in advantage as they remain – despite surgery and hormone suppressants – bigger and more muscular than biological females. I personally don’t think that transgender females should be permitted to compete in women’s sports.

    No matter what steps you take to change your sex it remains an outward appearance only.

    Persons born female have two x chromosomes in each of the billions of cells of their bodies and persons born male have an x and a y. This you cannot change, so while individuals such as Chelsea Manning may choose to take on the outward appearance of a woman (and that I have no problem with) “she” remains biologically male. Any attempt to twist the language to say that sex and gender are different are attempts to deny this fundamental fact.

    • John A

      Is Chelsea Manning attempting to enteir Wimbledon? Is Chelsea Manning, attempting to enter the women’s football/cricket/whatever championships? if she were, you may have a point about physique or whatever. But whistleblowing does not take male/female lungpower. Have no idea what your point is.

    • Clark

      John, that isn’t a fundamental fact, there is more to a person’s sex than xx and xy. There are unusual chromosomal states including xo. xx genetically female babies can be born with male sexual equipment and vice-versa, depending upon hormone sexualisation in the womb. The matter is quite complex, but generally not a topic of conversation, so you have probably met such people without ever knowing.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex

      • Iain Orr

        Clark

        One (sex-neutral pronoun) can often tell from the language and style of a blog that it is driven by a high level of testosterone in the body. I’d hazard the guess that I could correctly identify the sex (male/female/mixed) of 90 % of those who comment on Craig’s blogs ..and that female commentators make up a fairly small proportion of the total.

        • Clark

          Hello Iain, good to see you here. Oh for a more sex-neutral language! Why must my language continually force me to hazard guesses at people’s sexual equipment? From The Player of Games sci-fi by Iain M Banks:

          Little textual note for you here (bear with me).

          – Those of you unfortunate enough not to be reading or hearing this in Marain may well be using a language without the requisite number or type of personal pronouns, so I’d better explain that bit of the translation.

          – Marain, the Culture’s quintessentially wonderful language (so the Culture will tell you), has, as any schoolkid knows, one personal pronoun to cover females, males, in-betweens, neuters, children, drones, Minds, other sentient machines, and every life-form capable of scraping together anything remotely resembling a nervous system and the rudiments of language (or a good excuse for not having either). Naturally, there are ways of specifying a person’s sex in Marain, but they’re not used in everyday conversation; in the archetypal language-as-moral-weapon-and-proud-of-it, the message is that it’s brains that matter, kids; gonads are hardly worth making a distinction over.

      • Dungroanin

        Nice one Clark and beheading is not the correct response John, but the discomfort is a gut instinct that needs encouraging.

        Always glad to be reminded about Banks – I remember having to excitedly wait for his newest book to arrive at the book shop! Anyway to answer the various bods, misunderstood binary understanding of the X and the Y, and from TPOG novel – i’ll just let the minds speak for themselves, in no particular order and no adjectives :-

        So Much For Subtlety
        Kiss My Ass
        Zealot
        Unfortunate Conflict Of Evidence
        Just Read The Instructions
        Limiting Factor
        Flexible Demeanour
        Of Course I Still Love You
        Little Rascal
        https://qntm.org/culture

        The Mind treated any other minds with equal respect even though they thought faster and wielded almost limitless power.

        👾👽

        • Clark

          Polite, restrained, dissembling, I stood there with an aspect outwardly quite banal, but in my heart, in my deepest soul, it was as if great cold stones slid grinding and grating across each other into some dreadful new configuration, like a vast lock fit to secure one continent to another, but now undoing, freeing its great ladings to the demands of their different influences, different courses, different velocities, and to the catastrophes incumbent upon their now opposed and antagonistic movements.

          – Within me there was now set in place a cruel desire; a will, a determination to seek the lode of truth amongst this flinty wilderness of lies and follow its path and its consequences wherever they might lead. I would seek to do no more than lay bare the truth, to mine the gold from this mountain of leaden falseness, but I would expose that vein of of truth utterly and without fear, favour or qualification, […] no matter what balances my actions shook or what structures my excavations threatened.

          Whit Chapter Twenty, Iain Banks, 1995.

          • Dungroanin

            Not read that -got diverted by ‘M’ ones.
            Great quote though and I see where you coming from Clark.
            A sad loss at a young age like D Adams who would have had fun with what the web has become.

            A scotsman to boot with a encyclopaedic interest in the malts – did CM know him?

    • giyane

      John 2020

      Craig was trying out his auntie’s high heels.
      Our government is led by a woman in ever decreasing and pointless circles . If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

    • craig Post author

      Unless there is a compelling reason otherwise, I think it is best to accept people’s self-identification. There can be good reasons not to in specific situations, but here there is none.

      • Anon1

        He can ‘self-identify’ as a woman all he likes. But he’s still a man. The left are forcing this stuff on children in schools now. Teaching them they can be whatever they identify as. It’s fucked up, but that’s the left for you!

        • Andyoldlabour

          Anon1

          I agree. The police are wasting public money cautioning and arresting people who have tweeted simple FACTS that women are human females.
          As John2o2o correctly pointed out, there are male bodied athletes competing in and winning at women’s sport, that is not OK.
          Kate Weatherley a young New Zealand mountain biker, competed against the women just three weeks after competing as a mediocre male, and then went on to win the New Zealand women’s championship last year.
          Labour even have male bodied women’s officers.

          • Spencer Eagle

            The number of arrests for saying something ‘offensive’ online have skyrocketed. In 2017 the UK police, using the Telecommunications Act 1984, arrested over 3300 people, that’s nine per day. The figure doesn’t include those visited or contacted by police, that number is likely to be many times the arrests. A significant number of those arrests were for cases involving ‘misgendering’ on Twitter and Facebook. Whilst I couldn’t care less by what gender Chelsea Manning wishes to be known, I’m am troubled by what is the enforcement of speech, requiring people to use inaccurate descriptions they neither agree with or are comfortable using.

          • Deb O'Nair

            “In 2017 the UK police, using the Telecommunications Act 1984, arrested over 3300 people”

            Oh, the irony. Not just the ‘1984’ bit but the fact that the law has been in place for so long while people bleat in the media about new online censorship laws being needed

  • Goose

    Presumably, Assange is waiting for a change in the political weather in the UK and/or the US. This isn’t a forlorn hope either, it’s looking more and more realistic. Bernie Sanders in the US(possibly other candidates), or in the UK Corbyn, could dramatically change his situation. Even the more civil libertarian inclined David Davis(he opposed/challenged in the ECJ mass surveillance) becoming leader of the Tories, could change his situation.

    There is hope for Snowden’s return to the US too.

    • Ort

      I don’t wish to divert the topic into US politics– but as a US resident, I assure you that Bernie Sanders will not seek justice and relief for Assange. At most, if he is pressed on the matter, he will make some sort of anodyne statement; say, urging all parties to move forward in accordance with international law with a view to favorably resolving the impasse for all involved.

      Corbyn is far more principled and authentic than Sanders, but Corbyn is so notoriously cautious and diffident that even as PM he may decline to take the bold step of cutting the “Gordian knot” and making Assange’s release and safe conduct an urgent priority.

      Just from years of listening to conventional “inside politics” analysis, I can imagine any number of “sensible”, “pragmatic” rationales purporting to explain why it wouldn’t be “politically feasible” for Corbyn to conspicuously and decisively intervene in Assange’s dire situation. There will be the usual earnest, knowing, expert analysis about Corbyn’s need to “consolidate his power base”, conserve his “political capital”, attend to more pressing problems, etc.

      In the US, centrist, moderate progressive-liberals have developed an entire lexicon of maxims and clichés to express what they believe to be unassailable political wisdom. They readily explain away inaction, or inadequate and feeble action, by superciliously or bumptiously declaring that the politician in question must “pick his battles” or “keep his powder dry”, etc.

      I very much hope that I’m underestimating Corbyn’s willingness to use up whole kegs of powder in this righteous cause as soon as he gets the keys to the armory.

      • Goose

        For a Democrat in the US, certainly in the current climate of MSM whipped-up Russophobia – not seen since the Cold War era, I can quite understand it’d be immensely difficult for any Democratic candidate or President, to back away without being called a ‘stooge of Russia/Putin’ etc.

        As for the UK , Corbyn’s key advisor is Seumas Milne , often called ‘the brains’ of Corbyn’s team by the tabloids. Milne in the past, has written articles in support of Assange and is a very good friend of Assange’s “Australian star lawyer” again, as the tabloids have dubbed her, Jennifer Robinson. I think it’s certain he’d avoid extradition under Corbyn. Which is probably one of the reasons (there are many) why the media here are going after Corbyn’s team.

        • Piotr Berman

          “Tulsi Gabbard’s foreign policy frustrates centrist Democrats, draws cheers from anti-interventionists, and makes her political identity tough to pigeonhole” — a headline.

          She takes the accusations of being “Kremlin stooge” in stride, although with protests, and explains convincingly that this is the fate of any non-establishment candidate. But to the chagrin of the “seasoned politicians”, to be successful one has to present her(him)self precisely as non-establishment candidate. For example, “experience HRC” against “non-establishment Trump”. And Gabbard has the benefit of not being a cretin.

          • Goose

            His stuff at the guardian was always well-researched and far more nuanced than that.

            Today’s guardian is sorely missing a few journalists like Milne and Glenn Greenwald.

            Ever since Alan Rusbridger left, it’s become ever more pro-establishment, and seems to get worse every month.

          • pete

            Re “Try reading some books instead.”

            Or you could: for example Blood lies by Grover Furr, the blurb on Amazon says:
            “BLOOD LIES: The Evidence that Every Accusation against Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union in Timothy Snyder’s “Bloodlands Is False.” PLUS: What Really Happened in: the Famine of 1932-33; the “Polish Operation”; the “Great Terror”; the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact; the “Soviet invasion of Poland”; the “Katyn Massacre”; the Warsaw Uprising; and “Stalin’s Anti-Semitism” (ISBN: 978-0-692-20099-5) by Grover Furr 

            “Bloodlands. Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, by Timothy Snyder” (N.Y: Basic Books, 2010) is by far the most successful attempt to date to equate Stalin with Hitler, the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany. It has received dozens of rave reviews, prizes for historiography; and has been translated into 25 languages. 

            Snyder’s main target is Joseph Stalin. His broader claim is that the Soviets killed 6 to 9 million innocent civilians while the Nazis were killing about 14 million. Snyder finds parallels between Soviet and Nazi crimes at every turn. 

            Grover Furr methodically checked every single footnote to anything that could be construed as a crime by Stalin, the USSR, or pro-Soviet communists. Snyder’s main sources are in Polish and Ukrainian, in hard-to-find books and articles. Many sources are reprinted in Blood Lies in their original languages – Polish, Ukrainian, German, Russian – always with English translations. 

            Furr has found that every single “crime” Snyder alleges is false – a fabrication. Often Snyder’s sources do not say what he claims. Often Snyder cites anticommunist Polish and Ukrainian secondary sources that do the lying for him. Not a single accusation holds up. 
            Blood Lies exposes the lies and falsehoods behind Soviet history of the Stalin period with the same meticulous attention to detail as Furr’s 2011 work “Khrushchev Lied,” and his 2013 book “The Murder of Sergei Kirov.”

          • Eddie

            [Re “He’s also written articles in support of Stalin.”

            I guess from this remark that you think the final word has been written about Stalin and he’s been found wanting. Of course other views are available:
            http://www.northstarcompass.org/nsc9912/lies.htm%5D

            Interesting article, Pete. However there are a lack of references for much of it. I suspect there is some truth to the crimes of the Soviet Union being grossly exaggerated- or based on unreliable statistical models. Many of the Soviet Army ‘rape’ figures from WW2 appear to based on such ludicrously concocted data. However, I would like to see more info on the sources for the article. Also, though the political trials of ’38 are covered here, there’s no mention of the trials and imprisonment of artists and poets such as Meyerhold, Kharms, and Mendelstam which seem less easy to justify than those of political players. Also the trials and executions following the second world war of those who organised the defence of Leningrad. Orwell’s criticisms of the Stalinist regime still seem to me well justified even if it turns out that the Homodor wasn’t quite the event that has been reported. I am always open to giving alternative views fair hearing and would be interested in reading more.

      • Dungroanin

        Ort, the UK is not a presidential system like the US.

        Being a Prime Minister does not mean you can bypass the Cabinet.

        Never mind the additional contortions and baggage of a being a Constitutional Monarchy.

        So at best a PM can pick a Cabinet and other ministers to form a government that can deliver the policies they promise in their Manifesto.
        That’s how Cameron got the chance to initiate brexit and that is why May is able to deliver it.

        If we want to live in a country which has policies that are more ethical and less subservient to the powers of global hegemony – it requires that we vote in people who we trust will act in good faith to deliver their manifesto that promises to do that.

        We were sold that lie in 1997 when we trusted the shiny young thing Blair and his collection of right on MPs who we believed would deliver their promises.

        It was a lie and Blair pretended to be a President! We let him!!
        He filled the cabinet full of the neolibcon artistes who had been pretending to be right on… the cabinet government was subverted.

        I can only think of one significant Cabinet minister that remained true to the initial promise, he was great in the ministeries that he ran and he resigned rather than be part of the cabinet that lied us into joining the never ending war we are in. Robin Cook. He died too soon otherwise he could have been a focus of the fight back much sooner.

        So Corbyn can only really lead the Labour party into a election that delivers enough new and unsullied, un-greedy, LOCAL MPs to be able to form a stable Government, that can then deliver the changes we demand.

        I don’t care if he is not the PM for any longer then his Cabinet or himself decides. Ironically he is quite likely to be a Mosses figure, leading is to the promised land without stepping foot in it!

        On that happy thought I am off to some sunny lands and will watch from afar the deadline on the 29th.

  • Sharp Ears

    Putting this up ref Jeremy Hunt. As Health Secretary he visited Kaiser Permanente in the US several times with his teams with a view to introducing this type of healthcare into the UK via privatisation. Fortunately, we have escaped, for now, but don’t hold your breath. Hancock is i/c now and he loves ‘tech’.

    ‘A doctor in California told a patient he was going to die using a robot with a video-link screen.

    Ernest Quintana, 78, was at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont when a doctor – appearing on the robot’s screen – informed him that he would die within a few days.’

    /..
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-47510038

    • Iain Stewart

      But how can Jeremy Hunt possibly be a robot? Aren’t they meant to be intelligent, even if it is artificial?

    • Loony

      Ah yes the NHS.

      An organization founded in 1948 with an annual budget of GBP 15 billion (in current money). Today the budget stands at GBP 116.4 billion. And what have we got for entertainment…? Why a shortage of 11,500 Doctors and a shortage of 42,000 Nurses.

      No-one seems to either know or care exactly who gave Dr. Harold Shipman a job or who decided to kill 456 patients in Gosport by feeding them opiate painkillers for no reason. I wonder whether the treatment being endured by either Chelsea Manning or Zaghari-Ratcliffe is better or worse then the treatment meted out to patients at Stafford Hospital.

      Meanwhile the NHS proceeds with its real job – acting as a conduit for massive subsidies to the pharmaceutical industry completely unmolested by its ideological supporters. As you demonstrate, the vast army of NHS supporters stand ready to act as attack dogs to prevent anyone from inquiring as to the true nature of the NHS or from implementing the most modest reforms. Strangely these people remain completely silent regarding the massive transfer of money from the public purse to privately owned big pharma.

      • Anon1

        Number one tactic is to shriek “American-style health care!!!” at the tops of their voices the moment anyone suggests any kind of reform to the NHS.

        • Ken Kenn

          As the worlds only living brain donor I’m a bit suspicious of your idea that the NHS is safe in private hands.

          I take it your terms at The Boris Johnson Academy for Diplomacy were not wasted either.

          Unfortunately I suspect that the ‘ Academy ‘ was closed due to Tory Local Authority spending cuts.

          You can’t throw money at everything as you Tories say – particularly the education of idiots in Greek or
          even English which you speak.

          Current Tory mantra:

          ‘ Less is more ‘

          I don’t know what that translates to in Latin ,but I’m sure your Tartan Tory friend will assist you and I in the matter.

        • Ken Kenn

          As you are the worlds only living brain donor I’m a bit suspicious of your idea that the NHS is safe in private hands.

          I take it your terms at The Boris Johnson Academy for Diplomacy were not wasted either.

          Unfortunately I suspect that the ‘ Academy ‘ was closed due to Tory Local Authority spending cuts.

          You can’t throw money at everything as you Tories say – particularly the education of idiots in Greek or
          even English which you speak.

          Current Tory mantra:

          ‘ Less is more ‘

          I don’t know what that translates to in Latin ,but I’m sure your Tartan Tory friend will assist you and I in the matter.

      • Borncynical

        Loony

        I agree with your comments & @Anon1 (10 March 10.08).

        Re “No one seems to either know or care…who decided to kill 456 patients in Gosport by feeding them opiate painkillers for no reason”
        I know from personal experience that Gosport is not alone. The practice extends far wider than Hampshire and occurs in at least one health authority not yet under the spotlight. I can’t begin to imagine the public reaction if If the true scale of this activity were to be revealed.

      • Dave Lawton

        Loony
        March 10, 2019 at 09:34

        Ah yes the NHS.

        “No-one seems to either know or care exactly who gave Dr. Harold Shipman a job or who decided to kill 456 patients in Gosport by feeding them opiate painkillers for no reason
        “who decided to kill 456 patients in Gosport by feeding them opiate painkillers for no reason”

        A super management group called Common Purpose pro EU which was kickstarted by EU with funds to infiltrated every part of the British State.We have known this for years.Sir Brian Jarman the Investigator into abnormal deaths within the NHS was finding his investigations blocked by Common Purpose.In a interview last year on BBC radio 4 the interview was terminated when he mentioned Common Purpose.Of course the BBC was infiltrated years ago.

      • Blunderbuss

        “Meanwhile the NHS proceeds with its real job – acting as a conduit for massive subsidies to the pharmaceutical industry completely unmolested by its ideological supporters”

        I want a publicly-owned pharmaceutical industry so that the NHS can buy drugs at cost price.

          • Blunderbuss

            I’ll start with the off-patent ones.

            I’m puzzled about your approach to clinical trials, Clark. It seems that you want trial results published for all pharmaceuticals except vaccines.

            Trial results for vaccines must not be published because they might deter people from getting children vaccinated.

            Have I understood you correctly?

          • Blunderbuss

            @Clark

            “I expect you’ve deliberately misunderstood. Again.”

            No, I’m trying to understand your apparently contradictory position on Vaccines.

            You accused me of being a danger to the public because I failed to support the hate campaign against Dr Andrew Wakefield.

            However, the link you’ve just given me includes this: “The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre‐ and post‐marketing, are largely inadequate.”

            It is therefore quite possible that there are studies which support Wakefield’s conclusions but, until all the trial reports are published, we just don’t know.

          • Clark

            Yet again, please stop lying about me Blunderbuss; I have never asked you to support any “hate campaign”. Indeed, I am the only one here who has laid more blame with the mainstream media than with Wakefield. However experimenting upon sick children to further one’s own career is reprehensible, and I find it most distasteful that you apparently defend it.

            And again, please stop misrepresenting evidence. Yes, the real-time systems for reporting adverse reactions are inadequate, but, obviously, that does not invalidate the many vast and thorough studies that are entirely independent of the reporting system.

            Why don’t you do something useful by learning what the real problems are?

          • Blunderbuss

            @Clark, March 11, 2019 at 17:38

            As usual, it’s a waste of time trying to discuss anything with you.

          • Clark

            Well of course it’s a waste of time trying to ignite a polemic argument about scientific matters; I can only speculate about your motive for doing so.

  • kula

    This government repudiates international and common law. I recently had cause to enquire about dual nationality. Would I be given assistance in the event of civil unrest? And officially no, but said the embassy, they would do all they could to help, including getting me out of the country if necessary. I am not a useful pawn in the game, so I could expect some assistance, but had I stuck my head out above the parapet, common and international law would be wholeheartedly flouted to ensure I never again risked exposure.

  • Anon1

    Lovely people, Iranians. Friendly, welcoming, as has been noted by others on here. I have spent quite some time in Iran and in private most educated Iranians will express their disgust for the Iranian theocratic regime of bearded old men telling young women how to dress at risk of a public flogging on the street.

    Unfortunately, visitors from the UK must at present travel in a group, escorted by a government-approved guide. Strangely, when relations were at their worst, which was when I visited, you could travel more or less freely within the country. I doubt that a single one of the Iranians I befriended in Tehran, Isfahan, Yazd and elsewhere would support the ongoing detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

    Nazanin continues to be held only so the Iranian regime can save face. I have noticed that there seems to be a real dislike (bordering almost on hatred) of Nazanin amongst the West-haters on here, presumably because her incarceration and psychological torture in the dreaded Evin jail continues to make the Iranian regime look bad.

    • Andyoldlabour

      Anon1

      Uk visitors do not have to travel in groups and they do not have to use the services of a government approved guide. I know that I have relatives there, but I have always been free to go anywhere.
      We also know another guy who did a tour of various Asian countries including Iran last year, and he was allowed to drive around on his own.

      • Anon1

        You don’t have to be in a group (my mistake) but you do have to be accompanied by an approved ‘guide’. Whether you can just head off without one and no one will bother you, I don’t know.

      • Laguerre

        I just managed to get a free-travel visa to Iran, while being British. And my contacts in Tehran are not that great. So it’s not that fixed a rule. I’m looking forward to it.

    • David

      I certainly have no idea if Nazanin was helping to prepare the Iranian autocratic regime for something “spontaneous & colorful” and it’d be wonderful for her to be released. However, they do tend to hang on to independent ‘hikers’, who later appear to have been FBI operating on CIA contracts. This poor guy, Robert Levinson, has (probably) been imprisoned by Iran for twelve years…

      https://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/14/world/middleeast/a-disappearing-american-spy-and-the-cia.html

      (not from Consortium News]

    • Andrew Nichols

      I have a C azbadian woman friend who a prof in business management at Uni Calgary who spent a sabattical year at Teheran Uni Business School 09/10 . Had a great time and furthermore is Jewish.
      We d ol hear and a lot of rubbish about Iran for obvious reasons.

        • Andyoldlabour

          Anon1

          There is still a long way to go in Iran, but one of the oldest Jewish communities in the Middle East is in Iran and they have their own MP’s. There is also a large Armenian Christian community in Shiraz and Isfahan.

        • Laguerre

          The last time I heard, the Jewish community in Iran is around 29,000 and they have no desire to move to Israel. They have one MP.

          It is Israel driving belligerency.

    • Laguerre

      In Iran, theocratic regime = popular preference. Hard to say it but it’s true. The regime would not have survived forty years, if it were not the case. Your friends calling for a return of the aristocratic regime are not the majority.

  • BrianFujisan

    Feel Free to Write to Chelsea –

    Thanks Caitlin. J –

    ” Here is Chelsea’s address:

    Chelsea Elizabeth Manning
    William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center
    2001 Mill Road
    Alexandria, VA
    22314

    Her jail does NOT accept:
    -books or cards

    You CAN write letters with pen or colored pencils on paper, and send newspapers.

  • Charles Bostock

    Earlier on, when mentioning Mr Julian Assange, someone linked to an outfit called “Consortium News”. It’s apparently some sort of collective of “journalists” who specialise in alternative takes on current events.

    Anyway, it appears that thiis outfit in organising an (wait for it!) “online vigil” for Mr Assange.

    I’ve observed normal vigils, where people actually turn up somewhere and hang about for a greater or lesser amount of time, but how does an “online” vigil work?

    • Ian

      Is it really beyond your ability to go the website and see for yourself? It isn’t a complicated or strange idea. That you don’t would suggest that you aren’t actually interested in the answer to your ‘question ‘.

    • Borncynical

      ‘…an outfit called “Consortium News”.

      Really?? You have just confirmed in five words why you are not to be taken seriously as an analyst and commentator on current affairs. I defy you to click on this link to at least read the background to the initiative, which was the brainchild of the late, highly respected Robert Parry in 1995. https://consortiumnews.com/about/

      Who knows? If you do demean yourself by looking at this information source that many of us have relied on for years for trustworthy alternative commentaries on what is happening around the globe you might experience an ‘awakening’, although I do somehow doubt that.

      You missed out a word in your derogatory reference to serious and experienced “journalists” (your quotation marks) – that is “investigative” journalists. That is the major difference between those journalists and other contributors featured on Consortium News and the ones you presumably rely on in the mainstream media.

    • Deb O'Nair

      ‘someone linked to an outfit called “Consortium News”’

      Many journalists and politicians are frequent readers and contributors to this highly respected ‘outfit’ Perhaps you should stick to Bellingcat (or better, crawl back under the stone from which you recently emerged)

    • Clark

      Robert Parry (June 24, 1949 – January 27, 2018) was an American investigative journalist. He was best known for his role in covering the Iran-Contra affair for the Associated Press (AP) and Newsweek, including breaking the Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (CIA manual provided to the Nicaraguan contras) and the CIA involvement in Contra cocaine trafficking in the U.S. scandal in 1985.

      He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984 and the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence by Harvard’s Nieman Foundation in 2015.

      Parry was the editor of Consortiumnews from 1995 until his death in 2018.”

  • N_

    Chelsea Manning is a man – a brave and honourable one.

    Like many who have felt the sharp end of state power (including David Shayler and Craig Murray), he has suffered mental health difficulties. Those who support him are doing him no help by playing along with his delusion that he is a woman.

    • Ian

      You’re not helping by imposing your binary ideas on to someone who is braver and has more integrity than you appear to have. It is irrelevant to her what you think.

      • N_

        You’re just spitting against somebody who doesn’t mindlessly follow and internalise what they see on the telly and Facebook. Have you ever thought about these issues for yourself? Gender IS binary. A person either has Y chromosomes or they don’t. A person may suffer from gender dysphoria, which is an illness, and I sympathise with those who suffer from it, but they can’t half have Y chromosomes. You have no decent reason for saying that I am not brave or that I do not have integrity, and your use of the word “irrelevant” is so uneducatedly petty bourgeois that it’s comical. Coming from someone who is unthinkingly spouting the line that for less than 20 years has been put out by most governments and big businesses in the little western part of the world that doubtless you come from, that is pathetic. Manning changed in his life from some dirty scumbag who signed up for an imperialist army into a decent guy who blew the whistle on it.

        As for your last sentence, Mr Manning doesn’t know me and doubtless he hasn’t read what I wrote. If I were his personal friend, I would support him not only in his fight to get out of jail but also in his dealing with his mental illness. It’s “friends” who tell him “of course you’re a woman now” who aren’t helping.

        David Shayler is another very brave man who blew the whistle. Eventually the pressure got to him so much that he decided he was the Messiah. Would you tell him “of course David, yes, you’re the Messiah now”?

        • Sinister Burt

          Do you also refuse to refer to step relatives as father/mother/parent/sister/brother even if they perform those roles while being genetically unrelated?

        • Ian

          You’re the one doing all the spitting, making judgements on people you don’t know and ranting about a complex subject with simplistic and scientifically misleading statements. If you can’t accept her for what she is, that is your problem, not hers, or mine, although you are desperate to make it so. Why the petty anger over something you are clearly not informed about? As for your bravery, I am not aware of you going to jail for you principles, and I am not seeing any integrity in your raving post.

        • Deb O'Nair

          “A person either has Y chromosomes or they don’t.”

          On the physical level it does not always follow that the chromosomes are fully expressed genetically in terms of gender. It is quite possible for males to be XX and females to be XY. When dealing with peoples psychology, emotions, societal and cultural experiences etc. gender becomes even more complex.

          What if you were physically a male with XX chromosomes and society insisted that you wear a dress and use female toilets, or even compelled you to have gender realignment surgery to remove your penis because you had no Y chromosome?

        • Clark

          N_, your above comment disappoints me. People are not “dirty scumbags” for enlisting in the armed forces, especially when they are young and haven’t yet understood the ways in which the military is misused. They may join due to economic pressure and lack of other opportunities, or to conform with family expectations and traditions, or have been overwhelmed by the militaristic propaganda of their society. And gender dysphoria is not a mental illness; it is just one of the myriad tensions between a person’s complex self and the simplistic expectations of society, like a socialist choosing between employment in a capitalist company, and slow starvation. I think you’d do well to retract those remarks.

        • Andyoldlabour

          Ian

          Gender may be fluid, but sex is down to science and biology, and nothing can change that. People cannot change sex.

          • Ian

            Your understanding of science does not conform with actual scientists working in this field. Gender is a spectrum, not binary, and there is biological and genetic research which explores this topic:

            “Science tells us that gender is certainly not binary; it may not even be a linear spectrum. Like many other facets of identity, it can operate on a broad range of levels and operate outside of many definitions. And it also appears that gender may not be as static as we assume. At the forefront of this, transgender identity is complex – it’s unlikely we’ll ever be able to attribute it to one neat, contained set of causes, and there is still much to be learned. But we know now that several of those causes are biological. These individuals are not suffering a mental illness, or capriciously “choosing” a different identity. The transgender identity is multi-dimensional – but it deserves no less recognition or respect than any other facet of humankind.”
            http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2016/gender-lines-science-transgender-identity/

            Chelsea Manning deserves the utmost respect for her courage and integrity, and demeaning posts which make angry assumptions and uninformed judgements about who she is are diversionary irrelevance which are all about the authors and nothing to do with her or the science of gender, a field which is making new discoveries, overturning old thinking, all the time.
            Or don’t you, and the others, have an open mind?

          • Iain Stewart

            I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

          • Deb O'Nair

            “but sex is down to science and biology, and nothing can change that.”

            Except that science and biology is not that rigid nor simplistic, i.e. XX males and XY females.

          • Clark

            There is a category of people who are obsessed with ensuring that people remain in their assigned CATEGORIES!!! You! You belong in Pakistan! And you! You’re a WOMAN! Get back in your BOXES!!!

      • nevermind

        You are just a little hung up ovet whats hanging down, aren’t you?
        You cant fathom the facts of life incl. The chemically altered environs we live in, the uncotrolled release of over 2500 newly created chemical concoctions, nor can you fathom the fact that some very young peple are feeling as if they are in the wrong gender and are speaking out about it.
        I do not feel sorry for your unreconstructable male selfishness but you should, cause one of the things that makes us human is compassion and understandiing.
        you havent got a clue about gender disphoria! hence? Why dont you keep your opinion to yourself?

    • Jack

      N_

      Manning had the gender issue way before the leaking of documents, so the gender thing has nothing to do with being chased after the leak.

    • Mighty Drunken

      Chelsea Manning is a person– a brave and honourable one.

      Why would anyone care if they prefer to identify with a particular gender?

  • Andrew Nichols

    Fat chance of any of the corporate media pointing out the wretched contradictions and hypocrisy that scream out loud from this affair.

  • N_

    Dirty tricks against John McDonnell too, not just against Jeremy Corbyn, are today admitted in the Sunday Times to have involved the covert recording of audio.

    “The Sunday Times has (…) been passed a tape of John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor” – and in this case it reportedly supports the contention that McDonnell backed Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, who was suspended as a Labour candidate presumably under fascist pressure.

    The Tory Murdoch-owned rag doesn’t bother asking who it was that carried out the covert recording of McDonnell’s conversation. They don’t mention Margaret Hodge in this article. If we assume it wasn’t her, then the use of covert recording by two different individuals with the same political aim – bringing down the Labour leadership – doesn’t seem to have inspired editors to ask whether there was coordination, let alone to send out their finest “investigators” to turn over stones to try to expose the ongoing use of dirty tricks by British politicians who openly boast of their friendship with a foreign fascist regime.

    Why the Labour leadership shouldn’t lead behind the scenes as well as in the full glare of the cameras remains unclear. If those tasked with responsibilities at a more junior level in the party feel they are being brought under undue pressure from the leadership, they can resign. It’s not up to Tories and racists to decide how the Labour party regulates its business, is it? But then for Tories and racist thugs almost anything the left of the Labour party does is filthy, especially when it involves remaining standing after being attacked from the right.

    I am still hearing a whisper that Jeremy Corbyn will be forced out of office around a week before 29 March.

    • Jo1

      There was an article in a Scottish Newspaper last week covering Hunt’s attack on Salmond for working at RT. Hunt included, among more general charges against Salmond that he, like Corbyn, was “anti-Israel” and pro-Russia.

      I posted,

      “Mr Hunt clearly doesn’t do irony. He speaks about foreign powers trying to interfere with democracy here yet fails to acknowledge the numbers, right across the Parties, who are willing to serve the interests of Israel at all costs.”

      I received the following response from a particularly vile poster.

      “Jo you come across as a jew hater. I have noted from many comments you posted that you are clearly driven by an agenda that is certainly hostile towards jews. I presume your name is not Jo at all, yes? Let me guess, Mohammed? Adolfous? Abdul?”

      (The paper agreed to remove the above defamatory comment about me.)

      I have said a number of times here that in all the years since I became interested in politics I have never seen the likes of this persecution of Corbyn. That it has been committed by many in the PLP is the most shocking part of it. These people have been at this for three and a half years now. They appear to believe, now led by Watson, they are nearly there. Throughout, they have had a media frothing at the mouth to assist. And no one will speak up because the AS label will be used to shut everyone up.

      Truly we live in terrifying times.

      • Jack

        Jo1

        Unfortunately, it is the same all over the west. The russia bashing is everywhere and everyone is an agent if they not agree with the etablishment views.

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