Tagged: terrorism

Memorials to emptiness, loss, massacre on the island of Utøya


Click to enlargeKORO/Public Art Norway/Jonas Dahlberg Studio

A memorial for the victims of Norway’s July 22 terror attack will see a slice of land removed from the Sørbråten headland

The terror attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011 that resulted in 77 people being killed left the country with a sense of abrupt loss. That feeling will be echoed in a memorial designed by artist Jonas Dahlberg, which will see a slice of land removed from the landscape at Sørbråten.

Dahlberg was selected by a panel as the winner of a contest to design memorials at the two sites of the terror attack, the Government Administration Complex in Oslo and Sørbråten, which is opposite Utøya on the mainland. His design will see a 3.5 meter wide excavation running from from one side of the headland at the Sørbråten site to the other, and extending below the waterline. It will appear as though the landscape simply stops and then restarts, and will make it impossible to reach the end of the headland…

…His suggestion for the Sørbråten site is to make a physical incision into the landscape, which can be seen as a symbolic wound. Part of the headland will be removed and visitors will not be able to touch the names of those killed, as these will be engraved into the wall on the other side of the slice out of nature. The void that is created evokes the sense of sudden loss combined with the long-term missing and remembrance of those who perished.”

The earth removed from the excavation at Sørbråten will be transported to Oslo and used to build the foundation of the temporary and subsequent permanent memorials at the Government Administration Complex. The temporary memorial will feature the names of the victims inscribed along the side of a pathway linking the Grubbegata and the Deichmanske Library. The use of excavated land from Sørbråten will provide a poetic link between the two sites. An amphitheater will ultimately be built as the permanent memorial, with trees taken from Sørbråten and replanted as a means of maintaining the link between the memorial sites.

Mass killings and the fascist mindset aren’t sufficiently memorialized. In general, Western culture would rather remember heroes and wars than criminal behavior still rationalized away by the Right Wing of most nations. Even the 9-11 memorials are treated as part of a “War” on Terror.

I wonder if politicians and their sycophants will ever stop treating society as a child’s game?

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Boston Marathon hit by terrorist bombs

Live Blog by Zuri Berry on Apr 15, 2013 at 5:15 PM
Video shot by Steve Silva, Boston.com Producer, at the scene of the first explosion

BREAKING NEWS:

Two explosions occurred near the Boston Marathon finish line at 2:50 p.m. The race was diverted before being halted as police and fire crews swept the area. Another device was found, which was purposely detonated by Boston Police at Boylston Street. Another incident at JFK Library, which was thought to be a fourth-related incident, is now being considered as a fire-related issue by the Boston Police Department. Two people are dead and 107 are injured. >>> This is a developing story.

The Glasgow Sunday Herald publishes the secret report that could have cleared Megrahi

The controversial report from the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) has remained secret for five years because, until now, no-one had permission to publish it.

The Sunday Herald and its sister paper, The Herald, are the only newspapers in the world to have seen the report. We choose to publish it because we have the permission of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the bombing, and because we believe it is in the public interest to disseminate the whole document.

The Sunday Herald has chosen to publish the full report online today to allow the public to see for themselves the analysis of the evidence which could have resulted in the acquittal of Megrahi. Under Section 32 of the Data Protection Act, journalists can publish in the public interest. We have made very few redactions to protect the names of confidential sources and private information.

Click here to read the report in full

The publication of the report aGdds weight to calls for a full public inquiry into the atrocity – something for which many of the relatives have been campaigning for more than two decades…

The SCCRC rejected many of the defence submissions but upheld six grounds which could have constituted a miscarriage of justice. The commission made clear that, had such information been shared with the defence, the result of the trial could have been different…

Megrahi was convicted of murder by Scottish judges sitting at Camp Zeist in 2001. He unsuccessfully appealed in January 2001. He dropped a second appeal shortly before the decision to release him on compassionate grounds in August 2009. He was expected to die from cancer within three months.

Critical portions of the evidence used to convict Megrahi of the Lockerbie bombing were not only flawed; but, contradictory and possibly contrived. No one doubts or denies the complicity of the Libyan government of Muamar Ghaddafi in the terrorist bombing. But, the uniform condemnation of Megrahi and the possible reasons for the Scottish government allowing his release has been another holy crusade by politicians and pundits unaccompanied by facts.

Which is why this police report, the result of several consecutive examinations and re-examinations of the evidence surrounding Megrahi’s trial, has been kept secret. In my opinion, because publication would show up once again that political decisions have been more important to verdicts of guilty or innocent – than justice. Resulting from pressures from the United States at least as much as anything else.

In addition, a criticism of prosecutors that never seems to end appears in this document. Prosecutors deciding which evidence will be allowed to the defense. Instead of free access to all the evidence collected – the prosecution decides some must not been seen for whatever reason.

US wants to store your international travel data for 15 years

The personal data of millions of passengers who fly between the US and Europe, including credit card details, phone numbers and home addresses, may be stored by the US department of homeland security for 15 years, according to a draft agreement between Washington and Brussels leaked to the Guardian.

The “restricted” draft, which emerged from negotiations between the US and EU, opens the way for passenger data provided to airlines on check-in to be analysed by US automated data-mining and profiling programmes in the name of fighting terrorism, crime and illegal migration. The Americans want to require airlines to supply passenger lists as near complete as possible 96 hours before takeoff, so names can be checked against terrorist and immigration watchlists.

The agreement acknowledges that there will be occasions when people are delayed or prevented from flying because they are wrongly identified as a threat, and gives them the right to petition for judicial review in the US federal court. Well, isn’t that special?

The 15-year retention period is likely to prove highly controversial as it is three times the five years allowed for in the EU’s PNR (passenger name record) regime to cover flights into, out of and within Europe. A period of five and a half years has just been negotiated in a similar agreement with Australia. Germany and France raised concerns this week about the agreement and the unproven necessity for the measure.

Britain has already announced its intention to opt in to the European PNR plan, in which the home secretary, Theresa May, played a key role, and is expected to join the US agreement this summer…

The US Senate passed a resolution last week saying it “simply could not accept” any watering down by European ministers of data-sharing, describing it as “an important part of our layered defences against terrorism”. Senators said it was an important tool in the security agencies’ “identifying possible threats before they arrive in our country”.

But the European parliament, which would have to approve it, has demanded proof that such a PNR agreement is necessary, and said it should in no circumstances be used for data-mining or profiling…

This draft agreement appears to give the Americans all they have asked for

The data to be collected includes 19 separate items relating to each airline passenger, including their billing details, contact numbers, the names of those they are travelling with and how much baggage they have, as well their itinerary.

Well, we certainly are assured our government cares enough about our safety and security that they are willing to keep an eye on us for years and years. I feel safer, now. Don’t you?

City dwellers – except Americans – cite climate as #1 concern


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Residents of major world cities cite climate change as the most pressing global issue, except residents of large U.S. cities who list the economy as the bigger problem, according to a survey by HSBC Bank.

Climate change topped the list of concerns by some two-thirds of Hong Kong residents polled as well as majorities of residents of London, Paris, Sao Paolo, Toronto, Vancouver and Sydney, according to the poll of 2,044 urban residents around the world.

Residents of U.S. cities, however, ranked the economy as the biggest global issue, closely followed by terrorism with climate change ranking third…

“When you look at what the impact of the recent global downturn has been, U.S. individuals had a larger percent of their portfolio or a larger percentage of their wealth negatively affected,” said Andy Ireland, head of premier banking for HSBC Bank NA. “I think there may be a correlation between the two.”

Think so, eh?

U.S. respondents were hardest hit by the economic downturn with 56 percent reporting a decrease in their portfolio value.

Fifty five percent of Paris residents said their portfolios dropped in value and 45 percent of Londoners reported a decrease. However, just 19 percent of Hong Kong respondents said their portfolios lost value.

I wonder if they took into account the idea that Americans think we are the only victims in the world?

Filming holiday celebration constitutes “antisocial behavior”


Amateur photographer captures his own arrest

Police questioned an amateur photographer under anti-terrorist legislation and later arrested him, claiming pictures he was taking in a Lancashire town were “suspicious” and constituted “antisocial behaviour“.

Footage recorded on a video camera by Bob Patefield, a former paramedic, shows how police approached him and a fellow photography enthusiast in Accrington town centre. They were told they were being questioned under the Terrorism Act…

He and his friend were taking photographs of Christmas festivities on 19 December, after attending a photography exhibition. The last images on his camera before he was stopped show a picture of a Santa Claus, people in fancy dress and a pipe band marching through the town.

He turned on his video camera the moment he was approached by a police community support officer (PCSO). In the footage, she said: “Because of the Terrorism Act and everything in the country, we need to get everyone’s details who is taking pictures of the town.”

She replied: “I’m an officer of the law, and I’m requiring you, because I believe your behaviour to be of a suspicious nature, and of possibly antisocial [nature] … I can take your details just to ascertain that everything is OK.”

Patefield and his friend maintained that they did not want to disclose their details. They were stopped a third and final time when returning to their car. This time the officer was accompanied by an acting sergeant. “Under law, fine, we can ask for your details – we’ve got no powers,” he said. “However, due to the fact that we believe you were involved in antisocial behaviour, ie taking photographs … then we do have a power under [the Police Reform Act] to ask for your name and address, and for you to provide it. If you don’t, then you may be arrested…”

Patefield was arrested for refusing to give his details, while his friend, who gave in, walked free. Patefield was held for eight hours and released without charge.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Discretion is the better part of valor.

But, sometimes you have to stand up and be counted for the freedom we’re supposed to be fighting all over the world to protect. Even if some petty pop-up snoop has the authority to shut you down. UK or US? It’s all the same.

British SAS training Libyan special forces


Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The SAS has been ordered by the Government to train Libyan special forces despite the country having armed the IRA, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

For the past six months Britain’s elite troops have been schooling soldiers working for Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, which for years provided Republican terrorists with the Semtex explosive, machine-guns and anti-aircraft missiles used against British troops during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Sources within the SAS have expressed distaste at the agreement, which they believe could be connected to the release of the Lockerbie bomber…

The disclosure that members of the SAS are training their Libyan counterparts will further raise suspicions about exactly what has been agreed behind the scenes between Tripoli and Britain…

Defence sources said the training arrangement must have been given high-level political approval

The Ministry of Defence refuses to comment on special forces activities, but sources have admitted that SAS reserves have bolstered the team that has been training “Libyan infantry in basic skills”…

The first moves towards setting up the training agreement are believed to have begun after Tony Blair visited
Libya as Prime Minister in 2004. However, the deal was only finalised and “signed off” by Mr Brown earlier this year.

What goes around, comes around.

One of the essential reasons I try to promote commerce as the core of competition between nations is that, sooner or later, that’s what it always has to come down to. The difference being – if you’re open about it, you reduce the likelihood of war. If you rely on the superpatriots and hack hypocrites to install “official” policies of exclusion, you end up increasing the incidence of corruption as they fumble around in the darkness to grab a share for their buddies.

Animal rights campaigners jailed

Seven animal rights activists who blackmailed companies linked to an animal testing laboratory have been jailed for between four and 11 years.

They used paedophile smears, criminal damage and bomb hoaxes to intimidate companies associated with Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) in Cambridgeshire.

Heather Nicholson, Gerrah Selby, Daniel Wadham and Gavin Medd-Hall were found guilty of conspiracy to blackmail. Gregg and Natasha Avery, of Hampshire, and Daniel Amos admitted the charge.

Sentencing the activists, Mr Justice Butterfield called the campaign “urban terrorism” and a “relentless, sustained and merciless persecution” which had made the victims lives “a living hell”.

He said he accepted that the seven had genuine deeply-held beliefs that animal testing was wrong, and had the right to protest against it. But he told them that companies had the right to conduct vital biomedical research and the right to conduct lawful trading…

“You are not going to prison for expressing your beliefs, you are going to prison because you have committed a serious criminal offence.”

Another defendant, Trevor Holmes, 51, from Newcastle, was cleared.

Political amateurs with no ability to define or implement, comprehend political strategy and tactics. Their approach to the task they defined had little to differentiate it from religious fanatics willing to kill or maim civilians to make their point.

Sad, but true.

Muslims in India march against terrorism


Daylife/AP Photo by Manish Swarup

Throngs of Indian Muslims, ranging from Bollywood actors to skullcap-wearing seminary students, marched through the heart of Mumbai and several other cities on Sunday, holding up banners proclaiming their condemnation of terrorism and loyalty to the Indian state.

The protests, though relatively small, were the latest in a series of striking public gestures by Muslims — who have often come under suspicion after past attacks — to defensively dissociate their own grievances as a minority here from any sort of sympathy for terrorism or radical politics in the wake of the deadly assault here.

Muslim leaders have refused to allow the bodies of the nine militants killed in the attacks to be buried in Islamic cemeteries, saying the men were not true Muslims. They also suspended the annual Dec. 6 commemoration of a 1992 riot in which Hindus destroyed a mosque, in an effort to avert communal tension. Muslim religious scholars and public figures have issued strongly worded condemnations of the attacks.

So far, their approach appears to have worked: the response has been remarkably unified, with little of the suspicion and fear that followed some previous attacks.

“It’s a pity we have to prove ourselves as Indians,” said Mohammed Siddique, a young accountant who was marching in the protest here on Sunday afternoon with his wife and mother. “But the fact is, we need to speak louder than others, to make clear that those people do not speak for our religion — and that we are not Pakistanis.”

Excellent piece of reporting. A worthwhile read.

One of those tough political decisions needing to be made – juxtaposing national unity and legitimate questions about equal rights and opportunity within the nation of India.

Britain’s threat assessment finds Flu, not terrorism, most serious risk

Pandemic flu, not terrorism, is the most serious risk to the U.K. public, says Britain’s first ever national threat assessment.

Don’t you just hate it when a serious examination of reality produces results counter to every political hack’s favorite slogans?

The document, part of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s overhaul of homeland security strategy, considers the likely dangers posed by threats including terrorism, climate change, extreme weather and pandemic disease…

Though the new register does not rank threats in order of seriousness, it does indicate that flu is considered the most pressing concern, said a spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office.

“It looks at the whole range of risks and looks at them from a national perspective,” said the spokeswoman, on condition of anonymity in line with policy. “It is the first time all of this has been brought together in this way.”

Not that Gordon Brown – the UK’s latest George W. Bush lapdog – will pay much more than lip service to the report.