We found him living in a shabby block of flats of the kind you don’t imagine exists in the genteel Thames-side suburb of Teddington.
Noel Coward was born a couple of streets away, but the tattooed man in a grubby vest did not belong to the same world as the composer of Mad Dogs And Englishmen.
David Issett was the epitome of a washed-up pub bruiser. Under a wrinkled dome covered with crew-cut white hair, his eyes were both calculating and evasive. What the f*** did we want, going around asking questions about him and his family, he asked?
What we wanted, in fact, was to hear what the unpleasant Issett could tell us about his former lover, a woman called Carole Kasir, and the notorious gay brothel which she once ran in nearby Barnes.
And the reason? Over the past week, the Mail has serialised Labour MP Simon Danczuk’s chilling new book about the late Liberal politician Sir Cyril Smith. The book revealed Smith’s genuinely horrifying, decades-long reign of terror and sexual abuse involving scores of young, vulnerable boys — as well as the Establishment cover-up that kept his crimes hidden, which included the police, politicians and even MI5.’
‘Despite calls for a peaceful dialogue in the document on Ukraine adopted in Geneva, the coup-imposed Ukrainian Foreign Minister said it will not affect the “anti-terrorist” operation in the East of the country and the troops will remain there.
Soon after the Geneva document, adopted at a four-side meeting between Ukraine, the US, the EU and Russia, was published, Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchytsa said Kiev is not bound by its recommendations.
According to Deshchytsa cited by RIA Novosti, “the troops in the East of the country are carrying out a special operation and can remain where they are.”’
‘The Ukrainian State Border Guard Service confirmed Thursday that Russian males aged 16-60 have been banned from entering the country.
Russia’s largest airline Aeroflot earlier announced it had received an official letter from Ukrainian authorities notifying the company of the severe restrictions.
The exceptions to the ban include passengers traveling with relatives who are women or children, or those who have documents confirming an invitation from close relatives or serious illness or death in the family, the company said.
A spokesman for the service told RIA Novosti that “these temporary measures apply, primarily, to healthy males who could somehow influence the situation in eastern Ukraine.”‘
‘Western media headlined it. The New York Times said “Ukraine Push Against Rebels Grinds to a Halt.” Things “unraveled in disarray.”
An “entire contingent of 21 armored vehicles…surrendered or pull(ed) back…It was a glaring humiliation for the new government in Kiev. (Events) underscored (its) weakness.”
The Wall Street Journal said “Ukraine’s Efforts to Regain Control of East Sputter.” Locals “halted army columns.”’
‘The recent visit of CIA Director John Brennan to Ukraine was likely an attempt to initiate the use of force against pro-federalization protests, Brandon Turbeville, an American international affairs expert, told RIA Novosti.
“It’s clear that the CIA director’s presence in Kiev is much more than mere coincidence,” Turbeville said.
“Despite the denials by the White House, it seems that Brennan’s visit was an attempt to, at the very least, express support for a violent crackdown on pro-Russian protesters and militants in Eastern Ukraine. It is more likely, however, that Brennan’s trip was an attempt to formulate, encourage and initiate that use of force,” he added.’
‘British Gas is paying staff bonuses to inflate customers’ bills by up to 60 per cent, a whistleblower has claimed.
The former employee said he felt ‘disgusted’ by the policy, which encouraged staff to target charities and small businesses and sell them the most expensive deals possible.
Employees were told they could triple their £25,000 salary through commission if they sold the highest-priced tariffs to enough customers.
Churches and charities – including the Scouts – were among those targeted by the policy, the whistleblower said, with some organisations ending up £2,000 a year worse off.’
‘President Obama has warned that Iran is not open for business, even as the United States has loosened some of its punishing economic sanctions as part of an interim nuclear pact.
Yet on Tuesday morning, Iran had an unlikely visitor: a plane, owned by the Bank of Utah, a community bank in Ogden that has 13 branches throughout the state. Bearing a small American flag on its tail, the aircraft was parked in a highly visible section of Mehrabad Airport in Tehran.
But from there, the story surrounding the plane, and why it was in Iran — where all but a few United States and European business activities are prohibited — grows more mysterious.’
‘David Cameron and 89 other MPs used work experience volunteers last year – without paying any of them wages.
The Prime Minister was one of 44 Tories who registered intern and student helpers. The others were 35 Labour and 11 Lib Dem MPs.
The revelations are at odds with Deputy PM Nick Clegg’s crackdown on unpaid internships.’
‘Householders are facing the prospect of bin collections just once every three weeks, it emerged yesterday.
The council involved says the move would help it to meet recycling targets.
But local residents are furious, saying that having their general black bin bag waste lying around for so long will attract rats and scavenging seagulls and lead to a rise in fly-tipping.’
‘Members of the public face “a very real risk” to their privacy from the huge roadside surveillance network that captures millions of motorists every day, the Government’s Surveillance Commissioner has warned. In an interview with The Independent, Tony Porter urges that clear guidance be provided to ensure “innocent” people do not fall victim to roadside automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras which have been the centre of concerns over the rise of surveillance in Britain.
The regulator for Britain’s state-run security cameras has put police on notice over their use of personal data after a series of investigations into the ANPR system, which has been described by campaigners as the “biggest surveillance network that most people have never heard of”.’
‘Councils are violating the principles of Magna Carta by using CCTV cameras to issue parking fines, a minister has said, as he urged motorists to appeal against tickets.
Brandon Lewis, the high streets minister, said that it is “natural justice” for drivers to appeal parking fines.
Councils that raise revenue through parking fines are engaging in a form of taxation without consent that runs contrary Magna Carta, the document that formed the bedrock of England’s democracy.
At least 36 local authorities in England and Wales are using static CCTV cameras to monitor parking offences, while 58 are using cameras mounted on cars. Drivers have been hit with £312 million in fines.’
‘United States President Barack Obama signed a bill on Friday that bars Iran’s proposed ambassador to the United Nations from legally gaining entry to the US.
One week earlier, White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed that the Obama administration was opposed to Iran’s request to have Hamid Aboutalebi serve as the Islamic Republic’s ambassador to the UN.
As RT reported previously, Aboutalebi, 56, previously served as Iran’s ambassador to three countries and the European Union, but is perhaps most infamously known in the US for his alleged role within a group, Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line, that occupied the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held dozens of Americans hostage.’
‘In a speech delivered at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government on Tuesday evening, White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco said it could help prevent terrorism if parents watched for “sudden personality changes in their children at home.”
“President Obama has been laser-focused on making sure we use all the elements of our national power to protect Americans, including developing the first government-wide strategy to prevent violent extremism in the United States,” said Monaco, in a transcription posted by the White House.
“At the same time, we recognize that there are limits to what the federal government can do,” said Monaco. “So we must rely on the partnership of those who are most familiar with the local risks, those who are in the best position to take action—local communities.’
In 2012, the current British Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Owen Paterson called concerns over the use of GM foods “complete nonsense” in an outright attack on valid concerns about GMOs (1). Since then, through comments and speeches, he has consistently voiced unqualified support for the GM food industry.
MP Zac Goldsmith is a member of the Conservative Party to which Paterson also belongs and has accused his fellow party member of making “nonsensical” claims and as being a puppet of the industry. He has stated that Paterson has swallowed the industry line hook, line and sinker and fears that big agribusiness is framing the debate for the government in order to secure control over the food chain.
Paterson seems to be blissfully unaware of, or is content to ignore, the devastating, deleterious health, environmental, social and agricultural impacts of GMOs as detailed in this article.
In a recent report by in the Daily Mail newspaper in Britain, it is claimed that Paterson’s support for GMOs is being carried out in partnership with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), which is financed by GM companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience. The revelations come weeks after it was revealed that a group of scientists behind an official government study backing GM all had links to the industry
‘Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday cut taxes for 10 million low earners to try to boost household spending after a two-year recession, making good on a promise he made after taking office two months ago.
Renzi’s cabinet passed a decree to reduce taxes for those earning between 8,000 and 26,000 euros a year by about 80 euros per month, starting next month.
The 6.9 billion euros in tax cuts will be funded by a mix of spending reductions, one-off windfalls and a “review” of spending on Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet, Renzi told reporters.
“We kept our word. Today is the beginning of a general reorganization of spending and of the relationship between the state and its citizens,” Renzi said before outlining the cuts with tweets that were published on the government’s Twitter account as he spoke.’
‘Bullies historically, nationally, and American have all suffered from an arrogance born from remaining unchallenged after vanquishing weaker foes. Flush with the illusion of invincibility the world-wide bully, America, has reaped its terror on scores of the world’s countries and their citizens. What all bullies fear most is a challenger. One that can expose his weaknesses, thereby giving renewed strength to his victims.
Post cold war USA has so far only picked on countries having little ability to defend themselves. From puny Panama and Grenada, to Iraq and Afghanistan, the world has watched this accelerating thirty year set of American economic plunder and social atrocity. While sanctifying “Freedom” and “Democracy,” the US has manifested a more accurate definition in the minds of its victims; “Empire” and “Servitude.”
Ukraine seemed an easy geopolitical target for the same American hegemonic script used since Vietnam. Finally the bully has met its match.’
‘Humans can survive weeks without food, but only days without water — in some conditions, only hours. It may sound clichéd, but it’s no hyperbole: Water is life. So what happens when private companies control the spigot? Evidence from water privatization projects around the world paints a pretty clear picture — public health is at stake.
In the run-up to its annual spring meeting this month, the World Bank Group, which offers loans, advice and other resources to developing countries, held four days of dialogues in Washington, D.C. Civil society groups from around the world and World Bank Group staff convened to discuss many topics. Water was high on the list.’
The American workforce might want to pay attention to all those brown trucks full of cardboard boxes. UPS is using technology in ways that may soon be common throughout the economy.
‘On the surface, UPS trucks look the same as they did more than 20 years ago, when Bill Earle started driving for the company in rural Pennsylvania.
But underneath the surface, Earle says, the job has changed a lot. The thing you sign your name on when the UPS guy gives you a package used to be a piece of paper. Now it’s a computer that tells Earle everything he needs to know.
The computer doesn’t just give advice. It gathers data all day long. Earle’s truck is also full of sensors that record to the second when he opens or closes the door behind him, buckles his seat belt and when he starts the truck.
Technology means that no matter what kind of job you have — even if you’re alone in a truck on an empty road — your company can now measure everything you do.’
‘There was CIA involvement through a company called Mega Oil. They were shipping in arms under the cover of oil tools.
The BP executive was explaining to me how the CIA, MI6 and British Petroleum engineered a coup d’état, overthrowing an elected president of a nation who was “not favorable to BP.” The corporation’s former Vice-President, Leslie Abrahams, is pictured here, holding an AK-47 in front of BP headquarters in Baku, Azerbaijan. Like most of the other BP executives I spoke with, he proudly added that while he was working for BP, he was also an operative for MI6, British intelligence.’
‘Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced that Russia will not import any more GMO food products or seeds.
The Russian government has taken a bold stand against genetically altered food ingredients, believing there is no need for them in their country. Medvedev also declared that Russia has “enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” and they will no longer be encouraging the production of GMOs.
He commented, “If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that.”‘
‘Everything you and I are doing right now to try to save humanity and the planet probably won’t matter in a hundred years. That’s not my own conclusion; it’s the conclusion of computer scientist Steve Omohundro, author of a new paper published in the Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence.
His paper, entitled Autonomous technology and the greater human good, opens with this ominous warning:
‘Military and economic pressures are driving the rapid development of autonomous systems. We show that these systems are likely to behave in anti-social and harmful ways unless they are very carefully designed. Designers will be motivated to create systems that act approximately rationally and rational systems exhibit universal drives towards self-protection, resource acquisition, replication and efficiency. The current computing infrastructure would be vulnerable to unconstrained systems with these drives.’
‘Thousands marched in the streets of Port-au-Prince on Apr. 15 to demand that President Michel Martelly step down. The day before, 50 protestors picketed outside the military headquarters of the 9,000-soldier occupation force, the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti or MINUSTAH, demanding that the troops leave Haiti by the May 28, 2014 deadline set by the Haitian Senate one year ago. And on Apr. 16, hundreds of peasants on the southern island of Ile à Vache (Cow Island) are planning to march against the police occupation of their communities, as well as a government plan to evict them and turn their island into a tourist resort.
This is just a small sampling of the growing daily protests around Haiti which has many questioning whether Martelly will be able to serve out his five year term without resigning.
The flames of rebellion around Haiti were fanned this week by Martelly himself when he declared in the southern city of Aux Cayes: “I’m going to announce some bad news… We have been doing so much work around the country, that the state coffers don’t have a penny.”’
‘The Libyan state this week began a mass trial, the focus of which are two of deposed leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s sons, his heir apparent Saif al-Islam, and Saadi, who was recently extradited from Niger where he had sought refuge from the US-led war in 2011.
Also facing trial are 36 top officials, including Gaddafi’s intelligence chief and right hand man Abdullah al-Senussi, deported from Mauretania in 2012, former Prime Ministers al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi and Bouzid Dorda, and a former foreign minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi.
They all face charges relating to their alleged role in suppressing the pro-Islamist movement in Benghazi that was utilised by NATO in order to topple Gaddafi.
What is underway has all the hallmarks of another lynching, sanctioned by a kangaroo court, like that of the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 2006.’
‘After an argument about a leave denied, Specialist Ivan Lopez pulled out a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and began a shooting spree at Fort Hood, America’s biggest stateside base, that left three soldiers dead and 16 wounded. When he did so, he also pulled America’s fading wars out of the closet. This time, a Fort Hood mass killing, the second in four and a half years, was committed by a man who was neither a religious nor a political “extremist.” He seems to have been merely one of America’s injured and troubled veterans who now number in the hundreds of thousands.
Some 2.6 million men and women have been dispatched, often repeatedly, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and according to a recent survey of veterans of those wars conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one-third say that their mental health is worse than it was before they left, and nearly half say the same of their physical condition. Almost half say they give way to sudden outbursts of anger. Only 12% of the surveyed veterans claim they are now “better” mentally or physically than they were before they went to war.’
‘As Israel continues its unlawful siege of the Gaza Strip, the health situation for the Palestinians continues to be critical. In a comprehensive report, B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, described the health situation in Gaza on January 1st, 2014.
According to B’Tselem, the siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza since Hamas took control of Gaza’s security apparatus in June 2007 has greatly damaged Gaza’s health system, which already had considerable shortcomings. Now, many services and life-saving treatments are not available to Palestinians inside Gaza, and treatment of cancer and heart patients is postponed, as medical supplies and equipment are delayed.
Even some basic necessities, such as clean drinking water and removal of solid waste is not widely available. It is estimated that 30 percent of Gaza Strip residents do not receive water on a regular basis. In addition, many diagnostic and emergency medical services cannot operate because of lack of generators. Statistics from the World Health Organization showed that 19 percent of necessary medicines were lacking, as well as replacement parts for critical equipment and several disposable but necessary items such as bandages, syringes and plaster for casts.’
‘For more than two decades, the United States has maintained a monopoly on mediating Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. During this time, the situation of most Palestinians living in the occupied territories has deteriorated steadily while Israel’s domination over their lives has become ever more entrenched. More than 20 years after the US-sponsored “peace process” began, the creation of an independent Palestinian state – the ostensible endgame of negotiations – is more distant than ever, and Israel’s nearly 47-year-old discriminatory occupation regime becomes more permanent by the day. The following fact sheet provides an overview of the US role in the “peace process” and the consequences it has had for the Palestinians.’
‘On Monday, April 14, the the Washington Post and the Guardian US newspapers received the Pulitzer for Journalism Public Service for their reports on NSA spying. In light of their hard work, let’s recap events of the last year.
Embarrassed and irritated by Edward Snowden’s leaks, Obama charged last year at a press conference that Snowden was presenting a false picture of NSA by releasing parts of its work piecemeal: “Rather than have a trunk come out here and a leg come out there,” he said, “let’s just put the whole elephant out there so people know exactly what they’re looking at. … America is not interested in spying on ordinary people,” he assured us. The government, he went on, is not “listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s emails.”‘
‘The British government plans to sell the personal financial information of millions of its taxpayers to private firms in exchange for money.
The plan allows HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), a non-ministerial department of the UK government, to release anonymized tax data to third parties, including companies, researchers and public bodies.
Official documents show that HMRC is examining charging options for companies to access the data.
The controversial move has already raised questions among privacy campaigners and lawmakers over civil liberties and confidentiality.
A senior Conservative MP has branded the move as “dangerous” and “borderline insane”.’
‘The European Union has called on the Israeli regime to reverse expansionist plans in the occupied West Bank.
On Friday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed “great concern” over Tel Aviv’s plans to grab more land near the Gush Etzion settlement, south of Bethlehem, and plans to build new illegal settlements in the southern city of al-Khalil (Hebron).
“The EU calls on the Israeli authorities to reverse these decisions,” Ashton said, adding that such events are “not conducive to the climate of trust and cooperation needed for the current peace negotiations to succeed.”
She also called for “utmost restraint and responsibility in order not to jeopardize the current negotiation process.”‘
‘South Sudan deploys the army to guard a United Nations base in the center of the country a day after an attack at the base killed about 60 people.
“The army has come in now. They have been ordered to protect UNMISS (the UN Mission in South Sudan) so there will be no attack from anybody,” media outlets quoted Ateny Wek Ateny, President Salva Kiir’s spokesman, as saying.
The troop deployment came on Friday after armed men attacked people sheltering inside the UN peacekeeping base in violence-wracked Jonglei state. The deadly attack took place on Thursday in the town of Bor at the camp where some 5,000 civilians are seeking refuge.
The UN base is home to thousands of refugees who have fled their homes due to the ongoing violence in the country.’
‘Syrian government forces make fresh advances in their battle against foreign-backed militants in the western city of Homs as clashes continue between the two sides in the county’s north.
Government forces have tightened their noose around the Old City of Homs in recent days and have captured several buildings, including a church.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the army’s achievements.
The London-based pro-opposition group also said government troops are shelling the Bab Hud and Wadi al-Sayeh districts to flush militants out of their strongholds.’