Daily Archives: November 26, 2007

Tamiflu stockpiles are doubled as Britain gets ready for a pandemic

“Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible.”

“Gradually, by selective breeding, the congenital differences between rulers and ruled will increase until they become almost different species. A revolt of the plebs would become as unthinkable as an organized insurrection of sheep against the practice of eating mutton.”

– Bertrand Russell, “The Impact of Science on Society”, 1953

The Times | Nov 23, 2007

by Mark Henderson

The emergency stockpile of flu drugs will be doubled in Britain so that half of the population is covered in the event of a pandemic, Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, announced yesterday.

An extra 15 million doses of Tamiflu, an antiviral drug that is the main defence against a pandemic, will be ordered at an anticipated cost of about £150 million, after ministers accepted that supplies are too low to ensure that the maximum number of lives are saved.

The new pandemic plan, details of which were first revealed by The Times, will allow the Government to give the drug preventively to families of infected people, which according to scientists is the best way to contain the virus. The existing stockpile, which has 14.6 million doses, is sufficient only for treating patients. Britain will now have comparable stockpiles to France and Australia and double the stores held by Germany and the United States.

Without intervention it is predicted that a flu pandemic could infect up to half of the population of Britain and kill up to 750,000 people, although a lower figure of between 150,000 and 375,000 deaths is more likely. While it is impossible to predict when such a pandemic might arise, they have occurred previously at intervals of between 10 and 40 years. The last one struck in 1968. The emergence of the H5N1 avian flu virus, that has infected 335 people and killed 206 since 2003, has also raised the risk.

The revised plan includes an order of 14.7 million doses of antibiotics to treat complications of flu, such as pneumonia. The Government will also buy 350 million surgical masks and 34 million disposable respirators for NHS and social care staff.

Ministers have already agreed to contracts worth £155.4 million with Baxter and GlaxoSmithKline to provide enough pandemic flu vaccine to cover the whole population. This would not be available for six to eight months after the start of a pandemic because it has to be matched to the right strain of flu, but it would help to contain a second wave. Another 3.3 million doses of the prepandemic vaccine, matched to the existing H5N1 virus, are available for key workers.

Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, said that there was not yet enough evidence to order supplies for everybody, but that he would keep this under review.

Mr Johnson said: “The threat of an influenza pandemic remains real. Whilst it is not possible to predict its timing or severity, the top priority for the Government is to do all we possibly can to protect the public.”

The core of the new plan is the larger Tamiflu stockpile, which was agreed by health ministers in April but has been announced only since funding was made available in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Mr Johnson would not say how much had been set aside for the order because a deal has yet to be struck with Roche, the manufacturer, but the existing stockpile cost about £150 million.

A supply of 30 million doses means that there will be enough of the drug to treat everybody who contracts pandemic flu, even in the worst case scenario of a 50 per cent infection rate. If the infection rate is lower, as scientists predict, it would also allow “household prophylaxis”, by which the families of infected people are also given Tamiflu.

Research led by Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College, London, has shown that this would be the best way of containing a pandemic, reducing cases and deaths by 40 to 50 per cent. Professor Ferguson said: “I am particularly pleased that the Government has adopted the advice of the scientific community to increase our antiviral drug stockpile. Careful thought now needs to be given as to how to best use – and deliver – this stockpile in the event of a pandemic.”

During a pandemic, patients would gain access to Tamiflu by calling a national flu line, through which doctors would assess their symptoms. The drugs would be collected by a friend or relative. Some flu experts said that improving this system was a greater priority than buying extra drugs.

Professor Graeme Laver, formerly of the Australian National University in Canberra, said: “Instead of stockpiling more Tamiflu, the UK Government would be better off devising a more effective procedure to get Tamiflu to people who fall ill very quickly.”

The Royal Society also questioned the reliance on a single antiviral drug. A spokesman said: “We still believe that there are risks involved in relying on just one antiviral and feel the Government should remain open to the possible need to stock alternatives.”


Studies clarify how Tamiflu affects brain

Tamiflu touted for child use

Ten Canadians die after taking bird flu vaccine

Health Canada warns of hallucinations among Tamiflu users

Bird Flu ‘buddies’ will feed hallucinogenic Tamiflu pills to Brits

Tamiflu May Cause Psychiatric Problems

Flu drug carries new warning after delirium reports

Tamiflu may lead to delirium and suicide

Tamiflu may get ‘abnormal behavior’ label

Company claims herbal treatment for bird flu

World Bank: Bird Flu Could Cost $2 Trillion

Rumsfeld’s growing stake in Tamiflu

Rumsfeld To Profit From Bird Flu Hoax

Rumsfeld’s Pandemic Connection

Did RAND Corporation Pen the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act?

Truth News | Nov 23, 2007

by Kurt Nimmo

According to Jessica Lee of Indypendent and Kamau Karl Franklin of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act was penned with plenty of help from the RAND Corporation.

“Rep. Jane Harman, Democrat from California, has had a lengthy relationship with the Rand Corporation,” Lee tells Democracy Now, although she was unable to determine if RAND wrote the bill. On the 12th anniversary of the OKC bombing, Rep. Harman, as chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, introduced the bill in the House of Representatives.

“The ‘Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007′ seeks to address the roots causes of radicalization, and would establish a grant program to provide funds to States to foster badly needed vertical information sharing from the Intelligence Community to the local level and from local sources to state and federal agencies,” explains Harman’s website. “It also creates a Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Radicalization and Home Grown Terrorism to examine the social, criminal, political, psychological and economic roots of domestic terrorism and to propose solutions, and promotes international collaboration on strategies to combat radicalization.”

Franklin mentions Brian Michael Jenkins, an “expert” on “terrorism, counterinsurgency, and homeland security,” according to RAND. Jenkins is “someone who helped the United States in counterinsurgency measures in Vietnam,” states Franklin. “In addition to that, he wrote a book, and in his own book” Jenkins declared that “in their international campaign, the jihadists will seek common ground with leftists, anti-American and anti-globalist forces, who will in turn see radical Islam comrades against a mutual foe.”

In short, according to Kamau Karl Franklin, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act is more about domestic political activism than Islamic terrorism, although it appears Jenkins—and neocons such as the former Marxist David Horowitz—are attempting establish a link between the two, an absurdity at best, as the best way to discredit both the antiwar and patriot movements.

According to a Center for Constitutional Rights factsheet, RAND is a key player in the “domestic terrorism” prevention effort detailed in this draconian bill. A RAND study “Trends in Terrorism,” Chapter 4 on “homegrown terrorism,” advocates “special attention to environmentalist, Anti-globalization activist and anarchists as potentially new terrorist in the making.”

Not surprisingly, RAND is intimately connected to the global elite and the military-industrial-intelligence complex: “The interlocks between the trustees at Rand, and the Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie foundations were so numerous that the Reece Committee listed them in its report (two each for Carnegie and Rockefeller, and three for Ford). Ford gave one million dollars to Rand in 1952 alone, at a time when the chairman of Rand was simultaneously the president of Ford Foundation,” notes SourceWatch (Rene Wormser, Foundations: Their Power and Influence, p65-66). “Two-thirds of Rand’s research involves national security issues. This is divided into Project Air Force, the Arroyo Center (serving the needs of the Army), and the National Defense Research Institute (providing research and analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and the defense agencies).”

As Lee Rogers notes, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, in its effort to flush out “terrorists,” including those opposed to the sort of globalism supported by Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie foundations, will perform an end-run around the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The bill “states in the first subsection that in general the efforts to defeat thought crime shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights and civil liberties of the United States citizens and lawful permanent residents. How does this protect constitutional rights if they use vague language such as in general that prefaces the statement? This means that the Department of Homeland Security does not have to abide by the Constitution in their attempts to prevent so called homegrown terrorism.”

Full Story

Partnership Between Firefighters, Homeland Security Draws Concern

Critics said the strategy has the potential of changing the image of firefighters from heroes to another branch of the police department.

NBC San Diego | Nov 24, 2007

SAN DIEGO — A controversial partnership between firefighters and the Department of Homeland Security is getting under way in New York City.

According to a new terrorism and disaster preparedness strategy for the New York City Fire Department, firefighters have unique information-gatherering opportunities when they’re inside homes.

“The FDNY’s information-gathering potential is substantial,” the document said.

San Diego firefighters said they already do that to an extent.

“Looking for the weapons of mass destruction, the terrorist devices, things like that, as we go into fires is something we really already do,” Battalion Chief Mike Finnerty said.

The New York plan calls for firefighters to look for materials, equipment, literature and anything that may indicate a threat of terrorist activity and report it to the Department of Homeland Security.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the strategy infringes on people’s privacy rights. Firefighters shouldn’t be tasked to gather information, the ACLU said.

“You don’t want them being intelligence agents,” Mike German of the ACLU said.

However, many firefighters said they agree with the strategy. In the long run, it will be a good, because the information-sharing is supposed to go both ways, they said. Some intelligence information could get handed down to local authorities, allowing them to plan ahead.

“That allows our leadership to take in the intelligence, look at the impact it may have on us and then do some additional planning and put some more resources in place,” Finnerty said.

But critics said the strategy has the potential of changing the image of firefighters from heroes to another branch of the police department.

Investiture of New Knights and Dames of Malta Held Recently

Last month, a solemn investiture was held at the International Diplomatic Headquarters of the Knights of Malta at Castello dei Baroni, Wardija, under the patronage of the Prince, Grand Master Baron Nicholas F.S. Papanicolaou (R foreground), and Duke Adrian Busietta, Grand Master Emeritus.

Times of Malta | Nov 25, 2007

Officiating were Chevaliers Robert Vella, Grand Prior of Malta, George Mercieca, chaplain of the Grand Priory of Malta, Harry Row, Grand Prior of the UK, and Rev. Pastor Ardell Daniels from Florida.

The new postulants from several countries included Valeriv Vynogradnvy and Olag Bhakmatyuk from Ukraine; Anatoli Strigo and Tatiana Kalinina from Russia; Robert Juharos from Hungary; Norah Maier from Austria; Paul J.M. Quaedulieg from Holland; Renald Attard from the US; Antonino Cancemi, Sergio M. De Simone, Rosario Iacono and Angelo Tartufoli of Italy; and Alfred Fenech, Anthony Fenech, Hector Cassola, Antoine Bonello, Dominic Galea, Amy Joan Zahra, Ruth Sammut Casingena and Josette Sciberras of Malta. Serving Brother from the UK was Peter Beaumont.

During the ceremony, Chevaliers Simon Grixti, Alberto Serra and Bruno Romani were promoted to Knight Commanders.

Knights and dames were welcomed by Mr Busietta and Marie Angelique Caruana at a lavish reception held in the palace’s magnificent gardens. Special guests included Russian Ambassador Andrey E. Granavsky, the Grand Prior of Hungary, Chev. Arped de Bonta, the Grand Prior of Austria, Chev. Dr Wil Goodheer, the Grand Prior of Greece Chev. George C. Georgopoulos, the Grand Prior of Florida, Chev. Keith Carson, and the Grand Chancellor of Assisi, Chev. Prof. Georgio Cegnia.

A formal gala dinner was later held at the Casino Maltese, Valletta, where guests were entertained by singer Analyse Psaila and by an excellent choir, led by soprano Ruth Sammut Casingena. Chev. Peter. W. Van Zwet was the master of ceremony. A delegation of knights and dames also visited the Cittadel in Gozo and attended Mass at the cathedral, celebrated by Nikol Cauchi, bishop emeritus.

. . .

Note from Aftermath News:

The above Knights of Malta, or Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem, want you to understand that they are a Protestant order and have absolutely no connection to the Catholic Knights of Malta, or the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM). They want to be very, very clear on that. Very explicit indeed. Yes, they get very testy about people getting these very similar orders mixed up, though they do admit it is extremely confusing to the uninitiated of course.

Even though they both have intimate ties with the island nation of Malta, share the same name “Knights of Malta” and same historical roots, the same 8-pointed cross, and their Grandmasters (Nicholas Papanicolaou and Andrew Bertie) are both related through noble peerage to the royal family and Queen of England (who was Queen of Malta 1964 to 1974), there is absolutely no connection between them whatsoever. None. Nada. At all. Understand? And all these rituals, initiations, rankings, regalia, capes, oaths of obedience and labyrinthine, confusing organizational structures of a multitude of similar orders set up and maintained by the ultra-rich aristocractic elite of Europe, which are as yet almost completely unknown to the general public, are purely there for charitable purposes, to serve mankind. Alright? They are not secret societies. They might be societies with secrets, but certainly not secret societies. Be very, very clear about that, so there is nothing to see here and nothing to investigate or to worry about. Now just go about your business, act normally and pretend you didn’t see this.

Glad we got that straight. (*wink wink*).

Two-thirds of Americans believe government had prior knowledge of 9/11 attacks

Many Americans still believe in conspiracies

Scripps Howard News Service | November 23, 2007


Nearly two-thirds of Americans think it is possible that some federal officials had specific warnings of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, but chose to ignore those warnings, according to a Scripps Howard News Service/Ohio University poll.

A national survey of 811 adult residents of the United States conducted by Scripps and Ohio University found that more than a third believe in a broad smorgasbord of conspiracy theories including the attacks, international plots to rig oil prices, the plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the government’s knowledge of intelligent life from other worlds.

The high percentage is a manifestation, some say, of an American public that increasingly distrusts the federal government.

“You wouldn’t have gotten these numbers a year or two after the attacks themselves,” said University of Florida law professor Mark Fenster. “You’ve got an increasingly disaffected public that is unhappy with the administration.”

Fenster, author of the book “Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture,” attributed the high percentage in part to the findings of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (also called the 9/11 Commission), which concluded federal officials failed to prevent the attacks, but did not have specific knowledge of the date of the attacks.

An earlier Scripps Howard/Ohio University survey, conducted in July 2006, revealed that more than one-third of Americans thought federal officials assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East.

“What (the recent survey) could mean is that people are thinking that the Bush administration is incompetent, that there were warnings out there and they chose to put their attention on other things,” Fenster said.

At a time when the price of crude oil has neared $100 per barrel, 81 percent of Americans also said it was “somewhat likely” or “very likely” that oil companies conspire to keep the price of gasoline high.

“It shows that the oil companies are not trusted by a lot of people,” said Tyson Slocum, director of the Energy Program of Public Citizen, the consumer watchdog organization founded by Ralph Nader.

Record-breaking quarterly profits stir the pot, too.

“People look at the huge profits and put two and two together,” he said. “‘Those high prices I’m paying are fueling those profits.'”

All the talk about oil and terror has distracted some of the believers in government cover-ups of UFOs. Thirty-seven percent of the respondents said they think it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” flying saucers are real and the government is hiding the truth about them. In a 1995 Scripps survey, 50 percent of Americans responded the same way to the same question.

“The kind of anxieties or mistrust of the government that might have been expressed as a belief in UFOs has shifted,” said political science professor Jodi Dean. “Now people are worried about things that are much realer to them.”

“In both instances, it’s a case of mistrusting government,” she said.

Dean, a professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York and author of “Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace,” also said that the 50th anniversary of the 1947 Roswell, N.M., incident put more focus on the notion of a conspiracy.

Dean said she expects the popularity of the theory to decline even further during the next few decades.

But one decades-old theory continues to thrive. Forty-two percent of the American public still thinks some people in the federal government might have known about the assassination of Kennedy in advance.

“I’m amazed that it’s as high as it is,” said Vincent Bugliosi, whose 1,632-page book “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy” was published in May.

Bugliosi’s book comes to the opposite conclusion: Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy, and he did it on his own.

Bugliosi said he thinks a majority of Americans believe in some sort of conspiracy surrounding the assassination or the investigating Warren Commission, but most of the questions he has fielded on his book tour revolve around the suspicions of CIA or mob involvement.

“They believe in a conspiracy,” he said, “and I think (the survey) allowed them to express their beliefs.”

The survey was conducted by telephone Sept. 24 to Oct. 10 among 811 adult residents of the United States who were selected at random. The survey was conducted by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University under a grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation and has a margin of error of about 4 percent.

Defense appropriations bill gives soldiers domestic responsibilities


In event of emergency … call out the military?

WorldNetDaily.com | Nov 16, 2007

By Jerome R. Corsi

New federal legislation shows the Bush administration has begun systematically putting in place authorization for the president to federalize the National Guard and use the U.S. military in domestic emergency situations.

A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (H.R. 1585) requires the secretary of defense to prepare and submit to Congress by March 1, 2008, and each subsequent March 1 a plan to coordinate the use of the National Guard and members of the Armed Forces on active duty when responding to natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.

Section 1806 of H.R. 1585 requires the secretary of defense to prepare two versions of the plan, one using only members of the National Guard, and one using both members of the National Guard and members of the regular components of the armed services.

The section also requires the secretary of defense’s plan to specify “Protocols for the Department of Defense, the National Guard Bureau, and the governors of the several states to carry out operations in coordination with each other and to ensure that governors and local communities are properly informed and remain in control in their respective states and communities.”

WND currently is running a six-part series on NORAD-USNORTHCOM, reporting on exercise Vigilant Shield 2008 and observations WND made on site at Peterson Air Force base during the Joint Interagency Coordination Group command center operations during a real-time national training exercise.

In that series, WND reported that USNORTHCOM was created following the 9/11 terrorist attacks to be a military combatant command charged with protecting the homeland security of the mainland United States.

WND observed that the governors in Arizona and Oregon remained in control of the military responses during game-playing when “Radiological Dispersal Devices (RDDs)” were detonated at Sky Harbor in Phoenix and on the Steel Bridge in Portland as part of the Vigilant Shield 08 exercise scenario.

USNORTHCOM also worked under civilian direction when assisting California in the response to the recent outbreak of wildfires in Southern California.

According to a report posted on the USNORTHCOM website, “USNORTHCOM coordinated the use of three military aircraft to gather still images and infrared and full-motion video that fire ground commanders used to plan firefighting operations.”

The USNORTHCOM report noted “California officials called directly to the aircraft crews and told them exactly what areas to map and what imagery to send to planners on the ground.”

The report further stressed that USNORTHCOM was able to respond to requests from California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection within hours, compared to the week a civilian contractor required to provide the needed aerial photography.

USNORTHCOM also hosted an emergency database warehouse for the state of California, where all the gathered imagery was stored so it could be easily available to the participants in the firefighting operation.

The newly prepared National Response Framework currently posted on the Department of Homeland Security website states the states are sovereign entities such that “the Governor has the primary responsibility for the public safety and welfare of residents.”

The National Response Framework also specifies, “If a state anticipates that its resources may become overwhelmed, each governor can request assistance from the Federal Government or from other states through mutual aid and assistance agreements such as the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.”

The National Response Framework says the federal government’s involvement is anticipated only when an incident exceeds state or local resources.

Under that outline, the federal government is a first responder only when incidents involve primary federal jurisdiction or authorities, for instance, on a military base or other federal facility.

Still, WND has reported National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51) and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20 (HSPD-20), signed in May, allow the president to declare a national emergency and take over the management of all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments and agencies.

WND also has reported Section 1076 of the John Warner Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2007 grants the president the right to commandeer federal troops or state National Guard to use them domestically.

The language of Section 1076 appears to nullify the Posse Comitatus Act, in that the language allows the president to federalize the National Guard or use the U.S. military in a wide range of emergencies, including natural disasters, epidemics, or other public health emergencies, terrorist attacks, insurrections, or domestic violence, including conspiracies to commit domestic violence.

Critics are concerned that when legal infrastructure for the president to involve the military in a domestic emergency situation, or to federalize the National Guard, is in place, a president intent on a power grab could declare a national emergency under NSPD-51 or HSPD-20, and impose federal martial law, by-passing civilian control.

In an exclusive interview with NORAD-USNORTHCOM commander, Gen. Gene Renuart, separately published in WND today, WND posed these questions.

Renuart responded by emphasizing the importance of respecting the U.S. Constitution, including civilian control of the military.

He expressed caution that the military and USNORTHCOM in particular should be careful not to engage in legal or political questions involving presidential directives such as NSPD-51 and HSPD-20.

Renuart was also clear to affirm that, “Our involvement at USNORTHCOM would be at the specific direction of the secretary of defense, on orders from the president.”

The answer implied that USNORTHCOM would respond to a direct order from the secretary of defense, on orders from the president, to become involved in a domestic emergency situation, without attempting to resolve thorny questions of civilian control that a president in a power grab might attempt to obviate.

WND observed nothing in the operation of NORAD-USNORTHCOM in Vigilant Shield 08 which would substantiate a charge that the Bush administration is preparing to utilize the military in domestic situations to supersede civilian control in a domestic emergency.

Yet, provisions such as Section 1806 of H.R. 1585 emphasize again the Bush administration determination to establish new ground in articulating a primary role for a federalized National Guard or the U.S. military in domestic emergency situations.

As was the case with NSPD-51 and HSPD-20, emergency situations are given a very inclusive definition in Section 1806 of H.R. 1585.

That language defines emergency national planning scenarios to include: “Nuclear detonation, biological attack, biological disease outbreak/pandemic flu, the plague, chemical attack-blister agent, chemical attack-toxic industrial chemicals, chemical attack-nerve agent, chemical attack-chlorine tank explosion, major hurricane, major earthquake, radiological attack – radiological dispersal device, explosives attack – bombing using improvised explosive device, biological attack-food contamination, biological attack – foreign animal disease and cyber attack,” or “any other hazards identified in a national planning scenario developed by the Homeland Security Council.”

On May 17, H.R. 1585 was passed in the House by 397-27, and it passed the Senate 92-5 on Oct. 1, 2007. The conference bill has not yet gone to President Bush for signature.

Riot feared as Holocaust-denier and British National Party leader invited to speak at Oxford


BNP leader Nick Griffin (left) and controversial historian David Irving have both been asked to speak at Oxford University

Daily Mail | Nov 26, 2007


Undercover police will mingle with students at Oxford University tonight after historian David Irving and the British National Party were invited to take part in a debate there.

Up to a thousand protesters are expected to gather when BNP leader Nick Griffin speaks alongside Irving, who was once jailed for denying the Holocaust, at the Oxford Union debating chamber.

There are fears there will be clashes with BNP supporters. Police have said they will set up a “ring of steel” outside the historic chamber while plain clothes officers will sit among the audience.

All guests will be searched for weapons such as bottles which could be used as missiles.

The measures follow death threats against organisers of the event, which critics have denounced as racist and offensive.

“It is likely to be an extremely confrontational evening,” said a Thames Valley Police source.

“While everyone is hoping for a peaceful debate, certain people have made it clear that they will target it and are intent on violence. A ring of steel will be set up around the perimeter, and inside body searches will take place, and everyone’s identity will be thoroughly checked.”

A senior Tory MP yesterday resigned his life membership of the Union in protest at the invitation. Shadow defence minister Dr Julian Lewis said the students should be ashamed of themselves.

In a letter to them Dr Lewis, MP for New Forest East, said: “Nothing which happens in Monday’s debate can possibly offset the boost you are giving to a couple of scoundrels who can put up with anything except being ignored.”

“They have been exposed and discredited time and again by people vastly more qualified than you in arenas hugely more suited to the task than an undergraduate talking- shop, however venerable.”

He continued: “The only good to have come from this self-indulgent behaviour is the fact that Muslim and Jewish students are working together to condemn the appalling message you have sent to their communities.”

Equalities and Human Rights Commission chairman Trevor Phillips said: “This is not a question of freedom of speech, this is a juvenile provocation.”

Mr Phillips said people had not fought and died for the right to freedom of speech only for it to be used as a “silly parlour game.”

Oxford Union Debating Society said it was important to give people of all views a platform.

Luke Tryl, its president, said: “There will be other speakers to challenge and attack their views.”

Simon Darby of the BNP said: “Nick is looking forward to the event. It is easy to ignore the protests.”

Police beat protesters, 200 Putin critics detained in Russia

A left-wing demonstrator held a flare as others set fire to a caricature of Mayor Yuri Luzhkov at a protest in Moscow. (Denis Sinyakov/Reuters)

Reuters | Nov 26, 2007

By Denis Pinchuk

ST. PETERSBURG – Russian riot police beat opposition activists yesterday and detained nearly 200 people at protest rallies against President Vladimir Putin a week before the country’s parliamentary election.

Riot police in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city and Putin’s hometown, detained Boris Nemtsov and Nikita Belykh, leaders of the Union of Right Forces Party who are running in the Dec. 2 election. They were later released.

The protests were held a day after police detained opposition leader and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov in Moscow, a move the United States condemned yesterday as part of “aggressive tactics” by authorities.

“We are troubled that Garry Kasparov and other leaders of the opposition have been arrested and detained,” said White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Kasparov, leader of the Other Russia group, was among 60 detained in the 3,000-strong Moscow march, activists said.

In St. Petersburg, riot police were seen beating activists with batons and fists before forcing them into police buses.

Dozens more were detained outside the Winter Palace, the residence of the Tsars, and at another rally in the city center.

“They have forbidden us from discussing Putin,” Nemtsov told the crowd. “But we have come here today to ask Mr. Putin and the authorities, why is there so much corruption in the country?”

He was promptly detained by five riot policemen as the crowd chanted “Russia without Putin.”

Nemtsov told Reuters his detention was a breach of Russian law that forbids police from detaining candidates.

“Putin has total disregard for the country’s constitution and laws,” Nemtsov said. “He is afraid the people will find out the truth and so he hides behind the riot police.”

About 500 activists made it to the marches but were vastly outnumbered by riot police. Most of those detained were later released, organizers said.

The city authorities had not given permission for the march and streets in the city center were blocked by riot police and snow-clearing trucks.

The “march of the discontented” brings together Putin’s opponents into one movement which includes Other Russia, free-market parties such as Union of Right Forces and Yabloko, as well as anarchists and radical socialists.

Putin’s opponents accuse the Kremlin chief of cracking down on the freedoms won after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, and of creating what they say is an unstable political system dependent on Putin alone.

“They have started a war with the people,” said Tamara, a 72-year-old who took part in the march.

“Putin is very bad – look at the poverty in the country. Pensioners are forced to rummage in the dustbins.”

Kremlin officials say the opposition marches are aimed at attracting attention in the West and that the activists are a mixed bag of marginal politicians with little public support.

Putin, ranked by opinion polls as the most popular politician in Russia, is credited by supporters for cementing political stability and presiding over the longest economic boom for a generation.

The former KGB spy has vowed to step down as president next year after his second consecutive four-year term in office.

But he has said he will use the pro-Kremlin United Russia party to preserve influence after he steps down.

He is running as the party’s top candidate in the December election.

“We are ruled by the United Russia gang. They have taken away the elections,” said Lyubov Chilipenko at the march.

A symbol of free speech silenced in China

“It means that we are deprived of the freedom to post information without advance approval,” one student wrote on an Internet forum. “We’ve even lost the expectation of freedom, and we even forget that there is a word called ‘freedom.’ “

Globe and Mail | Nov 23, 2007


It’s only a small patch of grass now. A faded red ribbon hangs from a tree branch, and a few scraps of paper are still visible on the trunk of a pine tree.

But for decades this was the spiritual home of free speech at China’s most famous university. It was the starting point of student protests, from the Cultural Revolution to the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and the anti-American protests of later years. And now its destruction has sparked an extraordinary debate about freedom and memory in China today.

Students called it “Triangle Land” — a jumble of billboards on a triangular patch of grass and trees at the heart of the Peking University campus, where students would gather to read the latest posters and poems and political essays.

It was here where the first “big character” posters were displayed in 1966, launching the Cultural Revolution, the years of Maoist fervor when zealous Red Guards rampaged through the schools and universities.

It was here where students gathered in the 1980s to display petitions for democracy and political reform, culminating in the famous Tiananmen Square protests. The message boards became a kind of “Democracy Wall,” replacing an earlier celebrated site in Beijing, until Chinese tanks crushed the Tiananmen demonstrations in 1989.

And it was here where angry young people gathered to protest the U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999, one of the seminal events in the Chinese nationalist mood that has surged in the past decade.

Triangle Land began to fall into neglect in recent years, replaced by Web sites and Internet forums, and its bulletin boards were covered by advertisements for exam-cheating services and foreign business schools. The university’s administrators decided it was an eyesore, and the bulletin boards were abruptly demolished at the end of last month.

The demolition ignited a fierce debate among students and graduates of the university. It became one of the hottest topics in the Chinese media. Some graduates laid flowers at the site as a memorial. Others posted sharp criticism on the university’s electronic bulletin boards — which were quickly shut down by the authorities to control the protests.

Many lamented the loss of the historic symbol of free speech at China’s leading campus. They were angry that the university had failed to consult students before demolishing the boards.

“It means that we are deprived of the freedom to post information without advance approval,” one student wrote on an Internet forum. “We’ve even lost the expectation of freedom, and we even forget that there is a word called ‘freedom.’ ”

While the university suggested that Triangle Land could be replaced by an electronic display board, students noted that an electronic board would be easy for the authorities to control. “It would block the tradition of democracy and freedom,” one student said.

Others spoke of the threat to the university’s collective memory. “If the demolition continues, this will become a university without memory,” said a commentator in China Youth Daily.

As debate raged on, university President Xu Zhihong was forced to defend the demolition, calling it a necessary step to maintain order on the campus. “No university in the world has a place in such a disorder,” he told the state news agency Xinhua this month.

University administrators summoned the leaders of the official student society to a private meeting and ordered them to quell the debate over the demolition, according to a report in a Hong Kong newspaper.

But while the older graduates were angered by the demolition, many of the younger students saw nothing to worry about.

“I’m a little nostalgic, but the whole trend of the country is going forward like this,” said a 22-year-old female student who refused to be identified.

“There’s no time for us to keep looking behind. Freedom of speech? We have the Internet, which is more efficient.”