‘Britain’s armed forces, rather than private companies, should be used to protect future major public events in the wake of the G4S Olympic security fiasco, MPs suggest today.
In a report examining the failure of G4S to recruit and train enough security guards, the Home Affairs Select Committee concludes that the army should be considered as provider from the outset. The report also calls for G4S to give up its £57m management fee and pay people it trained but failed to use.
“Because of the actions of the MoD, Home Office and Locog, London enjoyed a safe and secure Games,” said the committee’s chair, Keith Vaz.
“In the planning of future major events, the military might more appropriately be considered first choice rather than a back-up.”‘
‘Paralympics sponsor and IT services giant Atos Origin is facing a growing protest from disability groups this week over its role in deciding which benefit claimants are fit to work.
The row centres over the role of Atos in deciding which benefit claimants are fit to work and who is genuinely disabled under the terms of the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Atos was awarded the contract by Labour in 2008, reportedly worth £112m annually to the IT services giant.’
by Paul Routledge
‘IF you’re disabled, you can compete for your country in the Paralympics.
But you can’t work for it, under this Tory-led government.
Britain today welcomes a second swathe of competitors to London 2012, while David Cameron sacks thousands of men and women in Remploy factories.
Twenty two closed down last week, throwing 1,000 on to benefits.
The works at Oldham and Worksop will shut today. Swansea follows next week, as the Paralympics get under way.
It takes hypocrisy of the highest level to attack the handicapped at such an emotional time, but our heartless, two-faced Prime Minister is equal to the task.’
Australia mulls posthumous apology for Olympian Peter Norman, blacklisted for his role in the black powers protest in 1968 ~ Independent
‘It is one of the 20 century’s most powerful images: African-Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists in a “black power” salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. But little is known, even in his native Australia, about the third man in the picture, Peter Norman, who stood proudly alongside his fellow athletes, supporting their protest.
The incident, which took place during the 200-metre medal ceremony, caused an uproar. Smith and Carlos were sent home, and later received death threats. But while their reputations were rehabilitated within a decade, Norman, the silver medallist, remained shunned by the Australian sporting establishment. At the Sydney Games in 2000, he was the only homegrown Olympian not invited to perform a lap of honour.
Last night, belatedly, Australia was set to make amends, with federal parliament expected to apologise for the way he was treated. Norman was not there to hear it; he died of a heart attack in 2006, aged 64, having suffered from depression, ill-health and alcoholism. But his 91-year-old mother, Thelma, and his sister, Elaine Ambler, travelled to Canberra for the occasion.’
Key Figures in Salt Lake Olympic Bribery Scandal Now Backing Romney’s Presidential Campaign ~ Democracy NOW!
Olympic Goodwill Image Belied by Arrests, Censorship and Corporate Ties Behind London Games ~ Democracy NOW!
‘He may be the fastest man on earth but even Usain Bolt, who blew the field away last night to win gold in the men’s 100 metres final, can’t escape the “weird, silly rules” enforced during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Speaking last night, Bolt was less than impressed by some of the regulations athletes have had to abide by. Asked what he thought of the Games, Bolt said: “It has been different from Beijing. There are lots of rules, weird, silly rules that don’t make any sense to me.”’
The New York Times
‘Forty years after the United States stopped spraying herbicides in the jungles of Southeast Asia in the hopes of denying cover to Vietcong fighters and North Vietnamese troops, an air base here is one of about two dozen former American sites that remain polluted with an especially toxic strain of dioxin, the chemical contaminant in Agent Orange that has been linked to cancers, birth defects and other diseases.
On Thursday, after years of rebuffing Vietnamese requests for assistance in a cleanup, the United States inaugurated its first major effort to address the environmental effects of the long war.
“This morning we celebrate a milestone in our bilateral relationship,” David B. Shear, the American ambassador to Vietnam, said at a ceremony attended by senior officers of the Vietnamese military. “We’re cleaning up this mess.”
The program, which will cost $43 million and take four years, was officially welcomed with smiles and handshakes at the ceremony. But bitterness remains here. Agent Orange is mentioned often in the news media and is commemorated annually on Aug. 10, the day in 1961 when it was first tested in Vietnam. The government objected to Olympic sponsorship this year by Dow Chemical, a leading producer of Agent Orange during the war. Many here have not hesitated to call the American program too little — it addresses only the one site — and very late.’
AUGUST 10, 2012, AT NOON: 51 YEARS AFTER THE CHEMICAL WAR BEGAN IN VIETNAM, WE SHOULD BE SILENT IN MEMORY, THEN TAKE ACTION TO REMEDY
To take action go to http://www.vn-agentorange.org/
There are images from the U.S. War against Vietnam that have been indelibly imprinted on the minds of Americans who lived through it. One is the naked napalm-burned girl running from her village with flesh hanging off her body. Another is a photo of the piles of bodies from the My Lai massacre, where U.S. troops executed 504 civilians in a small village. Then there is the photograph of the silent scream of a woman student leaning over the body of her dead friend at Kent State University whose only crime was protesting the bombing of Cambodia in 1970. Finally, there is the memory of decorated members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War testifying at the Winter Soldier Hearings, often in tears, to atrocities in which they had participated during the war.
These pictures are heartbreaking. They expose the horrors of war. The U.S. War against Vietnam was televised, while images of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have intentionally been hidden from us. But what was not televised was the relentless ten years (1961-1971) of spraying millions of gallons of toxic herbicides over vast areas of South Vietnam. These chemicals exposed almost 5 million people, mostly civilians, to deadly consequences. The toxic herbicides, most notably Agent Orange, contained dioxin, one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man. It has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen (causes cancer) and by the American Academy of Medicine as a teratogen (causes birth defects).
From the beginning of the spraying 51 years ago, until today, millions of Vietnamese have died from, or been completely incapacitated by, diseases which the U. S. government recognizes are related to Agent Orange for purposes of granting compensation to Vietnam Veterans in the United States. The Vietnamese, who were the intended victims of this spraying, experienced the most intense, horrible impact on human health and environmental devastation. Second and third generations of children, born to parents exposed during the war and in areas of heavy spraying — un-remediated “hot spots” of dioxin contamination, — suffer unspeakable deformities that medical authorities attribute to the dioxin in Agent Orange.
The Vietnamese exposed to the chemical suffer from cancer, liver damage, pulmonary and heart diseases, defects to reproductive capacity, and skin and nervous disorders. Their children and grandchildren have severe physical deformities, mental and physical disabilities, diseases, and shortened life spans. The forests and jungles in large parts of southern Vietnam were devastated and denuded. Centuries-old habitat was destroyed, and will not regenerate with the same diversity for hundreds of years. Animals that inhabited the forests and jungles are threatened with extinction, disrupting the communities that depended on them. The rivers and underground water in some areas have also been contaminated. Erosion and desertification will change the environment, causing dislocation of crop and animal life.
For the past 51 years, the Vietnamese people have been attempting to address this legacy of war by trying to get the United States and the chemical companies to accept responsibility for this ongoing nightmare. An unsuccessful legal action by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against the chemical companies in U.S. federal court, begun in 2004, has nonetheless spawned a movement to hold the United States accountable for using such dangerous chemicals on civilian populations. The movement has resulted in pending legislation HR 2634 – The Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011, which attempts to provide medical, rehabilitative and social service compensation to the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, remediation of dioxin-contaminated “hot spots,” and medical services for the children and grandchildren of U. S. Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese-Americans who have been born with the same diseases and deformities.
Using weapons of war on civilian populations violates the laws of war, which recognize the principle of distinction between military and civilian objects, requiring armies to avoid civilian targets. These laws of war are enshrined in the Hague Convention and the Nuremberg principles, and are codified in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Optional Protocol of 1977, as well as the International Criminal Court statute. The aerial bombardments of civilian population centers in World Wars I and II violated the principle of distinction, as did the detonation of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9 of 1945. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese people were killed in an instant, even though Japan was already negotiating the terms of surrender.
The use of Agent Orange on civilian populations violated the laws of war and yet no one has been held to account. Taxpayers pick up the tab of the Agent Orange Compensation fund for the U. S. Veterans at a cost of 1.52 billion dollars a year. The chemical companies, most specifically Dow and Monsanto, which profited from the manufacture of Agent Orange, paid a pittance to settle the veterans’ lawsuit to compensate them, as the unintended victims, for their Agent Orange related illnesses. But the Vietnamese continue to suffer from these violations with almost no recognition, as do the offspring of Agent Orange-exposed U.S. veterans and Vietnamese-Americans.
What is the difference between super powers like the United States violating the laws of war with impunity and the reports of killing of Syrian civilians by both sides in the current civil war? Does the United States have any credibility to demand governments and non-state actors end the killings of civilians, when through wars and drones and its refusal to acknowledge responsibility for the use of Agent Orange, the United States has and is engaging in the very conduct it publicly deplores?
In 1945, at the founding conference of the United Nations, the countries of the world determined:
- to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
- to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
- to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
- to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
If we are to avoid sinking once again into the scourge of war, we must reaffirm the principles of the Charter and establish conditions under which countries take actions that promote rather than undermine justice and respect for our international legal obligations. The alternative is the law of the jungle, where only might makes right. It is time that right makes might.
August 10th marks 51 years since the beginning of the spraying of Agent Orange in Vietnam. In commemoration, the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign urges you to observe 51 seconds of silence at 12 noon, to think about the horrors of wars which have occurred. We ask you to take action so as not to see future images of naked children running from napalm, or young soldiers wiping out the population of an entire village, or other atrocities associated with war, poverty, and violence around the world. We urge you to take at least 51 seconds for your action. In the United States, you can sign an orange post card to the U.S. Congress asking it to pass HR 2634. This would be a good start to assist the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange as well as the next generations of those exposed to these dangerous chemicals in both Vietnam and the United States.
Jeanne Mirer, a New York attorney, is president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. They are both on the board of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign.
To sign the petition, go to http://www.vn-agentorange.org/
Several times they’ve been caught taking bribes, but generally what happens in Switzerland stays in Switzerland.’
‘A man with Parkinson’s disease who was arrested during the Olympic men’s cycling road race while sitting beside the route has said he wants a “letter of exoneration” from Surrey police, claiming their treatment of him was disproportionate.
Mark Worsfold, 54, a former soldier and martial arts instructor, was arrested on 28 July for a breach of the peace shortly before the cyclists arrived in Redhouse Park, Leatherhead, where he had sat down on a wall to watch the race. Officers from Surrey police restrained and handcuffed him and took him to Reigate police station, saying his behaviour had “caused concern”.
“The man was positioned close to a small group of protesters and based on his manner, his state of dress and his proximity to the course, officers made an arrest to prevent a possible breach of the peace,” Surrey police said in a statement.
Worsfold, whose experience was first reported by Private Eye, claims police questioned him about his demeanour and why he had not been seen to be visibly enjoying the event. Worsfold, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010, suffers from muscle rigidity that affects his face. He was released after two hours without charge or caution.’
Note: The Guardian says he was detained for two hours but This Is Surrey Today says: “Mr Worsfold was detained for five hours, and his wife only found out where he was after reporting him missing when he did not turn up for his daughter’s birthday party.”
‘This week marks the one-year anniversary of the London riots. In the wake of last summer’s destruction and the flurry of finger-pointing about who was to blame, London’s Metropolitan Police launched what they called “Total Policing.” A peculiar brew of creepy branding and wishful thinking, “Total Policing” has always been freighted with fuzziness—no one’s quite sure what it really means.
But with the recent outburst of political activism during London’s Olympic moment, Scotland Yard’s hazy notion has come into sharper focus. In the Olympics-induced state of exception, “Total Policing” means total paternalism plus political preemption. Two outbursts of activism spotlight this trend: the overzealous arrests of both Greenwash Gold’s “Custard 7” and Critical Mass cyclists.
A week before the Olympic opening ceremony, activists from the Greenwash Gold campaign took to Trafalgar Square to award the gold, silver, and bronze for corporate greenwashing. As mock representatives from Olympics sponsors Rio Tinto, BP, and Dow stood on the stand to receive their well-earned medals, they were doused with lime-green custard. As if they were part of the spoof, police swooped in and arrested seven participants on suspicion of criminal damage. After all, they had committed the heinous act of slopping just desserts onto the Square’s hallowed bricks.’
Mind you, no one from “the Custard 7” has been charged with any crime. Yet their bail conditions restrict their movement and thus curtail their political freedom. One activist’s bail prohibits entering Trafalgar Square, Wimbledon, Wembley Football Stadium, Horseguards Parade, Hyde Park, and Lords Cricket Ground because “It is feared that” the individual “will attend these sites to commit further offences due to the fact that they are being used for Olympic venues.”
‘As Adidas take centre stage as the official sportswear partner of London 2012, the harsh reality of life for the workers who make their clothes is being exposed.
Workers making Adidas clothes around the world are paid poverty wages, have little or no job security and face harassment or dismissal if they try and organise trade unions to defend their rights.
This is exploitation. It’s not ok for Adidas to treat workers like this in the UK, and it shouldn’t be ok anywhere else.
Exploitation. It’s not ok here. It’s not ok anywhere.’
‘Congratulations to the ‘brains’ from the Olympics organisers who were behind the decision to use three hydrogen fuelled taxis to ferry Olympic VIPs, and other assorted hangers on, to and around various Olympics venues.
The cabs, not unsurprisingly, can only be refuelled at service stations that offer hydrogen as a fuel.’
‘Charities reacted with horror as the Government announced that Atos and another private company, Capita, had won three contracts to run a new work-capability check for disabled people being brought in next year.
The Government has suggested that half a million people could lose their benefits as part of the reforms, which affect working age disabled people from April next year. Children and pensioners will not be affected.
The companies will assess disabled people for a benefit to help with their higher costs of living, called the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which replaces the Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Atos, which has been criticised for carrying out inaccurate assessments on the unemployed, will be responsible for tests in Scotland, London, the North-east, North-west and South of England, while Capita will administer Wales and central England.’
Madrid, having finished third behind London and Paris in the competition to host the 2012 Summer Games and second behind Rio de Janeiro (and famously well ahead ofTeam Chicago and its O-list boosters) for the 2016 Games, is aiming for 2020′s top podium spot.
And it’s not letting Spain’s long-running debt crisis stand in its way — even if it’s been reported it may amend its bid to trim costs, favoring, for instance, more existing facilities over new builds than it had previously planned. Itsorganizing committee says the Games would be a transformative and socially collaborative project, opening the door for a generation that needs “motivation, work and future expectations.” (Spain’s unemployment rate stands at an all-time high near 25% and is reportedly even higher among those in their teens and 20s.)
For Madrid, which carried the highest number of Round 1 votes among the finalists when the International Olympic Committee convened in Copenhagen to tap a 2016 host, there’s cause for optimism. This time around the host candidate slate has been pared to three ahead of the final decision (compared with five finalists for the 2012 honor and four for the 2016 slot), meaning Madrid is pitted only against Istanbul and Tokyo — the latter a fellow 2016 finalist.
London 2012: American athletes launch protest against strict sponsorship rules forbidding them promoting non-official Olympic brands ~ Independent
‘American track and field athletes have launched an extraordinary protest against strict corporate sponsorship rules which forbid competitors from promoting any non-official Olympic brands for the duration of the Games.
Dozens of track athletes, including some of Team USA’s rising stars, have taken to Twitter to demand a change to the so-called “Rule 40” – which bans athletes from appearing for personal sponsors while the Games are on. Some even posted images of their mouths duct taped with the words “Rule 40” written on across them.
The International Olympic Committee says the ban is needed to protect official brands from ambush marketing. Over the past four years “top tier” sponsors, such as Adidas, McDonalds and BMW, have paid more than £609m towards the Games.
But athletes say they are missing out on a vital two weeks where their global exposure is enormous. Although some of Team USA’s biggest stars make handsome profits from sponsorship deals in the run up to the Games, many struggle to find enough cash to compete. American track athletes receive little government funding and are reliant on sponsors or their own cash.’
FULL ARTICLE @ THE INDEPENDENT
‘Banksy gets his Olympic spirit on with two new pieces of street art. Unfortunately, London officials are threatening to erase them. Known for his irreverent graffiti, Banksy’s two Olympic theme artworks feature a pole-vaulter and another one depicting an athlete throwing a missile instead of a javelin. However, London officials have placed a ban on street artists and their works, according to The Guardian.’