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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: What WikiLeaks has told us
    a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007 fearing it was built to make a bomb see the Sunday Times Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA see the Peninsula Swiss company Trafigura Beheer BV dumped toxic waste at the Ivorian port of Abidjan then attempted to silence the press from revealing it by obtaining a gagging order see WikiLeaks Pakistan s government has allowed members of its spy network to hold strategy sessions on combating American troops with members of the Taliban see the New York Times A stash of highly enriched uranium capable of providing enough material for multiple dirty bombs has been waiting in Pakistan for removal by an American team for more than three years see CBS News US military Special Operations Forces have been conducting offensive operations inside Pakistan despite repeated denials from US officials see the Nation China was behind the online attack on Google see ZDNet North Korea is secretly helping the military dictatorship in Myanmar build nuclear and missile sites in its jungles see CBS News The Indian government condones torture and systematically abused detainees in the disputed region of Kashmir see CBS News The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a government death squad see the Guardian BP suffered a blowout after a gas leak in the Caucasus country of Azerbaijan in September 2008 a year and a half before another BP blowout killed 11 workers see the Guardian Saudi Arabia s rulers have deep distrust for some fellow Muslim countries especially Pakistan and Iran see CBS News Saudi Arabia s King Abdullah repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran see the Guardian Iranian Red Crescent ambulances were used to smuggle weapons to Lebanon s militant Hezbollah group during its 2006 war with Israel see CBS News Dozens of US tactical nuclear weapons are in Germany the Netherlands and Belgium see Jerusalem Post The Libyan government promised enormous repercussions for the UK if the release of Abdel Baset al Megrahi the Lockerbie bomber was not handled properly see CBS News Pope Benedict impeded an investigation into alleged child sex abuse within the Catholic Church see MSNBC Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness carried out negotiations for the Good Friday agreement with Irish then prime minister Bertie Ahern while the two had knowledge of a bank robbery the Irish Republican Army was planning to carry out see CBS News Anglo Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC has infiltrated the highest levels of government in Nigeria see the Guardian A US official was told by Mexican President Felipe Calderon that Latin America needs a visible US presence to counter Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez s growing influence in the region see Yahoo News Cuba s economic situation could become fatal within two to three years see Business Week McDonald s tried to delay the US government s implementation of a free trade agreement in order to put pressure

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/02/what-wikileaks-has-told-us.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Salford
    Many of those whose homes were demolished under the redevelopment plans have now been moved to a regeneration zone named New Broughton Residents have complained though that the new houses are not up to the standard of their old homes One survey recently conducted by New Broughton Residents Association NBRA for instance found that 62 now felt they were worse off in their new accommodation Everything about this place was done for outside appearance says Val Broadbent one of the first to move into a New Broughton housing scheme called Supurbia developed by Countryside Properties People passing comment on how nice it looks but living here is a different story Val describes her new neighbourhood as Toytown and says she was happier in her previous home a 22 year old eco friendly property designed by Salford University that has since been demolished by the council I was very happy there with everything I needed says Val Here we have been stripped of everything and given the very basics in housing My old house had a secure driveway with lockable gates Here I have a parking space in a communal car park that was sold to us as secure parking with electronic gate entry and monitored by CCTV The gates never work and are wide open 24 7 and the CCTV never happened According to the NBRA there have been recurring problems with drainage while several residents have reported damp and leakages For the first 15 months after she moved into her Supurbia home Val s kitchen flooded every time it rained eventually forcing her to get her entire kitchen ceiling replaced It s just been a catalogue of errors she says Light fittings in the wrong place so that the light bulbs smashed when you opened the door illegal plug sockets and even light switches missing The aerial fell off the roof and the shower packed up The front gardens are sinking and the paths need constant repair Such problems are not unique to properties in New Broughton A report produced by the Audit Commission in 2009 found that one in three homes across Salford is in poor condition equating to a total of approximately 29 000 In 2001 the New Labour government set a target that all social housing would be decent warm weatherproof and with reasonably modern facilities by 2010 but Salford Council estimates it will be another five years until all of the city s homes are up to this standard Yet even despite the high number of homes in Salford that are considered of poor quality there is an 18 000 long waiting list for social housing in the city Around 60 properties come available each week and all prospective buyers must lodge a bid against any they are interested in On average for every 60 properties that go on the market more than 3000 individual bids are placed According to the housing charity Shelter the huge demand for social housing in Salford illustrates that the

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/02/new-broughton-salford.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: The Plight of Bradley Manning
    from Bradley Manning for political reasons UK authorities whether they like it or not were implicated in the investigation from the beginning In July last year shortly after Manning was charged American officials reported to be F B I agents made an unannounced visit to the Welsh home of Bradley Manning s mother Susan Accompanied by a Detective Sergeant from Dyfed Powys police force they are believed to have searched Bradley s old bedroom Earlier this week Dyfed Powys police would not confirm or deny this saying only that they facilitated a request from an American agency to accompany them as they conducted their investigation last year It appears then that while UK authorities have been happy to comply with the Americans on UK soil as they seek evidence to prosecute Manning they remain reluctant to get involved in an issue that has the potential to put serious strain on the notorious special relationship For one concerned UK citizen however silence is simply not an option 31 year old Naomi Colvin read an article by American lawyer Glenn Greenwald on the treatment of Manning and upon discovering he had dual UK US citizenship decided that she had to take action Colvin who works in publishing and lives in London promptly started a campaign called UK Friends of Bradley Manning The simple truth is that I felt obliged to start this campaign out of pure humanitarian concern she said We have the case of a British citizen here a UK citizen who I also believe to be a prisoner of conscience being treated extremely badly in pre trial detention in the United States this is clearly an acute humanitarian emergency Meanwhile as concern grows over the treatment of Manning on both sides of the Atlantic back in his tiny cell at the Quantico brig in Virginia his condition continues to deteriorate David House a friend of Manning and one of the few individuals on his approved visitor list has described how the soldier has both physically and psychologically suffered I have noticed that his condition psychologically has been degrading House told CBC radio two weeks ago When I visited him last December physically he had big bags under his eyes very ashen in his face he d lost a lot of weight He looked like someone who had not had exercise in several months which in his case is true Along with publisher Jane Hamsher House recently tried to deliver a 42 000 signature petition to the Quantico brig Commander however was prevented from doing so by military officials The number of signatures on the petition continues to grow as does awareness of Manning s mistreatment Yet even in the face of seven months of solitary confinement and the consequential physical and psychological deterioration what emerges is a picture of a principled young soldier who cannot and will not be broken When I look in Bradley s eyes I see a man who is a very ethical individual who is very

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/02/plight-of-bradley-manning.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Oldham by-election: at the count
    when asked about his thoughts on the result he suddenly proclaimed the party were expecting to come a strong second It was the first real concession of the evening Tory campaign manager and MP for Pendle Andrew Stephenson soon followed suit Not long after Farron s remarks he predicted Labour were significantly ahead by three to four thousand votes and acknowledged We re down but we re not that bad We ve been squeezed By the time it had reached 12 30am there was no one left in the building who believed the result was going to be anything other than a Labour victory About 45 minutes before the full results were announced Andy Burnham presented Debbie Abrahams with a bouquet of flowers on the count floor to massive applause There was clapping and cheering it was clearly now all over A few minutes later Lib Dem candidate Elwyn Watkins the man who took Phil Woolas to court and won could be seen humbly approaching Abrahams to shake hands and concede defeat The full results were announced at about 1 50am Listen The young Labour activist was right to be confident Abrahams had won with a significant majority Using her victory speech to attack the coalition she thanked voters before sharply criticising deputy prime minister Nick Clegg for treating the voters with contempt condemning the Lib Dems backing of the VAT rise police cuts and tuitions fees Across the country there is growing anger against your wreckless policies your broken promises and your unfair cuts she said of the coalition You are making the wrong judgments for the long term of our country It was immediately apparent however that the big story would not be Abrahams speech which was fairly predictable but the tiny proportion of the votes 12 8 won by the Tories Tory candidate Kashif Ali tried to remain positive and was quite dismissive of any suggestion that David Cameron had not offered him support Several grassroots Tory campaigners I spoke to were disgruntled by the lack of support from headquarters but not Kashif who may well have been thinking of his future when he issued comment We had a fantastic amount of support and a good campaign he said I think among voters certainly there was some tactical voting But that s exactly what happens in by elections which is why third parties get squeezed So I don t think anything unusual has happened here There was a solid frenzy for about 45 minutes after the results were announced Amid the media scrum Andy Burnham also issued his post result statement Again the Tories and David Cameron were his targets While we were out campaigning on the hills of Saddleworth the Tories were skiing the slopes of Klosters he said Cameron will be facing a post mortem next week when he gets back to Westminster because they fought a half hearted campaign and they ve been punished at the polls I think traditional Tory MPs will get

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/01/in-early-hours-of-friday-morning-after.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Oldham by-election
    and Tory policy may be a step too far One of the few certainties is that despite Phil Woolas being found guilty of publishing lies about an opponent last year in this election Labour as a party will likely remain relatively undamaged by Woolas s wrongdoing This is principally because there is a high proportion of older generation voters particularly in Oldham not so much in Saddleworth that are old Labour working class ex factory workers for whom voting Labour is as much a tradition as is a Sunday roast dinner For many of these people and I know this from having spoken to a decent cross section of them in and around the town Woolas did nothing wrong and Elwyn Watkins was just a sore loser And yet despite the huge controversy surrounding Phil Woolas s election materials last time round this by election has been far from clean fought Labour were accused by the Lib Dems last week of playing dirty again by publishing deliberately misleading information Debbie Abrahams the Lib Dems allege deceived voters by claiming she had lived near Oldham for 25 years when apparently last year she was in fact living closer to Halifax But regardless the allegations against Abrahams are a drop in the ocean compared to those which brought Woolas down Woolas s leaflets not only lost him his seat but got him barred from holding public office for three years and suspended from the Labour party not just because of their racially inflammatory content and the connections they implied between his opponent and violent extremists but because the evidence showed that he knew these allegations were false Woolas the court heard had deliberately tried to make the white folk angry with his materials So this time round and with the major parties steering clear of the race issue it will be interesting to see how the BNP fare in the election It may be that they make some small gains Racial tensions in Oldham are particularly well documented the race riots in 2001 for example and in the past the far right party have received a reasonable portion of the vote In 2001 for instance they came fourth with 11 while Labour won that year with 38 The BNP s candidate for this by election Derek Adams was at the weekend removed by police from a hustings event after staging a sit down protest which seemed to spur on several BNP supporters if comments on their website are anything to go by The BNP described the incident as the day democracy died in Oldham though the community group responsible for hosting the hustings presented an altogether alternative account of events saying Adams had essentially gatecrashed the proceedings Other entertaining candidates of note running in this by election include David Bishop of the Bus Pass Elvis party key pledge We will call on ITV and the BBC to scrap Coronation Street and Eastenders because they are depressing voters with their gloomy plots and

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/01/oldham-by-election.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Obama and Wikileaks
    has been shaped by individuals with the freedom to assemble by organizations outside of government that insisted upon democratic change and by free media that held the powerful accountable experience shows us that history is on the side of liberty that the strongest foundation for human progress lies in open economies open societies and open governments To put it simply democracy more than any other form of government delivers for our citizens Open society supports open government but cannot substitute for it There is no right more fundamental than the ability to choose your leaders and determine your destiny Make no mistake the ultimate success of democracy in the world won t come because the United States dictates it it will come because individual citizens demand a say in how they are governed The speech was a good one full of fist pumping high minded talk about the free internet open government liberty and democracy As it reached its conclusion Obama gained a rapturous applause Yet again he had illustrated his wonderful and emotive oratory skills But when the emotion of the moment subsided when calm resumed his words remained mere words The uncomfortable truth is that three years since his election as the saviour of America in many ways Obama has only talked the talk he has not walked the walk If the president claims to be a true advocate of open government liberty and democracy then serious questions must be asked of his integrity 23 year old Bradley Manning has been in solitary confinement in a Virginia prison for five months without so much as a preliminary hearing a secret grand jury appears to be meticulously gathering evidence in an attempt to prosecute Julian Assange while it has now come to the stage that American journalists are hesitant to support Wikileaks for fear of a government reprimand All of this has taken place on Obama s watch Certainly a strange picture of liberty With his Wikileaks response Obama has proven himself although not as the redeemer of the American Dream or as a great proponent of change Instead he has proven that power has eroded his values and that he has allowed himself to become a victim of an American political system that appears to be both diseased and contagious As Commander and Chief it may be unrealistic to expect Obama to have embraced the actions of Wikileaks with open arms however this does not mean the only option for him was to bring down the iron fist If only somehow Obama could be made to live up to all his grand rhetoric rhetoric that made people around the world believe he really was different Like on January 20th 2009 at the rousing conclusion of his inauguration speech in Washington when he took a moment to look out towards the future Let it be said by our children s children he said that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end that we did not

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/01/obama-and-wikileaks.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Police, Protests and the Media
    would they This problem is not a new one For years protesters have been jarred by the gulf between the reality of protests and the way they are reported by the mass media During the G8 summit in Gleneagles in 2005 for instance I witnessed firsthand unprovoked police baton charges on Edinburgh s Princes Street Dressed in all black wielding shields batons and with their faces covered riot police lunged indiscriminately at anyone within arm s length male or female adult or youth The sight was shocking Yet the next day there was not a whiff of it in the newspapers Those seeking to cause disorder laid down the gauntlet to police officers who were determined to keep control reported the BBC Likewise when Ian Tomlinson died after being assaulted by a policeman at the G20 protests in London last year almost all media outlets initially reported the police s account of events uncritically Tomlinson had collapsed and stopped breathing we were told so officers quickly sprung to his assistance Police medics tried to revive him as hell bent protesters threw bricks bottles and planks of wood but it was already too late Of course none of this was true There were no bricks or bottles or planks of wood and neither did the police attempt to assist Tomlinson as he fell to the floor In fact as it later turned out Tomlinson was pushed to the ground by a policeman and it was protesters who helped him to his feet It is a difficult thing to accept that the police the very individuals whose role it is to protect us can occasionally perpetrate hideous acts of violence But those who witnessed police tactics at the recent fees demonstrations will know that the friendly British bobby has a darker side

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2010/12/police-protests-and-mass-media.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Cablegate: Part II
    the UK s nuclear deterrent Trident Brown had planned to scale back Trident and on 23 September 2009 said in a speech to the UN General Assembly If we are serious about the ambition of a nuclear free world we will need statesmanship not brinkmanship This announcement one of the cables reveals caught many in HMG Her Majesty s Government by surprise The Americans were subsequently reassured by high ranking foreign office policy officials seemingly behind Brown s back that there would be no daylight between US and UK nuclear policy HMG has not formally decided to scale back the deterrent but would only do so if a government defense sic review determines the officials stressed However the Trident revelations publicised by the Guardian were not widely covered by the British media who were instead focused intently on the arrest of Julian Assange and the lurid content of the allegations made against him Similarly during the first few days of Cablegate several newspapers particularly the tabloids devoted more coverage to diplomatic name calling than to the major revelations that British officials not only promised to protect US interests during the Iraq inquiry but also made a deal with the US to allow the country to keep cluster bombs in the UK despite the ban on the munitions signed by Gordon Brown This week we also learned that prior to the general election in March Conservative party politicians promised behind the scenes to run a pro American regime and made assurances that if voted into power they would buy more arms from the US While the cables have further revealed as many suspected that prior to the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al Megrahi the UK was under intense pressure from the Libyan government One cable dated 24 October 2008 reads The Libyans have told HMG flat out that there will be enormous repercussions for the UK Libya bilateral relationship if Megrahi s early release is not handled properly HMG is also adamant that despite devolution London controls foreign policy for the UK not Edinburgh It is at a time like this when journalism should come in to its own Forget that Vladimir Putin is known in diplomatic circles as alpha dog or Angela Merkel as Teflon there is simply too much at stake here to get distracted by the so called tittle tattle As Henry Porter noted in an excellent piece for the Observer we have been given a snapshot of the world as it is rather than the edited account agreed upon by diverse elites Consequently after having seen a mere 0 5 of the cables so far we already have clear evidence that suggests members of the British political establishment have engaged in at the very least highly undemocratic practice With clarity the cables confirm that unelected officials whose faces and names are unknown to the British public are shaping foreign policy and international relations behind closed doors Not only this but these same officials expect

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2010/12/cablegate-part-ii.html (2016-02-16)
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