WHAT IS going on at BBC headquarters, Bush House? Two World Service journalists were sacked last week. Adli Hawwari is a Palestinian. Abdul-Hadi Jiad is an Iraqi.
John Fray, the deputy general secretary of the journalists' union the NUJ, accused the BBC bosses of 'the ultimate betrayal of free speech'. He said, 'The BBC has laid itself open to accusations of the World Service being lackeys of the government. 'Is it a coincidence that two Arabic service journalists are sacked when a war over Iraq is on the horizon?' The government pays for the World Service with a grant given by the Foreign Office.
BBC bosses have also instructed staff to censor the anti-war movement. BBC news boss Richard Sambrook sent an e-mail telling staff to keep anti-war 'extremists' off the airwaves, however representative their views are. Journalist Paul Foot said, 'It helps to explain why BBC news presenters - the Gavin Eslers and Mark Urbans - vigorously defend the warmongers.'
Longstanding guidelines banning BBC journalists from attending demos are now being enforced. The absurdity of the BBC's pro-war stance was revealed when 1950s comedy play, The Mouse that Roared, was banned from Radio 4. The play is about a small country in the Alps declaring war on the US. BBC managers feared it could be interpreted as anti-American.
PAUL KELLEHER became a national hero when he decapitated a statue of Margaret Thatcher. Paul admitted giving Thatcher the chop with a cricket bat, but the jury at his first trial couldn't decide whether he had a 'lawful excuse'. Judge George Bathurst Norman presided over the retrial.
He sent Paul down for three months. Judge Bathurst Norman has featured in Socialist Worker before - when he jailed a young anti-capitalist protester in 1999. He also presided over the trial of Vincent Bethell, a veteran nudist. When the jury found the nudist not guilty Bethell shouted in triumph, 'Being human is not a crime!' Our judge responded, 'I would not go away too much with that idea.'
CHARITIES for the elderly were furious after the government dropped minimum standards for single rooms, lifts and baths for care homes. Health minister Jacqui Smith announced that standards would be 'relaxed' for homes set up in business before April 2002. The charity Help the Aged was 'appalled' by the government backtracking.
Snipers OK'd by US
COULD THE Israeli military soon be carrying out assassinations 'legally' in countries across the world including the US? Since November 2000 Israel has conducted 85 executions of individual Palestinian activists inside Israel's borders. The government calls these 'targeted killings'.
Such 'targeted killings', often carried out with helicopter-borne missiles, have claimed the lives of bystanders, often including children. A few weeks ago Forward, a venerable New York based Jewish weekly, reported that US and Israeli legal experts met recently to discuss ways to justify the legality of assassination.
Several weeks earlier, on January 15, journalist Richard Sale quoted multiple Israeli and US official sources stating that Mossad has been given permission to carry out 'targeted killings' on the soil of friendly countries, including the US. The Bush administration has declined to comment on the reported expansion of Israel's assassination policy.
MOUNIR AL-Motassadeq was sentenced to 15 years in jail by a German court last week for being an accessory to the hijackers on 11 September 2001. Some remarkable aspects of this case have gone virtually unreported. Two key defence witnesses could not be called at the trial. Both have also been arrested, one by the US and one by Morocco. Legal requests to bring the two men to court were denied. The US Department of Justice simply refused to explain its decision.
Seconds from disaster
A CATASTROPHIC train crash was prevented by sheer luck near Southall station, where seven passengers died in a collision in 1997 and near where 31 people died in the Paddington disaster in 2000. An intercity express came off the tracks in west London at 120 mph last November.
A crash was only stopped because an abandoned piece of rail was lying near the track, accident investigators heard last week. It would have smashed into an incoming train had not the length of rail kept it away from the other line. If the coach had been able to move it would have been a catastrophe.
Logging on 4 laughs
THE ANTI-war movement has encouraged people to launch a series of satirical and angry websites against Bush and Blair. You might enjoy these:
Think what I say
INSIDE THE System reported last week on the launch of a Researchers Against the War group set up by Labour Party research staff. Steve McCabe, the Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green, has greeted the group in a way that will undoubtedly warm the heart of Tony Blair. McCabe is ready to sack any researcher who, during their work time, raises doubts about attacking Iraq.
'I would regard anyone using their work time to organise a political campaign that was nothing to do with my constituents as a breach of their contract of employment and consider it a disciplinary offence,' he says. McCabe, a member of the Amicus union parliamentary group, adds, 'They should concentrate on doing the tasks for which they are paid.'
STANFORD University in the US has just received $100 million to carry out 'climate change studies'. The money comes from oil giant ExxonMobil.
Things they say
'DEAFENING Silence As Immigrant Tide Rises.'
DAILY MAIL, 21 February, page 14
'THE MAIL salutes the achievement of Asian pupils, now poised to outperform their white classmates in this year's GCSE exams. Their performance provides testimony to the benefits of traditional values. It is a lesson that indigenous Britain would do well to learn.'
DAILY MAIL, 21 February, page 12
'WE KNOW where the best oil reserves are in Iraq and we covet the opportunity to get them.'
ARCHIE DUNHAM, chairman of ConocoPhillips
'IF YOU have a college Lib Dem group in your area this will be an excellent source of candidates - not just for those who are party members, but their friends and flatmates will be persuaded to stand 'for a laugh' and for the price of a round of drinks.'
Lib Dem chief of staff DR DEREK BARRIE on getting election candidates
'ALL reporters preparing package scripts must submit scripts for approval. Packages may not be edited until scripts are approved. All packages originating outside Washington, Los Angeles or New York must come to Atlanta for approval.'
Instructions to reporters from US TV station CNN in preparation for war
'THE CAMPAIGN to end inheritance tax demonstrates so clearly the power of money. Money and power are very closely related in this country.'
BILL GATES SENIOR, father of the Microsoft billionaire