The British papers greeted the recent heatwave with pictures of crowded beaches. In Gaza, one of the most crowded corners of this planet, the beach provides one of few escapes.
Eleven year old Huda Ghalia and her family went for a picnic by the sea last week only to become the target for an Israeli shell.
Huda’s life was spared because she was paddling in the sea, but she saw seven members of her family blown apart.
The message from Israel is clear – Palestinians are not safe anywhere. They face Israeli tanks and shells on the beach, in their homes, in the refugee camps, at work and when they demonstrate for justice.
What was Tony Blair’s response to this atrocity? This week he welcomed Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert to London. When they shook hands it was indeed the meeting of two men with blood on their hands.
Excluded from society
World Cup fever has its limits. Children in north Leeds have been threatened with anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) for playing football in the street. The oldest “culprit” is ten, the youngest three.
New Labour’s boast was that its policy of Asbos and its “respect” agenda would benefit those living in some of the most deprived areas of the country, and combat social exclusion.
Instead, as we show on page 3 of this week’s paper, Labour has created a situation where whole sections of society are excluded from the rights that we are all supposed to enjoy.
Entire neighbourhoods are being stigmatised, making it difficult for everyone who lives there to get a job.
Statistics show that 40 to 50 percent of Asbo orders are breached, and that in those cases half the recipients end up receiving a prison term.
New Labour was elected on the promise it would act on behalf of children whose lives had been blighted by poor education, lack of jobs and rising poverty.
It has not done nearly enough to address those issues and instead reaches for ever more draconian measures.
The other British war
Telling lies has become established practice for this government. When he was defence secretary, John Reid ordered over 3,000 British troops to southern Afghanistan in January stating, in words which should haunt him, “We hope we will leave Afghanistan without firing a single shot.”
This week the coffin carrying the first British soldier to die in combat operations there returned home.
Reid said British troops were only employed in “deep strategic manoeuvres”. Now officials talk of “aggressive peace enforcement”.
The truth is they have taken over from US forces in waging an all out war with Taliban forces. Officially they are there to back up the security forces of President Hamid Karzai. But his government does not rule a country dominated by warring warlords.
John Reid has climbed even higher up the New Labour ladder since he told those lies.
He prospers even as innocent Afghans die and more British soldiers are killed.