Here’s a quick round-up of what’s been going on in the world, starting with the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Gaza
Israel – Gaza ceasefire declared
From midnight last night a ceasefire has been declared between Israeli and Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip after a week of bloodshed. The fighting started as Israel executed its Pillar of Cloud operations, in an attempt to disarm Hamas of its long-range missile capabilities. Israel claimed that the operation was launched in response to Palestinian attacks on Israeli soldiers and territory, ignoring the fact that in September and October there were over 300 Palestinian civilians injured or killed at the hands of the Israeli Defence Force. This includes a number of young boys who were killed by artillery fire whilst playing football. In the aftermath of a week of non-stop bombardment by the fourth best funded military in the world, over 150 Palestinians, including a number of elected leaders, reporters and civilians, have been killed. There were also casualties and injuries on the Israeli side, with five Israelis losing their lives.
There are obviously a number of things that I could rage about as far as this tragic loss of life is concerned, but I’ll keep it brief. First and foremost, Israeli missile strikes killed Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari in his car whilst it was moving, showing the targetting capabilities of their weaponary. On the same day an 11-monh old boy was killed when a missile hit his home, which was not near any legitimate Hamas targets. Accidents happen, but there were dozens of small children killed by missile attacks which had no chance of hitting anything that might have been a threat. The IDF has continued to show a callous disregard for their targets, favouring instead to inflict death and destruction upon a population that is being slowly starved and crushed from the face of the planet. The continually indiscriminate targetting of Palestinian civilians, especially children, shows that the heads of the Israeli state and military would prefer to send their neighbours to the grave than work to any form of sustainable peace. What we’re witnessing is a decades-long genocide.
Secondly, the support of Western powers for Israel’s entirely disproportionate attacks on the Gaza Strip give a glimpse of how this situation has come to be. I’m not going to give you a history lesson on this 60 year old conflict, but essentially Israel has been given the right and means to inflict apartheid on the indigenous population of Palestine in order to act as the attack dog of the West. The U.S., for example, has given Israel more funding than any other country for the last 65+ years, including a staggering $19,509,734,000 between 2001 – 2007. The 1.7 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have essentially been given a multi-billion dollar death sentence by successive Western governments who are more interested in ensuring their influence in a resource-rich region of the world than things like human dignity or life.
I’ll leave it there for now, mostly because if I don’t I might explode.
Patients Association highlights “appalling” NHS care
A report published by the Patients’ Association today detailed a number of cases of what it termed “appalling” care provided by NHS trusts from across the country. Included in the report were details of a dementia patient who was found dead in a river after going missing from their hospital bed and a number of patients who had “Do Not Resuscitate” cards next to their beds without consent from their family. Last year the Patients Association received over 8,000 calls regarding poor standards of care in NHS hospitals. Chief Executive of the organisation, Katherine Murphy stated that “behind each one [of these cases] are many more unheard voices. Whilst there is a lot to be proud of about the NHS, including the overwhelming majority of staff who are skilled and hard-working, these cases are a tragic wake-up call.”
From personal experience I am utterly unsurprised at the findings of this report; when my sister had her appendix out earlier this year she was put on a ward where me and my mum had to give additional support to half a dozen elderly patients because there weren’t nurses around to help them.
Given that there are a total 61,00 nursing jobs that have either already been cut or are facing the axe in the NHS, this news seems like a grim inevitability which is dommed to continue. Many commentators have also pointed to the fact that two-thirds of emergency admissions are among those with an existing long-term illness, which also points to the failings amongst GPs and community care in general.
We are seeing the human cost of the Coalition governments slash-and-burn policy across the NHS and, if these cuts go ahead, then thousands of the most vulnerable people in the UK will lose their lives as the NHS is unable to bear the load of one million patients a day. There’s a Gandhi quote that goes along the lines of “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” On that basis I have two suggestions:
1) Remove the “Great” from Great Britain
2) Stop the Con-Dems before they kill someone close to you.
Also in the news:
EU leaders meet for budget discussions
As EU leaders meet for talks on the EU budget for the next seven years David Cameron has threatened to use his veto if the deal struck between the 27 heads of state is not “in Britain’s interest”. Basically, the way he plans on doing that is by making sure Britain keeps it’s sizeable EU rebate (about £3 billion a year) and pushing for cuts to the cohesion and agricultural budgets, which support the poorer members of the EU and help to keep food prices low across the 27 state bloc. On top of that the PM will be campaging for increased investment in “growth and innovation”, i.e. policy programs that will help big buinesses make more money. What a dick.
Students march against tuition fees
Yesterday around 4,000 protesters marched through London against tuition fees on an NUS-led demo which avoided Parliament Square and instead went through deserted sections of south London. NUS President Liam Burns was run off stage at the rally following the march by angry protesters who shouted “NUS, shame on you, Where the fuck have you brought us to”, showing rising frustration with the NUS’s complete inability to organise effective protests. Many have criticised the NUS as simply a breeding ground for future Labour MPs, which is a bit unfair. Some of them are Lib Dems.
Micahel Chessum from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts laid the blame for the (relatively) low turnout on the NUS, stating : “The appetite of students to fight varies proportionally and will rise with how radical you make slogans and how clear you make the political message. If you march people to Kennington with a political slogan that’s difficult to get people behind, you will end up with low numbers.” If the 50,000 strong demos from 2010 showed us anything, it’s that students will mobilise if they think there’s a chance of a tangible result. An A-to-B march that doesn’t stop at Parliament Square and ends in the arse end of London just isn’t going to cut it. Plus, they need this guy.
Rant over, thanks for reading.