Posts Tagged ‘cover up’

Saudi official reveals new details about Khashoggi case to Reuters

October 21, 2018

The instructions of the head of the Khashoggi mission were based on a previous directive to negotiate the return of members of opposition, a Saudi official told Reuters in a report published on Sunday.

The source said that the primary reports on the mission were not accurate so they had to investigate further, and that journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death was a result of a mistake from the negotiation team.

The confusion of the negotiation team led them to cover up on the incident, the official told Reuters.

The previous negotiation directive did not require the person in charge to obtain approvals from leadership, the official added.

According to the Saudi official’s reports to Reuters, primary findings showed that the death was a result of choking during at attempt to stop Khashoggi from raising his voice.

The negotiation team disobeyed orders, abused their authority and used violence, and there are 18 suspects in the Khashoggi case and they are currently detained pending an investigation, according to the official.

Arab News

(Check back for more)


Fake photos in Myanmar army’s ‘True News’ book on the Rohingya crisis

August 31, 2018

The grainy black-and-white photo, printed in a new book on the Rohingya crisis authored by Myanmar’s army, shows a man standing over two bodies, wielding a farming tool. “Bengalis killed local ethnics brutally”, reads the caption.

Image result for Fake Photos in Myanmar Army's 'True News' Book
A combination of screenshots shows (top) an image taken from the Pulitzer Prize website depicting the migration of Rwandan Hutu refugees in 1996 following violence in Rwanda. The same image (bottom) appears in the Myanmar armyÕs recently published book on the Rohingya, converted to black-and-white, describing the people as Bengalis entering the country following the British colonial occupation of lower Myanmar. Top: Martha Rial/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/The Pulitzer Prizes Bottom: Myanmar Politics and the Tatmadaw: Part 1/via REUTERS

The photo appears in a section of the book covering ethnic riots in Myanmar in the 1940s. The text says the image shows Buddhists murdered by Rohingya – members of a Muslim minority the book refers to as “Bengalis” to imply they are illegal immigrants.

But a Reuters examination of the photograph shows it was actually taken during Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war, when hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis were killed by Pakistani troops.

It is one of three images that appear in the book, published in July by the army’s department of public relations and psychological warfare, that have been misrepresented as archival pictures from the western state of Rakhine.

In fact, Reuters found that two of the photos originally were taken in Bangladesh and Tanzania. A third was falsely labeled as depicting Rohingya entering Myanmar from Bangladesh, when in reality it showed migrants leaving the country.

The top screenshot shows a prize-winning image of Hutu refugees taken in 1996 following the violence in Rwanda. In the bottom screenshot, the same image has been altered for use in the Myanmar army’s recently published book on the Rohingya. It has been converted to black and white, and the caption falsely describes the subjects as Bengalis who have “intruded” into Myanmar after the British colonial occupation of lower Myanmar. (Top: Martha Rial/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/The Pulitzer Prizes. Bottom: Myanmar Politics and the Tatmadaw: Part 1/via REUTERS)

Government spokesman Zaw Htay and a military spokesman could not be reached for comment on the authenticity of the images. U Myo Myint Maung, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information, declined to comment, saying he had not read the book.

The 117-page “Myanmar Politics and the Tatmadaw: Part I” relates the army’s narrative of August last year, when some 700,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine to Bangladesh, according to United Nations agencies, triggering reports of mass killings, rape, and arson. Tatmadaw is the official name of Myanmar’s military.

Much of the content is sourced to the military’s “True News” information unit, which since the start of the crisis has distributed news giving the army’s perspective, mostly via Facebook.

The book is on sale at bookstores across the commercial capital of Yangon. A member of staff at Innwa, one of the biggest bookshops in the city, said the 50 copies the store ordered had sold out, but there was no plan to order more. “Not many people came looking for it,” said the bookseller, who declined to be named.

On Monday, Facebook banned the army chief and other military officials accused of using the platform to “inflame ethnic and religious tensions”. The same day, U.N investigators accused Senior General Min Aung Hlaing of overseeing a campaign with “genocidal intent” and recommended he and other senior officials be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

In its new book, the military denies the allegations of abuses, blaming the violence on “Bengali terrorists” it says were intent on carving out a Rohingya state named “Arkistan”.

Attacks by Rohingya militants calling themselves the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army preceded the military’s crackdown in August 2017 in Rakhine state, in which the U.N. investigators say 10,000 people may have been killed. The group denies it has separatist aims.

The book also seeks to trace the history of the Rohingya – who regard themselves as native to western Myanmar – casting them as interlopers from Bangladesh.

The top screenshot shows a genuine photo from Getty Images depicting Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants, who were trying to flee Myanmar, after their boat was seized by Myanmar’s navy, near Yangon, in 2015. In the screenshot below, the same image appears in the Myanmar army’s new book on the Rohingya. It has been flipped and converted to black and white. The caption falsely says the image shows Bengalis entering Myanmar by boat. (Top: Getty Images, Bottom: Myanmar Politics and the Tatmadaw: Part 1/via REUTERS)

In the introduction to the book the writer, listed as Lieutenant Colonel Kyaw Kyaw Oo, says the text was compiled using “documentary photos” with the aim of “revealing the history of Bengalis”.

“It can be found that whenever a political change or an ethnic armed conflict occurred in Myanmar those Bengalis take it as an opportunity,” the book reads, arguing that Muslims took advantage of the uncertainty of Myanmar’s nascent democratic transition to ignite “religious clashes”.

Reuters was unable to contact Kyaw Kyaw Oo for comment.

Reuters examined some of the photographs using Google Reverse Image Search and TinEye, tools commonly used by news organizations and others to identify images that have previously appeared online. Checks were then made with the previously credited publishers to establish the origins of those images.

Of the 80 images in the book, most were recent pictures of army chief Min Aung Hlaing meeting foreign dignitaries or local officials visiting Rakhine. Several were screengrabs from videos posted by Rohingya militant group the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

Of eight photos presented as historical images, Reuters found the provenance of three to be faked and was unable to determine the provenance of the five others.

One faded black-and-white image shows a crowd of men who appear to be on a long march with their backs bent over. “Bengalis intruded into the country after the British Colonialism occupied the lower part of Myanmar,” the caption reads.

The photo is apparently intended to depict Rohingya arriving in Myanmar during the colonial era, which ended in 1948. Reuters determined the picture is in fact a distorted version of a color image taken in 1996 of refugees fleeing the genocide in Rwanda. The photographer, Martha Rial, working for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, won the Pulitzer Prize.

The newspaper did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the use of its photo.

Another picture, also printed in black-and-white, shows men aboard a rickety boat. “Bengalis entered Myanmar via the watercourse,” the caption reads.

Actually, the original photo depicts Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants leaving Myanmar in 2015, when tens of thousands fled for Thailand and Malaysia. The original has been rotated and blurred so the photo looks granular. It was sourced from Myanmar’s own Ministry of Information.

Reporting by Poppy Elena McPherson; Additional reporting by Sam Aung Moon; Editing by Alex Richardson


Devin Nunes, Washington’s Public Enemy No. 1

July 28, 2018

What did the FBI do in the 2016 campaign? The head of the House inquiry on what he has found—and questions still unanswered.

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© Getty Images


Tulare, Calif.

It’s 105 degrees as I stand with Rep. Devin Nunes on his family’s dairy farm. Mr. Nunes has been feeling even more heat in Washington, where as chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence he has labored to unearth the truth about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s activities during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. Thanks in large part to his work, we now know that the FBI used informants against Donald Trump’s campaign, that it obtained surveillance warrants based on opposition research conducted for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and that after the election Obama administration officials “unmasked” and monitored the incoming team.

Mr. Nunes’s efforts have provoked extraordinary partisan and institutional fury in Washington—across the aisle, in the FBI and other law-enforcement and intelligence agencies, in the media. “On any given day there are dozens of attacks, each one wilder in its claims,” he says. Why does he keep at it? “First of all, because it’s my job. This is a basic congressional investigation, and we follow the facts,” he says. The “bigger picture,” he adds, is that in “a lot of the bad and problematic countries” that Intelligence Committee members investigate, “this is what they do there. There is a political party that controls the intelligence agencies, controls the media, all to ensure that party stays in power. If we get to that here, we no longer have a functioning republic. We can’t let that happen.”

Mr. Nunes, 44, was elected to Congress in 2002 from Central California. He joined the Intelligence Committee in 2011 and delved into the statutes, standards and norms that underpin U.S. spying. That taught him to look for “red flags,” information or events that don’t feel right and indicate a deeper problem. He noticed some soon after the 2016 election.

The first: Immediately after joining the Trump transition team, Mr. Nunes faced an onslaught of left-wing claims that he might be in cahoots with Vladimir Putin. It started on social media, though within months outlets such as MSNBC were openly asking if he was a “Russian agent.” “I’ve been a Russia hawk going way back,” he says. “I was the one who only six months earlier had called the Obama administration’s failure to understand Putin’s plans and intentions the largest intelligence failure since 9/11. So these attacks, surreal—big red flag.”

Mr. Nunes would later come to believe the accusations marked the beginning of a deliberate campaign by Obama officials and the intelligence community to discredit him and sideline him from any oversight effort. “This was November. We, Republicans, still didn’t know about the FBI’s Trump investigation. But they did,” he says. “There was concern I’d figure it out, so they had to get rid of me.”

A second red flag: the sudden rush by a small group of Obama officials to produce a new intelligence assessment two weeks before President Trump’s inauguration, claiming the Russians had acted in 2016 specifically to elect Mr. Trump. “Nobody disagrees the Russians were trying to muddy up Hillary Clinton. Because everyone on the planet believed—including the Russians—she was going to win,” Mr. Nunes says. So it “made no sense” that the Obama administration was “working so hard to make the flip argument—to say ‘Oh, no, no: This was all about electing Trump.’ ” The effort began to make more sense once that rushed intelligence assessment grew into a central premise behind the theory that Mr. Trump’s campaign had colluded with the Russians.

Image result for James Comey, photos

January 2017 also brought then-FBI Director James Comey’s acknowledgment to Congress—the public found out later—that the bureau had been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign since the previous summer, and that Mr. Comey had actively concealed the probe from Congress. Months earlier, when Mr. Nunes had seen media stories alluding to a Trump investigation, he’d dismissed them. “We’re supposed to get briefed,” he says. “Plus, I was thinking: ‘Comey, FBI, they’re good people and would never do this in an election. Nah.’ ”

When the facts came out, Mr. Nunes was stunned by the form the investigation took. For years he had been central in updating the laws governing surveillance, metadata collection and so forth. “I would never have conceived of FBI using our counterintelligence capabilities to target a political campaign. If it had crossed any of our minds, I can guarantee we’d have specifically written, ‘Don’t do that,’ ” when crafting legislation, he says. “Counterintelligence is looking at people trying to steal our nation’s secrets or working with terrorists. This if anything would be a criminal matter.”

Then there was the Christopher Steele dossier, prepared for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign by the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS. Top congressional Republicans got a January 2017 briefing about the document, which Mr. Comey later described as “salacious and unverified.” Mr. Nunes remembers Mr. Comey making one other claim. “He said Republicans paid for it. Not true.” Mr. Nunes recalls. “If they had informed us Hillary Clinton and Democrats paid for that dossier, I can guarantee you that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan would have laughed and walked out of that meeting.” The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website funded by hedge-fund manager Paul Singer, had earlier hired Fusion GPS to do research on Mr. Trump, but the Beacon’s editors have said that assignment did not overlap with the dossier.

All these red flags were more than enough to justify a congressional investigation, yet Mr. Nunes says his sleuthing triggered a new effort to prevent one. He had been troubled in January 2017 when newspapers published leaked conversations between Mike Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, and the Russian ambassador. The leak, Mr. Nunes says, involved “very technical collection, nearly the exact readouts.” It violated strict statutory rules against “unmasking”—revealing the identities of Americans who are picked up talking to foreigners who are under U.S. intelligence surveillance.

Around the time of the Flynn leak, Mr. Nunes received tips that far more unmasking had taken place. His sources gave him specific document numbers to prove it. Viewing them required Mr. Nunes to travel in March to a secure reading room on White House grounds, a visit his critics would then spin into a false claim that he was secretly working with Mr. Trump’s inner circle. They also asserted that his unmasking revelations amounted to an unlawful disclosure of classified information.

That prompted a House Ethics Committee investigation. In April 2017, Mr. Nunes stepped aside temporarily from the Russia-collusion piece of his inquiry, conveniently for those who wished to forestall its progress. Not until December did the Ethics Committee clear Mr. Nunes. “We found out later,” he says, “that four of the five Democrats on that committee had called for me to be removed before this even got rolling.”

Meantime, the Intelligence Committee continued the Russia-collusion probe without Mr. Nunes. In October 2017 news finally became public that the Steele dossier had been paid for by the Clinton campaign. This raised the question of how much the FBI had relied on opposition research for its warrant applications, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to spy on onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Throughout the fall, the Justice Department refused to comply with Intel Committee subpoenas for key dossier and FISA documents.

By the end of the year, Mr. Nunes was facing off with the Justice Department, which was given a Jan. 3, 2018, deadline to comply with Congress’s demands for information. The New York Times quoted unnamed government officials who claimed the Russia investigation had hinged not on the dossier but on a conversation with another low-level Trump aide, George Papadopoulos. The next day, the Washington Post ran a story asserting—falsely, Mr. Nunes insists—that even his Republican colleagues had lost confidence in him. “So, a leak about how the dossier doesn’t matter after all, and another saying I’m out there alone,” he says. “And right then DOJ and FBI suddenly demand a private meeting with the speaker, where they try to convince him to make me stand down. All this is not a coincidence.”

But Mr. Ryan backed Mr. Nunes, and the Justice Department produced the documents. The result was the Nunes memo, released to the public in February, which reported that the Steele dossier had in fact “formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application”—and that the FBI had failed to inform the FISA court of the document’s partisan provenance. “We kept the memo to four pages,” Mr. Nunes says. “We wanted it clean. And we thought: That’s it, it’s over. The American public now knows that they were using dirt to investigate a political campaign, a U.S. citizen, and everyone will acknowledge the scandal.” That isn’t what happened. Instead, “Democrats put out their own memo, the media attacked us more, and the FBI and DOJ continue to obfuscate.”

It got worse. This spring Mr. Nunes obtained information showing the FBI had used informants to gather intelligence on the Trump camp. The Justice Department is still playing hide-and-seek with documents. “We still don’t know how many informants were run before July 31, 2016”—the official open of the counterintelligence investigation—“and how much they were paid. That’s the big outstanding question,” he says. Mr. Nunes adds that the department and the FBI haven’t done anything about the unmaskings or taken action against the Flynn leakers—because, in his view, “they are too busy working with Democrats to cover all this up.”

He and his committee colleagues in June sent a letter asking Mr. Trump to declassify at least 20 pages of the FISA application. Mr. Nunes says they are critical: “If people think using the Clinton dirt to get a FISA is bad, what else that’s in that application is even worse.”

Mr. Nunes has harsh words for his adversaries. How, he asks, can his committee’s Democrats, who spent years “worrying about privacy and civil liberties,” be so blasé about unmaskings, surveillance of U.S. citizens, and intelligence leaks? On the FBI: “I’m not the one that used an unverified dossier to get a FISA warrant,” Mr. Nunes says. “I’m not the one who obstructed a congressional investigation. I’m not the one who lied and said Republicans paid for the dossier. I’m just one of a few people in a position to get to the bottom of it.” And on the press: “Today’s media is corrupt. It’s chosen a side. But it’s also making itself irrelevant. The sooner Republicans understand that, the better.”

His big worry is that Republicans are running out of time before the midterm elections, yet there are dozens of witnesses still to interview. “But this was always the DO/FBI plan,” he says. “They are slow-rolling, because they are wishing and betting the Republicans lose the House.”

Still, he believes the probe has yielded enough information to chart a path for reform: “We need more restrictions on what you can use FISAs for, and more restrictions on unmaskings. And we need real penalties for those who violate the rules.” He says his investigation has also illuminated “the flaws in the powers of oversight, which Congress need to reinstate for itself.”

Mostly, Mr. Nunes feels it has been important to tell the story. “There are going to be two histories written here. The fiction version will come from an entire party, and former and even current intelligence heads, and the media, who will continue trying to cover up what they did,” he says. “It’s our job, unfortunately, to write the nonfiction.”

Ms. Strassel writes the Journal’s Potomac Watch column.

NHS use of ‘unsafe’ syringes to be examined — NHS Scotland staff offered pay rise

June 25, 2018

The government will examine claims the NHS was slow to take a “dangerous” automatic syringe out of service.

It follows a whistleblower’s warning, reported in the Sunday Times, that the devices could have caused widespread deaths among elderly patients.

The syringes, used to give powerful painkillers, were in use until 2015.

Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there were questions over how quickly the NHS reacted “when we knew these syringes were dangerous”.

Image result for Jeremy Hunt, photos

Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt

NHS officials issued warnings of the risk of fatalities from user error in the 1990s but the devices continued to be permitted by the NHS until three years ago.

Doctors were concerned that confusing two models of the infusion pumps could lead to a day’s dose of drugs being delivered in one hour.

Mr Hunt said: “We need to be absolutely certain that the NHS does react as quickly as possible when you have suggestions a piece of equipment is not safe.

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“Urgent guidance was sent out in 2010 and they were finally removed from use in 2015 but we will look at whether that was as quick as it should have been.”

Last week the government inquiry into hundreds of deaths at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital found more than 450 patients died after being given powerful painkillers inappropriately.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, the whistleblower said the decision makers on the inquiry panel had “ignored” evidence that the devices caused fatalities because they were worried about a national scandal.

The newspaper claims the syringes were also linked to overdose-related deaths in Wales, South Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

“Anyone who has lost their granny over the past 30 years when opiates were administered by this equipment will be asking themselves, ‘Is that what killed Granny?’,” the whistleblower told the paper.

Mr Hunt said claims of a cover-up had been “categorically denied” by the independent panel, who had a “free hand”, adding “if they thought there was an issue with the syringe drivers I know they would have said so”.

Hundreds of lives were cut short due to prescribed opioids at Gosport War Memorial Hospital

What were the syringe warnings?

  • The syringe drivers, called Graseby MS26 and Graseby MS16A, were loaded with capsules and programmed to release drugs into a patient’s bloodstream over an extended period
  • They delivered drugs at different rates – MS26 delivered in mm per 24 hours, MS16A delivered in mm per hour
  • Cases emerged of the drivers being confused, causing dangerous over-infusion of drugs
  • The NHS’s Purchasing and Supply Agency (PSA) said the devices appeared “very similar aside from colour”
  • Hazard notices were issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to ensure NHS staff knew the difference between the models

In 1994, the NHS in Scotland issued a hazard notice warning of the risk of death due to confusion between the two models causing drugs to be delivered at the incorrect rate.

Australia and New Zealand had programmes in the late 2000s to remove the devices from use.

A 2008 paper by the NHS’s Purchasing and Supply Agency (PSA), which closed in 2010, said the devices were an “essential component of palliative care”.

An estimated 40,000 devices – a quarter of the worldwide total – were in the UK, the majority in primary care.

The syringes were briefly mentioned in the report released on Wednesday looking into the deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

The report said: “The panel has considered issues concerned with the particular syringe drivers, known by their tradename of Graseby, and is aware of the hazard notices which applied.

“The panel’s analysis does not rest upon any issue relating to these notices.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “While there is a range of statutory requirements to monitor and improve safe management and use of controlled drugs, we would not hesitate to take further action to improve safety.”



NHS Scotland staff offered 9% pay rise over three years

NHS staff

The bulk of NHS staff in Scotland have been offered a 9% pay rise, spread across three years. GETTY IMAGES

The offer, to staff like nurses and midwives who earn under £80,000 a year, is being considered by NHS unions.

Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said she was “proud” to be offering a pay rise which “not only matches the NHS England deal, but exceeds it”.

The offer would not affect doctors, dentists or senior managers. Staff consultations will run until 15 August.

The Royal College of Nursing in Scotland (RCN) said the offer was “the best deal that can be achieved through negotiation at this time”, and that it was vital for staff to take part in the consultation.

The Royal College of Midwives Scotland (RCM) recommended that members accept the “good deal” on offer, but said they saw it “as the starting point for better pay for NHS staff, not the end point”.

Pay offer

The pay rise would be linked to changes to terms and conditions, including sickness leave policy and career progression, which will have to be agreed by December 2018.

Many staff have already been given a 3% pay rise for the current year, which was recently announced by Nicola Sturgeon at the SNP conference.

This could now be extended across three years, with 147,000 staff earning up to £80,000 receiving a minimum uplift of 9%. Workers who are not at the top of their wage band could see bigger increases, depending on where they sit in the pay scale.

Those earning above £80,000 will be given a flat-rate increase of £1,600 a year.


More than a million NHS workers in England are receiving a three-year pay deal worth 6.5% after staff voted in favour of that offer in June.

Ms Robison said she was “delighted” to be making the offer in the 70th anniversary year of the health service.

She said: “Our NHS is built on the dedication and hard work of healthcare staff up and down the country. They are our health service’s beating heart, and I’m proud to be offering them this significant pay rise in recognition of the work they do caring for the people of Scotland.

“We’re doing all we can to recruit new talent and retain existing staff, ensuring NHS Scotland has the right skills and experience to meet future demand and rising expectations. Today’s announcement will help make our NHS an attractive employment option for many.”

‘A good deal’

The pay proposal will now be put to staff in a consultation running from 2 July to 15 August, with the lead unions describing it as a “good deal”.

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: “This is the largest pay rise offered to nurses in 10 years, and we believe it is the best deal that can be achieved through negotiation at this time.

“It is now time for members to make up their own minds on whether to accept or reject it.”

RCM Scotland negotiator Emma Currer said the offer would see staff get “a real increase in their pay after years of pay freezes and stagnation”.

She added: “This is something the RCM and other unions have been fighting for. This is a good deal and one that we believe is the best that can be achieved in the current economic climate.

“However, we also see this as the starting point for better pay for NHS staff, not the end point.”

The Scottish Conservatives welcomed the offer, saying it was needed to offset tax rises in Scotland, while Labour said it was “essential” a longer-term settlement was reached.

UK Newspapers Call For Action in Gosport Hospital Scandal — 450 Died Needlessly in NHS Care — Death By Heroin, Opioids, Painkillers

June 21, 2018

It is a time for “deep soul-searching” within the NHS, it adds, “over its attitude to whistleblowers and the value of old people’s lives”.

BBC News

Guardian front page - 21/06/18
The report into the deaths of hundreds of patients at Gosport War Memorial Hospital after they were given dangerous doses of painkillers for no medical reason leads several papers. The Guardian says their families have pledged to continue their fight for criminal prosecutions.
Daily Mirror front page - 21/06/18
The Daily Mirror’s headline on Gosport refers to the 456 confirmed deaths between 1989 and 2000 – and a further 200 patients who experts concluded may have suffered a similar fate. Health chiefs repeatedly ignored warnings, says the paper.
Daily Telegraph front page - 21/06/18
A photograph of the doctor who oversaw the prescribing on the affected wards at Gosport War Memorial Hospital appears on the front page of the Daily Telegraph. The victims’s families are asking why Dr Jane Barton, 70, has not faced justice, its headline says.
Daily Mail front page - 21/06/18
The Daily Mail says Dr Barton is thought to be hiding in Spain. The Mail’s report also focuses on the demand for action by the grieving families and carries the headline: “Now put her in the dock”.
i front page - 21/06/18
Image captionThe i says the revelations in the Gosport report were “shocking”. The patients were “condemned to die by their own hospital”, adds the paper.
Times front page - 21/06/18
The Times says campaigners are warning the scandal at Gosport could happen again. Its lead story focuses on Donald Trump’s visit to Europe next month and a prospective meeting between the US president and Vladimir Putin. The possible talks are causing alarm in Whitehall, it reports.
Metro front page - 21/06/18
Metro leads on the passing of the government’s Brexit bill in Parliament. The prime minister survived yet another crunch vote and once again defied predictions of defeat, says the paper.
Financial Times front page- 21/06/18
Image captionThe Financial Times says the Ministry of Defence’s modernisation has been thrown into disarray. It reports the prime minister has suggested cyber-warfare capability needs to be boosted – although No. 10 dismisses claims she wanted to reduce the UK’s role as a top military power.
Daily Star front page - 21/06/18
Image captionThe Daily Star leads on Lord Sugar, who had come under fire after comparing Senegal’s World Cup players to men selling trinkets on a Spanish beach. It says the Apprentice host has apologised for the now-deleted tweet, saying he had “in no way intended to cause offence”.

Many of the front pages carry photographs showing the smiling faces of some of those who died at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

“Condemned to die by their hospital” is the headline in the i while the Daily Mirror calls Gosport a “hospital of horrors”.

Relatives of Gosport War Memorial Hospital victims speak to the mediaImage copyrightPA
Image captionRelatives of Gosport War Memorial Hospital victims speak to the media after the report was issued

The Sun says families have condemned the scandal as “horrific, calculated and shameful” and have “demanded criminal charges against medical staff who allowed their loved ones to be give lethal doses of painkillers”.

Some relatives speak of their own feelings of regret that they did not intervene. Pamela Byrne, whose stepfather Clifford Houghton died at the hospital, tells the local newspaper Portsmouth’s The News “there is a little bit of guilt there, because you feel, why wasn’t I able to do anything?”

In its editorial, the Times says the case has prompted serious questionsabout how widespread such practices may be.

“When hundreds of patients are given fatal heroin overdoses in an NHS hospital and it takes decades to get to the truth, the entire system is in the dock,” it says.

The Daily Mail offers a similar warning.

It says the Gosport cases – coming after the scandal of unnecessary deaths at Mid Staffordshire hospital – suggest an “institutional contempt for the elderly”.

It is a time for “deep soul-searching” within the NHS, it adds, “over its attitude to whistleblowers and the value of old people’s lives”.

White flags

The columnists reflect on the promised rebellion that failed to materialise when MPs voted on whether they should have a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal.

In the Spectator, Isabel Hardman says the events seemed all too familiar – “one of the laws of Brexit is that every Commons division and Cabinet meeting billed as being a ‘crunch vote’ ends up postponing the crunching again, and again and again”.

UK and EU flagsImage copyrightPA

PoliticsHome says the decision of the Tory MP Dominic Grieve not to vote for his own amendment caused consternation among Labour and Lib Dem Remainers.

One Labour source tells the website Mr Grieve “raised more white flags than a regatta”.

“Grieve budges as May fudges” is how the Sun sums up the day’s events at Westminster.

In the Guardian, John Crace describes Mr Grieve as “the rebel who forgot to rebel,” concluding that “indecision and duplicity… won the day again”.

The Times says it has learnt that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are preparing to meet during the US president’s visit to Europe next month.

Vladimir Putin speaks to Donald Trump during G20 summit in Hamburg on 7 July 2017Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionMr Putin and Donald Trump held talks during the G20 summit in Hamburg in July 2017

Senior British government sources have told the paper the meeting could take place before Mr Trump attends a Nato summit and visits London.

The prospect is fuelling fears in Whitehall, they say, about Mr Trump’s commitment to the military alliance.

Morning people

Several papers report that the chief inspector of schools is to back calls for mobile phones to be banned in schools.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Amanda Spielman will tell audiences at an education festival tomorrow that she has “yet to be convinced of the educational benefits of all day access to Snapchat and the like”.

The Daily Express says she will also signal her support for a return to some “old-school punishments”.

She will say it is “entirely appropriate” to use sanctions such as writing out lines, playground litter-picking and detention to tackle bad behaviour.

Finally, the Times says new research suggests Britain is a nation of morning people.

Dog walkers during sunrise on Longsands beach in TynemouthImage copyright PA

A four-year analysis of around 800m posts on Twitter suggests most Brits wake up “full of drive, positivity and vim.”

Sixteen hours later, it reports, our thoughts often turn to “anger, swearing and existential dread”.

The paper suggests workplaces across the nation could learn from the study by allowing staff to take power naps, adding if they want “alert and smiling staff, they should issue pillows to all employees”.

The Telegraph

In 1991, Anita Tubbritt, a staff nurse working nights on an elderly ward at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire, asked to have a quiet word with her local union representative.

Mrs Tubbritt, along with a number of her colleagues, had become concerned over the way medical heroin was being administered to patients, who in their opinion did not require it.

On Wednesday, more than 27 years later, those concerns were finally acknowledged, when an independent inquiry concluded that more than 650 patients’ lives could have been prematurely ended by the “institutionalised regime” of prescribing and administering opioids without medical justification.

Read the rest:

Leaked EU files show Brussels cover-up and collusion on Putin’s Gazprom abuses — coercive pricing policies — Gazprom has been strangling European gas supplies for years

April 13, 2018

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The Telegraph
12 APRIL 2018 • 11:30PM

Vladimir Putin’s abusive stranglehold over European gas supplies has been laid bare by explosive EU documents, exposing deliberate violations of EU law and a pattern of political bullying over almost a decade.

The longest investigation in EU history found that the Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom has used its enormous power to pressure vulnerable states in Eastern Europe, and to fragment the EU’s unified energy market with coercive pricing policies.

The report suggests that Germany has been enjoying a sweetheart deal with Gazprom, gaining a competitive advantage in gas costs at the expense of fellow EU economies and leaving front line states at the mercy of Moscow’s strong-arm tactics….

Read the rest (Paywall):


Gazprom’s abusive practices reflect ‘Chinese style’ business

Leaked files lay bare EU COVER-UP of Vladimir Putin’s abusive stronghold over European gas

LEAKED EU documents reveal that state-run Russian energy giant Gazprom has been strangling European gas supplies for years and deliberately violating EU energy law for close to a decade, with the EU doing little to challenge it.

Philip Hammond downplays importance of Russian gas to UK

The “abusive practices” carried out by the energy giant were highlighted in an internal European Commission document relating to a seven-year old anti-trust dispute, which was leaked on Tuesday.

The document, which was part of the EU’s longest ever investigation, found that Gazprom had engaged in behaviour which amounted to political bullying, exerting pressure over vulnerable nations in Eastern Europe and fragmenting the unified EU energy market with deceptive pricing policies.

Professor Alan Riley, EU energy law expert at the Atlantic Council, said: “This is a very big deal. What the documents show is that there was systematic abuse of dominant position, and that it was clearly done for political purposes.

“Gazprom was splitting the European energy market at every point. And now the Commission is minded to do a deal that treats the East Europeans as if they were not member states at all.”


Gazprom was found to be fragmenting the EU energy market with deceptive pricing policies

What the documents show is that there was systematic abuse of dominant position, and that it was clearly done for political purposes

Professor Alan Riley

The leak is highly embarrassing for the the EU’s competition directorate, as it implies the Commission gained a full understanding of the “abusive” techniques employed by the company, and nevertheless turned a blind eye, with large countries such as Germany benefitting.

Polish politicians have accused countries such as Germany of wielding a large influence in EU institutions to suppress the findings and reach an amicable agreement with Gazprom in order to maintain their beneficial standing.

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, a Polish MEP, said: “What we’re told is that the Commission wants an amicable settlement and has already decided to do this deal. It is disloyal and Poland is one of the victims, but not the only one.

“The documents show beyond any doubt that Gazprom has trespassed on EU law for years, and the Commission is about to issue a de facto acquittal anyway. They are they are doing this in the context of a silent war by Russia. This is all about vested interests.”

The EU raided Gazprom offices in European cities in 2011, and seized over 150,000 files.


The EU raided Gazprom offices in European cities in 2011, and seized over 150,000 files

One document showed that Gazprom hindered sales of gas in Slovakia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

The document commented on this behaviour, saying: “The purpose was to segment the internal market along national borders.

This meant that Gazprom could impose “unfair pricing” in eastern European regions by leveraging its “dominant position”.

The report cast its final judgment, saying: “The Commission considers that the infringement has been committed intentionally. Gazprom is fully aware of the illegal nature of at least some of the various contractual and non-contractual measures.”

The Commission also called for fines of 30pc of relevant sales, or up to 10pc of total turnover.


Gazprom charged $350 per 1000 cubic metres of gas in Poland, compared to $200 in Germany

The illegal behaviour appears to be part of a politically motivated move, by “obtaining certain non-related commitments” which differ from country to country.

Notably, Gazprom was found to be charging $350 per 1000 cubic meters of gas in Poland, compared with $200 in Germany.This appears to be part of a tactic to punish Poland for refusing to give up control over their section of the Yamal pipeline to the Russians.

Germany, however, has been enjoying an advantageous deal with Gazprom, achieving a competitive advantage in terms of gas prices over their eastern European neighbours.

The report also showed that Gazprom employed a variety of techniques to divide EU nations, including re-export bans, restrictions on metering stations, destination clauses, and refusal to change delivery points.

EU officials commented on this, saying: “Unfair and politically driven pricing (linked to the Russian Federation’s policy in CEE) is the focal point of Gazprom corporate strategy.”

Britain to hold inquiry into contaminated blood scandal — “Worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS”

July 11, 2017


© DPA/AFP/File | A British inquiry that concluded in 2009 found that ministers should have acted sooner to try to make British blood supplies self-sufficient so it did not have to rely on imports

LONDON (AFP) – Britain will launch a new inquiry into a contaminated blood scandal dating back decades which has left 2,400 people dead, officials said Tuesday after pressure from MPs to look into possible criminal activity.

Thousands of people with haemophilia contracted hepatitis C and HIV after receiving transfusions of blood from the United States through the National Health Service (NHS) in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

“It is a tragedy that has caused immeasurable hardship and pain for all those affected and a full inquiry to establish the truth of what happened is the right course of action to take,” Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had raised the issue at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, saying that “it was necessary to establish the causes of this appalling injustice,” the spokesman said.

Because of a shortage of blood products in Britain, the NHS bought much of its stock from US suppliers whose donors, including prisoners and other groups at high risk of infection, had been paid for their blood.

A previous inquiry that concluded in 2009 found that ministers should have acted sooner to try to make British blood supplies self-sufficient so it did not have to rely on imports.

It also called for compensation for those affected.

The government announcement came just before MPs were due to debate the issue in parliament after a request by Labour MP Diana Johnson, who said ministers had failed to consider evidence of criminal activity.

Johnson called the contaminated blood scandal “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS”.


UK’s May Orders Probe Into Contaminated Blood Scandal — Officials failed to consider evidence of criminal activity — Scandal Follows Grenfell Tower fire, “N —-r in the woodpile” — “This is Not the Behaviour of the People of England”

July 11, 2017

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a public inquiry into how contaminated blood was used to treat thousands in the 1970s and ’80s, killing 2,400 people, according to officials.

The announcement came after leaders of six political parties signed a letter calling for a probe into the scandal, in which hundreds of hemophilia patients reportedly died after being infected with HIV and hepatitis C through blood treatments. The letter said a new investigation should look into allegations of a cover-up.

Labour lawmaker Diana Johnson called it “the worst treatment disaster in the history of the National Health Service” and said officials had failed to consider evidence of criminal activity.

Downing Street said Tuesday the probe will aim to “establish the cause of this appalling injustice.”


Exterior cladding installed during a recent renovation has been blamed for spreading the fire that consumed London’s Grenfell Tower, killing at least 80 people — The government had urged contractors to cut costs… AFP photo

No automatic alt text available.

An ambulance waits outside the emergency department at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London, Britain May 12, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Aquino Silence Since Police Killed Hungry Farmers at Kidapawan “Very Troubling” Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles says

April 7, 2016

The Philippine Inquirer

An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has slammed the silence of President Benigno Aquino III over the bloody police dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato, on April 1.

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said the silence of Aquino showed his apathy toward the drought-stricken farmers.

“There were no messages of sympathy, condolences or regrets or (assurance of) a decision to get into the bottom of this incident. Our government should protect our people, not isolate them,” Arguelles, who heads the CBCP permanent committee on public affairs, was quoted as saying in a Radyo Veritas report.

Arguelles also expressed doubts over the Senate hearing on the clash, saying politicians would only use it for political gain.

“If they’re truly sincere and concerned they (senators) should just help the investigators find the truth and to place justice. What they’re doing at the Senate is just grandstanding (for the) elections; it’s free publicity for them at the expense of the poor,” the archbishop said.

A former president of the CBCP had also decried the violence and compared it to the Mendiola massacre in 1987 where 13 farmers were killed when security forces opened fire at thousands of farmers and land reform advocates who were staging a protest on Mendiola Bridge.

READ: Ex-CBCP head likens Kidapawan violence to Mendiola massacre

Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz described the incident as shameful, saying the drought-hit farmers were just demanding food assistance from the government due to the effects of El Niño.

The CBCP had expressed sadness over the incident. “We pray for our farmers in Kidapawan. May those who died find peace and happiness in heaven,” said CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

Malacañang earlier said Aquino would refrain from issuing statements until he had studied the bloody dispersal.

“I do believe the President will refrain from making any statements until he has fully studied the matter and is given and is satisfied with all the answers that he has received as a result of demanding an impartial and thorough investigation,” Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said in an interview over state-run dzRB radio. RC

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Philippine National Police: Can’t mount credible probe of Kidapawan — critics claim “cover up” — PNP now “totally focused on elections”

April 7, 2016


The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police’s investigation into Friday’s violent dispersal of protesters in Kidapawan City would be “devoid of any credibility,” making an independent probe necessary, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor said Director General Ricardo Marquez had ordered the “activation” of a fact-finding team composed of Director Isagani Nerez, Senior Superintendent Felix Servita, Superintendents Danny Macerin, Reneirio De Chavez, and Daniel Macatlang, with Director Benjamin Magalong, chief of the PNP Directorate for Investigative and Detective Management, also “there to look into the incident.”

However, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said leaving the investigation to the PNP and the Department of Interior and Local Government would only lead to a cover up of law enforcers’ culpability in the dispersal of thousands of farmers and lumad who had barricaded the Cotabato-Davao highway last week to demand government relief from months of severe drought.

At least three protesters were killed and more than a hundred persons, including police personnel, injured.

Reyes noted that, the day after the violence, Interior Secretary Mel Sarmiento handed out medals to the police personnel involved and “practically cleared the entire police force.”

“The PNP officials involved were not even relieved immediately after the incident” but “were allowed to continue harassing the farmers,” Reyes said.

Following Friday’s dispersal, scores of police personnel, many of them heavily armed, were stationed in front of the United Methodist Church in Kidapawan, which had provided sanctuary to the protesters, conducting a futile search for guns in the compound on Saturday and preventing 300 farmers who had arrived Sunday from Makilala from entering. The police pulled out from the area only on Tuesday afternoon.

Religious, human rights and civil society groups that have been assisting the farmers and have conducted their own fact-finding mission also complained that authorities had tried to thwart their search for the bodies of the fatalities, hospitalized protesters, and more than 70 others who had been arrested and detained.

“How in the world do we expect the PNP to investigate itself?” Reyes asked, noting that police “suspected of planting evidence on a dead protester” and that, “this early on, there are already clear signs of a cover-up.”

“An independent probe is necessary,” he said.

Supporters of the Cotabato farmers have called for nationwide protests on April 8, a week after the Kidapawan dispersal, to highlight their demands for “food and justice.”—bayan


PNP to use limited budget for May elections

A month before the May 9 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has released an insufficient election fund to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The Comelec only released P500 million to the PNP, lower than its request of P800 million, which will be used for its operational expenses in the upcoming elections next month.

As such, Director General Ricardo Marquez, PNP Chief, said that they have to make up to a very limited budget that was released for the food, gasoline, transportation and other allowances and operations expenses.

“We requested for something like P800 million. What was given was something close to P500 million,” said Marquez during the Memorandum of Agreement signing of Joint Letter Directive with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Commission on Elections.

The PNP has been at the forefront of the security of the elections after the military was stripped of it after the 2004 presidential election due to election-rigging allegations involving military generals.

“The fund is set to be distributed to our field units,” said Marquez.

While admitting that the fund is indeed limited, he said that they have to deal with it since they could not abandon their election duty using the lack of funds as a reason.

This is not the first time that the PNP received funds way below their request.

“Nothing is sufficient but we’ll make do what was given to us by Comelec. The guidelines on the distribution of this fund are heavy for our police stations,” said Marquez.