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Institutionally rotten: The Metropolitan police's problem isn't bad apples, it's the whole barrel. Abolish it

Met Police
© Andrzej Krauze
'It's all over for the Met.'
After Stephen Lawrence, Ian Tomlinson and countless other scandals, it's clear the Metropolitan police is institutionally rotten. London deserves better

If hacking someone's voicemail is a gross invasion of privacy, what words are left to describe agents of the state with fake identities having sex with women they're spying on? One activist who had a child with the undercover police officer Bob Lambert has offered four words: "raped by the state". She is among a group of women activists currently fighting attempts by the Met to sabotage their quest for truth and justice. If phone hacking provoked anger, the use of police spies should chill.

But police spies stealing the identities of dead children and duplicitously sharing the homes, beds and lives of women is only the latest in a string of damning scandals about the Metropolitan police: Stephen Lawrence, and the Macpherson report's subsequent conclusion that the Met is institutionally racist; a stop-and-search policy that discriminates against black people; deaths in police custody; the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes; the unlawful killing of Ian Tomlinson; the treatment of protesters as social problems to be contained; the stitching up of a Tory heavyweight.

Each scandal is examined in isolation, treated as the action of rogue officers. But together they suggest an institutionally rotten system. Londoners need a force devoted to protecting their security, which treats all sections of the community equally, and which enjoys the consent and trust of everyone. Currently they do not have one, and so it must be built on new foundations.


York County deputy shoots, kills dog on leash during welfare check

Scarlett, a 9-year-old Labrador retriever, was killed
© Unknown
Scarlett, a 9-year-old Labrador retriever, was killed Tuesday when officers say she became aggressive and charged a York County Sheriff’s deputy.
Rock Hill - Alice Renee McGlone says her cats Rhett Butler and Tara will have to go on without Scarlett - - her 9-year-old Labrador retriever - - after a York County Sheriff's Office deputy shot and killed the dog when, he says, it charged him aggressively on Tuesday.

McGlone's friend Ron Montana buried Scarlett on Wednesday afternoon in her backyard, under a tree, on Clara Street in Rock Hill. Montana and McGlone say they're outraged that the deputy used lethal force.

But, sheriff's officials say the deputy had no choice but to protect himself from the dog.

"He hated to have done what he did but we teach our officers that they need to protect themselves in all situations," said Capt. Allen Brandon. "It's regrettable what happened."

Scarlett was a friendly dog and warmed to strangers easily, McGlone said. After adopting the dog from a shelter at six weeks old, she and Scarlett were "inseparable."


Officials 'puzzled' by Malaysia mystery as search widens

© STR/AFP/Getty Images
A relative of a passenger on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 waits for news in Beijing on Monday.
Teams from nine countries working non-stop, officials say, as hunt goes on for plane missing with 239 people on board

Search crews involving nine countries are working "every hour, every minute, every second" across a huge swathe of the South China Sea but have yet to find any evidence of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, the country's civil aviation chief said on Monday.

Almost 60 hours after flight MH370 vanished from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday officials remain "puzzled" by its sudden disappearance and are considering all possible angles, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said.

"Unfortunately, we have not found anything that appears to be an object from the aircraft, let alone the aircraft," he said.

Bad Guys

'Knocked out with metal bars for lack of anesthesia' - report details collapse of Syria's healthcare

© Reuters / Goran Tomasevic
The toll from the war in Syria has crushed the healthcare system, with a new report from Save the Children revealing that infants are dying in incubators from power cuts, limbs are being cut off due to lack of equipment, and polio cases are on the rise.

A 13-page report released on Monday describes the devastating transformation of Syria's health system since the start of the war three years ago. The nation's healthcare went from "a middle-income country, with child survival statistics to match" to 60 percent of Syria's hospitals being damaged or destroyed and almost half the country's doctors fleeing the country.

Comment: Most western media outlets carrying these stories of the collapse of the healthcare system in Syria tend to blame the Assad government for deliberately targeting doctors and hospitals. Yet this report describes pre-war Syria as "a middle-income country, with child survival statistics to match". Are we to believe that Assad suddenly turned into a heartless dictator overnight, or is it more likely that the insane, Western-sponsored Islamic fundamentalists are to blame?


Force-feeding continues at Guantanamo Bay

© Unknown
A US federal court recently declined to stop force-feeding of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit refused to issue a preliminary injunction.

"The rights of men being held in Guantánamo are being completely ignored, and the hunger strike is the only option they have left to protest their indefinite detention, which has lasted more than 11 years without charges for some of them," said Dr Vincent Iacopino, of Physicians for Human Rights. "By allowing the cruel and degrading practice of force-feeding to continue, the court has essentially authorized the continuation of an abusive tactic that violates human rights and fundamental medical ethics."

The detainees being forced-fed are being held in indefinite detention, which is in itself a violation of human rights, according to the PHR. A preliminary injunction would have at least stopped force-feeding, which constitutes ill-treatment and could rise to the level of torture.

However, two of the three judges said the detainees did have a right to challenge the practice in court, paving the way for a continuing legal battle over the issue. The judges also pointed that "force-feeding is a painful and invasive process that raises serious ethical concerns."


​Hundreds of immigrant detainees go on hunger strike in Washington to protest deportations and poor conditions

© olyblog.net
Northwest Detention Center, Tacoma
At least 750 detainees at an immigration detention center in Washington have gone on hunger strike to protest against deportations. Activists gathered outside the facility in a demonstration to show their solidarity for the strikers

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) announced on Saturday that 750 detainees had refused their meals on Friday at the Northwest Detention Facility in Tacoma, saying they were on a hunger strike. However, supporters of the strikers say up to 1,200 are currently participating in the act of protest.


Another Iraq bombing leaves dozens dead in Hilla

A suicide bomber driving a minibus packed with explosives has killed at least 45 people and wounded 157 in the southern Iraqi city of Hilla, police and medical sources say.

The attacker approached a main checkpoint at a northern entrance to the largely Shia Muslim city and detonated the minibus, a police officer said on condition of anonymity.


Popular uprising against self-proclaimed oligarchic government looming in eastern Ukraine‏

© Reuters
Riot police stand guard in front of a regional government building as pro-Russian demonstrators take part in a rally in Kharkov March 5, 2014.
Protests against the self-proclaimed government in Kiev continue in eastern regions of Ukraine. Thousands-strong gatherings in Donetsk and Lugansk are rallying in support of the Russian language and holding a referendum on the federalization of Ukraine.

In Donetsk, the city that once used to be the stronghold of the ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, people are protesting against the new governor appointed by Kiev last Sunday.


RNC is building a list of millions of voters who lost insurance due to Obamacare‏

© Desconocido
Republican National Committee data operatives will build a list of the millions of Americans who have lost insurance policies due to Obamacare in order to help their candidates win over these voters at the ballot box in 2014 and 2016.

"Getting that information [on plan cancellations] and having good data as to who votes, who doesn't vote, voter registration, party affiliation, consumer characteristics, cross-referenced with that kind of information, I think, is important for us to have," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told the Washington Examiner after his CPAC panel presentation Saturday morning.

It's early in the process, though, because the cancellations are still taking place.

Eye 1

Saudi princesses claim they are being held by the king against their will‏


King Abdullah, who has 38 children by many wives, is pictured with the Queen in London in 2007
Two daughters of the King of Saudi Arabia claim they and their sisters have been held prisoner in the royal palace for 13 years.

Princesses Sahar, 42, and Jawaher, 38, said that they are being kept against their will in a guarded villa in the royal compound in Jeddah.

Their claims shed light into the usually secret world of royal family of a country where women are effectively treated as second-class citizens.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. It scored 130th out of 134 countries analysed by the World Economic forum in a 2009 report on gender parity.

But the restrictions allegedly placed on Sahar and Jawaher go well beyond what is allowed under Saudi law.