Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Britain's Royal Wedding - Who Cares?


Who's Who at The Royal Wedding ...
The Guest List: Who's In, Who's Out
By Felicity Arbuthnot
Global Research, April 28, 2011
"Out beyond ideas of right thinking and wrong thinking, there is a field, I'll meet you there." Rumi (1207-1273.)
The Surviveable, the Bad and the Over the Top
The wedding of the heir to the British throne, Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, to his lady friend of eight years Catherine Elizabeth Middleton ("Kate") promises to be a modest affair, in these austere times, with nineteen hundred guests, a near unprecedented police presence, possibly a thousand members of the armed forces lining the route the couple will take to the ceremony, in the nine hundred years old, Westminster Abbey, on 29th April.
Beneath streets decked with the Union flag (more frequently burned across the world for a couple of decades, than joyously hung) police are carrying out fingertip searches for explosive devices, lifting drain covers, then lying flat with their heads in the drains, to check. A thankless task. Buttons are removed from pedestrian crossings to check nothing is hidden in the wiring box, street furniture taken apart, monuments and statues scrutinized - and an estimated twenty million £s of taxpayers' money being burned up. Seventy to eighty "close protection teams" will be be on hand for heads of state (50) and VIPs at Friday's festivities, cost, so far, unknown.
It's a far cry from the remote isle of Anglesey in Wales (also known as "RAF Valley") where Prince William has been based as a search and rescue pilot. Seemingly the couple have been sharing a rural home there and, according to a bar employee of the White Eagle at Rhoscolyn, quoted in the Daily Mail: “They’re just like any other young couple in love — until you realize they’ve got armed bodyguards on the next table.” Quite.
White Eagle at Rhoscolyn
Perhaps his choice of a search and rescue career, was as an antidote to his younger brother Harry's public relations disasters, from going to a party in a Nazi uniform; calling in air strikes from a bunker in Afghanistan, to blow villagers to bits, wearing an emblem for the media there reading: "We do bad things to bad people" - and seemingly appropriating the motorcycle of a local, probably his cherished, only lifeline, in the remote region. There was also a bit of a storm when he referred, on video to an army colleague as "Our little Paki friend" and another as looking like "a raghead", according to the News of the World, who obtained the footage.
Prince William. by the way: "usually drinks bitter, perhaps a pint or two, and Kate sticks to white wine and sparkling water. He seems to enjoy our homemade burgers and chips. Kate prefers fish and salads,” the worker said.
Public relations seem to be somewhat strained by the wedding too. Apart from eye watering expense, declaring a three day holiday, licenses for street parties and celebrations as the country is involved in chastising others on human rights, and its armed forces, in which the two Princes are enlisted, are dropping missiles on Libya's small six million population, while the Defense Minister, Liam Fox, as The Guardian (27th April) elegantly puts it: " ... in recent days has been edging towards declaring Gaddafi a legitimate target." Assassinating Colonel Quaddaffi, is for most, unacceptable, and shocking. As Rick Rozoff poignantly wrote: "NATO aircraft had flown a total of 3,725 sorties and 1,550 strike sorties since the Western military bloc took command of the war against Libya ... " he added: "On Easter Sunday, when almost a third of humanity celebrated the resurrection of the Prince of Peace, NATO acknowledged bombing government targets in and near the cities of Misrata, Sirte, Mizdah and Zintan. Hours later NATO warplanes bombed the residence of Muammar Gaddafi, wounding 45 people, 15 seriously."
Also causing some problems is the guest list, which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has helped to co-ordinate.
Media "facsimile" of the invitation card
On 17th., February in Manama, capitol of Bahrain, three people were killed and hundreds injured, as security forces dispersed anti-government protesters. Britain's Foreign Secretary, William Hague urged "peaceful action" and advised against travel there. Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa was never-the-less invited to the wedding, in invitations that went out the following day. Bahrain, of course, is the base of the US., Fifth Fleet. Whilst the Crown Prince has now declined the invitation, reported as saying, with some grace, he did not wish to "tarnish" the occasion there are others who arguably might.
Sheikh Ahmed Hmoud Al-Sabah of Kuwait, a non-Nato US., ally country, is host to many US., bases, with a less than shining human rights record, according to the US., State Department's country by country Report on Human Rights. Also mentioned less than glowingly in the same Report are Saudi Arabia which amputates hands and feet as punishment, flogs and beheads, and Qatar, about which Amnesty, USA., comments: "Despite the progress made by the government of Qatar, allegations of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment continue to be reported, albeit sporadically, and there are not adequate systems in place, in practice, to ensure prompt, independent investigation of allegations of torture or ill-treatment and adequate remedy or redress for victims." Saudi is represented by Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz and Princess Fadwa bint Khalid bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman, Qatar by the Emir of the State of Qatar and Sheika Mozah bint Basser Al Missned.
King Mswati 111 of Swaziland arrived at London's Dorchester Hotel (suites to £3,000 a night) on Wednesday with a retinue of fifty. Africa's last absolute monarch has fourteen wives.
He's cut down on marital bliss, his father had seventy wives, 210 children and at his death in 1982, one thousand grandchildren. "The extent of poverty (in Swaziland) especially in the rural areas, cannot be overemphasised. This has seriously affected people’s ability to access basic necessities such as health care and education ... About 800,000 Swazis out of 1.2 million - or 69 percent of the population, survive on about US $21 a month, less than 70 US cents a day, enough only to buy a loaf of bread .." Just one of the King's fleet of cars reportedly cost $500,000.
This "Son of Africa" made it to the guest list, another described as one, by Colonel Quaddaffi, President Obama, did not. Other notable omissions on a list in which "the majority" were drawn from the couple's family and friends, were former British Prime Ministers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Two Distinguished Omitted Guests (Nota Bene: They were not excluded for being alleged war criminals)
It is all together a strange mix, self obsessed footballer, David Beckham, who appeared in a centre spread covered in oil and his grimly unsmiling wife have made it.
David Bechkam
Sarah Ferguson, hearty former wife of Prince William's uncle, Andrew has not. Her daughters have - and seem to have been on a lettuce leaf diet for the occasion, their generous proportions having become near wraith. There are widows of soldiers from the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, veterans themselves "celebrities", more sports stars and the Prince's fitness instructor.
"Excluded Former Royalty": The Omitted Duchess of York
According to the Daily Mail, Socialite, Tara Palmer Tomkinson (39) is worried about her nose. She partied so long and hard on an allegedly £400 a day cocaine habit, that in 2006 her nose collapsed, reportedly rebuilt. Now it has succombed again and she has been desperate to get it re-fixed in time for the great day.
Tara Palmer Tomkinson
Irish rugby Captain Brian O'Driscoll declined an invitation, he had something better to do. His team (Leinster) were preparing for a game against Toulouse.
Irish rugby Captain Brian O'Driscoll
The souvenir makers and vendors are having a field day. The faces of the two are on 3.5 million mugs, plus plates, key rings, bottle openers, tea towels, cricket caps, t-shirts, refrigerators - and "Kiss me Kate" beer cans.
For pet lovers there are coats to wear on the Great Day and a "royal" cat food. Many are made in China. Lynda Leith makes sick bags decorated with a drawing of the royal couple: "For people who like and dislike the wedding ..."
Tastelessness takes the ultimate plunge, with "Crown Jewels, Condoms of Distinction", who market their products thus:
"Combining the strength of a Prince with the yielding sensitivity of a Princess-to-be, Crown Jewels promises a royal union of pleasure. Truly a King among condoms." They are: "Presented in in a timeless heirloom collectors box." The sick bags seem suddenly less of a bad idea.
Taste aside, perhaps one of the saddest aspects is the website of Muslims Against Crusades who have been denied permission by the police, to demonstrate at any area of the wedding venue. To view their website, is to see how Britain is perhaps viewed, despairingly, by those who seek peace - of all faiths, or none.
Ironically, in the early eighties, the three year old Kate Middleton, went to her first school in Amman, Jordan, where her father was Station Manager for British Airways. She was taught in, and learned Arabic, in what seems to have been a happy time for the family. There is speculation that part of their honeymoon might be spent there. Should it be, there might be the beginning of a hand across an increasingly wide divide between West and East. A "Search and Rescue" of a different Kind? Hoping, but no breath holding.
Britain’s Royal Wedding: A Big Day For The Global Oligarchy
A Celebration of the Dictatorship of Global Capital over Democracy
by Finian Cunningham
Global Research, April 28, 2011
The British royal wedding can be seen as a modern-day repeat of the “bread and circuses” policy of ancient Rome. In the waning days of that empire, the rulers sought to distract the masses from their grinding misery and the unwieldy wealth and corruption of the elite by sporadically throwing scraps of bread to the hungry public while saturating them with spectacles of gore and bloodlust at the Colosseum.
Today, the British public – grinding under massive austerity budget cuts, unemployment, poverty wages, social deprivations and crumbling services – are thrown scraps of feelgood comfort from the much-hyped wedding between Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton. William is the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and son of the heir apparent to the British throne, Prince Charles. Fawning media coverage will present it as a day of romance, nationhood, nostalgia and pride.
Meanwhile, the spectacles of gore and bloodlust – admittedly despite much public opposition – are located thousands of kilometers away in the Middle East, Iraq, Central Asia, Afghanistan, where over a million civilians have been killed in British-backed “wars against terror” that have yet to be sated even after eight and 10 years of butchery, respectively; and now the latest spectacle opens in North Africa, Libya, where over the past six weeks Royal Air Force warplanes have been bombing and killing civilians in the name of “peace” and “humanitarian concern”. The day before the wedding, the British government announced that troops are to be dispatched to the borders of Libya to provide “humanitarian corridors” for displaced civilians – many of whom will have been displaced by RAF ground attack aircraft.
Of course, the British Empire has long ago waned as a singular entity and its elite is not alone in lording over their masses. The same bread and circuses charade is being played out in varied ways by the other Western powers, the US, France, Germany, Italy, that comprise today’s global Empire of Capital.
But what should be appreciated from the display in Britain is the revelation – albeit unintended – of raw state power. Behind the translucent wedding veil, what can be seen is raw state power that blows away any vestige of illusions of parliamentary democracy, illusions that are not just peculiar to Britain, but to all the Western powers. In short, the empire of corporate and financial aristocracy that has emerged in late capitalism is now asserting itself increasingly and more blatantly as a dictatorship of Capital.
All political parties, whether Conservative, Liberal or Labour in Britain, or Republican, Democrat in the US etc., are seen to be willing servants of this dictatorship.
Bear in mind that London’s royal pageant is being imposed, without any public question, at an estimated cost of some $70 million, most of that for state security against any sign of popular protest. When the wider cost to the economy of the British government’s declared “public holiday” is factored in, the total cost may be $10 billion – this as the British exchequer is embarking on implementing austerity budget cuts of $130 billion. The bill for the royal wedding will be footed by the British public through future deeper cuts in jobs, education and health services, and social welfare programmes. This as the British government unilaterally adds to the public debt the cost of RAF bombing sorties in Libya, estimated at over $1 billion a month, and its other even more costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So where is the democracy in that? Austerity budgets imposed against public will, a deficit substantially increased from a royal pageant imposed without democratic consultation, and war expenses loaded on to the suffering public – even though these wars are opposed by the majority of voters.
That is dictatorship by elite government for an unelected elite. The same dictatorship manifests in the US and other Western powers. Ordinary Americans in particular may look at the British royal wedding pageant with mild fascination as some kind of “old Europe curiosity”. But in spite of its supposed revolution against European monarchs, the US has today reinvented its own corporate and financial aristocracy that rules and plunders without democratic accountability in alliance with the oligarchies of Europe.
The real world nexus for our global oligarchy is seen graphically in the power of oil companies and the transnational banking system. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, one of the world’s top 10 richest individuals, has a personal fortune that is reckoned to far exceed her country’s $130 billion deficit cuts. She is a major shareholder in Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum – these companies along with Exxon and Chevron make up the “four horsemen” of global Big Oil.
As Dean Henderson, author of Big Oil and Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf, points out:
“The Four Horsemen have interlocking directorates with the international mega-banks. Exxon Mobil shares board members with JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Prudential. Chevron Texaco has interlocks with Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase. BP Amoco shares directors with JP Morgan Chase. RD/Shell has ties with Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, N. M. Rothschild & Sons and Bank of England.”
Henderson continues: “Information on RD/Shell is harder to obtain since they are registered in the UK and Holland and are not required to file 10K reports. It is 60% owned by Royal Dutch Petroleum of Holland and 40% owned by Shell Trading & Transport of the UK. The company has only 14,000 stockholders and few directors. The consensus from researchers is that Royal Dutch/Shell is still controlled by the Rothschild, Oppenheimer, Nobel and Samuel families along with the British House of Windsor and the Dutch House of Orange.”
Such global connections bestow on the British monarch the epithet of “the world’s ultimate insider trader”.
Scott Thompson writes: “[T]he Queen is the world's ultimate ‘insider trader’. She not only gets tips from British financiers, but also has access to all the state secrets, through the [Privy Council] ‘boxes’. Thus, if the Queen learns from among all public and private British Empire intelligence and economic warfare entities reporting to her, for example, that Nigeria is about to be destabilized, she can immediately call her broker. Under the secrecy laws of the British Empire, it would be unthinkable for anyone to consider pressing charges of insider trading and conflict of interest against the sovereign: In fact, only a handful of trusted advisers would ever know.”
To put these connections of the House of Windsor to the global Empire of Capital in a real world context, we should factor in the following:
1. The war in Iraq, according to recent revelations from Wikileaks, and others, was most certainly about gaining access for Big Oil and British Big Oil in particular, despite the arrogant assertions by former British prime minister Tony Blair that such claims made at the time of the US/British invasion of Iraq in 2003 were “absurd”.
2. The present NATO war in Libya has an uncanny resemblance to British and French war planning for that country several months before any sign of alleged popular uprising.
3. NATO’s military intervention in Libya was precipitated by Muammar Gaddafi’s move to put a financial squeeze on Big Oil to compensate for more than $2 billion in reparations extracted from that country over a frame-up for the Lockerbie bombing in 1988, according to former US intelligence asset Susan Lindauer.
4. The subjugation and integration of Libya’s independent financial system within the global banking system, the same system in which the British monarch is a major shareholder.
5. Libya’s vast untapped oil wealth – the largest in Africa – was impeded by a leader considered unreliable to the long-term interests of Big Oil.
6. The reconquest of Libya by Western militarism provides a strategic bridgehead for global Capital to thwart pro-democracy uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa – uprising that represent threats to the profit interests of Big Oil and its shareholders, including the House of Windsor.
On the last point, it should be noted that Western governments have been aided and abetted by dictatorial monarchs from the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. The Persian Gulf monarchs are among the guest list attending the Big Day for the British royals. The delegation from the House of Saud is particularly noteworthy, given in its ongoing involvement in the vicious repression of the pro-democracy movement in Britain’s former colony of Bahrain.
But the royal wedding is not just a peculiar Big Day for the seemingly quaint House of Windsor. It is in many ways a celebration of the dictatorship of global Capital over democracy in Britain and elsewhere around the world, including the ‘Republic of the USA”. As the assorted global dictators assembled in London’s Westminster Abbey might say in harmony with the happy couple: “Till death do us part”.
Britain’s Royal Wedding Fiasco and its "Dirty little Secret" in Bahrain
by Finian Cunningham
Global Research, April 26, 2011
The British royal wedding is turning swiftly into a public relations disaster, with news that Bahrain’s Crown Prince is respectfully turning down his invitation to the event because of the “situation reigning” in the Persian Gulf kingdom.
However, the real story behind the headlines is that the diplomatic shuffle reveals that the British establishment is well aware of the vicious repression being conducted by the Bahraini rulers along with the armed forces of neigbouring Gulf states, including Western allies Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa reportedly said that that he did not want his presence to “tarnish” the royal wedding due to take place at Westminster Abbey in London this Friday.
The Bahraini prince was among 40 monarchs from around the world who have been invited by the British establishment to join some 2,000 other guests, including government leaders and celebrities, at the nuptials of Prince William and his long-time fiancĂ© Kate Middleton. William is the son of Britain’s heir to the throne, Prince Charles.
The British royals were in recent days coming under fire in some of the UK press for inviting the Bahraini prince, who is also the deputy supreme commander of the Bahrain Defence Forces.
Despite a lack of coverage in the British and Western mainstream media generally, nonetheless there has been a public outcry in Britain over the brutal crackdown on the pro-democracy movement. More than 30 civilians have been killed in state violence – which escalated on March 16 after Saudi-led forces from the other Gulf countries entered the diminutive island of some 700,000 indigenous population.
Thousands others have been injured from army and police opening fire on peaceful protests. Up to 1,000 people have been unlawfully detained, or “disappeared”, including doctors, nurses, lawyers, human rights workers and bloggers. Four people, including Bahraini journalist Karim Fakhrawi [1], have died while in custody, showing signs of torture. The Shia majority in Bahrain is particularly targeted by the Sunni rulers and their Gulf allies. Hundreds have been sacked from workplaces, accused of being supportive of the anti-government uprising that began on February 14.
While the ongoing violations, including the military take-over of hospitals and unlawful detention of injured patients, have elicited condemnations from the UN Committee on Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders and the US-based Physicians for Human Rights, the British government, along with Washington and other Western governments, has been conspicuously muted.
Bahrain’s former colonial ruler, Britain, and the US government are well aware of the repression. The US Fifth Fleet is based in the strategic Persian Gulf island, which serves as a listening and watching post for Western geopolitical power projection in the region, in particular against Iran. It beggars belief that Western governments are unaware of the repression. Indeed, it is most likely that these governments have given their approval to the Bahraini and Gulf rulers carrying out the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement and the Shia population generally.
Only days before the Saudi-led forces moved into Bahrain, the Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa received separate personal visits from US secretary of defence Robert Gates and Britain’s top national security advisor Sir Peter Ricketts, the latter reporting directly to British prime minister David Cameron.
Britain and the US are major suppliers of military equipment to Bahrain – including teargas, helicopters and armoured personnel carriers that are being deployed to crush the pro-democracy protests.
Britain has a particularly important role in the repressive policies of the Bahraini regime. When Britain granted nominal independence to the oil-rich shaikhdom in 1971, many of the British state security personnel remained in place. The head of Bahrain’s security between 1968 to 1998 was Colonel Ian Henderson, who is believed to still act as an advisor to the king. Henderson has in the past been the subject of several reports by international human rights groups for his involvement in overseeing torture and repression in Bahrain. [2]
Since the latest crackdown began, the Bahraini rulers and their Gulf allies have sought to legitimize the state of emergency declared on March 14 as a necessary measure to crush a “subversive plot” in the country and the region fomented by Iran. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has endeavoured to shore up such claims by denouncing “Iranian interference”.
But as the British royal wedding fiasco indicates, Britain (and the US) are acutely aware of the disturbing humanitarian concerns in Bahrain.
Officially, the Bahraini Crown Prince “uninvited” himself. In a statement, he said: “I was hoping that the Kingdom of Bahrain would have a high-profile representation at this glamorous event, thus reflecting the friendship bonding our countries. However, the current situation reigning in Bahrain prevents me from attending.”
The bets are that the British foreign office became alarmed at the growing media controversy in Britain over the planned attendance at the wedding by the Bahraini monarch and advised the latter to uninvite himself.
If the British government really did believe the official justifications for the repression in Bahrain, it would not have made such a move. The Bahraini monarch’s wish not to tarnish the occasion seems to be an off-guarded, inadvertent admission that there are disturbing violations being perpetrated by the regime. And the British government knows full well that it is harbouring a dirty little secret in Bahrain and that more media delving could expose that.
But the British establishment has not limited the damage entirely. Still planning to attend the royal wedding is one of the princes from the House of Saud. Which will bring up more questions about Britain’s connections to the repression in Saudi Arabia against its own pro-democracy movement as well as the latter’s ongoing involvement in Bahrain.
Furthermore, the guest list points to cynical double standards in Britain’s foreign policy. As media analyst Paul Kane points out: “It is so telling, on so many different levels, for example, the contrast between Bahraini rulers, who get invited to the British royal wedding – something that is taken to epitomize and define the gentility and nobility and cultural achievement of the western elites – and Libyan rulers, who get munitions, presumably loaded with depleted uranium, on their heads.”