Tag Archives: ill-health

Witch-hunt: but Brian McDermott and his Sick Mother Deserve Far Better – by Rob Atkinson

McDermott - under unfair pressure

McDermott – under unfair pressure

The football season is over; Leeds United will not kick another ball in anger until sometime in August, with the obvious priority of pre-season training and friendly warm-up matches coming in July, before the start of the Championship business.  Naturally, the club’s manager/coach/whatever you might call him, will have urgent business over the summer; a raft of important issues to resolve.  But, equally natural is the fact that, when the heat of weekly sporting conflict is off, even a man in McDermott’s stressful position, with the heavy responsibilities he bears – even he should surely be allowed to prioritise family matters – especially when the foremost of those matters is the illness of his mother and his consequent understandable desire to be at his family home in southern England after news of her admission to hospital.

It’s the kind of situation that will make anyone re-think their priorities – but the state of affairs at Leeds appears to be such that it’s thought fair play in certain quarters to throw mud at McDermott, even in these sensitive circumstances. That’s bad enough when it’s just club officials doing it, or when the new owner is angling to get the manager out – but it’s even worse when ill-informed Leeds United fans are thus inveigled into joining in what seems likely to end up as a witch-hunt.

Sources close to McDermott claim that he has an eye on Leeds United business and that he has been contactable since heading home.  Leeds United spokespersons appear to differ on those matters.  But it’s a tawdry and disgusting state of affairs when a campaign against a man with his mother’s health on his mind should be carried out by those at the club who clearly have their own agenda, and who seem unwilling to let a small matter like a sick mum dissuade them from launching their insidious and – there’s no other word for it – snide attacks.

This does not show Leeds United in a good light.  It reflects poorly upon the men in charge, who appear to be neglecting sensitivity and compassion for a full measure of malice and vindictiveness.  McDermott evidently has enough on his plate, without penny-pinching executives attempting to lever him out of his job – and at the same time avoid the inconvenient necessity of paying him off.  It might even be counter-productive as a tactic – constructive dismissal cases have been founded upon far flimsier bases.  As a Leeds United fan, somebody whose regard and love for the club will always transcend and out-last the presence of any individual employee, I nevertheless find myself rooting for Brian – and hoping that his seemingly inevitable departure from the club can be managed with dignity, without any further rancour or ill taste – and with McDermott receiving everything that he is due to under his contract.  That’s only fair.

The current situation at Leeds United stinks.  That’s not Cellino’s fault – blame has to be laid at the door of the incompetent and self-serving people who have apparently been running a great club into the ground over the last couple of years – and of course there’s Bates before that.  But Cellino, if he is to appear as the saviour of the Whites, must avoid sinking to the level of those whose mess he’s now trying to clear up.  If McDermott is doing his best to fulfil his duties as best he can, whilst also fulfilling his obligations to his family and specifically his ailing mother – then he should either be left to get on with it, or – if that’s the way the wind is blowing – replaced properly.  Not by a campaign of smear and innuendo, when the truth of the matter appears fully to support Brian’s current actions.

This blog would ask any Leeds United fan inclined to jump on a Cellino-sponsored anti-McDermott bandwagon to think very seriously about what they would do in Brian’s position.  Let’s face it – you’d hasten to your Mum’s bedside, wouldn’t you – having made what provision you could for any obligations under your professional contract.  Anyone would.  You’d worry far more about the man who wouldn’t – the man who’d coldly proceed with business, without a thought for his mother.  Would you want a man like that in charge at Leeds United??

Brian McDermott deserves the sympathy and support of the Leeds United fans in his current thankless situation, even though he has not asked for it. Instead, he’s copping for loads of abuse on social media from supporters of the club who seem inclined unquestioningly to believe everything they’re being told by Leeds United.  Well, if you’ve read this blog, or the YP article linked above – now you’re informed. We may well be notorious football nutters – but we’re human beings first – aren’t we?? Of course we are.

So, for God’s sake, let’s start to act like it.

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Shaker Aamer: Prisoner 239 and the Ongoing Scandal of Guantánamo Bay

Shaker Aamer's children in 2009

Shaker Aamer’s children in 2009

On 14th February 2002 Shaker Aamer became a father for the fourth time, his British wife Zin Siddique bearing him a son, Faris. On the same day, Aamer was incarcerated in Guantánamo Bay detention camp, where he has remained ever since. He has never met his youngest son, now aged 11. There has been no trial. He has never been convicted of, nor even charged with, any crime.

Shaker Aamer had been working for an Islamic charity in Afghanistan in 2001 when he was captured in Jalalabad and handed over to US officials. He was interrogated and then transported to Guantánamo Bay. Based on the evidence of a fellow detainee, Aamer was believed to have been working as a “recruiter, financier, and facilitator” for al-Qaeda. He has consistently denied all such allegations, and it was argued on his behalf by Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve that the evidence against him was unsafe, being inherently incredible and the product of false promises and even torture.

The Bush administration acknowledged that it had no evidence against Aamer and cleared him for release in 2007. The Obama administration cleared him for release in 2009. Four years on and Shaker Aamer continues to languish in the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, no charges preferred against him, no apparent bar to his release, his physical and mental health declining as he maintains a hunger strike – a glaring example of the most scandalous abuse of natural justice it is possible to imagine.

It has been speculated that Aamer “knows too much” about the goings-on inside the detention camp; allegations of torture have been made over the years, and Aamer himself has referred to instances where he has had his head beaten against a wall, and on one occasion waking from a severe beating to find a pistol on the table in his cell. It may be felt by some that it is the potential embarrassment to the authorities, consequent upon Aamer being free to speak out, that is the reason behind his continuing imprisonment – not any outstanding issue of national security.

Aamer is a charismatic and eloquent man, sometimes described as the “unofficial spokesman of the detainees”, so it may well be that there is something for some people to fear in what he might have to say when he is fully at liberty to speak. Clive Stafford Smith again: “I have known Shaker for some time; because he is so eloquent and outspoken about the injustices of Guantánamo he is very definitely viewed as a threat by the US. Not in the sense of being an extremist but in the sense of being someone who can rather eloquently criticise the nightmare that happened there.” Whatever the reason, there can be no excuse. The governments of the UK and the US agree that Aamer should be released: there is no charge against him; there is no evidence against him. And yet there he remains having already served longer, and in the harshest of prison regimes, than many a convicted murderer.

The US stands accused in the light of this scandalous situation of behaviour it would roundly condemn if perpetrated by a regime in a third-world country. The UK in its ineffectual stance over efforts to release Aamer, stands complicit in such a charge. Neither country emerges with any credit intact over such a blatant injustice, maintained over such a long period of time. The situation demeans both nations, and casts into a dubious light their mantra of “freedom over fundamentalism, democracy over dictatorship”. In allowing the incarceration of Shaker Aamer to continue, along with that of his fellow detainees who are also imprisoned without charge or trial, the leading lights of the western world are in danger of having their credibility shredded by their failure to act where the dictates of justice and the principles of democracy clearly indicate that urgent action is required.

The viewpoint of some of the public in this country, hearing of Shaker Aamed’s plight on national radio, is perhaps predictable in the climate since 9/11 and particularly this past week since the Woolwich atrocity. But it is nevertheless cause for head-shaking despair at the ease with which people are hoodwinked into ignorant bigotry. “Why are you running this item?” demanded one irate texter. “I am white, British and proud.” Others cited pearls of wisdom such as: “no smoke without fire”, or “well he’s not even a British citizen.” Yet this is a human being, acknowledged by successive political leaders of the nation that has deprived him of liberty and family life for eleven years as “clear to be freed”. That has been his status for the last five years. And yet still he rots away in his prison cell, subjected to daily humiliation and ill-treatment, missing his family growing up. It’s difficult to imagine a more appalling Human Rights abuse, and yet this is being condoned and allowed to continue by the self-styled “Leader of the Free World”. And there are people who applaud this, and recoil in apparent disgust at attempts to stand up for the rights of those detained without trial. It’s almost too depressing for words.

It’s not just the US either. Up to 90 Afghans are held without charge at Camp Bastion by UK forces, allegedly “for their own safety”. This has been described as a “mini Guantánamo Bay” – and when the name of a detention camp is used as a byword for all that is wrong with the legal process and principles behind such imprisonment, you know that there is something fundamentally wrong. Guantánamo Bay may not have the genocidally evil resonance of Auschwitz, Dachau or Belsen, but the metaphorical application is not a million miles away.

Shaker Aamer’s family now live in Battersea in South London. His wife has been ill since he was incarcerated eleven years ago; she has suffered from depression and other episodes of mental health disorder. Aamer himself is worried about how things will be when he finally is released, a prospect he views with touching confidence that it will actually happen; yet with some trepidation too. “I may find it difficult to respond to being called Dad,” he says. “Maybe my kids will have to call me Prisoner 239”. In January 2010, his 12-year-old daughter Johina wrote a letter to then UK Premier Gordon Brown asking for his release. This was three years after President Bush cleared him for freedom and one year after Obama did the same thing. In 2011, Aamer’s father-in-law Saeed Siddique commented, “When he was captured, Shaker offered to let my daughter divorce him, but she said, ‘No, I will wait for you.’ She is still waiting.”

Demand a Public Enquiry Into 1300 Deaths After Atos Medicals: Petition, Please Sign and Share

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Iain Duncan-Smith: Arrogant, contemptuous and out of touch

The petition calling upon Iain Duncan-Smith to instigate a Public Enquiry into the conduct of Atos, with particular reference to the appalling figure of 1300 deaths after Atos “medicals”, has so far attracted 4,346 signatures.  That’s not a bad start, but much more is needed.  YOUR support, and YOUR willingness to help network this petition could be vital; if a Public Enquiry could be brought about, Atos would be well and truly under the spotlight and it’s possible they may be forced to change their way of working.  It’s not over-stating the case to say that this could save lives.  YOUR signature, YOUR support could actually SAVE LIVES.  It’s that vital.

An Enquiry would seem appropriate in any case, for an organisation which has been branded “Not fit for purpose” by the British Medical Association, and which has itself recently issued a wheedling apology to the people it has wrongly found fit for work. The apology is aimed at the survivors of the Atos experience, you understand. Sadly, it is too late to apologise to the 1300 who have died.

The petition I’m asking you to sign can be accessed here. Please click the link, sign the petition, and share it as widely as possible. Share this article too, and follow this blog. It’s all about networking and it all helps  Just maybe, if things go well, we can make a difference. A lot of people are out there, counting on your support to start some sort of change for the better. Help them, in memory of the 1300 who have paid the ultimate price for official incompetence and callous disregard for how human beings are being treated.

Iain Duncan-Smith treated a previous petition started by Dom Aversano, calling on him to do as he said he could and live on £53 a week, with the utmost arrogance and contempt, dubbing it “a stunt”. This is the measure of the man’s utter disregard of public opinion, or indeed anything that doesn’t help advance his own malicious agenda.

Don’t let him get away with it again.  Become pro-active.  Make this man see that the voice of the people will not be ignored.  Sign and share, and make a difference today.

Please.  Share If You Care.

Demand a Public Enquiry Into 1300 Deaths After Atos Medicals: Petition, Please Sign and Share

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Iain Duncan-Smith

The petition calling upon Iain Duncan-Smith to instigate a Public Enquiry into the conduct of Atos, with particular record to this appalling fatality rate has so far attracted 4,346 signatures.  That’s not a bad start, but much more is needed.  YOUR support, and YOUR willingness to help network this petition could be vital; if a Public Enquiry could be brought about, Atos would be well and truly under the spotlight and it’s possible they may be forced to change their way of working.  It’s not over-stating the case to say that this could save lives.  YOUR signature, YOUR support could actually SAVE LIVES.  It’s that vital.

An Enquiry would seem appropriate in any case, for an organisation which has been branded “Not fit for purpose” by the British Medical Association, and which has itself recently issued a wheedling apology to the people it has wrongly found fit for work. The apology is aimed at the survivors of the Atos experience, you understand. Sadly, it is too late to apologise to the 1300 who have died.

The petition I’m asking you to sign can be accessed here. Please click the link, sign the petition, and share it as widely as possible. Share this article too. It all helps, and maybe if things go well, we can make a difference. A lot of people are out there, counting on your support to start some sort of change for the better. Help them, in memory of the 1300 who have paid the ultimate price for official incompetence and callous disregard for how human beings are being treated.

Iain Duncan-Smith treated a previous petition, calling on him to do as he said he could and live on £53 a week, with the utmost arrogance and contempt, dubbing it “a stunt”.  This is the measure of the man’s utter disregard of public opinion, or indeed anything that doesn’t help advance his own malicious agenda.

Don’t let him get away with it again.  Become pro-active.  Make this man see that the voice of the people will not be ignored.  Sign and share, and make a difference today.

Please.  Share If You Care.