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Fishmonger Pat O'Connell shows his wares to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to the English Market in Cork, Ireland, Friday. AP

Queen’s speech refers to history of ‘heartache and loss’ as demonstrators held back from Dublin Castle

Stephen Bates and Henry McDonald | The Guardian | Thursday 19 May 2011

The Queen offered Ireland the nearest the royal family has ever come to an apology for Britain’s actions in the tortured relations between the two countries, in a speech at a state banquet Dublin.

She told guests from the northern and southern Irish communities: “It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss … with the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we wish had been done differently, or not at all.”

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Libyan Airspace ‘Under Control’ As Two Sides Meet

Huffpost- First Posted: 03/25/11 08:48 AM Updated: 03/25/11 08:48 AM

BENGHAZI, Libya — France declared Libya’s airspace “under control” on Friday, after NATO agreed to take command of the no-fly zone in a compromise that appeared to set up dual command centers and possibly new confusion. Coalition warplanes struck Moammar Gadhafi’s forces outside the strategic eastern gateway city of Ajdabiya.

(SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATES)

Representatives for the regime and the rebels were expected to meet formally for the first time Friday, in Ethiopia, in what the U.N. described as a part of an effort to reach a cease-fire and political solution.

The overnight French and British strikes on an artillery battery and armored vehicles were intended to give a measure of relief to Ajdabiya, where residents have fled or cowered under more than a week of shelling and fighting between rebels and government troops. Explosions also could be heard in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, before daybreak Friday, apparently from airstrikes.

“Libyan airspace is under control, and we proved it yesterday, because a Libyan plane in the hands of pro-Gadhafi forces, which had just taken off from Misrata in order to bomb Misrata, was destroyed by a French Rafale,” Adm. Edouard Guillaud said on France-Info radio.

But the compromise that puts NATO in charge of clearing the skies still leaves the U.S. responsible for the more difficult task of planning attacks on Gadhafi’s ground forces and other targets.

Ajdabiya has been under siege for more than a week, with the rebels holding the city center and scattered checkpoints but facing relentless shelling from government troops on the outskirts. Residents are without electicity or drinking water, and many have fled.

The U.S. military said coalition jets flew about 150 on Thursday, about 70 of them with American planes.

“The operation is still focusing on tanks, combat vehicles, air defense targets – really whatever equipment and personnel are threatening the no-fly zone or civilians on the ground in such locations as Ajdabiya and along some other areas on the coast,” Marine Corps Capt. Clint Gebke told reporters from aboard the USS Mount Whitney.

The U.S. has been trying to give up the lead role in the operation against Gadhafi’s forces, and NATO agreed late Thursday to assume one element of it – control of the no-fly zone.

MORE HERE

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The Pope visits Britain today and to mark the auspicious occasion I have posted a video of Tom Lehrer’s Vatican Rag.

On a more serious note, here is an article on the ongoing debate about pedophile priests which the Pope’s visit has highlighted.

Investigation: Many Convicted Pedophile Priests Are Still Priests

Just in time for Pope Benedict‘s taxpayer-funded trip to Britain, a Channel 4 investigation shows that at least 14 priests who have served time for molesting children remain in the clergy, and some even made it into the Church’s yearbook.

The report, which will air tonight on Britain’s Channel 4, is the result of an investigation into public records and court documents detailing 37 crimes involving child molesting priests in England and Wales. Besides the rampant sex abuse by members of the clergy, recommendations made by a judge that offending priests be “laicised,” or dismissed from the priesthood were ignored by the church. Of 22 priests who have served a year or more in jail for child molestation, 14 are still priests and 10 of them appeared in the latest edition of the Catholic Directory. But hey, they’ve been punished! And they’re probably very remorseful.

The Pope is due to meet victims of sex abuse during his trip, but if it’s anything like a 2008 meeting between Benedict and American victims, they will have to sign confidentiality agreements before meeting him.

http://gawker.com/5638525/investigation-many-convicted-pedophile-priests-are-still-priests

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(The leopards attempt at changing spots)

BP By Any Other Name – The Anglo-Iranian Oil Dispute – 1951

Crooks & Liars- By Gordonskene Friday Jul 30, 2010 7:00pm

When Iran, under Mohammed Mossadegh nationalized Iran’s oil production in March of 1951, it put a crimp in the relations between Iran and Britain, who had enjoyed massive profits from drilling operations going back to 1909 and who, by 1950 had come to rely (as did the U.S.) on Middle East oil for 70% of its consumption (even back then). After a hotly contested dispute, which brought in the League of Nations to re-negotiate in 1933, Iran got slightly more of a percentage and by 1946 had negotiated to get 30% profits to Britain’s 70%.After Mossadegh took over and nationalized Iran’s oil production, Britain quickly attempted to negotiate a 50/50 split, but Mossadegh would have none of it. The dispute between Britain and Iran went on for two years. So on August 22, 1953, with the help of our very own CIA the Mossadegh government was overthrown and The Shah was reinstated. Shortly after, Britain and Iran were negotiating oil.

And shortly after, The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company became British Petroleum. And the rest, as they say, is history.

This clip comes from a CBS newscast of August 21, 1951 when the negotiations had broken down.

AUDIO CLIP HERE

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I made my views on this issue clear in an original article I wrote for Suzie-Q earlier this month. Grace Livingstone, in an article published in The Guardian, shares them. I’ve also posted an article by Rick Rozoff from Global Research explaining why the Falklands is so important to Britain — and it’s not just about “self-determination”, or even the oil!

It’s time to talk about the Falklands

Britain should stop behaving like a 19th-century colonial power and start discussing Falkland sovereignty with Argentina

Grace Livingstone guardian.co.uk, Thursday 25 February 2010 14.00 GMT

A union flag waves over Stanley, Falklands. Photograph: Daniel Garcia/AFP/Getty Images

“We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the Falkland Islands,” said Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant this week. But official papers show that, for more than a century, the Foreign Office has had qualms about the merits of Britain’s claim to the Falklands.

In 1910, a 17,000-word memo was commissioned by the Foreign Office to look at the historical dispute over sovereignty. The study highlighted many weaknesses in the British case and can be seen as our equivalent of the Pentagon Papers, the leaked study of US policy in Vietnam.

More here

South Atlantic: Britain May Provoke New Conflict With Argentina

by Rick Rozoff
Global Research, February 24, 2010

On February 22 two major developments occurred in the Americas south of the Rio Grande. The two-day Rio Group summit opened in Mexico and Great Britain started drilling for oil 60 miles north of the Falklands Islands, known as Las Malvinas to Argentina.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17786

Rising Tensions in South Atlantic: Britain Defends Falklands Position

Global Research, February 24, 2010

Britain is standing by its position on the Falkland Islands amid rising tensions over oil exploration.

Sir Mark Lyall Grant, UK permanent representative to the United Nations, said: “As British ministers have made clear, the UK has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands.

“This position is underpinned by the principle of self-determination as set out in the UN Charter.

We are also clear that the Falkland Islands government is entitled to develop a hydrocarbons industry within its waters, and we support this legitimate business in Falklands’ territory.”

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17802

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When Argentine troops invaded the Falklands in the summer of 1982, I was a twenty-five year old teacher of English as a Foreign Language, living and working in northern Italy. Like many Britons, many of whom had never heard of the Falklands, let alone be able to tell you where they were, I was outraged that these islands should be taken over by the Argentine Junta, in a bid to shore up its faltering popularity at home. Many Italian friends and aquaintances were against the war, some thought it evitabile (avoidable), one or two were with us.

My attitude to the war changed after the sinking of the General Belgrano, a former United States cruiser, the USS Phoenix (CL-46), which had survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and was known as the luckiest ship in the US Navy. Hit by torpedoes from a British submarine, she proved not so lucky after her change of name and ownership. 323 Argentines were killed, many of them boys, and controversy still rages today as to whether she was a legitimate target. (more…)

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Associated Press, 29 January 2010
Former prime minister Tony Blair defended his decision to take Britain into war with Iraq, telling an investigation panel that he would do the same again if he had to.

Iraq Inquiry: In the end,Tony Blair will be judged by history

Daily Telegraph, 29 Jan 2010

Telegraph View: The great and unforgivable error was not the invasion of Iraq, but failing to prepare for its aftermath.

Finally, the Prince appeared in Hamlet. Witness 69 in the inquiry into Britain’s decision to go to war in Iraq took his seat looking tanned, fit and thoroughly unapologetic. Outside, protesters waved placards denouncing Tony Blair for making what they considered to have been a mendacious case for war; inside, he made his position clear: “I would not have done Iraq if I had not thought it was right. Full Stop. It is a decision I would take again.”

Anyone who thought that the former prime minister would suddenly resile from his view that the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was justified by a genuine belief that Saddam Hussein was building an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction was always going to be disappointed. Recantation or tearful pleas for forgiveness may be the stuff of some daytime TV shows; but this particular one was not going to provide them.

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Tony Blair at Iraq inquiry – the key points

What the former prime minister told the Chilcot panel in brief

guardian.co.uk, Friday 29 January 2010

In evidence to the Chilcot inquiry today, Tony Blair said:

  • “No regrets at removing Saddam Hussein. He was a monster and a threat. The world is safer as a result. He reflects on his decision every day.

“If we had left Saddam in power, we would still have had to deal with him, possibly in circumstances where the threat was worse.”

Read more

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