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Eyewitness Latest News

Christmas – and a Festival of Lights – in Romania, 30 years after the revolution. And recalling times past. T’was a time to make snap judgements.

It was not the wisest thing to be snapping a photograph of a nervous soldier pointing a gun at you…but then the person who took it had very little experience of photography in zones of conflict.

I can assure you this high-risk photographer was not me.

See his report: https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/296101/my-hanukkah-in-hell

It reminded me though of one of my own near-death experiences in war photography.

In the middle of a conflict in Gaza in 2006, I was clambering up a barricade to point my camera over it, my face exposed Whatever fire-power was on the other side.

Then I realised that a tank was swivelling its barrel towards me.

I had to make a (literally) snap decision: take a great picture – and probably get a barrel-ful of fatal ammunition in my face. Or duck down and scarper pronto pronto.

I chose the latter – which is probably why you can read this article.
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Latest News Media Blunders or Media Brilliance

A hard-left British politician faces potential criminal charges. He’s trying to win a seat again in Britain’s parliament. Why no-one would publish the scoop that shows his guilt.

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EXCLUSIVE

Hard-left politician George Galloway has evaded potential criminal charges – because an alleged electorial illegality took place longer ago than a six-year cut-off limit. Last evening he heavily failed to be elected to Parliament in a central-England constituency that last time voted for the Labour Party candidate.

He could also have been expelled from Parliament should he have won his campaign to return as an MP – this time for West Bromwich East, which had previously been the seat of Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson.

World News & Features (WNF) has evidence of credit card payments that indicate amounts were paid for running past election campaigns that legally had to be reported but were not.

Other allegations include …..

Each allegation, if proven, could lead to criminal prosecution and could spell the end for the radical politician’s long and controversy-filled career as a Member of Parliament and as a radical political figure. 

The most serious allegation was that Galloway borrowed over 32,000 pounds for election expenses and had still not paid back many thousands of pounds he owed from these loans. He claimed these were mainly donations – but donations or loans of this size needed to be reported to the regulators of the election or to the parliamentary oversight body.  They were not.

Another accusation, presented to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) was that an employment rip-off has cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds.  These allegations have come to light in an investigation by the independent news agency, World News & Features (WNF).

Documents have emerged that he failed to report loans or gifts of more than £20,000 in election-related expenses from Ayesha Bajwa, his onetime Parliamentary aide.

Galloway, 65, is currently fighting to become an MP again – …. years after losing a bitter campaign to retain a Parliamentary seat in Bradford West.  In April 2012 he had won a by-election there under the banner of the hard-left Respect Party against Labour, which had expelled him nine years earlier.

Bajwa’s allegation had come in a court document claiming that, in the months before the 2010 General Election, he had borrowed the money.   

In a statement responding to the allegations, the MP said he was not aware whether such payments had been made or not. 

In terms of the Electoral Administration Act of 2006, all loans for the support of election campaigns must be declared to the Electoral Commission.  The Commission has told WNF it has no record of Galloway or the Respect Party having registered any such donation or loan.  

Bajwa, who was paid a salary by the taxpayer as his Parliamentary Assistant from 2007 until he lost an east London seat in 2010, provided a list, in her High Court papers, of what she says were payments she made to Galloway for his election campaigning. She also supplied another list of what she says are refunds made to her. They appear to indicate that much of the money has not been repaid. 

From March 2007 to May 2010 she says payments she made for his election campaigns and activities, including hiring campaign buses and printing election material, amounted to £32,391.44. [She also maintains that, when she said she was running out of funds for further loans to him, Galloway asked her to borrow money – and that in 2011 she took out a £25,000 loan from Lloyds TSB Bank to pay Galloway’s VAT and tax liabilities.]

In total Bajwa claimed that Galloway still owed her over 120,000 pounds in money she had loaned him for various purposes between 2007 and 2012.  In court papers obtained by WNF with permission of the High Court, Galloway states that Bajwa was having an “intimate” relationship with him – kept secret, he states, partly because he was already officially married to another woman.  The bulk of the money provided by Bajwa to him was not a series of loans, he asserts, but was meant as a gift or was for household expenses.

Bajwa denied there was an intimate relationship.  Despite having at first vigorously denied the claims, Galloway eventually settled the matter out of court for an undisclosed sum.

However the court papers reveal Galloway admitted borrowing £49,914 to help pay for a London home he was buying.  In a Defence statement, he agreed to pay that sum back to Bajwa by bank transfer in June 2014 – more than four-and-a-half years after the loan was made. In the court papers Galloway maintained he had been under no obligation to pay it back until the house was sold.

**************************

The Parliamentary aide who succeeded her, Aisha Ali-Khan, 34, had also, separately, claimed she was owed money for items she purchased on Galloway’s behalf – like a £600 iPad for her use as his Parliamentary Assistant, and 474 pounds for hiring a registrar to officiate at Galloway’s marriage ceremony.

An attempt by Galloway to destroy her reputation was rejected by the High Court, which awarded damages to Ms Ali Khan for libel last year.

Galloway, aged 61, has consistently engendered controversy during a political career that has spanned for more than a quarter of a century.  Besides courting Saddam Hussein, he has been thrown out of the Labour Party, suspended from parliament, and famously branded a laughing stock for pretending to be a milk-licking cat on Big Brother. 

However, this did not appear to hamper his political career. And, far overshadowing his £67,000 annual Parliamentary income, his notoriety helped him make a declared income exceeding 250,000 pounds a year from lucrative contracts to present television and radio programmes – the two main income-sources being paid by companies owned by or associated with Iran or its militant affiliates (Press TV and Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen TV).  [Iran has for years been under trade sanctions imposed by Britain, the EU and the United Nations over its nuclear programme.]

After losing the Bethnal Green and Bow seat he was contesting in the 2010 general election, [he had been MP for a different seat ] he bounced back two years later with a shock landslide by-election victory in the formerly safe Labour seat of Bradford West, which he then lost heavily to Labour in 2015.

************************************ 

In other blows to the beleaguered Galloway:

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority announced in 2015 that it was investigating allegedly illegal overpayments that Galloway was claiming for her Parliamentary salary – for which the taxpayer was to pay her 30,000 pounds a year. His total wage bill in 2012 and in the years preceding it exceeded £100,000 annually.  His use of parliamentary funds was then referred to the police by the parliamentary expenses watchdog, following a complaint by his former assistant Aisha Ali-Khan.

She had lodged an official complaint alleging that while she worked for Mr Galloway she was made to spend a large amount of time on non-parliamentary duties.  That  included underwear shopping, making preparations for his wedding and helping the Viva Palestina charity.

Ms Ali-Khan’s lawyers claimed that Galloway had an obligation to use parliamentary funds to pay staff exclusively for associated functions and activities. The directors of the charity founded by Galloway – Viva Palestina – were suspended when they failed to make any financial returns. 

AND HERE IS ANOTHER WAY TO WRITE THIS STORY:

EXCLUSIVE

Hard-left politician George Galloway faces potential criminal charges whether he wins or loses his campaign this week after documents emerged that he failed to report loans or gifts of more than £20,000 in election-related expenses from Ayesha Bajwa, his onetime Parliamentary aide.

He could also be expelled from parliament should he win.

World News & Features (WNF) has evidence of credit card payments that appear to indicate amounts were paid for running past election campaigns that legally had to be reported but were not.

Each allegation, if proven, could lead to criminal prosecution and could spell the end for the radical politician’s long and controversy-filled career as a Member of Parliament and as a radical political figure. 

The most serious allegation was that Galloway borrowed over 32,000 pounds for election expenses and had still not paid back many thousands of pounds he owed from these loans. He claimed these were mainly donations – but donations or loans of this size needed to be reported to the regulators of the election or to the parliamentary oversight body.  They were not.

Receipts show that Ensign Bus Company, based in Essex, hired out buses and drivers to ‘The George Galloway Election Fund’ and was paid £10,800 by his former secretary and alleged lover Ayesha Bajwa in 2010 using her credit card [whose payment slips we have seen].  A leaflet distribution company in 2010 received £7,212.15 for “George Galloway MP” through a private credit card. [We have its number – it is irrelevant whose card it was, in that it was not declared anyway.]

Under the strict rules of the Electoral Commission, set up by Parliament, all loans or donations made in the same calendar year must be reported if their combined value exceeds £7,500.  Loans or donations made to Members of Parliament must be reported if they exceed £1,500.

 While not denying the allegations, Galloway has made a written statement saying he had not seen any “corroborating documentation” to prove that Bajwa had made the election payments. He said: “If they were made then it seems likely that expenditures were made on behalf of the Respect Party and would count as a donation to the party. However if Ms Bajwa did not inform the party of them then any failure to report them must lie with her and not with either me or the Respect party.”

However, the electoral rules contradict this.  They state that it is the political party’s legal duty to register any donations or loans, not the person making the donation or loan. Galloway was often pictured on the buses for which Bajwa says she paid, and was heavily featured in the leaflets.

Another accusation, presented to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) was that an employment rip-off has cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds.  These allegations have come to light in an investigation by the independent news agency, World News & Features (WNF).

Galloway, 65, is currently fighting to become an MP again- two years after losing a bitter campaign to retain a Parliamentary seat in Bradford West.  In April 2012 he had won a by-election there under the banner of the hard-left Respect Party against Labour, which had expelled him nine years earlier.

Bajwa’s allegation had come in a court document claiming that, in the months before the 2010 General Election, he had borrowed the money.   

In a statement responding to the allegations, the MP said he was not aware whether such payments had been made or not. 

In terms of the Electoral Administration Act of 2006, all loans for the support of election campaigns must be declared to the Electoral Commission.  The Commission has told WNF it has no record of Galloway or the Respect Party having registered any such donation or loan.  

Bajwa, who was paid a salary by the taxpayer as his Parliamentary Assistant from 2007 until he lost an east London seat in 2010, provided a list, in her High Court papers, of what she says were payments she made to Galloway for his election campaigning. She also supplied another list of what she says are refunds made to her. They appear to indicate that much of the money has not been repaid. 

From March 2007 to May 2010 she says payments she made for his election campaigns and activities, including hiring campaign buses and printing election material, amounted to £32,391.44. [She also maintains that, when she said she was running out of funds for further loans to him, Galloway asked her to borrow money – and that in 2011 she took out a £25,000 loan from Lloyds TSB Bank to pay Galloway’s VAT and tax liabilities.]

WNF has managed to track down two of those loans. The receipts show that Ensign Bus Company, based in Essex, hired out buses and drivers to ‘The George Galloway Election Fund’ and was paid £10,800 by Bajwa in 2010 using her credit card

[whose payment slips we have seen]

.  A leaflet distribution company in 2010 received £7,212.15 for “George Galloway MP” through a private credit card. [NOTE: We. have its number – it is irrelevant whose it was, in that it was not declared anyway.]

Under the strict rules of the Electoral Commission, set up by Parliament, all loans or donations made in the same calendar year must be reported if their combined value exceeds £7,500.  Loans or donations made to Members of Parliament must be reported if they exceed £1,500.

 While not denying the allegations, Galloway has made a written statement saying he had not seen any “corroborating documentation” to prove that Bajwa had made the election payments. He said: “If they were made then it seems likely that expenditures were made on behalf of the Respect Party and would count as a donation to the party. However if Ms Bajwa did not inform the party of them then any failure to report them must lie with her and not with either me or the Respect party.”

However, the electoral rules contradict this.  They state that it is the political party’s legal duty to register any donations or loans, not the person making the donation or loan. Galloway was often pictured on the buses for which Bajwa says she paid, and was heavily featured in the leaflets.

In total Bajwa claimed that Galloway still owed her over 120,000 pounds in money she had loaned him for various purposes between 2007 and 2012.  In court papers obtained by WNF with permission of the High Court, Galloway states that Bajwa was having an “intimate” relationship with him – kept secret, he states, partly because he was already officially married to another woman.  The bulk of the money provided by Bajwa to him was not a series of loans, he asserts, but was meant as a gift or was for household expenses.

Bajwa denied there was an intimate relationship.  Despite having at first vigorously denied the claims, Galloway eventually settled the matter out of court for an undisclosed sum.

However the court papers reveal Galloway admitted borrowing £49,914 to help pay for a London home he was buying.  In a Defence statement, he agreed to pay that sum back to Bajwa by bank transfer in June 2014 – more than four-and-a-half years after the loan was made. In the court papers Galloway maintained he had been under no obligation to pay it back until the house was sold.

**************************

The Parliamentary aide who succeeded her, Aisha Ali-Khan, now 36, had also, separately, claimed she was owed money for items she purchased on Galloway’s behalf – like a £600 iPad for her use as his Parliamentary Assistant, and 474 pounds for hiring a registrar to officiate at Galloway’s marriage ceremony.

An attempt by Galloway to destroy her reputation was rejected by the High Court, which awarded damages to Ms Ali Khan for libel in 2017.

Galloway has consistently engendered controversy during a political career that has spanned for more than a quarter of a century.  Besides courting Saddam Hussein, he has been thrown out of the Labour Party, suspended from parliament, and famously branded a laughing stock for pretending to be a milk-licking cat on Big Brother. 

However, this did not appear to hamper his political career. And, far overshadowing his £67,000 annual Parliamentary income, his notoriety helped him make a declared income exceeding 250,000 pounds a year from lucrative contracts to present television and radio programmes – the two main income-sources being paid by companies owned by or associated with Iran or its militant affiliates (Press TV and Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen TV).  [Iran has for years been under trade sanctions imposed by Britain, the EU and the United Nations over its nuclear programme.]

After losing the Bethnal Green and Bow seat he was contesting in the 2010 general election, [he had been MP for a different seat ] he bounced back two years later with a shock landslide by-election victory in the formerly safe Labour seat of Bradford West, which he then lost heavily to Labour in 2015.

************************************ 

In other blows to the beleaguered Galloway:

  • The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority announced in 2015 that it was investigating allegedly illegal overpayments that Galloway was claiming for her Parliamentary salary – for which the taxpayer was to pay her 30,000 pounds a year. His total wage bill in 2012 and in the years preceding it exceeded £100,000 annually.  It subsequently announced the investigation had been handed over to the police.
  • The directors of the charity founded by Galloway – Viva Palestina – were suspended when they failed to make any financial returns.  The charity remains in limbo.

George Galloway
Categories
Analysis

A Nazi secret lies inside some of Tel Aviv’s most beautiful buildings. No, this is not a conspiracy theory.

Discoveries made in Leibling House, a recently renovated cultural center, reveal the German foundations of much of Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus 1930s construction

Categories
Latest News

Over 600 demonstrators have been killed in Iran. The Ayatollahs vow to crush dissent. They blame the West. As usual.

Anti-regime protesters in Iran. Photo from Fars, the official Iran news agency, taken on Novcember 18 2019.

Demonstrations and protests that erupted in several Iranian cities have been firmly stamped out, apparently under the orders of the Supreme Leader (or Supreme Guide) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The overall death toll is reported to be in the hundreds. The US say it could be as high as 1,000.

“The number of people believed to have been killed during demonstrations in Iran that broke out on 15 November has risen to at least 208, based on credible reports received by the organization,” says Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group. Amnesty says it thinks the actual death toll is probably higher.

As the latest wave of protests begins to subside, at least for the time being, the Khomeini-supporting ruling elite still appear unable to decide how to deal with its consequences.

One faction, led by Khamenei, offers a standard analysis that has become the hallmark of the regime’s approach to all those supporting political change.

Khamenei says the uprising was the result of “a deep, broad and very dangerous foreign conspiracy” and nothing else. Moreover, he insists that the only way to deal with its consequences is with an iron fist.

In one incident during the recent protests in Iran over fuel prices, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps forces reportely killed between 40 to 100 mostly unarmed young men. They opened fire with machine guns on a marsh near the city of Mahshahr where demonstrators had taken refuge, the New York Times reported Sunday.

The demonstrations flared in mid-November, after the price of gasoline in the Islamic republic went up overnight by as much as 200 percent.

The New York Times says it was able to gather testimony and evidence as Iran slowly lifted an almost complete internet blackout that had been imposed as the protests were brutally crushed. The internet was still off in Mahshahr in Iran’s southwest.

The New York Times said it had interviewed six residents of Mahshahr, including “a protest leader who had witnessed the violence; a reporter based in the city who works for Iranian media, and had investigated the violence but was banned from reporting it; and a nurse at the hospital where casualties were treated.”

Mahshahr is in a region with an ethnic Arab majority. It has a long history of opposition to the central government.

The witness described how the Revolutionary Guards deployed a large force to Mahshahr on November 18 to crush the protests, after demonstrators gained control of the city and roads leading to a nearby major industrial petrochemical complex.

The guard immediately opened fire on protesters manning one intersection, without giving warning and killed several people, residents said.

“ALL PARTIES” Reminds me of how disgusting the EU is getting its policies close to Hitler’s era with no shame @FedericaMog https://twitter.com/baghdadpostplus/status/1200788888580755456 …The Baghdad Post@BaghdadPostPlusWhile rgm in #Iran& #Iraq are brutally killing protesters, @FedericaMog condemns “violence from all parties”& calls for “dialogue”#BaghdadPost #IraqProtests #saveIraqipeople #FreeIraq

In Iran Mahshahr’s Naft Hospital: Iranian protesters mourn their loved ones.

Embedded video

Many of the protester then fled to take cover in a nearby marsh, where one of them, armed with a rifle, opened fire on the troops, who responded with machine gun fire, killing dozens, the report said.

Residents put the death toll between 40 and 100, saying the Iron Guards put the dead on the back of a truck and drove them away, while relatives took the wounded to a nearby hospital.

A nurse said many of the wounded had bullet wounds to the head and chest.

One protester, who said two of cousins were killed, described how families were given the bodies back five days later only after they had signed paperwork promising not to hold funerals or memorial services and not to give interviews to media.

He said they also had bullet wounds in the head and chest.

After the massacre, a gun battle erupted between the Guards and local residents, many of whom have guns kept for hunting, one witness said. the report quoted Iranian state media and witnesses saying that a senior Guards commander had been killed in a Mahshahr clash.

Internet footage also suggested that the Guards deployed tanks in the city.

Below: Tanks in Mahshahr.

Embedded video

Iran’s interior minister confirmed that the protesters had gotten control over Mahshahr and its roads in a televised interview last week, but the Iranian government did not respond to specific questions in recent days about the mass killings in the city, the report said.

Officials in Iran have yet to say how many people died in the ensuing violence that saw banks, petrol pumps and police stations set on fire.

The New York Times put the death toll across the country at between 180 and 450. The London-based human rights group Amnesty International said in a tweet on Friday that the crackdown claimed the lives of  at least 161 demonstrators.

But Iran’s deputy interior minister Jamal Orf disputed such figures.

“Statistics by international organizations on those killed in the recent incidents are not credible,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

Orf accused the sources that reported the figures of “exaggerating” them.

The prosecution service, he added, was set to announce the figures based on those it receives from the coroner’s office.

Prior to its latest tweet, Amnesty International said on Monday that 143 demonstrators had been killed in the crackdown, citing what it called “credible reports.”

The governments of the United States, France and Germany have condemned Iran over the bloodshed.

The unrest broke out on November 15, hours after it was announced that the price of gas would rise to 15,000 rials per liter (12 US cents) from 10,000 for the first 60 liters, and to 30,000 rials for any extra fuel bought after that each month.

Iran’s economy has been battered since last year, when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic.

The government in Tehran said proceeds from the fuel price hike would go to the most needy people in the country.

Iranian protesters gather around a fire during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices in the capital Tehran, on November 16, 2019. (AFP)

According to IRNA, the payments have since been made in three installations between November 18 and 23.

This week an Iranian lawmaker said authorities arrested more than 7,000 people in the wake of the protests.