BRITS TO LEAD NEW NATO DIVISION TO COUNTER RUSSIAN MOVES IN UKRAINE

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Written by Jack Kenny | The New American

At the end of the month marking the centenary of the start of World War I, Great Britain appears to be readying once again the “Guns of August,” this time in alliance with fellow members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Britain is spearheading the creation of a new NATO rapid deployment force in response to the escalating crisis in the Ukraine, the Financial Times reported Friday. Other members reportedly ready to commit troops to the planned expeditionary force of 10,000 are Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, and the Netherlands. According to the National Post in Canada, as many as 1,000 Canadian troops are expected to join the force, which will rotate through NATO bases in Eastern Europe. It will be the first time that Canada deployed that many troops “across the pond” since it closed two bases in Germany’s Black Forest when the Cold War formally ended, the Post noted.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to declare the formation of the new force at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales on September 4. The move comes in response to NATO’s report of a Russian deployment of more than 1,000 troops into eastern Ukraine in support of rebels fighting there for independence from Kiev. Russia’s reaction has been to brand the report a false accusation.

“It’s not the first time we’ve heard wild guesses, though facts have never been presented so far,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a Moscow press conference. “There have been reports about satellite imagery exposing Russian troop movements. They turned out to be images from videogames. The latest accusations happen to be much the same quality,” he claimed.

The division-sized NATO force will integrate air and naval units with ground troops led by British commanders, the Financial Times said, with the goal of creating a force for rapid deployment and frequent military exercises. While the United States is not named as part of the new expeditionary force, the mutual defense agreement of the NATO pact is binding on all members, so any conflict between Russia and Great Britain or any of the other members of the rapid deployment force could draw the United States into war — despite the fact that under the U.S. Constitution the power to declare war belongs to Congress.

NATO has no plans to intervene militarily in Ukraine, Foreign Policy magazine reported, quoting unnamed sources saying the alliance plans to confront Russia with nothing more than stronger economic sanctions.

But there is a need to demonstrate that NATO’S eastern European members are as integral to the alliance as other states, Jonathan Eyal of the London-based Royal United Services Institute said.

“We need to end the idea of different zones of security in Europe,” Eyal told the Times. “We need to be talking about prepositioning, regular rotation of troops and making it very clear that we do not accept that the eastern Europeans are in some different category of membership of NATO.”

At his press conference on Thursday, President Obama spoke out again against the Russian involvement in the fighting in Ukraine. “The separatists are backed, armed, trained, financed by Russia,” said the president, adding the United States and its NATO allies may be looking to increase economic sanctions that are already hurting and isolating Russia. “And I think there are ways for us to deepen or expand the scope of some of that work,” he said, noting it will be the subject of consultations when he attends this week’s NATO summit. 

NATO was formed by the United States and western European Nations in 1949 as a defensive alliance against the Soviet Union. U.S. troops were stationed in Europe on what was understood to be a temporary mission, providing a shield against Soviet aggression for America’s west European allies while they recovered from the devastation of World War II. When General Dwight D. Eisenhower assumed command of NATO forces in 1951, he said: “If in 10 years, all American troops stationed in Europe for national defense purposes have not been returned to the United States, then this whole project will have failed.” Yet 69 years after the end of World War II and nearly a quarter of a century after the end of the Soviet era in 1991, approximately 68,000 U.S. troops are still in Europe. In the post-Soviet era, NATO was expanded to include Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and other former nations in the Soviet bloc. Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were member-states of the Soviet Empire. NATO expansion has increased the number of member nations from the original 12 in 1949 to 28 today.

In recent years members of Congress, including Vice President Joe Biden and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain, have called for bringing the former Soviet state of Georgia into the alliance, which would commit the United States and other NATO nations to a defense of Georgia in any military conflict with Russia. “Today, we are all Georgians,” John McCain said during his presidential quest in 2008 after Russian forces intervened in the fighting between Georgia and South Ossetia.    

Ukraine applied for NATO membership in 2008, but plans were shelved after the 2010 election of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych chose to follow a policy of non-alignment rather than integration with the European nations seeking increased economic and political influence with Ukraine. He was ousted in a coup encouraged by the U.S. State Department in February of this year. The fighting by pro-Russian separatists against the new Kiev government and the movement of Russian troops into the former Russian territory of Crimea have been the source of the latest  sabre rattling between Russia and the West reminiscent of the Cold War era.

Crimea’s parliament in late March voted to break away from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation, one day after a huge majority of voters chose that option in a referendum that was condemned as a sham in Washington and across Europe. Crimean election officials reported that with 83.1 percent of the eligible population voting, 96.77 percent favored union with Russia and 2.51 percent voted against it. The United States and European nations promptly slapped financial sanctions and a travel ban on Russian and Ukrainian authorities responsible for the Russian push into Crimea and the support for the referendum.

Ties between Russia and Ukraine go back to a time before both became separate nations in the 18th century. Russia annexed Crimea in 1783 but ceded it to Ukraine in 1954 (though this was a distinction without a difference, since the Soviets controlled Ukraine). While Senators McCain, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and others in Congress have called for sending arms to aid Ukraine in its fight against the Russian-supported separatists, U.S. or NATO intervention with arms in a war in a non-member nation on the Russian border appears likely to further inflame the crisis and possibly draw the United States and its allies into a war we neither need nor can afford. There could hardly be a better time or place for the United States to heed Washington’s and Jefferson’s warnings against “entangling alliances” — especially since we have no alliance with Ukraine in the first place.

CAMERON PROPOSES ANTI-TERROR LAWS TO COUNTER HOMEGROWN JIHADISTS

Britain’s Prime Minister is sharing his vision on how the UK should deal with the threat posed by the bloodthirsty Islamic State group, that’s operating in Iraq and Syria. Political and social commentator Mohammed Ansar thinks the UK should’ve seen this threat coming a long time ago.

BRITISH PM ANNOUNCES NEW MOVES AGAINST HOME-GROWN EXTREMISM

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British Prime Minister David Cameron has made a statement in the House of Commons, calling for new measures to combat Islamic extremism. He said that the government was looking at ways of preventing UK nationals going abroad to engage in terrorist activities. He also said that he wanted to find a way of preventing UK nationals who had committed terrorist acts abroad from returning to the UK, and he called for new powers to deal with extremists resident in the UK.

He made it clear that Islamic extremism and terrorism had nothing to do with the mainstream religion of Islam, which he said is practiced peacefully by around a billion people worldwide.

“We are proud to be an open, free and tolerant nation,” he said. “But that tolerance must never be confused with a passive acceptance of cultures living separate lives or people behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values. Adhering to British values is not an option or a choice. It is a duty for all those who live in these islands. So we will stand up for our values, we will in the end defeat this extremism, and we will secure our way of life for generations to come.”

The statement came after a terrorist with a British accent was filmed beheading American journalist James Foley. The UK government has said that the act was unprovoked murder and that it is hunting the suspect.

POOREST IN THE UK LESS HEALTHY AND DYING YOUNGER

By Dennis Moore

Ill health and an early death is the prospect for millions of some of the poorest in England, according to a recent report published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The report, “Healthy Life Expectancy at birth for Upper Tier Local Authorities: England, 2010-2012”, has projected the predicted lifespan for some of the poorest in the UK. The data to compile this report was taken over a period of two years, between 2010 and 2012, and included not just the mortality rates, but also Health Expectancies (HEs)—the estimates of the average number of years a person will live in a given health state. This gives a clearer picture of the periods in a person’s life when they are unwell, suffering a disability or health-limiting illness.

The report demonstrates that there are clear divisions between the richest and poorest in England in respect to health inequality and life expectancy. It highlights the fact that men and women in the most deprived areas, numbering some 5.4 million people, will end up spending 15 percent less of their shorter lives in good health, compared to those living in the least deprived areas.

Men in some parts of the poorest and most deprived areas of England, described as the lower decile, will not reach the age of 74. This is nearly a decade earlier than those in the top decile, who should be expected to live until they are 83 years old. It is also the same for women born in the lower decile, who are expected to die by the time they reach the age of 79, as against their more affluent counterparts who are expected to live until they are 86.

The inequalities in health are also revealed not just in studies of morbidity but also in the health quality of an individual’s life, i.e. what percentage of the life is lived in good health. The study analyses Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE), which estimates lifetime spent in “Very Good” or “Good” health, based on how individuals perceive their health. The highest HLE was in affluent Richmond upon Thames for males, at 70.0 years, and Wokingham for females, at 71.0 years. The lowest HLE was in the generally more deprived areas, with a figure of 52.5 years for males in Tower Hamlets, London and a figure of 55.5 years for females in Manchester.

Males in the more affluent southeast of England are expected to live 82 percent of their lives in good health, as against males in the poorer northeast of England, who will live just 76.4 percent of their lives in good health.

Tower Hamlets is a microcosm of the social problems faced by many of the poorest across the UK. It is one of the most deprived areas, containing some of the greatest wealth disparities between the richest and the poorest in a single borough, with the average salary being £11,400 and one in four children living in poverty. One can find multi-millionaire financiers based in Canary Wharf living not that far away from the long-term unemployed in run down council estates.

The life expectancy for men and women in Tower Hamlets is 77 and 82 respectively. Health problems for men living in this borough will start to occur at 52 years old, 18 years lower than those living in the least deprived areas of the UK.

In a briefing statement published by the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal Colleges of the United Kingdom, ill health and the relationship with poor diet is recognised as a risk factor when examining the major diseases in the UK: cancer, coronary heart disease (CHD) and diabetes. It is estimated that poor diet is related to 30 percent of life years lost in early death and disability.

The risks to poor health outcomes are significant, with a contributory factor in almost 50 percent of CHD deaths, 33 percent of all cancer deaths, low birth weight with increased childhood morbidity and mortality, and increased falls and fractures in older people.

The Faculty indicated that a poor diet and poor health outcomes are closely linked to those likely to experience poverty, the unemployed, those with low incomes, households with dependent children, older people, those with disabilities, and members of the black and minority ethnic communities.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the National Children’s Bureau said that inequalities in society, which leave many families in poverty and deprivation, are to blame for a large increase in the deaths of young children.

These conclusions were contained in a report the organisations published in May, “Why Children Die”. It showed that children under five in the UK are more likely to die than in any other Western European country excluding Malta. Nearly five babies in a thousand in the UK will not live to their fifth birthday.

These conclusions were backed up by a paper published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. The IHME is regarded internationally as one of the key authorities in this area of research. The paper was published in the British medical journal the Lancet.

The data details that mortality rates in the UK for children under five is 4.9 deaths per 1,000 births. This is more than double that in Iceland (2.4 per 1,000 births), the country with the lowest mortality rates. In 2013, 3,800 children under five died in the UK, the highest absolute number of deaths in Western Europe.

The Lancet’s press release notes, “the UK’s under-5 mortality rate is comparable to that of Serbia and Poland. Outside of Europe, the UK has a higher child mortality rate than Australia, Israel, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.”

The IHME data is broken down by life stages and finds that the UK has the worst outcomes compared with nearly every other Western European nation for early neonatal deaths (death between 0 and 6 days) and post-neonatal deaths (death between 29 and 364 days). It has the worst outcomes of any country for childhood deaths (death between 1 and 4 years).

Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the Lancet, said, “These figures show the significant health burden that children bear in the UK compared with their European neighbours. The reasons for this are likely to be complex, but undoubtedly include the poor organisation of children’s health services in the UK”. He said that if the issue was not addressed, “the health of the next generation of British citizens—more seriously, newborns and older children will continue to suffer and die needlessly.”

Deaths in newborn children can be associated with low birth weight, and here there is a causal connection with issues such as young mothers having a poor diet. The RCPCH report also raised concerns that increasing numbers of people are having to access food banks.

UK RAISES TERROR THREAT TO ‘SEVERE’, CAMERON SAYS ‘ATTACK LIKELY’

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ISIS poses a “greater and deeper threat to our security than we’ve seen before” said Prime Minister David Cameron. His statement follows a decision to raise the UK’s terror threat level from “substantial” to “severe” over events in Iraq and Syria.

Fighting the Islamic State is “a generational struggle” against a “poisonous ideology” Cameron said, adding the UK “must respond calmly and with purpose” to a “greater and deeper threat to our security than we’ve seen before.”

Cameron said the root cause of the terrorist threat is “the poisonous narrative of Islamist extremism.”

He stressed a distinction must be made between the Islamic faith and extremist political ideology, which he said must be defeated at its root.

The Prime Minister explained he would be making a statement in parliament on Monday detailing measures to remove the citizenship of those who travel to fight with the Islamic State. He said there are “gaps in our armory” that would need to be filled with new legislation “to keep our people safe” and tackle extremism.

He said an “intelligent response” was needed combining military, diplomatic and humanitarian aid. He also reiterated his support for US airstrikes.

Cameron stressed the need for the UK to work with its allies – by providing intelligence for the US, delivering aid supplies to those in need, supporting a united Iraqi government and arming Kurdish forces who are fighting against IS militants in Iraq.

A response is needed urgently, said Cameron, as the UK and its allies “could be facing a terrorist state on the shores of the Mediterranean bordering a NATO member.”

Britain’s terror level threat has been officially raised from “substantial” to “severe”, Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed earlier.

May stipulates UK intelligence have not gleaned information pertaining to an imminent attack, but the upgraded alert level indicates a prospective attack is “highly likely”.

Britain is thought to be facing an acute risk of such a terror attack in light of ongoing bloodshed and carnage in Iraq and Syria. This threat level is the second most serious the state can announce from a range of five separate levels.

The upgraded alert was put in place by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) – a subset of Britain’s Security Service (MI5) dedicated to analysing intelligence relating to global terrorism.

According to MI5, Britain has not faced such a serious risk of terrorist attacks since 2011.

In a public statement, the Home Secretary said that each threat level dictates a multi-pronged state response, informing “security professionals across the public and private sectors as they make decisions about the appropriate level of protection in place across the UK”.

JTAC’s judgements are dependent on the most up-to-date intelligence gathered by Britain’s Security Services and are independent of Ministers, according to May.

May said on Friday the “increase in the threat level is related to developments in Syria and Iraq where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the West”.

“Some of these plots are likely to involve foreign fighters who have travelled there from the UK and Europe to take part in those conflicts”, she added.

In an effort to assure the public the UK government is employing the most comprehensive action possible to protect the British populace, May said the government has “already taken steps to amend our powers and increase our capabilities” for dealing with “developing terrorist threats we face”.

“That process will continue and the British public should be in no doubt that we will take the strongest possible action to protect our national security”, she added.

The Home Secretary insists Britain faces a “real and serious” threat from international terrorists. She has urged the wider public to remain vigilant and to immediately report suspicious activity to the police.

UK TERROR THREAT RAISED TO ACCOUNT FOR ISIL SWAY IN IRAQ AND SYRIA

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The UK’s terror threat level has been raised from substantial to severe. It is the second highest ranking and classifies an attack on the UK as highly likely.

The situations in Syria and Iraq have been given as the primary reason for the change. British Prime Minister David Cameron gave a press conference to address the issue:

“What we are facing in Iraq now with ISIL is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before. With ISIL we are facing a terrorist organisation not being hosted in a country, but actually seeking to establish, and then violently expand its own terrorist state.”

Prompted by the spread of Islamic State its atrocities, Prime Minister David Cameron also announced plans to introduce new powers that would allow authorities to strip terror suspects of their passports:

“It is becoming clear that there is some gaps in our armoury and we need to strengthen them. We need to do more to stop people travelling, to stop those who do go from returning, and to deal decisively with those who are already here.”

The measures are set to be put before the UK’s parliament on Monday.

If passed they would become the first such legal changes since IS took over large areas of Iraq and Syria.

CAMERON EXPLAINS HEIGHTENED UK TERROR THREAT

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LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister David Cameron pledged Friday to plug gaps in Britain’s armory to combat terror, describing the extremist threat posed by the Islamic State group as being more dangerous than even that of al-Qaida.

Cameron’s remarks came just moments after authorities raised Britain’s terror threat level to severe, the second-highest level. The decision was related to developments in Iraq and Syria, but there was no information to suggest an attack was imminent.

“What we are facing in Iraq now with ISIL is a greater threat to our security than we have seen before,” Cameron said, using an abbreviation for a longer name the Islamic State previously used: the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.

He told reporters that while the Taliban facilitated al-Qaida terrorism, the Islamic State group is “effectively a state run by terrorists.” He said the ambition to create an Islamist caliphate isn’t something that could be ignored.

“We could be facing a terrorist state on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member,” he said, referring to Turkey.

Intelligence and security services now believe around 500 Britons have gone to fight in Syria and potentially Iraq. Some of the plots are likely to involve fighters who have traveled from Britain and Europe to take part in fighting in the Middle East.

British police have appealed to the public to help identify aspiring terrorists after the killing of an American journalist focused attention on extremism in the U.K. The involvement of a person of British nationality in James Foley’s beheading underscored the need to identify those who might travel abroad to fight or are at risk of being radicalized.

The attack on a Jewish museum in Brussels also underscored the willingness of the members of the group to attack Europeans.

British authorities say around 70 arrests have been made in the first half of the year for a variety of offenses, including fundraising, preparing for terrorism acts and traveling abroad for terrorist training. The police say such arrests are being made at a rate five times greater than 2013.

One action Cameron outlined was the possibility that passports could be taken away. He said further measures would be described in the House of Commons on Monday.

Britain also wants to revive a directive to enable police and security services to share passenger records in the European Union. Concerns about civil liberties have stalled the measure in the European Parliament.

“The root cause of this threat to our security is quite clear,” Cameron said. “It is a poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism that is condemned by all faiths and faith leaders.”

Britain raised the country’s terror threat level from substantial to severe just before Cameron held his news conference. The threat level means a terrorist attack is considered highly likely.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the decision by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Center was made on the basis of intelligence and independent of the Cameron and his Cabinet. “Severe” is the second-highest of five levels.

The last time the rate was raised to severe was in September 2010 — in response to the attempt to detonate a bomb on a U.S. passenger plane over Detroit. It was last raised to the highest level, or critical, in June 2007, after a car on fire was driven into the Glasgow Airport terminal building and — separately — two devices were found in cars in central London.

On July 7, 2005, four suicide bombers attacked the London transit system at rush hour and killed 52 commuters and injured hundreds.

Christian Leuprecht, a security expert at the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen’s University, said that though officials said there was no specific threat made, it is likely that data flowing to the Britain’s intelligence agencies caused them concern.

“It would suggest something more concrete than, ‘Oh we’d better be careful,'” he said “Otherwise, you would see everyone in the West do this.”

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