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More migrant misery

War and want have forced millions of our class to move. Those with the means, a minority, represent a market for smugglers. There is no guarantee that the dreamed of refuge will ever be reached, but the smugglers insist on payment and for them blood is an acceptable currency. 'Migrants who are unable to pay people smugglers for their journey from Africa to Europe are killed for their organs, a former smuggler has said. Nuredein Wehabrebi Atta, who has been sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement in moving migrants, told Italian police that migrants who couldn't pay for journeys across the Mediterranean were sold for €15,000 to groups, particularly Egyptians, who are equipped for harvesting organs' (independendent.co.uk, 5 July). Avoiding this nightmare, those reaching Europe are greeted with hastily erected barriers and, quite possibly, hate in the form of Pegida, for example. Tatjana Festerling, the group's erstwhile leader, said of asylum seekers, 'if they keep crossing the border and you cannot arrest them, shoot them.' Apparently, on 'her Facebook page, Festerling bragged about spending an entire day with the Bulgarian Military Veterans Union a paramilitary group of vigilantes who patrol the border searching for illegal immigrants. Accompanying her was Edwin Wagensveld, a leader of a Dutch offshoot of Pegida' (neweurope.eu, 7 July).

Going nowhere

'Can religion be a positive force for social change?' asks Manini Sheker (opendemocracy.net, 5 July). No, but she and those behind the Ark Encounter in Northern Kentucky disagree. This colossal waste of time, talent and energy 'will be a life-size reminder, with a 510-foot-long Ark as its centerpiece, to the truth of God’s Word and His involvement in the affairs of humanity. We will powerfully show that, just as the account of Noah’s flood did actually happen, so did the rest of what we read in the scriptures – especially the gospel message preached by Christ in the New Testament. We hope to inspire a return to and a respect for the Bible as relevant for our culture today' (foxnews.com, 6 July). Ken Ham or Neil deGrasse Tyson? Superstition or scientism? Neither will bring about meaningful social change, though socialists can to an extent empathise with Tyson and suspect that one too many encounters with the-pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die crowd contributed to the genesis of a recent tweet in which he proposed a country of #Rationalia, where 'all policy shall be based on the weight of evidence.'

Stupefying silence

Silence is no way to respond to the mass murder of millions in the Somme 100 years ago or any of capitalism's wars, past or present. According to former diplomat Craig Murray, 'Blair is still a creature of absolute self-serving slime'. But it is the system he defends which should be the focus of our attention. Socialists do not need millions of words to explain that capitalism is the cause of war and want in the world, something which the multi-volume Chilcot report naturally omitted. This is not to say however that it does not contain evidence we can use when making our case. 'The US and British governments fought bitterly over control of Iraq’s oil following the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the Chilcot papers show. Tony Blair seemed more concerned than the Americans about any invasion being seen by critics as a war for oil, telling them it would be very damaging if the two countries were seen to grab Iraq’s oil. But Sir David Manning, foreign policy adviser to Tony Blair, told Condoleezza Rice, the US national security adviser, in Washington on 9 December 2002 that Britain still wanted more of the spoils. “It would be inappropriate for HMG [Her Majesty’s government] to enter into discussions about any future carve-up of the Iraqi oil industry,” he said. “Nonetheless it is essential that our [British] companies are given access to a level playing field in this and other sectors.” UK government officials called in a team from BP for a briefing about the prospects for the Iraq energy sector on 23 January 2003, two months before the invasion, which ended in May' (theguardian.com, 7 July). BP's reaction? No comment!