UK Newswire Archive
18-04-2012 06:54So another cake is eaten keeping the bonk at bay and so it's onto Day Three of the all lovin Brighton Bike Fest...
both the olympic delivery authority (ODA) and state authorities are already working to stifle any dissent against the coming olympic corporate extravaganza in london. with libel threats, ASBOs, injunctions, potential control of photography, blanket searches, and armoured cars, the olympic war machine is beginning to make itself felt.
in north east london, local campaigners at leyton marsh have been questioning the need for planning rules and regulations to be thrown aside by waltham forest council in order to allow the ODA to build a temporary basketball facility on a beautiful and much-used open space, protected by SSSI rules, green flag awards, and 'open metropolitan land' status. as a temporary facility it won't even provide any legacy for londoners despite the massive disruption to the area. although there is a promise of some money for improvements, local people are not being consulted about these, and there is much distrust over this.
the protests, including a small tent village as well as vehicle blockades by local people including hackney councillors, peacefully brought the building work to a halt for two weeks, before the lea valley regional park authority (LVRPA) and the ODA took out high court injunctions to respectively move the occupation off the land and to prevent any interference to the works.
after interim injunctions were granted, work resumed last tuesday, and activists again attempted to block the builders. this was a combined effort by members of the occupy camp, along with hackney councillors, and local people.
although breaching a high court injunction can lead to 'committal proceedings' and ultimately to the possibility of up to two years' imprisonment, the process has to be instigated by the claimant, and is not an automatic offence in criminal law. so, last week, police instead used section 14 of the public order act, under which those failing to comply with imposed conditions were arrested.
four people were arrested at the site, and three of those, pleading guilty, were imprisoned for several days. the fourth, pleading not guilty, has received draconian bail conditions, and will have his case heard in a few weeks time.
a local woman, who spent some time underneath one of the lorries, later gave a media interview.
so five names appeared in newspapers.
as a result, the ODA have adjusted their injunction (to be heard fully in the high court tomorrow morning) so that its claim is now against those five, rather than just 'persons unknown'.
the implications of this are serious, in that the ODA is claiming more than a quarter of a million pounds costs.
in this david and goliath struggle, campaigners believe there are sound arguments questioning the validity of the planning process, and the legality of the injunction, but with no funds for legal representation, they are up against an organisation that has potentially limitless public funds to pay city lawyer firms acting on their behalf.
meanwhile, after my report on indymedia, http://london.indymedia.org/articles/12049 a letter was sent to the leyton marsh campaign, to indymedia centre, and to me. it came from city libel lawyers acting on behalf of the ODA, and claimed that my report contained serious false and defamatory allegations about its client.
after taking legal advice i removed an allegation made by campaigners in order to comply with the lawyers' request, and to avoid potentially costly proceedings against myself and against indymedia.
on his release from prison on saturday morning, one of the activists received a visit from a scotland yard public order division detective sergeant. the sergeant delivered an 'interim asbo', an anti-social behaviour order, stipulating a set of prohibitions. if the campaigner breaks any of the orders, he faces up to five years in prison. the asbo bans him from any olympic sites, including any proposed or anticipated, from olympic routes, from roads used for events like the marathon or the torch, from interfering with participants including sponsorship officials, and even spectators, and it also even extends the bans to the diamond jubilee celebrations. finally, it addresses the campaigner's relationship with the occupation movement by prohibiting him from trespassing on, or interfering with any buildings or land, without the owner's permission.
when ASBOs were first introduced by Blair in 1998, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/37/contents it was claimed they were designed to address behaviour and minor incidents that wouldn't normally be covered by criminal prosecution. there have been concerns that ASBOs could be used to effectively criminalise behaviour that otherwise would not be criminal, and indeed the current interim order does precisely that, by changing a civil trespass directly into an arrestable and imprisonable offence for this particular activist. it also works as a pre-crime prohibition, especially as there is no evidence that this particular person has any intention to disrupt the the diamond jubilee, and his only connection with the olympics is in his peaceful protest against the loss of open land.
at a recent olympic press briefing, the police reminded journalists that the controversial section 76 powers http://london.indymedia.org/articles/1174 remain on the statute. these counter-terrorism regulations prohibit the capturing of images of police, military or security, making it an arrestable offence to do so.
at the time, after representations from unions and protests outside scotland yard, the police said the rules were unworkable. it was a surprise and a matter of serious concern that the legislation was mentioned once again at the recent press briefing.
PRIVATE ARMOURED VEHICLES
at that same press briefing, journalists were told that private security would only be used within the olympic venue and not on the streets of london. this was to allay fears about the extent of their powers and their jurisdiction. however, within a week of the promise, an NUJ journalist was taking images on public land OUTSIDE the olympic village, and within minutes was questioned by G4S guards who drove towards him in an armoured car!
the newham legal monitoring group, sensitive to the issue of 'stop and search' in the borough, have been asking the police for an indication of how their powers would be used. the police have refused to give any operational details on this subject. during the course of their research, the group have discovered new legislation on the horizon, due to come into law just before the olympics in june this year.
under the orwellian title of 'protection of freedoms' bill, the new legislation changes the regime for police stop and searches under the 2000 terrorism act. the new rules allow police to designate an area as 'likely to be the target of a terrorist attack', and then provide for blanket 'stop and search' powers without any other criteria such as reasonable suspicion etc.
as the olympics are, it is suggested, a likely target, and as the terror alert status is 'severe', it is not hard to see how these powers are going to be rolled out across london over the summer, to be widely misued against protestors, disaffected youth, journalists, and indeed anyone the police don't like the look of.
so, welcome the olympics and all that it brings.
the injunctions against leyton marsh protestors will be heard at the rolls building next to the high court tomorrow morning at 10.30am (weds 18th april)
supporters are invited outside the court from 10am and the hearing is of course public.
activists from london rising tide (helped by 'rhythms of resistance' samba players), staged a noisy and theatrical protest at the royal festival hall yesterday evening, highlighting the greenwashing of shell's image through cultural sponsorship in their 'shell classic international' festival at the southbank centre.
click on image for larger version. 'some rights reserved' - free for credited non-commercial use, otherwise contact author for permission
yesterday evening, around a dozen activists gathered near their south bank target, and prepared their large surdo drums, 'shell hell' face masks, and grim reaper costumes. shortly before seven, they formed a procession and swiftly entered the royal festival hall foyer.
as the demonic figures processed through the foyer, a slow funereal drum beat filled the area, while other activists moved round the foyer handing out hundreds of leaflets.
the leaflets reminded people how once, cultural sponsorship by 'big tobacco' was acceptable. campaigners wish to make 'big oil' sponsorship unacceptable in the way that tobacco now is.
'big oil' is an ecocidal industry wreaking climate change havoc, as well as destroying lives (literally in the case of ken saro-wiwa and eight other activists), in nigeria, ireland, and canada (where tar sands extraction covering the size of england is destroying the environment and indigenous lives and futures).
in order to 'greenwash' its image, shell only have to channel the tiniest crumbs of its £35,000 per minute profits (2011) in order to cynically protect its image through cultural sponsorship.
at the royal festival hall, the security men soon began to ask the costumed protesters to leave. despite some gentle passive resistance, the burly security men eventually forced everyone outside the doors, mostly in a firm and gentle manner (although a couple of smaller 'south bank security' men who joined them got a bit more unnecessarily lairy).
outside the doors of the royal festival hall, security managers made anxious phone-calls and after a short while two policemen arrived. the hall managers pointed out that the protest was still taking place on private land, and they were concerned at the noise of the drums, and the embarassment to specially invited guests, including a special reception for none other than 'j p morgan', (one of the worst banking collapse culprits and the employer of well-known ex-PM and war criminal, 'tony blair').
one of the constables, looking through the protest leaflet, pointed out that it missed out the controversial mammoth oil refinery in durban, south africa! he was clearly not a fan of the dirty corporation, and once he'd established the protestors were intending to leave at 7.30 at the start of the recital, he allowed the drumming and the protest to remain in situ, saying quietly that he was "sure we can string it out till then".
so, as a mixture of genuine music lovers, and corporate f**kwits arrived at the hall, they heard the noise, saw the costumes, and most people readily accepted the leaflets, often with very positive reaction on reading it. shell's greenwash was looking dirtier by the minute.
suddenly, the protest was approached by a man in a suit who, hiding his ID badge, proceeded to take a series of close-up photos of everyone involved, including journalists. he may have been associated with shell, or perhaps a member of the 'south bank' security team. apart from the images of journos and leafleteers, he went home with a succession of close-ups of the excellent shell skull masks. it should be easy for him to identify them again next time! :)
at 7.30, the procession eerily marched away, drums echoing into the distance.
durban oil refinery is a joint venture with (olympic sustainability partner) BP. it is an ageing and huge refinery beset with years of problems with pollution, accidents, and leaks, destroying the environment for local people.
more info: www.risingtide.org.uk
FB: Rising Tide UK
0770eight 794 six six 5
17-04-2012 16:15We will examine issues of land reform, urban agriculture, rural development, fishing rights, and food sovereignty within a dynamic political context in the Bolivarian revolution.
17-04-2012 14:26What started as a celebration of a football victory, ended with tears and chaos when the Ertzaintza, the Basque police force, interrupted pushing the situation out of control. Iñigo Cabacas, a 28 year old supporter of Athletic Club Bilbao, was shot in the head with a rubber bullet by riot police after last week's Europa League game against Schalke 04.
17-04-2012 14:05HLS cannot function without their customers, and Bristol-Myers Squibb are key to their survival. This is a possibility to remind more than 3000 employees listed here that BMS is culpable for the torture and death of 500 animals each and every single day of the week. Without customers like Bristol-Myers Squibb, animal laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences would be forced closed.
Veterans for Peace UK held its inaugural meeting on Easter Sunday. 11 veterans attended the meeting. The meeting was started with the reading of The Statement of Purpose. We then had an extended check in where there was a good exchange of experiences.
The aims of VFP UK were laid out;
1) To resist war through non-violent action.
2) To support war resisters.
3) To counter militarism and educate on the true nature of war.
A clarification of our committment to acting non-violently was made, Gerry Condon (VFP USA) explained that even though there are many pacifists within VFP it is not a pacifist organisation. Bruce Kent enlightened us with some stories of resistance from within the British Army that are not well known.
The public launch was well attended. Barry Ladendorf who served in Vietnam with the US Navy talked about the true costs of war. Jim Radford who was at D-Day and served in the Royal Navy spoke about his long history within the peace movement and also performed two songs.
Gerry Condon who refused to deploy to Vietnam after training as a Special Forces Medic spoke about the work of VFP and the plight of Bradley Manning. Mike Lyons who served as a medic on submarines in the Royal Navy spoke about being a conscientious objector and being jailed for refusing to serve in Afghanistan. Matthew Horne who served in Iraq with the Scots Guards spoke about his experiences at Occupy London. Scot Albrecht who served in the US Air Force during the cold war spoke about his work with refugees and his history of resistance to war. Danny Martin who served in with the Royal Signals in Iraq read us two of his poems, one of which is already published on the VFP UK website. John McClean sang us some very powerful songs. Rob Green a former Royal Navy Commander who served at Northwood HQ during the Falklands war spoke about how important it was for veterans to organise themselves for peace. Also present were Adnan Sarwar who served in Iraq with a bomb disposal unit and was also attached to the USMC and John Lyons who was conscripted into the British Army in 1946 and has a long history within the peace movement.
Thanks to Roland, Sue, Alan and Ross for preparing the food. Thanks to London Catholic Worker for hosting the event. Thanks to John McClean for his music. Thanks to Jason Gleeson for filming. Thanks to Barry, Gerry and Helen from VfP in the USA and thank you to the VfP UK members.
17-04-2012 10:57Veterans for Peace UK held its inaugural meeting on Easter Sunday. 11 veterans attended the meeting. The meeting was started with the reading of The Statement of Purpose. We then had an extended check in where there was a good exchange of experiences.
Spending public money to "save" money seems to be the way to go. The Ministry of Justice's privatisation and outsourcing of various public services is already proving to be more costly and inefficient than the public-run services they replaced, as demonstrated by a protest by court interpreters outside the Ministry and Parliament on Monday 16 April
At the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), "privatisation" seems to equate nicely with "efficient public services". From private-run jails to forensic services, the justice system is up for grabs, without mention of the government's current plans for secret courts or the Legal Aid bill working its way through parliament right now.
Last summer, legal interpreting services joined the fray, when in August a framework agreement was signed between the MoJ and Applied Language Solutions Ltd (ALS), a private language service provider, to cover courts, the Crown Prosecution Service, prisons and the police. Following a year-long procurement procedure, this five-year contract worth £300 million was anticipated to save over £60 million during that period. Previously, interpreters were hired using the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI), which has over 2000 qualified and registered interpreters, following a rigorous registration procedure.
The government's main rationale for the need for this change related to cost and efficiency, even though concerns about these aspects were raised in parliament in the six months before the service went live on 1 February this year. In that same intervening period, ALS was acquired by Capita.
The new system has quickly unravelled and the sham has exposed itself; the interpreters whose concerns about pay and quality were ignored refused to work under the new conditions (more than 60% of registered interpreters are boycotting the system) and ALS failed to deliver on its contractual obligations: provision of linguists and those who are suitably qualified. To deal with the shortage, it has offered incentives and sought to find foreign language speakers elsewhere, but justice is not to be dealt with lightly.
Legal interpreters are highly qualified professionals. They work on serious cases and mediate not just language differences, but sensitive cultural ones too, such as in the recent case of the murder of Kristy Bamu, accused of being a "witch", during which a French interpreter was required throughout. The consequences can be fatal and cost more than just the bill. Just last week, the BBC reported on a case in London where inadequate Romanian interpreting during a trial will result in a retrial costing over £25,000 more to the taxpayer as well as being traumatic for the victim.
Non-English speakers are as entitled to a fair trial as anyone else. These rights exist both in the common law and the European Convention on Human Rights. Over the past few months, there has been an increase in the amount of time spent on remand, following the failure to find an interpreter, and the amount of time and money spent settling cases. Foreign nationals are taxpayers and contribute to the public services they use. Interpreters and linguists are also a more vulnerable sector as they are largely self-employed and work independently.
Since the new arrangement and the boycott by many interpreters, many have suffered a loss of income and others are finding it more expensive to work than not to. Following multiple failings in the system and complaints, in mid-February, courts and the police were allowed to find their own interpreters instead of having to rely on the new system, i.e. revert to the old system which worked quite well. Crispin Blunt MP, a justice minister, has since admitted that there are failings in the new system, but these have largely been put down to teething problems.
A protest was held in London on Monday 16 April to greet MPs returning from their Easter break. An initial protest, largely consisting of interpreters from all over the UK, particularly the northwest, converged outside the Ministry of Justice at 2-3.30pm, and later outside Parliament from 3.30-5pm. Over 200 people joined the demonstration.
Outside the MoJ, protesters were joined by Andy Slaughter MP (Lab: Hammersmith), a shadow Justice Minister, who has supported the interpreters' concerns throughout. Outside Parliament, they were joined by MPs Jim Cunningham (Lab: Coventry South) who asked interpreters to write to the chair of the Justice Select Committee to demand an inquiry. He also asked people to write to their MPs so that the relevant questions can be put to ministers in the Commons, and Gerald Kaufman (Lab: Manchester, Gorton). Mr Kaufman expressed his continuing support and said that he and Mr Slaughter had asked for an inquiry.
As well as a public inquiry into what has gone wrong in the procurement procedure, which would undoubtedly be of use to all services which are outsourced, interpreters are seeking that the framework agreement, which is due to be reviewed at the end of this month, is terminated early.
Various interpreters expressed their concerns and disgust and Yvonne Fowler, speaking on behalf of Birmingham criminal solicitor Malcolm Fowler, stated that this was "outsourcing interpreting to a commercial monopoly [...which] exists to exploit the expertise and professionalism of interpreters for personal gain and profit". Others mentioned that interpreting services were an essential part of the justice system and encouraged other interpreters to boycott the system and not support it by working for companies that do. Cases mentioned at the demonstration included a rape case in Yorkshire where an interpreter was provided for the defendant but not the alleged victim and a case in Wales where an interpreter was asked to cover both the defence and prosecution!
Interpreters intend to continue their battle for justice against the Ministry of Justice. As evidenced from an article in the Independent earlier this month about forensic services, the "wheels [of privatisation...are] already falling off" elsewhere too.
Last month, the trade union Unite and several other organisations came together to launch a formal campaign about the privatisation of interpreting services.
This demonstration was organised by Justice for Interpreters Manchester (Northwest) and the Bradford Professional Interpreters Network.
For more information about the campaign, please e-mail: justiceforinterpreters [at] hotmail.co.uk
© Report and photos, Aisha Maniar
An interesting article on this issue: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16432
Human rights activists welcomed MPs back to work on Monday 16 April with a colourful protest outside Parliament. Ten years on, Shaker Aamer is still held without charge or trial at Guantánamo Bay: why is he still there and why has the government still not secured his release and return to his family in the UK?
To coincide with this protest, MP John McDonnell tabled a new EDM: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/2955
Shaker Aamer: 10 Years on, Still no Answers
Report by Aisha Maniar
Human rights activists welcomed MPs back to parliament after their Easter break with a colourful demonstration in Parliament Square calling for the return of the last London resident in Guantánamo Bay, Shaker Aamer.
Organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, around 25 people joined the protest between 1 and 3pm on Monday 16 April, shortly before parliament reconvened. With some protesters dressed in orange jumpsuits with black hoods, they held up placards and chanted, calling for the release and return of Mr Aamer to the UK. They were briefly joined by MPs John McDonnell (Lab: Hayes & Harlington) and Jane Ellison (Con: Battersea), MP of the constituency Mr Aamer's family resides in. They were also joined by journalist and author of The Guantánamo Files, Andy Worthington.
Shaker Aamer, a Saudi national, with a British family in south London, including a ten-year old son he has never met, has been held in Guantánamo Bay, without charge or trial, since February 2002. Cleared for release by the Pentagon in 2007, his return to the UK was sought by the British government that same year.
Why he continues to languish at Guantánamo Bay is unclear; the British and American governments both blame each other, without giving a plausible reason for his continuing imprisonment. He claims a British intelligence agent was present on one occasion when he was tortured in Afghanistan; this claim is currently subject to a police investigation. He is also alleged to have witnessed the torture and murder of three other prisoners at the hands of US soldiers in 2006, according to a Time magazine report. Commenting on the continuing political impasse, Andy Worthington stated that there is no drive by the UK or the US to close Guantánamo Bay, and thus there is no impetus to release Shaker Aamer. This needs to come from direct public pressure.
To mark the tenth anniversary of his continuing detention without charge or trial, his family and solicitor launched an e-petition to the Foreign Office. 100,000 signatures need to be collected on this e-petition by 14th May to trigger a debate in parliament on this issue, "in order for the Prime Minister to explain the inexplicable", according to Andy Worthington: why Shaker Aamer remains in Guantánamo Bay when apparently no one wants him to be there. Please add your name to the petition and ask your friends and family to as well: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/29410
John McDonnell MP has also tabled the following EDM calling for the release of Shaker Aamer and to coincide with this protest: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/2955
"That this House welcomes the demonstration in Parliament Square held on 16 April 2012 by the Save Shaker Aamer campaign to highlight the fact that British resident Shaker Aamer has been imprisoned without trial or charge for over 10 yearsin Guantanamo; and calls for a new initiative by the Government to secure his release and his return to his British family in the UK, given the worrying concern that his health is now seriously deteriorating to the point that his lawyers havestated that he is gradually dying in Guantanamo"
Please write to your MP and ask them to sign it.
Many thanks to Peace Strike for facilitating this action
© Report and photos, Aisha Maniar/ London Guantánamo Campaign
17-04-2012 10:17Here's the schedule for the antiprison gathering to be held in Nottingham at the Sumac Centre on the 28th of April.
Breakfast, Lunch and dinner will be provided, as will accommodation on Friday and Saturday night.
On Friday night the Zounds http://www.zoundsonline.co.uk/gigs.html will be playing at the Sumac, so come along to that if you can.
17-04-2012 09:42*Please RSVP if you can - helps us organise the event!
** If you can't make it to London or Ft. Meade, consider standing publicly whereever you are in solidarity with Bradley Manning!
17-04-2012 06:32So as Julian (18.000 miles) Sayarer rides off into the sunset..Day Two of Brighton Bike Fest!
Information sourced from Hinkley C Supply Chain website featuring; Bridgwater firms Fairway Office Supplies and Jual Branding Clothing, Cannington based Greenslade Ground Maintenance who are currently chopping down trees at the Hinkley C site, UK company Hydrock Remedial Contracting who are remediating a spoil heap near the now decommissioned Hinkley A reactor and finally Watchet Glass & Glazing who are fitting replacement windows and doors to residential properties around the main Hinkley C site.
Please politely contact the companies below to remind them why we don’t want Hinkley C or new nuclear: