Category Archives: security

Pantomime Terror – pre-order

Screen shot 2013-11-13 at 11.22.40Click here to preorder: http://www.zero-books.net/books/pantomime-terror

 

Brand Over Pax

Is it only my dysfunctional take on things that makes me see this as the ‘dream-work’ of the war on terror?

‘do you think that’s really bad?’

‘you’re just having a go at me coz I’m not poor anymore’

 

Rosalind Davis – To the Light

Go here to see this in action (on some browsers, not all).

20130917-184402.jpg

Georges Bataille

‘against forces that cannot be assimilated, the state cuts matters short with strict authority’ (Bataille 1933/1997:124)

Disarm DSEI


Confront “Counter Terror Expo”: Confront the real terrorists!

Posted on Friday 23 March 2012

April 25 2012, 6.30pm
at the Royal Garden Hotel,
2-24 High Street Kensington:
nearest tubes High Street Kensington and Knightsbridge.

As “counter-terrorist experts”—many better known as armament companies—gather at the Royal Garden Hotel to guzzle champagne followed by four course dinner. Pausing only to gaze over Kensington Gardens. (At a mere £156 a ticket—guess who isn’t suffering from “austerity”?)

Join Disarm DSEi as we confront exhibitors at the so-called Counter Terror Expo—an event showcasing the latest equipment used by states to spy on, restrict and murder their citizens under the guise of “preventing terrorism”. Let’s help them choke on it! (Remember the DSEi dinner demo at the National Gallery!)

Dinner guests include:

General Dynamics
British arm of US-based firm agreed deal to upgrade military equipment for an elite Libyan government security brigade.
Chemring Defence
British contractor produced CS gas canisters fired at civilians by Egyptian security forces in Tahir Square.
L-3 Security & Detection Systems
A division of $15bn surveillance and communications giant L-3 Communications.
Thales
French aerospace and defence company paid fine of €630m in 2010 over bribes to win contract for 1991 sale of frigates to Taiwan.
Northrop Grumman
US global aerospace company, world’s fourth largest defence contractor.

(Check out the full list of exhibitors)

Across North Africa and the Middle East, dictatorships have, and still are using equipment supplied by UK companies to spy on and attack demonstrators, and yet some of these countries will be shopping for more equipment at the Counter Terror Expo, along with other repressive regimes from around the world.

The UK is a major market, where police are widening their surveillance and repression to even the mildest dissidents. As the government relentlessly destroys the welfare state and drags our wages to rock bottom, it continues to subsidise and promote the arms and “security” industries

The event hosts hundreds of exhibitors, not only leading arms companies, who make huge profits from conflict and repression. It is officially supported by a vast range of military, police and private security organisations, and is endorsed by state agencies such as the MoD and NATO.

Surveillance systems will be a major focus, with companies again promoting biometric and data gathering/mining technologies; promoting “freedom” through ever greater control and documentation of our daily lives, not to mention drones (coming to a demo near you shortly!)

The event is organised by Clarion, which also runs DSEi—the world’s largest arms fair. What with governments everywhere looking to increase control of their citizens, and the industry exaggerating threats to increase their profits, Clarion must think they’re onto a winner. Let’s show them they’re not.

www.dsei.org / www.corporatewatch.org

Born Free – MIA’s Poetry After Guantanamo

A piece written before this week’s release of Bad Girls, coming out soon in Social Identities.

Abstract: The recent work of the Sri-Lankan-British musician and sonic ‘curator’ known as M.I.A. (real name: Mathangi Arulpragasam) is considered as a commentary on atrocity and read alongside the well known essay ‘The Storyteller’ by Walter Benjamin and comments on Auschwitz by Theodor Adorno. The storytelling here is updated for a contemporary context where global war impacts us all, more or less visibly, more, or less, acknowledged. It is argued that the controversy over M.I.A.’s Romain Gavras video Born Free is exemplary of the predicament of art in the face of violence, crisis and terror – with this track, and video, M.I.A.’s work faced a storm of criticism which I want to critique in turn, in an attempt, at least, to learn to make or discern more analytic distinctions amongst concurrent determinations of art A careful reading of Adorno can in the end teach us to see Born Free anew.

 

Keywords: Benjamin, Adorno, Gavras, M.I.A, music, terror, racism, orientalism.

PDF Here Poetry After GuantanamoFinalDraftSocialIdentities.

Match of the Day!

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=188373237844547

UK Border Author-itybittyshitty

The new UK Points-Based Immigration scheme is – no surprise – a nasty headache, and the hoops to be jumped through for the privilege of being charged for higher education in the ever more depleted UK HE sector are just mind-boggling. See below for the guidance for students who might have the mad idea that coming to Goldsmiths might be a straightforward matter of applying and being accepted. To think that this points-biased plan originally comes from Australia is painful (and not mitigated by the UK’s overdue acceptance of the Flat White Coffee and decent Colombian beans – at last). Worse, it seems Lib-Dem Clegg (the fifth Beatle) wants to introduce a localized version of this, while his mates Posh Dave and Gordon Godzilla have even more rabid anti-immigration ideas up their trickster sleeves (no-one said anything good on this topic in the first TV ‘debate’ – where was Davina McCall, who could have let us phone them out of the show and have them sacrificed to appease the volcano). Non compliance with the reporting is the way forward for staff, but here are the latest instructions, just to emphasize the absurdity of it all – the immoral maze. My favourite is the promise that all this will change again imminently. For the worse no doubt. Use you vote wisely – screw it up and stuff it in the end of an old bottle, half filled with Volcanic ash, light the end and be ready to throw – self defence is no offence as we know.

Seriously though – the Students Not Suspects campaign site is here. Join the fight.

FAO: All Administrative and Academic Staff
Dear Colleague
Following implementation of points-based immigration (PBI) international students who require a visa to study in the UK must be sponsored by a licensed institution.
The type of visa a student can apply for is dependent on their age, and both the level and duration of their programme of study – see http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/studyingintheuk/
<http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/studyingintheuk/> .
Goldsmiths has been licensed by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to sponsor students in all categories, but most international students at Goldsmiths will need to apply as Tier 4 General Students.
Tier 4 (General) category is for adult students who want to come to or remain in the UK for post-16 education.
Whether applying to enter the UK to commence studies or remain in the UK to continue their studies a students visa application must be supported with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). CAS are issued on behalf of Goldsmiths by the following offices:
. Admissions – applicants to commence a new programme of study at Goldsmiths should contact the Admissions Office, Room 115, Richard Hoggart Building or emailintapps@gold.ac.uk <mailto:intapps@gold.ac.uk> . Further information is also given at http://www.gold.ac.uk/international/visa/ <http://www.gold.ac.uk/international/visa/> ;
. Enrolments and Records – students extending their student visa to continue or repeat part of their current programme of study should visit Enrolments and Records, Room 122, Richard Hoggart Building or email  studentrecords@gold.ac.uk <mailto:studentrecords@gold.ac.uk> .

Students should note that we are required to take a photocopy of their current passport, details of which must be included in the CAS together with tuition fees paid, and pre-requisite qualifications if they are a new entrant. They should allow 5-10 working days for their CAS to be assigned, i.e. we must apply and pay for the CAS via the UKBA Sponsor Management System. The CAS is valid for 6 months from point of issue, after which the student must show this office that they have obtained clearance to study or they may not be sponsored and taught by the institution. Students are therefore required to show proof of entry clearance to Enrolments and Records once their visa application has been processed or their access to services may be suspended and their enrolment withdrawn.

It is important to note that although international students are not permitted to enrol on a part-time programme of study, they are permitted to repeat in part-time attendance or in exam-attendance if their participation is required. In such cases we will ask the Academic Department to confirm that the student’s participation is required and that they are able to meet their sponsorship duties, or we may not issue a CAS.

Subsequent to the issue of a CAS, Enrolments and Records will be required to report any change of programme, interruption, withdrawal, or failure to attend/enrol to the UKBA. It’s therefore important that any student indicating a wish to interrupt or withdraw is referred to either the Departmental Administrator or Enrolments and Records who may issue them the appropriate paperwork to be authorised by either their head of department or senior tutor. Students failing to return the authorised paperwork within 2 weeks of the last date of attendance will remain liable for the full tuition fee and will not be eligible for a refund of any fees paid.

Failure to report such changes within a reasonable timeframe may also result in our sponsor licence being withdrawn, we will not be able to issue CAS to any student of Goldsmiths and current students may find that their CAS or visa is cancelled.

Tier 1 category is for skilled workers, but visa applications might be supported by confirmation of award and transcript of results – see http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/tier1/ <http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/tier1/&nbsp;> <http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/tier1/&nbsp;>
Whether a Goldsmiths student is applying for Tier 1 (General) or Tier 1 (Post-qualifying) their visa application must be supported by proof of qualifications.

Student Archives is able to provide Goldsmiths alumni or graduates a copy of their transcript or confirmation of award for this purpose. Enquirers should be advised to contact Archives, Room 122, Richard Hoggart Building and complete the order form or email studentrecords@gold.ac.uk. Further details of the services offered by Archives are given athttp://www.gold.ac.uk/student-services/transcripts-archives/ <http://www.gold.ac.uk/student-services/transcripts-archives/> .

Further enquiries
This information has been circulated to all international students, but if a student does want further advice on points based immigration, isn’t certain of what visa they require or have been refused entry to the UK they should contact Student Advice, email student-advice@gold.ac.uk <mailto:student-advice@gold.ac.uk> with brief details of their enquiry. All enquiries are dealt with in confidence.

Further changes to PBI are expected to be announced shortly, including the introduction of Highly Trusted Sponsor status. We will keep staff and students informed of these changes as they happen.

On behalf of Student Services / Marketing and Recruitment

offenders are using public transport

Criminals on our buses. So we better check their tickets cos we want them to pay full fare right! (Far Right – from the lovely people who brought you points based immigration, endless queuing, lost passports, deportations to Iraq, and the generalized cretinization that is the UK Border Agency). Worse than Homeland Security I think.

The sharp-as-a-tack-smart Emma informs me of the Home Office’s boneheaded formulation:

“‘Intelligence has shown that failed asylum seekers and other immigration offenders are using public transport on a regular basis. Previous operations on public transport routes have resulted in identifying and arresting failed asylum seekers and also removing them.’

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/freedom-of-information/released-information/foi-archive-immigration/929-immigration-checksa8cf.html?view=Html

See also here, here and here.

Proposal for presentation in Kolkata – 15 December 2009 at the Cultural Preservation Workshop

Preserves Takes More than Standard Time: Internationalism, Corporate Citizenship, and Security Fear – John Hutnyk

I am wondering if preservation-talk is confined to certain areas and domains and should be either expanded or done away with. This is not just a two-part provocation, but in between the calculations of intervention and documentation, can we talk of continuities of action, of commitment, of engagement or – conversely – the loss of these – preserve solidarity, preserve the party form, preserve the international… And what is the difference between preserve and re-institute/renew? Corporate preservation and gentrification on the one hand, and Nietzsche saying ‘what is falling down should be pushed’ on the other. Old forms abandoned in some cases, others guarded by right. I would like to describe three different contexts in which these issues seem pertinent: a) the work of internationals in relation to NGOs, activist groups and political struggles that perhaps need an ‘about face’ to escape a drain on scarce resources ‘on the ground'; b) the hijack of community, participation and care by corporate and commercial interests who proudly announce their token initiatives in press release and annual report (what I will call ‘glossy anthropology’); c) and the disjunct of heritage funding and political context, using the London Underground and the security situation in the War on Terror as example.

This Much is True

demenezesI will be attending this important bit of theatre:

THIS MUCH IS TRUE
By Paul Unwin and Sarah Beck

On 22 July 2005 Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by the Metropolitan Police at Stockwell tube station. It was a defining moment in London’s history yet too many questions are left unanswered.

Award-winning writer and director Paul Unwin’s (co-creator of Casualty and Holby City) and Sarah Beck’s play is a shocking, electrifying, insight into what really happened before, during and in the years following Jean Charles de Menezes’ death.

Weaving together new and personal testimonies from senior police officers including Andy Hayman (Metropolitan Police former head of counter terrorism), Brian Paddick, Jean’s family, his friends, the legal team (including Michael Mansfield QC), THIS MUCH IS TRUE brings the tragedy to the stage and reveals much that has never been said publicly before.

Cast: Amber Agar, Stefano Braschi, Alice Da Cunha, Gerald Kyd, Beatriz Romilly, Justine Waddell.

Directed by Tim Roseman with a multi award-winning creative team including Paul Wills, Mike Walker, Knifedge, Richard Howell and Daniel Pemberton.

http://www.theatre503.com/whatson/detail/144/
www.theatre503.com
follow us on twitter @theatre503 and on facebook

Buzz Coupland

coulandDouglas ‘Buzz’ Coupland’s new novel, ‘Generation A’, takes as its premise the disappearance of bees, much discussed in the press in the wake of hive collapse. The tale is told in an unfolding multi-part personal/police statement/autobiography mode. It works mostly well until the storytelling parts in the second half, which are really OK in themselves, but a great chance for some structuralist play was missed I feel. The links are there, but I am not sure Buzz knows how to join up the sides of his hexagon as well as he might have. A few weeks more work could have been good. Nevertheless, this book is as readable as the other DC highlights (eg ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’, and the magnificent ‘All Families are Psychotic’). The distraction of the cover art gimmick (design your own colours for the jacket – I chose yellow!) and the lame title, dissuades the reader, and perhaps the author, from engagement with the covert security forces aspect of the scenario as written. War on terror meets eco-catastrophe is the topical theme of our times, yet this is not yet the novel that breaches the impasse of mere commentary. Terrible thing to say about literature, but I wanted it to do more – and instead, well, a meditation on celebrity is the danger here: I almost yawned at those parts. Although the boy’s own adventure espionage aspects are well rendered, they do not approach the necessary allegorical harshness required to compete with texts like Paglin and Thompson’s Torture Taxi. We live in dangerous times, and need a dangerous literature to engage. More cross pollination would not have hurt this text, I can’t help but feel there’s something a little flat about the landscape. All those rendition flights, and the stereotyped mad scientists, and the detention regimes, are treated with lightness and humour, and – fuck me with the tourette’s character’s PDA – I’m still not laughing over the war. I’m not over it, sorry. And getting all misty for the bees isn’t enough, no matter how much the Calvino inspired narrative game appeals (If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller… echoes strongly here). I like Coupland in a Canadian way, its good, it should be read, but there could be more than a lame colouring-in participatory aspect to the reading.

Do you like the yellow cover I’ve designed? – no creativity there then. We are doomed. Buzz buzz buzz.

And do you remember the opening credits of of the 1985’s Luc Besson film ‘Subway’?

“To do is to be” — Descartes
“To be is to do” — Sartre
“Doo, bee, doo, bee, doo” — Sinatra

That’d be name dropping then, Cristopher Lambert – even if Jean-Hugues Anglade was in it, Lambert was good here. But speaking of Anglade, couldn’t his co-star from ‘Betty Blue’, Beatrice Dalle, play ‘Diana’ in the movie of Coupland’s book? Shahrukh Khan as ‘Harj’ (though not Sri Lankan, still… but drop the ridiculous Apu routine). Kurt Cobain as ‘Zack’ of course… Am I dreaming up an impossible cast? There are five roles. I probably need to get all hexagrammatical here too:

Ever wonder why bees use hexagons to make beehives? Two reasons. First, bees want to enclose the largest possible space with the least amount of wax. With this in mind, a circle would be best. So why don’t they use circular combs? Because hexagons are the shape with the most sides that “tesselate”. In other words, if you put a bunch of hexagons next to each other there will be no spaces between them. No shape with more than six sides will do this.

On Rajagopal

gastewayArvind Rajagopal 2009 ‘Violence, Publicity, and Sovereignty: Lawlessness in Mumbai’ Social Identities 15(3):411-416

The always interesting Arvind Rajagopal starts his discussion of the terror attacks of Mumbai by evoking the ‘lawless violence’ of the East India Company of old, suggesting that ‘once more we are at a time’ when the territorial incursions of rampant ‘non-state actors’ are denounced by politicians, just as the activities of the East India Company provoked calls for the rule of law in the British parliament, and the company was relieved of its rule, subsequently ceded formally to the Empire.

Rajagopal links the piracy of the East India Company to that of contemporary terror discourse: ‘On 26 November 2008, terrorists arrived by sea and entered near the Gateway [of India], making an entrance not unlike the pirates of yesteryear’ (Rajagopal 2009:411). The trouble with this formulation is that however much the Mumbai attackers can be traced to Karachi, they are not quite the calibre of state sanctioned privateers such as, Drake, Raleigh or the officials of the EIC, nor is Pakistan the likely Colonial power about to impose rule of law upon the subcontinent as part of some global sunset-avoidance regime. Yes, the State of today ‘mimics the behaviour of private parties, justifying violence as revenge and practicing torture as the just deserts of terrorists’ (Rajagopal 2009: 411-412), but I am not sure the Mumbai scenario exactly fits the EIC analogy. Later in the article Rajagopal chides exactly those who would suggest the source of Hindu-Muslim violence joins up all too neatly with some civilizational clash argument, with Hindu’s ‘improbably’ on the side of Christianity (Rajagopal 2009:415). Without agreeing for one moment that the clash of civilizations argument is coherent, to suggest that Hindu-Muslim violence is somehow projected onto this scenario strangely feels like a ritual evocation of the story of Meerut and the rumours that provoked the ‘Mutiny’ – which remains unmentioned by Rajagopal, but is implied, and is of course one of the main catalysts for the revocation of the EIC charter in the late 1850s (see discussion in Hutnyk 2004). I think, however, the piracy of the terrorists and that of the EIC is of a different order, vis a vis justifications of State power.

What I am suggesting is that a framing of the Mumbai attacks in terms of a dated moment of crisis of sovereignty belonging to the 1850s (itself deftly discussed by Marx) is an old thinking that does not adequately characterize the Imperial conjuncture of today. Yes, there are parallels, but the lawlessness of the State is the para-site of Empire – the model is not the EIC and its private army, but the Empire proper, from Viceroys through to Sepoys: a State actor that sanctions its own lawlessness as law. Rajagopal goes back too far, influenced perhaps by the thinking of Hardt and Negri, who also made the EIC a point of comparison for the globalism of today. Why though, not think of Empire at its height? The colonial today is full-blown, the Viceroy strides the earth (and her name is Hillary ). Significantly more interesting is Rajagopal’s appreciation of the changed media circumstances in which this scenario is played out. Here, the recent history (of media) is evoked (though again with reference to rumours that might just be heard to hark back to that Meerut story) and helps us comprehend the present media scene. The points presented in terms of media and its effects are more substantially grounded in transnational commercial flows, and though this is also well-worked ground, it is worth quoting in detail:

‘The attacks of November 2008 were the first terror attacks in India to occur under the full glare of media spotlights, and, after many years of state-controlled media, in an era in which private broadcasters dominate the airwaves. Dozens of 24-hour news channels vie for the Indian audience, many of them subsidiaries of transnational media corporations … In the past, when such violence occurred, the first response by the state controlled media would be a news blackout, followed by terse and occasional news bulletins aimed at the political management of the situation: public safety took second place to the preservation of the ruling party. Citizens had to rely on rumour for information, and of course the source was never certain. Although there was often alarm and panic, any citizen responses were necessarily more diffuse’ (Rajagopal 2009:413)

I do find it difficult to concede that the citizen response to partition in 1947, language riots in the 1950s, Naxalbari and its aftermaths in the 1960s and 1970s, anti-Sikh pogroms in 1984, Babri Masjid in 1992, and so on, were merely ‘diffuse’ [my italics], but the suggestion that a new live news, transnational media, audience competition dominates the public sphere certainly deserves consideration in terms of sovereignty and state control of the instruments of communication. Rajagopal is right to say ‘the media take on increasingly state-like characteristics’ (Rajagopal 20009:414) – what needs to be further examined is how the imbrications of state power and terror proceed apace. What is hinted at in Rajagopal’s title, but not developed, is that sovereignty and violence are intertwined here: of course the work of Georgio Agamben, Jacques Derrida, and most of all that of Walter Benjamin will be crucial, and more careful readers will need to be deployed. It is well and good that Rajagopal indicates the terrain upon which explanations, and useful analogies, may be sought, but what is to be avoided is any suggestion that this new ‘lawless’ moment can be wholly understood as a rerun of the piracy of the EIC. If this analogy is to work at all,, the comparison should be exactly with the consequences of the imposition of formal colonial rule, the removal of the powers of the Company in favour of an organised Governmental force, and thereby the systemic crushing of the anti-colonial threat of the ‘Mutiny’ and its consequences (including its diffuse ‘rumours’ of a possible independence – see Mahasweta Devi’s amazing book The Rani of Jhansi). News media of the like of NDTV x 24 are not much more than the propaganda wing of the State machine, now diversified into business in convoluted but effective ways. And of course there was a terror czar trotted out to be the Giuliani of Mumbai (chief of police interviewed…), but he was not charismatic enough to then run for mayor – not every history repeats as farce. Rajogopal has presented some interesting comparative moves, but maybe not necessarily exactly the ones that are most apposite.

Thanks as ever to Virinder Kalra for discussion that provoked some of the ideas here.

Scouting Shame NYT.

14explorers_span

“‘There is no document of civilization that is not simultaneously a document of barbarism‘” (Benjamin p. vii)

A photograph of five young Americans in combat gear beside a ‘Homeland Security’ bus graces the front page of the New York Times on May 13 2009. This image catches my eye on a day when newly discovered atrocity photos from CIA ‘facilities’ in Afghanistan and Iraq should be published, but are not so as to avoid undermining the war effort and the troops at the front. Anxious excuses are conjured for spin and impression management… we get this unbelievable shot of Explorer scouts tooled up for the kill.

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

I am taken by the photograph because it appears on the day the Obama administration plays the ‘don’t look’ card on terror (after a word from Pentagon chiefs, Obama backtracked and announced he would fight any release of the new set of detention images – this is reported on the same front page). But I am also curious about a quirky little detail in the bus picture. Look at the line of tooled-up scouts in the shot. The very last one doesn’t seem to think the situation is all that serious. A big grin on his face, forgetting the seriousness of the security role-play, has he tapped his colleague on the shoulder to say he likes his combat trousers? ‘Dude, I got these on special at ‘Old Navy” says his colleague. ‘Awesome’. I wonder if there is perhaps-possibly-maybe a little chink of critique, on the part of the NYTs photographer, in this edge-of-the-image smile? Such good terror-fighting teeth too. I would ‘hope’ we read this scene against the grain. Yes we can.

The article offers a great many other howlers – including strange juxtapositions: one such follows on from the news that neophyte Explorer Cathy is ‘attracted by the guns’ and says: “I like shooting them … I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.” We then get the observation that the police who supervise this ‘training’ have been exploring in their own perversions: “There have been numerous cases over the last three decades in which police officers supervising Explorers have been charged, in civil and criminal cases, with sexually abusing them”.

It seems though we are safe. This is after all only a role-playing game (with Arab dress-ups and other harmless panto fun). We are assured that ‘the training … is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting’. OK.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the same paper, another photograph of another line of troops catches my eye – a dead soldier is being returned to the US. RIP Michael P Yates, killed by one of his own in the counselling tent (image not online, but article here). The televisual reporting of the return of troop bodies was suppressed by a former President, but the correspondence between the line of Explorer scouts and the solemn line of the troops in the second picture is poignant. (Troops dead so far in Iraq and Afghanistan nearing 5000). This picture too appears a few pages before a full page ad taken out by a right wing group, suitably named the ‘Torture Truth Project’ that condemns those who would embarrass the US internationally by mentioning the ‘only three’ detainees that endured water boarding. The text of which is a special rhetoric all on its own when it tortures the truth by warning that ‘we are losing the goodwill of people across the world’. Welcome to the USA Today, in the NYTimes.

The Scouts, you may recall, are the spawn of Sir Colin Baden-Powell, also famous for having developed the detention camp at Mafeking over a century ago. Be Prepared. I remember this slogan from my own youthful disciplining as a scout (was mostly fun of course, smoking behind the troop hall) and I know my grandfather in the UK and father in Ukraine were also enthusiastic adventurers. Energy and curiosity turned into memoir.

Boycott these checks on students

brown1This excellent letter appeared in today’s Guardian. Signed by a range of academics, and pointing out the abuse of power that now extends the border into the classroom. Bad move UK (stupidly following the Australian points based immigration system that worked so well!).

We need a nationwide campaign, as previously discussed here.

Boycott these checks on students

The Guardian, Tuesday 14 April 2009

As academics involved in research on the uses and abuses of state power, it is becoming increasingly apparent that members of staff in universities and colleges are being drawn into a role of policing immigration (Universities weigh up new fraud unit to thwart bogus applications, 11 April). For example, academic and administrative staff are being asked to monitor the attendance of students at lectures and classes (whether compulsory or not), and we are being asked to check the ID of students and colleagues, while external examiners and visiting lecturers are also now being asked to provide passport details.

We strongly oppose the imposition of such changes in the way that academic institutions are run. We believe these practices are discriminatory and distort academic freedoms. The implementation of UK immigration policies is not part of our contractual duties and we will play no part in practices which discriminate against students and staff in this way. We support our administrative colleagues in their refusal to engage in such practices. Thus we pledge to refuse to co-operate with university requests for us to provide details on our students or participate in investigations of those students.

As a first, and highly practical, step, we pledge not to supply any personal details – such as passport or driving licence details – in our role as external examiners, and urge all of our colleagues across higher and further education to join this boycott. We will also forward motions to our respective union branches in support of this position. A boycott would undermine immediately the system of external examining at all levels, which operates almost exclusively on the basis of goodwill, and thus strike a significant blow against both the pernicious drift of government policy, and university managements’ acquiescence to this.

Warm It Up Moloko-plus my little droogies – I could teach you, but I’d have to charge

mister-mayhem-415x248In another fine mess, the University of East London contributes to the escalation of madness that also saw Will Hutton foolishly pontificating against G20 protesters on the BBC two nights ago as part of a series of suits trotted out to do defensive work in anticipation of the coming protest. Lovely of the press to do this kind of warm up stuff when this kind of one-off event comes around. It adds a certain frisson.

People have asked me if I will be protesting against the G20 on April 1st, and I want to stress that I protest against them every day, and against the G50, G100 and any Gee whizz propaganda scam cooked up by the executive committee. I’ll be about of course, though I am also interested in building political outlooks and alternatives for more than a one-day carnival-cum-police training exercise in crowd containment. This 1 in 365 fractional theatre is no doubt striking, you’ve got to love these occasional stage-managed inversions of the bourgeois order, repleat with boarded up shopfronts, bankers wearing trainers, and anthropology professors outrageously suspended for giving puffed up interviews to local tabloids (its clearly mockery, viddy the picture, read the article). That said, the idea that the G20 protest might turn into a velvet revolution is intriguing, so do bring a snack for the lock down. There surely does need to be an alternative to this rotten, corrupt and unequal system – and although its going to take more than a street party on April Fools day, if we thought about it in terms of larger fractions and what is needed to win we might be getting somewhere (a party organization, overturning of class divisions, open borders, anti-racism that is more than wearing a badge, end of the arms trade, free education [hence this post's title - warm it up] and more). G20, G19, G18, G17… – how many days would it take to get all velvety? Arise comrades, another world is necessary.

In the meantime, Chris Knight needs to be re-ininstated, this sort of reaction is just mad. Again, check out the photo from the article that caused the furore – its clearly pantomime. And the ‘Guardian’s’ intrepid reporter seems to have a bit of the Will Hutton’s about him too – if you compare the ‘Evening Standard’ original article on Chris Knight – see comment one below for the text – I think you can clearly see that the process of escalation is carried out here too. Richard Rogers to the rescue. AwaY. With friends like these, who needs enemies…

Professor suspended over claims he incited G20 violence

• Interview creates trouble for anthropology expert
• Protest organiser revels in ‘perfect storm for enemies’

The G20 Meltdown protesters intend to converge on the Bank of England from four directions. Each group will march behind one of the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”.

Richard Rogers The Guardian, Friday 27 March 2009

One of the leading organisers of next Wednesday’s Financial Fools’ Day protests was last night suspended from his role as Professor of Anthropology at the University of East London, on full pay.

Chris Knight, who has been a lecturer in anthropology at the university since 1989, and professor since 2000, was informed of his suspension yesterday evening, and was told it was because of an interview he gave to a newspaper this week in which he is quoted as “inciting criminal action, specifically violence against policemen and women and damage to banking institutions”.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, Knight was pictured with a placard bearing the slogan “Eat the bankers”, and quoted as saying: “If they [the police] want violence, they’ll get it”. He is also quoted by the Standard as advising bankers that on April 1 “if you’re thinking of coming in, my advice is don’t”.

Knight, along with fellow UEL anthropologist Elizabeth Power and former Liberal Democrat councillor turned activist Marina Pepper, set up the G-20meltdown.org website and began to host meetings to which they invited other green and anarchist groups.

Knight told the Guardian last night that he was doing everything possible to make sure there was no violence next week. He said he had set up the protest group with theatrical rather than violent aims.

“I’m doing everything possible to make sure that all the anger of the middle classes doesn’t turn into violence. That’s why we do all this play-acting. We’re being nice to the bankers – we’re burning them as effigies. Of course we don’t want violence. If there’s a huge ruck, the press will photograph it, and our vision about a different planet will not get reported.”

He added: “But it’s going to be hard. The message to police is ‘if you press your nuclear button, I’ll press mine’. It sounds like a threat? Well, yeah – don’t do it. If you want violence, you’ll get it.

“I know I’m in my own bubble. But in my bubble I’m predicting we’ll have a velvet revolution in the next week or so …The police, backed up by the army, will try to hold the ExCel centre. While they hold that, they will lose London. Then I think Gordon Brown will go.

“It’s a perfect storm for our enemies,” he added. “I cannot believe my luck. It’s happening 800 yards from my campus … The media are doing all our work for us.”

Jean Charles de Menezes

target_small1You can read the verdict and see the press conference by the family campaign on the website at the end of this press release:

Press statement from the family:
Friday, 12 December 2008

Press statement by the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, the campaign and their lawyers Birnberg Peirce following the jury’s verdict

“Today is a very important day for our family and campaign for justice. We have spoken to Jean’s family in Brazil and they like us feel vindicated by the jury’s verdict. The jury’s verdict is a damning indictment of the multiple failures of the police and the lies they told. It is clear from the verdict today that the jury could have gone further had they not been gagged by the Coroner. We maintain that Jean Charles de Menezes was unlawfully killed” – Patricia Armani Da Silva, cousin of Jean Charles on behalf of all of the family.

The family’s legal team argued that evidence heard by the jury provided sufficient grounds for the jury to return unlawful killing (murder) in respect of the two police shooters, C12 and C2 as well unlawful killing (gross negligence manslaughter) in respect of the actions of three of the command team. We also submitted that, in accordance with Article 2 (ECHR) the jury should be permitted to return a meaningful narrative verdict that could identify all the police failings that caused or contributed to the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.

The five legal teams representing supposedly separate interests of the police combined ranks to oppose our submissions, maintain that the evidence only supported a lawful killing or open verdict. The coroner ruled in favour of the police. As a consequence the family sought to challenge the decision, lodging an urgent application at the High Court. Mr Justice Silber considered the challenge in relation to the narrative verdict only but ruled that the coroner had a wide discretion and he would not interfere with his ruling.

The family considered that the coroner had effectively gagged the jury. Any verdict returned by them would have at best limited meaning and would not have the effect of holding the police accountable for any failings. At that stage, having exhausted all legal avenues, the family instructed their legal team to cease participating in the inquest proceedings.

We have lodged grounds to appeal the decision of Mr Justice Silber and our judicial review challenge of the coroner’s decision in respect of unlawful killing remains to be considered.

To date, not one police officer involved has been held personally accountable for failings that led to the death of Jean Charles. In fact the two most senior officers in the command team have been promoted. The law as it stands, effectively provides legal immunity for police officers who shoot innocent people in the cause of protecting the public.

This case raises questions of critical constitutional importance. Should our armed police service be protected from meaningful criticism (let alone criminal sanction) or are the public entitled to go about their day to day business free from the fear that they could be shot dead without warning if mistaken for a suspected terrorist?

For further information and background information visit: inquest.justice4jean.org

Raja Petra Kamaruddin given two-year ISA detention order

Detention without trial, the Internal Security Act raises its very ugly head again in Malaysia. 

GERAKAN MANSUHKAN ISA

ISA Updates: 23 September 2008

Raja Petra Kamaruddin, editor of the popular political blog, Malaysia Today, today (23 September 2008) received a two-year detention order under Section 8(1) of the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA). The detention order was signed by Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar. Section 8(1) of the ISA states, “If the Minister is satisfied that the detention of any person is necessary with a view of preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof […], he may make an order directing that a person be detained for any period not exceeding two years.”

According to Raja Petra’s lawyers, he will be sent to the Kamunting Detention Centre in Perak, where he will be detained for a period of two years from today.

Under the ISA, this two-year detention order can be renewed by the Home Minister indefinitely. No clear explanation or details were given the nature of the threat or national security risks. In fact, under the ISA, the Home Minister has no obligation to disclose to the public or the courts the details of the detention or release. This clearly shows that the draconian ISA constitutes gross abuse of power by the authorities.

Raja Petra’s lawyers have also filed a writ of habeas corpus at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, in a bid to release him from his detention.

Background

Raja Petra Kamaruddin was arrested on 12 September 2008, under Section 73(1) of the ISA for allegedly being a threat to security, peace and public order. He is alleged to have posted articles deemed seditious and that also belittle Islam.

Two other individuals – journalist Tan Hoon Cheng and member of Parliament Teresa Kok – were arrested on the same day as Raja Petra’s arrest. The two were subsequently released – Tan on 13 September 2008, while Kok on 19 September 2008.

On 16 September 2008, ISA detainee Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the editor of Malaysia Today, was allowed to see his wife and two children at the Bukit Aman police headquarters.

According to Raja Petra’s wife Marina Abdullah, Raja Petra spoke very softly and looked weak, pale and lost much weight. Raja Petra complained to her that he was suffering from lack of sleep because the night before, he was harassed on an hourly basis by officers who recorded statements from him. He said he was never physically abused, but was mentally abused. Marina said that his blood sugar level had dropped. She also added that her husband suffers from heart artery blockages and is on medication.

Raja Petra’s lawyers filed a habeas corpus application at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on 16 September 2008, seeking his immediate release.

Detention without trial under the ISA a serious human rights violation

The ISA provides for ‘preventive detention’ without trial for an indefinite period. It violates fundamental rights such as the right to trial, the right to legal counsel, the right to defend oneself in open court and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. It goes against the principles of justice and undermines the rule of law.

From The Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign

This certainly is not cricket, but if you can be at the oval … (note the new use they have found for the side screens). Over three years after Jean’s brutal death, we need to remind the state of the extent of public disgust about the conduct of the police and the consistently failures to let Jean’s family finally know the truth.

Dear friends,

As you probably know already, the coroner’s inquest into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes will begin on 22nd September. This is an important opportunity for Jean’s family to:

1) discover more of the truth about the actions on the police at Stockwell tube station in July 2005

2) have their legal representatives ask questions directly to the
officers responsible
3) have the secret ‘Shoot to Kill’ policy brought into the public domain

We must ensure that the inquest is conducted in a fair, transparent
and open manner so that the Metropolitan police feel the pressure of
public accountability.

Members of Jean’s family are travelling from Brazil and will attend the inquest.

The inquest will take place at The Oval cricket ground in Kennington and is likely to continue for three months. Proceedings will be held from Monday to Thursday every week, between 9.45am and 4.30pm. Members of the public can attend but space is very limited, which is a real concern. The coroner has arranged for an overflow room with a video link to the inquest, but this means the inquest jury will have no
indication of the public interest in the evidence that is presented.

This is coupled with the coroner’s decision to grant anonymity to 44 police officers, who will give their evidence from behind a screen. It is difficult to understand why they need this high level of protection and seems largely designed to ensure that named individuals evade responsibility for the deliberate killing of an innocent man. Both decisions severely undermine the principle of an open, transparent investigation.

TAKE ACTION – ATTEND THE INQUEST

We urge you to attend the inquest, particularly on:

22nd September – the first day, when the Campaign will be highlighting the lack of space for members of the public and calling for the inquest to be moved to a larger venue. Anyone coming on the first day of the inquest should try and attend a planning meeting on Thursday 18th September at 6:30pm at School of Oriental and African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square WC1H 0XG – stay in contact for
further details.

30th September – when the first police officer will give evidence anonymously and when the Campaign will be highlighting how this is an obstacle to public accountability. There will be another planning meeting on the evening of Thursday 25th September – stay in contact for further details.

STAY IN CONTACT

The Campaign has set up a blog for the duration of the inquest, which you can find at http://inquest.justice4jean.org. Here you can find details on travelling to the inquest, a calendar of forthcoming events, details of Campaign meetings, briefings and latest developments.

If you attend the inquest, please write a short piece about what happened and e-mail it to us. We’ll add it to the blog.

We can be contacted on 07944 069 956 or at justice4jean@gmail.com.

SPREAD THE WORD

Forward this email to as many people as you can and encourage them to attend the inquest or take one or more of the actions planned by the Campaign.

Send a letter to coroner John Sampson or an e-mail via his clerk, John Thompson, raising concerns about the issues of space and the anonymity of police officers:

John Sampson
H M Coroner for London (Inner South)
1 Tennis Street
London
SE1 1YD

E-mail: john.thompson@southwark.gov.uk

Send a letter or email to the local and national press – e-mail addresses for the letters pages of national newspapers can be found at http://inquest.justice4jean.org.

Over three years after Jean’s brutal death, we need to remind the state of the extent of public disgust about the conduct of the police and the consistently failures to let Jean’s family finally know the truth. Now more than ever, we need everyone to act.

Many thanks,

The Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign

Fee Fi Fo Fum – I smell the spin of terrorisuMI5

Pantomime Terror lecture abstract. Latest version, still to be worked up. I am rethinking all of this, its provisional, its hesitant, its giving me a headache (of course) and it has to be ready soon. Yikes. And this is supposed to be the fun part!….

We are called upon to ‘report any suspicious baggage’ by constant repetition of security announcements at train stations and airports. Rather than provide a robust security service, such announcements seem to generate a new low level and everyday paranoia. The war on terror is generalized and does not happen ‘over there’, but almost absentmindedly occurs to each of us everywhere: the paranoia infiltrates our everyday lives and become normalized. The terrorist is right there beside us – behind us, among us. Watch out! I will argue that these announcements are part of a new kind of popular culture pantomime, with villains and heroes, and absurd storytelling to boot. That this happens alongside new legislation, new legal and administrative powers (detention, DNA, CCTV, MI5 Security ‘notes’); and stop and search security policing focused upon Muslims (and unarmed Brazilians shot on the underground) is the dark underbelly of the performative. Restrictions on civil liberties and ‘limits’ to freedom are proclaimed as necessary and debates about these necessities no longer raise concern – we assume someone is watching out, and we will report the suspicious bags if we see them. It is clear that spaces for critical contest are mortally threatened in contemporary, tolerant, civilized Britain.

Exploring the metaphor of Pantomime might be a way to comprehend the dysfunctional aspect of present times. This discussion reviews critical work by the musician Aki Nawaz from the band Fun-da-Mental in the light of pantomime performance. Nawaz was castigated as a ‘Suicide Rapper’ for his 2006 album ‘All is War’, but those that did so missed the nuances of his critique. Fun-Da-Mental’s earlier work relating to insurgency struggles, anti-colonialism and political freedom in the UK is assessed and contrasted to the farcical present climate where a 23 year old woman can be incarcerated as a ‘lyrical terrorist’, and both a 16 year old boy and a Nottingham University researcher can face charges of terrorism for downloading material from the world wide web. It will be argued that we might best see this as a kind of bizarre storytelling scenography – where repetition and stereotype do ideological work for security services who have no idea who the real enemy is, or if there is any enemy at all. In demonizing those who would raise critical questions, the ban upon ‘thought crime’ has become very real. And it seems as if the only vocal outcry is musical.

In this context, the work of scholars that search for the meaning of ‘suicide bombing’ lines up alongside that of the MI5 Behavioural Sciences Unit in providing inadequate and insufficient understandings of the current conjuncture. If the opposition communicates in culture, and Whitehall’s Research Information and Communications Unit counter with ‘spin’, we are either in a grave predicament, or everyone is treating this as a game. Denouncing the demonization of Aki Nawaz and the like as equal to the creation of pantomime villains, the presentation will argue for a more engaged critique of “culture” and assess a certain distance or gap between emancipatory political expression and the tamed versions of multiculturalism accepted by/acceptable in the British marketplace.

Invite to the lecture here. [The picture is from the Guardian news report on the MI5 behavioural Science Unit Operational Briefing 'note' which informed us that terrorists are ethnically 'diverse', mostly british nationals, not 'mad and bad' and might be either male or female, young or old, and have a range of qualifications from none to degree-level... Guardian 21.08.08]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,723 other followers

%d bloggers like this: