Category Archives: war

Anthropology and the War Machine, winning.

It seems very wrong to classify this ‘jobs.ac.uk’ post under ‘social care’:

Anthropologist
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) – Behavioural and Cultural Systems Team
Location: Fareham, Portsmouth
Salary: £23,500 to £33,500
Hours: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Placed on: 13th June 2014
Closes: 18th July 2014
Job Ref: 1415972
Dstl is responsible for designing, developing and applying the very latest in science and technology for the benefit of UK defence and security, across government. We work with the best people with the best ideas around the world – from very small companies to world-class universities, huge defence companies and sometimes other nations. Together we develop battle-winning technologies, based on deep and widespread research, to support UK military operations, now and in the future.

This is a genuinely involving, unusual and rewarding anthropology role – it’s an opportunity to apply your expertise to inform the way the UK responds to security and defence threats.

You will be joining the Behavioural and Cultural Systems team within Dstl’s Strategic Analysis Group, a 50 strong group of specialists drawn from diverse backgrounds such as psychology, theology, war studies and law. Anthropology is an important element in the mix, as the UK’s ability to tackle future challenges depends on in-depth, accurate insight into populations and societies.

You will be supporting analysis at strategic and operational level, by drawing on a wide range of established and emergent human and social science theories. Your analysis, assessment and advice will be crucial to aiding our understanding of individuals, groups and organisational systems – relating to a wide range of social and cultural issues confronting Her Majesty’s Government. Ultimately, your contribution can help shape and influence government policy and UK Armed Forces operations.

It’s essential that you have an Honours degree in Anthropology or a related subject, and membership of a relevant professional body.

You need a proven record of using a variety of structured social science analysis / research methods to support decision making, together with practical experience of applying Anthropological principles in problem-sets.

You will be a customer-focused researcher who works well both independently and collaboratively.

An understanding of UK defence and security environments or experience of analysis on counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism is an advantage.

Dstl is responsible for designing, developing and applying the very latest in science and technology for the benefit of UK defence and security, across the government. We work with the best people with the best ideas around the world – from very small companies to world-class universities, huge defence companies … even other nations. Together we develop battle-winning technologies, based on deep and widespread research, to support UK military operations, now and in the future.

In return for playing your part in the UK’s defence and security, we offer extensive benefits that include everything from a pension and generous leave, to excellent learning and development opportunities – all in addition to a competitive salary. Our sites are equipped with gyms and restaurants. But it’s not just your working environment that we’ve thought about. Your home life is important too, which is why we offer childcare vouchers, a flexible work-life balance and even discounts on everything from bus tickets to the cost of a new bicycle. In short, we’ve done our best to ensure that our rewards reflect your talents.

To find out more about this role and the work of Dstl, please go to Civil Service Jobs https://jobsstatic.civilservice.gov.uk/csjobs.html/ and search for the vacancy reference 1415972. Follow the instructions to apply.

Due to the reserved nature of this role, it is only open to UK Nationals who have lived in this country for more than five years. All posts require standard Security Clearance (SC).

Closing date: 18 July 2014.

M.I.A.; The Partysquad – Double Bubble Trouble official music video Unc…

DIY Anti War Drones and more:

Bougainville: shareholders v board

Radio Australia, 8 May 2014

Bougainville Shareholders support corporate review

Updated 8 May 2014, 9:30 AEST
The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility says it is encouraged that most Bougainville Copper shareholders are in favour of appointing an independent jurist to investigate the company’s involvement in counter-insurgency activities during the Bougainville civil war.

The Centre’s resolution, put to the Bougainville Copper annual meeting in Port Moresby was overwhelmingly defeated.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Caroline le Couteur, Executive Director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacific/radio/program/pacific-beat/bougainville-shareholders-hsupport-corporate-review/1307728

hybridity-talk

A paragraph or two… i dunno how useful… on hybridity-talk… [possible reprint of Debating Cultural Hybridity 1997 in the works]:
.
There was a time when ‘hybridity-talk’ seemed shiny and new. It is still important to question this of course, but the shifts that were already underway in 1997 have made the critique all the more pertinent. Today we are living in an age of unparalleled fluid and all-pervasive war. A cultural project that runs alongside the military project has infected everyday life, breeding anxiety and paralysis together. A cocktail that circulates culturally coded fears, hardly hidden, and weaponised streets always present. On the one hand bombing campaigns, assassinations, drone strikes, rendition, detention, deportation, police violence, deaths in custody, on the other hand a discursive deployment of sociologists, musicologists, anthropologists, educators, social workers, designers, media pundits and lifestyle gurus. A military-cultural mash-up – we can not see these fields as separate. The railway station announcement warns you to check your baggage, the television soothes with Thelonious-era jazz as the soundtrack to a spy drama called Homeland. Comedy cartoons cause fracas, insults fly, Rushdie delivers another doorstop of a book to shore up the facade of crisis-ridden Capital. Syria stews in an orgy of death already rehearsed in Libya by NATO when the Arab Spring became the Arab Sting. In Britain the Conservative Party invites immigrants to go home and offers hollow talk of ‘us’ being all in it together. The English Defence League looks towards the electorate, the UK Border authority sweeps the streets in dragnet formation.

OK OK, we were only talking culture here, but there was always that backdrop of murder and death – and culture and killing are connected even if the words we have to describe what is going on seem to have lost their analytic purchase. What shifted critical thinking? It was never Islam versus the West, but bombing, militarism, exploitation and its excuses and alibis versus a critique of these things. We wanted to rethink hybridity critically, and it still seems so necessary, even if the stakes are higher, and mere talk is never enough.
.
My chapter from DBH 1997 was updated as the first chapter of Critique of Exotica 2000

Filthy bastard mining corp Riotinto slips the (legal) noose once again (the law is an ass)

Rio Tinto wins end to human rights abuse lawsuit in U.S.

Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:47pm EDT
* Bougainville residents sued over activity linked to mine
* 9th Circuit rules after top U.S. court narrows law’s reach
By Jonathan Stempel
June 28 (Reuters) – Benefiting from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Rio Tinto Plc has won the dismissal of a nearly 13-year-old U.S. lawsuit accusing the Anglo-Australian mining company of complicity in human rights abuses on the South Pacific island of Bougainville.
Friday’s ruling by a majority of an 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ends litigation begun in 2000.
Roughly 10,000 current and former Bougainville residents had sought to hold Rio Tinto responsible for human rights violations and thousands of deaths linked to polluting a copper and gold mine it once ran.
The ruling follows the Supreme Court’s April 17 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co, where the justices limited the sweep of a 1789 U.S. law that lawyers had used for roughly three decades to fight human rights abuses worldwide.
Five justices said the Alien Tort Statute was meant to cover international law violations occurring in the United States, and that violations elsewhere must “touch and concern” U.S. territory “with sufficient force” to displace that presumption.
The Bougainville residents alleged that after workers in 1988 began to sabotage the Rio Tinto mine, the company goaded Papua New Guinea’s government to exact retribution and conspired to impose a blockade, leading to thousands of civilian deaths.
On April 22, the Supreme Court threw out an earlier 9th Circuit ruling that let the lawsuit proceed, and asked it to revisit the matter in light of Kiobel.
Steve Berman, a lawyer for the Bougainville plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
He had asked the 9th Circuit to send the case back to the Los Angeles district court so that his clients could try to proceed with other claims, “sans invocation of the ATS.”
Kiobel was also cited this week by a Virginia federal judge who dismissed a lawsuit accusing defense contractor CACI International Inc of conspiring to torture detainees a decade ago at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The judge in that case said that because the alleged abuse occurred outside the United States, he lacked jurisdiction to consider claims by four former detainees. They plan to appeal.
The case is Sarei et al v. Rio Tinto Plc et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 02-56256.

Iraq AC/DC

AC/DC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX05dWBoeUs – accessed April 7 2008

Marilyn Manson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOWmTyrz1RA - accessed April 9 2006

Doco http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=related&v=1ljXnV4Ibpk  – accessed April 7 2008

Comic stuff: http://gocomics.typepad.com/the_sandbox/2008/03/5-years-1-year.html – accessed March 27 2008

IPWA

Rustom Bharucha reports that the Progressive Writers Association has its origins, according to ‘its most distinguished founder- member Mulk Ray Anand’ in ‘the expatriate community of India students in London, who had charted their first manifesto as “progressive” writers in 1935 in a Chinese restaurant’ (Bharucha 1998:29)

Bharucha, Rustom 1998 In the Name of the Secular: Contemporary Cultural Activision in Inidia Delhi: Oxford UP

Who remembers Ibrahim?

Ibrahim-Al-MarashiIbrahim al-Marashi was the guy whose article was plagiarised from the Middle East Review by Blair and Labour in 2003 to justify the start of the second Iraq war against Saddam. al-Marashi complained about not being cited properly, and one hopes, much else. It seems he went on to be a pretty cool history professor if you go by the comments on Rate My Professor: here.

ANTI-WAR RETROSPECTIVE OF THE LAST DECADE – 15.3.13 Goldsmiths

Ten years since the invasion of Iraq, what is the state of the anti-war movement?

TriContinental Anti-Imperialist Platform

image

TriContinental Anti-Imperialist Platform is a newly set up organisation that seeks to champion the causes of the peoples of the GlobalSouth through GlobalSouth Diaspora leadership for people-centred progress and the central challenges to the GlobalSouth which remains western military and cultural hegemony. On the panel at this event will be spokepersons of some of the countries and people impacted by imperialist wars. We will be reflecting on the failures, successes of the anti-war movement of the last decade, and the continuing challenges of the anti-war movement, especially in the light of the collapse of the anti-war movement especially in relation to the nato war on Libya, now Syria, Mali, Algeria and open imperialist war strategies of in relation to China, Russia (“pivot to Asia”) and other sections of the Global South which what passes as the anti-war movement in england fails utterly to address.

Location: 137a, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Cost: free
Website: www.facebook.com/events/212155682257314/
Department: Centre For Cultural Studies
Time: 15 March 2013, 18:30 – 21:30

stream will be here at 6:30: http://www.gold.ac.uk/live-stream/high/

Protest 5.10.2012

Friends of Al-Aqsa

EMERGENCY PROTEST in support of Babar and Talha

Babar Ahmad

This is the last stand. Join us tomorrow.

When: Friday 5th, 10am -12pm   Where: Strand, London, WC2A 2LL, Map

Tube: Holborn Underground Station – Temple Underground Station

We Are Babar Ahmad, Stop The War, Muslim Council of Britain, London Transport Region – RMT, Enough Coalition, IHRC, Cage Prisoners, British Muslim Initiative, Muslim Association of Britain, Friends of Al Aqsa, Islamic Forum Europe, FOSIS, Muslim Safety Forum, iEngage and MDUK.

 

  Friends of Al-Aqsa Donate to Friends of Al-Aqsa Friends of Al-Aqsa Facebook Friends of Al-Aqsa Twitter

Details from We are Baba Ahmad campaign:

PRESS RELEASE

Emergency Protest in support of Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th October 2012

Thursday 4th October 2012

The ‘We Are Babar Ahmad Campaign’ along with partner organisations, is holding a protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th October from 10am asking for an immediate stay of extradition for Syed Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad.

As the Judges decide on representations from the lawyers of both men, it is important to note that their cases are very different from the others. Both are British Citizens accused of wrongdoing in Britain who have been held collectivey in maximum security prisons for 14 years without trial nor with any evidence being presented to them. The Home Affairs Select Committe which reviewed their cases has expressed grave concern. Boris Johnson, The Mayor of London has backed their right to be tried in Britain.

Dr Ismail Jalisi, speaking on behalf of ‘We Are Babar Ahmad’, said, “The extradition of these men to the United States must be stopped by the Home Secretary. The incarceration of these two men without trial and then carting them off to a country that does not need to provide any prima facie evidence even when it agrees that the allegations are based on actions that occurred here in Britain is quite frankly farcical.”

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) declared in July 2004 and December 2006, as did the UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith in September 2006, that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to charge Babar Ahmad with any criminal offence in the UK. Since then in 2011 the CPS revealed for the first time that evidence had been sent to the US without ever having been reviewed by them. The Director of Public Prosecution has refused to prosecute the men despite being able to call on the Metropolitan Police to show them evidence that it deliberately witheld and sent straight to the United States.

As the Judges determine whether a stay of extradition should be granted to Babar and Talha the Shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan MP has backed the campaign saying “If there is evidence against them they should be tried in the UK”.

Partners for the protest include: Stop The War, Muslim Council of Britain, London Transport Region – RMT, Enough Coalition, IHRC, Cage Prisoners, British Muslim Initiative, Muslim Association of Britain, Friends of Al Aqsa, Islamic Forum Europe, Muslim Safety Forum, iEngage and MDUK.

ENDS

Details from the Free Tahla Ahsan Campaign site [now slightly dated, since extradition is immanent, see above]:

Talha Ahsan is a British-born poet and writer with Asperger syndrome facing extradition to America.

If convicted he will spend 70 years in “supermax” solitary confinement in ADX Florence.

Read on and help stop this injustice.

Who is Talha Ahsan?

Talha Ahsan is a British citizen born in London in 1979. He was educated at Dulwich College before receiving first class honours in Arabic from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). In the week of his arrest he had job interviews to train as a librarian. His mother describes him as “a serious, bookish young man… a very gentle, softly spoken and thoughtful boy.”

Talha has Asperger Syndrome (a form of autism). In a medico legal report of June 2009, a consultant psychiatrist described him as “an extremely vulnerable individual who from a psychiatric perspective would be more appropriately placed in a specialist service for adults with autistic disorders.”

He is also a keen poet and has received acclaim from novelist A.L. Kennedy amongst others.


Why is he in prison?

Talha Ahsan was arrested at his home on 19 July 2006 in response to a request from the USA under the Extradition Act 2003 which does not require the presentation of any prima facie evidence. He is accused in the US of terrorism-related offences arising out of an alleged involvement over the period of 1997-2004 with the Azzam series of websites, one of which happened to be located on a server in America.

He has never been arrested or questioned by British police, despite a number of men being so from his local area in December 2003 for similar allegations. All of them were released without charge.

One of them, Babar Ahmad, was later compensated £60,000 by the Metropolitan police after a civil case in March 2009 for the violent physical abuse during his arrest. It was evidence from this incident which formed the basis of Talha’s arrest two and a half years later.

Talha is currently making a final appeal to the European Courts of Human Rights (ECHR). He has now served the equivalent of a 12 year sentence at high security prisons without trial. He has never visited America. He denies all charges.

What is ‘Supermax’?

Imagine being confined in a 75.5sq feet cell with only a concrete slab and a thin mattress for a bed for 23 to 24 hours a day for every day of your life – the only window three inches wide looking out to a concrete pit…

This is the prospect Talha faces if extradited and convicted in the US – life without parole  in solitary confinement at ADX Florence, Colorado.

Virtually all of an ADX prisoner’s daily activities occur within the confines of his single cell. Food is delivered through a slot in the door, and he eats his meals alone. He receives educational and religious programming – and some medical care – through a black and white television in his cell. When an inmate is moved outside his cell, he is shackled behind the back, and subject to a strip search.

His cell window looks out onto the concrete pit that serves as an outdoor recreation area. The sun is never visible. Prisoners at ADX  rarely have contact with any other living thing, except the gloved hands of the correctional officers. Prisoners never touch soil, see plant life or view the surrounding mountains.

Prisoners in ADX receive one 15 minute social telephone call per month. Any call that is “accepted” (even by an answering machine) is considered “completed” regardless of the duration. Visits with family members are separated by a glass screen with only a telephone to speak through. The inmate is shackled throughout the visit.

In 2006, the U.N. Committee Against Torture expressed concern about “prolonged isolation periods” and “the extremely harsh regime” in US Supermax prisons.  It is little wonder that the former warden of ADX Florence described the prison as a ‘clean version of hell.’

What do his supporters want?

Talha deserves freedom or a fair trial in the UK. He has received a wide coalition of support. They include his local MP and shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan; novelist, A L Kennedy; former Guantanamo detainee, Moazzam Begg, and the civil rights organisation, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC).

The Government accepts the possibility for the case to be resolved by a domestic prosecution as the ECtHR highlights in their admissibility judgement of July 2010. In November 2011, his co-defendant, Babar Ahmad, initiated a parliamentary debate with over 149,000 signatures in an e-petition for a UK trial demonstrating the will of the British public for these cases. There are many legal precedents to try these charges in the UK.

One case is R v. Sheppard and Whittle (January 2010), in which the appellants were charged with possession, publication and distribution of racially inflammatory material on websites hosted in California. Lord Justice Scott Baker ruled the UK was the appropriate forum for prosecution as the substantial measure of activities constituting the crime, such as the writing and maintenance of the websites, took place in the UK.

The Home Secretary should also give special consideration to his medical condition. In the USA 97% of defendants plead guilty under pressure from prosecutors. A decision to try Talha in the US will only ensure his trial is as unfair as prosecutors can make it.
How does this affect me?


The Extradition Act 2003 devalues the sovereignty of British citizenship. It was fast-tracked into UK legislation without proper scrutiny. Under the current provisions, British judges have no opportunity to decide which country is more suitable for prosecution and nor can they assess the quality of evidence from the requesting state.

In June 2011 the cross-party Joint Committee on Human Rights called for the implementation of a ‘most appropriate forum’ safeguard. This would allow a British judge to refuse extradition where the alleged offence took place wholly or largely in the UK.

The committee of MPs and peers also recommended that the Government ‘urgently’ renegotiate the US-UK extradition treaty to exclude granting requests in cases where the UK prosecution authorities have already decided not to investigate the individual on the same evidence adduced by the US authorities. These calls were reinforced by a cross-party consensus after parliamentary debates in November and December 2011, as well as the Home Affairs Committee report on extradition in March 2012.

A country that has demonstrated such a flagrant disregard for human rights in recent years is not the proper forum for justice. David Blunkett, the home secretary who was responsible for the act, now expresses regret at its consequences. Any concerned British citizen must work against such a law.

 

The Education Commission. :: a militant inquiry into privatisation and immigration controls in education ::

Students, lecturers, admin workers and anybody else interested in education are invited to join a new group aiming to research and take action around the current conditions in the education sector.  In the wake of the UK Border Agency’s revocation of London Met’s Highly Trusted Sponsor Status and consequent plans to deport potentially thousands of international students along with further plans for privatisation across the sector, we propose to investigate and take action around the changing nature of the education in the UK since the abolition of the EMA and mass increase of university tuition fees in 2010. We aim to draw together student, parent, and education workers’ experiences as well as available data in order to produce and disseminate as accurate a picture as possible of the current state and trends in higher education in the UK.  We do so in support of and solidarity with current and future struggles in education. Our next meeting is on Wednesday 26th September at 6.30pm at London Met Holloway Road campus (the tower building next to Holloway Road tube station). Here is a link:http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/about/buildings/tower-building.cfm

Anybody interested in participating should contact: contact.edu.comm[at]gmail.com. This project has been initiated by Plan C London, it is however open to individuals and groups to get involved.

More UKBA crap

This is despicable:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19650640

‘There is drug-taking here’ – UKBA round-up of Punjabis in Hounslow

Well well, profiled as welfare scrounger drug addict illegal Indian layabouts. The sensitive and thoughtful UKBA (DisUnited kingdom border agency) again doing its utmost to reveal the seamier side of enforced poverty in the so-called welfare state. ‘We are all in this together’ – so detain and deport. Its pogrom-bait. I don’t recall, say, Alex from Blur, getting done for drug-use (‘cheese’ is just a metaphor) and of course am so enamored by the even-handed approach to other students, like the Internationals at the MET. Clearly this item is a teaser to set another theme for the PROTEST AGAINST THE UKBA on friday.

Rest of the story from the BBC with video here.

PROTEST AGAINST THE UKBA on friday.

London Met Demo Friday 28 Sept 2012

From London Met UCU:

London Met – Defend Our Students – London Demonstration Friday 28/9

Dear all,

London Met UCU, London Met Unison, and London Met SU have called a London-wide mobilisation and march from ULU (Malet Street) to the Home Office (Marsham Street, Victoria) for Friday 28th Sept. Assembling at Malet Street for 1pm. Under the banner: ‘Amnesty Now – Save London Met – No to Privatisation’. This initiative is supported by London Region UCU, and University of London Union (ULU).

This Friday (21/9) the High Court will consider granting an immediate injunction (an effective ‘stay’) in favour of London Met Uni and against the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Such an injunction should allow for a full Judicial Review of the UKBA’s decision to revoke London Met’s Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) Tier-4 licence – an action that has condemned over 2,500 of our students to either forced university transfer or deportation.

However, even if an injunction is granted it will only be a temporary reprieve until the outcome of the Judicial Review itself – which is expected to take at least several months to be heard. Meanwhile, our license to recruit international students is still suspended, our current international students are still in limbo – particularly if they have more than this academic year to complete, and our courses/jobs still threatened.

If an injunction is not granted then we will be in the fight of our lives – not only for all our international students against an immediate and very real deportation threat but for the very survival of London Met as a public university.

We are refusing to sit on the sidelines and by mere observers of our destiny as others shape it. We are therefore fighting as hard as we can for our students, our university, and for real justice. We will have much more chance of winning that fight with your support and solidarity – as wonderfully expressed during last Friday’s UK-wide solidarity events.

Last week’s TUC Congress in Brighton unanimously supported the call for an immediate amnesty for our students

We now need your support once more – particularly, if you are based in London. We want as many trade union banners as possible on next week’s march/demonstration – along with as many colleagues as you can bring. This is not just a fight for London Met – this is a fight for public education as a whole.

Please send messages of support to mark.campbell_home [at] btopenworld.com

In solidarity

Mark Campbell
London Metropolitan University UCU (Chair)
UCU National Executive Committee (London and the East HE)
SERTUC Public Services Committee (Vice-Chair)

New Scanner for Student monitoring to be introduced (by your border-agent-tutor)

Trinketization must-have item of the week! this new electronic gadget from Opticon: website http://www.opticon.co.uk is a barcode scanner about to be rolled out at Queen Mary, to be used by seminar leaders to register attendance at seminars by scanning students’ ID cards.

[i am reliably informed from deep inside the administrative apparatus]

forget the new iphone five, this is the trinket you need for the proper management of scholarship in the knowledge economy

its sleek design makes it an oh so slick silver status object, with curved corners™

first an arm and a leg in fees, then electronic tagging as the staff are made agents of UKBA. FFS.

A reminder of the Centre for Cultural Studies position against being agents of the Border regime here.

Update:

—– Forwarded Message —–

MESSAGE FROM CCLS Director and Head of Dept, Laws

Dear all,

As a result of the tightening of immigration rules, from this academic year
onwards all universities must monitor students’ lecture attendance on an
ongoing basis. This encompasses students from all postgraduate taught
programmes. The attendance monitoring exercise will require the assistance
of academic staff members and guest speakers teaching postgraduate modules.
We have purchased scanners that read students ID cards. There is one scanner
per module. Each module convener must ensure that the person responsible
for the weekly lecture brings the scanner into the class, gives it to
students to record their attendance and brings it back to CCLS/Mile End
reception as appropriate.

It is VITAL that this is done every week as continuity is required when
checking for absence.

Scanner control

Modules taught at LIF OR CH SQ can collect and return scanners to LIF
reception.
Modules taught at Mile End OR at IALS by department staff can collect and
return scaners to Mile End Law Reception

We will start the monitoring exercise from week one, although for the first
two weeks it is trial run as class lists are not yet known. Your help in
implementing this is very important. As you know, foreign students are vital
for us and we must do what is required by the authorities to ensure our
right to sponsor student visas is not affected.

If you have any queries please contact Aqib (Ext. 8091 A.Khan@qmul.ac.uk or
Wendy Ext 8104 ccls-helpdesk@qmul.ac.uk).

There are some basic guidance notes attached -

Many thanks in advance for your collaboration with this task.

Kind regards,

Spyros and Valsamis

Australia tries out new cleansing immigration form…

A friend is applying for residency in Australia – the glorious points based immigration system.

She writes:

“I included a picture of this because I could not stop laughing when I saw this,  the government requires a “character assessment” to insure that you are “of good character”.  They have you get police reports for the last 10 years, and all sorts of nonsense.  Among the biggest pieces of nonsense is the form itself.  Question number 6,  after name, gender,DOB, and  the like is “Are you of Arabic descent?”.  RIght after asking you if you are a Chinese businessman.  Whether or not you are of Arabic descent is apparently crucial for the Australian government to determine if you are of good character”

 

Here is the relevant page of the form:

Military Realism on TV – more detail than you need I am sure

The good people behind South/South are more informative than most TV Listings pages. Want to know what your co-hosts have been up to? Well, here’s a former Rhodes Scholar – and NATO commander – Wesley Clark now kitted out with all the tricks of the military TV trade… and there’s Terry Crew from The Expendables, and football (Gridiron I presume) strutting his stuff. Add a boxer, an Olympic Gold Medalist and a few others, and Ka-Pow! You really don’t need to watch much of this to realise its the bright new shiny future of TV. You thought a Cathode Ray was a weapon the Martians had – well, scifi or BB never got this real. Set your scheduler to record (or to the vomit setting – its already on stun).

By South/South. This first appeared at The New Inquiry.

Stars Earn Stripes is a freshly pressed NBC drag show reality television series which debuts its two-hour premiere on 13 August, or ‘Monday after the Olympics at 8/7c!’ as its promotional spots blared all throughout the station’s Olympic Games coverage. The emphatic promise of militarytainment—a real NATO ex-general, real ex-Navy SEALS, real ex-Delta Force commanders, real ex-Green Berets, real celebrities, etc.—outranks previous shows of its ilk. It also makes the Pentagon Channel look like the army version of the perpetuated congressional yawn that is C-SPAN. Here is the show’s self-description:

Hosted by General Wesley Clark (retired) and Samantha Harris, “Stars Earn Stripes” is an action-packed competition show that pays homage to the men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and our first-responder services. The star-studded cast includes four-time undefeated world boxing champion Laila Ali, actor Dean Cain (“Out of Time,” Five Days of War”), actor and former National Football League player Terry Crews (“The Expendables 2,” “The Newsroom”), multi-platinum recording artist, actor, producer and television personality Nick Lachey (NBC’s “The Sing-Off”), Alaska businessman and four-time Iron Dog snowmobile race champion Todd Palin, NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” trainer Dolvett Quince, Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street, and WWE diva, Eve Torres.

In this fast-paced competition, the eight celebrities will gather at a remote training facility where they will be challenged to execute complicated missions inspired by real military exercises. From helicopter drops into water to long-range weapons fire, the contestants will be tested physically, mentally and emotionally. Each will be paired with a special operative from a military branch or one of our first-responder forces, including former U.S. Army Delta Force and Green BeretsU.S. Navy SEALSU.S. Marines and police officers, who train alongside their partners and compete in the missions with them. Each of the teams is competing for a cash prize on behalf of a military, veterans or first-responder charity.

Take any of the day’s popular television series and you’ll notice they have one claim in common: authenticity. Reality shows based on human affect fundamentally rely on ‘drama’ (let’s imagine it on a spectrum ranging from Dostoevsky to 1980s Mexican soap operas) and not a single one fails to remind viewers how authentic the drama is. Real people generate real emotions that generate real drama. (For a contemporary paragon look no further than Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, and its paratexts.)

Yet unlike other reality shows Stars Earn Stripes cannot and does not aim for authenticity. It can only aim for realness. Realness is the perfect execution of an imitation of the real. Toward that goal, SES has spared no prop nor expense, even hiring retired General Wesley Clark as a co-host. As Supreme Allied Commander Europe Clark commanded the NATO air bombing campaign of Yugoslavia. He is also a former Rhodes Scholar, Democratic Party presidential candidate, and author of Waging Modern War and Winning Modern Wars. He is not filled with hay as some reports suggest. Clark is an essential realness ingredient, and gravely assures viewers, ‘There are no stunt doubles. This is real.’ Then he punctuates that promise: ‘Real ammunition. Real explosives. Real danger.’ Skier Picabo Street was quoted on the show’s Twitter feed: ‘I rode a real fine line between show & reality. What defined that line was the live ammunition.’ In case you needed more reassurance (after all, how could we trust that Wesley Clark is not some silver-haired cardboard simulacrum if the show’s advertisement spots didn’t constantly remind us he was a ’real’ general?) producer Mark Burnett says:

As you know I am a veteran and served in the [British Army] Parachute Regiments. I love the military. What this show is, and what you’ll see, is a love letter, in a fun way, to those who protect and serve us, showing how hard it is to do their job.

Since SES bills itself as a competition show, it could favor a little theatrical pre-game we might call Real v. Realness. I chose three items, but the possibilities are nearly limitless.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Real: Ušće Tower, the tallest skyscraper in Belgrade, as it caught fire during Operation Allied Force’s large-scale air bombing campaign in 1999 under General Clark.

 
Realness: The show’s promotional photos show (top) a giant explosion behind all eight celebrities and (bottom) Dean Cain, Terry Crews, Laila Ali, and Nick Lachey (curiously the only contestant without a rifle in both pictures, as though not carrying a gun was stipulated in his contract). An unidentified blast mushrooms in the background next to the tagline, ‘They’re not in Hollywood anymore.’

Read the whole post, and indeed, watch the trailer: here.

Suicide Without Fame, without Responsibility

I have mentioned before the Joy Devotion picture book out by Jennifer Otter (launched last week) – It is a study of the things left by Joy Division/Ian Curtis fans at Curtis’s graveside in Macclesfield. A year of trinkets:

http://www.blurb.co.uk/bookstore/detail/3364538?utm_source=badge&utm_medium=banner&utm_content=140×240

Makes me think of the media frenzy over a the Batman deaths in Texas, and about having watched footage on Syria and Libya back to back with documentaries on Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain recently… What would the various Death devotions around Curtis and Cobain be if not the industrial remnants – turned trinket commodity detritus – of people spat out by the individualization machine, in which there are no longer actual individuals, only icon figurines of abjection that come to stand in their place – ie, stand in for actual expressive individuality. All the while mass death at the hands of the weapon system barely raises a murmur. This is trinketization, expressive if dysfunctional personality and creativity is turned into a mass produced semblance of a false individuality – and it must be embodied in a fallen idol who is then unable to remain alive inside this brutalizing system. The myopic fans (we?) cling on to this brutal departure because as fans/we are unable to find a way out ourselves – somehow both caught wanting to leave, but with no-where to actually go, because suicide without fame is nothing. This, sadly, also gives a hint as to why someone might style themselves the Joker and shoot a dozen people at a movie screening. Think Brievik in Norway too – these are also the people that the Curtis and Cobain cults create. Along the way distracting from NATO’s more gruesome wars, which are barely opposed by STW or anyone.

Immigration themed Op Ed from India that should be noticed.

This Op Ed appeared in The Statesman newspaper in Kolkata, and skewers the madness of Tory immigration/xenophobia/economic jingoism on this boggy Isle. The writer is a staffer on that paper – jolly good to see that the rest of the world notices your crap Cameron. ‘Independent ethics advisor’ my arse – he is called Sir, which means he’s hardly independent, nor ethical. And anyway, as an advisor, his job is to tell Cameron what he can and can’t get away with. Not a brake, more an alibi.

The moral netherland

2 June 2012

UK’s increasing non-EU visa restrictions and requirements are symptomatic of a country that has not yet found the means or the will to articulate its ever-decreasing position in the world pecking order, writes lara choksey

Of all the things that the Leveson Inquiry into the ethics of British Press has exposed, perhaps one of the most remarkable is that British Prime Minister David Cameron has an ethics advisor. Responding to the possibility of being called up in front of the Inquiry, Mr Cameron said that should any evidence against him suggest the breaking of ministerial codes, he will call in Sir Alex Allan ~ his independent ethics advisor ~ for consultation.

On one level it seems sensible to have someone in or around Downing Street who can determine the ethical dimensions of political quandaries. On another, it is disturbing that the leader of a country that has not ceased promoting itself as a moral leader in the world needs someone else to distinguish between right and wrong.

In terms of the international Press, there are two stories dominating discussions of the UK. The first is the Leveson Inquiry, which started off as a simple matter of investigating the hacking of celebrity phones by itinerant news agencies, and which has now begun to expose the sordid nature of Downing Street’s relationship with the Murdochs under the Cameron, Brown and Blair leaderships.

This in itself is nothing new; anyone who has watched an episode of Yes, Minister! would expect nothing more. But when placed parallel to the second story circulating across the globe ~ that of implemented and threatened restrictions on UK visas for those who do not meet specific economic requirements ~ the hypocrisy and shortsightedness at Westminster’s rotten core becomes ever clearer.

There are two issues at stake here. The first concerns Downing Street’s idea of Britain as a moral leader in global politics. The second concerns Downing Street’s idea of what constitutes Britain’s nationhood. The discursive frame through which Mr Cameron and his ministers frame Britain domestically and internationally reveals a central administration willfully ignoring the economic and cultural heterogeneity of the population under its control, as well as the hypocrisy of its justifying its actions to the rest of the world on the grounds of moral superiority.

Above any other nation ~ in terms of pure numbers ~ India is the country likely to be most affected by the UK’s increasing non-EU visa restrictions and requirements. According to the International Passenger Survey, Indian nationals made up the largest percentage (11.9 per cent) of immigrants granted entry to the UK in 2010-11. Of these Indian nationals, a large number entered the UK on student visas. Those entering in 2010 would have been granted a two-year post-study work visa.

Fast forward a year, and there has been more than a 30 per cent drop in the number of Indian nationals applying for student visas, with many choosing the United States, Australia and Canada as alternatives. This is partly because the post-study work visa was scrapped this April, and partly ~ according to some British university professors ~ due to the increasing hostility and suspicion shown by the UK border agency towards non-EU students, particularly those from South Asia. This observation is compounded by the fact that the total number of student visas granted by the UK to non-EU residents dropped by 62 per cent in the first quarter of 2012.

We could easily leap to charges of xenophobia, and speculate about a small island closing its borders as a four-year recession refuses to budge. The residual prejudices of post-9/11 homeland security become an increasingly convenient justification for reinforcing national borders. Yet, this logic ignores the pre-Olympic pro-investment road show that various British foreign diplomats have been charged with promoting in their respective countries over the last 12 months, encouraging non-EU businesses to invest in the UK.

In February, the UK immigration minister Mr Damien Green announced that from 2016, people not from the EU and not earning at least £35,000 will not be able to apply to be a permanent resident in the UK. The message is clear: the UK welcomes big business and high salaries, regardless of ideology or investment ethics. Diversity is embraced, as long as it comes with a thick cheque book. In return, multinational companies benefit from tax evasion and low borrowing costs on international financial markets. It is undeniably ~ at least for the moment ~ a mutually beneficial arrangement. Prosaic questions of ethics are put out of the window ~ Britain is in a recession, and dog will eat dog.

Why does this matter to India? Apart from the fact that Britain is still considered to be a desirable place to visit, study and live (although this view is undoubtedly changing), this matters because Britain is behind the times. Specifically in the context of India’s increasing importance on the world stage ~ both economically and diplomatically ~ Britain’s restrictions on non-EU immigration seem ridiculous. Such restrictions are symptomatic of a country that has not yet found the means or the will to articulate its ever-decreasing position in the world pecking order.

For the sake of argument, let us just speculate that Britain once had a right to claim moral superiority over other nations (we need not go very far back in history to look at the violence of such a claim). But as the Cameron government decimates the welfare structures that might have once allowed Britain to claim a certain moral superiority with regard to providing the infrastructure (if not always the materialisation) of holistic care for its population, the claim becomes increasingly fragile.  A national heath service, financial support for people at the bottom of the food chain, and ~ perhaps most pertinently in the context of the visa discussion ~ open borders for economic migrants and political refugees: these are some of the structures that might convincingly constitute the discourse of moral superiority.

Yet, in the last twenty years, these structures have become dirty words in Downing Street, replaced by privatisation, austerity and border security, seemingly in direct spite of the increasing scale of global poverty and warfare: so many people have never been so poor, and genocide has never been simpler. India should take heed: there is a fast-appearing vacancy in the global moral high-ground market that needs prompt filling. In an interview published in The Daily Telegraph on 25 May, 2012, British home secretary Ms Theresa May responded to a question on curbing immigration by saying: “The aim is to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration.” We might ask, what constitutes an illegal migrant? The term suggests an international law preventing movement between countries. However, while the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights decrees that a country should grant entry to its own citizens, there is no international law that prevents a person from entering a country in the first place.

Immigration laws are national laws, coded by national interests and national understandings of who should be allowed entry. Thus, we learn much about the way in which a country understands itself by the way in which it categorises those who arrive on its shores. In the UK, the terms of ‘illegal migration’ are clear: it has everything to do with economic status. Those who are not considered fit to make a significant economic contribution to the UK, quite simply, become illegal ~ outside legitimacy ~ and vulnerable to any form of physical or mental subjugation. The right to claim access to Britain is based on purely economic terms: this is the new model of national belonging.

Downing Street has thrown off the mantle of social responsibility, both domestically and internationally. Internationally speaking, its participation in Libya on the grounds of humanitarian intervention is laughable when we consider that there is a British Ambassador ~ Nicholas Ray ~ permanently stationed in Khartoum, Sudan. His purpose is to perform diplomacy with the al Bashir government, an administration currently carrying out ethnic cleansing operations on its borders. Domestically, the British government’s claim to provide for its population (as opposed to its citizens) is being made forfeit by the systematic destruction of structures built on the ideas of a common right to life, and the responsibility of government to provide for its population. The Cameron government’s policies are regressive to a Dickensian degree, and increasing internal unrest ~ characterised by last year’s riots ~ will only be kept at bay by Jubilee morale boosting for so long.  With the removal of welfare structures, Downing Street would model Britain as nothing more than a vast, transnational bank, complete with hordes of the hungry standing outside. From an international perspective, this is the only form of diversity Cameron’s government is currently interested in promoting.
The writer is on the staff of The Statesman

 

[10.6.2012 Lara adds: Clarification: I take it for granted that ‘morals’ are socially-inscribed codes, whereas ethics - broadly speaking - are a means of defending concepts of right and wrong actions. My use of the phrase ‘moral superiority’ is therefore performative - the description or impression of a national discourse, as opposed to ‘ethical behaviour’. A longer piece might make this distinction clearer, but I did not feel it was necessary to point out the ethical importance of, for example, the NHS etc.

To clarify my argument and take it forward: firstly, that Britain’s claim to moral superiority is being made forfeit not because it ever had a right to make this claim in the first place, but because the infrastructure supporting this claim (class/gender/race equality and equal opportunities and so on) is being dismantled: the discourse, or performance, can no longer support itself.

Or so it would seem from one perspective. However, taking this forward, I would suggest that if Britain maintains its performance of ‘moral superiority’ on an international stage, then the discourse (and infrastructure) of ‘moral superiority’ is now based on codes of economic viability. To be ‘moral’, in the context of Downing Street’s national aspirations, one must be financially solvent. Foreign investors are invited to buy a stake in moral superiority.]

seven minutes away

- walking distance from my house… The militarisation of London was well in place before the Olympiss, so I am hoping the appearance of these toys in the park up the road gets people more interested. Its not like Britain doesn’t also already sell plenty of these babies worldwide. Scumbag Lords of Death Piggy Pollies. Cute puppy too – I bet your Guardian editor was rapt when they found this pic in the proof sheets – oblique little reference to Bliar/Cameron as Bush/Obama’s lackey-in-chief. Not sure the fence is secure though – joy riders anticipated, does the new Camry even come with a tow-bar these days?

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