Key ring terror distractor trinket

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Tucked in a side street in London Bridge today, a police stand handing out devices which I suspect.

I suspect an effort to distract from this evening’s BBCLondon report that Scotland Yard’s heavily redacted Operation Tiberius investigation covers up the exposure of 42 senior cops (and 19 former cops) for close links with drug crime and contract killings.

It is our duty, we are told: if you suspect it, report it.

J’suspect!

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On offer: this little show-bag of stuff from the dodgy non-uniform suits who refused to be photographed. I guess the key ring for terror is handy because I so want to be carrying that number around with me as a permanent anxiety reminder. That it came in what seems to be a used gram bag may only be coincidentally linked with the – let me repeat – exposure today that 42 members of the senior police were well paid crime syndicate stooges – as revealed in documents from Operation Tiberius previously heavily redacted by Scotland Yard but exposed tonight by BBCLondon.

The pen speaks for itself, was it previously used to sign payola cheques perhaps? I suspect it, so I report it.

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And this one just really is the perfect Fathers Day Trinket, no?

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FFS, I say, for fucks sake. Get these people a water cannon as soon as possible. Anyone need a news item to distract from the – did I mention – massive exposure of senior cops linked to crime syndicates?

Trinketization as damage control.

state execution by neglect?

This from Tom Henri. It looks to me to be an attempted State premeditated murder, aka Capital Punishment, for a minor offense. There is also an open letter to the Ministry of Justice, signed by various luminaries.

Scrubbed to death

Daniel Roque Hall suffers from Friedreich’s ataxia, this debilitating and fatal illness means he requires around the clock care.  In 2011 Daniel pleaded guilty to smuggling cocaine into the UK.  The judge sentenced Daniel to three years in prison, on the proviso that a prison place could be found which would meet his health care needs.  The Governor of Wormwood Scrubs (widely regarded as the London prison with the worst health facilities) stated that his prison could meet Daniel’s needs.  After three weeks of neglectful treatment in the Scrubs, Daniel was rushed to hospital and placed on a life support machine.  Without exaggeration, the care (or lack of) that Daniel received in prison nearly killed him.  His man has a fatal degenerate disease, he requires full-time care, he is no harm to anyone else and he need to be with his family – NOT in Wormwood Scrubs.  Earlier this week, Daniel and his family won a seven day reprieve on Daniel’s return to jail.

You can read more about Daniel’s story at http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/02/disabled-daniel-roque-hall-injunction-return-prison

Two Augusts and Several Monuments

Screen shot 2012-12-01 at 11.27.04Abstract for Lisbon keynote – On the Life and Afterlife of the Popular 4.12.12

Two Augusts and Several Monuments

To evaluate the popular, and its returns, I will contrast two Augusts of recent English summers. In 2011 there were three nights of youth rioting, which might otherwise be called a popular uprising that was both an expression of anger at austerity, and not without links to the student protests of 2010 and the various events in the wake of Tunisia and Tahrir Square that pass under the name of Arab Spring. Whether in Tahrir Square or in London these popular uprisings were met with significant and unpopular police violence. In the subsequent period, across the Arab world, and in London in August 2012, the policing of the popular has taken divergent paths. In August 2012 London’s major security effort was the operation to protect the Olympic Games, universally recognised as a success (despite problems with G4 and much carping before the opening ceremony). In Libya, Syria, and arguably Egypt, a less popular mode of policing, indeed a counter-revolutionary war, has been the order of the day.

I cannot make a full assessment of the Arab Spring in this talk, but note it as a context for a possible angular appreciation of what the Olympic Games achieved for London. To make a point about the politics of popular festivals I will do a Vasco De Gama (viewed from the tower built for Expo 98) and take three examples from outside Europe, intentionally looking elsewhere for perspective, and finding it in carnival (Mela) films from India. With a historical perspective drawn from Indian film theorists like Madav Prasad and Arvind Rajagopal a possible critical perspective on the austerity cycle of power and performance, bread and circuses becomes more clear. The Ferris Wheel of the Chicago World Fair, the Eiffel Tower and the London Eye will be associated images.

Contexts for Distraction (abstract)

abstract for an article with Tom Henri:

This paper discusses the events of August 2011 through our reading of a series of reports and responses by academics and commentators. These are critically and collectively evaluated as lacking insofar as we see the deployment of gang-talk, the promotion of role models, narrow-cast notions of race and platitudes about the justice system as a distraction from wider issues. Providing context for ‘reading’ the riots/uprisings, we suggest that at stake in each case we see the limits of a scholarly commentary that remains unprepared to address the conflict and turmoil of ‘Big Society’ austerity thinking.

Keywords: gangs, race, violence, complicity, distraction, crisis

Note for August paper

The so-called riots/uprising of August 2011 may not have been provoked as a dress rehearsal for possible disturbances a year later at the Olympics, but no doubt there were some police commanders who thought there were lessons to be learned. Similar opportunism without regard to civil liberties will have been involved after the student and anti-austerity demonstrations of 2010.

If there was a Left resurgence (!) it might fight for the permanent dismantling of any possibility of such state renegade/retrogressive opportunist – training programme/pogrom) activity. Suburb by suburb activists would show that Government legitimacy and its Police backing is unworkable. The youth of August 2011 actually already showed that, irrespective of analysis and theory. But now, rather than a civil war and decline into chaos, as engineered in Libya, Syria etc., here the uprising must dismantle authoritarian rule by repeating the ‘riots’ – cops on the back foot etc. In the absence of any Left initiative on this, the olympic jingoism was an insult but probably deserved – a pause, and advert, a product placement interlude – so fake. But they got away with it – so far. My Lords, the Nuremberg rally at the end, with George Michael singing ‘Freedom’ (tell it to Helmand Province) and Eric Idle mimicking ‘Indian Dancing’ with his ancient bullshit only the PM likes. Yes, its an ideological war made of bread and circuses – the major initial targets must be the compliant press and complicit broadcast media. What would it take to really close the Games?

Note: Our examination and condemnation of self referential commentaries as merely promotional is not an anti intellectual position, so much as it is an attempt to question the ways in which intellectual declarations, including claims for more and better analysis, are often left unexamined as regards the privilege of making, or at least publishing, any analysis at all. We have no illusions that our own work, insofar as it can be valued as ‘work’, is also subject to a certain privilege, even if we are not put forward as talking heads on Newsnight or pundit-writers on the Guardian’s Comment is Free.

* image = while Gove sells off school playing fields for profit, the aberration that is Cameron declares real sport under threat from ‘Indian dancing or whatever’ (Guardian 14.August 2012). The man is unaware and un-fucking-coherent. As a certain ma-in-law said: ‘wouldn’t it be great if the second half of the #closingceremony had been some huge Bollywood number’ – instead of the caricature it was. Did David Cameron do PE at school, or was his idea of exercise running errands for the dominatrix prefect for which he was fagging? Sorry, I have nothing but contempt for the weed.

August plus 1 year

Some sentences/notes that will probably not make the final cut of an article on the August 2011 uprisings, with Thomas Henri:

Further work to be done on:

–       the production of a class of pundit commentators more or less in the pay of property, capital, privilege and Bentham

–       that a lumpen-proletarian street-level analysis and insight seized the day, and did not have, nor need, theorists to spell it out (of course the break of exchange value and use value had its opportunist and adventurist moments, but so?)

–       that austerity as context is underpinned by a cynical neoliberal moralism where the coalition and its corrupt media mates in elite suburban and rural green zones, with draconian policing, prevail (as the Tory Taliban)

–       that signs of organizational impact spread terror amongst the already anxiously-guilty ruling classes, and their liberal allies, which could only be soothed on the third day with the deployment of Jenkels (we also note massing of Jenkels at Nottinghill Carnival later in the summer: just saying)

–       that there is an air of waiting, of anticipation, because everyone knows, with varied assessments, that this has happened before and can all easily happen again, and it’s the more likely consequence, and perhaps only the weather can save them

La Haine and Injustice double bill 6pm Goldsmiths 13.2.2012

La Haine and Injustice double bill

6pm-10pm Goldsmiths RHB 137a

all welcome

La Haine: dir. Mathieu Kassovitz, France, 1995, 97 mins

Injustice: dir Ken Fero & Tarig Mehmood 2001, 98 mins

these two screenings on police and deaths in custody in conjunction with the Centre for Cultural Studies, Capital course, Text and Image course and the No Borders Convergence. All welcome.

UC Davis Pepper Spray Surprise.

If you are gonna pull out your weapon, you gotta use it. For me, this means that there should not have been anyone arrested – those dragged off should have been retrieved. They let them off lightly – my meaning will become clear if you watch this all the way through, not just the first few outrageous frames.

If it will not show as an embedded frame, try: http://youtu.be/WmJmmnMkuEM

Plod Pods

The micro drone is not the only sci fi spin off boggling the goggles these days (its a hunter-seeker from Dune). This below, at first, I thought was a put up job. I thought it was mad enough to be a photo-shopped diss, but it seems all too true: as this story from Harlem, of course, confirms.

I was alerted to this new fold in the panoptic street-scape by Jeff Heydon, who owes us more text soon (Jeff?). And am thinking we need to watch the Star Wars films again to learn the tactics and logistics needed to topple these monsters.

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Movin’ On Up

A significant amount of my research deals with surveillance and the idea of the panoptic. That it is the current model for most first-world prison systems or that it applies to the datafication of the entire populous of the planet under the weight of the digital revolution is well established. What I find fascinating is the way in which the idea of the panoptic can indeed conform to different national cultures.New Yorkers are so often derided for being obnoxious, Starbucks-swigging, quasi-cultured faux-European poseurs that it’s genuinely nice to come across an example that indicates the Big Apple is just as capable of fusing laziness, an unnatural attachment to Star Wars (think of the AT-STs from Empire), the automobile obsession and the assertion of freedom through overt dictatorial mechanisms as the rest of the country. The following photograph, taken by an ever-vigilant friend of mine, will better illustrate my point:

What we appear to be witnessing in this instance (and, to be fair, I haven’t been thinking about this object for a very long time) is the stop-and-search equivalent of the drive-thru window. The realization that the guard tower can now be driven to the point of concern and the dynamics of the total surveillance prison can be enacted anywhere on the street adjusts our relationship with systems of power in two ways.

The first is obvious: the ability of the police to view, capture and develop a case against a citizen is mobile, technological and allows the traditional, permanently fixed globe of the CCTV camera to shift from one location to another location. The physical aspects of the city are less stable than before – our relationship with objects that indicate power no longer fits to the object/stable – human/mobile dynamic … or not as clearly as before anyway.

The second is a bit more interesting. SkyWatch (the name of the tower) offers an opening in our understanding of urbanity from a public perspective. The necessity of a tower that is mobile might function as an indication of the fallibility of a power structure that encourages us to think that it is omniscient. There is a desperation that emerges from this thing; the need to turn the urban landscape into a potential prison block at the drop of a hat might indicate to us just how much of the landscape is a permanent blind spot on the security system’s radar screen.

The use of SkyWatch is problematic at best. The option to erect a guard tower anywhere on an urban map at the whim of the police puts all of us in the position of a potential prisoner. With that in mind, it might just be how obvious this thing is that makes me chuckle at it rather than feel a genuine sense of concern. More likely, though, that’s an indication that I’m becoming far too comfortable with the sensation of being watched at all times for no good reason at all …

Dan Cull ‘Riot Pron and links’

Dan Cull has done the round-up, found thanks to a ping-back, its well worth circulating, for the record, so to speak. Thanks Dan. More news anyone? Look out for the next round up which surely has to be of prisoner support, and 10,000 articles condemning the Cameron-Clegg-Milliband-Robocop repression…

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riot pron and links

Chavez Campbell Predicted Trouble:

Eyewitness accounts:

The voiceless find their voice:

Anarchist perspectives:

Other viewpoints

Comics Respond:

Netwar:

Trade Union Response to Riots:

Community Responses:

Famous Academic Shows his Racist Side: 

✪ 11 more notes on ‘the disturbances™ in London’

The first 11 notes were here.

12. It is too easy to complain that the ‘rioting’ youth are merely obsessed with trainers and plasma TV. To say this misses the point, but it is more difficult for journalists to parse the process by which circulation, valorization, exchange, value extraction, surplus labour, alienation, and the fetishism that disguises social relations as relations between things operates. The ‘reporter-campaigner’ press is no longer on the job.

13. The insurrectionary youth seem to understand better than most what these goods are – theirs. They grasp the fetish character of commodities and the theft of property as time. In a radical way, the youth grasp, and break, the distinction between use value and exchange value. Fat cat neoliberals have thrived off expropriation, but now as the roosting pigeon heads homeward, with them having mortgaged the future to short-term gain, they seem perversely ignorant of causes. The sorry spectacle has them flapping about trying to fix the leaks where they see their interests and profits must be defended, as ever with a bolstered repressive apparatus, and having ransomed everyone else for their sorry survival.

14. In this context, jokes about ‘aggressive forms of late night shopping’ (ex cop on TV) are hypocritical ventriloquy of ruling class ideas, in that nearly every ‘older’ person I’ve heard talking about this first wishes the youth had a ‘cause’ (like they do!) but then wants to know where to buy one of these cheap hot plasmas, though without having to go to Tottenham for the pick up. Distorted and alienated interests are interests nonetheless – they are not the interests of Capital. Cut through this phantasmal comedy and it’s illusions of civic responsibility, morality and myths of political representation – contemporary Capital is nothing less than theft and plunder and should be hounded into the annals of history.

15. Lack of role models! The role models aren’t Kate Middleton and knowing what she wore, nor Beckham and his grooming products – the parade of privilege and property has them only as a window-dressing facade. The weapons trade, the mining industry, the micro-processing and conductor sweatshops, the off-shore processing zones, the anti-union, tax-free, labour intensive low-wage hell camps… These are the role models, also critiqued by the broken windows – the targets are tangential, but the sentiment is shared. Some are making the connections, and they are not just crusty old Marxists.

16. The youth hate the cops with good cause. Deaths in custody is a trigger, but stop and search, surly attitudes, bus dragnets, corruption, payola and more are not endearing plod to anyone. Defending prime property while letting lesser capital burn is an outrage, but expected given where we are just now in the volatile process of cyclical accumulation. The valorisation/conversion of expropriated surplus value through circulation within a stag-flationary recession that favours write-offs and fire-sales (primark, tkmaxx, budget airlines, and now many so-called ma-and-pa shops) means petit bourgeois traders suffer while big capital strives to recoup what minimal profit can be scarpered away before the fire sale season ends. The super rich survive, only slightly singed by scandals (dear Rupert), to then pounce to buy up the scorched earth as a bloody trophy upon which a new phase of accumulation is inaugurated. Class and location maps onto race and privilege to differentiate the cartography of valorised capital under this restructuring, so-called ‘crisis’ we are all in together. Some zones of manufacture and circulation entail very small margins with very large numbers – ahh, plastic goods – and if this mode of production, and a sharp end understanding of it, isn’t political, then what is?

17. The technique is refined in war. Invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and gleeful opportunism after the Arab spring (Cameron visits an arms fair) follows the model of army and camp followers. The cowboy corporations rush to provide security services, building contracts, democracy-capacity-building workshops…

18. We do not necessarily need commodity chain analysis or a critique of colonial history to understand that here and there, local and global are co-constituted in an embrace of death. Seems like only the politicians have a vested interest in saying this is not political – and they criminalise all youth, and all revolutionary zeal, with the same golden Bullingdon toilet brush (I am still reeling at Boris Johnson’s image of Britain as ‘a broken washing machine with black fluid leaking out the back’ – even disavowing this version he reveals his gutter mind).

19. The looting is not political because the youth pick up on a general discontent, it is not political because police tactics are repressive and biased and will be extended on the back of this, it is not political because parenting and family values have been lost back in some nostalgic fantasy of the good war, it is not political because the cuts to services mean there’s nothing else for the youth to do. It is political because all of the above make it an insurrection. Our very own intefada part one.

20. It is not a blind passages a l’acte, comrade Žižek. In his book on violence, Žižek says (after the deaths of Bouna Toure and Zyed Benna on October 27, 2005 and the thousands of cars set alight): ‘the fact that there was no programme behind the burning Paris suburbs is thus itself a fact to be interpreted’ (Žižek 2008:64). That this might be described as a ‘blind acting out’ seems itself ironic and myopic, even when SZ is correct to mock the sociological ‘search for deeper meaning or messages hidden in these outbursts’ (Žižek 2008:65), especially if these searches are undertaken from the comfort of the television viewing room. Žižek himself spends two further pages explaining that the youth wanted to be recognized as French, and yet locates this events in a particular and peculiar way. I expand the parameters of the quotation already used earlier:

“The Paris riots need to be situated in a series they form with another type of violence that the liberal majority perceives as a threat to our way of life: direct terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. In both instances, violence and counter-violence are caught up in a deadly vicious cycle, each generating the very forces it tries to combat. In both cases we are dealing with blind passages a l’acte, where violence is an implicit admission of impotence. The difference is that, in contrast to the Paris outbursts which were a zero-level protest, a violent outburst which wanted nothing, terrorist attacks are carried out on behalf of that absolute meaning provided by religion” (Žižek 2008:69).

We cannot be sure Žižek has understood Paris here, nor should we be detained by his assertion that religion is the absolute designation of terrorism, but the ascription of ‘nothing’ as the meaning of the Paris riots certainly suggests some problems with commentary.

21 Media reportage as the official line, paving the way for more cops, more repression, less commentary, less critique – we have long known the idea of the independent campaigning journalist reporter has been swallowed up by embedded, churnalistic, press release and sub-tabloid eaves-dropper automatons. Recycled heavy rotation police reports and edits (let me see more of Mayor Johnson being hounded out of Clapham by rightly angry shopkeepers). That this 24 hr news cycle stresses recycle of items is just yet another cut in the stagflationary moment.

22. The ‘Lumpen R Us’. Well, not quite, but it does not hurt to have an aspiration. In his early text ‘A Report from Hunan’ Mao praises the ‘Movement of the Riff Raff’ (Mao Selected Works Vol 1 p29). The ‘riff raff’ are the ‘utterly destitute’ lumpen peasantry who we find in China as:

“completely dispossessed … People who have neither land nor money, are without any means of livelihood, and are forced to leave home and become mercenaries or hired labourers or wandering beggars” (Mao Vol. I P 32)

Mao then provides a detailed report on the achievements of these peasants as revolutionaries able to transform an uprising into Red self governance. Mao’s ‘Report from Hunan’ is a great example of engaged reportage and it provides a more balanced evaluation of lumpen elements. His amusingly titled section ‘“Its Terrible” or “Its Fine”’ is equally judicious. Mao is praising the ways the peasants had banded together to dominate the landed gentry in Hunan, how their organisation established the basic conditions for a defence of the gains, and the template for the pattern of protracted guerrilla war. His unconditional approval for the ‘Movement of the Riff Raff’ is unstinting in its praise for the violent suppression of counter-revolutionaries. He does not ever want to say they ‘go too far’ when they defend the revolution (Selected Works Vol. I).

Thus – build the revolution…

11 more points soon

The first 11 notes were here.

The best 11 you should know by heart – the point is to change it.

Bouna Toure, Zyed Benna, chased by Police, and dead – comment by Abdellali Hajjat

On October 27 2005 in Paris, 15 year old Bouna Trouré and 17 year old Zyed Benna were electrocuted after taking refuge in a power station while being chased by Paris Police.

“On October 27th, Bouna and Zied died of electrical burns when they fled from the police. Riots broke out in Clichy-sous-Bois and other housing estates across France. This is the first time since May 1968 that there has been urban violence of this magnitude; it is also the first time that young people from the neighbourhoods have risen up together, realizing that they share a common fate. This fate can be summed up as having no future but unemployment, low-income housing, daily humiliation and police racism, a ghetto culture that makes us outcasts, but which on a certain level is also a source of pride, because it’s ours” – fromhttp://atouteslesvictimes.samizdat.net/ – accessed Dec 22005

Sarkozy called them racille – scum, rogues:

“But Sarkozy is not the only one who shows contempt for the popular suburbs. When certain “left-wing” leaders talk about “savages” or the “little Le Pens from the suburbs,” they are adopting the same approach of constructing dangerous classes. It is true that the social and political causes of the riots have been widely discussed in the French media (which for once avoided, for the most part, talking about the “fundamentalist menace,” unlike Sarkozy), but some left-wing sociologists and journalists also noted the “vacuum” or the political “desert” in the popular suburbs, where a majority of the descendants of post-colonial immigration live (either French or foreigners). They claim that France has been the scene of “jacqueries,” [translators note: “peasant insurrections”] like in the 19th century, carried out by the “lumpen of the lower proletariat,” “without class consciousness.” The implication is supposed to be that if some political force could only organize this rebellion, then all of its subversive potential could be directed in a revolutionary direction. From the comfort of their positions in the media and/or the universities, they do not hesitate to deplore the rioters’ “handicap”, for unlike class conscious workers there is no place for them in the Marxist framework. But in explaining this lack of political organization, they do not deal with the question of why the French left has been incapable of appealing to the people who live in the suburbs, and more specifically the fate of immigrant activists.” (by Abdellali Hajjat – France’s Popular Neighbourhoods Are Not A “Political Desert”).

 

✪ 11 notes on ‘the disturbances™ in London’

1. Punitive and class biased courts and police which condemn and kill the public while bonus-fat-cat bankers, expense-account scheming piggy-pollies and eavesdropping shop-your-mother-for-a-story journalists get away with it.

2. Massive jumpity-jump in hyper-profits and wealth of the super-rich while we get cuts to services, community support and local facilities, which means DIY street entertainment as last resort.

3. Economic factors paramount, racism the default position to defend white supremacist social structure of privilege. BBC report at 10.

4. Police looking at major cuts after years of corrupt payola-granola, selling the drugs they confiscate, taking bribes and kickbacks, farming out actual work to subcontracted half-beats and leaning on the completely bogus yellow union Police Federation to present them as human. Fail.

5. Have you noticed that at every demo the MET has offered up a sacrificial vehicle left as bait in the path of the march – stupidity or provocation?

6. Senior management responsible for horrendous blunders of course promoted. Chief Terror Dick etc., others suspended on full pay later reinstated. We need a new ‘Independent Complaints ABOUT the Police Commission,’ not a ‘POLICE complaints commission’ stacked out with coppers on secondment.

7. WE Need a juridical review, no more, the abolishment of the courts, replace with people’s tribunals, recallable delegates. Meetings to set up this Mondays.

8. End incarcerations, detention, bogus unequal persecutions, secret trials, detentions, control orders, exploding prison numbers, explode the prisons minister. Also, put bars on the windows of the banks and keep the criminal suits in there. Charge entrance fees for viewing rights, with peanuts available to throw at them to watch ‘em feed. Cuties.

9. Useless political non-opposition (are they on holiday?). Need a new type of Communist Party. Abolish the others sects/wafers – enough with faffing over whatever happened in the Krondstadt (and yes, I do know, but so what).

10. Sick of media denouncing people for shopping for trainers, its perverse not comic to focus on this without critique, and totally misses the serious point about commodity culture behind it all. Be organized people, be safe, cover up, don’t burn down homes, do walk tall.

11. ‘Everything under heaven is in chaos. The situation is promising.’ – we should try to get the quote right Z – 天下大亂,形勢大好 gives us ‘big good’, there is a difference between excellent and promising, so the future tense probably matters and promising is better.

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second 11 here.

[guest post] Difference within form

Tess Quixote

It is easy to equate the Police absolutely with the State. This is obviously so in discursive terms. It is because this is obvious that it deserves unpacking.

The uniform of the riot policeman gains mobility on the backs of said men and women, while many riot police wear such uniform in their very fibre, I wish to argue that it is the uniform and the performing of it as signifier of state ‘order’ that over-writes the wearer so they bear an ideology which acts itself through their surface form and evacuates, in the wearing and performing of it, any singularity or vocality the wearer may have, or indeed perform, when out of uniform.

Read the rest of this article here: Difference within form

Sunbeams and Colonial Adjustment

IRNA news agency interview:

Do you think the cause of these objections in Britain is increasing university ‘s fees or other issues like the government’s policy, economy and other things play role in it? Why the government officials did not fulfill their promises for fixing the fees?

The unrest in Britain is described in the media as about fees, but not a single student I have talked to, nor member of staff or other supporter of the anti-cuts campaigns, has failed to point out that its not primarily about fees but about a generalized attack by the neoliberal capitalist ruling class upon a very wide range of people.
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The betrayal and hypocrisy of some politicians of course attracts some anger, but few people really have any faith that the parliamentary officials offer real alternatives – the chant on the streets is for ‘revolution’ – though of course there are many, many other chants. Some are personal – ‘Nick Clegg shame on you, shame on you for turning blue’ is one polite one – others are less polite. Some evoke the horrible days of Margaret Thatcher. Maggie Maggie Maggie, out out out! Possibly the most commonly mentioned reference points for current feeling in the UK are Thatcher’s Poll Tax riots, the 1930s anti-fascist actions in Cable Street East London, the Suffragettes fighting for the women’s vote at the start of the 20th century, the Chartists fighting for voting reform in the 19th century, or the support for the Jacobins (Coleridge and so on) in the 18th century – all of this is interesting, but in new circumstances with new tools. For example video sites and social networking as a mode of organising is well advanced. What the campaigns really need however is to link up more with international movements, such as those in Palestine, Iran, Nepal, South America and so on.
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An analysis of why the Government are implementing these cuts now is also very important in international terms. The deficit is not the largest the UK has had, but the neoliberal capitalists are taking the opportunity of a coalition government to implement a wide restructuring – a kind of structural adjustment – that will destroy the welfare state compact of the post WW2 period and further open the way for global corporations to profit, while ensuring increasing restriction and hardship for most. In some sectors this situation is also seen by Government as an opportunity to introduce restrictive and draconian – even proto-fascist – policies. This happens in several areas in different ways, and with different levels of party support. For example around immigration, using the justification of the imagined threat of ‘terror attacks’ – which of course is a racist coding, by an old imperial power keen to continue colonial politics where it can – the restrictions are cross-party, which is to say, each of the parliamentary parties is vying to see just how racist they can be. It appears to be slightly different on housing, which in the hands of the Con-Dem coalition is a sort of ‘ethnic cleansing’ programme for the reserve army of labour, who are to be consigned to the northern telemarketing work camps. On education and education funding specifically, as many have noted, none of the mainstream parties are truly unable to offer a progressive position. This is not yet to begin to address the scandals of banking bailouts, corporate bonuses and tax avoidance, rampant greed, the global mining and military industry death machine – and shareholdings in such – and other ruling class atrocities. The parliamentary path will not address such concerns, if anything is to be done they must be swept aside.
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What do you think about Britain ‘s police reaction to the students? Isn’t there any peaceful way to counter the protests instead of violent attack to the students?
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Police reaction to the students has been quite extreme, very violent provocation, use of horse charges, batons, beatings, very agressive so-called ‘tactics’, named after kitchen appliances, but clearly designed to escalate tensions. In a time of cuts to all social services the police have an interest in making themselves seem useful, and of course they – like us – know things are to get more volatile over the coming months. They have colluded with the press to find ‘front page’ sensation images, such as relatively insignificant anarchist actions, or the sacrificial offering of the Prince’s ride (the Royal vehicle) which was allowed onto streets in full knowledge that that was where militants were rampant. It can be assumed this was not merely a communications error, but rather a gamble that a dint in the rolls Royce would make a better cover story than the pictures of Santa Clause trying to break into the treasury (during, it must be said, a recession). Of course the violent attacks on students, the vast majority of them teenagers, was an error of judgement on the part of the police (as the BBC reporter quipped about the Prince, ‘heads will roll’), but the scandal of the Royal car was a fairly tame incident – it was not after all St Petersburg!, nor was it Cromwell helping execute another Royal called Charles in 1649. The repaint job done on the Prince’s ride has of course been seized upon by desperate politicians. Even the Prime Minister has been caught out in a lie about what was happening, saying that Police had been pulled from their horses and beaten at parliament – when video footage shows the policeman who fell from his horse was trampled by his own animal, with no students near him at all. The massive numbers of injured protesters – including one who had to have 3 hours of brain surgery – suggest the police have been the instigators of violence. I have witnessed this in person – in every protest it is the police that have been looking for a fight. As I suggested before, it is in their interests to seem to be needed.
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The protesters are angry for sure – and the reasons are clear. Many accept the need for direct action, ranging from graffiti on state buildings, statues, occupations of colleges, to actions in shopping centres and commercial businesses, because this is proven to be the only way to be heard. 2 million people marched in London (1 out of every 30 Britons) against the invasion of Iraq and Tony Blair did not listen at all – instead lying his way toward war criminal infamy. He will not be tried in the international criminal court until there is a mass movement demanding a different kind of Government in the UK. It may be starting here – Blair was Thatcher’s child and now his party is in power, disguised as a coalition, but dragging all politicos into exposure. An alternative is in the offing. It is certainly necessary – the only kind of democracy worth fighting for is the one that fights at home – not bombs other countries on suspect whim and because Jesus has chosen you for a sunbeam!

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Western countries always claim that most of developing countries don’t observe human rights. Don’t you think that human rights and the right of protests for the students and other parts of people in west and especially Britain are ignored by the governments?
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Human rights is a category that favours Western Govt criticism of so-called ‘developing societies’. The evidence of Guantanamo, special rendition, deportation, immigration policy, complicity with torture, increased civil liberty restrictions – and even recently the arrest and detention of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, all show that human rights is a meaningless phrase. Even if there are examples of abuses and atrocities in other countries, the record of the UK has never been clean. Never. It would be a grand idea to make it so.
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Trinket of choice.

I know what Emile will want for Xmas – or at least the Mattel toy that would shoot this one down. Oh what fun the boys will have. Ka-pow.

(I can’t believe its not the first of April – thanks Grave. The Future is Going to Come True).

Liverpool police make first mini-chopper arrest

by Nick Webster. Published Thu 11 Feb 2010 10:31, Last updated: 2010-02-11

The police spy-in-the-sky droneThe police spy-in-the-sky drone

Police in the Liverpool region made Britain’s first ever arrest using a camera mounted on a remote control eye-in-the-sky mini-helicopter.

Thermal images from a camera mounted on the drone were used to track down a suspected car thief hiding under cover of thick fog in the Sefton area.

The device – known officially as a Unmanned Arial Vehicle (UAV) – was used pinpoint the spot where the wanted man was lying in undergrowth beside a canal.

Merseyside Police are the only force in the UK to used the #40,000 UAV which is is far cheaper to use than a conventional helicopter for small-scale operations.

The arrest came a fortnight ago when a Renault Clio was reported stolen at Bootle.

A police search and pursuit operation saw ended when two men dumped the Clio near the Leeds-Liverpool canal and ran off.

One man was caught immediately but second vanished in the fog into an area alongside the canal towpath.

Next page – Click to carry on reading this article

Still More Dragnets

Stopping to quiz yet another bus dragnet gang with a colleague, this time we are  referred immediately to the public relations London Transport operative ‘Dan’. This sort of discussion, reproduced below, has become a perverse kind of sport. I know it does little, and now I know the cops see public complaints as a kind of sport as well. Nevertheless, as they say in the Homeland – ‘If you see something, say something’.

A conversation between ‘Police Liaison Operative Dan’ and two unidentified subjects of the realm, designated as ‘US’:

US: ‘Why are you stopping this bus here today?’

PLOD: ‘We are arresting people without tickets, booking them for crimes’

US: ‘Is it really an arrestable crime to go without a ticket?’

PLOD: ‘Most people without tickets commit other crimes’

US: ‘So this is a kind of entrapment? You could just hand out fines’

PLOD: ‘We are keeping the buses safe.’

US: ‘They are not unsafe because people don’t have tickets. Why are these officers armed? Are those guys immigration officers?’

PLOD: ‘Look, we could be out catching terrorists in the ethnic suburbs’

US: ‘Sorry, which suburbs, how could you tell? Do they teach you about profiling?’

PLOD: ‘Oh, I know the profile very well thank you. Is there anything more I can help you with?’

US: ‘How can we make a complaint about over policing and inappropriate profiling?’

PLOD: ‘You can complain to me, Sir’

US: ‘:)’

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.

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

Free Lex Wotton – Australian Injustice (International Actions)

Free Lex Wotton: Aboriginal Political Prisoner
International Day of Solidarity
London Rally
12 noon Thursday November 6th
Australia House, Strand, WC2B 4LA

On October 24th an all white jury found Lex Wotton, an Aboriginal man from Palm Island, guilty of ‘rioting with destruction’ for his involvement in the 2004 Palm Island uprising. On November 26th 2004 the people of Palm Island set fire to the local police station, court house and police barracks after a pathologist’s report claimed that the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee, a 36 year Aboriginal man in police custody a week earlier was an ‘accident’. Mulrunji died in a police cell, one hour after he had been arrested for being drunk. He suffered massive internal injuries, including a ruptured spleen, four broken ribs and a ‘liver that had been ‘almost cleaved in two’ from a huge compressive force.’ Following Mulrunji’s killing, Queensland’s then Premier, Peter Beattie declared a state of emergency. Balaclava clad Paramilitary style police, armed with semi automatic weapons, roamed the streets arbitrarily arresting Aboriginal people. Police unnecessarily tasered several people, including Lex Wotton. Houses were stormed and children were forced facedown onto the ground with guns pointed at their heads.
The officer who arrested Mulrunji, Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, claimed that Mulrunji had fallen on stairs. A coroner’s inquest found that Hurley was responsible for Mulrunji’s death, as the injuries were consistent with a fierce beating. However, Hurley was found not guilty for manslaughter (by an all white jury) and has since been promoted to the position of police inspector on Australia’s Gold Coast.
In comparison Lex Wotton is now facing a possible life sentence in prison. He is being held in custody until his next court appearance in the Townsville District Court on November 7. Aboriginal Australians are still over 10 times more likely than non-Aboroginal Australians to spend time in prison, and are significantly more likely to die in prison than non-Aboriginal prisoners.  The over-policing and criminalisation of Aboriginal Australians is a clear continuation of the colonial policies that have been violently enforced on them since the white invasion.
Following Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd’s apology for past injustices to Aborigines earlier this year many people in Australia and around the World assume indigenous Australians are no longer treated as second class citizens. The continuing unjust imprisonment and persecution of Lex Wotton shows that Aboriginal Australians are still treated with racist contempt.

November 6th is a global day of action to free Lex Wotton. Lex’s friends and family are calling out for people around the world to picket Australian High Commissions and Consulates. Please send any details of demonstrations, solidarity messages and pictures of protest action to freelexwotton@gmail.com. They will all be passed on to Lex inside of prison.

Stand up in solidarity with the people of Palm Island against racism and police brutality!

Police Detention facilities in Southwark, Walworth Rd and Peckham

Our good friends at the Institute of Race Relations provided a link to this report recently released by the HM Inspectorate on Police Detention facilities in Southwark, Walworth Rd and Peckham. It condemns the condition of the holding cells (used for detaining a range of people on suspicion of offences or immigration irregularities, with Southwark almost wholly dedicated to immigration detainees) . The conditions as reported are disgusting. Yet the report reads bizarrely, mixing stunningly bland statements with atrocities – but overall the character of these human sinkholes cannot be hidden. Even the selected quotations from the survey at the end would suggest to anyone who has read Michael Otterman’s expose American Torture (Pluto Press) that there is also an English war crimes indictment to be written. The full report is available here.

There is lots of horrific stuff on conditions and procedures to read, but below I have excerpted only the quotes. The last one I guess is the (state of) exceptional good news!

Report on an inspection visit to police custody suites in Southwark Basic Command Unit
21 – 22 April 2008
by HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary

Q38 Do you have any other comments about your time in police custody?
Example comments included:
“They called my solicitor to come, but got told to wait a few hours.” (Unknown)
“[I had to wait for a solicitor] god knows how long, over a day.” (Peckham)
“The police were intimidating and not professional and lacked any skills when dealing with
human beings.” (Walworth Road)
“Asked for clean clothes which were brought in, but not given. I had the same clothes on for
almost 48 hours.” (Walworth Road)
“There have been other times when ‘Lights were left on’. The officer in charge seemed to have
a personal conflict against me, saying he would get me ’25 Rothams’ then not and getting me to
sign a notebook with ‘No comment’ on it.” (Walworth Road)
“…the officer made a point of telling me how badly he wanted to keep me in the station and not
give me bail.” (Walworth Road)
“The pillow and blanket smelt of piss.” (Walworth Road)
“…they need to raise their hygiene standards.” (Peckham)
“I was surprised that everything was to the book, I’m used to getting a bashing.” (Walworth
Road)

Metropolitan Police, “Working Together for A Safer London” Performance Information Bureau: Borough Breakdown of Stop and Search under the Terrorism Act in March 2008, released 17/7/08

The Full Report Here, lets you compare Copper’s view of ethnicity with Victim’s declared ethnicity. I include this text with a nod to the Lewisham bus dragnet around the same time, as mentioned previously here.