Some quick musing’s on wrestling with pigs….

Background…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/22/brian-cowen-resigns-leader-election

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2011/0122/1224288083941.html?via=rel

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0122/1224288087034.html

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0122/1224288087309.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/ireland-business-blog-with-lisa-ocarroll/2011/jan/20/ireland-emigration-australia
Irish politics seems miles apart from English politics…for one us paddies seem to swear more but it is still possible for us to learn a lot from the Irish Greens experience and hopefully prevent a re-run. This March 11th will see Ireland elect a new government but there is a possibility of the election being called even before that. The election will be the final nail in the coffin of both the Irish Green and Fianna Fail parties.

The Irish Greens experience of being a minor player in a coalition government with a Goliath right wing party(sound familiar my Liberal friends?) is not likely to be repeated here by GPEW(Green Party of England and Wales) but just encase it’s important that we learn from their mistakes. What is striking is the complete unmasking of the mantra ‘we are not left nor right we’re Green’. This mantra left the Irish Greens very open to going into a coalition with a party that didn’t share it’s own core values, couple that with the voting power imbalance and the demise of the Irish Greens with hindsight seems inevitable. I would feel more cautious about criticising the Irish Greens if most of the membership hadn’t already left in disgust at the perceived ‘selling-out’ of their party leadership. The Greens in government sided with the establishment on issues such as the banking bailout, Tara and Shell to Sea and they also made very little headway with getting policies implemented this in turn alienated it’s core vote with the polls predicting a kicking for them in the next election.

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What is UK Uncut?

After posting this piece <http://tinyurl.com/6cdtxkw> on facebook I was asked what UK Uncut was about and thought it was worth repeating…..
The blurb: ‘At the same time as making massive cuts to public services, which will result in hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs, this government is letting rich individuals and corporations avoid billions of pounds of tax. Join UK Uncut’s Big Society Revenue & Customs (BSRC) and become part of an army of citizen volunteers determined to make wealthy tax avoiders pay.’

UK Uncut is basically a diverse group of concerned citizens organising on the net who do various demos, protests and innovative ‘pop-up style’ actions to draw attention to the absurd situation going on here in the UK – the poor are disproportionately shouldering the financial collapse…..whilst the mega rich such as Philip Green use state resources and immorally dodge paying their fair share of taxes by finding loopholes to avoid and/or evade them(Philip Green owns Topshop and the Arcadia chain….or for tax purposes think it’s his wife?).

Sound appealing? If so there is an event coming up near Manchester you might be interested in  < http://tinyurl.com/5v2b9ca>

More info can be found here http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/

Received this from a friend in Gaza……

The Story of Lama, Ismail, Haia, as Beit Hanoun Demonstration Commemorates 2 years since the Gaza attacks

30th December, 2010 – A demonstration commemorating the beginning of “Operation Cast Lead” was held Tuesday in the Gazan city of Beit Hanoun. Families of victims were in attendance, as were 5 International Solidarity Movement activists. Two years have passed since the Israeli attacks on Gaza, which killed over 1400 people in just 23 days. The vast majority of victims were civilians, including 350 children, according to the United Nations and other major human rights organizations.

The Local Initiative demonstration began at the railway street in Beit Hanoun, near some of the most horrendous attacks which occurred during the land, air and sea bombardment of Gaza. The group of around 40 continued into the ‘buffer zone’ to within 100m of the Israeli border, holding flags and photos of children killed two years ago. During the 23-day attack, none of Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants (including 800,000 children) were safe.

Beit Hanoun was not spared this horror, and stories from the attacks continue to haunt survivors. Abed Hamdan carried a banner with pictures of his youngest brother and two youngest sisters, Ismail (9), Haia (12) and Lama (4). While marching towards the border, demonstrators stopped at a crossroads with al-Seka Street. At approximately 7:45am on 30 December 2008, Haia, Ismail and Lama were taking rubbish to this intersection when they were hit by two missiles launched from an F16 fighter jet. According to the children’s uncle, their bodies were found in three different locations, each about 50 meters away from where the missiles hit. Relatives ran with Lama and Haias’ bodies to Beit Hanoun Hospital, but the girls had died at the scene. Ismail sustained shrapnel wounds to his abdomen and chest, and had several broken bones. He died the following day in Al Shifa Hospital, in Gaza City. According to witnesses, the Hamdan children had been directly targeted by the Israeli, US-made F16 jet.

The demonstration proceeded past another collapsed building, where a father there described how he was the lone survivor of his family after the building was bombed. The group continued to march into the buffer-zone[1],the area of land near to the Israeli border where attacks have continued, injuring and killing countless farm-workers and rock-collectors since and the threat depriving many of their livelihoods. They gathered under watch from the Erez crossing control towers from where Israel snipers have frequently shot at the demonstrators and Local Initiative coordinator, Saber Al Zaaneen spoke about the devastation still felt by the Israeli army’s attacks 2 years before.

The demonstration passed a collapsed building, where a father described being the lone survivor from his family after the building was bombed. The group then proceeded into the ‘buffer zone’, the strip of land along the Israeli border where attacks continue, injuring and killing countless farmers and rubble-collectors and depriving many of their livelihoods. Demonstrators gathered in the ‘zone’ for speeches, under surveillance from the Erez Crossing watchtowers where Israeli snipers frequently shoot at demonstrators.

Local Initiative coordinator Saber Al Zaaneen spoke about the devastation still felt two years after the Israeli military’s attacks. “We’re here to reject the Israeli-imposed ‘buffer-zone’ that takes away so much of our farmland, and in defiance of the 23-day Zionist aggression 2 years ago, horrors once again visited upon us the Palestinians of Gaza, told to the world by the United Nations Goldstone Report.[2] The burning and bleeding under the rubble of the killing from the air, land and sea will never beat us. Long live Palestine, our steadfastness is strengthened by the memory or our loved ones, the hundreds of children murdered while the world watched on their television screens. We emphasize our legitimate right to resist occupation, and use all methods of struggle and fight until the end of Israel’s inhuman siege and bring our eventual liberation.”

International Solidarity Movement activist Adie Mormech expressed the urgency required for the international community and solidarity movements to act.

“The world is now aware of these well-documented crimes against humanity, the massacres, occupation, ethnic cleansing and siege of the Palestinian territories – all collective punishment[3] and serious violations of the 4th Geneva Convention. We cannot stand for this. We cannot allow Lama, Ismail and Haia to die with no justice to them or their family, or the families of the 1400 others massacred in the Israeli attacks. So where is the action? Where is the compensation? Where are the peacekeepers? Where are the sanctions on Israel? How many will they kill the next time, perhaps soon, if nothing is done about the 4 year medieval siege of Gaza or the murder of hundreds of Palestinian children? It is up to international civil society to do all they can and to boycott, divest and sanction from the Israeli Apartheid regime.”

The demonstrators returned to Beit Hanoun, with talk of more violence ahead and the prospects of another impending Israeli assault on the Gaza. Israel’s blockade of Gaza continues unabated, despite being denounced by the European Union, The Red Cross and all major human rights groups as collective punishment, illegal according to article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention.

On 2nd December 2010, 22 international organizations including Amnesty International, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, and Medical Aid for Palestinians produced the report Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade[4] stating that there had been no material change to the devastating effects of the siege, and calling for international pressure on Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade.

The Hamdan family remains in ruins from the loss of their 3 youngest children. When their father, Talal Hamdan, spoke of their deaths in his home, there was still a quiet disbelief in his voice at what had happened to them. The family’s sorrow is unending.

“We’re just a simple Palestinian family”, Talal said, sitting in the garden of his home which is two kilometers from the ‘buffer zone’. Before the war, he and his wife spent their evenings watching the children playing in the garden, in the spot where he sat. “There is no life anymore. The children are now usually nervous, argue a lot, my eldest son has given up work and my other son Abed has stopped bodybuilding for which he used to train for competitions.” The family finds it impossible to deal with the terrible loss. “Haja was such a smart girl,” her father remembers. “She was the first in her class, danced dabka, and was able to read the whole Qur’an.” For his remaining four daughters and two sons, a small sum of money initially came from the Palestinian government. One of his daughters received psychological help from Doctors without Borders. The help only lasted two months however, and only reached on of an entire community stricken with grief.

Talal and his wife continue to sit in front of their house in the evening, watching their garden. However their world is now very different, like many others in Palestine. When asked if he had a message for the world, Talal shook his head. “I just want people to know that they were innocent children being killed, who never did anything wrong in their lives”.

References:[1] http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_special_focus_2010_08_19_english.pdf[2] http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf[3] http://gisha.org/UserFiles/File/publications/GazaClosureDefinedEng.pdf[4] http://www.amnesty.org.uk/uploads/documents/doc_21083.pdf
For more information, or further contacts based in Gaza, contact Adie Mormech 00972 (0) 597717696

Manchester Airport protesters found guilty but vow to fight on

Speaking after the case, defendant Mark Haworth said, “The battle against airport expansion at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick was won because ordinary people came together, joined forces and took on the aviation industry. We’ve linked up with residents in Manchester and Heathrow and we’ll continue to challenge Manchester Airport’s expansion plans.”

Fellow defendant Amanda Walters said, “The judge accepted that our concerns were legitimate and that other means of making our views heard had been tried. While the council continues to impose expansion of the airport onto local people, we will continue to fight it.”

A large part of the defence case focused on the ‘reasonableness’ of the action given that other methods of redress had been explored. The witness statements of Lib Dem Manchester Councillor Martin Eakins and Hasty Lane resident Peter Johnson was read out verbatim by the Defence Counsel Richard Thomas.

Hasty Lane is set to be demolished if plans to expand the World Freight Centre at Manchester Airport are allowed to go ahead.

In Peter Johnson’s written statement, he described his efforts to prevent his family home from being demolished, “We are now in a position where help and support from other areas in continuing to oppose the decision means that another route must be used if we are to halt this and/or further expansion already proposed or identified by the airport.”

Commenting on the verdict, Johnson said, “I’m disappointed for the individuals who went above and beyond the call of duty – for a cause we should all be worried about. This isn’t just a matter of concern for those of us living at Hasty Lane – the expansion of the Airport will have effects on the whole of Manchester, and the world too. Sadly, actions like these are seldom recognised as being right at the time, but the fight continues.”

In his statement, Martin Eakins described his close invlovement in the campaign to Save Hasty Lane, including making official representations to the Wythenshawe Area Committee, petitions and letters to national government; “I feel that all democratic avenues were exhausted and I think it is reasonable to say that the only way avenue to achieve carbon reductions through traditional politics in this case was closed,” the Court heard.

Mark Haworth and Amanda Walters were given a fine of £175 an £250 respectively plus were ordered to pay £460 in costs each plus a £15 ‘victim surcharge’ each. On Monday, nine other defendants involved in the protest pleaded guilty and received fines and costs averaging around £340 each.

A public campaign titled ‘Manchester Airport on Trial’ is being run around the court trial and has received statements of support from local members of the public, local groups, academics, barristers, Independent journalist Johann Hari, and prominent national politicians such as Heathrow Labour MP John McDonnell, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Conservative Party MP Zac Goldsmith.
You can see all the current statements of support here: http://www.manchesterairportontrial.org/support-2/support/

In February 2010, residents at Sipson Village – which was earmarked for demolition if the previous government had pressed ahead with plans to add a third runway to Heathrow Airport – joined forces with Manchester campaigners in a ‘twinning’ ceremony, which joined Sipson with Hasty Lane, a row of houses near Manchester Airport currently set for demolition if expansion plans go ahead.
http://stopmanchesterairport.blogspot.com/2010/02/hasty-lane-twins-with-sipson.html

The trial of a second group who staged an airside blockade of a Monarach Airline jet at the same time as the roadside protest will commence in February 2011. Six defendants will plead not guilty to a charge of the aggravated trespass.
http://www.manchesterairportontrial.org/trials/

Happy Human Rights Day

Kettling/Containment or Corralling is a British Police crowd control tactic I have seen being used more and more at demonstrations to the point where it has become routine, almost the default crowd control activity for the police. It is called ‘Kettling’ because of the effect it has on those enclosed, it is supposed to ‘let the steam out’ of the crowd slowly but I have only ever seen it escalate situations. It is a dangerous tactic that must be investigated. Corralling is a form of mass arrest despite no one being charged with an offence. It is dangerous; those trapped inside for hours denied even the most basic of rights – no food, water, shelter, access to toilets or medicines. It is my firm belief that it’s a miracle more people are not killed when the police crush thousands of people into tighter and tighter spaces for no apparent reason. People have a right to protest but when you trap them indiscriminately, it is hardly surprising that some will become angry. This is just basic human nature.

As readers of this blog will know I had the misfortune of seeing a man die from this ‘tactic’ at the G20 so I am speaking from experience when I say it can be fatal. Ian Tomlinson became trapped due to this police tactic at the G20. The police are indiscriminate about who they kettle, they shut off an area trapping all inside even if you are just a passerby. The first mass use of kettling (that I’m aware of) occurred at the Oxford Circus May Day demo when they locked in a heavily pregnant woman. The courts then threw out her case against the Met. An eyewitness from the Whitehall student protests said ‘One thing that I noticed is that it was mainly the school kids who got kettled in, in the cold, for seven hours. Many of the older students were aware of the danger and avoided the kettle.’ (So much for the Police’s Duty of Care)

Yesterday’s student demonstration reminded me of the Gaza demo I attended in January 2009, when due to the chaos I accidentally got separated from the group I was with and ended up trapped in a police kettle outside the Israeli embassy in London. The bus I went down in was due to leave at 5pm and I wasn’t let out of the Kettle until 11.30 at night, alone with nowhere to go and no way back to Manchester. I spent 3 days in bed when I finally got back to Manchester, exhausted with pains in my legs which I put down to being forced to stand in a small area in sub-zero temperatures for hours….all for peacefully protesting against a huge injustice that I felt strongly about, which is my right. What I witnessed yesterday on the BBC was police kettling protesters and then charging them with horses despite, as witnesses said, there being people in wheelchairs and children in the crowd….the police once again acted indiscriminately. Who knows if some of the people in that crowd where just passers by.

*I have just heard the Met Police are to be investigated after a protester, Alfie came close to death at the demonstration yesterday after being battered by police truncheons…..this wreckless tactic has to stop! The Young Greens have launched a petition against kettling which they plan to present to the Metropolitan Police Authority in January. Please get as many people as possible to sign it:http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ban_kettling/ .Send messages of support for Alfie to +447870215764. SPREAD THE WORD!

Manchester Airport on Trial

In May 2010, seventeen people staged a non violent protest/direct action at Manchester Airport, temporarily shutting it down. They did this to stop some of the 5 million tonnes of carbon emissions that the airport is responsible for annually and in opposition to plans to destroy local homes and biodiversity spots to expand the World Freight Centre. We have built up strong links with the local community in this area and together have managed to hold off previous expansion plans supported by Caroline Lucas(the Rose Cottage Campaign). This is the regional equivalent to the Heathrow campaign and any support you can give would be very welcome.17 people are now facing two trials as a result of this action. 11 people will be tried for ‘obstruction of the highway’ in Dec 2010. The remaining 6 will face a trial in early 2011.

Please email statements of support to or simply leave a comment on this facebook page< http://www.facebook.com/pages/Manchester-Airport-On-Trial/162820910424769?v=info >

For more information – http://www.manchesterairportontrial.org

Lib Dems voting against PR?

‎I get tired of the media saying ‘this will be the test of the coalition’ but for a huge amount of ordinary members this could be ‘make or break’. The Lib Dem’s have been calling for PR for decades, so it will be interesting to see how they respond to a motion amending the AV Bill to include PR which has been put forward by Caroline Lucas our Green MP.

http://www.politics.co.uk/news/legal-and-constitutional/coalition-braced-against-electoral-reform-rebels-$21383577.htm