The Nether-World

May 15, 2007

Taking Liberties

Filed under: 7/7, Bliar, Civil Liberties, Protest, Terrorism, Torture — netherworld @ 4:35 pm

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This film is at the top of my ‘must see’ list. As the title suggests, Taking Liberties is about the attack on civil liberties that Britain has experienced since 1997 when Tony Blair came to power. Other than the various plugs for it I’ve seen on numerous blogs of all political persuasions and, of course, the information on the film’s website along with the trailer, I don’t know that much about it but it certainly seems to be a very interesting documentary and a fitting tribute to the Blair years. The film covers the following topics:

Tim Ireland over at Bloggerheads has seen the press screening and has written a positive review. Here is the trailer on YouTube:

Taking Liberties will be in cinemas from June 8. It is very unlikely to get anything like the same publicity that Hollywood bockbusters get and it will only be shown in a few selected cinemas so check the website’s cinema listings to find out where it is showing.

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May 10, 2007

Tony Blair Will Announce His Resignation Today

Filed under: Bliar, Protest — netherworld @ 1:03 am

Well, hooray! I’ll have more to say about Blair’s time in office later over at Blairwatch, but for anyone in London who wants to express their gratitude to Tony for ten years of wars, corruption, sleaze and the erosion of civil liberties and democracy, the Stop The War Coalition is providing an opportunity.

Thursday 10 May Downing Street
3.30 to 5.00 pm: Symbolic protest when Tony Blair resigns
(Please note time change)

Tony Blair is resigning early and in disgrace due to his support for the Bush wars. He will announce his resignation on Thursday 10 May. We are asking for as many people as possible to come to Downing Street from 3.30 to 5.00 pm for a symbolic protest in memory of the thousands who have died as a result of his war policies. Please bring old shoes to lay at Downing Street. Local Stop the War groups are asked to bring their banners.

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February 28, 2007

Help Make Ugly Rumours Number One

Filed under: Bliar, Iran, Iraq, Protest — netherworld @ 2:15 pm

*UPDATED*

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This is one of the best ideas the Stop The War Coalition has come up with; to get an anti-war song into the charts on the fourth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq. And the idea seems to be working. At last Saturday’s massive protest, thousands of people bought the song using their mobile phones after it was successfully plugged by George Galloway. The song is actually quite good in my opinion; soulful and funky at the same time, and it has been a while (as far as I know) since a song has entered the charts which has any meaningful content.

The Song is called WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? and it is a cover of an Edwin Starr song played by a band called Ugly Rumours. If that name sounds familiar, it should – it’s the same name as Tony Blair’s student band. According to Music Week magazine, early sales suggest the song will go into the top 10, the BBC reports.

Ben Grey, who produced the song, told the BBC News website: “We wanted to try and reach the people who might be more into watching X-Factor than listening to politics.

“Marches and rallies can be dismissed and ignored but a hit record will mean everyone is talking about this issue.”

Next month marks the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Mr Grey said: “Imagine what a message it would send to the world if this record was number one during that anniversary.”

So, by now, hopefully, you’ll be wondering how to get hold of the song. I’ll leave it to the Stop The War Coalition to explain:

Thousands of protestors on yesterday’s magnificent TROOPS OUT / NO TRIDENT demonstration used their mobile phones to buy the Tony Blair spoof record WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR.
http://www.uglyrumours.com

We need your help. Join the many thousands who have already bought WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? and we can get it into the Top 10. Buying the record is extremely simple. There are two methods:

If you have a mobile phone, all you have to do is text PEACE1 to 78789. This will charge £1.50 to your mobile phone bill and you will immediately get a text message explaining how you will receive WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

To buy the record online, go to http://tinyurl.com/33j4oj and follow the instructions for downloading WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

For just £1.50 you can get a prime minister into the charts with a song for peace, but of course we want to do more than embarrass Tony Blair. We want his warmongering in Iraq and Afghanistan to end immediately. We want to help stop plans to attack Iran. We think Tony Blair should be held accountable for war crimes. Getting the spoof Blair record into the Top 10 can play a part in publicising the anti-war message, which represents the view of the majority in this country who oppose the Bush-Blair wars.

Please buy WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? now and encourage as many people as you can to do the same.

TO BUY:

  1. Mobile Phone text message PEACE1 to 78789
  2. or

  3. Download at http://tinyurl.com/33j4oj

Demonstrations are all well and good, and, of course, very necessary, but they do tend to be ignored and the police, with the help of the media, are less than honest about the numbers of people who turn up. Making this single Number One in the charts will send a strong message to Tony Blair and his gang of warmongers and pile even more embarrassment onto him. That’s £1.50 well spent as far as I’m concerned. Here is the video on YouTube to entice you further (plays better second time).

*UPDATE*

I’m hearing from Lenin’s Tomb that the BBC has already banned the single as it entered the Top Ten, fearing that its anti-war message will offend our very pro-war government. Needless to say, I think this is a very dumb move by the BBC. Banned songs have a tendency to rocket up the charts and if questions are asked in Parliament about the banning of the song (as George Galloway MP is threatening to) then that will be even more publicity for the song and further embarrassment, not just for the Prime Minister, but also for the BBC.

This demonstrates what a good idea the producing and publicising of this single was. Now there is even more of a reason to buy this single. Please buy the single from here or text “peace1” to 78789 and strike a blow not just for peace but also for freedom of expression.

 

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February 25, 2007

The February Stop The War Protest In London

Filed under: Bliar, Bush, Democracy, Iran, Iraq, Protest — netherworld @ 3:40 am

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All in all, the Stop The War protest was a fun day out as well as a serious exercise in democracy and (it seems) the only way to get heard these days. I emerged from Hyde Park Corner tube station into pouring rain thinking that it would be as miserable an experience as the tube journey (no Northern or Victoria lines so the Piccadilly line was very overcrowded). Anyway the weather cleared up shortly after I met up with Rachel and the rest of the day was very pleasant.

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It was obvious from the beginning that this was going to be a very large demonstration, there were hoards of people at Speakers Corner and the march didn’t get started until about 1:30 PM and people were still arriving. We positioned ourselves close to some excellent drummers to keep our energy up and we were entertained by some performers dressed in funky day-glow skeleton costumes, a bit like a 21st Century Danse Macabre I thought, only funnier.

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The route the march took was down Park Lane then down Piccadilly into Haymarket and finally into Trafalgar Square for the rally. That short distance took over two hours which should help give an idea of how many people there were. Sky News was apparently reporting ‘several hundred people’, I heard that the police said there were 10,000 protesters while the organisers claimed 60,000 (George Galloway said it was 100,000). From the ground it was impossible to tell but based on previous demonstrations I guessed (and this is just a guess) between 40,000 and 50,000 people turned up. Both Rachel and I had the foresight to take our hip flasks with us. Mine had Cognac and Rachel’s had whiskey and when you’re shuffling along a few swigs definitely helps. We also had whistles so we could contribute to the drumming and chanting.

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Meanwhile, back at Blairwatch H.Q., Tom had the good idea of live blogging the event, the plan being that I’d send pictures from my camera phone and he’d put them on-line. So I put away my digital camera and tried taking pictures on the mobile. I then spent what seemed like the best part of an hour fiddling with the settings in previously unseen menus because although my phone has a nice 1.3 mega pixel camera, you can’t send any picture via MMS which is more than 100 kb in size. Luckily Rachel came to the rescue and sent a steady stream of photos to Blairwatch with her phone until I sorted mine out.

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Trafalgar Square was totally packed when we arrived and it was very difficult to move about. However, we did eventually manage to find a way to the top of some steps where we watched some of the speeches. The best speech by far was that of Mark Thomas.

 

George Galloway too made a rousing speech. The organisers had erected a large video screen so even at the distance we were at, we could see whoever was speaking. The sound was very clear too, so well done to the organisers for that.

 

When Yvonne Riddley started speaking we took that as our hint to call it a day and locate a nice cosy pub for some refreshment (after a bit of a search we settled on Le Garrick and very nice it was too). After that it was time to brave the tube again and it was even more crowded than before.

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I didn’t watch any news reports on television about the event but you can see the BBC report on-line here. You can also see more photos on my Flickr site. Hopefully the demonstration succeeded in showing the Government just how much opposition there is to the Iraq war and to the renewal of Trident. I hope it also sent a warning to Blair about involving himself in the coming war in Iran. The people are no longer buying the bullshit he’s been peddling and they are sick of the continuous wars that will be his legacy.

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Anyway it was a fun way to make the point, all the more so by having such good company.

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More Bloggage and some nice pictures over at Lenin’s Tomb. There are also good reports from The Disillusioned Kid, The Heathlander and Devises Melting Pot. If I find any more reports I’ll post the links. Feel free to let me know in the comments of any more reports.

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February 12, 2007

The Coming War On Iran

Filed under: Iran, Iraq, israel, Protest, US Politics — netherworld @ 10:42 am

I have been trying to avoid writing about Iran for the last week or so; partly in order to focus on other issues and partly because it is such an awful and depressing situation that it’s easy to become obsessed with it. However, the drumbeat of war is getting louder so it’s time for an update.

On February 24 there will be another demonstration in London against the Iraq war and the looming war in Iran. In my next post I’ll provide details, but this is roundup is to show why we need to protest. It’s been nearly four years since the invasion of Iraq and all the lies we were told in the build up to it. History is now repeating itself. Just as Iraq was demonised with disinformation, so Iran is today. America insists it is not planning for a war with Iran, however all the signs point to the contrary. In fact former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy believes World War III has already begun. It seems that Gen. Leonid Ivashov, the former chief of staff of the Russian Army, was right when he said that there would be an attack “within weeks” predicting that it would start in April:

“we will see the informational warfare machine start working. The public opinion is already under pressure. There will be a growing anti-Iranian militaristic hysteria, new information leaks, disinformation, etc.”

Lo and behold, what do we see now?

The United States is moving closer to war with Iran by accusing the “highest levels” of the Iranian government of supplying sophisticated roadside bombs that have killed 170 US troops and wounded 620.

The allegations against Iran are similar in tone and credibility to those made four years ago by the US government about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the invasion of 2003.

Senior US defence officials in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they believed the bombs were manufactured in Iran and smuggled across the border to Shia militants in Iraq. The weapons, identified as “explosively formed penetrators” (EFPs) are said to be capable of destroying an Abrams tank.

How very timely! Note the “speaking on condition of anonymity“. Perhaps they are not as certain as we are being led to believe by some media outlets.
Juan Cole, American professor of Modern Middle East History has a little more detail. He debunks the New York Times article which claims that:

In the last three months of 2006, attacks using the weapons accounted for a significant portion of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq, though less than a quarter of the total, military officials say.

Sounds quite authorative and convincing doesn’t it? However Juan cole says:

This claim is one hundred percent wrong. Because 25 percent of US troops were not killed fighting Shiites in those three months. Day after day, the casualty reports specify al-Anbar Province or Diyala or Salahuddin or Babil, or Baghdad districts such as al-Dura, Ghaziliyah, Amiriyah, etc.–and the enemy fighting is clearly Sunni Arab guerrillas. And, Iran is not giving high tech weapons to Baathists and Salafi Shiite-killers. It is true that some casualties were in “East Baghdad” and that Baghdad is beginning to rival al-Anbar as a cemetery for US troops:

Hmmm, the assertions aren’t quite so convincing now are they? As always, it’s the timing of these claims that are suspect. As America makes these claims and denies provoking Iran, a third Navy carrier group is about to follow the second carrier group already steaming toward the Persian Gulf. At the same time as this news emerges, we hear that Israel has been testing a missile system as a “message to Iran“. And this is of course after numerous Israeli threats and an alleged attempt to drop nuclear bombs on Iran.

Iran in the meantime still maintains that its nuclear programme is peaceful and that it poses no threat to Israel. Of course America, Britain and Israel refuse to believe the Iranian claim. As John Pilger points out:

Unlike Israel and the United States, Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it was an original signatory and has allowed routine inspections under its legal obligations – until gratuitous, punitive measures were added in 2003, at the behest of Washington. No report by the International Atomic Energy Agency has ever cited Iran for diverting its civilian nuclear programme to military use. The IAEA has said that for most of the past three years its inspectors have been able to “go anywhere and see anything”. They inspected the nuclear installations at Isfahan and Natanz on 10 and 12 January and will return on 2 to 6 February. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei says that an attack on Iran will have “catastrophic consequences” and only encourage the regime to become a nuclear power.

Compare this threatening behaviour with the complete lack of concern about Israeli plans to build a nuclear power station despite having an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a reputation for flaunting international law as well as a habit of bombing its neighbours and ethnically cleansing the illegally held land it has conquered. As Pilger mentions, Israel has not signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has and wants to stay within the rules.

Iran is not defenceless; it too has been testing missiles and it has a formidable military bolstered by a state of the art air defence system purchased from Russia. On top of this, it can create havoc in Iraq and Lebanon and also destabilise oil supplies by blocking the narrow Strait of Hormuz through which 20 percent of the world’s oil passes. But it is unknown whether it can see off an American/Israeli attack. A war, if it happens, will be conducted largely from the air. If there is to be any invasion, it would be in the small area known as Khuzestan where 90 percent of Iran’s oil comes from (ironically this was the area Saddam Hussein tried to invade with American backing).

The calls for attacking Iran are, of course, coming from the neo con part of the Bush administration personified by Dick Cheney and advised by the American Enterprise Institute. The plan is to taunt Iran into doing something which would give America an excuse to respond. It is assumed that an attack on Iran would disguise the total failure of the Iraq mission. The Bush administration is now planning for the inevitable failure of the ill-advised “surge”. This bare faced aggression has prompted Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (of all people) to make some very critical statements about America.

“What is a unipolar world? No matter how we beautify this term it means one single centre of power, one single centre of force and one single master…

“It has nothing in common with democracy because that is the opinion of the majority taking into account the minority opinion…

“People are always teaching us democracy but the people who teach us democracy don’t want to learn it themselves.”

Needless to say, his statements have sparked a war of words between Washington and Moscow. Putin might be a fine one to talk about democracy and abuse of power but that doesn’t make what he said about America any less true.

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January 28, 2007

A Quick Question

Filed under: Iraq, Media, Protest — netherworld @ 6:05 am

Has anyone else wondered why the BBC would spend so much time covering the anti-Iraq war protests in Washington when they give minimal coverage to anti-war protests here in the UK? I only ask because I’ve been watching their coverage and it seems much better than what they report of UK protests. They made it the first piece on their News 24 hourly bulletin with a clips of Jane Fonda and a member of Congress speaking. I don’t recall the BBC giving such attention to the numerous similar anti-war protests held in Britain since 2003 when over a million people marched. Is it because it is deemed unusual for Americans to protest against the war (it isn’t incidentally) or is the BBC prevented from adequately covering UK protests but free to report what happens in the USA? I genuinely don’t know the answer.

Last week the Iraq war was debated in Parliament for the first time since 2003 (Tony Blair didn’t seem to have the courage to attend despite his stated eagerness to debate these issues). Outside Parliament was a small group of protesters. No coverage was given to this. But for those brave enough to attempt to use the frankly awful search function on the BBC News website, you can find news of peers protesting outside Parliament about, erm… the right to protest outside Parliament (I don’t remember that being broadcast), something a bunch of us have been doing for some time.

Hopefully this new-found eagerness to report on anti-war protests will mean some of these coming events will get some coverage but somehow I doubt it.

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December 21, 2006

Mass Lone Demonstration and Carol Service

Filed under: Civil Liberties, Democracy, Protest — netherworld @ 8:42 am

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The last Mass Lone Demonstration of 2006 was as much fun as the others I’ve attended only much, much colder. It really was freezing but that didn’t stop a bunch of die-hard democracy fans assembling in Parliament Square once again to make a mockery of the idiotic SOCPA law which forbids protest in the vicinity of the Prime Minister’s office without written permission from the police which has to be obtained a week beforehand. There was the usual amusing array of diverse protests; from “Fair Pay For Elves” to my own “Stop the Surveillance Society”.

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After protesting for an hour, we gathered under the statue of Winston Churchill to break the law by singing Christmas carols, an event organised by Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads. Veteran peace protester Brian Haw was presented with a new and more powerful loudspeaker and then the singing commenced in candle light, and very tuneful it was too. Pausing only briefly for some mince pies, we sang:

  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Away In A Manger
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • Deck The Halls
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • The First Noel
  • Joy To The World
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas
  • Jingle Bells
  • Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
  • Santa Clause Is Coming To Town
  • Amazing Grace
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  • Silent Night

Christmas carols aren’t usually my sort of thing but this was really quite charming and it again highlighted the utter stupidity of a repressive law. A collection was made for sick children in Iraq and we also had a minute’s silent reflection. The police were nowhere to be seen. Obviously they decided to keep an even lower profile than they did last year.

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By eight o clock it was all over and we took our frozen bodies down to the Red Lion to thaw out before moving on to another pub to continue the festivities. Among the revellers were Rachel, Gareth from D-Notice, the Disillusioned Kid and of course Tim. As soon as they post something on the Mass Lone Protest, I’ll link to it. You can see higher resolution versions of these photos here and Gareth has some more over here. I expect Indymedia will have some more pictures soon.

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*UPDATE*

Here are the links to the reports from some of the other bloggers who attended:

If I find any more I’ll update this post again. Oh, and we managed to raise £85.93 (and 70 euro-cents) for Medical Aid for Iraqi Children.

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December 17, 2006

A Little Vignette of 21st Century Britain

Filed under: Protest — netherworld @ 8:42 pm

Regular readers will know that I attend the Mass Lone Demonstrations in Parliament Square as often as I can. Not only are they a terrific way to highlight how stupid and pointless the SOCPA laws (.pdf) are, they’re also a lot of fun. The next one is on December 20th and will be followed by a carol-singing session (how subversive can we get eh?).

Anyway, in order to be able to protest legally these days, it’s necessary to get police permission which for me usually means trotting down to Charing Cross police station and handing in forms a week before the protest. At Charing Cross the police are used to us now and are good-natured and fairly efficient despite large numbers of people turning up and various pranks being played. It is also possible to go to your local police station to get permission but this seems to invite a somewhat different experience as this post clearly shows (via Rachel who was also there).

I’m not going to include any of the post here as I think it’s so good you should go and read the whole thing (it’s basically a time-line of an interminable wait in a London police station). For me it seemed like a snapshot of life in 21st Century Britain as inefficient bureaucracy meets a determination to stop people exercising their right to protest, but the other details paint a vivid tragicomic picture.

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October 29, 2006

Message from the Stop The War Coalition

Filed under: Iraq, Protest, UK Politics — netherworld @ 6:54 am

I have just received this message as part of an e-mail from the Stop The War Coalition:

EMERGENCY PROTEST ON THE IRAQ WAR
TUESDAY 31 OCTOBER ASSEMBLE 5PM-7PM
PARLIAMENT SQUARE, LONDON SW1
(Nearest tube: Westminster)

On Tuesday 31 October, Parliament will debate and vote on the Iraq war for the first time since March 18 2003. Alex Salmond, one of the MPs who initiated the debate, says: “This is the first time since the invasion of Iraq that the government can be held to account over this illegal and unwanted war.”

STOP THE WAR COALITION has called an emergency protest in front of Parliament when the debate takes place between 5pm and 7pm. MPs must end a war which has brought nothing but mass slaughter and devastation to the people of Iraq. There is no excuse. It’s what the majority of British people want. It’s what even the head of the British armed forces, General Sir Richard Dannatt, wants.

STWC flyer

JOIN THE PROTEST. SPREAD THE WORD AMONG YOUR FRIENDS, WORK COLLEAGUES, FELLOW STUDENTS etc.
TO DOWNLOAD A LEAFLET FOR PHOTOCOPYING, GO TO: http://tinyurl.com/teom7 MORE DETAILS: http://www.stopwar.org.uk

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September 23, 2006

Another Mass Lone Demonstration

Filed under: Protest — netherworld @ 4:55 pm

Mark ThomasOnce again a group of people descended on Parliament Square to defend the right to peacful protest which is being eroded thanks to the SCOPA laws (.pdf). Like last time it was completely legal as everyone had applied for permission from the police a week beforehand. It was by no means a massive protest and was perhaps a little smaller than the previous gathering. However the atmosphere was just as friendly.

The different issues that people were protesting against were just as amusing as last time.

Some favorites were:

  • Ban all grammatical mistakes on signs
  • Equal rights for pigeons
  • Down with people who dress as the Spanish Inquisition
  • Stop putting bits in cheese
  • Ban the bendy bus (I wholeheatedly agree)

 

Bendy Bus

There were of course many more issues being protested both funny and serious. My attempts at photographing the event using just the camera on my mobile phone were predictably unsuccessful so all these photos are from Gareth at D-Notice. He has more pictures which you can see here.

 

Gareth

These Mass Lone Demonstrations are set to become a regular event. After the protest it was decided by a show of hands to hold this event on the third Wednesday of every month at the same time (6pm – 7pm). On Wednesdays MPs are still in Parliament so they will see the protest. Of course as the winter draws in it will be darker, colder and probably wetter so if you plan on coming to future protests remember to dress appropriately and bring provisions.

 

Grammatical mistakes on signs

If the weather becomes too bad to hang about outside Parliament, Tony Blair’s local pub isn’t such a bad place to go for some refreshment (and that is exactly what Gareth and I did once the protest was over). Hopefully these protests will grow in size as people realise the right to protest is a fundamental element of a democracy.

 

Two lovely protesters

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