Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

Around twenty years ago, I first read ‘The Rights of Man.’

The ’80s were as casually political as the Noughties are “ironically” apathetic. Hell, we even had a pop band called The Communards in the charts. At that time, I was trying to read as much revolutionary writing as possible, vainly trying to catch up with my far-better educated comrades in the Militant. They’d casually toss around references to ‘Leviathan,’ Kollontai and Connolly and I’d sagely nod along, pretending I knew what the hell they were on about.

Chronic ignorance is suckled by embarrassment.

But, eventually, I cracked out the books. Paine, Rousseau, Trotsky and the other usual suspects. Then, I moved onto less orthodox texts: Proudhon, Reich, Fanon, Dworkin.

Tonight, I started re-reading ‘The Rights of Man’ and I remembered why I enjoyed it so much the first time round. Though it was written 215 years ago, it’s still current, still shockingly contemporary. And it’s not turgid and worthy: it’s light and dynamic, raising smiles as well as furrowing your brow.

I thought the following quote was particularly apt for the current political situation:

That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of Nations, is as shocking as it is true; but when those who are concerned in the government of a country, make it their study to sow discord and cultivate prejudices between Nations, it becomes the more unpardonable.
(Source: The Rights Of Man)

Hmmm…sound familiar?

Why I Love The Net (Part 131, 072)

Victor Scott

From Victor Scott to me
06:00 (13 hours ago)

Hi Jyoti, thanks for the post!

I wish I could hear your set! so much great stuff!

your photo is so familiar too …. I think I must’ve seen it on
myspace, or something. too bad about the rupert murdoch thing though.

all the best,
Victor

Y’see, instead of trying to throw music fans in prison, like the RIAA and BPI, Victor Scott takes the time to find out who’s playing his music, email them and thank them.

Funny that, eh? If he was on a major label he’d probably just be whingeing about the “evil downloaders” or waiting for his A&R to pick his nose for him.

Every time I’ve played his fantastic ‘Chimp Farm’ when I’ve DJed, I’ve had people come up and ask me about it. Yep, it’s that catchy, in a Looney Tunes kind of way.

Please click here to have a listen to and buy his albums. C’mon – three quid! That’s cheaper than spending the time trying to download them illegally! 😀

Police Harrass Actors

Road To Guantanamo Actors Detained

The actors who star in movie The Road to Guantanamo were questioned by police at Luton airport under anti-terrorism legislation, it has emerged.

The men, who play British inmates at the detention camp, were returning from the Berlin Film Festival where the movie won a Silver Bear award.

One of the actors, Rizwan Ahmed, said a police officer asked him if he intended to make any more “political” films.

“Six people were stopped under the Terrorism Act. This is something that happens all the time and obviously at airports and train stations,” said a spokeswoman.

“There is a heightened state of security since the London bombings. Public safety is paramount.”

Mr Ahmed also alleges that he was verbally abused by a police officer and had his mobile phone taken from him for a short period.

The actor also claims that he was told by police that he could be held for up to 48 hours without access to a lawyer.
(Source: BBC News)

I smell the ghosts of McCarthy and Stalin hovering over this affair, nodding their approval.

Notice the most chilling part, which I highlighted:

“One of the actors, Rizwan Ahmed, said a police officer asked him if he intended to make any more “political” films.”

How un-nerving is that? Knowing that the stormtrooper stopping you doesn’t for a minute suspect you of being a terrorist, they know full well that you’re an actor in an anti-US war crimes film. They’re harrassing you merely for the fun of it, because they can.

The other part I find appalling is when the spokeswoman blithely states, “it happens all the time.”

Perhaps it shouldn’t be happening all the time? Perhaps we shouldn’t be living in a police state where we can be stopped and questioned at any time under the vaguest of pretexts or just shot dead catching the tube.

She states that “public safety is paramount.” How can we be “safe” if we aren’t free? If we’re watched and interrogated at the whim of a police state, if we can be spirited away on CIA torture flights with no explanation, no charges, no trials?

That isn’t safety, that’s imprisonment.

Whose Law? (Part 4192)

Tesco Protest

Sheila Oliver, a 50-year-old typist in a hospital in Stockport, is fighting a superstore which exceeded the size permitted by the local authority by 1,670 sq metres (18,000 sq ft). “I’m only a little person, only an ordinary taxpayer,” she said. “But I write lots of letters. I’m good at rattling cages and being a pain in the backside. As a drop in the ocean trying to take this issue up, I got nowhere. But with the power of all the little people getting together we’re starting to achieve something.”

At the council’s request, Tesco recently submitted a retrospective planning application and acknowledges the oversize was a mistake. The supermarket has now cordoned-off 585 sq metres of floor space, a third of the area illegally constructed. Steve Parfett, the managing director of Parfett’s Cash and Carry, who is leading efforts by Stockport’s small businesss to cut the store down to size, said: “Cordoning off less than was illegally constructed is too little, too late. Justice demanded that we do something about this.”
(Source: The Guardian)

Hmmm… so Tesco went slightly over their legal limit when building their Stockport superstore. I mean, we understand, it can easily happen, can’t it? Just a bit of inattention by the builders and, whoops, the store is 18,000 square feet over-limit! That could happen to anyone! C’mon!

Think about how the law applies to individuals. Think about how it applies to you. Say if you were exceeding the speed limit slightly, in a Tesco manner. Imagine you were doing, say, 260mph in a 30mph zone. Would the law be equally forgiving to you in your Tesco-sized mistake?

I really don’t know why anyone bothers being a traditional criminal any more. Simply form a company and you can do whatever you want, break any laws you feel like, murder people with no consequences, pay no taxes like Rupert Murdoch. It’s great!

Please go and have a look at Tescopoly.

Tescopoly

Bless Playlist 21/2/06

Victor Scott

Tonight’s best new track was Victor Scott’s sublime ‘Chimp Farm.’ It’s very short but amazingly sweet, a tickly mixture of jazz guitar chords and loony synth solo. Everyone I’ve played this track to has loved it. Why not treat yourself to Mr. Scott’s album which you can buy for THREE QUID! Yep, three pounds gets you his whole album and a bonus album too. You really can’t go wrong, if you like music which is frenetically eclectic and loves jumping the genre rails. Have a look here for details.

Gorilla Biscuits

The best old track was Gorilla Biscuit’s ‘Start Today.’ Really, what else could you want from a straight-edge hardcore song than this? Astonishingly fresh and powerful, all these years later.

Tonight, you heard:

Centro-Matic – Calling Thermatico
Vitalic – Wooo
MF Grimm – Get Down Feat. DJ Ekim
Descendents – GCF
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – Criminal Piece
Funkstorung – Bjork ‘All Is Full Of Love (In Love With Funkstorung Remix)’
Sol Seppy – Come Running
Grayskul – Living Nightmares
Ochre – Drink Malk
Gorilla Biscuits – Start Today
Youth Of Today – Flame Still Burns
Islands – Rough Gem
Agent Simple – Make A Right At Jordsfallmotet
Venetian Snares – Epidermis
El Da Sensei – Crowd Pleasa
Victor Scott – Chimp Farm
The Knife – Silent Shout
Remembering Never – The Glutton
The Hartmans – Indiependent
Roots Manuva – No Love
Goldspot – Friday
Modeselektor – Dancingbox (Featuring TTC)
Suburban Kids With Biblical Names – Parakit
The Shins – New Slang
Saskrotch – Super Spy Hunter
Perceptionists – Black Dialogue
Herman Dune – Not On Top
Riddle Of Steel – Baby Bird
Marco Passarani – Again
Kelley Stoltz – Birdies Singing
Mad Son – 10 Days Left
Grandaddy – Elevate Myself
VAEG – The Sturgeon
Norfolk & Western – A Gilded Age
Sibiria – Hat Tillbaks
The Field Mice – Fabulous Friend
Masta Ace & Stricklin – The Hitman (Vocal)
Acustic – Flow
The Ladies – Non-Threatening
Sufjan Stevens – Chicago (Live)
Junip – The Ghost Of Tom Joad
Trembling Blue Stars – ABBA On The Jukebox

Mass Culture?

Cabaret

One of my favourite ever films is just starting on BBC1. Cabaret seduces me with its mix of politics, fantastic pop songs and Bob Fosse. I think it’s my favourite musical and pretty high amongst every film I’ve seen, whatever genre.

I remember first seeing it as a kid and being utterly shocked by it. The bit when the boy starts singing ‘Tomorrow Belongs To Me’ still makes me shiver today, the first time I saw it, I think it made me cry. Of course, around then I was regularly getting beaten up by neo-Nazis so it was bound to make an impression.

I have the Cabaret DVD. But I’m watching it now, on BBC1. Why?

I don’t really know. But I suspect it’s because I’m an old geezer who enjoys being part of mass culture. I come from times when there were only three, then four TV channels. When 20+ million Britons would watch the same programme. Or listen to the same radio channel.

Now everything is fractured in space, time and genre. We’ve been fiched, quiched and now niched. We’re all in our little hutches watching channel 43 out of 800. The audiences are tiny, the playground / workplace gossip robbed of commonality. “Did you see…?” “No.” “Ahh…ummm…”

So, I’m watching Cabaret now to be part of the group of people who are watching Cabaret now.

Strange, eh?

Bias? What Bias?

BBC Bias

Look at that headline:

British forces face increasing problems in Iraq in the wake of footage of soldiers apparently beating Iraqis.
(Source: BBC News)

My emphasis there on the ‘apparently.’

Now, bear in mind that charges have already been brought:

Cpl Martin Webster, of 1st Battalion The Light Infantry, was arrested on the day of publication, while a further two unnamed soldiers were arrested two days later.
(Source: BBC News)

And that the Iraqis have already taken action and are determined to get justice for those abused by our troops:

But with Maysan council joining its counterpart in Basra in registering a protest over the footage, most of British-controlled Iraq is now not co-operating.

All contacts with UK military and civilian authorities in Maysan have been suspended and the council has demanded the release of all the detainees from the province being held by the coalition.

The council in Basra, which has already frozen ties, has now warned its employees they will be fired if they have any involvement with the British forces.

Both councils are also demanding an immediate handover of powers from the British. The governor of Maysan told the BBC he intended to pursue the soldiers responsible for the apparent beatings through the British civil courts, if no criminal charges were brought by the UK authorities.
(Source: BBC News)

But notice that the headline still says ‘apparently.’ Just that one word puts a whole spin on the story, implying it didn’t actually happen or wasn’t that serious. But, as we can see from the content of the article, it is serious and has caused even more of a rfit between Iraqis and the occupying forces.

‘Apparently?’ What does that mean? You’ve got video footage there of our troops abusing unarmed civilians and kicking a corpse in the head. What more concrete evidence do you need? Or are you claiming it’s CGI? ‘Apparently’ ends up reading as ‘allegedly’ and there’s no ‘allegedly’ about it: we know it happened the only question is who took part.

Most people won’t read the content of the article, they’ll skim the headline and the ‘apparently’ will make them believe the abuse is un-proven or minor. It’s a re-framing of the facts, subtle propaganda biased towards us.

In light of this, I’ve got some more headlines for the BBC:

“Chinese troops apparently attack protestors in Tianamen Square.”

“Japanese apparently attack US base in Hawaii.”

“Footage of Hussein’s forces apparently gassing Kurds.”

There you go, much fairer, eh?

Menezes Murder: Police Charged With Cover Up

Menezes
Jean Charles de Menezes, murdered by the Met

Police officers are facing criminal charges over allegations that they tampered with evidence after shooting dead an innocent Brazilian at a London Underground station, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) officials investigating the killing of 27-year-old Jean Charles de Menezes plan to charge the officers who oversaw the operation with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Police surveillance officers allegedly tried to disguise the fact that they had mistaken Mr de Menezes for Hussain Osman, the alleged terrorist being hunted for a failed suicide bombing on the Tube.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report reveals that a log was changed so that it read: “And it was not Osman” instead of “it was Osman”. This meant that surveillance officers could claim the marksmen had shot dead the wrong man despite having been warned that he was not who they had thought.
(Source: The Independent)

There seems to be some internecine feuding going on here. First of all, let’s be clear about the two parties. The first is the Met’s Armed Response Units / Specialist Firearms Officers (SO19).

Then we have the rather more shady Special Branch:

Special Branch is the arm of the British, Irish and many Commonwealth police forces that deals with national security matters. They acquire and develop intelligence to help protect the public (and the state) from national security threats, including terrorism, separatism, and subversive and other extremist activity.

The original Special Irish Branch of London’s Metropolitan Police was formed in March 1883 to counter the Irish Republican Brotherhood. The “Irish” soubriquet was later dropped as the department extended its remit to cover other threats.

Each British police force has its own Special Branch, the largest by far being that of the Specialist Operations department of the Metropolitan Police (SO12). These departments work closely with one another and with MI5, the Security Service. The officers work in plain clothes and are occasionally armed. Although they are not part of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), they are entitled to use the prefix ‘Detective’ in front of their ranks.

The intelligence work of Special Branch is overlooked in some circles. This is because its role sits somewhere between that of the more enigmatic Security Service and that of the more glamorously titled Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorist Branch (SO13).

It was announced, in September 2005, that the Metropolitan Police Special Branch would be merging with the Anti-Terrorism Branch of the Metropolitan Police to form a new department called Counter Terrorism Command.
(Source: Wikipedia)

It’s Special Branch that will have files on you if you’ve ever been in CND, a trade union organiser or any other vaguely lefty movement. It was specifically formed to deal with Irish Republicans and hasn’t changed much in its “anti-subversive’ remit since then. Apart from they probably beat up anyone named Khan nowadays intsead of O’Malley.

So, from the report above, I’m assuming it’s members of SO12 who are trying to pass the blame on to their comrades in SO19. This kind of corruption and larceny is pretty standard for the Met, whatever department you’re dealing with. The only difference here is that the people being framed are fellow police officers rather than some hapless black lad.

The meat of the issue still isn’t being addressed: anyone can now be shot dead in the street by our police force based on the slightest evidence. The murder of Menezes shows how inaccurate that evidence can be and how dangerous it becomes when we let the police off their leash.

Even if the marksmen were fed the wrong information, why did they shoot an unarmed man wearing a thin shirt and jeans? No coat, no bag, nowhere to conceal a bomb or large weapons? Nothing about this cover-up changes or negates that question.

It’s a question that demands a public inquiry:

There was a public outcry over the shooting of Mr de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station. The armed officers were acting under controversial new guidelines which allow police to shoot suspected suicide bombers without challenge.

Mr de Menezes’ family has called for a public inquiry into the killing. They have already brought a separate case against Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. They allege that he misled the public over comments he made in the aftermath of the Stockwell shooting.
(Source: The Independent)

We deserve answers. The police our meant to be our protectors and servants, not our executioners.