NOT A TEAM: HOW THE POLICE OBSTRUCT OTHER EMERGENCY SERVICES (AND TAKE CREDIT)

police miami car crash

by Kasper Hassett

CW: police brutality, racism

We tend to think of them as a trio: the police; the firefighters; the paramedics. They all answer the same phone line; they all blare the same siren on their way to the scene. Not all three, however, exist to support civilians, nor do they operate in unison, and this façade is what enables the police to be revered no matter how much they tear communities apart and instil fear.Continue Reading

STATUES ARE COMING DOWN BUT RACISM REMAINS

churchill statue black and white

by Lisa Insansa Woods

Colston is in the river. Winston Churchill is quivering. Cecil Rhodes glares brazenly at the Oxford University governors threatening to tear him down, his maniacal eyes finding flickers of solace in the realisation that whether he remains or not, the society he served over a century ago still slithers in its self-made pool of white supremacy (enough to still make his cold hard mouth turn into a grin).

The taking down of statues is a powerful display of justice. Every day, the Black community has had to endure looking up at its oppressors whilst simultaneously being battered by the system that those same glorified figures acted to perpetuate. Each statue that falls is a nod of recognition to the Black experience – an experience which has been subdued for hundreds of years as something that is not worthy of our knowledge. However, whilst pulling down a statue is a strong gesture, it does not annihilate the insidious manifestation of racism that courses through every part of our society. We need to do more.Continue Reading

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE RIOTING AND THE LOOTING

riot fire blm chad davis

by Sarah Edgcumbe

CW: racism, violence, police brutality

We need to talk about the rioting. And the looting. And the destruction of statues during recent Black Lives Matter protests. We really do. The failure to recognise the entrenched nature of historical and enduring structural violence in both the US and the UK speaks volumes in terms of the normalization of oppression, enforced poverty, racism and discrimination in contemporary society. Whilst there are certainly white victims of structural violence, it is an irrefutable fact that Black or minority ethnic communities experience the most severe intersecting consequences – not as uncomfortable rarities, but as a grinding, every day, relentless struggle, which as we have seen in the case of George Floyd along with so many other black men, women and youth, can too often have fatal results.Continue Reading

THE ONLY WAY TO END POLICE BRUTALITY IS TO ABOLISH THE POLICE

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by Lisa Insansa Woods

CW: racism, violence, police brutality

A tide of anguish currently sweeps our world, hammering at the white supremacist order. On the evening of May 25th, George Floyd was mercilessly killed by a white US policeman. The world watched from their homes as Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, ignoring his screams as he called out that he couldn’t breathe. George Floyd was suffocated of his last breath. Three other policemen stood and watched. The state brutally murdered a Black man. The people decided to revolt.

Right now, we are seeing mass protests from the US to the UK to the rest of the world, both on the streets and online, physically and mentally. Police brutality pervades our society and the recent piling up of Black bodies such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery has become just too much. We need change. The only way to achieve this change is to abolish the police.Continue Reading

‘THREAT TO THE POLISH STATE’ – ANTI LGBT SENTIMENTS ENSHRINED IN POLISH LAW

by Ewa Giera

CW: homophobia

As a ‘citizen of nowhere’ who spends far more time engaged with UK politics, I often get to turn a blind eye to the place I’ve left behind. But to many who follow the general flow of Polish politics, it won’t be a surprise that this year marks Poland’s drop to 42nd place out of 49 in ILGA Europe’s annual Rainbow Map ranking, making it the least LGBTQIA+ friendly country in the European Union. As we experience a rise in fascist politics across the majority of Europe, it’s worth to take a closer look at the way Poland has approached its place on the list and the way its government has enshrined its anti-LGBT sentiment in both culture and policy.Continue Reading

WILL IRAQ’S NEW PRIME MINISTER RECOGNISE ROMA RIGHTS?

by Sarah Edgcumbe

In early May 2020, Mustafa al-Kadhimi was appointed as Iraq’s new Prime Minister against the context of ongoing protests and popular discontent resulting from widespread government corruption. This corruption has contributed massively towards increasing poverty, reduction in public services and rising unemployment. Since the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq, social cohesion has fractured perhaps (but hopefully not) irrevocably, with politics and society becoming increasingly sectarian.

The effects of the sectarian conflict in Iraq have been widely reported on, but the media has remained largely silent on the dire situation of the Iraqi Roma. This lack of attention by the media is reflective of the neglect of the Roma of Iraq by the government, humanitarian and human rights organizations and largely speaking, civic society in general. The complete lack of information produced by the Iraqi government on the Iraqi Roma is symptomatic of the de facto policies of ostracization and othering which have persisted since the formation of the Iraqi state in the 1920s. The number of Roma residents in Iraq, including the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI), is unknown, but best estimates place the figure at nearly 200,000 – translating to roughly 0.5% of the Iraqi population. Continue Reading

QUEER LONELINESS & THE IMPENDING MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

by Kasper Hassett

CW: mental health

Long predating the lockdown, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have reported feelings of isolation and loneliness at alarmingly high levels. This reached a point where ‘queer loneliness’ was dubbed an epidemic, and the mental health of the community overall was recognised as dire. With many now separated from their support networks during lockdown, queer people are experiencing new lows in their mental health. Additionally, much of the previously mentally healthy population is also struggling, and NHS services are suffocating from cuts, meaning that many queer people will miss out on vital mental health services as a complacent wider world focuses on going ‘back to normal’. Continue Reading

ARE WE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER? COVID AND RACISM

by Lisa Insansa Woods

CW: racism

At the moment, we are led to believe that Covid-19 is a marauder snatching away our media, our minds and our vulnerable population and that the only way to defeat such a pernicious beast is to sing hollow cries of “we are all in this together.” Yes, this should be a time for us to unify in communal admonishment of the situation; a time where we should realise our shared will to thrive alongside our neighbours; a time to join mutual aid groups to help those more vulnerable in a true display of fraternité; but, in doing this, we should not be blind to the fact that we do not share an equal burden.Continue Reading

WELL-BEING FIRST: THINKING HEALTHY IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

by Sunetra Senior

A couple of weeks ago we were told of the extent of the Tory government’s negligence during a time of intense international crisis. They disregarded important information provided by advisory committees at critical moments as well as the crucial COBRA Meetings themselves, which are specifically held to ensure strong leadership at times of national emergency. According to the article in The Times, Boris’ earlier inaction has resulted in the number of deaths reaching six figures with the estimated mortality predicted to be 400,000. Of course, in addition to patently disregarding hundreds of thousands of lives, Johnson’s administration has also put the physical health of millions at risk with the virus running uncontrolled throughout the population for a whole month between 24th Feb when the recorded number of deaths skyrocketed, and the announcement of effective lockdown measures in mid-March.Continue Reading

THE ACID TEST OF ‘BRITISHNESS’: DEFERENCE TO POLITICAL ELITES OR DEFENCE OF DEMOCRACY?

by Sarah Edgcumbe 

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to have disastrous consequences for many people around the globe who have lost loved ones, or who are struggling to cope financially due to livelihood disruption. Domestic violence rates have increased at a staggering rate, whilst loneliness and uncertainty are having a negative effect on many people’s mental health. It is amidst these turbulent times that once again, much like the train-wreck of Brexit, the acid test of “Britishness” seems to be qualified by how deferential people can be to the political elite, as opposed to how willing they are to defend democracy and the welfare of Britain’s citizens and residents.

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RESISTANCE AND REBELLION AFTER COVID-19

by Sarah Edgcumbe 

What a time to be alive. As Covid-19 rampages its way across the globe ravaging families and livelihoods, a medical fetish company has had to supply the NHS with equipment because the British government is a lethal combination of neoliberal, greedy and incompetent. While kink is contributing to saving lives, and while many people are faced with the prospect of trying to subsist and keep their families afloat on £94.25 per week sick pay during the lockdown, the British government has been putting together £1 billion of public funding to be doled out to countries who then intend to use this loan to buy British-made bombs and surveillance technology. British people die through negligence, people in other nations die through cataclysmic violence: welcome to Tory Britain.

Continue Reading

CORONAVIRUS AND THE POLITICS OF THE DEAD

by Jack Brindelli

Until recently, it turns out people all had rather twee conceptions of what they would do in the zombie apocalypse. Over the catastrophic few weeks it has taken for the coronavirus outbreak to become a seemingly uncontainable pandemic, the idea that everyone would easily assemble rag-tag bands of self-sufficient survivors, each with a set of key skills to contribute to staving off the undead horde – or even that they could coolly stroll to The Winchester and wait for this all to all blow over while sitting in the dark, cramming monkey-nuts into their faces – has somewhat been blown out of the water.

It turns out while the Keep-Calm-and-Carry-On-Blitz-Spirit-I’m-Alright-Jack-Brexit-Means-Brexit brigade who until recently seemed to have the nation in a never-ending strangle-hold might have slightly overestimated themselves. Instead, the ‘hardened survivors’ in the dog-eat-dog rat-race of neo-liberal Britain have largely prepared for the end times by hording enough TP to last six life-times of shit, and hanging timidly on every word of advice from a serial-fibber hermetically sealed in 10 Downing Street who seems to want their grandparents to die.

With regards to that though, as a horror enthusiast, I feel one of the few positives to come out of the UK’s rapid disintegration into an island-death-cult is that it surely ends the facile debate around whether zombies need to be fast to be scary. For years, casual fans of the horror genre would casually bleat that slow-moving zombies would be far too easy to contain. Not only could the all-powerful state machinery of the police and army quite simply outflank the shambling masses, the theory was that civil society – and its mass-dissemination of information through ever faster means in the late 20th and early 21st century –would mean the masses would all be more than ready and able to do their part in stopping a pandemic. What the last few weeks of utter disarray prove beyond doubt is that that was wilful ignorance.

one of the few positives to come out of the UK’s rapid disintegration into an island-death-cult is that it surely ends the facile debate around whether zombies need to be fast to be scary

The incumbent Government has spent a decade dismantling the very healthcare infrastructure it turns out Britain needs to weather a pandemic, while its sustained campaign of austerity has weakened the economy to the point a gust of wind could send the whole house of cards tumbling down. Realising his previously unassailable majority in the House of Commons is unlikely to survive the death of hundreds of thousands of his voters, as well as a recession of his making, Boris Johnson has engaged in a dogged exercise of covering his own arse via a campaign of disinformation, while consolidating his position by investing himself with emergency powers before shit hits the fan.

In the fallout of this, while ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ panic buyers strip the shelves of essentials they have more than enough of, and London’s commute is still crammed with gig-economy slaves too poor to self-isolate, under-resourced hospitals are having to kit nurses with improvised masks and re-used gloves. Not disconnectedly, the number of Covid-19 cases is still booming, and the body-count mounting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7ynwAgQlDQ

Sitting back and watching the chaos ensue, it is now thoroughly clear that the Rage virus of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later did not sweep the nation simply because the infected could  run, jump or vomit blood, but because it actually took place in an alternative timeline, where there was a Tory Government in 2002.

In deleted scenes, fictitious Prime Minister Joris Bohnson no doubt blundered his way through manic press-conferences, suggesting that “for all we know there could be 100,000 cases of Rage already, so really is there any point in trying to fight it?” Later he may even have suggested it was better to “just let it move through the population” in order to achieve the fabled herd immunity – before concluding in the meantime, the best thing we could do is go to crowded public places and stimulate the economy by purchasing blunt objects with which to defend ourselves from the growing horde of the undead.

The desperation to maintain the status-quo that had enriched the rich and influential meant they would obscure the bigger picture from the population

Indeed, on a global level, the level of wilful ignorance, gross negligence and criminal incompetence exhibited by the majority of the world’s governments (based in the Netherlands, I can tell you Mark Rutte’s management of this crisis has been every bit as bad as Boris’) – paired with the odious disregard for human life exhibited by businesses bent on ‘keeping the beaches open’ at all costs – show exactly how prescient filmmakers like George A. Romero were. In those films, the determination of the state and the private sector to maintain their wealth and power were truly the most horrific element of the story.

The desperation to maintain the status-quo that had enriched the rich and influential meant they would obscure the bigger picture from the population (the chaotic double-speak in Dawn of the Dead’s media coverage is scarily similar to that of the Covid-19 outbreak) for fear of prompting calls for governments and bosses to be held accountable for the mounting crisis, or to support the vulnerable people who would be the first victims. On top of this, it often meant they would brutally seek to put down the masses’ attempts to improve the situation, or to reclaim any power ceded to them during the collapse of society (as seen in Land of the Dead).

Running or walking then, the zombie genre stands as a stark warning to us, especially in times like these. When a crisis suddenly illustrates all the weak-points in a socio-economic system we are trained from birth to believe is not only superior, but natural, we must be ready to learn on our feet – and fight to upend the economic and governmental norms which are guaranteed to fail us in a time of crisis. Our very survival is on the line.

Since this was written, Covid-19 has been stricken by having to share a body with Boris Johnson. Our thoughts and prayers are with the virus at this trying time.

(originally published on IndyFilmLibrary, republished with permission)

 

Indy Film Library

Until recently, it turns out people all had rather twee conceptions of what they would do in the zombie apocalypse. Over the catastrophic few weeks it has taken for the coronavirus outbreak to become a seemingly uncontainable pandemic, the idea that everyone would easily assemble rag-tag bands of self-sufficient survivors, each with a set of key skills to contribute to staving off the undead horde – or even that they could coolly stroll to The Winchester and wait for this all to all blow over while sitting in the dark, cramming monkey-nuts into their faces – has somewhat been blown out of the water.

It turns out while the Keep-Calm-and-Carry-On-Blitz-Spirit-I’m-Alright-Jack-Brexit-Means-Brexit brigade who until recently seemed to have the nation in a never-ending strangle-hold might have slightly overestimated themselves. Instead, the ‘hardened survivors’ in the dog-eat-dog rat-race of neo-liberal Britain have largely prepared for the end times by hording enough TP…

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THE EU WASN’T ALL THAT GOOD (BUT WE SHOULD HAVE STAYED ANYWAY) – PART II

brexit eu signs

By Jonathan Lee

Part I of this article can be found here.

Since the United Kingdom signed the Withdrawal Agreement and formally left the European Union on 31st January, Remainers and Leavers are just as polarised as they ever were. Much of the rhetoric from Leavers and Remainers demonstrates a warped understanding of what the EU actually is and how it works. In this part, we address a few notable example of the things which both sides get very, very wrong.

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THE EU WASN’T ALL THAT GOOD (BUT WE SHOULD HAVE STAYED ANYWAY) – PART I

brexit eu signs

By Jonathan Lee

Lots of people are probably feeling quite deflated at the moment, after the United Kingdom finally signed the Withdrawal Agreement and officially left the European Union on 31st January. Liberal Remainers are certainly making their grief known to the world, crying from the digital rooftops and tearing their virtual hair out. Meanwhile the most fanatic Leavers are probably wondering why all the foreigners are still here and why milk and flour still comes in litres and kilograms. It’s all fiction of course. We’ve not left the EU yet in economic terms, so until the end of the year almost nothing will change. Continue Reading

IN SOLIDARITY WITH AL-MOUNADIL/AH AS MOROCCO CONTINUES TO STIFLE VOICES OF DISSENT

by Yali Banton-Heath

The revolutionary socialist newspaper and website Al-Mounadil/ah or ‘The Militant’ is facing an existential legal threat from the Moroccan state under it’s continued assault on the Left, progressive voices, and freedom of expression in the country. The onslaught of arrests and passing of restrictive legislation in recent years has targeted independent journalists and publications, and the use of social media and the internet as a platform for political expression. As the statement released by Al-Mounadil/ah’s editorial team reads: “the restrictions will not succeed in gagging voices; the advancement of technology will make a mockery of anyone that tries.

Al-Mounadil/ah’s director  received a court summons late last month regarding the newspaper’s compliance with Morocco’s Press and Publications Law; a piece of legislation which places onerous conditions on reporters and journalists in attempt to suffocate dissent in the media. Continue Reading

YANGON PRIDE KICKS OFF WITH NEW #LOVEISNOTACRIME CAMPAIGN

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by Lotty Clare

Content warning: sexual violence, corrective rape, sexual abuse, suicide.

Last Friday was the beginning of Yangon Pride celebrations in a country where human rights abuses are rife, and homosexuality is criminalised. The rising profile of LGBTQ+ rights in Myanmar provides precious hope for queer people in the country. However, the road to equality is a long one.  

Yangon’s 2020 Pride festival is organised by &PROUD and runs from January 18th to February 2nd. The opening day in Thakin Mya park attracted thousands of people. The city’s pride events include a boat parade, queer dance performances, drag shows, queer film screenings and panel discussions, and of course lots of rainbows. The films that will be shown include ‘A Simple Love Story’ a short documentary film that was given a distinction in the Wathann Film Festival but was not screened due to censorship, even though there was no nudity. The film centred around a trans couple and asked the question ‘does love have any gender?’. Continue Reading

DOMINIC RAAB EPITOMIZES THE GROSS INCOMPETENCY OF THE TORY CABINET

By Jonathan Lee

It’s easy to forget about Dominic Raab. He has the special ability, endemic to those inhabiting the current Tory cabinet, of being able to adjust his principles and cabinet position with a chamaeleon-like proficiency.

It’s actually hard to remember who does what in the Tory government in general, because there have been so many cabinet shuffles and reshuffles since 2016. The same group of tribalist, Tory chancers have been switched around so many times in recent years, it makes it difficult to hold individuals accountable for the disastrous policies put forward by recent governments.Continue Reading

SLAUGHTER AND MASS DISPLACEMENT IN IDLIB

by Sarah Edgcumbe

“Children and anybody with a free spirit have become terrorists in the eyes of the world.” My Syrian friend and I are discussing the current situation in Idlib. We are both exasperated that the world is standing idly by as thousands of innocent people are murdered or made homeless. Idlib, a governorate in North West Syria, is often portrayed as home exclusively to terrorists and violent Islamist extremists. My friend’s reference to “a free spirit” is his description of the people who participated in the Syrian revolution: those who dared to demand a free and peaceful life including the right to participate in democratic elections and to exercise freedom of speech and assembly without fear of being arbitrarily detained, tortured, executed or otherwise disappeared into the Syrian regime’s nightmarish prison system.Continue Reading

THE NORWICH RADICAL IN 2019

by Alex Valente

2019 is drawing to a close, but the turmoil and trauma of this turbulent year show no signs of abating. As we wrote on the cold, miserable and particularly unfortunate morning of Friday the 13th,

in the coming months and years, many in this country and elsewhere will suffer under a Tory government led by a racist liar. Social services will be dismembered. Workers’ rights will be eroded. Vulnerable people will face violence at the hands of increasingly aggressive immigration authorities and police. All of which will be sanctioned, incited, and protected by the country’s highest authorities and institutions.

The turn of a decade is an important time to review, to remember what the good fight is actually about, and what type of work is expected from us, as people, as a community, as a society.Continue Reading

THE MORNING AFTER #GE2019

The Norwich Radical Editorial Team

By now you’ve seen the headlines. There’s no easy way to say this: in the coming months and years, many in this country and elsewhere will suffer under a Tory government led by a racist liar. Social services will be dismembered. Workers’ rights will be eroded. Vulnerable people will face violence at the hands of increasingly aggressive immigration authorities and police. All of which will be sanctioned, incited, and protected by the country’s highest authorities and institutions.Continue Reading

NARRATIVES OF POWER & THE SILENCING OF COMMUNITY

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by Sarah Edgcumbe

The monopolization and manipulation of public narratives by the powerful has long been a pernicious political reality on both a national and global level. Invariably, they who shout the loudest somehow assert a claim to legitimacy, despite the commonly ill-conceived and downright harmful nature of the content being peddled. Continue Reading

THE TORY RECORD ON GYPSIES, ROMA & TRAVELLERS MAKES FOR GRIM READING

by Jonathan Lee

A political party in the UK is defined by its members and its representatives. Regardless of the leader, the real character of a party is found in the policies it puts forward, and the things that its cabinet members, MPs, and local councillors do and say. In the Labour Party, the about turn the party took from being the neoliberal centre-right party of Tony Blair, to the democratic socialist party of Jeremy Corbyn was brought about by the will of its members. The elected politicians of the Labour Party do not always see eye-to-eye with their leader, but if you look at the collective things they say and do, and the policies they propose, there is a broad consensus on certain values which tell you the nature of the party as a whole. The same can be said of the Conservative Party. You can read more here if you want a ten year history of Conservative hate speech against Romani and Traveller people.

The following is a summary of Conservative policies which have affected Gypsies, Roma, & Travellers during the time the Conservatives have been in power.Continue Reading

GENERAL ELECTION: A JEWISH LEFTIST’S THOUGHTS

by Tamar Moshkovitz

This was originally posted as a personal reflection, but the editorial team approached me after reading, and we thought it might find a different, perhaps wider audience on The Norwich Radical. 

I’ve been finding it harder and harder to stay silent on the lead up to this general election. Not only because I feel that it’ll be a major defining moment in the history of the UK – which it will; for anyone who’s not registered to vote yet, please do so here – but because every time I think about saying what I think I get hopelessly tangled up in the mess of being both Jewish and a leftist.Continue Reading

LAND JUSTICE AND THE 2019 LABOUR MANIFESTO: A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE

by Yali Banton-Heath

A massive issue facing the UK at the moment is right under our noses and indeed right under our feet. That issue is land. Though land injustice may stem from historical legislation such as the Enclosure Acts and the shrinking of the commons through large-scale land grabs over past centuries, the phenomenon continues today, with land inequality becoming ever-increasingly stark. Land is moving more and more from public control into wealthy private hands, with land and housing prices rocketing over recent decades as a result of speculative inflation. In 1995 the total value of land in the UK was around £1 trillion, that figure is now more than £5 trillion

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WANT TO KNOW THE SOUL OF WALES? LISTEN TO HER MUSIC

by Jonathan Lee

The oldest known song in the British Isles dates back 1,400 years and it’s written in Welsh.

Pais Dinogad was sung in Rheged, a kingdom of Yr Hen Ogledd (the old North), in what is now modern day Cumbria and the Scottish Lowlands. The song is a simple lullaby, telling a baby of his father, Lord Dinogad, who is out hunting in a time long before Anglo-Saxons or even Gaels had arrived in this part of Britain.

It probably wouldn’t be described as an absolute banger if we’re completely honest (although this lyre-wielding, tattooed, metal-head gives it a real good go). It’s nonetheless incredible that it’s still being sung at all today, and that its lyrics are broadly comprehensible to modern Welsh speakers.Continue Reading

ROJAVA, REFUGEES & EU RESPONSIBILITY

by Sarah Edgcumbe

Since Turkey’s aggressive offensive against Rojava, an area of North Eastern Syria, began early in October 2019, at least 160,000 Syrians have fled their homes. A BBC report from the 17th October states that airstrikes and ground attacks have killed civilians on both sides of the Turkey / Syria border and quotes a UNICEF estimate that 70,000 children have already been displaced. This is a tragedy for the Kurdish citizens of Rojava, as well as the broader Middle East, given what the Rojava political project represented. Continue Reading

RACIST FOOTBALL CHANTS ARE JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG IN BULGARIA

by Jonathan Lee

Content warning: sexual assault, racist slurs, violence

On Monday 14th October, a UEFA Euro Qualifiers match between Bulgaria and England was forced to stop on two occasions after racist abuse from Bulgarian fans was aimed at Black players on the England team. The match, which was already subject to a partial stadium ban for previous incidents of racism, saw black clad, nazi saluting, monkey-chanting skinheads hijack the proceedings and force the stadium to issue announcements and the refereee to halt the game.

The three step UEFA protocol (which reached the second step on Monday night, the third would have abandoned the match) has been criticised for being ineffective and too soft to counter discrimination. Whilst UEFA’s public reaction to the racism has been firm, calling for “football’s family” to “wage war on the racists”, whether or not neo-nazis should be given two free gos at abusing Black English players before they are punished is a valid point.Continue Reading

COLONIALISM, CORRUPTION & CHAOS: THE DISILLUSIONMENT OF IRAQI YOUTH

by Sarah Edgcumbe

During early October 2019, in the space of just nine days, Iraqi state forces killed over one hundred young people and injured thousands more. Thousands. In just nine days. As anti-corruption protests broke out, the state deployed live ammunition almost immediately. In some places, snipers positioned themselves on rooftops, picking off young Iraqi citizens who had nothing left to lose except the hope that they would one day experience a government that provides for their basic needs rather than greedily shovelling oil revenue into its own pockets.

The catalyst for these protests was the sacking of Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, who led the fight against ISIS as part of Iraq’s elite counter terrorism unit, and who was widely acknowledged as the liberator of Mosul. As soon as his transfer to an administrative role was made public, speculation arose that ‘his refusal to back a specific political party made him unpopular among officials in Baghdad’, and that he was ‘removed from his post because he broke sectarian barriers in Mosul.’ The sacking of al-Saadi was widely perceived as emblematic of the corruption that has characterized successive post-U.S invasion administrations, resulting in widespread protests against corruption, unemployment and poor public services. Continue Reading

ANTIGYPSYISM WILL NOT BE CURED BY NEOLIBERAL WISHFUL THINKING

by Jonathan Lee

There is a mendacious yet persistent fantasy that Roma could be saved from the horrors of racism and discrimination if only they weren’t so poor. It is the conservative idea that the free market can cure racism, that racism is purely a product of economic disparity, and that if only Roma were more economically engaged, most of the nasty symptoms of antigypsyism would simply fall away. Continue Reading

THE RISE OF POPULISM IN 21ST CENTURY POLITICS

by Matt Musindi

Politics has become more divisive and polarised than ever, and it is the populists who have been the main beneficiaries of these political divisions. A populist is someone who consistently promises to channel the unified will of the people. Going off this definition, most political parties in liberal democracies are populist and yet this is not the case – why?Continue Reading

TRANSPARENT TRANSACTIONS

by David Breakspear

As an active prison reform campaigner, I have wanted the fences and walls which surround our prisons to become metaphorically invisible. But why is this important to me?

As a former prisoner who, due to sentence and not a conviction, will always have to disclose parts of my criminal record, and who will forever have my life open to scrutiny, privacy is not an option; I had or have no choice in the matter. If I’m asked, I must tell. This despite the fact that I am not involved with the system as a ‘resident’ or ‘service-user’ anymore and no longer considered a risk to society. A reformed character, my new label? Continue Reading

PROBLEMATIC “PEACEBUILDING”: WHEN THE POWERFUL DON’T ASK AND WON’T LISTEN

peacebuilding afghanistan

by Sarah Edgcumbe

Afghanistan, a country that has been in and out of the news since the 9/11 terror attack and subsequent U.S.-led coalition invasion, is once again at the forefront of media attention this month, as a result of Trump’s decision to cancel peace talks with the Taliban on 9th September. The relentless violence and bombings conducted by Afghan state forces, U.S.-backed Afghan militias, Taliban, religious extremist groups, career criminals and other groups are no longer considered to be remarkable events; they happen so frequently that the international audience has become desensitized to them. Continue Reading

THE TECHNOLOGY REVOLUTION

computer prison study 1

by David Breakspear

“ICT and digital systems in prison must support more flexible access to learning that is tailored to the needs of individual learners and enables participation in distance and other learning.”  (Coates, 2016)

People are sent to prison as punishment for a crime they are alleged to have committed. I say alleged as I am no longer confident that a finding of guilt in court is an indication of whether the alleged guilty party, is in fact, guilty; however, this is a separate debate.

Why are ICT and digital systems, and of course education, important in prison? Continue Reading

KEEP CALM & WORK YOURSELF TO DEATH

pension work dwp

by Jonathan Lee

New pension plans to work till you die are no cause for alarmsays arch-Tory overlord Ian Duncan Smith. A recent report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the Tory think-tank which brought us Universal Credit, has recommended the government raise the retirement age from 65 to 70 by 2028, and to 75 by 2035.

The Tories are not content to simply make workers’ lives as miserable as possible through underfunding schools, unaffordable housing, food poverty, and the greatest devaluation of wages in modern history. They now seek to steal the last golden years of life from the majority of working class people who cannot afford a private pension in order to retire early.Continue Reading

NATURE OR NURTURE

by David Breakspear

CW: mentions suicide, self-harm

In my previous article ‘Consequence of Conscience’, I mention a work titled Suicide by sociologist Émile Durkheim. In Suicide, Durkheim introduced us to the term ‘anomie’, suggesting it to be a breakdown of social norms resulting in a lack of standards and values. He also used this same term and definition to explain a reason as to why some members of society embark on a path of crime or ‘deviance’ – straying from the norm. Durkheim saw deviance as an inevitable part of life which is needed for innovation and change.Continue Reading

LEGACY OF EMPIRE: DARKEST DAYS OF INDIAN DEMOCRACY

kashmir nidhi suresh india

by Sarah Edgcumbe, Saba Azeem and Nidhi Suresh

CW: rape, torture

Since 5th August 2019, the Indian government has shut down Kashmir in the most repressive and terrifying fashion possible. 48,000 Indian troops have been moved into the state, making it, with 70,000 Indian troops already posted there,  the most densely militarized zone on Earth. These troops are now operating under a “shoot-to-kill” policy and hundreds of Kashmiri human rights activists, academics and business leaders have been arrested. Meanwhile, the Indian government has simultaneously imposed a media and communications blackout, cutting off the internet and thus preventing Kashmiris from being able to communicate their suffering in real time to the rest of the world. Pakistan too revoked state subject rule from Gilgit-Baltistan (part of Pakistan occupied Kashmir) in 1974, in a move similar to India’s current strategy. However, in doing so, there was no media black-out nor curfews imposed.  India, on the other , has jailed all Kashmiri leadership, transferring them to jails in New Delhi, as well as, according to a magistrate speaking on condition of anonymity, arresting and detaining over 4,000 Kashmiri citizens since 5th August.

Continue Reading

CONSEQUENCE OF CONSCIENCE

prison jail 1

by David Breakspear

CW: mentions suicide

Recently appointed Home Secretary Priti Patel stated in an interview that she wants criminals to “literally feel terror” at the thought of committing crime. In my opinion, to make a statement like that shows how far removed from reality some of our politicians are.

In America, a lot of the States still use the death penalty. I would say that is the ultimate consequential terror for anyone to face. In the UK, the final execution took place as recent as 1964; in fact, the death penalty in the UK was only, totally completely abolished in 1998.

If the sceptre of losing one’s own life is not enough of a consequence to stop breaking the  law, then what is the Home Secretary’s version of ‘terror’?Continue Reading

TRANSPARENT REFORM

prison wall tower reform

by David Breakspear

It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.
N. Mandela

A message I have carried whilst campaigning for reforms in our prison system has been one of making the walls of justice invisible. The walls that ensconce societies; mums, dads, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, other family members and loved ones and/or friends.

As someone that became, somewhat, institutionalised to the safety and comfort of prison, I saw those walls as keeping people out. I also saw this as a good thing. How ironic then, that here I am now, writing an article promoting transparency to those very same walls that were my protectors.Continue Reading

WHAT WE CALL A TERRORIST SHOULD APPLY TO POWERFUL STATES AS WELL

by Sarah Edgcumbe

In April of this year, President Trump further demonstrated his ineptitude as world leader, and cemented his status as an intellectually defective moron, by designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Yes. Trump has designated a sovereign country’s state forces “terrorists” despite his single-handed destruction of the Iranian Nuclear Deal, wholehearted support for Israeli aggression and murder of unarmed Palestinians, and the fact that U.S state forces have unjustifiably slaughtered millions. The pot is definitely calling the kettle black. Continue Reading

TOGETHER WE CAN

derek bentley uk justice

by David Breakspear

It wasn’t until February 2016 when the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, in a criminal case under the doctrine of ‘joint enterprise’ (JE), decided that intent and not just foresight would need to be proven to find a secondary suspect guilty of a crime, such as murder.

One of the most famous JE cases saw, at 9am on January 28th, 1953, 19-year-old Derek Bentley hung, at the hands of Albert Pierrepoint at HMP Wandsworth in London. Before I continue, please bear in mind that the person who “let him have it,” the one who pulled the trigger that killed the policeman Sidney Miles, Christopher Craig, was released in May 1963. Ten years after Derek was hung. Three years before Derek’s remains were removed from the prison burial ground to a family grave. Two lives were taken, one by Christopher, one by the state. Continue Reading

CALL THEM BY THEIR NAME: CONCENTRATION CAMPS

never again action protest camps

by Tamar Moshkovitz

It’s hard to look at photos of the US Border Patrol Facilities and not be horrified. Cramped and overcrowded rooms, sometimes stuffed with double the maximum capacity; people confined for well over the allowed period; children separated from their parents and thrown in rooms with strangers. And this may not be the worse yet, as a Trump administration lawyer went viral when she argued that the government was not obligated to provide basic hygiene products and beds to immigrant children detained at these facilities.Continue Reading

REBEL KITES

by Sarah Edgcumbe

“We are fighting for freedom. We are fighting for our smiles. We don’t care what the occupation thinks about us or what they will do. This is an act of defiance.”

The certainty of retribution implied within the above statement seems exaggerative for merely flying kites, but this is the reality in Burin, a village that holds fast among beautiful rolling hills in the countryside of the northern West Bank, and which is also surrounded by three illegal Israeli settlements. Centuries old, with a population of nearly three thousand, the villagers of Burin have long cared for this land. They’ve raised their families here for generations, celebrated births and marriages, supported each other, grown and harvested ancient olive trees, with roots that symbolize the hundreds of years of Palestinian toil that connect the people to this land. This land that Israel wants so badly but will never have. Continue Reading

WHERE DO YOU STAND?

By David Breakspear

“Freire’s central notion is that ‘hope’, as an idea, ‘is rooted in [our] incompleteness’ and that what makes us human is the ‘constant search’ to become more fulfilled. This is something we pursue collaboratively, and in communion with others.” (Smyth, J., Critical Pedagogy for Social Justice, 2011)

The question I ask, ‘Where do you stand?’, is in relation to our prison system. I could ask instead: “Does your perspective and belief of prison match the experience of those it holds?”Continue Reading

IS IT FINALLY TIME FOR AN ANTIGYPSYISM INQUIRY IN THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY?

by Jonathan Lee

Content warning: hate speech, antigypsyism, inclusion of derogatory language.

After a Hope Not Hate survey revealed the not-so-shocking discovery that two thirds of Conservative Party Members are islamophobes, pressure has been mounting for the Tories to launch a party inquiry into Islamophobia. In a time when Jeremy Corbyn’s hummus eating habits spur fresh cries of antisemitism, it is encouraging to see that the ‘Nasty Party’ are not immune from scrutiny for the widespread racism amongst their members. Though the survey results were damning, the response from the media has been somewhat subdued. Can you imagine the backlash if a survey found that two thirds of Labour Party members believed antisemitic conspiracy theories? Or if 43% said they would prefer the UK was not led by a Jew (as Conservatives members indicated at the possibility of a Muslim Prime Minister)? The next Tory leader will inherit this scandal and may not be able to brush it off so easily.

Now that the lid has been blown off the rampant islamophobia within the Conservative Party, it’s high time other widely held racist beliefs in the party ranks were examined; not least, antigypsyism.Continue Reading

CAN SCHOOL STRIKES FOR CLIMATE CHANGE GOVERNMENT INACTION?

school strike climate

by Sean Meleady

Extinction Rebellion may be getting the most headlines, but another grassroots movement is challenging government and global inaction on climate change. The School Strike for Climate – also known as Fridays for Future, Youth for Climate and Youth Strike for Climate – is a growing international movement of schoolchildren who go ‘on strike’ from school in protest against climate change.  Continue Reading

ACADEMIC FREEDOM OR INSTITUTIONALISED TRANSPHOBIA?

By Lewis Martin

Once again, an array of academics have signed a letter complaining about the increased efforts by universities to recognise and support Trans* and Non-Binary students on their campuses. Their reasons for doing so aren’t worth exploring, as they are based on the same logic, or lack thereof, as many transphobes about the realities of gender, sex and identity. The problem we should focus on is that the academics who have signed this letter, and the ones before it, hide behind the claim of ‘Academic Freedom’ in order to try and justify their views.Continue Reading

ENGLAND FOOTBALL FANS BACK TO OLD (HOMOPHOBIC) WAYS IN PORTUGAL

england fans portugal

by Jonathan Lee

After the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, England football fans had enjoyed a slightly improved reputation internationally for behaving themselves a bit better at away games in Europe. This illusion was shattered last week in Portugal for all the world to see, as boozy lads in shorts and polos attacked locals with bottles, wrecked cars, and clashed with police on the streets of Porto. It turns out that, without Russian ultras and law enforcement to keep them in line, England’s lads-on-tour stag party of intolerance and imperialist nostalgia is just as present in the travelling fan culture as it always has been. Embedded homophobia, a staple of the hooligan culture of old, also reared its ugly head again in Portugal with some England fans feeling unsafe among their own supporters.

I experienced more homophobia in 3 hours here than I did in 3 weeks in Russia,” said Joe White, an English football fan and co-founder of LGBT+ supporters group Three Lions Pride. “And this has all come from England fans” he added. “LGBT+ is clearly not welcome.

Continue Reading

THE DEATH OF EUROPE AS IT ONCE WAS

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By Sarah Edgcumbe

Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2012, over three million civilians have fled the country. The vast majority are currently living in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Libya. Afghanistan has been subjected to war for four decades resulting in Afghans comprising the second highest refugee population in the world, yet the vast majority of Afghan refugees live in Iran and Pakistan. This resettlement of Syrian and Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries is no anomaly: the majority of refugees around the world reside in countries neighbouring their own. These countries often have poor economies and fragility of peace and governance, yet they often accommodate millions of refugees.

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CORE CIVIC’S CORPORATE CULTURE OF HIDING STAFF FELONIES UPON IMMIGRANTS

By David Breakspear

Part Three of Three


In concluding this three-part series (Part One, Part Twoof documented sex crimes by Core Civic upon immigrant inmates, supported by a sworn Affidavit (by @FEDSBANE) and a further witness, The Norwich Radical now chooses to shine a light on high level Core Civic Management and their response to these crimes: to examine if their replies are consistent with their stated ethics policies, and if felonies remain unresolved.

We determine that the best way to examine the angle of Management replies is to simply quote from Donaldson’s Affidavit, since Core Civic does not contest it.

In reference to Assistant Warden Shawn Gillis from McRae Correctional Institution, who had influence over the voyeurism zoom cameras, and subsequent retaliation upon Donaldson for so reporting, Donaldson writes:

“Assistant Warden and PREA Coordinator Shawn Gillis was also removed from McRae, but then promoted to Warden of Adams County Correctional Center in Mississippi. This resembles THE CATHOLIC SHUFFLE, where deviant priests were reshuffled to other locations to make debased problems go away. But the latest news is that under Warden Gillis, the BOP contract at Adams CCC has been forfeit. The problem with Gillis persists.”

Could it be there is an effort at Core Civic to actually hide and reshuffle those caught committing sex felonies against immigrants?

In Donaldson’s Affidavit, he further states:

“At no time were official INVESTIGATION PROTOCOLS followed regarding my sexual harassment grievance, but the precise opposite was the practice. See:

http://www.corecivic.com/the-prison-rape-elimination-act-of-2003-prea

Additionally, the following Corporate Management at Core Civic with specific responsibilities in areas discussed in this Affidavit have refused to communicate with me in any way whatsoever, in order to correct the cited abuses and ethics violations:

  • Eric Pierson – PREA Boss at Core Civic in charge of stated investigation protocols:

http://www.corecivic.com/the-prison-rape-elimination-act-of-2003-prea

  • Scott Craddock Corporate Ethics and Compliance Officer

https://www.corecivic.com/hubfs/_files/Code%20Of%20Conduct%20(CoreCivic).pd

  • Damon Hininger CEO of Core Civic (and all those listed in the link below)

http://www.corecivic.com/about/executive-leadership

  • Cameron Hopewell Managing Director, Investor Relations

http://ir.corecivic.com/contact-ir

  • Amanda Gilchrist, Public Affairs Director

http://www.corecivic.com/newsroom

The organised silence and suppression to cover up these Core Civic crimes are highly coordinated, and provoke 18 USC 371 Conspiracy statutes (Exhibit One).

It never mattered what evidence or witnesses I could provide. My report of sexual harassment against Core Civic leadership was arranged to be rendered stillborn upon arrival. It was doomed & cursed by design; it never had a chance.

Core Civic knew I had exposed their sex crimes, and have committed still more crimes in their efforts to cover it up.

Since Core Civic thwarted my right to report crimes at every turn, their actions may qualify oversight from 18 U.S. Code § 241 Conspiracy against rights &  18 U.S. Code § 242 Deprivation of rights under color of law & 18 U.S. Code § 1510 Obstruction of criminal investigations & 18 U.S. Code § 1505 Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees, as the grievance proceeding herein are overseen by the Bureau of Prisons.

As retaliation against my person for reporting crime is at issue, further statutes may have a jealous interest in this case, such as: 18 U.S. Code § 1512 Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant & 18 U.S. Code § 1513 Retaliating against a witness, victim, or an informant.

Despite cited public policies representing that matters herein raised are to be ethically resolved with transparency, Core Civic orphans quoted ethics nonetheless, with misleading abandon:

http://www.corecivic.com/about/corporate-ethics

https://www.corecivic.com/hubfs/_files/Code%20Of%20Conduct%20(CoreCivic).pdf

https://www.corecivic.com/hubfs/_files/CoreCivic%20Human%20Rights%20policy%20statement.pdf

http://ir.corecivic.com/

http://www.corecivic.com/hubfs/_files/2018-ESGReport.pdf

http://www.corecivic.com/about/social-responsibility

None of these Core Civic publicly listed PROTOCOLS FOR PREA VIOLATIONS were followed in the present case:

https://www.corecivic.com/hubfs/_files/PREA/CCA-14-02.pdf?t=1539962057757

In fact, after my grievance of sexual harassment was placed in 2017 and the subsequent companywide cover-up; Damon Hininger, the CEO of Core Civic, did on February 11th 2019 also receive an email from me detailing the evidence. Damon then sold $439,683.19 in Core Civic stock, based on non-public information which had matured since 2017:

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1070985/000120919119014990/xslF345X03/doc4.xml

Damon Hininger has since blocked my ability to question him on unresolved Core Civic sexual harassment issues on Twitter, and rejects my emails, with the hypocrisy of his own cited ethics pronouncements, claiming that under his leadership Core Civic are… “governing ourselves at high standards of ethics and transparency…real-time public transparency keeps us accountable — to ourselves, our partners and our stakeholders — and improves our ability to better the public good.” See:

http://www.corecivic.com/news/corecivics-first-ever-esg-report-shows-more-progress-toward-unprecedented-reentry-goals

https://www.corecivic.com/hubfs/_files/Code%20Of%20Conduct%20(CoreCivic).pdf

Any claim of Core Civic’s high ethics and transparency is consciously misleading, and knowingly false.”

Either Corey Donaldson has committed a felony by perjuring himself in his Affidavit, or Core Civic proper and Management are guilty of felonies. The only question that remains now is if American law enforcement care enough about felonies on immigrants to decide where the felonies lay.

Brian Martin of the University of Wollongong in Australia, is an expert in the field of whistleblowing and has written extensively on the subject.

In my interview with Brian, he declared that, “Whistle-blowers regularly report that official channels (regulators, appeal procedures, courts, etc.) are unhelpful. They give the appearance of providing protection and justice (and thus reassure the public that all’s well) but not the substance.

Featured image credit: Anthony Garand


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THE US IMMIGRATION COURT & THE POWER OF ITS JUDGE KING, PART II

by Ana M. Fores Tamayo

Continued from Part I here.

When the police in Guerrero, Mexico told this young woman to leave their station, not to report her missing brother or something worse could happen, she realized she could not count on the police’s help to go after the cartels. Luckily, her brother was returned, beaten up but alive. hen she began to get harassed later that year, because she saw a woman abducted and then murdered, when she began to get subsequent death threats, when she began to hear that they were going to take her small son unless she complied to whatever they wanted from her, when they began accosting her sexually — so that she had to leave her job — she knew she could not go to the police: she had learned her lesson  that first time.

Continue Reading

THE US IMMIGRATION COURT & THE POWER OF ITS JUDGE KING, PART I

by Ana M. Fores Tamayo

I went to an Immigration Merits Hearing at the Dallas Courts recently — the last hearing before an individual or family is deported or given asylum — and this young mother and child from Guerrero, Mexico, lost – as asylum seekers in the majority of these cases do. Although the judge admitted that the young woman “might be in danger,” he said he could do nothing about the consequences such criminal activity affects these poor folk in the countries from which they are escaping. The actions perpetrated in such countries were individual criminal proceedings, not governmental undertakings, and thus the people who suffered individually were not privy to meriting asylum under our government statutes, according to the judge’s ruling.

How can these learned men say such a thing? Continue Reading

IT HAPPENED

by Mollie Leveque

CW: miscarriage, bleeding, rape

Hard as I try, it’s difficult to rewatch David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor without smelling blood.

It’s not his fault. But in a bid to restore a sense of normalcy to the fact that I was miscarrying and just realized I’d been pregnant because of the miscarriage itself, I threw on The Doctor for familiar noise. It happened to be Ten’s era.

Close contenders for comfort media were The Thick of It, The Twilight Zone, and Sunset Boulevard. I like seeing Julius Nicholson squirm. Wickwire providing unwitting astronauts with “eternifying fluid” intrigues me. And Norma Desmond is always a good distraction.Continue Reading

HOW IS A GYPSY SUPPOSED TO LOOK?

Jennifer Lee who is roma 1

by Jonathan Lee 

I am probably not the image most people have in their mind when they think of a Gypsy.

My mother is of mostly Irish-American stock – which gives me a few ginger wisps in my beard, and a smattering of freckles across my nose and cheeks. My hair is dark brown, not black. I don’t wear a lolo diklo (red scarf) around my neck, or a staddi kali (black trilby hat) on my head. Most of the time I wear jeans and t-shirt, I rarely ever dance on tables, and I have no piercings or tattoos. I live in an apartment in the centre of a European capital with a woman whom I am not married to, and I travel only about 20 minutes maximum by foot every day to go to work.

If I ask you to close your eyes and picture a Gypsy in your mind’s eye you probably see someone with bangles and gold hoop earrings, floral patterned clothing, long hair, and dark flashing eyes. They may or may not have a tambourine, and may or may not be wearing a turban with a little gem in the centre holding it up. Maybe you see a fortune teller, or a travelling metalsmith? Perhaps a musician? If you are European, more likely you also see a beggar, a thief, a criminal.Continue Reading

CORE CIVIC CAUGHT CONDUCTING SEX-BASED EXPERIMENTS UPON IMMIGRANTS WITH A SECOND IMMIGRANT WITNESS COMING FORWARD

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By David Breakspear

Part two of a three-part series


CW: graphic mentions of sexual harassment, voyeurism, and physical and mental abuse

In the first instalment of this story I chronicled the sworn Affidavit of Corey Donaldson, a former immigrant inmate at a low security prison in Georgia at McRae C.I. Corey provided evidence of industrial-scale prurient crimes targeted at the dignity of immigrants and carried out by Core Civic.Continue Reading

REMEMBERING POLLY HIGGINS: ECOCIDE, OUR PLANET, AND MOVING FORWARD

by Yali Banton-Heath

It was deeply saddening to read that prominent environmental campaigner and lawyer, Polly Higgins, sadly passed away on Sunday. Her efforts and contribution towards the global environmental struggle have been both immensely brave and intensely important, thus she and her work must not go unforgotten. 

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ASSANGE ARRESTED: A WARNING TO JOURNALISTS WHO EXPOSE TRUTH ABOUT POWER

by Lotty Clare 

Fugitive, criminal or hero? Everyone seems to have an opinion on the sudden arrest of Julian Assange on April 11th, what the broader implications are, and what his fate should be.Continue Reading

EXTINCTION REBELLION – HEADING FOR EXCLUSION AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

by Craig Adlard

This year’s War of Words – The Progressive Media Conference welcomed a panel of four activists to discuss direct action and concerns surrounding the current activist scene. While noting that the Extinction Rebellion (XR) is in some way appreciated, one major theme of the discussion was that XR is failing to take along vulnerable and minority groups. There’s a feeling that the movement is too white and middle-class, and is unsettlingly weak on climate injustice messaging. As someone on the radical left but also actively on board with XR locally, I wanted to write this piece to largely reaffirm those criticisms, but from an insider’s viewpoint. Far from being single-minded and unreflexive, discussions within the group show that XR is very much seeking to learn and grow.Continue Reading

CORE CIVIC DOES NOT DISPUTE ORGANISED SEXUAL HARASSMENT PROGRAM AGAINST IMMIGRANTS

2

By David Breakspear

Part one of a three-part series


CW: graphic mentions of sexual harassment, voyeurism, and physical and mental abuse

EXCLUSIVE – An independent investigation into original documents and an Affidavit supplied by an Australian whistle-blower has revealed that the private prison Core Civic runs an organized sexual harassment program against Immigrants, supported by its head office in Tennessee, and federal government watchdogs at the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) and SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) know about it — as does the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) — but each have proved apathetic, doing nothing to penalize it.

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MASS TOURISM: CITIES IN BAD FAITH

by Joe Rutter

Appellations can sometimes be crucial. To say that the UK is a democracy is to forget that it is a liberal democracy. In just the same way, it is lacking to say that the Costa del Sol profits from tourism, when really it profits from mass tourism. The mass changes everything, indicating a mass influx of tourists and a corresponding frenzy of mass consumption in the destination. In fact the ‘mass’ is a fairly recent styling, whereas the word ‘tourism’ has a lineage travelling back to the Ancients. It comes from the Greek ‘tornos’ which denoted the lathe used to inscribe a circumference, the same root as ‘turn’, and indeed the first recorded tourists seem to have been medieval noblemen setting off on treks before eventually turning back to the estate.

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ICE ICE BABY – ‘THE INFILTRATORS’ AND THE SHADOW OF FOR-PROFIT DETAINMENT FACILITIES

By David Breakspear

After its debut screening in February of this year at the National Film Festival in Utah, USA, the main source of information for the documentary The Infiltrators, Claudio Rojas, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials – just days before the documentary was due to be screened at the Miami Film Festival. Friends and colleagues of Rojas claim this act is political persecution.Continue Reading

SHAMIMA BEGUM IS A REFLECTION OF SOCIETAL FAILURE: WE MUST BRING HER HOME AND LEARN

By Sarah Edgcumbe

The British press has been in a frenzy recently over nineteen-year-old Shamima Begum and her desire to return to the UK from the refugee camp in Syria where she currently resides. There are probably very few people in the UK who are unaware that Shamima travelled from the UK to ISIS territory in Syria at the age of fifteen, where she married an ISIS militant, conceived and lost two children before giving birth to a third (who also passed away) in the refugee camp in Syria she currently calls home.Continue Reading

PRIVATISE(D)EVASTATION

1

By David Breakspear

Cw: suicide, self-harm

“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

Once again, we witness more self-inflicted deaths in custody routinely followed by lessons not being learned, recommendations being ignored, and worst of all — even in cases where an inquest jury has delivered a unanimous decision on a failure to provide an individual with a duty of care — no action being taken against those who failed to provide the care that loved ones and families of those in prison have a right to expect.Continue Reading

HATEBOOK: DOES THIS GO AGAINST YOUR COMMUNITY STANDARDS?

By Jonathan Lee

Cw: hate speech, extremism

Ever seen a comment on Facebook that really riled you up?

Probably. But I mean one that really floored you – stopped you mid-scroll, and in a red mist, made you click those three innocuous little dots on the right and Submit to Facebook for Review?

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CATALANS IN THE STREET

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by Joe Rutter

Even the pigeons know what’s going on now. They twig whenever they hear the roaring chants for llibertat!, the beating tambores, the whistles at fever pitch. Then they see the big flags streaming towards them, the mass of shuffling human walls, the yellow ribbons clinging to every urban limb. They move on when they sense a protest coming.

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COUNTERACTING ANTI-IMMIGRATION YOUTH GROUPS IN THE UK

by Mary O’Driscoll

Despite the visceral reaction that some may experience at the sight of the terms ‘far-right’ and ‘youth movement’ sat next to each other, the rise of anti-immigration far-right youth movements in European countries cannot be contested. Not only are far-right political parties moving closer to the mainstream, but young people are getting involved in movements opposing immigration. The values of far-right nationalist political parties such as National Rally (previously known as National Front) in France, Austria’s Freedom Party, and the League in Italy have been embodied in youth movements such as Generation Identity- a group that made the jump across the channel to the UK in 2017. With the painfully hypocritical border-focussed rhetoric of Trump’s United States, and the equally ironic anti-immigration discourse of a Brexit Britain, many people are under the impression that ‘Western’ countries are too generous to newcomers.Continue Reading

THE WOMEN’S MARCHES: FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM & A WORRYING, WAYWARD TREND – PART 3 (OF 3)

by Sunetra Senior

Part Three (of Three): An Ideological Ambush and Choosing Utopia. Read Part One here and part Two here.

Here, another sinister aspect of the Trump campaign, now verified by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, was the invasive, online method through which I proposed that an amoral moneyed elite was not only manipulating, but also forcibly hijacking the public’s trust. I will again emphasise another, so far unacknowledged, caveat: this method of manufacturing investment not only cheats people short-term – including those vacuous nutjobs at the top- but sustains a deceptive, distinctly digital control well into the destructive future. Once removed and shiny, the technological medium of devices and social media is the perfect way to distract from the escalation of political inequality by cunningly feigning advancement.Continue Reading

THE WOMEN’S MARCHES: FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM & A WORRYING, WAYWARD TREND – PART 2 (OF 3)

by Sunetra Senior

Part Two (of Three): Bladerunner 2049 and a Tragic Trajectory. Read Part One here and part Three here.

Yet, a year on and the opposite seemed to manifest. Last year’s big, sponsored march was populated by blatant careerists and women who seemed to think the Feminist conclusion lay in just stony vocational power. This was the severe, stifled energy I’d been feeling.  It wouldn’t have been surprising to see a placard that read: ‘Good women Go to Work!’ No wonder then, that there was also interpersonal tension and division between the various organisations at the demonstration: women were feeling competitive. Here, I will emphasise: to fixate on external acquirement such as an invincible social status and intensive office hours and treat them as if a modern romance, is to internalise a toxic masculinity that does not oppose but instead reinforces historic gender inequality. Follow this regressive trajectory, and not only do women begin to undermine their previous progress, but too, start to become foot soldiers in a universally dark tyranny.Continue Reading

SLOWLY, SLOWLY: CORRUPTION IN US (AND UK) PRISONS

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By David Breakspear

I was recently asked to be a guest speaker on an American live radio show to talk about the collateral damage of injustice and corruption in US prisons. The show is aired from Colorado Springs, so in order to be able to talk about local issues, as I usually cover correctional facilities in Florida, I set about researching prisons in Colorado – which also led me to Louisiana – and I came across a company formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) that changed their name to Core Civic in October 2016 during ongoing scrutiny of the private prison industry in the US.Continue Reading

THE WOMEN’S MARCHES: FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM & A WORRYING, WAYWARD TREND – PART 1 (OF 3)

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by Sunetra Senior

Part One (of Three): Bourgeois Beginnings. Read part Two here and Part Three here.

‘Are we in the right place?’ was a semi-serious question posed by a friend of mine at the 2018 Women’s March, which took place in London on 4th March to commemorate worldwide Women’s Day. Having been to many demonstrations between us, including the historic 2017 Women’s March, which took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration, we had sound reference points between us too. Usually, there’s a friendly, lively atmosphere. You might even enjoy some canned ciders as you watch an animated speaker deliver one motivational speech after the next.

In 2018, however, the big women’s march was sedate, controlled, and most alarmingly of all: conformist. I even got elbowed in the face by a male police officer who told me to ‘stay within the demonstration line’. This was immediately after I’d passed a giant stone pedestal, encircled by a murder of male reporters, gathered creepily at that higher vantage point like  gigantic crows. Hitchcockian voyeurism aside, women also seemed to be adopting the strange, disciplinary mood. One female speaker said to keep fighting ‘even if it took another 100 years’. But where was the urgency? Where ‘was the anger’? as feminist performer Sophie Cameron tweeted out.Continue Reading

WHAT IS PRISON?

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By David Breakspear

  1. Prison – noun – a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed or while awaiting trial.
  2. One of the Ministry of Justices’ four strategic priorities is “A prison and probation service that reforms offenders” (Ministry of Justice).

Number one is definitely the case, but what about number two? Well, based on the latest government figures in relation to self-harm, violence, and suicides, I would suggest that the Ministry of Justice is not delivering on one of its key strategic priorities.Continue Reading

ECONOMIES OF RECOGNITION

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by Liv Barnett

Academics are often accused of failing to make their research matter to audiences other than themselves. Anthropologists are particularly criticized for writing theories and ethnographies that not only go unread by non-anthropologists, but are also too inaccessible to those they may be writing about. Here I hope to try and explain a central aspect of my PhD research in Papua New Guinea and share some of the ways it has got me thinking about politics and economics in the UK.

The stereotyped anthropologist gets criticized for using the experiences of a usually colonised ‘other’ for their own project of producing knowledge that counters the taken for granted understandings people have of humanity or society in ‘the West’, which are presumed to be universal to human nature. This is a legitimate argument which has to be taken seriously. Therefore, I self-consciously use some of my observations in Papua New Guinea (enabled by the generosity of those who I lived with in PNG) and the ideas of European/western social theorists.

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THE PERFECT GIFT FOR RIGHT-WING NATIONALIST ACQUAINTANCES? LETTERS TO A GERMAN FRIEND

By Sarah Edgcumbe

“I love my country too much to be nationalist.” – Albert Camus, First Letter: July 1943.

The collective Letters to a German Friend were clandestinely written and published by Camus during the Nazi occupation of France. The context must be taken into account here: these letters do not discuss Germany as it stands today, but rather what it represented under the Third Reich – fascism and the intolerance of diversity and dissent. Camus himself states that the letters should be viewed as “contrasting two attitudes, not two nations, even if, at a certain moment in history, these two nations personified two enemy attitudes.”

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TRANS WOODSTOCK

by Zoe Harding

This is the face of a man who’s entirely unsure if what he’s experiencing is real.

It started with this. Well, okay, it started with this, which itself was just the latest flex of the UK’s weirdly obsessive and powerful transphobia lobby, personified by eh-alright-but-his-work-is-aging-fast comedy writer Graham Linehan. Plenty of people were annoyed or upset by the campaign of email-writing and general loud airing of concerns that led to the National Lottery pulling £500,000 worth of funding from Mermaids, especially given that the reporting of the issue in the Great British Press was… kinda shite.Continue Reading

R AND R

By David Breakspear

A slightly misleading title. It should be RJ and R, but it just didn’t have the same ring.

So, what is RJ and R? Restorative Justice and Rehabilitation.

Why am I taking a closer look at these?

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HOW THE NAZIS WIPED OUT THE ROMANI MIDDLE CLASS

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By Jonathan Lee

CW genocide, ethnic violence

Between 1936 and 1945 the Nazis wiped out over 50% of Europe’s Romani people.

Whether they were choked to death in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau, “exterminated through labour” climbing the stairs of death at Mauthausen, or shot in a mass grave dug by their own hands in Romania – the extermination of the Gypsies of Europe was carried out with deadly efficiency.

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ANGER AND CONCERN OVER TURKEY’S PREPARATIONS FOR ATTACK

by Gunnar Eigener 

Donald Trump’s threats to ‘economically devastate’ Turkey if Kurdish forces are attacked is unlikely to stop an internal war that has been happening for years. Could this be Trump’s red line?

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RHODESIA IN NORFOLK AND THE DANGERS OF BRITAIN’S IMPERIAL AMNESIA

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by Josh Doble

The unassuming small parish village of Southrepps, twenty-two miles north of Norwich, is the surprising location for a memorial to the former pariah state of Southern Rhodesia/Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe. This is not necessarily a well-known site – it was stumbled across during a summer cycle – yet it represents an important space to demonstrate the wider political environment in rural Norfolk, and the area’s connections to right-wing pressure groups further afield. The memorial itself is opposite Southrepps Hall and is made up of an avenue of Tilia Cordata – small-leaf lime trees – and three flag poles hosting the Union Jack, the Rhodesian flag and the original Southern Rhodesian flag. The Sladden family are the ‘Lords’ and ‘Ladies’ of Southrepps Hall and have a close history with Rhodesia, historically being settlers themselves. It would appear that the Sladden family built the memorial to commemorate their connections to the former country and to celebrate its memory.

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GENOCIDE AND INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTION: TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

by Yali Banton-Heath

The Rohingya crisis has saturated global media over the past two years, but since it was placed under the spotlight in 2016 I can’t help but think the international response it has initiated has been too little, and too late. All over the world we see grave injustices occurring and human rights abuses on mass scales. It only seems as though an international response is warranted, however, when these injustices reach some sort of pinnacle; often manifesting as the deaths of many thousands. We should be able to see the warning signs by now, and 2019 should be a year of working towards prevention, rather than mastering the art of tidying up the mess.

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PROFIT BEFORE PEOPLE

by David Breakspear

Whilst going about my daily ritual of spending hours in front of a computer screen researching in a variety of areas, one of which being the criminal justice system, I came across this piece with the headline ‘Mental health trust takes back contract for more serious conditions at Norwich prison’. It was a report in an edition of the Great Yarmouth Mercury.

I have served as a prisoner for a good number of years at HMP Norwich, and as someone who has a complex mental health history, I came into contact with the mental health team on a regular basis. I was also a trained listener and would have dealings with the team as a third party on behalf of individual prisoners.

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SUDAN UPRISING

By Sarah Edgcumbe

CW: genocide, murder, rape, torture

Sudan is burning. Literally.

Government offices have been set on fire. Areas in Darfur have been burning for quite some time, though Western media no longer reports on it. The killings in Darfur that proved to be the initial acts of a campaign of genocide took place in 2003. Since then 480,000 have been killed by President Bashir’s forces, which include his ‘Janjaweed’ militia, with a further 2.8 million being displaced.

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MEXICO AND THE EZLN – WHERE ARE THEY TODAY?

by Cristina Flores

2018 was a landmark year for Mexico. July saw the election of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (popularly known as Amlo), whose party Morena won 53% of the popular vote. This landslide victory against the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), a centre-right party, has offered fresh hope for a country exhausted by corruption and fraud. The marginalisation of Mexico’s native communities, however, is in no way a resolved issue. Although Amlo’s social democratic agenda may seem to be an oasis in the desert for Mexico’s working classes, the fight for recognition, rights and justice amongst the indigenous  peoples of Mexico continues. Arguably the most notable group leading this movement is the Zapatista Army of National Liberation – the EZLN.

This movement has re-emerged as a journalistic hot topic in the past few weeks, owing much to Amlo’s inauguration back in December and the recent commemoration of 25 years since the first EZLN uprising.  So where did the movement come from, where are they now, and what does this mean for indigenous rights in Mexico?Continue Reading

THE NORWICH RADICAL IN 2018

by Alex Valente

This past year has seen a global increase in horrible news stories. From the victory of the extreme right-wing in Brazil with Bolsonaro, to Italy’s rising black wave of fascism, to Russia and Turkey competing in totalitarian games, to the US and UK’s attempts to dehumanise the trans* community and migrants (no, there is no crisis), and the constant influx of horror that are the Trump administration and the Brexit shambles, we’re at a dangerous, terrifying, angering moment in history – and most mainstream media is complicit or silent.

I started one of our monthly emails in a very similar vein, back in October, and I’m sad to notice that not that much has changed since. Continue Reading

FILL THE FOUNDATIONS

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by David Breakspear

CW: suicide

Immediately prior to my last period of incarceration, I had hit what I thought was rock bottom and was left with two choices: in life, things are either growing or they are dying. I cannot lie and say that my first choice was not the latter.

However, writing this piece is proof that I changed my perspective.Continue Reading

STOP CHRISTMAS DAY DEPORTATION TO THE CONGO: OPEN LETTER TO IMMIGRATION MINISTER CAROLINE NOKES

by Jonathan Lee

You can sign the petition to request Otis Bolamu’s case be reviewed and his deportation halted here!

Immigration Minister

Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP
Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF

Dear Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP,

I am writing to you to regarding the imminent administrative removal (or forced deportation) of a Swansea resident, and Congolese National, Otis Bolamu (Home Office reference number: HO-B1980997).Continue Reading

RATS TO RICHES

by David Breakspear

CW: suicide

“Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time!”. In terms of reform and progress within our penal system, the proverb is about as much use as eating soup with a fork. For a start, how would you know?

Unfortunately, we do need prisons. Ever since Eve – reportedly – ate the forbidden fruit from the garden of Eden, crime has been in existence in human narratives. Crime, either directly or indirectly, affects us all; victims of crime or the family/loved ones/friends of the victim, perpetrator of crime, or, yet again, the family/friends/loved ones of the perpetrators. You may even pay higher insurance premiums due to crime. Crime affects all, therefore, crime is the responsibility of all, especially the prison system.Continue Reading

SORRY ANDREW SELOUS MP, BUT GYPSIES & TRAVELLERS WILL NOT BE ASSIMILATED

By Jonathan Lee

Meet Conservative MP for South West Bedfordshire, Andrew Selous.

Andrew recently took a break from opposing gay marriage, overseeing prison cuts, calling for benefits cuts for non-english speakers, and claiming disabled people work hard because they’re grateful just to have a job, and turned his attention to Romani Gypsies and Travellers.

On 13th November, he proposed a bill in the Commons to convert existing sites for Gypsies and Travellers into settled accommodation, remove any obligation on local authorities to build more permanent sites, and make unauthorised encampments a criminal offence.

He also added a bit about making provision for the education of Gypsy & Traveller children, which is nice.Continue Reading

LET’S MAKE 2019 THE YEAR WE STAND WITH THE TRAVELLER COMMUNITY

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By Sarah Edgcumbe

Gypsy and traveller families ‘hounded out’ of areas in act of ‘social cleansing’ as councils impose sweeping bans’ was the ominous heading of a story printed in the Independent last month. It may sound like a news article from 1940s Italy, but this demonstrates the alarming fact that antigypsyism is perceived by many to be the last socially “acceptable” form of racism in the UK today.Continue Reading

EUROPEAN ROMA AND TRAVELLERS NEED OUR OWN ROSA PARKS

By Jonathan Lee

“‘No blacks, no Irish, no dogs’ signs disappeared long ago, but ‘No Travellers’ signs […] are still widespread,” said Human Rights Barrister, Marc Willers. In fact, ‘No Gypsies’ policies are quite commonplace pretty much everywhere, and Romani and Traveller people are frequently and willfully refused access to public places all over Europe.

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ETHNIC KILLINGS CLAIMED FIFTEEN ROMA IN 2017/18

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By Jonathan Lee

Fifteen Romani men, women and children were murdered in 2017 and 2018 because of their ethnicity. From Bulgaria to France, Roma as young as 13 and as old as 64 were shot, stabbed or beaten to death by racist murderers from across Europe.

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PROPOSITION 112: A VIABLE WAY OF KEEPING FOSSIL FUELS IN THE GROUND?

By Sam Alston

The USA political scene is consumed by a battle between President Trump and Democrats who are desperate to recapture Congress. However, in the mountain state of Colorado a referendum – bitterly opposed by locally entrenched oil and gas firms – proposes restricting the exploitation of the state’s massive oil reserves. The campaign and its outcome stand as a test in seeing whether such restrictions could be a viable solution to keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

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RED POPPIES VERSUS WHITE POPPIES (AND THE PROBLEM WITH PACIFISM)

By Sarah Edgcumbe

The red poppy/white poppy/no poppy debate has become increasingly emotive in recent years, as certain right wing groups have co-opted it for their own warped ethno-nationalist causes, bringing forth the notion of ‘poppy fascism’: If you’re not wearing a red poppy you must be some kind of terrorist sympathizer, or a communist… if you don’t like this country and what it stands for you can fuck off to another. Nice. Of course most people who wear a red poppy don’t behave like this, but the minority who do, aside from being obnoxious, are loud, determined and represented by sensationalist and divisive British tabloids, resulting in ‘poppy fascism’ spreading exponentially.

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THE CALL FOR MEASURED DEBATE ON GRA IS DISINGENUOUS

by Lee-Anne Lawrance

CW: transphobia

As we approach the (extended) close of the consultation to the reform of the Gender Recognition Act, one group of activists is calling for a calm and rational debate – or in their words, a ‘respectful and evidence-based discussion’.

The current debate has been dominated by a group of so-called ‘feminists’ and supporters  who oppose the changes, citing ‘concerns’ for women. The concerns they raise however are based on false information. Nothing short of propaganda is used to disseminate this false information to the wider public. Continue Reading

THE GREEN PARTY CAN BECOME THE PARTY OF THE RADICAL LEFT IN WALES

By Chris Jarvis

Earlier this week, the race to crown the next leader of the Wales Green Party kicked off. Mirka Virtanen, Deputy Leader since 2017 was the first to declare her candidacy. Two other candidates were announced in an email to party members but, at the time of writing, neither have announced their candidacy publicly.

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DEAD PEOPLE DON’T CLAIM – DISABLED PEOPLE AGAINST THE CUTS AT TORY CONFERENCE

By Lewis Martin

Last week’s Conservative Party conference in Birmingham was met with sizeable protests, as you’d expect given the party’s actions in its eight years in power. Groups such as the People’s Assembly opened the weekend with their usual rally and march against the continued austerity measures being implemented across the country, to the detriment of many in society. I was lucky enough to witness and be involved in one of the most powerful protests, on the final day of the conference, when Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) led action against the continued rollout of the failing universal credit system and the ongoing cuts to benefits by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

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FOOL BRITANNIA: LET’S ALL HAVE A DISCO

By Jonathan Lee
Content warning: minor instances of crude language and a mention of blackface (all used for satirical effect)

Oyez! Oyez! It has been announced by our most beneficent leader, Theresa Mary May, that on this two hundred and twenty second year of our Lord, a fayre of Britannic proportions shall be held, on every pleasant village green and suburban cul-de-sac, throughout this land of the South East of England.

The Tories have pulled another joker from the pack, this time with months to go until B-Day, and announced with much bravado a post-Brexit ‘Festival of Britain’. Or to everyone north of Grantham and west of Bristol: Festival of the Home Counties. The glorified Sunday fête will aim to replicate the Labour Party’s event of 1951, which celebrated the successes of the post-war consensus, growing internationalism, and an era of rebuilding and growth through social democracy.Continue Reading

STATELESS ROMA IN UKRAINE HAVE NOWHERE TO TURN TO

By Jonathan Lee
Content warning: this article contains mentions of violence (including police brutality), and structural discrimination.

According to a new report, up to 20% of Ukraine’s Romani population are stateless – that is, they are without identity documents such as birth certificates, passports, or identity cards which prove they are citizens. The lack of evidence to prove their nationality means these Roma are denied access to basic services such as healthcare, education, housing, and welfare, as well as to regular employment or for some, even something as simple as a mobile phone contract.

After a series of organised attacks on Roma by far-right organisations in the past year, most of the country’s Roma who regularly spend the summer working in the major cities have now returned to their home region of Zakarpattiya on the South Western border. Whilst reports of fresh attacks came in over the summer, Roma living in settlements in Beregovo and Uzhgorod began to look abroad for the vital work which they needed to survive; work they were being denied by the far-right militias whom had driven them out of the cities.Continue Reading

ON ANARCHY, ANTIFA, AND APATHY

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by Sarah Edgcumbe

In a left wing social media group I am part of, a member recently asked whether anybody supported Antifa, before continuing on to state that he personally feels that “they sound like the fascists they are trying to rid the world of” and harming the potential of the left. This sentiment was unexpected given the online location. Why do the words “anarchist” and “Antifa” provoke such strong negative reactions?Continue Reading

RESISTANCE: WILL THE LEFT EVER TRULY OPPOSE RIGHT-WING POLITICS?

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions xenophobia.

As the UK government stutters to find ways to deal with the looming end date for Brexit negotiations, the news is awash with alternatives, the prospect of ‘no deal’, leadership challenges and campaigns for a second referendum. While the fight goes on, one problem is becoming increasingly apparent, not just in the UK, but globally; where is the opposition to the creeping right-wing politics that is slowly casting its shadow over the world?

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TAKE BACK CONTROL? WELSH INDEPENDENCE IN AN AGE OF BREXIT

By Jonathan Lee

I am a reluctant Welsh Republican. By this, I mean that I believe the realisation of an independent Welsh Republic will inevitably be the only way Wales can truly prosper and develop long term. But I’m uneasy about it.

I doubt the competency of our devolved government, while I question the motives and sincerity of the British government. I’m hoping that somewhere down the line, a government in Westminster will change my mind, but looking at the way things are going, the Tories’ vision of a dystopian, post-Brexit Britain doesn’t offer me much hope.Continue Reading

BREXIT AND BRITISH VALUES

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions racism, violence, hate crimes

The Brexit negotiations have long ceased to be about deal making and more about the imposition of values and principles. From the start, British values have been about finding someone to blame, a bogeyman. Islamists, immigrants, bankers, the EU; it really no longer matters who just as long as someone can be put against the wall and publicly and figuratively shot. The problem is that this has become such an intricately entwined aspect of British society that the ability to dispatch from the blame game and actually go about resolving an issue is fast disappearing from the national psyche. It is much better to pile up the bodies and stare admiringly at the perceived resolution of society’s ills. Just below the surface however, simmers a violent and angry determination to enforce British values at all cost, threatening to overtake all sense of decency.

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PALESTINE SOLIDARITY: COMPULSORY DEFENCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS, NOT ANTI-SEMITISM

by Sarah Edgcumbe

CW: torture

May 2017 saw Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention uniting to take part in a hunger strike. Every Friday during the strike, street protests were held in solidarity and various other events took place under the motto ‘salt and water’. Some of my friends from Nablus, viewing horses as inextricable from ‘non-horsey’ aspects of life (their lives are absorbed by riding horses; taking selfies with horses; racing horses; breeding horses; bathing horses…) demonstrated solidarity non-violently by riding their horses into Nablus city centre, carrying Palestinian flags and calling for solidarity with the prisoners.Continue Reading

BEYOND BURNOUT: TOWARDS COMPASSIONATE ACTIVISM

By Anonymous

Being an ‘activist’ is a crucial part of my identity. It can be a difficult thing to be, in a society where ‘politics’ is a dirty word and its practice is often at best frowned upon, but I’m glad I’ve made it to this place. To be part of wider movements, making friends with incredibly talented, dedicated and inspiring people and, in my own flawed, stumbling way, trying to make the world a little bit better, is an enormous joy and privilege that not everyone gets to enjoy.

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NOTHING WILL STOP THE CHANGING ENVIRONMENT

by Gunnar Eigener

The environment is changing. All across the globe, weather patterns have shifted, resulting in abnormal meteorological behaviour and pushing society towards conditions it is not used to. The UK has just come out of a record-breaking heatwave. Japan declared a national emergency after heatwaves there killed 65 people. Wildfires in Greece left over 70 people dead and in California, over a dozen people are missing as fires spread. Visitors required evacuation from Yosemite National Park and wind threatens to fan flames in Sweden’s forests.

However, should we be surprised by these events? Continue Reading

WHY ISN’T EVERYONE A SOCIALIST?

by Jonathan Lee

It’s a dirty word for many who don’t really understand what it means. People often broadly sweep Socialism into a single ideology, which is much maligned as an unworkable and authoritarian regime, seemingly unsuitable for the modern day, and unpopular amongst the electorate.

I’ll start out being optimistic, and assume that this ignorance of what Socialism is explains why some people discount it out of hand. Because the premise of Socialism is generally one that I have to believe most people should aspire to in some way. “Every human being should be a moderate Socialist,” Thomas Mann said.

Why? Because Socialism is a general set of social, political, and economic views that places people first. And what’s the point of having a democratic society, in which we the people place power in the hands of a select few to manage our lives, if not to make things generally better for people as a whole?Continue Reading

THE GREATEST PRICE OF AUSTERITY? PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE

by Edward Grierson

As a child, I always looked forward to a visit to the National Museum of Scotland. An hour’s journey to Edinburgh was always a small price worth paying if it meant passing a wet weekend or day out from the holiday among dinosaurs, dioramas, steam trains and robots that could spell your name. Since then the museum has undergone countless changes, but whenever I return, I can always be certain to discover something new.

However, those trips to the museum were much more than just a fun day out. I can confidently say that they were a major formative influence for me, particularly in inspiring my love of nature. Without the influence of the National Museum of Scotland, I would not be who I am today. I can also confidently say I’m not the only one. I speak for countless others whose interests, whatever they are, were inspired by visiting trips to a museum.Continue Reading

BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER: A REPRESSED SUPERPOWER, PART II

by Sunetra Senior

CW: abuse | Continues from Part I here

Both Analytical and Emotional Intelligence

Mystification: go to work in an office to endorse more of that analytical, grounded thinking.

Hidden Truth: having these two qualities in equal measure means you have constant access to an enviable social clairvoyance that does well in advisory and imaginative professions.

The twin pairing is an attenuated, ongoing version of psychosis which means you can control it and draw from it whenever you want. What’s more you can immediately translate profound ideas to those around you, having one foot in the cosmos and the other in the everyday. That same parental lacking when a person with Border Personality Disorder grew up, made them sharp to environmental clues in order to survive. As this person grows older, they will retain this attentiveness, accumulating little signs and symbols – politically, mathematically and socially –  to equip them to make impressive and perceptive connections and even predict sociological algorithms.

Additionally, you are likely to be excellent in the arts and in critical thinking because you process such a sensitivity to surroundings and are rapidly processing information and images. You can identify intuitive nuances that make great cinema and literature.

The world needs more dedicated artists, sociologists, researchers and socially conscious politicians, not bankers, marketing executives and legal crooks.Continue Reading

BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER: A REPRESSED SUPERPOWER, PART I

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by Sunetra Senior

CW: self-harm, abuse

As a homage to mental health awareness week (14th- 20th May), I have decided to write on an often misunderstood and underrepresented psychological health condition close to my heart, or more accurately my spirit.  Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD is characterised as a ‘behavioural disorder’, which is intrinsic to one’s selfhood, and because of its often abuse-induced origins, has been notoriously difficult to treat. It is not the expected actions or the very true fact that the condition is deeply ingrained that I take issue with, but the medical paradigm of dysfunction and negativity implied by the alliterative last acronym.

This pervasive perceptual context, reflective of the attitude towards many mental health issues, permits an entire trail of prejudice, extending to the defining symptoms of BPD. Common misconceptions are “attention-seeking, manipulative and over-emotional”.  This comes from the high numbers of those with BPD who self-harm, especially during their already tumultuous teenage years, their expressing the need for special care or extra-vigilance and seeming not to be able to cope with the interpersonal and social challenges that everyone else can.

It is time to not only put the record straight, but to add some fucking colour.Continue Reading

KNEELING IS NO LONGER A CHOICE

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by Lewis Martin

The NFL’s anthem controversy has been rumbling on for a long time. It started in 2016 with San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick deciding to  sit for the national anthem during preseason games. This eventually changed to kneeling after a conversation with former soldier and player Nate Boyer about he best way to protest during the anthem. This carried on for the rest of the season with players from across the league joining him in his protest against the treatment of people of color in the United States. At the end of the season, Kaepernick was released from his contract with the 49ers as they looked to rebuild the franchise afresh.Continue Reading

THE MYTH OF THE MILLENNIAL

by Jonathan Lee

Ten Things Every Successful Social Justice Blogger Does.
Exasperated Writer Was About to Give Up, What Happens Next Will Have You In Tears!
The Five Worst Millennial Clickbait Headlines That You Just Won’t Believe.

Horrific isn’t it.

I was recently asked what my biggest pet peeve is about the way people talk about my generation. Perhaps the phrase pet peeve is one of my pet peeves. Maybe the fact that even the words – pet peeve – make me cringe, may say something about me and my reluctant membership of Generation Y.Continue Reading

PASSING THE FEMALE TEST

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by Stu Lucy

Professional sport is possibly one of the most challenging and competitive ways to earn a living these days. With national fame and glory as rewards, many dream of representing their country on the international stage and bringing home a medal, earning their place in their country’s sporting history. Imagine then that you were one of the lucky few that made it to the top, that had that chance to take gold and did so, multiple times, earning a revered reputation in the field as the one to beat, then imagine you were told it could all be taken away because you were too much like the opposite sex. Where would you start?!Continue Reading

BOOZING BY THE BOOK

by Kelvin Smith 

In more than fifty years I have rarely been to a publishing event (a book launch, company celebration, party of any kind) that did not focus on the availability and consumption of alcoholic drinks. Likewise, the academic world nearly always includes ‘drinks’ or ‘wine’ on the announcement of seminars, conferences and academic celebrations.

As someone who has a long history of enjoying alcohol and a more recent period of several years’ total abstention, I wonder if alcohol doesn’t have a significant bearing on the current debates on inclusivity in both publishing and in universities. Both publishers and academics are now exploring what it would mean to be more inclusive – of different classes, ethnicities, cultures, nationalities, languages, genders and political views. But I have yet to hear or read much about the role alcohol plays in limiting inclusion and acceptance. Perhaps it’s time to look at this.Continue Reading

THE UK’S INSTITUTIONAL RACISM

by Gunnar Eigener

Institutional racism has, for many years, been the more unpleasant side of societies throughout the world. Black and other minority communities have long been oppressed by predominately white police departments. Crimes within these communities have rarely received the attention that equivalent crimes in white neighbourhoods have. Civil rights marches have been going on for years, social media tracks the violence of police forces, and the alternative media exposes the racist actions of institutions and establishment figures. But has anything really changed? Have we made any progress that truly shows a change in perception? Sadly, it doesn’t seem so.Continue Reading

TRUMP KILLED MY DRIVE

by Beth Saward

Have you heard the news? America has solved sex trafficking. With the passage of SESTA/FOSTA, it will become a thing of the past, the internet will be safer and Freedom™ wins again. What’s that? You haven’t heard of this miraculous new law? Here’s how it works.Continue Reading