April 2005


Jason Deans, broadcasting editor
Friday April 15, 2005

http://media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/story/0,7493,1459919,00.html

The widow of British documentary film-maker James Miller, who was shot dead in Gaza two years ago, has condemned the Israeli army’s decision to acquit an officer of illegally using his weapon as a “mockery”.
Sophy Miller accused the Israeli army of having “no genuine will to uncover the truth” about her husband’s death, despite claiming to have mounted an exhaustive investigation into the fatal shooting in Rafah in May 2003.

The army’s decision came despite a military court’s recommendation last month that harsh disciplinary action be taken against the soldier.

“This new decision by the deputy chief of staff of the Israeli Defence Forces’s southern command makes a mockery of Israeli claims that they follow due process where IDF soldiers have acted criminally and outside their own rules of engagement,” Mrs Miller said.

“It shows that Israeli military activities in Gaza are carried out with impunity. We deplore the total failure to hold anyone responsible for the most serious breaches of Israeli rules of engagement.”

“We believed at the outset there was no genuine will to uncover the truth because the site of James’s death was not secured for forensic investigation, the site was destroyed by bulldozers three days after James’s death [and] it took the Israelis 11 weeks to impound the guns involved in James’s death,” Mrs Miller said.

“And now, almost two years after James was killed and after what the Israelis claim was an exhaustive investigation, our suspicions have been confirmed by this IDF decision.”

The officer who fired the shot that killed Miller is a first lieutenant in the Bedouin desert reconnaissance battalion and was commanding the unit at the time of the killing. He was acquitted by Brigadier General Guy Tzur, the head of the army’s southern command.

In an army statement issued to the family last month, military prosecutor-general Avihai Mandelblitt cleared the officer, who was not identified, of Miller’s death, saying there was no evidence to support the charge.

But Mr Mandelblitt did say the officer would be disciplined for misusing his weapon and for changing his story several times during the investigation.

“The court found [the officer] was operating in very difficult circumstances, including taking incoming fire from terrorists, and concluded that he acted appropriately”, the military official said.

Mrs Miller said she and her sister-in-law, Katie, were told by military investigators last month that the officer admitted to firing his weapon in Miller’s direction.

They said they were told that the officer acknowledged he knew when he fired the weapon that journalists were in the house and that the area surrounding it was well lit.

Miller, who won awards for his work in Afghanistan, was shot as he and colleagues attempted to leave the home of a Palestinian family in Rafah on May 2 2003, while filming for a Channel 4 documentary

The group claim they were carrying a white flag and called out to troops stationed nearby to inform them they were British journalists.

As they walked towards an armoured personnel carrier, a soldier fired and seconds later aimed a second shot at reporters, striking the 34-year-old father of two in the neck between his body armour and helmet.

Mrs Miller has said she plans to bring a civil action for damages against the Israeli army and to seek a judicial review of the decision not to prosecute the soldier responsible for murder.

http://media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/story/0,7493,1459919,00.html

Nottingham IMC meeting will be on the 18th of April at 7.30pm at the Sumac Centre, 245 Gladstone St, Forest Fields, Nottingham, NG7 6HX, 0845 458 9595.

There is an idea to set up an Indymedia Collective in nottingham. Various people have been in contact with people from the Indymedia UK Collective and other local Indymedia groups across the country that are more than happy to help us setting up an Independent Media Centre (IMC) in Nottingham. Part of a local IMC could be a website, film showings, interactive workshops within our communities, fundraising events, parties, and a possible radio station!

So photographers, filmmakers, DJ’s, writers/reporters, musicians, artists, sound engineers, visual artist and people with technical skills; get involved!

The first meeting will be on the 18th of April at 7.30pm at the Sumac Centre, 245 Gladstone St, Forest Fields, Nottingham, NG7 6HX, 0845 458 9595.

The email list to help setting up the local collective;

http://lists.indymedia.org/mailman/listinfo/imc-nottingham

Indymedia is a collective of independent media organizations and hundreds of journalists offering grassroots, non-corporate coverage. Indymedia is a democratic media outlet for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth.

Independent DIY media projects are spreading around the planet at unprecedented speed. Triggered by discontent with the mainstream media and supported by the widespread availability of media technologies, groups all over the world are creating their own channels of information and distribution in order to bypass the (mainstream) corporate media. The idea behind most of these projects is to create open platforms to which everyone can contribute – not only a small media elite with theirparticular interests. By eliminating the classic division between professional producers and passive audience, many issues and discussions that were previously suppressed become visible and available.

www.indymedia.org.uk

Nottingham IMC
List: http://lists.indymedia.org/mailman/listinfo/imc-nottingham

How Tory made a family disappear

Nicholas Watt
Tuesday April 12, 2005
The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,,1457742,00.html

Left: Conservative candidate Ed Matts with Ann Widdecombe protesting in support of the Kacheps family, who were facing deportation.
Right: The same picture, doctored to support the party line, on Mr Matts’ election leaflet.

Labour campaign chiefs were last night rubbing their hands with glee when a Tory parliamentary candidate admitted altering a photograph to ensure that he was fully in tune with the party’s hardline stance on immigration.
Ed Matts, the Conservative candidate in Labour’s most marginal seat of Dorset South, thought he might garner a few votes when he appeared at a rally last month to show his support for the heart-rending case of the Kachepa family who are facing deportation. In a coup he managed to haul in Ann Widdecombe, who held a banner at the rally proclaiming: “Let Them Stay.”

Eagle-eyed Labour activists could hardly believe their luck when a completely different version of the same picture appeared on Mr Matts’s election leaflets. The striking figure of Ms Widdecombe is still there, alongside the aspiring MP. But the crowds have disappeared and Mr Matts’s picture of the Kachepa family and the words on Ms Widdecombe’s banner have been replaced with words supportive of the party’s tough line on immigration. Labour admitted passing them to the Times.
Conservative HQ defended his actions. A spokesman said: “Ed Matts excluded the family who appeared in the original photo by creating a new image in order to protect them from media attention.”

Jim Knight, defending a 153 majority in the seat, called for his Tory rival to be removed. “This is a deceit that will appal the people of Dorset South.”

It’s 20 years, since the major trashing of my community, travelling on the way to make the “Peoples Free Festival of Albion” at Stonehenge.

It was a regular event on the calendar. A little different to the ‘managed access event’ on the solstice, currently on offer from English Heritage.

Please check out my recent Indymedia Post about it all at:

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/04/308800.html

An exhibition I’ve contributed to, is currently at the Kebele Cafe, in Bristol.

http://bristol.indymedia.org/newswire/display/21996/index.php

Then, on the 20th April, it will move to The Sumac Centre in Nottingham.
Opening with a film showing of “Operation Solstice”: a film describing the events of the day, and what we did about it.

and a talk by Andy Worthington, author of “Stonehenge – Celebration and Subversion”

More details at: http://www.veggies.org.uk/arc/event.php?ref=252

Sumac Centre
245 Gladstone Street, Forest Fields, Nottingham NG7 6HX
Ph: 0845 458 9595

Just after PM’s Questions, this chap stood up, to introduce a Ten Minute Rule Bill titled:
“Equal Enforcement of the Law”. A fine sentiment perhaps, that what law we do have, should be equally applied to all citizen.

However, he doesn’t mean that! It’s all about travellers, land to stay on, planning permissions, and all to reinforce the present; “lets be horrible to travellers” line, currently being peddled by the main political parties at the mo…….

After he finished, the vote was that he could continue in the subsequent stages, and that the Second Reading, has been scheduled for the 5th May. This being the same date as the election, it problably wont proceed. But this lot, just serves to show the continued attitudes to travellers, and the like.

>>>

Andrew Robathan MP ten minute rule bill
Equal Enforcement of the Law
6th april 2005

Mr speaker i beg to move that leave be given to bring in a bill to make provision for direction to police forces to enforce the law equally as it applies to settled communities and travellers; to amend the law on trespass; and for connected purposes.

One of the abiding principles that runs through the development of british democracy and society is the principle of equality before the law. The peasants revolt, magna carta, the civil war and habeas corpus, the abolition of the test acts and many other instances show this principle being developed and a very important principle it has been. But under this government, some people have discovered that the law will not be applied to them equally. The terrorists of sinn fein are one such group, but i wish to dwell on the treatment of travellers in the country at the moment.

As far as i am concerned, if people wish to live in caravans and travel about the country, that is entirely their own affair. I do not believe in prescribing how people lead their lives, just as long as they do not impinge unreasonably on the lives of others. There is a permanent campsite at aston firs in my constituency which i have visited in the past and will probably visit in this election campaign. I believe people there are entirely law abiding and while there may not be many votes there for me, but i think it important to make myself available to all my constituents.

I was brought up on the romantic notion of gypsies in attractive and colourful caravans pulled by horses, where romanies lived their unique lifestyle travelling around the country. This still happens and there was indeed, only last week, a traditional caravan in swinford, in my constituency.
On monday, by coincidence, my constituency office was deluged with calls from concerned people in lutterworth about an illegal gypsy encampment at the ladywood works. I went to see the site where half a dozen caravans had moved in on saturday night. A local garage had been closed because the 17 year old female cashier said that she had been intimidated by travellers. When i spoke to the owner, he told me that he had not reported it to the police because last time he caught a gypsy stealing something on cctv from his forecourt, the local police had advised him not to press charges, because he might be vulnerbale to criminal damage in retaliation. A disgrace.

Another three caravans have now arrived in lutterworth on the same illegal site, where they are trespassing. When the first ones arrived one of the travellers made an offer to the manager of the site, saying that they would leave straight away if paid £350 a van. When i visited the site, there were helpful police officers present. When i pointed out that one car had no road fund licence, the police officer explained that, although the owner of the car was committing an act of trespass, the police had no rights to enforce the law on private land. The phrase “catch 22” comes to mind. At this site, one of the particular complaints of the businesses of the site was that human excrement had been left on their doorsteps.

In northfield park in blaby a couple of years ago, i saw the astonishing rubbish that had been dumped by travellers there, including abandoned cars. Local residents were so intimidated they did not dare use the park, i met some very aggressive travellers, whilst the police stood off, not wishing to make trouble.

This is a pity because there are two issues relating to caravans and police which have been drawn to my attention by people involved in the legal caravanning world. The first is the width and length of caravans. Photographs published in the sun and elsewhere show that some caravans have twin or even triple axles, and they are too long to be legally towed by anything other than a full size commercial vehicle in the uk.

At the same time, the maximum width caravan that can be towed in the uk is just over seven foot five inches. There are photographs, for instance, in the sun on the 12th march, of a german-made lmc caravan just under eight foot wide. This is illegal. Yet the police very rarely stop these sorts of illegal vehicles. Perhaps the minister might like to answer the written question that i have already put down about prosecutions for over-wide or over-long caravans in this country.

The second and enormously important issue is theft. Some five thousand touring caravans are stolen and not recovered each year – about 20% of total uk sales of new caravans. All these new caravans have c.r.i.s. identification numbers. They also generally have transponders in them. If a new caravan is found without such means of identification, the question should be asked why not, and is it stolen. Unfortunately when one police officer in bedfordshire followed such a course of action he was moved to an office job because he upset travellers in bedfordshire. He also upset bedfordshire social services because they might have had to find accomodation for families whose caravans were confiscated. Surely it is the duty of the police to make simple enquiries to ascertain whether caravans are stolen.

It is also interesting how many brand-new vehicles tend to be pulling these vans – it might be pertinent for the inland revenue and customs and excise to be making enquiries about taxation and vat. Little council tax gets paid and i doubt much else gets paid either.

If any honourable member does not tax his car, i expect that he will be prosecuted with the assistance of the police. If he or she dumps rubbish on public land or by the side of the road, he or she is committing an offence. Human excrement in a public place should incur the wrath of environmental health departments. Furthermore, we all pay taxes and the overwhelming majority of our constituents pay council taxes for the services they expect to receive.

It is not unreasonable that we should all obey the laws of this country, be they planning laws, motoring laws or laws relating to environmental health. Illegal encampments of travellers have been much in the news recently and one does not have to be a reader of the sun or the daily mail – which i understand to have been particularly campaigning on this – to believe that it is wrong that people can flout the planning law in a flagrant fashion and then apply for retrospective planning permission.

Sadly, this government believes that “whilst some planners think that treating everyone the same helps to ensure equality this is not the case. Explicit recognition of difference is needed to ensure that the right action can be taken to deliver a planning service responsive to different needs within the communities it serves”. Similarly, the government has said regarding unauthorised camping, “where the occupier of the land is a public body such as a local authority then every effort should be made to avert forced eviction. Where trespassers are for instance irish travellers, public bodies are required under the race relations act to have due regard to the need to promote good race relations”.

The law does not apply to everyone. The law is not applied equally to all people in this country.

I think the overwhelming majority of people in this country, faced with casting their votes in a general election, will consider that everybody should be subject to the same laws. I propose that trespass be made a criminal offence, where it involves occupancy. This would give the police the certain power to move on trespassing travellers. The house will know that this is exactly what has happened in ireland under the housing (miscellaneous provisions) act 2002. That of course is why there has been an influx of irish travellers into this country, where we are seen as a soft touch.

I further propose that councils be allowed to refuse applications for retrospective planning permission by travellers or rogue developers who are cynically manipulating the planning system, often advised by disreputable lawyers. I would allow local councils to ensure that there was the rapid removal of caravans where planning permission did not exist and that large fines or confiscation of assets were imposed on travellers who were trying to profit from illegal developments.

Police must know that they not only have the power but the duty to stop travellers of whom they are suspicious and check their road fund licences, the road worthiness of their vehicles and the provenance of their vehicles. If i am stopped by a police officer, i must be displaying my road fund licence and i may be required to produce my insurance. There is no reason why this law too should not be applied to travellers – but at the moment, police officers seem wary of doing this because they fear it may cause trouble.

Finally, these travellers, who probably a minority of the travelling community, that are behaving illegally know their rights, but not their responsibilities. I propose a review or even the repeal of the so-called human rights act 2000. It sounds attractive, a human rights act, but actually it is used by smart slick lawyers to drive a coach and horses through the laws that the rest of us have to obey. In particular, the human rights act has allowed travellers to break planning laws, but takes no account of the rights of others whose lives are made a misery by illegal traveller encampments. When my right honourable friend the leader of the opposition suggested this, there was one person who commented that this had “the whiff of the gas chamber about it”. Only a bitter twisted and perverted mind could imagine that to say that all people should obey the same laws is in some way wrong. We are all equal before the law and i propose that that equality should be enforced. I urge the house to support this bill.

>>>>>

So, if you want to tell him, what you thing about all this, he can be cobtacted at:

conservative@blaby.force9.co.uk

http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=people.person.page&personID=5091

6th-10th April 2005

From Wednesday the 6th until Sunday 10th of April 2005, the “Festival of Dissent!” will take place in rural Lanarkshire, near Coalburn, Scotland. Hundreds of people are expected to attend the event, which is one of many aiming to inform people about the issues behind the G8 Summit and what it represents. The Festival is a space in which people can learn new skills, meet others interested in the issues, get inspired and plan actions to be taken around the Summit. People from across Scotland and beyond are invited to attend.

One of the organising collective explained, “For many people, the G8 represents a great deal that is wrong with this world. The G8 exists to secure the continued political, economic and military domination of the world by the richest eight nations- it’s about oppression, exploitation and the pursuit of profit for the few at the expense of everyone else. We want to use the opportunity presented by the Summit to build new spaces, open to everybody, in which we can demonstrate our very real alternatives: of self-management, of non-hierarchical and consensus based decision making and of ecological sustainability. The Festival of Dissent! will provide exactly such a space.”

Workshops at the festival include training sessions on the G8, consensus decision making, hill walking and navigation and direct action training. On the Sunday afternoon there will be bands and entertainment. Sarah, who will give a workshop at the festival said “I don’t believe the G8 are going to do anything about climate change or Africa. Any suggestion otherwise is more of Blair’s public relations nonsense. The G8 Summit is about opening up markets, extracting oil and carrying on business as usual. These type of policies are killing the planet and its people, and we simply can’t afford to do this any more”

Liam Spencer, a resident of Glasgow who will attend the Festival later this week said, “I am going to the Festival of Dissent! to find out more about what people want to do, about direct action politics and how I can get involved. This is an interesting and inspiring time.”

The Festival is being organised by a collective belonging to the Dissent! Network. Dissent! is a loose network of groups and individuals planning to use creative direct action to resist the G8. The Network has grown and successfully spread across Europe. It has no central office, no spokespeople, no membership list and no paid staff. It is simply a mechanism for communication and co-ordination between local groups and working groups involved in building resistance to the G8.

For more about the Dissent! Network, see: www.dissent.org.uk

Martin Wainwright
Wednesday April 6, 2005
The Guardian

http://society.guardian.co.uk/crimeandpunishment/story/0,8150,1453090,00.html

An overhaul of the way Nottinghamshire police deals with serious offences begins next week after its chief constable claimed that government budgets had left his officers “reeling” in the face of a sharp rise in gun crime.

Steve Green, the head of the Nottinghamshire force, is to share his headquarters with an outside specialist drafted in by the Home Office to sort out failings in dealing with murder and other serious crime.

Chris Sims, the deputy chief constable of West Midlands police – Britain’s second biggest force – will start work in Nottingham on Monday, after a critical report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. A team of inspectors was sent in three weeks ago by the home secretary Charles Clarke, after Mr Green claimed his force was struggling to cope because of recruiting restrictions.

The chief inspector, Denis O’Connor, rejected the complaint and concluded, in a report published yesterday, that Nottinghamshire’s main problem was the way police resources were being deployed.

“The emphasis upon detecting major crime is too passive and the force needs to move to a ‘control and protect’ strategy,” he said.

His report denies that Nottinghamshire police have been overwhelmed – a claim Mr Green withdrew after vociferous local complaints about his comments in a Sunday Telegraph interview.

Mr O’Connor says: “Processes that have underpinned Nottinghamshire’s successes against volume crime [relatively minor] have yet to be developed for serious crime.

“This limits the force’s ability to prevail on this aspect of policing and the same rigour now needs to embrace serious crime. Resources are and will remain an issue, but they are not at the heart of the problem, which is more about how to structure and utilise resources, skills and expertise to best effect.”

Mr Sims, a former colleague of Mr Green, will initially spend three months giving “intensive support”, with a further spell depending on a second inspection by Mr O’Connor in early July. Mr Sims’s specialities in West Midlands have included tackling bureaucracy and internal coordination, and drawing up force management strategy.

Mr Green said he welcomed the helping hand but added: “The command team of this force has never had anything other than total commitment to dealing with serious crime.”

He denied inertia in tackling serious crime and said: “Whilst we want to examine every option in preventing murders, we would argue that there has been excellent work and significant reductions in shootings, which prove that we have been anything but passive in this area.”

The home secretary, speaking in Nottinghamshire during the government’s preliminary election campaign launch, said he had absolute confidence in Mr Green.

“Every inspection makes criticisms of the way a force is run,” he said. “That is the means by which we get improvement.

“These are strong measures but I would not say unprecedented. They are strong measures to deal with a situation in a very strong way.”

Graham Allen, the Labour MP for Nottingham North who led criticism of Mr Green’s newspaper interview, said the test of real change would come during Mr Sims’s secondment.

“The installation of better management will increase, not decrease the likelihood of yet more resources coming to Nottinghamshire,” he said.

“We will see today and over the next few weeks if we have left behind ‘excuse making’ and ‘blame culture’ and maverick media punditry, and moved on to clear goals shared with partners, effective management and a well-led, motivated workforce determined to give villains a tougher time.”

Victor Bates, a Nottingham jeweller who called the chief constable a “menace to law and order” after a teenager was convicted last month of murdering his wife in their shop, called for Mr Green to resign after the inspectors’ report. “Our police need a change in management,” he said.

“They are sending an officer up from the West Midlands to look over his shoulder. I would have thought a chief constable would consider his future after that.”

http://society.guardian.co.uk/crimeandpunishment/story/0,8150,1453090,00.html

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