28 February, 2008
As part of the ‘LGBT History Month’, the rainbow flag, flew above the Council House. As well as various events held around the city, there is an exhibition of photography in the Central Library [on the 1st floor], Angel Row, Nottingham.
Part of the exhibition is to show the diversity of characters, including artists, comedians, actors, musicians, playwrights, novelists, statesmen & women, sports people …… etc.
Another wall is dedicated to Nottingham Pride events over the last 10 years. As it turns out, largely consisting of my photography at the last few ‘prides’. Selections of this work, can be seen at these links.
Nottingham 2007 Pride
Nottingham 2006 Pride
Nottingham 2005 Pride
Pix 1 http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/07/319629.html
Pix 2 http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/07/319652.html
Nottingham 2004 Pride
Manchester Pride 2006
Manchester Pride 2005
Manchester Pride 2004
NTU LGBT Awareness Fortnight
27 February, 2008
This time it is the photographers and videographers we have to fear.
The two links will take you to the Met’s own website and enlighten you, frighten you, and have you phoning in suspicious behaviour calls on every journalist, photojournalist, video journalist, mainstream, union registered and especially those pesky independent “citizen journalism” activist Indymedia types.
Now the message is, who’s that behind the camera? What are they filming, or photographing, and why?
Extract from their new campaign:
Met Launches New Counter-Terrorism Campaign 25.02.08
IF YOU SUSPECT IT – REPORT IT
“Observation and surveillance help terrorists plan attacks. Have you seen anyone taking pictures of security arrangements such as CCTV? Has it made you suspicious?
“Meetings, training and planning for terrorist attacks can take place anywhere. Do you know someone who travels but is vague about where they’re going?
and so on…..
MET Police new terrorism Campaign
2008 Counter-Terrorism advertising campaign launched
less and less hope …….. !
27 February, 2008
NUJ member Marc Vallée has accepted an apology and out-of-court settlement from the Metropolitan Police today (25/2), further to issuing proceedings against Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis for “Battery” (assault) and breaches of the Human Rights Act, relating to freedom of expression and assembly.
Photojournalist Marc Vallée, was taking photographs of the ‘Sack Parliament’ demonstration protest in Parliament Square on 9 October 2006.
Marc received injuries further to action by Metropolitan Police officers, which resulted in an ambulance attending to give urgent attention and then treatment at St Thomas’ hospital.
He has received a written apology and an out-of-court settlement and his legal costs for pursuing the action will also be met by the police.
Ms Chez Cotton, Marc Vallée’s solicitor, said: “This was an extremely unpleasant incident. Neither the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police or his officers has any legal power, moral responsibility or political responsibility to prevent or restrict what the media record. Mr Vallée is a well-respected photojournalist, lawfully present to photograph a political protest outside parliament, yet he was brutally prevented from doing so by the police. It is right that Mr Vallée has received an apology, an out of court settlement and that his legal costs will be met by the police.”
NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, said: “Marc will be pleased to have finally got an apology from the police, but it is no cause for celebration. It is disgraceful that the police brutally obstructed a member of the press from reporting on a political demonstration. Press freedom is a central tenet of our democracy so Marc Vallée’s treatment by the police is deeply worrying. The Met needs to take a close look at what must be done to ensure its officers respect journalists’ rights.”
Mark Thomas, comic, activist and a writer said: “Marc’s win shows that police simply cannot attack journalists and get away with it. The Met should be ashamed that the case had to be taken on in the first place, physically assaulting journalists in the pursuit of their job is an outrageous and vile act that smacks of the worst kind of censorship and bully boy tactics. One can only hope that the Met will learn from this and refrain from beating up members of the press in future.”
Well done Marc
26 February, 2008
Climate change is killing us. So why are we still so reluctant to quantify the deaths it has caused?
In April last year a group of environmentalists shut down E.ON’s coalfired power station in Ratcliffe-on-Soar. The goal: to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and, in their words, “save lives”. Yesterday judge Morris Cooper presented a 20-page judgment accepting there was an “urgent need for drastic action”, but convicted them of aggravated trespass, saying their defence, that their crime was necessary to save lives, could not be substantiated.
In the trial, for which I was an expert witness, crucial questions were how many people does climate change kill, and what proportion is the UK responsible for? I was surprised to discover that nobody knows. Scientists such as myself are involved in programmes to measure CO2 emissions, air temperatures, sea-ice loss and the much more complex impacts on birds, rainforest trees and coral reefs. We know that climate change-related events are killing people, yet there is no comprehensive global monitoring program to document the lives lost due to climate change. There is no official climate-change body count.
Admittedly, the impact of climate change on human health and mortality is difficult to quantify. There is no comparison group of people not exposed to climate change. Deaths are often due to multiple causes. And while the probability of a particular event occurring under modified climate conditions can be estimated, no single event can be solely attributed to climate change. The biggest obstacle is the sheer variety of effects it has on health. These include direct effects such as drowning in floods and complex indirect effects, such as falling crop yields which increases malnutrition and changes in the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria. Furthermore, care must be taken to subtract any positive health impacts on climate change, such as the reduced effects of cold weather on health in a warming world.
The World Heath Organisation publishes the only global estimate of the number killed by climate change – about 150,000 annually. Worryingly, this estimate comes from a single modelling study in 2002, and includes only four impacts of climate change (deaths from one strain of malaria, malnutrition, diarrhoea-type diseases and flooding). It is, as the authors point out, a highly conservative first estimate and, by now, considerably out of date.
Why are we relying on a single, limited, out-of-date study for our information on the numbers of people killed by climate change? This is not a criticism of the WHO; the real question is why they are apparently alone in this effort.
The core of the climate-change community, of course, is that group studying the atmosphere. Their questions therefore don’t often relate directly to human health. The medical profession is obviously more interested in saving lives now than in the slower and longer term effects of climate change, and so have been late in engaging with the question.
Naturally, funding influences which questions are answered. Politicians have not asked for a body count. But why not? Perhaps there are parallels with another politically charged issue involving widespread mortality, where nobody counted: the war in Iraq. Governments probably do not want to hear about people dying in foreign lands because of their own choices. Who is going to fund comprehensive studies when the headline might read “British carbon emissions responsible for 3,000 deaths last year”?
The precise relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and deaths that both the environmentalists and Judge Cooper wanted information on should not be beyond scientists in the future. Equivalent statements are routinely made by medical specialists, such as the proportion of all stroke deaths attributable to hypertension in a given year, or attributing lung cancer deaths to passive smoking. It is merely a question of deciding whether it is an important question to answer.
Such an understanding is essential for two quite different reasons. First, it is a basic issue of justice. The dead should be remembered and their families and friends should understand the factors involved in their deaths. Second, it seems likely that the numbers of people killed by climate change has been significantly underestimated. This means that, in addition to issues of the morality of equating human lives with the time spent waiting in airport queues, such cost-benefit analyses used to shape government policy with major climatic impacts, such as building a new runway at Heathrow, are likely to be biased by underestimating the cost in human lives of such decisions.
Dr Simon Lewis is a Royal Society research fellow at the Earth and Biosphere Institute, University of Leeds
It’s time for a body count : Guardian 26th February 2008
26 February, 2008
On the 10th April 2007, 11 people walked into the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station and locked on to the coal conveyor and assorted plant there.
Their objective was to take direct action to halt operations and thus to diminish the CO2 emissions of the E-on plant, the greenhouse gas thought to be largely responsible for climate change.
They were all changed with aggravated trespass “trespassing on land and entering into buildings with the intention of obstructing or disrupting persons engaged in a lawful activity, contrary to section 68(1)(b) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
Throughout the court case [described in the links below], the defendant argued that yes, they did take these actions, but employed the defence of “duress of circumstances” or necessity, and pleaded not guilty.
At the beginning of the case, there was legal argument on if the court would hear this defence. It did and the case was proceeded with in making such argument. It is thought to be the first case dealing with environmental matters, that this defence had been employed.
On Monday 25th Feb, 10 defendants [one having had the charges dismissed due to lack of evidence] returned to court to receive the judgement. He had earlier said that he wished to compliment all the defendants on the way they had handled themselves and on the presentation of their case. However all were found guilty.
The District Judge Morris Cooper said that he had rejected the defence of necessity, this being so, and the defendant had all admitted their action they were thus guilty of these offences.
There had been extensive evidence presented to court by an expert witness Dr Simon Lewis. The court had accepted this without contention. In the written judgement DJ Cooper points out that …
“The law relating to this subject is far from clear as to scope of such a defence. I am not aware of any legal authority that addresses the question of whether a global threat brought about or contributed to by global human activity is within the scope of such a defence. This case, there fore, goes into uncharted legal territory”.
Also, I was struck by a quote from one of the authorities relied on in making the decision. London Borough of Southwark V. Williams .
“Well one thing emerges with clarity from the decisions, and that is that the law regards with the deepest suspicion any remedies of self-help, and permits those remedies to be resorted to only in very special circumstances. The reason for such circumspection is clear, necessity can easily become simply a mask for anarchy”.
So, there you have it!
They were fined varying amounts between £100 – £250. Additionally, the prosecution asked for £100 costs each and the victim surcharge of £15. The total bill coming to £2670. All were given time to pay.
Ratcliffe Power Station Court Case : Nottingham Magistrates [day 1]
Ratcliffe Power Station Court Case : Nottingham Magistrates [day 2]
Ratcliffe Power Station Court Case : Nottingham Magistrates [day 3]
‘Clean’ Coal On Trial [Feature]
>> check here for links to the action and surrounding issues
22 February, 2008
On Friday 22 February at 12.30pm, Nottingham adopted the first Speakers’ Corner in the UK since an Act of Parliament paved the way for the original in London’s Hyde Park almost 150 years ago. The council press release says: ‘It is to be located in the heart of the city centre as a powerful symbol of citizens’ rights, a focus for civic pride and a platform for free public exchange in the midst of Nottingham’s daily hustle and bustle”. With the pedestrianisation of King Street, Speakers’ Corner will then be inaugurated in the autumn
At a ceremony in Market Square, the Council Leader Jon Collins and the Sheriff of Nottingham Jeannie Packer formally announced its creation at King Street. This would be the country’s first since the original was established in London’s Hyde Park in the 1870s.
Tim Desmond, chair of the Nottingham Speakers’ Corner Committee and who’s day job is the chief executive of the Galleries of Justice, said: “We see this as a day of celebration for Nottingham on which we can showcase our heritage as a great free-thinking city and our future as a centre of innovation and above all take pride in the people who make up our community.
“We’ve tried to organise a day with something for everyone. We all have strong views but we rarely get the chance to express them. The whole idea of the initiative we’re pioneering in Nottingham is to bring people together to exchange and enjoy ideas and opinions, to learn from each other and to have a greater say in how are lives are run.”
Then, Peter Bradley, director of Speakers’ Corner Trust, the charity behind the initiative, added: “The sheer breadth and ambition of the day shows just why we chose Nottingham for our national pilot. This is a city bursting not just with ideas and energy, but also with goodwill.
So, that’s alright then! Personally, I think it’s a splendid idea. But many folks have have expressed reservations that this might be a council wheeze, to help ‘clear up’ assorted groups from stalls and protests across the rest of the square and surrounding areas, and place them all neatly at this ‘official location’. But they wouldn’t do that, would they? We know the police and wardens are sometimes quite confused about free speech, handing out leaflets [an allowed activity for political purposes, without the need for permission. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/10/352444.html ]. Further ambiguity exists, when setting up a stall. Check out an earlier example. http://indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/nottinghamshire/2007/05/371109.html
While Coun Collins was speaking, someone at the back shouted ‘bullshit’ [amongst other things]. Earlier in the week, there had been a demonstration in opposition to the council plan to close the Victoria Baths in Sneinton. Firstly, there was an initial ‘misunderstanding’, about access to the council chamber, then there was a further issue about what public consultation could achieve. So, the heckler seemed confused that coun Collins cited the Victoria Baths campaign as an example of such free speech.
Tim Desmond, chair of the Nottingham Speakers’ Corner Committee
Peter Bradley, director of Speakers’ Corner Trust
Jeannie Packer, Sheriff of Nottingham
Jon Collins, Council Leader
Adrian Lunga, the Zimbabwean human rights campaigner
Eddie Izzard [via video screen]
Speakers Corner Trust: http://www.speakerscornertrust.org
10 February, 2008
Shrovetide football has been played for centuries and possibly for over 1,000 years. Each year on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, Ashbourne becomes a war zone! The majority of the able-bodied men, women and children take to the streets to play what is probably the largest and oldest football game in the world!
– The two teams number in the hundreds / thousands, and the playing field is 3 miles long, 2 miles wide and has the town of Ashbourne in the middle!
Shops are borded up, only an idiot would park his or her car anywhere in the town! If you did not know about the game and you drove into Ashbourne – you would probably think that there is a major case of civil unrest going on !
The game is played by those Ashburnians who were born on the north side of the Henmore river – the Up’ards, against those born on the south side – the Down’ards.
The kick-off or “turning up” of the specially made and painted ball takes place from a brick built plinth in the town centre at the Shawcroft carpark, by a local or national figure.
The recent history of football spans almost 150 years, when rugby football and association football branched off on their different courses and the world’s first football association was founded – The Football Association in England. Both forms of football stemmed from a common root and both have a long and intricately branched ancestral tree. Their early history reveals at least half a dozen different games, varying to different degrees and to which
the historical development of football is related.
The game as it was called, belonged in the “mob football” category, where the number of players was unlimited and the rules were fairly vague, for example, according to an ancient handbook from Workington in England, any means could be employed to get the ball to its target with the exception of MURDER and MANSLAUGHTER :-). Needless to say, it is no longer so riotous as it used to be, nor are such extensive casualties suffered as was probably the case centuries ago.
A fire at the Royal Shrovetide Committe office in the 1890’s has meant that much of the the exact origins of the annual Shrovetide game have been lost, there are mentions of the game in the 1600s. In fact, the earliest surviving reference to the game was in 1683 when Charles Cotton, of “The Compleat Angler” fame, wrote about it.
Ashbourne is one of very few towns across the country who still play the game. Similar games are still played in Kirkwall, on Scotland’s Orkney Island and the Cornish towns of St. Ives and St Columb.
Though the origin of such contests is disputed, many believe they date from before the Norman Conquest and that the ball was originally a head, tossed to the crowd after a public execution. In 1314 Edward II tried to ban the competitions from London; 35 years later Edward III attempted to outlaw the game altogether because it was disturbing his archery practice.
In the 16th century Philip Stubbs described Shrovetide football as “bloody murdering practice, rather than a fellowly sport or pastime.” Indeed, the Ashbourne event was briefly banned in 1878 after a man drowned.
As with the fire ceremonies at Lewes in Sussex http://www.lewesbonfirecouncil.org.uk/, and many other more exhuberant games and events around the courty, there are those who would like to see them all banned.
The main rules of the game are:
Keep the ball out of churchyards, the cemetery and the Memorial Gardens.
You must not intentionally cause harm to others.
The ball must not be hidden in bags or rucksacks.
The ball must not be transported in motorised vehicles.
Murder and manslaughter are barred
Just to remind all: one of the earliest rules, from ancient times, states that players must not murder their opponents!
The event isn’t about going and watching your team. The whole gig is about all present are the team. It’s a ‘mass participation game’.
I have tried to encourage many photographers I know, with an interest in civil rights, demos & protest and public order to go to this event. It’s great practise in ‘crowd flows’ and learning to keep your ‘sea-legs’ with everyone being so physical around you. Yet again, I came out with a fair few bruises, a nosebleed and aches all over ……… I simply had a wicked time.
For yet more about it all, check Ashbourne Towns website at:
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