Protest at Israeli drone factory in Birmingham planned for July 2015 – everyone welcome!

24/06/2015

Activists standing in solidarity with Palestinians will attempt to shut down an Israeli arms
factory in England next month, on the anniversary of Israel’s military operation ‘Protective Edge’, which caused massive  destruction and loss of life in the Gaza strip last summer.  And to counteract the violent nature of the factory, the protest will take the form of “a creative and positive space that meets the needs of justice and solidarity, and not the needs of Israeli multinational corporations that export death for profit.”

Last year, news of the Israeli attacks on Gaza led to demonstrations such as nine activists who occupied the roof of he UAV Engines Ltd factory in Shenstone, near Birminham, which is owned by the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. They shut down the drone engine factory for two days costing the company more than £180,000.

Rooftop protest at Elbit Systems last year.  This year's planned even will be far more peaceful and suitable for all the family.

Rooftop protest at Elbit Systems last year. This year’s planned even will be far more peaceful and suitable for all the family.

This year, on 6 July (the anniversary of the start of the onslaught on Gaza), a more organized demonstration  at Shenstone is planned.  “Block the Factory” will “be transforming the space around the arms factory, converting it from a site of destruction into a fun, creative and child-friendly environment”.

Elbit Systems makes engines for drones, surveillance equipment for the militarized USA/Mexico border and the Israeli Separation Wall, which breaches international law and stretches for hundreds of miles, dividing families and confiscating large swathes of fertile Palestinian land as it goes.  Elbit Systems is just one part of the massive arms industry that makes Israel  the largest per capita arms exporter in the world. Israel is the world’s second largest exporter of military drones, selling thousands all over the world.  And who makes the engines for the drones?  UAV Engines Ltd, whose factory is in Shenstone, near Birmingham.

From Mondoweiss.net:

‘Block the factory’ aims to turn the space around the factory into a fun, creative and inspiring place, rather than one associated with death, destruction, and injustice. Whether it’s by telling stories or holding workshops, making art or flying kites (not drones), playing music or sharing food together, it will be a space for activists to build support networks, find new allies and make new friends.

This mass action is part of the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions  campaign (BDS) and the Stop Arming Israel Campaign, which call on the UK to end its extensive collaboration with the Israeli weapons industry and to institute a two-way arms embargo.  Many groups are involved in the day so far, including:

Boycott Israel Network, NUS Black Students’ Campaign, West Midlands PSC, Drone Campaign Network, Coventry Friends of Palestine, Smash EDO, Manchester Palestine Action, Glasgow Palestine Action, Campaign Against Arms Trade, Stop The Arms Faircoalition, War on Want, and London Palestine Action

The organisers want to make this an inclusive and family friendly affair, believing that diversity makes us better and stronger. So, whether you have never been on a protest before or are a seasoned activist, whether you are disabled, an older person, a younger person, whether you have five children or none, you are encouraged to come and help make this the biggest, most beautiful action yet at an arms factory in the UK.

Better still, there are ways to get yourself or your group actively involved. That could be running a workshop or a creative space, playing music or organising food, or even creating an activity session for children. The organisers stress that the action is what people make it, and welcome ideas and input.

Getting to the demo

Shenstone is a small village outside Birmingham, accessible by National Rail trains. If you are coming from outside Birmingham, this generally means travelling to Birmingham New Street and changing there.

Trains run roughly every 20 minutes from Birmingham New Street, and tickets cost around £4.50. Earliest trains are at 06:01 and the last train returning to Birmingham is at 23:32.

More info at www.blockthefactory.org.

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Thank the Goddess I’m not a Palestinian – cos the Israeli “defence” forces are wiping them out!

18/11/2014

First, a truly incomprehensible attack on innocent Jewish men, women and children, using the excuse there are a lot of Israelis “in danger” from “Palestine officials”.

Let’s examine the charges by Israeri concerning the “oh-so-dangerous Militants”:
Here’s the low-down on why Netenyahu is overseeing these brutality. The Israelis have state-of-the-art firearms, whereas the Palestinian community have virtually nothing left.

Sling vs helicopter gunships, automatic rifles, grenades, the rape of Palestinian women and children... how can any sane person see the Israeli response as proportional???

Sling vs helicopter gunships, automatic rifles, grenades, the rape of Palestinian women and children… how can any sane person see the Israeli response as proportional???

An example (thanks to the Guardian: after Palestinians allegedly killed in a terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, 2 PFLP suspects (note that word: suspects) killed “in retaliation by Israeli “security” forces. Netenyahu ordered the destruction of the homes of alleged suspects (no judicial oversight, no rule of law, Netenyahu decides these men did the attack, and not only killed the “suspects” but also ordered the demolishment of these so-called “suspects” homes. Was that proportionate action? Making families homeless, even though the people living there would have had no idea of what, if anything, the “suspects” may have been up to. This is not justice: it’s a bare-faced landgrab, designed to make Palestinian families homeless and leave the way clear for more Kibbutzin and other illegal “settlers”.

US leader Obama criticized the attack on the Synagogue, which killed four innocent people, including US citizens Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Moshe Twersky, and injured several more. He said:

There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians.

“The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and families of all those who were killed and injured in this horrific attack and in other recent violence. At sensitive moment, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence and seek a path forward towards peace.”

So you can see, Obama deplores the attacks on the Jews in Synagogue, but didn’t make any mention of the fact that the families of the alleged killers have had their homes demolished. Isn’t there something in American society about the right for private, family life? Oops, I nearly forgot: Any provisions in the US constitution only apply to US citizens. Palestinians being forcibly removed from their homes is okay as far as Uncle Sam is concerned. Plus Israel is an important ally of the USA’s. Whereas the USA, like Israel, consider Palestinians to be the enemy. Even the children are viewed as terrorists-in-waiting. It’d be funny, if you didn’t realize it was about actual living human beings. Fucking Netanyahu, fucking Obama.

This is a public service announcement... with wrecking balls!!!

This is a public service announcement… with wrecking balls!!!

Why oh why doesn’t someone put an end to the Israeli’s war on innocents and its seizure of Palestinian property? Can someone explain to me: let’s assume one of the “suspects” did something wrong. Surely the suspect should be arrested and face a fair trial. But no, the “suspects” are killed, or tortured, or similarly disappeared. And an entire family is made homeless. Is this right? I’d love to hear a rational argument from pro-Israeli figures on this subject.

The Israeli government is despicable. Collective punishment, ghettoization, arrest and murder of innocent people. That’s the kind of crap the Nazis got up to. And now the Israelis are up to it. Makes me feel disgustingly sick. I hate the authorities in Israel, and I hate the Western powers (eg USA, UK, France) who support them. Leave the Palestinians alone FFS! Even the Nazis didn’t keep up their war of terror for this long!

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What’s the EDL gonna do now?

23/10/2013

Last week, co-founders of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll quit the organisation, claiming they no longer wanted to be associated by the Nazi thugs who have joined the EDL. While I find their stated reason to quit being the top boys of the League as disingenuous/an obvious pack of lies, the resignations are interesting in themselves. They are indicative of the signs that the EDL are splintering and losing support. If we ignore the fluke upsurge of interest caused by the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, killed by “Islamist extremists”,  interest in the EDL is waning, with too many mainstream members unhappy with the violence that seems to come with their demos.

Unite Against Fascism is confident that its actions are putting the EDL on the back foot. “The EDL were growing exponentially until they were met by a greater force,” said Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of UAF. “They would come with a few hundred and we would have a few thousand who didn’t want them in their town, and they didn’t know what to do.”

Eric Randolph, writing in the Independent, writes the opinion of a recently retired officer with the National Domestic Extremism Unit, that the English Defence League is likely to splinter into smaller regional units with some supporters shifting to more extreme movements. A terrorist-styled cell structure that will keep most members safe even if other cells are compromised. It’s a tried and tested approach that has helped extremists distance themselves from other cells that might have done something bad.

The same former cop says:

“The EDL may survive as separate regional organisations. Most of its activity was at a local level anyway. But prior to the murder of Lee Rigby, it was already seeing a marked decline. One of the reasons was the personal antipathy of regional leaders towards Tommy Robinson – he was not terribly well liked but was accepted as the best leader because he had a certain amount of charisma and cunning.”

The Domestic Extremism Unit is by no means suggesting that a power struggle within the EDL might lead to terrorist or other attacks on the public. They do admit there’s a slight risk of terrorism by right-wing extremists but add: there is a “risk of terrorism” but that’s  limited to individuals or very small groups that are not terribly sophisticated”.

“There have been about 15-18 arrests of people with terrorist paraphernalia and the wherewithal to put them together. Often they have bought the components, but haven’t actually put them together. They see the race war as a matter of time, and want to be prepared.”

Big brave EDL supporters pick on a young Muslim woman.

Big brave EDL supporters pick on a young Muslim woman.

As for Tommy Robinson, he plans to continue talking about the dangers he thinks go hand in hand with Islamism. “I have a passion to combat Islamist ideology and I want to lead a revolution against that ideology, but I don’t want to lead a revolution against Muslims.”

Of course, some wonder what has brought this change in Robinson.  The EDL have always had a problem with Muslims. I reckon we should keep an eye on Robinson.  Leopards’ spots don’t change overnight.  And of course it will be interesting to see what the EDL do now.

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The killer bees have been saved… hold on, shouldn’t that be “vanquished”? No, apparently it’s good news that we are at the mercy of giant killer bees or something

02/05/2013

Remember I told you I’m in a few online action groups? No? Then clear that beeswax outta your ears and listen up! And you at the back, put that cellphone away or I’ll confiscate it…

Where was I? Oh yeah, online action groups. There’re not (all) useless circle jerks, some actually achieve stuff! One group, avaaz.org, sent me an email saying:

HUGE WIN ON BEES!
Dear amazing Avaaz community,

We did it — Europe just banned bee-killing pesticides!! Mega-corporations like Bayer threw everything they had at this, but people-power, science and good governance came out on top!!

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers from the specialist conservation organisation Buglife, says:

“It was a close vote, but thanks to a massive mobilisation by Avaaz members, beekeepers, and others, we won! I have no doubt that the floods of phonecalls and emails to ministers, the actions in London, Brussels and Cologne, and the giant petition with 2.6 million signers made this result possible. Thank you Avaaz, and everyone who worked so hard to save bees!”

Bees pollinate two thirds of all our food — so when scientists noticed that silently, they were dying at a terrifying rate, Avaaz swung in to action, and we kept on swinging until we won. This week’s victory is the result of two years of flooding ministers with messages, organizing media-grabbing protests with beekeepers, funding opinion polls and much, much more. Here’s how we did it, together:

Keeping France strong. In January 2011, 1 million people sign our call to France to uphold its ban on deadly neonicotinoid pesticides. Avaaz members and beekeepers meet the French agriculture minister and fill the airwaves, pressing him to face down fierce industry lobbying and keep the ban, sending a strong signal to other European countries.

Tackling industry head on. Bayer has faced Avaaz and allies protesting at its last three annual meetings. The pesticide giant’s managers and investors are welcomed by beekeepers, loud buzzing, and massive banners with our 1 million plus call on them to suspend use of neonicotinoids until scientists reviewed their effect on bees. Avaaz even makes a presentation inside the meeting, but Bayer says ‘no’.

Making the science count. In January the European Food Safety Agency finds that three pesticides pose unacceptable risks to bees, and we jump in to ensure Europe’s politicians respond to their scientific experts. Our petition quickly grows to 2 million signatures. After many talks with EU decision-makers, Avaaz delivers our call right to the EU HQ in Brussels. Later that same day, the Commission proposes a two-year ban!

Seizing our chance. The battle to save the bees heats up in February and March. Across the EU, Avaaz members are ready to respond as all 27 EU countries decide whether to welcome or block the proposal. When farming giants UK and Germany say they won’t vote yes, Avaaz publishes public opinion polls showing huge majorities of Brits and Germans in favour of the ban. Avaaz members also send almost half a million emails to EU Agriculture Ministers. Apparently afraid of dealing with citizens rather than industry lobbyists, UK minister Owen Paterson complains of a “cyber-attack”, which journalists turn into a story in our favour! And then comes Bernie — our 6 metre bee in Brussels — a powerful visual way to deliver our petition as negotiations enter the final stages. Journalists flock to Bernie, and we hear we’ve helped get the Spanish ministry to look harder at the science and shift position . But we didn’t get the majority we needed to pass the ban.

Turning the red light green. In April the bee-saving proposal is sent to an Appeals Committee, giving us a glimmer of hope if we can switch a few more countries’ positions. In the final sprint, Avaaz teams up with groups including Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth and Pesticides Action Network, plus beekeepers and famous bee-loving fashion designers to organise an action outside the UK Parliament. In Germany, beekeepers launch their own Avaaz petition to their government, signed by over 150,000 Germans in just two days and delivered in Cologne soon after. More phone calls rain down on ministries in different capitals as Avaaz responds to a last-minute wrecking amendment by Hungary, and positions Bernie the bee again in Brussels. Pesticide companies buy adverts in the airport to catch arriving officials, and take to the airwaves suggesting other measures such as planting wild flowers. But their slick messaging machine is ignored, first Bulgaria then — the big prize — Germany switch their stances and this week we win, with over half of EU countries voting for the ban!

It’s been a long haul, to get this win, and it wouldn’t have been possible without scientists, specialists, sympathetic officials, beekeepers and our campaign partners. We can be proud of what we’ve helped to accomplish together.

One strong bees advocate, Paul de Zylva, head of the Pesticides and Pollinators Unit at Friends of the Earth said:

“Thanks to millions of Avaaz members who mobilised online and in the streets. Without a doubt Avaaz’s massive petition and creative campaigning helped push this over the edge, complementing our work and that of other NGOs.”

It’s time to celebrate this breathing space for one of the earth’s most precious and important creatures. But the EU ban is only in place for 2 years pending further review. And around the world bees continue to die from the pesticides which weaken and confuse them, as well as from loss of habitat as we plough up and build over the countryside. In Europe and across the world there’s lots of work to do to ensure sound science guides our farming and environmental policies. And we’re just the community for the job. 🙂

With hope and happiness,

Ricken, Iain, Joseph, Emily, Alex, Michelle, Aldine, Julien, Anne, Christoph and the rest of the Avaaz team

So, proof positive that a lot of little emails can join together into a huge swarm of killer emails that kills all in its path… Hmmm, maybe not the best metaphor, but you get the meaning, right? Right? RIGHT? Hey Dave, is this thing working?

Well, that’s all I have to say right now. Oh, I nearly forgot! You can join Avaaz.org, give ’em your credit card details and whatever at https://secure.avaaz.org/en/. And all the other groups, like 38 Degrees (who also participated in the bee thing), the Open Rights Group, and any I failed to mention (sorry guys!)… these things don’t work by perpetual motion or cold fusion… they need money. Just a couple of quid’ll do; if everyone sent these groupd £2, that’d add to… I dunno, a big heap of £2 coins I suppose.

Anyway, that’s the message of the day: we saved the bees! Hooray!!

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Robin Walker – what a nasty piece of Tory to find on the sole of your shoe!

01/05/2013

I am a member of online campaign groups like 38 Degrees and Open Rights Group. These are groups that ask members what campaigns it should get involved with, then the group will call on its members to send to local MPs. ministers and other such, so our will is focused and targeted and helps ensure that the government and others can’t just ignore us. Divided we are nothing. United we can do anything… well, the government can’t just ignore us.

My local MP is the Tory Robin Walker. Incidentally, his late father Peter Walker (1932-2010) was MP for Worcester until 1992, when he resigned as MP and was sent to the House of Lords to do his masters’ work. Robin has been a pretty engaged MP – he has replied to every email I’ve sent him (he uses official House of Commons writing paper and envelopes – you would have thought that Parliament had discouraged use of snail mail) but only once has he expressed agreement with my point, about the Defamation Bill). Most recently he sent me a (probably form) letter telling me how important it was that the government keep my communication and other logs for all eternity just in case I were a terrorist or paedophile. He wrote:

Communications data is vital for the police in their fight against crime, including serious offences, such as child abuse, drug-dealing and terrorism.

Note the use of the “big 3″: child abuse, drug-dealing and terrorism”. The suggestion is that opposing the Data Communications Data Bill is, or supports, nonces, pushers and suicide bombers. Thanks Robin; yet another reason to avoid voting for him when the general election comes round.

Right now, I don’t have a clue who’ll get my vote: it won’t be the Conservatives, the Lib Dems are no longer a viable choice…if Ed Miliband can drag Labour back to the left I might put my mark by his name; but how likely will that happen?

Brits are wage-slaves, with mortgages and their children’s educations keeping the populace keeping their nose to the stone, while bankers, corporate directors and other vested interests keep their money in tax havens. But don’t worry: the Conservatives want your personal data, phone logs, emails, bowel movements, whatever, stored for all eternity in a massive computer system that probably fail (as do most government-contracted computer systems do). We’re stuck with this situation unless someone does something about it.

Who’s your MP? Does he care about you? I’d love to see along string of Comments to this post, telling us how our MPs act for our best interests. And my current voting advice regarding the next election: go to the voting station, spoil your ballot (I like to write at the bottom of the voting card “None of the above” and a X in a box next to it), put it in the black box, and be on your way. This is not apathy, this is showing the establishment that the status quo must end.

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Question: Who is/are “Anonymous”? Answer: No one/everyone.

15/03/2011

Just read about the “hacker group” Anonymous’ release of apparently incriminating emails from the Bank of America. This story really annoys me. Not because I’m a Bank of America fan – I’m pissed off with the Guardian for describing Anonymous as a “hacker group”.

The Wikipedia article on Anonymous. describes it well – it says:

is an Internet meme originating 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, representing the concept of many on-line community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global brain.[1] It is also generally considered to be a blanket term for members of certain Internet subcultures, a way to refer to the actions of people in an environment where their actual identities are not known.

Anonymous is not a hacker group in the sense you’d usually expect: there’s no organization, no hierarchy, no agreed agenda. Anyone with the required know-how and/or tools can do some cyber-vandalism or cut-and-paste someone’s email, then say it was done by Anonymous.

So who is Anonymous? Everyone. No one. Me. You. Anyone. Please bear that in mind next time you see a report that “Anonymous” did something.

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Government backs away from forest sell-off, like we told them to

17/02/2011

3 days ago (14 Feb) I wrote about the government’s plans to sell off England’s forests. And today (17 Feb) they made a U-turn on the despicable plot. The Guardian tell us that forestry minister Caroline Spelman made what looked like a heart-felt apology on the matter, “a real, full-on mea culpa”, and that she even sounded tearful at times! Not a standard politician’s apology at all.

Of course, the proposed sell-off was a filthy plan, and I’m glad has been called off. But we also have to stay on our guard. It was not a sudden change of heart that caused this U-turn – rather, it was the strength and passion of the calls in opposition that made the government back off. Remember, even though they won’t do it any time soon, the government want to sell the nation’s forests. If they think they’ll be able to get away with it, these plans will quickly be back on the table again. Don’t ever forget that.

If you’re interested, a transcript of the speech is on the DEFRA website.

As you might have guessed, there’s a lot of back-slapping going on amongst the organizations that opposed the plans. If you like to witness or indulge in self-congratulation, you can get a hit of the good stuff at the 38 Degrees site; or, if you’re a Facebooker, you can check out their page.

If you doubt that petitions and activism don’t usually amount to much (like me), maybe this’ll make you a little less cynical. I must confess, this news has lessened my general hatred for the general population. And if you’re one of the logging corporation head honchos who thought they’d struck gold by jumping into bed with Cameron and opting to sleep on the wet patch… HA HA HA!

Unfortunately, going by what has happened before, the government will at some stage table a watered-down proposal that will in essence amount to much the same thing. We need to keep an eye on the slippery rats – they don’t cover themselves from head to toe with vaseline every morning just for the fun of it.

But enough of the doom and gloom! Round One to the People. Come on, Cameron, bring it on. You’re a loser who thinks that being born with a silver dildo up your ass makes you Superman. But you’re not as invulnerable as you think – I’ve got a chunk of kryptonite with your name on it. Wanna come have a look?

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