British judges are Laura Norder’s sock puppets

August 20, 2011

How utterly absurdist, outrageous and unreasonable to jail two young men for ‘inciting’ a riot through Facebook.

Jordan Blackshaw, 20, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, were given stiff jail terms in northwestern England on Tuesday for using social networking sites to “organize and orchestrate” disorder during the recent UK unrest.  [More in The Guardian]

The judges have meted swift ‘justice’ to these unfortunate saps; supposedly this is in line with British public opinion. It certainly reflects the tub-thumping Colonel Blimp rhetoric of David Cameron and his Tory rump.

It’s doubtful that John Cleese and the Monty Python crew could produce a more biting satire than this real life episode. Well, they probably could, remember “Upper Class Twit of the Year”?

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Consumerism by other means: #UKriots, burning Babylon and #neoliberalism

August 14, 2011

Guest post by Dr Wayne Hope

Identifying the “causes” of major civil disturbances is always difficult, there are so many to choose from. Even the mundane vagaries of the weather have to be taken into account. Nearly all urban riots of recent vintage happen in the summer, hot sultry evenings are ideal, and it  seems that rain has, of late, dampened the spirits of enthusiastic rioters in the Midlands and northern cities.

In fact one might plausibly argue that without the typically dreadful English weather, riots would be more serious and happen more often. The underlying and proximate cause of urban rioting have been festering quite nicely in Old Blightly and I for one am not the least bit surprised over recent developments .

If we start with Tottenham, police racism, police brutality and a police culture disconnected from local communities is a perfect Molotov cocktail to set things going. Such was evident in the Afro-American race riots of the 1960s and the Parisian riots of 2005.

There are many other examples; a spark to set off the cocktail is all that is needed.

Now, it also true as the Tory press and politicians have tirelessly pointed out that thugs and “yobbos” have joined in the action. These outgrowths of Cameron`s “broken society” belong to postcode gangs who have formed alliances of convenience to loot, take on the police and cause mayhem.

This has echoes of the “Babylon’s burning” era of the late 70s and early 80s, since then 20 years of neo liberalism have embittered a new generation of  white and non white gangs. No suprises there. Out of this general milieu there were also, without doubt, disturbed individuals who gained immediate pleasure from burning out cars, smashing plate glass windows and torching buildings.

And then we had the pilferers, “illegal shoppers” who just wanted to grab stuff because, well, it was cheap and armfuls of trainers and iPads are are tidy little earner, covertly on Facebook or down  at the markets. This was the spirit of self reliance and entrepeneuralism that politicians from Margeret Thatcher to Tony Blair have been trying to promote. To put it another way this was consumerism by other means.

As far as I could see the illegal shoppers and their accomplices covered quite a wide demographic, some were black dispossessed youth, others were  low to middle income people of both genders who were relieving the frustration of not being able to afford the relentlessly advertised fashion items and electronic goods. Still others ,of more comfortable means enjoyed the thrill of it all. I agree somewhat with the conservatives on this matter, there has indeed been a breakdown in social ethics in British society.

However, I must point out in the strongest possible terms that ethical breakdown is endemic at ALL levels of society from the bonus swilling tax avoider and financial speculator propped up by powerless taxpayers to the political classes of in the Commons and Whitehall lining their pockets with the baubles of office; to the media elites who hire professional privacy invaders to hack the communications of anybody they choose in order peddle defamatory lies and half truths for a tidy profit.

With these shining examples of cynical self interest  why not join in?

It’s bloody obvious innit, everybody’s out for what they can get. And then there is the nihilism ,the purposelessness of bored youth. I saw them during my last visit to London, in Camden Town, hundreds of them just hanging about after 1am, waiting for nothing to happen. So then, what has been the establishment’s response?

I think we saw it in a newsphoto from Clapham of a young blonde woman standing among a group of angry gentrified Clapham residents,they were out to clean up the mess with their brooms, the young woman wore a teeshirt which said “rioters are scum”.

So here we have the preconditions for the next riot, “them and us”, class war, batten up the hatches and let’s continue with our strategy of systematic social exclusion and seclusion of the better off.  More police, more security guards more electronic surveillance and lots of finger pointing. Cameron`s “broken society” thesis is not far off the mark.


What’s wrong with this picture: One plucky demonstrator, two an anarchist criminal

March 27, 2011

Protesters against the government of Syria set fire to offices of the ruling party today while hundreds of political prisoners were released in a bid to appease the rioters.

Syrian protestors torch officesThe Independent, 26 March 2011

Commander Bob Broadhurst, who led the police operation, said: “I wouldn’t call them protesters. They are engaging in criminal activities for their own ends.”

Activists attempt to hijack anti-cuts demoThe Independent, 26 March 2011

An interesting contrast in the way that anti-government protests are reported in the news media. Half a million demonstrate in London and the media focus is on a small group of anarchists (as identified by the media, btw); but in the Middle East the same small groups of militants are cheered and championed in the British press.

The top example here relates to those plucky, angry and totally-justified protestors who set fire to a building in Damascus – surely a criminal action

The second is how the UK’s top riot police officer describes British protestors who vent their anger by occupying an upmarket dairy (Fortnum and Mason) and smashing a few windows.

It’s OK for the British press to champion the cause of the Syrians because that doesn’t threaten privilege at home. But, of course, any action that does challenge the comfortable lives of the British ruling class is instantly dismissed as criminal behaviour.

Even the Guardian takes up this trope:

The generally good-natured mood was soured by violent and destructive attacks on symbols of wealth including the Ritz, banks and a luxury car dealer, and an occupation of the upmarket food store Fortnum & Mason.

Anti-cuts march  draws hundreds of thousansds as police battle rioters, The Guardian, 26 March 2011

Contrast this with the coverage of similar violent riots in Yemen and Bahrain which have left hundreds dead. The Independent and The Guardian can afford to be on the side of the Arab protestors and condemn the violent way that police handled those demonstrations.

Serried ranks of riot police advancing behind a cloud of tear gas and backed by armoured vehicles and helicopters cleared protesters from Pearl Square, which has been the gathering point for protesters.

Bahrain and Yemen declare war on protestors, The Independent, 20 March 2011

Wow, “serried ranks of riot police advancing behind a cloud of tear gas”, isn’t that exactly what’s just today happened in London too?

One Guardian columnist does make the explicit link between London and Cairo, and this is the real point that the news media can’t grasp.

Western elites are, instead, stressing the differences between east and west as they scramble to morph their longstanding support of north African dictatorships into sudden solidarity with rebels. This revisionist view holds that the uprisings are mainly about the desire of young people in the Middle East to live in western-style democracies.

Priyamvada Gopal, Trafalgar has much in common with Tahir, The Guardian, 25 March, 2011

Not only are ruling elites scrabbling to cover their burning arses on this one, they are also having to struggle with locals making the same connection between Trafalgar Square and Tahir Square. The news media – often a faithful mouthpiece for elite opinion – is also struggling with the complexity and contradictions in their position.

On one hand, supporting the dangerous, violent and often bloody protests in the souk and the Arab street is good for business, ‘we’ want these dictators to fall:

In eerie succession, one after another, autocrats and despots across the region are coming down with freedom flu.

Simon Tisdall, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has been struck by freedom flu, The Guardian, 25 March, 2011

But they can’t help the knee-jerk reaction that condemns angry protestors who take matters into their own hands – at home; while simultaneously cheering the exact same actions in foreign lands.

Hey, guys, wake up and smell the revolution – this is global capitalism after all.

It’s not that hard to think clearly about this dialectic of the front-page,  as Priyamvada Gopal shows us:

It is simplistic to assume that protests in the west and the Middle East are fundamentally different because “they” are fighting “blood-soaked” despots while “we”, after all, live in liberal democracies…

Both capitalist democracies and dictatorships use political means to concentrate wealth, power and privilege. In Britain and the US, the right to fight corporate power collectively – and effectively – through unions is under ongoing attack. In Britain, the state uses demonisation, brute force and disproportionate punishment to contain mass demonstrations and talks of making some peaceful means illegal. In the US, Democratic legislators resisting anti-union measures, which were then forced through anyway, were threatened with arrest. Britain has seen policies destroying public services hastily enacted without a clear mandate while civil liberties are constantly eroded and inequalities expand. If Gaddafi screams “imperialism” when things get sticky, our politicians find it convenient to denounce “multiculturalism”. What unites the interdependent ruling elites of Britain and Bahrain is the priority they give to the entitlement of the few at the expense of the many, often embodied by dodgy business deals.

Thanks Priya, you show these numbnucks how it is done. Dodgy business deals are universal and the occupation of Fortnum and Mason is because the business owner, Lord Green, is a tax criminal. No, he’s not Mubarak, but I bet they exchange cards at Christmas, and that dear Hosni likes F&M tea very very much.

 

 

 

 

 


Waihopai jury – I’m on your side.

March 20, 2010

The next tinpot “security expert”, armchair jurist or newspaper columnist who farts on about how the jury in the Waihopai sickle-slash case “got it wrong” is in for a big surprise.

I am [note to dribblejaws],” metaphorically”, not literally, going to ride my bike over to their place and slash them a new wingnut with my scythe.

The jury made a decision based on the evidence and the arguments presented. A not guilty verdict is still a verdict.

Leave it at that, but no…this is political, so the jury’s fucked and the law’s an ass. At least that’s true if you think the war in Iraq and the presence of Kiwi SAS troops in Afghanistan is a good thing.

Well I don’t. I think the jury got it right and I think that the verdict shows that ordinary New Zealanders are sick and fucking tired of the lies about “freedom” and “defending” our way of life while we [the major western powers] casually murder women and children “over there”. al Qaeda is not coming to the rugby world cup, so we should leave the Afghan people alone too.

Waihopai jury: congratulations on a sane and honourable verdict.

[Sunday morning update: I know I’m right, Michael Laws takes a reasonable stand:

12 completely mad Wellingtonians staged their own protest and found three guilty “peace” activists not guilty. Lord knows why. A protest at the food, or the rate of pay? A sick St Patrick’s Day joke? Whatever the spite, it was a perverse finding. (Deluded jury lets greenies plant seeds of terrorism)

Blame the jury Michael, that’s the ticket]

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Three strikes in one day for brave judge: silly man

January 20, 2010

A Christchurch judge has probably brought his tenure to a premature end after a  comment from the bench in an opposed bail hearing. Brave and right but probably career-limiting.

Christchurch District Court Judge David Saunders made some very apt political comments from the bench about the government’s ridiculously popularist, but pisspoor “three strikes” legislation for punishing habitual offenders, most of whom are likely to be pisspoor and P-addicted.

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Three strikes = bad policy: mortgaging the future for a root

January 20, 2010

Let’s face it, the Government’s “three strikes” legislation is bad policy, but good politics.

It might also get two little Hitlers a rub’n’tug from Laura Norder.

Getting tough on crime is pure populism. Criminologists are united in arguing that it doesn’t work for a bunch of reasons, but that doesn’t deter the little Hitlers.

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Whale(b)oil Slater hooked?

January 5, 2010

I have no beef with Whaleoil, but I am interested in his ongoing court case.

Blogger Cameron Slater (aka Whaleoil) has got himself into a bit of legal trouble and inadvertently made himself bottomfeeder food for the “repeaters” of the “Lame Stream” media that he so detests.

Even so, one gets the impression that Whaleoil is actually enjoying his 15 minutes of notoriety.

My impres­sion of the court sys­tem for peo­ple on first appear­ance is that it was about as organ­ised as a free for all piss up at a South Auck­land pub on Fri­day night.

Then I went down stairs and was met by about 30 repeaters and cam­era guys and photographers.

Here is the results of all that.

NZ Her­ald

New­stalkZB

TV3

TVNZ

Stuff (Video at stuff)

Eat that Far­rar, Every news chan­nel is cov­ered includ­ing NZPA which I don’t have access to. I don’t think this is going the way it was sup­posed to.

His brief appearance on a handful of charges in Auckland today (Tuesday 5 Jan) was ironically in courtroom adjacent to that in which yet another entertainer (loosely-defined) was remanded on child sex charges.

Although I can’t help won­der­ing if it is pure coin­ci­dence that I appeared the very same day as the “Come­dian” also appeared. Part of me thinks that was a stitch up.  [Court @ gotcha…]

So far Mr Slater has repeatedly said he will defend the charges that he breached a number of suppression orders and published information that might tend to identify a person with name suppression. The charges refer to two cases: one that was recently before the courts involving an “entertainer” who successfully argued for name suppression on the grounds that his earning capacity might be affected adversely if he was named. The second case is current and involves a former New Zealand Olympian who is facing serious charges of assault and sexual assault.

In both cases Whaleoil identified the men who have name suppression using a series of pictorial images to stand in for their names. In the case of the entertainer (who copped a guilty plea and got off with a warning) even PM John Key claims to know the name; so there seems little point in continuing the charade that the name’s suppressed. However, it is permanently suppressed, which is lucky for the guy, but not so lucky for his victim.

In the second case, as I understand it, the pictogram was a little harder to decipher. However, on the face of it, an offence may have occurred. If you look at the relevant sections of the law, it seems fairly clear cut.

As I read it, in cases involving a victim of sexual assault, publication of details that might identify the person – even the name of the accused – can be suppressed. In the entertainer case this was not the reason, but in the ongoing case of the Olympian it appears to be the reason for suppression.

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