Just who are the ‘buffoons’ on Welsh labour’s new blog?

buffoon?

buffoon?

Welsh labour’s new blog Aneurin Glyndwr is crap. That’s the consensus among journalists and the wider blogging community in Wales. From the risible duo of MEPs Eluned Morgan and Glenys Kinnock trashing Tom Jones’ hit Delilah – ditched due to copyright infringement – to puerile comments about other politicians, including south Wales anarchists, this blog is certainly not the ‘modern platform for the politics of the progressive left’. You can’t even leave comments which flatly contradicts the authors’ proud boast of creating ‘a positive and constructive debate about the future of Wales’.

So what of labour’s claim that south Wales anarchists are buffoons? We invite readers to consider the issues we’ve raised  and make their own minds up.

buffoon?
buffoon?

Back in January we revealed the hypocrisy of our assembly members (AMs) whose £10 million pension pot (paid for with our money) is being invested in companies which are among the world’s worst polluters and human rights violaters and include Shell, BHP Billiton and Atlas Copco.

Since the last assembly elections we’ve campaigned against the abuse by AMs of the £12,000 per annum additional costs allowance, which permits a number of them to trouser serious amounts of money, buying and selling second homes at the taxpayers’ expense. Welsh labour’s Huw Lewis and Lynne Neagle are among the culprits.

We highlighted the scandalous 10.2% hike in salaries accepted by the majority of AMs in 2008 when public sector workers were being forced to accept increases worth a fraction of their political masters. Let’s see if our hard-pressed AMs take a pay rise this year as thousands of people all over Wales are thrown on the unemployment scrapheap. No prizes for guessing what the answer to that question will be…

We’ve consistently exposed the crass behaviour of south Wales police.

We vigorously opposed the illegal war against Iraq, while welsh labour politicians dithered.

buffoon?

buffoon?

We’ve written extensively about the growing militarisation of Wales, a pet project of Rhodri Morgan. Wales is now home to 180 arms and aerospace companies, a very worrying development in our opinion and one which needs to be stopped. Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money are being channelled to weapons manufacturers, such as Raytheon and BAE systems, with links to some of the most brutal regimes in the world, including Israel. In the meantime the welsh economy is left to go down the pan.

buffoon?

buffoon?

Perhaps those behind the blog: Peter Hain, found guilty of a ‘serious and substantial’ breach of parliamentary regulations after failing to declare £100,000 of donations to his dismal deputy leadership campaign, MEP Eluned Morgan, ex-Plaid Cymru member, Alun Davies AM, who accepts ‘hospitality’ from US burger chain Macdonald’s – flying in the face of assembly attempts to tackle obesity – free clothes and opera tickets, and ex-liberal democrat Leighton ‘piggy’ Andrews may like to respond to the issues ‘buffoons’ like us have raised?

They’re free, of course, to leave comments on our blog.

Cardiff musician and family lucky not to be murdered by south Wales police!

                                                                                                                                                                           victor-frederickOn 12 February 2009, as a police helicopter hovered overhead, four heavily armed cops raided the Grangetown home of jazz musician Victor Frederick, 63, his partner, Andrea Heath and their 12 year-old daughter.

 

 

Ms Heath described what happened:

“I heard some scuffling sound and shouting. When I opened the door there were four police officers armed with machine guns which had infra-red sights.

“The whole street had been cordoned off. I could see Victor in his underpants outside with police training guns on him. Other officers trained their guns on me. I was told I would be shot if I moved. It was absolutely terrifying.

“Our daughter was upstairs. She told me later that she had a camera and thought about taking pictures of the police activity and commotion. It’s awful to think what might have happened if the police had seen a camera flash from the upstairs window and assumed it was a gun.”

Mr Frederick was arrested under suspicion of possessing materials likely to be used for making explosives and hauled off to Rumney nick where he was held for 24 hours before being released without charge.  

In a published letter to Barbara Wilding, south Wales chief cop, Plaid Cymru AM Leanne Wood writes: “When [Mr Frederick] asked for [handcuffs] to be loosened, he tells me they were deliberately tightened to the extent that he was in extreme pain and circulation was cut off.

“He tells me that the police officers armed with machine guns appeared extremely nervous. They did not seem to have any background knowledge of why they were there. Other officers both in uniform and in plain clothes said they did not know what was going on…The family feels lucky and relieved that all three members are alive.”

And just what suspicious material did the cops find in Mr Frederick’s recording studio? A Mohammed Ali boxing video and a west Indian drink called mauby.

And as for south Wales cops? Still insisting, as they had done for the past six weeks, that officers had acted “in good faith based on genuine concerns”…until yesterday, that is, less than 24 hours after a much-publicised press conference given by Mr Frederick, Ms Heath and Ms Wood. Mr Frederick has now received a hand-delivered letter from Superintendent Bob Tooby, Deputy Divisional Commander of C Division, offering the family an unreserved apology. Bob has also offered to repair the damage the cops did to the family’s home.

Our advice? Tear the letter up and sue Barbara Wilding and her thugs for every penny you can get! But that won’t change much. South Wales cops seem to be out of control. We wonder how many other people have been terrorised by them and how many more will suffer at the hands of these people in “authority” who are meant to “serve” the community…

Resist police repression.

It’s tasers all round, thanks to Jacqui Smith!

jacqui-smithIn the effort, perhaps, to distract public attention from serious allegations of corruption, “two homes” secretary, Jacqui Smith (left) has been  doing the media rounds to announce her updated counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST 2, designed, as usual, to make people even more afraid than they already are.

In the meantime another connected and more sinister announcement has gone unnoticed by the main stream media. On 19 March Ms Smith said that UK police inc. will get up to 10,000 new tasers and £2.3 million to pay for cartridges. South Wales cops will get 120 and the gun-toting Gwent force  will get an extra 100.

taser-copIt isn’t simply the huge number of these lethal weapons that needs to be highlighted and condemned, however. Of more significance is the fact that tasers, which deliver 50,000 volts in 5-second bursts, will no longer be issued exclusively to firearms officers, who, at least, have a modicum of training (so we’re told). From now on, ‘specially trained’ police response officers will be able to get their hands on the weapon, which since its introduction in the US has contributed to the deaths of 351 people according to Amnesty International. And what of this ‘special training’ received by the plods? “Kaiser Bill”,  posting on the Police forum blog, gives us an insight:  

“Training?….hahahahaha. Response is the lowest of the low…response policing tends to be something people try to escape at the earliest opportunity…. the blind leading the blind quite often.”

The blind leading the blind! Hardly fills you with confidence, does it? Neither does a recent episode when coppers in north Wales tasered a confused 89 year-old man, who’d wandered out of his care home. Jacqui, however, has no qualms: ‘Everyday the police put themselves in danger to taser-jacqui-smith2protect us, the public. They deserve our support, so I want to give the police the tools they tell me they need to confront dangerous people.  That is why I have given every police force the number of Tasers they have requested.’

 We wonder if Ms Smith will still have her tongue firmly inside the police’s arsenal of lethal weaponry when numbers killed by tasers start to mount…

Could it be that tasers will be deployed on the streets of London during the G20? As interest grows in the April Fools Day gathering at the Bank of England, the MET are starting to get worried. And if they want to resort to tasers, they can rest assured that they’ll have another 150 of them to play with thanks to Jacqui’s generosity.

Protestors beware!

Gagged! 26

gagcover264Issue 26 of our newsletter is out now! featuring articles on Welsh assembly war crimes, death in Gaza, protests, Cardiff university occupation, shut down Aerolink 2009, G20 meltdown, police repression, deportations, the Cardiff anarchist book fair and much, much more!

Download GAGGED! #26 on .pdf

As well as our own input we have contributions from No Borders South WalesCardiff Anarchist Black CrossWestside Climate Action and FITwatch – if you want to see a story in Gagged! just get in touch!

The Iraq war – a fading memory?

bombing-baghdad-iraq-shock-and-aweI don’t know, I haven’t looked at the issues

Rhodri Morgan, first minister, Welsh assembly government, when asked if he supported the Iraq war.

 

 

At the start of the Iraq war, I suppose I could be considered a veteran of many direct action protests. But it had been a while since I’d got involved in anything like that. I’d heard some of the anarchists planned to go into Cardiff city centre when war was declared and blockade the road. So I headed down, determined to see what was happening but slightly uneasy about getting stuck in. When I got there, it was late afternoon but still sunny. Protesters had  shut down Duke Street by the side of the castle. They had handcuffed themselves to each other, spread across the road and covered their arms with plastic guttering – more difficult to separate them! The cops were completely baffled. The Red Choir sung away in solidarity. Cars beeped their horns, and it was like the general public hadn’t seen anything like it. I sat down with the people who had locked themselves down and chatted. We were surrounded by crowds of people on the road. We joked and I passed them water. They were in good spirits. Later, when night came down, the blockade ended and lots of people just anarchist-demo-iraqran amok in the city centre with the cops chasing them. There was a right mixed bag of people: “ordinary-looking” folk,  anarchists, Muslims, people who were pissed off with the fact the war started…..The baton had been passed over to another generation and a completely different set of people. It was the start of a whole different focus for the protest movement.

 

My whole life changed when my husband was killed during the events of 2004. He was returning home after work, when fighting broke out between armed groups and coalition forces. A stray bullet killed him instantly. I ran out of the house followed by my children, and I will never forget the sight of my husband lying dead in our street. I had been a happy wife, taking care of our 5 children at home; my husband had always cared for us. Suddenly everything became my responsibility. I felt lost, I had no support, and I did not know how to face the outside world alone. crying_iraqi_womanMy 16-year-old son had to leave school to earn a living as a cleaner, there was no other choice. One day as my son worked, there was shooting and because he was just a child, he became scared and ran to the street. A sniper shot him in the head and killed him.

Um Mohammed, Falluja

 

To date 1,320,110 Iraqis have died as a result of the war, according to Just Foreign Policy. The figure is based on the 2006 Lancet report.

I have asked you to meet me many times – Sedgefield council in particular at the start of this campaign. I have asked you for a full, open and public debate between us about the war on Iraq.

Now I understand a little more easily why you refuse – not Sedgefield Election Countonly because you are vulnerable on so many counts about the legality of the war, not only because, maybe, your conscience troubles you, not only because you are the Prime Minister and I am merely a retired paramedic of little consequence.

No, you refuse to meet me because to you, the dead are not people; the dead are not names; the dead are not even numbers.

Reg Keys to Tony Blair. Reg Keys’ son, Tom, was a soldier who died in the Iraq war, aged 20.

Total number of countries who participated in “Coalition for the Immediate Disarmament of Iraq” at the start of the war: 31, including the United States.

Current number in coalition: 4 – United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Romania.

I’ve got no difficulty with the conflict in Iraq being a major part of what I’ve done.

Tony Blair during an interview in May 2007

 

glascoedThe strongest memory for me was when we went to carry out a ‘weapons inspection’ at the BAE bomb factory in Glascoed in the run up to the war. A group of us approached the site only to be met with a security guard standing behind the fence. We stood there for a few minutes then turned away. But as we were leaving something happened. Some sort of realisation spread through the group that we weren’t going to let one guard get the better of us. We stopped, turned round and walked back to the fence. Then we climbed over it and spread out over the site and carried out our ‘inspection’ until the cops turned up. We’d won and it felt fantastic.

 

As of November 2008, 2.8 million Iraqis were displaced inside Iraq.

 

Days before the invasion a few of us decided to disrupt the Welsh assembly. We had to sit in the visitors’ gallery for 45 minutes listening to assembly members going on about carrots or something before our time came. My legs turned to jelly as I sat there waiting. Then, at exactly 2.45, we got up and jumped over the barrier into the chamber shouting at the politicians, telling them to do something to stop this war happening. It was one of the most exhilerating moments of my life. We demonstrated until guards pushed us to the ground and dragged us away…no doubt to the relief of the assembly members who could get back to talking about important issues of the day…

 

We are against all wars. All wars are against us

  

Anarchist Movement Conference 2009

Anarchist Movement Conference 2009

June 6th/7th 2009, Queen Mary & Westfield College , Mile End, London

As the world economy heads deeper into an unprecedented recession, the spectre of social unrest is again spreading across Europe and the World. In the UK we have experienced an extended holiday from wide-spread class struggle as social democracy and capitalism worked hand in hand to maintain social peace. But as the guarantees of the banks have gone, so too have the guarantees that the state can manage the emerging social conflict, which could potentially turn into social rebellion unseen in the UK for decades.

So, where does that leave the Anarchist Movement? Are we relevant? Do we exist in a form coherent enough to actually be called a movement? Are we progressing? The Anarchist Movement Conference is a chance to put our ideas on the table and rebuild ourselves. The barriers that exist need to be broken down, the experiences and ideas of those involved in anarchist politics need to be shared, discussed, critiqued and debated. The task is urgent, practical and necessary – are we as a movement mature enough to face the challenge?

How and where should we organise? Who are we are speaking to? How do we relate to the wider world as anarchists? These are some of the discussions that might happen during the course of the weekend. We want this conference to be a historical turning point, a point where we manage collectively to come together to look at the problems and work towards the solutions. Anarchists from every federation, network and local group, those involved in diverse struggles from environmental direct-action to community work, trade unionism to DIY projects – we invite you and encourage you: Claim your place at the table and help make a movement!

If we truly aim to be part of making history we need to remake ourselves as an organised, pragmatic movement to become an effective part of revolutionary change. If we do not learn from the mistakes of the past we are doomed to repeat them. The anarchist ideals of mutual aid, solidarity and the desire to live as equals have been echoed throughout our history, in every country, by women and men, regardless of race or ethnicity. We have a proud history, this conference is both about recognizing where we have come from and organizing where we want to go. Be a part of it!

Anarchist Movement Conference 2009 will happen at Queen Mary & Westfield College on Saturday June 6th and Sunday June 7th, 2009. The space will include 20 rooms and a large hall as well as a creche for both days. People will need to register before hand to ensure that the conference runs as smoothly as possible. More information will be made public every month as the conference takes shape.

To be involved:conference@haringey.og.uk

Here comes the summer of rage!

storm-banksAs the economy drops deeper into recession, and the banking elite book their luxury holidays with taxpayers money, the G20 are coming to London to rub our noses in it. Time to take to the streets.

The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (G20) acts as a forum for cooperation and consultation on international finance. Its members are drawn from 19 of the world’s 25 largest national economies, plus the European Union (EU). These economies comprise 90% of global gross national product, 80% of world trade (including EU intra-trade) and two-thirds of the world population.

g20-meltdown

The G20 are hoping to meet in London to discuss how they can keep the bankers and their rich friends in luxury whilst the recession bites into everyone else’s lives. There will be numerous protests, demonstrations and actions to disrupt the summit and show the bankers and their political masters that we aren’t going to allow them to get away with the crimes they’ve committed. South Wales anarchists will be there. Join us!

Aerolink Wales 2009: Meet the arms dealers and…Ty Hafan?

With not long to go before Aerolink Wales 2009, due to take place on 7 April at the 4 star Vale Hotel and Spa, the organisers of this Welsh government-sponsored arms fair are getting excited. ‘We are looking forward to the 2009 event and providing our attendees with even more opportunities than ever before. With purchasing, research and technical, engineering and innovation representatives from some of the best known companies in Aerospace and Defence… 2009 is shaping up to be the biggest and best Aerolink Wales yet.’

Elizabeth Read had a successful career marketing financial services in the City of London before joining Ty Hafan

Elizabeth Read had a successful career marketing financial services in the City of London before joining Ty Hafan

And don’t the weapons manufacturers know it! Commenting on previous Aerolink events, the purchasing manager of General Electric engine services, part of the defence company which reported record earnings of $183 billion in 2008, is quoted as saying: ‘We all felt the day was fruitful with a number of potential opportunities.’ Opportunities (subsidised with our money, of course) to meet and do business with plenty of other weapons manufacturers and…Ty Hafan, the well-known Welsh charity which runs a hospice for dying children?!

We wondered if Ty Hafan’s presence as an exhibitor – for which it may have paid as much as £750 plus VAT – was a mistake. Not at all, according to Elizabeth Read, Ty Hafan’s fundraising and marketing director: ‘Representatives of our Corporate Partnership team are planning to attend the Aerolink Wales exhibition. We develop relationships with a number of companies in South Wales that are interesting (sic) in working with a charity. These relationships lead to various fundraising and volunteering opportunities for the staff, in particular’.

So just which of the very wealthy companies at Aerolink might Ty Hafan be developing ‘relationships’ with and, more importantly, why? Here are just a few of Ty Hafan’s fellow attendees:

White phosphorous attack on Beit Lahia school

White phosphorous attack on Beit Lahia school

Magellan Aerospace, with facilities in Wrexham, manufactures the CRV7 rocket weapon system (RWS) for the F-16 jet fighter and the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. Both were used with devastating effect by the Israeli armed forces in Israel’s recent aggression against the people of Gaza which killed upwards of 1500 Palestinians, including hundreds of children. Ms Read and the members of the corporate partnership team may have seen photos of the carnage after a UN-run school at Beit Lahia was bombarded with burning white phosphorous. What Ms Read and her team may not know is that Magellan Aerospace also manufacture the M156 Smoke missile that goes with the CRV7 system. ‘Upon detonation’, Magellan’s story goes, ‘the high explosive ruptures the warhead and disperses the white phosphorous to generate a white smoke cloud.’

Beit Lahia - the aftermath

Beit Lahia - the aftermath

General Electric (GE) has been supplying the Israeli army since 1950 and, given its gargantuan profits, wars in the Middle East are good for business. One of GE’s success stories is the F110 jet engine, used to power the F-16.

Gardner Aerospace, part of the Carlyle Group, helps build war planes, including the C-130 Hercules, the military transport plane used by the Israeli airforce operating from its Nevatim Airbase.

Thales is a specialist manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, which are used extensively by the Israeli airforce to locate targets prior to bombardment. While the Hermes 450, made by Israeli company Elbit and tested at ParcAberporth in West Wales, remains Israel’s UAV of choice, Thales will, no doubt, be keeping an eye out for opportunities to do business with the pariah state.

Arms manufacturers 'making a difference' in Gaza

Arms manufacturers 'making a difference' in Gaza

We wish Elizabeth Read and her colleagues a fruitful day at Aerolink. Corporations that deal in death will be grateful for the opportunity to develop relationships with a charity which helps dying children. After all, any opportunity to ‘legitimise’ their activities is always welcome. As Bob Corcoran, Chairman of the General Electric Foundation writes: ‘we look forward to working closely with schools and organizations also committed to building strong communities. The impact of these investments underscores the company’s commitment to strategic philanthropy and corporate citizenship. By applying the very best of who we are – our talent, ideas, skills, and inspiration – we will do our best to make a difference in this world.’

We’re sure you will, Bob, just as long as you can find organisations willing to accept your blood money, that is…

Watch out if there’s a cop from Gwent about…

…he might shoot you!!!

Details of cops playing with their guns were released by the home office today (3 March 2009) and testify to some astonishing facts about the Gwent rozzers.

Gwent police open day. Firearms fun for all the family!

Gwent police open day. Firearms fun for all the family!

According to the figures cops all over the UK have been getting their hands on their pistols much more often than they should be. Last year the number of operations in which firearms were authorised leapt by nearly 20%. And over the 7-year period from 2001 to 2008, authorisations rose by nearly 50%.

But if that sounds bad enough, in 2001-02 coppers in Gwent were authorised to carry a gun on 20 occasions. By 2007-08 that number had risen to a staggering 334! A percentage increase of Zimbabwean proportions!!

And it’s the same story when it comes to operations involving armed response teams. Gwent deployed 16 of them in 2001-2 and 7 years later there were 257 teams knocking about – doing exactly what, we’d like to know?

We’re wondering when those guns are going to be turned on strikers and protestors and the like. At the rate that the gun-toting Gwent police are going, it won’t be very long!