Monday, February 20, 2006

Bomb Makers Under Siege!
Amazing news from Brighton as the Smash EDO campaign forces a humiliating climbdown for US bomb maker EDO in a victory for free speech, democracy and peace, as SchNEWS reports:

EDO MBM, who manufacture parts for the Paveway bomb system and are involved in the manufacture of unmanned combat air vehicles, much loved by the US and Israeli militaries for targeted assassinations, are now ducking for cover as the legal bombshells go off in their own faces.

Back in March 2005 the arms dealers, urged on by Kerry Cox of Sussex Police, applied for an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act which would have limited the regular pickets of the factory to ten silent protesters on a Thursday afternoon (See SchNEWS 492). No doubt they were assured by Britain’s self professed leading expert Timothy Lawson Cruttenden (TLC) that this would soon put paid to the pesky protesters. The injunction, by its definition of ‘protester’, initially applied to everyone on the planet. Although the judge refused to impose limits on numbers it confined protesters to a narrow grass verge opposite the factory. It also prevented them from filming. This was vigorously enforced by a combination of private security and heavy policing. Private security goons abused their immunity from video in a series of provocative actions. Over thirty arrests have been made at the factory since court proceedings began last March and two protesters were remanded to HMP Lewes for alleged breaches of the injunction.

Despite the prospect of hefty legal bills, the fourteen individuals named on the injunction mounted a vigorous defence. In shades of the Mclibel Trial (See SchNEWS 79 & 485), the case has proved an embarrassing PR fiasco for the US-owned bomb manufacturers. A two-day hearing saw their fat being pulled out of the fire by the Attorney General as they were accused of war crimes (See SchNEWS 521). Then MBM MD David Jones ‘retired’ on 31st December. TLC has repeatedly attempted to delay a full hearing of all the issues, perhaps because many of the allegations made against activists (such as shining lasers into the eyes of employees) were so spurious that they would not stand up in court.


As the case began to turn sour, TLC resorted to bizarre intimidatory tactics, such as revealing his knowledge in an email of a protester’s private phone numbers and his dubious acquisition of one prominent activists private diary, which had been ‘anonymously left’ at his office. His level of information on individuals, which included access to statements from a number of police forces from criminal cases which hadn’t yet been to court, pointed to high level and highly improper contacts within the police. In fact when a judge ordered him to reveal details of correspondence between the corporation, the police and himself, he refused on the grounds that EDO ran a paperless office while his was ‘full of papers’. SchNEWS reckons it’s not just papers TLC’s full of. This refusal brought a warning from the Judge that he had ‘grave concerns’ about TLC’s conduct and advising him to seek legal representation to defend himself from allegations of professional misconduct.

Ordered to seek mediation with the defendants, executives from the US parent company EDO Corp flew in to broker a deal. The first thing to go was the definition of protester, meaning that legal restrictions on demos at the factory no longer apply to anyone else but those named. Next the company agreed that if the seven legal-aid defendants agreed not to assault EDO employees then they would drop the proceedings against them. As legal aid would have been withdrawn anyway if they refused, they accepted and left EDO to pick up the two hundred grand legal bill. The other defendants are fighting on to expose EDO’s machinations in open court.

In another twist last week, three people were acquitted in Brighton Magistrates of holding an illegal assembly of …er three people outside the factory in March last year. The case collapsed because the police wanted to hide their operational decisions during ‘Operation Kirk’ behind a Public Interest Immunity certificate. According to their press release this was because ‘the prosecution were asked to disclose specific details in relation to operational tactics and sensitive information used to brief police officers. As a result the prosecution took the decision to not disclose the details and took the preferred option to offer no evidence in this case…’ Yer ever cynical SchNEWS can’t help but wonder how many of those ‘operational tactics’ were discussed in EDO’s boardroom, which might make the information very ‘sensitive’ indeed. But we're sure it's all on the level.


Spokesman for SMASH EDO Andrew Beckett told SchNEWS, “We always knew that this attack on our rights was politically motivated and involved high level co-operation between the police, the lawyers and the arms dealers - but to have it becoming public knowledge is amazing. The collapse of the injunction is a major victory for civil rights and the peace movement. We will now be fully able to express our disgust at the presence of a bomb manufacturer in the middle of our community. We will be here until EDO isn’t.”


Feb 14th 4-6 Outside EDO MBM ‘Naming the Dead’. The names of civilians killed in the invasion of Iraq will be read outside the factory.

March 1st Victory Demo - With all restrictions removed on protest outside the factory this is gonna be a big one.

See for more info.

Friday, February 17, 2006

America Now Means Oppression
Whether true or not, to many around the globe – America meant freedom. What thing like the Iraq war and Bu$h's inept PR have done is show the mainstream the real score (Quote: Any other even averagely intelligent US president would have probably done the very same things, but would have managed to smoke-up the glass and confuse the opposition. [Bush] has achieved what writers, activists and scholars have striven to achieve for decades. He has exposed the ducts. He has placed on full public view the working parts, the nuts and bolts of the apocalyptic apparatus of the American empire.)

Proof of this comes from when US troops uncovered a Sunni death squad in action in Iraq:

The 22 interior ministry traffic policemen, dressed in police commando uniforms, were arrested in late January at an Iraqi army checkpoint in northern Baghdad and asked what they were doing. They told soldiers they were taking a Sunni man away to be shot dead.

What this means is that in the minds of Iraqs, working alongside the US, this is acceptable behavior – this is what the country behind the, Contras, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo does. Its how the US of A is.

"The amazing thing is... they tell you exactly what they’re going to do," Gen Peterson said.

Not it is not General. Its a view consistent with your record. You are not the good guys, your the guys doing the bidding of a ruthless, self-interested elite with a ecocidal death-wish.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pundits to the Frontline!
An Iraq war vet is calling for the pro-war pundits to pick up rifles themselves; "Talk show hosts like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and so many others act like they know all about war; then they refuse to give any credence to soldiers like me who have been to war and seen the brutality of war. These guys are nothing but WEAK SPINELESS COWARDS hiding behind microphones while soldiers come home and are losing everything they have....I ask every American who reads this [article] to stand up for the soldier who has given their everything for this country to stand up to these guys in the media; ask them why they don't pick up a weapon and follow in the steps of a soldier."

The author, Spec.Doug Barber, is spot on. It easy to sit in comfort and talk up a war here or there, one that you don't fight. You don't have to see the blood. Live with the nightmares. Deal with the horror. It reminds of something the anti-war MP George Galloway said in a recent debate; "People like Hitchens [a right-wing pro-war pundit] are ready to fight this war to the last drop of OTHER people's blood, and it is utterly contemptible." My great-great grandad (who's dead now) fought in the first world war and still, 80-odd years after, he was suffering the effects of shell-shock (what today we would call 'PTSD'). As some graffiti I pass by most days says; "Bosses and Politicians to the front lines - fight yer own war.!"

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Graffiti Action!
The skill people at Bristle have produced a book documenting political street expressions in Bristol & the South West from 1998-2005. Its a top read and a bargin for £6! You can buy online from:

PS. I love this bit on thier press release; There is also explanatory information relating to subvertising, publicity sabotage, etc. These and other articles are published purely to document a living history, and never to encourage direct action. Oh no.

Oh no indeed.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Oil Junkie Rehab
Good news everybody! Sweden has decided to kick the oil habit; "Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to wean itself off oil completely within 15 years - without building a new generation of nuclear power stations. The attempt by the country of 9 million people to become the world's first practically oil-free economy is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics, farmers, car makers, civil servants and others, who will report to parliament in several months."

Wow - its like a fantasy headline - 'Rational Thought Invades Western Country' and so while our media fixates on the pointless, endless and unwinable 'War on Terror' (as if such a thing could exist) plus the micro-lives of celebrities, our government is busy privatizing everything it can (aka 'Reform') and beating the drum of war with Iran (to feed the oil habit); there is a light of hope!

What's sad is the the local council PR-rubbish of 'Bristol Sustainable City' is nothing more than a smoke-screen, as they continue to push things like yuppie flat complexes and the white elephant of expanstion at bristol airport.

After September 11th we were told that we are all American's now. I'd like to look over the sea and wish that we were all a little more Swedish.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

New Radicals
A good read; The New Anarchists by David Graeber.

"...I’d like to tease out some of the questions the direct-action networks raise about alienation, and its broader implications for political practice. For example: why is it that, even when there is next to no other constituency for revolutionary politics in a capitalist society, the one group most likely to be sympathetic to its project consists of artists, musicians, writers, and others involved in some form of non-alienated production? Surely there must be a link between the actual experience of first imagining things and then bringing them into being, individually or collectively, and the ability to envision social alternatives—particularly, the possibility of a society itself premised on less alienated forms of creativity? One might even suggest that revolutionary coalitions always tend to rely on a kind of alliance between a society’s least alienated and its most oppressed; actual revolutions, one could then say, have tended to happen when these two categories most broadly overlap.

This would, at least, help explain why it almost always seems to be peasants and craftsmen—or even more, newly proletarianized former peasants and craftsmen—who actually overthrow capitalist regimes; and not those inured to generations of wage labour. It would also help explain the extraordinary importance of indigenous people’s struggles in the new movement: such people tend to be simultaneously the very least alienated and most oppressed people on earth."

Which has echoes of Ward Churchill's assertions that the No.1 job for North American activists is not the liberation of Iraq, but the de-colonialisation of North America.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Muqtada al-Sadr - A Man for All Seasons
An interesting article on; "In the spring and summer of 2004, the radical young Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr led an armed uprising against the U.S. occupiers. His militia, the Mahdi army, fought several bloody battles against American forces...High-ranking U.S. officials called for Muqtada to be captured or killed. But the fiery cleric not only survived, but flourished - and in the last two years he has turned his enormous street credibility into political power. In the December elections his slate earned potentially 30 seats in Parliament, making him an equal partner with two other Shiite groups in the largest Shiite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance. But what sets Muqtada apart from the other Shiite leaders - and makes him a potentially crucial, if supremely unlikely, ally for the United States - is his close ties to the Sunni insurgents. With sectarian tensions in Iraq and the region increasing, Muqtada may be the only Shiite leader in Iraq who can reach out to Sunnis, who see him as 'the good Shia.'"

Now check this bit or the article; "In recent weeks, Muqtada burnished his credentials with both the Sunni and Shiite establishments when he visited first Saudi Arabia, then Iran - where he warned the United States that if it attacked Iran, he would send his forces into the field."

So if the US attacks Iran - he will attack them along with the Sunni insurgents, who I guess will use the opportunity of this second front.