Weekly round-up and open thread - This week's selection of interesting links from around the web chosen by the F-Word team
3 hours ago
The thief who is in prison is not necessarily more dishonest than his fellows at large, but mostly one who, through ignorance or stupidity steals in a way that is not customary. He snatches a loaf from the baker's counter and is promptly run into gaol.The Daily Mail reveals ten Met police officers have failed drug tests.
Another man snatches bread from the table of hundreds of widows and orphans and similar credulous souls who do not know the ways of company promoters; and, as likely as not, he is run into Parliament.
Meanwhile does anybody really think that society is any more broken today than it was on, say, this very day in 1985 when were 58 policemen hospitalised and one hacked to death during the Broadwater Farm riot? The next day the local MP memorably went on TV and said "the police got a bloody good hiding."So I took a trip down memory lane to write a response setting out a very different perspective.
Interesting that you don't mention the death of Cynthia Jarrett, the person killed on this very day. Cynthia's house was subjected to a police search (her son was in custody - he had been a passenger in a car which had a dodgy tax disc) during which she was pushed over and died from a heart attack. It was anger at her death which resulted in the events of the following day (6th) the so called Broadwater Farm riots.The original comment on CIF can be read here and the whole thread here
The local MP was Norman Atkinson.
The Council Leader was Bernie Grant. From the day of Cynthia's death (5th)Bernie was in Tottenham attempting both to help the angry local community articulate its feelings and demands for justice and to try and avoid a repeat of the violence and destruction of Brixton the week before following the killing of Cherry Groce. Bernie believed passionately in finding legitimate resolutions and whilst determined to hold the police to account for their racism and violent assaults on members of the community Bernie was determined to avoid a riot. On the Sunday there was a meeting on Broadwater Farm Estate in which Bernie (and others) spoke along those lines. At the end of the meeting it was agreed to go to Tottenham Police Station and demonstrate against Cynthia's killing.
The Police however had surrounded the Farm and stopped most of the protesters leaving. Whilst a few of us (predominately white) got to the Police Station most of those at the meeting (predominately young and black) were blockaded on the Farm. Inevitably the stand off didn't last long with hotheads (on one or both sides) igniting the riot/uprising that followed.
Over the next few days Bernie took a conscious decision to remain imbedded in the community. He could have retired to the TV studio and poured flames on the situation by condemning and refusing to understand. But instead he was on the scene, listened to local voices and ensured that the community's perspective was articulated. It was a remarkably brave decision for an ambitious politician. Those of us who advised caution he slapped down. This was not a time to think about future elections but to focus on avoiding a further outbreak of rioting and to ensure legitimate grievances were heard.
Speaking outside Tottenham Police Station Bernie refered to local reactions, he said that some local people felt the police had been given a good hiding. That was true and Bernie was determined that all points of view should be articulated and that silencing the views of anyone, but particularly young angry men, was the road to further riots. The comment was picked up by the media and Peter Jay challenged Bernie about it on TV and he made clear that although this was not his view it was a legitimate one.
Whilst the gaze of the rest of the world moved on Bernie continued to work with the residents of Broadwater Farm and the surrounding area to repair the damage. He understood, cared and was prepared to take risks for what is right. Broadwater Farm and indeed Tottenham were better places for Bernie's leadership. The riots were not repeated, but that was not news.
The people of Tottenham the following year went to the Ballot Box and Labour won and Bernie was returned as Leader of the Council. The next year (1987) Bernie stood as the Labour Party's candidate for Tottenham and was elected an MP.
His quote was therefore not the mad rantings they were portrayed as but the calculated decision of a civic leader determined to ensure that all legitimate voices were heard and to work for peace even if it damaged his political career. Bernie fully expected to lose the leadership of the Council and to be removed as prospective parliamentary candidate. However he refused to allow this to stop him doing what he felt right. It was a brave decision which history has proved was right. How many politicians make a decision 10% as brave in their whole lives?
I want to highlight an incident that has seriously affected my situation in prison. Firstly, allow me to put what happened into context. I am serving a ten year sentence. Since my conviction I have been exemplary in my behaviour and incurred no disciplinary reports or adverse intelligence reports prior to the incident I am about to describe. I am of Pakistan origin, although until relatively recently had not experienced any discriminatory treatment in prison or ill-treatment at the hands of other prisoners.Sunny has requested those concerned at his treatment write and e-mail letters of complaint to Governor Dan Gunn of HMP Glenochil and the Scottish Prison Service Headquarters:
Then in February 2008 I began to feel targeted by a small group of prisoners who began to behave in a racist way towards me. Rather than confront them and risk an escalation of the problem I requested a cell change to another area of the prison. This was eventually granted. Very soon after this my cell was subjected to a special search by security staff, which confused me because such searches are only ever carried out because of definite information or intelligence received. No explanation was given to me for the search and I simply hoped that it would not adversely affect my progress in prison.
In about June of 2009 a prisoner called Mohammed Sadique was released from the jail's segregation unit and allocated a cell close to mine. Mr Sadique, a young second-generation Pakistani from a small town in Stirlingshire, had been convicted of down-loading what had been described as "terrorist material" from the internet. There was some controversy surrounding Mr Sadique's conviction and a view that far from being an authentic terrorist, he was in fact a naive and impressionable young man who had been guilty of little more than stupidly viewing and downloading material from websites that in the current political climate are considered extremely risqué. Within Glenochil prison Mr Sadique was considered quite a vulnerable prisoner because of the general mood against Muslim extremists; although in reality Sadique could hardly be described as such.
I formed a friendship with Mr Sadique because of our shared ethnic background and because we attended the Muslim class together and also worked together in the same work shed. Prisoners in this work shed often took without permission various items from the shed and used them for their own personal use, such as sticky tape and magnets, etc. This was common practice and prisoners found in possession of such items were usually given warnings or sometimes placed on disciplinary reports for being in possession of unauthorised articles.
In August 2009 Mr Sadique took a roll of sticky tape and two small magnets from the work shed and then casually left them in my cell. Considering them of no great importance I left them on open display in my cell and thought no more about it. During a routine superficial cell search they were discovered by staff and I was placed on report for being in possession of unauthorised items. At the subsequent disciplinary hearing I pleaded guilty and was given 3 days in segregation and 10 loss of privileges, a fairly standard punishment for the offence.
However, the following day I was seen by a governor who this time subjected me to intense questioning along the lines of: "Who are you intending to harm?", "Are you planning to escape?", "Did you intend to construct a bomb?" I was totally confused and extremely unnerved by this and protested that I was innocent of such accusations. Nevertheless, I was made subject to "special security measures", such as placed on the "escape risk" category, placed on closed visits with immediate family only, and placed on "high supervision level". I was also held in isolation for an unspecified period of time, during which I was photographed. Stories were also leaked to the tabloids about a "terrorist conspiracy" inside the prison that involved Mohammed Sadique, who at the time was awaiting an appeal against his conviction. The picture presented was of Muslim prisoners engaged in the manufacture of bombs inside the prison. The reality was something completely different and the truth is that had the items concerned been discovered in the cell of white prisoners a completely different interpretation would have been put on it. Because I am a Muslim of Asian background it was automatically assumed that I must be involved in terrorist activity, especially as I shared a prison friendship with a young Asian man who has been reviled and denigrated by the media as a professional terrorist. Unarguably, racism has influenced my treatment.
In September 2009 I was finally released back into the prison mainstream and over time there took place a gradual acknowledgement on the part of the Glenochil administration that the "terrorist conspiracy" was in fact a load of utter nonsense. Open visits were returned to me and I was taken off the high supervision level. But my situation in prison has now changed completely and I am treated differently by both staff and prisoners. Despite the quiet acceptance that I was guilty of nothing, officially the claim is that I was segregated because of my alleged involvement in unspecified "subversive activities". Inevitably, this will impact upon my ability to progress to an open jail or my chances of parole. The attitude of most prison staff and prisoners is that there is no smoke without fire, and so I am now viewed by many as a potential terrorist, which increases the mood of racism against me. In a sense, I can be fairly philosophical about the attitude of prisoners, who on the whole are poorly educated and therefore easily influenced by crude racist ideas. But I am less accepting of the behaviour of the prison authorities who misused their power to taint me as a terrorist purely because I happened to be a prisoner of colour and of the Muslim faith. Despite my Pakistani origins I was born and raised in Glasgow and have always considered myself first and foremost a Scotsman with no interest whatsoever in politics. However, now I feel extremely alienated and victimised because of my colour and hold the prison authorities wholly responsible for this.
I have yet to be given a formal acknowledgement by the prison authorities that their allegations against me in August 2009 were completely without foundation and so officially at least I remain tainted by those allegations.
Sunny Nasir Ahmed, HMP Glenochil
gagging order obtained by Tiger Woods lawyers on everyone in this country banning the publication of nude or lewd pictures of Tiger
A copy of the Newsnight video about toxic dumping in the Ivory coast which the BBC removed following threats from Carter Ruck the lawyer heavies engaged by Trafigura whose waste it was.Wikileaks gets all sorts of material into the public domain. Is it all true? I doubt it, but overall exposure is a good thing. CCTV may be watching us, but we can through the web be watching the state and other powerful actors.
Amanda Knox has been convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher, and if you weren’t paying attention, you might believe that she did it alone.For the rest of this blog and to read the responses click here.
In fact, two men have also been convicted of the murder - one last night and one last year, but they are very much secondary to the story, even though, as far as I can tell, it has never been decided who did the actual killing.
Now, I have not studied the trial or the evidence, and I do not know whether Amanda Knox did or did not kill Meredith Kercher, but I do know that this is seeming to be another legal case where the woman involved is demonised to a degree rarely seen in male defendants.
The treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of civilization of any country.
I get asked for ID a lot - I'm 27 - and it makes me really mad. I do look younger than my age but more often than not the checkout assistant is about 16, which I find really annoying. It happened in Sainsbury's last week - a 16 year old kid asking me for ID. I told him I was 27 and had been legally allowed to drink for almost a decade. I told him I had a degree and I was on my way back to my own home after a hard day at work (hoping) to have a relaxing glass of wine with my girlfriend in front of the TV. He just sat there shaking his head. I called my girlfriend (also 27) over because she had her driving license on her and he still refused to serve us in case she gave the alcohol to me when we left the shop. The people who were in the queue behind me were saying tutting and saying things like, 'You should be flattered,' and I was thinking 'FUCK OFF!' I'm 27 years old and all I want is a glass of wine and this fucking school kid won't let me have one!
Quite simply, England is drinking far too much. England has an alcohol problem. Alcohol is not simply a problem for the minority who are dependent on it - it is a problem for everybody … There is a clear relationship between price and consumption of alcohol … Price increases generally reduce heavy drinkers' consumption by a greater proportion than they reduce moderate drinkers' consumption.Simple really, but not according to the alcohol industry. They have the ear of government and have, without any evidence, argued that their is no relationship between price and consumption. (Interestingly they tend to ignore this conclusion when promoting their drugs!!) For producers and retailers of alcohol know their profits come from heavy drinkers. The old lady having the occasional sherry is insignificant when compared to the binge drinking teenager.