“The risk is that it will deter people from wanting to protest outside Parliament.”
Today’s hearing is part of the third in a series of trials which, according to the group, “demonstrate the absurdity of the policing of the Occupy Democracy protests.”
Twelve people have so far been acquitted of charges linked to the protests outside the Houses of Parliament last November.
Occupy Democracy legal adviser Matthew Varnham said: “Peaceful protest should never require authorisation.
“This point was made by the UN Special Rapporteur in his 2013 Report on the UK when he concluded that at most there should be a regime for notification.
“The fact we have seen people arrested for sitting on a tarpaulin and holding a banner, found to be unlawful because prior permission had not been sought, is an affront to the democractic principle of freedom of expression.”
An ongoing judicial review challenging Mr Johnson’s decision to exclude all protest from Parliament Square was launched by Occupy Democracy and human rights group Liberty this March.
The real trouble — from the Bush point of view — is that he might never see Texas again.
One moment he might be holding forth to a great perspiring tent at Hay-on-Wye. The next moment, click, some embarrassed member of the Welsh constabulary could walk on stage, place some handcuffs on the former leader of the Free World, and take him away to be charged.
Of course, we are told this scenario is unlikely. Dubya is the former leader of a friendly power, with whom this country is determined to have good relations.
Unless the 43rd president of the United States has been grievously misrepresented, he has admitted to authorising and sponsoring the use of torture. Asked whether he approved of “waterboarding” in three specific cases, he told his interviewer that “damn right” he did, and that this practice had saved lives in America and Britain.
It is not some cunning new psych-ops technique conceived by the CIA. It has been used in the dungeons of dictators for centuries. It is not compatible either with the US constitution or the UN convention against torture.
Of course we are all tempted, from time to time, by the utilitarian argument. We might become reluctant supporters of “extreme interrogation techniques” if we could really persuade ourselves that half an hour of waterboarding could really save a hundred lives — or indeed a single life.
It is not good enough for Dubya now to claim that what he did was OK, because “the lawyers said it was legal”. The lawyers in question were Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee and his deputy, John Yoo, and after a good deal of political cattle-prodding from Rumsfeld et al, they produced a totally barmy attempt to redefine torture so as to allow waterboarding.
Pain was only torture, they determined, when it was “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily functions, or even death”. If that is right, it would seem that most of the techniques of the Spanish Inquisition would be acceptable to the American government.
You could beat the soles of someone’s feet; you could pour molten candle wax on their extremities; you could even pull their finger nails out without infringing those conditions. How is some tired and frightened American officer supposed to make head or tail of this sophistry, late at night in some bleak Iraqi jail? How is he supposed to calibrate the pain that comes from an organ failure or death?
They failed to see any moral difference, that is, because there isn’t any moral difference. That is the real disaster of the waterboarding policy — that we are left with the impression that the entire US military are skidding their heels on the slippery slope towards barbarism. …
How could America complain to the Burmese generals about the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, when a president authorised torture? How can we talk about human rights in Beijing, when our number one ally and friend seems to be defending this kind of behaviour? I can’t think of any other American president, in my lifetime, who would have spoken in this way.
Boris Johnson: ‘eel-like’ Tony Blair will avoid being imprisoned over Iraq war. London mayor expresses sympathy with those who want former PM locked up and says Chilcot report should be published now: here.
Tony Blair should be prosecuted for war crimes – not just judged by history. Boris Johnson is right, Blair is ‘eel-like’ – but if the Chilcot inquiry is published soon, he might not wriggle off the hook: here.
A classified document obtained by SPIEGEL shows notes from a meeting between a top German diplomat and Condoleezza Rice just weeks before the Iraq invasion. It indicates steps by the German government to prevent the war and undermines claims in George W. Bush’s memoir that Gerhard Schröder indicated he would support the president should the US go to war: here.
Appeals Court backs immunity for Bush administration torture policy: here.
All Guantanamo Prisoners Were Subjected to “Pharmacological Waterboarding”: here.
Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye, Truthout: “Military officials were instructed not to publicly discuss a decision made in January 2002 to presumptively treat all Guantanamo detainees with a high dosage of a controversial antimalarial drug that has been directly linked to suicide, hallucinations, seizures and other severe neuropsychological side effects, according to a retired Navy captain who signed the policy directive”: here.
Ten years since Bush v. Gore: The stolen election of 2000: here.
Eric Lipton, The New York Times News Service: “The Bush White House, particularly before the 2006 midterm elections, routinely violated a federal law that prohibits use of federal tax dollars to pay for political activities by creating a ‘political boiler room’ that coordinated Republican campaign activities nationwide, a report issued Monday by an independent federal agency concludes”: here.
“What we will not see and we will not accept is any kind of Kosovo-style social cleansing of London. On my watch, you are not going to see thousands of families evicted from the place where they have been living and have put down roots,” he declared.
The comments drew a rare public rebuke from Number 10, which said David Cameron “doesn’t agree with what Boris Johnson has said or indeed the way he said it”.
The cuts in Housing Benefit proposed by the British Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition will lead to the eviction of huge numbers of people from their homes in London and elsewhere in the south-east of England: here.
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has condemned his successor Boris Johnson for denying funding to an annual Jewish cultural festival, forcing it to close.
Organisers of Simcha on the Square, which was the largest festival of Jewish culture in Europe, announced on Friday that the festival cannot take place this year because Mr Johnson had slashed proposed funding from £50,000 to £20,000.
In previous years Simcha on the Square had been strongly supported by Mr Livingstone’s mayor’s office, working with Jewish Culture UK, receiving an annual grant of £50,000 and free use of Trafalgar Square.
Mr Livingstone said: “Boris Johnson’s Tory administration has adopted a narrow-minded approach which will be harmful to London’s international standing and to its many communities.
“By officially recognising and celebrating Jewish culture we made clear our commitment to fighting anti-semitism.
“Simcha on the Square officially celebrated the Jewish contribution to London and gave all Londoners a chance to share the richness of Jewish culture, dance and music.”
Next week, David Cameron will unveil the Conservative Party’s new right-wing allies in the European Parliament. To the dismay of pro-European Tories, they include parties accused of being anti-women, racist, homophobic and in denial about climate change.
The mayor’s office repeatedly insisted that Lewis was not aware of allegations of financial and sexual misconduct made against him by parishioners and had not even been told by the Church of England that he was disbarred from holding office in 1999. That appeared to explain why Lewis had not declared damaging facts during vetting for his post.
But that defence was dramatically undermined last night when church sources said Lewis actually appealed against the revoking of his licence in 2000, when he returned to Britain after working overseas.
London Mayor Boris Johnson’s return to “traditional Tory values”: here.