Massacre in Turkey, anti-terrorist trade union solidarity

This video from Turkey says about itself:

ODTÜ on strike for the victims of Ankara massacre

12 October 2015

Anti-government rallies continue in Turkey after the terrible bomb attacks on the Ankara peace rally on 10.10.2015, which left at least 128 killed and hundreds wounded. Labor unions and trade chambers declared a two-day nationwide strike to protest the AKP government, whom they find guilty of the massacre. Personnel and students of the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) supported the strike decision with a massive boycott and strike in the campus. All the services in the university library and cafeterias were stopped, and there were no classes in many departments.

Opposition to the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to mount in Turkey, following the suicide bombings that claimed close to 130 lives at a peace rally Saturday: here.

By Zoe Streatfield in Britain:

Britain’s trade unions rally to condemn Turkey attacks

Tuesday 13th October 2015

BRITAIN’S trade unions united yesterday to condemn the bombing of a left-wing rally in Turkey at the weekend.

Trade union liaison officer for peace in Kurdistan and Unison Scotland deputy convener Stephen Smellie criticised the Turkish government for claiming to fight terrorism yet carrying out attacks on PKK bases in Iraq while it is fighting against Isis.

Mr Smellie said that “many people in Turkey believe that the state was behind the attacks” citing that no police officers were injured or killed despite the scale of the bomb blasts.

He said that state violence had not been restricted to attacks on Kurdish organisations but that “trade union and left activists have also been targeted.”

GMB international officer Bert Schouwenburg said his union was “outraged” by the attack and called on the Turkish government to end hostilities against the PKK and the Kurdish population.

Mr Schouwenburg called for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict, adding that “there can be no lasting peace without the full involvement and participation of the Kurdish community and we reiterate our call for the release of their leader Abdullah Ocalan so that he can play a full part in that process.”

He said the Turkish authorities should do all they can to bring the perpetrators of the atrocity to justice and ensure citizens were protected when they exercise their right to peaceful protest.

PCS also condemned the violence against peaceful demonstrators and extended “heartfelt condolences to the people of Turkey” and in particular the victims of the blasts.

The death toll is currently 128, with many hundreds wounded.

By James Tweedie:

Turkey: General strike in protest at Ankara blast

Tuesday 13th October 2015

Street demos demand answers from Erdogan

TURKISH trade unions called a two-day general strike yesterday in protest at Saturday’s Ankara peace-march bombing.

Thousands demonstrated in the capital, blaming the government for the massacre, as funerals were held for many victims.

The strike by the four unions that organised Saturday’s protest will end today.

“To protest against the fascist massacre and to commemorate the death of our friends, we are now in mourning for three days,” the unions said in a joint statement.

The group comprises the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DiSK), the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB).

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), a major participant in the demonstration, supported the strike.

“We should unrelentingly show every day and in every place to those who tried to silence the people who gathered in Ankara for peace, that the voice of life and peace will not keep quiet,” it said in a statement.

While the official death toll from the double bombing had risen to 97 by yesterday, the HDP put the true figure at 128.

The Peace and Development Party (AKP) government has claimed that the attacks were carried out by two suicide bombers, possibly from Islamic State (Isis).

But in an open letter to the international community, HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag blamed the AKP for the massacre.

They said: “The AKP’s policy of relying on radical groups as proxies, which began with President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan’s support of such groups as Isis, al-Nusra, and Ahrar al-Sham is at the heart of today’s tragedy.”

They also accused Mr Erdogan of reigniting the conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to win votes in coming elections.

The Turkish air force bombed PKK positions in Iraq hours after the Ankara attack despite the group honouring its offer of a ceasefire.

Britain’s national bird, final voting

This video says about itself:

17 November 2015

David Lindo – The Urban Birder starts his campaign to get Britain to vote for its first ever national bird.

From the Vote National Bird Campaign in Britain:

The Final Stage of Voting has Begun!

Monday 16th March marks the start of the online voting

Last year, 70,000 of you voted in the first round of the Vote National Bird Campaign. A list of 60 iconic British species was whittled down to a shortlist of the 10 most popular birds. The time has now come to vote for the bird that will become the nation’s avian symbol.

Voting opens on March 16th 2015 and will close at midnight May 7th 2015 – the day of the General Election. You can either place your votes online or on paper ballot forms at selected nature reserves around the country.

We would love to see you vote again and please get your friends to vote too.

To vote please visit

Most of the birds in the top 10 were expected candidates. However, perhaps the most surprising inclusion is the Hen Harrier, one of England’s rarest breeding birds. Down to just one breeding pair a couple of years ago, it may already be extinct.

Could the majestic Hen Harrier knock the hot favourite Robin off its perch?

The 10 birds awaiting your vote

Hen Harrier
Red Kite
Blue Tit
Mute Swan
Barn Owl

Protest against Establishment child abuse in Britain

This video from London, England is called CSA Inquiry Time 4 Justice & Action Meeting, The White Flowers Campaign, Westminster 14-01-15.

By Luke James in Britain:

Abuse survivors smash wall of official silence

Thursday 15th January 2015

Brave campaigners speak out demanding Establishment paedophiles face justice

CHILD abuse survivors descended on Parliament yesterday to smash the “wall of silence” over decades of abuse in Britain.

Brave victims laid wreaths of white flowers at Old Palace Yard as they spoke out about sex attacks and assaults.

And families losing faith in the government’s response called for its inquiry to be given real powers to bring secret VIP paedophiles to justice.

Social worker and whistleblower Dr Liz Davies was clear that “we’re looking at an Establishment cover-up going right back to the ’40s.”

She said: “Children who’ve been assaulted, sexually harmed, murdered, all in the context of major paedophile networks that got right to the top of this society.

“That is why we want justice and healing for survivors, as well as to protect children now.”

White flowers were laid among photos, cards and tributes to children who were abused and murdered.

A message strapped to another bunch of flowers read: “For the victims of the Westminster paedophile ring.”

Former Lib Dem MP for Rochdale Cyril Smith, who died in 2010, is so far the most high-profile political figure to be named as a paedophile.

But one Sunday newspaper this week claimed that a top Tory MP murdered a 15-year-old girl at a party put on by a Westminster paedophile gang.

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk, who penned a book which helped expose Smith, said it was time for prosecutions.

Mr Danczuk said: “Let’s work together to make sure we get a successful inquiry — but also that we get prosecutions for those who’ve raped and abused children.”

The government’s child abuse inquiry has struggled to gain the confidence of victims after two mooted chairs were axed because of their close Establishment links.

This week its leaderless panel is launching its latest wave of evidence-gathering meetings with survivors.

Some came forward to tell their heartbreaking personal testimonies in public at yesterday’s vigil. …

The White Flowers campaign is calling for the inquiry to have a “truly independent” chair and have a special police team to investigate evidence raised.

A former adviser to David Cameron and one of the original investors on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den has been arrested on suspicion of raping a 13-year-old girl. Doug Richard, 56, accompanied the Prime Minister on an official overseas trip to 2011 and has also advised the Chancellor, George Osborne: here.

Call for inquiry into links between senior civil servant Sir Peter Hayman and paedophile network in the 1980’s: here.

Can the child sex abuse inquiry be taken seriously with yet another true Establishment figure at the helm, asks STEVEN WALKER. The new head of the Historic Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry, Justice Lowell Goddard, is yet another Establishment figure — this time from New Zealand: here.

Britain’s national bird, new vote

This video is called My UK Wildlife Garden Birds.

From the Vote for Britain’s national bird site:

Two amazing things happened in the 60′s. The Robin was voted Britain’s national bird and…

The surprising thing is; neither has happened since.

Well, all that is about to change. David Lindo (AKA The Urban Birder) feels the Robin’s many decades in power needs to be challenged, so he is fronting a campaign to help find Britain’s new national bird. Running alongside next year’s General Election will be this alternative Election, which we’d love you to take part in.

It’s going to work in two stages. The first vote will be to find the six running candidates. This vote is live now. Simply scroll down, take a peek through the list of 60 worthy nominees and pick the 6 birds that you think best personifies all that this wonderful nation represents. Each of these species has a special place in the hearts and minds of the Great British public.

It’s as easy as that!

When you register to vote you are automatically entered into a free draw. Prizes include a Shetland Wildlife Holiday, top of the range Leica binoculars, Bird Watching Magazine subscriptions and Urban Birder T- Shirts.

The first round of voting will close at midnight October 31st 2014. Thereafter, we will have our final six candidates up for the title of Britain’s National Bird and the voting will re-open.

The question is; will the Robin be knocked off its perch?

Bahrain dictatorship and Britain

This video is called Why are you silent when it comes to Bahrain?

Marc Owen Jones writes on his blog about the recent manoeuvres by the Bahraini regime‘s public-relations firms and its supporters, from the threat of legal action against newspapers to “trolling” to placing guests on the BBC: here.

From the Free Speech Blog:

Bahrain king and Cameron discussed riot control “assistance”

24 February 2012 – 3:35 pm

by Padraig Reidy

This press release (below) has just come from the Bahrain Information Affairs Authority. The release outlines UK ambassador to Bahrain’s “praise” for the regime. It also follows what seems to be Bahrain’s public affairs strategy now, which can be summed up as “at least we’re not Iran”.

But this line is especially alarming:

“The Ambassador referred to a meeting between the British Prime Minister and HM the King, where they discussed the possibility for Bahrain to benefit from Britain’s experience in dealing with the street violence seen in Northern Ireland.”

Repressive techniques perfected in Northern Ireland are being deployed for the first time on the British mainland: here.

Bahrain: Ethiopian maid’s family not told of her suicide: here.

Somalia conference not bringing peace

This video from Britain is called Dahabo Isse [from Somalia] – People’s Assembly 20th March 2007.

By Paddy McGuffin in England:

‘The stench of hypocrisy’

Thursday 23 February 2012

An international summit on Somalia in London today will do nothing to ease the plight of the Somali people and carries the “stench of hypocrisy,” peace campaigners claimed today.

Representatives of more than 50 countries and international organisations attended the event at Lancaster House, including United Nations secretary general Ban Ki Moon, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the leaders of neighbouring African nations.

Prime Minister David Cameron said it was in the interests of the international community to help restore stability after two decades of turmoil.

He welcomed the decision by the UN security council to increase the strength of the African Union force in the country from 12,000 to 17,700 troops.

But Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German said: “They are pretending that the Western-backed government has legitimacy and made things more stable. But all the evidence shows that Western-backed interventions have contributed to instability.

“There is a massive amount of intervention already going on and this event has the stench of hypocrisy.

“This is yet another example of the government thinking it has the right to dictate what’s happening in other countries when it might be better concentrating on domestic problems.”

See also here. And here.

Somali government officials said today that at least six people were killed in an overnight air raid a day after world leaders in London said the war-torn country should “quickly form a stable government”: here.

Charles Dickens and poverty today

By John Clayton and Paul Bond:

Today’s social divide and the Charles Dickens bicentenary

23 February 2012

Celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of English novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) reveal the contemporary version of the official hypocrisy generated by acute social divisions that the author spent much of his life pillorying.

In 1854, Karl Marx included Dickens among “[t]he present splendid brotherhood of fiction-writers in England whose graphic and eloquent pages have issued to the world more political and social truths than have been uttered by all the professional politicians, publicists and moralists put together”.

A decade earlier, Frederick Engels had noted the appearance of this “new class of novel writers” as “indeed a sign of the times”.

The anniversary of Dickens’s birth is being marked under conditions where the times cry out for a writer with the perception, wit and acute sense of social outrage the great novelist possessed.

The pages of Dickens’s books offer a detailed picture of two different and opposed worlds existing uncomfortably side by side. The inhabitants of one world dwell in extreme poverty, their lives an ongoing struggle for survival. This was the world against which the writer often raged.

The great number of events commemorating the bicentenary reflects the author’s continued popularity, in part because of his sympathetic treatment of the oppressed and wretched of this world. With Dickens in mind, Engels noted in 1844 that the new wave of novelists had now turned their attention to “the poor, the despised class, [their] fates and fortunes, joys and sufferings”.

It is not for nothing that the adjective “Dickensian” entered the English language, referring to, as one dictionary puts it, “the environments and situations most commonly portrayed in Dickens’ writings, such as poverty and social injustice and other aspects of Victorian England”.

By contrast, the inhabitants of the other world Dickens describes are either financially comfortable or else live in unparalleled luxury and splendour. The descendents of this parasitic layer have moved to hijack the celebrations of the author’s birth. The British monarchy, maintained in luxury at the taxpayers’ expense, has been at the forefront of the commemorations. Prince Charles prominently laid a wreath at Dickens’s grave as part of a service February 7 at Westminster Abbey.

Dickens had this to say about the leisured, indolent classes in a letter to a friend: “Oh Heaven, if you could have been with me at a hospital dinner last Monday! There were men there who made such speeches and expressed such sentiments as any moderately intelligent dustman would have blushed through his cindery bloom to have thought of. Sleek, slobbering, bow-paunched, over-fed, apoplectic, snorting cattle, and the auditory leaping up in their delight! I never saw such an illustration of the power of purse, or felt so degraded and debased by its contemplation, since I have had eyes and ears. The absurdity of the thing was too horrible to laugh at”.

Nor was he an unalloyed admirer of the monarchy. A Tale of Two Cities (1859) begins with a devastating description of the savagery confronted in the period leading up to and triggering the French Revolution, and the complacency of the aristocracy: “[I]t was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes that things in general were settled for ever”.

France, Dickens wrote, “rolled with exceeding smoothness down hill, making paper money and spending it…. [S]he entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his view”.

In A Child’s History of England (1853), the author praised the recently established American republic, comparing it favourably with the things Britain had not done so well “since the days of Oliver Cromwell”—a highly charged comment in the eyes of the British ruling class.

Critic Georg Lukács noted that Dickens adopted a more abstract moral tone in his historical writings than in his contemporary works, where the immediate and burning realities of life forced themselves upon him. Even so, if there is regret about the titanic and tumultuous French Revolution in A Tale of Two Cities, that sentiment is tempered by recognition of the social conditions that produced the great upheaval.

It is unclear to what extent the novelist would have welcomed being feted in Westminster Abbey. Historian Judith Flanders said she found the February 7 ceremony “enormously moving”, but that Dickens would have hated it, as “he wanted no public ceremonies, no statues, no public acknowledgement”. He had requested instead an ordinary interment.

To accommodate this whilst still incorporating him into the ranks of the nationally celebrated, the writer was buried in Westminster Abbey early in the morning to reduce the likelihood of massive attendance. One commemoration event involved a reading by the actor Simon Callow in Rochester, where Dickens is thought to have wished to be buried.

Participants at the Westminster Abbey event were forced to acknowledge that it might not necessarily have reflected Dickens’s own thinking. The Archbishop of Canterbury noted that Dickens had had “relatively little time for conventional religion”. The Dean of Westminster, John Hall, sounded a note of social concern: “Dickens’s humanity and compassion made an extraordinary impact on Victorian England through his writings, which remain immensely popular. This bicentenary should help renew our commitment to improving the lot of the disadvantaged of our own day”.

Actor Ralph Fiennes read a passage from Bleak House (1853), an attack on the British court system, at the ceremony. It is clear that Dickens’s scathing dissection of social inequality is resonating today, and that those presiding over this inequality are seeking to bury him beneath their casual claims on him. Obscenely, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt apparently gave Prime Minister David Cameron copies of Hard Times (1854) and Bleak House to mark the anniversary.

David Wootton, Lord Mayor of the City of London, called for the celebration of Dickens, this “great writer and Londoner”, to be the basis for restoring faith in business. “Never before”, wrote Wootton, “has the importance of the relationship between business and morality been more pertinent”.

Wootton’s appeal for a moral capitalism invoked the opening of A Tale of Two Cities and its backdrop to the French Revolution. Wootton called on financial sectors to work “in the service of the wider economy and in the service of our fellow citizens” so that they could “turn the worst of times—or at least seriously tough times—into the best of times”.

Perhaps the most extraordinary reaction to the anniversary came in the pages of City AM, a free paper for London’s financial district. The publication’s business features editor, Marc Sidwell, cautioned against allowing Dickens to be championed by the poor and distressed—the very layers whom he defended against injustice.

Instead, Sidwell accuses Dickens of a “lack of documentary realism” and compares unfavourably his novelistic “campaigning exaggerations” with his journalism. He bases his dismissal of Dickens’s scathing social satire of education in Nicholas Nickleby (1839) on the grounds that the situation at the time was better than Dickens represented it, and rather better than today.

Much of Dickens’s sympathy for the oppressed was learned at first-hand, with the trauma of his father’s imprisonment in a debtors’ prison, and the removal of the youngster from school to work 10-hour shifts in a blacking factory. Although this was a relatively brief period in his life, it affected Dickens deeply, and fuelled his lifelong concern with social conditions.

Sidwell concludes that the “best advice Dickens can give us today” is contained in one of his most famous satires on the stultifying world of small trade, Mr Micawber’s definition of social well-being in David Copperfield (1850): “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” From this Sidwell concludes that “We can’t say he didn’t warn us”.

Sidwell chooses to ignore the damning criticisms embedded in Dickens’s satire. As Marx noted of Dickens, Thackeray, Charlotte Brontë and Gaskell, their descriptions showed the small-minded brutality of this parasitic layer of the middle class, “full of presumption, affectation, petty tyranny and ignorance…the civilised world have confirmed their verdict with the damning epigram that it has fixed to this class that ‘they are servile to those above, and tyrannical to those beneath them’ ”.

The layers whom Sidwell addresses are, if anything, even more rapacious than those savaged in Dickens’s writing, of whom it can at least be said that they represented a social system that was still expanding.

In the 142 years since the death of the author, none of the central contradictions of the existing social order have been resolved. The exploitation so vividly portrayed in Dickens’s works continues to be a feature of everyday life over vast swathes of the planet from Africa to Asia and on to Latin America.

Yet, even in those countries where grinding poverty was ameliorated in some measure through the struggles of the working class and the establishment of the welfare state, introduced under the shadow of the Russian Revolution, there is a serious risk of a return to the Dickensian nightmare.

Since the collapse of the global banking system in 2008 and the universal implementation of austerity measures aimed at making the working class pay for the folly of the financial elite, this is a scenario that day by day becomes ever more likely, as in Greece. The return of this scenario will take place under even more brutal conditions than those of a Victorian capitalism still able to offer certain social concessions.

In the UK, pensions and health care are already under sustained attack, education has taken a hit with the tripling of university fees and everywhere unemployment is on the rise. The dark days of the nineteenth century beckon.

The oldest surviving film featuring a Charles Dickens character has been discovered, in the year of the 200th anniversary of the author’s birth: here.

Britain: ‘No return to Poor Law!’ –now is the time to rise up says Ashton: here.

Poor Britons freezing

Tens of thousands of families are priced out of a warm home in winter because of spiralling energy costs and a lack of regulations to stop companies profiting from fuel debt, children’s charity Barnardo’s warned today: here.

Ken Livingstone pledged today to set up the capital’s first ever state-owned energy co-operative to tackle soaring fuel bills for Londoners.

British poetry and politics

This poetry video from Britain is called ‘A Cut Back’ by Carol Ann Duffy. It says about itself:

The Poet Laureate reads to Channel 4 News her poem “A Cut Back”, revealing her anger on the cutting of all government funding to the Poetry Book Society.

By Andy Croft in Britain:

21st Century Poetry: Round up

Monday 20 February 2012

In this paper last month, columnist John Pilger complained that British writers in the 21st century are “in thrall” to what he describes as a sociopathic zeitgeist.

“No Orwell warns that we do not need to live in a totalitarian society,” he wrote. “No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake proffers a vision.”

He quoted critic Terry Eagleton’s recent observation that “for almost the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet… prepared to question the foundations of the Western way of life.”

Pilger and Eagleton need to get out a bit more.

British poets have arguably never been more concerned to interrogate the foundations of the way we live than at present.

This does not mean of course that they write all the time about politics. But how often did Blake ever write about current affairs?

Not all Shelley’s poetry was about the poor.

A good place for comrades Pilger and Eagleton to start might be Tom Leonard‘s new CD Selected Poems (FairPley, £10).

Recorded live at the Scottish TUC last April as part of Glasgow’s May Day celebrations it includes 23 of his best-known poems, including Six o’clock News, Being A Human Being, Blair’s Britain, It’s Aw The Fault Of The Unions and the wonderfully blunt A Humanist, “The universal human is inclusive and absolute, there is no individual outside it./This sense of the universal human is the home of all those who have won through to become themselves./And much trouble in the world is caused by those who remain self-sequestered in their perceived province of the exclusive.”

The CD also includes five songs from Brecht‘s play Mother Courage And Her Children “translated” into Glaswegian Scots by Leonard.

As Mother Courage speaks in the voice of a working-class Scotswoman, the Thirty Years War becomes the war on terror: “Wi aw its dangers an stray bullets/this war drags on from day to day the war could last a hundred years yet yer common sojer willny win/Pure crap his food, his gear his rucksack the regiment docks hauf his pay/an though it might strike you a wonder/this war will never go away!”

If Leonard is not sufficiently “eminent” to appear on the intellectual radar of Pilger and Eagleton, presumably even they have heard of Carol Ann Duffy?

Her new collection The Bees (Picador, £14.99) is a beautiful, musical book which buzzes with eloquent anger and wisdom.

Her bees are mythological, biblical and literary, derived variously from Plato, Mandeville, Tolstoy and Shakespeare.

The “bronze buzz of a bee” represents poetry and prophecy, fertility and sweetness, natural order and unnatural disaster.

As Duffy writes in The Woman In The Moon, “what have you done, what have you done to the world?”

Since the book contains many of Duffy’s laureate poems, it is partly a record of the Blair years.

That means it is partly a book of poems about war, among them Politics, Passing Bells, Big Ask and Last Postwritten for the last surviving British soldiers to have served in the first world war – and The Falling Soldier, after Robert Capa‘s famous Spanish civil war photograph.

It’s also partly a book of elegies for English landscape and history, notably John Barleycorn, The English Elms, The Counties and The White Horses.

But above all it’s a book about environmental catastrophe.

The bee, which in Egyptian mythology was a link between the natural world and the dead, is now an emblem of ecological disaster: “Where the bee sucks,/neonicotinoid insecticide in a cowslip’s bell lie.” Poor old Atlas is “crouched on one knee in the dark/with the earth on his back… the billions there, his ears the last to hear/their language, music, gunfire, prayer.”

And this is Duffy’s take on the traditional Parliament Of Fowls: “The cormorant spoke: ‘Stinking seas/below ill winds. Nothing swims…’ The gull said: ‘Where coral was red, now white, dead/under stunned waters…’ The macaw squawked … Rain. Forest. Fire. Ash. Chainsaw. Cattle. Cocaine. Ash… and the albatross/telling of Arctic ice/as the cold, hard moon calved from the earth.”

A reaction to this is here.

Bill Moyers Interviews Rita Dove on the Power of Poetry (Video). Bill Moyers, Moyers & Co.: “Bill welcomes former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, who this very week received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama. Dove served two terms as Poet Laureate, the youngest and the first African American to be named to that prestigious position. Through an intimate conversation and select readings, Moyers and Dove explore American history, language, culture, and ideas”: here.