Extreme right vandalism of Karl Marx’ London grave

This video is called Mike Leigh / High Hopes (1988) Highgate Cemetery Karl Marx scene.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Why Marx is coming under attack

IT IS not merely socialists who are appalled by the second attack on Karl Marx’s Highgate Cemetery tomb in a fortnight. No-one who respects Britain’s rich heritage can be indifferent to what amounts to an attack on our history through the defacement of a monument to one of London’s most famous adoptive residents; besides which the desecration of a graveyard always has a distasteful aspect.

The attack was nonetheless political, the crude and counterfactual insults daubed on the tomb in paint making it clear that in the eyes of the perpetrators this was an anti-communist act.

It cannot be separated from wider political trends — most clearly the rise of an emboldened far right.

As ever, fascists combine violence and hatred towards ethnic minorities with a bitter hostility to organised labour and the socialist left.

Before Highgate was targeted we had already seen incidents where far-right thugs — sometimes donning yellow vests in a parody of the huge and popular protests in France, which are not dominated by the right — tried to start fights with members of the RMT union on picket lines. Pastor Niemoller’s famous poem on nazi Germany, First They Came for the Communists, identified the order in which Hitler’s machinery of repression selected its victims: first the communists, then the trade unionists, then the Jews.

This is not to say Britain is on the brink of fascism. The far right here is still weaker than in many European countries, and the socialist left, buoyed by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader and the subsequent growth of his party to become the largest in western Europe, is stronger and more confident.

But the causes of disgraceful acts of vandalism like this need to be exposed. The far right’s rise has been facilitated and encouraged by the Conservative-led governments since 2010 and their “hostile environment” that has seen black British citizens wrongly deported and a horrific, sustained rise in racist hate crimes (as well as in hate crimes against disabled and LGBT people — also, we may remember, groups targeted for extermination by the nazis).

The threat to our corrupt and parasitic elite posed by the democratic socialist politics of Corbynism has led to an unending barrage of anti-socialist propaganda from the media. A normalised Islamophobia (with the online hate peddled by the likes of “Tommy Robinson” blurring seamlessly into incendiary jibes at Muslim women from Establishment insiders like Boris Johnson) is then used to smear left-wing politicians such as Corbyn, who are constantly and baselessly accused of “supporting terrorism” because of their opposition to US and British imperialism. This has consequences: the Finsbury Park mosque murderer Darren Osborne admitted in court he had planned to kill Corbyn.

There has been a breakdown in respect for open debate and democratic norms, with socialists vilified in the crudest terms and violence against them increasingly advocated. At the same time our government and media have been complicit in the rewriting of history and rehabilitation of nazism taking place in other European countries such as Ukraine.

When fascists can be greeted with applause as respectable allies in the Scottish parliament and British troops can be dispatched to train Kiev’s military when it openly deploys neonazi paramilitaries in its war with the Donbass, a warped and weaponised account of the past which whitewashes fascism gains currency here too.

At the opening of the Reichstag in 1932 Communist deputy Clara Zetkin declared: “The battle must be fought to defeat fascism, which intends to destroy with blood and iron all class expressions of the workers.” She called on the working class to mobilise the strength anchored in its political, trade union and cultural organisations. That task remains as relevant today as it was then.

The Marx Grave Trust will be working with Highgate Cemetery to restore the monument and decide on how best to protect it in future. Our collective response must be a political challenge to the poison that feeds such vandalism, with a huge turnout for the anti-racist demonstrations being organised by Stand Up to Racism for March 16 and a mobilisation for the Marx Oration in Highgate the day after that.

The attack on Marx’s grave is, therefore, a significant warning of the growing danger to the working class across Europe and internationally from far-right forces that have been deliberately cultivated by the bourgeoisie and given succour by the mass media. Just as the Nazis did when they were in power in Germany, fascist attacks on left-wing monuments and graves are taking place across Europe. In Spain alone during recent weeks, the tomb of Dolores Ibárruri, the … leader of the Communist Party during the civil war, Pablo Iglesias, founder of the Socialist Party, and a plaque to honour the International Brigades have all been targeted. In recent months, swastikas have been daubed on Jewish gravestones and a Holocaust memorial near Strasbourg, France. Similar desecrations have occurred in Lithuania, Poland, Greece, Ukraine and Manchester, England. Such attacks are accompanied by a rising wave of direct physical assaults on immigrants and left-wing figures, including last year’s attack on British rail union leader Steve Hedley and his partner, who was hospitalised.: here.

Participants at today's rally in Highgate cemetery

By Peter Lazenby in London, England:

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Highgate sees emergency rally in defence of Marx’s grave after second attack

A SECOND attack on the family grave of Karl Marx in London sparked outrage today as more than 100 rallied at his monument in Highgate Cemetery.

The latest attack on Saturday saw the words “Doctrine of Hate” and “Architect of Genocide” daubed in red paint on the monument.

In an earlier attack, the vandals daubed a nazi swastika on the grave as well.

On February 4 the marble plaque on the tombstone was damaged by an assailant who battered it with a hammer.

Scores of people held a vigil at the graveside, with London’s Kurdish-Turkish community pledging their determination to protect the grave — a Grade I listed monument.

There were also representatives from the Young Communist League and from Marx Memorial Library chairman Alex Gordon on behalf of the Marx Grave Trust that owns the monument.

Mr Gordon told the Morning Star: “There were about 150 people present, not only from the Kurdish community but also others who came to pay their respects at the desecration of the Marx family grave. There were people from Chinese, Indian and other communities there.”

The speaker from the Kurdish community Arif Bektas expressed the anger of his community at the desecration and pledged to devise a system of security to prevent further attacks on the monument.

Daoud Hamdani spoke on behalf of the Young Communist League.

Mr Gordon said: “He expressed the complete anger of the Young Communist League at the attack, but also the confidence of the YCL that we have to stamp out fascism for ever.”

The Marx grave and monument is visited every year by thousands of people.

Maxwell Blowfield, who works as a press officer with the British Museum, said he was “shocked” at the attack when he visited Highgate Cemetery on Saturday morning.

“[Marx’s tomb] is a highlight of the cemetery,” he said.

“It’s a shame. The red paint will disappear, I assume, but to see that kind of level of damage and to see it happen twice, it’s not good.

“I am just surprised that somebody in 2019 feels they need to do something like that.”

Police said the attacks had been reported, but there have been no arrests.

Highgate Cemetery branded the latest attack, “Senseless. Stupid. Ignorant.” But more than that it is a politically-motivated crime, perpetrated by right-wing dregs who view Marx with such fear and hatred that even his grave is considered a target. The last major attack occurred in the 1970s when a pipe bomb damaged the face of the bust, although a separate attempt to blow up the entire monument failed. Smaller acts of vandalism including graffiti and the daubing of swastikas have also taken place in recent decades. The Highgate Cemetery outrage is only the latest example of how far-right forces have been whipped-up by an endless torrent of official anti-communist propaganda. A report on the attack in the far-right Breitbart News, for example, evoked a stream of filthy fascistic replies from both the US and Britain: here.


London Grenfell disaster survivors march for justice

The front of the monthly London, England Silent Walk for Grenfell on Thursday evening – supported by large numbers of firefighters and students from Devon

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Grenfell must never happen again’ – 500-strong Silent Walk

OVER 500 residents of north Kensington taking part in the 20th Silent Walk for Grenfell were joined by a large delegation of firefighters from the FBU Southeast region, from Oxford, and Hereford and south Wales.

A minibus with 15 students from Paignton in Devon travelled for over six hours determined to show their support. The students, all studying youth work at South Devon College were all moved by the Grenfell inferno and the loss of so many young lives.

Student Luke Ford told News Line: ‘I’m angry that nothing has been done by the government to stop tragedies like this happening again. Whole families have died and we felt we must come here to give them our support.

‘Our area is one of the most deprived in the country with a lot of our youth clubs cut.

‘It’s like north Kensington where there are hundreds of holiday homes empty most of the year and the cost of housing is high. With so many empty properties local businesses can’t survive leading to more unemployment.’

A large number of local youth turned out for the walk. Riana Salman, who came with two friends said: ‘I lost a number of friends and am here because we must not forget those who passed away.’

Youseff, a lecturer from Birmingham University said: ‘It’s important to show the connection Grenfell has made around the country and next march will have more students from Birmingham.’ A solidarity Silent walk was also held in Milton Keynes last night.

Meanwhile, ahead of an extremely provocatively titled Channel 4 Dispatches programme, ‘Grenfell: Did the Fire Brigade Fail?’, to be aired on Monday, Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: ‘Firefighters risked their lives that night to save others, and were placed in an utterly impossible situation because of the failure of the building.

‘Before any firefighter arrived, before any 999 calls were made, the building was a potential death trap. The building was wrapped in flammable cladding which caused the fire to spread at an unprecedented, and rapid rate.

‘We have longstanding criticisms of fire and rescue policy in the UK, and have in the past made many criticisms of individual fire and rescue services, including the London Fire Brigade.

‘The FBU has made urgent recommendations for a review of the stay-put policy, but we are clear that is a national matter which government should initiate. The government has been too slow to respond, both in terms of unsafe building materials and reviewing national fire and rescue policy.’

Monday, February 18, 2019. Channel 4 Grenfell documentary slammed for blaming firefighters for deaths: here.

London Grenfell Tower cladding disaster, new study

This 21 May 2018 video from London, England says about itself:

A public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster has opened with poignant personal tributes to victims of the fire.

Bereaved family and friends gathered for the first day of the independent investigation, almost a year after fire swept through the west London block on June 14 last year. It began with 72 seconds of silence – one second for each of those who lost their lives.

By Alice Summers in Britain:

New study reveals more details on deadly flammable cladding used on Grenfell Tower

14 February 2019

Flammable cladding similar to the material which had covered Grenfell Tower is still being widely used across the UK. The combustible cladding used on Grenfell was a significant factor in allowing the rapid spread of a small fire and creating toxic smoke with deadly consequences on June 14, 2017.

A new study led by Professor Richard Hull, who is Professor of Chemistry and Fire Science at the University of Central Lancashire, is a step forward in revealing how deadly cladding materials of this type really are. The research team included Professor Anna Stec, whose study last year revealed that large concentrations of harmful and potentially carcinogenic toxins were and are present in the dust and soil around Grenfell Tower.

Professor Hull’s study demonstrates that the specific combination of building materials used at Grenfell had resulted in the highest flammability and smoke toxicity of any products currently available.

According to the research, published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, the polyethylene-filled aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding and polyisocyanurate (PIR) insulation used on the Tower interact in a way that makes the materials far more dangerous together than when they are burnt separately.

Professor Hull’s team tested the flammability of ACM panels and PIR foam insulation, which are both widely used across the UK. The cladding caught fire easily, with the heat generated quickly melting the polyethylene contained within it and sending molten drops onto the PIR insulation, which ignited this material in turn. According to the study, this effect is likely to have substantially aided the rapid spread of fire at Grenfell.

PIR insulation is so toxic that burning just 1kg of this material is enough to fill a 50m3 room with an “incapacitating and ultimately lethal” combination of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide gas, according to the study. Countless kilograms of this material coated the entirety of Grenfell Tower.

The research notes that in many cases smoke from the burning façade entered the tower block before the fire itself had penetrated inside the building, meaning that the smoke toxicity of these materials was a key factor in the tragic and entirely avoidable deaths of 72 people at Grenfell.

The study showed that ACM cladding is 55 times more flammable than the least flammable panels, with the PIR insulation used behind it at Grenfell Tower giving off smoke that was 15 times more toxic than the less flammable alternatives.

The research also highlighted the dangers of High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) materials, a popular alternative to the ACM cladding used at Grenfell Tower. HPL materials have already been associated with fire fatalities. Window panels using this material were installed at Lakanal House, a tower block in south London where six residents lost their lives in a fire in 2009 and at least another 20 were injured.

HPL cladding releases heat 25 times faster and burns 115 times hotter than non-combustible products, the study found.

While there are currently no official figures available for the number of buildings clad in HPL, the product is thought to be three times as popular as ACM cladding but more commonly used on low-rise buildings, according to online housing publication, Inside Housing.

Inside Housing revealed last year that HPL cladding had never passed a large-scale fire safety test. According to official government guidance, combustible cladding must be subject to a large-scale test, known as a British Standard (BS) 8414 test, before being used.

Yet according to a spokesperson for the Building Research Establishment—the privatised former government national building research laboratory and the only UK organisation that conducts BS 8414 tests—“[n]one of the cladding systems that have passed a BS 8414 test include a high-pressure laminate.” But at least one system using HPL cladding has failed a BS 8414 test, insulation company Kingspan revealed.

However, the very minimal government fire-safety programmes introduced since the Grenfell inferno have done nothing to counter the risks posed by HPL cladding. The Building Safety Programme, established by the government in July 2017, has focussed exclusively on ACM cladding and only addressed high-rises above 18 metres.

Speaking to Inside Housing, Professor Hull stated, “I think that HPL has been neglected, and shouldn’t have been neglected.

“One would fear that because of all the attention that has gone to the ACM buildings [that] the next disaster is likely to involve HPL rather than ACM—because they haven’t had the fire risk assessments and so on.”

In fact, the scantest attention has been given by the authorities to the real and present danger of ACM cladding on many buildings. The latest figures compiled by the Building Safety Programme for the period up to December 31, 2018 showed that there are 437 high-rise residential buildings and publicly owned buildings in England over 18m in height with ACM cladding systems deemed unlikely to meet current Building Regulations Guidance.

But work to remove and replace dangerous ACM material had only been completed on 15 percent of these buildings, 18 months after the Grenfell fire.

This makes a mockery of the government’s claim to be addressing the problem and why it committed just £400 million for the removal and replacement of this cladding. Even if all the £400 million were spent tomorrow on removing existing ACM cladding this would be woefully inadequate in resolving this massive threat to public safety.

Last month, it was estimated that the cost of removing cladding on just five local authority-run tower blocks on the Chalcots estate in Camden, north west London, will cost almost £90 million. The government has only committed to paying £63.5 million of this amount, with a further £26.2 million having to be raised by the cash-strapped council.

How seriously the Conservative government and Labour Party run council are taking the safety of thousands of Chalcots residents is seen in the fact that the remedial work is not set to be finished until the summer of 2021—fully four years after the Grenfell fire.

A further indication of the ruling elite’s utter disregard for public safety was found in a Freedom of Information Request by Inside Housing, which revealed that the government had denied funding to 12 housing blocks clad in ACM because they “didn’t meet the application criteria.”

Three of these buildings were rejected because they were under the arbitrary 18 metre threshold used to define high-rise structures. One of these, a six-storey building, was a mere 64cm “too short.”

The Socialist Equality Party and Grenfell Fire Forum insist that those guilty of social murder at Grenfell Tower must be arrested and charged. We will continue to expose the inquiry and to campaign, along with local residents, to bring out the truth and establish justice for the victims of the Grenfell atrocity.

The Grenfell Fire Forum demands:

  • Justice for Grenfell means no cover-up and no inquiry whitewash!
  • Arrest the political and corporate criminals responsible!
  • Stop the scapegoating of firefighters!
  • Quality public housing is a social right!
  • For an emergency multi-billion pound programme of public works to build schools, hospitals, public housing and all the infrastructure required in the 21st century!

For further details visit the Grenfell Fire Forum Facebook page.

Walrus anatomy, video

This 30 January 2019 video, made in London, England says about itself:

What is more impressive than a walrus‘s tusks? | Natural History Museum

Walruses are known for their impressive tusks. But they have another feature that is equally impressive.

Richard Sabin, Principal Curator of Mammals at the Museum, explains.

London police’s dodgy ‘face recognition’ again

This June 2018 video from England says about itself:

“The police may be more likely to think you either did/didn’t commit a crime based on your skin tone versus the crime itself” says Brian Brackeen, CEO of Kairos, as MET Police test facial recognition technology in London.

By Ceren Sagir in Britain:

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Met Police using ‘rights-abusing’ facial recognition cameras in Romford

Human rights charity Liberty says the surveillance technology ‘is a threat to our privacy’ and ‘chills our freedom of expression’

THE Met Police is using “rights-abusing” live facial recognition cameras at Romford town centre in east London.

The surveillance system is one of the last two of 10 pilot deployments being used to test out the technology.

The force claimed it would distribute leaflets and put up posters to inform the public during the eight-hour trials today and tomorrow, but campaigners said many passers-by remained unaware.

Campaign group Liberty braved the cold weather to warn the public of the camera’s location from 10am to 6pm. Activists said the last time the force had used live facial recognition cameras in a previous deployment on London’s streets no-one they spoke to was aware it was happening.

The automatic software compares live footage of people’s faces to photos from a police database. Any possible matches are flashed up as an alert to officers, who then compare the faces and decide whether to stop someone.

Experience with facial recognition: Amazon facial recognition ‘recognizes’ women as men.

Limiting ourselves to London police: London police facial recognition software ‘recognizes’ 100% of innocent people as criminals. Err … maybe it is not as bad as 100%. British daily The Independent says it is ‘only’ 98% misidentifications. And a BBC report looks at this even more through rose-coloured glasses: ‘only’ 92% of innocent people ‘recognized’ as criminals.

Liberty said that the facial recognition cameras are “light years away” from CCTV technology.

A spokesperson said: “They create uniquely identifiable maps of our faces, more like a fingerprint than a photograph — and fingerprints are usually taken on arrest. This is happening to people as they go about their business.”

Liberty advocacy and policy officer Hannah Couchman said: “This intrusive surveillance technology has no place on our streets — it’s a threat to our privacy, it chills our freedom of expression and it’s discriminatory.”

The campaign group will be in Romford again tomorrow to warn people about the cameras and the risk to their rights.

The Met spent more than £200,000 on trialling the technology between August 2016 and July 2018, resulting in no arrests and only two people being stopped then released, with 110 people’s faces registered as potential “alerts” against police watchlists of wanted criminals.

London protest against Trump-British Conservative Venezuelan coup

This 29 January 2019 video from London, England says about itself:

UK Protests Sanctions On Venezuela

A protest was held outside Downing Street, UK Prime Minister Theresa May‘s residence, denouncing the government’s support for the ongoing US-led coup efforts in Venezuela.

BOLTON MULLS TROOP DEPLOYMENT White House officials insist that “all options” ― including using the military― are on the table to remove Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power. And if national security adviser John Bolton’s notebook is to be believed, that could mean deploying “5,000 troops to Colombia.” [HuffPost]

PEACE campaigners warned a foreign attack on Venezuela would prompt a “bloody civil war” today as it appeared that the United States was preparing the ground for a military invasion with thousands of troops rumoured to be massing in neighbouring Colombia: here.