This video is about courtship and mating of the peregrine falcon couple on top of Charing Cross hospital in London, England.
Recorded 26 February 2015 at 4.15pm.
This video is about courtship and mating of the peregrine falcon couple on top of Charing Cross hospital in London, England.
Recorded 26 February 2015 at 4.15pm.
This video is about the Marx Memorial Library in London, England.
By Meirian Jump in England:
Workers’ library shows knowledge is power
Thursday 26th February 2015
THREE action-packed months as archivist at the Marx Memorial Library (MML) have sped past. One of the highlights was answering a knock on the door from an Argentinian whose great grandfather spoke at meetings of the London Patriotic Society on the same site in the 1870s.
The library is a very special place with a history rooted in Clerkenwell’s radical tradition. It was there, at 37a Clerkenwell Green, that the International Working Men’s Association met. It was also where Twentieth Century Press printed Marx and Engels’s classic works and where Lenin worked in exile 1902-3 — visitors can still see his office.
The library was founded in 1933, on the 50th anniversary of Marx’s death, by a group of British socialists and trade unionists. Ever since, it has collected, published and archived material on Marxism, the working-class movement and trade unionism, making it available through education programmes and facilitating publication and research projects.
Eighty years on, the library is imbued with the same proud history and sense of place. There is also a new energy about Marx House. With the twin goals of fulfilling its self-proclaimed role as a workers’ school and of reaching out to new audiences, the MML has a number of exciting projects underway.
Next month the library will open its doors for special twice-weekly tours of the building. This will be an opportunity for visitors to go “behind the scenes” with trained guides and view our displays, both old and new. The William Morris Hammersmith Socialist Society banner, embroidered by the Morris family and recently returned from display at the National Portrait Gallery, can be seen alongside a newly acquired series of dynamic Communist Party equality campaign posters from the early 1970s.
Every year trade unionists, workers, students, pensioners and activists gather at Clerkenwell Green for the May Day demonstrations. This year the MML and the Morning Star will jointly host an open day, inviting people into the library to view a display of photographs of May Day events throughout history.
Many of these evocative images, showing banner-waving, cap-wearing crowds from the 1940s and 1950s, originally appeared in the Daily Worker. This sense of history will, I hope, give context to the continued relevance of this festival of international solidarity.
Education has been at the core of the MML’s operation for decades. The library’s archives testify to the continuity and adaptability of its work in this field.
Syllabuses from the 1940s still resonate today, including those for classes on “women in industry,” examining unequal pay and childcare provision; and the “economics of capitalism,” highlighting the ever-evolving nature of capitalism and its propensity for crisis.
While courses on Marxist political economy were previously accessible through correspondence, students can now sign up to online courses on the same subject — see our website www.marx-memorial-library.org.uk for further details.
The unique archival collections at the library are being mobilised in new ways. Building on the success of exhibitions like the News International Wapping Dispute display, the library is delving into its archives, including the printers’ collection, and looking ahead. A team of volunteers are assisting in the cataloguing of previously unsorted collections, soon to be listed as part of the catalogue on our website.
Next year will see the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish civil war. Work is already underway to ensure that the library’s International Brigade archive is catalogued in full with digital images in time for a series of launch events. This forms part of a broader programme of digitisation taking place at the library with newly acquired reprographic equipment.
It was this archive — the Spanish collection — that first brought me to Marx House almost 10 years ago. My grandfather, Jimmy Jump, was an International Brigader. His experiences, and those of my grandmother Cayetana Lozano Diaz, who fled Spain as a refugee from the civil war, inspired me to study the Aid Spain movement as an undergraduate.
I sat at the back of the MML’s reading room leafing through Daily Worker reports on grassroots support for the Spanish Republic. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Meirian Jump is archivist and library development officer for the Marx Memorial Library. We need your support to continue with this ambitious programme of work. Donations can be made to the Marx Memorial Library’s Development Fund, here.
This video says about itself:
Graveyards of the Banks – I did it for the money. Book trailer
6 February 2015
Athens Publishers March 2015
Author Nyla Nox
Voice London Euro Nyla
Cover Art Potamus Studios
Music Frank Quickmix Hassas
Graveyards of the Banks by Nyla Nox
‘Graveyards of the Banks’ is a haunting trilogy about Nyla’s journey through the gothic maze of the Most Successful Bank in the Universe in London. A group of jobless humanities graduates abandon all hope and enter the Third Basement for a life on the graveyard shift, a toxic bubble of bitches and bullies where the Bank conducts human experiments to select the Fittest to Rule.
Author Nyla Nox worked on that night shift herself for seven years, treated by the Bank as the lowest of the low, hidden away in the Building Without A Name, right in the heart of one of the world’s most powerful institutions in the City of London. Her voice is still unheard, the story of her hidden tribe is still untold.
Volume 1: I did it for the money.
How does it feel when you spend night after night in an iron chair with no toilet breaks and fear of being fired at the end of your shift? Hundreds of bankers roam the notorious Seventh Floor of the Bank with its filthy kitchen and flea infested carpets, forced to fight each other for survival, deliberately kept in a state of anger and frustration by their superiors who are grooming them for ruthless leadership (and the big money). Their shouting resembles constant gunfire. Predators to a man, and Nyla is their prey. But almost all of them will fail.
How do you live, how do you love?
Can confident Peter, who kisses Nyla in Cobblemaker’s Lane, fulfill his dreams of leaving for a Better World? How far will shift leaders Claire and Ethan, who rule the graveyard with absolute power (no breaks, no backtalk – in fact, no talking at all – and only one ear phone in!) go to prove their supremacy? And what about the inscrutable bank-wide institution of S&I whose representative survey the Center on their elevated platform, forcing Nyla nightly to recite her mistakes in public before she is sent home without pay?
After a life time frittered away in the unprofitable humanities, Nyla needs the money. And as hope and dignity are stripped away, night after gruelling night, a mental fog descends on her. Is there even a world left outside the Most Successful Bank in the Universe?
And how can you find sleep in the day time while the Monsters are Arising?
Author Nyla Nox‘s new book, to be published on 6 March 2015, is called Graveyards of the Banks – I did it for the money. It is the first part of a trilogy. This first book ends with a cliffhanger. A new worker, called Vera, arrives at the bank. She will play a major, dramatic, role in the sequels. Which role exactly, we will only know when the sequels will be published.
This work of fiction (as a statement at the beginning of the book reminds readers) is based on the non-fictional reality of the author’s time working at a United States-owned bank in the City of London; a time which was at least as disastrous for her as the time of British poet Attila the Stockbroker when he had a job as a stockbroker’s clerk.
Nyla studied anthropology, but could not get work in that field. Her bank job is at the graphics department. She is not an official bank employee, but works through a sub-contracting scheme undermining workers’ rights. She had to declare she was not a trade union member; workers who joined unions were sacked immediately.
The ‘graveyards’ in the book’s title refer to the bank building in the book being next to a cemetery. And they refer to Nyla working with furniture arranged in cross-like shapes around her. They also refer to her bank work as a ‘graveyard’ for the hopes she and colleagues had when they studied humanities. They also refer to her working the ‘graveyard shift'; working from midnight-8am. Not good for one’s health; though some other bank workers have even worse work times, which may result in deaths. Nyla Nox did not work without pay; though some bank bosses advocate that. However, if she would get sick, she would get no money at all.
Late in the nineteenth century, another author, Robert Walser from Switzerland, also worked at a bank. Walser is seen as a major influence on Franz Kafka. If one compares Walser’s writing style to Nyla Nox, then the difference is obvious: mainly compact, short sentences in Graveyards of the Banks. Often long, complex sentences in Walser’s works. Walser sometimes has protagonists working at banks in his short stories, but bank work is not the main subject.
The content of Graveyards of the Banks is somewhat reminiscent of Kafka’s The Castle, in its descriptions of labyrinthine hierarchy and bureaucracy; though architecture and technology are 21st century. Hierarchical bureaucracy, reminiscent in some ways of fascism, the author writes; a brand of fascism without swastikas and SS uniforms. Nyla Nox also compares bank work conditions to Mordor, the land of evil in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. ‘They [the top level bureaucrats] were the 1%. We were the 99%’. But, at least in this first book, a 99% without an Occupy Wall Street or other movement to inspire them; most of the time, the oligarchy’s tactics to divide and rule the 99% work.
Lots of talk in the banks’ propaganda about the ‘new economy’, the brave new world where, because of the information technology revolution, there would be no more economic crises etc. etc. Clearly, the novel here describes ideas of some years ago. Echos of the time before the dot.com bubble burst.
The CEO of the bank is ‘Tom’ in New York City. The lower ranking employees never meet him. Like ‘Big Brother’ in George Orwell’s 1984, one might ask whether ‘Tom’ really exists, outside his propaganda e-mails to employees. Also somewhat reminiscent of 1984 in Graveyards of the Banks is Nyla’s love affair (is it a love affair?) with Peter. Like for Winston Smith in 1984 Julia is basically the only person with whom he can talk critically about their environment, Peter is basically the only person to whom Nyla can talk (mainly in the real graveyard just outside the bank) critically about their financial sector jobs.
Conclusion: a really interesting book not only for people interested in literature, or in London city, but also for people interested in how capitalism works. Not how it works as depicted in glossy public relations booklets like the ones Nyla worked at designing; but how it works in practice behind the scenes.
This novel is available here.
A crowdfunding campaign for the book is here.
Now, from literature to another art form: music; but roughly on the same subject.
It says about itself:
This clip was taken from the movie “Urgh A Music War“.
The song was written by a band member, “JC” Carroll, who himself then worked at a bank.
The Marco on the Bass blog writes about the song:
What made me a fan of the band as a young and impressionable suburban dwelling reggae and ska fanatic was The Members prophetic and iconic track ‘Offshore Banking Business’. My introduction to the song came during a screening of ‘Urgh – A Music War’ while I was at University in the early 80’s. My initial introduction to the band had been through their big U.S. hit ‘Working Girl’ which was a staple on MTV in 1982. Therefore I was unprepared for the brass and bass-driven skank of the song that featured singer Nicky Tesco toasting “a lesson in home economics.” The song was a searing condemnation of global financial corruption, based on Carroll’s working experience of merchant banking. Bahrain and the Bahamas banned it, the latter’s parliament calling the band “hop heads singing horse manure.” …
The song “Offshore Banking Business” was amazingly prophetic. Tell me about the genesis of this song from the music to the lyrics. It was quite a detailed look at a financial practice very few people were aware of until very recently. What was it like to work with Rico Rodriguez who recorded a fantastic solo for the song?
This video from the USA is called Cheney Charged With Bribery, Criminal Conspiracy. It says about itself:
2 December 2010
Nigerian officials said Thursday they will charge former US vice president Dick Cheney over a massive bribery scandal related to his time at the helm of oil services giant Halliburton.
Halliburton unit KBR pleaded guilty last year in the US to bribing Nigerian officials to the tune of 180 million dollars in return for six billion dollars worth of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) contracts in the oil hub Bonny Island.
Halliburton denied involvement in the offences dating back to 1995-2005, but a top company official and other staff were summoned by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency following raids last week on company offices in Lagos.
Prosecutor Godwin Obla said joint charges would be filed by Tuesday at a high court in the capital Abuja against Cheney, the former and current leadership of Halliburton, and the consortium they partnered with.
“As the CEO of Halliburton, he has the responsibility for acts that occurred during that period,” Obla told AFP, adding that Cheney would face conspiracy charges and an arrest warrent from Interpol would be sought.
A spokesman from the anti-graft agency, Femi Babafemi, confirmed the imminent charges, which follow an investigation into the construction of the LNG plant in southern Nigeria.
Companies in the TSKJ consortium involved in the plant included France’s Technip, Snamprogetti (formerly a subsidiary of a company owned by Italy’s Eni), Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), and Japan’s JGC.
KBR is a former subsidiary of Halliburton, where Cheney served as CEO before becoming vice president under George W. Bush following elections in 2000.
US authorities said last year that Halliburton and KBR had agreed to pay 177 million dollars to settle charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States.
KBR agreed to pay a further 402 million dollars to settle criminal charges brought by the US Justice Department.
In October, a Nigerian court charged a personal aide to ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo in a related probe, and earlier this week, Nigeria’s anti-corruption authorities summoned a top local official from Halliburton.
Authorities also raided Halliburton’s office in Lagos last week and detained 10 people — eight Nigerians and two expatriates — who have since been released, as investigations continue.
Officials seized documents during the raid.
Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers, but corruption remains deeply entrenched. Non-governmental organisations consistently rank the country as one of the world’s most corrupt.
Babafemi’s agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was established to probe corruption allegations and has carried out a series of high-profile prosecutions.
Cheney, 69, one of most powerful and controversial US vice presidents, who was a driving force behind Bush’s “war on terror,” has a long history of heart trouble and was last operated on in August.
By Solomon Hughes in Britain:
Bribes and prejudice
Friday 20th February 2015
Contrary to popular belief, the best place to start looking for corrupt crony capitalism is not the developing world but London, says Solomon Hughes
Ten years ago I broke a story in Britain about how Halliburton — the firm formerly run by US vice-president Dick Cheney — was funnelling millions in bribe money for African politicians through an office on West Green Road, a shabby street in Tottenham, north London.
Halliburton led a consortium of companies that wanted to win contracts building a liquid natural gas plant on Bonny Island in Nigeria.
Halliburton and co were willing to spend millions bribing Nigerian politicians to win the work.
Its agent for the bribes was a lawyer called Jeffrey Tesler who worked from a dusty storefront office next to a north London newsagent.
The Halliburton consortium used Tesler to pay $182 million of bribes to win the deal up to 2003.
It was an interesting story because it showed Cheney had run a major corporation involved in corruption.
When the case broke, Nigeria actually indicted Cheney over the bribes, but dropped its attempt to prosecute him when Halliburton paid a multimillion-dollar settlement.
I found out about it because a French judge, Renaud van Ruymbeke, was investigating the case — one of the firms in the consortium was French.
Halliburton used its British subsidiary to run the scheme and the bribes went through a British lawyer.
The British government actually subsidised Halliburton on the Bonny Island scheme by offering “export credit” insurance as an “export promotion.”
But British authorities did little to break the corruption.
Peter Mandelson, who was minister in charge of export promotion, had opposed rules which said firms backed by government “export credits” must reveal the names of their agents as an anti-bribery measure.
It was blindingly obvious that “agents” were used by British firms to bribe developing world politicians, but Mandelson did not want to cause companies any inconvenience.
Tesler was finally extradited from Britain to the US, where he was tried and imprisoned in 2012. Even when the scandal was exposed, Britain left it up to another country to prosecute.
The reason I am returning to the story is because the recently leaked HSBC files reveal the bent bank’s Swiss branch held Tesler’s accounts.
Not only that, but HSBC kept holding accounts for Tesler and his family years later.
Tesler paid some of the bribes in cash.
In one case a million dollars was left in a pilot’s briefcase in a Lagos hotel. Another time a car with half a million dollars was left outside another hotel.
How Tesler got such huge sums of untraceable cash was a bit of a mystery — one that now seems to be solved.
HSBC Switzerland happily handed out millions of dollars in notes without question. The bank was, quite simply, involved in organised crime on a massive scale.
So a future vice-president runs the US firm that runs a multimillion-dollar bribe scheme.
The bribe money runs through a bank run by a future British trade minister. Sometimes people talk about “crony capitalism” and “endemic corruption” and sleazy politics when they talk about Nigeria.
But if you want to find crony corrupt capitalism, the best place to start is London.
HSBC should face UK criminal charges, says former public prosecutor. Lord Ken Macdonald QC says HMRC’s decision not to prosecute bank over Swiss revelations was ‘seriously legally flawed’: here.
This video from Britain says about itself:
15 February 2003: The day the world said no to war
15 Feb 2012
15 February 2003 was the biggest protest in human history. In Britain there were two million on London’s streets. In Rome there were even more. Tens of millions of people in over 800 cities across the world said Not in My Name. We didn’t stop the war in Iraq but the protest that day has shaped the politics of a whole generation. Now a feature length film titled We Are Many is being made by Amir Amirani which will document a momentous day. This is the inspiring trailer for the film, which captures the spirit of that day – a spirit which has been shown time and again since, not least by the Arab Spring uprisings.
The We Are Many website is here.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Campaigns defy police pay plan
Friday 20th February 2015
It emerged earlier this month that Scotland Yard had informed a number of campaign groups that they must pay private firms to take on traffic management for planned demonstrations, saying the force intends to withdraw from the role due to budget cuts.
But yesterday, in a joint statement signed by various groups, campaigners rejected the plans, declaring: “We believe any demand to pay to be able to demonstrate constitutes an unacceptable restriction on the right to protest.
“We reject proposals that protest organisers should have to pay private companies to plan or implement traffic management. We will therefore continue to organise and support public protests in the same manner that we have in the past, without paying for traffic management.”
Stop the War vice-chairman Chris Nineham said: “Before the historic two-million-person march against the Iraq war in 2003, the police told us we couldn’t go to Hyde Park because we would damage the grass. Movements like ours must continue to refuse these attempts to restrict protests. Protest is an essential part of democratic politics.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that while she recognised the pressures on police due to budget cuts, “it would be wrong to put the costs of traffic management onto march organisers as this is a necessary requirement for a safe, well-organised protest.”
“Of course organisers have a duty to provide proper stewarding of their events, but traffic management is not something that we would ever expect to handle by using volunteers,” she said.
By Peter Frost in Britain:
The Suffragette in the airship
Monday 16th February 2015
DURING the struggle to win votes for women in Britain in the first couple of decades of the 20th century, Suffragettes became masters of the art of gaining media attention with elaborate and imaginative actions.
One of the most audacious examples of this was an airship flown over London on this day in 1909 by Muriel Matters. Matters was a master in imaginative publicity for her cause.
She was born in Australia, coming to Britain in 1905, aged 28. She was a professional pianist, elocutionist and actress before coming to England, where she also became a talented journalist.
The WFL had been established in 1907 when Matters and some other leading members of the WSPU began to question the leadership of Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst.
The Pankhursts became unpopular with some Suffragettes by making decisions without consulting members and they challenged those who did not accept their leadership to leave the WSPU and to form an organisation of their own.
Seventy leading members left to form the WFL. Like the WSPU, the WFL was a militant organisation that was willing the break the law.
Members of the WFL however were generally non-violent and disagreed with the WSPU campaign of vandalism and arson against private and commercial property. Despite this over 100 WFL members were still sent to prison.
The WFL soon had over 4,000 members and it had its own newspaper, The Vote.
Matters was in charge of another publicity first — a horse-drawn recruiting caravan that toured the country.
Most WFL members were pacifists and during World War I they refused to become involved in the British army’s recruitment drive or to call off the votes for women campaign while the war was on.
WFL members supported the Women’s Peace Crusade for a negotiated peace.
Matters first came to prominence by chaining herself to a grille in the Ladies’ Gallery of the House of Commons.
While the authorities sent for a blacksmith to cut her free she made a speech. It was almost certainly the first speech ever made by a woman in the House of Commons.
When she learned that King Edward VII was to lead a public procession to officially open Parliament on February 16 1909 she knew this was an occasion not to be missed.
What was needed was something that would seize the headlines for the female emancipation.
Matters was not only a Suffragette, she was also a great socialist and counted among her circle of left-wing friends people such as Sylvia Pankhurst, George Bernard Shaw and the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin.
Another socialist friend and a keen supporter of the Suffragette cause was Henry Spencer. It was not, however, Spencer’s politics that caught her attention. It was his most unusual hobby.
Spencer had built his own airship and flew the 80-foot hydrogen-filled dirigible from a small field near the Welsh Harp Lake in Hendon, north of London.
The lake is still there, beside the North Circular road, and the flying field became Hendon aerodrome and is now the RAF Museum.
Matters explained her plan to the bold aeronaut. They would load his airship, suitably painted with suffrage slogans, with a hundredweight of pamphlets and rain them down over the king’s procession.
I’ll let Matters take up the story as she did in a 1939 interview with the BBC.
“That morning I went to Hendon and met Mr Henry Spencer who had his airship all ready near the Welsh Harp.
“It was quite a little airship, 88 feet long, and written in large letters on the gas bag were three words: Votes for women.
“Below this was suspended an extremely fragile rigging carrying the engine and a basket, like those used for balloons.
“We loaded up about a hundredweight of leaflets, then I climbed into the basket. Mr Spencer joined me and we rose into the air.”
The airship, despite the weight of two people and all that propaganda, climbed to an altitude of 3,500 feet before levelling off.
“It was very cold,” Matters said, “but I got some exercise throwing the leaflets overboard.”
She went on to describe how Spencer would climb out of the basket and clamber like a spider across the framework to make adjustments to the engine.
“Suddenly I realised that if he fell off, I hadn’t the first idea how to manoeuvre the airship.” she said.
“Not that I was terribly bothered about that. I was too busy making a trail of leaflets across London.”
With the airship emblazoned with “Votes for Women” on one side and “Women’s Freedom League” on the other she scattered 56lb of handbills onto the streets and houses below.
Edith How-Martyn and Elsie Craig, two leading members of the Women’s Freedom League, followed the airship in a car.
Unfortunately, the elements conspired against the Suffragette cause. The airship’s feeble motor was not enough to overcome the strong winds that blew it off course.
The airship never made it to the Palace of Westminster but drifted across London, passing over Wormwood Scrubs, Kensington, Tooting and eventually crash-landing — after a trip lasting an hour-and-a-half — in the upper branches of a tree in Coulsdon, Surrey.
Despite failing to fly over the king and his procession, Matters considered the aerial adventure a great success.
“The flight achieved all we wanted,” she said. “It got our movement a great deal of publicity, as you can imagine. In those days, the sight of an airship was enough to make people run for miles.”
Certainly the unique flight made headlines all across Britain and the world.
After her aerial adventure, Matters continued with her political life as an active Suffragette lecturing all over the world. She was an active campaigner against the first world war and stood as the Labour Party candidate for Hastings in the general election of 1924.
She went on to study in Barcelona under Maria Montessori, the radical Italian educationalist, returning to work at Sylvia Pankhurst’s school in Bow, east London.
Matters, the Suffragette in the airship, died in 1969 aged 92.
You can hear Muriel Matters telling her own story in her 1939 BBC radio interview.