Archive for the ‘britain’ Tag

Jubilation as Quakers endorse same-sex marriage

Jubilation as Quakers endorse same-sex marriage

Britain’s Quakers have this morning agreed to carry out same-sex marriages on the same basis as marriages for opposite-sex couples. The decision came after an intense week of debate and reflection at the Quakers’ Yearly Meeting in York.

Emotions ran high in the discussions and several people of various views were visibly in tears. Many participants hugged each other and expressed delight as the decision was reached.

People working for equality and inclusion within other churches and faith groups will be encouraged by the decision.

Quakers are now likely to face a difficult time with the law, which currently offers same-sex couples only civil partnerships, in which no religious element is allowed.

The statement agreed by the Religious Society of Friends, as Quakers are otherwise known, comes 22 years after they began formal consideration of the issue.

The Quakers agreed this morning that they would “treat same-sex committed relationships in the same way as opposite-sex marriages, reaffirming our central insight that marriage is the Lord’s work and we are but witnesses”

They further declared that “the question of legal recognition by the state is secondary”.

Housing Activists Seize “Mr and Mrs Expenses MP” Home!

Housing Activists Seize “Mr and Mrs Expenses MP” Home!

A group of housing activists have entered and occupied the house of Anne and Alan Keene. Both Labour MPs they were known as “Mr and Mrs Expenses” two years before the MP spending scandal broke; Mrs Keen, a health minister recently admitted making an expense claim for private hospital treatment for a member of her staff. At the centre of their scandal was their double mortgage claim, where they illegally used Parliamentary expenses to pay interest on the mortgages of both their homes – one of which has now been occupied by outraged locals along with activists from all backgrounds and nationalities.

It was revealed several days ago that they faced having their Hounslow constituency home repossessed by the council after leaving it empty for over a year. The £385,000 three-bedroom terrace was being renovated whilst they stayed in their central home London near Parliament which they billed the public £137,679 for. After an alleged falling out with the builders the house was left empty, but at a local residents meeting a member of the public alerted activists to the location of the house, and 2 days ago it was occupied.

Even in a slump, strikes and occupations can get results

Even in a slump, strikes and occupations can get results

A revolution is taking place in industrial relations, the Confederation of British Industry claims, courtesy of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. A new “solidarity of employers and their employees” has taken hold, John Cridland, the CBI’s deputy director-general enthused this week, as managements and staff roll up their sleeves to take the “difficult decisions” needed to survive the slump.

If so, news of the new understanding clearly hasn’t reached Lincolnshire, where hundreds of engineering ­construction workers at the Lindsey oil refinery burned dismissal notices on Monday after they were sacked for going on strike – and thousands walked out in sympathy across the energy industry for the third time in five months.

The latest dispute began nearly a fortnight ago, when a subcontractor for Total, which owns the refinery, made 51 workers redundant while another contractor was hiring 61 staff on the same project. After hundreds stopped work in protest and unofficial strikes spread by text and flying pickets across Britain, 647 workers were summarily sacked on Thursday night.

By any reckoning, this was surely a provocative and self-defeating move. Not only had the same workforce already demonstrated its capacity to shut down the site – and significant sections of the wider industry – if it believed agreements were being undercut. But the layoffs were in direct violation of a deal to settle an earlier dispute. Perhaps the idea was finally to bring to heel what one manager described as an “unruly workforce”. But after point-blank refusals to negotiate until the workers had applied for their jobs back, the contractors blinked once again and were back in talks on Tuesday, now due to be resumed .

This was, after all, the same group of workers whose unofficial strikes stopped refineries and power stations all over the country in February after a Sicilian contractor shipped in a non-union, and apparently less skilled, Italian and Portuguese workforce. That first Lindsey walkout was portrayed as anti-foreigner because of “British jobs for British workers” placards held by some strikers, as to a lesser extent was another strike in May over a refusal to take on locally based labour at ExxonMobil’s South Hook terminal in Wales.

In fact, both walkouts were clearly aimed at halting the exploitation of EU directives and European court ­judgments to undermine the terms and conditions of all workers in the industry, British and migrant alike – which is why hundreds of Polish workers joined the stoppages. And, crucially, they were successful. In a profitable and highly contractualised industry, a tightly knit workforce has turned a fragmentation designed to benefit employers to their own advantage.

Now, as the unions prepare to ballot 30,000 workers to turn the wildcat walkouts into an official strike, they look set to prevail again – just as Grangemouth oil refinery workers and Shell tanker drivers did last year in battles over pension rights and pay. Success seems to be catching.

Burnopfield terror suspect had stash of deadly poison

Burnopfield terror suspect had stash of deadly poison

A SUSPECTED white supremacist appeared in court yesterday accused of holding a stash of the deadly poison ricin.

Ian Davison, 41, was brought before City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, in central London, to face three terrorist charges.

The former pub DJ was arrested with his son Nicky, 18, on June 2, by counter-terrorism detectives investigating an international group of white supremacists.

The court heard they claim to have found a quantity of ricin at his home in Myrtle Grove, Burnopfield, County Durham. Prosecutor Stuart Laidlaw said the same charge alleges Davison attempted to publish manuals about firearms and explosives on the internet to incite others to commit terrorism.

He said Davison faces a further two terrorist charges of possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist and a fourth charge of possessing ricin contrary to the Chemical Weapons Act.

White supremacist gunman James W. von Brunn had links to BNP

White supremacist gunman James W. von Brunn had links to BNP

The white supremacist gunman who shot dead a guard at the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. had attended meetings of the American Friends of the British National Party, it emerged today.

James W. von Brunn, an avowed anti-Semite, burst into the museum in the American capital and fired a rifle, killing Stephen Tyrone Johns, a security guard.

Todd Blodgett, a former White House aide who worked as an informant within white supremacist groups, said today that Mr von Brunn and his friend John de Nugent had attended meetings in Arlington County, Virginia, of the American Friends of the BNP. The organisation was set up to raise funds for the BNP but has since been disbanded.

Mr de Nugent wrote on his blog: “I have twice met Nick Griffin, the dynamic chairman of the British National Party.”

He added that he had “the gravest misgivings” about Mr Griffin allowing Jewish people to join the BNP, but said: “My hat is off to this fighting white man, Nick Griffin, for the incredible victories for White Britain which his hard work, rhino-thick skin against Jewsmedia criticism, and inspired leadership have made possible. It is not easy to be a leader; it is lonely, as they say, at the top. Hail the white leader, Nick Griffin!”

London’s Metropolitan Police accused of waterboarding suspects

London’s Metropolitan Police accused of waterboarding suspects

Metropolitan Police officers subjected suspects to waterboarding, according to allegations at the centre of a major anti-corruption inquiry, The Times has learnt.

The torture claims are part of a wide-ranging investigation which also includes accusations that officers fabricated evidence and stole suspects’ property. It has already led to the abandonment of a drug trial and the suspension of several police officers.

However, senior policing officials are most alarmed by the claim that officers in Enfield, North London, used the controversial CIA interrogation technique to simulate drowning. Scotland Yard is appointing a new borough commander in Enfield in a move that is being seen as an attempt by Sir Paul Stephenson, the Met Commissioner, to enforce a regime of “intrusive supervision”.

The waterboarding claims will fuel the debate about police conduct that has raged in the wake of hundreds of public complaints of brutality at the anti-G20 protests in April.

The part of the inquiry focusing on alleged police brutality has been taken over by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It is examining the conduct of six officers connected to drug raids in November in which four men and a woman were arrested at addresses in Enfield and Tottenham. Police said they found a large amount of cannabis and the suspects were charged with importation of a Class C drug. The case was abandoned four months later when the Crown Prosecution Service said it would not have been in the public interest to proceed. It is understood that the trial, by revealing the torture claims, would have compromised the criminal investigation into the six officers.

Andrew Brons: the genteel face of neo-fascism

Andrew Brons: the genteel face of neo-fascism

It was on Hitler’s birthday, deliberately chosen, that the National Socialist Movement was formed in Britain in the 1960s. It was the first political organisation of the far right that Andrew Brons, the newly-elected British National party MEP for Yorkshire and Humberside, was to join – but not the last.

The group that he signed up to as a teenager had been founded in honour of Hitler by the British fascist leader, the late Colin Jordan. No mention of this early political involvement features on the BNP’s website celebrating Brons’s victory. Instead, Brons is portrayed just as a “veteran British Nationalist”.

Brons, 61, comes from what might be described as the genteel wing of British neo-fascism. He lists William Cobbett, the radical journalist and author of Rural Rides, as his favourite historical person, the Pickwick Papers as his favourite book and Zelig as his favourite film. But his early associations with the far right were when it was at its most overtly racist and before it had started to try to present itself as just another political party.

The group he first joined included among its members people responsible for arson attacks on Jewish property and synagogues. According to the anti-fascist organisation Searchlight, which has been tracking his career for decades, Brons appears to have approved. In a letter to Jordan’s wife, Brons reported meeting an NSM member who “mentioned such activities as bombing synagogues”, to which Brons responded that “on this subject I have a dual view, in that I realise that he is well intentioned, I feel that our public image may suffer considerable damage as a result of these activities. I am however open to correction on this point.”

London Metropolitan University under occupation

Campaigners have occupied London Metropolitan University in protest at plans for restructuring. The planned changes involve the sacking of large numbers of staff and closing of departments and facilities throughout the university.

The occupiers have released the following statement:

This is part of the campaign against London Metropolitan Universities plans to restructure. Read here for more

London’s biggest university- London Metropolitan University- is in the grips of a massive financial crisis threatening the entire future of the university.

1- The Government recently found that London Met had claimed that it had 7,000 more students than it actually did.

2- Every university receives an amount of money as funding PER STUDENT, so London Met had received millions of pounds too much.

3- Not only has London met been ordered to pay back the money (which it doesn’t have), but the budget has also been cut by £15 million a year.

4- To attempt to recover the money, London Met plans to impose devastating cuts- ONE IN FOUR members of staff are being made redundant, ALL BUT TWO libraries are to be closed (one City, one North), the Nursery will be closed, and many modules and courses are being closed.

5- In short, those who are not responsible for the financial problems are being punished for them- the staff and students.

6- The university is being run as a business, yet if it is a business then we the students are the customers, so why have the management not informed us and ACTIVELY LIED to us about the crisis and the cuts?

7- By losing OVER HALF OF OUR STAFF on some courses, we will not be able to continue receiving the standard of education we have been. The University cannot survive these cuts.

8- There is good news- YOU can help save the university. Everyone can. Any student or member of staff willing to get up and do something about this can stand up and fight.

9- It is a lot easier to help than you think [see below]. Let those who have already done so much for the campaign and have already started turning things around be your example.

10- We have received enormous media coverage and over 50 MPs have expressed deep concern at our situation.

A demonstration has been called by the UCU and UNISON trade unions in support of the occupation. More information and updates can be found at http://savelondonmetuni.blogspot.com/

Defeated Visteon offers former workers improved redundancy package

Defeated Visteon offers former workers improved redundancy package

After more than 30 days of protests across the country, the automotive parts company Visteon has finally cracked and offered its former workers what they deem to be an adequate redundancy package.

Nearly 600 jobs were lost at Visteon’s plants in Enfield, Belfast and Basildon just over a month ago, with staff being given less than an hour’s notice. The workers say they were given guarantees on pay and conditions when the company was spun out of Ford nine years ago.

Today Unite said a renewed deal, which goes beyond the Ford redundancy terms, had been accepted unanimously by the union’s convenors and shop stewards. The proposed settlement deal will see a considerable lift in the redundancy package offered to workers with long service and who previously worked for Ford.

Dissidents hope that British are more stupid than them

Dissidents hope that British are more stupid than them

People have been watching closely the way Sinn Fein has responded to the appalling murderous attack at Massereene Barracks on Saturday night.

Some people have been trying mischievously, just as the dissidents want, to insert a wedge between Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson on the one hand and between Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein assembly members on the other, so far without success.

Perhaps more important for the success of politics here is how the British administration responds and again, so far, it looks as though they are not going to fall into the trap laid for them.

Some people have characterised the attack as ‘senseless’ and ‘pointless’. Far from it.

The attack was carefully timed just before Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson were due to fly to Washington for a series of high-profile meetings including one with President Obama.

The killings were designed to accomplish a number of objectives – to embarrass Sinn Fein; to provoke a disproportionate response from the British; to cause division between Sinn Fein and the DUP and make it less likely that policing and justice will be devolved to northern politicians.