Archive for the ‘repression’ Tag

Wal-Mart threatens union with injunction over website

Wal-Mart threatens union with injunction over website

Retail giant Wal-Mart Canada has filed for a court injunction against a workers’ rights website over alleged trademark infringement, but the union operating the site says it is simply an attempt to thwart organizing efforts and stifle expression.

“This injunction request is an over the top assault on freedom of speech and on our ability to effectively communicate with Walmart workers,” said a statement from Wayne Hanley, national president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada union.

The retail corporation filed the injunction with the Quebec Superior Court earlier this month in regards to the name, designs, slogans and images used on a UFCW website called walmartworkerscanada.ca.

“They recently revamped their site and in doing so we believe they have infringed on the Wal-Mart trademark,” said Andrew Pelletier, director of vice-corporate affairs for Wal-Mart Canada.

Specific complaints include phrases such as “Walmart Workers Canada” and “Union for Walmart Workers,” and photographs of people wearing blue vests – a uniform of Wal-Mart employees.

The injunction also seeks to stop the use of the website’s slogan “Get respect, live better,” which the corporation says plays on their new slogan “Save money, live better.”

Wal-Mart Canada is simply trying to protect its brand, Pelletier said, and denied it is attempting to thwart free speech.

“We are big advocates of free speech and open communications from the way we operate internally to the way we operate externally,” he said.

But the union strongly disagrees and launched a public awareness campaign this week in response to the injunction.

The Hippy, Hippy Shakedown: Big Green Gathering cancelled by police

Schnews reports:

The Big Green Gathering, a fixture in the alternative calendar, was due to return after two years this week. 15–20,000 people were expected to turn up on Wednesday (29th) to the site near Cheddar, Somerset, for Europe’s largest green event – a five-day festival promoting sustainability and renewable energy, with everything from allotments to alternative media. Hundreds of staff and volunteers are already on site, and its cancellation comes just days before gates were due to open. Organisers, most of whom work for nothing, are gutted. One told SchNEWS “We are so disappointed not to be having this year’s gathering – it means so much to so many people”.

A last-minute injunction by Mendip District Council, supported by Avon and Somerset Police, put the ki-bosh on the entire event – citing the potential for ‘crime and disorder’ and safety concerns. This was despite the fact that the festival had actually been granted a licence on the 30th of June. According to Avon and Somerset police’s website “[We] went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure this event took place.” This is of course utter bollocks.

The injunction was due to be heard in the High Court in London on Monday (27th). However, before that could happen the BGG organisers surrendered the festival licence on Sunday morning. As soon as this was done a police commander at the meeting was overheard saying into his radio “Operation Fortress is go”. Police have already set up roadblocks and promised to turn festival-goers back. Chief Inspector Paul Richards, festival liaison, later confirmed to one of the festival organisers that “This is political”, adding that the decision had been made over his head at county level. One of SchNEWS’ sources on site said that the police were frank about the fact that the closure had been planned for two weeks. “This was a blatant act of political sabotage – the Big Green Gathering is now completely bankrupt, they knew that we were going to be closed down and yet they carried on allowing us to spend money hand over fist on infrastructure”.

Kent Police report into Kingsnorth protest policing

Kent Police have published a report into the policing of the climate camp last year near Kingsnorth power station.

The full report can be found here, with more bizarre acronyms than one could shake a stick at (should you want to; young people get up to the strangest things nowadays.) The report essentially can be summed up as “EON kept running and we didn’t wallop too many people. Go us!”

The report does, however, concede that the use of stop and search powers during the camp was “both disproportionate and counter-productive.”

It has also made me feel some form of empathy with the police, labouring as they do under a burden of jargon that would make the typical Daily Mail reader spontaneously implode. Such as the following:

From the outset this operation was resourced bottom up from an established resource baseline defined by a judgement made in the planning unit not based upon CMM identified threat and risk defining the tactical challenges for mitigation (top down.)

No wonder they’re angry all the time.

Woman ‘held for filming officers’

Woman ‘held for filming officers’

A woman is seeking a judicial review after she was allegedly detained and handcuffed by police who tried to get her mobile phone after she filmed them.

Gemma Atkinson said police stopped her boyfriend Fred Grace at Aldgate East station on suspicion of carrying drugs.

As she filmed the incident in March in east London an officer asked her to stop, citing anti-terror laws. Officers tried to take the phone, she claims.

The Metropolitan Police said it had received a complaint.

Ms Atkinson, 27, said police found no drugs on her boyfriend during the search on 25 March, but then turned their attention to her.

Ms Atkinson said: “I was still filming when a man [a plainclothes officer] came to me and told me that it was illegal under the Terrorism Act to film police officers.

“I put the phone in my pocket so he couldn’t get to it, he was asking for me to hand it over which I refused to do.

“So then he got other officers to come and hold both my arms then come at me to try and get my phone out of my pocket.

“I was pushed into this alcove in the station and I was yanked up and down for quite a while before I was handcuffed,” she said.

The Met’s attack on photographers

The Met’s attack on photographers

Today the Metropolitan police service (MPS) issued advice to the public and the media on photography in public places. It details the Met’s interpretation of anti-terrorism legislation, and how these laws should be used against photographers. Professional photographers such as myself view it as part of an ongoing campaign to create a hostile environment for photography in the public sphere.

The advice covers section 44, section 43 and section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000 (58a is more commonly known as section 76). On sections 44 and 43, the MPS say that “officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched”.

Hickman & Rose’s Anna Mazzola argues this advice is highly questionable as it “does not take into account the fact that such images may be protected journalistic material – for example, special procedure material.”

Did the MPS seek legal guidance before they distributed this “advice”? Because rather than clarifying the Met’s position, it looks set to cause yet more confusion. As Mazzola says: “If the police truly want to convince journalists that they are committed to allowing freedom of expression and to enabling members of the press to do their jobs, then they should engage with these issues rather than issuing guidance which is likely to hamper them.”

Met’s G20 plan was ‘inadequate’

Met’s G20 plan was ‘inadequate’

A watchdog has said the Metropolitan Police’s planning for the London G20 protests in April was inadequate.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said the force had responded well to some of the challenges posed by the world summit.

But it said the force had not planned for the peaceful but highly disruptive Climate Camp in the City of London.

One man died after the London protests and investigators are looking at other formal complaints about police actions.

In his wide-ranging report, the inspector of constabulary Denis O’Connor said police tactics had been far too focused on tackling violence, such as the sporadic clashes outside the Bank of England, rather than facilitating peaceful protests during other parts of the day.

Pathologist in Ian Tomlinson G20 case suspended

Pathologist in Ian Tomlinson G20 case suspended

The Home Office pathologist who ruled that Ian Tomlinson died of natural causes at the G20 protests has been suspended pending investigations into his professional conduct.

Freddy Patel, who conducted the first post-mortem examination on the newspaper vendor from east London and concluded he died of a heart attack, has been removed from the government
register of accredited forensic pathologists
amid concern as to whether he has breached regulations.

A second post-mortem by another pathologist found Mr Tomlinson died from internal bleeding in the stomach.

Video showed he had been struck with a baton and knocked to the ground by a policeman on 1 April.

Dr Patel found injuries on Mr Tomlinson’s body but concluded he died of natural causes. The controversy over Dr Patel’s involvement in the case prompted a review of his work by the Pathology Delivery Board, which monitors the Home Office register for the National Police Improvement Agency.

Fit Watch campaigners describe how they were arrested and bundled to the ground

Fit Watch campaigners describe how they were arrested and bundled to the ground

“Have you seen the Blues Brothers over there?” the police surveillance officer said. “Look – filming everybody else.”

It was supposed to have been a routine day of protest for Val Swain and Emily Apple, but at 1.31pm on 8 August last year, moments after being spotted by the surveillance unit, they found this was to be no ordinary demonstration.

After challenging a police officer over his failure to display a badge number at a protest against the Kingsnorth power station in Kent, the two women were wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and placed in a police van. They were held in custody for four days, three of which were spent in HMP Bronzefield.

Swain, 43, was arrested for assault and obstruction and Apple,33, for obstruction. The charges were later dropped.

The arrests were caught on police surveillance footage obtained by the Guardian and will be submitted to the Independent Police Complaints Commission tomorrow in a complaint lodged by the solicitors firm Tuckers.

Swain, from Cardiff, and Apple, from Cornwall, believe they were unlawfully arrested and detained because they campaign for Fit Watch, a protest group opposed to police forward intelligence teams (Fits), the surveillance units that regularly monitor political activists and demonstrations and meetings.

For more on Fit Watch please visit their blog. A video of the arrests is available on the Guardian’s website, as is an article by Emily Apple from Fit Watch.

Man behind illegal blacklist snooped on workers for 30 years

Man behind illegal blacklist snooped on workers for 30 years

A private investigator who pleaded guilty today to running an unlawful blacklisting service on building workers has been snooping on trade unionists and political activists for more than 30 years, the Guardian can reveal.

Ian Kerr, of Stoke Heath, in the West Midlands, faces an unlimited fine or prison term after he admitted at Macclesfield magistrates court that he had illegally run a secret database of 3,200 workers, in breach of privacy laws, through an agency known as the Consulting Association.
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Building workers at the hearing applauded after the chairman of the bench, Adrian Long, passed the case up to the crown court because his sentencing powers under the Data Protection Act were “woefully inadequate”.

The prosecution was brought by the information commissioner, Richard Thomas, after it emerged that Kerr, 66, sold the data to businesses including Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert McAlpine, Laing O’Rourke and Costain, some of the UK’s largest construction companies.

Scientologists in France go on trial for fraud

Scientologists in France go on trial for fraud

PARIS (Reuters) – The Church of Scientology in France went on trial on Monday on charges of organised fraud.

Registered as a religion in the United States, with celebrity members such as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology enjoys no such legal protection in France and has faced repeated accusations of being a money-making cult.

The group’s Paris headquarters and bookshop are defendants in the case. If found guilty, they could be fined 5 million euros ($7 million) and ordered to halt their activities in France.

Seven leading French Scientology members are also in the dock. Some are charged with illegally practising as pharmacists and face up to 10 years in prison and hefty fines.

The case centres on a complaint made in 1998 by a woman who said she was enrolled into Scientology after members approached her in the street and persuaded her to do a personality test.

In the following months, she paid more than 21,000 euros for books, “purification packs” of vitamins, sauna sessions and an “e-meter” to measure her spiritual progress, she said.

Other complaints then surfaced. The five original plaintiffs — three of whom withdrew after reaching a financial settlement with the Church of Scientology — said they spent up to hundreds of thousands of euros on similar tests and cures.

They told investigators that Scientology members harassed them with phone calls and nightly visits to cajole them into paying their bills or taking out bank loans. The plaintiffs were described as “vulnerable” by psychological experts in the case.

BBC video report.