Category Archives: Events & Happenings

When times and locations collide

Radio ramblings: on Interference FM and the need for mass communications to sustain mass movements

Interference FM J18 flyer 1

In times like these – a post-truth world of alternative facts – having access to the tools of mass communication is essential; but then so it ever was, even in the pre-blog, pre-Twitter, pre-YouTube era (if you can imagine such a palaeolithic era).

In the late 1990s, a confluence of environmental activists, anarchists and socialists helped build a transnational anti-capitalist, ‘anti-globalisation [of the rich]’ movement, helped in no small part by energy, enthusiasm, tactical successes and growing public disquiet.

In the UK this growing movement necessitated (given the antipathy of the mainstream media) the creation of effective communication channels, both for internal discussion and to reach outside. In time these included things such as the SchNEWS weekly alternative news sheet, Squall magazine (for ‘sorted itinerants’), the monthly Earth First! Action Update and the EF! journal Do Or Die, each of which helped facilitate nationally (and even internationally) wider discourse between and amongst what were often localised campaigns and groups. As online technology and culture grew, so this movement also sequestered tools such as email discussion lists. Similarly, as video cameras became more of a mass market commodity, so too did this movement appropriate the trappings of television and film, either with wholly produced ‘video magazines’ (such as Undercurrents and iContact) or by providing activist-shot footage to the mainstream news programmes.

And then there was the trusty old radio. Of course, whilst the reception equipment for radio was ubiquitous (for all intents and purposes every single person in the land had at least one radio), the transmission side of things was firmly in the grip of those licensed by the state – big, fusty old ‘public’ bodies such as the BBC, or else avaricious commercial beasts locked into the current economic and social status quo. However, bar the legal niceties of radio broadcasting, in terms of the cash costs and complexity of technology set against potential audience reach and likelihood of getting away with it, radio – more specifically, illegal pirate radio – was a no-brainer.

So it was that in the mid- to late nineties a small group of people connected to both music pirates and anti-capitalist politics set about fusing these two worlds together, and providing the means for mass communication beyond of the boundaries of state control and commercial imperatives, to a political groundswell aiming at becoming a mass movement. It all came to a head in the lengthy preparations which built to the J18 ‘Carnival Against Capitalism’ (AKA ‘Global Street Party’ etc) in June 1999, of which one autonomous component was the ‘Interference FM’ pirate radio group.

There’s a decent summary of the J18 radio project and the setting up of Interference FM/Radio Interference, with links to various articles on the Pirate Radio Archive.

But anyway, a nice excuse to post these flyers.* Oh, and here’s a spread from The Big Issue magazine, under the groansome title of ‘MUSIC FArticle on Interference FM in The Big Issue #352 (1999)OR YOUR BUCCANEARS’:

» Article on Interference FM in The Big Issue #352 (1999)

Interference FM J18 flyer 2

  • The flyers were put together with torn-off bits of old paper, newspaper financial pages, the stickers from TDK D90 cassettes, and appropriated bits of Carlos Ezquerra artwork from his and Pat Mills‘ near future dystopian comic strip ‘Third World War’, which ran in Crisis from the late 80s to the early 90s. Oh, and look – EMAIL ADDRESS! MOBILE PHONE NUMBER!! REQUESTS FOR MINIDISKS!!!

2013 – unlucky for some

Well, for no reason in particular I’m going to have a crack at nailing at least one post a day in 2013. Why not, eh.

That said, not really got anything interesting to impart today. Eugene Byrne, however, has. Go check out his post on workhouses.

Personally I reckon that it’s high time the political right started calling for the return of the workhouse. I’ll write you the script:

First, you get some think-tank to source and publish “research” that shows that by late Victorian times, the parish workhouse wasn’t nearly as awful as Dickens portrayed it a generation earlier. Then some politicians wade in to start a “debate”. Workhouses would be more “fair” to the taxpayer as every able-bodied inmate would be obliged to work for their keep. You know, they might even ultimately be cost-neutral for the taxpayer as private companies would obviously want to pay for use of a pool of cheap labour. And the workhouse would provide them with food and accommodation so the national welfare bill would be reduced. Obviously there would be initial costs in building and running them, but this can be done very competitively by the private sector on PFI contracts[…]

Best wishes to you and yours; and here’s hoping enough of us make it through to the other end of this year, no matter how much shit these bastards sling our way.

Never forget our dead: Fred Hampton, RIP

Fred Hampton

Born, 30th August 1948

Murdered, 4th December 1969

Assassinated by the State.

PC Simon Harwood due to give evidence at inquest into Ian Tomlinson’s G20 death at 2pm

He’s in the room now, being shown the layout. Not such a tough man without his Action Man gear.

His TSG boss, Inspector Tim Williams, was giving evidence this morning. Harwood should be giving evidence from 2pm this afternoon.

Tomlinson Inquest – Day 6: PC Simon Harwood to give evidence

Today is the day PC Simon Harwood is due to give evidence for the first time at the Coroner’s Inquest into the death of Ian Tomlinson on April Fool’s Day two years back. According to the court timetable, his testimony may overrun into tomorrow.

He will be preceded by Inspector Timothy Williams, his serial commander at 4TSG.

M26. 26 March. March 26. See you on the streets!

Via Deterritorial Support Group.

Useful links:

Key messages*:

    1. NO COMMENT to all police questions
    2. GIVE NO DETAILS IN A STOP & SEARCH and only give them if arrested and in a police station
    3. USE A GOOD SOLICITOR eg Bindman’s, Birnberg Pierce, Hodge Jones & Allen

      * Per GBC.

      Green Scare book – sample chapter now available!

      Will Potter has been following with interest and writing about the ‘Green Scare’ – by which governments, police agencies and corporations characterise non-violent environmental direct action as ‘eco-terrorism’ or similar – for several years now, and in April his book about the subject, ‘Green Is The New Red’, will be published.

      If you are in the Washington, DC area on either Tuesday 19th or Saturday 23rd April, then you may want to crash a reading event or the launch party – more details on Will’s blog.

      For the rest of us, there’s a sample chapter available for free

      If you’re not quite sure what this ‘Green Scare’ really is – or suspect that it’s a hullabaloo about nothing, then you’d be as well to check out Will’s intro to the subject:

      “The No. 1 domestic terrorism threat,” says John Lewis, a top FBI official, “is the eco-terrorism, animal-rights movement.”

      The animal rights and environmental movements, like every other social movement throughout history, have both legal and illegal elements. There are people who leaflet, write letters, and lobby. There are people who protest and engage in non-violent civil disobedience. And there are people, like the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front, who go out at night with black masks and break windows, burn SUVs, and release animals from fur farms.

      Animal rights and environmental advocates have not flown planes into buildings, taken hostages, or sent Anthrax through the mail. They have never even injured anyone. In fact, the only act of attempted murder in the history of the U.S. animal rights movement was coordinated by corporate provocateurs. Yet the FBI ranks these activists as the top domestic terrorism threat. And the Department of Homeland Security lists them on its roster of national security threats, while ignoring right-wing extremists who have bombed the Oklahoma City federal building, murdered doctors, and admittedly created weapons of mass destruction.

      …Fear. It’s all about fear. The point is to protect corporate profits by instilling fear in the mainstream animal rights and environmental movements—and every other social movement paying attention—and make people think twice about using their First Amendment rights.

      Industry groups say “this is just the starting gun” for the Green Scare. But this could be the starting gun for activists as well. I’ve talked with hundreds of activists around the country over the years. There’s a lot of fear. But there’s also a lot of rage. And that’s a very good thing.

      Because today’s repression may mimic many of the tactics of the Red Scare, but today’s response cannot. It’s not enough to cowardly distance ourselves from anyone branded a communist, I mean, terrorist. Naming names and making loyalty oaths didn’t protect activists then, and it won’t protect activists now.

      The only way activists, and the First Amendment, are going to get through this is by coming out and confronting it head-on. That means reaching out to mainstream Americans and telling them that labeling activists as terrorists wastes valuable anti-terrorism resources and is an insult to everyone who died in the twin towers. That means reaching out to other activists and saying loud and clear that these activists are just the canaries in the mine.

      Together, we can stop they cycle of history repeating itself.

      Vote for Italian Film Review in the Total Film blog of the year awards!

      My giallo-obsessed internet chum Nigel is in the running for the Total Film 2011 Movie Blog Awards.

      His Italian Film Review site is currently in second place in the Best Fan Blog category.

      So if south European slashers-n-psychos cinema is your thing, get thee over and vote for Italian Film Review!

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: FITwatch press release on the Met Police taking down website

      FITwatch press release concerning the shut down of fitwatch.org.uk by the Metropolitan Police

      NEWS RELEASE

      For immediate release

      15th November 2010

      *Police shut down activist website after support of demo students*

      Police have shut down an activist website for openly supporting the student demonstrations at Millbank. FITwatch – a direct response to police Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) – has a history of challenging excessive police surveillance and breaches of civil rights.

      The website was shut down at the request of the Metropolitan police after FITwatch issued advice to students fearful of arrest after the Millbank demonstration. A number of national newspapers made reference to an activist ‘anti-police site’ that urged demonstrators not to panic into giving themselves up.

      “Our advice was simply good sense based on the understanding we have of police operations”, said Val Swain, a FITwatch activist. “We don’t want to see students arrested, convicted and criminalised for what was an entirely justified action.”

      The Metropolitan police applied to the websites host to suspend the site on the grounds that it was involved in ‘criminal activities’- specifically, ‘attempting to pervert the course of justice’.

      “This is an attack on freedom of speech,” said Emily Apple, another FITwatch activist. “The police don’t like what we do. They have seized a flimsy excuse to shut us down, and are trying to silence criticism of the police, and support for political dissent”

      *For more information, contact:*

      defycops@yahoo.co.uk

      Notes for the Editor:

      i. The use of the domain name www.fitwatch.org.uk has been suspended following a request to the web hosting company, Just Host, from the Metropolitan police. The Met claimed the site was being used for ‘criminal activities’ following comments made on the blog following the student demo at Millbank. The police stated that the blog was being used in an ‘attempt to pervert the cause of justice’.

      ii. Fitwatch published an article on Friday 12th November that contained advice to protesters who were fearful of being identified by press photography, cctv or FIT. That advice has been copied widely around the internet, indicating the support that FITwatch has received on this issue. A copy of the post can be found at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/11/468002.html?c=on#comments

      iii. FITwatch contributed to a major story on the police use of ‘protester databases’ in the Financial Times on 17th October 2009.

      iv. FITwatch was also in the news in July when the Evening Standard reported on a court victory by three Fitwatch supporters who had successfully challenged the right of police to place attendees at an open public meeting under surveillance. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23860752-protesters-rights-were-violated-by-met-surveillance.do

      v. A number of FITwatch activists are currently taking legal action against the police for assault and unlawful arrest

      vi. A number of newspapers including the Mail and Independent carried the story of ‘anti-police’ website giving advice. The Independent stated:

      “Activist websites have published step-by-step instructions to those who fear they may be identified and arrested in the aftermath of the violence. One anti-police site told participants to destroy potential evidence, including clothing and any distinctive jewellery worn. A contributor urged demonstrators not to panic or give themselves up as a result of the flood of media coverage.”

      vii. The last post to the site before suspension was highly critical of the way the police have been capitalising on the aftermath of the protests to defend their own budgets and justify repression of protesters.

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: “I’m FITwatch, and so’s my wife!” Cop censorship backfires as news of arbitrary website shutdown goes viral

      Met Police website takedown backfires as interwebz comes out to support FITwatch

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: The FITwatch takedown letter – cops demand hosts shut down police watchdog website

      A letter from the hosts of the FITwatch blog – taken down at the behest of the Metropolitan Police – has been published on IndyMedia, and it makes for interesting reading, not least because it also includes the text of the cops’ email to the hosting company…

      Hi [recipient’s name deleted],

      We received a request to close an account the site mentioned below is hosted on:

      Request from Metropolitan Police in London Uk to remove website used
      for criminal purpose – fitwatch.org.uk IP 69.175.66.250

      APPLICATION FOR CLOSURE OF A UK BASED DOMAIN NAME
      Fitwatch.org.uk – IP 69.175.66.250

      To whom it may concern at Singlehop

      Op Malone
      In connection with our criminal investigation into registration or use of the domain name set out in this letter, we hereby confirm that:

      • The domain is being used to undertake criminal activities. Attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice, contrary to Common Law

      We hereby request Singlehop to de-host this website for a minimum period of 12 months. Please note that this request will be also sent to the domain name registrar for the website. You should provide the following contact phone number, email address and reference number to the registrant: 0207 230 8100 pceu@met.pnn.police.uk

      REASON FOR CLOSURE

      This website are committing offences of attempting to pervert the Course of Justice under Common Law. The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in Central London. The demonstration was marred by violence and several subjects have already been arrested with a major police operation underway to identify and arrest further offenders.

      The person controlling these websites has posted material held to be contrary to Common Law within the UK. Therefore to prevent the domain names from being used in crime we request that the domain name is suspended for a minimum period of 12 months (or until expiry of the domain name if earlier).

      This common law offence is committed where a person or persons:-
      (a) acts or embarks upon a course of conduct
      (b) which has a tendency to, and
      (c) is intended to pervert,
      (d) the course of public justice.

      Registrant Information for fitwatch.org.uk

      Registrant : [DELETED]

      All other personal details withheld

      Registered on : 17-Nov-2008

      Authority to close the website and IP address given by

      Will Hodgeson, Acting Detective Inspector

      Metropolitan Police

      CO11 Public Order Branch

      Many Thanks in Advance

      Yours faithfully

      DI Paul Hoare

      Police Central e-crime Unit (Computer Crime Unit)
      SCD6 Economic & Specialist Crime Command, Metropolitan Police.

      1st floor, Indigo Block, Cobalt Square
      1 South Lambeth Road,
      London
      SW8 1SU
      0207 230 8100
      pceu@met.pnn.police.uk


      Kind regards,

      [Senders’ name deleted]
      Just Host
      http://www.justhost.com

      JustHost
      SingleHop

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: That censored FITwatch post in full screengrab glory!

      I wrote the previous post in a hurry late at night; I then realised I actually had the ‘offending’ FITwatch post in a tab on my browser from when I started reading it originally. So here it is, in full, stitched-back-together screengrab glory (click for full size)…

      Screengrab of police-censored FITwatch blog post

      Meanwhile Tilting At Windmills has published a very handy list of sites republishing the original FITwatch post, the story is on The Register, the hashtag #FITwatch looks like trending, Guardian journo Paul Lewis has written a story on it, and in general Acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson (né Detective Sergeant Hodgson) and his CO11 chums are looking like the proverbial donut-munching Keystones.

      WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: Cops take down police watchdog website with wild claims, no evidence, spurious legality

      FITwatch blog suspended at behest of police, without court order or evidence

      It seems that FITwatch, the campaign-cum-mindset that has helped turn the tables on the harassment policing strategy employed by cops eager to undermine anti-authoritarian political activists (and working class youths, football fans and any number of others whom the Boys in Blue consider inconvenient but who generally act in a lawful fashion) has really needled someone… The FITwatch website has been suspended by its webhosts, reportedly at the request of Acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson of the Metropolitan Police’s ‘public order’ unit CO11. In the words of a posting on IndyMedia, “Following contact from New Scotland Yard, the Fitwatch website and domain name (www.fitwatch.org.uk) have been suspended for a minimum of twelve months for ‘attempting to pervert the course of justice’.”

      Fortunately the wonder that is the interwebz often leaves shadows where once were forms, so you can still read caches of posts on the FITwatch blog. This is the last one published, following the recent raucous student anti-cuts demo that brought public anger to Tory Party HQ. I reproduce it here (typos corrected, bullet-pointed for legibility) for you to decide what all the fuss is about.

      Read it and consider for yourself the implications of police officers demanding the closure of websites without due process. Read it and consider the implications of police officers who were closely linked to the failure to properly investigate the death of an unarmed civilian, Ian Tomlinson, at the hands of other police officers, acting in this manner. Read it and consider what next such police officers will be prepared to do in the name of ‘public order’, in the name of ‘justice’.


      Beating police repression after the student occupation.

      The remarkable and brilliant student action at Millbank has produced some predictable frothing at the mouth from the establishment and right wing press. Cameron has called for the ‘full weight of the law’ to fall on those who had caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage to the expensive decor at Tory party HQ. Responsibility is being placed on ‘a violent faction’, after the march was ‘infiltrated’ by anarchists.

      There are an encouraging number of initiatives to show solidarity with the arrested students – something that is vital if they are to avoid the sort of punitive ‘deterrent’ sentences handed out to the Gaza demonstrators. A legal support group has been established and the National Campaign against Cuts and Fees has started a support campaign. Goldsmiths lecturers union has publicly commended the students for a ‘magnificent demonstration’.

      This is all much needed, as the establishment is clearly on the march with this one. The Torygraph has published an irresponsible and frenzied ‘shop-a-student’ piece and the Met are clearly under pressure to produce ‘results’ after what they have admitted was a policing ‘embarrassment’.

      51 people have been arrested so far, and the police have claimed they took the details of a further 250 people in the kettle using powers under the Police Reform Act. There may be more arrests to come.

      Students who are worried should consider taking the following actions:

      If you have been arrested, or had your details taken – contact the legal support campaign. As a group you can support each other, and mount a coherent campaign.

      If you fear you may be arrested as a result of identification by CCTV, FIT or press photography;

      • DON’T panic. Press photos are not necessarily conclusive evidence, and just because the police have a photo of you doesn’t mean they know who you are.
      • DON’T hand yourself in. The police often use the psychological pressure of knowing they have your picture to persuade you to ‘come forward’. Unless you have a very pressing reason to do otherwise, let them come and find you, if they know who you are.
      • DO get rid of your clothes. There is no chance of suggesting the bloke in the video is not you if the clothes he is wearing have been found in your wardrobe. Get rid of ALL clothes you were wearing at the demo, including YOUR SHOES, your bag, and any distinctive jewellery you were wearing at the time. Yes, this is difficult, especially if it is your only warm coat or decent pair of boots. But it will be harder still if finding these clothes in your flat gets you convicted of violent disorder.
      • DON’T assume that because you can identify yourself in a video, a judge will be able to as well. ‘That isn’t me’ has got many a person off before now.
      • DO keep away from other demos for a while. The police will be on the look-out at other demos, especially student ones, for people they have put on their ‘wanted’ list. Keep a low profile.
      • DO think about changing your appearance. Perhaps now is a good time for a make-over. Get a haircut and colour, grow a beard, wear glasses. It isn’t a guarantee, but may help throw them off the scent.
      • DO keep your house clean. Get rid of spray cans, demo related stuff, and dodgy texts / photos on your phone. Don’t make life easy for them by having drugs, weapons or anything illegal in the house.
      • DO get the name and number of a good lawyer you can call if things go badly. The support group has the names of recommended lawyers on their site. Take a bit of time to read up on your rights in custody, especially the benefits of not commenting in interview.
      • DO be careful who you speak about this to. Admit your involvement in criminal damage / disorder ONLY to people you really trust.
      • DO try and control the nerves and panic. Waiting for a knock on the door is stressful in the extreme, but you need to find a way to get on with business as normal. Otherwise you’ll be serving the sentence before you are even arrested.

      “Andy Coulson is guilty” says Roy Greenslade

      So I went to the ‘What’s The Blogging Story?‘ event at the Watershed I mentioned earlier. Bit of a curate’s egg, really – some interesting panelists, but very little chance to actually talk about blogging, the social web or much else. Frankly it was not worth the seven quid I paid to go.

      Ex-Mirror editor-turned-Guardian media pundit Roy Greenslade had a stab at being a bit quote-worthy on former News Of The World boss-turned-Tory spin king Andy Coulson and his involvement (or otherwise) in the hacker scandal*:

      Just go to Coulson now… The only reason anyone can get hot under the collar about Andy Coulson is because The Guardian have exposed him. Because they have exposed him, because The Independent have taken it up as a big cause as well.

      Now that’s a perfect example of the way in which the other press, self-interestedly, because they either support the Tories, or they support Rupert Murdoch, covertly, allow this to go forward.

      But there’s plenty of stuff on the net about Coulson, plenty of material available, and I think that… By the way, we haven’t dropped the Coulson thing, none of us have dropped the Coulson thing. I mean, I know the guy is guilty. Is that being tweeted?

      I know, I know, I know an editor must have known. I do, I do, I did say on a public platform recently that it is either a case that he knew, and therefore is lying, or it is a case that he didn’t know, and is therefore the most incompetent editor Fleet Street has ever known. Is that being tweeted? Because that’s the truth of the situation.

      So he’s either a liar or incompetent, and therefore he shouldn’t be director of communications of our Prime Minister’s office. And we will pursue this.

      I think that the line-up went something like this…

      Chair/moderator:

      Panel:

      2nd table:

      Download Greenslade’s Coulson soundbite | Download audio of whole event (approximately 2hrs/107MB)

      I’ve been mulling over tonight, and will back up a few thoughts tomorrow if I get the chance.

      * The scandal being so many papers – tabloids and broadsheets alike – were/are at it.

      ETA:

      I’ve been out of the blogging saddle awhile, so that I’ve been tweaking this post so much I’ve given it jogger’s nipple, soz.

      Bristol Festival of Ideas: What’s The Blogging Story (tonight, Watershed)

      Afternoon there.

      It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Things have been rather hectic on the home front, happily so I hasten to add. The reasons why would be clear to anyone who’s endured the photos I periodically throw onto my twitfeed, so I won’t compound the saccharine assault here with further explanation.

      Anyhow, I think i shall be getting back into the blogging in coming days. Plenty to rabbit on about – a new Evil Empire, rather a lot of new films (thanks to my eBay penny bid DVD strategy), a vast backlog of screengrabs, local shenanigans, the usual stuff really.

      If you are of a blogging persuasion, you may be interested in the Festival of Ideas event at the Watershed tonight. Terrible name (‘What’s The Blogging Story?‘), greatly overpriced (seven squiddlies!), with the wrong names too high up the marquee (Greenslade, Belle de Jour).

      But Sarah Ditum from Paperhouse and Anton Vowl from Enemies Of Reason will be speaking, so I think it could be moderately interesting. I may see you there.