What is going on in Palestine and particularly in Gaza is taking place in full view of the world. Yet no one of the candidates in the US elections will utter a world. The only voice from America’s leadership is from former President Jimmy Carter.
What is going on n Palestine is dictated by people who have never been to that part of the world but hold onto some sort of dream which manifests itself as Zionism. As power is being shut down in Gaza, food withheld and medical help women of Palestine plead for outside help.
At the same time in the West Bank Palestinian land continues to be seized by the Israeli government despite its illegality even in Israeli terms.
The link gives a full and vivid pictorial account of what happened when Pauline Campbell organised a demonstration following the death of yet another woman inmate at Holloway on January 16th.
Two days later Pauline was back at Styal Prison on the anniversary of her own daughter’s death in custody:
Vigil held on Friday 18 January 2008 to mark the 5th anniversary of the death of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, aged 18 who died in the so-called care of HMP and YOI Styal on 18 January 2003
A small group of supporters joined Pauline Campbell outside the prison on the afternoon of Friday 18 January 2008 to hold a vigil to commemorate Sarah’s life, and to mark the 5th anniversary of her death.
Bouquets of flowers were laid at the prison gates, and banners were displayed. The vigil was covered by local radio, television, and newspapers, including: Channel M Television [Manchester], 17.01.08; BBC Radio Merseyside, 18.01.08; and the Manchester Evening News, 18.01.08 (“Mum leads vigil in Sarah’s memory”): )
Professional visitors to the prison, and family members of those incarcerated in HMP Styal, stopped to speak to those attending the vigil. The apparent situation of one prisoner, as described by a family member, gave particular cause for concern, and will need to be looked into.
The vigil was attended by Georgina Griffiths, best friend of the late Sarah Campbell; and a representative from FRFI Salford (Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!).
Police: one police officer arrived at the vigil, at about 4 pm, but left after a few minutes. A police presence was unnecessary. No-one was breaking the law, and it was unclear why he was asked to attend.
“The fifth anniversary of Sarah’s death was another very sad, and moving occasion, when her life was commemorated, and flowers were laid outside Styal Prison. I cannot even say that ‘lessons have been learned’ from Sarah’s death, as a further 40 women have died in the ‘care’ of the prison authorities since 18 January 2003, when Sarah died. Every time another woman prisoner dies, it reactivates the feelings of loss and grief that I first experienced five years ago. The absence of an apology merely adds insult to injury.”
Two photographs are available [nil copyright]; anyone requiring a copy, please e-mail Pauline Campbell.
Just as you think and hope you have heard the last of him, up he comes again. Blair, evidently egged on by Sarkozy, is standing for the permanent presidency of the E.U. In contrast Bush got the message and made himself scarce. No one wanted him around their campaign for the next presidency!
Familiar too is the cant emerging from Blair. There is no right and left, people just want to be saved by people like him from terrorists and all the other bogeys all invented and put about by the right. Everything about Blair is right wing from his Thatcherite policies to his religious affiliations, his support for the extremist government of Israel and failure to understand the dispossession of the poor. The good news is that Europeans generally didn’t like his stance on Iraq, nor his lack of enthusiasm for the Euro. In the latter case he might have a point, but from my point of view I don’t like the way that the new Europe is dominated by trade rather than humanity.
Very wet blustery weather gave way to sunshine as demonstrators – Birmingham City Council’s work force – gathered to protest about the huge cuts – many thousands of pounds that some are facing. Single Status, we thought, was to do with equality. Not so from the point of view of the Tory/Lib-Dem alliance that is now in charge. It’s a golden opportunity to restructure, and if you don’t like it you’ll make yourself redundant. Your jobs will go to those nice folk at Capita.
Between speakers Dave Rogers and a colleague from Banner Theatre gave rousing support. If Councillor Alan Rudge was somewhere in the city shopping he might hear. I’ve always thought of him as “Cllr Drudge” when I had to sit through long interminable speeches delivered in a monotone which no one understood anyway. Well this is what his policies and imagination look like in reality. The City Council coming out on strike to preserve not only jobs but half-decent services. Here he became known as “Cllr Grudge”, a Dickensian figure who while taking £45,000 himself without any assessment wanted to dock others and make them justify any future increment. Victoria Square and Council House had stood still in time, Victorian values intact.
Good to see the Labour opposition out in force in solidarity with Sir Albert Bore in the lead. He was the last speaker with a rallying cry to abandon the scheme. “There are so many anomalies that it can’t be sorted. Need to start again.” The assembled were pleased to hear this and hoped he would accompany them on the coach to London to persuade Gordon and New Labour to fund single status nation wide. (Birmingham, we are told, is being watched by other authorities. If they push through this travesty here then others will follow, cutting the costs of local government down and down).
I was deeply shocked to read of Roi’s death at 51 from cancer. He has been a friend for over 20 years. I first met Roi when I was chair of All Faiths For One Race (AFFOR) in Lozells in the mid eighties. Roi wanted help in publishing materials, one on African Caribbean history, which we did, and a more controversial one on recognising botanical species. I still have the document.
Although Roi had some recognition as Birmingham’s Poet Laureate it didn’t make him rich, and he found working for departments of the City Council hard work. Not an unfamiliar feeling.
Birmingham has a number of local celebrities – Vanley Burke, Pogus Caesar amongst them, who get grudging recognition here in Birmingham compared with elsewhere.
I think it was just last year that Roi gave an illustrated lecture at the Library Theatre. It did raise controversy with some material which I felt detracted from what he was about and knew from personal experience. He spent time in Nubia which in history was the precursor of Egypt (Kemet). When w elost track of him in Birmingham we found out hat he had been acting as a senator in Trinidad. One of the things Roi always did at the beginning of any sessions he led was to pour a libation (of water) onto the ground. He was deeply attached to his African roots and was able to get us to share that feeling.
Actually you did a lot for Birmingham and education in the City and it should be very grateful. Thank you Roi.
Tracking Obama I am noting the Iowa contest where he has become front runner for the Democratic nomination with Clinton taking third place behind John Edwards. Not as expected. Similarly Mike Huckabee gained a nomination for Republicans on a low budget campaign. What will happen in New Hampshire? The link is to the Washington Post 5.1.2008.
Not that Clinton is letting it rest there and she repeatedly attacked Obama on policy, such as health, pointing out that rhetoric is not the same as action.
The Birmingham Post has highlighted a massive rise in suicide in British jails during 2007.
“There were a total of 92 “self-inflicted deaths” in 2007, including 84 males, eight females, seven male young offenders (under 21) and one juvenile.
The total also included 23 foreign nationals, 18 prisoners sentenced to life, and 41 prisoners on remand.” Source Birmingham Post 2.1.2008.
The issue appeared to be under some control after a decreasing number were reported over recent years, but numbers have always been too high for comfort. The government’s answer? Build more prisons – super jails based on David Blunkett’s journey to South Africa. These warehouses will be just the thing. No humanity here. More New Labour. Just what we expected from the Tories in the past, who we finally got rid of. They couldn’t hold a candle to New Labour’s “achievement”.
Some forty to fifty people turned up at City Hospital today, New Year’s Day, 2008, to make it clear that they were very unhappy with the Secretary of State’s decision to down grade City’s Accident and Emergency Department. After all when this happened to Kidderminster when their A & E went to Worcester resulting in one of the protesters being elected to Parliament.
These protesters are unhappy that Birmingham residents’ views have been discounted by Alan Johnson. They made their feelings known at a public meeting called by the Evening Mail in January, and again several thousand people signed a petition in May. The Trust Board of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital remained unimpressed and nodded the plans through. In response Birmingham’s Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee requested the Secretary of State review the Trust’s decision. Not only did he ignore Birmingham residents, he issued his decision prematurely before Christmas contrary to assurances he had made to Cllr Deirdre Alden that he would make his announcements in the New Year.
Cllr Alden visited the demonstration along with her husband Cllr John Alden. The assembled group chanted “Fight back, not cut back” and spoke to reporters from press, radio and t.v.
City Hospital has already lost services as uncertainty for the future has led to key specialist staff moving elsewhere. The longer term plan is to build a new hospital in the Cape Hill area of Sandwell, not something which Sandwell residents will find attractive either since the existing hospital is in a central location. Two hospitals to close, one to open. This is a hospital closure!
Then there is the financing of the new build. The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) has proved costly elsewhere and hospitals have found themselves going into deficit to meet repayments. Improvements in patient care has become a lesser priority.
The problem for Birmingham people is that they have not had support from their elected representatives. While Khalid Mahmood, MP f or Perry Barr, attended the January meeting when he was asked where he stood on the plans, he replied that he would follow his constituents’ wishes. Residents of Handsworth Wood Ward and Lozells and East Handsworth made it very clear hat they opposed the plan in May. Khalid’s response to Alan Johnson’s announcement is awaited. None of the City Councillors for these wards, all New Labour, has been seen or heard.