Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Don't Bomb Al-Jazeera!

Heard the Word of Blog?

Don't Bomb Us
Prepared to Publish
Boris Johnson will publish.

Legal gag on Bush-Blair war row.
The attorney general last night threatened newspapers with the Official Secrets Act if they revealed the contents of a document allegedly relating to a dispute between Tony Blair and George Bush over the conduct of military operations in Iraq.

It is believed to be the first time the Blair government has threatened newspapers in this way. Though it has obtained court injunctions against newspapers, the government has never prosecuted editors for publishing the contents of leaked documents, including highly sensitive ones about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, last night referred editors to newspaper reports yesterday that described the contents of a memo purporting to be at the centre of charges against two men under the secrets act.

Under the front-page headline "Bush plot to bomb his ally", the Daily Mirror reported that the US president last year planned to attack the Arabic television station al-Jazeera, which has its headquarters in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where US and British bombers were based.

Richard Wallace, editor of the Daily Mirror, said last night: "We made No 10 fully aware of the intention to publish and were given 'no comment' officially or unofficially. Suddenly 24 hours later we are threatened under section 5 [of the secrets act]".

Under section 5 it is an offence to have come into the possession of government information, or a document from a crown servant, if that person discloses it without lawful authority. The prosecution has to prove the disclosure was damaging.

The Mirror said the memo turned up in May last year at the constituency office of the former Labour MP for Northampton South, Tony Clarke. Last week, Leo O'Connor, a former researcher for Mr Clarke, was charged with receiving a document under section 5 of the act. David Keogh, a former Foreign Office official seconded to the Cabinet Office, was charged last week with making a "damaging disclosure of a document relating to international relations". Mr Keogh, 49, is accused of sending the document to Mr O'Connor, 42, between April 16 and May 28 2004.

Mr Clarke said yesterday that Mr O'Connor "did the right thing" by drawing the document to his attention. Mr Clarke, an anti-war MP who lost his seat at the last election, returned the document to the government. "As well as an MP, I am a special constable," he said.

Both men were released on police bail last Thursday to appear at Bow Street magistrates court on November 29. When they were charged, newspapers reported that the memo contained a transcript of a discussion between Mr Blair and Mr Bush.

The conversation was understood to have taken place during a meeting in the US. It is believed to reveal that Mr Blair disagreed with Mr Bush about aspects of the Iraq war. There was widespread comment at the time that the British government was angry about US military tactics there, particularly in the city of Falluja.

Charges under the secrets act have to have the consent of the attorney-general. His intervention yesterday suggests that the prosecution plans to ask the judge to hold part, if not all of the trial, in camera, with the public and press excluded.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Protest Thomas Cook's 'sex tours' in Amsterdam.

Dear Thomas Cook,

I am writing to express my disgust that your company is selling and marketing 'sex tours' for adults and children visiting Amsterdam.

Your literature states that,
Of course, no visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a night-time visit to the famous Red Light District. One of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city, the narrow, cobbled streets of this quarter fill with hordes of tourists on weekends and holidays. All come to gawk at the surreal display of scantily clad women who pose in the purply-red glow of their black-lit shop windows. Not unlike a bizarre zoo, the Red Light District is an unmissable experience, as attested by the packs of roving young men, couples holding hands, giggling groups of women, and busloads of Japanese tourists toting cameras. Spectacle notwithstanding, real business is done here at a steady pace, and those seeking a slightly more authentic experience should head for the area on a weeknight.

Such tours are not only irresponsible but downright offensive. Of women in prostitution, 50 - 85% experience violence, and more than 80% in the Netherlands are of foreign origin, a number of whom will have been trafficked into the sex trade.

The co-director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women states that "Women are sold as commodities in the Dutch sex industry, and Thomas Cook charges tourists (£12 for adults and £6 for children - under threes go free) to view the 'marketable products' and chuckle at the 'human merchandise'."

The women trapped in prostitution in Amsterdam do not deserve to have coachloads of tourists pointing and laughing at them, and indeed creating an official 'sex tourism' industry will only continue to normalise this abuse of women and make it appear more socially acceptable. Prostitution - in Amsterdam as elsewhere - is in fact violence against women. This is the truth of prostitution.

I am writing to you to request that you please withdraw from these appalling 'family tours' of Amsterdam's Red Light District, and instead focus on your own company's Responsible Business Policy in which you state that
by offering alternative, more virtuous and learning leisure activities, the lives of working people would be greatly improved if they became better educated through travel"
It is disgusting that you are promoting and running tours such as this through Amsterdam's red light district. I hope that you will reconsider and cancel these tours immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Further Information:
The Observer: Red Light Tour condemned as 'sick'
Thomas Cook Amsterdam page
Truth About Rape Thomas Cook page
Contact Thomas Cook.

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Illustration Friday: Small.

Illustration Friday.

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Freedom Finance: Their Words, My Order.

'We'll give you an extremely massive debt'

'Freedom Finance could give you severe credit problems'

'We would definitely repossess your home'.

See previously subvertised debt envelopes...
Freedom Finance 1
Freedom Finance 2
Imagine Finance 1a
Imagine Finance 1b

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thoughts of the Day.

  1. Norton, while invaluable, is entirely infuriating.

  2. Ebay, on the other hand, is fun and great for cheap little crafty / card-making bits.

  3. I am very glad that Clue is back on in the Monday 6.30pm slot.

  4. I bought this fridge magnet ----> some time ago. I need a new version now - one for when the bank have confiscated the cheque book...

  5. Falling asleep on the living room floor leads to utter confusion on waking, and strange indentations on your cheek.

  6. Flat Pepsi Max tastes better than flat Diet Coke.

  7. but if I was rich I would be tempted to stop drinking any bottle which went flat and start drinking a new one straight away. Terribly wasteful, but as I'll never be rich, it won't be a dilemma I'll ever have to face.

  8. Holla Back is angry, sassy, feisty, funny and fun. I love it.

  9. I always forget that posts consisting of a list are hard.

  10. So I am occasionally daft enough to do another.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

De-Politicisation of Violence against Women.

The personal is political. Many, many things come down to that.

The fact is that when women are harassed in the street, intimidated at work, beaten in their home and raped after a night out, it is all done within the context of a patriarchal, misogynist society. It is this society which allows it to continue, it downplays experiences and disbelieves women, it mocks and ridicules our tears, it denies, denies, denies everything.

The misogyny we live in allows misogyny itself to be perpetuated and keeps battering women down.

That girls are taking Playboy stationery to school, and that news today is that One in three Britons believes a woman who flirts is partly or totally responsible if she is raped are symptomatic of this culture, not to mention the rape conviction statistics of 5.6%. Yep, 5.6% of reported rapes end in a conviction. Outrageous.

So, when I saw this advert I was so, so disappointed and disillusioned...

It was a few years ago that it stopped being a Domestic Violence forum and became a Domestic Abuse forum. But this? Firstly, they do not specify whether they even want a woman for the job. A domestic violence forum really needs a committee of women. (Any questions, see above, below and all around you). Secondly, someone with experience of work on domestic abuse would be *useful*, not essential. Now, it is not just women who have worked in this field who have vital experience and knowledge. It is women who have lived through domestic violence also, in their own lives or their friends' and sisters'. Thirdly, in the ad there is no necessity at all that any kind of background to do with domestic violence (e.g. life experience, volunteering, researching, working...) is there. And fourthly, the advert doesn't even specify that the chair is required for the Domestic Abuse Forum. It could be for anyone at all! How far from feminism, from women's lives and work, is this?!

So, the domestic abuse forum is advertising for, potentially, a man with no knowledge of domestic violence or abuse at all. Anyone, it seems, with management and human resources experience. As that's what's important when you're dealing with women's lives. Of course.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Not at All Loquacious. More Lebstromonous.

So, as of today I have had audioscrobbler for a month and have totalled 1129 tracks. That's pretty good going I reckon! It, and are a lot of fun and I am totally hooked. My personalised radio station is sometimes totally spot on, and occasionally waaaay off (Kylie?!) but it's all ingenious and great.

If you want to be wowed, stunned, amazed, in awe and very, very impressed you should click to see the Thousand-hand Bodhisattva Dance. There is more information about the dance here.

I'm not feeling very capable of saying much more so I shall send you instead to slow afternoon's list of distractions which is great stuff. His post on Friday causes giggles too.

Finally, the previous Link of the Week was BBC Ouch weblog. For this week's new link, click on the Link of the Week image to the right.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Post-Funeral Post.

Thank you so much for the amazingly supportive comments when I posted about my Dad's death. It is so nice to receive such words from even complete bloody strangers, and from blog friends and real life friends too.

What I'm wittering on about is that it meant a lot, and I really appreciate the words and sentiments sent flying through cyberspace in this hippie's direction.

Dad's funeral was yesterday. I thought my heart was going to break at so many stages in the day. When the funeral cars arrived was horrific, waiting to go in the church was harrowing, and so it went on.

The church was totally full which, while overwhelming, also felt nice. Like a testament that Dad definitely was a Good Guy ;-)

It hurt so much, I never thought I would get through the service and the burial in one piece. I was fairly stunned afterwards, because I realised that as far as I had been concerned, everything stopped at the funeral. I wasn't prepared for anything else because I hadn't been able to think beyond it.

I had to hide for a while, with Z, before going onto the wake because the number of people there, and the number who wanted to talk to me, was blowing my mind. A few cigarettes later we approached the venue and I was so touched at who was there, as in the Church I had had no idea (beyond the fact that there were lots of people) about who was in the congregation.

It was hard, so hard. It was exhausting, draining, devastating, and yet also nice that so many people cared.

I have barely moved today. My whole body is reacting to the stress, the trauma and also the relief that that bit, at least, is over.

I really miss him.

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Make the World a Better Place.


“Men would be able to show affection without being accused”

“I would not be branded because of the clothes I wear”

“Home would be a place of peace”


How would you like to star in a unique art exhibition alongside the Guerrilla Girls, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn, Grayson Perry and Stella Vine?

As part of the exhibition (supporting Amnesty’s International’s work to Stop Violence Against Women) Erasure star VINCE CLARKE and Heaven 17’s MARTYN WARE are asking you to contribute to an interactive sound sculpture.

Phone 020 7033 1599 and leave your response to the question: “What would a world without violence against women be like?”

We want to make people think about how violence against women impacts on their own lives. You don’t have to leave your name, and you don’t have to come up with something profound – just tell us what you think. So please phone today. It takes 30 seconds and your voice could be part of this stunning event.

Many thanks,

Jennifer Campbell

Stop Violence Against Women Campaign Manager

The Imagine a World exhibition is at the Bargehouse, South Bank, London and is open from 10-6pm from 25 November to 11 December. Admission is free. For more information visit

I also got an Amnesty International snailmail magazine today and in it was an 'urgent update' which explained that Amnesty are starting an investigation into the human rights concerns over the Terrorism Bill, and the thoughts of the British government about allowing people to be returned to countries which use torture. I am so, so glad Amnesty is doing this. I love that they don't shy away from criticising the biggies (USA on violence against women, UK on this, for example).

Demonstration Against Bus Fare Rises in Sheffield

Campaign stalls petitioning against First's latest fare rise have been inundated with angry people wanting to sign. Many say they will come on Saturday's demonstration. Word does seem to be spreading about the protest march, but we need to keep advertising it in whatever way we can to get as many people there as possible.

Assembly is at 11-00 outside the City Hall in Barkers pool.The march moves off at 11-30pm, returning to City Hall for a few speakers to finish it off. It would be useful if campaigners can get there for 10-45 to help organise things.

The TGWU busworkers branch have promised to come on the march and bring their banner. I have spoken at a general meeting of Sheffield Pensioners Action Group(SPAG) today and they are supporting the demo and bringing their banner. Other banners and especially home-made placards will be very welcome.

Terry Fox, Council Cabinet member for Transport, spoke at the last WWOBB campaign meeting. He said that his realistic date for introducing Statutory Quality Bus Contracts (a form of regulation but still with private bus operators) was 2009. In other words 4 more years! He suggested that this could be brought forward if he and the council were put under enough pressure by people like us. Make of that what you will, but we intend to increase the pressure on the council to stand up to First and to the government. This Saturday's demo will be another step in that.

See you Saturday.

hippie love and peace you will find. that the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more you know the more

Jewish Muslim Hindu Buddhist Christian and Muslim faiths all trace the roots of the Ultra Left, in the Democratic Party as a whole and the other is a maverick physicist from Adelaide. more Red did did did

are words of wisdom, philosophy or nonsense, from my new addiction which is google talk. Check out the other projects too, fantastic procrastination tool!

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Thursday, November 10, 2005


Last Christmas, my Dad was diagnosed with lymphoma. He died on Monday. I am absolutely devastated and full of a myriad of emotions, thoughts, feelings.

The doctors stopped trying to cure his cancer a few weeks ago, but he died a lot quicker than anyone had anticipated. I feel very cheated, I want to have toddler tantrums and stamp my feet shouting, 'It's Not FAIR!'.

I am a mixture of a mad-crying-person, and also a whole load of disbelief that this could have happened at all, never mind happened now. I still can't quite believe it, though there is a constant sensation of knowing that there is something awful, even when I can't believe that it's true.

Z is being incredibly supportive, through her own grief as well. I am spending time alone, time with her, and time with others. I find I am doing different processing of his death during these different contexts. For example I cry more when I'm on my own, I remember more when I'm talking with Z, I'm exploring the feelings and associations more when I'm with my mental health worker. There is much, much more to it all, but I think the different types of contact, and the alone-ness, are all really important and different.

I can't believe he's gone. That I'll never see him again. I just cannot believe it. I miss him already so, so much.

Rest in peace, Dad.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Re: MEET Boxing Legend Mike Tyson.

Dear Editor / Letters Page, @ Sheffield Star,

I am writing to complain strongly against your competition, the prize of which is to go out for a drink with Mike Tyson.

As you will know, Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist and when he attempted to come to this country several years ago there were national protests, in particular by women's groups.

Your description of him in the competition literature discusses his boxing success but makes no mention at all of the controversy in other aspects of his life, including the conviction of rape.

Promoting such a man is appalling and irresponsible, and I understand that in other parts of the country protests are also mounting. In Derby, for example, a Domestic Violence group called Next Step are running a campaign, supported by local people, against a visit there.

Giving any publicity to such a man - never mind suggesting going for a drink with him as a prize for a competition - is a measure which will outrage and upset many people in Sheffield and South Yorkshire. The Sheffield Star's part in this suggests a complete disregard for the women here and elsewhere who have survived rape, sexual violence and domestic violence, and those who haven't survived.

Sports men and women are more and more considered heroes and role models. Please don't let this man appear that way to any of the young people who will come across your paper. We need to stand up against bullies and rapists, not celebrate them.

See also: Indymedia Article.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

New Labour Manipulation.

In the run-up to the General Election I discovered that I was on some kind of Labour Party email update list. And while the smug grinniness (?!) of Tony Blair in my inbox annoyed me immensely, there was also an element of voyeurism which meant I didn't request to be removed. I liked to see what they were trying next.

I occasionally still get emails from them, and today I was less-than-joyous to receive a Labour Party email from Clarles Clarke, but when he stated that he was emailing [me] today to find out your views on the action the Government is proposing to take to challenge the new terrorist threats that face all of us my ears pricked up.

I'll tell you what I think! Yey! Absolutely draconian measures which will lead this country in a direction which terrifies many. Civil and human rights slashed, racism incorporated into law, defying conventions which we signed up to for very good reasons, locking people up without charge for 3 months... Scary, appalling, very, very bad idea.

So yes, Mr Clarke, where do I share, I wonder... here - to register my views (he says).

But unfortunately there is no box to share my views, no email address to send my thoughts to. Instead there are questions so leading as to be essentially taking us by the hand and clicking the 'correct' answers for us. Questions such as,
Do you think police should have the time and opportunity to complete their investigations into suspected terrorists?
Do you think the government should make sure there are new safeguards to protect innocent people?

The possible answers for each are Yes, No or Not Sure...
On the radio this afternoon they were talking about polls and surveys and whether they meant anything at all.

I think we can safely say that this survey by the Labour Party means absolutely nothing other than that they are shameless, and probably getting desperate.

If anyone wants to fill it in by the way, I'll happily share my invitation with you. Go for it.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005


I have a cold. I am feeling very sorry for myself.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

David Blunkett Resigned!

Ha Ha Ha!


I want to write a poem
But I don't know what about.
There surely is a subject
About which I want to spout.

I climbed up a big mountain
And walked all along a river.
Inspiration I was seeking
To set me all aquiver.

I rode on bulls and horses
and I ran with wolves and lions
but I still had no ideas 'bout which
I could write some rhymes.

I convened with elves and fairies
And we smoked and got quite drunk,
We took too many drugs and so
My brain, it got quite shrunk.

I thought I heard some music
Coming from inside a tree,
I conversed with grass and lightbulbs
and they came to section me.

I still had no ideas for
The ode I was to write -
I thought all through the sunshine,
I thought all through the night.

Then the birds chorused the dawn
and realisation came with it...
I'd written the bloody poem -
Which you know, cos this is it!

I want to do an altered board book and I bought a second hand board book today from a charity shop for a few pennies. I'm quite scared because all the altered books stuff I have seen is incredibly incredible and I'm quite crap, but I want to do one and I may - just may try.

Oh, did I mention that David Blunkett resigned?!
Blunkett 'man of Sheffield steel'.
In the square outside David Blunkett's former fiefdom, Sheffield City Hall, a great wailing went up at lunchtime as news of the resignation filtered through the city.

But it was not an expression of collective sorrow at his second fall from grace.

It was just the siren which blares out everyday at 1pm to tell nearby workers it is time to nip out for a sandwich.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I Know Why the Caged Bird Celebrates Religious Festivals.

There is an interview with Maya Angelou at BBC World Service, which I think that everybody in the world should listen to. I'm not joking, I heard this on the radio in the middle of the night a few nights ago, and I'm now listening again from the site, and she is an amazing woman with some really inspirational and insightful things to say. Go, listen!

I also want to talk about government mental health public info films, and old government public information films (do coughs and sneezes spread diseases, anyone??), and suicide girls, and I'm also wondering where borderline teacher has disappeared to.

As ever, I may or may not get round to talking about these things, but that last paragraph serves as a note to self, at least.

Best Wishes for Samhain, Diwali, All Soul's Day, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hallowe'en. You don't have a religious festival for ages, then they all come along at once... ;)




All Soul's Day

Hallowe'en (tattoo!)

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Illustration Friday: Broken

Originally uploaded by incurable_hippie.
Illustration Friday.

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