the Disillusioned kid: May 2006
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Friday, May 26, 2006

George Galloway and his unending pursuit of consensus

I'm not exactly the world's biggest fan of "Gorgeous" George Galloway. To be honest I think he's a reheated Stalinoid with an ego even larger than his car. He also has has quite the habit of spouting ill-considered shite, which all too often plays into the hands of the media who are more than happy to use him as a large stick to swing indiscriminately in the direction of the wider anti-war movement. What is intriguing, however, is the way that the media respond to his little outbursts.

Inexplicably, his praise for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad passed largely without comment. By contrast his comments about the hypothetical assasination of Tony Blair have generated quite the controversy. As ever with these things there's a lot of nonsense about what was and wasn't said and - typically - the interview doesn't seem to be available online. (The GQ site is here if anybody wants to have a look and prove me wrong.) Instead, let us turn to the account carried in the Indie:
In an interview with GQ magazine, the reporter asked him: "Would the assassination of, say, Tony Blair by a suicide bomber - if there were no other casualties - be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq?"

Mr Galloway replied: "Yes, it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it - but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7. It would be entirely logical and explicable. And morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq - as Blair did."
This strikes me as a little confused. Galloway suggests that such an attack would be "justified" and then avers that it is "morally equivalent" to the invasion of Iraq, which is strange, because he'd always given the distinct impression that he considered the latter deeply wrong.

Lenin, does a rather good job of articulating an alternative and rather more satisfying response to the interviewer's (actually rather strange) question:
He should have said that the best way to spread Blair's philosophy would be to blow his brains out. He should have said that if the Nuremberg laws were applied, he and several of his cronies would be hanging over the Tyburn. He should have said that the only tragedy in the instance of Blair perishing in a suicide attack would be the loss of life on the part of the executor. He should have said that at least if we hung the cabinet, no innocent lives would be lost.

But what do you expect? - the guy's a reformist, a former Labour Party member, of course he's going to let emotions cloud his judgment.
Anyway, as one might expect, the usual suspects are getting all het up about this for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps tellingly, the Indie doesn't seem to have been able to find anybody outside the Parliamentary Labour Party to criticise Galloway. They do claim that "the Stop the War Coalition criticised Mr Galloway," but the sum total of their evidence for this claim amounts to a mildly worded statement about not agreeing with suicide bombings. Anybody who's ever been to a StWC event will realise just how unlikely even the idea of the Coalition criticising Galloway is. In the place of anything approaching independent criticism we are subjected to the Stephen Pound and Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram who appear to have removed their heads from Tony Blair's rectum just long enough to offer their ten-pennies' worth. Ingram's accusation that Galloway is "dipping his poisonous tongue in a pool of blood" seems particularly hypocritical.

Doubtless at this juncture I should insert the ubiquitous disclaimer that of course assasinating Blair isn't going to miraculously save the world and that suicide bombings targetted against civillians are unjustifiable. That said, that is hardly the issue here, as Tony Blair is innocent in only the most distorted source of the term. I've never really understood why suicide bombings are regarded as so much worse than any other way of violently ending people's lives. If anything, one could argue it's morally better because the perpetrator dies in the process which would seem to be at least as severe as an punishment likely to be meted out by the courts. Nevertheless, if anybody reading this is thinking about assasinating Blair, it's probably better to shoot him. Less chance of involving any genuine innocents.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The spirit of Mary Whitehouse is alive and well

I love this story about the nude sunbather who got dragged into court by her prudish neighbour. I'm amused by the idea that when confronted by a fellow human being in their birthday suit, there are people who experience such revulsion that they feel the need to rush off, grab the camcorder and start filming (stopping - one assumes - only long enough to remove the video evidence of their BDSM sessions with the milkman). One has to wonder why she didn't just shut the blinds.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Citizen Saqib

Frankly I was pretty sceptical about the brouhaha that flared up around the deportation of foreign prisoners "scandal". You know, the one where "foreigners" (a term which requires some clarification as we shall see) people convicted of crimes weren't considered for deportation after having served their sentences. This obviously dovetails far too comfortably with the government's ongoing efforts to ship evildoers off to countries where they are likely to experience distasteful sharp implement/bodily orifice interfaces. The focus on those who reoffended also raised the dubious implication that this would have been fine if only they'd done it in Foreign.

Sceptical as I was, I never thought the racist, authoritarian shits we fawningly describe as "our government" would stoop so low as to try and deport a British citizen. Unfortunately, it appears that things have now got so bad, that they are actually worse than even I'd dared contemplate. Enter stage left Saqib Almas. Unfortunately, for the timebeing, Saqib's story only seems to have been picked up by that paragon of journalistic clarity that is the Socialist Worker, but their openly wielded hatchet aside, it's no more in their interests to make up a story than it is for any of the coprorate media. As ever, one simply has to sift through the sledgehammer rhetoric to get to the important information within.

Saqib was born in Pakistan to a mother who was a British citizen who just happened to be visiting and was brought up in Blighty from the age of eighteen months. He has a criminal record the details of which aren't explained anywhere in the piece, but his sister suggests that this is for "minor offences" and has served his sentence. Following the whole deportation "scandal" the government has decided to look tough by rounding up ex-cons with foreign connections and shipping them back to "where they came from." This was how it came to pass that two vans of police and immigration officials turned up for Saqib at 8 in the morning and dragged him off to Harmondsworth Detention Centre to be flown "back" to Pakistan. In his own words he says - not unreasonably - that it feels as though he has been "kidnapped by the state."

If Saqib was white and about to be deported to Zimbabwe there would be a national outcry. Let's see if anybody in our wonderful, glorious free press can get off their self-congratulatory arses long enough to investigate the treatment meted out to Saqib. I'm not holding my breath.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

I hear Cuba's lovely at this time of year...

Dan once described Guantanamo Bay - known as 'Gitmo' to those of us down with the kids - as "[B]entham's panopticon in the 21st century, an institution of total control where surveillance is complete and freedom is evaporated." The situation he describes seems an accurate assesment of what the American administrators would like the camp to be, but the inmates seem to have a different idea. Following hunger strikes and attempted suicides, they yesterday instigated a small-scale insurrection, attacking their captors with rudimentary weapons fashioned from fans and light fixtures. The BBC suggests that guards -armed with pepper spray and "non-lethal shotgun rounds" - took an hour to "quell" the uprising.

Facing overwhelming odds and an enemy who have shown themselves to have little compunction about utilising extreme violence there was never any chance of the uprising amounting to much, although if only the protagonists weren't Muslims one can imagine Hollywood producers fighting over the film rights. Nevertheless, it has helped to keep the festering sore on the world's (already deeply troubled conscience) that Gitmo represents, in the forefront of people's minds, perhaps helping to expediate its long-awaited demise. The fortuitous timing of the uprising has helped to foucus attention on contemporaneous calls on the part of the UN Committee against Torture - part of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights - for the closure of Gitmo.

In a not unrelated story I was amazed to discover in the latest issue of New Internationalist that Gitmo has its very own branch of Starfucks. Yes that's right, after a hard day or torturing brown skinned men with beards you can relax with a warm Mocca-chocca-latte-chino and forget about the difficulties of life on the frontline in the "War on Terror." (See here for more on this.)

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Memory lapse

I'm crap at remembering important dates; birthdays, anniversaries, commemorations, Days of Action, all of these and more have a habit of secreting themselves in the darkest recesses of my mind and hiding there until the day itself has passed. This appears to have been the case with the first anniversary of the Andijan massacre.

Back in the day I wrote about this and the situation Uzbekistan extensively (peruse the relevent drop down menu to your right if you're interested), but with one thing and another, it's an issue which seems to have dropped by the wayside. The only reason I remembered the anniversary at all - despite protests taking place across the globe - was Ringverse's post drawing attention to it, which kindly includes a link to yours truly. As Ringverse notes, this seems to be an attrocity the world has forgotten about. As ever it behooves those of us who do remember (however belatedly) to maintain the faith.

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Why don't they just burn down the Reichstag and be done with it?

The people who brought you the Terrorism Act 2000, the Anti-Terror Crime and Security Act 2001, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, the Identity Card Act 2006, Asbos, the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill and the shoot-to-kill policy now propose to bring you the destruction of the Human Rights Act 1998. Apparently these arseholes won't be happy until they have destroyed every single last one of our civil liberties.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

V for Victory

Regular readers will be familiar with the struggle of the Chagossians which I've followed fairly closely. All too often the tone of this coverage has been pessimistic, negative and defeatist. Today, however, we (that is those of us who support the Chagossians' fight) have got something to celebrate: yesterday the High Court ruled in their favour taking them one step closer to their long-denied dream of returning home.

You may or may not remember that in December last year the Chagossians went to the High Court to challenge the Orders in Council which prevented them from returning to the islands from which they were evicted forty-odd-years ago. The Orders passed in 2004 (entirely coincidentally on the same day as European and Local Elections) are a Royal Prerogative power which allow ministers to make decisions without Parliamentary scrutiny or approval. The Chagossians' legal team challenged the use of these powers, arguing that Ministers had exceeded their legal scope.

The ruling itself is written in the snappy, succinct style for which the British judiciary are so famous, so I haven't as yet read the whole thing. Nevertheless, a quick skim suggests that one of the key points was the issue of "irrationality." This for those of you without law degrees, is one of the grounds under which decisions can be challenged in a judicial review. It's a term with a specific definition known as Wednesbury unreasonableness after case which established it. This asks, in the words of Lord Greene, if the decision was "so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could ever have come to it." The judges seem to have concluded that the decision in this case was unreasonable on the basis that it was made without any reference to the interests of the "BIOT" (British Indian Ocean Territory, what the British state calls the Chagos Archipelago). Quoth their Lordships:
We make it clear that we are not making any judgment about the defence interests of the United Kingdom or the United States- all that we are saying is that the validity of the Order in Council made by the Queen in right of BIOT has to be tested by reference to the interests of BIOT. This Order in Council conspicuously does not do that.
They also suggest that the islanders' High Court victory in 2000 created a "legitimate expectation" on the part of the Chagossians and "that their right of abode in the Territory would continue to be respected by the defendant and would not be taken away without prior consultation with them, and there was none."

Many commentators have described the Chagossians' victory in terms of their having won the right to return to their island homes. Shortly after the ruling, Olivier Bancoult, the de facto leader of the Chagossians community, averred:
We have won a historic judgement in our favour to allow us to return to our homeland.

Our next step is that we will go to our birthplace as soon as we can. The right of the people who have been banished for so many years has been returned.
One should be wary of getting carried away at this point. Recall that the islanders have won the right to return once before, back in 2000. Then the High Court ruled their expulsion was illegal. Afterwards the government not only refused to allow the islanders to resettle, but produced a series of reports claiming resettlement would be prohibitively expensive. When nobody took these seriously they resorted to the Royal Prerogative, which brings us more or less up-to-date. I'd love to think that after this ruling the government would do the decent thing and blow their own brains out. In reality we can expect further prevarication.

In all likelihood, this prevarication will kick off with an appeal which could stretch things out for months, perhaps even years. The lovely people at the UK Chagos Support Association are encouraging supporters to write to the brand spanking new Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett urging her not to follow this route "in the interests of justice and humanity." Unfortunately, neither of these are characteristics for which New Labour ministers are renowned so this may just be pissing in the wind, but there's no harm in trying and if you want to do just that you can get in touch here:
Margaret Beckett,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
King Charles Street,
Remember to put your contact details if you want them to reply.

Even if the government decide not to appeal, they still have a veto over any plans to return. The agreement struck between the US and UK all owing the former to operate a military base on Diego Garcia under which both sides have a veto over who lives on the island. According to Auntie, "The US says it opposes any return on security grounds." This is patently cant given the total absence of evidence that the Chagossians pose a threat to anything other than Anglo-American claims to humanitarianism. Richard Gifford, the islanders' London-based lawyer, suggested that the judgement stated that the Americans only needed Diego Garcia for a base: "This should help the UK to say that the Outer Islands can be recovered for occupation." Bancoult echoed this suggestions promising, "The Chagossians are willing to co-habit with the Americans but they have never shown an interest in that." (In case you care I've touched on the possibility of co-habitation previously.)

In related news, the boys and girls over at Lalit have uncovered a worrying story at goings on (and near goings down) on Diego Garcia itself:
In the past 10 days, Lalit has received emails informing us of two serious near-disasters involving aeroplanes on and around Mauritian Islands of Diego Garcia, occupied by the United Kingdom and the United States Armed Forces. At the same time, Air Traffic Control in Mumbai reports that the incident in their Flight Information Route was the third in 10 days, whereas they expect 6 a year. They blame US military craft from Diego Garcia.
From the people who brought you "friendly fire": fly by the seat of your pants flying:
The first incident was a “near miss” on 2 May involving an Air India commercial passenger flight AI-962 en route between Jeddah and Kerala, reported in Daily News and Analysis Sunday night. The military plane believed to be from Diego Garcia military base was only 500 feet lower than the commercial flight instead of the regulation 1,600 metre for vertical separation, and this proximity set off the commercial plan’es Traffic Collision Avoidence System (TCAS). The Air India pilot then had to take his plane up an additional 1,500 feet. “A TCAS resolution alert warns only when there is a high probability for collision,” airport sources in Mumbai told the Daily News and Analysis. “This is a serious safety hazard,” said a senior Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) officer in Mumbai. The incident was also reported in Le Mauricien of 8 May.

The second incident was a belly landing, that is with the wheels not down, of a B1 Bomber on the Diego Garcia runway, where it skidded along for 7,500 feet and caught fire, reported by Air Force Times. About one million dollars damage is estimated by the Air Force Times. The B-1B, according to the Air Force Times comes from the Texas Dyess Air Force Base. It had been on a mission to Guam. The Air Force are not saying what the incident was due to.
That Indian air traffic controllers expect six such incidents as year is worrying enough, but note the sudden and very extreme increase. Have American pilots simply ended up with a duff load of speed or is this indicative of preparations for an attack on Iran?

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Flogging a dead cow

Often when reading American blogs, it is tempting to console yourself by postulating that the the craziness which they all too often find themselves dominated by (Christian fundamentalism, ultrapatriotism, brain-dead politicians, Ann Coulter etc.) could never happen on this side of the Atlantic. It's a nice, reassuring thought, kind of like an intellectual comfort blanket. Problem is, it's bollocks.

Witness the TGI Fridays adverts currently doing the rounds in the States, much to the chagrin of assorted feminist-types. Twisty, who dismisses the commercials as "asinine beyond belief," summarises it in her inimitable fashion:
four dudely young morons boo-yah over some disgusting meat entree (served, no doubt, on a bed of Velveeta, Jack Daniels, and bacon fat). Meat, meat, meat, and then one femmy guy tries to boo-yah a sprig of broccoli, whereupon the other three basically call him a faggot until he waggles a sausage in the air, reaffirming the meatly phallocentricity of the group. Meat = dick, vegetables = pussy, nonconformity and gender ambiguity weaken male cohesion, etc.
Not wanting to be outdone, Burger King have adopted a similar strategy to flog their dead cows, as Shakespeare's Sister explains:
A guy and a girl sit at a table together. The guy throws down his fork and jumps up into a song-and-dance routine, braying about how he’s not going to eat “chick food” anymore. He sings and dances his way to Burger King to get a ginormous burger, joined by other men who are all doing the same. The refrain of this song is “I am man, hear me roar, I’m incorrigible, I eat meat.” Spray-painted signs declaring “I Am Man” are unfurled off of overpasses. An Asian man in a business suit collapses onto the sidewalk, hungrily tearing into a Double Whopper. “I’ve eaten quiche, but I won’t anymore,” the men’s chorus sings. The men riot and toss a mini-van off a bridge, which lands in the back of a dump truck being towed by an old man clad in leather, who’s being led forward by a woman bearing a burger on a silver tray, just out of his reach. “I am man! I eat meat!”
Take a handful of heteronormativity, add an illiberal sprinkling of patriarchy, a slosh of speciesism and voila! Sales go up, waist-lines go up and life expectancies go down. Big up the fast-food industry.

None of this should be particularly surprising. Amanda points readers in the general direction of Carol J. Adams who has been drawing these connections for donkeys' years, most famously in her The Sexual Politics of Meat (whichI have to confess I haven't read). Nonetheless, while reading all this I managed to convince myself it couldn't happen here. We're more sophisticated I told myself. We would never be so crude.

How wrong I was...

This (which you can click to enlarge) was posted through my door earlier today. Note the way that meat is associated with strength and - at least impliedly - sexuality. Your very manhood is determined by whether or not you maintain a sufficient intake of dead animals. If you should fail in your duty to maintain this intake tean it is incumbent upon your female partner to "drag" you to an appropriate meat dispensary (cooking it at home is clearly insufficient) and put this right. Maybe you should go the whole hog and move to the States while you're at it. Just to make sure.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Word of the day: Neuro-typicality.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Belated blogging against bad stuff

As I mentioned on Tuesday, Monday was not only International Workers Day, but also Blog Against Disablism Day. While I missed the day itself I did say I'd write something and genuinely intended to. Unfortunately it's now almost a week later and I still haven't written anything. This isn't because I've changed my mind about doing so or because I've been particularly busy, but rather because I couldn't think of anything much to say. I have felt for sometime that disabled rights is an important issue and one which receives insuffficient attention from most activists, lefties and anarchists. However, as an able-bodied, white, fairly middle-class, male with little experience of oppression how am I to discuss such issues without resorting to vacuous platitudes?

Making my way through the plethora of posts written as part of the day, I found one piece on the Memory Hole which raised many of the questions I had been ruminating on. Cassandra05 also pointed to an article by occasional Disillusioned kid comrade Alex Doherty who by way of a convoluted introduction quoted feminist Andrea Dworkin on a discussion she had once had with her father on the subject of racism:
He told me he had racist feelings against blacks. I said that was impossible because he was for civil rights. He explained the kinds of feelings he had and why they were wrong. He also explained that as a teacher and then later as a guidance counsellor he worked with black children and he had to make sure his racist feelings didn’t harm them. From my father I learned that having these feelings didn’t justify them; that “good” people had bad feelings and that didn’t make the feelings any less bad; that dealing with racism was a process, something a person tangled with actively. The feelings were wrong and a “good” person took responsibility for facing them down.
This, Alex suggests, is in all likelihood a common reality amongst those fighting the good fight, but one all to rarely admitted. "Most of us, (myself included), too often take the line of the young Dworkin- 'since I am for civil rights I therefore cannot have racist feelings.' Or 'since I am pro-feminist I therefore cannot have sexist tendencies' According to this conception prejudice is not an emotional or an institutional issue but rather a logical one."

I have encountered some evidence of this in my travels through the activist milieu and it is perhaps of value to consider at least one example briefly. It would appear to be axiomatic that the consumate anarchist is opposed to patriarchy and finding one who'll admit to being sexist is like looking for a Catholic who doesn't believe in God. Nevertheless, when males decide one day to describe themselves as "anarchists" that doesn't mean on that day they suddenly lose any sexist prejudices or stop benefiting from the privileges with which patriarchy furnishes us. All too often we bring these things with us into the anarchist tent where they proceed to piss the hell out of any women who have the misfortune of getting trodden on as we rush to profess our revolutionary purity. When I was involved in Lenton Anarchist Forum (before the inevitable split and my decision to establish my own faction here in Essex) it was notable that discussions would all too often be dominated by males, even where they had little or nothing of value to contribute. As you may have guessed given my tendency to go on at length about whatever's getting my goat up this week, more often than not, I was among the guilty parties. This is not something I'm proud of and I should have done more to rectify the situation - which I was aware of even at the time - but to admit that I was in the wrong is a crucial first step.

(There's much more to be said on this particular point which is of particular interest - for obvious reasons - to anarcha-feminists. Although not specifically anarchist-related, I'd like to humbly suggest you make a point of checking out this post by Chris Clarke in which he explains why he is not a feminist - or this one by Twisty Faster, whence the Clarke link originates, in which she ruminates about whether "Liberal White Dudes" can be feminists.)

Hopefully the application of this argument to disablism should be obvious. The mere fact that I assert my oposition to discrimination against those classified as "disabled" - which I do unequivocably - does not mean that I haven't been guilty of such discrimination at times. I am very aware that when I am around disabled people I am always very concious of that fact. No doubt I act differently around them. While I would never be deliberately offensive or anything so crude it is entirely possible that my differential response does impact upon its subject. At times it may even be tempting to remove myself from the situation. None of this is commendable and I do not publish any of this in pursuit of your sympathy. Far from it.

Intriguingly, Pacian suggests in his magisterial post on discrimination against those with hearing difficulties that even suffering from a disability yourself doesn't preclude the possibility of you discriminating against somebody with a different disability. This shouldn't be all that surprising. We are familiar with analagous examples, such those who have suffered racism exhibiting it towards those from other racial groups. One thinks of the apparently racially motivated firebombings of asian businesses which appear to have been carried out by a black man. Somebody more relaxed about controversy than I might also point to the Jewish diaspora's generations long sufferance of anti-Semitism and draw paralells with Israeli treatment of the Palestinians.

Doubtless, the foregoing may appear pessimistic even depressing, but this needn't neccesarily be the case. We may not completely have thrown off the chains of patriarchy, but women have won many rights and achieved freedoms which previous generations could only dream of. Ditto racism. It may not be gone entirely - as the apparent upsurge in supoort for the fascist bottom feeders of the BNP demonstrates - but again we've come a long way. Witness the demise of the Black and White Minstrels and the palimpsest of statutory regulation on the matter (as superficial as much of that is).

"So," you may be thinking, "The kid makes a compelling case for the possibility of change, but how, pray, does one go about achieving such a transformation in attitudes?" Well, obviously there aren't any easy answers, but I would suggest that one of the best ways to overcome prejudice is through common struggle. Some of my Trot friends like to tell a story about the Miners' Strike. The imaginatively titled Yorkshire Miner was a monthly journal produced by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). By all accounts this was an important, militant journal which played an important role in the organisation of the strike. It supplemented it's political analysis and calls to action with its very own "Page Three Stunner." In each edition, the wife or girlfriend of some lucky miner would be pictured wearing not-much-at-all with an accompanying suggestive caption. (At least they didn't go the way of today's Sun and start attributing facile commentary on newsworthy events to the young ladies).

There had been a campaign for some years to get this out of the paper, although it met with little success. NUM big cheese Arthur Scargill even went on TV to defend the feature. He opined that the images were a way to get miners to read the rest of the paper and dismissed the controversy as "a storm in a B-cup". When the strike got underway, women played a crucial role, with miners' wives being particularly prominent. This clearly opened Scargill's eyes and at a major demonstration organised by miners' wives, he announced that he'd been wrong about the slot. Women weren't just eye candy for male union members and were in fact class warriors in their own right. Furthermore, he promised that the page three feature would be abolished immediately. As you might expect the women in attendance were delighted, but the important thing is that the thousands of male unionists applauded along with their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers. Objectification had been replaced with solidarity.

Fortunately, Arthur Scargill is no longer a major player in radical politics, but the general point is hopefully obvious. Here endeth todays lesson.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

We should do this every Monday!

May 1st been a key date in every activist's diary since the 1880's when the American state directed its repressive machinery at the anarchist movement in Chicago. The day's history has not always been entirely glorious - one recalls the images of massed ranks of Red Army soldiers marching through Moscow. Nevertheless, the spirit of the day lives on. This year's seems to have been particularly memorable.

In the States, immigrants and their supporters held a "General Strike" to protest against the US crackdown on immigration and legislation such as HR 4437. Hundreds of thousands - perhaps even millions - of immigrant workers failed to turn up for work, and there were huge protests across the country. Protests appear to have been largely peaceful, although there were some clashes. This is the third in a series of nationwide days of action around this issue and one assumes that it won't be the last.

There were solidarity demonstrations throughout Latin America (whence the vast majority of the US's immigrants originate). Many Mexicans observed a "Day Without Gringos"," a total boycott of all US produced goods. There were also a number of demos outside the US Embassy in Mexico including one attended by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos the charismatic spokesperson of the Ejercitio Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional (EZLN).

Elsewhere, Iranian workers in Tehran rallied outside the headquarters of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company in support of their ongoing struggle with the management. In India, 4,000 sex workers held a silent march through Kolkata, the state capital of Marxist-ruled West Bengal to protest government plans to ban prostitution. Bolivia's Evo Morales chose Mayday to send troops to occupy the country's gas fields - an apparent precursor to nationalisation. In the Philippines, demonstrators demanded the removal of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Meanwhile, Germany witnessed the traditional Mayday riots as anarchists and autonomists fought pitched battles with Neo-Nazis.

The annual TUC organised march is a venerable institution, but proved to be rather less exciting than many of its foreign counterparts. The march attracted a few thousands activists and unionists who formed up at Clerkenwell Green. The march is famous for its diversity and in this respect I wasn't disappointed. There were participants representing parties from around the world. The proliferation of hammers, sickles and images of assorted glorious leaders was less than encouraging, but it was one of the loudest demos I've been on for a while with a wide range of music playing from the word go.

Not wanting to associate myself too closely with the assorted hodgepodge of commies, Trots and re-heated Stalinoids I tagged along with the Autonomist Bloc. Truth be told, I'm not 100% sure what autonomism actually is, but then I'm not sure most of the other people there were either and the ubiquity of red and black flags suggested that a sizeable chunk of my autonomist comrades were most likely anarchists. We certainly seem to have attracted the attention of the attendant coppers and I could have sworn that the vast majority of the bobbies at the march were escorting us.

Inspite of the heavy police presence the march was largely uneventful - some might even say dull - right up to the end. When we got to Trafalgar Square things suddenly became confrontational. There was some pushing and shoving and at least one person seemed to get dragged off, albeit with a number of others trying to "de-arrest" him. It appears that things kicked off after the fuzz tried to stop us taking out sound system into the square. The excitement didn't last long, perhaps two or three minutes after which we relocated to the corner of the square for an open-mic. At this point I toddled off for a wander which seems a good place to end this piss-poor excuse for an acount, although those of you who haven't fallen asleep already can marvel at my photographic record of the day's "events" here.

It also merits note that yesterday was Blog Against Disableism Day. This is clearly an important issue and one which receives much less attention than I think it deserves. I had intended to participate, but with one thing and another, never got around to it. All being well I intend to write something on the matter in the next few days, although I wouldn't hold your breath. In the meantime go check out what other people have to say.

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