Sunday, 30 December 2012

When realisation dawns

Is this the last Occupy London "General Assembly"?
Agenda

Proposal – Climate Siren Costs
CONSENSUS – Only 3 attendees consent, all others STAND ASIDE – £500 between 4 people.

Proposal – Obstruction Charges Indemnity
CONSENSUS – £500 indemnity granted.

Discussion – The future of GAs
This is wonderful; in a nutshell, four activists were convicted for buggering around outside of Buckingham Palace and another two are up in court for obstructing a police officer. Both events unrelated to Occupy. They now want Occupy to cover their court costs but only two of them could be arsed to turn up to make their case. In a fit of apathy, the proposals are let through.

So why the apathy? Well it's taken them a while but reading through the minutes they've finally realised that:

  • The professional activists, basically the inner circle and defacto leaders of Occupy London, like George Barda and Naomi Colvin fucked off long ago.
  • No one outside of the inner circle had any say in the major decisions or actions of Occupy London.
  • The homeless and even the named defendant for the St. Paul's camp Tammy Samede were "cynically used to further the cause."
  • Hypocrisy reigns.

And there you have it; Occupy London has fulfilled its purpose - furthering the careers and enhancing the profiles of the professional activists through media attention and anyone else can get to fuck.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The professionally offended

Some Scousers have reported a Scouser to the police for mocking Scousers and the Hillsborough disaster:
A MAN was arrested after launching a foul-mouthed tirade against Liverpool and making offensive remarks about the Hillsborough disaster in an online video. 
Merseyside Police said a 25-year-old man from the city centre was arrested yesterday after they were alerted to the video on their Twitter feed.
It is understood the video clip was posted on the man’s Facebook page and later uploaded on YouTube yesterday.
Although police refused to confirm the name of the man being held for questioning, his video was believed to contain rants about Scousers, calling them drug addicts and wishing them dead.
So fucking what? You've seen something you don't like on the internet but instead of just ignoring it you try and fuck up someone's life by reporting them to the police? And that's a logical and proportionate response? And the police have nothing better to do?

What the internet does is that it distances and depersonalises the perpetrator from the complainant. Put it this way, years ago when I did bar work, if one of the regulars had a few to drink and then started on a Nick Griffin-style rant about the "nig-nogs" then I'd tell them to shut up or get the fuck out. Problem dealt with, no police involved. Now imagine if that rant was a series of tweets...

Trying to understand the mentality, people are reporting this stuff to the police because they see the stories in the papers where action has been taken. It's also very easy to report such a "crime" when most police forces have Twitter and Facebook accounts and a complaint can be made with a quick tweet or wall post.

As for solutions, I still maintain that unless the police want to be swamped with complaints because someone is being a dick on the internet is to only deal with the most serious, sustained, and credible threats and harassment whilst at same time prosecuting those wasting police time in a high profile manner. Besides, if you can't handle someone being a dick on the internet without running to the police, you probably shouldn't be on the internet.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Merry fucking Christmas from the police

A notice of intended prosecution for speeding came through the door today - details posted here will be sparse for legal reasons. I don't expect any sympathy from readers either.

There's three things that piss me off about this - the timing is annoying given we've just spent a load of money over Christmas, the infraction was so minor and we're talking just over the speed limit here, but perhaps worst of all is the bluntness of the NIP; my reaction to it, like with any unexpected bill, was "fuck you". Now that isn't the attitude it should engender and does nothing for road safety whereas pulling someone over they believe to be speeding and giving them a bollocking before sending them on their way is likely to be far more effective at getting the message across. You win hearts and minds by reasoning with people, not by sending them an anonymous demand for £60. That this approach is taken means that it is all about revenue raising and not keeping the roads safe.

I'm fortunate that this is an irritant rather than a financial burden and since work is quiet I have some time to challenge it. So I'll be demanding the usual photographs, equipment calibration and operator training certificates, and anything else relevant to at the very least cost them money and waste their time but with a view to having the NIP rescinded. If an offence has taken place then we'll take the hit and the police can go ahead and bank 60 cheques for £1 with a big spunky cock and balls on the back of each one. Will this change anything? No. Is this the wrong attitude to take? Possibly. Is this stupid and immature? Yep. Will it make me feel better? Definitely. 

A compensation claim in the making

No let up in the festive cheer from me:
My husband's £35 Christmas lunch was a ready meal in a plastic bag: Wife's anger at pub's 'rubbish' dinner...
Yes, that's because you spent £35 per head at a chain pub you daft bint. Anything even half decent you're looking at £100 upwards and booking well in advance.
‘It looked like something I could pick up from Iceland for £1.99,’ said the mother of four.
And that's probably about what it cost the pub for the ingredients as most of your money will be going on keeping the pub open and paying the staff overtime for working on Christmas Day.
Mrs Chaplin said she felt ripped off after paying almost £400 for the meal for 11 at The Cricketers in Rainham, Kent.
For £400, Waitrose would have delivered everything to your door in a state where you could just bung it in the oven with no preparation. You'd get a fair amount of booze with that as well.
She had decided to take her family out for Christmas lunch as a treat for her father, Bob Lander, 62.
‘This time of year is always hard for my dad because my mum died at Christmas some 13 years ago, so we always try to make it extra special for him,’ said Mrs Chaplin, 41.
That's a nice thought, but hang on...
She said she was most disappointed for her father, who suffers from emphysema and had saved up his pension money to pay for his meal.
Takes her dad out for lunch and makes him pay for it - cheap cunt.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Hippies out

Finally:
Squatters, who have filled Friern Barnet library shelves with 8,000 books, handed six-week stay of execution before eviction
Now you can't say that they've been treated unfairly given they've been squatting for three months and allowed nearly half that on top to pack their things and bugger off.

When the Guardian ran the first story on this, it omitted some pretty important stuff which was rather damning to the squatters, and they're trying to mislead with this one:  
"This is a victory for the library campaigners," said squatter Pete Phoenix, a member of the Occupy movement. "The judge has recognised the right to protest in buildings closed down due to local authority cuts."
No - the judge has not recognised this at all and here's why; Phoenix used exactly the same defence as was used in the Occupy St. Paul's case in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, namely that removing the protestors from their place of protest would breach the their rights under Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The Occupy St. Paul's cases were thrown out in both courts and the judgements can be summed up in short as we recognise your right to protest but you can't do it here and whilst you may consider the reasons for your protest important, we can't take the political merit of them into account. The same applies in this case.
She [District judge Patricia Pearl] recognised the right of the protesters to freedom of expression and assembly and acknowledged that to remove the campaigners from the premises would infringe those human rights. However, Pearl added that it was necessary to remove them to allow the council to engage with a bidding process for the library's future. 
"Removal of the protesters only limits their right to protest in the building. It does not fetter their right to protest entirely," she said.
Yep, so the rights of the owners, the council, trump those of the squatters and the squatters can protest with whoever they want against whatever they like, just not in the former library building that doesn't belong to them.
Ugo Hayter of Leigh Day & Co solicitors said: "This is a significant case. It's very important that the judge recognised the community library campaigners' right to protest was protected."
It really isn't. We quite rightly allow protest in this country, and that this "protest" has been going on for over three months shows that we're remarkably tolerant of it.

So what now?
The council may not see the back of the protesters for a while because they hope to have the judgment revoked at the court of appeal.
Which it won't be because of the judgement in the Court of Appeal on the Occupy St. Paul's case:
62 Of course, each case turns on its facts, and where Convention rights are engaged, case law indicates that the court must examine the facts under a particularly sharp focus. Nonetheless, in future cases of this nature (where the facts involve a demonstration which involves not merely occupying public land, but doing so for more than a short period and in a way which not only is in breach of statute but substantially interferes with the rights of others), it should be possible for the hearing to be disposed of at first instance more quickly than in the present case or in Hall [2010] EWHC 1613.
64 We recognise, of course, that it is one thing for the Court of Appeal to make that sort of observation about a hypothetical future claim, and that it can be quite another thing for a trial judge, faced with a difficult actual claim, to comply with it. Nonetheless, with the benefit of the guidance given in two first instance judgments and two judgments of the Court of Appeal (and the Strasbourg and domestic decisions referred to above), it is not unreasonable to hope that future cases of this sort will be capable of being disposed of more expeditiously.
65 Not least for that reason, this judgment, like that in Hall [2011] 1 WLR 504, may be cited as an authority, notwithstanding that it is a decision refusing permission to appeal.
tl;dr version: Refer to this judgement when hippies try similar shit in future.

On a final note, given that the council shut the library due to "Evil Tory Cuts", what possible sense does it make to waste even more of the council's funds on a legal case that will fail because of a precedent that Occupy, of which Phoenix is a member, in part set?

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Tax-dodging activists

Oh no, Prince Charles is apparently dodging tax!:
HMRC has been asked to investigate alleged tax avoidance by Prince Charles's £700m hereditary estate.
That's asked by an anti-monarchy group to investigate alleged tax avoidance by the way. But I don't care about that, here's what I'm interested in:
This argument presents three problems for Charles, [Richard] Murphy said. It is not true that only companies pay corporation tax – HMRC's tax rules say "unincorporated associations" and "groups of individuals carrying on a business that is not a partnership" are among the categories of organisations that must pay the tax.
My bold. Given that UK Uncut are neither a charity or incorporated, nor appear to have any formal constitution they will be an "unincorporated association". So where's their corporation tax payment then?

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Goat burning in Sweden

One of those weird and wonderful Christmas traditions from around the world is that of the Gävle goat. For those unaware, it is 3.6 tonne, 13m tall goat built from straw in time for the start of advent in the Swedish city of Gävle. You can view it from a webcam and it looks something like this:


Unfortunately, this year's incarnation met a fiery death due to arson and now looks something like this:


That isn't unusual as it tends to get burnt down every other year and I have to admit that some of the attraction is to see if it actually lasts the Christmas season or gets torched. Over the years, it has been set alight using a flaming arrow and in 2009, the webcams were knocked out by a DoS attack so the arsonists could burn it without being filmed. There are some pretty dedicated and resourceful goat-burners out there...

Today though, I read an interview with the Chairman of the Goat Committee (yep, really!) and this part stood out:
It's one of Sweden's most famous trademarks all over the world ... I think last year it was burned down after five days, and we had about 100 visitors. The year before that we had 225,000 visitors from over 125 countries. It's very famous all over the world. What's going to happen with some of the visitors this year, I don't know yet.
In 2010 it didn't burn down so assuming those figures are correct, an unburnt goat clearly brings in a lot of  business to the city. The goat is funded by local traders and it used to have a security guard and a back-up goat in case the original was burnt down. Those are no longer affordable, and even less so if the tourists don't turn up and spend money. That's the serious side of this - the hit that the traders take in lost business because of a burnt goat is no doubt substantial.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Interesting stats from the recent by-elections

The success of UKIP and the failure of the Lib-Dems in the by-elections on Thursday has been done to death so I've taken a different look at it. Here's some stats from the lower end of the voting results:
Rotherham
Marlene Guest (BNP) 1,804 (8.46%, -1.96%)
Ralph Dyson (TUSC) 261 (1.22%)
Middlesbrough
Peter Foreman (BNP) 328 (1.94%, -3.90%)
John Malcolm (TUSC) 277 (1.64%)
Croydon North
Richard Edmonds (National Front) 161 (0.66%)
Ben Stevenson (Communist) 119 (0.48%, +0.17%)
Now I've picked these deliberately as, at least in terms of managing the economy, you couldn't get fag paper between them - nationalisation, protectionism, up the workers, tax the rich, tax the banks, etc. What it does show is that if you're a party with socialist/communist economic policies, then you'll get more votes if you combine it with a "wogs out" policy. Judging by the low number of votes for this lot, I'd suggest that the country wants neither.