The Open-Air Street Artists of Ashby Mews, Brockley, a set on Flickr.
Before Brockley, in south east London, was mugged by the selfish and arrogant forces of gentrification, with the arrival of the upgraded East London Line, it had been a haven for Bohemians for many decades — with artists, writers and musicians all taking advantage of its leafiness and its affordability.
At the heart of Brockley are broad, tree-lined Victorian streets, mostly built in the 1880s and 1890s, when the former fields of Brockley were opened up to developers with the arrival of the railway. These roads form a conservation area, first designated as such by Lewisham Council in 1973, in recognition of the area’s “special architectural and historic interest,” which was extended in 1991, 1993 and 2005. Read the rest of this entry »
In the last two weeks, the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay enjoyed a brief resurgence of interest as pre-trial hearings took place in the cases of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men accused of directing and supporting the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national accused of masterminding the attack on the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen in October 2000, in which 17 US sailors were killed, when suicide bombers blew up a bomb-laden boat beside the warship.
Guantánamo has largely been ignored during the Presidential election campaign, even though 166 men still languish there, and over half of them — 86 men in total — have been cleared for release for at least three years (although in many cases for far longer), and one of these men — Adnan Latif, a Yemeni — died in September, eight years after the authorities first decided that they had no interest in holding him any longer.
The ongoing detention of these men ought to be a major news story, but instead it is generally overlooked, and the media’s attention is largely reserved for pre-trial hearings in the cases of the men mentioned above, even though these hearings are generally inconclusive, and involve prosecutors following the government’s position — which focuses on hiding all mention of torture by US forces — while the prisoners’ defense teams argue that justice cannot be delivered if the torture of these men is not mentioned. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s far too easy, nowadays, for people to sit back and let sweeping and deadly political changes take place because they believe that resistance is futile, but if you live in south east London — and specifically in the London Boroughs of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley — that really shouldn’t be an excuse any more.
Under plans to be announced today, the solution to the chronic financial difficulties being experienced by the South London Healthcare Trust, based in Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley, is for Lewisham, which has no connection to the trust, to have its A&E (Accident and Emergency) department closed, and for just one hospital — Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich — to run A&E services for the whole of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley (where the A&E department at Queen Mary’s in Sidcup closed two years ago); in other words, instead of three hospitals, each providing A&E care for around 250,000 people, one hospital will now have to cater for 750,000 people in total.
With residents of Brockley, where I live, located four or five miles from the A&E department at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, it is certain that, if the plans go ahead, then, at rush hour, severely ill people will die before they can get from Brockley to Woolwich. Read the rest of this entry »
Eating and Commuting: Borough Market and London Bridge, a set on Flickr.
Following the three previous photo sets (two from Soho, and one from Bankside, between Blackfriars Bridge and Southwark Bridge), this set covers the last part of my journey through London on September 7, 2012, as I travelled from Southwark Bridge to London Bridge, and back to my home in Brockley, in south east London, by train. It is the 49th photo set in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike.
This brief journey involved me passing through Borough Market, the celebrated outdoor food market near London Bridge that is a huge attraction every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and on to London Bridge station, where various ongoing upgrades, as well as the building of The Shard, London’s tallest skyscraper, have led to many significant changes in the last few years. Read the rest of this entry »
The photos in this set — the 48th in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike — were taken in Bankside, on September 7, 2012, after I returned from the journey around Soho that I recorded here and here.
On the south bank of the River Thames, in the London Borough of Southwark, the area known as Bankside is located between Blackfriars Bridge on the west and London Bridge on the east. Its name was first recorded in 1554, and it was, at that time, and through the Elizabethan period, a place outside of the laws governing the City, where plays were performed, and bear baiting and other bloody sports involving animals took place. Read the rest of this entry »
I wrote the following report exclusively for the “Close Guantánamo” campaign and website, which I established in January with US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.
POSTSCRIPT January 2013: The Center for Constitutional Rights has confirmed that a 56th prisoner was added to this list after its initial drafting — Djamel Ameziane, an Algerian mentioned below.
UPDATE March 14, 2014: Please note that this list of 56 men cleared for release by the Guantánamo Review Task Force (plus the 30 other Yemenis cleared for release but held in “conditional detention” until the authorities are satisfied that the security situation in Yemen has improved) reflected the situation at Guantánamo from the time of its publication in October 2012 until August 2013, when two Algerians on the list were released, followed by eight other cleared prisoners in December, and one more in March 2014. I have noted who has been released on the list. As a result of these releases, there are now 76 cleared prisoners (46 plus the 30 Yemenis in “conditional detention”). For a breakdown of who is who (including the identities of the 30 Yemenis in “conditional detention”), see the “Close Guantánamo” prisoner list.
On September 21, lawyers for the Guantánamo prisoners — and others who had been watching Guantánamo closely — were completely taken by surprise when, as part of a court case, the Justice Department released the names of 55 of the 86 prisoners cleared for release from Guantánamo in 2009 by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force.
The Task Force was made up of officials and lawyers from all the relevant government departments and from the intelligence agencies, and its final report was issued in January 2010. Of the 166 prisoners still held, 86 of those were recommended for release, but are still held, and the list reveals, for the first time ever, 55 of those names. Read the rest of this entry »
Back Streets and Shop Fronts: Photos of Soho, a set on Flickr.
This is my second set of photos of Soho (following my first set here), taken on September 7, 2012 (a very sunny Friday) as part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike. The 24 photos in this set are also the 47th set of London photos that I have so far uploaded, in a project that continues to grow beyond my capacity to make it all publicly available.
Just to give you an insight into how the project has grown, I have another 200 sets of photos to post, containing 4,300 photos in total, from nearly 70 separate journeys to points north, south, east and west. These were taken over the last three months, so please bear with me if there’s a part of London you’re hoping to see. I’ve covered a lot of ground in the last three months, and discovered some wonderful places, as well as some unnerving developments, and although vast swathes of the city are still untouched by my wheels and as yet unphotographed with my trusty Canon Ixus — especially in the west — I aim to remedy that in the months to come. Read the rest of this entry »
The last time the US government wheeled out Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other men accused of initiating and being involved in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 was in May this year, and, as is usual, the mainstream media turned out in force. That occasion was the formal arraignment of the men, and it was tempestuous, as the defendants largely refused to cooperate. This week, as pre-trial hearings resumed, the mainstream media also returned in force, for proceedings that largely focused on issues of secrecy and transparency.
The rest of the time, sadly, most of the mainstream media doesn’t care much about Guantánamo, even though the prison remains a national disgrace, a place where, beyond the handful of men accused of genuine involvement with terrorism, over half of the remaining 166 prisoners have been cleared for release but are still held, and 46 others are regarded as too dangerous to release, even though insufficient evidence exists to put them on trial.
In other contexts, this would mean that the so-called evidence is actually hearsay, or innuendo — and in fact even the most cursory investigation by serious reporters would reveal that most of what passes for evidence consists of dubious statements made by the prisoners about themselves and their fellow prisoners as a result of torture, other forms of abuse, and bribery. Read the rest of this entry »
A Riot of Colour, Solidarity and Indignation on the TUC March in London, a set on Flickr.
Following up on the photos I published yesterday of the best placards and banners I saw on Saturday’s 150,000-strong march and rally in central London (“A Future That Works,” organised by the TUC), this second set of photos features the march more generally, and includes photos I took of various union members and activists on Victoria Embankment, and also as the march proceeded up Whitehall, along Piccadilly, and into Hyde Park for the rally at the end of the day.
There various speakers, including Labour leader Ed Miliband, addressed the government’s crimes against British workers — and also schoolchildren, students, the old, the ill, the homeless, the unemployed and the disabled. My archive of articles about the Tories’ wretched policies, and the resistance to them, is here. Read the rest of this entry »
Anyone with a heart would be hard-pressed to say that living in Tory Britain — with the particularly savage dolts currently in Downing Street and in the Cabinet — is anything less than an ordeal. Through their treatment of the disabled alone, ministers have taken a route that is thoroughly depressing on a permanent basis, as the government — and its overpaid puppets in the French multinational Atos Healthcare — systematically pursue a policy of making disabled people undergo tests designed to prove that they are fit for work — when they are not — to cut their state support.
The stress and the impoverishment of those who should be helped rather than put through this callous ordeal — and which is repeated if claimants manage to prove that they are unfit for work, or if they successfully appeal (as a majority do) — enrages me on a daily basis, but they are not the only casualties of the Tories’ shrinking state — one which, shockingly, public sector expenditure will plummet to a smaller percentage of GDP than the US by 2017. Read the rest of this entry »
Writer, campaigner, investigative journalist and commentator. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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