Archive for February, 2013

Photos: Save Lewisham Hospital Rally, February 15, 2013

Save Lewisham Hospital protest, February 15, 2013Don't tear the ♥ from our hospitalSave Lewisham A&ESave Lewisham Hospital: the bannerDr. Louise Irvine, the chair of Save Lewisham Hospital, speaksSave Lewisham Hospital: the crowd on February 15, 2013
Killer Kershaw!Steve Bullock, Lewisham's Mayor, speaks at the rally to save the hospital, February 15, 2013Have a heart, Mr. HuntDon't keep calm, get angry and save Lewisham HospitalSave Lewisham Hospital: a speaker from Lewisham Pensioners ForumCalling for Lewisham Hospital to be saved
The crowd in front of Lewisham HospitalSolidarity for Lewisham Hospital from the Fire Brigade UnionSupport from Goldsmiths CollegeSave the NHS from the profiteers

Save Lewisham Hospital Rally, February 15, 2013, a set on Flickr.

In Lewisham, in south east London, Save Lewisham Hospital campaigners, trade union representatives and concerned residents of the London Borough of Lewisham attended a rally at the war memorial opposite Lewisham Hospital, on Lewisham High Street, at 1pm on Thursday February 15, to tell the government and senior NHS management that they — we — will continue to campaign to save Lewisham Hospital from the plans to severely downgrade its services and to sell off 60 percent of its buildings, which were approved two weeks ago by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The proposals were put forward in October by Matthew Kershaw, an NHS Special Administrator charged with finding solutions to the financial problems of a neighbouring NHS trust, the South London Healthcare Trust, which was placed in administration in the summer. Under those plans, Lewisham’s A&E Department will close, replaced by an Urgent Care Unit, which cannot deal with emergencies, and this will have a severe impact on the hospital’s ability to survive. There will no longer be an intensive care unit, other acute services will be shut, and, according to Hunt, just 10 percent of the 4,400 Lewisham mothers who give birth in Lewisham every year will be able to do so in future, as any birth that carries a risk of complications will have to take place elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos of the Protest Calling for Shaker Aamer’s Release from Guantánamo, and a New Challenge to the UK Government

Free Shaker Aamer from GuantánamoStand Up for Shaker AamerSadiq Khan MP joins campaigners calling for the release of Shaker AamerSadiq Khan MP calls for the release of Shaker AamerFree Shaker Aamer Now: The protest outside ParliamentWhile Churchill watches
Andy Worthington and Joy Hurcombe call for the release of Shaker AamerAndy Worthington and Joy Hurcombe in front of Big Ben

Stand Up for Shaker Aamer: The Protest at Parliament Calling for His Return to the UK from Guantánamo, a set on Flickr.

Today, February 14,  2013, is the 11th anniversary of the day that Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, who has a British wife and four British children, arrived at the Bush administration’s experimental “war on terror” prison from Afghanistan, where he had travelled with his family to engage in humanitarian aid. After the 9/11 attacks, however, having managed to get his family to safety, he was captured and sold to US forces by bounty hunters. Ironically, Shaker’s arrival at Guantánamo on February 14, 2002 was also the day that his youngest son was born.

To mark this dreadful anniversary, six years — six whole years! — since Shaker was first told that he would be going home to his family, the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign organised a protest outside Parliament yesterday, attended by activists and campaigners — myself  included — and also by MPs: Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion), Sadiq Khan (Labour, Tooting), John O’Donnell (Labour, Hayes and Harlington) and Shaker’s constituency MP, Jane Ellison (Conservative, Battersea).

We were all there to ask why it is that Shaker is still held, when he was not only cleared for release in 2007, under the Bush administration, but was also cleared for release again in 2009, under the Obama administration, a fact that was only made public in September, when the Justice Department publicly released a list containing the names of 55 cleared prisoners, of which he was one. Read the rest of this entry »

The Relentless Importance of Closing Guantánamo

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012 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.

Two weeks ago, there was a flurry of activity in the mainstream media when it was announced that the State Department had reassigned Daniel Fried, the special envoy for closing the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo, and would not be replacing him. As Charlie Savage explained for the New York Times, “Mr. Fried’s office is being closed, and his former responsibilities will be ‘assumed’ by the office of the department’s legal adviser,” according to an internal personnel announcement.

The Times article continued: “The announcement that no senior official in President Obama’s second term will succeed Mr. Fried in working primarily on diplomatic issues pertaining to repatriating or resettling detainees appeared to signal that the administration does not currently see the closing of the prison as a realistic priority, despite repeated statements that it still intends to do so.” Read the rest of this entry »

Consumer Overkill: Photos of Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square

Piccadilly Circus product placementHappy. Glorious. Victorious.Who's the man?Weird US schoolgirl chicDogs as fashion accessoriesFlags on Haymarket
W London, the Swiss Centre's replacementSelling the OlympicsM&M's WorldThe Swiss Centre's iconic musical clockLeicester SquareQueen's House
Abstraction in Leicester SquareWilliam ShakespeareCrystal RoomsThe HippodromeNo traffic on Charing Cross RoadThe Olympic victory parade
Olympic tourists

Consumer Overkill: Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, a set on Flickr.

On September 10, 2012, the BBC World Service gave me an excuse to photograph the West End of London, in all its garish consumer glory, after I had taken part in a news programme, discussing the potential handover of the US prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan to Afghan control — a topic I know something about as a result of the research and writing I have undertaken for the last seven years as a world expert on the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Afterwards, as I recorded in a previous photo set, Shops, Flags and the BBC: Regent Street in September, I cycled from the BBC’s newly redeveloped headquarters in Broadcasting House, down Regent Street, which, at the time, was still flying the flags of the world for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, taking in the shops, the shoppers, the building sites and the mad interchange with Oxford Street at Oxford Circus, and ending up, as this set shows, in Piccadilly Circus, from where I followed the tourist hordes down Coventry Street, across the top of Haymarket, and into Leicester Square, where the big cinema chains hold their premieres, where the fast food and the tourist paraphernalia are plentiful, and where the small park at the heart of Leicester Square received an extensive redesign in time for the Olympic Games. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo: Join the Protest outside Parliament on February 13, 2013

Please sign the e-petition to the British government calling for the return of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo.

On Wednesday February 13, between 11am and 1.30pm, I’ll be joining representatives of the Save Shaker Campaign and the London Guantánamo Campaign in Parliament Square, opposite the Houses of Parliament, to call for the release of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, on the 11th anniversary of the day that, in 2002, he was flown to Guantánamo from Afghanistan, arriving on February 14, the day that his youngest son was born.

Shaker, who is now 44 years old, and has spent a quarter of his life in Guantánamo, is “suffering from a list of ailments, including arthritis and serious asthma problems,” as the legal action charity Reprieve explained last month, prompting “grave fears for his health.” One of his lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the legal action charity, recently returned from visiting Shaker in Guantánamo. According to unclassified notes of their meeting, Shaker told him, “The ERF team grab me harshly, bend my arms and my head and slam me to the floor. They shackle me and put me in the chair.”

Clive Stafford Smith said: “The US gulag Guantánamo Bay is a disgrace where men are abused, and where any notion of human rights or the rule of law is flagrantly disregarded. In the US films which purport to justify torture [Zero Dark Thirty] are being nominated for awards, those who did the torturing enjoying immunity and the courageous people who expose wrongdoing are prosecuted for violating secrecy. Those who continue to be subjected to abuse and indefinite detention are all but forgotten.” Read the rest of this entry »

Suddenly, Snow: Photos of Brockley at Night

The snow at nightBy Hilly Fields, in the snowThe car in the snowVirgin snowSnow and shadowsSnowy neighbourhood
Snowy junctionSlush on the hillTracks in the parkCar tracks in the snowDo the bus stopShadows and signs
Shadows and fox printsBreakspears RoadCall me a cabGhostly sign on Brockley Road

Suddenly, Snow: Brockley at Night, a set on Flickr.

The opportunity to take these photos of the streets of Brockley in the snow, with the pavements empty of people and the streets almost empty of traffic, came to me unexpectedly at 2.45am last night. As I was about to go to bed, I noticed, through a window, that the outside world looked white, and, on closer inspection, discovered to my delight that it was snowing.

Five minutes later, I was dressed and venturing out into the night, discovering that the snow had been falling steadily for a few hours, and was settling, although I also discovered that it was very wet, and that the chances of it lasting beyond the morning were vanishingly remote. Read the rest of this entry »

Save London’s NHS: Week of Action Begins – Join Us in Parliament on February 11

As a week of action begins to raise awareness of the threat to NHS services across London, with A&E Departments and other services at risk from Ealing to Lewisham, the new Save London’s NHS campaigning group has issued a press release providing further information to add to the information I made available in an article last week, Defend London’s NHS: Join the Week of Action from February 9 to 16. With a press conference in the House of Commons officially launching the week of action tomorrow (February 11), I’m posting the press release below:

Patients and doctors unite in defence of London’s A&Es: Week of Action at hospitals across capital

This is to alert you to the launch of a new London-wide coalition of doctors, patients and health workers opposed to the downgrading of A&Es and other vital hospital services in the capital.

Angered by the ‘divide-and-rule’ policies of NHS bureaucrats and politicians that set one hospital against another, Defend London’s NHS is calling for a London residents to come together and defend all their services. Read the rest of this entry »

Shops, Flags and the BBC: Photos of Regent Street in September

BBC HQThe BBC's new facadeInside the BBC's new HQInside the BBC: the lift shaft and the atriumRegent Street and the Olympic flagsAll Souls Church, Langham Place
The University of WestminsterRegent Street building siteBoarded upOxford CircusOxford Street and Regent Street, looking south eastOxford Street and Regent Street, looking north west
Weird window displayRegent Street and Oxford Street, looking northThe temple of AppleRegent Street, looking southFlags of the worldAmerican nostalgia
Branding the environmentThe hunters and the huntedSomething for the homeQuadrant ArcadeBike

Shops, Flags and the BBC: Regent Street in September, a set on Flickr.

Back in December, I promised to publish five photo sets from the 1,700 photos from September that I hadn’t had the time to make available at that time (out of the 7,300 photos of London that I have taken since last July, which are still unpublished — compared to the 1,500 I have already made available). I published three sets, Blue Skies and Golden Light: The River Thames in September, Top of the World: Nunhead Allotments, and the View from the Hill-Top Reservoir and Memories of Summer: Photos of the Thames Festival on London’s South Bank, and then it was Christmas and New Year, and I wanted to post some seasonal photos, and then, in swift succession, I travelled to the US to campaign for the closure of Guantánamo on the 11th anniversary of its opening, and returned home to a rare snowy interlude, followed by a massive protest to save Lewisham Hospital from being butchered by the government and the management of the NHS, and a visit to Brighton for another Guantánamo event. I have also just begun to post photos from New York, taken as part of my US trip.

Consequently, the publication of the fourth of those five sets from September has been delayed — until now. Dating from September 10, this set records a journey I made down Regent Street from Broadcasting House, the BBC’s headquarters in Portland Place, after I was asked to be a guest of the BBC World Service, on the “Newshour” programme with Robin Lustig, to discuss the plans for the handover of Bagram prison in Afghanistan from US to Afghan control. Read the rest of this entry »

On Terrorism, America Has Lost Its Way

Last week at Guantánamo, a farcical dance played out, as it does every six months or so. Representatives of the US mainstream media — and other reporters from around the world — flew to the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to witness the latest round of the seemingly interminable pre-trial hearings in the cases of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men accused of masterminding, or otherwise facilitating the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on New York and Washington D.C.

The farce of the Guantánamo trials is, by now, well established, although last week’s hearings introduced the novelty of a hidden hand, unknown even to the judge, flicking an invisible switch to silence potentially embarrassing testimony, and the proceedings also took place against the backdrop of two courtroom appeals that have dealt savage blows to the claimed legitimacy of the commissions.

In the case of the 9/11 trial, a permanent feature is the seemingly insoluble tussle between the prosecution and the defense. On the one hand are the attorneys for the accused, whose job is to try and ensure that their clients do not receive unfair trials. This involves attempting, incessantly, to point out the elephant in the room — the fact that all the men were held for many years in “black sites” run by the CIA, where they were subjected to torture, approved at the highest levels of the government during the Bush administration, even though torture is a crime. On the other hand are the prosecutors, whose job, above all, appears to be to hide all mention of torture. In the middle is the judge — in the case of the “high-value detainees,” Army Col. James L. Pohl, who replaced Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann as the Chief Presiding Officer for the Military Commissions on January 6, 2009. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos: Mostly Camberwell, At Night

Sports cage, BrockleyMattress, PeckhamNight lights, PeckhamSouthwark's secret libraryGoshGraffiti, Camberwell
Camberwell nightsThe Phoenix, Denmark HillRuskin Wing, King's College HospitalThe Fox on the HillMural, Sunray Avenue

Mostly Camberwell, At Night, a set on Flickr.

Recently, I’ve been posting a variety of photos from my visit to the US in January, to campaign for the closure of Guantánamo on the 11th anniversary of the opening of the prison (see here, here, here and here), my more recent visit to Brighton for another Guantánamo event (see here and here), and the huge protest in Lewisham on January 26 to save the hospital from butchers in NHS management and the government (here and here). As a result, I have rather neglected my project to record the whole of London by bike, which I began last May, although I continue to cycle and photograph the city, and now have an unpublished archive of at least 10,000 photos, which, realistically, will only be made available if I make the project into something more formal than it is at present. Any advice on this — leads, contacts, funders — is most welcome.

To make amends for my distraction regarding my London project, I’m posting my 75th set of London photos, which features photos I took at night just two days ago, and I’ll follow up soon with other London sets, interspersed with more photos of New York from my US trip, and a last set — for now — of Brighton. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. 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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