Photos: This is NOT the Face of America – Resistance to Donald Trump on the Women’s March in New York, Jan. 20, 2018

Some of my photos from the Women's March in New York on January 20, 2018, via Flickr.

See my photos on Flickr here!

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Last month, when I was discussing with Debra Sweet, the national director of the campaigning group the World Can’t Wait, how long to stay in the US on my annual trip to call for the closure of Guantánamo on and around the anniversary of its opening on January 11, we decided that it was worth staying for the Women’s March on January 20. Debra has been coordinating my January visits to the US since 2011, and I had stayed until January 21 last year, and took part in the colossal 500,000-strong march in New York, and we both felt that there was no good reason to miss it this year, as it promised yet again to be an opportunity for millions of women — and men — to tell Donald Trump what they think of him.

Last year, there was a huge outpouring of anger at the arrival in the White House of Trump, who had somehow become president despite his extraordinary unsuitability for the role: his complete lack of political experience, and his very public deficiencies — his rudeness, his vindictiveness, his inability to complete even a simple coherent sentence, his sordid history as a sexual predator, and the groundless illusion of his success as a businessman. This thoroughly unpleasant figure had particularly appalled women because of his “grab ‘em by the p*ssy” comment that had been revealed during the election campaign, but that had somehow failed to derail him.

A year on, the anger against Trump is surely more palpable, and more based on experience, than a year ago. This president is a bitter joke, the dysfunctional head of a dangerously right-wing version of the Republican Party, who governs by tweet, and constantly threatens,and tries to deliver on policies that reveal a profound and troubling racism: his attempted Muslim travel ban, for example, and the marked increase in his assault on the most vulnerable members of US society — the immigrants on whom the US economy depends, but whose presence, as with Brexit and immigrants in the UK, is perceived by self-pitying white people as being the source of their economic woes, rather than the truth: that it is the fault of the neoliberal machinery of political and big business, a world which, fundamentally, Donald Trump is as much a part of as the “elites” for which his supporters have nothing but contempt. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos: Telling Trump to Close Guantánamo – The White House protest, Jan. 11, 2018

Campaigners calling for the closure of Guantanamo at the annual protest outside the White House on January 11, 2018, the 16th anniversary of the prison's opening.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

See my photos on Flickr here!

On January 11, 2018, for the eighth year running, I joined protestors in Washington, D.C., calling on the US government to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, a shameful example of indefinite detention without charge or trial run by a country that claims to respect the rule of law, on the 16th anniversary of its opening. This was the first anniversary that Guantánamo has been under the control of Donald Trump, and there was a passion and an anger at the gathering, replacing the disappointment that was the hallmark of most of the Obama years.

I posted my thoughts about the day in a previous article, Telling Donald Trump to Close Guantánamo: My Report on an Inspiring 24 Hours of Protest and Resistance in Washington, D.C. on the 16th Anniversary of the Prison’s Opening, so this update is really more of an opportunity for you to see what went on in front of the White House — the placards and banners, some of the wonderful people involved, and, sadly, the heavy-handed police presence when five protestors tried to carry a banner towards the White House calling for the release of the 41 men still held “along with the thousands imprisoned in immigration detention centers and the millions of victims of hyper-incarceration in the US”, as one of the five, Brian Terrell, described it in an article afterwards.

As he put it, “To approach the White House, we needed to cross under yellow police line tape and were immediately arrested by uniformed Secret Service police. I have been attending protests at the White House since Jimmy Carter lived there and with each succeeding administration, the space allowed for political discourse has been reduced and the once protected free speech of citizens increasingly criminalized there. Under Trump, half the width of the formerly public sidewalk in front of the White House is fenced off, the inner perimeter now patrolled by officers armed with automatic weapons. Pennsylvania Avenue, long ago closed to vehicular traffic, is now closed off to pedestrians at the hint of a demonstration. This public forum, a place of protest and advocacy for more than a century, the place where the vote for women and benefits for veterans were won, has been strangled to the point where no dissent is tolerated there.”

The increased police presence was indeed a sign of a less tolerant presidency, something we have seen for the last 12 months as Donald Trump, flexing his Islamophobia and racism at Guantánamo by refusing to contemplate releasing anyone, even though five of the men still held were approved for release by high-level government review processes under President Obama, shamefully extends that racism to the whole country, via increased deportation dragnets, and internationally via repeated iterations of his vile and groundlessly racist travel ban.

For many years now, Guantánamo campaigners have been seeking to bring together different groups of campaigners — those opposing the US’s industrial-scale domestic prison system, for example, with its racist bias and its epidemic of solitary confinement, and, in recent years, the Black Lives Matter movement.

Sadly, the need for opposition is not going to go away anytime soon, with Trump at the head of a dangerously right-wing Republican government, but all we can hope for, in an effort to stay positive, is that new alliances can be forged, all of which continue to lead us to a hoped-for place — where there are enough of us to properly realize that we outnumber those who mean us harm, through their wars, their guns, their deportations, their courts and their prisons, whether on the mainland or on a naval base in Cuba.

I hope you enjoy the photos, and will share them if you do. Please also consider joining the new photo campaign I’ve launched via Close Guantánamo, counting how many days Guantánamo has been open, and urging Donald Trump to close it without further delay.

Also see the album here:

Telling Trump to close Guantanamo: The White House protest, Jan. 11, 2018

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Donald Trump No! Please Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2017), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

Guantánamo Has Been Open 5,845 Days on Jan. 11: Please Join the New Close Guantánamo Campaign – Take a Photo With a Poster And Send It To Us

Andy Worthington launching the new Close Guantanamo initiative for 2018, showing how long the prison has been open - with the first poster showing 5,845 days on January 11, 2018, the 16th anniversary of its opening. Throughout the year, the Gitmo Clock website will count exactly how many days, hours, minutes an seconds Guantanamo has been open, and posters can be printed from the page for people to take photos with and send to the Close Guantanamo campaign.

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration, including my current visit to the US.

 

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the 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.

Please print off the poster here for 5,845 days on Jan. 11, and send it to us. After Jan. 11, please print the Gitmo Clock, which counts exactly how many days, hours, minutes and seconds Guantánamo has been open. Send them to us to put up on the website and on social media.

January 11, 2018 is the 16th anniversary of the opening of the “war on terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, when it will have been open for 5,845 days, and to mark this grim occasion — which ought to be a source of shame for all decent Americans and citizens of the world who respect the rule of law — the Close Guantánamo campaign, set up by journalist Andy Worthington and attorney Tom Wilner exactly six years ago, is launching a new initiative: inviting opponents of Guantánamo’s continued existence to take a photo of themselves holding a poster telling Donald Trump to close the prison, and marking how long it has been open.

Regular readers will, we are sure, know exactly why it is so important for Guantánamo to be closed, but if you’re new to the site — and we hope some of you are — the reason it needs to be closed is because the men held at the prison (41 now, but 779 in total over the last 16 years) were almost all the victims of a horrendous experiment in detention — held not as criminal suspects, to be charged swiftly and prosecuted in federal court, nor as prisoners of war protected by the Geneva Conventions, who can be held unmolested until the end of hostilities.

Instead, the Bush administration decided that the Guantánamo prisoners had no rights whatsoever. Guantánamo — the site of an existing US naval base, in Cuba —was chosen because it was presumed to be beyond the reach of the US courts. As such, hidden from outside scrutiny, they were open to being abused when, as it transpired, most of them had no useful information to impart. What made this situation even more shocking is that many of them had no useful information because they were insignificant. The truth only later emerged — and is still generally unknown — that there was no effective screening in Afghanistan, where all the prisoners were processed, before their arrival at Guantánamo, and, in addition, the majority of the prisoners were not “captured on the battlefield” by US forces, as the Bush administration alleged, but were handed over or sold by their Afghan and Pakistani allies, with the US paying bounties averaging $5,000 a head for prisoners who could be packaged up as being members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. They were then tortured or otherwise abused in an effort to get them to provide useful intelligence, even though most of them had no such information. Read the rest of this entry »

16 Years of Guantánamo: My Eighth Successive January Visit to the US to Call for the Closure of the Prison on the Anniversary of Its Opening

A poster prepared by Witness Against Torture showing events in Washington, D.C. on an around Jan. 11, 2018, the 16th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration, and my imminent visit to the US, discussed below.

 

On Monday, I fly into New York from London for what will be my eighth successive January visit to the US to call for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay. Despite the generally inhospitable climate and the unpleasantness of the cause, it has always been exciting to visit, as I have met and got to know the people who should be running the US — the campaigners, principled lawyers and ordinary citizens who have made a stand against the existence of the prison, recognizing it as a profound injustice, established in the heat of vengeance after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which is a source of shame to all decent Americans every day that it remains open.

A majority of Americans, unfortunately, don’t understand how important it is to rely on established and internationally accepted procedures when depriving people of their liberty. Those imprisoned should either be criminal suspects, charged as swiftly as possible and put on trial in a federal court, or prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, and held unmolested until the end of hostilities. At Guantánamo, however, the men held were deprived of all rights, and held as “unlawful enemy combatants” — “for the express purpose of denying them the rights that combatants normally receive,” as Human Rights First has explained in a briefing.

This would be bad enough, but the very basis for holding the men has always been a disgrace — although one, sadly, that has never received the mainstream coverage it cries out for. Contrary to claims that the men and boys held at Guantánamo were “the worst of the worst,” who were all captured on the battlefield, most were captured not by the US, but by their Afghan and Pakistani allies, who didn’t find them on the battlefield, and who often sold them to the US, which was paying bounties averaging $5000 a head for anyone who could be portrayed as a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Read the rest of this entry »

Andy Worthington: An Archive of Guantánamo Articles and Other Writing – Part 22, January to June 2017

Andy Worthington with Refuse Fascism's Carl Dix in Washington, D.C. on January 11, 2017Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

This article is the 22nd in an ongoing series of articles listing all my work in chronological order. It’s a project I began in January 2010, when I put together the first chronological lists of all my articles, in the hope that doing so would make it as easy as possible for readers and researchers to navigate my work — the nearly 2,950 articles I have published since I first began publishing articles here in May 2007, which, otherwise, are not available in chronological order in any readily accessible form.

I receive no institutional funding for my work, and so, if you appreciate what I do as a reader-funded journalist and activist, please consider making a donation via the Paypal ‘Donate’ button above. Any amount, however large or small, will be very gratefully received — and if you are able to become a regular monthly sustainer, that would be particularly appreciated. To do so, please tick the box marked, “Make this a monthly donation,” and fill in the amount you wish to donate every month.

As I note every time I put together a chronological list of my articles, my mission, as it has been since my research in 2006-07, for my book The Guantánamo Files, first revealed the scale of the injustice at Guantánamo, continues to revolve around four main aims — to humanize the prisoners by telling their stories; to expose the many lies told about them to supposedly justify their detention; to push for the prison’s closure and the absolute repudiation of indefinite detention without charge or trial as US policy; and to call for those who initiated, implemented and supported indefinite detention and torture to be held accountable for their actions. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s My Quarterly Fundraiser: Can You Help Me Raise $2500 (£1850) to Support My Guantánamo Work (And, If You Wish, My Housing Activism, Music and Photography)?

Andy Worthington calling for the closure of Guantanamo outside the White House on January 11, 2016, the 15th anniversary of the opening of the prison (Photo: Justin Norman).

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation towards the $2500 (£1850) I’m trying to raise to support my work on Guantánamo for the next three months!

 

Dear friends and supporters,

It’s that time of year when I ask you, if you can, to make a donation to support my work on Guantánamo as an independent journalist and activist trying to get the prison closed down. It’s nearly 16 years since Guantánamo opened, and nearly 12 years since I started researching and writing about Guantánamo on a full-time basis, firstly through my book The Guantánamo Files, and, since May 2007, through my journalism, most of which has been online (here on andyworthington.co.uk, and, since 2012, also on the Close Guantánamo website). I have occasionally worked for the mainstream media, but mostly my independence has allowed me the freedom to focus relentlessly on Guantánamo on my own terms, and I know that, over the long years of my engagement with this topic, many of you have come to appreciate that.

There is a catch, however. As an independent journalist, commentator and activist, no advertisers, editorial board or institution is paying me, and I rely on you to provide me with the financial support to enable me to do what I do. So if you can help out at all, please click on the “Donate” button above to make a payment via PayPal.

You can also make a recurring payment on a monthly basis by ticking the box marked, “Make This Recurring (Monthly),” and if you are able to do so, it would be very much appreciated. Read the rest of this entry »

How Much Is A Life Worth? New Album Released Today by The Four Fathers, London Journalist and Activist Andy Worthington’s Band

The cover of The Four Fathers' new album, 'How Much Is A Life Worth?'I’m delighted to announce that today my band The Four Fathers are releasing our second album, How Much Is A Life Worth? via Bandcamp, where you can buy it on CD (which can be sent anywhere in the world), or as a download (either the whole album, or individual tracks). The CD costs £8 (about $10.67), plus postage and packing, while the download of the album costs £5 (about $6.67), with individual tracks available for $1 (about $1.33). These are the minimum prices, but you can always pay more if you want to provide us with extra financial support, to help us recoup the costs of recording and production.

The album features ten original rock and roots reggae songs — eight written by me, as lead singer and rhythm guitarist, and two written by lead guitarist Richard Clare. It follows the release in 2015 of the band’s first album, ‘Love and War,’ and continues to demonstrate a commitment to political issues, with six of the album’s ten songs being protest songs. The band also features Brendan Horstead on drums and percussion, Andrew Fifield on flute and harmonica, and Louis Sills-Clare on bass (replaced after the album was recorded by current bassist Mark Quiney).

Followers of the band on Bandcamp — or those who have seen us live — will already know some of these songs, as six of them have previously been released online, although all of them have now been slightly remastered. Those songs are, in order of release, ‘Close Guantánamo’ (used for the ‘Close Guantánamo’ campaign that I run), ‘Dreamers’ (a song about friendship, written for a friend’s 50th birthday), live favourites ’Riot’ (about austerity and the need for social and economic justice) and ‘London’ (a lament for how the capital’s vibrancy in the 80s and 90s has been destroyed by housing greed), ‘She’s Back’ (Richard’s song about Pussy Riot) and ‘Equal Rights And Justice For All’ (my celebration of habeas corpus, which always gets a laugh when I say live that no set is really complete without a song about habeas corpus). Read the rest of this entry »

300 Days of Trump: Join Our Photo Campaign Calling for the Closure of Guantánamo

Andy Worthington calls on Donald Trump to close Guantanamo on his first full day in office, Jan. 21, 2017, during the massive women's march against his presidency in New York City.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the 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.

What a disappointment Donald Trump is — something that many of us suspected when he was elected as the 45th President of the United States over a year ago, but that does not become any easier to bear with the passage of time.

Largely governing by tweet, Trump has nothing positive to show for his first 300 days in office (yesterday, Nov. 16), as he alienates allies and does nothing to improve the lives of ordinary Americans. His Muslim ban, which he still persists in trying to enforce, remains shockingly racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic, and it is clear that he also extends these prejudices to the men held at Guantánamo.

Uninterested in any nuances regarding Guantánamo  — the fact that indefinite detention without charge or trial ought to be fundamentally un-American, for example, or that there are men held at the prison who have been approved for release — Trump has always behaved as though the prison contained “the worst of the worst,” turning the clock back to the terrible hyperbole of Guantánamo’s early days under George W. Bush. Read the rest of this entry »

My Thoughts on Gun Control, Based on a Comparative Analysis of the US and the UK

A celebrated US gun control advert - from 1981, I believe. The world has moved on (West Germany no long exists, for example, following German reunification), but the facts remain broadly the same - dozens of gun-related deaths per year in other countries, over 10,000 in the US.Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.

 

Following the latest gun-based terrorist atrocity in US (the Las Vegas Strip Massacre, in which a 64-year old white man shot dead 59 people and wounded more than 500), here are my thoughts on gun control, based on a comparative analysis of the differences between the US and the UK.

First of all, let me explain that, in London, where I live, I can’t, off the top of my head, think of where to find a single gun shop. In contrast, I think it’s fair to say, guns are readily available in the US.

As CNN explains, “Hundreds of stores sell guns, from big chains like Walmart to family-run shops.” Background checks are conducted in store purchases,” where gun buyers have to fill out a form from the ATF (the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). However,required information only includes the buyer’s name, address, place of birth, race and citizenship. The store then runs a background check with the FBI, but this is a process that can only take a few minutes. There’s also a loophole to avoid any kind of background check — buying a gun at one of America’s many gun shows, where there are no checks.

In contrast, this is what you have to do to get a gun in the UK (the information is from the UK government):

You need a firearms certificate issued by the police to possess, buy or acquire a firearm or shotgun. You must also have a certificate to buy ammunition. You can get a firearm or shotgun certificate application form from the firearms licensing unit of your local police force.

You must: complete an application form; provide 4 passport photographs; have 2 referees for a firearm certificate and 1 referee for shotgun certificate; pay the fee for the certificate you are applying for.

You must also prove to the chief officer of police that you’re allowed to have a firearms certificate and pose no danger to public safety or to the peace.

A shotgun certificate won’t be given or renewed if the chief officer of police has a reason that you shouldn’t be allowed to have a shotgun under the Firearms Act. Or if they don’t think you have a good reason to have, buy or acquire a shotgun.

So now here are some statistics.

There was a total of 571 homicides (murder, manslaughter and infanticide) in the year ending March 2016 in England and Wales.

26 of those homicide victims (5% of the total) were killed by shooting.

In contrast, in the US, in 2015, there were 13,500 deaths by shooting.

The US has a population five times larger than the UK, so if the US had Britain’s gun laws, it is reasonable to assume that the death toll from guns would drop from 13,500 a year to around 130.

Or, to put it another way, if the UK had America’s gun culture, instead of 26 people being killed every year by guns, the number would be 2,700.

In other words, 100 times more people are killed by guns in the US than in the UK.

The US has around 300 million guns, whereas the UK has 1.8 million.

If the UK followed the US’s example, there would be 60 million guns in the UK.

If the US followed the UK’s example, there would be just nine million guns in the US.

And if there were just nine million guns in the US, instead of 300 million, I think it’s fair to suggest that there would be a phenomenal reduction in the number of gun deaths.

Defenders of America’s gun culture like to claim that “guns don’t kill people: people kill people,” but the evidence demonstrates that, in fact, while people do of course kill people, the overwhelming conclusion that has to be drawn from a dispassionate analysis of the facts is that it is predominantly people with guns who kill people.

Try gun control now, and see what happens.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

My Band The Four Fathers Release ‘Equal Rights And Justice For All,’ Defending Habeas Corpus, Opposing Arbitrary Detention at Guantánamo and in the UK

The cover for The Four Fathers' new online single, 'Equal Rights And Justice For All.'My band The Four Fathers have just released a brand-new online single, ‘Equal Rights And Justice For All,’ a passionate defence of habeas corpus, which is supposed to protect all of us from arbitrary imprisonment.

The song — an insistent and infectious roots reggae groove — was inspired by my work trying to get the prison at Guantánamo Bay closed down, my work opposing the use of secret evidence in the UK, and also by the 800th anniversary of King John signing Magna Carta in 2015. The key element of this document, which the barons obliged him to sign, was habeas corpus, the right to be bought before a judge to test the validity of one’s imprisonment, which, over the centuries that followed, ended up applying to everyone, and was successfully exported around the world as a hugely significant bulwark against tyranny.

See below for the song, on Bandcamp, where you can listen to it for free — or, if you’d like to support us, buy it as a download for just £1 ($1.25) — or more if you’d like. 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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The Guantánamo Files book cover

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The Battle of the Beanfield

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion book cover

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

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Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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