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Though an account of the event has already been covered (link via the Brummie) this account by freelance Emanuel* has a dispassionate charm rarely seen in the dismal Times Online.  

EDL protest overshadowed by tea party at Mosque

Balloons are released during a “best of British” tea party for the public at the Birmingham Central Mosque in response to an English Defence League protest

Emanuel opens: “It was supposed to be a far-right show of strength against Islamist terrorists on the streets of Birmingham. But in the end it was overshadowed by a spot of tea, cake and union jack bunting fluttering in the wind at a local mosque”.

“When the English Defence League is protesting and trying to divide the community, we are holding this party just to prove to them that Birmingham is a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-faith community,” Muhammed Afzal, Birmingham Central Mosque’s chairman, said on Facebook before the event. And so it proved as Mr Afzal addressed a crowd of more than 100 tea-drinking guests, saying that local people would remain united irrespective of their religion or race.

Emanuel pointed out that the English Defence League (EDL) rally two miles away in Centenary Square, attended by 100 people (other accounts give as far lower number), was outnumbered by this “best of British” tea party at Birmingham’s Central Mosque.

And ended by noting that – because of the low-key nature of the EDL demo – the elected police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands, David Jamieson, was able to attend the tea party.

See: Louis Emanuel on Corbyn, Castro and far more: https://www.clippings.me/users/louisjemanuel 

 

 

 

 

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nuclear-rob

As the potential dangers of nuclear road convoys were highlighted in a report launched yesterday in the BMI’s John Peak room, international negotiations are moving forward which – if successful – would eventually make the nuclear weapons industry obsolete.

Following a landmark recommendation last month by a UN General Assembly working group Austria’s foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, has announced that his country is to join other UN member states in tabling a resolution next month to convene negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons in 2017.

nuclear-hazard-signConcerns were expressed on this site in March about the failure to label vehicles carrying nuclear materials with hazard warnings (see left) and the decision not to alert councils, police, fire and ambulance services when such loads are being carried in their area.

ICANW, which was set up by concerned medics sets out the hazards clearly in the report – the lead author being Rob Edwards (above, centre), a name familiar to long-term readers of the New Scientist. It listed serious failings revealed in the MoD’s emergency simulation exercises and described in some detail the implications of actual nuclear convoy accidents (2002-2016). We list the more alarming items below, but many other incidents listed which would not have led to fires or contamination, were failures of communication or key equipment which would have made the convoys far more vulnerable to a successful terrorist attack. 

May 2003 fuel leak from rear of bomb carrier engine.

May 2003: bomb carrier engine overheating

October 2003: smoke after excessive use of brakes during descent

May 2004: bomb carrier brake not working

December 2004: oil leak from engine on bomb carrier

January 2005 smoke issued from bomb carrier fuse box

September 2008: escort vehicle brakes overheating

December 2009: convoy off route due to commander error

January 2009: bomb carrier fuse box failure

December 2009: escort vehicle transmission failure

July 2011: command vehicle fuel system failure

January 2012: fire tender brake fault

January 2012: escort vehicle gun port flap opened inadvertently

March 2012: load-securing system damaged during offload

June 2012: manhole cover collapsed under escort vehicle

September 2012: escort vehicle reported smoke and fumes in cab

May 2013 road traffic collision involving two convoy vehicles

May 2013 collision with a parked civilian vehicle

January 2014: collision with a car at an MoD base

November 2014: bomb carrier breakdown

May 2016: electrical equipment failure on support vehicle

MPs and MEPs are being asked to take these issues as seriously as MP Paul Flynn, who raised the issue in parliament in January and call for the reinstatement of all labelling of vehicles carrying hazardous substances and alert councils, police, fire and ambulance services when such loads are being driven through their area.

Download the report here: http://nukesofhazard.gn.apc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/NoH_Report_Final.pdf

 

 

 

Background

tommy2-robinsonIn December, former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson (left) formed a UK branch of Pegida, a German organisation founded in Dresden. The International Business Times describes Pegida as an anti-immigration group set up to halt what it sees as the “Islamisation of the West”, holding well-attended protests across northern Europe. Their protests in the UK are said to have fared poorly to date.

On December 4th Robinson told IBTimesUK: “Birmingham is where most of the terrorists have been from, it’s where six Muslims who wanted to blow us up were from – the continued epicentre for terrorism is Birmingham.”

The decision to hold a Pegida UK rally in Birmingham has been condemned by the city’s leading politicians. A joint statement, issued on Monday 7 December, was signed by Council leader John Clancy Cllr Robert Alden (leader of the Birmingham Conservatives) and Cllr Paul Tilsley (leader of the Birmingham Liberal Democrats).

Tommy Robinson toned down his rhetoric:

“The rally – which we’re calling a ‘silent walk’ – will be a march in Birmingham on February 6th, with some speeches at the end. We don’t want any confrontation. There will be no alcohol allowed, no masks allowed and no racists allowed. If there are opposition rallies, we don’t want to go near them. We’ve asked the police where they think the best and safest place for us to march would be. We just want to walk peacefully through the streets. Why have these Birmingham councillors got a problem with that?”

Andrew-Smith 2Canon Andrew Smith (right: Director of Interfaith Relations for the Bishop of Birmingham) has now circulated an appeal to Birmingham’s churches, mosques, synagogues, gurdwaras and temples, trade unions and community groups.

It calls on the police to explore whether this provocation amounts to an incitement to racial and/or religious hatred and to use all of their powers to prevent people of whatever background, from being intimidated in the city centre next Saturday, 6th February.

And ends: “As proud people of Birmingham, we wish to declare that Pegida are not welcome and have nothing to offer our city — apart from a huge bill for policing and the clear up operation after they have gone”.

As yet the only online access found for the text of this message is on this website, which carries a list of signatories to a pledge to affirmative action.

 

solihull mbc large logo

Advice needed: how can a Solihull resident have any constructive dialogue about planning matters with council officers?

In September, a meeting between Solihull residents and the local community centre committee was convened by a Community Housing Support officer who is to convey concerns to the planning department and attended by CPSO officer and a police constable.

Several concerns were voiced; perhaps the most serious practical problem was the lack of on street parking space for a bungalow development which has no garages or front drives.

One resident works as a carer and when she gets home late at night there is sometimes no space to park her car – a.

As there is an Upward Group Development for sheltered housing to be built nearby, there are fears that traffic will increase and parking become even more difficult.

One resident suggested changes in the route of the planned access road which were well received by all present.

Cllr Tim Hodgson, who was present, undertook to put this to the Upward Group.

  • The Upward CEO had earlier undertaken to ‘look into the matter’ and get back to the resident.
  • He did not do so, not did he even acknowledge a later request to keep his word.
  • She learnt that the ward councillor she approached was on the planning committee so could not discuss the matter.
  • She rang the council; feedback: no positive outcome – they were offhand.

 

Advice please.

cameron bham 20.7.15First, the prime minister could help to bring about change by apologising for British and American extremism.

He conveniently omits to acknowledge the impact of the attack on Iraq in 1992 – well before 9/11/2001. It was followed by an illegal and ruinous invasion in 2003 and illegal detention and torture in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and less well-known prisons.

He said: “I think we need a clarity of what we mean by extremism” – the actions mentioned above are extreme and over time an extreme response to them has materialised.

Then he added that we need is people involved in our schools who buy into British values of freedom, democracy, free speech :

Freedom: Babar Ahmad imprisoned in Britain without charge for years

Democracy: ignoring a million strong protest against the second Iraq war

Free speech: as long as it doesn’t ‘rock the boat’ & is politically correct.

Second, Mr Cameron should tone down his extreme support for Israel, which slaughtered over 2000 Palestinians in five weeks and has inflicted many hardships on those living in the occupied territories – except those living well in the illegal Israeli settlements.

children drone killed

Finally he can apologise for Britain’s part in executing young and old without trial by drone strike.

They don’t answer correspondence.

traffic gridlock mail feb 15

As the Mail warns of a further traffic gridlock due to the ‘Super September’ festival, a ‘solid citizen’ passes on unanswered correspondence, addressed to two Selly Oak Labour councillors:

“I thought I should let you both know about the growing traffic chaos in Birmingham due largely to a combination of unrestricted parking and speed.

“This is well illustrated by my experience driving in to the University this morning. At around 11.00am (not rush hour) I approached the Bristol road along Eastern road. The last stretch was reduced to single lane because of extensive parking on both sides. On reaching the junction with the Bristol road I had no visibility of the on-coming traffic because there was continuous parking on either side of the junction which reduced the Bristol road to a single carriageway. All the vehicles moving in the westerly direction were moving at speeds considerably in excess of the statutory 40mph because of the non-functioning speed camera. This has been the case for a number of years. Having waited a long time for the traffic to clear I was forced to join the rapidly moving stream at considerable risk to life and limb. There has to be a serious accident if this situation is allowed to persist.

“It is my general impression that Birmingham is now very close to gridlock and the “blind-eye” policy of unauthorised parking and unregulated speed is worsening the situation.

“I know this situation can be attributed largely to government cuts but this would be of little consolation to a seriously injured cyclist or to the parents of a dead child. Can I, through you, urge the City Council to get a grip of this emergency and show some guts in tackling the ever-growing menace of the motor car. This will become evermore pressing with the impending crisis surrounding the urgent need to control diesel emissions and the recent Supreme Court ruling on this matter.

“I would appreciate a reply to this communication with, I hope, some indication of a long-range strategy concerning traffic in Birmingham. It would be reassuring to know that there is such a strategy and that we are not just faced with the prospect of the progressive destruction of our environment.

“I look forward to hearing from you”, etc, etc

*

“It is now over a month since I sent you the e-mail concerning the growing traffic chaos in Birmingham and I still have not received a reply, not even an acknowledgement.

“I appreciate that there might be a lack of response post-election but a month seems a bit excessive, particularly as the risk to life and limb grows ever more real.

Bristol Road traffic

Bristol Road traffic

“My experiences outlined in my previous e-mail have been repeated on a number of subsequent occasions and in particular, yesterday morning at 7.00am when we had to leave early for a funeral in Sheffield. Even at this fairly early hour the Bristol Road was a virtual car park and we had to take our life in our hands when crossing from the single lane Eastern Road across the single lane West bound carriageway of the Bristol road to join the single East-bound carriageway. Not a police-officer in sight and just disabled speed cameras.

“Clearly we survived this ordeal but surely it is only a matter of time before there is serious injury or even death as a consequence of this lack of governance on the part of the Council and the Police Authority. Is such a tragedy the only trigger for action?

“This time I would appreciate a response and please not the usual official gobbledegook”.


We ask:

Are local councillors obliged to answer their constituents? If not, why not?

And is the managing director of McCarthy & Stone’s Midlands Office, Darren Humphreys, well advised to ignore a constructive message about one of his developments, promptly and efficiently passed on by his head office?

tom watsonJim Pickard, the FT’s Chief Political Correspondent, reports that MP Tom Watson, who played a significant role in the ousting of Tony Blair, may be the party’s deputy leader by September.

In September 2006, after the Iraq war had ruined the Labour prime minister’s popularity, Mr Watson resigned as defence minister along with several other junior figures and published an open letter calling on Mr Blair to go.

He came to the attention of the general public after mounting a high-profile campaign against Rupert Murdoch over phone hacking and – later – over allegations of child sex abuse by powerful politicians.

Pickard reports that Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London, describes him as a “Marmite” character. “There are some people who absolutely love him . . . Then there are others who see him as a throwback to the bad old days of machine politics under Gordon Brown.”

Power-hungry? Union bound?

“It mostly seems to be about power with Watson, I would have more sympathy if his manoeuvres were for a bigger cause or purpose,” says one Labour MP. “He just sees politics as a game.” Friends reject that claim, pointing out that he has resigned three times from government or party positions. “Why would he walk away from power if it was so important to him?” says one. Critics answer that Mr Watson’s influence in the party is so great that he can wield power without needing a title.

Mr Watson’s union ties also came under close and damaging scrutiny in Pickard’s article.

The writer, as an outsider, simply notes that this MP, who spoke out against the Iraq war and the covering up of phone-hacking and child sex abuse, has made some very powerful enemies.

To read more go to the article – free registration may be needed.

hall green cnd header

Hall Green CND draws attention to the January debate in Parliament. The motion by Angus Robertson (Moray) (SNP) was: “That this House believes that Trident should not be renewed”. It was supported by members of the Green and Plaid Cymru parties and some from the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties, but was voted down.

Roger Godsiff (Birmingham, Hall Green) (Lab) who spoke in the Commons debate explains on his website that he considers that the two arguments put forward for the ‘so-called’ independent nuclear weapons deterrent are both myths.

  • “The first myth is that the system is ‘independent’ . . . The UK does not own the missiles. It leases them from America where they are made, maintained and tested. Our 4 submarines have to go to the American naval base in Georgia to have the missiles fitted. Therefore our nuclear deterrent is totally dependent on America.
  • “The second myth is that the UK would lose its seat on the United Nations Security Council if it did not have nuclear weapons. This really is nonsense. When the United Nations was set up in 1945 the 5 permanent members of the Security Council, who have a veto, were the victors of the Second World War. Of the 5 countries only America had nuclear weapons. To suggest that a country has to have nuclear weapons in order to be a member of the Security Council is totally untrue”.

In addition to membership of the NATO defence pact, Roger Godsiff stresses the need to be able to deal with threats from domestic terrorist groups and make sure our police and internal security organisations are properly funded to disrupt their activities. He recalled an incident some years ago in White Street, Sparkbrook, where a terrorist cell planning to set off bombs in central Birmingham was monitored and the premises raided before any atrocity was carried out. The individuals involved were all convicted and received long prison sentences and Godsiff concluded:

“Committing £100 billion to renew our nuclear deterrent is ridiculous at a time of austerity when so many of our services, including conventional defence forces, are being dramatically cut. This is why I voted against renewal.”

scrap trident

 Hall Green CND are to ask Hall Green and Yardley election candidates about their views on the renewal of Trident and post their answers on their website.

police battering doorWest Midlands Radio reports (complete with soundtrack) of early morning police raids on homes suspected of storing stolen smart phones, announced that more raids would take place during the next few days. Any alert thief will by now have moved their ill-gotten gains elsewhere.

What was the point of this ill-judged publicity?

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muslim council of britain logo


Today, the Muslim Council of Britain, which has over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques charities and schools,
wrote to the Home Secretary urging a serious national response to the spate of terrorist and arson attacks against mosques and Islamic institutions since May.

In the last month alone, three mosques have been targeted by terrorists who have left viable explosive devices at each site, a fourth mosque in Liverpool has had a controlled explosion carried out following reports of a suspicious package at the site. This follows the arson attack against a mosque in North London in June, which saw the building destroyed. This unprecedented escalation of violence against the Muslim community must be met by an urgent, coordinated national response by politicians, police and domestic security services.

Visiting the mosques at Walsall, Tipton and Wolverhampton on Saturday MCB secretary general, Farooq Murad and Deputy Secretary General, Dr. Shuja Shafi were briefed by the mosque and community leadership about the prompt response from the police and the solidarity within the community. They also gave suggestions for a better and more coordinated approach to the threat including MCB preparing a toolkit for its affiliates. Farooq Murad today said:

“Following the events in Woolwich there has been a significant increase anti-Muslim hate crimes across the UK. The community has patiently borne the brunt of these attacks despite condemning, in the strongest possible terms, the tragic murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. Despite this spike in incidences, there has yet to be a coordinated national effort to ensure that these sorts of attacks never happen again. It cannot be right that a minority community is allowed to be targeted in this manner.”

He added, “The existence of viable explosive devices outside mosques should worry all those responsible for the safety and security of communities in the UK, it marks the crossing of a red line. Had these bombs exploded, people would have been killed. There is an urgent need for the government and police to respond with a coordinated national strategy so as to prevent further attacks.”

Writing to the Home Secretary, Farooq Murad sought clarification of how the government plans to respond to this dramatic escalation in violence. He said in his letter: “For many Muslim communities across this country, there is a palpable sense of fear. Many congregations who belong to our affiliates are understandably worried and feel that, while the local police are doing all they could to investigate these incidents, the national response has been far from satisfactory.

“We sincerely hope you can take this matter up as a matter of urgency and ensure peace and harmony is maintained between our communities.”

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