Now that Bush has enjoyed Her Majesty's hospitality (at great expense to the UK tax payer) and buggered off home to Texas I will only be adding a few followup items to this page.
About a month ago I mentioned the Diebold scandal and gave a couple of links. Well now it seems that Diebold Election Systems is withdrawing its legal threats against voting activists and ISPs. Find out about this and other E-voting issues in this Wired News Special Collection.
The President is now back in the US after his visit to our shores and he claims to have had a lovely time even though he never had a chance to experience anything other than the stage managed events laid on for him inside his security bubble. I was back at work on Thursday and missed the big STWC National Demonstration in London which was attended by at least 110,000 people (Metropolitan Police estimate) - not bad for a weekday! Check out Indymedia UK for reports and pictures. I have also updated my War on Terrorism page.
I was down in London for the first two days of the visit. There were protest actions going on all over the place that were generally very effective given the relatively small number of demonstrators. Here is my report.
Short of time now so I can't add much. If you are in London tomorrow and don't fancy the STWC public rally then how about RAWPeace at Sahara Nights, Kings Cross 4PM till late. But it would be good if people could also get to the CCC Burning Planet March - assemble 6PM, Lincoln's Inn Fields (Holborn Tube).
Remember, the majority of UK citizens consider the Bush Regime to be a threat to world peace (with only Israel and North Korea being seen as more dangerous) and only a minority consider that the invasion of Iraq was justified. We may be portrayed as rebels but we represent the view of the majority. The police now say they will have 14,000 officers on duty which clearly illustrates the utter madness of the whole sorry escapade. Big up the rebels - keep it real.
I am not quite sure how this will work but anyone interested in tracking the US president during his state visit should check out Chasing Bush. Here is an exhaustive list of protests plus some anti-terror search advice compiled by someone from Fairford Coach Action.
In his interview with David Frost, George Bush said he is not worried about protests during his visit and that we are lucky to live in a country "where people are free to say anything". Like we were free to say that we did not want our armed forces to take part in an illegal invasion. Not much good being free to say something when the Prime Minister goes ahead and does the opposite of what we want, just to appease a powerful foreign leader.
There must have been many good people in Germany who were opposed to Hitler's invasion of Poland. In theory they were probably free to protest but in practice it was a dangerous thing to do. That is how my friends in the US feel now, and they are glad that we are planning big demonstrations in London. There is also perhaps a feeling amongst Americans that Iraq is the new man on the moon.
Hardcore protesters plot to halt traffic by Jamie Wilson in today's Guardian refers specifically to ResistBush. The tone is quite sympathetic, though the estimate of numbers who might take part in direct action seems rather low.
After my rant three days ago about exclusion zones it seems like Bush is not in fact going to be given quite the pampering to which China's Jiang Zemin was treated in 1999. Apparently it will not be the job of the police to prevent Bush from witnessing protests - yeah right!
As further evidence (if any were needed) that Bush has got Blair firmly by the balls and will not hesitate to squeeze as hard as necessary, there are worrying signs that our basic human rights are about to be thrown out of the window. Not content with bringing a small army to London (700 or so personnel, 3 Jumbo Jets, 2 helicopters, 40 armoured cars etc), old Bushy boy wants his own personal exclusion zone, ostensibly for security reasons, but in reality because scenes of people exercising their democratic rights would make for bad PR. I am pretty sure that the majority of British citizens are disturbed by what is going on and a significant minority would like to see Blair tell Bush to fuck right off. Of those, something like 100,000 will want to get close enough to Bush during his visit to make him aware of how they feel, and many of them will treat any exclusion zone with the contempt it deserves. Whose streets? Our streets!
I was too busy to get to the meeting at LARC on Friday, but last night I hooked up with some ResistBush people and I hope to be joining their Tea Party Protest on Wednesday. If the site is down you can grab this copy of the pdf flyer which suggests meeting at Victoria Station at 3pm. Remember to check for updates on the ResistBush site and be prepared to use your initiative.
Tim Ireland has been doing a good job over at Bloggerheads where you can find out about his efforts to set up a system to gather intelligence and provide almost real time information on Dubya's whereabouts.
Nice to see some pre-visit discussion of protest plans in the Guardian, see this article by Tania Branigan. Fortunately the authorities in the UK do not (yet) have the same leeway to suppress dissent as in Thailand. The current edition of SchNews describes how 20,000 Thai Police locked down Bangkok prior to Bush's arrival and turned it into a sort of Disneyland. There is also a link to a new website (domain name registered 2003-10-14) at www.resistbush.org with instructions for subscribing to an associated mailing list.
If I have time tomorrow night I will try to get to the Anti-War evening at LARC where, in addition to reports and slides from Iraq there will be an opportunity to discuss the Bush visit.
A poll conducted in October puts Israel at the top of a list of countries considered a "threat to peace in the world" by EU citizens. Israel is considered a threat by 59% of those polled, followed jointly at 53% by the United States, Iran and North Korea. Only 8% considered the EU to be a threat. Mr Blair should take note of the UK results - Israel 60%, US 55%, EU 18%. These results are taken directly from the table on page 78 of "Iraq & Peace in the world - Full Report" available on the Europa Public Opinion Homepage
Being a UK citizen there is little point in me harping on about the US political system - I know there are plenty of switched on people over there who are doing all they can to turn the tide. However, I thought it worth mentioning the serious ballot-tampering allegations that are currently doing the rounds, lending increasingly credible evidence to those that believe the Republicans stole the last election. Take a look at Black Box Voting for the latest news about the unfolding scandal involving Diebold Election Systems. I also came across this article by Faun Otter at bartcop.com.
Here are some good guidelines for anti-Bush protests. Big up to anyone planning anything and good luck - let's get the message out loud and clear.
Buckingham Palace has announced that George W Bush will arrive in Britain on 2003-11-19 for a three day state visit which is not going to go down too well with the millions of us who were outraged by his decision to invade Iraq without UN approval and against the wishes of approximately 90% of the population of this planet. Immediately before the invasion it seemed like at least that proportion of my own friends, family and colleagues were opposed, and the fact that there wasn't a damned thing we could do to stop it was the cause of much anger and despair.
So, in about 6 weeks time we will have an opportunity to show Bush what we really think of him - but it will require a concerted effort. Firstly, there will be intense security during the visit and Blair will want to try to prevent Bush from witnessing any sign of dissent, so whatever we do will have to be on a big enough scale that it can't be ignored (a general strike would be nice!). I would suggest that people start working on ideas but keep plans flexible and be ready to go with the flow. A single huge demonstration is no good because the time and place have to be fixed too far in advance and the authorities will be able to route around it - we need to do much better than that. Keep checking the web for developments - I just found this interesting proposal for action!
Of course the invasion of Iraq is not the only reason to protest the shrub's visit. For one thing there is his attempt to sabotage global efforts to tackle Climate Change. Then there is Palestine, the "War on Drugs", support for numerous brutal regimes around the world, opposition to the establishment of a World Court, opposition to a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and (topically) his "Star Wars" plan - tomorrow marks the start of a week of International protest and actions to Keep Space for Peace.
www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010