December 20, 2012 By 1 Comment
ANDREW GRICE The Independent Dec 19, 2012 An attempt by David Cameron to pave the way for a British Bill of Rights suffered a setback today when a commission set up by the Government failed to agree amongst themselves. Although seven of the nine members of the Commission on a Bill of Rights agreed there is a strong argument for a UK law, two members opposed the idea, warning that it could be “dangerous, with unintended consequences“. The deadlock is likely to mean little progress on legislation to reform human rights is made before the next general election. The Conservatives are likely to offer a “British Bill” in their manifesto in 2015. But the Liberal Democrats, who do not want to dilute the commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights, will seize on the split on the Commission. The review was launched by the Coalition after mounting Tory pressure to reform human rights laws after a string of controversial rulings by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, such as saying that prisoners should be allowed to vote at general elections and blocking the extradition of alleged terrorists… Read more here
December 17, 2012 By 494 Comments
Former Prime Minister’s role as representative of Middle East Quartet comes in for fiercest criticism MATTHEW KALMAN The Independent Dec 17, 2012 Palestinian officials say Tony Blair shouldn’t take it personally, but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go home. They say his job, and the body he represents, are “useless, useless, useless”.
Mr Blair became the representative of the Middle East Quartet – the UN, EU, US and Russia – a few weeks after leaving Downing Street. Last week, he visited the region for what he said was the 90th time since being appointed in June 2007. He spends one week a month based in Jerusalem or globetrotting on behalf of the Quartet. His office is funded by the Quartet members and his 24-hour security detail is on secondment from Scotland Yard but he receives no direct salary. After four years of renting 15 rooms at the American Colony Hotel for his full-time staff, Mr Blair put down more permanent roots in 2011 by renting the penthouse of a new office building in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem. Please Read MoreBut senior Palestinian officials and analysts told The Independent the move was unnecessary – his sojourn in the region should be cut short. “The Quartet has been useless, useless, useless,” Mohammed Shtayyeh, an aide to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said last week. He suggested that its constant need to reach internal consensus among its warring participants had rendered it ineffective. “Always the statement of the Quartet really means nothing because it was always full of what they call constructive ambiguity that really took us to nowhere,” said Mr Shtayyeh, who had just ended a meeting with Mr Blair. “You need a mediator who is ready to engage and who is ready to say to the party who is destroying the peace process ‘You are responsible for it’,” he said. Mr Shtayyeh is not alone. Last February, the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution pronounced the body already dead in a report bluntly entitled The Middle East Quartet: A Post-Mortem. “The Quartet has little to show for its decade-long involvement in the peace process. Israelis and Palestinians are no closer to resolving the conflict, and in the few instances in which political negotiations did take place, the Quartet’s role was usually relegated to that of a political bystander,” said the report. “Having spent most of the last three years in a state of near paralysis, and having failed to dissuade the Palestinians from seeking UN membership and recognition in September 2011, the Quartet has finally reached the limits of its utility.
August 20, 2011 By 8 Comments
By Patrick Henningsen 21st Century Wire Editorial August 20, 2011 Following two weeks of news mired in rioting, social strife and crime in throughout the UK, it’s little wonder that some of our readers have been hit with “doom fatigue”. The London riots were not pretty. For those among us who were unlucky enough to be caught in the middle of it, even the best spin doctors have struggled to find something positive to report. A few readers have asked us, “why all the negative news, where are the feel-good stories?”, and in all honesty, I’ve been hard pressed to find those nuggets in the pan, but alas, one did turn up this week… To be sure, 21st Century Wire is an alternative news agency whose primary function is to act as an early warning system, delivering information and analysis that enables our readers to achieve a better level of awareness about what’s happening in the world and to identify trends that will have a significant impact on society. Admittedly, positive news is not our core function- this is a job better left to other media outlets. As London is being ripped apart by the clash of right-wing and left-wing ideologies, ‘no alternative’ police state measures, and as politicians attempt to dress the city’s fresh riot wounds with more cheap, off-the-shelf, divisive language of class-warfare, at least one gold nugget has come along to remind the doubting masses that there are individuals out there who can, and have- “flipped the script” of this otherwise muddy debate. Quince Garcia is one such nugget, an individual whose vision and creativity are chronicled in the featured story below. If you haven’t heard of him, you should definitely listen to his story. It’s a story we all have a stake in, whether we are aware of it or not. And something tells me that he is not alone in his exploits- it’s highly, highly likely that there are many, many more people like him existing in communities throughout the UK… -
EX-CRACK DEALER “FLIPS THE SCRIPT”
Reformed hustler now runs a media firm encouraging young people into filmBy Juliana Lucas THE VOICE AN EX-CRACK dealer is transforming lives with a media project he developed to engage young people and keep them off the streets. Quince Garcia, 32, spent up to seven years pedalling hard drugs on the streets of south London, but left the game after becoming a father and seeing the error of his ways.
SCREENPLAY Garcia revealed how he first got interested in the media while serving a 12-month prison sentence. When he was in jail, he started to pen a screenplay about the life of a gangster. He told The Voice: “When I was selling drugs I started writing a lot of the script at the same time as a form of escapism, but when I went to prison I wrote even more. When I came out I thought rather than go to places to get it funded, I will use my own initiative to get it out there.” With the help of business partner Julien Bernard-Grau, Road Works was launched in 2009. He later set up Road Works, a media centre in Kennington, south London to provide opportunities for teenagers to get into the film industry. It also teaches them skills such as how to write scripts, film production, post production and editing.”
Although he spent time in prison, Garcia believes the experience helped him to shape a more positive future for himself. “Prison helped me escape it all. I spent seven years of my life selling crack in south London, although it was a constant battle because it never really sat well with me. I never ever used to go home and think what I was doing was great. At the same time, I felt trapped. I didn’t have great social skills and I had a low self confidence and esteem.” MEETING When Garcia met Bernard-Grau at an event, they bonded over a shared interest in films. From that first meeting, they started to discuss plans to set up a media company. Both were raised in south London but in very different settings: Bernard-Grau attended the prestigious Brits school while Garcia attending a local secondary school in Camberwell. However they shared a belief that young people need opportunities to channel their talents in a positive direction. “Bad care, bad living standards and a lack of opportunity are all the reasons why people turn to crime” says Bernard-Grau. “England has the highest child poverty rate in Europe and that’s why the Government needs to increase the minimum wage in order for people to avoid crime.” In 2006, Garcia became the first person in his family to attend university and achieve a degree in film production, an experience which he said changed his life. He added: “The drug lifestyle is over-glamorised especially by film and television. It’s not what it is like in real life, and that’s why we need to tell our children to stick to education. I know the implications of drugs. I am not trying to save the world but I want people to know there are alternatives out there. I see people like the late Amy Winehouse and I think it is really sad. I hope people recognise her talent and what drugs can do to them.” This story originally appeared at Garcia, who recently received an award at the House of Lords for his project said: “We offer people a programme that will teach them a skill and a programme that teaches people how to become their own boss. This way we are trying to discourage them from joining gangs by providing another option. We are setting up a journalism centre, mentoring and a music programme that will deter them from crime. But I believe the Government should do more. They should create an atmosphere that lets teenagers know it does care about them.” THE VOICE. -
August 10, 2011 By 3 Comments
21st Century Wire August 10, 2011 Editor Patrick Henningsen speaks to RT News about the London and UK riots this week. “Our leadership need to stop playing politics, Labour vs Conservative, and start paying attention to what is happening on the street.”
August 10, 2011 By 350 Comments
By Giles Dexter 21st Century Wire August 10, 2011 On Wednesday David Cameron finally admitted what many of us have known for some time: that parts of British society – what has come to be known as the ‘underclass’ – are “not just broken, they’re sick.” Little does the Prime Minister realise that among youth the word “sick”, like the word “wicked”, now means something uber cool. So doubtless the rioters regard the epithet as a compliment. It’s just one more example of just how appallingly out of touch the almost exclusively privately educated Tory cabinet are with great swathes of those they rule, but certainly don’t represent. They don’t even speak the same language. The knee jerk reaction of a Conservative government when faced with civil strife has always been authoritarianism, their instinct being to demonise and criminalise. They are the ruling class, sustained by the bourgeoisie and the still deferential poor, and they always fight to defend their own. History has observed that save for exalting the market above all other social instruments, British conservatism isn’t really an ideology, it is a cadre of self-interest, whose overriding priority is the maintenance of its own wealth, position, privilege and power. In the current paradigm we are witnessing, it is safe to say that they are out of touch. And therein lie the seeds of the current malaise. David Cameron is without a doubt the most intelligent and humane Conservative Prime Minister for half a century, now heading the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, but we have some way to go before he acknowledges that the seeds of sick Britain were sewn in the 1980′s by his sometime idol, Lady Margaret Thatcher. In a remark that immediately revealed her to be Grantham’s answer to the simpleton Chauncey so brilliantly portrayed by Peter Sellers in ‘Being There’, Margaret Thatcher famously declared that there was “no such thing as society, only individuals”(sic). Her government, and those of her proteges Messrs Major and Blair, took her at her word and between them – bit by bit, piece by piece, set about dismantling the civic, and very civil society that had evolved in Britain through the Great Reform Acts of the 19th century, Women’s Suffrage, Two World Wars and the founding of the modern Welfare State. Where once we all had a stake, now some are excluded. Until privatisation, each and every hoody and every single mum owned a tiny part of the enterprises that brought water to our taps, gas to our cookers and power to our lights, but no more. Where once we could travel around our capital and our country at modest expense on genuinely public transport, we no longer can. Where once education was free, it no longer is. Where we had public service and a common wealth, now we have only self service and private wealth. In a society shorn of any sense of public probity, where wealth distribution is skewed more strongly in favour of the rich (and more specifically the super rich) than in Victorian times and where money, possessions and celebrity are exalted above all and any other aims in life, is it any wonder that the often parentless, badly educated ‘underclass’ want to grab whatever they can ? The smash and grab culture so unpleasantly displayed on Britain’s streets the last few nights is the unfortunate but inevitable result of a society that divides people sharply into ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ and where even many of the ‘winners’ have recently been unmasked as criminals of a very unpleasant kind. Of the few looters to be interviewed in the media, the overriding impression they give is that since no one cares about them, why should they care about anyone else ? While not overtly politically motivated, there is a more than dim awareness among most that while some banks are deemed too big fail, their government has no such qualms about watching them disappear down the plughole of society. The millions that will never be an X-factor winner or play for Manchester United had been happy to spend most of the time hypnotised by the circus, but when that spell is broken, as it now is, the social cohesion based on shared values and principles that once held us together is missing.
August 9, 2011 By 186 Comments
BREAKING NEWSBy Patrick Henningsen 21st Century Wire In London August 9, 2011 – 3:00PM BST (GMT) After three days of continuous rioting, looting and violence in pockets of the UK that has already claimed millions in property damage, public service costs and some lives, criminals are now issuing street leaflets discouraging culprits and witnesses from coming forward regarding crimes undertaken by youths. This is one of a number of disturbing new trends that has reared its ugly head since Saturday night’s initial unrest began in Tottenham North London, which soon turned into “Retail Rioting”, as youths between the ages of 12 and 20 years old took to the streets in search of take-away retail prizes. The result was mass violence, theft and arson not seen before on this scale. It seems that lawlessness knows no bounds.
Police are currently combing through thousands of CCTV still images and video footage in an effort to ‘name and shame’ youths embedded in their urdan communities, and hoping to track down vandals who participated in the mass social unrest which has plagued urban areas in London and other areas of the UK this week.
In response to this, shadowy criminal advocates have printed flyers in an attempt to reassure thousands of culprits not to come forward to police even if their digital portraits are show in the media.
On one level, criminals have exposed to oxymoron of the CCTV camera, in that police do not have the manpower or stable of analysts needed to go through and follow-up on so many CCTV leads.
In a bid to out smart the authorities, the flyer is telling looters to “lay low”, “delete dodgy texts”, “change your haircut” and “be careful who you speak to about what happened”.
This level of organisation, normally reserved for political activists and ideological anarchist activities, is a new trend whereby criminals and looters are employing dissemination of advocacy information for the purpose of protecting participants in one of the worst criminal mass demonstrations in modern UK history.
Similar disturbing revelations will no doubt come to light as this story unfolds in the coming days and weeks.
Already authorities are keen to sequester Twitter account details and Blackberry network server logs for BBM texts, in an attempt to catch those involved in propagating and organising retails raids and arson.
What is almost certain is that the actions of these thousands of youths over the last few days will be used to justify further encroachments on every citizen’s rights and privacy in the name of preventing crime. In addition to this, recent events will also push up the price of goods and services, as businesses will not be allowed to operate licensed premises without addition security features and additional insurance.
And as if the timing could not have been worse, amid austerity measures and state budget cuts, public services are, and will be, overstretched in cost, logistical capacity and manpower in order to deal with social unrest on this scale.
All these negative results of public unrest are of course, a massive ”own-goal” on the part of teenaged criminals and unemployed rioters, who are themselves cash-strapped and unemployed, and naturally they will each be dependent on the state for benefits and social security. Indeed, many of those participating in the riots will be queueing up at the DSS Job Centre tomorrow morning in hopes of collecting their free fortnightly government allowance.
Sadly, few of the disaffected youth are likely to be interested in their “society” anymore, much less their futures.
August 8, 2011 By 27 Comments