3rd January – National Demonstration – Hands off Gaza: Stop the bombing: Free Palestine

December 31, 2008 at 3:34 pm (anonymous, Human rights, israel, palestine, voltairespriest)

Seeing as there appears to be some confusion amongst our denser commenters about the point, let me make clear that I agree with this demo and if you’re able to go to London on Saturday then I think you should attend. VP

Date: 03 January 2009
Time: 14:00 – 16:00
Location: Parliament Square, W1

Other demos :


TUESDAY 30 DECEMBER, 2 – 4pm outside Israeli Embassy,
Kensington High Street, London, W4. Nearest tube
Kensingston High Street (turn right out of tube station and walk along the main road.

WEDNESDAY 31 DECEMBER, 2 – 4pm outside Israeli Embassy

THURSDAY 1 JANUARY, 2 – 4pm outside Israeli Embassy

FRIDAY 2 JANUARY 2 – 4 pm. Outside the Egyptian Embassy, .
26 South Street, London, W1K 1DW. Call for Egypt to open the border immediately.


Saturday 3 January 12 noon. Outside Lloyds TSB St Vincent Street then assemble for demo at Blytheswood Square 2pm

Saturday 3 January 12 noon. Foot of the Mound, Princes Street

Centre, opposite the Hippodrome, Tuesday – Friday 5.00 – 6.00 and Saturday 3.00 – 4.00.

Tuesday 30 December 12 to 1pm. outside Cardiff Market/ St John’s Church, the Hayes

Wednesday 31 December New Year Vigil. Nye Bevan Statue, Queen Street

Tuesday 30 December 12 noon, Market Square

Tuesday 30 December 12 to 2pm, West Quay Entrance, High Street

Saturday 3 January 11am, Guildhall Square
Organised by Portsmouth Network for a Just Settlement of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and Portsmouth Stop the War Coalition

Saturday 3 January, 11am. Queen Victoria Square.

UPDATE: also EXETER – Saturday 3rd January 12noon, Bedford Square, High Street. Cheers to Jim L in the comments.

Permalink 81 Comments

What do you make of this?

December 30, 2008 at 5:05 pm (Caroline S, sex workers)

Everyone has an opinion about sex work. Straight off – is it work? Why not say “prostitution”? A few days ago I wrote about how preserving an ideology should be secondary to the safety of sex workers; comments were overtaken swiftly by a discussion on whether or not sex work could be properly defined as work. Yet again, sex workers rights were towards the back of the agenda. But consider what has happened this year –

February 2008

Steve Wright was found guilty of murdering Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls, sex workers working in Ipswich, England in 2006. Mr. Justice Gross ordered him to serve a maximum sentence, commenting –

Drugs and prostitution meant they were at risk. But neither drugs nor prostitution killed them. You did. You killed them, stripped them and left them… why you did it may never be known. This was a targeted campaign of murder. It is right you should spend your whole life in prison.

Two men raped a sex worker in Swindon, England.

After dragging her upstairs Arvinder pulled out a clump of her hair while Karnail slammed a sash window shut on her fingers as she tried to get away. Both men then raped the woman, first forcing her to perform oral sex on them and then having intercourse.

April 2008

A man is alleged to have raped a sex worker working in Nottingham, England. thisisnottingham.co.uk reported –

Nottingham Crown Court heard he had given her a ticket stub instead of cash, forced her against the fence and placed his arm across her throat.

Dowding was aggressive and threatening, prosecutor Stuart Rafferty said as he opened the case to a jury yesterday.

Dowding removed the woman’s jacket and pulled off her trousers, he added.

“She was completely naked on her bottom half and wearing a thin top. She realised what was going to happen.”

She asked Dowding to wear a condom before he put her against the fence and allegedly raped her before throwing her clothes over the fence, Mr Rafferty told the court.

Shortly afterwards, the woman saw a police officer she knew and told him she had been raped.

The Bradford News reports a sex worker was alegedy raped in Leeds, England.

A man was jailed for raping a sex worker in Manchester, England, in January 2007. Detective Constable Ginette Smith from the Force Sexual Crime Unit commented –

This man preyed on a vulnerable woman and subjected her to a terrifying assault.

I understand that many street sex workers may find it difficult to contact police when they are the victims of crime because they think that, due to the nature of their work, they will not be believed.

I want to take this opportunity to speak directly to those people working in Greater Manchester to say that we take all reports of these types of offences extremely seriously and will investigate all reports thoroughly. We will do everything in our power to catch offenders and bring them before the courts.

June 2008

A court heard that a sex worker working in Liverpool, England, was raped at knife point in 2007.

July 2008

In Bolton, England, a court heard how a sex worker was raped after refusing to pay

“I turned round and said £20 for sex but you have to use a condom. I always use a condom,” she said.

She added that McManus took her to a nearby car park off Carlton Street but he refused to give her the money in advance.

When she tried to walk away he grabbed her and raped her without using a condom.

Afterwards the distressed woman found her boyfriend nearby and the police were called.

August 2008

A court heard that a sex worker was alegedly raped in Bristol, England in November 2007.

Lubomir Kora went on trial accused of being part of a rape gang which was responsible for five attacks on Bradford (England) sex workers.

September 2008

A sex worker was raped at knife point in Preston, England.

October 2008

A man was sentenced to life for the rape and assault of a sex worker working in Northamptonshire, England. He is still being investigated by Northamptonshire Police for similar attacks on prostitutes in that area.

November 2008

West Yorkshire Police plead for information after two sex workers in Leeds, England were raped. It is not known if these incidents are linked.


Radical Feminists use this kind of evidence to support the Swedish Model, making the buying of sex completely illegal. This year, Scotland adopted this model.

The Edinburgh Evening News reported in December that ten sex workers were raped between January and September 2008, double the numbers reported in 2006. Ruth Morgan Thomas (SCOT-PEP) was quoted in saying not a night went by where support workers in Leith did not hear of an attack taking place. Earlier in the year they reported prostitute attacks had soared. This is after the news laws in Scotland were implemented.

Margo MacDonald, MP, argued that the Swedish approach had failed because it had driven prostitution underground so no-one knew what was going on and now the women had returned to the street, something Sex Workers Unions such as the IUSW fear will happen under Jacqui Smith’s new laws. If you want to read about the negative consequences of this approach in Sweden, check out Sexsäljares och allierades nätverk i Sverig (it’s in English).

So what do we do with this? The danger that prostitution may be pushed underground is real and it’s effects are seen in Scotland. The advantages of decriminalisation are shown in New Zealand (h/t to HangBitch). It would seem logical to talk about what is most adventageous to sex workers. All barring one of these examples above are sex workers working on the street. These examples of what’s been happening in the UK this year is on the tip of the iceberg. God only knows how many sex workers have been sexually assaulted these past few years in England and Wales.

So do we, British society, talk about decriminalisation? No. We talk about definitions, semantics. “Sex worker” or “prostitute”. Is it work? We talk about the ickiness of prostitution as though that justifies all these crimes against women. We debate the morality of it, is it right to sell sex? We place ideology above the safety of these women. We don’t question ourselves. UK feminists do not read that which disagrees with them (from blogland to parliament, who has been listening to the sex workers themselves?). Why not do all that after we’ve supported women’s rights not to be raped and assaulted?

And I can’t believe that anyone would look at the above list, read some of the links, and then support any law that would push this industry further underground and increase the vulnerability of these women.

Permalink 8 Comments

Obama versus the prohibitionists

December 28, 2008 at 2:37 pm (Civil liberties, Max Dunbar, Obama, puritan, United States)

There was always going to be a disillusionment among the President-elect’s leftwing backers. After all, he is going to pile more troops into Afghanistan (what?) and he is supportive of the state of Israel (noooo!)

But there’s something even more unforgiveable about the guy from Illinois.

Via Norm, Christopher Caldwell explains that: ‘The attention paid to Mr Obama’s relationship with cigarettes is evidence of a pathology – and not on the part of the president-elect.’

Evidence of the pathology can be seen in this news story:

‘It’s a wonderful opportunity,’ says Cheryl Healton, president of the American Legacy Foundation, a Washington-based group that seeks to prevent smoking among young people. ‘The president-elect is in a position to help people understand that it’s difficult to quit, and to encourage the 43 million adult Americans who smoke to join him in his efforts.’

Sure Cheryl – it’s not like Obama will have anything else to do, right?

And this is John Gibson from the hilarious Fox News:

Sure he’s young, sure he’s charismatic, but what do we really know about Barack Obama? And what does he really stand for? Obama is the kind of presidential hopeful who appeals to the masses. He portrays himself as a political moderate, but he’s much more liberal than he says he is. And his team works overtime trying to hide Obama’s dirty little secret. He is — get this — a cigarette smoker. The point is: What else do we not know about Barack Obama?

Back to Caldwell:

The TV journalist Tom Brokaw recently closed an interview with Mr Obama by asking him if he had quit smoking. Mr Brokaw wanted to know, since ‘the White House is a no-smoking zone’. Whether it is or is not is a tricky constitutional question. The White House has two functions. On one hand it is a government building. Mr Brokaw may well be right that it is, as such, covered by some intemperate smoking regulation. But it is also the living quarters of Mr Obama, citizen, during the time he is president. There is no reason that getting elected president should make one less entitled to privacy in one’s home. It is not always easy to delineate clearly between personal and governmental activities, but smoking is unambiguously a personal one. The rules ought to be whatever Mr Obama says they are. Once you mix up the body personal and the body politic the way Mr Brokaw does, you lose sight of why the president should enjoy any right to privacy, or any personal freedom, whatsoever. If the people feel reassured by seeing their president grovel before taking power, then grovel he must. This was the attitude in some of the negative letters the Washington Post received when columnist Michael Kinsley dared to suggest that anti-smokers should leave the president-elect alone. ‘He needs to make this sacrifice,’ wrote one correspondent unhappy with Mr Obama. What odd language. Did the US elect a president or a priest?


Permalink 80 Comments

The 2008 Shiraz Socialist Tinfoil Hat!

December 27, 2008 at 9:57 am (crap, funny, voltairespriest)

Special Hat!Well here we go! Technical difficulties having now been sorted, we’ve decided to throw the 2008 Hat over to you. You’ve already nominated your choices, so now please cast your votes and choose them wisely. Remember, you are looking for a figure who inspires mirth, rage and affection in equal measure, a Don Quixote de nos jours, an anti-hero of the blogosphere. This can of course be a blogger, commenter, or just a figure who is spoken of widely in our medium. If you don’t agree with the selection on offer, then please add your own choice via the “other” option at the bottom. Enjoy.

Results to be announced on New Year’s Day!

Permalink 20 Comments

‘The most exciting woman in the world’

December 26, 2008 at 3:20 pm (Champagne Charlie, women)

Eartha Kitt, b:17/01/1927; d: 25/12/2008


Orson Welles: “(She’s) The most exciting woman in the world.”

My mum: “Your Dad really likes Eartha Kitt. In fact (sob): I think he prefers her to me!”

Permalink Leave a Comment

Pause: apologist for dictators

December 26, 2008 at 2:38 pm (Afghanistan, democracy, fascism, Human rights, Jim D, liberation, literature, twat)

Harold Pinter, b: 10/10/1930; d: 24/12/2008

German:  He’s coming!

Rees:  He’ll have something important to say…


Benn: He’ll denounce  mass-murdering dictators like Blair and Bush…


Harold (for it is he): I believe the arrest and detention of  (Slobodan Milosevic) by the international criminal tribunal is unconstitutional, and goes against Yugoslav and international law. They have no right to try him…and I should know..


 I’m a signatory of the international campaign in defence of Slobodan Milosevic.


The Great Playwright: And I’m consistent, unlike the war criminals Bush and Blair, because I’ve said the same about Saddam Hussein…


The Great Playwright: “When I hear Bush say [after the event of 11 September 2001] that ‘on behalf of all freedom-loving people we are going to continue to fight terrorism’ and so on, I wonder what ‘freedom-hating people’ look like: I’ve never seen such people myself or can’t even concieve of it. In other words, he is talking rubbish.”


Unseen voice: A good job our upper-class wadical playwite never met the Taliban, eh?

Permalink 18 Comments

Keeping it chopped out

December 25, 2008 at 10:39 pm (anti-fascism, anti-semitism, insanity, Iran, Max Dunbar, religion)

At about three o’clock today I was enjoying my mum’s amazing turkey dinner, washed down with a bottle of red wine.

So I’m afraid I missed Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message, given this year by… the theocratic dictator President Ahmadinejad.

Apparently Iran’s fanatical tyrant said that ‘the world is in its current predicament because’ – surprise sur-fucking-prise – ‘people have lost spiritual faith.’

I suspect that this astonishingly tasteless decision occurred at about 3am and was chemically induced.

As Peter Tatchell said:

Channel Four is aiding and abetting a tyrant. President Ahmadinejad is a torturer and a murderer. His regime executes children, journalists, Sunni Muslims, gay people, political activists and ethnic minorities. This is the equivalent of giving Robert Mugabe a prime-time television slot to promote his propaganda. It is an insult to more than 100,000 Iranian dissidents who have been slaughtered since the Islamic fundamentalists seized power in 1979.

I know, free speech and all, but do we really want to extend this fucker’s propaganda range?

There’s also a real kind of attention-seeking, Nathan Barley quality about the whole thing.

As Tim Allon says in the Harry’s Place comments: ‘This is the kind of stuff you do to piss off your parents. You’re meant to grow out of it by the time you run a TV channel.’

I wonder what Iranian blogger Azarmehr thinks of this. Not much, as it turns out.

I am so pissed off, I am so livid at the incompetency and lunacy of this Western media, I want to get hold of one of these snobby condescending fartbag journalists, editors and media bosses and pulp them to the wall. Channel 4 has invited President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not for a debate, not for an interview, but to give an ‘alternative’ Christmas message!

Who will they invite next? Kim-il-Jong? Mugabe? This is rubbing salt on the wounds of all those jailed journalists in Iran, this is an insult to the family of murdered photo-journalist, Zahra Kazemi, this is giving platform to a regime which is persecuting Christian converts in Iran, to a regime which is persecuting religious minorities.



‘Right, we should put this bigoted fundamentalist dictator on the telly… have him doing like an alternative Queen’s Speech, yeah… well mentalist…’

Update: Courtesy of Bad News Wade in the Shiraz comments here are some video responses.

Further update: Jim D has noticed this leader comment in the Independent:

For once, Channel 4’s ‘alternative’ message – given this year by the president of Iran – was more on message than off. If Mahmoud Ahmedinejad can’t find much worse to say about the state of the Western world than our own church leaders, perhaps there is hope for global understanding after all.

Jesus motherfucking Christ.

Permalink 9 Comments

Christmas Quiz

December 25, 2008 at 8:59 am (Christmas, crap, fascism, thuggery, Uncategorized, wankers)

It’s that time of the year when you get bumper issues of magazines, the reviews of the past twelve months and, of course, the Christmas quiz.

So here, for Christmas, is our special quiz.


Answer the following 10 questions to check your clerical fascism credentials!

1. Before being published a book should be:-
a) Vetted by a board of clerics for blasphemy
b) Vetted by academics for offensiveness
c) Eh?

2. Putting a bomb in a rucksack and blowing up your fellow citizens:-
a) Sends you to Paradise
b) Sends a message to Tony Blair and George Bush
c) Sends a lot of people to hospital and the morgue, you morons!

3. Women should:-
a) Not go out in public unless escorted by a male relative
b) Not have their rights made into a shibboleth
c) Kick ass! Or crotch!! Or someone’s head in!!! For fuck’s sake

4. Apostates should be:-
a) Executed
b) Regarded as Uncle Toms or neocon pin ups
c) Hey!  What fucking century is this?

5. Atheists should be:-
a) Killed
b) Refraining from militancy or abrasivenes or insensitivity
c) Biting the carpet in a rage.  For Chrissake!

6. Israel is:-
a) An abomination that will be wiped off the map
b) The new South Africa, Nazi Germany, or any other unquestionably evil state
c) There are other fucking countries, you know

7. A body of men who if they came to power would place women under house arrest; enforce rules on dress; ban music, games and harmless pleasures generally and compel total religious observance are:-
a) Holy warriors for God
b) A heroic resistance movement
c) What bollocks is this?

8. Jews are:-
a) Responsible for all revolutions; destroyers of science; controllers of imperialist states; behind every war that was ever fought; secret rulers of the USA; controllers of the media.
b) As above, but could you change Jews to Zionists?
c) Jesus wept!

9. The holocaust:-
a) Didn’t happen, which is a shame
b) Happened, but denying it is an understandable response, and should be contextualised
c) Aaargh! Aaargh!  Aaargh!

10. The Golden Age was:-
a) 8th century, Baghdad
b) 1917 USSR – there was something to hope for
c) 10 September 2001 – though there was plenty of crap around, it wasn’t this particular kind of crap

Check your answers here:-

Permalink 5 Comments

Season’s greetings

December 25, 2008 at 12:03 am (Christmas, Jim D)


Permalink Leave a Comment

No better cause this Xmas

December 24, 2008 at 4:29 pm (anonymous, asylum, Christmas, Human rights, immigration, Jim D)

“They make you feel like a criminal, when you haven’t done anything wrong” – Adebowale Falonde, 14, removed from school in the middle of his GCSE’s.

There are many good causes around at this time of year, but surely none better or more appropriate than the New Statesman’s ‘No Place For Children’ campaign.

No Place for Children campaign
…and the campaign isn’t even after your money: just your name on their petition, and your commitment to raise this scandal with your MP, inside your trade union, and wherever you can. As New Statesman journo Alice O’ Keefe (whose report from Yarl’s Wood detention centre last Xmas gave rise to the campaign), says: “Let’s hope 2009 is the year the government finally grants all children in Britain their most basic right to liberty.”

Permalink Leave a Comment

Next page »