News in brief

Good raid news

The Anti-Raids Network (ARN), founded by the Latin American Workers’ Association, has been disrupting immigration raids at restaurants and shopping centres by the border agency (UKBA). They’ve reminded police that they can’t demand proof of identity without a reason, and informed people of their rights. The ARN also film arrests and take lapel numbers as another tactic for documenting illegalities.

The ARN began in February 2012 after UKBA raided the queue for a gig by Puerto Rico artist Don Omar, whose audience was mostly Latin American. Over 90 people were arrested, and some deported.

Good census news

On 7 August, at the Scottish court of appeal in Edinburgh, the crown dropped its prosecution of peace activist Barbara Dowling for allegedly failing to fully complete her census form in 2011.

When Barbara’s legal team appealed an earlier decision by Glasgow sheriff court, the appeal court ruled that a further evidential hearing would be necessary, and the crown dropped the case.

Many withheld co-operation from Scotland’s 2011 census in protest at the involvement of a British subsidiary of CACI – a US-based defence contractor complicit in the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Good housing news

Cahoots Collective, a brand new housing co-operative in London, is urgently seeking investors to provide loanstock to help the co-op buy a house in New Cross Gate – it had secured an offer at the time of going to press.

The collective has evolved from a group focused around vegetarianism and communal living into working towards a broader anti-oppressive ethos. It aims to provide safe and secure housing for queer/trans people, ‘with specific recognition of queer/trans people of colour’.

More info: 07969 985 159;

Bad prison news

On 2 August, 12 Palestinian and Jordanian detainees were reported to be on hunger strike in Israeli prisons – down from at least 23 in early July.

Administrative detainee Ayman Hamdan has refused food for over three months in protest at his detention without trial or charge. The duration of the strikes by the other 11 ranged between 30 and 90 days.

The five Jordanians launched their hunger strike in early May demanding that they be allowed serve their sentences in Jordanian prisons.

The Israeli ministry of justice is reported to be working on a bill that will allow prison authorities to force-feed prisoners on hunger strike ‘legally’. Following the lead of California….

Nepal crisis

During the last six years of ‘peace process’, one key issue has been the integration of Maoist guerrillas into the Nepali armed forces – after they had fought each other in a bitter civil war for the previous 10 years.

On 26 August, the integration process finally came to an end, as 66 men and four women were commissioned as officers in the Nepali army after a nine-month training course. In July, 1,352 other ex-Maoist combatants completed a seven-month training course and entered the junior ranks of the army.

That’s about 7% of the 19,600 recognised Maoist fighters who came out of the civil war hoping for integration into the 105,000-strong Nepali army.

Some of the other 93% have joined a breakaway militant Maoist grouping which is leading a 33-party coalition towards a boycott (and the disruption) of constituent assembly elections scheduled for 19 November.

One of the militants’ demands is the dissolution of the current government, headed by the chief justice, Khilraj Regmi, who has taken steps well beyond what was expected of an interim prime minister.

He has set a whole-year budget instead of one until the elections, and made hundreds of job changes in the civil service, including appointing a former royal-era official accused of corruption to head the powerful commission for the investigation of abuse of authority.

Regmi has also refused to stand down as chief justice, despite the fact that a number of challenges to the constitutionality of his appointment as prime minister keep being postponed in the supreme court.

Western Sahara

Last time we checked in on Western Sahara, occupied illegally by Morocco since 1975, demonstrations were taking place to protest against the decision by the UN security council, at the end of April, not to give a human rights role to MINURSO, the UN monitoring group for the territory.

The US had initially proposed enabling MINURSO to monitor human rights (like every other UN mission around the world), but withdrew after strong Moroccan protests.

In May, Western Sahara saw over a thousand people taking to the streets in what may have been the largest demo since the occupation began – triggering a Moroccan crackdown.

It’s possible that these events led to a rare article in the mainstream US press in July, with the Washington Post interviewing ‘the Sahrawi Gandhi’, Aminatou Haidar, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. She told the Post: ‘This is a pride for us, that this [movement for independence] is led by women’.

Direct action

On 5 November, there will be a national wave of direct action against government cuts, called for by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

In its June declaration, the People’s Assembly called for local assemblies to be set up all over the country, and said: ‘We will concentrate on action not words…. We support every and all effective forms of action and aim to build a united national movement of resistance.’

More info: 020 8525 6988; 07746 330 422;

Tuff by name

On 19 August, an African-American school bookkeeper became nationally known in the US after she talked a heavily-armed man with a history of mental illness out of a school shooting. Antoinette Tuff was working in the front office at the Ronald E McNair Discovery Learning Academy just  outside Atlanta, Georgia,when Michael Brandon Hill entered carrying an assault rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition.

Over the next hour, with compassion and empathy, Tuff calmly talked Hill into putting down his weapon and surrendering to the police. Hear a live recording of her talking to Hill as the siege progresses:

Two futures

It’s possible for every person on the planet to have a good quality of life powered entirely by renewable energy, thus avoiding runaway climate change. That’s the message of ‘Two Energy Futures’, a new interactive website launched at the end of July by the UK Tar Sands Network, with evidence drawn from the Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future report from the Centre for Alternative Technology, and the book Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air by energy expert Dr David Mackay.

New peace holiday

On 21 August, St Paul city council in Minnesota, USA, voted to proclaim 27 August ‘Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact Day’ in celebration of the 85th anniversary of the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact which ‘condemn[ed] recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce[d] it, as an instrument of national policy’.