Campaign Against the Booze Bans

Booze_ban_logo.jpgMayor of London Boris Johnson has claimed the banning of alcohol on the London Tube as one of the great successes of his first 100 days in office. But it isn’t just Boris – and it isn’t just London. There has been a creeping introduction of alcohol bans in public spaces all around the UK – and throughout many other countries, from town centres in the Czech Republic, to beaches in New Zealand, Australia and the USA.

We believe public space should be exactly that – a place where we can come together as a public – to argue and campaign, to pursue our common goals, to chat with friends and socialise. It is a space in which we, the public, should set the rules.

NEW – Briefing Document launched: Manifesto Club reveals that over 300 people have been arrested for refusing to surrender their alcohol to a police officer; and also shows that no-drinking laws are being used against people who are doing nothing wrong. Download the briefing document.

Prof. James Petras: Mass Media & Mass Politics – Conservative, Liberal & Marxist Perspectives

5 November, 2008


The role of the mass media (MM) in influencing mass and class behavior has been a central concern among critical writers, especially since the turn of the Twentieth century. Debates and studies on the MM have focused on its political bias, ownership and links to big business, relationships and ties to the state, relative openness and diversity, promotion of wars and corporate interests among other major issues affecting the relations of power, wealth and empire. Of particular interest to writers opposing and supporting the role of the MM is the impact of the MM in influencing mass outlook, opinions and behaviors. Essays, monographs and empirical studies have been published as to the extent of MM influence, the time frame in which it retains control, the ‘depth’ of loyalty to MM inculcated opinions, and the ‘place’ in which MM messages have the greatest influence in inducing mass opinion in conformity with ruling class interests.

An understanding of the role and power of the MM in contemporary capitalist society requires us to organize the debate according to three major schools – conservative, liberal and Marxist – before proceeding to a critical analysis and finally presenting notes towards setting alternatives to elite-controlled communications networks.

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Jonathan Cook: Mamilla Cemetery – A Travesty Of Tolerance On Display

6 November, 2008

Israel seems to have little time for the irony that a modern Jewish shrine to ‘coexistence and tolerance’ is being built on the graves of the city’s Muslim forefathers.

The Israeli Supreme Court’s approval last week of the building of a Jewish Museum of Tolerance over an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem is the latest in a series of legal and physical assaults on Islamic holy places since Israel’s founding in 1948.

The verdict ended a four-year struggle by Islamic authorities inside Israel to stop development at the Mamilla cemetery, which lies in the shadow of Jerusalem’s Old City walls, close to Jaffa Gate.

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The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the future priorities in the field of Justice and Home Affairs policy.

The European Civil Liberties Network has produced an alternative questionnaire to provoke a more wide ranging debate about EU policy and practice.

Please take a few moments to complete the survey and have your say on EU justice and home affairs policy:

For more information about the ECLN survey, see:

Ishmael Reed: Morning in Obamerica: Change, Change, Change?

5 November, 2008


What has Obama wrought? In the euphoria, can reality reclaim its rightful place? The parameters of rhetorical change are boundless, propelled into the nether-reaches of nonsensicality by hyper-speak and super-wishfullness that can never supplant the real world of entrenched class and race rule. Celebrate good times…COME ON! But at some soon point in time, we must return to the ground. And the need for struggle. Better start as soon as the cold breeze hits you. Like now.

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UK plans to use internet ‘black boxes’ to monitor emails

Internet ` black boxes` will be used to collect every email and web visit in the UK under controversial government’s plans to set up a giant ‘big brother’ database, it was reported Wednesday.

Home Office officials have told senior figures from the internet and telecommunications industries that black box technology could automatically store raw data before transferring it to a giant government-controlled database, according to the Independent.

Details of the database were said to have emerged at a meeting with internet service providers (ISPs) in London this week, when a presentation was made of what was called the government’s Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP).

Plans to create a database holding information about every phone call, email and internet visit made in the UK have already provoked a huge public outcry.

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, described it as ‘step too far’ and the government’s own terrorism watchdog said that as a ‘raw idea’ it was ‘awful.’

The Independent quoted a source close to the meeting saying it was clarified that the government will hold all the data, but ‘what isn’t clear is what the Home Secretary, GCHQ (monitoring centre) and the security services intend to do with all this information.’ Experts told the meeting the security and intelligence agencies wanted to use the stored data to help fight serious crime and terrorism.

The controversial plans are expected to be included in the government’s Communications Data Bill early in the new year, with ministers said to be insisting that they only want to return to a position of monitoring mail before the emergence of the internet. –IRNA

Source: Mathaba Net

Jeff Cohen: Big Election Winner: Independent Media

While conservative and establishment pundits still dominate TV and radio, progressive dominance of the Internet has made it easier for media critics and bloggers to instantly rebut the kind of hoaxes and smears that so damaged Gore and Kerry.

Of all the factors contributing to Obama’s victory – luck, economic crisis, Bush, Palin – a major factor is now so second-nature to us that we may overlook its transformative impact since just four years ago: the Internet and the progressive online boom.

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GazaFriends: Dignitaries on the DIGNITY

6 November, 2008 For Immediate Release

Larnaca: Tomorrow afternoon at 5:00 pm, the DIGNITY leaves for the third time for the shores of Gaza. This time, eleven past and current members of the European Parliament are on board, along with journalists from Al Jazeera English and The Independent.

These dignitaries were among the 53 Parliamentarians denied entrance by Egypt at the Rafah checkpoint.

“Egypt did not allow us to enter Gaza via the Rafah terminal, but this will not stop us from visiting the area,” Lord Nazir Ahmad, head of the European delegates stated, “We will sail to Gaza, we are determined to break the siege”.

Ms Clare Short MP emphasized, “The Egyptian refusal to grant us access through Rafah Crossing is insulting to all of us, and Egypt should open the crossing now.”

They will be on a three-day fact finding tour organized by the Free Gaza Movement and the European Campaign to End the Siege as well as several of the organizations in Gaza who have worked with the Free Gaza Movement on the past two voyages.

On the past two trips, Israel has threatened to stop the DIGNITY, arrest its passengers and tow the boat to Israel. The government has been silent on its plans this time, perhaps out of respect for the dignitaries on the voyage. Members of the two organizations stress that the DIGNITY has no intention of going anywhere near Israeli waters but will enter Gaza through its own coastal waters.

The port authorities have asked the media to come between 3:30 and 5:00 pm Friday at Larnaca Port to see the boat leave and to conduct interviews.

The passenger list is posted on the Free Gaza website,

Contact: Mary Hughes, Cyprus +357 96 75 00 59
Greta Berlin, Cyprus: +357 99 08 17 67
Osama Qashoo, +44 78 33 38 16 60
Angela Godfrey Goldstein, Jerusalem: +972 547 366 393

Greta Berlin
Media Team
Free Gaza Movement
357 99 08 17 67

FAIR Action Alert Fox News Nailbiter! Conservative channel pushed notion of a tightening election

One of the most glaring peculiarities about the Fox News Channel’s campaign coverage in the run-up to the November 4 election was the channel’s frequent insistence, in the waning days of the campaign, that the election was remarkably close, with Republican John McCain surging.

In reality, few polls suggested this was happening (see, but Fox chose to give a handful of outlying, unrepresentative surveys considerable attention. It was as if the channel were less interested in accurately reporting the state of the campaign than in presenting an alternate reality that would be pleasing to partisan viewers.
Here’s a sampling of that coverage, day by day:

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