Saturday, December 18, 2010

The great South African communist and fighter against apartheid David Kitson has died in Johannesburg aged 91.
FRFI 218 December 2010/January 2011

A senior member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) in the 1960s, he became a commissar of the national high command of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the ANC, after the arrest of the ‘Rivonia Eight’ ANC leaders, including Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu, in 1963.

David Kitson was arrested in 1964 and, with four others, was charged with sabotage and being a member of the high command of MK, and jailed for 20 years. His wife Norma was detained a month later.

Norma Kitson subsequently was forced into exile in London and with the Revolutionary Communist Group formed City of London Anti-Apartheid Group, which in 1982 held a non-stop picket outside the South African Embassy over deteriorating conditions faced by David and his fellow prisoners, who were being held on Death Row in Pretoria Central Prison. After 86 days, the prisoners were moved to better conditions, and this victory was the impetus later for the four-year Non-Stop Picket against apartheid and for the release of all South African political prisoners maintained by City AA outside the South African Embassy from 1986 until Mandela’s release in 1990.

City AA, committed to opposing the racism of the British state as well as the apartheid system in South Africa, and to support for all organisations fighting for national liberation in South Africa, found itself bitterly opposed by the ANC/SACP exile establishment in London which wanted to channel all protest through the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM), which it controlled.

When David was released in 1984 and joined Norma and their children Steven and Amandla in London, he found himself caught up in the vicious efforts of the ANC/SACP to politically isolate Norma, City AA and the RCG.

Despite the fact that David was the most senior MK leader and longest-serving political prisoner at the time to be released from South Africa, at the AAM AGM in 1984, a few months after his release, a significant proportion of the movement’s leadership refused to join in a standing ovation when he stood to speak, or even applaud him, and he was denied a seat on the AAM National Committee. Having fought against the apartheid state, David now found himself having to struggle against the opportunism of the movement in Britain. When he refused, as he put it, to ‘jump through hoops’, he and Norma were suspended from the ANC. With the collusion of erstwhile communist Ken Gill, leader of David’s union TASS, David was told he would be reinstated as an ANC member and get funding to take up a promised emeritus post at Ruskin College, Oxford, only if he publicly denounced his wife and City AA. Always one to take a principled stand, David rejected this poisonous blackmail and, as a result, found himself without a job or source of income.

In an obituary in the South African Sunday Times, Chris Barron writes of the attempts to isolate David politically:

‘One view is that his return to London after his imprisonment constituted an embarrassment and a reproach to members of the SACP, including Joe Slovo, who had fled SA in 1963 in defiance of a central committee directive that they should stay. Kitson obeyed the directive and paid heavily for it. He and Slovo had ideological differences, and it has been argued that Slovo had much to lose if Kitson was restored to his old seniority in the movement.’

As David said at his trial: ‘There came a point where I could choose to run or I could choose to stand. And so I stood.’

Significantly, the head of the ANC in London, who informed David, by post, of his suspension and who was a key player in the political attacks on City AA, was Solly Smith, later unmasked as a South African police spy along with other prominent London members.

While in London, David maintained comradely relations with the RCG and spoke at a number of our public meetings. After returning to live in Harare in the 1990s, he wrote regularly for FRFI on the situation in Zimbabwe. He moved back to South Africa after Norma’s death in 2002. Steven Kitson died in 1997.

FRFI salutes David’s unwavering courage and communist principles and we extend our sympathy to his comrades and family.

© Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 2010


David Kitson's obituary
Steven Kitson: photo
Steven Kitson
Pie in the sky
Norma’s Obituary [FRFI]
Norma’s Obituary [Guardian]
Norma Kitson [Photo]
Where Sixpence Lives

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Civil partnership refused to heterosexual couple
Kristin and Ian at Bristol register office © Chris Houston.

Bristol, UK - Nov. 23, 2010. A heterosexual Quaker couple, Ian Goggin and Kristin Skarsholt, were refused a civil partnership at Bristol Register Office this morning, Tuesday, Nov. 23. The registrar cited the legal ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships as the reason for the refusal.

“We want a civil partnership for two reasons. It better reflects our relationship, and we can’t condone the baseless discrimination between civil marriages and civil partnerships,” Goggin (21) said.

Skarsholt (22) said, “We are disappointed that we were not able to have our relationship legally recognised. Ian and I genuinely wish to secure legal recognition as civil partners. We are determined to fight through the courts to end the legal segregation that continues to keep straight and gay couples in separate institutions.

“Just as our gay friends are excluded from civil marriage, we are being excluded from having a civil partnership. This is discriminatory segregation on the basis of sexual orientation. It is wrong,” she said.

Goggin said, “Although the register staff were extremely helpful, they were unable to offer us a civil partnership. They felt obliged to act in accordance with the law as it currently stands. We thank them for their politeness. We regret this rejection but our resolve to carry on the campaign for equality remains strong.

“We are hopeful that our forthcoming legal case, led by Professor Robert Wintemute and Peter Tatchell, will eventually end discrimination against heterosexual couples in civil partnership law. Next time we come here to apply for a civil partnership we are confident there will be a happier outcome,” he said.

Skarsholt and Goggin are both Bristol-based students at the University of West England. Skarsholt is studying Arabic and Ian is studying music technology. She was born in Norway and he in Ireland. They’ve been in a relationship together for two years. They met at a Quaker retreat.

Skarsholt and Goggin’s application today is part of the new Equal Love campaign, which seeks the repeal of the twin prohibitions on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.

Skarsholt and Goggin are the fourth of eight couples who will file applications at register offices across the country, in an effort to overturn the “sexual segregation” in civil marriage and civil partnership law.

The Equal Love campaign is organised by the gay rights group OutRage! and coordinated by the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The couple is being advised by the Equal Love campaign’s legal expert, Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at Kings College London.

"By excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage, and different-sex couples from civil partnership, the UK Government is discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation, contrary to the Human Rights Act,” Wintemute said.

“The twin bans violate Article 14 (protection against discrimination), Article 12 (the right to marry) and Article 8 (the right to respect for family life).

“The rights attached to civil marriage and civil partnership are identical, especially with regard to adoption of children, donor insemination, and surrogacy. There is no longer any justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage and different-sex couples from civil partnership. It's like having separate drinking fountains or beaches for different racial groups, even though the water is the same. The only function of the twin bans is to mark lesbian and gay people as inferior to heterosexual people," he said.

Equal Love’s campaign coordinator, Peter Tatchell, was in Bristol for the civil partnership application attempt and to support Skarsholt and Goggin. He said, “We seek heterosexual equality. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. There should be no discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“Denying heterosexual couples the right to have a civil partnership is discriminatory and offensive. We want to see it ended, so that straight couples like Tom and Katherine can have the option of a civil partnership.

“The bans on same-sex civil marriages and on opposite-sex civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid. There is one law for straight couples and another law for gay partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

“We see the Equal Love campaign as a historic quest for justice; morally equivalent to the campaigns to overturn the bans on inter-racial marriage in apartheid South Africa and the Deep South of the USA.

“From Nov. 2 onwards, eight couples will file applications at register offices in London, Northampton, Bristol and Havant. Four same-sex couples will apply for civil marriages and four heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships. One couple will make an application every week until Dec. 14. Once all the applications have been refused, the eight couples will consult our lawyer and agree a joint legal action.

“Our aim is to secure equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law. We want both systems open to all couples, gay and straight, so that everyone has a free and equal choice.

“Just as gay couples should be able to marry, civil partnerships should be available to straight couples.

“Same-sex marriage is the growing trend all over the world. It exists in Canada, Argentina and South Africa, as well as seven of our European neighbours: Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. We want marriage equality in Britain too.

“Political support for ending the ban on gay marriage is growing. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and former Conservative Party Vice-Chair, Margot James MP, have both come out in favour of allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry in a registry office, on the same terms as heterosexual partners.

“This view is also endorsed by the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, and by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

“Both the Liberal Democrat and the Green party conferences have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending the bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.”

Public attitudes have shifted strongly in favour of allowing gay couples to marry. A Populus opinion poll in June 2009 found that 61 per cent of the public believe that: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33 per cent disagreed.


Equal Love on the Web
Equal Love on Twitter
Equal Love on Facebook

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Smash the racist English Defence League (EDL) & The British National Party

Demonstrations by far-right activists such as the English Defence League are fuelling Islamic extremism, West Midlands police said today.

Groups such as the EDL lay the groundwork for the recruitment of Muslims to radicalism, according to counter-terrorism officers.

Since the EDL emerged last summer, it has held demonstrations in towns and cities against Islamic extremism, with another planned for Preston city centre on Saturday, Nov. 27.

But the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit said there is evidence that violence or damage towards Muslim property associated with EDL demos encourages extremist retaliation afterwards.

Detective Superintendent John Larkin told BBC Radio 5 Live: “They look for the hook to pull people through and when the EDL have been and done what they’ve done, perversely they leave that behind.”

Hope Not Hate campaign chairman Nick Lowles said: “This demonstrates how hate breeds hate.

“The EDL breeds Islamic extremism and Islamic extremism breeds the EDL.

“It’s time to break the chain.

“…make a stand against extremism on both sides of the divide.”
Please change your Facebook profile pic to “Some people are gay. Get over it!” this week for National Anti-Bullying Week, and show support to anyone experiencing homophobic bullying in schools and Stonewall’s campaign to tackle this. Please encourage all your Facebook Friends to do the same to show the anti-gay bullies they won’t win!

Monday, November 15, 2010

David Kitson and me

If you’ve never heard of David Kitson and you’re not a Marxist nerd, I’ll attempt to express my loss in the language of contemporary popular culture: Yoda just died.

But I won’t make myself out to be a communist Jedi. I was never more than an activist in a solidarity organization called the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group. City AA, as we called it, was like a fan club and the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK for short), was the band. And, to strain a lame analogy even further, if MK was The Beatles, David Kitson was John Lennon. Let me gather my painful recollections and I’ll try to explain what David Kitson means to me.

I was recruited to City AA by David’s son Steven, in the fall of 1986, shortly after dawn, on the wide sidewalk in front of the South African Embassy on Trafalgar Square. I’d been up all night (the first of many) with City AA’s non-stop picket for the release of Nelson Mandela but Steven wanted me to stay on through the day as a “legal steward” for the scheduled mass demonstration.

That was when Steven first told me his father had served 19 years and five months in a South African prison for his leading role in MK. I didn’t know Steven and his mother Norma had both been detained and tortured by the Apartheid regime and, somehow, I’d missed the UK television coverage of David’s release and arrival in England. So I picked up the details on the street, the same day I learned the words of my first South African freedom song, which was all about a train leaving for Zimbabwe.

David could quite easily have avoided arrest if he had simply fled to London, as so many of his comrades had chosen to do. On trial for treason, he had stood in the dock and explained, “I could have run or I could have stood. So I stood.”

As a white South African with a solid career in engineering, David could have enjoyed a very privileged lifestyle on the backs of the disenfranchised majority, but he was an old-school Leninist and a member of the illegal South African Communist Party.

Even the SACP was too racist for David. But, within the constraints of Party discipline, he opposed the doctrine known as Colonization of a Special Type (CST) as the SACP drafted the program, published in 1962, as The Road to South African Freedom. The Party sidelined his theoretical intervention by simply not inviting him to a key meeting. They cited tactical considerations: it was too dangerous for him to attend. He was a key figure in the armed resistance and there was too much risk his presence would be betrayed to the South African authorities.

How convenient! Such are the machinations of that ambiguous world of bureaucrats and informers, where the dialectic of legal and illegal action meet the dialectic of theory and practice. This was in the early 1960s and while communists were shadowy marginalized figures in South Africa they were a significant force in the UK where David’s powerful labor union TASS was led by his esteemed comrade Ken Gill.

When David began his prison sentence, he received word from Gill that, when he was eventually released, the union would give him a “job for life” on the faculty of Ruskin College in Oxford, England. To this end, David developed his academic qualifications while in prison and took three more degrees.

He did this in the appalling conditions of Pretoria Local prison’s death row, where the extreme cold made him seriously ill. By then, Norma and the kids had relocated to London where they mounted a day-and-night picket in front of the South African Embassy, for 86 days, demanding that David be moved to a warmer cell. When they eventually moved him, the prison guards intimated to David that his wife, in London, was responsible for this. I always think of that anecdote when somebody tries to tell me political demonstrations never achieve anything.

Norma’s 86-day picket had enjoyed massive support from Britain’s left-wing establishment including cabinet members, labor leaders and the British Anti-Apartheid Movement, whose bureaucratic leadership suggested Norma’s picketers should form their own AAM branch, which became City of London Anti-Apartheid Group (City AA).

But there was a big problem when the AAM leadership attempted to impose its sectarian policies. City AA contended that solidarity organizations outside South Africa have no right to tell the African people who their leaders ought to be, and continued to extend their support to the PAC, SWANU and any other organization that was fighting Apartheid.

So, when David was finally released from prison, the dead hand of Stalinism visited him again and the ANC's London representatives demanded he denounce City AA and his wife or be suspended from the ANC. He refused. After all, City AA had saved his life. In reprisal, the Stalinist bureaucrats took away all the promised benefits: David doesn’t get his job at Ruskin College, his daughter Amandla doesn’t go to university in East Germany and there’s no place in the ANC choir for Steven. This was all communicated to David and Norma in a letter from the ANC's Solly Smith who, it turned out, much later, was a spy for the South African government all along.

So, by 1986, when first I ever saw David, I was helping to organize the picket for the release of Nelson Mandela. David, the revered sage, would appear on special occasions to make a speech.

For a long time, I wasn’t even allowed to know where City AA’s office was. Some committee members were wary of my alleged military background and they suspected me of being a government spy. Eventually, I joined the committee as picket organizer and then, when the office organizer was expelled for misappropriating correspondence, I was co-opted as City AA’s office organizer. On my first day at the secret office, David knocked on the door and, with disarming humility, said, “Tell me what I can do to help out.”

I was lost for words. I stammered something about feeling I should be the one helping him. I didn’t even know how to address him. If I were a communist, I should call him comrade. But my instinct was to call him sir, which seemed somehow inappropriate.

I had a lot more contact with Steven and Norma. Steven was City AA’s treasurer and Norma was deputy convener. I was embarrassingly deficient in terms of Marxist theory but did what I could to make up for this with hard work and my own defiant brand of pragmatism.

I worked closely with the Revolutionary Communist Group, which had played a leadership role in City AA since its inception. Its leader once told those of us who did not belong to a political organization we should go ahead and join one and then draw its support to the Mandela picket as part of a non-sectarian alliance. I attended a small meeting of the Humanist Party which, as it turned out, organized through a decentralized cellular structure across national boundaries. When City AA planned a march for Mandela to Trafalgar Square from north London, the only way I could mobilize Humanist Party support was to give a bundle of leaflets to a Humanist delegate who was attending a party conference in Paris.

It worked. I happened to be standing on a sidewalk with Norma and David as hundreds of Humanist Party members marched past, some with enormous homemade Mandela banners. David turned to me and asked, “Are these your people?” I can hardly remember a prouder moment.

If that was the high, then my low came in 1989 when I resigned from the committee over a disagreement with a high ranking RCG member. I wrote my resignation in the form of a spoof newsletter which somebody chose to circulate publicly on the picket. At the next City AA meeting, I was expelled from City AA and banned from the Non-Stop Picket.

Shunned by my former comrades, I began reading a monthly newspaper called The Leninist, chiefly because I’d heard David Kitson subscribed to it. Sometimes, they printed his letters. I think I was trying to catch up on the Marxist education I had so sadly lacked while in the anti-apartheid struggle.

Membership of the Leninist group was banned within the Communist Party of Great Britain and, when the CPGB finally disbanded, the Leninists took the CPGB name and attempt to reforge the party along more principled lines. This appealed to me and I was drawn into the newly relaunched Daily Worker. Imagine my surprise when, in two short years, I found myself marginalized in an ideological debate with the Provisional Central Committee and then, at the same time, facing a possible prison sentence on a charge of conspiracy.

As Marx himself put it, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce.” If David was the tragic hero, I seemed to be in danger of being the comic relief. My editor and I had pretty much decided to leave The Daily Worker, but we had qualms. No matter what your ideological differences with a Communist organization might be, to actually leave is to open yourself up to accusations of desertion, betrayal and collusion with the forces of oppression.

This should have been water off a duck’s back to me, by now. But my comrade had been a communist since his working-class boyhood in the Welsh valleys. The only way we could go through with this was if we talked it over with David Kitson, and the opportunity presented itself at a Justice for Kitson meeting in one of those big fancy houses in north London. It might have been Camden or Kentish Town. I remember a bust of Lenin on a grand piano.

I must have been the only person there under 65 and I didn’t know any of these people other than David himself. At the first opportunity, I just blurted out that I needed to talk to him in private. We stepped into a small room and he asked me what was up. I told him our sad story. He stopped me in mid stream and warned me, “You know I’m fairly close with your National Organizer. What if I repeat this conversation to him?”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said. He listened patiently until I’d explained how the leadership had suckered me into open debate and then stitched me up with disciplinary procedures, the protocols, the dialectics…“

“How many people in the organization?” he asked.

“About 15,” I said.

“Go ahead and leave,” he said.

And I never saw him again.


David Kitson's obituary [FRFI]
David Kitson's obituary
Steven Kitson: photo
Steven Kitson
Pie in the sky
Norma’s Obituary [FRFI]
Norma’s Obituary [Guardian]
Norma Kitson [Photo]
Where Sixpence Lives
Umkhonto we Sizwe
Colonization of a Special Type

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Obituary: David Kitson: SACP member, MK commissar
By Chris Barron, South Africa Sunday Times

David Kitson, who has died in Johannesburg at the age of 91, was a senior member of the SA Communist Party and a commissar of the national high command of MK, the armed wing of the ANC.

He was appointed after the arrest of ANC leaders at Lilliesleaf farm in Rivonia in 1963.

He and his wife, Norma, helped key members of the underground escape SA before they themselves were captured in 1964.

Together with Mac Maharaj and three others, he was charged with sabotage and being a member of the high command of MK, and jailed for 20 years.

Norma, who died in Harare in 2002 at the age of 68, went into exile in England in 1967. There she initiated a round-the-clock picket of South Africa House in Trafalgar Square, which, until the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, was the most effective engine of publicity for the struggle against apartheid and particularly the plight of political prisoners in SA.

She also became the driving force of the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group, which was bitterly opposed by the ANC/SA Communist Party establishment in London, which thought the Anti-Apartheid Movement, firmly under their control, should be the only show in town.

When Kitson was released in 1984, he joined his wife and two children in London. He was the most senior resistance fighter and longest-serving political prisoner to be released from SA and was feted by the British media. But the ANC promptly suspended both him and Norma.

He was told he would be reinstated and allowed to take up his union-funded position at Ruskin College, Oxford, where he had spent two years as a research fellow before joining the struggle — but only if he publicly denounced his wife and the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group. He regarded the ANC/SACP proposal as political blackmail and rejected it.

As a result, the SACP leaned on his union to withhold its funding and he found himself without a job or source of income. He remarked later that the withdrawal of income was “a standard technique within the liberation movement for bringing people to heel”.

When Mandela and Walter Sisulu were released in 1990, they insisted that he and Norma be reinstated, but that never happened. They were not invited to Mandela’s inauguration.

Complaining that the ANC/SACP had frozen them out of any role in the new SA, Kitson and his wife went to live in Harare. He returned to SA after her death.

No reasons for their suspension were ever given, and it has remained a subject of fierce speculation. One view is that his return to London after his imprisonment constituted an embarrassment and a reproach to members of the SACP, including Joe Slovo, who had fled SA in 1963 in defiance of a central committee directive that they should stay. Kitson obeyed the directive and paid heavily for it. He and Slovo had ideological differences, and it has been argued that Slovo had much to lose if Kitson was restored to his old seniority in the movement.

Ironically, the head of the ANC in London who informed Kitson, by post, of his suspension was Solly Smith, later unmasked as an SA police spy.

Kitson is survived by his daughter, Amandla. His son, Steven, died in the 1990s.

© Sunday Times of South Africa


David Kitson's obituary [FRFI]
David Kitson's obituary [Guardian]
David Kitson and me
Steven Kitson: photo
Steven Kitson
Pie in the sky
Norma’s Obituary [FRFI]
Norma’s Obituary [Guardian]
Norma Kitson [Photo]
Where Sixpence Lives

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Extracts from actual letters sent to Leicester Council and housing associations

1. I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.

2. I wish to complain that my father hurt his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage.

3. And their 18-year-old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.

4. I wish to report that the tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof. I think it was that bad wind the other night that blew them off.

5. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.

6. Will you please send someone to mend the garden path, my wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant.

7. I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen. Fifty per cent of the walls are damp, 50 per cent have crumbling plaster and the rest are plain filthy.

8. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.

9. Will you please send a man to look at my water? It is a funny color and not fit to drink.

10. Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.

11. I want to complain about the farmer across the road, every morning at 6:00 am his cock wakes me up and it’s now getting too much for me.

12. The man next door has a large erection in the garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.

13. Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two small children and would like a third so please send someone round to do something about it.

14. I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would you please do something about the noise made by the man I have on top of me every night.

15. Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and satisfy my wife

What to do when rental property stinks: how bad does it have to get?: An article from: Utah Business

Go figure!
This woman is 51. She is a TV 'health guru' advocating a holistic approach to nutrition and ill health, promoting exercise, a pescetarian diet high in organic fruits and vegetables. She recommends detox diets colonic irrigation and supplements, also making statements that yeast is harmful, that the colour of food is nutritionally significant, and about the utility of lingual and faecal examination.

This woman is 50. She is a TV cook, who eats nothing but meat, butter and desserts.

How you can help the Equal Love campaign:

  • Please Facebook and tweet the Equal Love campaign events and media coverage to all your friends: and #equalloveuk on Twitter

  • We need to pressure MPs and the government to end the twin bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships. Please email your MP and MEPs. Ask them to write to the Prime Minister on your behalf, requesting that the government legalise same-sex marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships. You can email your MP and MEPs direct via this website:

  • Write letters to national and local newspapers urging that civil marriages and civil partnerships be opened up to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation.

  • Help fund the Equal Love campaign. This campaign is partly funded by the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund. To make a donation via PayPal — or to download a donation form or a standing order mandate — go to:
    Cheques should be made payable to: “Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund” and sent to: Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund, PO Box 35253, London, E1 4YF, England, UK.

    You can also join the Equal Love facebook group

    Or the Equal Love on Twitter. Don’t forget to always use #equalloveuk.!/EqualLoveUK
  • Sunday, November 07, 2010

    All Out Tues. Nov. 9
    Please post and distribute widely —

    All Out Tues. Nov. 9! MUMIA’S LIFE IS IN DANGER!

    MUMIA ABU-JAMAL faces his likely last court hearing on November 9, 2010, in Philadelphia. Mumia is innocent, but this hearing is about sentencing only; and…

    Mumia’s death sentence is likely to be reinstated. Why is this happening? See below for details.

    Come out Nov. 9, 2010 to say:

    PHILADELPHIA: Demonstrate to Free Mumia Now! Come to the Third Circuit Court, Sixth and Market, Philadelphia, at noon on Tuesday, November 9. The hearing starts at 2 p.m.

    NEW YORK CITY: Get on the NY Mumia Coalition’s bus to Philadelphia! SEATS ARE CLOSE TO SELLING OUT! Call in now to the Mumia hotline at: (212) 330-8029. Leave a message to request a seat on the bus to Philadelphia. If you can’t get a seat on the Coalition’s bus, reserve on commercial bus or rail.

    OAKLAND: Noon on Tuesday, November 9: Come to 14th and Broadway in downtown Oakland. Called by the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. INFO: (510) 763-2347.

    OAKLAND LAC RALLY ENDORSED BY: Campaign To End The Death Penalty; Mobilization To Free Mumia; Revolution Books of Berkeley; Noelle Hanrahan & Prison Radio; Peoples Radio; ANSWER Coalition of SF; Black Student Union, Laney College; Black Student Union, SFSU; Marsha Feinland; Peace and Freedom Party of California; Minister of Information JR; Prisoners of Conscience Committee; International Bolshevik Tendency; International Socialist Organization; Clarence Thomas, co-chair of Million Worker March West & member, ILWU Local 10. Organizations listed for purposes of identification only.

    SAN FRANCISCO: 7 PM on Tuesday November 9: Come to Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia St. The new film, “JUSTICE ON TRIAL, the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” will be screened. JUSTICE ON TRIAL tells the truth about Mumia Abu-Jamal’s innocence. Hans Bennett of Abu-Jamal News, and other speakers. Donation. Called by the Mobilization To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Info: (510) 268-9429.



    The important new film on Mumia, “JUSTICE ON TRIAL, the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” will be shown at San Francisco State University.

    Unlike the other recently produced film, “Barrel of a Gun” (see the next item, below), JUSTICE ON TRIAL tells the truth about Mumia Abu-Jamal’s innocence.

    Come to the Richard Oaks Multi-cultural Center, Room T-145 in the Student Center, at SFSU, at 19th and Holloway, San Francisco. Sponsored by the Black Student Union of SFSU, and the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Info: (925) 784-9206


    DEBATE! — Come to the National Constitution Center, 6th & Arch Streets. A debate between DA Seth Williams, and attorney/activist Michael Coard, will follow a showing of a film which seeks to condemn Mumia to death for a crime he didn’t commit. The film, “Barrel of a Gun,” by Tigre Hill, denies Mumia’s innocence, but you can be there for the debate that follows the film to support Mumia.

    Also debating will be Prof. Johanna Fernandez of Educators for Mumia and Mumia 101, the writer/director of the new film, JUSTICE ON TRIAL, which tells the truth about Mumia’s case. She will be challenging Tigre Hill, the producer of “Barrel of a Gun.”

    The Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ) have purchased blocks of tickets for this event, at $13 each, to make sure friends of Mumia are in the audience, and not just the FOP. To purchase a ticket, call (215) 476-8812. In New York City, call (212) 330-8029.


    Showing of the important new film, “JUSTICE ON TRIAL, The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal”

    Come to the Twin Space, 2111 Mission St, San Francisco. Sponsor: Minister of Information JR. Info: (415) 504-5289


    FRANCE — ON NOVEMBER 9, 2010:
    Paris, 6 P.M., Place de la Concorde

    HAMBURG — 5:30 PM, Tuesday Nov 9: RALLY! Come to: Hamburg-america-center Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, Am Sandtorkai 48, 20457 Hamburg. The rally is endorsed by the International Bolshevik Tendency and the Antikrisen-B√ľndnis Hamburg.

    LONDON — 5 to 7 P.M., Tuesday Nov 9: DEMONSTRATE: US Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Sq, London W1. FOR FREEDOM FOR MUMIA! Mumia’s case returns to court on November 9, 2010. At stake is whether he will be murdered by the state or granted a new jury trial [on the sentencing issue]. Mumia is innocent! He is a political prisoner! Mumia should be released unconditionally immediately! FREE MUMIA FREE MUMIA FREE MUMIA


    TORONTO — 6 PM, Tuesday Nov 9. Come to the U.S. Consulate, 360 University Avenue (between Dundas and Queen) to demand:

    Free Mumia! Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!

    At a meeting on Wednesday, October 27, representatives of a number of organizations met and formed a committee to organize a united front demonstration for Mumia Abu-Jamal on 9 November. The following organizations have endorsed the demonstration to date: Angola 3 Support Committee, Black Action Defense Committee, Fightback, Ginger Project, International Bolshevik Tendency, OPIRG (UofT), Socialist Action, Socialist Alternative, Toronto Young New Democrats. Other endorsements are expected, and all defenders of Mumia are welcome.

    Why is this happening?

    Targeted by the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO counter-intelligence and disruption program since the age of 15, and now by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Mumia Abu-Jamal is seen as an enemy of the state. His innocence is considered irrelevant, and in US courts, following recent rulings, innocence is no defense.

    The US Supreme Court has already thrown out, without comment, Mumia’s last appeal against his frame-up conviction before a racist judge in a blatantly unfair trial in 1982. This rejection meant the Supreme Court had to ignore mountains of evidence of Mumia’s innocence, as well as precedents such as its own ruling in Batson v Kentucky, which was supposed to prevent racism in jury selection.

    Now, on November 9 2010, the Third Circuit is to decide between removing the stay on Mumia’s death sentence, or ordering a new hearing to decide between a new death sentence, or life in prison without the possibility of parole. These are the only two possible outcomes in the courts at this time. The US Supreme Court has pre-arranged the Nov 9th hearing to make an immediate reinstatement of Mumia’s death sentence the likely outcome.

    We can have no confidence in the corrupt, racist US legal system to resolve this, because the cops, courts and key politicians are all involved up to their ears in Mumia’s frame-up! This includes the current governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, as well as the Obama administration and its attorney general, Eric Holder.

    We need mass actions, and labor actions, to say: Mumia Is Innocent! Free Mumia Now! End the Racist Death Penalty!

    This message compiled from various reports by: The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, PO Box 16222 •

    Saturday, November 06, 2010

    The Battle of Hastings
    by Marriott Edgar (1880 — 1951) 

    I’ll tell of the Battle of Hastings,
    As happened in days long gone by,
    When Duke William became King of England,
    And ‘Arold got shot in the eye.

    It were this way — one day in October
    The Duke, who were always a toff
    Having no battles on at the moment,
    Had given his lads a day off.

    They’d all taken boats to go fishing,
    When some chap in t’ Conqueror’s ear
    Said "Let’s go and put breeze up the Saxons;"
    Said Bill — "By gum, that’s an idea."

    Then turning around to his soldiers,
    He lifted his big Norman voice,
    Shouting — "Hands up who’s coming to England."
    That was swank ‘cos they hadn’t no choice.

    They started away about tea-time
    The sea was so calm and so still,
    And at quarter to ten the next morning
    They arrived at a place called Bexhill.

    King ‘Arold came up as they landed -
    His face full of venom and ‘ate
    He said ‘lf you’ve come for Regatta
    You’ve got here just six weeks too late.’

    At this William rose, cool but ‘aughty,
    And said ‘Give us none of your cheek;
    You’d best have your throne re-upholstered,
    I’ll be wanting to use it next week.’

    When ‘Arold heard this ‘ere defiance,
    With rage he turned purple and blue,
    And shouted some rude words in Saxon,
    To which William answered — "And you."

    ‘Twere a beautiful day for a battle;
    The Normans set off with a will,
    And when both sides was duly assembled,
    They tossed for the top of the hill.

    King ‘Arold he won the advantage,
    On the hilltop, he took up his stand,
    With his knaves and his cads all around him,
    On his ‘orse with his ‘awk in his ‘and.

    The Normans had nowt in their favour,
    Their chance of a victory seemed small,
    For the slope of the field were against them,
    And the wind in their faces an’ all.

    The kick-off were sharp at two-thirty,
    And soon as the whistle 'ad went
    Both sides started banging each other
    ‘Til the swineherds could hear them in Kent.

    The Saxons had best line of forwards,
    Well armed both with buckler and sword
    But the Normans had best combination,
    And when half time came neither had scored.

    So the Duke called his cohorts together
    And said — ‘Let’s pretend that we’re beat,
    Once we get Saxons down on the level
    We’ll cut off their means of retreat.’

    So they ran — and the Saxons ran after,
    Just exactly as William had planned,
    Leaving ‘Arold alone on the hill-top
    On his ‘orse with his ‘awk in his ‘and.

    When the Conqueror saw what had happened,
    A bow and an arrow he drew;
    He went right up to ‘Arold and shot him.
    He were off-side, but what could they do?

    The Normans turned round in a fury,
    And gave back both parry and thrust,
    Till the fight were all over bar shouting,
    And you couldn’t see Saxons for dust.

    And after the battle were over
    They found ‘Arold so stately and grand,
    Sitting there with an eye-full of arrow
    On his ‘orse with his ‘awk in his ‘and.

    Friday, November 05, 2010

    The brothers Wilson (Craig Wilson and Warren Obligacion Wilson) are broadcasting live on, supporting local artists, music, film and art. If you want to know more about them, listen to their live podcasts. 

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Who needs a new library in downtown San Diego?

    Today, the city of San Diego has broken ground on a $185-million public library: what an astonishing waste of money!

    If you’re one of those whose immediate response is, “I use the library all the time, as do many others,” let me explain my apparent blasphemy. Although I’m appalled by the prospect of a new central library in downtown San Diego, I’m not against libraries as such. I’ve been a card carrying member of several libraries since I was about 5.

    But that was back in the UK and, in the consensus politics of the early 1960s, British libraries functioned as an idealist bureaucracy for the provision of books, all books, any books. Did we need public libraries? We needed them absolutely. Free access to books was high up in the post-war British working people’s unwritten bill of rights.

    You could step up to the counter and ask for “The Ship Aground” by C. Fox Smith and, if they didn’t have it, they’d have it rushed in from the nearest branch that did have it. And, if no branch had it, they’d buy a new copy just so you could borrow it.

    Of course all this changed in the cold reality of the 1980s, when local governments, the whole world over, had to cut spending. The librarians were at the mercy of the accountants. And what do they know of keeping books, whom only bookkeeping know?

    It seemed to make good business sense to break up all the valuable collections and sell them off for cash. After all, a book that isn’t requested from one year’s end to the next clearly doesn’t justify its shelf space. And, with the proceeds, every branch could purchase the complete works of Tom Clancy in hardback.

    And that’s the problem with the business model. By offering the books most requested by most customers, the library actually stops being a worthwhile library. And by worthwhile library, I mean an organization that will provide any book you need, no matter where your research may take you.

    And why should the elitist demands of obscure academics be furnished from the public purse? Don’t the universities have academic libraries? Well, some do. And that’s very helpful for those who qualify for a reader’s card or can afford the subscription. For the rest of us, there’s the public library, now ghettoized into artificial categories such as “Lesbian & Gay Literature,” “African American Studies” because some bureaucrat once thought this would make James Baldwin more accessible to minorities.

    I don’t read as many books now as I did in my youth. I remember a summer vacation when I read fully 12 books in a week, requiring my mother to drive me back to the library twice, because my ticket only allowed me to borrow four at a time.

    I used to stroll around the library and browse, coming out with fascinating works that happened to call out to me from the shelf, or the stack. I don’t have that sort of time on my hands now. And there’s no long line at the returns counter nowadays, so I don’t think I’m unusual in that respect. Are we staying away from the existing libraries because we need a bigger one?

    There are still times when I need a specific book immediately. So what do I do? I access the catalogs of the county library and the city library by means of the Internet, I reserve the book online, and then drive over to La Mesa, La Jolla or wherever to pick it up. But I have to telephone in advance in case the branch is closed. The financial straits of the new millennium have forced closures and sabbaticals to save on wages. San Diego can’t even afford to run the libraries we already have.

    Very occasionally, I have had to venture downtown through the very beautiful art deco portals of San Diego’s central library to pick up my book. But I used to spend a lot of time there, about ten years ago when I first moved to San Diego. I was particularly fond of the “Humor” section, where I found the forgotten works of S. J. Perelman, James Thurber, Stephen Leacock and Art Buchwald, apparently unopened and undusted since the 1950s.

    If I don’t need a specific book immediately, I go online and check for used copies. Somebody will be offering a fair copy of what I need for around five bucks and it will arrive within about three days: much better value than a Netflix account.

    The world has changed. Public libraries have changed. Now they’re designed to facilitate easy Internet use rather than printed matter. The knee-jerk assumption that the low-paid masses deserve subsidized access to literature should be re-examined. Even the unemployed have some kind of access to computers in Southern California and we can expect the cost to come down more rapidly than the new downtown library goes up.

    They say it will be fully built by 2013, by which time every child in San Diego will probably possess his or her own Kindle. Is the $185-million price tag justified? Hell, no. They even had to throw in a charter high school. Who asked for another school when budget constraints mean we can’t afford to pay teachers in the schools we already have?

    Having said all that, Los Angeles has a really great downtown public library. I had occasion to kill a few hours there a while back and I was impressed by the comprehensive collection of books. And, when I needed a wi-fi connection for my computer, there were about 25 to choose from. But I couldn’t help noticing it was named the Richard Riordan Central Library. After which great civic benefactor will San Diego’s magnificent monument to literacy be named?

    Is that it? San Diego has been developing its plans for a new downtown library for 30 years, during which time, every mayor since Pete Wilson has, in vain, imagined his name over the transom. And, despite the potholed streets, the undermanned police department and the dilapidated sewers, we’re going to spend the $185 million for whatever amenities our politicians need to stuff under the “iconic” dome.


    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Shorts 'N Spirits Showcase (S3LA)

    In the spirit of Celebrate the Web, Mental Eclectic CEO Craig Wilson is proud to present June’s Shorts ‘N Spirits Showcase Los Angeles (S3LA), a night of independent webseries Tues. June 8, 2010 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. @ Capitol City, 1615 North Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. Tickets $5 from EventBrite or $10 at the door.

    More than LonelyGirl 15 and The Guild, the world of independently produced webseries is a tight-knit community thriving from the community they’ve created, Celebrate the Web showed this with great precision. SAG, WGA and the Producers’ Guild have acknowledged the wealth of opportunity and talent being cultivated in the webseries world in the last year by writing up contracts and categories specifically for the media that has been created.

    YouTube, once the only and most visible option, has been joined by other distribution outlets like BlipTV, StrikeTV, and now with the launch of Somebody’s Basement breaking new ground in the new media world actors have more power as self-producers, giving them more freedom, ownership rights, and visibility than ever before.

    “What if everyone came together in Somebody’s Basement to see what’s going down? Yep. Just like groups of musicians gather ‘round and jam, we’re gonna do that. And we’re inviting you, awesome self-producing actors, to be a part of Somebody’s Basement.” Bonnie Gillespie & Kieth Johnson come together with some rockstar producing partners to offer self-producing actors a venue for their offerings. “We created a place where original characters; actor journals; interviews with industry professionals; and reviews of products, services, and classes for actors—heck, even restaurant reviews, for cryin’ out loud—all co-exist.”

    S3LA is proud to have Somebody’s Basement as a sponsor providing a SB Premier Pick for our June webseries event.

    S3LA with its San Diego counterpart, S3SD, provides a home for indie filmmakers to showcase their work and also the opportunity to be voted “audience favorite” for limited distribution in Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, and Kansas City.

    June’s webseries line up features:
    • The Ballad of Mary and Ernie
    • Bumps in the Night
    • Gold the Series
    • Newsworthy
    • Perry’s Previews
    • Squatters
    • Universal Dead
    • Somebody’s Basement Premier Pick: TBA

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Bedlam Cinema

    Bedlam Cinema returns this month at Prospect Bar & Lounge, 1025 Prospect Street, La Jolla, on Tues., April 27, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission: $10, 50 per cent of which will go to fund a local project.

    This month’s featured film is: Cat City from renowned director, Brent Huff. You can view the trailer at: (it’s the second trailer on the reel). The fundraiser project is: TBA

    There will be a Q&A session with cast & crew of Cat City. There is a parking structure beneath Prospect Bar & Lounge. The entrance is off Herschel and Prospect: the driveway to the underground parking lot is the first on the right. Parking before 6pm is $3. The bar is upstairs, so take the escalator up to enjoy all night happy hour and a fantastic film as well as support a great local project.

    Enter into a chance to win a collectors’ 35mm print of the trailer for “Edge of Darkness” or “Taken” for only $2!

    Sippin' Shorts San Diego

    S3SD returns to WEST COAST TAVERN to showcase 45 minutes of San Diego and Los Angeles short-form films inspired by music and videos within two hours of industry networking and socializing. Sunday, April 25, 2010 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. @ West Coast Tavern, 2895 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

    • “Touch the Rain” — music video — artist: FLAWLESS
    • “The Ballad of Mary & Ernie” — short film — dir: Robert Stadd. This is episode 1 of the western comedy webisode — A full-sized sheriff in a miniature western town…
    • “Walter From Accounting” — short film — dir: Jason Dolan, written: Niall Madden
    • “Taking Back Sunday” — music video — produced by: Infrastructure Productions
    • S3LA winner: “The Sunset Players” ep. 1 — think “The Office” meets “Glee” and as a musical webseries. dir: Cory Reeder
    • “Cat City” — theatrical trailer from director Brent Huff. This film will be featured at our other monthly event, Bedlam Cinema on Tuesday, April 27th at Prospect Bar & Lounge in La Jolla, CA.
    Audience members can vote for their favorite film and grant it limited distribution to Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle. Also, enter into the raffle to win either a 35mm print trailer of: WALK HARD or MAMA MIA!.

    Filmmakers: please bring a DVD of any work you’d like to submit (features included).

    Admission: $7 ($5 online)