DayX and Demo2010; Violence Against Protesters

Wow, the last few weeks have been mad in the UK. Protests, sit ins... and of course the police violence and unprecedented video and photographic evidence of the violence they've inflicted on, for the most part, peaceful (if a little raucous) protesters.


YouTube is littered with videos, Facebook galleries abound and Twitter has been abuzz with the #PoliceAggression tag. Yet people are denying that acts of police brutality and the main media news channels and shows are practically ignoring the events to focus on reports of protester violence, which are few and far between compared to the recorded acts of the Met. Oh, and don't forget the snow! The fact it's been snowing heavily across the country is far more newsworthy than the actions of our police officers against the people they are employed to protect.


Child Abuse


The very act of kettling is a dubious tactic, especially in the current conditions outside. Nick Clegg himself said kettling had to be addressed after the G20 protests in 2009. Tom Brake, Lib-Dem MP, was kettled during those protests and wrote a column for The Times on his experiences.


Essentially, kettling is a) the false imprisonment of innocent people and b) allows for abuses that would be illegal inside our prisons; the withholding of food, water, heat, medical attention and (most devastating for me) toilet facilities... What? I drink a lot of tea.


And who were the people being kettled at the student 2010 protests? Children. Some as young as 13 years old (though some officers were allowing those who could prove their young age out, not many were). Children, falsely imprisoned in freezing temperatures for hours and hours. Some of the reports that came out of the kettles talk of children having to burn their school books to keep warm.


But this almost passive form of abuse is nothing compared to what happened to one young girl while inside a kettle in Whitehall on 24th November. She was trying to get out of the kettle (who wouldn't?) by climbing over a fence. A police officer pushed her off the fence, back into the kettle. Fair enough, right? He was doing his (ethically questionable) job up to that point. Then he showed his true colours and, while she was lying on the floor, hit her foot with a baton with enough force to break the bones!


To compound this behaviour the teenager was not allowed to seek medical attention for two hours as she was kept, obviously in great pain and probably crying, in the kettle. Seriously, what kind of monsters keep a crying child locked outside in the freezing cold for two hours after witnessing a brutal attack on her? Not just the police officer that hit her, but every officer who was there and did not intervene on her behalf should be held culpable.


Unfortunately, no video footage was taken or has not surfaced yet. Apparently a complaint has been lodged, though we don't know if the officer's number was taken. For a little extra info go to; Transpontine (The South London Press website is currently down).


More Unlawful Imprisonment


Not only did police kettle peaceful protesters and not let them leave, they have been throwing people into kettles. Seriously guys, how is that even remotely legal?


For a bit of a laugh; video filmed by Luke Denne of kids held in the Bristol kettle doing the conga


I Punched Someone


For some protesters children and adults alike, being kettled is the least of their worries as completely unprovoked attacks have been happening all over the place.


This one's like something out of a sit-com. As a protester is lead past him, by another officer,  PC VG 2180 clearly sticks his leg out to trip the young man. What the hell was going through the officer's mind?


Another officer, with is number clearly visible, took shots at protesters in London on 30th November. Watching from the start, officers appear to move aside after requests from protesters to let others pass and climb onto a raised area of the street. I cannot make out what the man already on the raised area said, so he may have tricked the officer with a cunning request to move aside so he could get back to ground level. More fool them, really.


After this a lot of people start stepping up onto the raised area, at which point a large, bulldog of a riot officer, U1202, starts lashing out at the protesters. He pushes one person away from the wall and swings a punch at them that misses as they cover their face. Another protester steps in to stop him, only to get punched, very hard, in the head. U1202 then takes a third swing which gets blocked.


If you watch from 1:27 on, you can see U1202 in the background shaking his right hand and taking his glove off. That single punch hurt HIM that much. My sympathies to the person he punched. I hope you have him prosecuted.


Now, there's always the cry of "in the heat of the moment" and indeed, it did get rather hairy (after U1202 decided to pummel someone's face, I might add). At 1:50 a very young and clearly scared, not at all angry looking officer is seen in the second police line. However, the attitude of the police is clearly to provoke the protesters not to calm them, as seen by the hand gesture of one officer at 1:10, on the right hand side. I believe that's referred to as a 'come n ave a go' gesture. I can't be sure, as I don't have the tech to clear up the stilled images but I THINK his number is U1641, but I could very easily be mistaken. Anyone else better at that stuff than me out there, can you make out the number?


These are not your run of the mill police officers. They are trained riot officers. As such they should be  psychologically prepared for such encounters and not lose their heads and be trained to NOT goad protesters who had just witness one of their number being viscously attacked by an officer of the law who had no provocation to use such a level of force.


Here's another one. It almost looks like the officer accidentally collided into the guy, but considering other events this is doubtful... that and he protester says he got punched in the face as well. Great.


Another report is of a girl knocked unconscious by a baton charge.


Fists Not Enough; Bring In The Quadrupeds!


This is quite a long video of protest at Whitehall, 24th November. It begins with a protester explaining that an officer of the law took her hat and wallet. What exactly he hoped to gain from this I don't know... her money perhaps??


At 1:10 screams are heard and as the camera pans around we see mounted police riding through the protesters at what looks to me to be a slow trot. People keep asking why it's been deemed necessary to bring in horses and at 1:40 a man is heard telling an officer that his wife is pregnant. The cameraman runs around the horseman in front of him to catch a young couple on film, the woman clearly terrified and very upset while her partner says "give her a chance, she can't run; she's pregnant."


Throughout the video there are shots of people clearly in their 60's or more. At 2:57 there's a woman telling the camera "there's an injured child here" as she helps a young teen hobble about. 20 seconds later there's a man calling for a medic. He pushes through to talk to the police line and is clearly denied the aid he's asking for. From calls in the crowd it sounds like someone's fallen in the push and injured their ankle.


I have to say, in defence of the on-foot officers, that they did keep their cool (at least in this video). However; horses? Really? Really?! Until the mounted police road in the protesters seemed quite calm. Annoyed perhaps, as they had not been allowed to protest freely for the time allotted to them by the authorities, but they were not being violent.


Whitehall wasn't the only place it happened either. Here's another video of horses being ridden into a crowd. It's at a slow pace, but this is a densely crowd of (peaceful) people. What was the reason for riding into them? To keep them calm, as has been claimed? I er, don't think it worked that way.


In a crowd like that it is very hard to move out of the way of large oncoming animals. I'd be very surprised if no one was injured. Commenters who say they were there, in the immediate throng of people in front of the horses (one aged 65) say that the videos catch nothing of the terror and panic surrounding the moving horses.


Hippocratic Oath Anyone?


This is perhaps the most shocking event. A police medic has been caught in pictures firing an extinguisher into the faces of protesters. A medic. Someone who, by all rights, should be there to help the injured, not to injure people.


It has been claimed he was trying to put out a protester who was on fire. I think he must have been hallucinating because I don't see any flames.


With Malicious Intent


All these bits of police brutality were in the heat of the moment, eh? The cops probably regret them, eh? Let's not ignore the officers who have been deliberately covering their ID numbers before getting anywhere near the protesters. These officers are clearly going out with intention of breaking the law... laws they are SUPPOSED to be employed to uphold.


And they're enjoying it (damnit, the owner of the video took it down and I can't find out why)


If the police and their superiors think that such actions will intimidate young people into not attending protests ever again then they are sorely mistaken. Violence and provocation, unsurprisingly, will lead to only more protests and probably more and more violence. Is that the plan? To draw protesters into taking more and more drastic measures until the police can 'legitimately' pull out the big guns?


Or are these merely the actions of a few (well, a lot of) angry, stupid individuals? If so, then senior officers need to think about bringing their underlings into line and to justice. If they don't then, again, the protesters will be forced to retaliate in kind.


And that will be messy. Bad for everyone involved and probably many who are not as new laws are quickly pushed through that give these uniformed thugs more and more powers and rights above us.


I wonder how far the police will go during the protests set for 8th November, the day before the vote on tuition fees?


I'm sure any videos, pictures and reports will be quickly thrown at Twitter, so keep and eye on the #PoliceAggression hashtag.


And if you've got any other good ones for me to add to the list here, just let me know.


And Finally...


Image of the year.


Absolutely stunning picture from DayX, 24th November. School kids protecting the Bait Van after kettled protesters had vandalised it. Those girls deserve to be thanked, personally and in public by Sir Paul Stephenson.


Do I really have to say I condemn ANY protesters that start violence? Does it not go without saying?


*sigh*


Fine; any violence during these protests is not going to win anyone any favours... make of that what you will.

Twitter Disclaimer

For anyone not familiar with the huge farce that was the Twitter Joke Trial check out the variety Guardian articles, starting here.

*sigh*

To help avoid prosecution for our comedic blatherings on Twitter, @Oatz has come up with a little disclaimer that he's posted on TwitLonger.

Genius. Genius I say!

As I don't use the TwitLonger service I'm going to slap it here, with a couple of adjustments for my own personal situation (not everything I tweet is a joke... context, people, context!);

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: 

Any content (tweets) I (@Aerliss ) post to the Twitter website containing apparent threats, expressions of violence or claims of committing, or intending to commit illegal acts, or inciting others to commit illegal and violent acts are intended to be humorous and to not be taken seriously, and should be treated as such. This should be clear from the context in which they are posted.

In acknowledging this fact, you willingly concede the ability to attempt to take legal action against myself, or the people I directly communicate with (@ reply), for anything I post (including content already posted).

If you do not accept these terms, you hereby forfeit the right to view anything I post to Twitter - including all posts past, present and future, and in spite of their publicly viewable nature - from this day (13 Nov 2010) and until such time as you do agree to the terms outlined above.

Is that clear enough, jackasses?

Gender Roles; Weak Men, Strong Women And Data Interpretation

You might have read this article from Matthew Moore at The Telegraph; Men more likely to cheat if they earn less than their wives. It's... erm... an odd read that not so much angered as brought on a bout of pity (which is rare).

The study Moore mentions was conducted by Christin L. Munsch as part of her ph.D research at Cornell University. Yes; 'her'. A woman conducted this data collecting research (Moore calls it a 'scientific study'). She believes that men, especially in certain sub-groups of society, still hold on tightly to old traditional ideas of gender roles.

To be fair; she's probably right. A lot of men still do think they should be the 'breadwinners' (I wish I could ban that term), as Matthew Moore proves by being one of them;
The secret to a loyal and lasting relationship is for women to earn 25 per cent less than their husbands, the researchers established.
Yeah. That's totally the secret to a long-term relationship going well; forcing one half of the team to be crap. I can't actually find the report, so I'll have to take his word on it that Munsch 'established' this as a factor of having a lasting relationship. More likely, Munsch simply found that men who earn 25% more than their female partners cheated less than men who earned less... but that does not in anyway say that women should strive to earn less than their husbands to keep them. In fact, if a man cannot stand his partner earning more than him, then she deserves better and he deserves to be dumped, sharpish.

What Moore seems to be saying with this entire article is that if a man has an affair, it's not his fault. He's doing it because his wife earns more than him and is threatening his masculinity. That might be a reason, but it sure as Hell is not an excuse. It's not even a good reason. What kind of pathetic piece of trash has an affair because his wife is good at what she does? Not because he found a prettier woman. Not because she has less time for him. Not because he can. Not even because he has some weirdass fetish she won't help him with. Moore (and possibly Munsch) are saying that these men are having affairs because they're trapped in some warped kind of cave-man mentality that makes them think 'their woman' should be lower than them.

I say warped because, really, any good cave-man wouldn't be caring who brought home dinner, as long as he got dinner.


And how much more likely IS a man to have an affair if his partner earns more than him? 10% more likely? 40%? 90? Moore doesn't say...

The data found is probably a true-ish reflection on society (at least American) in that men who earn less than their wives might very well be having more affairs than their higher earning counterparts. However, it is not as black and white as Munsch SEEMS to be painting it (again, I don't have access to her actual report) and a whole lot more sepia than Moore thinks. The contributing factors to a man (or a woman) having an affair are much more complex than "erg, woman bring home more money... I get new sexual partner to feel man again" (which could be interpreted in a completely different way).

If a person is working long hours in a hard, hectic job then their partner may feel neglected. If a person has just lost their job or recently had to change to a lower paying job they may be unhappy with life in general. If both parties are out all hours, working their butts off then someone might just find comfort in someone else's arms. If a person is spending a lot of time just hanging out with friends rather than working, they might find someone else more interesting than their current partner.

This list goes on and on and on... I'm not saying that any of these are good reasons for an affair, but they are more likely to be the contributing factors in people using someone else's body parts for fun, other than their better half's than the very simple 'breadwinner' issue.

Being (or not being) the breadwinner isn't even the whole story though. Moore brushes over the next important bit;
Men who earn significantly more than their wives are also more likely than average to take a mistress...
Basically; some men are likely to cheat on their partners. Well there's a shocker. And what exactly is this average? Men who earn about the same as their partners? But we keep being told they don't exist!

Eugh and poop!

What people should be taking from this report is that a) America is still a long way from equality (and yes, I know, the UK's not there yet either but we're a bit closer :P ); b) some men are truly pathetic (but not all, not even most of them, before you all get carried away with being offended); c) we need to work on the idea of 'gender roles'.

We (certain chunks of Western society) have worked hard to let women know that they don't have to be defined by 'traditional' ideas of gender. They CAN have high-flying careers. They CAN enjoy their sexuality. They CAN be rough and tumble. They don't HAVE to want children. Now we need to get it through men's heads that they don't have to be all "grr-arg". They CAN look after the family unit. They CAN be sexually quiet (best term I could think for it... got a better one?). They CAN be soft and tender. They don't HAVE to be afraid of changing nappies (or something).

You know what? Let's just get rid of the idea of 'gender roles' all together. You with me?

[EDIT]

Was emailed a response from a person who doesn't want their comments being linked back to their real world persona as they work in a similar field (and once on the internet, nothing is ever removed)... but I liked the comments so asked permission to post as an edit.

I have to emphasise that these are just speculations based on the abstract. This person does not have access to the report and is merely working off the abstract and Moore's article in the Telegraph.

***************
Some things Moore elides from his report (going from the abstract alone): The focus is on Latino men who apparently place higher value in 'traditional masculinity' - Ok so it is for a subgroup of the population, and Moore is generalising that to the wider population - On dodgy ground there Matthew.

I also like the nebulous "although this relationship disappears once individual and institutional mechanisms are controlled". - So it's all about money, until you control for confounds...then it's not...

And:

"Also, the more economically dependent a man’s female partner is on him, the more likely he is to engage in infidelity. This relationship is mediated by relationship satisfaction." - So its all about money until you control for...happiness in the relationship....

And finally:

"Finally, I find that the more times per week an individual attends a religious service the less likely he or she is to cheat, the more education one reports the less likely he or she is to engage in infidelity, and the more satisfied one reports being in his or her relationship, the less likely he or she is to engage in infidelity." - The issue with all of this stuff is that is simple correlation, there is no identifiable causation anywhere her. You can run the stats on each and every one of these factors that she identifies and come up with a story much like the one Moore is running with, but you never actually know which one is driving the effect. Is it religion, or money, education maybe? You just can't tell from a single source of data like this. You need a series of data sets which you can whack in an anova (analysis of variance) or do lme (linear mixed effects modeling) on and pull out the factors which best predict the outcomes. This is why social studies based on corpora are often slated for being reflections of the author's beliefs, rather than actual, objective, analysis.

Oh and by the way: A little googling and it becomes apparent that the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97) is a self-report survey of 18-28 year olds. So another methodological (self-report is lame for many, many reasons), and subgroup issue (another one that is particularly unlikely to generalise to the population).

Munsch, Christin L. 2010. “The Effect of Unemployment and Relative Income Disparity on Infidelity for Men and Women.” Unpublished Manuscript. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. To be presented on August 16, 2010 in Atlanta, GA at the American Sociological Association’s 105th Annual Meeting.

This paper investigates the factors related to infidelity for both men and women and uses social identity theory to develop an interactional model of male infidelity. I argue that, for men, making less money than a female partner may threaten men’s gender identity by calling into question the traditional notion of men as breadwinners, and that this relationship may be particularly strong for certain subgroups of the population that highly value traditional masculinity like Latino men. Using panel data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97), I find evidence in favor of the interactional theory proposed. For men, the more economically dependent one is on a female partner, the more likely he is to engage in infidelity, although this relationship disappears once individual and institutional mechanisms are controlled. Also, the more economically dependent a man’s female partner is on him, the more likely he is to engage in infidelity. This relationship is mediated by relationship satisfaction. For women, economic dependency seems to have the opposite effect: the more dependent women are on their male partners, the less likely they are to engage in infidelity, net of the individual and institutional controls. For Hispanic men, being economically dependent on a female partner dramatically increases the likelihood that one will engage in infidelity. Finally, I find that the more times per week an individual attends a religious service the less likely he or she is to cheat, the more education one reports the less likely he or she is to engage in infidelity, and the more satisfied one reports being in his or her relationship, the less likely he or she is to engage in infidelity.


Can't say much more without reading the article, but it certainly feels like an overextension from data to assumption. Maybe part of that is Moore's fault, maybe Munsch's - who knows.

***************

There But For The Grace Of God Go I

Or the gods, fate, a butterfly's wings... The point is; it could happen to you.

There are a lot of homeless people in Edinburgh. More so than in Glasgow, apparently (well, would you want to sleep on the streets of Glasgowif you could get yourself out?) Just thinking now, I can count ten different people that will be sitting on the street right now, asking for money. A girl and her dog (she can't even be in her twenties) who shares a spot with an older lad outside Weatherspoon's on George's Street, a young guy that sits on Waverley Bridge, a man and his two dogs who sit on Prince's Street, the man that sits outside Saindsbury's on St Andrew's Square, the young Polish girl in Stockbridge, the old lady that sits further to the West of Princes Street, two guys that sit by the bank on North Bridge/Cannon Gate, a very old man who sits in various spots along Rose Street.

As I work for a catering company that wastes EPIC amounts of food, I've often got a few pasties, baguettes or pastries on me, on my home from work (waste not, want not). If I pass someone sitting in the street I'll offer them something to eat. Almost always I get a big smile and thank you ('cept that once... the guy didn't like ham, whatever happened to 'beggars can't be choosers?). I always feel bad for not being able to do more... but I do what I can, you know?

Although I have a roof over my head and a job to keep it there, the Government's crappy idea of a minimum wage means I don't have much to waste (though believe me, I can waste it)... or to hand out to every homeless person I meet. It's really hard walking past them, especially if I'm on my way to buy a book or a DVD... for myself. Even if they don't ask "any change please?" as I walk past, even if they're just sitting there, chin on their chest, it's still hard.

You find it hard, right? And sometimes you think "well, what got them there? What do they really want the money for?" Will it go on food and a place to sleep (you can get a bed in a backpackers hostel for as little as £11.50 a night in Edinburgh... so a homeless guy's sign said, I've never found one for less than £14. Maybe he gets a discount?) or will it go on booze or drugs? I have seen men rummage through bins after someone has dumped a can, or collect half empty bottles on a Saturday night.

This is where The Big Issue comes in. The Big Issue is a magazine that is written, edited and produced by professional journalists and sold by 'street vendors' or homeless people. It was originally started by A John Bird (who had slept rough himself) and Gordon Roddick (co-founder of The Body Shop). They wanted to create a way for homeless, jobless people to pick themselves up and get themselves off the streets. You can read more about that on their History page.

Only people who can prove they are homeless can become street vendors (how they do this I have no idea... maybe I should ask one of the vendors). They buy each magazine for 80p and then sell it for £1.70, except for the three weeks running up to Christmas when they buy it for £1 and sell it for £2 (bumper issues!). The Big Issue is produced weekly and is regional; there's one for London, the South West, the North, Scotland and Wales. There are news articles; film, book, music, TV and theatre reviews; competitions; letters from readers and vendors; job vacancies in the charity and support sectors.

The copy I picked up this week (twice, 'cos I left the first one at work >_> ) has interviews with Big Gay Davies... I mean... Russel T. Davies, Paul McCartney, Robert Englund (Freddie Krueger), Sue Townsend, Justin Lee Collins, Paolo Nutini and lots of local MPs. It has articles on the war in Afghanistan, reviews of all the latest films and DVDs, competitions to win "Where The Wild Things Are" book sets.

It's a damn good read.

It's also more than that; it's a way for someone who has hit their lowest point to drag themselves up by the bootstraps, EARN their own money and get themselves out of the cycle of poverty that begging simply encourages (never give a Big Issue vendor money INSTEAD of buying a magazine, though they'll be grateful for a 'tip' :-D ).

So next time you pass a Big Issue vendor; consider buying a copy from them. You'll get a good read from it and will be helping a person get themselves back on their feet by letting them earn a small, but very welcome living.

You'll make a person's day, believe me.

Wish List

I'm so rubbish at remembering the things I want to buy when I get round to having money, so this is mostly just for me. But if anyone loves me... XD

Cinderella Ate My Daughter
Young Sherlock Holmes DVD & OST
Disney's Aladdin DVD
Quantum Leap DVD
MiB DVD
Then Buffy Staked Edward. The End T-shirt (or better yet; WILLOW staked Edward)
A 'Spike Dies' T-shirt (Bebop, not Buffy... though a Buffy one would amuse too)
Star Trek TOS DVDs
Star Trek TNG DVDs
Star Trek DS9 DVDs
Star Wars IV-VI DVDs, preferably not remastered, but whatever.
Disraeli Gears, Cream
Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy + OSTs
Heroes DVD S3
Last Exile DVD
Get Backers Manga 9+
Rome Season 2 (and my Season 1 back from a certain ginger Swede)
Hellsing U 5+ DVD
PS3 *cough*
FF12 Revenant Wings game
Day Watch, Twilight Watch, Final Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko books
X-Men original series; 3+
The Mentalist S1-2
Angel S1-4
Ray Davies; See My Friends
The Nightmare Before Christmas OST
Dragonheart DVD and OST
#IAmSpartacus Tshirt
Robin Hood Airport Tshirt
Black Sails In The Sunset, AFI
Sing The Sorrow, AFI
Selling England By The Pound, Genesis
Crash Love, AFI
Sigh No More, Mumford and Sons
Doctor Who S5 DVD (Limited Edition Steelbook would be awesome)
8th Doctor Audio Drama from Big Finish Productions (have Horror of Glam Rock)
Resident Evil 2 Game
Firefly: The Official Companion: Volume Two
Investigating Firefly; Serenity: Joss Whedon's Worlds Beyond: Science Fiction on the Frontier
Serenity Found
Firefly: Still Flying
Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale
Death Note Movies; 1, 2 and L Change The World DVD
Audition, Ryu Murakami (book)
SG1 S2+
Resident Evil Afterlife DVD
Farscape Complete (have Peacekeeper Wars)
Spartacus: Blood and Gold DVD
Legend of the Seeker DVD (NOT the books)
Hercules & Xena DVDs (Sam Raimi production)
Stay Close To Me
WALL-E DVD
Dr Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog OST and DVD
No Touching At All Manga