Posts Tagged ‘die-in’

DSEI Arms Fair Protests 2015

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

The final protests against the 2015 DSEI arms fair at the Excel Centre on the Royal Victoria Dock in East London took place on 15th September 2015, the day that the arms fair opened. British and foreign warships were lined up alongside the Excel Centre inside which weapons were being sold that would be used to kill people in wars around the globe and to repress, kill and torture in many countries.

East London Against Arms Fairs held a procession around the Royal Victoria Dock floating a wreath oppposite the fair and holding a silence for victims of the arms trade, ending with a Buddhist prayer. They met with two Buddhist monks and supporters and some from the Stop the Arms Fair coalition who had been protesting against the Arms Fair at ExCel over the last week at Royal Victoria DLR station.

The procession was led by a woman wearing white and carrying a white wreath with the message ‘Remember Victims of the Arms Trade’ followed by the East London Against Arms Fair (ELAAF) banner with its dove of peace. It slowly made its way around the west end of the dock and then along its south side until it got close to the end of the dockside path, almost opposite the arms fair.

There was then a ceremony with the wreath being floated on the water of the dock and a two minute silence in memory of those killed by the arms from deals made at the previous fairs and those who will die from the weapons being sold at this DSEi fair. This was followed by a period of prayer by Japanese Buddhist monk Reverend Gyoro Nagase, the guardian of the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park.


As the first protest lefit, another group came marching along the dockside to take their place. Kurdish Youth Organisation Ciwanen Azad UK and Stop the Arms Fair supporters had also marched around the Royal Victoria Dock and were staging a ‘die-in’ and rally opposite the Excel centre.

The Turkish government’s Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporter’s Association is one of the international partners of the DSEi Arms Fair, and sales of their weapons at DSEi help fund the the vicious attacks on the Kurdish population in Turkey. A week earlier a relentless assault by Turkish military and police on the town of Cizre killed many people, including children. Attacks have increased since the pro-Kurdish HDP party passed the 10% threshold in the general elections in June 2015, winning seats in the Turkish parliament.

The sales of weapons at the arms enables the Turkish arms industry to continue its development of new weapons, including new drones, new MPT rifles and the Altay battle tank which will be used to continue the massacre of Kurds.

The protesters set up a display of banners and six Kurds in bloodstained white robes stages a ‘die-in’ on the dockside against the Murderous Turkish state opposite the DSEi arms fair.

Kurds say Stop arms sales to Turkey
Wreath for Victims of the Arms Trade


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All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.



Telling the Story – 19 July 2019

Monday, July 19th, 2021

I often find myself thinking about my role as a documentary photographer when I’m taking pictures of protests. And of thinking about how I can carry out that role.

Clearly I’m not their to take part in the protest – though often I support the cause of the protesters I’m making pictures of. I’m an observer rather than a participant, though there are occasions when I will intervene in some way, largely the kind of actions that I would expect anyone to take, like stopping people walking into traffic or helping someone who has fallen down or dropped something.

There have been times too when I reminded police of the law (not always advisable) or protested at their use of unnecessary force. And on some occasions when marches have got lost or taken a wrong turning I’ve pointed this out to the marchers. Some embassies and companies are quite hard to find.

I never set up people or groups, though sometimes when photographing people I may ask or gesture them to look at me or to hold their poster or placard higher or lower. But it isn’t a portrait session and I don’t ask them to smile or scowl or act up for the camera. It would have been much easier to make the picture of the XR symbols in those dark glasses in the studio and it took a number of attempts to catch him looking in exactly the right direction and catch those reflections from a banner which I’d noticed moving across them earlier.

But it isn’t just a matter of passive observing. I’m choosing my position, framing my pictures, selecting the moment, working to try to present the story clearly and effectively.

It isn’t essentially about making dramatic or attractive pictures, though I always hope some might be.

Extinction Rebellion’s ‘Requiem for a Dead Planet’ at Northcliffe House, home of the Daily Mail, Independent, Mail on Sunday, London Live and Evening Standard demanding they publish truth and end lies about climate change was a tricky one to cover, with heavy rain falling much of the time and a very limited area under cover for protesters and photographers. As we’ve seen in the past week, the weather is becoming more violent and this seemed appropriate if making the job more difficult.

Here’s some of the text I wrote at the time – the link below has more and more pictures:

“XR say avoiding climate & ecological devastation needs the media to tell the truth and stop publishing fake science denying climate change as well as advertising and editorial material that promotes high-carbon lifestyles, whether about fashion, travel food or other consumerist content so government can take the drastic action needed.

The protest included suitable requiem music by a small group of musicians in XR Baroque, a eulogy for lost species by a priest, speeches, poems, skeletons, banners and a die-in.”

Requiem for a Dead Planet at Daily Mail

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


1984 Remembered

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

Every year around the 8th June, Sikhs march in London to remember the 1984 destruction at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Soviet government forged documents in 1982 to show that Sikh militants were getting CIA support for their plans to establish an independent Sikh state of Khalistan in the Punjab and these were taken seriously by Indian intelligence services and prime minister Indira Gandhi, who on June 1st 1984 sent in the Indian Army in Operation Blue Star, attacking scores of Sikh temples across the Punjab.

On 3rd June Indian forces surrounded the Golden Temple in Amritsar where many of the militants who were well armed had taken refuge, along with thousands of pilgrims who were there for the anniversary of the death of the fifth guru, Arjan Dev Ji. The siege lasted several days and many were killed, mostly pilgrims who had been allowed by the army to enter on the 3rd June but not allowed to leave later that day. As they secured the Temple, the army carried out many executions of those they detained and fired on men and women as they were trying to follow army orders to leave.

Acoording to Rajiv Gandhi, around 700 Indian Army soldiers were killed in the attack, although the official figure was 83. There are also huge discrepancies between the official figures of those who died inside the Temple, with an official figure of 554 casualties and independent estimates of 18-20,000.

Many Sikhs resigned from official positions and soldiers left the Indian Army after this assault on their religion, and five months later Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in an act of revenge. This in turn led to anti-Sikh riots in which thousands of Sikhs were killed.

Many Sikhs still continue to call for an independent Sikh homeland, Khalistan, combining parts of the Punjab in both India and Pakistan that were severed at partition in 1947 when the whole area was divided between the two and Sikhs, along with other minorities were sidelined. Both political and military activities continue as does their repression by the Indian government, with many Sikhs held in Indian prisons, some under threat of hanging.

Feelings still run very high, and in 2013 four Sikhs were found guilty of attacking one of the generals who led the attack on the Temple, long retired and on holiday in London with his wife. Police have often taken a very keen interest in the annual march and prevented people from carrying some placards and posters which support the proscribed organisation Babbar Khalsa. The pictures here are from the march on Sunday 8th June 2014, which I left as the last of the protesters went down Park Lane on their way to a rally in Trafalgar Square

Sikhs march for Truth, Justice & Freedom


Protest Against Egypt Death Sentences

Also taking place on Sunday 8th June 2014 was a protest against the the 1,212 death sentences imposed on Islamists in Egypt, which was taking place as the new Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, was sworn in. These included 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood sentenced in 2014 following an attack on a police station in 2013.

There was a mock trial. People wearing numbers to represent the prisoners made the Islamist R4BIA (Rabia) sign and the event ended with a die-in in front of Marble Arch.

Protest Against Egypt Death Sentences


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Death at the Elephant

Friday, May 21st, 2021

Cyclists die-in where a cycle bypass would have prevented a cyclist death

When I was growing up in a working-class area of Greater London there were few private cars around. Only one of my friends was from a family that owned a car, and they could only afford it because both of his parents worked. Working mothers were much looked down on in the area at a time when most married women were housewives, and many employers still expected or even required women to stop work when they got married. There were men in middle-class occupations, but even few of them had cars, walking to local companies or to the station for the train to London. Otherwise people walked to work or took a bus or rode a bike.

My father at the time was self-employed, a man who did odd jobs; a little building work, plastering, plumbing, carpentry, roofing, glazing, electrical wiring, painting, decorating as well as gardening and bee-keeping. He worked for people in our area who mainly were as poor as we were; every penny counted – and there were seldom any spare to count at the end of the week. He rode around on an ancient bike, often with a bucket on the handlebars for his tools, and when he needed a ladder or more equipment or materials, left his bike at home and pulled everything on a hand cart.

For us kids, a bike was a great liberation. We played games on them, sometimes rather dangerously, and rode for miles often along busy main roads. But there was less traffic then and it moved much slower. I got my first two-wheeler – old but newly painted – for my sixth birthday, learnt to ride it that day and was then off, at first along our street and its side avenues, but soon much further afield, either with friends or by myself. By the time I was at grammar school I was riding miles out from London as well as cycling to school.

But things changed. It became the aspiration of many if not all working men to own a car – and more and more married women worked to make it possible. Car makers produced more and more cars aimed at a wider market, something that perhaps began in this country with the 1948 Morris Minor and Ford Popular, introduced in 1953, but accelerated in the late 1950s, when Harold MacMillan told us “most of our people have never had it so good.” Though in 1957 it still had to make its way down to areas like that I lived in.

Riding a bike began to be associated with poverty and cycle clips became an icon of failure. England developed a strong anti-cycling culture, with cyclists becoming an object of derision and hate. They cluttered up the road, preventing the free movement of motor cars. It’s an attitude still prevalent among car owners, and one pandered to by our road designers who until recently largely discounted cyclists in designing roads to enable drivers to drive faster. Pedestrians too were something of a nuisance, to be caged off whenever possible and forced to move away from crossing near corners to motorists could negotiate the rounded profiles at greater speed.

We have seen some changes in recent years. The 2005 bombings made many more consider cycling in cities, and increasing concern about healthy exercise has also led to more recreational cycling – if often by people carrying bikes by car to safer places to cycle. And we now have a few segregated cycle routes in London and elsewhere.But London as a whole is still often a very dangerous place for cyclists (and pedestrians.) One reason is the poor design of many large vehicles with very limited visibility for the drivers. Another is road design inherited from years of ignoring the needs of cyclists and the continuing failure to put enough money into developing roads and paths that are safe for cyclists.

The problems are in part political, with a lack of national leadership and many local politicians remain rabidly anti-cyclist and respond to powerful lobbies from some drivers and in particular taxi drivers organisations. In London it was made worse by the local government reorganisations of the 1960s and the abolition of the Greater London Council in the 1980s. Traffic – including the problems faced by cyclists – is one area that clearly needs to be dealt with for London as a whole and not left to the whim of local boroughs as is currently the case. Some have an almost complete disregard for the safety of cyclists.

Stop Killing Cyclists has organised a number of bike die-ins taking place shortly after cyclists have been killed at the sites where they died. The protest these pictures come from was at the Elephant and Castle in Southwark on Wednesday 21 May 2014, following the death of 47 year-old Abdelkhars Lahyani on May 13, killed by a HGV (heavy goods vehicle) whose driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving.

The traffic system here was completely redesigned a few years earlier at a cost of £3 million, but without making proper provision for cyclists. Southwark Council’s transport plan argues against segregation of cyclists and says that including them in traffic is useful to slow traffic flows. While it may do so, it is at the expense of regarding them as expendable.

The protesters marked out a bike ‘bypass lane’ which if implemented would have taken Lahyani away from the dangerous area where he was killed. Many accidents at junctions are caused by drivers turning left and driving over cyclists they have failed to see on their left side, either in a blind spot because of bad vehicle design or simply because they have failed to check their route before turning.

More at Cyclists protest Death at the Elephant on My London Diary


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Oct 1 2016: Heathrow Climate Die-in

Thursday, October 1st, 2020
The die-in begins

I’m not a great fan of Prince Charles – or any royalty who I think are all parasites whose ancestors stole the land from the people and are still fleecing us in various ways – but I had to agree with him when a few days ago he called for a ‘Marshall-like plan’ to combat climate change, which he warned will “dwarf” the impact of coronavirus, with potentially devastating consequences. Perhaps he was still rather underplaying the danger we all face, but if he and David Attenborough were ever to come to power we might just see a shift in our establishment and government that could at least alleviate some of the more disastrous effects of global heating.

Protesters wait with travellers in the Departures lounge

But I’m not optimistic. Averting catastrophe will require drastic changes in our economic structures and ways of life which will impact the highest polluters most – and that “1%” are those who currently run most of the world to feed their ever-unsatiated greed. The rich are the rich because they have always put themselves first, and have never given up their advantages without a fight – and have always been able to afford the better arms and armies.

One thing that will have to change is aviation. Flights by a relatively small proportion of people make a ridiculous contribution to greenhouse gases – not just by weekend private jet flights to Perugia but much more by ‘frequent fliers’ on regular services. But it isn’t just the emissions from burning fossil fuel in flights, but the huge amounts of energy and materials in making planes and airport infrastructure which present a problem, as well as the effects of global freight leading to deforestation and other environmental problems around the world. Even if hydrogen-fuelled aircraft were to remove most of the pollution problems of actual flights the aviation industry will remain a climate threat.

Some had aprons with messages and read out information and there were speeches

Back in 2010 I was with local campaigners celebrating the cancellation of plans to expand Heathrow by building an extra ‘third’ runway. But lobbying by the aviation industry and a deliberately short-sighted ‘Davies Report’ put it back as government policy in 2016, though in 2020 a judicial review ruled that the government’s decision to proceed with building the third runway were unlawful as they had failed to take into account the government’s commitments to combat climate change.

The protest inside Heathrow’s Terminal 2 took place as the government were preparing to back building the third runway again in 2016 and was organised by Reclaim The Power. It was a part of a global wave of resistance to airport expansion on environmental and social grounds, and took the form of a ‘flash mob’ with a well choreographed event, beginning with a die-in over which frequent fliers stepping over their dead bodies and luggage to a champagne fast track check-in desk, followed by songs and dances.’ There were other protests at Gatwick and in Austria, France, Mexico, Turkey and elsewhere.

A protester dressed as a frequent flyer steps through the die-in

I just a just a little nervous anticipation beforehand about photographing the event, which was taking place in a privately owned space, though one open to the public, but airport security made no attempt to stop me or the protesters other than keeping us outside the security zone. I think the organisers had made clear to them that they were not attempting to greatly disrupt the airport and would not be causing any damage.

‘Frequent flyers’ party

Outside the airport where 150 cyclists were protesting things were a little different, with police over-reacting hugely to a relatively minor protest, shutting down roads across a large area for several hours. They turned what would have been hardly noticeable to travellers in the area into a major incident.

Many more pictures from the protest inside Terminal 2 at Heathrow flashmob against airport expansion.

Zero Time for Action

Monday, January 27th, 2020

I’d walked halfway up the hill to Blackheath where South East London Extinction Rebellion were holding their two day South East London Rebel Rising festival, but had to rush off and run back downhill to catch a train back to the centre of London to cover events there. But I was able to return without having to climb the hill again, taking a train to Blackheath station which is at the top of the hill, and just a short walk to at Blackheath Lincoln Field where the Greenwich Observatory Die-In was going to start.

I arrived just in time as the march to the observatory was about to set off, and was able to photograph them as they walked across the common and into Greenwich Park.

It wasn’t a huge group, which was just as well as they pretty well filled the space in front of the Royal Observatory which isn’t very large and a triangular area with very busy paths along two side, full of tourists going to see London’s finest view from the terrace just past the observatory or to visit the observatory. This is now a museum for tourists with a large meridian marker in the ground where people like to photograph themselves with a foot in each hemisphere (and I admit I’ve done so in the distant past.)

Back when I first visited the observatory it was free, but now it costs £16 for an adult ticket (cheaper if you book online.) When they started to charge for entry you could walk into the yard and photograph yourself on the meridian marker for free, but now you have to pay to get through the gate. Though there is a much older marker on the footpath just below if you want to save money.

Greenwich advertises itself as the home of Greenwich Mean Time, and Extinction Rebellion chose the venue to point out that we are running out of time and need to take urgent action now to avoid mass extinction. Some of the protesters had ‘clock faces’ painted on their faces or carried clock posters.

While most of those present lay down for a ‘die-in’, others handed out leaflets and used a megaphone to speak to the tourists wandering past, some of whom applauded the action, while others either ignored it or just looked confused.

It was another event where my fish-eye lens came in useful, though even it wasn’t quite wide enough to take in the whole scene as I wanted. The top picture on this post shows a fisheye view, slightly cropped at top and bottom, and it couldn’t quite let me take the whole scene I wanted. I had to angle the lens down to get in the foreground banner as I couldn’t move further back and you can see a little cut-off at both top corners after a little attempt at correcting the verticals. Photoshop could of course have generated a little sky at the left and tree at right to fill the gap but I decided that would be cheating.

You can see some other pictures made both with the fisheye and, like that above this paragraph made with a rectilinear ultrawide lens – the 10-24mm Fuji zoom at 15mm equivalent focal length – on My London Diary, along with others made at longer focal lengths.

Rebel Rising Royal Observatory Die-In

Requiem for a Dead Planet

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

The Daily Mail was banned by Wikipedia as an ‘unreliable’ source in 2017, and fact checking sites and organisations regularly find that it published materail that is known to be untrue. But of course there are stories in it that are factually correct, though even these often have misleading and sensational headlines.

It has a long history of support for extreme right views and its proprieter in the early 1930s Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere was a friend of both Hitler and Mussolini and ensured his papers published articles in support of the fascists and in 1934 wrote and published an article ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’ urging young men to join Mosley’s thugs. The family still have a controlling share in the Mail group, which includes the Mail on Sunday and the daily free Metro. Northcliffe House in Kensington where this protest took place is now also the home of Independent, London Live and the Evening Standard.

Extinction Rebellion had organised the protest to urge the press to stop publishing denials of climate change and to tell the truth about the climate emergency. They want the press to “put the full resources of their papers behind saving humanity from climate catastrophe and ecological collapse, and protect what is left of the natural world. “

As well as stopping publishing fake science, this would also mean changing the content of the papers to remove advertising and editorial material that promotes high-carbon lifestyles, whether about fashion, travel, food or other consumerist content and so enabling government can take the drastic action needed.

It was a protest where a great deal of thought and effort had gone into visual material, including skeletons, banners and lilies, as well as having classical music from XRBaroque who performed inside a large gazebo.

It was still raining most of the time, heavy at times, but Northcliffe House has a large projecting porch over its entrance which kept the rain off most of the protesters, and at least some of the time from photographers too. And it meant that most of those who took part in the die-in had a fairly dry pavement to lie down on. But there were still times like the die-in when to stand where I needed to take pictures meant standing in the rain. My lenses had dried out on the journey from Piccadilly Circus, but after taking pictures for an hour or so here I was having trouble with condensation.

Since it was ‘A Requiem for a dead Planet‘ some of those attending had come in suitably funereal dress, including one man in black with a black hat and dark glasses. I noticed these were reflecting some of the banners on the floor and as he moved around the white XR symbols on a black banner werem at times reflected in the lenses. There was a short period of time when there was a suitable banner behind him too, with skulls, and I took a whole series of pictures trying to get the effect I wanted. It would have been tricky to even set this up and I was pleased to get one frame with exactly the effect I wanted. People who were there have said to me “I didn’t see he was wearing glasses with the XR symbol on them” and I’ve just smiled.

More pictures at Requiem for a Dead Planet at Daily Mail


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All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
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Tax Rebellion

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Travelling around London as I do is often frustrating, with traffic often blocking the streets rather than moving through them. If I had any sense I would have picked up my folding bike, a Brompton, and took it with me to get to this protest at City Hall, the home of the Greater London Authority, more or less next to Tower Bridge.

My journey had started badly, with my train into London arriving around 25 minutes late – impressive for a journey which normally only takes 35 minutes. If I’d brought the bike I could have jumped on it and still got to City Hall on time, and if I’d been thinking more clearly I would have rushed down to the Jubilee line station to take a train to London Bridge, leaving me with just a short walk.

But when I’d planned the journey I’d given myself plenty of time, and the bus had two advantages. First my National bus pass meant it was free, and secondly it took me almost to the doorstep of where I was going so I decided to keep to my plan and take a bus. It was a bad call, and as I waited longer and longer at the stop I wondered whether to give up and go back for the tube, but finally the bus arrived and I got on. The first half mile was fine, but then we hit more traffic.

I ran up the path towards the protest, and saw the die-in starting from a couple of hundred yards away. I hadn’t missed it completely but it would have been rather better to have arrived and been available to photograph the start of the event.

The protest was to declare a tax strike against the Greater London Authority, withholding the GLA element of their council tax until they abandon projects which will cause environmental degradation and hasten ecological collapse. They want a citizen’s assembly to re-write the London Plan to stop all infrastructure projects polluting London’s air and invest in measures to cut carbon emissions and encourage healthier lifestyles

Many of London’s problems were made much worse by the abolition of the GLC by Margaret Thatcher back in 1986, leaving the city without any proper overall authority. The GLC under Ken Livingstone had made a good start in improving public transport in the city, but things more or less came to a halt, only to pick up again when he returned as Mayor with the newly formed GLA in 2000. Rail privatisation in 1994 made matters worse, with so many different companies responsible for overground services in the area – and recent franchisees seem even less competent than their predecessors.

The development of London in most respects also took a setback with the election of Boris Johnson as Mayor, who was able to claim the kudos for Livingstone’s cycle hire scheme, but was generally ineffectual, as well as wasting time and considerable money on a garden bridge that served no purpose and few wanted.

Progress with better cycling facilities has been slow, though much of the blame for this lies with the boroughs rather than the GLA. Some boroughs have been clearly anti-cyclist, and a strong lobby from cab drivers organisations has opposed innovation. Progress has been very piecemeal.

The Green Party has of course been pushing for better cycle facilities and other changes that would make London a healthier place, and both Sian Berry and Caroline Russell spoke. There were also protesters against the Silvertown Tunnel, which will greatly increase traffic on both sides of the river, particularly in Greenwich. This has now been given the go-ahead by Mayor Sadiq Khan who seems to have rather less concern for the environment even than his predecessor.

I don’t know how successful – if at all – the tax boycott has been, but I’ve heard nothing about it since. I think it would take rather more than this single protest, where many of those present will not have been London council tax payers, to get such a boycott going on a scale large enough to have any real effect.

XR London Tax rebellion


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Insects

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

I think most of us have a horror of insects, or at least of some insects. Creepy-crawlies give us the creeps, and many react like little Miss Muffett to spiders (which are insects in English if not in Biology.) I have a particular dislike for wasps, though I feel that this is entirely rational after sitting down in the dark too close to a nest on a trip to http://www.buildingsoflondon.co.uk/pm/borders/ Hawick in 2004 left me with multiple stings and a day or two of total delerium.

But of course insects are essential to life on the planet, part of the complex web of ecosystems that in particular allows us to grow food. We rely on them, particularly bees, to pollinate so many crops. And bees have in recent years been subject to huge declines in population, with the increasing use of pesticides and herbicides being a major cause.

Herbicides – of which the best-known and most widely used is Monsanto’s Roundup, containing glyphosate – are used to stop the growth of plants. It can be used on some growing crops as it is more readily absorbed through the broader leaves of weeds than most crops, and varieties have been developed that are resistant to it, but it is also sprayed on field and road edges to kill weeds there.

Many insects, including bees, are heavily reliant on these weeds and their flowers as a source of nectar to feed on, and herbicide use means the land can only sustain smaller numbers. Recent research has show a more direct effect on bees, with glyphosate at widely used levels in fields and on verges killing beneficial bacteria in bee guts, rendering them more susceptible to disease and infection.

Some studies have also found direct effects on human health and Monsanto who introduced glyphosate as a herbicide (though many other companies now market it) have been accused both of trying to prevent publications of these and of sponsoring research which falsely reports an absence of such effects. Some US courts have come out in favour of huge settlements to workers over claims that using it have caused cancers, but the danger to the general public from exposure seems very low.

Hackney Council uses glyphosate to control roadside weeds and many Hackney residents also use this and other insect-harming chemicals in their gardens. The protest by Extinction Rebellion parents and children outside the council offices called on the council to completely end its use, and a man from the department concerned came to say they had reduced their use and were hoping to find ways it could be eliminated.

I don’t live in Hackney, but of course we need to stop or at least greatly reduce the use of glyphosate across the world. Years ago we used to have council workers coming regularly even to back streets like the one we live in armed with a spade to remove the weeds growing at the kerb. They were replaced by a machine with brushes that kept some of them down, but couldn’t clean most gutters as there were cars parked along the street. So the weeds grow. Occasionally a resident will go out with a spade and clear the short section in front of their house, but usually they grow until a long dry spell kills them, they die down and reappear after more rain.

More at XR tell Hackney stop killing insects.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Anti-Christ at the Abbey

Monday, September 2nd, 2019

I can’t understand how anyone Christian could condone the service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate 50 years of continuous nuclear threat by British submarines armed with nuclear missiles.  It seemed obscene and blasphemous, a total negation of the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels.

I’ve never really been a pacifist, believing that sometimes in extreme circumstances it can be the lesser of evils to pick up weapons and fight. I think I would have been prepared to fight the Nazis in World War II, though the question didn’t arise, as Hitler gave up the struggle a week before I was born. And had I been in South Africa under apartheid I would have found it hard not to support the armed struggle, and if I could have been of any use to have taken a part in it. There are times when its vital to fight for justice.

But fortunately I’ve never been faced with difficult decisions like that, though I did turn down the offer of interesting research on explosives when I graduated. Our country has not been under existential threat since the defeat of Germany in 1945, and the wars in which we have engaged have seldom been just or even in any way sensible, fighting to hang on to our colonies or enlarge our commercial sphere of influence. Chasing weapons of mass destruction we knew did not exist.

Nuclear weapons in particular are pointless – and extremely dangerous. Weapons that would only be used when we were about to be anihilated whether or not we used them, unless they were used by accident – and we now know that such an accident was only averted when one Russian officer had the good sense to disobey his orders.

Nuclear weapons are also very expensive – and the vast sums to be spent on replacing Trident could be spent so much more usefully on so many other things – and end the cuts to vital services.

Rather confusingly there were two protest vigils taking place opposite Westminster Abbey while the service was taking place there, one by CND and the other by Christian CND. Both were on the opposite side of the road to the church, but separated by a few yards. Christian CND I think held a short service and vigil, while the main CND protest culminated in a die-in on the wide pavement – and I think some came from the Christian CND vigil to join them.

Police made it a little difficult to photograph this event, with photographers being moved from the road in front of the protest at various times, and both photographers and protesters were made to come down from a wall at the back of the pavement which gave a better view of the people entering the Abbey for the service. There was higher than usual security as a couple of royas were attending the service, though one CND protester did manage to walk inside the Abbey, though was fairly soon removed and brought back across the road.

More pictures: Die-In against Nuclear Weapons celebration.