Independent Media Association

Princess Arinola Adegbite or “P. A. Bitez” is a songwriter, filmmaker, and performer based in Manchester. Her poem was inspired by Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which codifies the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Princess said:“I know many people that have been destroyed by people’s perception of them. Article 11 – innocent until proven guilty is important to me because assumptions ruin lives, they get people killed, imprisoned and exiled. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt until evidence that contradicts that innocence is presented. In the past people were lynched, burned at the stake and punished purely due to stereotypes. I want to encourage people to use their discernment and not initial judgments.” The Ripples of Hope Festival at HOME in September was held by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights UK charity. The Naked Eye Innocence cannot be recognised by the naked eye, Just ask the Birmingham Six or the...
Records show 97,430 stable iodine tablets were pre-issued to people in Plymouth, Portland and Barrow-in-Furness from 2016-21 to protect them from radiation. Medicine went to nurseries, schools, care homes and clinics near naval docks. The figures are revealed in freedom of information responses from Plymouth, Dorset and Cumbria councils to Declassified UK. Reacting to our investigation, Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), said: “The production, servicing and berthing of nuclear-powered submarines in or near population centres present unacceptable health risks. “Safeguarding our communities cannot be achieved through limited distribution of pills,” she said, adding that the vessels, some of which carry nuclear warheads, “need to be disarmed and decommissioned.” Radioactive Nuclear-powered submarines are built for the Royal Navy by arms corporation BAE Systems at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria.  The boats can moor at sit...
Lily Gordon-Brown is a housing activist and a member of the ACORN community union in Liverpool. Her new pamphlet, The Housing Crisis is a Land Crisis, emphasises the importance of land ownership and use in our ongoing housing crisis, and is published in collaboration with Greater Manchester Housing Action. The Meteor spoke to Lily, over a Zoom call, about her latest publication. Your pamphlet’s title proposes that we should look at the causes of the housing crisis differently, as a simultaneous land crisis. What does that mean and why are Community Land Trusts important as a potential solution? In the UK there is an incredible inequality in the ownership of land. About 25,000 landowners, which are mainly members of the aristocracy and corporations – own half of the Untied Kingdom. It’s strange, because land, what its worth and who has the right to it, is so integral to everything we do and our everyday lives. But this concentration of ownership has slipped under the rada...
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a non-profit corporation funded by the US Congress, has ploughed over £2.6m into seven British independent media groups over the past five years.  The NED “was created…to do in the open what the Central Intelligence Agency has done surreptitiously for decades”, the New York Times reported in 1997. That included spending millions of dollars to “support things like political parties, labor unions, dissident movements and the news media in dozens of countries.” Since the end of the Cold War, the NED has grown and been involved in trying to undermine or remove governments independent of Washington, including democratic ones in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela. Allen Weinstein, the director of the research study that led to creation of the NED in the 1980s, remarked in 1991: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” The NED has traditionally focused on Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. But Declassified has found t...
US President Ronald Reagan makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, 9 June 1982. During this visit, Reagan outlined his vision for the National Endowment for Democracy
The numbers of rough sleepers on the streets of Greater Manchester have noticeably reduced in the past few years, partly due to the actions of the mayoral “Bed Every Night” campaign to tackle rough sleeping, and local authorities providing emergency “Everyone In” measures to house the homeless during the pandemic. This is certainly a welcome development, but many rough sleepers and other homeless households have been moved into temporary accommodation, and while a roof over your head is better than no roof at all, a previous report on some of these residences in Manchester described them as “slums” full of “squalor, danger and death.” An increasing number of households across Greater Manchester are having to endure these insecure conditions, for months – sometimes years. Figures gathered by The Meteor from government statistics show the rapid rise of temporary accommodation across the region over the last decade. On 31 March 2010 there were 47...
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has attempted to excuse Boris Johnson’s attendance at an illegal Downing Street garden party in May 2020 by claiming that the Coronavirus restriction were “very hard for people to obey”. Rees-Mogg, the Conservative Leader of the House and arch-Brexiteer, also went on to compare Johnson’s decision to attend the party to that of a friend who could not attend his two year-old granddaughter’s funeral. Answering a question about Johnson’s behaviour in the House of Commons this morning, Rees-Mogg began his excuse by claiming: “The Prime Minister came here yesterday and apologised. He said that, with hindsight, it was not what should have happened or what he would have wanted to have happened. “It is being investigated by Sue Gray, a Civil Servant of the highest integrity and of the greatest reputation.” However, Rees-Mogg then immediately attempted to excuse Johnson’s behaviour, by saying: “But I think...
Boris Johnson is unable to promise that no more revelations about illegal lockdown-busting parties will come out in the near future, it has been claimed. Speaking with Scottish Tory Leader Douglas Ross, the Prime Minister was reportedly unable to give him assurances that yet more negative media stories about his antics during lockdown might be published. The conversation between the PM and Ross was reported by Daily Record Political Editor Paul Hutcheon, who tweeted: “Been told Douglas Ross said to his MSPs that in his conversation with the PM earlier Johnson couldn’t guarantee there wasn’t more to come out“   Been told Douglas Ross said to his MSPs that in his conversation with the PM earlier Johnson couldn’t guarantee there wasn’t more to come out — Paul Hutcheon (@paulhutcheon) January 12, 2022   Following Johnson’s apology in Parliament yesterday, Ross came out against the Prime Minister and called for his immediate resignation, stating: “I said yesterday if the Prime Minister at...
The Miami Showband – sometimes referred to as “The Irish Beatles” – was the most popular touring group in Ireland during the 1960s, playing in local ballrooms up and down the country, on both sides of the border. In the early hours of 31 July 1975, on their way home to Dublin from a gig in Banbridge, County Down, the band’s minibus was flagged down. Those responsible were posing as a patrol of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), then the largest regiment in the British army which, its British proposers claimed, provided security in Northern Ireland.  At least two members of the patrol were British soldiers, but all were members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist (pro-British) gang of protestants which carried out hundreds of sectarian killings. As the musicians stood on the roadside being checked, two UVF men placed a bomb in the minibus, intending to cause an explosion further down the road. This would have framed the band for moving explosives. ...
Numerous Tory MPs are now admitting that Boris Johnson’s time as Prime Minister could come to an end imminently, amid public fury at today’s latest revelations regarding an illegal ‘bring you own booze‘ garden party hosted at Downing Street during the height of the first nationwide lockdown. Last night, ITV News published an explosive email – sent by the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary, Martin Reynolds – showing that more than 100 Downing Street staff were invited to a drinks party in the Downing Street garden in May 2020. Reynolds’ email – which invited staff for “drinks in the No10 garden this evening” and asked them to “bring [their] own booze” – was sent on May 20th, at the height of the first lockdown. Numerous eyewitnesses have confirmed that around 40 staff, including both Boris Johnson, and his wife Carrie, attended the illegal gathering. Only an hour before the drinks party was due to start, the then-Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden hosted a televised Press Confe...
Researchers at the University of Manchester and University of Sheffield have published a new online interactive map of Manchester to show citizens where the city’s public land is, and to empower the public to make the case to Manchester city council to dispose of this land to meet local needs rather than those of developers and investors. Through the map, published today, the researchers intend to “improve transparency around public land ownership and use, and to encourage public debate around how land can be better used to address social and environmental needs.” Who owns the city online interactive map, to view – click here. Mancunians can use the map to investigate what public land exists on both a city and neighbourhood level, and can also track Manchester council’s disposal of public land between 1999 and 2019, in the the central wards of Cheetham, Miles Platting & Newton Heath, Ancoats & Beswick, Ardwick, Hulme, Deansgate and Piccadilly. For de...
A number of Sir Keir Starmer’s advisors have admitted that the Labour Party is now on the verge of bankruptcy. Since Starmer replaced Jeremy Corbyn as leader in April 2020, Labour’s revenue streams have dried up and the party’s finances have been plunged into chaos. Owing primarily to Starmer’s lurch to the right and his decision to backtrack on a large proportion of his leadership pledges, more than 100,000 members have left the party, and a number of trade unions have cut or withdrawn funding to the party. In October 2020, Labour’s main union backer, Unite, voted to cut its funding to the party by 10%. And, in December 2021 – under new General Secretary Sharon Graham – the union further announced it would cut all political donations to Labour, with Graham deriding Starmer’s rightward shift. In addition, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) voted in November to suspend all donations to Labour – with the union’s General Secr...
British tennis star Andy Murray has been lauded on social media after brutally mocking Nigel Farage over his support for Novak Djokovic in the Serbian tennis player’s ongoing dispute with the Australian Border Force. Last week, six-time Wimbledon Champion Djokovic had his Australian visa revoked after he failed to meet the country’s strict criteria regarding his Covid-19 vaccine status. Djokovic had initially entered the country in order to play in the upcoming Australian Open tournament, but was held at Melbourne airport for several hours after refusing to provide “appropriate evidence” to support his visa application. The Serbian – who has won the Austrlian Open a record nine times – was then transferred to a government detention facility whilst his deportation from the country was processed. But Djokovic’s lawyers appealed the decision, and this morning a court found in their favour on a technicality – but it is understood that the Au...
The Kenya Wildlife Service, which operates a shoot-to-kill policy against ivory hunters, was advised by a senior British military intelligence officer intimately involved in the conflict in Northern Ireland.  Colonel Colin Parr visited Kenya between tours during the ‘Troubles’ when he allegedly ran ‘Stakeknife’ – an informant at the heart of the IRA’s internal security ‘nutting squad’. Police are probing Stakeknife’s activities amid concerns the British agent was allowed to kidnap, torture and even murder other suspected spies to keep his cover. In 1985, the Queen awarded Parr an OBE for his “distinguished service in Northern Ireland”. And by the early 1990s, he was head of army intelligence in the province. It can now be revealed that while rising through the ranks, Parr went on a reconnaissance trip in April 1990 to the Masai Mara. There he inspected Kenyan efforts to save elephants and rhinos. Parr’s visit came after Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) director, Richa...
Jennifer Wong is a poet born and raised in Hong Kong, who currently teaches creative writing at Oxford Brookes University. Jennifer’s poem was inspired by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which codifies the rights to freedom of opinion and information. Jennifer said: “Over the last few years, no one can deny that Hong Kong has changed. The poem was drawn from the months and years of heartbreaks, conflicts, the avalanche of news back home, the pressing conversations with friends and family about a changing Hong Kong. The poem speaks of wounds – some of them irrevocable and still scorching – but it is also a poem about hope. “Thinking of what I witnessed myself, the experience of people I know, it is hard to keep emotional distance in writing this poem. But as poets and as part of the diasporic community, I think we have a duty to be honest about our feelings. I want to remind us all of how history makes us feel, and the importance of collective memo...
Young working-class people in the UK are faced with a lot of barriers that prevent them improving their lives and those of their family – barriers that appear to be growing. They have to make their way through a society where they are often ignored, belittled, and stereotyped. The RECLAIM project’s aim is to enable these youths to break down those barriers, and create change by providing them with the tools and skills to fight for what they believe in.  RECLAIM are a charity organisation that support working class young people to make a change within society. In 2007, former teacher Ruth Ibeguna set up the RECLAIM project “out of frustration at seeing so much wasted potential in young people; often written off due to their postcodes or through appallingly low expectations of their outcomes.” Starting off in Moss Side in South Manchester, the charity have branched out and cover Greater Manchester and beyond. Rather than prescribing their needs RECLAIM works with yo...
“This could grow into something awkward if pursued,” wrote the head of the Army Department in the Ministry of Defence in the margins of a letter in 1974. He could never have imagined those words would form part of a Supreme Court ruling decades later. The “something awkward” was a bold statement that British ministers […] The post ‘Something awkward’: When Conservative ministers authorised torture appeared first on Declassified UK. ...
The revelation is contained in a new file released to the National Archives. Marked “Top Secret Atomic”, it shows that the presence of the nuclear weapons caused panic among officials in London when they realised the damage, both physical and political, they could have caused.  The military regime in Argentina claimed the Falkland islands and […] The post UK deployed 31 nuclear weapons during Falklands war appeared first on Declassified UK. ...
  Museums are often my first cultural port of call when travelling to a new region. Their concise and carefully curated exhibits can pack a lot of learning into a relatively short visit, giving you a real feel for the essence of what made the local region what it is today and a broader understanding of the specialist subjects they focus on.  Many of these august institutions have previously come across as passive organisations, presenting past artefacts and facts from the past in a measured way to increase our understanding of it, but give little thought to contentious present circumstances and how they could be changed for the better. Manchester Museum is currently undergoing huge structural changes, with a £13.5 million project to construct new galleries and refurbish their current ones, with the work timetabled to finish in October 2022. That considerable amount of work underway on the fabric of the museum is accompanied by an arguably bigger shift i...
  Catalysed by the brutal police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, 2020 was a year of unprecedented anti-racist mobilisation, including in the UK. Protests here sparked a range of responses, from footballers ‘taking a knee’, to the Government’s cynical Sewell report, which predictably denied the existence of institutional racism. Higher education institutions were particularly quick to respond, as universities released public and institutional statements avowing support for Black Lives Matter and/or a more general opposition to racism. These statements were met with criticism from both staff and students amid an abiding sense that they were reactive and hollow – unlikely to be followed by the radical institutional action they desperately demanded. The varied statements invariably revealed incredible ignorance regarding long histories of racism in British universities, and a lack of regard for campus-based movements that had long since been pushing for chang...
A new report raises concerns about the proliferation of Airbnb and other short-term letting platforms (STLs) in Manchester after finding that Airbnb listings skyrocketed by 226%. The report, written by academics, journalists and members of Greater Manchester Tenants Union (GMTU) and Greater Manchester Housing Action (GMHA), found the number of Airbnbs in Manchester increased from 865 in May 2016 to 2,820 in May 2020, an increase of 226%. The report, based on data from pressure group Inside Airbnb, says the highest incidences of Airbnb listings in May 2020 were the city centre with 462, Ancoats and Clayton wards (386), Cheetham Hill (185), Hulme (143), Moss Side (140), and Rusholme (123). The report’s authors note the dominance of Airbnb in Manchester by professional landlords. At least 54.9% of all the city’s listings in October 2020 were owned by landlords with more than one property. There’s a big incentive for landlords to turn their properties into Airbnb listings, ac...