Nov 082017
 

By Duncan Harley.

Freedom of speech is a fragile thing. Often hard won, it can be taken away at the stroke of a pen as an Aberdeenshire head teacher found to his cost in 1940.
Various Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts came into force in the early months of WW2.

Some, such as Defence Regulation 18B, provided a framework for internment of enemy aliens while others, like the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939, gave the State wide-ranging powers to prosecute the war.

Aspects of life in the UK came under State control including the “apprehension, trial and punishment of persons offending against the Regulations.” In short, anyone suspected of acting against the national interest in any way whatsoever might suffer the indignity of a pre-dawn knock at the door.

The village of Oyne was of course quite distant from the battlefields. It had narrowly escaped being bombed by a German Zeppelin in a previous conflict but in the big scheme of things Oyne was not a front-line target. Nor was it a hotbed of pro-Nazi sympathy.

This was 1940 however and a paranoid nation was smarting from the military defeat in France. Invasion loomed and an aerial bombing campaign had begun. Towns across the North east had been attacked and coastal shipping had been sunk by German planes off both Stonehaven and Peterhead.

The newspapers of the time are filled with reports of arrests for the offence of “Careless Talk.” A meter reader from Oxford was detained after alleging “we should be just as well under the Nazi’s as we are now!” A Dorset policeman was jailed for expressing similar sentiments and a Peterhead plumber was fined £5 for “careless talk on the phone.”

Headmasters appear to have been at particular risk of prosecution. Overheard warning pupils that following imminent invasion they would have to resort to eating cats and dogs, a Lanarkshire headmaster found himself before a Hamilton Magistrate and at Oyne, George Hendry the local Primary School Headmaster, received the dreaded knock on the door in the late afternoon of June 24th.

The unwelcome visitor was Detective Inspector McHardy of Aberdeen City Police and, after suitable interrogation, Hendry was arrested on matters relating to the Defence Regulations. Lurid headlines followed and public interest was aroused.

Initially there was just the one charge. This related to statements made in the Union Street grocer’s shop of Andrew Collie & Co. Witnesses alleged that Mr Hendry expressed the view that Neville Chamberlain had sold the country down the river and should be placed against a wall and shot. The King, he said, was off to Canada leaving the country “Holding the baby” and Hitler seemingly had sufficient Torpedo Boats to sink the entire British Navy.

Oyne Primary School.

Following arrest, Hendry was released on bail of £60. On Monday July 15th the curious of Aberdeenshire queued to witness what promised to be a juicy trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

Mr Hendry by now faced four charges – the police had been busy.

Alongside remarks about the King and Hitler’s naval prowess, there were allegations of him spreading alarm by remarking on Britain’s unpreparedness for war.

One prosecution witness termed Hendry a fifth columnist and had ordered him out of her shop but under cross-examination admitted she had in fact been joking and considered him simply a leg-puller. Another witness told the court she had discussed the war with him on several occasions and that despite their differences, there was no bad blood between them.

Finally, the case against the Oyne headmaster boiled down to one very simple issue: the spreading of defeatist talk. In a fine piece of courtroom theatre, Mr Blades for the defence lured the manager of Collie’s grocer shop into admitting that the case would never even have been brought had he himself not spread gossip about Mr Hendry’s statements to a crowd, including a policeman, at the public bar of the Royal Athenaeum.

Sheriff Dallas had clearly heard quite enough. A verdict of Not Proven on all four charges was greeted with applause from the crowded courtroom.

George Hendry, a graduate of Aberdeen University, became Headmaster at Oyne in 1927 having previously taught in Forres.  After the trial he returned to his post until his retiral, due to ill health, in 1963. He died in 1966 age just 63.

Duncan Harley is a writer living in the Garioch and author of the soon to be published A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire: https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/publication/the-a-z-of-curious-aberdeenshire/9780750983792/

‘Hitler’s Headmaster’ was first published in the April 2017 edition of Leopard Magazine.

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Feb 022017
 

This driver stopped in the marked disabled bay while he loaded a Christmas tree while two cars with disabled badges had to move on.

By Mark MC.

“I’ll just be two ticks!” A not uncommon response to someone parking where they shouldn’t, but what if that is a disabled parking bay?

The Court has recently ruled on wheelchairs over prams on buses; but is this the right way to go?

Has it gone far enough?

Even now the media and people appear to have different views on what the ruling stated so what is going on?

What has happened to the old-fashioned courtesy, of giving up a seat for someone in more need than yourself….is chivalry dead?

Most of us will get old, some will become disabled, some of us are already there; so should we expect ‘special treatment’, preferential treatment?

This important issue covers far more than just buses or parking bays; there appears to be a basic disregard for people that require more, even if that doesn’t actually cost anything just, simply taking up space that could be used by someone else: the selfish gene?

Unfair appraisal? While it is true that many people would happily give up their seat, how many of those people would take a disabled parking space? The concept behind the aging Goofy cartoon behind the wheel springs to mind; where the perfect gentleman Goofy changes like Jekyll and Hyde.

Whatever your viewpoint there is sufficient concern to raise the question, what is going on? Why do so many feel that it is OK to keep a marked disabled seat or park in a disabled parking space without authority?

These actions can have severe effects on those that need them.

A tent display, clearly far more important than disabled people.

There are too may conditions to list here but lets just look at one, a more generic situation of chronic pain. Chronic pain affects hundreds of thousands of people; that is a pain that is constant over time, it might effect standing, walking, even sitting.

Many sufferers still try to maintain what is as near ‘normal’ lifestyle as they can but in order to do so they need just a little extra help, and that might be in the form of a specialised seat or parking space near to a shop, chemist or doctors. Is that really too much to ask?

A seat and/or a parking space, reserved for someone that needs it, in order for them to be part of the community without being an extra burden?

In the case of the bus court case it should never have gone that far, the bus driver already had the ability to sort it out; the current situation does little to help, the driver can simply wait for others on the bus to get angry about being held up; causing further animosity to either the disabled, elderly or pram pusher.

In the case of the selfish driver taking a disabled bay, even if just for a short time may have caused someone that needs that space to drive on; perhaps even to return home unable to get their shopping or prescription, because their pain to just too much for them to wait or to keep driving around looking for what is often far too few disabled parking spaces close to where they need to be.

Tackle these people at your peril; as even a ‘nice’ approach can be taken as an affront on their liberty, or at least that can be the impression assumed by the verbal abuse or even violent response.

Some countries don’t suffer from the same issues.

Some countries carry real fines, big fines if people disobey, plus they have law enforcers willing to issue fines. In a few countries the locals would never even dream of taking a disabled space. How have they done it?

It would be nice if legislation was not required, but in our current modern selfish age, the situation is unlikely to improve without a big stick….lets hope those people wont need it to get around!

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Feb 142014
 

By Bob Smith.

trumpleaving

Trump’s nae deein the Hielan Fling
He’s noo tryin River Dance
Intae his Menie Developmint
Anither dollar he’ll nae advance
.
He’s gyaan ti the Emerald Isle
Doon the wye o Coonty Clare
A feel sorry fer the Irish fowk
His arrogance they’ll hae ti bear
.
His mither bein’ Scottish born
The chiel wis aywis blawin
Wull we noo hear fae him
His faither wis a leprechaun
.
Scotland wull be the losers
The bugger dis rant an roar
Donald jist gie’t a rest
Yer mair than jist a bore
Bi throwin the toys oot the pram
He’s shown his petulant streak
Aa because he lost his case
In front o a Scottish “beak”
.
At Menie wull he pack it in
An leave here wi gweed grace?
Somehoo a dinna think so
Cos the mannie wid lose face
.
Donald o the Menie Estate
Fa’s stock his teen a dip
Noo he micht be kent as
Donald o the petted lip.
.
.
.
.
©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014
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Apr 222013
 

With thanks to Brian Carroll.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have called on Justice minister Kenny McAskill to reject the recommendations of the Scottish Court Service (SCS) to close courts across Scotland as part of a cost cutting exercise.

The union, which represents staff in the courts service, has been actively campaigning for the retention of access to justice in the communities affected across Scotland, including a substantial response to the SCS consultation and evidence submitted to the Scottish Parliament.

Lynn Henderson, PCS Scottish Secretary said:

“The Scottish Courts Service and the minister claim that no one will lose their job because of these closures but some staff stand to lose substantial sums of money if their court closes.  

“The Justice Secretary must ensure that the guarantee of no compulsory redundancy is met and that staff are not forced to give up their job if their court closes and their job is relocated.”

Brian Carroll, Secretary of the PCS Scottish Courts Branch said:

“The closure of 10 Sheriff Courts, the proposal to consolidate sheriff and jury trials and high court business will mean vast areas of the country will be left with no courts to deal with anything but minor criminal cases.  

“This will affect not only the accused, but also witnesses, jurors and victims of crime.  These proposals will also affect all those who wish to use the civil courts and who wish to apply for adoptions and commissary applications.

“We are extremely disappointed that Ministers appear to have accepted the recommendations made by the Scottish Courts Service without examining the full impact of the permanent removal of sheriff courts from communities across Scotland.  

“It will mean staff and users of the courts will have to travel substantial distances to attend and will reduce the access to justice for all users.”

Apr 122013
 

As more vital services continue to be closed or cut back, the Courts too are under pressure.  Brian Carroll of the PCS Scottish Courts Branch explains.

Brian Carroll, Branch Secretary of the PCS Scottish Courts Branch, expressed  extreme disappointment that the Scottish Courts Service is pressing ahead with its proposal to close courts across Scotland:-

“Despite the substantial opposition and number of negative responses to the consultation, proposals have survived almost totally intact.  We are sure that this decision will be greeted with dismay, not just by our members who will be affected, but also within the communities they serve.

“It is our opinion that these proposals are about fitting the delivery of justice into a reduced budget and nothing to do with modernisation or with the proposed justice reforms that are under consultation presently. The introduction of any reforms is not reliant on the closure of courts.”

Lynn Henderson PCS Scottish secretary said:-

“This is a bitter blow to our members in those courts threatened with closure as well as to the public, as yet another in a long line of public services suffers from the ravages of the cuts agenda.

“PCS will continue to work unstintingly to ensure that the interests of those members affected are protected. We will also campaign vigorously against these proposals on behalf of our members and to ensure proper access to justice for all the people of Scotland.”

Dec 272012
 

With thanks to Brian Carroll.

The Public and Commercial Services Union Scotland (PCS)  has expressed opposition to plans for closing local courts across Scotland.

The union which represents staff of the Scottish Courts Service outlined their opposition in its response to the SCS consultation on plans to close 11 sheriff courts across Scotland.

PCS welcomes the £10 million increase in spending on maintenance of courts announced in the Autumn Statement by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance.

Brian Carroll, PCS Scottish Courts Service Branch Secretary said

“We have today submitted our response to the consultation on future court structures. PCS along with solicitors and other interest groups oppose the closure of 11 sheriff courts which seriously threatens the public access to justice, particularly in rural areas.”

Lynn Henderson, PCS Scottish Secretary said

“Following years of underspending many court buildings are in a sorry state. But this cannot be used as an excuse for closing courts. An extra £10 million investment can make a difference to the courts estate, but it does not address the £57 million backlog.  

“PCS seeks proper investment in vital public services and access to justice across Scotland.”

More about PCS.

The Public & Commercial Services Union represents over 280,000 members in the civil and public services and in the privatised commercial sector, over 30,000 of which are in Scotland. It is the 5th largest trade union affiliated to the TUC and STUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich – on Twitter @janicegodrich. The Scottish Secretary is Lynn Henderson.

If you require any further information please contact Joy Dunn, Parliamentary, Campaigns, Media and Research Officer contact mobile 07707 311 589 email joy@pcs..org.uk

Sep 272012
 

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) today criticised proposals for court closures.  Lynn Henderson, Scottish Secretary & National Officer for Northern Ireland, Public and Commercial Services Union issued a statement to Aberdeen Voice.

The Scottish Court Service announced today a consultation on Future Court Structures that could lead to centralisation of some functions and cuts in provision and local access, shutting local courts across Scotland.  Staff were informed on Friday 21 September of the process of the consultation.

Immediately following the staff announcement, PCS Scottish Court Service Branch Chair, Brian Carroll, said:

“Our members are clearly concerned. The Union will carefully consider the contents of this consultation and will make a full and detailed response.  Our main concern will be of course to protect the interest of all members affected by these proposals. 

“However it is not just staff who will feel the impact of courts closing. The centralisation of High Court functions and Sheriff and Jury trials, cuts in JP Court provision, and the closure of almost a quarter of the country’s Sheriff Courts will be felt by all those who wish to, or are compelled to, engage with the courts system.”

PCS Scottish Secretary, Lynn Henderson said:

“There can be little doubt that the reasons behind these proposals are part and parcel of the swingeing cuts in public sector budgets which will disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable of our society. PCS maintains that a properly resourced and funded justice system is a cornerstone of our democracy and that is what the people of Scotland need and deserve.” 

Sep 132012
 

By Suzanne Kelly. 

‘Undemocratic!’ is the cry coming from various people in Government and some Aberdeen residents concerning the death of the granite web scheme.

The truth is that democracy took a beating in the way the referendum campaign was waged, in the secrecy over the TIF ranking the scheme received, and in the statements made by ministers who should know they were overstepping their bounds.

For those who really care about ‘Democracy’ and how it has been chipped at by those insistent that the web goes ahead, here is an overview of some newly emerged issues.

  • TIF Application:  Information Wrongfully Withheld

Last Sunday 9 September, the  Sunday Herald  carried two articles pertinent to how undemocratically the granite web has been pushed.  The first piece by Steven Vass was entitled FOI Victory Over Aberdeen Project’.  Vass explains that the Scottish Government and the Scottish Futures Trust have been criticised by the Information Commissioner.  These two organisations are refusing to release information on Aberdeen’s TIF bid, in particular how it was ranked against other projects. 

TIF is meant to be used for deprived areas.  Our city centre needs improvement, and a good place to start would be practical assistance to local businesses which now must compete with multinationals in our shopping malls (which have far more financial power than the little guy does). 

We are not, however, a deprived area; businesses are continuing to set up shop here, our housing prices are good, and our standard of living has on the whole been found to rank highly in the UK. 

So why can’t we find out more about the TIF application?  Is it possible that our TIF application was one of the lower-scoring ones? (It was ,after all, soundly criticised by an independent accountant.)  If it was not a high-scorer, then was it given priority unfairly over other projects? 

In the interests of democracy, whatever side of the debate you are on, you have to agree that withholding critical information which could help evaluate the facts is undoubtedly undemocratic.  The information Commissioner has concluded as much , and hopefully on 22 October the truth of the situation will be revealed.  Either that, or the Government and the SFT will appeal to the Court of Session. 

It will be interesting to find out who was involved in this non-compliance with the democratic principle of Freedom of Information, and to find out what they have to hide.  It will be interesting as well to see if the Government refuses the Information Commissioner’s decision and lodges a Court of Session appeal.  

There is legislation saying this information should be supplied, and yet it is being withheld against the Information Commissioner’s decision. Verdict:  Undemocratic

  • Above the Law?  How BiG Partnership and an Anonymous Group of Businessmen Seized the Airwaves with Propaganda

The other article in the Sunday Herald brings us to an even more serious issue.  This article, entitled ‘How to get ahead in the race to the White House…by advertising’ explains how voters are bombarded with election propaganda and how important it is to spend on adverts.  It also brings us to the decision just released by OFCOM against the radio advertising that took place during the referendum.

The Herald article explains the vast sums spent on TV and radio ads to try to secure election victories in the US.  The article quotes Erika Fowler, the associate professor running the Wesleyan Media Project:

“  Campaigns are not going for efficiency, they are going for moderate voters in the centre who have not made up their minds.  There are going to be many, many people tuning out the messages, but in a competitive election cycle, you really are going for that last one or two percentage points.  So the parties and the interest groups… are going to do whatever it takes to get a competitive advantage.”

And as the article says,

“That means spending money…”

The American spin doctors and PR firms know, as do their UK counterparts, that advertising works.  And OFCOM, the communications regulator, knows it as well.  It exists to prevent the public being misled, and it has come down hard against the aggressive saturation campaign and adverts placed by The BiG Partnership on  behalf of the anonymous VFTCGP members- what do they have to hide?

As a referendum campaigner who had to obey stringent rules and spending limits, I was astounded that an unelected and anonymous group, ‘Vote for the City Gardens Project’ were allowed to place a huge volume of radio and print advertising.  Not only did they have a degree of media saturation which I couldn’t have hoped for – but the contents of their ads were misleading.  Why do I say that?  Here are two direct quotes from the ads and my comments on each:-

1.  Quote:  “I’m voting yes because of the £182 million of investment to the city centre – and it’s all coming from grants and private donations so it won’t cost the taxpayer a penny.”

“The City Garden Project won’t cost you a penny, it will be paid for through private donations and business rates.”

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/enforcement/broadcast-bulletins/obb213/obb213.pdf – see Pages 6 and 7

Comment As demonstrated by invoices paid by the City Council, taxpayer money has ALREADY been spent on this project for advertising, PR and ‘stakeholder engagement’ in the region of at least £200,000.  What is galling is that the BiG Partnership, working closely with ACSEF would have known this.  In fact, it is still a mystery what agency or agencies carried out the PR, advertising and photography:  was BiG a recipient of taxpayer money?  If so, how democratic or ethical was this agency acting when it submitted these ads for broadcast?

2.  Quote:  “It will create twice as much green space in the City Centre.”  (reference as above)

Comment We have a green park – when I say green, there is a deep, rich fertile layer of soil supporting wildlife and ancient trees. (Democracy fans note – there are trees and species in this park which are protected by UK and EU law, even though the past administration allowed fireworks displays in the gardens). 

If you build underground structures and have a layer of topsoil over them, you won’t have the same environmental quality as we do now. 

If you chop the trees down, and build a 5,000 seat outdoor theatre on formerly rich soil, then there is absolutely no way that you are going to double the amount of green space. 

Layers of turf over the concrete theatre’s roof and making similar turf-clad structures does not mean you can claim you are doubling genuine green space. 

By the way, the idea of building an outdoor theatre in Aberdeen makes very little sense indeed weather-wise.  Building a theatre in front of where a theatre already exists raises questions about the ‘non-displacement’ concept – rules are  supposed to prohibit using public resources to build something that will compete with or take away from an existing business – but this is being conveniently overlooked. 

Aside from my opinions on the accuracy of these ads – Aberdonian citizens were bombarded with over 200 ads on Northsound 1 and 2, and Original 106 played ads over 100 times  between 16 and 29 February.  ( In contrast, Mike Shepherd had one ad played a total of 26 times).

The point is that if so much as one person heard these hundreds of ads, assumed they were true (after all, the trusted radio stations continued to run them) and voted for the web based on these spurious claims (no cost to the taxpayer, double (??) the green space magically created), then the commercials and the big money behind them unduly influenced the referendum result.

What really beggars belief is the behaviour of the BiG Partnership.

They were involved with ACSEF to push the web scheme.  They know that invoices were paid by the taxpayer for consultation, PR, ‘stakeholder engagement’, photos and the like (even including a photo for about £150 meant to show how ‘inaccessible’ the gardens are). 

They knew that the web was already costing the taxpayer money, yet they were involved with creating and placing advertisements on radio saying the taxpayer wouldn’t pay a penny.  Whatever your position on the web is, don’t  you agree this is unethical?

  People would have been influenced by hundreds of ads

BiG also appear to have placed these ads apparently without getting full advice and clearance.  Reading OFCOM’s decision, it is easy to conclude the ads would not have been deemed acceptable had clearance been asked for in advance.

How does an organisation as big and experienced as BiG explain itself to the regulator?  This is what they said:-

“Northsound told us that this organisation was set up by a group of private individuals who supported the re-development project. They were not a formally constituted organisation, the Licensee said, and had “no legal status”. This advertiser appointed The BIG Partnership, a public relations consultancy, to run and manage its campaign.

“The BIG Partnership made the following comments through the Licensee:

“This campaign was set up a by a group of private individuals who wanted to see the project go ahead. They were not a formally constituted organisation. They have no legal status. They got together and appointed The BIG Partnership to run and manage the campaign and they provided funds for that campaign. The City Garden Project, as part of the wider city centre regeneration scheme, will be funded by private donations and a TIF scheme whereby Aberdeen City Council borrows money to pay for the regeneration and uses the new business rates generated by new business across the city as a result of the regeneration to pay back the loan. It will not be financed by Aberdeen City Council’s annual revenue budget and therefore not have an impact on local council tax payers or on the delivery of public services. The group behind the campaign is not political. The campaign aimed to influence the outcome of the referendum by communicating the facts and the benefits of the project to the public. The objectors to the project also ran similar advertisements.”

If there is even a single person  who voted for the project based on these radio ads, which should never have been aired, or has a friend or relative who was taken in by these ads, then they should come forward now and say so.  (Write to me if you wish; I can keep your details anonymous if you prefer  sgvk27@aol.com)

An anonymous group of people, via an experienced agency,  placed ads which should never have been aired .  The ads contain spurious claims, but at the time the regulatory bodies were unable to intervene.  The regulator has found the ads in breach of code. 

We need to know who the VFTCGP members were to see whether there were any conflicts of interest.  People would have been influenced by hundreds of ads, the contents of which could not be contested at the time. 

Whatever side of the issue you are on, if you care about law, democracy and fairness, you must admit these ads should not have aired and would have influenced the voters who heard them.  Verdict:  Extraordinarily Undemocratic

( Note –  BiG has not answered questions on this issue at the time of going to press. )

  • Local Newspaper Coverage:  Lacking and Slanted

Unfortunately our local hard copy tabloids, the Press & Journal and its sister, the Evening Express, are clearly in favour of the web going ahead. 

Their coverage in the past has seemed one-sided.  However, they have chosen to exclude the news item about the information Commissioner’s verdict re. the TIF details.  They have covered other Information Commission decisions in the past, and this one certainly has local importance. 

More importantly, at the time of writing, no local tabloid has mentioned the OFCOM decision, and instead have run pieces critical of the Labour administration.  The BBC and the Herald have decided these two stories were newsworthy enough to be published.  The local press did not find room for them, but do have articles on a new chocolate shop opening in the mall, and a photo of a black swan. 

Note –  The local press has not answered questions on this issue at the time of going to press.

Is it possible that our papers are slanting coverage to please their advertisers?  It just might be possible.  Verdict:  Newspapers can take any side of an issue they want; that is democracy.  However, do you want a paper that gives you one side of an issue, or one that covers all ground?

  • Democracy:  Labouring the Point

This is a good time to discuss Labour and Democracy.  When the referendum was announced, Labour said at the outset it did not agree with holding it, and explained they were already legally representing their constituents.  They also pointed out that the referendum was not a legal vote that had to be adhered to; it was in law always just a consultation (like the one we had before which rejected the city square). 

Labour told the people that if elected, they would scrap the City Gardens Project, which by the way was still in its infancy.  Some people seem to feel the web was a done deal.  It had not had TIF approval yet – it lacks details (we don’t have anything other than fanciful artist drawings which ignore necessary architectural and safety features which would make the thing look far different from the concept art), and it had to go through planning.

Labour explained what was wrong with the referendum before it started, and vociferously objected to all the abuses that went on during the campaign.  They asked to be elected with scrapping the CGP as a main campaign plank:  they did what they were elected to do  Verdict:  Democratic

  • SNP Sniping

It is very interesting to see in today’s Press and Journal our Scottish Government minister for planning,  Derek MacKay, speaking out against Labour over the web – which is a planning issue.  There are guidelines which direct him not to make such statements, but he seems to be ignoring them.

Is a minister involved with planning overstepping his remit and going contrary to Scottish Ministerial Code?  Seems like it.  Verdict:  Out of Order
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/12/01141452/9

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Jul 202012
 

Our News Editor, Gubby Plenderleith, provides a brief outline of some of the main news stories from around Scotland.

Police raided a further 10 homes in Strathclyde at the weekend as part of a major crackdown on people who are in possession of products which have passed their ‘use by’ dates.

Officers targeted properties in the Paisley area as part of a second week of strikes on suspected offenders. Two men and a woman have been charged with ‘use by’ date offences, while a further two women were arrested in connection with a number of offences relating to keeping a dirty house.

Dozens of homes have been raided since the campaign – code named Operation Dirty Minger – began and more than 40 arrests having made over the last fortnight.

Interviewed following the raids the officer in charge, Inspector Malkie McSpankiebot said:

“Some o’ they people is pure dead manky, by-ra-way!  One of the wumming involved had a raspb’ry yoghurt in her fridge that was o’er a week past its ‘use by’ date. 

“Do these folk no’ have ony dignity?”

A report has been sent to the Procurator Fiscal and Aggie McKenzie.

*           *           *

Following the recent publication of the business case for Aberdeen’s City Garden Project, a local business man has spoken out passionately in support of the development:

“It is my genuine belief that if this iconic development is allowed to go ahead, there will be many tangible benefits far in excess of the estimated 6,500 new jobs and average annual growth of £142m for the city.

“I have spoken to a number of people about the plans and am more than ever convinced that this project could also result in solving the country’s current economic crisis, reversing the negative effects of global warming and finding a cure for both cancer and the common cold.”

He has asked to remain anonymous in case he is asked to contribute towards the cost of the scheme.

*           *           *

In response to Lord Luvvaduque handing down a 30 year sentence to gangland boss Charlie ‘Pit Bull’ McNutter at Edinburgh High Court on Tuesday, Johan Lamont has asked Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill what he is going to do about the fact that over 30 of Mr McNutter’s employees are now facing redundancy.

*           *           *

Addressing a meeting of the Carnwath Guild of Mothers for Bigger Bridies this week, Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore made his most impassioned plea yet for Scotland to remain within the United Kingdom:

“What you must remember,” he said, “is that a vote for independence is a vote that’ll put me out of a job!”

*           *           *

Police in Achiltibuie have reported that a 48 year old man has been detained in custody following an incident in the town centre on Wednesday evening.  A spokesman for Northern Constabulary has said that the man cannot be named on account of him being the Chief Constable’s brother in law.

*           *           *

Archie McDreich, who stood unsuccessfully as the prospective parliamentary candidate for Auchtertool South at the last general election, has announced that he is giving up mainstream politics and joining the Liberal Democrats.

*           *           *

In the wake of the recent controversy over the proposed visit of the Duntocher Weighwatchers Club to Shetland, Aberdeen Voice can report that NorthLink Ferries have decided to give them a wide berth.

*           *           *

In a recent interview with Hullarrer magazine, Hollywood megastar Mel Gibson revealed that, on principle, he never wears under vests.  A spokesman for Mr Gibson has since denied that the actor is anti-semmitic!

*           *           *

Clarifications & corrections

In last week’s edition of Aberdeen Voice we described councillor Tam Sproat as a self effacing pragmatist when we should actually have said is that he is a fat, ugly, moron.  We apologise for our error.

Feb 192012
 

On March 1st the Aberdeen branch of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign will be hosting three exciting speakers at Aberdeen University: Fathe Kdirat and Itaf Njoum Karma from Jordan Valley Solidarity, and Leehee Rothschild from Boycott from Within (Israel).

Fathe and Itaf, both Palestinians, will be discussing Israel’s destruction of communities and the environment in the Jordan Valley, and the on-going illegal Israeli settlement construction that continues to drive Palestinians from their land.

The Jordan Valley makes up a large section of the West Bank, around 28% in total.  It has been one of the worst affected areas of the West Bank during the Israeli occupation, which began in 1967.

The occupation saw the Jordan Valley’s population drop by 88% and was thereafter the site of Israel’s first settlements.

Since the occupation Israel has gone about taking almost complete control of the area.  This map (click to follow link) published in December 2011 by the United Nations Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) shows that 15% of the Jordan Valley comprises  settlements (blatantly illegal under international law[i]), 27% comprises nature reserves, often used to control natural resources such as water supply (to the detriment of Palestinians) and 56%  comprises  closed military areas.

In addition, 87% of the Jordan Valley is designated Area C, i.e. under Israeli control. The 1993 Oslo Accords divided the occupied West Bank into 3 sections: Area A, under the full control of the Palestinian Authority (3% of the West Bank); Area B, under Palestinian civilian control and Israeli military control (25%); and Area C, under the full control of Israel (72%).  Designating land as Area C gives Israel unlimited autonomy to do as it pleases and to ignore the rights of Palestinians.  For example, according to UN OCHA 94% of Area C planning applications submitted by Palestinians were denied between 2001 and 2007.

One of the main focuses of Israel policy in the area is to clear the Jordan Valley of its Bedouin population.  In September 2011 the Israeli government announced its plans to expel 27,000 Bedouin from their homes and lands in the Jordan Valley.  This process is due to be completed in the next 3-6 years; the initial stages have already begun.

The role of activism, resistance and international solidarity is crucial in the fight to prevent this attempted ethnic cleansing of the Jordan Valley.  Fathe and Itaf will talk on how Palestinian communities and internationals are working together to witness, catalogue and resist Israel’s actions, and the importance of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid Israel.

One crucial component of the BDS campaign is the small but important resistance movement within Israel itself.  This includes the campaign group Boycott from Within.

“We, Palestinians, Jews, citizens of Israel, join the Palestinian call for a BDS campaign against Israel, inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid. We also call on others to do the same.” Boycott from Within Website

Organisations like Boycott from Within are operating within a state becoming increasingly reactionary to the growing success of the calls for the end of the occupation, equal rights for Palestinians within Israel, and the right of return for Palestinian (the three main tenets of the BDS campaign).  In July 2011 the Knesset (Israeli parliament) passed an anti-boycott bill, criminalising those who support boycotts of Israel or its illegal occupation and settlements.

The bill has implications for individuals and organisations alike; for example companies deciding not to source products from illegal settlements in the West Bank may be barred from government contracts.  More recent Knesset bills have turned their attention to NGOs working in Israel, such as groups aiming to promote human rights.

One such law proposes to place a limit on the funding NGOs can receive from foreign governments and institutions, meaning many will be unable to function.

Leehee Rothschild will be speaking about her involvement in internal resistance movements such as Boycott from Within and Anarchists Against the Wall, as well as exploring issues of propaganda within the Israeli education system.

The talk starts at 7pm on March 1st in room 268 in the MacRobert Building at Aberdeen University.  For more information contact: Aberdeen@scottishpsc.org.uk


[i] for example see the International Court of Justice ruling 2004, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and UN Security Council Resolution 446