Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Arts sponsorship by OIl Corporatons?

This week, theatrical protest group the Reclaim Shakespeare Company invaded the British Museum and held a surprise performance challenging BP's sponsorship of the popular Vikings exhibition.

The performance aimed to point out the irony in the fact that an oil company accused of recklessly plundering natural resources is sponsoring an exhibition about some of history's most famous looters and pillagers. BP provides less than 1% of the museum's annual income but gets huge amounts of positive publicity in return, helping to hide its destructive extraction activities and its government lobbying against clean energy. The full story can be seen here:

Channel 4 News coverage of the action can be seen here:

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

I won another battle with YouTube

I won another battle with Youtube when they claimed one of our films was using a Hindi tune called Khalse Di Fateh (Vol.6) .

It was nothing like the tune (a Latin American Rap) used in our film 2012 The Mayan Word so after a few emails to and fro with Youtube, they quietly dropped their claims and re instated our film.

So it seems like Indian music companies trying a scam to get advert revenue. One to look out for. Watch the movie here

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Nigel Farrage was not a Punk

A photo bouncing around the social media shows UKIP fuckwit Nigel Farrage as a Punk in the 1980's. Unsurprisingly it is a fake but it has probably boosted his credibility amongst some of the simple minded folk we live amongst.

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

J18- the work of an undercover cop

June 18 1999 and the Carnival Against Global Capitalism was a day which shut down the City of London by activists which later led to massive rioting. What is being exposed now is that at least one undercover police man organised it.

JSB5 is the code name for Police Officer Jim Boyling who spied on Reclaim The Streets.

Boyling's abandoned Car
Boyling (on left) organising the carnival with RTS- maps and J18 mask to the right can be seen

PC Jim Boyling
In interviews by academic Dr Missumi (not her real name), whilst researching the new forms of social movement tactics employed during J18, police and city authorities at times seem to contradict themselves about the intelligence received leading up to J18.

“We didn’t know where the demonstrators were going,” said Chief Superintendent Kevin Sapsford of the City of London Police1,” we knew the meeting place was going to be in Liverpool Street Station but from there we didn’t know what was going to happen with the crowds and therefore it was very difficult….They were a very well planned group and as part of that planning we subsequently found out that they were using masks on the day which had information printed on the back about who they should follow... We had an idea, well not an idea that’s the wrong term; it sounds very washy. We had information from the MET and from their websites and from sources of information that initially we thought they were going to try and go to one area and hold that area up. However we didn’t have the information because they kept it so close to them.”

Also interviewed for the PHD was Eddi Botham2 a City of London Police officer on the day he is now the security advisor for the corporation of London. During the interview he shows Dr Missumi a 2 hour long police training video made up of footage from various sources during J18, including Special Branch, Forward Intelligence Team, Police Helicopter and main stream media3. “There was lots and lots of conflicting intelligence reports coming in as to what would be targets, what wouldn’t be targets, “ he tells Missumi, “The police knew there would be vast numbers, far bigger than anything we’d had before”. Yet when images appear of the crowd invading the LIFFE he comments: “We knew they were going to attack the LIFFE building but we didn’t know it was going to be this violent, in all fairness.

The day’s timeline (as documented in the Carnival Against Global Capitalism: Internal examination of police operation, published on the 28rd July 1999) exposes the extremely slow reactions of the police on the day. At 1.40pm the first set of demonstrators arrives at the LIFFE and simultaneously two cars (one of them driven by JSB5) block the road outside the LIFFE (upper Thames Street). Whilst one of the entrances is walled up, at 3.30pm the other is breached by protesters who flood inside and try to get onto the trading floor. The police do not arrive on the scene until 4.15pm.

It seems extraordinary that the LIFFE had no police protection. The chief executive and chairman of the LIFFE made complaints following the day, about the failure to protect the building, and the police report acknowledges this: “The external picture is complex and includes high levels of recrimination and concern about perceived and real failures in police action…A great deal of the external recrimination is predicated on the belief that the police knew about the nature and scale of the violence and its predictable locations before the event. On that basis, there is dismay and anger about what the police did and did not do.”6

Leading up to J18, a booklet and web site explaining the working of the city complete with Map was produced by Reclaim the Streets7. The map listed numerous targets on it, including LIFFE. The police report mentions this map saying: “The existence of the list was carefully considered during the pre-event planning and a number of premises were identified as potentially being more attractive to demonstrators than others. It should be emphasised that the refined list of premises was arrived at by an intellectual exercise and that no information existed which might confirm or deny this thinking. “8

The police report continues: “At the time of reporting it is not known definitively who all the different organisers of the demonstration are…. Importantly no information existed to identify a) the ultimate focus of the demonstration b) the tactical plan(s) of the organisers c) that a violent criminal assault on premises (of the nature and scale of the assault on the LIFFE building) was planned or likely.”9

Two years earlier JSB was in the “logistics” group organising the break away Reclaim the Streets action during the March of Social Justice, co organised with the striking Liverpool Dockers. The plan was to leave the route of the march and squat the old empty department of Environment (Marsham Street) turning it into the “real department of environment”, a space for workshops, discussions, parties etc. On the day itself the building was surrounded by lines of riot police and the “logistics” group had to turn to plan b which of course we had not worked on! In the end an improvised street party took place in Trafalgar square, which ended in scuffles with riot police and evening headlines (provided by police press release) of rioters charged with “attempted murder” when a sound system tried to drive to the party through police lines (the charges were of course dropped) 10 It is now pretty clear where the leak came from. There seems to be no reason that JSB did not pass on information leading up to J18.

The concluding remark of the report is that the police must take “Action to regain the confidence of the business City.”11 One cannot help wonder how the City community would respond 13 years on from J18 knowing that a police officer was at the heart of planning of the action.

This leaves one to speculate as to why, given the intelligence, the police acted as they did. Was it because they needed to criminalise the growing movement with ‘violent’ images of property damage. To ban the demonstration or repress it might have backfired on them and strengthened the movement ? (following J18 the plan for “attrition of groups involved” included several fictional leaks to the press such as the City anarchists stockpile arms story in the Sunday times four months later.)

Was it because this was a new type of action and protest tactics they needed to observe rather than repress, to learn for public ordern policing in the future ? (one of the comments on the Police helicopter soundtrack suggests this 12)

Did the age old turf war and the relationship between the City of London police and the Met have anything to do with it? Roger Gomm (head of Public Order) says that during the day the relationship “was difficult and there were some issues.”13 The City of London Police and the Met have often been in competition, on J18 there were two command structures (City and Met) which was identified by Anthony Speed in his report as “unduly complicated.”14 One of the changes to public order policing implemented by the post J18 review was a single command structure known as BEMBO. “Where-as before you’d have this element of us and them,” Chief superintendent Kevin Sapford of the City of London police told Dr Missumi. “now it’s all controlled from one control room, everybody is on the same channel.”15 Did the Met somehow keep the intelligence about LIFFE to themselves so as to create a crisis which they knew might negatively affect the public image of the City Police and ultimately end their relative autonomy giving the Met more control ?

Whatever the reason JSB’s role in all this is definitely something that the Met want to distance themselves from and it feels crucial that this information is in the public domain before the CPS has time to set a case against him.

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Young people funding

The Young Roots programme is for projects that engage young people, aged 
11 to 25, with heritage in the UK.You can apply for a grant of more than 
£10,000 and up to £50,000.

Under this programme, we fund partnerships of heritage and youth 
organisations to help young people shape and deliver their own projects 
in safe environments.

The difference we want to make

Young people are bursting with creative ideas about how to explore and 
care for their heritage.

Whether restoring a vintage motorbike, designing a new nature trail or 
documenting changes to their community over time, through Young Roots 
projects young people make a real difference to the places where they 
live. In the process, their confidence grows and they learn valuable 
heritage and employability skills.

We support applicants to deliver high quality projects for all of the 
young people, staff and communities involved. Young Roots projects 
should achieve all of the outcomes for people and communities listed 
below, and one outcome for heritage.

Outcomes for people

With our investment, people will have:

developed skills
learnt about heritage
changed their attitudes and / or behaviour
had an enjoyable experience
Outcomes for communities

With our investment:

more people and a wider range of people will have engaged with heritage
Outcomes for heritage

With our investment, heritage will be:

in better condition
better interpreted and explained

Details of how to apply at the link below: 

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

Top 20 Movie Theaters in the World.

Today, a Welsh based cinema has been listed by USA magazine, Men's Journal in their Top 20 Movie Theaters in the World.

Men's Journal wrote about Sol Cinema
'a mobile setup that brings the theater to you'

The magazine also praised their 'bespoke ushers that channel Hollywood's Golden Age'

The Sol Cinema from Swansea is a mobile cinema powered entirely by renewable energy.The unique movie theatre tours the UK showing short films at events and festivals.

Full house in Sol Cinema is 8 adults or 10 young people.The Sol cinema is designed for short films up to 10mins which allows a regular turnover of audiences. They will be performing at Glastonbury Festival this year.

Notes to Editors:
Mens Journal Magazine article

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How Capitalism works to keep control of the system

Reposted with the kind permission of the Institute for Precarious Consciousness

In the modern era (until the post-war settlement), the dominant affect was misery. In the nineteenth century, the dominant narrative was that capitalism leads to general enrichment. The public secret of this narrative was the misery of the working class. The exposure of this misery was carried out by revolutionaries. The first wave of modern social movements in the nineteenth century was a machine for fighting misery. Tactics such as strikes, wage struggles, political organisation, mutual aid, co-operatives and strike funds were effective ways to defeat the power of misery by ensuring a certain social minimum. Some of these strategies still work when fighting misery.

When misery stopped working as a control strategy, capitalism switched to boredom. In the mid twentieth century, the dominant public narrative was that the standard of living – which widened access to consumption, healthcare and education – was rising. Everyone in the rich countries was happy, and the poor countries were on their way to development. The public secret was that everyone was bored. This was an effect of the Fordist system which was prevalent until the 1980s – a system based on full-time jobs for life, guaranteed welfare, mass consumerism, mass culture, and the co-optation of the labour movement which had been built to fight misery. Job security and welfare provision reduced anxiety and misery, but jobs were boring, made up of simple, repetitive tasks. Mid-century capitalism gave everything needed for survival, but no opportunities for life; it was a system based on force-feeding survival to saturation point

Some useful insights into how the system stops us taking real action to change it.

Link to article

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

Where to recycle VHS video tapes

Sometime soon you will have to face what to do with all those VHS video tapes you don't need anymore.

Some estimates put the total private holding across the country at around 1.5 billion cassettes.

Environmental Media Solutions are able to recycle 100% of tapes, CD’s and DVD’s and their cases. The service is free of charge, though unfortunately we can’t cover postage or shipping costs.

We handle a variation of recordable media, these are
  • VHS
  • Betamax
  • Audio Cassettes
  • Floppy Discs
  • Mini DV
  • CD
  • DVD
  • Games
  • Mini Disc
  • Any old computers, hard drives etc.
You are welcome to drop off your waste at our Bristol facility where we are open Monday to Friday 9am through to 5pm. Please don’t travel too far (unless you are visiting Bristol for personal reasons) as this will add to the carbon footprint of your waste. We can recommend as a courier where you can price up and pay for your parcels before shipping. Interlink will come to your home and collect.
More info here

Help us spread the word. Not many people know about what we do and how we help stop recordable media such as VHS entering landfill.  With your help we can spread the word that there is an organisation where you can recycle these types of waste. Search for Environmental Media Solutions on Facebook, like our page and help spread the word. The world will be a better place for it.
main: +44 (0) 1179 614 724

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Banksy mural shows phone spys

Banksy is on form. His latest mural highlights the spying on our phone calls and emails  by shadowy Government agents.The mural is located just three miles from GCHQ.

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

Sol Cinema goes on tour in 2014

I am busy getting ready to take our little Solar powered cinema on the road again. Sol Cinema can be seen at Glastonbury so if you have any short films you would like screened, get in touch on

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Anti-Nature filkmmaker makes doco on UKIP

Martin Durkin is a wanker. In 1997 he made a series called Against Nature for Channel 4. It targeted environmentalists, and presented them as ‘the new enemy of science’ and comparable to the Nazis. They were responsible for the deprivation and death of millions in the Third World. Now Channel 4 has paid him to make a film on UKIP and Farrage. Here is Miles King article on the full story.

  Last week I forced myself to watch a Channel 4 documentary “Nigel Farage: who are you?”, made by self-styled “fashionable left-wing film-maker turned wicked libertarian” Martin Durkin. He has previously made such edifying and entertaining pieces as “Against Nature” and “The Great Global Warming Swindle” and regularly accuses greens of being fascists.
Durkin used to be a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, founded by University of Kent radical academic Frank Furedi. As society changed, the RCP morphed into the magazine Living Marxism, until that was forced to close – having accused ITN of faking coverage of the Trnopolje concentration camp during the Bosnia war. I think the idea was that the plucky Serbian holders of the Socialist flame could not possible have been to blame for such outrages – and anybody who suggested they were were labelled fascists, in time honoured Trotskyite fashion. ITN successfully sued LM for libel and it closed down. Almost immediately, the RCP grew a new excrescence called Spiked Online, which continues to exist – using much the same approach as the RCP and LM (Trotskyite entryisim and contrarianism)- but with a radical change in political position. Spiked Online is now a mouthpiece for (far-right?) libertarian commentary having lost its communistic shackles. Irish online Magazine Forth is another outgrowth apparently. Where the LM network gets is funding is as transparent as any other right wing thinktank but corporate funding has been linked to them.

In the Documentary, Durkin seemed a bit disappointed with Farage – complaining that Farage’s anti-immigration stance was mistaken, as the free movement of people was as important as the free movement of capital in this best of all possible globalised market-driven world.

But then again they are different aren’t they? While capital can flow (fly) to tax-havens like the Turks and Caicos, or out of Russia, people cannot or choose not to. Farage (and the far right of the Tory party) through that organ of the outraged right, the Daily Mail, and fellow travellers raised the spectre of millions of Romanians and Bulgarians arriving in our island in January. Could they come? yes they could. Did they come? No they didn’t. Decisions taken by individuals as to whether to move from their home country to another one are not taken lightly, and not necessarily driven by pure economic necessity. I know this: my mum emigrated to England in 1954, from Australia.
Farage sought to portray himself in the doco as a man of the people, a defender of what used to be known as The Man on the Clapham Omnibus. We followed him back to the village in Kent where he was born, brought up, and still lives today. He visited the local pub where he was regaled by his locals. The image of Farage with pint of beer and fag in hand is now well-embedded in the media and it is a familiar trope.
The plan is clear and I guess being led by UKIP’s media expert Patrick O’Flynn: represent Farage as normal, friendly, up for a good laugh and a chat about politics down the local. He is portrayed as a pub politician and we were treated to seeing his public verbal assault on The President of the European Commisson Herman Van Rompuy. We were also witness to Durkin and Farage running around The Strasbourg European Parliament like a couple of naughty schoolboys, sniggering as they filmed where they weren’t allowed to, and catching journalists asleep at their computers. This I imagine was supposed to reflect Farage’s “naughty but nice” cheeky-chappy persona. It appealed to my sense of the absurd, but that was about it.
This image is of course a sham. Farage was born into privilege. His father was a stockbroker and Farage went to a top public school, Dulwich College. At the time a teacher had attempted to prevent Farage from being made a prefect on account of his “racist” and “neofascist” views; he was made a prefect though.
Of course we all do and say silly things when we are teenagers and he may have grown out of these views. Farage went on to make a lot of money in the city, as a metals trader before turning to politics. Consequently Farage has many friends in the city, as the film showed. He loves the city of London – he believes it is a force for good.
Durkin called a number of witnesses to attest to Farage’s character and influence. Right Wing/libertarian commentators Simon Heffer and James Delingpole were both happy to shower him with praise, among many others. Only Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was an opposing journalistic view, while former Labour leader Neil Kinnock was wheeled out and portrayed as a straw man to knock down from his Euro-pedestal (after failing to beat John Major in 1992 he went to Brussels to be a Commissioner.)
I suppose it should not be that surprising that the libertarians are warmish fans of UKIP. While Durkin’s hagiography of Farage is well-timed in advance of the Euro elections, there are other connections. Another member of the Living Marxism network, Ben Pile, who writes an anti-environmental and climate change denial website, is also UKIP’s climate change advisor.

It is no surprise that the now exiled Godfrey Bloom was the UKIP climate change leader – either someone in UKIP has a sharp sense of irony or more likely it illustrates their utter contempt for environmental concerns. Bloom is out, now Roger Helmer is at the err Helm on climate change and Pile is his “expert.” Pile has a BA in Politics and Philosophy from the University of York. Helmer who is now positioned as the leading UKIP MEP after Farage, has in the past been funded by the Oil Palm industry to lobby Brussels to reject criticism of this industry which has to clear rainforest to grow the palms, attack climate change “alarmism” – but counter-intuitively, help portray Oil Palm as a carbon sink – as if that would matter if there were no climate change!
Climate Change denier Helmer is also happy to take public funds to put up solar panels.
Helmer’s climate denier wingman Pile is a regular contributor to Spiked Online, as well as running an Oxford Salon, and speaking at various LM events such as the Institute of Ideas. The LM network has a number of these fronts – the Battle of Ideas, Intelligence Squared. If you look carefully you can see other LM network members turning up in the media on a regular basis, such as Claire Fox on the Moral Maze and Timandra Harkness who turned up as resident reporter on social psychology prog “the human zoo” on Radio 4. Next time you hear see or read something that sounds a bit libertarian or anti-environmental – check out the journalist – you might be surprised how often they turn out to be LMers.
Delingpole in a recent interview with Conservative Home talked about the continuing fight against Cultural Marxism, and included climate change and other environmental regulations in that all encompassing term. Water-melons is another favourite phrase of the far-right – because they are green on the outside by red on the inside (geddit?). I didn’t realise I was a Marxist. Interestingly other fellow-travellers of the LM network include arch climate change sceptic and self-styled “rational optimist” Matt Ridley and anti-green re-wilding advocate (huh?) Peter Taylor.
After the programme ended, I wondered to myself “is UKIP racist”? The party does not officially espouse racist policies in the way that the NF or BNP did (I grew up in East London in the 1970s). But it seems unthinkable that UKIP has not attracted in many who previously supported or were active in those extreme and fascistic parties.
I think UKIP has been clever to focus in on Europe because the issue of skin colour is more nuanced. Those of a certain generation (and most UKIP support comes from the over 50s) will recall that the Brits (or should that be English) had highly derogatory terms for every conceivable ethnicity in Europe. The phrase “w….s start at Calais” I am sure still has a certain appeal to that generation.
This cultural superiority, or perhaps a festering nostalgia for such superiority and a burning resentment at its loss, is a malevolent flame burning inside the popularity of UKIP. No wonder the Romanians and Bulgarians (and of course the Roma) are the target of invective (and hatred from some.) Remember the Roma was as comprehensively exterminated in the second world war as the Jewish peoples.
All this must be further confirmation (if any were needed) amongst mainland Europeans, that we Brits (though in truth it is the English who have the problem) are a very weird lot. We just have no idea that people have been moving around the continent for millennia and that it is nothing unusual for ethnic Germans, Poles, Hungarians, Romanians, Russians and other Slavs, and others to happily/unhappily co-exist with each other, recognising their differences but also sharing their commonalities. When we forget about our similarities and focus on our differences, this is when the problems arise, whether in Nazi Germany, or post-Tito Yugoslavia. We the “native” English are, after all, mostly Anglo-Saxons – Angles from north Germany/Denmark, Saxons from Saxony. Perhaps what UKIP fears most is recognising our European, Germanic roots.
For some, UKIP are the pantomime clowns of British politics, not taken seriously. This is wrong. They are likely to do well in the European Elections next month, they could even win the popular vote. Their views on Europe may be offensive, but their anti-environmental anti-climate change views are more damaging. And the unholy alliance between UKIP and the libertarian movement, under whatever guise, is something to watch and expose.

photo by Berchemboy [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Undercurrents released our first video 20 years ago this month

It is 20 years this month since we launched our Undercurrents Alternative news on videos.In 1994 internet video streaming didn't exist so it was DIY distribution and VHS was our method.
We reported on the Criminal Justice Bill which both curtailed a growing counter culture and invigorated it by bringing a diverse range of groups together. We also produced an award winning documentary on the M11 Link road resistance.

Last week Zoe Broughton, one of the co-founders of Undercurrents put her tape out and her friendly Robin dropped in to check it out.
Read a history of Undercurrents here

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Working this week to put English language teachers online.

I have been working with Tantrwm productions this week. Together we put a global gathering of English Language teachers online in style.

Working on a small budget, small crew and an incredible workload we succeeded in producing 60+ hrs of live streamed video, create a professional TV studio, created 2 mobile video mixing units, produced 2 short films, an app and a website. Yet still managed to fit in parties and get up in time for the next days workload.

One of my favourite sessions was from Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education,Newcastle. He showed how kids learn best when they are put together in groups to play with the internet. Leave out the teachers.

Watch our studio interview with Dr Mitra here

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.