L’ex-star des yé-yé Hubert Robiou est décédée : à Vannes, les Vénètes en deuil - Vannes - Le Télégramme
Les Vénètes, le groupe star de la scène rock et yé-yé des années 60, est en deuil. Hubert Robiou, bassiste des Fab Four Vannetais, a quitté la scène, à l’âge de 78 ans.
« C’est une très grande peine ». Le jazzman Alain Legrand a le cœur gros. Dans la nuit de dimanche à lundi 7 juin, « le copain » Hubert Robiou s’est éteint, au retour d’un voyage, à l’hôpital de Vannes. « Ça fait mal », glisse le batteur qui avec Claude-Michel Schönberg, Yves Le Neveu et Hubert Robiou a formé durant les sixties Les Vénètes, le band le plus illustre de la scène musicale vannetaise.
Tout commence en 1963. Alors que « Love me do » lance dare-dare la Beatlemania, les Fab Four Morbihannais battent leurs premières mesures avec entrain. Nourris de Sydney Bechet, mais aussi d’Elvis ou Fats Domino, ils ne sont pas longs à électriser un peu plus que le club musique du lycée Saint-François-Xavier de Vannes.
« Dans les années 60, les Vénètes étaient les grandes « stars » rock de la région, se souvient le journaliste Patrick Mahé, qui ravive le souvenir de « La Biscorne », la « réputée et rare boîte de nuit de Port-Navalo ». « On jouait aussi à La Vigie, à Port-Blanc, à la Caliorne (Saint-Goustan) » glisse Alain Legrand qui, entre deux reprises du « What’d I say » de Ray Charles, y croise à l’époque Tabarly, Kersauson, Glenmor…
« L’histoire de copains de bahut », en quête de swinging London, s’accélère un soir de 1964. Les Vénètes remportent le concours du premier festival international de Variétés de Rennes, l’ancêtre des Transmusicales. À l’entracte, un certain Pathé-Marconi glisse sa carte au pianiste-chanteur Claude-Michel Schönberg (qui n’est pas encore le compositeur reconnu des comédies musicales « Les Misérables » ou « Révolution française »). S’ensuivent « trois 45 tours et 70 000 disques vendus », sourit Alain Legrand.
Fan de Jacques Brel
Un firmament, qui donne à Hubert Robiou l’occasion de faire la première partie de Claude François ou Sheila. Et de quoi se payer ses longues études de dentaire. Un cursus pareillement suivi par le guitariste Yves Le Neveu. Alain Legrand penchera, lui, pour les études de pharma. « Hubert, c’était un chic garçon. Un amoureux de la chanson française, façon guitare-voix, ce qui lui donnera l’occasion de taper le bœuf, avec Jean Ferrat ». Un fan de Jacques Brel qui sur scène, n’hésitait pas à rendre hommage au maître, « via des réinterprétations de qualité, lors des intermèdes », se souvient encore Alain Legrand. Une passion pour la musique que le futur dentiste transmettra bientôt à ses enfants, eux aussi artistes.
Les obsèques d’Hubert Robiou seront célébrées jeudi 10 juin, à 16 h, à la cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Vannes.
The war in my head
Reporter Tareq Hajjaj shares how his family barely escaped two Israeli attacks in Gaza, revealing the trauma reporters experience when they cover the wars they are also trying to survive.
By Tareq S. Hajjaj - June 4, 2021 – Mondoweiss
For the first time, I’m not sure I can manage to finish a dispatch. Last month, death loomed closer than a walk to the bathroom. It did not matter where I was inside Gaza, every place in this small territory of 140.9 square miles was proximal to shelling and airstrikes.
Hostilities escalated on May 10, 2021, and came to a close in a ceasefire brokered by Egypt 11 days later, but I am still thinking about the six days after I fled my home in Shuja’iyya, a neighborhood in the east of Gaza. In total, my family and I were uprooted twice during the fighting. Each time with more relatives in tow, we rushed out the door with only a moment’s notice and joined the exodus in the streets that spanned as far as the eye could see across Gaza’s flat roads.
I live in a residential area that is adjacent to the buffer zone with Israel. Days into what started as strikes from Israeli jets and rockets from Gaza, Israeli forces opened fire from the ground and sea. Explosives rained from the west and east, and of course the sky. My sister, who lives closer to the border, came to take shelter in my home.
In the first days of the war, the adults and older teenagers taught the kids a few tricks to attempt to block out the sounds of the blasts. We could dilute the noise, but the impact shook the walls and floors and us on them. (...)
Gaza’s health system buckling under repeated wars, blockade
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Gaza Strip’s already feeble health system is being brought to its knees by the fourth war in just over a decade.
Hospitals have been overwhelmed with waves of dead and wounded from Israel’s bombardment. Many vital medicines are rapidly running out in the tiny, blockaded coastal territory, as is fuel to keep electricity going.
Two of Gaza’s most prominent doctors, including the No. 2 in Gaza’s coronavirus task force, were killed when their homes were destroyed during barrages since fighting between Hamas and Israel erupted 10 days ago.
Just as Gaza was climbing out of a second wave of coronavirus infections, its only virus testing lab was damaged by an airstrike and has been shut. Health officials fear further outbreaks among tens of thousands of displaced residents crowded into makeshift shelters after fleeing massive barrages.
Community scientists have discovered an unusual brown dwarf star
Paul Beaulieu and Austin Rothermich were participating in the Backyard Worlds project. You can, too!
Man Utd star Pogba carries Palestinian flag around Old Trafford as World Cup winner is latest footballer to show support (VIDEO) — RT Sport News
Tous ces feuilletons israéliens sur Netflix qui n’auront pas permis que cette image n’existe pas !
Qui est Bella Poarch, la star de TikTok dont le premier single bat des records ?
Le 14 mai dernier, une jeune vidéaste populaire sur le réseau social TikTok publiait son premier single sur toutes les plates-formes de diffusion de musique en ligne. Presque deux semaines après sa sortie, son titre Build a B*tch recensait plus de 114 millions de vues sur YouTube, et des milliers de vidéastes plus ou moins amateurs en reprenaient en chœur les paroles sur TikTok. Si l’on n’a pas de compte sur la plate-forme de partage de vidéo, propriété du chinois Bytedance, l’incroyable popularité de sa musique peut interroger : mais qui est donc Bella Poarch ?
Quelques mois et une trentaine d’autres courtes vidéos plus tard, la jeune créatrice publie un clip d’apparence tout aussi anodine. Sur une musique rythmée, elle se filme en gros plan et multiplie des mimiques kawaii (« mignon », en japonais) qu’on croirait sorties d’un anime japonais. Le tour est joué : Bella Poarch devient en quelques jours le visage le plus connu de la plate-forme en publiant la vidéo la plus regardée de TikTok de tous les temps (49,5 millions de vues à ce jour).
En 2021, je continue à trouver miraculeux ces articles qui parlent des « influenceuses » sans jamais parler d’argent ni de marketing ni de professionnalisation. Juste une gamine qui poste ses petites vidéos mignonnes sur Tik Tok et qui finit super-star du Web comme ça.
(Sinon je ne vais pas m’attarder sur l’extrême bon goût de ce genre d’« influenceuse », mais passer à côté de l’esthétique ultra-sexualisée et stéréotypée du truc, alors qu’on cible des cohortes de très jeunes gamines, ça aussi je trouve ça très chiant à la longue. À un moment, est-ce que ceci est de la naïveté : « Mia Khalifa, influenceuse américano-libanaise » ?)
Hi, hi, tout à fait d’accord, c’est pour cela que j’ai noté cet article : je vais m’en servir dans une conférence. Comment d’un visage « kawai » au début, on termine par une vampirella en jarretelles. Cette hyper-sexualisation des gamines (portée par des jeunes adultes et leur management, comme dans le cas présent), est un problème de société. La façon dont cela attire des vues et renforce le rôle de prescription des médias sociaux sans que ces « vues » ne soient qualifiées (s’agit-il d’autres jeunes filles, de jeunes garçons ou de vieux pervers ?)... pas d’importance, cela vend de la « pub mondiale ».
Je pense que même la « toute première vidéo » est déjà trop-léchée-pour-être-spontanée, et déjà totalement calibrée « érotisme pour réseaux sociaux ».
D’où mon premier questionnement sur le marketing, le plan de carrière, et les investissements marketing lourds menés par des équipes de vétérans ultra-cyniques de la publicité. Je doute même qu’on ait un simple plan de carrière individuel au début, qui se serait professionnalisé par la suite. La « première vidéo » remonte à avril 2020, ça fait tout de même pas beaucoup de temps pour devenir une vedette mondiale avec des vidéos de grimaces. Comme à peu près tous les phénomènes de « buzz » massif sur le Web, je suspecte bien plus un investissement de promotion et de marketing massif mené par une équipe de publicitaires rodés et cyniques chargés de promouvoir un produit (ici une femme de 24 ans en culotte sur un lit, une autre fois une vedette du porno requalifiée d’influenceuse pour pré-adolescentes…). Sur le modèle des Boyz-band de K-Pop (puisque c’est abordé dans l’article).
Oui, c’est exactement ça. Et les journalistes qui reprennent le message sans chercher les coulisses ne sont que des pions dans le jeu de marketing.
Cela a commencé très tôt, en 2006, avec LonelyGirl17 sur YouTube. Reprenant le style de l’époque sur YT (webcam de face) une actrice racontait « sa vie ». On a appris plus tard, avec le succès de la série de vidéos que c’était un test par une agence de pub néo-zélandaise de la capacité d’utiliser YT pour de la promotion.
Le titre du clip à l’esthétique sado-maso pour pré-adolescentes tiktokeuses de l’« influenceuse » me rappelle une anecdote à la fois rigolote et pathétique : mes petits reviennent de l’école (ils ont 9 ans), et me racontent que le groupe des filles « populaires » de la classe s’est maintenant trouvé un nom : « les plages ».
Ah bon, c’est original. Même pour Montpellier, « les plages » c’est original comme nom pour un gang de fillettes.
Ma petite est très fière de montrer qu’elle est polyglotte : « non, en fait elles s’appellent pas comme ça : c’est moi qui ait traduit, parce qu’en fait elles s’appellent “les plages” mais en anglais ». Ah bon ?
« Oui, en fait elles se font appeler : les beaches. Et les beaches, en anglais, c’est les plages, hein » (CQFD)… (Ah oui mais non…)
i bref, i long …
\bitʃ\ vs \bi:tʃ\
j’ai fait une fois une conférence en anglais sur Excel et les stats ; au moins une fois par phrase, j’utilisais le mot Feuille de calcul (Worksheet ou Sheet)
j’ai été content quand ça s’est fini, je ne pensais qu’à ça : bien allonger les i
Usbek & Rica - Devenu un meme malgré lui, il porte plainte contre France Télévisions
Comme le rapporte France Bleu Gascogne, Frédéric Dutin, l’avocat de Jean-Marc Dutouya, estime que son client a été « livré en pâture dans des conditions d’irrespect de sa dignité » : « Qui dans cette salle voudrait être filmé en slip ?, a-t-il notamment demandé devant le tribunal de Dax (…) [Depuis 2015, Jean-Marc Dutouya] a perdu 9 kilogrammes, et a même fait un AVC. » « Très connu dans sa commune, ancien conseiller municipal, tous ses voisins le catégorisent depuis comme “l’homme au slip et à la pelle” », écrit également France Bleu. Sur le site de référence Know Your Meme, le « Slipgate » et son « French Shovel Guy » font d’ailleurs l’objet d’une page dédiée. Celle-ci retrace l’origine du meme, des premiers détournements « façon Star Wars » postés sur Twitter jusqu’aux compilations de reprises publiées par les médias anglo-saxons Gawker, IB Times ou encore BuzzFeed.
Des histoires de mèmes racontées par les susvisés Life beyond the meme: what happens after you go viral - BBC Three
Et pour Gus et leurs fans "Defence of Moscow"est une reprise du l’artiste russe Radio Tapok. Elle fait suite à la fructueuse collaboration entre SABATON et la star d’internet en Russie, sur la version live de ’The Attack Of The Dead Men’Pour saluer comme il se doit tout ce que représente ce nouvel hymne, le 9 juillet prochain SABATON réalisera un 45 tours vinyle rouge ultra limité dont les précommandes ont déjà débuté !▻https://music.sabaton.net/DefenceOfMoscowAlors heureux ?S.▻https://youtu.be/9TjXanLjpTU
Pourquoi a-t-on interné Alys Robi? | Radio-Canada.ca
Elle était talentueuse, ambitieuse et à ses affaires. A-t-on enfermé et lobotomisé la première star internationale du Québec parce qu’elle était trop affranchie pour son époque ? C’est la question que se pose sa petite nièce à la lumière de récentes découvertes.
As Jamaican reggae was exploding onto the mainstream UK scene in the 1970s, a younger, more omnivorous audience was forging a new genre called “lovers rock.” At the time, the children of the #Windrush_Generation, whose parents emigrated from the Caribbean and African Commonwealth en masse in the 1950s, were teenagers looking to establish themselves in the UK, and wanted to do it to their own soundtrack.
While reggae, through its network of under-the-radar soundsystem dances, had become the music of choice for so many Black youngsters, growing up in Britain in the ’60s had exposed them to all manner of other sounds. Motown, Philly soul, and pop music in general—everybody loved the Beatles—were part of their musical environment and were duly reflected in the reggae these kids created for themselves.
Reggae made in Britain at that point veered away from the higher profile Jamaican approach, which modeled itself after Bob Marley’s rebel music; steeped in roots ‘n’ culture ‘n’ Rastafari. British reggae became a Black pop music, the UK’s first, as it absorbed the more melodic aspects of American soul, focused on singing and harmonizing, and centered around young love found, lost, ignored, or precluded. “The songs,” explains Janet Kaye, the genre’s first mainstream star, “were all about us—falling in love, having our hearts broken—so they appealed so much to us as young kids, growing up and finding our ways in the world.”
Confusion quand l’armée annonce une incursion terrestre avant de se rétracter | The Times of Israël
Cela a conduit à la diffusion de fausses informations dans le monde entier, notamment Le Monde, le New York Times et le Washington Post, The Guardian, La Repubblica, qui ont clairement annoncé qu’Israël avait lancé une campagne terrestre dans la bande de Gaza, ce qui n’est pas le cas à 12h45 vendredi.
Le porte-parole de l’armée a évoqué un « problème de communication en interne » pour expliquer la situation.
Selon Ynet, Hidai Zilberman, porte-parole militaire, a assuré que la confusion n’était pas délibérée et qu’une enquête serait menée sur la formulation si nécessaire.
Israeli military accused of using media to trick Hamas | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR
While the army attempted to play down the incident as a misunderstanding, well-placed Israeli military commentators said the media had been used as part of an elaborate ruse to lure Hamas militants into a deadly trap that may have killed dozens of fighters.
“They didn’t lie,” said Or Heller, a veteran military correspondent on Israel’s Channel 13 TV. “It was a manipulation. It was smart and it was successful.”
Enchères - Alice Cooper avait totalement oublié qu’il avait un tableau d’Andy Warhol - Le Matin
Alice Cooper a mis en vente son tableau d’Andy Warhol, « The Little Electric Chair », un acrylique et sérigraphie sur toile tirée de la série « Death and Disaster » de l’artiste. Le musicien avait redécouvert l’œuvre par hasard dans son garage de Scottsdale, Arizona, révélant avoir « totalement oublié » qu’il la possédait.
Les deux artistes étaient devenus amis à New York dans les années 1970. « Un jour, il y a quelques années, je parlais à Dennis Hopper, qui vendait quelques-uns de ses Warhol, et je lui ai dit : « Attends un peu, je crois que j’en ai un quelque part ». Donc je suis allé à sa recherche et je l’ai trouvé, en parfait état. C’était une sorte de capsule temporelle, ce que, je suis sûr, Andy aurait adoré, car il adorait faire des capsules temporelles avec ses œuvres d’art », a dévoilé Alice Cooper.
La star du rock a encore confié : « Donc c’était là, le tableau a vécu seul pendant des années. On l’a pris, et on voulait l’exposer, mais finalement je me suis dit qu’il était temps de passer à autre chose, de le donner au monde. Je me suis dit que je l’avais eu tout ce temps et que je l’avais oublié, et qu’il était temps que quelqu’un d’autre en profite. »
L’œuvre, évaluée entre 2,5 et 4,5 millions de dollars, sera mise en vente à la Larsen Gallery le 23 octobre et pourrait devenir le tableau le plus cher vendu en Arizona.
US expats plead for vaccine help in viral Thailand - Asia Times
US expats plead for vaccine help in viral Thailand. US Embassy in Bangkok turns a deaf ear to expat cries for vaccines while China mass vaccinates its nationals in the kingdom
– Some of President Joe Biden’s and his predecessor Donald Trump’s most active boosters in Southeast Asia have joined forces, demanding the US State Department vaccinate all American expats in Thailand as a model for international distribution, instead of discriminating against them. “Biden has publicly announced that all Americans now have access to vaccines, but the government and State seem to have forgotten about us Americans living abroad,” said the chair of Democrats Abroad in Thailand, Paul Risley.
“What are we, chopped liver? “These are vaccines, offered for free to all in the US, and most of them have been manufactured with taxpayer dollars.”Some worried American expats plan “to fly back to the US, costly and risky travel that might bring variants back to the US,” Risley said.Americans arriving from Bangkok may have to stay in the US for at least a month, to get two shots of an approved vaccine. “Some Americans may simply be too old to make the long flights, and journey, back to the US,” he said. In addition to air tickets and other travel expenses, freshly vaccinated Americans would “then have to pay for mandatory two-week hotel quarantine” back in Thailand.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says the US has not historically provided private health care for its citizens abroad. “We have not historically provided private healthcare for Americans living overseas, so that remains our policy,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in May.
The State Department said in December, “If a US citizen wants to return to the United States, but does not have access to sufficient funds for the cost of the ticket, the Department of State is able to offer a loan to cover the cost of a flight home.”A recent State Department’s official “Q & A” travel advisory, highlighted its own possible Catch-22:“If airlines start requiring Covid-19 vaccination to travel – or the US government starts requiring vaccination or negative tests to enter the United States – will US citizens get stranded abroad? How will the State Department help them?”The State Department answered itself, “We urge US citizens traveling, or resident abroad, to make their own arrangements regarding their medical care.”Reuters reported on April 16 that the State Department said it had shipped vaccinations to 220 American embassies and consulates worldwide for their diplomats and other employees.
Democrats Abroad signed an unprecedented joint appeal with its arch-rival Republicans Overseas Thailand, plus the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12074, and the American Women’s Club of Thailand, addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on May 6.They suggested Thailand as a pilot location, for global vaccination of Americans abroad.“Fulfill the pledge made by President Biden to make coronavirus vaccines available to all Americans,” the letter said.An estimated nine million private American citizens do not live in the US, including tens of thousands in Thailand. Many pay US taxes, vote, and often visit their American hometowns.“In this particular case, all of us are on board,” Tony Rodriguez, vice president of Republicans Overseas Asia, told US-government broadcaster Voice of America (VOA).“Obviously, there’s plenty of vaccines in America. Just get them on a plane and fly them over,” Rodriguez said.American expats are demanding US-made Pfizer and Moderna, seen as the best vaccines, be distributed to them via the American Embassy in Bangkok and Consulate in Chiang Mai, a northern city.The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention operates its biggest overseas facilities in Bangkok. Some expats and Thais are also envious of China’s bold program to mass vaccinate Chinese citizens currently in Thailand and elsewhere – contrary to virtually every other foreign government’s inhospitable international Covid-19 treatment of its expats.While Thailand’s total pandemic death toll neared 1,000 people, Bangkok told all expats to wait. A medical worker inoculates a woman with the Sinovac vaccine in Bangkok. Americans in Thailand are demanding Pfizer or Moderna jabs.“The Health Ministry plans to vaccinate Thais first,” Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s Health Department director Panruedee Manomaipiboon announced on May 14.
“We will try our best to vaccinate Thais within two months – namely June and July – and then try to open foreign resident registration in August.”
About one million Thais and others have already received AstraZeneca jabs. (...) Beijing scored another diplomatic and financial success when a government-controlled corporation arranged to sell China’s second vaccine – Sinopharm – to the Chulabhorn Royal Foundation, which is sponsored by King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s sister, Princess Chulabhorn.(...) Risley meanwhile is campaigning hard. He told VOA’s Thai language broadcast, “Americans who live abroad need to be vaccinated, for the same reasons that Americans who live in the United States need to be vaccinated.“It’s the only way to stop Covid-19.”
More than just a statue: why removing Rhodes matters
In the context of a worldwide movement against race hate, Oriel College’s position makes no sense
Anger is a potent, if volatile, political force. It can be channelled toward many ends. It’s often dismissed as counterproductive, but Audre Lorde, the African American writer and civil rights activist, reminds us that anger can be a powerful source of energy. It can serve progress and change, it can be liberating and clarifying.
I remember so viscerally my own anger this time last year as I screamed Black Lives Matter in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. And I was not alone. The world witnessed a prolonged outpouring of rage. Global protests with emotionally charged testimonies and determined calls for justice abounded. These protests soon extended beyond the immediate circumstances of Floyd’s death at the knee of Derek Chauvin to challenging an array of institutions that are built on or propagate anti-Black racism. Anger had made it abundantly clear that, despite all the promises of liberal democracy, western society still has a problem with race.
At first the message appeared to be getting across. If we were to believe the black squares on Instagram, or the spike in sales of anti-racism books, or the spread of a new mantra among white people (“I need to educate myself”), then change of some kind was afoot.
In Oxford, the Black Lives Matter protests folded into the anti-colonial activism of Rhodes Must Fall. This is not surprising. Colonialism and racism are entwined like the strands of a double helix. In modern Britain, colonialism has transcended its historical epoch. It exists in the present as a kind of nostalgia for the country’s hegemony on the world stage, while fuelling nationalism, buttressing white supremacy and generating anxieties about immigration and cultural change. The statue of Cecil John Rhodes at Oriel College in Oxford perfectly distils this imperial nostalgia into a concrete object.
The charge sheet against Rhodes is well documented. Rhodes’s imperial philosophy was unabashedly supremacist, and he detested Africans (“If the whites maintain their position as the supreme race, the day may come when we shall be thankful that we have the natives with us in their proper position”). At the end of the 19th century, Rhodes invaded the Ndebele kingdom in what is now Zimbabwe. His British South Africa Company mowed down soldiers, women and children with Maxim guns; it looted cattle and destroyed grain stores and crops, leaving the local population destitute; and it went on to establish the apartheid state of Rhodesia. Rhodes was often present while these atrocities were taking place, and he was involved in strategic discussions about the wars he waged against Black people in southern Africa.
I have been part of the campaign to take down the statue of Rhodes at Oxford since 2015. In the last six years, I have seen the history of Rhodes – and indeed colonialism – sanitised, ignored, denied and distorted by critics of the campaign. Some claim that Rhodes was not a racist, others who know little of Africa have the gall to accuse people like me of erasing history. George Orwell was right when he wrote: “It is quite true that the English are hypocritical about their Empire.”
In response to the anti-racism protests last June, Oriel College’s governing body expressed its desire to remove the statue of Rhodes subject to review by an independent commission composed of academics, city councillors, Oriel alumni, university administrators and journalists. This was the second time the college had made such a pledge. In 2016, the college had stated that it would launch a six-month “listening exercise” on the Rhodes statue, only to renege on this commitment within six weeks because it feared losing donor gifts from the college’s old boys’ network.
I wanted to believe that the independent commission would be taken seriously this time round. The commissioners worked hard. They gathered evidence and testimonies from a wide range of perspectives for nearly a year before producing a detailed, heavily footnoted report. Ultimately, they recommended the removal of the statue and offered several other suggestions for advancing academic and public understanding of the Rhodes legacy.
On 20 May, Oriel College finally announced its decision: it would retain the statue despite the apparent wishes of the college’s governing body and the recommendations of the independent commission. Why? The college’s website states that the governing body has “carefully considered the regulatory and financial challenges, including the expected time frame for removal, which could run into years with no certainty of outcome, together with the total cost of removal”. Like dowdy clothing, such statements conceal more than they reveal. What are these regulatory and financial challenges exactly? What is meant by “no certainty of outcome”? Even Oxford City Council was baffled.
The statement goes on to say that “instead” of taking down the statue, the governing body will focus on contextualising Rhodes’s relationship to the college and “improving educational equality, diversity, and inclusion”. The word “instead” is doing a lot of work here: it is dissipating the core demand of the protests into an array of tiny initiatives that the college should be taking anyway. As educators, I think part of our professional mandate is to constantly improve equality, diversity and inclusion among students and colleagues. Oriel deserves no special credit for committing to this.
Taking down the Rhodes statue might seem symbolic, but it actually represents real change. At the very least, it would demonstrate that the university is not only beholden to a group of wealthy alumni and political patrons. The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, lauded Oriel’s decision as “sensible”. More generally, arguments over statues are always about the present and not the past. They are about which aspects of our cultural heritage we choose to honour in public space and why. They are about what values we wish to promote and who has a voice in these matters.
There is another salient lesson here. Public outrage can mobilise impassioned calls for change like an all-consuming fire, but this is difficult to sustain. Anger is potent but it is exhausting. When the temperature cools down, when energy is depleted, those opposed to change can extinguish the urgency of anti-racism agendas using bureaucracy, platitudes and obfuscation.
Still, I don’t think the story will end here. The anger that was activated last summer has shifted the public conversation about race and colonialism. If history has taught us anything, it’s that social change is often slow and difficult. It rarely unfolds through absolute victories but through partial gains and subtle shifts in collective consciousness. It’s a matter of time before anger erupts again. The question of how that anger will ultimately be used is an open one.
Revealed: 2,000 refugee deaths linked to illegal EU pushbacks
A Guardian analysis finds EU countries used brutal tactics to stop nearly 40,000 asylum seekers crossing borders
EU member states have used illegal operations to push back at least 40,000 asylum seekers from Europe’s borders during the pandemic, methods being linked to the death of more than 2,000 people, the Guardian can reveal.
In one of the biggest mass expulsions in decades, European countries, supported by EU’s border agency #Frontex, has systematically pushed back refugees, including children fleeing from wars, in their thousands, using illegal tactics ranging from assault to brutality during detention or transportation.
The Guardian’s analysis is based on reports released by UN agencies, combined with a database of incidents collected by non-governmental organisations. According to charities, with the onset of Covid-19, the regularity and brutality of pushback practices has grown.
“Recent reports suggest an increase of deaths of migrants attempting to reach Europe and, at the same time, an increase of the collaboration between EU countries with non-EU countries such as Libya, which has led to the failure of several rescue operations,’’ said one of Italy’s leading human rights and immigration experts, Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, professor of asylum law at the University of Palermo. ‘’In this context, deaths at sea since the beginning of the pandemic are directly or indirectly linked to the EU approach aimed at closing all doors to Europe and the increasing externalisation of migration control to countries such as Libya.’’
The findings come as the EU’s anti-fraud watchdog, Olaf, has launched an investigation into Frontex (▻https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/20/eu-migration-chief-urges-frontex-to-clarify-pushback-allegations) over allegations of harassment, misconduct and unlawful operations aimed at stopping asylum seekers from reaching EU shores.
According to the International Organization for Migration (▻https://migration.iom.int/europe?type=arrivals), in 2020 almost 100,000 immigrants arrived in Europe by sea and by land compared with nearly 130,000 in 2019 and 190,000 in 2017.
Since January 2020, despite the drop in numbers, Italy, Malta, Greece, Croatia and Spain have accelerated their hardline migration agenda. Since the introduction of partial or complete border closures to halt the outbreak of coronavirus, these countries have paid non-EU states and enlisted private vessels to intercept boats in distress at sea and push back passengers into detention centres. There have been repeated reports of people being beaten, robbed, stripped naked at frontiers or left at sea.
In 2020 Croatia, whose police patrol the EU’s longest external border, have intensified systemic violence and pushbacks of migrants to Bosnia. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) recorded nearly 18,000 migrants pushed back by Croatia since the start of the pandemic. Over the last year and a half, the Guardian has collected testimonies of migrants who have allegedly been whipped, robbed, sexually abused and stripped naked (►https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/oct/21/croatian-police-accused-of-sickening-assaults-on-migrants-on-balkans-tr) by members of the Croatian police. Some migrants said they were spray-painted with red crosses on their heads by officers who said the treatment was the “cure against coronavirus” (▻https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/28/they-made-crosses-on-our-heads-refugees-report-abuse-by-croatian-police).
According to an annual report released on Tuesday by the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) (►https://www.borderviolence.eu/annual-torture-report-2020), a coalition of 13 NGOs documenting illegal pushbacks in the western Balkans, abuse and disproportionate force was present in nearly 90% of testimonies in 2020 collected from Croatia, a 10% increase on 2019.
In April, the Guardian revealed how a woman from Afghanistan was allegedly sexually abused (▻https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/07/croatian-border-police-accused-of-sexually-assaulting-afghan-migrant) and held at knifepoint by a Croatian border police officer during a search of migrants on the border with Bosnia.
“Despite the European Commission’s engagement with Croatian authorities in recent months, we have seen virtually no progress, neither on investigations of the actual reports, nor on the development of independent border monitoring mechanisms,” said Nicola Bay, DRC country director for Bosnia. “Every single pushback represents a violation of international and EU law – whether it involves violence or not.”
Since January 2020, Greece has pushed back about 6,230 asylum seekers from its shores, according to data from BVMN. The report stated that in 89% of the pushbacks, “BVMN has observed the disproportionate and excessive use of force. This alarming number shows that the use of force in an abusive, and therefore illicit, way has become a normality […]
“Extremely cruel examples of police violence documented in 2020 included prolonged excessive beatings (often on naked bodies), water immersion, the physical abuse of women and children, the use of metal rods to inflict injury.”
In testimonies, people described how their hands were tied to the bars of cells and helmets put on their heads before beatings to avoid visible bruising.
A lawsuit filed against the Greek state in April at the European court of human rights (►https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/26/greece-accused-of-shocking-pushback-against-refugees-at-sea) accused Athens of abandoning dozens of migrants in life rafts at sea, after some had been beaten. The case claims that Greek patrol boats towed migrants back to Turkish waters and abandoned them at sea without food, water, lifejackets or any means to call for help.
BVMN said: “Whether it be using the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown to serve as a cover for pushbacks, fashioning open-air prisons, or preventing boats from entering Greek waters by firing warning shots toward boats, the evidence indicates the persistent refusal to uphold democratic values, human rights and international and European law.”
According to UNHCR data, since the start of the pandemic, Libyan authorities – with Italian support since 2017, when Rome ceded responsibility (▻https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/23/mother-and-child-drown-after-being-abandoned-off-libya-says-ngo) for overseeing Mediterranean rescue operations to Libya – intercepted and pushed back to Tripoli about 15,500 asylum seekers. The controversial strategy has caused the forced return of thousands to Libyan detention centres where, according to first hand reports, they face torture. Hundreds have drowned when neither Libya nor Italy intervened.
“In 2020 this practice continued, with an increasingly important role being played by Frontex planes, sighting boats at sea and communicating their position to the Libyan coastguard,” said Matteo de Bellis, migration researcher at Amnesty International. “So, while Italy at some point even used the pandemic as an excuse to declare that its ports were not safe for the disembarkation of people rescued at sea, it had no problem with the Libyan coastguard returning people to Tripoli. Even when this was under shelling or when hundreds were forcibly disappeared immediately after disembarkation.”
In April, Italy and Libya were accused of deliberately ignoring a mayday call (►https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/25/a-mayday-call-a-dash-across-the-ocean-and-130-souls-lost-at-sea) from a migrant boat in distress in Libyan waters, as waves reached six metres. A few hours later, an NGO rescue boat discovered dozens of bodies (►https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/25/a-mayday-call-a-dash-across-the-ocean-and-130-souls-lost-at-sea) floating in the waves. That day 130 migrants were lost at sea.
In April, in a joint investigation with the Italian Rai News and the newspaper Domani, the Guardian saw documents from Italian prosecutors detailing conversations between two commanders of the Libyan coastguard and an Italian coastguard officer in Rome. The transcripts appeared to expose the non-responsive behaviour (▻https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/16/wiretaps-migrant-boats-italy-libya-coastguard-mediterranean) of the Libyan officers and their struggling to answer the distress calls which resulted in hundreds of deaths. At least five NGO boats remain blocked in Italian ports as authorities claim administrative reasons for holding them.
“Push- and pull-back operations have become routine, as have forms of maritime abandonment where hundreds were left to drown,’’ said a spokesperson at Alarm Phone, a hotline service for migrants in distress at sea. ‘’We have documented so many shipwrecks that were never officially accounted for, and so we know that the real death toll is much higher. In many of the cases, European coastguards have refused to respond – they rather chose to let people drown or to intercept them back to the place they had risked their lives to escape from. Even if all European authorities try to reject responsibility, we know that the mass dying is a direct result of both their actions and inactions. These deaths are on Europe.’’
Malta, which declared its ports closed early last year, citing the pandemic, has continued to push back hundreds of migrants using two strategies: enlisting private vessels to intercept asylum seekers and force them back to Libya or turning them away with directions to Italy (►https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/20/we-give-you-30-minutes-malta-turns-migrant-boat-away-with-directions-to).
“Between 2014 and 2017, Malta was able to count on Italy to take responsibility for coordinating rescues and allowing disembarkations,” said De Bellis. “But when Italy and the EU withdrew their ships from the central Mediterranean, to leave it in Libya’s hands, they left Malta more exposed. In response, from early 2020 the Maltese government used tactics to avoid assisting refugees and migrants in danger at sea, including arranging unlawful pushbacks to Libya by private fishing boats, diverting boats rather than rescuing them, illegally detaining hundreds of people on ill-equipped ferries off Malta’s waters, and signing a new agreement with Libya to prevent people from reaching Malta.”
Last May, a series of voice messages obtained by the Guardian (▻https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/19/exclusive-12-die-as-malta-uses-private-ships-to-push-migrants-back-to-l) confirmed the Maltese government’s strategy to use private vessels, acting at the behest of its armed forces, to intercept crossings and return refugees to Libyan detention centres.
In February 2020, the European court of human rights was accused of “completely ignoring the reality” after it ruled Spain did not violate the prohibition of collective expulsion (▻https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/13/european-court-under-fire-backing-spain-express-deportations), as asylum applications could be made at the official border crossing point. Relying on this judgment, Spain’s constitutional court upheld “border rejections” provided certain safeguards apply.
Last week, the bodies of 24 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were found by Spain’s maritime rescue (▻https://apnews.com/article/atlantic-ocean-canary-islands-coronavirus-pandemic-africa-migration-5ab68371. They are believed to have died of dehydration while attempting to reach the Canary Islands. In 2020, according to the UNHCR, 788 migrants died trying to reach Spain (▻https://data2.unhcr.org/en/country/esp).
Frontex said they couldn’t comment on the total figures without knowing the details of each case, but said various authorities took action to respond to the dinghy that sunk off the coast of Libya (►https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/25/a-mayday-call-a-dash-across-the-ocean-and-130-souls-lost-at-sea) in April, resulting in the deaths of 130 people.
“The Italian rescue centre asked Frontex to fly over the area. It’s easy to forget, but the central Mediterranean is massive and it’s not easy or fast to get from one place to another, especially in poor weather. After reaching the area where the boat was suspected to be, they located it after some time and alerted all of the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centres (MRCCs) in the area. They also issued a mayday call to all boats in the area (Ocean Viking was too far away to receive it).”
He said the Italian MRCC, asked by the Libyan MRCC, dispatched three merchant vessels in the area to assist. Poor weather made this difficult. “In the meantime, the Frontex plane was running out of fuel and had to return to base. Another plane took off the next morning when the weather allowed, again with the same worries about the safety of the crew.
“All authorities, certainly Frontex, did all that was humanly possible under the circumstances.”
He added that, according to media reports, there was a Libyan coast guard vessel in the area, but it was engaged in another rescue operation.
Pourquoi les palestiniens protestent ils à Gaza ?
– 95 % de l’eau n’est pas potable.
– 4 heures d’électricité par jour.
– 45 % de chômage.
– 46% des enfants souffrent d’anémie aiguë.
– 50% des enfants n’expriment aucun désir de vivre.
– 2 millions de personnes interdites de circuler.
#Israel #israël #Gaza #Gazaouis #CrimesdeGuerre #Palestine #BDS #Apartheid #colonisation
#nakba #Ramallah #violences #Arabes_israéliens ##Palestine_assassinée #occupation #colonisation #racisme #sionisme Tsahal l’#armée_israélienne
Palestine et pétainisme Badia Benjelloun
Toute honte bue, le gouvernement français a condamné la riposte armée des Palestiniens à la dépossession de leurs terres, maisons et villes. Il s’est abstenu de commenter l’origine de ce nouvel embrasement en Palestine. L’expulsion de leur domicile des Palestiniens à Cheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Khan Al Ahmar pour les quartiers de Jérusalem mais aussi des villes de Jaffa, Um Fahm, près de Haïfa dans les territoires conquis en 1948 par l’entité occupante sont des crimes de guerre.
Que les expropriations soient validées par la Cour Suprême de l’entité militaro-ethnique renforce le caractère de l’illégitimité de cette organisation terroriste fondée en 1948 sous le patronage des Etats occidentaux. Cette pratique d’obéir, voire de devancer, les ordres d’une puissance occupante est l’une des expressions du pétainisme, une forme de gouvernement et d’idéologie moultepolitique qui remonte à 1815, exposée par Alain Badiou dans son opus De quoi Sarközy est-il le nom ?(1). Les deux moteurs du pétainisme selon le philosophe sont la vassalisation (à une puissance étrangère) et la peur que les gouvernants ont d’une partie de la population démunie, violentée par l’oppression économique et policière, et dès lors potentiellement révolutionnaire. A cet égard, les successeurs de Sarközy, le plus outrageusement et ostensiblement américain et sioniste des présidents français, constituent une parfaite continuité du transcendal pétainiste.
Alors que les peuples du monde entier ne peuvent contenir leur colère et leurs larmes face à des provocations, car qu’est-ce donc que d’envoyer colons et armée sur l’Esplanade des mosquées le sept et le dix mai au moment où soixante-dix mille Palestiniens priaient en ce mois du Ramadan, sacré pour les Musulmans ? et face aux crimes de l’entité occupante, manifestent leur solidarité, Macron a répété l’antienne vide de sens : « Israël a le droit de se défendre ». Les Palestiniens, eux, les colonisés, sans Etat protecteur, ne l’auraient sans doute pas.
Ce droit, ils l’ont pris.
Agressés par l’armée et les colons, les habitants du quartier Sheikh Al Jarrah, au Nord de Jérusalem, ont fait appel aux branches armées de la résistance palestinienne à Gaza pour les défendre. Le recours à l’Autorité palestinienne, nom donné aux collaborateurs palestiniens chargés de faire la police pour le compte de l’occupant dans de minuscules territoires sous son administration et de lui livrer les résistants depuis 1993, est impossible par définition et après moultes vérifications de son rôle de supplétif. La concertation entre les différents groupes palestiniens ne fut pas longue pour décider d’intervenir. Ils s’y étaient préparés depuis de nombreux mois voire des années.
Des salves de roquettes s’abattent sur des points sensibles dans les territoires de 1948. D’une portée de 250 km, les roquettes artisanales sont plus précises, elles perturbent l’aéroport international de Tel Aviv où les vols ont été suspendus, attaquent des pipelines. Elles échappent en bonne part au ‘dôme de fer’ censé les capter et les inactiver, financé très généreusement par les Usa et elles atteignent n’importe quel point de la Palestine historique occupée depuis 1948.
Tenir six mois
Les brigades Azzedine al Qassam, bras armé du Hamas, affirment disposer d’un arsenal qui leur permettraient de maintenir leur pression offensive durant six mois. C’est la nouveauté et la surprise de cet affrontement entre des forces assurément asymétriques. Le nombre, la précision et la portée des roquettes ont fait des dégâts d’une ampleur inattendue et grande impression.
Liebermann, ancien ministre de la Sécurité en convient. Il déplore que soit donnée en spectacle au monde la difficile situation militaire de l’entité sioniste face à une formation militaire populaire, non étatique. Il n’a pas hésité à souligner que cette guerre est une opportunité pour l’actuel chef de gouvernement de prolonger son mandat. Il est exposé à un procès pour corruption aggravée et de plus une crise profonde traverse la société israélienne.
Dans la ‘seule démocratie’ au Moyen Orient, quatre élections législatives se sont déroulées en moins de deux ans sans que n’ait pu être dégagée une majorité de gouvernement stable et consistante. Pour la première fois de l’histoire, le parti des ‘Arabes’, soit celui des Palestiniens non expulsés en 1948, a un rôle à jouer pour la composition d’une majorité à la Knesset et donc dans le choix d’un exécutif.
L’autre inédit réside dans le soulèvement simultané des Palestiniens de la Cisjordanie et de la Palestine de 1948. Plusieurs fronts ont été ouverts, obligeant à une dispersion des forces de répression. C’est à l’occupant que revient en réalité cette prouesse.
Fort de l’impunité conférée par le soutien de l’Occident rejoint par les Etats arabes vassaux, l’entité a multiplié ses agressions contre les Palestiniens de Jaffa et de Umm al Fahm, près de Haïfa. Là aussi, les ‘Arabes israéliens’ sont expulsés de leurs maisons. Comble de la perversion, quand les constructions sont déclarées illégales, l’arsenal juridique discriminatoire est très fourni et s’étoffe sans cesse depuis 1948, ou que la zone soit répertoriée comme d’intérêt militaire, les Palestiniens sont contraints de détruire eux-mêmes leur domicile sous peine d’avoir à payer (3) l’intervention d’une entreprise israélienne. L’actuelle guerre contre ce peuple dépossédé de tout réalise l’unité totale des Palestiniens, fragmentés géographiquement entre Gaza, la Cisjordanie elle-même morcelée par le Mur de séparation et les innombrables check-points et la Palestine de 1948.
Le Hamas a déclaré sa séparation de la mouvance des Frères musulmans. Le Hamas se considère comme autonome de cette nébuleuse idéologique, récupérée par les régimes rétrogrades du Qatar et de la Turquie d’Erdogan et de son parti, israélo-compatibles. Cette autonomie nouvelle lui redonne une grande liberté d’action, de quoi se consacrer à la lutte pour la libération sans attendre une aide financière humanitaire à la fois parcimonieuse et soumise aux orientations du moment des donateurs. Cette étape est importante, elle marque une rupture très nette avec son positionnement antérieur aligné sur celui de la Turquie et des EAU sur la guerre qui n’a rien de civile instaurée en Syrie par les proxy de l’OTAN. Khalid Mechaal, ancien chef démissionnaire du Hamas, vient cependant d’être réintégré comme responsable des affaires extérieures au sein de son bureau politique. La direction militaire de son côté souligne l’importance de sa coopération avec le Hezbollah libanais, l’Iran et la Syrie. Un équilibre semble se dessiner entre l’aile du refus et celle de l’ex direction étrangère.
Centralité de la Palestine.
Le problème palestinien n’est évidemment pas religieux. Le projet sioniste, fou, repose sur l’invention aberrante d’une terre sans peuple pour un peuple sans terre. Il faut donc à cette idéologie incarnée par toutes les variantes de l’éventail politique représentées à Tel Aviv effacer toute trace des Palestiniens, quitte à s’en approprier des traits de leur culture, musicale ou culinaire par exemple. Les colons fondamentalistes de Jérusalem se promettent de détruire toutes les Eglises chrétiennes (4) qu’ils considèrent comme relevant d’un rite impie. L’aversion des intégristes ne se limite donc pas aux seuls musulmans. Au fur et à mesure que disparaît la génération des pionniers fondateurs de l’Etat juif qui affichait une idéologie libérale laïque (tout en instituant une loi de citoyenneté théocratique) l’intégrisme religieux imprègne de plus en plus tout le spectre politique. Il est clairement suprémaciste et ouvertement raciste.
L’objectif colonial commun est donc à la fois de nier l’existence des Palestiniens et de les faire partir. Le grignotage permanent continuel des terres, les expulsions, les emprisonnements, le harcèlement continuel des Palestiniens vise à les faire disparaître par toute sorte de moyens. Les faire partir et/ou les exterminer (solution extrême inapplicable en raison du frein éthique partagé par toutes les sociétés, marqué par le martelage du précédent nazi auquel les sionistes ont contribué) tel est le but du nettoyage ethnico-religieux entrepris dès le 15 mai 1948. Cet événement et cette date ont fait des Palestiniens un peuple composé pour moitié de réfugiés puisque près de 800 000 ont fui les exactions d’une armée de terroristes lors de la Naqba (la Catastrophe). Ils sont devenus désormais plus de sept millions à revendiquer leur droit au retour.
En dehors de rares exceptions, tous les peuples ont tenu à manifester leur solidarité avec la Palestine dans cette énième épreuve, bravant souvent les interdictions liées à la crise sanitaire. Ceux du monde arabe n’ont pas manqué à l’appel, y compris quand ils sont dirigés par des gouvernements qui ont consenti à normaliser leurs relations avec Tel Aviv. En Iraq, pays déchiqueté et très affaible depuis son invasion en 2003, des milliers de partisans de Moqtada Sadr ont manifesté dans plusieurs villes.
Après une éclipse de quelques années liée aux problématiques locales et nationales nées avec le ‘printemps arabe’, la Palestine reprend sa place centrale. La création d’une colonie de peuplement en plein cœur du monde arabe est vécue comme une réplique tardive de l’impérialisme occidental et l’attaque de Jérusalem qui concentre des enjeux culturels et religieux considérables a réveillé des réactions et des émotions que l’on croyait taries.
Les Etats attaqués par l’OTAN ces dernières années faisaient tous partie du front du refus et n’avaient jamais établi des accords de paix avec l’occupant. L’Irak, le Soudan, la Libye et la Syrie appartiennent à cette série tragique. Partitionné en 2011, le coup d’Etat de 2019 au Soudan a évincé Omar el Bachir et pour lever les sanctions économiques imposées par les Usa, le nouveau régime soudanais a accédé à la condition de Trump, établir des relations diplomatiques avec Israël.
Toute la politique étrangère des Usa au Moyen Orient depuis 1967 consiste à protéger Israël, de façon prioritaire bien au-delà de ses propres intérêts nationaux stratégiques. Il n’est plus tabou de le reconnaître depuis la publication par deux universitaires étasuniens Stephen Walt et John Mearsheimer en 2007 de leur travail Le Lobby israélien et la politique étrangère des Usa. (5)
Depuis cette date, l’émergence de la Chine comme rivale économique, danger vital pour leur suprématie, a contraint les Usa à déployer plus d’efforts militaires, diplomatiques, de renseignements, d’opérations de contre-insurrections diverses en Afrique. Et donc à réduire (relativement) leurs moyens au Proche Orient arabe. Cette tendance à vouloir retirer les troupes d’Irak, d’Afghanistan et de Syrie est certes contrecarrée. Des supplétifs comme les milices djihadistes et des firmes militaires privées font bien l’affaire pour entretenir le chaos dans tous les pays dans le voisinage de l’occupant israélien.
De plus en plus des voix s’élèvent pour demander des pressions effectives comme des sanctions économiques contre Tel Aviv afin de l’obliger à cesser ses crimes de guerre. La campagne internationale BDS (Boycott Désinvestissement Sanctions) initiée en 2005 par 171 ONG palestiniennes ne cesse de prendre de l’ampleur malgré les efforts de propagande sioniste de l’assimiler à une discrimination antisémite. La Cour européenne des droits de l’homme a tranché (6) en septembre 2020, le boycott est une protestation d’une politique garantie par la liberté d’expression démocratique.
Une partie des Démocrates étasuniens commence à poser le problème de la conditionnalité de l’aide étasunienne à Israël. La majorité de la jeunesse juive étasunienne ne se reconnaît pas dans cette barbarie perpétrée au nom du judaïsme qu‘elle tient à ne pas confondre avec le sionisme. En France, l’Union des juifs de France pour la paix rappelle ses positions très nettes en faveur des droits nationaux palestiniens, elles sont tout à fait opposées à la colonisation rampante de la Palestine. L’UJFP précise que le CRIF ne représente qu’une infime minorité des juifs en France et qu’il représente les intérêts de l’Etat hébreu de Tel Aviv et pas celle d’une communauté religieuse. Elle était signataire de l’appel pour la manifestation du 15 mai, interdite par Darmanin quelques jours après qu’elle fut autorisés par les autorités préfectorales compétentes en la manière.
Se basant sur le droit constitutionnel en vigueur en France, les organisateurs ont maintenu la manifestation. Le résultat de son interdiction et l’extrême concentration des forces de police sur le site de son départ ont abouti au surgissement des couleurs du drapeau palestinien dans de nombreux lieux de la capitale.
Comme à la grande époque des Gilets Jaunes, la dissémination des manifestants a désorganisé les plans de la préfecture. Des rendez-vous alternatifs diffusés par la messagerie Whatsapp ont servi efficacement de leurres et ont mobilisé du personnel répressif et leurs innombrables véhicules place de la Bastille, vide de manifestants. Un immense drapeau palestinien avait été accroché un moment sur les marches de l’Opéra Bastille, raison pour laquelle aussi sans doute des dizaines de cars y ont afflué- trop tard. D’autres rassemblements, très dynamiques avaient lieu ailleurs en particulier à République.
Palestine plus que jamais vivante.
Une jeunesse ardente a été repoussée sur le boulevard Barbès à hauteur du métro Château Rouge. Elle a ‘tenu’ le boulevard jusqu’à la porte de Clignancourt près de quatre heures. Elle a été renforcée par l’arrivée de jeunes des cités qui bordent le boulevard Ney. Quand fut donné l’assaut final par les forces de l’ordre, les quelques six cents personnes se sont évaporées dans les dédales de leurs cités. CRS et BRAV (brigades de répression de la violence motorisée, résurrection des voltigeurs de Pasqua corps dissout en 1986 à l’occasion des Gilets Jaunes) sont restés bredouilles dans leur chasse.
Bien mieux que ne pourraient le faire toutes les commémorations nostalgiques de la Commune de Paris, cette jeunesse française a renoué avec la tradition des combats de rue livrés aux régimes pétainistes, qu’ils portent le nom de Thiers, de Pétain ou de Macron. 73 ans d’occupation, de destruction de sociocides, de dispersion mais la Palestine aujourd’hui ressoude ses membres disloqués, reconstitue son corps, est plus que jamais vivante, on a entendu son cœur battre à Paris ce 15 mai.
16 mai 2021.
Israeli Settlers Burn Church in Jerusalem rappel
A hundred year old church was burned, Friday, by right-wing Israeli settlers, who broke a number of windows of the church and hurled Molotov cocktails inside.The damage to the church was substantial, with burning throughout the first floor of the building.
The church was built in Jerusalem in 1897, and housed the Palestinian Bible College until 1947, when parishioners were pushed out by Jewish armed gangs, during the violence accompanying the creation of the state of Israel.
Christians make up 2% of the population of both Israel and the Palestinian Territories – the number used to be around 15%, but many Christians from the Holy Land have emigrated due to the harsh conditions of the Israeli occupation, and discrimination against them by the Israeli state.
This is not the first time that Israeli right-wingers have destroyed churches and church property – a number of Christian churches were destroyed during the second intifada (uprising) which began in 2000, and many more were destroyed by Israeli forces during the 1948 and 67 wars.
In 2006, an Israeli couple tried to firebomb an ancient church in Nazareth, the city where Chrisitians believe that Jesus Christ lived 2,000 years ago. An Israeli court which tried the case failed to convict the couple of any charges.
A leader who, in the church, was assaulted on Friday, Zachariah al-Mashriqi, told reporters that the attack on the church was a clear attempt to provoke Palestinians to respond in anger. He urged Palestinian Christians to respond to the attack with virtue and patience.
Al-Mashriqi urged the Israeli government to act responsibly and condemn the attack, and work on investigating the attack to find out who was involved and actually file charges in the case. He asked the Israeli government to protect holy sites in the city of Jerusalem, as these sites come under increasing attack by Israeli settlers.
The mysterious cause of sea star wasting syndrome is a mystery no more
Sea stars suffer when microorganisms living on them suck up too much oxygen from the water
Traffic wars: who will win the battle for city streets? | Road transport | The Guardian
Radical new plans to reduce traffic and limit our dependence on cars have sparked bitter conflict. As legal challenges escalate, will Britain’s great traffic experiment be shut down before we have time to see the benefits?
by Niamh McIntyre
On an overcast Saturday afternoon in December, a convoy of 30 cars, led by a red Chevrolet pickup truck, set off from the car park of an east-London Asda with hazard lights flashing. The motorists, who formed a “festive motorcade”, wore Santa hats as they made their way slowly through the borough of Hackney before coming to a halt outside the town hall a couple of hours later.
They had gathered to register their outrage at being the victims, as they saw it, of a grand experiment that has been taking place on England’s roads since the start of the pandemic. As the national lockdown eased last summer, swathes of Hackney, stretching from Hoxton’s dense council estates at the borough’s western border with Islington to the edge of the River Lea marshland near Stratford in the east, had been closed to through traffic.
Locals found their usual routes were shut off with little warning. Danielle Ventura Presas, one of the protesters, told me that she now struggled to get her disabled cousin to day care while also dropping off her two children at school on time. As we rolled through Clapton, another campaigner got out of her car and slowed the convoy to a walking pace, leading chants of “reopen our side roads!” on a megaphone.
The road closures formed part of a wider scheme to tackle London’s growing congestion problems. Between 2009 and 2019, miles driven on its residential streets increased by 70%, in part due to the rise of Uber, online delivery services and GPS technology. Air pollution, meanwhile, plays a role in the premature deaths of nearly 10,000 Londoners each year. When the pandemic arrived, this trend was briefly interrupted: the roads fell quiet, and the novelty of car-free streets encouraged more people to go out on their bikes. In May 2020, the government tried to capitalise on the bike boom by announcing the biggest ever investment in “active travel” – walking, cycling or scooting. The short-term aim of the fund was to make it easier for people to get around without using public transport. The broader vision – reducing reliance on the private car – was more radical.
In London, the Streetspace plan unveiled by mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL), demanded “an urgent and swift response” to the crisis. The strategy funnelled money from the government’s new active-travel fund to London’s boroughs for low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) and other projects to encourage walking and cycling, such as temporary cycle lanes and timed road closures outside schools. By the end of last year, there were about 100 in London, where they have been most widely adopted, but they are now being rolled out in Manchester, Birmingham and other cities.
LTNs block motor traffic from sidestreets with physical barriers such as planters or bollards, or with number plate recognition cameras at their boundaries which local authorities use to issue fines to drivers entering the zone. Residents inside LTNs can still drive to their home, but they may have to take a longer way round. The theory is that by reducing the amount of road space for cars, people will find other ways to make short journeys. (In London, almost half of car journeys are less than 2 miles.) That means more walking and cycling, which ultimately means less pollution, less congestion, quieter, safer streets and healthier citizens.
Critics of LTNs say closing sidestreets increases congestion elsewhere, but early monitoring of new LTNs in Hackney and Lambeth found that traffic on main roads hardly increased at all. Data from established LTNs in Walthamstow showed the opposite, although transport academic Rachel Aldred suggests that it is hard to draw conclusions about the specific impacts of these schemes as traffic in the area was rising more generally at the time.
Enthusiasm for LTNs brought about a rare consensus between the Conservative government and the Labour mayor of London, as well as Greens and pro-cycling groups. But an opposition also sprang up, bringing together an equally unlikely alliance of anti-gentrification activists, professional drivers, Labour and Conservative backbenchers, local councils, motoring lobbyists and a raft of new grassroots campaigners who shared their outrage on neighbourhood Facebook groups. On social media, each side conjured up its own vision of life in low-traffic neighbourhoods: one a utopia of families cycling happily together on quiet streets, with children wobbling out in front; the other a nightmare of permanently congested roads, with emergency vehicles snared in the gridlock.
The protesters in the Hackney motorcade stressed that they had only brought their cars in order to respect social distancing and allow disabled people to participate. But the exuberant procession of cars, with their horns honking and engines revving, seemed to suggest something bolder: motorists reasserting their right to take up space on urban streets.
Several cars in the motorcade had cabbage leaves lodged under windscreen wipers or taped to their doors, a reference to one of the most bitter exchanges in the conflict. Over the summer, Hackney’s cabinet member for transport, the Liverpudlian Jon Burke, had become a hate figure for opponents of LTNs after he responded to tweets which called for him to “go home” by tweeting: “If it wasn’t for immigrants, ‘born n bred’ Londoners would still be eating cabbage with every meal.”
For anti-LTN campaigners, who sometimes caricature cycling advocates as a privileged elite, this was incendiary provocation. “What he’s having a go at is the white working class,” said Niall Crowley, one of the organisers of the protest. “That’s really incensed people.” In September, Burke received a handwritten death threat, and at the start of this year, he announced he would resign as a Hackney councillor in order to stand in his home city’s mayoral race. A newsletter issued by the Hackney protesters proclaimed his departure their victory.
After the UK’s first lockdown ended in July, the traffic soon returned and talk of the government’s promised “cycling revolution” faded, while some objectors continued to vandalise its remnants. In Hackney, the new street signs were spray painted, and someone cut the cables on an expensive new traffic enforcement camera. In Ealing, bollards were removed one night and the holes they left behind filled in with concrete. Meanwhile, opponents of the mayor’s walking and cycling plans have pursued numerous legal challenges to the new policies.
Burke told me LTNs were just one part of a complete reimagining of the borough’s public spaces for a low-carbon future. “We’re introducing huge amounts of cycle storage, the largest electric vehicle charging programme in the country, and we’re massively improving the quality of our public realm with the largest tree planting programme in Europe. I get emails from people saying ‘you’re the most hated man in Hackney’,” he said. “And I want to have a dialogue with those people, but I’m not going to tell them there’s a solution to the problems we face that allows them to continue driving to the same extent they were previously.”
The next few months will be decisive, as councils push for temporary schemes to become permanent, and objectors fight for the right to drive wherever they need to go. London’s great traffic experiment hangs in the balance.
For many Conservative voters and MPs, the party’s apparent shift from championing the car to promoting bikes is cause for alarm. In May 2020, Boris Johnson, himself a committed cyclist, announced a new “golden age” for cycling, as part of the Conservatives’ broader “green industrial revolution” strategy. This stated aim to reduce transport emissions – which was somewhat undermined earlier this month when Johnson announced his intention to cut taxes on domestic flights – has created an internal schism in a party that has traditionally represented the motorist’s interests. “Motorists did not vote for the Green party in the general election. But that is what we’ve got,” Howard Cox, the founder of the pro-driving campaign FairFuelUK, told me by email.
As polling shows, people tend to like green policies in theory but less so when they are the ones being inconvenienced by them. Last year, a YouGov study found that the average British person was “an environmentally concerned recycler, who takes their own bag to the supermarket but also likes their meat, and balks at the thought of paying more tax to fund policies for tackling climate change”.
After Conservative-controlled Kensington and Chelsea council removed a major cycle lane just seven weeks into its trial period, the Daily Mail reported that the prime minister’s transport adviser, Andrew Gilligan, called the council to let it know Johnson had gone “ballistic” at its decision. Gilligan, who worked with Johnson at the Spectator and later served as cycling commissioner during Johnson’s second term as mayor of London, has been instrumental in pushing the Tories to invest record sums in walking and cycling, according to several interviewees working in the transport sector.
During his stint at City Hall, Gilligan gained a reputation for his “hard-nosed” operating style. “When we agreed, it was great, it was going to move forward very fast, there would be no obstacles in his path,” said Simon Munk, an infrastructure campaigner at the London Cycling Campaign. “But when you disagree with him and you become one of those obstacles, it’s quite a full-on experience.” Gilligan has shown the same single-mindedness at No 10. In May, when the Department for Transport invited all councils to bid for a fund to create temporary walking and cycling schemes, one of the conditions of the first wave of funding was that schemes had to be in place within 12 weeks.
“The problem we’ve ended up with is because boroughs have been encouraged by the government to introduce them at such speed,” said Caroline Pidgeon, a Liberal Democrat member of the London assembly and a longstanding member of its transport committee. “People feel it’s being done to them rather than feeling like they’ve been brought along.”
A government spokesperson said: “We want to ensure people have more opportunities to choose cycling and walking for their day-to-day journeys, as part of our wider plans to boost active travel – benefitting both the nation’s health and the environment. That’s why we have committed a significant £175m to create safe spaces for cycling and walking as surveys and independent polls show strong public support for high-quality schemes.”
Among the many dissenters to the introduction of LTNs across the country are 14 Tory MPs, who signed a letter in November to the transport secretary Grant Shapps, calling on the government to “stop the uncalled-for war on the motorist” and withdraw “the blockades and dedicated cycle lanes eating into our town and city roads”. The spectre of the “war on the motorist”, in which the longsuffering driver is constantly thwarted in his efforts to get around, while being made to pay more and more for the privilege of doing so, has been with us since at least the 60s, despite having little basis in fact.
In 2011, the coalition government declared an end to the conflict, promising to quell “Whitehall’s addiction to micromanagement”. Unsurprisingly, that wasn’t the end of the story. Earlier this year, a Telegraph editorial called on Conservatives to once again take a stand against Sadiq’s Khan’s war on cars.
The MPs’ letter was organised by the campaign group FairFuelUK, which works with mostly Conservative politicians in an all-party parliamentary group, arranging meetings with motoring campaigners and planning political actions. “Backbench Tories have told me they’re uncomfortable with the government’s focus on the privileged cycling few,” said Cox. “The prime minister and his Lycra-clad advisers are out of touch with economic reality and majority opinion.”
Niall Crowley, the Hackney roads protester who will stand as a candidate in council byelections in Hoxton East and Shoreditch, agrees. Frustrations about low-traffic neighbourhoods, he told me, are really about the fact that people resent top-down decision-making and feel excluded from local democratic processes. “Everything I read, it’s ‘we’re doing this and you have to get used to it’. If you’re going to treat residents as a problem to be managed or nudged, then what kind of democracy is that?”
In September, a group of black cab drivers and their supporters gathered outside City Hall in London to accuse mayor Sadiq Khan of “destroying London”. A campaigner gave a speech on the concourse outside the mayor’s office, grimly predicting that the black cab’s days were numbered if road closures were not reversed. “This is the endgame,” he told the crowd.
During the summer, TfL had barred taxis and other private vehicles from Bishopsgate, an ancient road that takes its name from the defensive wall built by the Romans around the city. The road runs past Liverpool Street station and into the financial district; cars, cabs, buses and cyclists compete for space. Cab drivers were also angry about TfL’s decision to exclude them from some central London bus lanes, which they can ordinarily use to drive around the city more quickly. They also protested about about losing access to other main roads under restrictions that allow only buses, cyclists and emergency vehicles to pass through.
Although taxi drivers have been the vanguard of the resistance to Khan’s active travel plans, Steve McNamara, the chair of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said cabbies were not always opposed to new cycle lanes. “It’s much less stressful for them if they’re driving their cab and the cyclist is in a nice segregated lane next to them,” he said. “But what we don’t support are these ones that are banged in with very little planning, that look like they’ve been designed on the back of a fag packet.”
In interviews, McNamara repeatedly returns to a theme that cyclists are a privileged minority making life more difficult for working-class drivers in the suburbs. “If you can afford to live centrally, and you’ve got a well-paid job in the city or central London, it’s great for you to be able to ride to work,” McNamara said. “But equally if you live in the suburbs, as most Londoners do, and you have to get the bus to work, or you’re driving a lorry, it’s not so good.”
Some of London’s suburban boroughs, which are less well served by public transport and have higher rates of car ownership, have embraced new cycling and walking schemes, and received £30m from City Hall to become flagship “mini-Hollands”. But others remain resistant: in Barnet, councillor Roberto Weeden-Sanz said the Conservative group would take a stand against the “war on drivers” by refusing to implement LTNs. Barnet has a proud history of opposing traffic reforms: in 2003, the council’s environment committee chair Brian Coleman ordered the removal of 1,000 speed humps in the borough. A triumphant Telegraph column compared Coleman to Winston Churchill and Field Marshal Montgomery.
There is no evidence that LTNs disproportionately benefit the better-off. A new study has shown that, contrary to one of the most common objections, road closures have not shifted traffic from wealthier areas into more deprived ones. Polling in London has repeatedly shown that more people support LTNs than oppose them. Burke, the former Hackney councillor whose comment about cabbage enraged his opponents, believes that car reduction advocates shouldn’t be afraid of arguments over class. “What I’m not willing to do, as someone who comes from a working-class background, is cede an inch of ground to people who have tried to make this a class issue,” he told me. “Seventy percent of the households in Hackney don’t own cars, so why should cars own 100% of the roads? LTNs are an exercise in redistribution.”
But statistics have not dispelled a popular narrative that car reduction measures are unwanted policies imposed by the “metropolitan elite” on the poor. McNamara is eager to frame car reduction measures as a class war. “And let’s be honest – the working classes are losing badly,” he said.
McNamara is playing on familiar stereotypes. In the 2010s, the folk figure of the hipster had three essential characteristics: a beard, a love of artisan coffee and a fixed-gear bike. The urban cyclist does not cause gentrification, but he becomes a powerful symbol of it. He is able to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing urban environment in a way that established working-class communities are not. He is also visible in a way that the structural causes of the housing crisis are not. As such he – and his bike – have become a focus for anger about inequality and displacement.
In his study of cycling culture in the San Francisco Bay Area, the geographer John Stehlin did not find a causal link between bike lanes and gentrification. But he argued that initiatives to make streets more livable, while often motivated by progressive ideals, also became useful marketing tools for developers of high-end housing.
However, Mohammad Rakib, a community activist in the borough of Tower Hamlets, which borders Hackney to the south and has the highest poverty rates in London, believes LTNs play a more active role in attracting middle-class newcomers to deprived areas and squeezing out the long-term working-class residents. “These policies are more about social cleansing than they are about reducing pollution,” Rakib told me.
Rakib sometimes makes memes depicting cyclists as “urban colonialists”, combining cycling helmets with the imagery of empire. His point that the users of bike lanes do not reflect the diversity of areas like Tower Hamlets, however, is undeniably true. In 2019, according to TfL research, 85% of cyclists on TfL’s cycle routes were white.
“These areas and communities have waited generations for this level of investment,” he said. “Now that money has been made available, it is not being spent as the community have been asking for it to be spent. LTNs suit a certain class of people who are by no stretch the majority within these areas.”
Cycling hasn’t always been seen as the preserve of the metropolitan elite. In the mid-20th century, the bicycle was a primary mode of transport for the working class, while the motorcar remained unaffordable to most. In his celebratory 1949 work Leisure (Homage to Jacques-Louis David), the French artist Fernand Léger depicted a gang of workers taking a trip out of the city on their bikes – a vision of the labour-saving potential of the humble bicycle. That same year, 37% of all journeys in Britain were cycled, according to Carlton Reid’s book Bike Boom. From that peak, the figure has fallen to about 2% today.
The mid-20th century is a “what if?” moment, where one possible future was blotted out by the ascendancy of the car. In the 1930s, the government planned to vastly expand a national network of cycle routes as well as create a new system of motorways. Both were delayed by the war, and in the end government prioritised the motorways. From the 50s onwards, car ownership became an aspiration of the middle classes and a symbol of a new age of affluence. By the 60s, Britain had become a “car-owning democracy”, in the words of Simon Digby, the MP for Dorset west at the time.
As cars became more common, so did congestion and pollution. In response, in the 60s transport minister Ernest Marples introduced a raft of new driving restrictions, including yellow lines and parking wardens. Marples said in 1964 that an enraged motorist had once thrown one of his new parking meters through his drawing room window. “I am accused of declaring war on the motorist,” he said in a 1963 speech to the Passenger Transport Association. “That is a complete travesty of the truth.”
During the 70s, concerns about the environmental impacts of the car grew, particularly around emissions from leaded petrol. By the time Margaret Thatcher announced that her government would oversee “the largest road building programme since the Romans” in 1989, a growing ecological movement responded with a series of militant actions, among them a protest camp on the site of the planned M3 expansion at Twyford Down in Hampshire. Almost a year later, the camp was evicted and the motorway was built.
Out of this anti-roads scene came a group called Reclaim the Streets, which crashed into public consciousness in May 1995 with a daring piece of street theatre. At a busy traffic intersection in Camden in north London, two cars driven by activists collided. Their drivers got out and began to argue. The argument escalated until both drivers took out sledgehammers and smashed up the cars, creating a DIY barricade and allowing other members of the group to set up a sound system and a children’s play area, turning the busy high street into a carnival. The group, which was immersed in 90s rave culture and the movement against the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, went on to hold dozens of similar events all over the UK.
“A year after we were being branded as terrorists, Islington council organised a very similar party to the one we’d hosted,” said one former activist Roger Geffen. “This idea that you should close city streets to motor vehicles and open them up to people – it was already starting to go mainstream.” When I asked Chris Knight, a former Reclaim the Streets activist, about the group’s philosophy, he said: “It was quite simple: kill the car! A car just captures so much: private ownership, privatised space, isolation, egocentrism, deafness to the world around you. ‘Kill the car’ was just beautiful.”
This group of anarchists and radicals wanted to take back space from cars and promote walking, cycling and public transport for everyday use – the same ideas that would resurface 25 years later among the policies of a Conservative government. Geffen, now director of policy at advocacy group Cycling UK, exemplifies the way car reduction policies have gone from a fringe belief to the mainstream: his march through the institutions took him from illicit raves and squatting to Buckingham Palace, where he received an MBE for services to cycling in 2015. “It’s been an interesting trajectory,” he said.
On a September evening between lockdowns, I watched a cricket match happening in the middle of Rye Lane, a narrow high street in Peckham, south-east London, which used to be choked with traffic until it was closed to cars by Southwark council in July. A makeshift wicket was set up outside a local institution, Khan’s Bargains, and people spilling out of bars jostled for a chance to bowl. It was exactly the sort of creative use of public space that Reclaim the Streets wanted to inspire, and a rare moment of genuine collective joy.
Will we look back on the past year as another “what if” moment, a bold but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to reduce the car’s domination of our roads and cities? By the winter of 2020, more than 30 councils across the country had withdrawn or scaled back new traffic-reduction schemes in the face of opposition. Some of these projects were only ever intended to be temporary, but TfL and the boroughs had stated their ambition for new bike lanes and LTNs to become permanent if the data showed they were working effectively.
In December, a few days after Kensington and Chelsea council announced it would scrap a new cycle route along Kensington High Street, a group of Extinction Rebellion activists and cycling campaigners gathered in an attempt to stop the removal of the lane. Wearing hi-vis jackets and carrying placards, a small group of protesters climbed on to construction vans and prevented the workers from pulling out the bollards separating cyclists from the traffic on the busy east-west road. Donnachadh McCarthy, the founder of the Stop Killing Cyclists campaign, told me the group had held protests here before to commemorate cyclists killed in the surrounding area – 15 people have been seriously injured while walking or biking along the high street itself in the past three years – but this was the first time his group had used such militant tactics.
The following night, after a second protest was dispersed by the police, the council succeeded in removing the bollards. A few weeks later, the route was still busy with cyclists, who now mingled with buses, taxis and high-performance cars. The scars where the bollards used to be were still visible on the asphalt.
The recent reforms suffered another blow in January, when Mrs Justice Beverley Lang ruled that TfL had acted unlawfully in using emergency measures to introduce changes to road layouts. The judge ruled that the process behind the decision to exclude taxis from Bishopsgate and the overarching Streetspace plan were “seriously flawed” and did not recognise the “special status” of taxi drivers.
The ruling also found TfL had not sufficiently researched or mitigated the potential adverse impacts of Streetspace projects on taxi passengers with disabilities. Transport for All, a charity advocating for accessible transport, found many disabled people felt “their concerns [about LTNs] have been ignored, creating feelings of anger and frustration”. However, the organisation has pointed out that traffic reduction schemes do not necessarily need to be scrapped, but rather modified with features such as tactile paving and exemptions for disabled drivers.
TfL points out the ruling did not make any direct findings on the lawfulness of low-traffic neighbourhoods, but with the legality of the Streetspace plan itself in doubt, some councils are worried the judgment could have a wider impact. While most schemes remain in place pending TfL’s appeal, Sutton and Croydon councils have withdrawn LTNs. Sutton council said in a statement: “Some schemes were working well, but we have no choice given the legal judgment.” In June 2021, a separate set of judicial reviews will challenge the future of active travel schemes in the boroughs of Lambeth, Hounslow and Hackney.
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With TfL on the back foot in Kensington, cycling advocates have called on the mayor to use his statutory powers to take back control of the high street from the council. At the cyclists’ protest in Kensington in December, the transport historian Christian Wolmar said that the borough’s bike lanes had long been the site of a broader power struggle over the future of the city. As police officers hovered and tried to disperse the protesters, Wolmar recalled the council scrapping cycle lanes in Kensington and Chelsea more than 30 years ago, amid a wider conservative backlash against the leftist policies of the Greater London council, which included an early attempt at a London-wide cycle network. I asked how he felt about having the same arguments 30 years on. “Everything we know about urban planning shows that cities that give themselves to car dominance become less pleasant places to live. Who would want to live in Los Angeles if you could live in Copenhagen, for Christ’s sake?”
Across Europe, increasingly radical car-free policies have been met with vocal opposition. In Paris, a major pedestrianisation scheme faced a protracted court battle (which the scheme ultimately won), while Berlin’s pop-up bike lanes launched during the pandemic faced a legal challenge from the far-right Alternative für Deutschland party.
But when I asked Wolmar if he thought the backlash in London could kill the city’s car reduction plans, he was confident it would not. “They’ll win a few battles,” he said, “but they’ll lose the war.”
This article was amended on 25 March 2021. Mention of a 1939 government cycling plan was corrected; some national cycle routes were in place before the war. According to Kensington and Chelsea council, 15 pedestrians and cyclists were seriously injured, not killed, in a three-year period on Kensington High Street.
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