my london diary index
 

Oct 2010

Halloween In London
Stop Torture in Malaysia
Life Is Too Short (part 2)
United Friends & Families March
Around London
EDL Rally to Support Israel
Bloomsbury Festival
Trade Union March Against Cuts
Windsor Waste
TINAG & London at Night
Paris • New York • London Opening
March Against Spending Cuts
Jesse Jackson & Christian Aid Lobby
Roundheads Remember the Dead
Brighton, Biennal and Photo Fringe
Carter's Steam Fair, Windsor & Eton
Don't Cut Science
Democracy Village People's Assembly
Excalibur Estate
Human Rights in the Phillipines

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Stock photography by Peter+Marshall at Alamy

Other sites with my pictures include
london pictures
londons industrial history
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All pictures Copyright © Peter Marshall 2010, all rights reserved.
Hight res images available for reproduction - for licences to reproduce images or buy prints or other questions and comments, contact me. Selected images are also available from Alamy and Photofusion

Halloween In London & Dance of the Dead

West End & Hoxton Square. Saturday 30 Oct 2010

Waiting for the start of the parade of the dead from Hoxton Square
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Packs of zombies were wandering around London's West End this afternoon, and later in the day there was a Dance of the Dead Street Parade from Hoxton Square to Dalston.

I saw several groups of zombies with bloody faces, open wounds and torn clothing wandering around the streets near Piccadilly Circus during Satruday afternoon. Some paused briefly to pose with protesters waiting for the 'Life is too short' demonstration against CCTV and immigration restrictions starting from there.

Later, after it had got dark there was a Halloween Dance of the Dead Street Parade starting from Hoxton Square, now one of the trendier areas of the city, making its way up to Dalston where there was to be a Halloween Party. By 7pm, there were several hundred people ready for the procession to start, including a group of dancers, the 'Corpse de Ballet' and a group from Strangeworks with some very well designed costumes, along with many others dressed up for the occasion.

A samba band, led by a giant skeleton came along from Coronet Street and led the large group of revellers, many carrying bottles, around Hoxton Square and then on to Old Street. By this time I'd been out taking pictures for around 8 hours and was feeling tired and hungry, so I jumped on a bus to begin my journey home, leaving the procession, organised by StrangeWorks Theatre collective and now in its fifth year, to head on its way to a dance in Gillett Square.
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Stop Torture in Malaysia

Belgrave Square, London. Saturday 30 Oct 2010

Protest opposite the Malaysian High Commission in Belgrave Square

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The UK chapter of the Malaysian Abolish ISA Movement (AIM) held a demonstration at the Malaysian High Commission calling for an end to torture and other human rights abuses in Malaysia. London, UK. 30/10/2010

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Malaysian Internal Security Act, under which more than 10,000 people have been detained without trial. It allows arbitrary detention for up to 2 years without charge, after which time it can be renewed effectively indefinitely.

It also allows for detainees to be held in incommunicado detention for up to 60 days. During this time they are often tortured, mistreated and placed under severe psychological stress while being denied access to legal process. In June 2010 the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention visited Malaysia, finding that those held in incommunicado detention were often subject to inhumane treatment. They concluded that the ISA should be repealed and torture in detention ended immediately.

The London protest was held in October to mark 23 years since 'Operation Weed Out' (Operasi Lalang) when the ISA was used to arrest over 100 Chinese educationalists, civil rights lawyers, opposition politicians and others. It was organised by the AIM, set up in 2001 as an umbrella organisation of 83 bodies, including human rights, pro-democracy, women's rights, student groups and political activists. The protest called on the Malaysian government to repeal the ISA, sign the UN convention against torture and to respect the dignity and human rights of its citizens.

Earlier in the year the AIM had held a demonstration outside the Malaysian Tourism office in Trafalgar Square on 26 June, the United Nations Day for Victims of Torture, and they were planning to continue today's action with a further demonstration there.
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Life Is Too Short To Be Controlled (Part 2)

Piccadilly Circus, London. Saturday 30 Oct 2010

Juliet speaks at Piccadilly Circus
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Life is Too Short to be Controlled was the second part of an event organised by London No Borders who marched from the pavement above the London main CCTV control room at Piccadilly Circus to the UK border at St Pancras International, protesting about the obsession with surveillance and border control.

Under the pavement at Piccdilly Circus is the Westminster Council CCTV HQ, which controls many of London's 10,000 CCTV cameras, able to follow our movement on almost every street in the capital. So it was an obvious starting point for the second 'Life is Too Short to Be Controlled' protest organised by London NoBorders.

NoBorders ask why our governments have such an obsession with being able to spy on our every movement, and link it with a desire to keep tracks on terrorist suspects and on those with a particular demographic, and with the potential to control dissent. They point out that despite the widespread use of CCTV, it has has not been possible to show a link between crimes being solved and the use of CCTV.

The destination of the march was the St Pancras International Eurostar Terminal, which is a real border into the UK, including detention facilities run by the UK Border Agency. As was pointed out in the speeches before the march set off, until relatively recently the free movement of people was seen as normal and beneficial - in the same way as we now see the free movement of goods around the world. Now border controls result in injustice for asylum seekers and other migrants who want to come here and work and contribute to our society.

NoBorders believes that no one is illegal, even if they do not have the particular documents that give them the right to live here. They believe our immigration rules are explicitly racist and that anyone should be able to move amd live where they want.

The start of the march was delayed for some time waiting for the bicycle-powered sound system to arrive for a couple of short speeches before leaving. This meant I was unable to follow the march all the way to St Pancras. By the time I returned there after photographing briefly elsewhere, the protest was over, the group having walked around the station before entering and briefly occupying the 'border' area there before being escorted out by police.

As they left, one member of the group was detained by police, and I watched him being led out and put in the back of a police van. He had been arrested and charged with aggravated trespass, but was expected to be released by the Transport Police very shortly. It was not clear why he and none of the others had been arrested.
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United Friends & Families March

Trafalgar Square to Downing St, London. Saturday 30 Oct 2010

Marcia Rigg-Samuel, sister of Sean Rigg, killed by police in Brixton, tries to deliver a letter at Downing St
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The United Friends and Families of those who have died in suspicious circumstances in police custody, prisons and secure mental institutions marched slowly in silence down Whitehall to Downing St, where police refused to allow them to deliver a letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron.

It's impossible to be sure how many of the suspicious deaths in police custody, prisons and secure mental institutions (and there are around 200 a year) have been as a result of lack of care, the use of excessive force and brutality, but certainly the answer is far too many.


Since 1999, the 'United Friends and Families' of some of those who have died have held an annual slow silent funeral march from Trafalgar Square down Whitehall to Downing St. It attracted particular attention in 2008 when the mother and other family members of Jean Charles de Menezes were among those taking part. This year's event was rather smaller, and received little attention from the mainstream media.

A number of family members spoke with great feeling opposite Downing St, and then the group, by now around a hundred strong, moved across the road to fix flowers to the gates and attempt to deliver a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron. It seemed an unnecessary and pointless snub that the police refused to take the letter and that nobody from No 10 was apparently prepared to come and receive it.

Earlier there had been an argument with the police who had objected to the rally occupying one of the two southbound lanes of Whitehall, but was allowed to go ahead officer in charge after those present had refused to move. In previous years the police have usually seemed anxious to avoid confrontation, although in 2008 they insisted on searching all the bouquets before allowing them to be laid on the gates of Downing St.

Speakers at the rally opposite Downing St included Stephanie, the twin sister of Leon Patterson, Rupert Sylvester, the father of Roger Sylvester, Ricky Bishop's sister Rhonda and mother Doreen, Samantha, sister of Jason McPherson and his grandmother, Susan Alexander, the mother of Azelle Rodney, and finally the two sisters of Sean Rigg.

What the families want is simple. Justice. And to know the truth about what happened. What emerged again and again was a shameful history of delay, evasion and covering up by the police, with the collusion of the IPCC, the Crown Prosecution Service and even at times judges, working together to ensure that justice fails to be done. The press have been fed lies - as in the de Menezes case, security cameras have suddenly been found not to have been working, CCTV tapes have been lost or doctored, officers involved have not been questioned until many months after the events, witness statements have been dismissed as 'unreliable'. Deliberate delays are used as a tactic to prevent the truth coming out, and these also have allowed officers involved to collude in their cover-ups.

Overwhelmingly the victims in these cases are black, but one of the banners on the march reminded us that it affects the whole of our community, with a banner asking why 18 year old Sarah Campbell died in Styal Prison in 2003. Many of us present remembered and sadly miss her mother, Pauline Campbell; after her daughter's tragic death she devoted herself single-mindedly to campaigning for justice, not just for Sarah but for other victims and to improve the system. Eventually she forced an admission from the authorities that their lack of care had caused Sarah's death, but she became another victim of injustice when she committed suicide on her daughters grave.

Leon Patterson was arrested in Stockport in 1992 and kept in a police cell for some days despite being in need of hospital treatment. He was found dead in his cell with a fractured skull and severe injuries, his blood covering the walls of the cell and his genitals mutilated, and in such a bad state that she failed to recognise him. The family challenged the initial inquest verdict which found his injuries to be self-inflicted, but there was no legal aid available for them. Fortunately the charity INQUEST supported them and a second inquest in April 1993 returned a verdict of unlawful killing, although this was quashed on appeal by the police on the grounds that the coroner had misdirected the jury on the law.

Roger Sylvester died in 1999 after being arrested by the Met. An inquest jury in October 2003 returned a verdict of unlawful killing, but the verdict was later quashed in the High Court, because the judge claimed the coroner's summing up had confused the jury. The judge refused to order another inquest and said that no jury in a criminal case would be likely to convict any of the officers concerned of manslaughter.

Ricky Bishop was stopped, arrested and taken to Brixton police station on 22 Nov 2001, where he was assaulted and brutalised by police officers, leading to a heart attack. After that the police called a paramedic and he was taken to hospital and died. The family say that the police withheld vital evidence from the inquest and that the jury were not given a proper choice of verdicts at the inquest.

Jason McPherson died in hospital after being taken there from Notting Hill Police station after having been arrested on suspicion of drug offences on 18 Jan 2007. Police beleived he had a wrap of cocaine in his mouth and had used considerable and arguably excessive force on his head and chest to try to get him to open his mouth. A jury at the inquest in January 2010 came to a unanimous 'narrative verdict', saying that the procedures were not properly implemented and that "it did not appear Jason was given the opportunity to remove the drugs voluntarily through talking down (tactical communication)."

Azelle Rodney was killed by police in April 2005 after a car in which he was travelling was rammed and stopped by the Met in Barnet. Rodney was not armed, although the officer who fired the shots at close range was sure he was. Various misleading statements from police sources were widely published by the press. An inquiry into the case opened formally earlier this month and there is to be a hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice starting next week.

Marcia Rigg-Samuel, sister of Sean Rigg, who went into Brixton Police station in August 2008 a physically healthy man but was dead a short time later, killed by the actions of a small group of officers, led the procession down Whitehall from Trafalgar Square. She stood beside her sister, Samantha Rigg-David, the last of the families to speak, and then read the letter from the families to Prime Minister David Cameron. The inquest on Sean Rigg, adjourned in 2008, is not now expected until 2012.

The families then moved across the road to the gates to Downing Street, demanding that police open them so they could deliver their letter. Police refused, and a small group of armed police joined the armed officers already present. After considerable amount of angry shouting as the police continued to refuse to allow access or even to take in the letter - a few of the group were allowed to sellotape the flowers, a photo of Sean Rigg and the letter to the gates. The noisy demonstration at the gates was still continuing when I left.
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Around London

London. Monday & Tuesday 25-26 October


We tried a little street photography, but I had the wrong camera and the wrong lens

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I spent Monday and Tuesday travelling around London to go to various things - lunch with friends, photography and art shows, a union meeting and a photographers social evening - and at and on the way to some of them I took a few pictures. Some of which I think are interesting enough to put in this diary.
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EDL Rally to Support Israel

Gloucester Road to Israeli Embassy, London. 24 Oct 2010
Posters are handed out to EDL protesters outside the Gloucester Arms pub
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Several hundred EDL members marched to the the Israeli Embassy in London and held a peaceful rally in support of Israel with Rabbi Nachum Shifren, a 'tea party' California State Senate candidate as guest speaker.

The marchers gathered at a pub around half a mile from the embassy filling the pavement outside. I talked briefly with Rabbi Shifren and photographed him and many of the EDL members present before the march. As on previous occasions, many of them complained to me that the press wasn't fair to them and presented a very negative image of the EDL. As usual I told them that I was only responsible for my own work, in which I've always tried to report in an objective way on what I saw, both using my camera and in what I wrote, as well as also making my own difference of opinion clear. If my work ever presented a negative image it was the result of their actions and not because of me. Although I did get a little aggression from one or two people, most of those I talked to were happy to be photographed and several mentioned having seen their pictures from previous events on my web site, and some thanked me for the reports.

Many complained that they were always labelled as racist. One man from Luton - where the EDL had its birth - told me that he grew up Muslims, going to school with them and still knew many of them and that they were at least as concerned as he was about the rise of Muslim extremism and the actions of groups such as the Muslims Against the Crusades.

When I suggested that some of the chants heard at EDL events - particularly those about Allah - were offensive, they agreed with me, but said that it was impossible to control the actions of all of those attending these events, although they would like to. It was noticeable today that there were considerably fewer chants of this nature and they seemed not to be taken up by many of those present, soon dying away. But if the EDL wants to end the accusations, they have to take much more positive action to end the kind of behaviour that makes them possible.

Few of us would want to apologise for the extremes of a small minority of Muslims, or to live under Sharia law. One of the speakers at the rally suggested that there were already a number of Sharia courts operating already in the UK, arbitrating on cases. If so, it follows the practice already in place for Jewish law, which was not mentioned. The EDL has on previous occasions given its support to the 'One Law for All' campaign which calls for an entirely secular system.

As was forcefully stated at the rally, Sharia Law treats women as second-class citizens, causing great social problems over divorce as well as imposing the death penalty by barbarous methods such as stoning for adultury or homosexuality. I was told the EDL has a fairly large gay membership, including quite a few of those on the march.

The EDL supports Israel because it sees itas a bulwark against extremist Islamic groups such as Hamas. They say Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself, but go further in claiming that Palestine has never existed and they seem to completely ignore any right of the Palestinians to exist, just because a few of them are radical Muslims and terrorists.

But as I remember from the news reports while I was a child, Israel is a Jewish state which was set up through terrorism. And it still has a secret service who continue to carry out terrorist acts, carrying out kidnappings, assassinations and other attacks in various countries around the world - and quite recently abusing British passports to do so.

Of course there are Muslim extremists who deny the right of Israel to exist, just as there are Israeli extremists who would like to exterminate the Palestinians, but it makes little sense to support either position. Peace in the area - just as in South Africa or Northern Ireland - will involve some element of reconciliation, both sides learning to live together, and forgetting the old rhetoric, and forging some kind of just settlement. It's hard to take the EDL claim to represent the English people reacting against Muslim extremists seriously when they themselves would seem to have been hi-jacked by Jewish extremists - including Rabbi Shifren, who as well as living in California has a house in one of the more militant Jewish settlements in occupied Palestine.

After the march through the back streets to a pen on Kensington High St opposite the Israeli embassy, the rally started with a minute of silence for Andy Smelt from the EDL Halifax Division who died on October 14, and for all the troops who have given their lives for our country.

While one of the women members of the EDL was speaking, a young man wearing a black jacket and gloves came up and stood behind her on the outside of the pen and stopped to listen. He took out a bottle of water and had a drink, then reached over and poured the rest of it over the amplifier before turning and running down the street.

The sound immediately cut out and those at the front of the crowd listening pushed through the barriers and tried to chase him, followed by a small crowd but were held back by stewards and police. I managed to slip out through the police line, but by this time he had disappeared. The police seemed rather slow to realise what had happened and apparently failed to catch him. Later I heard they thought he had hidden inside the underground station, but I suspect he really caught a train there.

I'm unhappy with the idea of suppressing free speech - so long as it stays within the law - that his action represented, though the damage to property (assuming there is some long-term damage) might well not be a case for the police as a civil offence.

After a few minutes the organisers managed to calm the crowd down, and, after the water had been shaken out, the electronic equipment came back to life, although with a great deal of crackling for the rest of the rally.

Rabbi Nachum Shifren received a very enthusiastic welcome from the crowd. He is a part of the 'Tea Party' movement in the USA and a candidate for the state senate in Sacramento. His policy leaflet suggests improving education by making students and parents accountable for academic performance and opposing the teaching unions and tackling crime by shutting down the prisons and housing prisoners in tent cities, as well as putting a complete stop to illegal immigration. As well as this he would work to "create a fertile business climate" and introduce new technology to modernise state business. He also believes that if California was taken out of the hands of the "radical environmental political machine" there would be no energy problem there. His leaflet doesn't otherwise mention environmental issues.

Unfortunately it was difficult for me to hear all of Rabbi Shifren's speech, partly because of the damaged amplification, but also because I was moved away by the police who were restricting access to the area in front of the protest, and I went to photograph the small group of perhaps 40 counter-protesters from the UAF and other groups (there were also a few more outside the pen on the opposite side of the road.) Shifren made clear his opposition to Sharia Law and Muslim extremists and I think to any aspect of multiculturalism, and he also spoke for some minutes in Hebrew, expressing his support for Israel.

The leaflet for the London Division of the EDL says that they "are the knights of old, defending our great nation for the threat of Militant Islam" and "All welcome no matter of colour, religion or sex." It also states "We do not support racism or intolerance of any kind".

Intolerance isn't necessarily bad - there are things that I think we should be intolerant about, and for me these include both a fundamentalist implementation of Sharia Law and racism. Although I think that the EDL, in London at least, has made some effort to police the racists in their ranks, there was an atmosphere of hate that I found depressing in some of the actions, chants and the speeches. Having met and talked with some leading members of groups such as March For England and of the EDL, I have some respect for their good intentions against racism, but on the ground their movement has been deeply infiltrated by racists and bigots, and they have yet to develop any truly effective method to combat this. Although the EDL claim to be opposing the rise of fascism in their opposition to Muslim extremists, they have come to a very biased view over Israel and Palestine, and have been very effectively infiltrated by bigoted Zionists. Perhaps over time this is something that may also change, as it seems to be in conflict with their stated position on racism and intolerance.

Unite Against Fascism failed to mobilise any effective opposition to this demonstration - and did not appear to have tried very hard to do so. After the event I went to their web site where I found this statement: "UAF does not have a position on the question of Israel and Palestine – our members have many different views on this question. Instead, we unite around our common aim of opposing the rise of fascism." Perhaps on this occasion they felt that taking action might offend some of their Jewish supporters.

At the end of the rally a few of the EDL went to the end of the pen closest to the counter-protest for a few minutes of shouting back at them, with both groups exchanging insults. As they seemed to be beginning to leave with the rest of the group to march back to their dispersal point I left to catch the tube and go home.

Although the protest to that point by the EDL had been peaceful and well-ordered, many of the EDL, along with Rabbi Shifren, went on to Speakers Corner, where they apparently met with considerable heckling. The following day I met a photographer who was there and he told me that a small group of EDL supporters had attacked a Muslim bookstall and the 11-year-old boy who was running it, and then turned on photographers for taking pictures of their actions. His camera was smashed into his face by an EDL supporter. Looking at photographs on the web confirmed his story.
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Bloomsbury Festival

Bloomsbury, London. Sat 23 October 2010

Modern cloth strips at the Foundling Museum, where 'Threads of Feeling' is showing.
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I've not noticed previous Bloomsbury Festivals in 2006 & 2007, and unfortunately because of other committments I missed most of the more interesting sounding events this year, but I did manage to take a tour of the area on the Saturday afternoon and found a number of things of interest .

There were free events taking place across the area, in museums and galleries, parks and gardens, as well as various dance and film performances, exhibitions, walks and tours and workshops. I did my own walk through the area, taking in most of the squares and parks in which there were varous artworks and visiting a few of the museums and exhibitions.

If I'd had more time, there was a lot more I'd have liked to do. But much of the interest I found in the afternoon was in the area itself - with some 'found art' perhaps more interesting than some of the festival pieces. But it did let me in to a charming private garden in Malet St (where the trees, leaves and the grass roller excited me considerably more than the work of photographic art strapped to a cople of trees) and to the Foundling Museum, which has an incredibly moving show of the pieces of 18th century cloth, textile tokens left by mothers with the babies taken to the Foundling hospital in the hope they could later be identified.
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Trade Union March Against Cuts

Euston Rd to Bedford Square, London. Sat 23 Oct 2010

London Firefighters on 8 hour strike led the march
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Striking London firefighters led a march of several thousand trade unionists and activists through London to a rally in Bedford Square against the Government's plans to cut front line services. London's firemen were picketing outside fire stations and taking part in the march against the cuts announced by Chancellor George Osborne in Wednesday's Comprehensive Spending Review.

The firefighter's 8-hour strike started at 10am today and is in response to an ultimatum by the employers who on August 11 began the legal process of firing 5,600 London firemen in a move designed to bully them to agree to a new contract. In an unusually high ballot turnout - 79% - the workers voted by the same majority to take strike action.

Their employers, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) had previously been negotiating with the Fire Brigades Union, and the union blames the new aggressive conduct of the LFB on the Conservative chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.

Similar aggressive tactics - firing workers and then offering re-employment on a less favourable contract imposed without negotiation by the employer is also being attempted by Birmingham City Council for their 26,000 workers and by Sheffield who have sent similar letters to their 8,500 employees.

With the spending cuts it seems inevitable that other local authorities and public sector employers are likely to try and force similar 'agreements' on to their workers, and we are likely to be in for considerable industrial strife over the coming years as the cuts bite.

It was a long procession with many trade union and other banners that made its way to the rally in a corner of Bedford Square, which was addressed by several leading trade unionists including RMT General Secretary Bob Crow.

After the rally some of those taking part went on to attend a rally against the cuts in the nearby TUC HQ Congress House, organised by the South-East Region TUC.

Similar events were organised in other cities including Cardiff, Manchester, Bristol, Lincoln and Wigan, but one of the calls at the rally was for a much greater response by the TUC, and the bringing forward of the national demonstration planned for next Spring. The London march and rally was called by the RMT, FBU, NUT, PCS and the National Shop Stewards Network.
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Windsor Waste

Windsor, Berks. Fri 22 Oct 2010
Grenadier Guard with bayonet and military band

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I went to Windsor for a walk with my wife and my son's wife and her daughter and spent some time pushing a pushchair before we had a rather nice pub lunch. But when we arrived the streets were full of soldiers on horses, rehearsing for the state visit of the Emir of Qatar a few days later.

This is a whole layer of our military that could well be cut we thought, as we saw some thousands of pounds of our taxes being wasted. I don't know how much is spent on keeping all the horses we saw, but I don't think the cavalry are a great deal of use in fighting our wars. Of course we could really do without all of our armed forces, which would stop us getting into hopeless wars as a poodle of the USA, who seem to have learnt nothing from Vietnam.
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TINAG & London at Night

Hanbury Hall, Spitalfields etc. Thur 21 Oct 2010
Someone makes a confession for David Boulogne's wall at TINAG
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I went to the opening of the TINAG festival (it stands for 'This Is Not A Gateway') in the Hanbury Hall, stopping on the way there to not photograph Amy Winehouse, and on the way back walking to the bus stop and from the bus I also took some more pictures.

Last year Paul Baldesare and I both did a short presentation on our work in the show 'Taken in London' for TINAG, but this year I hadn't got round to taking part.
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Paris • New York • London Opening

Shoreditch Gallery, Hoxton Market, London. Wed 20 Oct 2010

Me (with the hand) and others at the opening - all pictures in this section © Paul Baldesare, 2010
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We had a nice evening at the Shoreditch Gallery and a decent attendance despite the other events that were on. It was good to see old friends again and to meet a few new ones.

The gallery owner reports a more than usual number of people coming to view the show over the three weeks it has been on so far, and I've had rather more positive feedback than in previous years. I've also now sold most of the copies of my book, Photo Paris, that I ordered for the occasion, which although I sell it with only a very small mark-up (and because I bought a number of copies before the recent Blurb price rise rather cheaper than on-line), is encouraging.

Thanks to Paul Baldesare, another of the three photographers in the show, for sending me some pictures. I also saw John Benton-Harris taking some, but I haven't seen them yet. As you can see I was too busy talking to use a camera.
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March Against Spending Cuts

Malet St & Lincolns Inn Fields, London. Wed 20 Oct 2010

Students set off on the march to Lincolns Inn Fields and then on to Downing St
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Today the government announced the results of their comprenhensive spending review (CSR) which will involve considerable cuts in welfare benefits and the loss of many public sector jobs as services are cut.

I saw George Osborne being driven ot of Parliament (though didn't bother to try and photograph him when the guys I'd been talking to as I walked past sprung into action), looking pleased with himself. The defecit left by the outgoing New Labour government has given the Tories in the Con-Dem coalition a perfect excuse to slash the public sector and privatise services in a way they would never have dared before. Big business must be rubbing its hands with glee at the thought of the profits it will be able to make in the health service, from so-called 'free schools' and elsewhere.

For the ordinary working people and the unions that represent some of them the prospect is truly bleak. More than a million jobs to be lost (some replaced in the private sector on lower wages, fewer benefits, lower standards of delivery and safety and higher workloads.) A typical story hit the papers this week, of a man reduced to a near-vegetable state when an agency supplied a nurse without proper training to look after him; its the kind of thing we can expect to see multiplying across every sector as private companies come in and profit comes before anything else - though they call it 'efficiency.'

I couldn't stay for the rally at Downing St, as my show 'Paris - New York - London' was opening at the Shoreditch Gallery and I had to be there to make a speech and meet people, but I did cover the feeder marches, starting with the students in Malet St and then the trade unionists who gatherd in Lincolns Inns Fields and were joined by the students.

The Coalition of Resistance who called the protest against the £83 billion to be cut from public services say that this will plunge the economy into a slump.

Rather than cutting jobs, pay, pensions, benefits, and public services that will hit the poor ten times harder than the rich, they urge the governemnt to cut bank profits and bonuses, tax the rich and big business. Rather than contract out the NHS, they should axe Trident and withdraw from Afghanistan.

They state: "Cuts on the scale of the 1930s will produce unemployment on the scale of the 1930s. What we need is massive investment to create jobs, regenerate the economy, and provide the goods and services people need. In particular, we need massive investment in renewable energy and public transport to begin the transition to a green economy."
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Jesse Jackson & Christian Aid Lobby

Westminster, London. Wednesday 20 October 2010
Jesse Jackson stands wiating for the applause to die down so he can give his address
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I was among the 2,500 Christian Aid supporters who came to Wesminster to lobby their MPs on 20.10.2010, asking them to press for transparency and fairness in the global tax system and for action on climate change.

Their campaign for tax justice estimates that various forms of tax dodging by major companes robs poor countries of more than $160bn a year, while climate change and the natural disasters it is bringing have a vastly greater impact on the poorer countries who are most vulnerable, despite their much lower per capita carbon footprints. They suffer from the results of our high dependence on fossil fuels.

The day started with an event in Westminster Central Hall, a vast place opposite Westminster Abbey, and, as we were reminded is where the United Nations started. Speakers included the new director of Christian Aid, Loretta Minghella, Suzanne Matale from Zambia, secretary of state for international development and MP for Sutton Coldfield, Rt. Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, and the Rev Jesse Jackson president and founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

After the speeches and a rushed lunch we hurried to meet Spelthorne MP Kwasi Kwarteng, who spent some time with us discussing the issues, particularly over hedge funds and tax havens. He had agreed to meet a small group of us from the constituency outside the parliamentary offices, which saved us all the hassle of queing and going through security. Others from the lobby were still waiting in long queues outside Parliament when I left to make my way to another event.
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Roundheads Remember the Dead

The Mall & Horseguards Parade, London. Sunday 17 Oct 2010

Roundhead cavalry leads the Roundhead New Model Army onto the parade ground.

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The Roundhead Association of the English Civil War Society marched along the Mall for a parade at Horeseguards marking the anniversary of the hanging, drawing and quartering on 16 Oct 1660 of some of those responsible for the execution of Charles I.

For some years the 'Kings Army' have held a ceremonial parade through London on the last Sunday in January to mark the anniversary of the execution of King Charles I on 30 January 1649. This year was the first occasion that the 'Roundhead Assocation', the other side of the English Civil War Society, had held a similar event in the centre of London. Rather than march into Whitehall, the event took place on the Mall and Horseguards as the Metropolitan Police had demanded a fee of more than ten thousand pounds to stop traffic in Whitehall.

After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, a general pardon - the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion - was granted to those who had fought for Parliament, with the exception of those who played a direct part in the trial and execution of the king. Six of these so-called 'regicides' - John Carew, Gregory Clement, Thomas Harrison, John Jones, Adrian Scrope and Thomas Scot - were found guilty and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered along with the captain of the guard at the trial, Daniel Axtell, the leading prosecutor, John Cook and preacher Hugh Peter. Colonel Francis Hacker, the commander of the guard at the execution was sentenced to be hung, nineteen others were imprisoned for life and a few pardoned.

Harrison's sentence was carried out at Charing Cross on 13 Oct, 1660, Samuel Pepys recording the event in his diary: I went out to Charing Cross, to see Major- general Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition. Carew followed at Charing Cross on 15 Oct, Peter at Charing Cross and Cook at Tyburn on 16 Oct, Clement, Jones, Scot and Scrope at Charing Cross on 17 Oct, and Hacker and Axtell at Tyburn on 19 Oct. Three of the others who had fled the country were later arrested and also executed.

Several hundred members of the Roundhead Association in period dress made this a colourful spectacle as led by a small troop of 11 cavalry with a standard 'Et Dieu Mon Appuy' (And God my Support" they marched up the Mall towards Horseguards Parade. There they held a lengthy ceremony in which various officers of the regiments were awarded warrants. The web site lists eleven regiments of foot (infantry) and two artillery companies in which members can enlist to take part in events such as this, and there were also a group of camp followers - women and children - at the rear.

From Horseguards Parade, the Parliamentary New Model Army marched to Admiralty Arch, close to where the executions at Charing Cross took place. A colour group of four marched with a wreath to the statue of Charles I in Trafalgar Square - the message on it read:

"In Commemoration
of all those who fought for The Good Old Cause of Parliament,
especially those vilified as
The Regicides

who carried the vision of a free people in their hearts
and some of whom died horribly in its name.
Also in Remembrance
of all those, of whatever side, who lost their lives,
their relatives and friends, and their livelihoods during
the English Civil Wars 1642-1651.
Lest their sacrifices be forgotten

and there was then a short speech reminding us of the bravery with which the regicides faced their horrific deaths, before the army marched away back down the Mall to there dispersal point.

The English Civil War Society aims to stimulate interest in military life of the seventeenth century and insists that its activities are not in any way political. But events such as these do remind us of some of the basic issues of liberty and freedom that are remain important today.
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Brighton, Biennal and Photo Fringe

Brighton. Tues 12 Oct, 2010

Fish on a Brighton street

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I hadn't realised that so many shows in the Biennal and Photo Fringe would be closed on a Tuesday - with the largest site in the whole event, The Old Co-op Building only open Friday to Sunday. Others are closed on Sundays, so the festival is only in full swing for two days a week, Friday and Saturday. But in fact I had little choice of the day I went as it had to fit in with the activities of our guests, and we all came to Brighton on Tuesday. After a visit to the museum, where I looked at the Biennal show and they looked at the other galleries (which did seem considerably more interesting) we went to have a fish and chip lunch and then split up with me searching for those galleries that were in business with the help of the Photo Fringe map and booklet.

It wasn't straightforward, and I gave up with a few that should have been there of which I could find no sign, and one or two I did find needed only a very short visit. But there were things worth seeing and I wrote about several of them on >Re:PHOTO.

As I walked around I did take the occasional picture, including some of several of the shows I visited.
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Carter's Steam Fair, Windsor & Eton

Englefield Green, Windsor and Eton. Sunday 10 Oct 2010

Our two young visitors enjoying the ride - rather them than me

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Saturday evening Linda was waiting rather anxiously at Heathrow for our visitors at Heathrow when her phone rang. It was an immigration officer quizzing her about the two teenage girsl she was meeting but hadn't turned up although the rest of the passengers from the flight from Hamburg had already come past her. Eventually she was able to persuade the authorities that we really weren't bringing them into the country for immoral purposes but that they were staying with us for a holiday.

One of them was the granddaughter of the German girl Linda had started writing to fifty years ago. In 1985 I produced an exhibition, 'German Indications' with images and texts based around our visits to stay with her in Germany, and 12 years later I put it on the web. It's still there, with some minor revisions, but still with the bad scans that were as good as anything on the web at that time (though when I eventually got a colour scanner I did replace some of those that said 'original in colour' with equally bad colour scans.) At some point I'll revise it again and bring it out as both a revamped web site and a print on demand book.

On Sunday we took our guests for a pub lunch (they turned down the English food on the menu we had taken them for and both had continental dishes) and then (eventually) caught a bus to Carter's Steam Fair on the green at Englefield Green. They enjoyed their ride on the Octopus, though I'm rather glad I didn't try it. It was hard enough trying to keep up with it looking through a camera, though the Nikon autofocus did a pretty impressive job - I could only have got the occasional picture sharp with manual focus, while almost every frame here was sharp.

Another bus (only 15 minutes late - the first had been 35 minutes behind time) took us on to Windsor, where we arrived just as the castle was closing. You used to be able to walk around quite a bit inside for free, but now you are kept out unless you pay, but fortunately none of us was that interested. It looks better from the outside in any case.

We wandered a little around Windsor, then went and had a look at Eton, were we went up to the college end of the High St. Our German visitors found the few boys we saw in uniform pretty hilarious. So do I, but it's rather less hilarious that it's those guys who will be our government in 25 or so years time. Eton is probably a very good school, but it is the very pinnacle of our rotten class-ridden society. Earlier in the day we had been reading how almost nobody in Germany sends their children to be educated privately. It's pretty sickening at the moment to hear a largely Eton-educated government talking about making a fairer society, when the most basic thing needed to bring that about is an end to the privileged education system for the rich that underpins unfairness here. I'll start taking them seriously when they bring out their plans to make private education illegal.
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Don't Cut Science

The Treasury, Whitehall, London. Saturday 9 Oct 2010

The rally outside the Treasury in King Charles St

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Around 2000 people, mainly scientists, attended a rally outside the Treasury in London to give George Osborne the message that continued investment in science is essential for our future.

The protest, which filled much of King Charles St, off Whitehall was organised by 'Science is Vital' coalition, an organisation only set up a few weeks ago by biochemist Dr Jenny Rohn of University College London, who soon attracted an organising committee including otheSr scientists and a wide range of science-related organisations.

The speakers were introduced by Dr Evan Harris, a former NHS doctor and Lib Dem MP from 1997 to 2010 who lost his seat by just 176 votes in the May election. Harris had been named 'Dr Death' by the Daily Mail who demonised him for views on abortion, voluntary euthanasia, immigration and gay rights" and whose defeat was widely seen as a vote against science.

Most eminent among the speakers was Professor Colin Blakemore, former head of the Medical Research Council, who came out with some strong statistics in support of British science, which is currently already grossly underfunded - with the lowest investment among all the OECD countries except Italy, and one fortieth the investment in science of the USA. Despite this, Britain punches very much above its weight across the sciences, second only in most areas to the USA, producing 14% of publications.

As he and other speakers pointed out, despite our small size and low investment, Britain leads the world in many scientific disciplines and we have 29 of the world's top 200 universities, including three rated in the top ten. Around 90% of funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) goes to research that is rated as ‘internationally excellent’ or ‘world-leading’.

The protest came at the end of a week in which a British scientist had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and two Manchester based scientists the Nobel Prize for Physics.

Some speakers had more personal stories. Vivenne Hill spoke about caring for her mother who had suffered from Alzheimers and of the great need for more research to find treatments in many areas such as this, and cancer survivor Claire Daniels spoke in some detail about the succesful treatment of her condition - and that without the great deal of research on which that was based she would have died.

Despite the seriousness of the campaign it was a protest marked by a great deal of humour from most of the speakers, as well as the two science comedians Timandra Harkness and Dean Burnett. There were also plenty of witty placards, of which my favourite was 'We need a fair share of the ?!'

Some of the others:

Science – It beats living in a cave!
Banking doesn’t cure disease
Up and Atom!
Science: More useful than a duck island.
Science: Because alchemy’s a myth
Fair funding. It’s not rocket science.
No more Dr Nice Guy!
Science saves lives
Do the math. Science = Growth
Do you guys not want jetpacks or something?
My other coat is a lab coat!
Science: I’m Lovin’ It!
Cut the nonsense, not the funding

and there was also a somewhat hilarious quasi-musical performance led by Evan Harris in which the crowd was urged to join.

Other speakers were materials scientist Mark Miodownik, Simon Denegri of the Association of Medical Research Charities, Michael Brooks who stood at the last election as an unsuccesful candidate for The Science Party, the General Secretary of Prospect, the main trade union doe scientists, Paul Noon, Campaign for Science and Engineering director Imran Khan, Sex educator and agony aunt Dr Petra, and science writers Simon Singh and Ben Goldacre.

Already over 24,000 have signed the petition on the campaign web site. Next Tuesday, 12 October, scientists will be going to labby MPs and hold a meeting at Parliament. By then the government should have got their message that making cuts in science funding is economically absurd, with increasing national income crucially dependent on science-based innovation. Making cuts in science in the spending review to be announced on October 20th would be shooting the economy in the foot.
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Democracy Village People's Assembly

Trafalgar Square & St James's Park, London. Saturday 9 Oct 2010

The people's assembly form a circle to sing 'World Turned Upside Down'

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Around 65 people, most of whom had been at the Parliament Square Peace Camp, met for a democracy rally at Trafalgar Square, moving to St James's Park for an afternoon of talks, music, performance and discussion. London, UK. 09/10/2010

Many of those who camped in Parliament Square as the Democracy Village from May 1 until evicted in July this year continue to meet in central London as the Democracy Village People's Assembly.

This Saturday they invited friends to participate in a Democracy Rally in Trafalgar Square, where I talked to them briefly around 12 noon. The main part of the square was in use for an event celebrating 50 years of independence for many African countries, and it was busy and filled with joyous but rather loud music, so the Democracy Villagers decided they to meet up around the equestrian statue of Charles II at the south end of the square and then march together around 1pm to a more suitable location for their event.

A little after 1pm, those present formed a circle and held hands to sing together 'World Turned Upside Down' a Leon Rosselson song popularised by Billy Bragg about the Diggers who set up camp on St Georges Hill in Weybridge in 1649, which the Democracy Camp use as the start of their meetings.

The Diggers, puritans also known as 'True Levellers' took seriously the New Testament example of holding everthing in common and in particular saw the earth as provided by God as 'a common treasury.' They had a strong belief in the equality of all and defied the laws of property by occupying and cultivating common and unused wasteland, but were forcibly evicted and dispersed. One of their leaders, Gerrard Winstanley, himself wrote a song about it - The Diggers' Song - Rosselson's is not based on this but does make use of some of his other writings.

After this many of them took part in a group hug, and when someone in the middle shouted out they were finding it difficult to breathe I queried, "Did you say breathe or breed?"; then Chris Knight then shouted out "I'm pregnant!" and the group broke up laughing.

By now they had attracted quite an audience of tourists and a few others. But the onlookers were left behind as the group made a procession led by Knight beating a drum and a white rabbit, Flopsy Bunny along with Phoenix with a peace flag and Simon with a megaphone. Most of those present joined a procession that went through Admiralty Arch and along the Mall to St James Park.

There the group together came to a decision about where they would stop, and after a short discussion and a song, split into several smaller groups for discussions about democracy, the environment and other social issues. I left them sitting under the trees and went to attend another event.
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Excalibur Estate

Downham, Catford, London. Thursday 7 Oct 2010
The last remaining 1945 prefab estate looks set for redevelopment
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The Excalibur estate is the only substantial example remaining of a number of pre-fab estates constructed as the Second World War ended for returning soldiers and their family. Although intended as temporary dwellings, they were basically well-made and equipped with all mod cons including fitted kitchens, refrigerators, built-in cupboards and heated towel rails. Like most such estates it was erected by prisoners of war.

Intended only to last for 10 years, many of the prefabs need extensive refurbishment, particularly as Lewisham council has no kept up with repairs, having decided years ago it wanted to demolish the whole estate.

Finally it seems that this is likely to happen soon, and the council will transfer the estate to a housing association for redevelopment shortly, following a vote by a small majority of residents for the regeneration plan. Some still intend to keep up the fight which has already led to the Grade II listing of a small block of six prefabs on the estate. There is a longer article about the estate on >Re:PHOTO.
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Human Rights in the Phillipines

Amnesty International, London. Wednesday 6 Oct 2010

Photographer Isabelle Merminod with Concepcion (Conie) Empeno, mother of forcibly disapperaed student activist Karen Empeno in front of Isabelle's pictures of her and other Phillipine human rights activists.
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It came as a surprise to me to learn that the Phillipines is the second most dangerous country for journalists - after Iraq, and also the second most dangerous in which to be a trade unionist - after Colombia.

We don't hear much about human rights abuses there is simply because it isn't considered news by the media. The major US companies that lead the pack concentrate on countries where abuses can be blamed on Muslims, communists or some other capitialist bogy men. The Phillipines is still seen by American very much as a US project; it was US colony from the Spanish-American War in 1898, until being given independence in 1946.

The constitution is democratic in name, but entrenches power in the provincial elites who are able to rig the elections using the traditional guns, goons and gold. Those who can't be bribed can be persuaded to vote the right way by thugs with guns.

These thugs with guns - the police, parts at least of the military and vigilante squads (mainly police and/or military in plain clothes) are also responsible for the high level of human rights abuses, including enforced disappearances, torture and extra-judicial killings.

Raymond Manalo, a young farmer, with the aid of an interpreter, told the story of his abduction by the military in Feb 2006. They forced him and his brother into a white van outside their home as his parents watched and drove to a camp where he was tortured regularly for several months before being put in a detention cell with 17 other abductees. They were fed only once a week and regularly tortured. He tried to escape, was captured and petrol was poured over him, but he was saved from death by a phone call from someone the guards called 'Madam' who said he should not be killed yet. After that he got medical attention for the injuries from his torture and was moved to another camp. There he met other people who had been dissapeared, including students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, who were being abused and raped by the guards (the interpreter found the fuller details of their treatment too offensive to translate.) There to he was a witness to the killing of the farmer who had tried to help Karen and Sherlyn, Manuel Merino (and after his escape he was able to lead people to the spot where his body had been burnt, and the remains were identified.)

Raymond and his brother were told they could save their lives by becoming soldiers and working with the military, and having agreed to do so were moved to work on a farm owned by one of the Generals - still kept under guard. While there they took advantage of a festival when all the guards got very drunk and managed to escape and make their way to Manilla, where they found a human rights organisation that got a judge to grant him protection and filed a legal case against his torturers. This was dismissed on technical grounds but is still being appealed.

One of the other speakers from the Phillipines was Karen Empeno's mother, a primary school teacher. Karen had volunteered to help a farmer's organisation. In 2006 she was grabbed by men in military uniform and thrown into a jeep, along with a farmer, Manuel Merino, who had tried to help her. Two days later her mother heard about her disappearance; she searched the hospitals, went to the radio and TV studios for interviews and filed a habeas corpus at the Supreme Court, but could get no information anywhere about her daughter. Connie Empeno said "I am not an activist" but she "became a spokeperson for my missing daughter and other victims of dissaperances...The only hope I have left is that she is still alive."

Karen and her colleague Sherlyn, seized at the same time are only two of the 208 documented enforced disappearances during the presidency of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo which began in 2001 and ended earlier this year. There were also 1205 people murdered in extra-judicial killings and almost 2000 illegal arrrests.

One of these illegal arrests was of Attorney Remigio Saladero, who was acting in many human rights and trade union cases and also spoke at the meeting. He was seized in October 2008 by men in plain clothes who refused to identify themselves and took away his phone, and also the two computers from his office. They had what they called an arrest warrant, but it did not even have his name on it, and the car that took him to a police camp had no numberplates.

His wife came to the office shortly afterwards, saw he and the computers and some documents had been taken and immediately contacted the press, and it made the national news. This forced the police into making a statement acknowledging his arrest. After several months he was brought to court and the case against him was dismissed.

We were shown a short Amnesty film in which Raymond Manalo talked in more detail about what happened to him - but it doesn't seem as yet to be avaiable with their other videos on You-Tube.

Also on display was a set of pictures of people who have been affected by the human rights violations in the Phillipines by London-resident French photographer Isabelle Merminod, who specialises in human rights, social issues and political movements. There are only a few images on her web site, and the sets I found most interesting were from her journey to the Caucasus and Chernobyl. There is also a set 'Life Inside a Coffin', I think from the annual Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme, certainly an intriguing event.

The event was organised by Amnesty together with the Campaign for Human Rights in the Phillipines and Unison. As well as a general interest in human rights and in trade union rights in particular, Unison also has many Filipino members, mainly employed here in the health and care sector.
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