U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The English National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London has threatened on Friday to sue a U.S. citizen, Derrick Coetzee. The legal letter followed claims that he had breached the Gallery’s copyright in several thousand photographs of works of art uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons, a free online media repository.

In a letter from their solicitors sent to Coetzee via electronic mail, the NPG asserted that it holds copyright in the photographs under U.K. law, and demanded that Coetzee provide various undertakings and remove all of the images from the site (referred to in the letter as “the Wikipedia website”).

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of free-to-use media, run by a community of volunteers from around the world, and is a sister project to Wikinews and the encyclopedia Wikipedia. Coetzee, who contributes to the Commons using the account “Dcoetzee”, had uploaded images that are free for public use under United States law, where he and the website are based. However copyright is claimed to exist in the country where the gallery is situated.

The complaint by the NPG is that under UK law, its copyright in the photographs of its portraits is being violated. While the gallery has complained to the Wikimedia Foundation for a number of years, this is the first direct threat of legal action made against an actual uploader of images. In addition to the allegation that Coetzee had violated the NPG’s copyright, they also allege that Coetzee had, by uploading thousands of images in bulk, infringed the NPG’s database right, breached a contract with the NPG; and circumvented a copyright protection mechanism on the NPG’s web site.

The copyright protection mechanism referred to is Zoomify, a product of Zoomify, Inc. of Santa Cruz, California. NPG’s solicitors stated in their letter that “Our client used the Zoomify technology to protect our client’s copyright in the high resolution images.”. Zoomify Inc. states in the Zoomify support documentation that its product is intended to make copying of images “more difficult” by breaking the image into smaller pieces and disabling the option within many web browsers to click and save images, but that they “provide Zoomify as a viewing solution and not an image security system”.

In particular, Zoomify’s website comments that while “many customers — famous museums for example” use Zoomify, in their experience a “general consensus” seems to exist that most museums are concerned with making the images in their galleries accessible to the public, rather than preventing the public from accessing them or making copies; they observe that a desire to prevent high resolution images being distributed would also imply prohibiting the sale of any posters or production of high quality printed material that could be scanned and placed online.

Other actions in the past have come directly from the NPG, rather than via solicitors. For example, several edits have been made directly to the English-language Wikipedia from the IP address 217.207.85.50, one of sixteen such IP addresses assigned to computers at the NPG by its ISP, Easynet.

In the period from August 2005 to July 2006 an individual within the NPG using that IP address acted to remove the use of several Wikimedia Commons pictures from articles in Wikipedia, including removing an image of the Chandos portrait, which the NPG has had in its possession since 1856, from Wikipedia’s biographical article on William Shakespeare.

Other actions included adding notices to the pages for images, and to the text of several articles using those images, such as the following edit to Wikipedia’s article on Catherine of Braganza and to its page for the Wikipedia Commons image of Branwell Brontë‘s portrait of his sisters:

“THIS IMAGE IS BEING USED WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER.”
“This image is copyright material and must not be reproduced in any way without permission of the copyright holder. Under current UK copyright law, there is copyright in skilfully executed photographs of ex-copyright works, such as this painting of Catherine de Braganza.
The original painting belongs to the National Portrait Gallery, London. For copies, and permission to reproduce the image, please contact the Gallery at picturelibrary@npg.org.uk or via our website at www.npg.org.uk”

Other, later, edits, made on the day that NPG’s solicitors contacted Coetzee and drawn to the NPG’s attention by Wikinews, are currently the subject of an internal investigation within the NPG.

Coetzee published the contents of the letter on Saturday July 11, the letter itself being dated the previous day. It had been sent electronically to an email address associated with his Wikimedia Commons user account. The NPG’s solicitors had mailed the letter from an account in the name “Amisquitta”. This account was blocked shortly after by a user with access to the user blocking tool, citing a long standing Wikipedia policy that the making of legal threats and creation of a hostile environment is generally inconsistent with editing access and is an inappropriate means of resolving user disputes.

The policy, initially created on Commons’ sister website in June 2004, is also intended to protect all parties involved in a legal dispute, by ensuring that their legal communications go through proper channels, and not through a wiki that is open to editing by other members of the public. It was originally formulated primarily to address legal action for libel. In October 2004 it was noted that there was “no consensus” whether legal threats related to copyright infringement would be covered but by the end of 2006 the policy had reached a consensus that such threats (as opposed to polite complaints) were not compatible with editing access while a legal matter was unresolved. Commons’ own website states that “[accounts] used primarily to create a hostile environment for another user may be blocked”.

In a further response, Gregory Maxwell, a volunteer administrator on Wikimedia Commons, made a formal request to the editorial community that Coetzee’s access to administrator tools on Commons should be revoked due to the prevailing circumstances. Maxwell noted that Coetzee “[did] not have the technically ability to permanently delete images”, but stated that Coetzee’s potential legal situation created a conflict of interest.

Sixteen minutes after Maxwell’s request, Coetzee’s “administrator” privileges were removed by a user in response to the request. Coetzee retains “administrator” privileges on the English-language Wikipedia, since none of the images exist on Wikipedia’s own website and therefore no conflict of interest exists on that site.

Legally, the central issue upon which the case depends is that copyright laws vary between countries. Under United States case law, where both the website and Coetzee are located, a photograph of a non-copyrighted two-dimensional picture (such as a very old portrait) is not capable of being copyrighted, and it may be freely distributed and used by anyone. Under UK law that point has not yet been decided, and the Gallery’s solicitors state that such photographs could potentially be subject to copyright in that country.

One major legal point upon which a case would hinge, should the NPG proceed to court, is a question of originality. The U.K.’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 defines in ¶ 1(a) that copyright is a right that subsists in “original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works” (emphasis added). The legal concept of originality here involves the simple origination of a work from an author, and does not include the notions of novelty or innovation that is often associated with the non-legal meaning of the word.

Whether an exact photographic reproduction of a work is an original work will be a point at issue. The NPG asserts that an exact photographic reproduction of a copyrighted work in another medium constitutes an original work, and this would be the basis for its action against Coetzee. This view has some support in U.K. case law. The decision of Walter v Lane held that exact transcriptions of speeches by journalists, in shorthand on reporter’s notepads, were original works, and thus copyrightable in themselves. The opinion by Hugh Laddie, Justice Laddie, in his book The Modern Law of Copyright, points out that photographs lie on a continuum, and that photographs can be simple copies, derivative works, or original works:

“[…] it is submitted that a person who makes a photograph merely by placing a drawing or painting on the glass of a photocopying machine and pressing the button gets no copyright at all; but he might get a copyright if he employed skill and labour in assembling the thing to be photocopied, as where he made a montage.”

Various aspects of this continuum have already been explored in the courts. Justice Neuberger, in the decision at Antiquesportfolio.com v Rodney Fitch & Co. held that a photograph of a three-dimensional object would be copyrightable if some exercise of judgement of the photographer in matters of angle, lighting, film speed, and focus were involved. That exercise would create an original work. Justice Oliver similarly held, in Interlego v Tyco Industries, that “[i]t takes great skill, judgement and labour to produce a good copy by painting or to produce an enlarged photograph from a positive print, but no-one would reasonably contend that the copy, painting, or enlargement was an ‘original’ artistic work in which the copier is entitled to claim copyright. Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”.

In 2000 the Museums Copyright Group, a copyright lobbying group, commissioned a report and legal opinion on the implications of the Bridgeman case for the UK, which stated:

“Revenue raised from reproduction fees and licensing is vital to museums to support their primary educational and curatorial objectives. Museums also rely on copyright in photographs of works of art to protect their collections from inaccurate reproduction and captioning… as a matter of principle, a photograph of an artistic work can qualify for copyright protection in English law”. The report concluded by advocating that “museums must continue to lobby” to protect their interests, to prevent inferior quality images of their collections being distributed, and “not least to protect a vital source of income”.

Several people and organizations in the U.K. have been awaiting a test case that directly addresses the issue of copyrightability of exact photographic reproductions of works in other media. The commonly cited legal case Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. found that there is no originality where the aim and the result is a faithful and exact reproduction of the original work. The case was heard twice in New York, once applying UK law and once applying US law. It cited the prior UK case of Interlego v Tyco Industries (1988) in which Lord Oliver stated that “Skill, labour or judgement merely in the process of copying cannot confer originality.”

“What is important about a drawing is what is visually significant and the re-drawing of an existing drawing […] does not make it an original artistic work, however much labour and skill may have gone into the process of reproduction […]”

The Interlego judgement had itself drawn upon another UK case two years earlier, Coca-Cola Go’s Applications, in which the House of Lords drew attention to the “undesirability” of plaintiffs seeking to expand intellectual property law beyond the purpose of its creation in order to create an “undeserving monopoly”. It commented on this, that “To accord an independent artistic copyright to every such reproduction would be to enable the period of artistic copyright in what is, essentially, the same work to be extended indefinitely… ”

The Bridgeman case concluded that whether under UK or US law, such reproductions of copyright-expired material were not capable of being copyrighted.

The unsuccessful plaintiff, Bridgeman Art Library, stated in 2006 in written evidence to the House of Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport that it was “looking for a similar test case in the U.K. or Europe to fight which would strengthen our position”.

The National Portrait Gallery is a non-departmental public body based in London England and sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Founded in 1856, it houses a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. The gallery contains more than 11,000 portraits and 7,000 light-sensitive works in its Primary Collection, 320,000 in the Reference Collection, over 200,000 pictures and negatives in the Photographs Collection and a library of around 35,000 books and manuscripts. (More on the National Portrait Gallery here)

The gallery’s solicitors are Farrer & Co LLP, of London. Farrer’s clients have notably included the British Royal Family, in a case related to extracts from letters sent by Diana, Princess of Wales which were published in a book by ex-butler Paul Burrell. (In that case, the claim was deemed unlikely to succeed, as the extracts were not likely to be in breach of copyright law.)

Farrer & Co have close ties with industry interest groups related to copyright law. Peter Wienand, Head of Intellectual Property at Farrer & Co., is a member of the Executive body of the Museums Copyright Group, which is chaired by Tom Morgan, Head of Rights and Reproductions at the National Portrait Gallery. The Museums Copyright Group acts as a lobbying organization for “the interests and activities of museums and galleries in the area of [intellectual property rights]”, which reacted strongly against the Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. case.

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of images, media, and other material free for use by anyone in the world. It is operated by a community of 21,000 active volunteers, with specialist rights such as deletion and blocking restricted to around 270 experienced users in the community (known as “administrators”) who are trusted by the community to use them to enact the wishes and policies of the community. Commons is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a charitable body whose mission is to make available free knowledge and historic and other material which is legally distributable under US law. (More on Commons here)

The legal threat also sparked discussions of moral issues and issues of public policy in several Internet discussion fora, including Slashdot, over the weekend. One major public policy issue relates to how the public domain should be preserved.

Some of the public policy debate over the weekend has echoed earlier opinions presented by Kenneth Hamma, the executive director for Digital Policy at the J. Paul Getty Trust. Writing in D-Lib Magazine in November 2005, Hamma observed:

“Art museums and many other collecting institutions in this country hold a trove of public-domain works of art. These are works whose age precludes continued protection under copyright law. The works are the result of and evidence for human creativity over thousands of years, an activity museums celebrate by their very existence. For reasons that seem too frequently unexamined, many museums erect barriers that contribute to keeping quality images of public domain works out of the hands of the general public, of educators, and of the general milieu of creativity. In restricting access, art museums effectively take a stand against the creativity they otherwise celebrate. This conflict arises as a result of the widely accepted practice of asserting rights in the images that the museums make of the public domain works of art in their collections.”

He also stated:

“This resistance to free and unfettered access may well result from a seemingly well-grounded concern: many museums assume that an important part of their core business is the acquisition and management of rights in art works to maximum return on investment. That might be true in the case of the recording industry, but it should not be true for nonprofit institutions holding public domain art works; it is not even their secondary business. Indeed, restricting access seems all the more inappropriate when measured against a museum’s mission — a responsibility to provide public access. Their charitable, financial, and tax-exempt status demands such. The assertion of rights in public domain works of art — images that at their best closely replicate the values of the original work — differs in almost every way from the rights managed by the recording industry. Because museums and other similar collecting institutions are part of the private nonprofit sector, the obligation to treat assets as held in public trust should replace the for-profit goal. To do otherwise, undermines the very nature of what such institutions were created to do.”

Hamma observed in 2005 that “[w]hile examples of museums chasing down digital image miscreants are rare to non-existent, the expectation that museums might do so has had a stultifying effect on the development of digital image libraries for teaching and research.”

The NPG, which has been taking action with respect to these images since at least 2005, is a public body. It was established by Act of Parliament, the current Act being the Museums and Galleries Act 1992. In that Act, the NPG Board of Trustees is charged with maintaining “a collection of portraits of the most eminent persons in British history, of other works of art relevant to portraiture and of documents relating to those portraits and other works of art”. It also has the tasks of “secur[ing] that the portraits are exhibited to the public” and “generally promot[ing] the public’s enjoyment and understanding of portraiture of British persons and British history through portraiture both by means of the Board’s collection and by such other means as they consider appropriate”.

Several commentators have questioned how the NPG’s statutory goals align with its threat of legal action. Mike Masnick, founder of Techdirt, asked “The people who run the Gallery should be ashamed of themselves. They ought to go back and read their own mission statement[. …] How, exactly, does suing someone for getting those portraits more attention achieve that goal?” (external link Masnick’s). L. Sutherland of Bigmouthmedia asked “As the paintings of the NPG technically belong to the nation, does that mean that they should also belong to anyone that has access to a computer?”

Other public policy debates that have been sparked have included the applicability of U.K. courts, and U.K. law, to the actions of a U.S. citizen, residing in the U.S., uploading files to servers hosted in the U.S.. Two major schools of thought have emerged. Both see the issue as encroachment of one legal system upon another. But they differ as to which system is encroaching. One view is that the free culture movement is attempting to impose the values and laws of the U.S. legal system, including its case law such as Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., upon the rest of the world. Another view is that a U.K. institution is attempting to control, through legal action, the actions of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.

David Gerard, former Press Officer for Wikimedia UK, the U.K. chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, which has been involved with the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest to create free content photographs of exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum, stated on Slashdot that “The NPG actually acknowledges in their letter that the poster’s actions were entirely legal in America, and that they’re making a threat just because they think they can. The Wikimedia community and the WMF are absolutely on the side of these public domain images remaining in the public domain. The NPG will be getting radioactive publicity from this. Imagine the NPG being known to American tourists as somewhere that sues Americans just because it thinks it can.”

Benjamin Crowell, a physics teacher at Fullerton College in California, stated that he had received a letter from the Copyright Officer at the NPG in 2004, with respect to the picture of the portrait of Isaac Newton used in his physics textbooks, that he publishes in the U.S. under a free content copyright licence, to which he had replied with a pointer to Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp..

The Wikimedia Foundation takes a similar stance. Erik Möller, the Deputy Director of the US-based Wikimedia Foundation wrote in 2008 that “we’ve consistently held that faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works which are nothing more than reproductions should be considered public domain for licensing purposes”.

Contacted over the weekend, the NPG issued a statement to Wikinews:

“The National Portrait Gallery is very strongly committed to giving access to its Collection. In the past five years the Gallery has spent around £1 million digitising its Collection to make it widely available for study and enjoyment. We have so far made available on our website more than 60,000 digital images, which have attracted millions of users, and we believe this extensive programme is of great public benefit.
“The Gallery supports Wikipedia in its aim of making knowledge widely available and we would be happy for the site to use our low-resolution images, sufficient for most forms of public access, subject to safeguards. However, in March 2009 over 3000 high-resolution files were appropriated from the National Portrait Gallery website and published on Wikipedia without permission.
“The Gallery is very concerned that potential loss of licensing income from the high-resolution files threatens its ability to reinvest in its digitisation programme and so make further images available. It is one of the Gallery’s primary purposes to make as much of the Collection available as possible for the public to view.
“Digitisation involves huge costs including research, cataloguing, conservation and highly-skilled photography. Images then need to be made available on the Gallery website as part of a structured and authoritative database. To date, Wikipedia has not responded to our requests to discuss the issue and so the National Portrait Gallery has been obliged to issue a lawyer’s letter. The Gallery remains willing to enter into a dialogue with Wikipedia.

In fact, Matthew Bailey, the Gallery’s (then) Assistant Picture Library Manager, had already once been in a similar dialogue. Ryan Kaldari, an amateur photographer from Nashville, Tennessee, who also volunteers at the Wikimedia Commons, states that he was in correspondence with Bailey in October 2006. In that correspondence, according to Kaldari, he and Bailey failed to conclude any arrangement.

Jay Walsh, the Head of Communications for the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the Commons, called the gallery’s actions “unfortunate” in the Foundation’s statement, issued on Tuesday July 14:

“The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. To that end, we have very productive working relationships with a number of galleries, archives, museums and libraries around the world, who join with us to make their educational materials available to the public.
“The Wikimedia Foundation does not control user behavior, nor have we reviewed every action taken by that user. Nonetheless, it is our general understanding that the user in question has behaved in accordance with our mission, with the general goal of making public domain materials available via our Wikimedia Commons project, and in accordance with applicable law.”

The Foundation added in its statement that as far as it was aware, the NPG had not attempted “constructive dialogue”, and that the volunteer community was presently discussing the matter independently.

In part, the lack of past agreement may have been because of a misunderstanding by the National Portrait Gallery of Commons and Wikipedia’s free content mandate; and of the differences between Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikimedia Commons, and the individual volunteer workers who participate on the various projects supported by the Foundation.

Like Coetzee, Ryan Kaldari is a volunteer worker who does not represent Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Commons. (Such representation is impossible. Both Wikipedia and the Commons are endeavours supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, and not organizations in themselves.) Nor, again like Coetzee, does he represent the Wikimedia Foundation.

Kaldari states that he explained the free content mandate to Bailey. Bailey had, according to copies of his messages provided by Kaldari, offered content to Wikipedia (naming as an example the photograph of John Opie‘s 1797 portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, whose copyright term has since expired) but on condition that it not be free content, but would be subject to restrictions on its distribution that would have made it impossible to use by any of the many organizations that make use of Wikipedia articles and the Commons repository, in the way that their site-wide “usable by anyone” licences ensures.

The proposed restrictions would have also made it impossible to host the images on Wikimedia Commons. The image of the National Portrait Gallery in this article, above, is one such free content image; it was provided and uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence, and is thus able to be used and republished not only on Wikipedia but also on Wikinews, on other Wikimedia Foundation projects, as well as by anyone in the world, subject to the terms of the GFDL, a license that guarantees attribution is provided to the creators of the image.

As Commons has grown, many other organizations have come to different arrangements with volunteers who work at the Wikimedia Commons and at Wikipedia. For example, in February 2009, fifteen international museums including the Brooklyn Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum established a month-long competition where users were invited to visit in small teams and take high quality photographs of their non-copyright paintings and other exhibits, for upload to Wikimedia Commons and similar websites (with restrictions as to equipment, required in order to conserve the exhibits), as part of the “Wikipedia Loves Art” contest.

Approached for comment by Wikinews, Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, said “It’s pretty clear that these images themselves should be in the public domain. There is a clear public interest in making sure paintings and other works are usable by anyone once their term of copyright expires. This is what US courts have recognised, whatever the situation in UK law.”

The Digital Britain report, issued by the U.K.’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport in June 2009, stated that “Public cultural institutions like Tate, the Royal Opera House, the RSC, the Film Council and many other museums, libraries, archives and galleries around the country now reach a wider public online.” Culture minster Ben Bradshaw was also approached by Wikinews for comment on the public policy issues surrounding the on-line availability of works in the public domain held in galleries, re-raised by the NPG’s threat of legal action, but had not responded by publication time.

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G20 protests: Inside a labour march

Wikinews accredited reporter Killing Vector traveled to the G-20 2009 summit protests in London with a group of protesters. This is his personal account.

Friday, April 3, 2009

London — “Protest”, says Ross Saunders, “is basically theatre”.

It’s seven a.m. and I’m on a mini-bus heading east on the M4 motorway from Cardiff toward London. I’m riding with seventeen members of the Cardiff Socialist Party, of which Saunders is branch secretary for the Cardiff West branch; they’re going to participate in a march that’s part of the protests against the G-20 meeting.

Before we boarded the minibus Saunders made a speech outlining the reasons for the march. He said they were “fighting for jobs for young people, fighting for free education, fighting for our share of the wealth, which we create.” His anger is directed at the government’s response to the economic downturn: “Now that the recession is underway, they’ve been trying to shoulder more of the burden onto the people, and onto the young people…they’re expecting us to pay for it.” He compared the protest to the Jarrow March and to the miners’ strikes which were hugely influential in the history of the British labour movement. The people assembled, though, aren’t miners or industrial workers — they’re university students or recent graduates, and the march they’re going to participate in is the Youth Fight For Jobs.

The Socialist Party was formerly part of the Labour Party, which has ruled the United Kingdom since 1997 and remains a member of the Socialist International. On the bus, Saunders and some of his cohorts — they occasionally, especially the older members, address each other as “comrade” — explains their view on how the split with Labour came about. As the Third Way became the dominant voice in the Labour Party, culminating with the replacement of Neil Kinnock with Tony Blair as party leader, the Socialist cadre became increasingly disaffected. “There used to be democratic structures, political meetings” within the party, they say. The branch meetings still exist but “now, they passed a resolution calling for renationalisation of the railways, and they [the party leadership] just ignored it.” They claim that the disaffection with New Labour has caused the party to lose “half its membership” and that people are seeking alternatives. Since the economic crisis began, Cardiff West’s membership has doubled, to 25 members, and the RMT has organized itself as a political movement running candidates in the 2009 EU Parliament election. The right-wing British National Party or BNP is making gains as well, though.

Talk on the bus is mostly political and the news of yesterday’s violence at the G-20 demonstrations, where a bank was stormed by protesters and 87 were arrested, is thick in the air. One member comments on the invasion of a RBS building in which phone lines were cut and furniture was destroyed: “It’s not very constructive but it does make you smile.” Another, reading about developments at the conference which have set France and Germany opposing the UK and the United States, says sardonically, “we’re going to stop all the squabbles — they’re going to unite against us. That’s what happens.” She recounts how, in her native Sweden during the Second World War, a national unity government was formed among all major parties, and Swedish communists were interned in camps, while Nazi-leaning parties were left unmolested.

In London around 11am the march assembles on Camberwell Green. About 250 people are here, from many parts of Britain; I meet marchers from Newcastle, Manchester, Leicester, and especially organized-labor stronghold Sheffield. The sky is grey but the atmosphere is convivial; five members of London’s Metropolitan Police are present, and they’re all smiling. Most marchers are young, some as young as high school age, but a few are older; some teachers, including members of the Lewisham and Sheffield chapters of the National Union of Teachers, are carrying banners in support of their students.

Gordon Brown’s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!’

Stewards hand out sheets of paper with the words to call-and-response chants on them. Some are youth-oriented and education-oriented, like the jaunty “Gordon Brown‘s a Tory/He wears a Tory hat/And when he saw our uni fees/He said ‘I’ll double that!'” (sung to the tune of the Lonnie Donegan song “My Old Man’s a Dustman“); but many are standbys of organized labour, including the infamous “workers of the world, unite!“. It also outlines the goals of the protest, as “demands”: “The right to a decent job for all, with a living wage of at least £8 and hour. No to cheap labour apprenticeships! for all apprenticeships to pay at least the minimum wage, with a job guaranteed at the end. No to university fees. support the campaign to defeat fees.” Another steward with a megaphone and a bright red t-shirt talks the assembled protesters through the basics of call-and-response chanting.

Finally the march gets underway, traveling through the London boroughs of Camberwell and Southwark. Along the route of the march more police follow along, escorting and guiding the march and watching it carefully, while a police van with flashing lights clears the route in front of it. On the surface the atmosphere is enthusiastic, but everyone freezes for a second as a siren is heard behind them; it turns out to be a passing ambulance.

Crossing Southwark Bridge, the march enters the City of London, the comparably small but dense area containing London’s financial and economic heart. Although one recipient of the protesters’ anger is the Bank of England, the march does not stop in the City, only passing through the streets by the London Exchange. Tourists on buses and businessmen in pinstripe suits record snippets of the march on their mobile phones as it passes them; as it goes past a branch of HSBC the employees gather at the glass store front and watch nervously. The time in the City is brief; rather than continue into the very centre of London the march turns east and, passing the Tower of London, proceeds into the poor, largely immigrant neighbourhoods of the Tower Hamlets.

The sun has come out, and the spirits of the protesters have remained high. But few people, only occasional faces at windows in the blocks of apartments, are here to see the march and it is in Wapping High Street that I hear my first complaint from the marchers. Peter, a steward, complains that the police have taken the march off its original route and onto back streets where “there’s nobody to protest to”. I ask how he feels about the possibility of violence, noting the incidents the day before, and he replies that it was “justified aggression”. “We don’t condone it but people have only got certain limitations.”

There’s nobody to protest to!

A policeman I ask is very polite but noncommittal about the change in route. “The students are getting the message out”, he says, so there’s no problem. “Everyone’s very well behaved” in his assessment and the atmosphere is “very positive”. Another protestor, a sign-carrying university student from Sheffield, half-heartedly returns the compliment: today, she says, “the police have been surprisingly unridiculous.”

The march pauses just before it enters Cable Street. Here, in 1936, was the site of the Battle of Cable Street, and the march leader, addressing the protesters through her megaphone, marks the moment. She draws a parallel between the British Union of Fascists of the 1930s and the much smaller BNP today, and as the protesters follow the East London street their chant becomes “The BNP tell racist lies/We fight back and organise!”

In Victoria Park — “The People’s Park” as it was sometimes known — the march stops for lunch. The trade unions of East London have organized and paid for a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and tea, and, picnic-style, the marchers enjoy their meals as organized labor veterans give brief speeches about industrial actions from a small raised platform.

A demonstration is always a means to and end.

During the rally I have the opportunity to speak with Neil Cafferky, a Galway-born Londoner and the London organizer of the Youth Fight For Jobs march. I ask him first about why, despite being surrounded by red banners and quotes from Karl Marx, I haven’t once heard the word “communism” used all day. He explains that, while he considers himself a Marxist and a Trotskyist, the word communism has negative connotations that would “act as a barrier” to getting people involved: the Socialist Party wants to avoid the discussion of its position on the USSR and disassociate itself from Stalinism. What the Socialists favor, he says, is “democratic planned production” with “the working class, the youths brought into the heart of decision making.”

On the subject of the police’s re-routing of the march, he says the new route is actually the synthesis of two proposals. Originally the march was to have gone from Camberwell Green to the Houses of Parliament, then across the sites of the 2012 Olympics and finally to the ExCel Centre. The police, meanwhile, wanted there to be no march at all.

The Metropolitan Police had argued that, with only 650 trained traffic officers on the force and most of those providing security at the ExCel Centre itself, there simply wasn’t the manpower available to close main streets, so a route along back streets was necessary if the march was to go ahead at all. Cafferky is sceptical of the police explanation. “It’s all very well having concern for health and safety,” he responds. “Our concern is using planning to block protest.”

He accuses the police and the government of having used legal, bureaucratic and even violent means to block protests. Talking about marches having to defend themselves, he says “if the police set out with the intention of assaulting marches then violence is unavoidable.” He says the police have been known to insert “provocateurs” into marches, which have to be isolated. He also asserts the right of marches to defend themselves when attacked, although this “must be done in a disciplined manner”.

He says he wasn’t present at yesterday’s demonstrations and so can’t comment on the accusations of violence against police. But, he says, there is often provocative behavior on both sides. Rather than reject violence outright, Cafferky argues that there needs to be “clear political understanding of the role of violence” and calls it “counter-productive”.

Demonstration overall, though, he says, is always a useful tool, although “a demonstration is always a means to an end” rather than an end in itself. He mentions other ongoing industrial actions such as the occupation of the Visteon plant in Enfield; 200 fired workers at the factory have been occupying the plant since April 1, and states the solidarity between the youth marchers and the industrial workers.

I also speak briefly with members of the International Bolshevik Tendency, a small group of left-wing activists who have brought some signs to the rally. The Bolsheviks say that, like the Socialists, they’re Trotskyists, but have differences with them on the idea of organization; the International Bolshevik Tendency believes that control of the party representing the working class should be less democratic and instead be in the hands of a team of experts in history and politics. Relations between the two groups are “chilly”, says one.

At 2:30 the march resumes. Rather than proceeding to the ExCel Centre itself, though, it makes its way to a station of London’s Docklands Light Railway; on the way, several of East London’s school-aged youths join the march, and on reaching Canning Town the group is some 300 strong. Proceeding on foot through the borough, the Youth Fight For Jobs reaches the protest site outside the G-20 meeting.

It’s impossible to legally get too close to the conference itself. Police are guarding every approach, and have formed a double cordon between the protest area and the route that motorcades take into and out of the conference venue. Most are un-armed, in the tradition of London police; only a few even carry truncheons. Closer to the building, though, a few machine gun-armed riot police are present, standing out sharply in their black uniforms against the high-visibility yellow vests of the Metropolitan Police. The G-20 conference itself, which started a few hours before the march began, is already winding down, and about a thousand protesters are present.

I see three large groups: the Youth Fight For Jobs avoids going into the center of the protest area, instead staying in their own group at the admonition of the stewards and listening to a series of guest speakers who tell them about current industrial actions and the organization of the Youth Fight’s upcoming rally at UCL. A second group carries the Ogaden National Liberation Front‘s flag and is campaigning for recognition of an autonomous homeland in eastern Ethiopia. Others protesting the Ethiopian government make up the third group; waving old Ethiopian flags, including the Lion of Judah standard of emperor Haile Selassie, they demand that foreign aid to Ethiopia be tied to democratization in that country: “No recovery without democracy”.

A set of abandoned signs tied to bollards indicate that the CND has been here, but has already gone home; they were demanding the abandonment of nuclear weapons. But apart from a handful of individuals with handmade, cardboard signs I see no groups addressing the G-20 meeting itself, other than the Youth Fight For Jobs’ slogans concerning the bailout. But when a motorcade passes, catcalls and jeers are heard.

It’s now 5pm and, after four hours of driving, five hours marching and one hour at the G-20, Cardiff’s Socialists are returning home. I board the bus with them and, navigating slowly through the snarled London traffic, we listen to BBC Radio 4. The news is reporting on the closure of the G-20 conference; while they take time out to mention that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper delayed the traditional group photograph of the G-20’s world leaders because “he was on the loo“, no mention is made of today’s protests. Those listening in the bus are disappointed by the lack of coverage.

Most people on the return trip are tired. Many sleep. Others read the latest issue of The Socialist, the Socialist Party’s newspaper. Mia quietly sings “The Internationale” in Swedish.

Due to the traffic, the journey back to Cardiff will be even longer than the journey to London. Over the objections of a few of its members, the South Welsh participants in the Youth Fight For Jobs stop at a McDonald’s before returning to the M4 and home.

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Grace Bowman withdraws from 2012 Paralympic Dressage Individual Championship Test – Grade II event

Saturday, September 1, 2012

London, England — Earlier today at the Greenwich Park, riding third in the Paralympic Dressage Individual Championship Test – Grade II, Grace Bowman withdrew mid-ride after a series of low scores during the event. Bowman was Australia’s only rider in this event.

Prior to entering the competition ring, Bowman’s horse Kirby Park Joy was in poor form, with Bowman unable to get control of her, showing little harmony between horse and rider. With a score of 70% or better expected for the best competitors, Bowman started with 48.0% on the halt salute, 44% on the half circle and 48.7% on the medium trot. Things did not get better as the ride continued, with Bowman earning a 45.8% in the reinback, 39.8% for the circle R 8m and 37.3% for the circle L 8m. Shortly after this, Bowman signaled to the judges her desire to withdraw from the ride. In the competition ring, she was frequently pulling on the reins as Kirby Park Joy was frequently tossing her head. According to a Dutch equestrian journalist, her horse was not agreeing with her from the start. Bowman left the field of play in tears.

Bowman had said this event was her favorite, telling the media Thursday following her ride in the team competition, “I enjoy the individual test best of all, but don’t like the freestyle — it’s my least favourite.”

Kirby Park Joy has had problems in London, with Bowman telling the media, “She was a bit tense and didn’t like the big scoreboard ahead of us, so our score was much lower than usual.” Australian Team Manager Sally Francis confirmed this, saying in a media release, “Grace’s horse has had some issues with the sight screen in the arena. […] Grace did well to control her during the team test and finish [Thursday]. We’ve been working very closely with her horse since to try to alleviate any stress it might be under.”

It isn’t the first time Bowman has had horse problems at the Paralympics; her horse at the 2008 Summer Paralympics had similar issues.

Bowman’s London Paralympic campaign has come to an end without a medal, after having finished 21st Thursday in the Team Test – Grade II event.

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Nopalea At The Spa

By Frank Yaconis

Nopalea Juice, which is made from the Prickly Pear Cactus, appears to be one of the most useful plants in the world for human consumption. You can eat it, you can drink it and now you can be massaged by it. Apparently, a Mexican luxury resort treats its interested guests to massages with a prickly free version of the plant mixed with Agave and tequila.

A cactus massage is only one of the interesting services offered to guests at spas around the world. Adventurous spa goers can also see out the following services, that include obtaining a fish pedicure, where fish eat the dead skin off your feet; a snake massage where a masseuse dribbles one or two snakes on your back and lets them slither around; a facial made from thin gold strips laid on the face, which is said to have originated with Cleopatra; a rear-end buffing and waxing procedure; and bathing in a pool of wine or a vat of beer.

For those of us who view the cactus as a food and medicine (it is renowned for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties), there are many ways to ingest it.

The prickly pear cactus grows all across North America, where it is a native species, but it has also been transplanted around the world. But remember it is a native to Mexico and the southern United States.

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Its use as a food and medicine dates back to the Aztecs who also ate it and harvested it for its medicinal qualities.

If you want to drink the plant for its benefits, the easiest method is to buy Nopalea Juice, which is an all-natural mixture that combines the cactus with Agave juice and several other tasty and healthy fruits. It is overflowing with a variety of vitamins and minerals.

There are many ways to eat the plant. You can grill, broil, fry or boil the pads, which are called Nopalitos. They are delicious and taste a bit like asparagus or green beans. Many people just add oil or butter and eat them plain this way. By the way, nopalitos means cactus stem.

The fruit of the prickly pear cactus (which is where the term “pear” comes from) can also be eaten. The plant erupts into beautiful blossoms, as well that are yellow, purple or red. They are also edible.

Did you know that the meat and fruit and blossoms from the cactus are made into numerous foods? They are used for making candy, with tuna in a salad, in chili, stews, salads, salsas and even soups. Authentic Mexican restaurants will almost always have them on the menu. A very popular way for a restaurant to serve the cactus is with eggs or in tacos. With eggs, they are called heuvos con Nopales, if you see that you know it is the cactus.

The cactus is very good for you — so nutritious. It is chock full of dietary fiber and has numerous vitamins and minerals. It is a great way to eat something healthy, while you are also taking steps to prevent future diseases and ailments. Good for your body now and later.

About the Author: Frank Yocanis has been researching and writing about the health benefits of

Nopalea Cactus

for the past decade. He has even traveled to the Sonoran desert half a dozen times to study

Nopalea

in the plant’s homeland. He is excited to share how this antioxidant-rich drink can change your life.

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=705945&ca=Wellness%2C+Fitness+and+Diet

Interview: Drupal founder Dries Buytaert balances community and company interests

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In the year 2000, Dries Buytaert created Drupal, a freely licensed and open source tool to manage websites, as a bulletin board for his college dorm. Since Dries released the software and a community of thousands of volunteer developers have added and improved modules, Drupal has grown immensely popular. Drupal won the overall Open CMS Award in 2007, and some speakers in Drupal’s spacious developer’s room at FOSDEM 2008 were dreaming aloud of its world domination.

Buytaert (now 29) just finished his doctoral thesis and has founded the start-up Acquia. The new company wants to become Drupal’s best friend, with the help of an all-star team and US$7 million collected from venture capitalists. Wikinews reporter Michaël Laurent sat down with Dries in Brussels to discuss these recent exciting developments.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Interview:_Drupal_founder_Dries_Buytaert_balances_community_and_company_interests&oldid=4635194”

Wikinews interviews Kristian Hanson, producer-director of indie horror film ‘Sledge’

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Just days away from Halloween, Wikinews interviewed Kristian Hanson, producer-director of independent slasher film Sledge. The film has been a recent source of discussion in horror fan circles, primarily due to its production budget of only US$800. Sledge is Hanson’s fourth film to direct, according to Internet Movie Database.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Wikinews_interviews_Kristian_Hanson,_producer-director_of_indie_horror_film_%27Sledge%27&oldid=4567509”

The Wii, Nintendo’s next generation console, launches in North America

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nintendo has released its newest video game console in North America. Known as the Wii, the system and games have an MSRP of US$249.99 and US$49.99 respectively. The North American release is to be followed by the December 2nd launch in Japan and the December 8th launch in Europe.

Launched officially at midnight, more than a thousand people gathered in New York’s Time Square to be among the first to buy one of the Wii. In contrast to the crowds that have challenged crowd control officials over the last two days in connection with the launch of Sony’s Playstation 3, the Wii crowds have been much calmer. Many observers attribute this to the fact that Nintendo had more than ten times as many Wii consoles available on launching day than Sony did for their PS3 that had been hounded by part shortages in manufacturing right up to the day of launch.

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said that several tough choices had been made in the design of the Wii. The company decided to develop a new way of playing games with revolutionary controllers instead of following the PS3 and the Xbox down the road of stunning graphic and multimedia options. This produced a console with a much talked-about sensor/controller design and the lowest price point of the three major consoles. While not having a DVD player or high-definition TV capabilities, the Wii retails for about $250 while its competitors the Xbox 360 and PS3 retail for about $400 and $600 respectively.

While the Wii will launch with several games available, one of its advertised advantages is that the new console is largely compatible with older games made for the GameCube, giving the new console an instant and extensive launching library. A GameCube controller will be needed to play GameCube games with the Wii. Several hardware items that GameCube games may be expecting, such as the modem or broadband adapter or the GameBoy player are not supported on the Wii.

Across the country in Los Angeles about 500 people were waiting for the doors to open at Universal City Walk’s Game Stop store. Fearing that the Wii introduction might be as contentious as the PS3 debut just a few days ago, the store handed out numbered wristbands to the throng. No problems were reported.

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Tips On How To Get Cheap Car Insurance In Tulsa Ok

byAlma Abell

Have you been searching for Cheap Car Insurance in Tulsa OK? If so, you’re not alone. Every day there are thousands of drivers who actively search for ways to lower their auto insurance rates. Unfortunately, most people struggle to significantly reduce their rates, and feel like they will be stuck paying high insurance premiums forever. If you’re one of the many people who are tired of paying high insurance rates, you should know there are several tips you can follow to greatly reduce your insurance rates.

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One thing you can do to get Cheap Car Insurance in Tulsa OK, is to get a multi-policy discount. If you’re not familiar with what a multi-policy discount is, it is simply when you group multiple insurance products together. For example, if you currently have a car and a motorcycle, purchasing coverage from the same company could reduce your rates by about twenty percent. You can also reduce your insurance rates if you lower the amount of insurance coverage you have. For example, if your vehicle is more than fifteen years old, reducing your coverage to liability only could reduce your costs by up to fifty percent.

Another thing you can do to get cheaper insurance is to shop around. There are more insurance companies than ever before, and most of them are willing to compete with your current carrier to get your business. Many people have also found they are able to reduce their insurance rates by increasing the deductible hey have on their policy. If you currently have a five hundred dollar deductible, increasing it to at least one thousand dollars could reduce your rates by up to ten percent. Improving your credit score can also reduce the amount you have to pay for car insurance, too.

As you can see, there are several things you can do to get cheaper car insurance. If you’re tired of paying high rates, and are ready to get a quote from another company, you should contact AES Insurance Brokers. They will happily provide you with a free quote over the telephone, or you can look at this website to get a quote as well. Keep in mind that if you’re interested in other insurance products, such as homeowners insurance or boat insurance, this company is happy to get you quotes for these products, too.

Niece of Scientology’s leader goes public with criticism

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The niece of the Church of Scientology‘s top leader David Miscavige has come forward publicly with criticism of the organization and of Scientology practices. Jenna Miscavige Hill, daughter of David Miscavige’s older brother Ron Miscavige, described Scientology policies which broke apart her family and continue to keep members of her family from talking to each other. Hill criticized Scientology practices in a letter to a public relations spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology and in a broadcast of the television program Inside Edition which aired Tuesday, and was interviewed by an investigative journalist for the New York Post.

Hill wrote an open letter addressed to Karin Pouw, Public Affairs Director of the Church of Scientology International, in response to a 15-page statement issued by Pouw on January 14 which was highly critical of Andrew Morton‘s new book on prominent Scientologist Tom Cruise, Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography. Hill’s letter was posted to the Internet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology on January 25, and has since been widely posted on other Internet message boards.

I am absolutely shocked at how vehemently you insist upon not only denying the truths that have been stated about the church in that biography, but then take it a step further and tell outright lies.

In Pouw’s statement on Morton’s book, she called it a “bigoted defamatory assault replete with lies”. In her letter to Pouw, Hill responded “I am absolutely shocked at how vehemently you insist upon not only denying the truths that have been stated about the church in that biography, but then take it a step further and tell outright lies.” Specifically, Hill rebuked the Church of Scientology’s denial of a practice called “disconnection“, where members are instructed to sever all ties with friends and family who are critical of Scientology and deemed a “Suppressive Person“, or SP.

Hill wrote that it was this particular policy which broke up her family when she was 16, going on to detail how the Church of Scientology restricted her communications with her parents: “Not only was I not allowed to speak to them, I was not allowed to answer a phone for well over a year, in case it was them calling me.”

The church does not respond to newsgroup postings.

When contacted for a comment on Hill’s letter, Karin Pouw told the Agence France-Presse: “The church stands by its statement of 14 January. The church does not respond to newsgroup postings.” Hill explained her motivation for writing the letter to the Agence France-Presse: “My intention is to put it on a public forum so they are pressured into changing their ways — even if it is just to cover for themselves.”

In a broadcast of the television program Inside Edition which aired Tuesday, Hill spoke with reporter Les Trent about Scientology’s disconnection policy. Hill described a pregnant friend whose parents are still members of the Church of Scientology; but will not speak with her: “She lives in L.A. – her parents live right around the hill from her, you know she tried to call them when she was having her first child, and they were like: ‘No, sorry, I can’t speak to you.'” The Church of Scientology told Inside Edition that the allegation made by Hill is “the opposite of what the church believes and practices.” Hill last spoke to her uncle David Miscavige four years ago, around the same time that she viewed a promotional video featuring Tom Cruise, at an awards ceremony. This video was recently leaked to the Internet and appeared on the video sharing site YouTube. YouTube took the video down due to a legal complaint from the Church of Scientology, but though the website Gawker.com received a similar legal complaint, Gawker has stated that the video is newsworthy and will not be removed.

Just as L. Ron Hubbard’s family was rocked with turmoil, so it seems is Miscavige’s.

Prominent free speech activist and critic of Scientology David S. Touretzky commented on these recent developments, in an interview Wednesday with Wikinews reporter Nicholas Turnbull: “She has nothing to do with Chanology [the recent anti-Scientology movement that has gathered on Internet message boards], but what we’re seeing here is a “perfect storm” of entheta [material considered negative by Scientology]. It’s all coming together in a chain reaction: The Tom Cruise video, Andrew Morton’s bio, Kirstie Alley’s craziness, Kimora Lee Simmons, Jenna Miscavige, and there’s more to come!” Another critic of Scientology, Mark Bunker of the website XenuTV.com, compared the recent revelations to troubles in Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard‘s family: “Just as L. Ron Hubbard’s family was rocked with turmoil, so it seems is Miscavige’s.” Bunker commented on the Inside Edition piece: “This is a jaw-dropping TV segment — although Inside Edition clearly didn’t understand just how important a story they had.”

In an interview published Wednesday in the New York Post, Hill stated that she has been harassed by the Church of Scientology for speaking out against the organization: “The church has contacted several of my friends, telling them that I am smearing the church and I am going to be declared a suppressive person and asking my friends if they would disconnect from me and, in at least one case, insisting that they do.” The New York Post attempted to contact Karin Pouw for a comment, but she did not respond in time for their publication.

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Civilians testify to Halliburton fraud, coercion

June 28, 2005

The Democratic Party held a public committee, aired on C-SPAN 3, at which former civilian employees based in or administering operations in Iraq, testified to specific instances of waste, fraud, and other abuses and irregularities by Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR).

Allegations of fraud by Halliburton, specifically with regard to its operations in Iraq, have persisted since before the Iraq War. The associations between U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, have been the basis for repeated speculation over possible political improprieties and business profiteering from the war.

Among the senators and representatives present at the hearing were Byron Dorgan (presiding), Henry Waxman, Frank Lautenberg, and Mark Dayton.

Among those testifying were Bunny Greenhouse, former Chief Contracting Officer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rory Mayberry, former Food Program Manager for Halliburton subsidiary, and Allan Waller, of the Lloyd-Owen International security and operations firm.

Greenhouse, who provided the bulk of testimony, spoke for several minutes about her involvement in the evaluation and crafting of government Army contracts, and how explaining how superiors undermined and dismissed her concerns of illegal business practices. “Ultimately my main concern was the repeated insistence that the Rio contract be awarded to KBR without competitive bidding,” Greenhouse said. She testified to have been given misinformation in answer to her complaints, and being “overtly misled” by KBR managers.

Mayberry, still in Iraq, testified by video from questions prepared by the committee. He said that KBR routinely sold expired food rations to the Army. The interviewer asked, “Are you saying that Halliburton deliberately falsified the number of meals they prepared and then submitted false claims for reimbursement and that they did this to make up for past amounts auditors had disallowed?” Mayberry firmly answered “Yes.” He said that serving expired food ration was “an everyday occurrence, sometimes every meal.” He explained that Halliburton systematically overcharged for the number of meals as well, saying, “they were charging for 20,000 meals and they were only serving 10,000 meals.” Dorgan later commented, “obviously there’s no honor here, by a company that would serve outdated food to our troops in Iraq.”

Mayberry also claimed would-be whistleblowers were threatened “to be sent to Falluja” and other “places under fire” if they talked to media or governmental oversight officials. In 2003 and 2004, Falluja had been well known as dangerous for foreign troops and civilians. “I personally was sent to Falluja for three weeks. The manager told me that I was being sent away until the auditors were gone, because I had talked to the auditors,” Mayberry said.

“The threat of being sent to a camp under fire was their way of keeping us quiet. The employees who talked to auditors were sent to camps under more fire than other camps, and Anaconda.” This report led Dorgan and others to voice considerable outrage that U.S. citizens would be personally threatened with harm for talking to oversight officials or media.

Allan Waller testified to specific examples of how KBR officials had conspired in blocking Lloyd-Owen fuel transports, and using other coercive means against its competitor. The British Lloyd-Owen has a direct contract with the Iraq government to provide fuel to various parts of the country.

In his introductory remarks, Dorgan explained that Senate Republicans had blocked or ignored any requests by Democrats to have a formal bipartisan hearing, resulting in the need for an independent committee.

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