Remotely Controlled Killing Machines Made In The UK .. From 10-13 September, London’s ExCeL Centre hosted…
Rosa Parks ..
It was 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, and Rosa, a 42 year-old African-American, was on the number 2857 bus home.
She was in an area reserved for black people but the bus filled up and custom meant she was expected to give up her seat as white passengers were having to stand.
Rosa was arrested and convicted but her defiance helped change race relations across the world and she became a leading civil rights activist.
She died in 2005 at the age of 92.
( Beth Neil )
The Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory, 1560 – 1614 ..
There were no laws in medieval Hungary that could touch a noble countess, and depraved murderer Elizabeth Bathory abused her power and position for all it was worth.
Luring the prettiest local village girls to her huge castle with promises of paid work, the vain, capricious woman would torture and kill in some of the sickest, most sadistic ways.
There was also often a sexual element to her murders and she would sometimes force young women to lick the blood of other victims off her nude body.
Bathory’s obsession with blood –– she even enjoyed bathing in the fresh blood of her young victims straight after a murder, believing it would help keep her youthful and improve her complexion –– led to her being dubbed “The Blood Countess”.
Torturing and killing with impunity for decades, the evil countess managed to wipe out most of the peasant girls in her area and later moved on to those of higher birth.
She was finally arrested by special royal decree and accused of the murder of more than 650 girls and young women, making her history’s most prolific female serial killer by a distance.
However, she was neither tried nor convicted.
In 1610, she was sealed into her private apartment (with small slots left open for air and food) in Csejte Castle, now in Slovakia.
She died four years later.
Grace Darling, 1815 – 1842 ..
A Victorian heroine, Grace Darling lived in a lighthouse on the Farne Islands, off the Northumberland coast, with her father.
In the autumn of 1838, looking out of her window she spotted the wreck and survivors of the SS Forfarshire on a nearby rocky island.
Despite the terrible weather, she and her father rowed out and rescued 13 survivors.
That part of the North Sea can be incredibly rough and stormy, and you have to admire the courage of this brave young woman.
Tragically, she died of tuberculosis just a few years later at 27. In a way, she was the first ‘common woman’ to achieve fame for a great deed.
The courage she displayed was a very visible display of female capabilities, which arguably helped change the way women were perceived in the 19th century.
Frances Buss, 1827 – 1894 ..
A pioneer of female education, Frances Buss helped change the way that women were taught.
Until her time, most girls were lucky to receive any schooling at all, and when they did they were usually only taught things like needlework.
The daughter of a painter and etcher, she just thought that it was a terrible waste.
When she became the first headmistress of the North London Collegiate School in 1850 (which had been founded by her mother five years earlier), Buss argued that the world would be a better place if women were educated, and under her headship it became a model school.
A lifelong suffragist (rather than suffragette), Buss helped kick-start a revolution in female education from which all women have benefited.
Emily Davison ..
One of the most prominent Suffragettes, Emily lived and died for the cause.
She was appalled at the way women were treated – particularly being denied the right to vote – and joined Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union in 1906.
Her protests would often lead to imprisonment but she would continue campaigning in jail and she went on hunger strike in Strangeways.
Emily was killed aged 40 in 1913 at the Epsom Derby after throwing herself in front of the King’s horse, Anmer.
Some believe that she had been planning to attach the WSPU flag to the animal.
( Beth Neil )
Benazir Bhutto ..
The twice prime minister of Pakistan had followed her dad into politics – and, like him, lost her life because of it.
She vehemently denied allegations of corruption but relocated to Dubai before returning in 2007 after being granted amnesty from the charges.
She became leader of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party but was shot at a political rally in December 2007 before a suicide bomb went off moments later.
Benazir was 54.
( Beth Neil )
The First Lady Of The Suffragettes ..
Born in 1869, Lady Constance Lytton was painfully shy and educated for nothing but marriage.
She only ever had one love affair – a tepid attachment to an impecunious soldier – and when it fizzled out she became a full-time companion to her widowed mother, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria.
In 1908, her life underwent an extraordinary transformation.
Seeking a good cause on which to spend a legacy from her great-aunt, Constance was invited to help a charity that encouraged working-class girls to take up morris dancing.
There she met Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and her husband, Fred, supporters of the women’s suffrage movement, and heard the stories of women who had gone to prison for their activism.
Among the suffragettes she found an irresistible combination of excitement, martyrdom and friendship.
After publishing a pamphlet in support of the cause, she rapidly moved on to direct action.
Sentenced to a month in prison, her photograph all over the papers, she was shocked when her working-class comrades were confined in ordinary cells, while she and Emmeline were sent to the relative comfort of the prison hospital.
In a defiant act of self-mutilation, she began to scratch ‘Votes for Women’ into her flesh with a needle, threatening to incise the words into her face unless she was moved to the cells.
The authorities gave in.
Renaming herself ‘Jane Warton’, she cut and dyed her hair, put on a pair of pence-nez, a shapeless tweed coat and a hat so dowdy that small boys jeered at her in the street.
At a demonstration in Liverpool, ‘Jane’ got herself arrested, and when she refused food, her jaw was forced open with a steel gag, a rubber tube was pushed down her throat and a mixture of milk, gruel, eggs, brandy sugar and beef tea poured in.
When she vomited, the doctor slapped her.
The process was repeated six times before her identity was discovered and she was released.
The public scandal was tremendous.
Constance, almost 6ft tall, left prison weighing just 7st 7lb.
She gave a speech at a packed Queen’s Hall, where many in the audience wept to hear her description of being force-fed.
Calls were made for a public inquiry.
The Home Office refused – insisting that force-feeding was no more than mildly unpleasant – but behind the scenes the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, introduced a number of concessions, including medical examinations of all prisoners before they were force-fed.
‘She has indeed gained a victory over the Government’, wrote Christabel Pankhurst.
But the victory was hard won.
Constance’s health was broken, and two years later, in 1912, she suffered a stroke.
She died in 1923, five years before women were granted the vote on the same terms as men.
( Jane Shilling )
Anne Frank ..
Anne’s Jewish family fled Nazi Germany and settled in Amsterdam but Hitler invaded the Netherlands in 1940.
The Franks began hiding in an annexe above her dad’s office and friends provided them with food and drink.
Teenager Anne recorded her feelings in her diary until August 1944, three days before Germans stormed the building.
She died aged 15 at the Bergen-Belsen death camp but her diary has become one of the most treasured books ever.
( Beth Neil )
The First Woman To Be Awarded The Military Cross ..
Michelle Norris showed outstanding bravery in Iraq in 2006 when she saved the life of a colleague who had been shot in the mouth.
Aged 19, the then private, from Stourbridge, West Midlands, leapt out of her patrol vehicle and dodged sniper fire to give treatment for three minutes before helping drag him to safety.
One bullet hit her rucksack.
( Beth Neil )
Boris Johnson ..
Born in New York in 1964, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has always been ambitious.
His sister Rachel said he wanted as a child to be “king of the world”.
Boris married his first wife, Allegra Mostyn-Owen, in 1987 after they met at Oxford, but split after allegedly having an affair with author and lawyer Marina Wheeler, whom he married in 1993.
Johnson then met fellow journalist Petronella Wyatt when he was the editor of The Spectator and she was one of his columnists.
The two began an affair shortly before he was elected Conservative MP for Henley in 2001.
The Sun newspaper reported news of their relationship in 2004, along with claims that Wyatt had fallen pregnant and had an abortion.
Britain’s Special Relationship With Israel ..
Britain has a special relationship with Israel that is little recognised in the mainstream media but unmissable in light of the killings in Gaza.
With more than 110 protesters dead, Britain is in effect defending Israeli actions.
The British government has not, as far as I have seen, actually condemned Israel for the killings.
Rather, it has simply ‘urged Israel to show restraint’ while recognising its ‘right to secure itself’ and also blaming Hamas for the violence.
When British Prime Minister Theresa May phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 10 May, by which date 40 Palestinian protesters in Gaza had already been shot, it appears she did not even raise the issue.
Meanwhile, the government infers it will not even review UK arms exports to Israel after the Gaza massacres which have only been discussed once in the British cabinet.
That Britain is supporting Israel over the Gaza killings is true to form.
The UK’s relationship with Israel is special in at least nine areas, including arms sales, air force, nuclear deployment, navy, intelligence and trade, to name but a few.
Britain abstained on the recent UN vote to authorise an investigation into the Gaza killings because it would not also investigate Hamas.
Instead, the UK supports Israel carrying out its own inquiry.
Last year, the Foreign Office refused to sign a joint statement at the Paris peace conference on Palestine, accusing it of ‘taking place against the wishes of the Israelis’.
( Mark Curtis, 05.06.2018 )
Boris Johnson’s Whirl-Winding Hypocrisy ..
In April 2016, Boris Johnson penned a column for the Daily Telegraph outlining the benefits of the EU, claiming that “the membership fee seems rather small for all that market access”.
Later that day, he defeated his own points by coming out for Brexit as one of the leaders of the Leave campaign – judging that it would better serve his career prospects than back remain.
Boris Johnson’s whirl-winding hypocrisy knows no bounds.
He backed single market membership during the campaign, only to later claim that single market is “not Brexit”, and he voted both for and against Theresa May’s Brexit deal on various occasions.
What’s more, he has written to Theresa May saying that ensuring “no border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should not be priority, just months after telling the House of Commons that “there can be no hard border”.
He is a man whose inflated ego far outstrips his judgement and principles, and his long history of flip-flopping deprives him of any credentials for leadership.
( Olaf Stando, 10.06.2019 )
Indira Gandhi ..
India’s only female prime minister remains a highly-revered stateswoman 35 years after she was assassinated.
She became involved with the Indian Independence movement before she led her country for the first time in 1966.
She was at the helm during the victorious war with Pakistan in 1971 that resulted in the liberation of Bangladesh.
She lost the 1977 election but regained power in 1980.
She was 66 and serving her fourth term when she was killed in 1984.
Nuclear Weapons In The Middle East ..
Israel is believed to possess 80 to 100 nuclear warheads, some of which are deployed on its submarines.
The UK is effectively aiding this nuclear deployment by supplying submarine components to Israel.
According to the commander of Haifa naval base, General David Salamah, Israel’s submarines regularly operate “deep within enemy territory”.
Britain has a long history of helping Israel to develop nuclear weapons.
In the 1950s and 1960s Conservative and Labour governments made hundreds of sales of nuclear materials to Israel, including plutonium and uranium.
The contrast with British policy towards Iran is striking.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson states that the UK is “adamant that a nuclear-armed Iran would never be acceptable” and thus maintains sanctions against Iran.
At the same time Britain refuses to adopt any sanctions against Israel, an actual nuclear state.
In 1995, the UK and other states agreed to a UN resolution to establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.
It is not known whether Britain has ever seriously pressed Israel on this.
( Mark Curtis, 05.06.2018 )