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Adventures across the UK

It’s been a busy couple of months for me since I last wrote a personal blog update. So if you happen to be interested in the inanities and general goings on in my life, read on…

Earlier this month I travelled to London to attend the Rebellious Media Conference, a gathering of journalists, political activists and other radical media types for two days based in the city centre. The keynote speaker was Professor Noam Chomsky, who delivered a fantastic lecture on the current state of affairs with regard to military conflict, the economic crisis and progressive resistance. Chomsky is a personal hero of mine, as he is for many on the left, and despite being 82 years old he retains his superb intellect and razor sharp analysis. Other sessions included speakers such as John Pilger, Greg Philio, Laurie Penny and Michael Albert. Several of the workshops I attended, such as those on the recent riots, or discussing local alternative media, also gave me a heck of a lot of food for thought.

Attending the conference also provided me with an excuse to take a few extra days in London, a place which I hadn’t visited for around a decade. I made sure to visit the major tourist hot spots (taking in the landmarks and museums) though this also allowed me time to meet up with some of my friends, both old and new, for several intoxicating adventures across the city.

In academic news, I have now begun to study for my DD203 Open University module and am currently in the process of drafting my first assignment, due in at the end of this month. The course material so far seems fairly interesting, though I do have to confess that I have struggled to remain enthused given the initial slow pace of the study schedule. However, I imagine that once the material delves into specifics and the workload becomes a little more demanding it should help to focus my concentration somewhat.

Although my studying has somewhat limited the time I can spend on it, I have nevertheless experienced some further success in enabling my writing to be viewed by a wider audience. Last month I was invited to become a blogger for the Huffington Post. My first article for the site was a piece I wrote discussing British media coverage of immigration and attempting to debunk some of the more harmful misconceptions.

I have also written a second article for the New Left Project website, which provides a brief history of political party funding and suggests potential options for reform. This piece was fairly complex to write (with some assistance from the editors) and required plenty of research, but I’m quite impressed with how it turned out in the end. I’ve also continued writing for Passing Nightmare and Minority Thought, most recently with a piece discussing the Iranian ‘terror plot’.

Closer to home, yesterday I paid a visit to Occupy Manchester, based in the Peace Gardens at St Peters Square. The camp is part of a global movement protesting against rising inequality, corporate greed and government cuts, whilst also urging reform of the financial sector to attempt to ensure that the poor do not pay for a crisis created by the rich. The Peace Gardens has now been occupied for almost three weeks and I stopped by to drop off some supplies and chat to those living in the camp. Those whom I spoke with were truly committed to the cause and many were quite eloquent and insightful in explaining their reasons for joining the occupation. I hope to be able to visit the camp again over the next week or so.

Finally, whilst I’m discussing local projects I wanted to quickly mention a fantastic little group I’ve been attending recently. Manchester Film Cooperative is based in Salford and hosts a monthly meeting, screening films which challenge current economics, politics and society. I’ve already watched some superb films there as part of their ‘Surveillance’ season, so it’s certainly worth checking out if you live nearby.

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