Hillsborough: Hoping that the truth will out and justice will prevail

Today, the Hillsborough Independent Panel will publish a report on the hundreds of thousands of documents related to the 1989 stadium disaster in Sheffield that it has spent the last two-and-a-half years scrutinising.

After 23 years, the survivors, the families of the victims and everyone affected by the events of 15 April 1989 will, hopefully, have a greater idea of not only what happened that day but what authorities did afterwards to cover for their dreadful inadequacies on that fateful day.

We will know, perhaps just what senior government figures really thought about what happened at Hillsborough and we will know just what could have been done to avert the awful death toll if the coroner did not impose the 3.15pm cut off point which has effectively meant that in one case the strong evidence assembled by Anne Williams about her son, Kevin, and his survival until nearly 4pm day that has never been officially recorded.

For anyone affected by the disaster it can only be hoped that today marks not the end but the beginning of the end and that the fight for justice will be greatly enhanced by the evidence that will be put before the world to see. At long last.

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Remembering Hillsborough 22 years on

I doubt it gets any easier for people like Anne Williams.

She still fights for justice for her son Kevin and when you meet her, her face bares all the emotional scars of that fight. Her voice and the way she speaks to you gives you just a sense of the anger she still feels towards those who caused her son’s death.

Last year, after the memorial service for the 21st anniversary, I interviewed Anne and found out a little about her story as part of a package I put together for JMU Journalism. Here is the interview in full:

Two years ago, Hillsborough was national news, I remember it led all news bulletins and the barracking that the Anfield crowd gave Andy Burnham was memorable and powerful and prompted action.

Action came in the form of a panel, the one Williams mentions sceptically, to comb through the unreleased state documents pertaining to Hillsborough in the hope of finding answers as to why no one has ever been held to account for the death of 96 football supporters at a football ground.

Today, Hillsborough will hardly be mentioned but the pain for those who lost family and friends and those who survived will go on and the city of Liverpool will pause to remember the 96 who never came home from a football match.

Gary Curtis was one of those who did come home but who lives with the trauma of the day everyday. Last year, I interviewed him as part of my package for JMU Journalism.

His journey to Anfield was the first time he had been back in a football ground since 1989. Speaking to him beforehand, you could hear the fear in his voice but thankfully he made it through the service and hopefully that, in someway, has helped his suffering.

Here’s the interview in full (the other questions come from Andy Downton from Heart FM):

I have no link to Hillsborough but as a Liverpool fan for all my life and someone who has lived and fallen in love with the city over the past four years I do feel a certain attachment to the events of 15 April 1989.

My thoughts are better encapsulated in this blog I wrote two years ago on the eve of the anniversary and as I contemplated doing my dissertation on the subject. In the end I didn’t for other, unconnected reasons.

My package in full for JMU Journalism on the 21st anniversary service can be heard here:

All that’s left to add is Justice for the 96. Please visit this website, learn and pass it on. To educate one, is to educate a thousand.

News Picks: Egypt and America’s duplicity, Obama and Reagan, Torres

Just a quick one this weekend…

Egypt

America’s duplicity in Egyptian crisis – Events in Egypt are moving very fast indeed. Last week we were being told that what had happened in Tunisia was unlikely to unfold in a similar way in Egypt. Yet here we are with thousands taking to the streets in defiance of curfews and President Hosni Mubarak’s regime looking decidely shaky.

Amidst it all America is playing a fine line between encouraging reform but not explicitly calling for the overthrowing of Mubarak. This is demonstrated beautifully by two stories that have come out this weekend.

One is about tear gas canisters, bearing the label “Made in U.S.A” being fired at protestors in Cairo whilst on the other hand the Daily Telegraph reports that the American government has secretly backed leading figures in the current uprising.

They speak for themselves.

US Politics

What Obama can learn from Reagan – President Barack Obama is learning a lot from an unlikely source, former two-term President Ronald Reagan. He took a biography of Reagan on holiday over Christmas and in trying to set the tone for the second half of his term in office, Obama sees “the Gipper” as a “point of reference.”

Torres

Sale won’t be popular but could be best for Liverpool – Liverpool fans are generally quite angry at the news of Fernando Torres handing in a transfer request following Chelsea’s rather cheeky bid for him last week. Liverpool rejected the bid and rejected the transfer request, being perfectly within their rights to do so.

However Sam Wallace in The Independent argues that the sale of the Spaniard may be in the best interests of the club as well as the player. He argues the tipping point has been reached in much the same way it had been with Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United and Thierry Henry at Arsenal.

Arguably, Torres can justify the decision. He has won nothing since moving to Anfield three years ago having left his hometown club to do exactly that. But the timing is awful and Chelsea, perhaps still laden with money, are an ageing team in need of a big restructuring whereas Liverpool’s has already begun with the impending arrival of Luis Suarez.

One thing is for certain is that Torres will probably get his way either by Monday or in the summer. Having being adored by all Liverpool fans since his arrival he has chosen a rather undignified way to end it all.

News Picks: Wikileaks, UK election?, Election 2012, Wikipedia, Israel

Wikileaks

US journalists back away from Assange The Miami Herald reports that more and more US journalists are shunning the Wikilkeaks founder Julian Assange amid concern about the organisation’s methods of dumping documents “willy-nilly” as investigative journalist Bob Woodward put it. There are also questions as to whether Assange is actually a journalist. An interesting read.

Election 2011?

Cameron considering a snap election? – Labour MP Tom Watson speculates (some would say wildly) that the Prime Minister may call a snap election in May. Watson cites a weary Nick Clegg, an unfulfilled David Cameron and the belief by some that the Tories could win an outright majority if they called an election given the Lib Dems’ appalling poll numbers. It’s all gossip but it’s well written and thought provoking. It also hints that embattled No. 10 communications director Andy Coulsen will be gone by the end of the month.

Election 2012

The activist Republican candidates court – An interesting piece in the LA Times about the Iowa based activist whom Republicans running for the party’s presidential nomination will all court in the build up to that state’s all important caucuses that kick off the nominee race at the beginning of next year. Joni Scotter is 69, and, it seems, very important to the likes of Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich but she has voted Democrat before.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia at 10, a pioneer of global civility – Timothy Garton Ash has some words of praise for Wikipedia which turns 10-years-old this weekend. Unlike Facebook, this internet success story is not worth billions but is a fine example of a non profit organisation that “still breathes the utopian idealism of the internet’s heroic early days.”

Israel

The rise of fanatical ‘Israeli ayatollahs’ – We all know about fanaticism in the Muslim world but what of the ultra orthodox Jewish rabbis who are becoming increasingly controversial and divise in Israel. They were even involved in the recent tragic death of ex-Liverpool defender Avi Cohen.

News Picks: Arizona Shootings, King Kenny, Band of Brothers, Murdoch

Arizona shootings

Congress members will carry arms – Some US congress members have confirmed they will carry their firearms while back in their home states in light of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at the weekend. So far one Democrat and one Republican say they will carry their guns as is their right. Another Republican congressman wants to install plexiglas in the gallery of congress.

Loughner’s parents set to speak – The estranged parents of the alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner are set to make their first comments since the shooting on Saturday. Both are said to be “devastated” by what’s happened.

Politico lead the way in shooting coverage – The Poynter Institute has a good summary of how journalists at Politico, the US political news website, led the way with their coverage in the aftermath of the shooting, posting dozens of stories within hours of the news filtering through from Arizona.

Liverpool FC

How will Dalglish’s Liverpool play? – An interesting overview on The Guardian sports blog that speculates on just how King Kenny will set up his Liverpool team which considers his previous tactics both successful at Liverpool and Blackburn and unsuccessful at Newcastle and Celtic.

War Hero

Central figure in ‘Band of Brothers’ dies at 92 – Major Richard “Dick” Winters, a decorated World War II hero celebrated in the stunning ‘Band of Brothers’ TV series, died recently and was buried this past weekend at a private funeral. Tom Hanks summed it up best in describing the man: “When our days run their course and a man like Dick Winters leaves us, time and providence remind us that human beings can do giant things.”

Tech

Murdoch and Jobs to launch iPad only paperMedia tycoon Rupert Murdoch and Apple CEO Steve Jobs will appear on stage together later this month (January 19) to launch the new ‘newspaper’ The Daily which Murdoch is pumping a shedload of money into and will be available only on the iPad. Will it be a hit?

News Picks: Arizona shooting, Pakistan, Middle East, Cowen, Dalglish

Arizona Shooting

What we know so far Events are still unfolding in the Arizona city of Tucson following yesterday’s awful shooting at a local shopping mall which, amongst others, claimed the life of 9-year-old girl reportedly born on 9/11. The BBC has a rundown of what is known so far.

Some media incorrectly declare Giffords dead – An interesting rundown of the American media’s initial reporting of the shooting in Tucson where the fact that Rep. Giffords was shot in the head appeared to convince some that she had died as a result.

Sheriff says state has “become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry” – The sheriff of Pima County, where the shooting happened, made some interesting comments in his press conference last night not only about the state of Arizona itself but about the “sad thing of what’s going on in America”. His words are worth a read.

Pakistan

Pakistan’s struggle with extremismThe Guardian’s Declan Walsh has a fascinating insight into the story behind the death of the governor Salmaan Taseer this week. His assassination was in response to his calls for a woman sentenced to death for blasphemy to be released, a campaign he learnt about via Twitter.

Middle East

Israel demolishes historic hotel – What hope for peace talks with stories like this as Israel reportedly demolishes a historic hotel in east Jerusalem to make way for a new settlement.

Ireland

Cowen told to stay away – Ireland’s PM has been told to stay away from any election campaigning with some party members with his popularity at all time low. There’s a suggestion that a General Election in Ireland, originally muted for January, will now be pushed back as far as April, a move that could benefit the current government although they are still likely to lose many seats.

Liverpool FC

Liverpool see sense and turn to Dalglish – Dion Fanning writes a brilliant piece in this morning’s Sunday Independent about the reappointment of Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool manager. He points out that Dalglish was inexperienced when he first became player/manager whilst also pointing out that the Scot is a uniting figure, if nothing else, in contract to the departed Roy Hodgson.

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That’s it, enjoy your Sunday. Come on you Reds!

New Year, fresh blog and good intentions

Like many of us, I hold good intentions for the year ahead.

One of these is to blog more which is why starting today/tonight and happening (hopefully) regularly I intend to bring you the best of the web or at least what I consider to be the best from the web.

Those who follow me on Twitter will know that I post a lot of links to various articles that I have read online. They range from quirky stories from Ireland to sometimes obscure political matters in the US, with a bit of UK, world and Liverpool FC related news in between.

The intention of the ‘News Picks’, as I have decided to call them, will be to bring all these links together under one blogging roof. It will consist of stories you may have missed or that you may not have heard about. It may be an alternative view on a story you’re familiar with or it may be totally useless.

In any case I hope it is a fun, quick read that enlightens your day.