Thursday, 8 December 2016

Yoko Ono makes plea for gun control on anniversary of John Lennon's murder.

On 8th December 1980, John Lennon was shot four times in the back by crazed fan Mark Chapman who had asked the former Beatle for his autograph only hours before laying in wait and killing him.He was just 40 when he died.I was 13 back then, and I'm now 9 years older than John Lennon was allowed to live. Such a tragic and heartbreaking waste of a good and talented man.
The death of Lennon still reverberates as a defining moment for a generation and for the music world.A man who helped define rock and roll, a leader of the peace movement, an icon of the Baby Boom generation, his murder inspired shock and mourning, and for many marked the end of an era.
Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison and was last denied parole in August 2014.
"I am sorry for causing that type of pain," Chapman told the parole board then. "I am sorry for being such an idiot and choosing the wrong way for glory." Chapman can try again for parole next year.
In a message posted on her website, Imagine Peace, and on Facebook, Ono posted a plea to “bring back America, the green land of Peace,” along with an image of Lennon’s blood-stained eyeglasses.
“Dear Friends,” she wrote. “Every day, 91 Americans are killed with guns. We are turning this beautiful country into a War Zone. Together, let’s bring back America, the green land of Peace. The death of a loved one is a hollowing experience. After 36 years, our son Sean and I still miss him.”
The photo also stated that more than 1,200,000 people were killed by guns since Lennon’s death in 1980.

Since 1968 — the year the Beatles released the White Album — the sad fact is that more Americans have been killed by gun violence than all the US wars in history combined.It their stupid right to bare arms, until that changes nothing will change and stupid Americans will keep on killing each other. 
R.I.P John Lennon  

John Lennon - Imagine

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Stop the break-up and privatisation of Network Rail

Conservative Transport Minister Chris Grayling  has unveiled plans for a fully privatised railway line, with track and trains operated by the same company.
Network Rail is a government owned company responsible for maintaining and repairing our rail lines, it was set up after private company Railtrack ballsed it up when they had the contract to do it. Now the UK government is going to privatise it again. The Government hopes this shift of control will incentivise train companies to carry out repairs more quickly and possibly bring in cheaper fares.
The reason for setting up Network rail in the first place was  private companies failed to look after tracks, and were more interested in boosting their  profit than training or safety. This led to  fatal crashes :- Southall (1997) 7 people dead, Ladbroke Grove (1999) 31 people dead, Hatfield (2000) 4 people dead, Potters Bar (2002) 7 people dead. Chris Grayling has obviously forgotten all the lives lost when our railway maintenance was last left to a profit-making company. When will they ever learn!! Grayling  absolutely does not give a fraction of a shit. He's left the prison service in utter chaos with vast private unbreakable contracts everywhere,and he'll do it here too.
 The private companies running the trains are behind on the maintenance of the trains and carriages (who remembers all that footage of how crowded the carriages are these days from earlier this year?), so they will neglect the tracks too! So long as they seek a profit there will be less incentive to repair (not more) and nothing will be done until they are at breaking point. The idea it will reduce ticket prices is insane; ticket prices have risen at a much steeper rate under privatisation and have actually very recently had yet another rise (with no improvement in service.)
We should not forget though that it is the Tory mindset to sell off the family silver to the highest bidder , the rail , Royal Mail , British aerospace , cable n wireless , Britoil , British gas , British steel , British airways , Rolls Royce , water and electricity went the same way . Thatcher sold off council housing stock under the right to buy , most are now owned by private landlords who charge 3-4 times the rent of council rents . Profits were supposed to be ploughed back into building social housing but this never happened and guess what , we have a massive housing shortage, asset stripping of the NHS the list is endless. Some of the train operating companies are now foreign owned , profits help subsidise their own countries rail fares whilst Joe Public  pays the most expensive train fares (by a long way) in Europe .
I for one am not convinced by privatisation of assets.No public service, and railways are a very important public service should ever be in private hands. Decades of evidence show that applying business principles to public services simply doesn't work. It increases prices, decreases choice and drastically lowers quality of service. All the railways need to be nationalised, it should be kept in the hands of the people.For safety's sake, Stop the break-up and privatisation of Network Rail! Please sign the following petition :-

Monday, 5 December 2016

As G4S, ends most of its illegal business with Israel because of Global BDS Campaign: Time to keep up the Pressure..


More good news following hearing yesterday that the Dakota pipe line had been stopped. Security company and long time boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS target G4S has sold, but not all, of its business with Israel, where it was extensively involved in Israel's notorious prisons and provided services to Israel's checkpoints, settlements, and apartheid wall, among others. in Israel within the next two years, but has denied that it is because of a years-long boycott campaign.
G4S made the announcement when it released its end-of-year results last Wednesday, saying that it is selling its interests in Israel as part of a wider assets sale to increase profits. It also said that it would suspend some other controversial projects, such as US youth-justice centres, in a bid to boost profits after shares fell 12 percent in part due to growing costs of providing contract housing for destitute asylum seekers.
This tremendous news comes after years of BDS campaigning worldwide targeting G4S at every level, causing the company which reportedly employs 8,000 people in Israel with a turnover of $143mn, enormous reputational damage and costing it many millions in lost contracts.
Mahmoud Nawajaa, a spokesman for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, said that BDS had undoubtedly pressed G4S into closing shop in Israel. “As at the height of the international boycott of apartheid South Africa, BDS pressure is making some of the world’s biggest corporations realise that profiting from Israeli apartheid and colonialism is bad for business,” he said.
“Investment fund managers are increasingly recognising that their fiduciary responsibility obliges them to divest from Israeli banks and companies that are implicated in Israel’s serious human rights violations such as G4S and HP because of the high risk entailed. We are starting to see a domino effect."
The campaign has resulted in  G4S losing clients  including private businesses, universities, trade unions, and UN bodies, with the Bill Gates Foundation divesting a stake worth $170m from the company following protests. The domination of G4S’ annual general meetings over several years by protests against the company’s involvement in Israeli prisons was undoubtedly a contributing factor in the company’s announcement.
Representatives of Palestinian civil society launched BDS in 2005, calling upon “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South African in the apartheid era,including embargoes and sanctions against Israel.
As we celebrate we must still keep targetting G4S because despite the the sale of its subsidiary, G4S will  still remain directly complicit in Israel's violations of Palestinian rights through Policity, the flagship national police training centre it co-owns, and the settlement-profiteer Shikun & Binui group. given its ongoing role in Israeli police training and settlement construction in Palestine; guarding the Dakota Access pipeline construction; aiding ICE and Homeland Security with immigrant deportations; running youth detention facilities and providing prison technology as part of the U.S. prison industrial complex; and other repression worldwide, as outlined on the intersectional website released by the US Campaign and partners earlier this year
It is validation though that BDS does actually work.It follows other successes.Veolia, a French corporation, came under the spotlight because of their involvement in the development of a tram system connecting West Jerusalem to Israel’s illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.
This was met by a seven year campaign to persuade public bodies not to renew their transport or waste management contracts which, cost Veolia more than $20 billion. In September 2015, Veolia sold off all of its businesses in Israel.
Even an Israeli company, Sodastream, moved its factory out of one of Israel’s most notorious illegal settlements, after an advertisement for their product featuring the actor Scarlett Johansson led Oxfam to part company with her as their ‘ambassador’.Other companies based in settlements live in fear of publicity. One company promised a human rights organisation to move their factory in order to avoid being mentioned in a report on companies operating in illegal settlements.
Well done to to activists around the globe who have been a part of the BDS campaign illustrating the tremendous ability of grassroots organizing to make an impact on multinational corporations, sending out the strong message that profiting from apartheid is not so profitable after all. We must continue to hold G4S and other corporations accountable for their ongoing abuses. Maybe occupation profiteer  Hewlett -Packard  could be the next win if we continue to keep the pressure up. .And if Israel wants the ongoing BDS Campaign to end,it must stop its occupation of Palestinian land and end its human rights abuses in compliance with international law and  recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and  respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their land as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Victory at Standing Rock: Permit denied for Dakota Access Piipeline.


The US Army Corps of Engineers have announced  today they will no longer allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under  lake Oshe near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, marking a huge victory for Native Americans and protesters who had long opposed the construction.
They say they are going to reroute it. The pipeline was intended to pass through North Dakota's Lake Oahe, which is a burial site sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux. The tribe voiced concerns the pipeline would threaten the community’s drinking water and would also damage sites of sacred significance and threaten water sources and cultural sites.
Military veterans joined activists, who call themselves water protectors, at Standing Rock this week, with more than 3,500 pledging to join the demonstration.In a statement, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said the tribe welcomed the decision, but he also sounded a note of caution saying he hoped the incoming Donald Trump administration would "respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point." Archambault II went on :"When it comes to infrastructure development in Indian Country and with respect to treaty lands, we must strive to work together to reach decisions that reflect the multifaceted considerations of tribes. Treaties are paramount law and must be respected, and we welcome dialogue on how to continue to honor that moving forward. We are not opposed to energy independence, economic development, or national security concerns but we must ensure that these decisions are made with the considerations of our Indigenous peoples."
I am glad that the water protectors were able to divert the path of the pipeline. I feel saddened though that it took so long after months of violence and brutality by the state to get a basic easement off land that the oil companies had no legal right to be on in the first place. Some 26 activists were injured in a November 20 confrontation when police fired water cannon in below-freezing temperatures. Rubber bullets and tear gas were also reportedly used against the water protectors on site.Around 564 people were arrested during the protests, according to the Morton County Sheriff's Department for simply trying to peacefully defend this sacred land from  pillage.
I hope they stay true to their word.The people I fear will have to remain ever vigilant until all traces of the pipeline are removed. The World is still watching.Some good news for the time being, a huge victory for the thousands of demonstrators across the country who flocked to North Dakota in protest, standing firm  against corporations willful  destruction of our planet, and for the many concerned individuals across the world who have been in solidarity trying to raise awareness about this ongoing fight. People before profit.

Frank Zappa ( 21/12/40 - 4/12/93) - Social Commentator


Not sure, how, that in the years I've been writing this blog, I have not touched on the work of the late Frank Vincent Zappa, I have been an admirer of his work for a while, having numerous records, dvds by him. Anyway on this day in 1993 this musician and iconclast, who rode to fame in the late 1960s as leader of the eccentric Mothers of Invention and kept on breaking the musical rules, died in Los Angeles, CA of prostate cancer aged 53.
In his 33-year musical career, Zappa proved to be one of the most prolific musician-composers of his era, releasing over 60 albums during his lifetime, almost all of which consisted of original compositions.His work was a frothy stew of '50s doo-wop, rhythm 'n' blues,straight edged rock serious experimental jazz,free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity, and avant-garde classical strains, often heaped high with perverse, often scatological, lyrics.In albums with such far-out titles as "Freak Out," "Lumpy Gravy," "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" and "Weasels Ripped My Flesh," and "Sheik Yerbouti," Over the years, Zappa, whose albums were never huge sellers, sustained a cult following and was admired by legions of  fans worldwide that  ensured the marketability of a seemingly endless stream of eclectic recordings.Best remembered for the mark he made on the experimental rock counter-culture of the late 1960s, his influence extended into the worlds of jazz, classical and electronic music, and his love of experimentation was present in all of them.
His anarchic demeanor, and occasionally juvenile antics, accusations of misogyny were counterbalanced by an increasingly strong sense of social commitment, an individual  who shirked rampant commercialism and embraced nonconformity.In addition to being one of the most prolific and versatile composers of the rock idiom of his time,an incredible artist who produced an insane body of work Zappa he was also an astute and outspoken social and political commentator., a acerbic, prolific agent provocateur beyond categorisation. His music dealing with weighty subjects commenting on societal norms, politics and religion that still resonate in todays social and political climate.
An atheist, who grew up in a religious Catholic household. He said that by the time he was 18, he had “escaped the bondage of being a devout believer.” But the rebellion against religion started long before that. He said,"[My parents] tried to make me go to Catholic school, too. I lasted a very short time. When the penguin came after me with a ruler, I was out of there."He certainly did not have kind words to say about religion, especially the Abrahamic traditions. Just look at some of his  song titles: “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing,” “Jesus Thinks You’re a Jerk,” “Heavenly Bank Account,” “Dumb All Over.” Zappa’s disgust of religion was rooted in the belief that religion is anti-intellectual, that it promotes ignorance. He said about the story of Adam and Eve,
"What was it that Adam ate that he wasn’t supposed to eat? . . . it was the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The subtle message? “Get smart and I’ll fuck you over–sayeth the Lord.” God is the Smartest–and he doesn’t want any competition."
He was especially critical of religious leaders who he viewed as hypocritical, preaching one thing and practicing another, those who became wealthy off the donations of their followers, and those who use religion to influence political change.Zappa described himself as a Practical Conservative, meaning he wanted small government and lower taxes. He said he understood that there were certain large services that only the federal government could provide, like national defense and large infrastructure projects, but that these services should be administered with the most efficiency and at the lowest price possible. He advocated for elimination of income taxes and a greatly reduced role for the federal government.
He was especially critical of the Reagan administration for, among other things, what he saw as its pandering to the Christian right. he was a libertarian in many ways.Zappa was skeptical of authority and indoctrination, and was critical of the mainstream media.He was also fierce defender of free speech and waged a public battle against the Parents Music Resource Center and its proposed ratings system, he testified before a congressional committee in 1985, voicing his opposition to legislation that would require labeling of music to warn parents of explicit content. In his prepared statement, about how such regulations are a threat to the First Amendment, Zappa said, " The establishment of a rating system, voluntary or otherwise, opens the door to an endless parade of Moral Quality Control Programs based on “Things Certain Christians Don’t Like.” What if the next bunch of Washington Wives demands a large yellow “J” on all material written or performed by Jews, in order to save helpless children from exposure to concealed Zionist doctrine?"
Zappa clearly wanted government out of all business except that which only government can provide, and he was willing to attack both political parties when he thought the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights were threatened. But his faith in the political machine wasn’t exactly resolute. As Zappa put it,"Government is the Entertainment division of the military-industrial complex"
In 1986, Frank Zappa engaged in a fiery debate about dirty lyrics and censorship based on religious morality in this classic clip from CNN’s “Crossfire.”Debating with John Lofton, conservative columnist for the Washington Times, Zappa noted that:The biggest threat to America today is not communism. It’s moving America toward a fascist theocracy. Everything that’s happened under the Reagan Administration is steering us right down that pipe.
Asked later in the interview to give “one example of a fascist theocracy” by co-host Tom Braden, Zappa replied: When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion, and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view, and if that code happens to be very very right wing, almost toward Attila the Hun…
Lofton responded: “Well then you are an anarchist. Every form of civil government is based on some kind of morality Frank,” but Zappa set him straight, curtly remarking: “Morality in terms of behavior, not in terms of theology! You can watch the exchange, below,

Zappa defines Fascist theocracy

 For more of this stuff, I recommend checking out Thorsten Shutte’s new documentary, Eat that Question: Frank Zappa in his own words, an intimate encounter with the iconoclastic composer and musician  with rare archival footage revealing a provocative 20th-century musical genius and fierce public intellectual whose worldview resonates into the present day and beyond.Frank Zappa’s diverse work throughout his career as a musician and activist all combine to form an image of Zappa as a confirmed iconoclast who used his talents as composer, guitarist, entertainer, band leader, and social commentator to skew the status quo, illuminate hypocrisy, and slaughter sacred cows. The legacy of Frank Zappa will long be remembered.However for a nonconformist composer, so vehemently opposed to commercialization, it is kind of ironic though that Zappa’s image is now preserved in brand-name aspic by the strenuously protective Zappa Family Trust.

 Eat that Question: Frank Zappa in his own words, Official trailer 2016

Frank Zappa - Absolutely Free

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Daily Mail hypocrisy

The rag known as the Daily Mail's hypocrisy continues to hold no bounds. On the same day that it tried to stoke up anti-immigrant and anti-refugee feeling on its front page, alongside it ran a tribute to  86-year-old actor Andrew Sachs, who has sadly died in a care home last week,after having battled with dementia for the past four years alongside the image of his best known character; Manuel, an European migrant hotel worker who is subjected to daily verbal and physical abuse, whose accent and level of English is perpetually mocked, and who is restricted to the low-paid service sector? Of course the Mail is paying tribute.
You could call it ironic or just bloody plain insensitive because Andrew was born in Berlin, Germany, and as a Jew had to flee the country to escape the Nazis - the same Nazis that the Daily Mail at the time enthusiastically supported.Let’s not forget remember that the Mail opposed Jewish refugees coming to Britain in the 1930s. It was ‘an outrage’ they said.
Although the rag does acknowledge Sachs’ relatives background in an obituary to the actor on web page ten, the entrance web page goes a incredibly lengthy way to illustrate the way that this tawdry rag has run a program of dehumanising migrants of any kind as much as possible, stoking up fear about migrants to Britain from Europe and then havinge the gall to pay tribute to Andrew Sachs, a migrant from Europe.
While this odious little paper continues to spew poisonous bile into the  atmosphere,  I do think it needs to be publicly vilified and refuted at every opportunity.Let's think about the people of today who are forced to flee oppressive rĂ©gimes and let's not be like the Daily Mail.
My deepest condolences to Andrew Sachs and his family.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Defend The Sacred ( A Poem for Standing Rock.)

"The Indians knew that life was equated with the earth and its resources, that America was a paradise, and they could not comprehend why the intruders from the East were determined to destroy all that was Indian as well as America itself." - Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee; April 1970.

On the heels of increasingly severe human rights violations against the water protectors of Standing Rock, the Army Corps of Engineers released a statement that on Dec. 5 that they plan to shut down the Oceti Sakowin camp — the primary camp where water protectors and allies have been resisting the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline for months now.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota has stood in agreement with the plan by ordering the water protectors to evacuate the camp.The water protectors have been standing strong in the face of police assaultswith  rubber bulets, concussion grenades, tear gas, and water cannons in freezing temperatures, and the risks are threatening to become worse.
As a result, the camp has issued an emergency call for others to stand in solidarity on Dec 4. 

Defend The Sacred ( A Poem for Standing Rock.)

Water if life, oil is poison
one is a creator, one is a destroyer,
under angry sky proud people stand
defending ancestral burial ground,
in a battle for survival  treated so shamefully
pleading for sanity in a state of distress,
daily faced with disrespect and intimidation
rubber bullets, intruders threatening,
invaders returning, stealing and encroaching
in a thirst for profit, means of fairness hidden.

Let us  pray for all the tribes of Standing Rock 
deprived of joy and laughter, a means of survival,
grant safe keeping, peace, love and many blessings
respect the water protectors for courage and brave heart,
release them from oppression, free from corruption
offer peace, love and many blessings,
worldwide unity as they battle to save our planet
people before needless, senseless profit,
souls drenched, not from water, but tears
grant power to the people, united so strong.

Those at Standing Rock remain steadfast and free
peacefully trying to erase enormous pain,
armed with the truth, waiting for justice to call
sorrow and sadness to dissipate, healing to return,
to escape the bonds, flee the enemy
to be at one with mother earth,
indigenous resistance we must celebrate
honor and protect their sacred fight,
let our warmth melt their fears
allow their magic to forever flow.

The above poem, can also be found here :-