Saturday, 17 August 2019

Stop the DSEI Arms Fair :- 3-15th September 2019

Every two years, one of the world's biggest arm fairs comes to London. This needs to be stopped. The DSEI arms fair is where arms companies showcase their weapons and make deadly deals with buyers from across the world, including those from countries with serious human rights problems.
The arms fair which is due to take  place from September 15-18, involves more than 1,000 companies and 30,000 attendees.This is where those who profit from war, repression and injustice do business. The results are felt around the world, as people are killed, economies are devastaed, refugees traumatised, and peaceful protest is crushed.
The full list of countries officially invited by the government to attend DSEI is here. But it’s a long list including many countries with appalling human rights records and/or currently engaged in conflict.
Just as fences are erected to stop victims from seeking refuge, fences have been erected outside London's Excel centre, to help the global arms trade to do business and fuel repression and  conflict across the globe.
We must stop these companies profiting from conflict and repression. Join people  week for a week of action in the run up to the arms fair to make it as difficult as possible for  the arms dealers from  going about their deadly business. 
A #StopArmingIsrael protest will kick off the week of protests. The call to action states that DSEI will:host a specially designated area for Israel’s arms companies to display and market their weapons – weapons which are labelled “battle-tested” due to them being tested on Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Then, on 3 September, there’s a ‘Borders and Migration’ day of action. It asks people to:Join us, and bring your own placards, banners, and creative actions. There will be talks, performances and actions, celebrating the future we want to see, where migrants and refugees are welcomed, not arms dealers.
And it stresses that “solidarity smashes borders”.
There will also be a day of climate action on 6 September. Plan C and the Kurdish Solidarity Network are planning: workshops on social ecology and the Kurdish Freedom Movement’s eco-socialist paradigm, as well as Kurdish music and dancing.
The groups are planning on two days of action as part of an international #RiseUp4Rojava initiative (see more on the progressive revolution in Rojava, northern Syria, here). As its call states:
So if you stand against all the horrors of capitalist modernity, with its endless exploitation and domination, and countless gendered, class-based, racial and national violences, and if you desire a free and equal life for everyone everywhere, where we collectively, directly and democratically control our everyday lives, and can develop freely in ecological balance with the world around us, then join us on the 6th and 7th of September, and #RiseUp4Rojava.
On 7 September, this will be part of a Festival of Resistance. The festival points out that: 1 in 25 people in Newham are homeless. Instead of providing public housing, investing in public healthcare, and protecting workers rights, the government prefers to support an industry of death. One of the world’s largest arms fairs, DSEI, is returning to our doorstep (at the ExCel) and we’ll be there to resist! Support

Organised by Campaign Against the Arms Trade. More information below.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

The Peterloo Massacre and Percy Bysshe Shelley's Mask of Anarchy


Friday 16 August, will mark  the bicentenary of the infamous Peterloo Massacre, one of the most significant atrocities carried out by the British authorities against their own people and one of the  bloodiest episodes and most dismal in British history. The massacre by official accounts is believed to have involved 18 deaths and injuries to as many as 700 protesters, who paid the price for exercising their democratic rights and freedom of assembly.Though the actual death toll was likely much higher.
Peterloo involved the assembly of a large crowd of citizens at St Peter’s Field in  post- Napoleonic Manchester (since renamed St Peters Square.) Where over 60,000 peaceful pro-democracy (none of them were armed) and anti poverty protestors  had gathered, many in their Sunday best, proud and defiant  amid growing poverty and unemployment, mainly from the Corn Laws that artificially inflated bread prices, at a time when only 2% could vote.
The key speaker was a famed orator by the name of Henry Hunt, the platform consisted of a simple cart, and the space was filled with banners emblazoned with messages calling for - Reform, universal suffrage,and equal representation. Many of the banners poles were topped with the red cap of liberty- a powerful symbol at the time.However, local magistrates peering out a window from a building near the field panicked at the size of the crowd, and proceeded without any notice to read the Riot Act, ordering the assembled listeners to disperse. It would almost certainly have been the case that only a very few would have heard the magistrates. The official'guardians of the peace' then promptly directed the local Yeomanry to arrest the speakers. The Yeomanry could be described as a kind of paramilitry force with no training in crowd control and little in the way of proper dicipline similar to the riot police that ran amok at the Battle of Orgreave during the miners strike of the 1980's. On horseback they charged into the crowd, and pierced the air with cutlasses and clubs. Many in the crowd believed the troops had drunk heavily in the lead up to the assault. In the melee, 600 Hussars who had initially been held in reserve, were ordered to attack unarmed civilians, with brutal consequences.They sliced indiscriminately at men, women and children as they tried to get to the speakers platform. Within minutes, people were sabred, trampled and crushed. Screams reverberated across the square. The Manchester Guardian described how " the women seemed to be the special objects of the rage of these bastard soldiers,"
The massacre was named ‘Peterloo’ in ironic comparison to the battle of Waterloo, that took place four years earlier.The victims included a two year old boy, William Fides, who was ridden oer by the cavalry after he was knocked from his mothers arms, and an an old Waterloo veteran , John Less, who was slashed to death by the cavalry's sabres.
After the massacre, it was the victims, and not the aggressors who were treated as criminals, and feared discrimination by their employers. And no doubt mny of thos injured died as a result of their injuries some weeks or even months later. In those days of primitive medical care and lack of welfare provision, a serious injury was often a death sentence, and for a wage earner to be incapacitated  equalled the threat of starvation for a family. At this time many handloom weavers aand spinners were already living in a state of semi starvation.
The government of Lord Liverpool, backed up the public officials and the actions of the troops and was adamantly unwilling to apologize for the appalling violence. Henry Hunt, Samuel Bamford and other radical leaders were arrested for treason. This capital offence  was later commuted to a lesser one, and they served prison sentences of several years.
The event would  also usher in a series of draconian laws that further restricted the liberties of the population.It would lead to the suppression of public expression of opinion, debate , gathering and dissent.The populace did not decline into apathy, however. A large public outcry ensued, and an effort was made by various reformers to document the truth of what had occurred in the center of Manchester on that fateful day. Peterloo led directly to the formation of one of Britain’s leading progressive newspapers, the Manchester Guardian (now the more watered down Guardian). The aftermath of the event would in itself unleash a wave of public anger and protests, which eventually was to lead to the Great Reform Act of 1832, which led to limited suffrage and to today's parliamentary democracy. Many historians now acknowledge Peterloo  as hugely influential in ordinary people winning the vote and credit it with giving rise to the Chartist movement, and  strength to other workers rights movements. We should never forget on whose shoulders we today stand, a reminder that what rights that we have today were hard one.
In Italy, in the aftermath of Peterloo, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley having heard of the horror, his outraged response was  to compose his powerful political  91-verse poem, The Mask of Anarchy. The word anarchy then meant something quite different to how we view it today, Shelley used it to describe the chaos of tyranny, in which no one but the very few who own and control society can plan their lives for themselves.
The poem was written in the ballad tradition. Ballads in the early 19th century were verse narratives, often set to popular tunes and typically sold on the streets as a cheap diposable form of literature. They often focussed on tragedies, love affairs or scandals. By adopting this style,Shelley could be seen  to be speaking with the voice of the common man.
The Mask of Anarchy recounts a nightmare in which the three Lords of the Tory Cabinet parade in an awful possession, murdering and deceiving while Britain dissolves into anarchy. He rouses the people to free themselves from their oppressors, by supplying them, among other things, with a powerful definition of freedom.
He begins his poem with the powerful images of the unjust forms of authority of his time: God,  the King and Law, and he then imagines the stirrings of a radically new form of social action. The poem mentions several members of Lord Liverpool's's government by name: the Foreign Secretary, Castlereagh who appears as a mask worn by Murder, the Home Secretary,Lord Sidmouth., whose guise is taken by Hypocricy, and the Lord Chancellor,Lord Eldon whose ermine gown is worn by Fraud.The crowd at this gathering is met by armed soldiers, but the protestors do not raise an arm against their assailants:

Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war,

And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many - they are few."

That closing verse is perhaps one of the best known pieces of poetry in any movement of the oppressed all over the world such is it's resonance.Encouraging people to rise up and challenge the tyranny that they are facing every day of their lives, against the undeniable injustices.faced by the many at the hands of the few. The rallying language of the poem  has led to elements of it being recited by students at Tianaenmen Square  and by protestors in Tahir Square during the revolution in Egypt in 2011.It would inspire the campaign slogan "We are many, they are few" used by anti Poll Tax demonstrators  in 1989-90, and also inspired the title of the 2014 documentary film We are Many, which focussed  on the worldwide anti-war protests of 2003, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also memorably used the final stanza.
Shelley’s friend and publisher, Leigh Hunt did not publish the poem until after Shelley’s death fearing that the opinions in it were too controversial and inflammatory. The Masque of Anarchy  has been described as “the greatest political poem ever written in English” by people such as Richard Holmes. It inspired Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience which in turn influenced the anarchist writings of Leo Tolstoy.Percy Bysshe Shelley believed that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”He would remain a serious advocate for serious reform for the rest of his life, and would come to serve as a prophetic voice and inspiration to those, like the Chartists who created significant movements for peaceful reform, alongside generations of activists to this present day. Many years later his powerful poem is as relevant in austerity gripped Britain as when it was first written and  reminds us that Poetry can serve to inspire and motivate people and change and influence ideas. It is one of the most powerful tools we have.

Full text of Shelley's Mask of Anarchy can be found here:- 

An earlier post on Shelley can be found here :-

The terrible events  that happened on August 16th, 1819  have recently been dramatised by director Mike Leigh in his  historical drama Peterloo. In this gripping account he presents a devastating portrait of class and political corruption which develops our understanding of how the working poor in Britain have coped with oppression . It  is a necessary film for our times, .which should be shown up and down the country in schools so that our children  can learn more about this shameful piece of British history,

This year Mancunians will mark the 200th anniversary of the massacre with a series of events to remember those who died  and return Peterloo to its rightful place in the nation's consciousness.
The highlight of this year's events  is a permanent memorial which has been  quietly unveiled before the anniversary. following a decade long campaign, it has been designed by Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller. It stands close to the spot of the massacre and Manchester Central Convention Centre where the Conservatives will hold their annual conference in 6 weeks time. However because the memorial is completely inaccessible to many disabled people, it has already faced a barrage of criticism. The platform in itself was designed with the idea of it also being a platform for speakers and demonstrators, however it seems not a thought has been given to people with disability, to whom the memorial in its current state is inaccessible to a group of people that still desperately need a voice within society.With campaigners believing this is "an act of exclusion that denies people a voice, a blatant act of discrimination " with the memorial"set to become a glaring metaphor for inequality and segregation with disabled people at the bottom of the memorial being talked down to"   Lets hope this problem can be rectified as soon as possible, so that  the memorial can truly be a fitting and lasting commemoration for all to remember the dramatic events of 1819.
Peterloo  will also be remembered  in a series of events led by the Manchester Histories Festival, including exhibitions, workshops and school activities at the People's Museum, exploring dissent from 1819 to the present day.
Peterloo  has become a rallying cry for the working class and radicals, a symbol of the vile nature of the ruling class. The lessons that they draw from it remain as valid today as ever, that we do not forget  that our rights have been won by others and must be constantly defended. A time to pause and to consider this significant moment in history when our working class ancestors were  slaughtered whilst peacefully protesting for basic civil rights that we today, take for granted.We must continue too display our defiance. More than that, in today's society with the Conservatives continuing to attack peoples rights to free assembly and their assaults on the weak and vulnerable among us, in an age of increasing government surveillance and the erosion of our civil liberties, it is a timely reminder of how governments are still not averse to attacking its own people and we should put Shelley's words into practice and rise like lions, because we are many and they are few.

                                 Print of the Peterloo Massacre published by Richard Carlisle

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Karl Liebknecht, German Revolutionary Socialist .13/8/1871 – 15/1/ 1919)


Karl Liebknecht was a leading German revolutionary at the close of the First World War. who with Rosa Luuxemburg, founded the Spartakist League and led opposition to WW1 in Germany.
Born on this day Liebknecht  was  the son of Wilhelm Liebknecht a leading German Socialist. During his law and political economy studies at Leipzig and Berlin Liebknecht himself developed Marxist views.
Before starting work as a lawyer Liebknecht served with the Imperial Pioneer Guards from 1893-94.  Moving to Berlin in 1898 his political activities increased; he took to defending people charged with political crimes and himself later spent 18 months in prison in 1907-08.  He joined the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 1900 and married the same year to Julia Paradies. The couple had two sons and a daughter before Julia died in 1911. His father and August Bebel had been the co founders of the SPD, which started as an overtly Marxist party. It was the world's strongest and most influential workers' party until 1914, when it capitulated to nationalism and dispatched German workers to the trenches to kill fellow workers from other European countries.
In 1901 Liebknecht was elected to serve on Berlin's town council, a position he retained until 1913.
In 1912 he married Sophia Ryss,  who had graduated from the University of Heidelberg and he was elected to the Reichstag with the SPD. Karl Liebknecht became a leading figure in the anti-militarist section of the SDP. In 1907 he published Militarism and Anti-Militarism. In the book he argued: "Militarism is not specific to capitalism. It is moreover normal and necessary in every class-divided social order, of which the capitalist system is the last. Capitalism, of course, like every other class-divided social order, develops its own special variety of militarism; for militarism is by its very essence a means to an end, or to several ends, which differ according to the kind of social order in question and which can be attained according to this difference in different ways. This comes out not only in military organization, but also in the other features of militarism which manifest themselves when it carries out its tasks. The capitalist stage of development is best met with an army based on universal military service, an army which, though it is based on the people, is not a people’s army but an army hostile to the people, or at least one which is being built up in that direction."
 He then went on to argue why the socialist movement should concentrate on persuading young people to adopt the philosophy of anti-militarism:
 "Here is a great field full of the best hopes of the working-class, almost incalculable in its potential, whose cultivation must not at any cost wait upon the conversion of the backward sections of the adult proletariat. It is of course easier to influence the children of politically educated parents, but this does not mean that it is not possible, indeed a duty, to set to work also on the more difficult section of the proletarian youth. The need for agitation among young people is therefore beyond doubt. And since this agitation must operate with fundamentally different methods – in accordance with its object, that is, with the different conditions of life, the different level of understanding, the different interests and the different character of young people – it follows that it must be of a special character, that it must take a special place alongside the general work of agitation, and that it would be sensible to put it, at least to a certain degree, in the hands of special organizations."
 On 4th August, 1914, he  was the only member of the Reichstag who voted against Germany's participation in the First World War. He argued: "This war, which none of the peoples involved desired, was not started for the benefit of the German or of any other people. It is an Imperialist war, a war for capitalist domination of the world markets and for the political domination of the important countries in the interest of industrial and financial capitalism. Arising out of the armament race, it is a preventative war provoked by the German and Austrian war parties in the obscurity of semi-absolutism and of secret diplomacy.
Liebknecht was soon arguing in favour of a revolutionary uprising. The German state could not tolerate such opposition. Liebknecht, although 43 years old, was called up into the army, and was enlisted as an Armierungssoldat, a member of a military unit that provided labour to the fighting divisions and which consisted of men unwilling or not permitted to directly bear arms (for example, because of criminal records or poor health). In this role he experienced life on the Eastern Front and was directly involved in the clearing of the the rotting corpses of the dead, until he suffered physical collapse in October 1915.  and  he was allowed back to Germany as his health had become so poor.
Together with a small but increasing number of socialist opponents of the Social Democratic Party policy of Burgfrieden, including Luxemburg he founded the Group International which was later named the “Spartacist league.” ,Together he and Luxemburg provided the leadership for illegal opposition to the war. Liebknecht edited the famous  “Spartacus Letters,” the “official” organ of the subversive Spartakusbund. which was declared illegal but shared two of Liebknecht’s most important anti-war polemics  Klassenkampf gegen den Krieg ("Class War against the War") and Der Hauptfeind steht im eigenen Land ("The Main Enemy is in your own country")
In early 1916 Liebknecht was one of very few German politicians to publicly question the German government’s response to the massacre of Armenians by their Ottoman-Turkish allies. A day after raising this issue in the Reichstag, he was expelled from the parliamentary party (Reichstagsfraktion) of the Social Democratic Party because of his opposition to the war and criticism of the party leadership.
By 1916 opposition to the war among soldiers in the trenches and hungry civilians was growing, and Liebknecht and his comrades in the Spartacus grouping decided to raise the stakes. On 1 May 1916 they called an illegal demonstration in the Potsdam Square in Central Berlin; 10,000 people attended, including many women and young people. As a contemporary report describes, 'They were so numerous that the usual skirmishes with the police began right away. The cops... quickly became very nervous and began to drive the crowd back and forth with blows. Suddenly, at the head of the crowd, right in the middle of the square, the loud sonorous voice of Karl Liebknecht rang out: "Down with the war! Down with the government!"'
Liebknecht was arrested and jailed for four and a half years for sedition. He told the court, 'No general ever wore a uniform with as much honour as I will wear a prison uniform.' Such was the discontent in German society already that his sentencing prompted a strike by 55,000 metalworkers in Berlin. Liebknecht, now became an international symbol. For socialists in Britain and France his courage made it easier to oppose the official demonisation of all Germans as warmongers.
With the collapse of the German government in October 1918 Liebknecht was granted political amnesty by Max Von Baden. However with Rosa Luxemburg and other Spartacists, soon Liebknecht  was  campaigning again openly for revolution. While Luxemburg and others had formed in early 1916 the loosely organised, and repressed, Spartakus group, it was only as the revolution began to unfold that steps were made to bring together and organise the revolutionary forces into a party. The end of 1918 saw the formation of the Communist Party (KPD) with Liebknecht and Luxemburg being seen as its main public leaders.This new communist organization was quick to exploit the chaos that had swept Germany with defeat on the western front. They escalated demonstrations, with Liebknecht provocatively declaring on January 6th that the SPD government was no longer legitimate, and by January 12th the protests had reached such a size that the government called in the army to quell them and the revolt was soon bloodily suppressed by Friedrich Ebert;s Freikorps a far-right grouping of demobilised German soldiers (.Many future members and leaders of the Nazi party served in the Freikorps) and the revolt was defeated with some ease on Jan. 13, 1919.
Two days later, Liebknecht and Luxemburg were arrested, interrogated and tortured. Liebknecht was put in a car and killed by a shot from behind. Luxemburg was beaten with rifle butts before she was shot. Her corpse was dumped in a Berlin canal.
At a memorial meeting in Petrograd a few days later, Leon Trotsky, one of the central leaders of the October Revolution, drew parallels with 1917 and spoke of how the German "bourgeoisie and military have learnt from our July and October experience" and acted to try to behead the revolution.
Their murders  decapitated the leadership of the young German Communist Party which then oscillated between putschism and opportunism for the rest of its existence. The consequences were that the world revolution, which the revolutionaries in Russia had counted on, did not take place.
Both Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were true revolutionary heroes, and their ideas and legacy will be remembered down the ages,against  militarism, oppression, exploitation and privilege and .nothing can destroy the heritage of Liebknecht's revolutionary struggle against capitalism and war

"Memorial for Karl Liebknecht" by Käthe Kollwitz, 1921.

Monday, 12 August 2019

The not so glorious Twelfth.

The  so called Glorious Twelfth  is an event that takes place every year which has  a huge impact on Britain’s wild birds on the first day of the grouse shooting season as our beautiful. moorlands are turned into killing fields.
Popular among the elite and shooting enthusiasts, it's quite a profitable business estate owners generally receive £150 for every pair of birds shot down by individuals who take pleasure in pain and suffering, because rather than being killed instantly, thousands of birds will be left wounded and left to experience a lingering, painful death. Consequently it has  become a flashpoint for tensions between the game industry and conservationists.
Found in northern England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, the iconic red grouse is shot in large numbers until the end of the season in December. Hunters either walk across the moorlands and taim at the startled grouse or shoot them out of the sky after they are beaten to the guns.The grouse don’t stand a chance, as it is basically a massacre. It is estimated that 100,000 birds are shot every day in the shooting season.
Gamekeepers also take unnatural steps  to boost the grouse population for the perverse purpose of obliterating the birds later in the year, a practice highly detrimental to the local environment. Because grouse thrive on young heather,where they can nest and hide from predators the peat land is burned to encourage a fresh batch.
These intensive burning practices are responsible for serious environmental damage which occurs primarily on protected areas with 90% of English grouse moors being found on National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The EMBER (Effects of Moorland Burning on the Eco hydrology of River basins) study by the University of Leeds found that burning had impacts on peat hydrology, peat chemistry and physical properties, river water chemistry and river ecology. The Committee on Climate Change estimates that around 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year are emitted from peat and the vast majority (260,000 tonnes) results from the burning of grouse moors.
Grouse shooting for 'sport' depends on intensive habitat management which increases flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions. It is not just grouse who suffer in the grouse hunting season  The British Association for Shooting and Conservation – a contradiction in terms if ever there were one – admits gamekeepers "control" (that is, kill) foxes, crows, weasels, stoats and other animals so hunters will have more grouse to shoot. Similarly, hawks, falcons, owls and other legally protected raptors are killed and have their nests destroyed to remove competition. No not a day then  I would consider that glorious.
Write to your MP and express your concern about 'game' bird shooting

The glorious Twelfth

To celebrate the glorious twelfth
privileged men head to the moorlands,
to shoot birds out of sky for fun
with no respect at all for life,
singing voices  they cruelly silence
wings to never take flight again,
innocence senselessly slaughtered
by morbid sadists seeking a thrill,
in the name of sport, tradition and pleasure
every year returning, yearning for a kill.

' Ruthless cull':Hundred of thousands of animals being killed on private estates to protect grouse shooting, Chris Packham says :-

A Distant Call - The Artisans

The above song  is available to download today
With all  the proceeds going to be donated to Wild Justice, set up by leading environmentalists Chris Packham, Dr Mark Avery and Dr Ruth Tingay, to fight for wildlife.

The video was created with the help of illustrator Mia Underwood, is designed to bring the songs lyrics to life ad to highlight  the devastating effect that driven grouse shooting has on the wildlife and the environment.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Reinvigorating Power (Dedicated to Oya, Yoruba deity )

Among different struggles and journeys
The vortex of feeling, labyrinths of deep thought, 
Whether poor or not, can get lost on rich imagination
As we trample along this battered fragile old earth,
Oya lady of the storms, black as the night
Dances with the winds, feminine to the core,
Strong and fierce creating hurricanes and tornadoes
She is the wild spirit beyond destruction, 
Turbulently unpredictable, beware of her power
Beyond reason, authentic and unique,
weather goddess who waters the garden
To fertilise, make the land lush and green,
Rich juices, dripping deeply to endure
Creating seeds of transition and change,
With precision stripping away what must die
In order for the harvest to be abundant,
Elemental and rooted in the natural world
Occupying realms of rainbows and thunder,
Can either shelter us in her loving embrace 
Or strike us down with licentious lightening,
Allowing tempests to rise, whirl beside us 
In morning or twilight, lost in sybaritic storm,
On the brink of eternity, splashed with stars
Dawn till dusk, she will take our breath away.


Oya is one of the most powerful African Goddesses (Orishas), She is the sister/wife of the God Shango.The Dark Mother Goddess of Storms and Destruction  of the Yoruba People in West Africa as well as the Americas. In Yoruba, the name Oya means "she tore". She is known as Oya-iyansan, the "mother of nine" due to the River Niger ( known to the Yoruba as the Odo-Oya) which is known for having nine tributaries, where violent rainstorms are said to be the source. She is also worshiped In Brazil and Cuba and is associated with the Amazon whose source she is said to be. Her followers are distinguished by a particular kind of reddish beads that are always tied around their necks.When summoned by prayer she empowers mistreated women, and engenders feminine leadership.
Never ingratiating, she is also believed to protect and guide the dead as they make the transition to a new life. Using her machete, or sword of truth, she cuts through stagnation and clears the way for new growth, she does what needs to be done, a  powerful harbinger of change and transformation. She is similar to the Haitian God Maman Brigitte, who is syncretised with the Catholic Saint Brigit.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

In Memoriam Kamal Boullata (1942 - 2019 ) Influential Palestinian artist and historian

Kamal Boullata influential Palestinian artist, historian, intellectual and writer who was acclaimed for his  intricate explorations of the concepts of exile, modernism and the emergence of Palestinian identity against colonial powers, has died in Berlin on August 6 at the age of 77. His death was first reported by the National, a publication about Middle Eastern culture based in the United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday.
Boullata was born in Jerusalem in 1942, growing up in the Christian Quarter and  his parents sent him to the workshop of painter Khalil Al-Halabi,who was well known for his paintings of icons, in the quarter where he lived, and it was with him that Boullata  would  learn the same process while studying the Arabic calligraphic and geometric aesthetics that would later influence his body of work. Following Israel’s occupation of the territory in 1967, he was exiled to Beirut and later traveled to Europe where he graduated from the Academia di Belle Arte in Rome and then to the United States, where he studied at the Corcoran Art Museum School in Washington, DC and used  this time to make significant contributions to the cause of Palestinian activism and the Arab American awakening that was occurring at the time.
In the 1970's and 1980's he was a member of the hurufiyya movement, where Arab artists experimentally brought together Arabic calligraphy and Modernism. Boulatta  was best known for his colourful, geometric silkscreen artworks  and his use of Kufic script, an early form of Arabic calligraphy, where he addressed the concepts of binaries and divided identity, often including  clear visual references to the decorative elements of the Dome of the Rock, a site he frequently visited as a child in Jerusalem, as well as the traditions of Palestinian embroidery.
His later works moved away from geometry towards an interest in depicting light and transparency. In the following  video interview with the online publication Electronic Intifada, Boullata says “perhaps it was the light of Jerusalem that I have been seeking to recapture all along”.

Kamal Boullatta on painting, exile and Jerusalem

In 1993, he received a Fullbright Fellowship to conduct field research on Islamic art in Morocco and Spain, and in 2001, he was awarded a Ford Foundation grant to research post-Byzantine painting and the origins of modern art in Palestine. Boullata  was a worldly figure who spent the last five decades of his life moving between the US (1968-1992 , Morocco, (1993-1996) and France,  (1997-2012) before settling in Berlin in 2012 when he was elected as a fellow of the Wissenschaftskollen zu Berlin, Institute for Advanced in Berlin.
His career was rich and varied, moving regularly between the worlds of writing and of painting. Throughout his life  he was known for his generosity to friends, human rights advocates, and causes. He was the author of  four groundbreaking books on Palestinian art, including Belonging and Globalisation: Critical Essays in Contemporary Art and Culture  (2008 ) and Palestinian Art:From 1850 to the Present (2009) in which he gave  the first insider's study of Palestinian art in English yet published, this scholarly analysis presented insights into the development of Palestinian art before and after the cataclysmic events of 1948 during which Palestinian society was uprooted and dispersed. Writer and Critic John Berger wrote in its preface: "Boullata takes the reader to the struggle of those visionary, obstinate Palestinian artists who create so that their anonymous heroic land with its ancestral olive trees  may survive."
He believed that Palestinian artists who sat idly by had failed to do their job properly, and he saw writing such histories as being integral to his practice. “I don’t think that you can lead a purely creative life or a purely political life,” Boullata said in a 2009 National interview. “Everything is interrelated, even if we are unaware of that fact. When artists in Gaza were under bombardment and looking after their families, they still kept on thinking about art.”
An individual with a brilliant mind Boullata also edited books on modern poetry and contemporary culture and his essays in English and Arabic have appeared in catalogues, anthologies, and academic journals.In 2003 he edited  If Only the Sea Could Sleep: Love Poems by Adonis. We Begin Here a collection of poems he co-edited was written in response to the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon,updated with new works rising from Israel's 2006 bombardment of its northern neighbor. These poems, covering a period of nearly 25 years, testified to the poets' spirit of resistance and support of the dignity, rights and humanity of the Palestinian and Lebanese people. 
 “The Palestinian cultural movement lost with the departure of Boullata a dedicated artist who will remain present in the history and future of Palestinian art as an expression of freedom, struggle and creativity and in the memory of Palestinian generations inspired by his works,” said the Palestinian Ministry of Culture in a eulogy statement.
Boullata remained faithful to Palestine and its cause in its political and humanitarian dimensions. He defeated with his art the aura of darkness and death that the occupation is trying to consolidate and impose in Palestine,” it added.
Boullata’s works are well regarded around the world  and he has been exhibited in Europe, the US, France, and the Middle East and can be found in collections including the British Museum, London; the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; the New York Public Library; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; and Mathaf:  Museum of Modern Arab Art, Doha. Recent solo exhibitions include Addolcendo at Meem Gallery, Dubai (2017); ‘… And There Was Light’ at Berloni Gallery in London (2015); and Bilqis at Wiensowski & Harbord in Berlin (2013).
His loss is a huge loss to the thousands of people he inspired across the world and to Palestinian culture, because he did so much in his work and his writings to situate Palestine art  in the full context of Palestinians lived experiences. He will be remembered foremost as one of Palestines great modernist artist, a creator of vibrant Arabic abstract art, as well as being a scholar of the history of Palestinian art,whose legacy will live on as a result of the rich contribution he has given to humanity,  He is survived by his wife  Lily Farhoud. Kamal Boullatta  may his creative soul rest in peace.

"Today, memory continues to be the connective tissue through which Palestinian identity is asserted and it is the fuel that replenishes the history of their cultural resistance." -- Kamal Boulatta

Kamal Boullata

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Lessons from Hiroshima and Nagasaki

74 years ago  on 6th August 1945 am.the United States dropped  an atomic bomb called ' Little Boy" on Hiroshima, Japan which is estimated to have killed 100,000 to 180,000 people out of a population of 350,000. Then three days later, a second  atomic bomb  called "Fat Man" was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, killing between 50,000 and 100,000 people.
.Hiroshima and Nagasaki were largely civilian towns, meaning there wasn't a strong military reason to drop the atomic bombs over those particular cities. No one was excluded from the horrors of the atomic bomb, a "destroyer of worlds" burnt hotter than the sun. Some people were vaporised upon impact, while others suffered burns and radiation poisoning that would kill them days, weeks or even months later. Others were crushed by debris, burned by unimaginable heat or suffocated by the lack of oxygen. Many survivors suffered from leukemia and other cancers like thyroid and lung cancer at higher rates than those not exposed to the bombs. Mothers were more likely to  lose their children during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Children exposed to radiation were more likely to have learning disabilities and impaired growth.
Those that did manage to survive  would be traumatised for the rest of their lives. Hibakusha is a term widely used in Japan, that refers to the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it translates as 'explosion effected  Survivor of Light. These survivors speak of the deep, unabating grief they felt in the days, months and decades since the attack  They have described the shame of being a survivor , many were unable to marry, find jobs, or live any sort of normal life. They have said that many Hibakusha never speak of the day, instead choosing to suffer in silence. They told what it was like to be suddenly alone in middle age, to lose their parents, spouses, children, and livelihoods in a single instant. In memory of them, we should make sure that the  misery and devastation caused by nuclear weapons is never forgotten.
Even if Japan was not fully innocent, the people of Japan did not deserve to pay the price for their nations wrongdoing, and there was absolutely no moral justification in obliterating these two cities and killing its inhabitants in what was clearly a crime against humanity and murder on an epic scale. Hiroshima and Nagasaki held no strategic importance. Japan were an enemy on the brink of failure an members of the country's top leadership were involved in peace negotiations. Many believe that these two atrocities were a result of  geopolitical posturing at its most barbaric, announcing  in a catastrophic  display of military capability, of inhumane intention showing America's willingness to use doomsday weapons on civilian populations.The bombings serving as warnings and the fist act of the Cold War against its imperialist rival Russia. A message to the Russians of the power of destruction and technological military capability that the US had managed to develop.Three days later U.S president Harry Truman exulted ; "This is the greatest thing in history! " and gloated that " we are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely."
Then the photos began to emerge, haunting images of burned children with their skin hanging off, of bodies charred and there was Sadaki Sasaki and the 1,000 origami peace cranes she folded before her death at 12 from leukemia ten years after the bomb was dropped on her hometown of Hiroshima. The bombs dropped were  of a indiscriminate and cruel character beyond comparison  with weapons and projectiles of the past. Despite all  this Truman never regretted his decision. .
Today as the world commemorates the lives that were lost and the unacceptable devastation caused to people and planet, we still have so much to learn from this picture of indescribable human suffering. Lets not forget that in our our current dangerous  times, many world leaders remain recklessly committed to their nuclear  arsenals. There are an estimated 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world at the present time with over 90% held by USA and Russia, but also by the UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and lately North Korea. This is more than enough to wipe out most of the human race and most other life and in scrapping the landmark intermediate-Range nuclear arms control pact, like the  US president Donald Trump has done on August 2d, the threat of nuclear war has been dangerously heightened.
As the safety and security of people across the globe hangs by a thread, and today we mourn the hundreds and thousands of lives lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki now is the time for us to redouble our efforts to ensure that such an atrocity does not happen again and on this poignant anniversary, we must reaffirm our determination to campaign for a world without nuclear weapons, whilst remembering the resilience of ordinary people in the years after the war and the movements of ordinary people against war, who try to make this world more peaceful and harmonious place for us all. Across the world today for Hiroshima Day and on August 9 Nagasaki Day there will be many Lanterns for Peace Ceremonies to commemorate these two events, where many will echo the call of the Hibakusha, that such a tragic thing must never happen again.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Roma Holocaust Memorial Day

Roma  Holocaust Memorial Day is held every year on August 2, to remember the murder of hundreds of thousands of Romani by the Nazis during Word War II. Roma communities also mark May 16, 1944, when, as survivors remember, the inmates successfully resisted the SS’s first attempt to clear the camp .
No official figures exactly exist, but it is estimated that between 220,000 and 500,000 Romani and Sinti,from Central Europe were killed during the war, the Nazis and their allies killed about 25 percent of Europe's entire Roma (a.k.a. Gypsy) population, accounting for half their total population at  the time. This genocide, known in the Romani language, as Porajimas which can translate as “destruction.” It's remembered as the worst event in their peoples' history. Other Romani people in the Balkans prefer to use the term 'samudaripen,' translating as “mass killing,” but there's still no general consensus in the community regarding how to call this tragedy, sometimes even borrowing the word 'holokausto.'
Roma persecution by the Nazi regime began in 1933 and during the 1936 Olympic Games, the Roma and Sinti were forcibly relocated to a camp on the outskirts and were not allowed to leave unless they had a job. Their property was confiscated and sold; they were never compensated. Between 1933 and 1945, more than 400,000 people were forcibly sterilised by the Nazis, including thousands of Roma and Sinti, In the late 1930s, the first deportations of Roma to concentration camps began. While the yellow star worn by the Jewish victims of the Holocaust is best known, the Roma had their own symbols, brown or black triangles, symbolising their ethnicity and their inherent ‘anti-social’ status.
In May 1944, the Nazis started to plan the “Final Solution” for the “Gypsy Family Camp” in Auschwitz. The initial date for the liquidation of the “Gypsy camp” was planned for the 16th of May. The prisoners of the camp were ordered to stay in the barracks and surrounded by 60 SS men. When the SS men tried to force the prisoners out of the barracks they faced a rebellion of Roma men, women and children, armed with nothing more but sticks, tools and stones, and eventually the SS had to withdraw. The resistance of Roma prisoners gave them only a few additional months of life.
The Nazi also feared that an insurrection could spread to other parts of the camp and they planned the “Final Solution” on August 2nd. On orders from SS leader Heinrich Himmler, a ban on leaving the barracks was imposed on the evening of August 2 in the “Gypsy Camp”. Despite resistance by the Roma, 2,897 men, women, and children were loaded on trucks, taken to gas chamber V, and exterminated. Their bodies were burned in pits next to the crematorium. After the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945 only 4 Roma remained alive.
Auschwitz remains a powerful symbolic point of reference for European Roma , as it does, of course for global memory of the Holocaust. But even before this horrific moment in history the Roma were vilified, and maligned across Europe, an ethnic group originating in the northern Indian subcontinent before making their way to Europe most likely in the 14th century, the Roma had always been a migratory people who often faced local persecution wherever they ended up. And in the subsequent years since the Holocaust, their pain and suffering has been forgotten and diluted, wiped from the pages of history books while the same myths that were used to put them in camps in the first place persist into the 21st century. Widely accepted “facts” about Roma criminality and anti-social behaviour are today central to any conversation about the Roma community, despite a broad lack of understanding for the realities involved. The genocide of the Roma and the Sinti by the Nazis remains for many the "Forgotten Holocaust "
Surely  it is  time we should reject the notion that only the group with the highest number of victims deserves acknowledgement for their suffering.What matters most, in any case, is not the anomalies or the differences in the numbers, but the fact that both Jews and Gypsies were deemed “parasitic alien races” and targeted for racial extermination.It is certainly time for full recognition of the Roma and Sinti victims of the Nazis. Just as Jews have Yom HaShoah, the Roma and Sinti have now their own commemoration  to fully recognize Gypsy victims of the Holocaust. Today organizations representing  the Roma and Sinti community will gather today at Auschwitz and other sites for education and remembrance.
We should not forget either,  that those who passed through the gates of Auschwitz were only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of Romani victims of the genocidal policies of the Nazis and their allies. In occupied Poland, Serbia and the Soviet Union, they were hunted down by the same Wehrmacht units and death squads that massacred Jews. In Romania, some 25,000 were deported to “colonies” east of the Dniester river (Transnistria); nearly half of them did not survive the brutal conditions there.
After World War II, German society even denied for decades they had been persecuted and it took until 1979 for the German government to commence reparations and until 2011 for the killings to receive an official day of remembrance.However to this day the families of the victims of the Roma Holocaust still struggle for compensation and equal rights, while at same time institutional and rhetorical anti-Gypsyism is sadly becoming politically respectable in parts of Europe again. They face extreme unemployment and poverty. They have poor education outcomes, language and literacy barriers. They are segregated and discriminated against at every turn, but people are willing to turn a blind eye to all of that because it’s not happening to them.The need for continued memorialization of the fate of the Roma and Sinti population of Europe has never been more important.
Not just today we should pay tribute to the memory of the Roma victims of the Holocaust, making sure this tragedy is never repeated . It is  also a stark reminder of our shared responsibility and duty as fellow humans to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to counter antigypsyism, antisemitism, racism,discrimination and stand guard  against hatred and indifference and other forms of intolerance. Also in remembering the genocide is an important step towards securing respect and civil rights for Europe’s Sinti and Roma. a path to stop the racism against the Roma that has never stopped  for them and the pain that is still inflicted on their community that affects them so deeply.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Frank Stanford (1/8/48- 2/6/78 ) :- Neglected Poet of raw emotion

Prolific American poet Frank Stanford was born in Mississippi on August 1 in 1948, he was taken out of a Mississippi orphanage and was adopted by Dorthy Gildart, who was single. In 1950 his mother adopted a daughter Bettina Ruth, and in 1952, his mother married Albert Frankin, a much older civil engineer contractor in Memphis., Tennessee, where the family relocated, and Albert adopted Frank and his younger sister. Until his death eight years later, Stanford raised the young boy as his own. When he was 21, Frank discovered that his mother had adopted him he had always believed, or been led to believe, that she was his birth mother. His birth parents are unknown. The orphanage from which a single mother adopted him burst into flames, destroying his record.
 Standford spent summers in labor camps run by his father, and worked side by side with African Americans building levees on the Mississippi River, absorbing his co-workers’ vivid storytelling, their music and their fatalistic point of view. Asked once what he had learned from his co-workers, he said simply: “how shitty white people were to them.”
In 1964, Stanford entered Subiaco Abbey and Academy near Paris, Arkansas, a boys' prep-school run by Benedictine monks who provided a rigorous liberal arts and physical fitness curriculum. After graduating, he entered the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in the fall of 1966, pursuing a civil engineering degree as his stepfather had done at the same institution some fifty years earlier. In January 1969, the spring semester of his sophomore year, Stanford changed his field of study to English and was allowed to enroll in the graduate poetry-writing workshop, an uncommon occurrence.
Stanford‘s personal life  though was rather tumultuous, after leaving University without a degree in 1971,he married  Linda Mercin , but the marriage ended within a year. In 1973 he married a second time to painter Ginny Crouch. They had no children.His preoccupation with his loss of identity and his perpetual quest for identifying origins, manifested across his poetry. His subject was mostly childhood, and particularly the childhood spent growing up in a Southern community at a time when the South was on the brink of tumultuous change. He writes of childhood memories viewed through an adult lens, memories recalled with a grasp that is fond and loving but also understanding and at times shocking. Much of his poetry is about growing up in the 1950s South. His language soaked in a Southern vernacular and deeply American.Long poems set with recurring characters in an imaginary landscape drawn from his childhood in the Ozark mountains and full of wild embellishment.
Stanford was a writer unlike any other American poet of his time. He was heavily influenced by French and Latin American Surrealism, and he was dubbed "a swamprat Rimbaud" by the poet Lorenzo Thomas and "one of the great voices of death" by Franz Wright.Stanford consistently took two of the most ancient poetical themes, love and death, and infused them  with a freshness with his language and imagery. His poems remain haunting,primal, otherworldly and powerful to read, full of raw emotion and passion, and despite the preoccupation with death are strangely beautiful.
 On June 2, 1978, Stanford  walked into his home in Fayetteville, Ark., to be confronted by his wife, painter Ginny Stanford, and his mistress, poet C.D. Wright about his sexual liaisons. There were at least half a dozen other women at the time.After confesing his infidelity to his wife, he had suffered from depression and threatened suicide on previous occasions, he stepped into the bedroom and shot himself with a .22 pistol. He is buried at Saint Benedict's Cemetry near Subiaco Abbey.
 Stanford wrote ten books of poetry, eight volumes in the last seen years of his life, which is pretty impressive for anyone, his books include The Singing Knives, Ladies from Hell, Arkansas Bench Stone  and The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I love you, a mostly unpunctuated poem that is more than 16,000 lines long.
He published prolifically and was acknowledged as one of  the most talented and uniquely  inventive poets of his generation, however after his death, with his literary estate split, a rift between his widow and his mistress left the majority of his work inaccessible to all  but determined seekers. But in the years following his death  there have been a number of posthumous collections, and though a underappreciated and neglected  artist, who has been almost entirely absent from poetry anthologies he has certainly developed a cult following,  and now with his books being republished, it has meant that  his legacy, in recent years, has at least continued to  grow and for him to be at last  recognised  as an undeniable force in contemporary American poetry. He cared about the lost and forgotten , the poor and afraid. And he bought them into his poems. where their despair and hoplessness could shine clearly. His poems should be a wake up call for all of us, and long shall they not be forgotten either.His grand imagination has flared in the imagination of a new generation of readers and writers and he has since been written about in at least two folk songs - the Indigo Girls' "Three Hits" and Lucinda Williams' beautiful song "Pineola" who was a close family friend of Stanford who was a staple in the Williams household in the 1970s.

The Light  the Dead See - Frank Standford

There are many people who come back
After the doctor has smoothed the sheet
Around their body
And left the room to make his call.

They die but they live.

They are called the dead who lived through their deaths,
And among my people
They are considered wise and honest.

They float out of their bodies
And light on the ceiling like a moth,
Watching the efforts of everyone around them.

The voices and the images of the living
Fade away.

A roar sucks them under
The wheels of a darkness without pain.
Off in the distance
There is someone
Like a signalman swinging a lantern.

The light grows, a white flower.
It becomes very intense, like music.

They see the faces of those they loved,
The truly dead who speak kindly.
They see their father sitting in a field.
The harvest is over and his cane chair is mended.
There is a towel around his neck,
The odor of bay rum.
Then they see their mother
Standing behind him with a pair of shears.
The wind is blowing.
She is cutting his hair.

The dead have told these stories
To the living.

 Time Forks Perpetually toward Innumerable Futures in Your Enemy - Frank Stanford

I am going to die.

Friends who made good,
Friends who did not,
I am going
Down into the Egypt of your sex,
The lands of your mystery and death.

Do you still want me
To find you
Somebody to love?

I cruise through the delta of your love,
Paradise on Sunday,
Cold as ice on Monday.
A hundred pounds of it on the tongs,
A butterfly at the center.

Going home I cross the bridge
And throw a bottle out the window,
Hit all my friends in the head.

The crickets under the straw
Like old folks spitting in a paper sack.

Now my life the Sphinx
Laid by slaves,
My death the promised land.

A light rain falling, a split tongue
And sad eyes, no lie,
I’ve got you by the tongue.

I park my Cadillac outside your temple of madness.
You are worshipped there.

Look at your face, swollen from sleep.
Are you waiting for me
To unwind you from your last clothes,
Do you want me
To bury my long ship in your heart?

Your lineage like gravesites for the stars,
Way stations for great dreamers.

There is a six foot rattlesnake
Asleep in the birdhouse.
Are you taking crumbs to the warblers tonight?

Death is an isthmus, you can get there on foot.
But love had made its island.

What of the young?
I hunt them down,
Good winds in the desert,
Blue eggs in the junipers.

You - Frank Stanford

Sometimes in our sleep we touch
The body of another woman
And we wake up
And we know the first nights
With summer visitors
In the three storied house of our childhood.
Whatever we remember,
The darkest hair being brushed
In front of the darkest mirror
In the darkest room.

Frank Stanford, What About This:Collected Poems of Frank Stanford, Port Townsend; Copper Canyon Press, 2015

Pineola - Lucinda Williams

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Britains richest man: Frack off !

Residents in the south Yorkshire village of Woodsett are currently raising money to oppose shale gas exploration proposals by US petrochemical giant Ineos, largely owned by the UK’s richest man, and Brexiteer the billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
Ratcliffe  has described shale gas as a “saviour“ of the UK economy. He is known for his aggressive pursuit of industrial assets in the UK, including the Grangemouth petrochemical plant and refinery, Forties pipeline, and fracking licenses. [2], [3], [4], [5] Ratcliffe confessed to moving his operations to the tax-haven of Geneva, Switzerland, with some parts of INEOS’ business now returned to the UK.He forced the closure of the Grangemouth refinery in 2013 after a dispute with trade unions over working conditions and pension payments.
 Ratcliffe wrote a comment piece for the Daily Telegraph reflecting on the Grangemouth industrial dispute, in which he says of trade unions:It is misplaced for unions in Britain to think that we are the enemy. We are not. It is not necessary, nor appropriate, to sow dissent and misrepresent employees or constantly to threaten industrial action. "
Ineos does not restrict themselves to getting up the noses of their workers They have also taken out a national injunction against protestors, making it a highly risky business even to stand outside an Ineos plant brandishing a cardboard Frack Off sign.
Ineos currently has a UK petroleum exploration and development licence (PEDL) for a field outside Woodsetts, which allows it to pursue a range of oil and gas exploration activities, subject to necessary drilling and development consents and planning permission.
Matthew Wilkinson, from Woodsetts Against Fracking, said houses in Berne Square backed on to Ineos’s site: “It would be clearly visible from their homes. You could throw a ball and probably get very close to the well pad.”
A few weeks ago Ineos submitted an application to erect a 270-metre-long fence as an “acoustic sound barrier” to shield the estate, which has already been dubbed the “Great Wall of Ineos”.
Wilkinson said the fence would make residents feel trapped. “If somebody sticks a huge wall up outside your house, which it pretty much is, you’re going to feel enclosed.
“The ‘Great Wall of Ineos’ will act like nothing more than a prison wall to the most vulnerable people in our village, obscuring their views, reducing their light and causing stress.”
The Conservative government is in favour of fracking and has made it difficult for local councils to deny planning permission to energy firms hoping to frack for shale gas. To turn down a fracking application, councillors must cite concerns over traffic, noise or environmental impact, rather than an ideological objection to the process of fracking. Councillors in Rotherham have so far though twice refused planning permission for the well, citing concerns mentioned above .Denying Ineos for the second time in September .councillors voiced concern about the proximity to Berne Square, which provides housing for people who are elderly or ill.
Fracking is the process of extracting gas or oil from rocks trapped thousands of metres underground, by drilling into the rocks and breaking them up with water and chemicals at high pressure.Those in favour of fracking say that we are addicted to fossil fuel and should  not make a fuss about the consequences, that fracking will increase jobs, reduce energy bills and reduce reliance on imported oil and gas. Those against say, this is not about consumer demand, it’s about profits  and our reliance on fossil fuels is short sighted, the practice is terrible for the environment and the number of jobs generated has been grossly over exaggerated and the Government should focus on renewable energy.
Sir Jim, has dismissed many of the concerns about fracking, calling many protest groups ' ignorant' and criticising the Government for listening to a "noisy miniscule  minority and insisting his company has made significant breakthroughs  on expanding the recycling of plastic.
However support for shale gas has sunk to a new low, as cracks appear in the industry.In a government survey on energy, published last Thursday, 6 February, public support for fracking has sunk to a record low. The survey, carried out quarterly for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, found that 13% supported fracking while 35% opposed fracking. The government survey also revealed 77% of people want renewable energy; the most common reason being the loss or destruction of the natural environment, followed by the risk of earthquakes and tremors. Fracking also presents  immediate risks to human health and contamination of drinking water by toxic chemicals released during the fracking process. This combined with respiratory problems that flare up in the vicinity around fracking sites, from wheezing and coughing and breathlessness, to potentially life-threatening issues like asthma. Further, there are serious issues with noise, stress, and sleep deprivation, leading to rises in incidence of heart disease, depression, and even linked to learning difficulties in children. As a result many are calling for fracking to be banned once and for all.
Ineos has repeatedly come under fire for its carbon footprint, which it has historically refused to disclose, while some have suggested the group may be one of Britain's largest polluters.“It seems reasonable to assume that Ineos' emissions amount to millions, if not tens of millions of CO2 every year,” a Christian Aid spokesman said.“Yet despite the company's vast scale, it manages to keep an extremely low profile, releasing only snippets of information about its emissions of greenhouse gases.
Documents released under a freedom of information act request revealed Ineos was also leading a push to use Brexit as an opportunity to exempt the chemical sector entirely from climate change policy costs, The Guardian reported.
Protestors recently targeted  the chemical giant at the cycling Tour de Yorkshire after Ineos became the sponsor of a British cycling team, that had previously been called Team Sky, and follows a £110m investment with Olympian sailor Ben Ainsle in the American Cup Yacht race, which  many believe simply amounts to a form of greenwashing, in an attempt to deflect criticism of the company's  damaging environmental record and polluting activities by backing high profile eco friendly causes. Environmental  groups have been quick to link Ratcliffe's spending to wider controversies about his business interests, from concerns about the real impact of fracking to the over extension of the plastics  market. Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, has described the acceptance of Ineos sponsorship as "wholly inappropriate"..
The villagers of Woodsett are fighting back in what campaigners are describing as a case of “David v Goliath”.and have crowdfunded £10,000 to pay a lawyer to help them oppose the application by Ineos to carry out test core drilling on a field just outside their village. They have recently recieved fresh hope as Ineos' planning appeal for drilling has been delayed until 2020. I would urge people to  support them in their fight against climate criminals Ineos , as they destroy our environment and fuel climate change in their thirst for profit.

 Crowdjustice website for Woodsetts Against Fracking