Thursday, 13 December 2018

Freedom's Breath

There is urgency within it's exhalation
In fields of wonder, on journeys frustrated,
Towns and cities, countless street corners
In places where we come together.

Weaving among our destinies
Feeding hungry voices of conscience,
Shouting, resisting, singing
Never stops to rest, keeps on calling.

Carrying people to safety
Across barricades and borders,
Upon the tides that overtake
Scattering hope on the lands.

Providing and protecting all
Weakening the shackles that bind
Sharing our fears, courage, fragility
The capacity for humanity to love.

Beyond prejudices and barbarism
Opening doors, a doyen against division,
Releasing souls, letting minds  break free
Bringing beauty to the waking eye.

Moving through unstilled clouds
Moonlight dapples, waves of thought
Turning things upside down, finds new horizon
Seductive reasoning in every waking season.

But still curtailed by hostile environments
Lost among tyranny, the walls we build,
Still too many who do not see its worth
But freedom's gasping will not withdraw.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Solidarity with the Stansted 15

 Last year, 15 people took non-violent direct action at Stansted on March 17; 2017 to prevent the deportation of 60 people on a  secretive charter flight bound for Ghana , Nigeria and Sierra Leonne. The Stansted 15 as they have become known  put their bodies on the line to prevent this flight taking off, locking themselves around the aircraft and physically blocking it from taxiing toward the runway, preventing  the flight from leaving, acting out of conscience and out of a concern, as they saw it, that people were at risk of suffering serious human rights violations if deported from Stansted.
They belonged to the groups  End Deportations , Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Plane Stupid and aimed to show links between climate change, colonialism, homophobia and the border regime.The Stansted 15 expected to face retribution for their protest. and were charged with aggravated trespass, but four months later this was changed to “endangering safety at aerodromes” - a serious terrorism-related charge which can lead to a life sentence.
They never actually expected to be found guilty of terrorism offences.But on Monday, the group became the first activists involved in a non-violent direct action protest to be convicted under laws that were formulated in response to the Locherbie Bombing. After a judge told the jury to disregard evidence put forward to support their defence that their attempt to stop a deportation flight was intended to stop human rights abuses, the defendants must wait until February to learn if they will face custodial sentences.
 Deportation charter flights are part of the UK's hostile environment for migrants, which also includes immigration detention centres, raids, signing at the police station and keeping people in a limbo of uncertainty over their future – often for years. People deported on these flights are snatched from their communities and families - without due process and without time to challenge the deportation through legal means. The government’s punitive, racist asylum and deportation policies, aimed at criminalising the very act of migration, have devastating and long-lasting consequences for those seeking refuge. These secretive charter flights are pre-booked and later filled by the Home Office, creating a demand for migrant bodies to be removed irrespective of their current immigration status. The peaceful action of the #Stansted15 saved lives and resulted in 11 people out of the 60 who were on the plane to have been granted legal status in the UK.
We see the impacts of the UK's hostile environment in our communities every day and it is only when people come together to challenge it that we feel the cracks opening in this unjust system. The Stansted 15's action was incredibly important, not only for the people on the 'plane, who were able to continue with their asylum claims but also for what it represented and the ideas and conversations that have come out of it.  As the Windrush scandal has so clearly demonstrated, the Home Office has repeatedly harmed and otherwise callously mistreated many people in this country. It has misused and abused deportation powers against those with rights to British citizenship, against those entitled to asylum, and against those with other good claims to live in the UK. Here, 15 people were doing something they saw as a means to partly redress the balance. Actions designed to defend the rights of a powerless - and sometimes maligned - group.
Around the world, those who seek to defend human rights are currently under sustained pressure. In the Gulf (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE) human rights defenders have been virtually silenced. Closer to home, they’re under attack in Turkey, Hungary, France and elsewhere in Europe.
Amnesty International UK, who have supported the group throughout the trial, has launched a solidarity campaign with the 15.Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said: “This is a crushing blow for human rights in the UK.
“The terrorism-related charge against these individuals was always a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
“It’s deeply disturbing that peaceful protesters who caused disruption but at no time caused harm to anyone, should now be facing a possible lengthy prison sentence.
“This whole case will send a shiver down the spine of anyone who cares about the right to protest in our country.
“Around the world, human rights defenders are coming under increasing attack. The UK should not be bringing such severe charges against those who seek to peacefully stand up for human rights.”
This is a moment for people of a genuinely liberal conscience to take a stand. It is imperative that the Stansted 15 receive maximm solidarity for those who understand that their prosecution is the harbinger of hideous attacks on  what are meant to be open, democratic societies, who on  human rights day were found guilty of an appalling use of terror-related law for stopping a deportation flight and thereby saving lives.
The Stansted 15 are: Helen Brewer, Lyndsay Burtonshaw, Nathan Clack, Laura Clayson, Mel Evans, Emma Hughes, Joseph McGahan, May McKeith, Ruth Potts, Jyotsna Ram, Nicholas Sigsworth, Benjamin Smoke, Melanie Strickland, Ali Tamlit and Edward Thacker. Apart from two who are 38 and 44, the activists are aged between 27 and 35. They put their bodies on the line to prevent a potential threat to and loss of life, now we have to show we’ll stand with them. They are human rights defenders - the real criminals are the Home Office. We must  and continue to treat refugees and asylum seekers with the respect and dignity they deserve
Today Tuesday 5.30 at the Home Office: Demonstrate in solidarity with #Stansted15. Protest the convictions & demand an end to brutal deportations, immigration detention, and the racist hostile environment (wear pink in solidarity)

Monday, 10 December 2018

International Human Rights Day : 10 December 2018

Human Rights Day on 10 December recognizes the work of human rights defenders worldwide who act to end discrimination. Acting alone or in groups within their communities, every day human rights defenders work to end discrimination by campaigning for equitable and effective laws, reporting and investigating human rights violations and supporting victims.

While some human rights defenders are internationally renowned, many remain anonymous and undertake their work often at great personal risk to themselves and their families. Human Rights Day is observed by the international community every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

 And ever since that auspicious day it has stood as the first major stride forward in ensuring that the rights of every human across the globe are protected. From the most basic human needs such as food, shelter, and water, all the way up to access to free and uncensored information, such has been the goals and ambitions laid out that day.

 "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights," Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads. "They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

 A milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.

 When the General Assembly adopted the Declaration, with 48 states in favor and eight abstentions, it was proclaimed as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations", towards which individuals and societies should "strive by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance".

Although the Declaration with its broad range of political, civil, social, cultural and economic rights is not a binding document, it inspired more than 60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights. It has helped shape human rights all over the world.

Today the general consent of all United Nations Member States on the basic Human Rights laid down in the Declaration makes it even stronger and emphasizes the relevance of Human Rights in our daily lives.The High Commissioner for Human Rights, as the main United Nations rights official, plays a major role in coordinating efforts for the yearly observation of Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Day reminds us that there is much to be done  and around the world to protect those who cannot voice or respond to perpetrated discrimination and violence caused by governments, vigilantes, and individual actors. In many instances, those who seek to divide people for subjective means and for totalitarian reasons do so around the globe without fear of retribution. Violence, or the threat of violence, perpetrated because of differences in a host of physical and demographic contrasts and dissimilarities is a blight on our collective humanity now and a danger for our human future.

Human Rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. They apply regardless of where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life. They should never be taken away, these basic rights are based on values such as dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence. But human rights are not just abstract concepts, they are defined and protected by law.

The aim of Human Rights Day is to raise awareness around the world of our inalienable rights – rights to basic needs such as water, food, shelter and decent working conditions. In the UK we are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998, however in other countries, especially developing countries, the laws are not in place to protect people and to ensure that their basic needs are met.

For millions of people, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still just a dream.Many people around the world are still denied the most basic of human rights on a daily basis. Women’s rights are still repeatedly denied and marginalised throughout the globe, despite 70 years of the milestone declaration on human rights. Confronted with widespread gender-based violence, hate and discrimination, women’s well-being and ability to live full and active lives in society are being seriously challenged. Take a look for instance at Freemuse's  newly released report Creativity Wronged: How women’s right to artistic freedom is denied and marginalised

Racism, xenophobia and intolerance are still  problems prevalent in all societies, and discriminatory practices are widespread, particularly regarding the  targeting of migrants and refugees. including in rich countries where men, women and children who have committed no crime are often held in detention for prolonged periods. They are frequently discriminated against by landlords, employers and state-run authorities, and stereotyped and vilified by some political parties, media organizations and members of the public.

Many other groups face discrimination to a greater or lesser degree. Some of them are easily definable such as persons with disabilities, stateless people, gays and lesbians, members of particular castes and the elderly. Others may span several different groups and find themselves discriminated against on several different levels as a result.

Those who are not discriminated against often find it hard to comprehend the suffering and humiliation that discrimination imposes on their fellow individual human beings. Nor do they always understand the deeply corrosive effect it has on society at large.

Nearly a billion people do not have enough food to eat, and  even in wealthier countries like the UK and the US where there is an increasing growth in food banks. Poverty is a leading factor in the failure to protect the economic and social rights of many individuals around the world. For the half of the world population living on less than $2.50 a day, human rights lack any practical meaning.

For this  Human Rights Day we must continue to  stand with all people targeted for giving expression to the vision and values embodied in the declaration. Every day must be Human Rights Day, as every person in the world is entitled to the full and indivisible range of human rights every day of his or her life.Global human rights are not selective in their value or meaning, nor are they limited to a day or time of year. Until all people have access to these human rights we must stand up, advocate for, and insist that more must be done. Human Rights Day should serve as a reminder to act for those lacking basic rights each and everyday. 

 Human Rights Day calls on us all to ‘stand up for someone's rights today!’ It reminds us what we have achieved over the years to respect, promote and protect human rights. It also asks to recommit and re-engage in championing these rights for our shared humanity since whenever and wherever humanity's values of equality, justice and freedom are abandoned, we all are at greater risk.

 It’s important to acknowledge that human rights, have rarely been gifted to us through benevolent leaders. Rather, they have been won after long fought battles and collective struggle. We need to recognize and pay tribute to human rights defenders the world over, putting their lives on the line for others, our voice must be their voice. Lets work to achieve a better life for all. And more importantly, to continue to take a stand for people whose human rights are still not being met across the globe, find a way to use our voices for those who may not have an opportunity to advocate for themselves. 

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Walt Whitman ( 31/5/1819-26/3/1892) - I sit and look out

I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves, remorseful after deeds done;
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate;
I see the wife misused by her husband—I see the treacherous seducer of young women;
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be hid—I see these sights on the earth;
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I see martyrs and prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be kill’d, to preserve the lives of the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;
All these—All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Buzzcocks singer, punk icon Pete Shelley dies at age 63

Sad news that Pete Shelley has died at the untimely age of 63 of a suspected heart attack.The iconic lead singer of legendary influential Bolton punk rock band Buzzcocks died yesterday (November 6) in Estonia where he was living. His brother Gary McNeish posted a heartfelt tribute on Facebook. on Thursday evening.It read: "This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, is tell you my brother Pete Shelley had a heart attack this morning and passed away.
Shelley was born in Leigh, Lancashire, England, just west of Manchester on the 17th April  1955, Formed in Manchester in 1975,by  Shelley (born Peter Campbell McNeish) and Howard Devoto (né Howard Trafford), after the two met at the Bolton Institute of Technology and travelled to London together to see the Sex Pistols.The group began working in earnest after Shelley and Devoto booked the Sex Pistols at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall, a signal event in the city’s rock history that was depicted in Michael Winterbottom’s 2002 film “24 Hour Party People.”
 The Buzzcocks became part of the UK’s punk scene and have been closely associated with it ever since.Like their contemporaries, the Buzzcocks scorned what they considered the pretensions and bloated style of mainstream groups and turned out brief, stripped down songs, performed at manic speed. They released their blinding debut  Spiral Scratch  containing  four songs in February 1977 on their own New Hormones label. “The implications of ‘Spiral Scratch’ were enormous,” critic Jon Savage noted in his seminal 1991 history “England’s Dreaming.” The record ended up selling 16,000 copies and reaching the top 40 and became a model for a legion of DIY punks in Britain, spurring a flood of self-released music.

 Boredom - Buzzcocks

 Breakdown - Buzzxocks

Devoto left the band in 1977 to form the angular post-punk act Magazine. The band was reconfigured with Diggle taking on lead guitar and Garth Smith joining on bass. (Smith was soon displaced by Steve Garvey.) The quartet was signed to United Artists Records in the U.K. Shelley went on to become Buzzcocks’ principal songwriter and front man.The band became known for short, fast and loud hits like “Orgasm Addict”,  featuring such inarguably brilliant lines as "It's a labor of love fucking yourself to death." With England obviously not totally prepared at the time for a song about porking anything that moved,the single didn't exactly rocket onto the charts at the famously conservative BBC.

Orgasm Addict - Buzzxocks

Still, in the months and years that followed, Shelley and the Buzzcocks became one of the genre's most reliable forces, as at home with brute-power ragers ("Harmony in My Head") and pioneering power-pop ("Ever Fallen in Love, With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve”)  and “What Do I Get.” and as  punk pushed in artsy new directions ("Why Can't I Touch It?") all touched with Shelley' ever distinctive voice..

 Ever Fallen in Love, With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve - Buzzcocks

What do I get - Buzzcocks

Their energy and intensity were worthy of punk, and though no less aggressive and pointed than their peers, Buzzcocks flashed a more melodic streak, thanks to Shelley’s tuneful skills as a writer with the song "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" sounding at times like a punk version of the Beach Boys.

Everybody's Happy Nowadays - Buzzcocks

The group’s brilliant, acerbic singles (sharply produced by Martin Rushent)  crafted one perfect pop-punk track after another, some of the finest the punk genre had to offer, and a trio of strong 1978-79 albums, “Another Music in a Different Kitchen,” “Love Bites” and “A Different Kind of Tension”,vaulted Buzzcocks to the top rank of England’s first-generation punk groups. The band’s early 45s were compiled on the flawless 1979 hits package “Singles Going Steady.”which, nearly 40 years after its release, still stands as glowing testament to Shelley’s prowess as a punk rock vocalist. It should be in everybody's record collection. They toured the U.S., and appeared in the 1982 concert film “Urgh! A Music War.”

 Speaking in 2006 about his views on music, Shelley told the Guardian: “I’m not interested in being able to play. A musician is like another brand of entertainer.
“There are plenty of musicians that I enjoy watching that are entertainers. But I wouldn’t want to be that, because the thing with an entertainer is that there is always that dishonesty, which is what punk tried to get rid of.
“It was like, you’re not pretending to be something you are not. You are just what you are. Punk is an art of action. It’s about deciding to do something and then going out and doing it.”
Shelley left the Buzzcocks and had a hit with  the proudly out Gay “Homosapien” in 1981 as a solo performer; the single was banned by the BBC for its reference to gay sex, in the lyric “homo superior/ in my interior” but it became an underground hit nonetheless. Shelley came out as bisexual around that time, reflecting on the moment to Pitchfork in 2009: “They [other punk artists] didn’t seem to bat an eyelid, really. Because the idea of what people know, or the stereotype of a punk, hadn’t been formed.

Homosapian - Pete Shelley 

He was  also involved with a series of experimental recordings from the early ’80s which were far and away from the Buzzcocks’ pogo-inducing reputation. As a solo artist, he issued five albums during the ‘80s; beginning with Sky Yen in 1980, which had actually been recorded in 1974. to his last solo album, “Cinema Music and Wallpaper Sounds,” which was released in 2016.
I've always had an affection for the following synth- pop classic.

On your own - Pete Shelley

Telephone Operator has him in full on sneering camp mode and as the record plays, you can just picture him  looking side on to an imaginary camera, left eyebrow slightly raised, arched and knowing.

Telephone Operator - Pete Shelley

The band eventually reunited in 1989, convening their classic line-up of Shelley, guitarist Steve Diggle, bassist Stephen Garvey and drummer John Maher, to release six more albums and tour off and on with dates scheduled through June 2019.Buzzcocks’ ninth and most recent album, 'The Way', came out in 2014. Shelley also reunited with Devoto for a collaborative release, Buzzkunst, in 2002.
The Buzcocks were not only a great punk band. They were also active supporters of the Anti- Nazi League and Rock Against Racism. And it's just over 40 years since 'Rock Against Racism' and the Buzzcocks played to over 40,000 people at a concert in Manchester. /40-years-since-rock-against-racism-and-buzzcocks-brought-40000-to-manchester/?fbclid=IwAR11-DMM1vaA5JfuojseZSswzG-YJ3XosaIJyMZlr1fJ2SvNgOQCPcr1wyA
Following the news of Shelley’s passing, many have taken to social media to share their condolences and memories of this rock icon.
“I am totally shocked and saddened to just hear of the untimely death of Pete Shelley,” wrote Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock. “A superb songwriter, artist and a totally sweet hearted guy who was one of the very few originals of punk and even a one off within that. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
Captain Sensible from the Damned said ' Shocked to hear of the passing of our good mate Pete Shelley who’s fabulous songs are amongst the catchiest in all of punk rock. We will miss you Pete - love from @damnedtwits, X'
Former member of The Charlatans, author and radio host Tim Burgess also shared his love for the late singer-songwriter: “Pete Shelley wrote perfect three-minute pop songs. The soundtrack to being a teenager. You’ll be missed Pete but you’ll be remembered for a long long time for your brilliant music.”
The author Neil Gaiman tweeted “part of my youth dies with him”.
The Buzzcocks paid tribute to their late band member too: “Pete’s music has inspired generations of musicians over a career that spanned five decades and with his band and as a solo artist, he was held in the highest regard by the music industry and by his fans around the world.”
Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine said Buzzcocks were one of the most influential bands to emerge in the initial wave of punk rock, with echoes of their music in everyone from Hüsker Dü to Nirvana.
"The Buzzcocks were inspired by the Sex Pistols' energy, yet they didn't copy the Pistols' angry political stance," he wrote in AllMusic. "Instead, they brought that intense, brilliant energy to the three-minute pop song. Shelley's alternately funny and anguished lyrics about adolescence and love were some of the best and smartest of his era."
I personally loved the Buzzcock's  and have subsequently been playing my old singles again, which I've treasured  since getting them as a teenager in the early 1980's, they still sound as fresh and vivid to my ears now to when I first heard them. He sure bought me many harmonies for my head, feet and heart  to enjoy.. 
Shelley was a sonic spark on the U.K. punk scene, who unlike many acts with similar beginnings, solo and alongside the Buzzcocks carried on making great records. I'm sure Shelley's music will be remembered for a long time to come.
I' will  end this  post with another classic Buzzcocks track a live version from 1989  taken from their brilliant album  Another music in a different kitchen .Yet another light has been dimmed from the world. Rest in Peace Pete Shelley.his  place in punk history is guaranteed and will continuously resonate.

Moving Away From The Pulsebeat

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Theresa May's Brexit Cake

Two years after coming to power, Theresa May's premiership is the most shambolic  for over a century. Continuing to show incompetence, May has already in complete delusion told MP's she was confident that the deal ' take us significantly closer to delivering what the British people voted for in the referendum. But her Brexit divorce deal is an absolute failure, combined with her refusal to listen to anyone in such a contemptuous manner and we are now  fast approaching constitutional crisis territory, which could at last bring about the Government's collapse.
The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March next year, but the deal negotiated with the EU has to be backed by a majority MPs if it is to come into force.The problem with Brexit, as the Prime Minister is finding to her cost, is that it has been impossible to find a blueprint for EU withdrawal that makes all factions in all parties happy, or, more seriously, is not furiously opposed by at least one of those factions.
In the absence of any deal, and without a revoking of Article 50, Britain crashes out of the EU on a no-deal basis , a scenario that has alarmed national and international businesses and inside Britain's machinery of government and public services, due to the prospect of swingeing tariffs on goods at the border, miles of queued lorries and stockpiling of food and medicines by panicking householders.
However, all this raises the question of how the UK might revoke notification. It would almost certainly need to be done by an act of parliament. If it was done by ministers alone using prerogative powers it would frustrate the will of parliament as expressed in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.
It should be noted that the statement and the case concerns revocation of notice to leave, and not a delay or extension of the two-year period provided for under Article 50.That period can be extended, but only with the agreement of all of the other 27 EU states. Whereas extension of the Article 50 period could become a political necessity, revocation of Article 50 remains something of an academic point at present. However, that would change if there was a second referendum in which the British people voted to remain in the EU.
On Wednesday, the full legal advice given by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to Theresa May's cabinet was published after the Government was found in contempt of Parliament in an unprecedented defeat in the House of Commons. Parliament also voted in favour of Dominic Grieve's motion by 321 votes to 299 which gives MP’s greater influence in Brexit should Mrs May’s deal be rejected in six days time.
The theme of cake has propped up constantly throughout the Brexit process with Brexiteer and Former Secrerary Boris Johnson  accused of 'cakeism'  for saying the UK should ' have our cake and eat it' as we leave the European Union. The president of the European Council Donald Tusk mocked May on an Instagram story. In the picture of the prime minister and himself at the cake stand he wrote: “A piece of cake, perhaps? Sorry, no cherries.” The roasting is a reference to a running joke in Brussels that Britain wants to  “cherrypick” the things it likes about the EU in its new deal. It's all such a bloody mess, would you eat Theresa May's Brexit Cake ? I certainly wouldn't. The Tory's are currently failing us badly.
It is clear that the disastrous government has run out of steam. The Withdrawal Agreement  must be voted down and the country needs a general election. The deal that May is presenting to parliament is the worst of all worlds, but is at least uniting Remainers and Leavers alike.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

George H.W. Bush: A tainted legacy

George H.W Bush, the 41st president of the United States, died on Friday at the age of 94
While several publications and media figures used his death to glorify his legacy, and sing his praises,  saying that he was a patriot, who  served  his country with honour and distinction in Office and during the Second World War. While the establishment celebrates the life of the former president and Americans line up to mourn their fallen leader, the facts that are being reported in the mainstream media are far different than the legacy he is leaving behind. Others are pointing to his dark human rights record and his responsibility  for war crimes. Many millions in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, will  have great cause to curse him, now that he has shuffled off this mortal coil.
Let us not forget that  as a member of the Reagan administration, he opposed sanctioning Apartheid South Africa. whilst the Willie Horton ad he used in his Presidential campaign is rightly seen as a precursor to Donald Trump’s race-baiting politics. And any full accounting of Bush’s legacy has to include his appalling record on LGBTQ issues. “Bush was as captive to the evangelical right on social issues—and thus a decidedly Republican president—as was his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, who cultivated religious conservatives as a potent political force and bowed to their anti-LGBTQ agenda as the AIDS epidemic mushroomed in the 1980s,” Michelangelo Signorile writes in the Huffington Post. On a host of issues—ranging from AIDS funding to the ban on gays in the military to collecting data on the prevalence of teen suicide among young gays—Bush sided against the LGBTQ community.
In 1988, Bush was elected president defeating Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts. Within his first year in office Bush’s approval ratings began to slip due to his inability to deal with Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian leader he previously aided while serving as head of the CIA. Bush responded by deciding to invade Panama, and on December 20,1989 he deployed 25,000 troops to the tiny nation. Bush justified the invasion— code named operation just cause— on the grounds of national security. The president mislead the country by claiming Noriega had threatened the US, a claim which turned out to be untrue. After two weeks the conflict ended, resulting in the deaths of twenty American soldiers and as many as 2,000 Panamanians.
 Less than a year after the invasion of Panama, Bush once again found himself responding to another foreign policy debacle. On August 2, 1990 Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein began an invasion of nearby Kuwait. In response, President Bush and the American media used the testimony of a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only by her first name of Nayirah to justify US intervention in Kuwait. However, Nayirah was later discovered to be the daughter of a U.S. ambassador, who was being coaxed by military psychological operations specialists. Thirteen years before his son George W. Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction to justify his invasion and occupation of Iraq, George H.W. Bush made his own set of false claims to justify the aerial bombardment of that same country, the end result being horrific civilian casualties.
Under George H.W. Bush, according to the New York Times, the United States dropped a staggering 88,500 tons of bombs on Kuwait and Iraq. Seventy percent of the bombs “missed” their targets, killing thousands of civilians.  The administration deliberately targeted civilians and essential infrastructure.from electricity-generating and water-treatment facilities to food-processing plants and flour mills. This was no accident. As Barton Gellman of the Washington Post reported in June 1991: “Some targets, especially late in the war, were bombed primarily to create postwar leverage over Iraq, not to influence the course of the conflict itself. Planners now say their intent was to destroy or damage valuable facilities that Baghdad could not repair without foreign assistance. … Because of these goals, damage to civilian structures and interests, invariably described by briefers during the war as ‘collateral’ and unintended, was sometimes neither.”
 By January 1992, Beth Osborne Daponte, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau, was estimating that Bush’s Gulf War had caused the deaths of 158,000 Iraqis, including 13,000 immediate civilian deaths and 70,000 deaths from the damage done to electricity and sewage treatment plants. Daponte’s numbers contradicted the Bush administration’s, and she was threatened by her superiors with dismissal for releasing “false information.
In the aftermath of the Gulf War, Bush also used the United States' diplomatic clout to lead the United Nations to impose one of the most devastating sanctions regimes in history. Child mortality rates up to 1996 alone were half a million deaths and were justified by the Clinton administration's Madeleine Albright who said, "We think the price is worth it." Millions more Iraqis were affected by the sanctions that Bush instigated and laid the foundations for.
Eminent jurists, professional legal organizations, and human rights monitors  around the world have since declared that President George W. Bush  to be a war criminal for his overt and systematic violations of such international laws as the Geneva and Hague Conventions and such US law as the War Crimes Act, the Anti-Torture Act, and federal assault laws.Bush’s CIA disappeared countless people to secret detention  to be tortured.
 After leaving office in 1993, George H.W. Bush retired with his wife Barbara and built a home in a community near Houston, Texas.  Though retired, the former president would still face controversy.
 Last year, during the height of the #MeToo movement, at least five women claimed they were abused  by him. In an interview with Time Magazine, a woman named Roslyn Corrigan claimed Bush sexually assaulted her in 2003 when she was only 16-years-old. At least five more women have accused Bush of sexual assault, including an unnamed Michigan woman who came forward claiming the former president groped her in 1992 at a campaign event.
Bush leaves this world having evaded being arrested or prosecuted for the crimes that he was  responsible for. When media figures try to redeem him, or portray him as lovable-but-flawed, they ignore the actual record. In fact, Bush never atoned for his actions, on the contrary, he consistently defended his decision-making, and the illegal doctrine he espoused. George W. Bush intentionally offered false justifications for a war, that destroyed and devastated an entire country, causing thousands of  innocent deaths.A war that needn’t have been fought in the first place. Bush set the stage for a mess with which we are still  dealing with today.Any way you look at it, Bush  left the world worse off than it was. This is his damning  tainted legacy.

The Ignored Legacy of George H.W. Bush


 George H.W. Bush - The Man who never apologised.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Amnesty takes Christmas hamper of Israeli ‘stolen goods’ to Foreign Office

Source: Amnesty International –

‘All businesses should be following Airbnb’s example’ – Andy Slaughter

Amnesty International took  a Christmas hamper of Israeli “stolen goods” to the Foreign Office today.
The hamper  contained numerous food items – including red wine, olive oil, honey, mineral water, eggs, dates, peppers, oranges and avocados – all bearing spoof “Delicious but tainted” branding.

The goods all bore labels alluding to their tainted and illegal nature, with a bottle of wine declaring itself to be “100% stolen”, eggs labelled as from “free-range hens” but “probably rotten”, spring water that is “too good for the locals”, and Israeli settlement honey described as “a blend of honeys originating from stolen Palestinian land”.

The hamper hand-in was designed to draw attention to the fact that these goods are all currently being produced in Israel’s unlawful settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
Each year, hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of goods produced in the settlements are exported internationally, despite the fact that most countries around the world have officially condemned the settlements as illegal under international law. In the UK, imported settlement goods include oranges, dates, spring water and halva desserts.

The spoof Christmas hamper is part of Amnesty’s ongoing campaign calling on all governments around the world to ban the importation of Israeli settlement goods. All countries have a clear obligation to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and shouldn’t recognise or assist the illegal situation that Israel’s settlement policy has created.

Last week, the online travel company Airbnb announced it would withdraw some 200 listings for properties located in Israeli settlements in occupied territories in the West Bank. The company said the move recognised that the settlements “are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”.

Amnesty’s tainted goods hamper was handed to Foreign Office officials along with a 50,000-strong petition from supporters of the campaign. The hand-in took place with MP Andy Slaughter, a prominent supporter of the ban Israeli settlement goods campaign within Parliament, and Kate Allen, Amnesty UK’s Director,  Andy Slaughter said:
“All businesses should be following Airbnb’s example and stop profiting from illegal trade with settlements. But it is the UK and other governments that need to enforce a ban. Otherwise they are complicit in breaching international law and giving comfort to the occupation and theft of Palestinian land.”
Kate Allen said:
‘All Israeli settlement goods are tainted goods. They’re tainted by the illegality of the settlements themselves and tainted by the discrimination and violence that has led to the creation of the settlements.
More than half a century of occupation

During the course of the 51-year occupation, more than 50,000 Palestinians have had their homes demolished, while some 600,000 Israeli settlers have moved into illegally-constructed settlements, many serviced by settler-only roads and guarded by a network of Israeli military checkpoints. In total, approximately 1,000 square kilometres of Palestinian land has been expropriated by settlers in the past half-century – approximately the size of Hong Kong.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Rosa Parks act of resistance remembered.

On December 1, 1955, 42 year old Rosa Louise Parks, a black American seamstress was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing  to give up  her seat on  a bus to  a white man. Her act of civil disobedience, led to black  citizens boycotting the bus company for over a year, in what was to become known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which   was to continue for  over a year, setting up the seeds  of a social revolution, putting the effort to end segregation on a fast track.
Rosa became nationally recognized as the “mother of the modern day civil rights movement” in America. Her act of dignified defiance and courage triggered a wave of protest that reverberated throughout the United States.
Contrary to some reports, Parks wasn’t physically tired and was able to leave her seat. She refused, on principle, to surrender her seat because of her race, which was the law in Montgomery at the time.
She was also a long-time member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and  washighly respected in her community, and over the years, she had repeatedly disobeyed bus segregation regulations. Once, she even had been put off a bus for her defiance.
Rosa Louise McCauley spent the first years of her life on a small farm with her mother, grandparents and brother. She witnessed night rides by the Ku Klux Klan and listened in fear as lynchings occurred near her home. The family moved to Montgomery; Rosa went to school and became a seamstress. She married barber Raymond Parks in 1932, and the couple joined the Montgomery NAACP. When she inspired the bus boycott, Parks had been the secretary of the local NAACP for twelve years (1943-1956). Parks founded the Montgomery NAACP Youth Council in the early 1940s. Later, as secretary of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, she traveled throughout the state interviewing victims of discrimination and witnesses to lynchings.
The NAACP realized it had the right person to work with, as it battled against the system of segregation in Montgomery. It also worked with another group of local leaders to stage a one-day boycott of passenger buses, when Parks went to court.The group expanded to include other people, chose a name, the Montgomery Improvement Association, and planned an extended boycott.
But the MIA also needed a public spokesman with leadership qualities to make their fight into a wide-ranging cause.Their pick was a little-known pastor who had recently arrived in Montgomery: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rosa was briefly jailed and paid a fine, but for many years would continue as an activist in the movement  for the rights of exploited people.Facing continued harassment and threats in the wake of the boycott,and ater losing  her tailoring job and receiving death threats.  Parks, along with her husband and mother, eventually decided to move to Detroit, where Parks’ brother resided. P
In the years following her retirement, she traveled to lend her support to civil-rights events and causes and wrote an autobiography, “Rosa Parks: My Story.” She  remained an active member of the NAACP and became an administrative aide in the Detroit office of Congressman John Conyers Jr.  a post she held until her 1988 retirement.. The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute Of Self-Development was established in 1987 to offer job training for black youth. In 1999, Parks received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the highest honor a civilian can receive in the United States. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) also sponsors an annual Rosa Parks Freedom Award. Her husband, brother and mother all died of cancer between 1977 and 1979.
When she died at age 92 on October 24, 2005, she became the first woman in the nation’s history to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. At the time, she was only the 30th person accorded that honor. She was the first woman to receive the honor, and her coffin sat on the catafalque built for the coffin of Abraham Lincoln.
Parks's legacy lives on. In 2000, a library and museum in Montgomery were dedicated to Rosa Parks. The  Rosa Parks Museum houses a replica of the bus that sparked the civil rights activists to boycott an important mode of transportation. The library and children's wing not only tell the story of Parks to its hundreds of visitors, but also those of Nixon, Gray, and Colvin. There is a "time travel" machine that transports the visitors from the 1800s to the Jim Crowe era and to 1950s Montgomery.
Let us remember her today, and acknowledge Rosa's act of quiet resistance, that still resonates down the corridors of time. She remains a symbol to all to remain free. It is worth noting that in the  same week President Obama honored Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday, Israel announced two newly segregated bus lines for Palestinian workers traveling to Israel from the West Bank. The “Palestinian only” buses were introduced after Israeli settlers complained that fellow Palestinian passengers posed a “security risk.”The timing of Israel’s announcement set the internet abuzz with moralizing references to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Jim Crow.
Let us also think  what would happen if a Palestinian Rosa Parks chose to sit on a segregated West Bank Bus, Palestinians in the present moment are unable  to travel freely in their own country - they even have to have permits to enter Jerusalem.
 "Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust," Martin Luther King said  "All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority."
Like Rosa Parks before her,  Palestinians like Ahed Tamimi , among others are struggling against unjust laws, in their  case the injustice of a 50-year military occupation that denies Palestinians their land, right to travel and self-determination. Israel maintains an apartheid system of democracy for Israeli Jews - and discrimination against Israelis of colour - second-class citizenship for Israeli citizens of Arab descent, and dispossession and disenfranchisement for Palestinian Arabs in the territories.
We need more brave souls like Rosa Parks and Ahed Tamimi. It is possible for a single person to engage in an act of resistance against oppression to spark the seeds that can change the world.

Earlier post on the Montgomery Bus Protest can be read here.

Rosa Parks - The Quiet Revolutionary

National Day of Action against Universal Credit

 #UniversalCredit causes serious financial hardship for claimants.
The government claim Universal Credit (UC) will make things better for claimants. But where it has already been rolled out it’s been plagued with problems that are pushing more people into #poverty.
It has caused tens of thousands of people to fall into debt, rent arrears, and to become reliant on food banks.
Despite huge flaws in the system the Tory government continue to push ahead with rolling out UC to more claimants.
Personally I do not believe it can be fixed, or modified it needs to be stopped and scrapped completely. It is crucial that we carry on campaigning against its implementation to defend those on the receiving end of brutal cuts and to push for the complete abolition of these policies that will hurt those who are already the most disadvantaged in our society who are merely being treated as collateral damage.
We must continue to resist these devastating policies, an end to this cruel austerity measure and give support to all those that currently need it. Remember no one is immune to becoming ill or losing their jobs.I will be tomorrow joining a demo in my home town of Cardigan, at 10. 30 outside the Guildhall, it is being introduced in Ceredigion this month.
lets make our voices be heard and tell the government that we wont simply stand back and let this happen. Many , more events will be happening across the country
Show your support — join an action near you.Stop this discredited failing Tory policy.

A couple of related events