Sunday, 31 July 2016

Vanishing Acts

After the fires of solstice have burned low
The constancy of summer returns,
Honey bees buzzing again
Zig-zagging foragers of time,
Freely dancing in communication
Round and round our gardens,
As the days warm and glow
They ravish flowers, suck on sweet nectar,
Release their tiny footprints onto leaves
Beautiful winged creatures of sanctity,
All of them endangered now
Because of chemicals and pesticides,
And the garden pest known as man
Releasing a barrage of poisons,
Intent now on making mischief
Hurrying this planet towards extinction.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Lowkey ft Mai khalil - Ahmed

The above is a  powerful video  by Lowkey ft. Mai Khalil  Kareem Dennis (born 23 May 1986), better known by his  stage name is an English rapper, and political activist of Iraqi descent known for his controversial lyrics on real life issues.In the song Lowkey delivers a conscious message in his lyrics, contains devastating truths about war, migration and the underlying systemic issues that surround them Here in this song he potrays what's been going on in the world today. Young lives are being taken away everyday. The song 'Ahmed’ is an emotive, moving dissection of the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass desensitization that we’ve seen in its aftermath.
Please Share this to anyone you know that's willing to listen..For all the  children and refugees experiencing the flames of wars in middle east. Listen now with your hearts and minds.

Father Miguel hidalgo y Costilla (8/5/1753 -30/7/1811) - Folk hero and Father of the Mexican Revolution

Father Miguel hidalgo y Costilla was a Mexican Catholic priest  who became known as the "father of Mexican independence,"who was born on May 8, 1753, at his father's hacienda near Guanajuato, Mexico of pure Spanih blood making him a criolla.Under the strict Spanish caste system of the day,Hidlgo's rights a  criolla were far less than those of a person born in Spain known as peninsulars, but slightly better than those of an Indio or a person born of mixed Spanish and Indio blood known as mestizo.Hidalgo grew shocked and outraged by the impoverished and oppressed condition of the people there.  His dissatisfaction with Spanish rule would grow and lead him to form an army of more than ninety thousand poor farmers and others who shared his sentiments to fight for independence from Spain.
A Roman Catholic, Hidalgo’s father made sure his sons were well-educated.  Miguel Hidalgo studied with the Jesuits and later in Mexico City where he learned Latin but also various indigenous languages.  Hidalgo was ordained as a priest in 1758.  He taught and eventually became Dean of the Colegio de San Nicholas in Michoacan.His espousal of Enlightened ideas imported from Europe eventually led to his removal from this college and transfer to the Dolores parish.  Hidalgo’s ideas about the priesthood were certainly revolutionary for the times; he did not support the ideal of clerical celibacy openly living with a mistress and fathered several children in his life.  He was forced to appear before the Inquisition for his beliefs but was not found guilty.  While in Dolores, Hidalgo often disregarded Spain’s class system and frequently socialized with Creoles, Mestizos, and Indigenous people.
He was educated in Valladolid (present Morelia), Mexico, and was ordained a priest in 1779. Until 1809 he pursued his priestly functions and exerted himself to introduce various forms of industry among his parishioners at Dolores. After Napoleon's invasion of Spain in 1808, the colonies, unwilling to accept a French ruler, loudly proclaimed Ferdinand VII as king. The societies they formed professed loyalty to Spain, but authorities suspected they were designed to prepare for the independence of Mexico.In new Spain the local parish priest was one of the most influential in the community and Father hidalgo often served as the host for social gatherings in his home where he would speak to a elect group of friends and potential conspirators about whether it was the duty of the people to obey an unjust tyrant or overthrow him.The unjust tyrant he was referring to was Charles IV, the present king of Spain.
Not only did Father Hidalgo observe injustice and cruelty in his daily work with the poor, he also strongly opposed many of the king's policies. For example, rather than encouraging the growth of the colony as his father, Charles11, had done, Charles1V exploited the country's wealth with schemes like his plan to use the charitable funds of the church to help pay for his European wars. 
Hidalgo and several of his friends engaged in preparations which the authorities considered treasonable. Warned by the arrest of a friend, Hidalgo gathered several hundred of his parishioners,  September 16, 1810,  Father Hidalgo rang the church bell to announce revolution against the Spanish. Reaching out to the crowd from the pulpit in what has become known as the "Gritto de Dolores", (the Cry of Dolores) Hidalgo announced his intention to declare independence from Spain and exhorted the crowd to join him. The people responded by shouting 'death to the Gauchupines" A name given to the Peninsulares.
Many flocked to join him, and he soon had an army of 600 men, the uprising pitted the poor indigeneous indians and and mixed mestizo groups against the privileged classes and pushed them into a violent and bloody battle for freedom from Spain.The anniversary of Hidalgo's  call is celebrated as Mexico's Independence Day. This action began the Mexican war of independence.
Joined by Ignacio Allende as their military commander, and with Father Hidalgo at their head, the army of the people marched for San Miguel, gathering strength as it marched. The revolutionaries surprising the authorities with their intensity took San Miguel with little trouble and the local militia men joined them.The rebellion snowballed with astonishing rapidity. Looting and pillaging Spanish residences and public buildings, armed with machetes, slings, and farming implements, the crowd had become an impassioned mob of thousands.
Around noon on September 28, the ragtag army reached the provincial capital of Guanajuato, where they had their first sustained encounter with the Spanish military. Overrunning the town by sheer force of numbers, the crowd slaughtered some 500 Spaniards, burning, pillaging, looting the granary, and wreaking widespread havoc. Over the next month, the army continued on its rampage, taking the provincial capitals of Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, and Valladolid before heading toward Mexico City, the heart of Spanish power in the Americas. On October 30, 1810, at Monte de las Cruces on the outskirts of Mexico City, Hidalgo’s 80,000 to 100,000-strong army defeated a much smaller but formidable Spanish force sent to stop them. At this point, Hidalgo made what many consider his most momentous and enigmatic decision.
Instead of following the advice of his lieutenants and sentiments of the crowd and descending into the colony’s capital city, he opted to retreat. Scholars continue to debate his reasons, though most consider that he found intolerable the prospect of the mass slaughter that would surely follow.
From this point the movement rapidly lost momentum, as his makeshift army divided and desertions mounted.Hidalgo lost heart and retreated. His forces were decisively defeated at Aculo on November 7, 1810, and at the bridge of Calderón on Río Santiago on January 17, 1811.Father Hidalgo and Allende were forced to flee north, but once in Texas they were betrayed by local insurrrection leader Ignacio Elizonda and turned over to the Spanish authorities. The Spanish sent them to Chihuahua to stand trial where they were found guilty and sentenced to death. Allende was executed by firing squad on June 26, 1811, shot in the back as a sign of dishonor, but Father Hidalgo, as a priest, had to undergo a civil trial and answer to the inquisition as well. He was eventually stripped of his priesthood and executed on July 30th. The heads of both Hidalgo and Allende were preserved and hung on the walls of the granary at Guanahuato as a warning to those foolish or brave enough to follow in their footsteps.
Even though the  revolution had failed, it opened the people eyes to the possibilty of freedom and the priests martyrdom allowed others to pick up his mantle. The struggle for independence continued for several years until a group of liberals forced the king to make changes that frightened the conservatives in Mexico City. The conservatives finally joined forces with the followers of Father Hidalgo to defeat the Spanish, and on Augut 24, 1821, a treaty was signed granting Mexico independence from Spain. Mexicans celebrate national independence on September 15–16, in commemoration of Hidalgo’s Grito de Dolores, even though actual independence did not come until 11 years after the revered priest’s fateful cry. Every year at midnight on September 15 Mexicans led by their President,shout the Grito, honouring the crucial and impulsive action that was the catalyst for the countrys bloody struggle for independence.Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla is today remembered and revered as the father of his country and is seen as the great hero of Mexico's' long struggle for Independence and champion of the downtrodden and oppressed.His insurgency lit the fire for revolution, he remains an icon of liberation. His remains lie in Mexico City in a monument known as 'the angel of Independence along with other revolutionary heroes.
 Hidalgo is memorialized in paintings (most famously by the works of Diego Rivera) and art associated with the Mexican muralist movement and memorial statues that have become tourist attractions.  Many travelers to Guanajuato make a point to visit the legendary place where Hidalgo first made his cry for independence.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Tony Benn - 10 min History Lesson for Neoliberals

Tony Benn as one of the leading light in Britain's Labour Party  opposed the conservatism of Tony Blair's New Labour, and was a strong voice for socialism and a prominent supporter of the struggles for justice,  In the 1980s, when Benn seemed to have a realistic chance of aspiring to the Labour leadership, he was constantlyattacked and vilified by the right-wing press in the same way that Jeremy Corbyn is today.Truth, fairness and common sense stamped upon in pursuit of wealth and power. He was a not your typical politician but Benn who died a few years ago leaves a powerful legacy and principles that live on.
The following speech is ten minutes of  his wisdom.
Tony Benn - 10 min History Lesson for Neoliberals

See more Tony Benn videos and other great speeches at     

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Gerdo Taro (1/6/10 -26/7/37) - Pioneering Photojournalist of the Spanish Civil War

Today I pause to remember an exceptional photographer, who blazed new paths for women in photography, who contributed a unique and unusual body of work, who died  far too young.
Gerda Taro was born as Gerta Pohorylle  on 1 August, 1910 to a middle class Jewish family who had migrated from Poland to Stuttgart, Germany, she attended the Königin-Charlotte Realschule in Stuttgart, the Internat Villa Florissant in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Höhere Handelsschule (Business College) in Stuttgart, and the Gaudig Schul in Leipzig.
As oppression of Jews and other groups became a matter of national policy, Gerta Pohorylle became more political. One night on her way to a dance she stopped to help some activists distribute anti-Nazi pamphlets. She was subsequently arrested and spent the night in jail, where she drew attention for being the only inmate dressed in evening wear. In 1933, after Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor,and made life for many Jews inhospitable  and risky, so her family decided to leave Germany. Her parents left for Palestine, her brothers for England. Pohorylle decided to flee to Paris.Here she was first employed as a secretary to the psychoanalyst René Spitz. She would find work as a picture editor for Alliance Photo, an international picture agency. She met another displaced Jew, a young Hungarian man, his name was André Friedmann. Pohorylle and Friedmann became romantically involved and moved in together. In the spring of 1936, they reinvented themselves as Robert Capa and Gerda Taro.Capa taught Taro how to photograph, she made him presentable for employers and created his “brand”.
In 1936 civil war erupted in Spain. Fascist/Nationalist forces, backed by Nazi Germany, attempted a coup against the elected government of the Republic, comprised of socialist and liberal parties. As steadfast socialists, Capa and Taro left Paris and headed for Spain to cover the war.From August 1936 on, her brief career consisted almost exclusively of dramatic photographs from the front lines of the Spanish Civil War. Taro worked alongside Capa, and the two collaborated closely.They both captured arresting images of the devastation hitting the country; torturous conditions in hospitals, militiawomen training for combat, children playing on barricades, morgues and munitions factories in Madrid, but most shocking were the photos taken from the frontline. These images were then sent to leftist publications back in France, however the photo credit was always simply ‘Capa’.

                                 Gerda Taro and soldier, Córdoba front, 1936. By Robert Capa   

Taro's work over time got overshadowed by that of  Capra, and their lives since have come to represent a romantic vision of the stateless person involving themselves in terrible battles: the social battles, the political battles of the time. However she had a different aesthetic than Capa, her pictures are much more posed, using strong camera angles. Capa was much more into movement.As she chronicled the Spanish Civil War, she spotlighted the small and intimate moments that humanized the conflict: Among the memorable pictures that survive by her are ones of defiant farmers, fists clenched, photographed from audacious angles, photographs of strong Republican militia women training on the beach outside Barcelona in 1936,

A photograph  of a solitary soldier playing bugle against a backdrop of sky;

 a young boy standing near a trench, wearing the cap of the FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation) looking ready to join the fight.

Perhaps most famous is her silhouette of a woman with a pistol, down on one knee and concentrating furiously on her shot… yet wearing impeccable high heels. Like many of Taro's wartime images, it's an incredibly memorable shot.

 When viewing her photographs you don’t feel like a spectator; on the contrary, you feel like a participant involved with the action. Taro believed photographs were a powerful medium which could influence public opinion.
On 5 September, 1936. Taro and Capa accompanied some Loyalist volunteers on field manoeuvres near Cordoba. The manoeuvre were unexpectedly interrupted when they were ambushed by Nationalist troops. Taro had already used up all her film; Capa, however, shot the photograph that made him famous the photo that has been called the greatest war photograph of all time. It shows a Loyalist soldier a split second after he has been shot.

When she returned from the front, Taro traded in her bulky Rolleiflex medium format camera for a small Leica. She abandoned the use of more posed photographs that could be viewed as excercises in propoganda and began to shoot in a journalistic style. She and Capa believed the only way to document the realities of war was to be as close to it as possible. "That is really the only way in which to be able to understand the fighting," Taro told a colleague. Capa’s comment on that approach is more widely quoted: "If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough." Taro lived that approach. With or without Capa, Taro was everywhere in Spain, and started to put herself in increasingly dangerous situations, always seeking the action. She covered the failed Loyalist offensive of the Navacerrada Pass, which was later the subject of Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. She accompanied a team of dinamiteros, bomb-makers, on a mission in Madrid. She always sought out the locations where something was happening or about to happen.She is believed to be the first woman photographer to accompany troops into combat.The republican fighters had great respect for her.


Gerda Taro spent the last day of her life in the trenches of Brunete, west of Madrid, holed up with Republican fighters.It was a critical moment in the Spanish Civil War - Gen Franco's forces had just retaken the town, inflicting heavy losses on the Republicans' best troops, who were now under fire as they retreated.As bombs fell and planes strafed the ground with machine-gun fire, Taro kept taking photographs.
She was due to return to France the next day and only left the trenches when she ran out of film, making her way to a nearby town.She jumped onto the running boards of a car transporting wounded soldiers, but it collided with an out-of-control tank and she was crushed. She tragically died in hospital from her injuries early the following morning.The war that made Taro's career also took her life. She was just 26 years old.She became the first female war photographer to die on assignement.Her photographs from that day, 25 July 1937, were never found. 
Her funeral in Paris (on Aug. 1, 1937, which would have been her 27th birthday) drew thousands who hailed her as a martyr to anti-Fascism. The French writer Louis Aragon and the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda were among those in attendance. Alberto Giacometti, the sculptor, designed her memorial.A few years later this celebrated photographer had sunk into obscurity, her negatives lost and few remembering her work, overshadowed by Capa's monumental reputation within twentieth century  photography.However a recent discovery of a vast collection of Capa and Taro's photographs,known as the Mexican Suitcase and  recently exhibited in the US, France and Spain, has served to highlight her well.Taro helped expose the bloody price the fascist forces imposed on the Spanish people.

Taro’s photographs – taken in Valencia in 1937 a few weeks after the infamous Guernica raid as painted by Picasso – are so close to you that you could almost touch the bodies and smell the blood! They are truly shocking, honest and direct accounts of the price of fascism. 

Regardless of personal risk, she became a tireless witness to the Spanish civilian atrocities and terror. Ssentially, her fight against fascism was existential, based on her immediate experiences.Found decades later, her photos have now been exhibited, demonstrating the depth she achieved in a short career. Capa was devastated by the loss of his soul mate, feeling guilty that he didn’t protect her, although he couldn’t have. He decided to travel to China in 1938 and then to New York in 1939, photographing World War II, the landing of American troops on Omaha beach on D-Day—which are the source of his most well known photographs, the liberation of Paris, and the Battle of the Bulge as a European correspondent.Hi  relationship with Ms. Taro was “a very painful private matter,”he never quite recovered from the loss of his great love and never married, he also never attempted to officially commemorate her except in his book “Death in the Making,” about the Spanish Civil War.
We are fortunate many years later to understand now the scope and scale of Gerdo Taro's work and the incredible bravery she must have shown on the battleground that was Spain. Taro is part of a small pantheon of women photographers who saw photography as an extension of their political commitment and of their role as new women. Let us forever remember her work and pioneering life, as her name is again in public consciousness, lets not lose her memory to history, or forget others like her who put themselves in incredibly dangerous situations for the sake of their art.Perhaps we can all surely aspire, to some degree, to the tight fit between conviction and existence that Taro, in her brief tragic life, achieved.

                                                  Gerdo Taro Sleeping by Robert Capo

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Daylight Robbery

The term "daylight robbery" isn't actually used to describe actual robberies - whatever time of day they might take place. It is a figurative phrase that associates an instance of unfair trading with actual robbery. Not just any old robbery, but one so unashamed and obvious that it is committed in broad daylight.It is thought to have originated from the window tax as it was described by some as a "tax on light". 
The Window Tax was introduced in 1696, during the reign of William III, when Britain was burdened with expenses from The Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the costs of re-coinage necessitated by the "miserable state" of existing coins, which had been reduced by clipping small portions of the high grade silver coins. It was levied at two shilling on properties with up to ten windows, rising to four shillings for houses with between ten and twenty windows. It was extremely unpopular and to avoid paying the tax some houses from the period can be seen to have windows bricked-up.
The Window tax was abolished in England and Wales on this day 24th July 1851. But "daylight robbery continued . The capitalism of the 18th and 19th century was built on the piracy and slavery of the 16th and 17th. Millions of pounds of gold, silver and spices plundered from the "New World" financed the basis of the banking and trade system. One of the first commodities to be traded was human beings. Slavery played a vital in the early years of capitalism. Many English titled families of today owe their knighthoods and dukedoms to this sordid trade.
And some will argue that  the current day-to-day running of the system is daylight robbery. A worker's wages only represent a fraction of the value of his/her labour. The rest flows into the boss's pocket. This was what Proudhon meant by the oft quoted "property is theft", and the system continues to be run to ensure that we slave our lives away so that the rich can get richer in what amounts to daily robbery. Then there is the case of Sir Phillip Green  who shamelessly indulged in all forms of perfectly legal daylight robbery, Phillip Green bought BHS for £200m in 2000. When he bought it, the BHS pension fund had a surplus of £5m, rising to £12m in 2001. Now the same pension fund is suffering a black hole of £571m, and BHS as a whole owes debts of £1.3billion.
Green used its initial success to finance his takeover of the Arcadia group (which includes Top Shop) in 2002. He then proceeded to essentially rob it of a fortune, using BHS assets to back loans for other businesses in his Arcadia empire; handing out £422m in dividends (mostly to himself) over two years; above all, dodging Corporation Tax by gifting his Monaco-based wife, Tina, a mind-boggling £1.2billion in 2005. All this helped Philip and Tina amass a personal fortune currently standing at £3.22billion.
Having used and abused it for his own bounty hunt, Green then dumped the ailing BHS (and its pension fund) on a three-times bankrupt, Dominic Chappell, whose Retail Acquisitions Ltd had barely been heard of previously - for a derisory £1, in March 2015. 11,000 workers were left abandoned facing an uncertain future , facing the job centre but for their former boss Green just another day in paradise. From the lofty sundeck on his latest plaything, Sir Philip, dubbed Philip Greed,  can be found surveying the new £100million jewel in his fleet of three superyachts.
He flew into Malta the other day by private jet to join his tax exile wife Lady Tina on board.

I guess we should continue to stand guard against daylight Robbery that takes place before our eyes, the wrecking ball of capitalism that is effecting peoples lives..
But the problem is that we live in a society where capitalism itself has become rampantly feral. Feral politicians who cheat on their expenses, feral bankers who plunder the public purse for all its worth, CEOs, hedge fund operators and private equity geniuses who loot the world of wealth, telephone and credit card companies load mysterious charges on everyone’s bills, shopkeepers who price gouge, and, at the drop of a hat swindlers and scam artists who get to practice three-card monte right up into the highest echelons of the corporate and political world.
A political economy of mass dispossession, of predatory practices to the point of daylight robbery, particularly of the poor and the vulnerable, the unsophisticated and the legally unprotected, has become the order of the day. I strongly recommend Naomi Klein's book The shock doctrine : The rise of disaster capitalism which explores the complexities of capitalism and the effects of it's daylight robbery much better than I ever could. On that note, after seriously depressing myelf, I'm off  for a smoke, and to catch the evening light. Good evening.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Marvin Gaye's seminal masterpiece - What's Going On

Last week I heard that What’s Going On, one of the most enduring albums of all time, would be getting a documentary made about it,  The album What’s Going On remains one of my all time favourites, have a copy on vinyl and cd, a tightly woven masterpiece of message and music, mixing and matching many styles; soul, funk, doo-wop, jazz, spiritual, and classical; often within the same song. Somehow, Marvin Gaye transformed what could have been a heavy-handed rant against the state of the world into a cry for compassion, with songs of faith and hope, captured in beautiful, complex rhythms and music.
Released on May 21, 1971, the album is an introspective, politically charged nine-piece song cycle in it Gaye addresses the ravages of the Vietnam War, drug addiction, poverty, civil unrest, police brutality, injustice and even environmental issues.
Gaye was singing to his generation in an effort to wake people up to the struggles no one was willing to discuss at that time. But these songs are universal; they've transcended their time and place. Listen carefully and you'll notice how much they still resonate. In days like these full of agitation and confusion it still has the capacity to soothe and question at the same time.
 Marvin Gaye's title track was message music with a difference. It was an overture and an anthem. From its warm greetings between black men to the steady slap and patter of the congas; and with Gaye's vocals, which glided from sorrow into soaring at the bridge ;"What's Going On" was and still is a poetic plea for justice and contemplation within black communities. (The whole world could stand to tune in, as well.) Forty-four years ago, Gaye found a way to offer up a prayer in the form of a powerful question with an equally ringing affirmation.
The record as a whole remain astonishing, have had it on playing over and over, this afternoon whilst I've been writing this post. What's Going On was I guess the first soul album to finally catch up with the musical and counter-cultural movement that developed in the late sixties. Against the wishes of Motown and it's leader, Berry Gordy, Marvin Gaye moved forward with an album that was finally able to encompass the conciousness of his generation.
The album remains in my ears incredible. There's no other way to describe it. Marvin Gaye set his sights high and completely succeeded. It's gotta be one of the most definite albums to have emerged from the soul genre.It still remains an album about the people, for the people. From track to track it flows so well, full of beauty and atmosphere and valid social critique. It really is essential listening. Music for now. Still highly relevant and relatable. Marvin Gaye's message from the point of a dismayed man who believes love – not more hatred and violence – is the answer still hits the spot for me everytime. Have a listen, delve in deep, enjoy, heddwch/peace.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Hollow Point: Remembering the death of Jean Charles de Menezes with beautiful Song by Chris Wood

Jean Charles de Menezes a 27 year old Brazilian was shot today July 22nd 2005 by armed police or special forces on high alert following the London bombings of July 7th 2005 and some failed bombing attempts on July 21st.
It has been suggested that these events predisposed the police to shoot first and ask questions later, though the inquest jury was unable to decide on that issue. The end result was an innocent man was shot in the head several times at close range and lay dead, for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A killing since declared lawful according to the European Court for Human Rights  a ruling that came as a huge blow to his family who had to endure a long legal battle and fight to achieve justice.Mr de Meneze's cousin Patricia da Silva said :" We had hoped that the ruling would give a glimmer of hope, not only to us, but  to all other families who had been denied the right to justice after deaths at the hands of the police.We find it unbelievable that our innocent cousin could be shot seven times in head by the Metropolitan police when he had done nothing wrong and yet the police have not had to account for their actions.As we have always maintained, we feel that decisions about guilt and innocence should be made by juries, not by faceless bureaucrats and we are deeply saddened that we have been denied that opportunity yet again. We will never give up our fight for justice for our beloved Jean Charles."
Harriet Wistrich, solicitor for the Menezes family said,at the time “This is a very disappointing decision for a family who have fought for the last eleven years to get justice and accountability although we are pleased to note that there were four of the 17 judges who dissented."This judgement will do nothing to counter a widely held belief – particularly among marginalised communities – that there is one standard for the police and another for the general public."
Between 1990 and 2015, there were 995 deaths in police custody or following police contact and 55 fatal shootings by police officers in the UK, but there has not been a single conviction of a police officer as a result of any of these deaths. To some, this is evidence of deplorable impunity; to others, instead it proves that the police perform an at times unfathomably difficult job while acting within the (criminal) law. What is beyond question is that this statistic can only enhance the sense of injustice felt by the families of those who lose their lives at the hands of the police.
There is a mosaic of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell station that continues to serve as a memorial to the tragic death of an innocent man at the hands of the Metropolitan Police.
I will mark his memory today with the following poignant song by the Folk singer and musician Chris Wood, called Hollow Wood his 2010 album Handmade Life, it really is quite beautiful and serves Jean de Menezes memory well  in it there is pathos, tension, a climax and many contrasts between the innocence of the victim, the failures of the police and their technology and the inevitability of the end when the full force of the police machinery descends upon an innocent young unarmed man wearing only a thin cotton jacket.
The songs tile is both a specific reference to the type of bullet used to kill him  unleashing powerful forces on a young innocent. The hollow point bullet has a  with a pit or hollow in its tip, designed to expand when it enters a target to decrease penetration and maximise tissue damage. It is generally illegal in the UK.
Jean Charles's  death was a hollow one, so, foolish, so pointless, no officer at any level has been disciplined or prosecuted for involvement in the slaying of Jean Charles.Will we see history repeated again, people treated like collateral damage.His family still seek  justice and accountability Here's to the memory of  Jean Charles de Menezes , let we forget.

Hollow Point - Chris Wood

Awake arise you drowsy sleeper
Awake arise it’s almost day.
No time to lie, no time to slumber,
No time to dream your life away.

It was a gorgeous summer's morning
It was a gorgeous summer's day.
His cotton jacket was all he carried
As he walked out to face the day. 

As he was walking he was wondering
With a little dream as a young man will
And never heard footsteps behind him
By the bus stop at Tulse Hill.

But from his front door they’d had him covered.
They were right behind him from the start.
And though the video was buggered
Someone decided he looked the part.

Here comes the bus, the front doors hiss
He climbs aboard and so do they.
And now he swings down to his seat -
It’s just another working day.

But there was something in the air that morning
As they came down to Brixton town.
They sealed the station without warning -
There was something going down.

And so they journeyed on and onward.
He called his friend just to explain
How he would be late and not to worry,
And so to Stockwell Tube he came ….

Now he’s on their cameras, he’s on their radar,
He’s on their crackling radios,
His Oyster Card is in his pocket,
At 10am through the gates he goes.

And down and down dropped the moving staircase,
Deeper down go the others too.
And through the hour glass the sand is falling -
There is nothing they can do ….

When the train comes in they are right beside him.
Some say three and some say four,
Some say the cameras they were not working
As he sat down near the open door.

If he’d have stopped, if he’d have listened …
Commissioner said that it was no good -
He said they gave him no instructions
That an innocent man could have understood.

Just a Brazilian electrician -
Christ only knows what he came here for.
The hollow point was the ammunition.
Now it’s our turn now for some shock and awe….

Awake arise you drowsy sleeper,
Awake arise it’s almost day.
No time to lie, no time to slumber,
No time to dream your life away.

It was a gorgeous summer's morning,
It was a gorgeous summer's day.
His cotton jacket was all he carried
As he walked out to face the day.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Intolerantina ( a poem for Donald Trump)


( Here's a poem for Donald Trump that I dropped down the pan
crumpled wet and soggy, maybe I shouldn't have saved it,
the original resting place captured the true essence of the man.)

Storm clouds  billowing now across a frightened sky
Voice of hate and division spreads discordant cry,
The well of hope seems to have dried
As arrogant voice rises making people blind.

Fractured  freedom try's to hold it's breath
In times of sadness between life and death,
As walls are proposed to keep people out
Waves of tears grow among seas of doubt.

If Trump triumphs and closes all the doors
Lets fear for his country as kindness gets lost,
As divisions get wider, faultlines  grow bigger
Waiting in the darkness, unreason cruelly sniggers.

Hate-mongers and right wing bigots dancing now
In the land of liberty, the home of the brave,
Is this the beginning or the end, as intolerance consumes
Is it not the time to mend existing cracks and wounds?

Lets pray for America, lets pray they are not too blind,
Lets pray for sanity, lets pray for human kind,
Lets pray for the world, lets pray for peace,
Lets pray that one day blinkered thought will cease. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Support Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour; Poetry should not be a crime

Over 150 renowned international writers, poets, and literary figures, including Alice Walker, Dave Eggers, Natasha Trethewey, Naomi Klein and Susan Abulhawa have signed a petition calling for the release of jailed Palestinian poet , Dareen Tatour.
Dareen a 33-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel from the village Al-Reineh near Nazareth,
Dareen has been writing poetry since she was 7. She is also a photographer, and has toured villages in present-day Israel that were depopulated of their original Palestinian inhabitants during the Nakba, As well as capturing images of these villages, she has set out to tell stories about the people who lived in them.
Her photographs have been displayed in a number of exhibitions. She also directed a short documentary about the ethnically cleansed village of Damoun.
The Latest Invasion, her first collection of poems, was published in 2010.
was arrested by Israeli authorities in October of 2015 for a series of poems she posted on her own personal Facebook page and YouTube during the height of latest wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis. She was charged with incitement to violence and identifying with a terrorist organization. She spent several months in three different jails – enduring five separate interrogations – before being confined to house arrest in a rented apartment in a suburb of Tel Aviv since January.
The main clause of her indictment was based on a poem that she had allegedly posted on YouTube under the title: “Qawem ya sha’abi, qawemhum” (Resist my people, resist them). There is nothing actually illegal in the poem not even according to Israel’s laws.Although the poem urges resistance to Israel, it does not call for specific acts of violence. Rather, it draws attention to violent attacks on Palestinians by Israelis. But the context matters too, and the poem came out against a backdrop of Palestinian youths clashing with the occupation forces. And the images of these, according to the Israeli prosecution and media, are of “Palestinians engaged in terrorist activity”! Dareen joins over 400 Palestinians who have been punished and targeted for their posts on social media. Palestinians often found guilty because they do not like their oppressors.
Tatour faces up to five years  years in prison, according to her lawyer. On Sunday, June 26, leading Israeli newpaper Haaretz ran a board editorial titledFree the Palestinian Poet, Arrested for Expressing her Opinions.” The justice system did not listen.The following day, a few Israeli writers held a solidarity event, and Dareen Tatour wrote an open letter of thanks, published by the website Free Haifa .
The petition which is still open to ignatories can be found here:-
 It reads as follows:-."We believe in the rights of artists and writers to freely express their artistic vision, and share work freely. The Israeli government’s actions reveal a desire to silence Tatour, part of a larger pattern of Israeli repression against all Palestinians," the literary figures stated in their petition. "Expressing resistance to oppression and occupation through poetry is by nature non-violent and should not be criminalized by any government," they added. This petition marks the launch of an international solidarity campaign organized by Jewish Voice for Peace and Adalah-NY to demand the release of Tatour and to draw attention to the widespread arrests and detentions of Palestinians for political expression on social media, as well as Israel’s targeting of Palestinian writers and artists.

Read more at:
Copyright © The Palestinian Information Center
Tatour is banned from the entire northern district of Israel as well as from using the internet. She is forced to wear an electronic ankle bracelet which monitors her movements. .
The literary organization PEN in response to sustained pressure, released a statement on Tatour’s persecution  but sadly denied Tatour’s very self-identification as a Palestinian, the group called her an “Arab-Israeli” and did not call for her release or failed to mention Israel’s ongoing military occupation.
In a brief statement sent to Jewish Voice for Peace on 11 July  Tatour explained the effect that her imprisonment has had on her work.
“The poem, if it remains on paper, only adds to its writer’s worries and fatigue. The worst thing that can happen to an artist in general, and a poet in particular, is to be imprisoned in the democratic era in which we live for expressing their opinion,” Tatour writes.
“Imprisonment is tantamount to cutting the cords of feelings and emotions whose letters connect between what they are writing and the people,” she adds, “and if this communication is cut there is no value to all to what is written by this poet, no matter how outstanding their style. Actually there is no value and meaning to the human existence of the individual in this democracy and basically no value to this democracy.”
“My freedom, after nine months of harsh detention and exile, is a guarantee to the endurance of freedom for every poet, writer and artist, wherever they are,” she adds.
Pressure continues to mount on Israel to give Tatour that freedom.Award-winning poet, songwriter, and novelist, Naomi Shihab Nye, referred to the way Tatour’s use of the word “resistance” has been criminalized: “The word “resist” – when it is resisting oppression and inequality – will always be a gleaming, beautiful, positive word. In fact, it needs to be said more often.”  Writing poetry should not be considered a crime, Dareen just used her freedom of expresion and her pen  to write about the plight of her people and the injustice they daily feel and encounter, I don't feel that this warrants any form of punishment.She comes from a long tradition of poets in Palestinian society who try to evoke and communicate and reveal their sense of anger and sorrow. Poets who carry the additional role of being spokespersons, who try to articulate the struggles, desires, and political views of the people.
I would urge voices of good conscience and fellow poets to support Dareen's continuing plight, and join the call to free her.

Here, the poet Tariq al Haydar translates Tatour’s words into English:

Resist, my My people, Resist them

Resist, my people, resist them.
In Jerualem, I dread my wounds and breathed my sorrows
And carried the soul in my palm
For an Arab Palestine.
I will not succumb to the "peaceful solution,"
Never lower my flags
Until I evict them from my land
I cast them aside for a coming time
Resist , my people, resist them.
Reit the settler's robbery
And follow the caravan of martyrs.
Shred the digraceful contitution
Which imposed degradation and humiliation
And deterred us from restoring justice.
They burned blameles children;
As for Hadil, they niped her in public,
Killed her in broad daylight.
Resist, my people, resist them,
Resist the colonialist's onlaught.
Pay no mind to his agents among us
Who chain us with peaeful illusion.
Do not fear doubtful tonques;
The truth in your heart i stronger,
As long a you resist in a land
That has lived through raids and victory.
So ali called from his grave:
Resist, my rebellious people.
Write me as prose on the agarwoood;
My remain have you as a response.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist, my people resist them.

You can stay abreast of Dareen’s case at the following links :-

Some new poems of hers in translation can be found here :-  

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The shameful vote for Trident renewal

Saved myself £25 but still incredibly sad, because of the 138 Labour MPs who yesterday voted with the Tory government to spend £200 billion on weapons of mass destruction, and have demonstrated again why unlike Jeremy Corbyn and the 48 who voted against do not represent the real opposition to this government that the country needs and makes the split within the party even deeper. The decision to hold a vote now was made not in the interests of national security, but simply to embarrass the Labour Party.Theresa May and the rest of the Tory's must be laughing their socks off.
Parliament has voted now in favour of renewing Britain's nuclear deterrent, Trident by a majority of 355 after it was backed by almost the entire Conservative Party and more than half of Labour MPs , the vote was passed despite opposition from Scottish National party MPs and those of Plaid Cymru and thankfully my local MP liberal Mark Williams plus the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong unilateralist who spoke out against the plans during a debate in parliament on Monday afternoon.
Feel absolutely betrayed and has left me bitter and angry but I guess it solidifies my view that the Parliamentary Labour Party does not represent it's members, I was a member back in the day, drawn in chiefly because of it's position of unilateralism  a party that seemed to be about principles, for peace that have for a long time now been sadly abandoned.Whose idea was it in the first place to commission Trident, Tony bloody Blair who admitted that the only purpose of maintaining the nuclear weapons system was to give Britain status.
Remember that each of these warheads is eight times more powerful than the atomic bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima.These weapons have no legitimate purpose: their use should be illegal under almost every conceivable circumstance, as huge numbers of civilian casualties would be unavoidable. That is why the International Court of Justice ruled in 1996 the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law. Not only are these weapons immoral, potentially genocidal and strategically irrelevant in the face of the realistic threats we face today, they are also hugely expensive. The Government's National Security Strategy identifies international terrorism, cyber-attacks and natural hazards as greater threats than nuclear war.These warheads cannot be used without inflicting massive loss of civilian life and poisoning the environment for decades.
Fair play however to SNP MP member Mhari Black who said  that " These nuclear weapons serve no other purpose than to satisfy the ego of the British establishment, we can't afford to look after the disabled, we can't afford to look after the unemployed, we can't afford to pay pensions on time, and all the people who have been making that argument for austerity are now the very same people who are telling us that we can afford to write a blank cheque." and to principled Welsh MPs who followed their conscience.
Ditching Trident, and joining the vast majority of countries without nuclear weapons, should have been the common sense decision for Parliament to take, and would have been the right thing to do.
I will add that Nuclear weapons don't make me feel safer a world without these weapons of mass destruction would though. The money saved by ditching Trident would be enough for a fair social security system and a properly funded NHS enabling us to build 120 state of the art hospitals and employing 150,000 new nurses, build 3 million affordable homes, install solar panels in every home in the UK or pay the tuition fees for 8 million students.
The vote effectively means the UK will continue to possess and deploy its nuclear weapons arsenal, threatening other countries with annihilation and exposing its people to serious risks of nuclear accidents, use or attacks, for a further generation.
Yes said it before, but yes my mind truly boggles at the stupidity of politicians playing dangerous games with our lives.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Suicide - Dream Baby Dream

On the stereo now, the singer and punk pioneer Alan Vega of the seminal New York  influential electronic and proto-punk band Suicide,whose minimalist music, a fusion of his partner Martin Rev's ominous, repetitive keyboards and Vega's rockabilly snarl, helped paved the way for the electronic artists of the future has  passed away, aged 78 going peacefully in his sleep on July the 16th .The following is a statement from his family :-
 "With profound sadness and a stillness that only news like this can bring, we regret to inform you that the great artist and creative force, Alan Vega has passed away.Alan was not only relentlessly creative, writing music and painting until the end, he was also startlingly unique. Along with Martin Rev, in the early 1970's, they formed the two person avant band known as Suicide. Almost immediately, their incredible and unclassifiable music went against every possible grain. Their confrontational live performances, light-years before Punk Rock, are the stuff of legend. Their first, self-titled album is one of the single most challenging and noteworthy achievements in American music. Alan Vega was the quintessential artist on every imaginable level. His entire life was devoted to outputting what his vision commanded of him. One of the greatest aspects of Alan Vega was his unflinching adherence to the demands of his art. He only did what he wanted. Simply put, he lived to create. After decades of constant output, the world seemed to catch up with Alan and he was acknowledged as the groundbreaking creative individual he had been from the very start. Alan's life is a lesson of what it is to truly live for art. The work, the incredible amount of time required, the courage to keep seeing it and the strength to bring it forth--this was Alan Vega.Alan is survived by his amazing family, wife Liz and son Dante. His incredible body of work, spanning five decades, will be with us forever."
Some will say that without Suicide there would be no punk, no alternative music as we know and love it today.His band was unique inspiring a generation to pick up an instrument and tell us a story without constraints or walls, the ugly truth about life. Baby baby baby, he’s blazing away, like a stars stars stars in a universe. RIP  Alan Vega, your legacy and influence lives on.

80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War.


Today marks the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, a moment in time that has come to represent the defining struggle of the age: a clash between not just between the opposing political ideologies of socialism and fascism, but between civilization and barbarism, good and evil.
The fascists launched a coup against the democratically elected Popular Front Government in Madrid on the night of 17th July 1936 inpired mostly by General Franco. Hitler and Mussolini quickly sent aircraft, troops and supplies to the right-wing generals bent on overthrowing Spain's elected government.
But the people rose, millions of people around the world felt passionately that rapidly advancing fascism must be halted in Spain; and more than 35,000 volunteers from dozens of other countries went to help defend the Spanish Republic, forces of red and black fought back united against fascism. In the countryside, peasants took control of the land, redistributing large estates and, in many places, collectivizing the land and setting up communes and a civil war was was waged, the workers immediately set up barricades and within hours the rising had been defeated. Arms were seized and given to workers who were dispatched to other areas to prevent risings. Madrid was also saved because of the heroism and initiative of the workers. Hearing of what had happened in Barcelona they had stormed the main army base in the city. Workers' militias were established. Workplaces were taken over and for ten months after July 1936, the people held power. Taking over the factories and the running of the whole of society. They organised workers’ committees in enterprises and streets. They believed that they had power and fought to defend and extend it.
But in a series of tragic events were sadly defeated aided by the British government who had agreed to a policy of 'non-intervention'  along with the help of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. By April 1939, all of Spain was under fascist control and Franco declared a victory .Solidifying his power with a brutal dictatorship by oppressing and systematically killing any political opposition.Over half a million people were killed in the war, and in the next few years many tens of thousands more were executed, not forgetting all those who died from malnutrition, starvation, and war-engendered disease. General Franco's military regime remained in power until his death in 1975 depriving  Spain of freedom for several decades afterwards, the wound inflicted still resonates.
 About 300 people volunteered from Wales against the tyranny of fascism, with 35 of whom not returning home but the important historical truth is the international flavour of those who volunteered to fight in this brutal war. A great idealistic cause of the first half of the twentieth century, that has been of great interest to me over the years. Two local people from my neck of the woods went to serve Arthur Morris and a Percy Jones. More information here , I have yet though to see a monument erected to them. Over 40,000 other selfless men and women fought side by side for the ideas of liberty and social justice, solidarity and mutual aid from 53 different nationalities. Rallying to the republican cause.
For many it was not just a war to defeat the fascists it was the beginning of a new society. A revolution in fact, unfortunately revolutions do not succeed when the people are divided. There are many lessons to be learnt from this struggle, a struggle that continues to do this day.
Lets not forget all those who were killed serving with the International Brigades who nobly fought bravely in a spirit of solidarity, and political and moral awareness to try and save us from fascism's threat that still sadly lingers and haunts us  today.The dark shadow cast by the Spanish Civil war, still matters, and the wound inflicted on Spain still within living memory for many has yet to close. We must continue to resist oppressive forces, with our shout of no pasaran.
The poet and political activist John Corford was just 21 years old when he died in Spain in August 1936, I will leave you with these two poems by him written in the teeth of death.


Heart of the heartless world,
Dear heart, the thought of you
Is the pain at my side,
The shadow that chills my view.
The wind rises in the evening,
Reminds that autumn is near.
I am afraid to lose you,
I am afraid of my fear.
On the last mile to Huesca,
The last fence for our pride,
Think so kindly, dear, that I
Sense you at my side.
And if bad luck should lay my strength
Into the shallow grave,
Remember all the good you can;
Don’t forget my love.

A letter from Aragon

This is a quiet sector of a quiet front.

We buried Ruiz in a new pine coffin,
But the shroud was too small and his washed feet stuck out.
The stink of his corpse came through the clean pine boards
And some of the bearers wrapped handkerchiefs round their faces.
Death was not dignified.
We hacked a ragged grave in the unfriendly earth
And fired a ragged volley over the grave.

You could tell from our listlessness, no one much missed him.

This is a quiet sector of a quiet front.
There is no poison gas and no H. E.

But when they shelled the other end of the village
And the streets were choked with dust
Women came screaming out of the crumbling houses,
Clutched under one arm the naked rump of an infant.
I thought: how ugly fear is.

This is a quiet sector of a quiet front.
Our nerves are steady; we all sleep soundly.

In the clean hospital bed, my eyes were so heavy
Sleep easily blotted out one ugly picture,
A wounded militiaman moaning on a stretcher,
Now out of danger, but still crying for water,
Strong against death, but unprepared for such pain.

This on a quiet front.

But when I shook hands to leave, an Anarchist worker
Said: 'Tell the workers of England
This was a war not of our own making
We did not seek it.
But if ever the Fascists again rule Barcelona
It will be as a heap of ruins with us workers beneath it.'

reprinted from  Penguin Book of Spanish Civil War Verse, edited by Valentine Cunningham (Penguin, 1980)

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Benjamin Zephaniah (b;15/4/58) - The British

Some positivity today, here is one of my favourite poets Benjamin Zephaniah's passisonate, defense of the strength of Britain's multicultural cohesion. It reminds us that anyone with a fixed idea of what Britain is, is actually anti-British. Britain has always been multicultural, right back to settlers in medieval times. I will add that the world is a melting pot blended with various attributes, qualitities and culture, the following recipe simply explores the diversity and richness that we all share.

Take some Celts and Silures
And let them settle,
Then overrun them with Roman conquerors.

Remove the Romans after approximately 400 years
Add lots of Norman French to some
Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings, then stir vigorously.

Mix some hot Chileans, cool Jamaicans, Dominicans,
Trinidadians and Bajans with some Ethiopians, Chinese,
Vietnamese and Sudanese.

Then take a blend of Somalians, Sri Lankans, Nigerians
And Pakistanis,
Combine with some Guyanese
And turn up the heat.

Sprinkle some fresh Indians, Malaysians, Bosnians,
Iraqis and Bangladeshis together with some
Afghans, Spanish, Turkish, Kurdish, Japanese
And Palestinians
Then add to the melting pot.

Leave the ingredients to simmer.
As they mix and blend allow their languages to flourish
Binding them together with English.
Allow time to be cool.

Add some unity, understanding, and respect for the future,
Serve with justice
And enjoy.

Note: All the ingredients are equally important. Treating one ingredient better than another will leave a bitter unpleasant taste.

Warning: An unequal spread of justice will damage the people and
cause pain. Give justice and equality to all.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

This sticker sticks fascists!

This sticker sticks fascists!
The world is currently experiencing an escalation in racism and xenophobia with an increase in a wave of hate crime and racial abuse following the EU referendum. Violence and intimidation and calls of 'go home' directed against minorities, racist graffiti daubed on community centres, we must condemn all those that try to stoke up division in our society, prevent bigotry from spreading and becoming the new norm.
It is our duty to reaffirm that everyone is welcome in our communities, apart from rascists and fascists of course.We should offer genuine solidarity with victims of any racist incident that occurs – and feel bold enough to intervene when they happen.We must seek to challenge and defeat the politics of hate within our local communities , building continuing resiliance and resistance to the politics of hate and fear, The fascists may spread fear and division but we can counter them with unity and hope, spreading a vision of peaceful co-existence and intercultural respect.
The destructiveness of fascism – and racism more generally – is not limited to its principal enemies. Far from affording privileges to large swathes of society as some suggest, the oppression of marginalised groups hurts us all.We have the abilities to stand united against our common enemy, to show refugees that they are welcome, and to show the fascists that we are not afraid. Beyond support for their toxic ideas, fascists also have a long history of physically attacking people and communities.
Solidarity against fascism is not an altruistic option; it’s a rational necessity. With our resolve and determination we can beat fascism. We cannot allow sieg heiling Nazi scum any space, and we will not sit back  and watch their racist, hateful attacks on refugees and migrants. Now is the time to get involved, get active and get organised to take the fascists off our streets.
 Take a look at these stickers hot off the ‪#‎stickittothetories‬ presses – printed for Aberystwyth Anti – Fascists. They’ll soon be on their way to be stuck all over the genteel, and soon to be fascist free, seaside town of Aberystwyth and its Hinterland(!) in mid Wales.
Oh yes- there are hundreds more of them too.
If you have a problem with fascists where you live, then get some of our bespoke stickers, especially printed with your town/city /whatever name – and along with other anti-fascist activities – you too can become a fascist free zone.…/anti-fascists-your-town/ 

Friday, 15 July 2016

Some words of caution after Nice attack

Terrible, tragic news from yesterday after monstrous killing of 84 innocent people on Bastille day a symbol of freedom and liberty in what was an undeniable act of terrorism. This latest retaliatory, reactionary manifestation of hate in Nice coming eight months after the Islamist militant shootings and suicide bombings in Paris that killed 130 people.
Each atrocity has been used to expand police and intelligence powers. Following the Paris attacks, the Hollande government instituted an unprecedented “state of emergency,” providing authorities with the power to ban demonstrations and detain suspects without charge. Over recent months, millions of French workers and students have defied the laws, engaging in mass demonstrations and strikes against the Socialist Party’s regressive  labour legislation.
The latest attack comes amid mounting social tensions and escalating French participation in US-led military operations in the Middle East, like the US, the French government has actively backed Islamist groups in a bid to topple the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.However, Washington viewed Islamic State’s advance into Iraq during 2014 as a threat to the US-backed government and its dominance of Iraqi oil and resources. The US and its allies, including France, have waged an air war on the Islamic State, while continuing to back other Islamist forces within Syria. 
The French government immediately announces an extension on the clampdown on civil liberties and further military action in Syria and Iraq. Francois Hollande gave no explanation as to how these might prevent a further atrocity. Because he has no evidence that they will. On the contrary.
Moreover, although it is not known at this time whether the attacker was aided in any way by a group based in Iraq or Syria, Hollande has already vowed to employ yet more violence in those devastated countries.  Again we are watching a Western leader adopt the same failed policies of the past while expecting those policies to yield different results. This is the definition of insanity.
Clearly religiously driven terrorism is a phenomenon that our ideals of democracy, openness and free trade find it difficult to come to grips with short of resorting to elements of the police state. But if we allow the horrendous acts of a few to fundamentally change our society for the worse then the terrorists will have achieved one of their principal goals - so clamping down on hysterical demands to either 'hit back' or 'shut our borders' must be seen for what they are: expressions of panic and grief. These must be resisted, and those who express them need to be given time to engage their brains. Only by firmly carrying on with our way of life and working to counter the bigoted mindsets can we  prevail. It will  never be an easy task. Our Governments attempts to try and neutralise the threat is going to be a difficult one, but they must try to do so without curtailing civil liberties too much or allowing the public to become fundamentally divided. Otherwise those who carry out these attacks in the name of whatever twisted ideology have won and the swamp that terrorism breeds in will grow.. 
I cannot help feeling great sadness for the world that we live in right now and feel lucky that I am not in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In the meantime we must continue to stand together in this difficult time and show our solidarity with the victims and their families and all those innocents who fell victimised by several decades of US led, UK, NATO illegal, immoral invasions, occupation, mass destruction, unwinnable wars part of the military industrial complex for corporate profit alone, combined with, western aggression in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, etc where the seeds of this awful nightmare have been sown. We must not lose our shared humanity

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Dada Manifesto: Zurich July 14,1916 - Hugo Ball

                                                            Hugo Ball

Dadaism was an art movement founded by Hugo Ball in 1916 in Zurich, Switzerland hundred years ago this year that became an international art movement. They had one rule which was to never follow any known rules. It arose because they were against the culture and values of the early 20th century which it was believed had caused and supported the carnage of the First World War in 1914-18. On the following link Dr Jeane Willett explains how Dada was a reaction to the "psychological  catastrophe" that was Word War 1 and a reaction to the futility of war.They saw the unremitting slaughter as the undeniable proof that the nationalist authorities on both sides had failed society and that the system was corrupt. United in their protest against the war and in their opposition to the establishment, 'they banded together under the battle cry of DADA!!!!'
The Dadaist's aimed to destroy traditional values in art and to create a new art to replace the old. Dada's weapons of choice in their war with the establishment were confrontation and provocation.Art in revolt., anti-establishment, provocative that refused to be categorised into any ideological group, crazy, wild and free. They attacked traditional artistic values with irrational attitudes and provoked conservative complacency with outrageous statements and actions. They also launched a full scale assault on the art world which they saw as part of the system. It was considered equally culpable and consequently had to be toppled. Dada questioned the value of all art and whether its existence was simply an indulgence of the bourgeoisie.It was an “anti-movement movement dedicated to anti-art,” with deliberately nonsensical tactics and a Nihilistic message, i.e. that life is essentially meaningless.
The great paradox of Dada is that they claimed to be anti-art,  but even their most negative attacks on the establishment resulted in positive artworks that opened a door to future developments in 20th century art. The effect of Dada was to create a climate in which art was alive to the moment and not paralysed by the traditions and restrictions of established values.It lay the groundwork to abstract art and sound poetry, a starting point for performance art, a prelude to postmodernism, an influence on pop art, a celebration of antiart to be later embraced for anarcho-political uses in the 1960s and the movement that lay the foundation for Surrealism.
 ' Dada signifies nothing,’ declared one of Dada’s main players, Tristan Tzara.
‘Not even the Dadaists know what Dada is,’ concurred one of his key collaborators, Johannes Baader.
The word itself was enigmatic: a word picked randomly  from a French-German dictionary, in French meant hobby horse, in German it means ‘good-by,’ Get off my back,’ ‘Be seeing you sometime.’” Dada meant all of this, and nothing at all.

During World War 1 many Anarchists, revolutionaries, pacifists,artists,writers and intellectuals who were opposed to the war sought refuge from conscription in neutral Switzerland. Zurich was a melting pot for these exiles and reviled the political and cultural norms of the time. For them, the bloodshed of World War One didn’t just mark a futile loss of human life, it confirmed other forms of expiry – the failure of the entire project of Western philosophy, the death of the human “spirit”, and the inadequacy of language, which had been abused for politically corrupt ends and defiled by jingoism.
Born 1886 in Pirmasens, the writer Hugo Ball who was the inspiration for the classic Talking Heads song I Zimbra   with his poem "Gadji beri bimba studied German literature, philosophy, and history at the universities of Munich and Heidelberg (1906-1907). In 1910, he moved to Berlin in order to become an actor and collaborated with Max Reinhardt and worked as a director and stage manager for various theater companies in Berlin, Plauen, and Munich. He also started writing, contributing to the expressionist journals Die Neue Kunst and Die Aktion, both of which, in style and in content, anticipated the format of later Dada journals At the beginning of the First World War he tried joining the army as a volunteer, but was denied enlistment for medical issues. After witnessing the invasion of Belgium, he was disillusioned saying: "The war is founded on a glaring mistake, men have been confused with machines". Considered a traitor in his country, he crossed the frontier with the cabaret performer and poet Emmy Hennings,  and settled in Zurich. Here, Ball continued his interest in anarchism, and in Mikhail Bakunin in particular; he also worked on the book of Bakunin translations, which never got published. Although interested in anarchist philosophy, he nonetheless rejected it for its militant aspects, and viewed it as only a means to his personal goal of enlightenment.It was in Zurich on February 5th, 1916 that he and his partner opened the 'Cabaret Voltaire', a rendezvous for the more radical element of the avant-garde. This venue was a cross between a night club and an arts centre where artists would exhibit their work to a explosive mixture of experimental music, poetry, readings and dance and political theater. — poetry shorn of intelligible words, where melodies and statements in which the message was cannibalized by the absurdity of the language. His intentions regarding the Caberet Voltaire are defined in the following words " It is necessary to clarify the intentions of this cabaret. It is its aim to remind the world that there are people of independent minds - beyond war and nationalism - who live for different ideals." (from the contribution entitled "Lorsque je fondis le Cabaret Voltaire" ["Why I founded the Cabaret Voltaire"], in the publication "Cabaret Voltaire," Zürich, 1916).
The Dadaists were in there own way  the very first performance artists, who besides sound poems also invented the simultaneous poem (whereby verses are read out in different languages and at different speeds at the same time) and were the precursors of modernn-day slam poetry.
Among the original contributors to the 'Cabaret Voltaire' were Jean (Hans) Arp, Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco and Richard Huelsenbeck. Although the Dadaists were united in their ideals, they had no unifying style. Between 1917-1920 the Dada group attracted many different types of artists including Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch, Johannes Baader, Francis Picabia, Georg Grosz, John Heartfield, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Andre Breton,  Kurt Schwitters, and Hans Richter.
At the first public Dada-Soirée, at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich, a hundred years ago today on July 14, 1916, Hugo Ball read aloud his  Dada manifesto and summed up his absurdist nature: ‘How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying Dada.  — and recited several of his sound poems, including "Karawane," reënacted below consisting of nonsensical words.The meaning however resides in its meaninglessness, reflecting the chief principle behind Dadaism.

Hugo Ball - Karawane


Hugo stayed active in Dada movement for another six months, but the manifesto created conflict with his friends, notably Tristan Tzara because he was at odds over Tzara's ambition to make Dada into an international movement with a systematic doctrine Some of Hugo Bell' other best known works include the poem collection 7 schizophrene Sonette, the drama Die Nase des Michelangelo, a memoir of the Zurich period Flight Out of Time: A Dada Diary, and a biography of Hermann Hesse, entitled Hermann Hesse. Sein Leben und sein Werk (1927). Hugo would retire to Ticino, where he completely devoted himself to mystical Catholicism.He died in 14 September 1927.d in' Abbondio, Switzerland, 14 September 1927.
After the war, the face of Dada began to change. Many of the Dadaists who were exiles in Zurich began to drift back to their home countries and found that life was quite different there. As they relocated to Berlin, Cologne, Hanover and some as far as New York, Dada developed an international reputation but each of these venues had its own distinctive style inspired by the artists who settled there.In post-war Berlin, Dada became less anti-art and adopted a more political stance. Reality bit hard as the war-weary population struggled to survive the effects of economic meltdown.  There was social and political disorder as Left fought Right for control of the government.  In this climate the irreverent posturing of Zurich Dada would have been totally inappropriate, so Dada in Berlin emerged with a harder hitting punch.Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch, John Heartfield and George Grosz were the main artists who developed the strident political satire of Berlin Dada.
Dada would ultmately self destruct,the internal squabbling brought Dada to an abrupt end. And even though it would not last it still endures, it has become a state of mind. In their subversiveness and experimentation, the Dadaists were forging modes of working and forms of art that would either anticipate or directly influence the shape of much art to come and.the heart of dada still to be found in its poetry and provocations, its polemics and experiments with chance.... maybe the time for Dada is right now?

Dada Manifesto ( 1916, Hugo Ball)
read at the first public by Dada soiree, Zurich, July 14, 1916.

" Dada is a new tendency in art. One can tell this from the fact that until now nobody knew anything about it, and tomorrow everyone in Zurich will be talking about it. Dada comes from the dictionary. it is terribly simple. In French it means "hobby horse." In German it means "good-by," "Get off my back," "Be seeing you sometime." In Romanian: "Yes, indeed, you are right, that's it. But of course, yes, definitely, right." And so forth.
An international word. Just a word, and the word a movement. Very easy to understand. Quite terribly simple. To make of it an artistic tendency must mean that one is anticipating complications. Dada psychology, dada Germany cum indigestion and fog paroxysm, dada literature, dada bourgeoisie, and yourselves, honored poets, who are always writing with words but never writing the word itself, who are always writing around the actual point. Dada world war without end, dada revolution without beginning, dada, you friends and also-poets, esteemed sirs, manufacturers, and evangelists. Dada Tzara, dada Huelsenbeck, dada m'dada, dada m'dada dada mhm, dada dere dada, dada Hue, dada Tza.
How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada. How does one become famous? By saying dada. With a noble gesture and delicate propriety. Till one goes crazy. Till one loses consciousness. How can one get rid of everything that smack of journalism, worms, everything nice and right, blinkered, moralistic, europeanized, enervated? By saying dada. Dada is the world soul, dada is the pawnshop. Dada is the world's best lily-milk soap. Dada Mr. Rubiner, dada Mr. Korrodi. Dada Mr. Anastasius Lilienstein.
In plain language: the hospitality of the Swiss is something to be profoundly appreciated. And in questions of aesthetics the key is quality.
I shall be reading poems that are meant to dispense with conventional language, no less, and to have done with it. Dada Johann Fuschgang Goethe, Dada Stendhal. Dada Dalai Lama, Buddha, Bible and Nietzsche. Dada m'dada. Dada mhm dada da. It's a question of connections, and of loosening them up a bit to start with. I don't want words that other people have invented. All the words are other people's inventions. I want my own stuff, my own rhythm, and vowels and consonants too, matching the rhythm and all my own. If this pulsation in seven yards long, I want words for it that are seven yards long. Mr. Schulz's words are only two and a half centimetres long.
It will serve to show how articulated language comes into being. I let the vowels fool around. I let the vowels quite simply occur, as a cat miaows... Words emerge, shoulders of words, legs, arms, hands of words. Au, oi, uh. One shouldn't let too many words out. A line of poetry is a chance to get rid of all the filth that clings to this accursed language, as if put there by stockbrokers' hands, hands worn smooth by coins. I want the word where it ends and begins. Dada is the heart of words.
Each thing has its word, but the word has become a thing by itself. Why shouldn't I find it? Why can't a tree be called Pluplusch, and Pluplubasch when it has been raining? The word, the word, the word outside your domain, your stuffiness, this laughable impotence, your stupendous smugness, outside all the parrotry of your self-evident limitedness. The word, gentlemen, is a public concern of the first importance."