Sunday, 30 April 2017

' There are many complex reasons why people go to foodbanks ' - Theresa May

The BBC gets a lot of criticism, most of it deserved, but Andrew Marr did a brilliant job here this morning on his show  quizzing Theresa May about food banks, where she does not seem able to answer the question.

Andrew Marr: We have nurses going to foodbanks , that must be wrong?

Theresa May :  'There are many complex reasons why people go to foodbanks.'

Yes. Survival is complex and people simply do not have enough money for food.
No wonder she does not want to debate, she simply cannot defend her record or answer a single question properly. Her arrogance  is breathtaking, at least she did not have the tenacity to call them strong and stable fooldbanks. I find it incredible that anyone votes Tory; just what does it take for people to see the damage they are doing to this country!
When will the people of this country realise  the only people the Tories want to serve  are the richest among us .There another  simple reason people use foodbanks  - Capitalism. Another world is possible. We are now in a position were social workers make telephone calls to food banks to see if they have enough food left to give to their clients. The people they are helping are quite often the families who have had their benefits stopped for 12 weeks by the DWP. Vulnerable people who are already desperate. In a civilised society no one should need foodbanks. It's obscene..
Remember people's lives depend on nurses, midwives and junior doctors. Utterly disgusting to freeze their pay. Meanwhile, billionaire oligarchs run the MSM, and David Cameron has just bought a garden shed for £25,000. As a human being I could never vote Tory.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Figures show link between suicide and welfare re-assessments

The government has flagged dozens of deaths of people subjected to welfare reassessment as “possible suicides,” it  has admitted following a written parliamentary question from the Hull North Labour MP Diana Johnson two days ago that  revealed that the DWP carried out 15 internal reviews into suicides or alleged suicides of so-called DWP "clients" in 2012/13.
Fourteen reviews were carried out in each of the following two years, with 11 reviews in 2015/16.
This then fell to six last year.
These  figures will certainly reignite the debate on how DWP treats vulnerable benefit claimants.
"Families who've been left in the dark need to know everything the DWP knows about these cases," Ms Johnson said.
"Most importantly, we need a welfare system that supports, rather than victimises, the poorest and most vulnerable in our society."
Work and Pensions Minister Damian Hinds confirmed the government has carried out internal reviews relating to 60 deaths over the last five years. In his answer he said the internal reviews were carried out in relation to suicides or alleged suicides.He had previously told Labour MP Luciana Berger: "Suicide is a tragic and complex issue which we take extremely seriously.
"If information is received that a DWP client has attempted or completed suicide and it is alleged that DWP activity may have contributed to this, we carry out an internal review to establish whether anything should have been done differently.".
The Hull North MP said she was “appalled” that the figures had been unpublished until now.
“Ministers have repeatedly claimed there to be no link between suicide and welfare reassessment whenever figures have come to light,” she said.
“If there was no link, there wouldn’t have been 60 reviews of suicides in the past five years.
“Families who’ve been left in the dark need to know everything the DWP knows about these cases.”
Rethink Mental Illness charity head Samantha Nicklin said: “People with mental illness consistently find the welfare benefits system — the interview, the sanctions, the number of assessments — stressful and harmful to their health.
“Currently the system is fundamentally unsuited to supporting people living with mental illness.
“We hope that the next government will use this opportunity to conduct an overhaul of the system to ensure that people are not needlessly penalised and everyone can get the support they need.”
Last year campaigners led by the Disability News Service successfully appealed to a tribunal that these internal reviews should be made public.
Recommendations from these reviews showed that DWP staff repeatedly failed to follow strict guidelines on how to support benefit claimants who had expressed thoughts of self-harm or threatened to take their own lives, which were introduced in 2009.
Anita Bellows, from Disabled People Against Cuts, which was among the groups that launched the appeal, said it was not surprising there were further cases that DWP had needed to review.
She added: "DWP now admits that the peer review process lacked 'robust governance' and has decided to improve its processes.
"It is too late for these claimants who took their own lives and it might be still inadequate if DWP is not prepared to look beyond procedure compliance."
All this comes as new figures show private companies that run the assessments on behalf of the DWP are set to rake in more than £700m from their five-year contracts .Also in January, a National Audit Office report revealed that the Tories are spending more taxpayers’ money on assessing whether Britons are fit to work than they are saving in reductions to the state’s benefits bill. The study found that while assessments conducted for the government by private firms have skyrocketed in cost, providers are struggling to meet required performance standards.
Assessment for benefits has been for a long time  controversial  for the DWP, particularly the effects they can have on those with mental health issues. It also established, through dozens of in-depth interviews of people who had been through the tests, that "in the worst cases, the WCA experience led to thoughts of suicide" The work related assessments mean people get ill and fall into sanctions and rent arrears. It has led to some committing suicide –this is irrefutably the case.
Alice Kirby, a disability rights activist, says she was asked in her assessment for disability benefits why she had not killed herself.
She told the Press Association: "It's important we hold the department to account on this, especially when people's deaths are caused by, or linked to, benefit cuts and sanctions.
"There is no doubt in my mind that the number of reviews carried out does not represent the number of cases that should have been looked into."

If you are having suicidal thoughts, you can call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or visit their website

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

80th anniversary of the horror that was Guernica

                                  Pablo Picasso's Guernica

April 26 marks the 80th anniversary of the bombing of Guernica in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. During the afternoon and early evening of Monday, April 26th, 1937,  the German and Italian fascist air forces destroyed the Spanish town of Guernica in a raid lasting three hours. The war crime was ordered by the Spanish nationalist military leadership and carried out by the Congor Legion of the German luftwaffe and the Italian Aviazone Legionairre. Designed to kill  or main as many civilians as possible, Operation Rugen was deliberately chosen for a Monday afternoon when the weekly town market would be at its most crowded. Guernica, in the Basque  country where revolutionary sentiment among workers was deep, was defenceless from the bombers, which could fly as low as 600 feet.The airplanes made repeated raids, refuelling and returning to drop more bombs. Waves of explosive, fragmentary, and incendiary devices were dumped in the town. In total, 31 tons of munitions were dropped between 4.30 in the afternoon and 7.30 in the evening. In the aftermath of the raid, survivors spoke of the air filled with the screams of those in their death throes and the hundreds injured. Civilians fleeing the carnage in the fields surrounding the town were strafed by fighter planes. Human and animal  body parts littered the market place and town center, such , such horror.Guernica was effectively wiped of the map. From a population of 5,000 some 1,700 residents were killed and a further 800 injured. Three quarters of the buildings were raised to the ground. Farms four miles away were flattened.
The destruction of Guernica was part of Franco's wider, brutal campaign against the existence of the Spanish Republic. This campaign led not just to widespread destruction of property, but thousands of civilian casualties too, as well as widespread displacement. Many sought refuge abroad, as many as 3,800 Basque children were evacuated to England and Wales for the duration of the war. The British Government at the time callously refused to be responsible for the children, but  throughout the summer children were dispersed to camps throughout Britain. Eight of these colonies were here in Wales. They were received with a mixture of hostility and kindness, but they had all managed to escape the grips of Franco's fascist Spain.
The significance of Guernica is that it was the first time that civilians were deliberately targeted in an air attack; it was the first time that a population centre was carpet bombed from the air; and it was one of the first times that a population was used as a target from the air by a foreign power  to test the effectiveness of its aircraft and the effectiveness of terror on the civilian population.Guernica changed the mode of war. Before then, civilians in cities and towns away from the front were by and large relatively safe. In wars before then air power was not capable of such bombing attacks. In World War I, by and large, troops slugged it out in trenches on the front and there was no air war.
Picasso immortalized the bombing of Guernica in his mural, a raw and anguished anti-war statement, a haunting piece of work that  still became a universal howl against the ravages of war. On a large canvas more than seven metres (23 feet) wide, he painted deformed figures of women and children writhing in a burning city.A broken sword in hand, a dismembered fighter lies with wide open eyes, an impassive bull, a wounded dove and an agonising horse nearby. Picasso did not agree with Franco´s regime and he was living in France for a long period of time until his death in 1973 when he was 91 years old. One of the most famous passages about his life is when he was interrogated by the Gestapo while the Nazi occupation  in Paris. When the officers saw the Guernica  they asked him “Did you paint that?” and he replied “No, you did”
Picasso's picture still resonates with tragedy, capturing the full terror and horror of this terrible moment in history.The Reina Sofía Museum, in Madrid is marking the anniversary with an exhibition. called ' Pity and terror in Picasso.' The show which opened on  4 April which will run for five months  will examine the making of the black-and-white mural, as well as its critical reception at the Paris Exposition in 1937 and display at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 1939. That same year, Picasso transferred Guernica to the care of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. It toured the US throughout the 1940s and then headed for Brazil, travelling there from 1953 to 1956.
The exhibition will explore the painting’s role in Spain’s post-war reconstruction and as an international image of peace as well as its influence on contemporary artists. Guernica returned to MoMA in 1957 and remained there for 24 years. The painter gave the museum clear instructions — the canvas belonged to the Spanish people and would
only be given back “when they have recovered the freedoms that were taken away from them.”
Finally in 1981, the painting arrived in Spain, which was transitioning to democracy after the death of Francoand went on display at the Prado museum after democracy was restored to the country. In 1992, it was transferred to the Reina Sofía museum.
At the United Nations last year, French Ambassador Francois Delattre compared the destruction in the Syrian city of Aleppo to Guernica.“Aleppo is to Syria what Guernica was to the Spanish war, a human tragedy, a black hole destroying all we believe in,” he said.
It is important and timely to reflect on this tragic occasion  in this context given the emphasis on bombing in the past couple of weeks: the bombing of Syria “in retaliation” for the use of chemical weapons; the Mother of All Bombs being dropped in Afghanistan; and the threats by North Korea to pre-emptively use nuclear bombs. In these strange and worrying political times we are going through,  the anniversary of Guernica is still very poignant.  Guernica must be remembered , for our time, and for future generations, a terrifying rendition of the slaughter of  innocents. Lest we forget.

Guernica - Norman Rosten  (1/1/15 -7/3/95)

In Guernica the dead children
Were laid out in order upon the sidewalk,
In their white starched dresses,
In their pitiful white dresses.
On their foreheads and breasts
Are the little holes where death came in
As thunder, while they were playing
Their important summer games.
Do not weep for them, madre.
They are gone forever, the little ones,
Straight to heaven to the saints,
and God will fill the bullet-holes with candy.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Doublespeak of the Conservative Party

In light of the forthcoming  election thought I'd mention the language of  what is  known as  “newspeak” also known as “doublespeak!” as demonstrated in George Orwell's classic dystopian novel 1984 . As George himself said " Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.. " We will be hearing far more examples in the next month and a bit. Politicians will use language to deceive and manipulate, through concealment or misrepresentation of the truth, desperately and deliberately using euphemistic or ambiguous language as they have been doing ad infinitum.
At this point I will point out my  own personal bias, it has been well established that the Conservative party lies. In fact, it’s probably their second most identifiable characteristic after being nasty.These lies are not accidental , it is a deliberate exercise to try and keep in control. When they claim  to understand, this simply means they don't care at all, and when they talk about building a stronger Britain, it wont be for all of us, those less fortunate, it will for all their friends at the top of the pile. They have overseen a 11% or more increase in the wealth of the richest, while everyone else has seen their income stagnate at best - or in most cases sink. They have introduced vile, vicious policies attacking the poor; whether employed, jobless or sick/disabled - which have led to a vast increase in poverty, and homelessness, including a 2000% rise in foodbank use (from 48,000 to 1 million plus users.) They will continue to issue platitudes that  they say will be the benefit of us all while presiding over policies that have the opposite effect. We have to keep challenging their distorted narratives and their plain to hear " doublespeak."
You would  be an absolute  fool to accept any further  lies of  this government and  then choose to accept them. We cannot afford to allow them to continue with their tactics of public obfuscation and diversion.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

St George the Palestinian hero.

The above picture is from  the Ghinass children centre in Bethlehem depicting the dragon  as the Israelis  build their apartheid wall, with St George leading the Palestinians to slay it.

St George's Day , the national day of England whereupon true patriots celebrate their total ignorance of their origins and history  because St George was actually born in Cappadocia, part of modern day Turkey into a noble Christian family in the third century, around 270 CE, whilst Wikipedia has him born in Lydda, Syria Palaestina  (Lodd) – 23 April 280 CE. His mother was a Palestinian. She came from what was then the larger area of Palestine (Israel and the Occupied Territories today.) and she took George back to her homeland after the death of his father.
The Roman Empire had at the time spread all over this region. George joined the Roman army, becoming a fairly high-ranking officer. But he fell foul of the Emperor Dioletian, who, fearing a plot against his pagan second-in-command, embarked on a systematic terror against all Christian believers. George refused to bow to Diocletian and abandon his religion. Anticipating trouble, he gave his property to the poor and freed his slaves. He was imprisoned, tortured, and finally beheaded at Nicomedia, on April 23, 303AD.
His example, as a man of courage in defence of his religion and a helper of the poor, spread throughout the world. For the Palestinian St George is revered today, as a martyr  who fought against oppression, intolerance and injustice and stood up for his beliefs. Also known as 'Al  Khadr' (the Green) and is associated with fertility and growth.He is revered in Palestine as a hero , a fact that many right wing idiots in the UK fail to remember, demonising immigrants and multiculturalism while forgetting that St George is not actually English. Both muslims and christians in Palestine, today take part in celebrations in honour of him. Although St George lived four centuries before the birth of Islam, his wide appeal, beyond borders or races, has made him a figure sacred to Muslims and Christians alike.In Palestine he symbolises Christian Muslim unity and shared Arabic culture.There are still tens of thousands of his successors in Gaza and the West Bank - 100,000 at the last count and with its associations of courage, gallantry and honour, the Christian name, George, remains one of the most common in the Palestinian Territories.There are also  many churches in the West Bank and Israel that bear the name of St George - at al-Khadr, Lod and in the Galilee, for example.
Oh and St George also happens to be  the patron saint of Lithuania, Portugal, Aragon, Germany and Greece, as well as cities including Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice.The episode of St. George and the Dragon was clearly a legend  brought back with the Crusaders to Britain.There is so much information around about St. George it’s hard to tell fact from fiction. 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Happy Earthday - Captain Beefheart

Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and  is celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.
Today me and the Captain honour the rich vast Earth , that's sustained generations before us and continues to nurture life and inspire wonder. I personally honour also my dear beloved, who though gone remains a sacred particle of this Earth, she loved nature and the plants that helped sustain our mother earth. And when our planet becomes broken and unsafe, and  we have no other planet to move to., and when we no longer breathe the air, drink the water, or grow food on the land, we will all perish too.
The earth very precious,  and undertaking a savage battering as I type, but we can do all we can to sustain and protect it. It belongs to everyone of us, not the corporations who  currently seem with their greedy thirst for profit, seek to destroy it. We must continue to challenge  the complex problems that it faces, like climate change, hunger, war, corporate colonialism, extinction, depreciating ecosystem services, etc. This is a fight that we cannot simply choose to ignore.
The following is the final recording made by Captain Beefheart / Don Van Vliet. Sung over the phone in the early 2000s.
Happy Earthday.;

Observatory Crest - Captain Beefheart

Friday, 21 April 2017

Poem for my Grandson : Five Years old today

I have thought about this little one today
spared hardly a thought for the Queen,
though one is five today,  the other 91
this one pictured far more important,
I got him a little place of adventure
Thunderbird's Tracy Island,
previously owned but in good condition
with lots of figures and machines,
came with rockets  and sound effects
even included  some trees,
a perfect playground for a super kid
my beautiful rascal grandson,
turning  5 today getting rather big
and very smart  too hope he has a treat,
unlike her royal  highness
I hope he inherits the world,
and in the future bright
finds himself living in a republic,
maybe he could get himself elected
and become the head of state.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Tories Out: No more Austerity

Thirty two Tory MP's are currently facing election fraud and Maggie May has called a snap election for 8 June,she and her party are simply taking the piss but some of you might still vote for them. May hopes to opportunistically take advantage of the polls, and to see off inconvenient prosecutions of Conservatives alleged to have broken election spending laws in 2015. But this election won’t fix our broken politics. All signs are that we’ll continue to have a government with too much power, elected on a minority of the vote.Already, the Prime Minister is trying to treat democracy as a formality - she’s ruled out TV election debates despite them being hugely popular with the public. We are facing deeply turbulent times, more than any other in recent memory, this election will be about Britain’s place in the world. After years of a Tory Government our public services are on their knees, our NHS is in crisis, our schools are underfunded, thousands rely on food banks to feed their families, people are on poverty wages while prices soar, the most vulnerable have been hit again and again. If the Tories get back into Government things will get much much worse.Last year, up to half of mums under 25 skipped meals to feed their kids; two-thirds struggled financially; one in four resorted to food banks.20% of households are already deprived, with the Department for Work and Pensions counting 3.9 million children living in poverty in 2015. This was itself an increase of 200,000 on the previous year. More cuts are planned, more privatisation, more misery for the majority. We simply have to stop the Tory's now more than ever, we can't let the main architects of austerity remain in office any longer.Their toxic policies and their conscious cruelty is hurting our communities. As manifestos are drawn up, I would hope that all political parties stand up for the principles and laws that protect the rights of ordinary people across the UK. That whoever ends up in power continues to commit to protecting our Human Rights Act and maintaining our membership of the European Convention on Human Rights. I sure don't trust the Tories to do this. I don't tend to support political parties generally , but this time the stakes are to high, so if you really want change and believe in social equality, justice and peace then vote for Labour,(I am not a member). I don't think Jeremy Corbyn, should dilute his message either, we need a radical shift in another direction,that represents a better future, for most ordinary people,or maybe vote tactically for another progressive candidate if they have no chance of getting in,in your constituency, we have to much to lose, if the Tories get in again , they will simply be uncontrollable, we have to get rid of this vile Tory Government and begin to repair our public services, confine the rotten Tory's to the dustbins of history . We owe it to our children, our grandchildren and ourselves. With there right wing measures and continuing attacks on trade union rights, asylum seekers, benefit claimants , the poor and the vulnerable,wealth inequality, asset stripping,there attempts to destroy the welfare state, they deserve to be kicked out.They are a party of the elite, only serving the elite, while making the rest of us suffer. We can't allow the Tories another five years to savage us with their cruel policies, it is time for a fundamental change in society run in the interests of the majority instead of for the profits of a few. The Tories crippling austerity measures have simply failed, Tories out; No more Austerity.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Bicycle Day :Happy birthday LSD

On this day, April 19, 1943  Albert Hofmann, a 37 year old chemist for Sandoz, in Basel, Switzerland, ingested intentionally a  minute amount—just 250 micrograms--of a compound derived from the ergot fungus thus synthesizing  lysergic acid diethylamide for the first time.Three days earlier, he had absorbed a small amount of the drug either through his fingertips or by accidentally ingesting it. Anyway, less than an hour later, Hofmann began to feel strange and noticed sudden and intense changes in his perception. He decided to pedal home from his laboratory. His bike ride accompanied by strong hallucinations developed into a real trip. Hofmann turned on, tuned in, and dropped out for the first time. This is how Hofmann learned about the effects of this substance and  had the first LSD trip where  here he experienced all its heavenly and hellish effects.
Psychedelic enthusiasts  across the world now commemorate Hofmann's discovery of LSD's effects every April 19, a.k.a. "Bicycle Day. "  He wrote about his experiments and experience on April 22, which was later put into his book LSD: My Problem Child. He called LSD “medicine for the soul” and saw the drug as a powerful psychiatric tool. But Hofmann admitted that the substance would be dangerous in the wrong hands. Look at the sad tale of Syd Barrett and others, we've all probably encountered, the same drug that awakens us can also enslave us or drive us mad. In the 1960's, LSD use became widespread among people who sought to alter and intensify their perceptual experience, to achieve insights into the universe and themselves, and to deepen emotional connection with others. The American researcher Timothy Leary identified phases of the psychedelic experience with the Bardo stages of consciousness outlined in the Tibetan Book of the Dead,from "complete transcendence" to " routine game reality" and indeed the arrival of LSD coincided with a surge of interest in mystical and esoteric subjects. Albert Hoffman's amazing discovery subsequently contributed to countless works of art, literature, and music. Releasing a rich banquet of inspiration that still manages to fuel our senses today.From the books of Aldous Huxley, Kurt Vonnegut , Jr, to the music of Jimi Hendrix, my local heros Sendelica, acid still catches the imagination. I've personally taken a few trips in my time, not for a while though, never seem to come across  it,  perhaps people are hiding it from me, because they've seen me under the influence, managed to hitch to glastonbury from west wales , stopping on way back for some respite in a field by the motorway for a while, to gather my senses and spend time talking to a tree. happy days. Oh and I have a flying frog in my living room called Albert.

My frog who goes by the name of Albert

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Albert Einstein : ( 14/3/1879 -18/4/55) His powerful voice of social conscience and humanity that still resonates.


Albert Einstein who  was born at Ulm, Wuerttemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879 was a theoretical physicist, author, philosopher, moral leader and is perhaps the most influential scientist to ever live. Einstein has made great contributions to the scientific world. He received the 1921 Noble Prize in Physics for his services to Theoretical Physics. Einstein is now regarded as the most influential physicist of the 20th century.
In letters, and articles, Einstein wrote that the welfare of humanity as a whole must take precedence over the goals of individual nations, and that we cannot wait until leaders give up their preparations for war. Civil society, and especially public figures, must take the lead. He asked how decent and self-respecting people can wage war, knowing how many innocent people will be killed. Throughout his life he used his professional fame to promote his  strong voice of social conscience,including crticism (while living in Germany) of Germany's role in World War I.Because of his fame, Einstein was asked to make several speeches at the Reichstag. and in all these speeches he condemned violence and nationalism, urging that these be replaced by and international cooperation and law under an effective international authority.
Einstein believed that the production of armaments is damaging, not only economically, but also spiritually. In 1930 he signed a manifesto for world disarmament sponsored by the Womans International League for Peace and Freedom. In December of the same year, he made his famous statement in New York that if two percent of those called for military service were to refuse to fight, governments would become powerless, since they could not imprison that many people. He also argued strongly against compulsory military service and urged that conscientious objectors should be protected by the international community. He argued that peace, freedom of individuals, and security of societies could only be achieved through disarmament, the alternative being “slavery of the individual and annihilation of civilization”. He also lent his voice in support of pacifism, anti-militarism, in defense of socialism and to a degree the behavior of the Soviet Union, believing that a socialist planned economy was the only way to eliminate the inequalities of capitalism, he also strongly opposed Adolf Hitler  His deep disapproval of racism  and hate having been vorn from suffering  from it because of his Jewish identity.
 He also condemned  America's use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,  stood against Joseph McCarthy-era restraints on freedom of speech, in June, 1953, he wrote a letter to a school teacher in which he characterized certain tactics of a Congressional investigating committee as "a kind of inquisition" that "violates the spirit of the Constitution," and advised the "minority of intellectuals" to refuse to testify on the ground that "it is shameful for a blameless citizen to submit to such an inquisition." Faced with this evil, he said, he could "see only the revolutionary way of non-cooperation in the sense of Gandhi's." he also  had a strong disapproval of racism having suffered from it because of his Jewish identity.. Scientific expertise was of no value in most of these cases, yet Einstein's words were taken seriously and reached a large audience.
In letters, and articles, Einstein wrote that the welfare of humanity as a whole must take precedence over the goals of individual nations, and that we cannot wait until leaders give up their preparations for war. Civil society, and especially public figures, must take the lead. He asked how decent and self-respecting people can wage war, knowing how many innocent people will be killed.
For his efforts, he was threatened with assassination several times, was in danger of deportation from the United States, and accumulated a huge FBI file. He even was denied security clearance to work on the WWII atomic bomb project. Einstein's courage in his public activities ran on a track parallel to the boldness of his scientific work.Throughout the remainder of his life, in addition to his scientific work, Einstein worked tirelessly for peace, international understanding and nuclear disarmament. His last public act, only a few days before his death in 1955, was to sign the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, warning humankind of the catastrophic consequences that would follow from a war with nuclear weapons. Since his death  he is know considered one of the outstanding thinkers of his generation, a symbol of the human spirit and its highest aspirations, a fighter for social justice and human fraternity, a powerful voice of peace that still resonates. .
Here are a  few  valuable life lessons that Einstein said :-

1. Follow Your Curiosity -
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

2. Perseverance is Priceless -
“It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

3. Focus on the Present -
“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

4. The Imagination is Powerful -
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

5. Make Mistakes -
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

6. Live in the Moment -
“I never think of the future – it comes soon enough.”

7. Create Value -
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

8. Don’t be repetitive -
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

9. Knowledge Comes From Experience -
“Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience.”

10. Learn the Rules and Then Play Better -
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”
11. Devote Your Life to a Cause -
 “Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.”

12  Serve the World  – 
“The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule. The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.”

13. Question Authority - 
" Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth."

14. Imagination is more important than knowledge -
 “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

 15. Never ever stop learning  – 
“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.

16. We are all one -
A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

17. Never stop Questioning-
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
" People like you and I, though mortal of course, like everyone else, do not grow old no matter how long we live. What I mean is that we never cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born."

18. Let nature be your teacher -  
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

19. There are no limits except those we impose on ourselves -  
“Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.”
“A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?”

20.  Dare to be your true self -  
“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”
 At the end of the day, we will all experience successes and failures.So strive, fail, succeed and smile and remember, there is always room for optimism and  another world is possible. Thank you Albert Einstein for your valuable words.

Monday, 17 April 2017

MOVING ON : A Cut Up Experiment

                                 The River Teifi

It was fun, oh how we laughed, the driftwood floating,chasing moss, dreaming of schemes,counting the hours, unpadlocking the gates, half-in. half-out, a way to blue through a tunnel of zen.
Paradoxes unfurl  as we wade through time. Alcohol is an anaesthetic it numbs the pain of silence.It lifts the waking dead. Sometimes  things need to be  rearranged otherwise we keep moving round in circles with details left  pencilled in the margins. Last night, in the sorting room  of ideas , I broke out, instead  of  running backwards,  honesty wandered, memory upturned, weight of the west met east,where there is no home, moved forwards towards another summer ending.
Outside in , outside out, released some promises , regrets rising onwards to a faraway place. The secret is surprise, love is always  here, in the delusions of heaven,  fragile  heartbeats keep beating, constantly from deep within, and fights a way through the dark inside, screams aloud with lungs open wide, the miracle of life is what you give or take, we are all made in this world to live in, until time runs out, blows away circumstances, each different position  reveals, gaining inspiration as days go  by, growing  in progression. From ancient springs we gather, waiting for the dust to settle, the weekends will always laugh in secret release their streams of tears.
Acceptance is not surrender ,old ghost will always return, every day will wear out, sinking into dark corners to lick its wounds, glistening, silver with dew  in the early sunlight, we can all remember, from Gaza to Allepo, Calais to the streets of London , nothing should be taken for granted, the thunder crashes all around, the winds forever will cast a ghostly mourn, the fury of storms will play out, so be peaceful,  with no menace now, the dawn chorus will  keep welcoming for all to hear, towards a new beginning- another day.we still have a long way to go, off the point,a little reckless.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Music is a moral Law - Plato

I love music because it's good for me. It lifts my darkness and depression. It reminds me of others and is a source of nourishment and inspiration. When life is terrible, It is mostly cathartic, and picks me up , though what  some  people do to music can be bad for your soul,  but generally music itself is good and does not require moderation. I have deep respect for it. It is good for weekdays, the weekend, holidays, Sundays, cloudy days, sunny days, fast days, slow days, work or play, alone or in the company of friends, it is integral to the human experience , mostly therapeutic,that over the years has released hours of pleasure and comfort , boosting mood, happiness, and reducing anxiety.A powerful tool that has much healing capacity. Indeed I am looking forward to enjoying some live music this weekend, at  two local music venues here in Cardigan, tonight  the  wonderful psychedelica of  Sendelica and Here and Now down the Cellar Bar, and  tomorrow the folk music of Ida Wenøe and Gareth Bonello (The Gentle Good)   down the small world theatre, come and join me come say hello.

“Music is a moral law.
It gives soul to the universe,
wings to the mind,
flight to the imagination,
a charm to sadness,
gaiety and life to everything.
It is the essence of order
and lends to all that is good
and just and beautiful.”


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Some Respite (After visiting Druidstone Inn, Pembrokeshire.)

The world, was filling me with sadness
In its woods' I could only find darkness
But deep within  a simple hope still resided
And after a friend took me to  a special place
With two ales and the glance at sea
Inspiration quietly returned
At home, scattered  more seeds for the bees
After  grateful, friendly encouragement,
Turned  Linton Kwesi Johnson up loud
On the edge of life, energy returned
Between one thing and another
Dubs deepness delivered passion
Soothing heartbeat and inner soul
Allowed me not to completely surrender
Listening to riddim allowed  me to smile
Beyond some bitterness
And oppressive forces
Nourishment was delivered
I Inhaled some magic
Released dancing feet  again
From moments of  hesitation
Respite was released
Like forces of victory
Spirits rised.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Edward Thomas (2/3/1878 - 9/4/17) - A Celebration of this Anglo Welsh Poet a Century after his Death.

This day marks the 100th anniversary of the death of 39 year old Anglo Welsh poet Edward Thomas at the Battle of Arras, who fell on what was then Easter Monday. He left a body of largely unpublished work that has since earned him a place as  one of Britain's greatest poets. He has since  become one of the most widely read English language poets of the 20th century.Nearly all of his poems were written in the three years between 1914 and his death in 1917. Sixteen of the 60-odd poems that later made up his collected works were produced in an incredible burst of creativity in just 20 days in January 1915.
Born in London to Welsh parents in 1878,his father, Philip Henry Thomas, was a Welsh speaker from Tredegar. Thomas made frequent trips back to Swansea and the Carmarthenshire areas of south Wales to stay with relatives. He had strong friendships with Welsh-language poets  and later attended Lincoln College, Oxford from 1897 to 1900, where he was tutored by Owen M Edwards, one of the most significant figures in nonconformist Welsh culture.
Edwards awakened Thomas’s sense of Welsh national identity, and after graduating he asked his former tutor “to suggest any kind of work … to help you and the Welsh cause”. Three years earlier, Edwards had called for “a literature that will be Engish in language and Welsh in spirit." and it seems that Thomas took up his challenge, declaring that: “in English I might do something by writing of Wales”.
Though he wrote in the English language; and almost  all of his poems were written about the English countryside, but his odes to melancholy, and longing seem to have a Welsh source. Throughout his short life he was inordinately proud of his Welsh heritage, and because of this it led him to doubt whether he could truly be "English". He felt that living in England
was “like a homesickness, but stronger”, and the closest he could feel to belonging was by spending time in nature: “I was home: one nationality/ We had, I and the birds that sang,/ One memory” (Home [3] 4-6)..The scenery of Wales and the legends of the country affected Thomas deeply. He wrote about them in various letters and in prose books such as Beautiful Wales and in his sole attempt at fiction, The Happy Go-Lucky Morgans. He also lamented the lack of a widely circulated collection of Welsh folk tales, something that he himself put right in 1911 when he published Celtic Stories an anthology of Welsh and Irish folk stories..He would often sing to his children and to writer friends such as Eleanor Farjeon, old Welsh folk songs and was deeply conscious of the cadences of Welsh words. As he wrote:

"Make me content
With some sweetness
From Wales
Whose nightingales
Have no wings."

After marrying Helen Noble he found work writing travel books and critical reviews. His need to support his young family and wife resulting in him sacrificing creative writing for this hack work.Thomas took the Welsh connection a stage further by naming his children Mervyn, Myfanwy and Bronwen. Thomas had a troubled life however. A tormented soul with feelings of unfulfillment and self loathing convinced that he was a failure in both his marriage and career. Thomas was prone to periods of deep depression and anxiety and flirted with suicide, aggravated by his repressed creativity and creative frustration. Because of his self pitying he could also be very cruel to his ever loving wife . ' Your sympathy and your love for me are both hateful to me , but for God's sake don't  stand there , pale and suffering.' Thomas evidently felt there was some flaw in his personality that meant he was unable to respond to people as others did. “I don’t and can’t love and haven’t done for something near 20 years,” he told the haplessly doting Helen. When not entrapped by his more melancholic bitter moods he was more than capable of showing a more gentle and caring side, extended walks through the English countryside not only provided him with material for his writing but also represented freedom from his inner demons.
Through his work as a critic he became a champion of the American poet Robert Frost and they became friends. It was Frost who seeing his nature inspired prose and the English countryside, suggested to Thomas that he turn his hand to writing poetry. This unleashed a torrent of words , which at the same time lifted his depression enabling him to  write some of the most subtle and compelling words of the 20th Century. He had thought of moving to America with is family to devote himself to writing poetry, but alas , it was not to be, instead on July 15, 1915 after hiding his diabetes which would have led to his rejection, he was commissioned into the Royal Artillery and posted to France, just as his work was getting recognition and appearing in literary journals .He wrote a series of  haunting poems during his training. All though he is often referred to as a war poet , few of his  poems actually deal with his war experiences.Nevertheless, arguably the war overshadows all of his poetry, even when he is  focusing on an aspect of  nature, such as a bird or a tree. His sense of the fragility of nature, as well as its beauty, is in a sense intensified by the knowledge of the war and exacerbated by a growing knowledge of his own fragility and mortality. I think that acknowledgement of the worst is something that can  still resonate deeply with us today
He was killed after he had left his dugout to fill his pipe, a shell passed so close that the rush of air stopped his heart , and he fell to the ground not a mark on his body.He left the world his poems which  are informed by a distinctly modern vision of doubt, alienation, and human limitation.deep emotion. Beautiful poems about nature but also revealing his willingness to grapple with difficulty and uncertainty, revealing his sensitivity , and bleak honesty,still as poignant, powerful and moving as when they were first written.His great friend Robert Frost wrote " his poetry is so very brave, so unconsciously brave.' Ted Hughes once described this great poet as 'the father of us all.' His work will  always be cherished by me. The following is a selection of some of his fine poems.

Like the touch of Rain - Edward Thomas

Like the touch of rain she was
On a man's flesh and hair and eyes
When the joy of walking thus
Has taken him by surprise:

With the love of the storm he burns,
He sings, he laughs, well I know how,
But forgets when he returns
As I shall not forget her 'Go now'.

Those two words shut a door
Between me and the blessed rain
That was never shut before
And will not open again.

How at Once - Edward Thomas

How at once should I know,
When stretched in the harvest blue
I saw the swift's black bow,
That I would not have that view
Another day
Until next May
Again it is due?

The same year after year --
But with the swift alone.
With other things I but fear
That they will be over and done
And I only see
Them to know them gone.

Beauty - Edward Thomas

 WHAT does it mean? Tired, angry, and ill at ease,
No man, woman, or child alive could please
Me now. And yet I almost dare to laugh
Because I sit and frame an epitaph-
'Here lies all that no one loved of him
And that loved no one.' Then in a trice that whim
Has wearied. But, though I am like a river
At fall of evening when it seems that never
Has the sun lighted it or warmed it, while
Cross breezes cut the surface to a file,
This heart, some fraction of me, happily
Floats through a window even now to a tree
Down in the misting, dim-lit, quiet vale;
Not like a pewit that returns to wail
For something it has lost, but like a dove
That slants unanswering to its home and love.
There I find my rest, and through the dusk air
Flies what yet lives in me. Beauty is there

The Sorrow of True Love - Edward Thomas

The sorrow of true love is a great sorrow
And true love parting blackens a bright morrow:
Yet almost they equal joys, since their despair
Is but hope blinded by its tears, and clear
Above the storm the heavens wait to be seen.
But greater sorrow from less love has been
That can mistake lack of despair for hope
And knows not tempest and the perfect scope
Of summer, but a frozen drizzle perpetual
Of drops that from remorse and pity fall
And cannot ever shine in the sun or thaw,
Removed eternally from the sun's law.

The Owl - Edward Thomas

Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved;
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.

Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.
All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl's cry, a most melancholy cry

Shaken out long and clear upon the hill,
No merry note, nor cause of merriment,
But one telling me plain what I escaped
And others could not, that night, as in I went.

And salted was my food, and my repose,
Salted and sobered, too, by the bird's voice
Speaking for all who lay under the stars,
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.

Words - Edward Thomas

Out of us all
That make rhymes
Will you choose
Sometimes -
As the winds use
A crack in a wall
Or a drain,
Their joy or their pain
To whistle through -
Choose me,
You English words?

I know you:
You are light as dreams,
Tough as oak,
Precious as gold,
As poppies and corn,
Or an old cloak:
Sweet as our birds
To the ear,
As the burnet rose
In the heat
Of Midsummer:
Strange as the races
Of dead and unborn:
Strange and sweet
And familiar,
To the eye,
As the dearest faces
That a man knows,
And as lost homes are:
But though older far
Than oldest yew, -
As our hills are, old, -
Worn new
Again and again:
Young as our streams
After rain:
And as dear
As the earth which you prove
That we love.

Make me content
With some sweetness
From Wales
Whose nightingales
Have no wings, -
From Wiltshire and Kent
And Herefordshire, -
And the villages there, -
From the names, and the things
No less.
Let me sometimes dance
With you,
Or climb
Or stand perchance
In ecstasy,
Fixed and free
In a rhyme,
As poets do.                         

Out in the Dark - Edward Thomas

Out in the dark over the snow
The fallow fawns invisible go
With the fallow doe;
And the winds blow
Fast as the stars are slow.

Stealthily the dark haunts round
And, when a lamp goes, without sound
At a swifter bound
Than the swiftest hound,
Arrives, and all else is drowned;

And star and I and wind and deer
Are in the dark together, -- near,
Yet far, -- and fear
Drums on my ear
In that sage company drear.

How weak and little is the light,
All the universe of sight,
Love and delight,
Before the might,
If you love it not, of night.

In Memorium ( Easter  1915)  - Edward Thomas

The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.

Further Reading :-

 Edward Thomas: Collected Poems (Faber & Faber, 2004.

Now All  Roads lead to France : The Last Years of Edward Thomas   - Mathew Hollis

Edward Thomas : From Adlestrop to Arras - Jean Moorcraft Wlison , Bloomsbury,

Deir Yassin massacre remembered 69 years later .

Today the Palestinian people mark the time on April 9, 1948 when Commanders of  the Ergun (headed by future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin,) and the Stern Gang attacked in the early hours of the morning Deir Yassin, a village at the western entrance of Jerusalem containing 750 Palestinian residents. By the time  the villagers realized the intensity of the terrorist attack, hundreds were already dead, the Zionist militia  murdered over 250 - 360 Palestinian villagers in cold blood wounding  many others. Many of the bodies were tossed  in the village well,  and 159 captured women and children  were paraded  through the Jewish sectors of Jerusalem.
What happened in Deir Yassin prepared the ground for the ethnic cleansing of 70% of the Palestinian people. The same ethnic cleansing that occurred then is unfortunately going on today. In 1948 they used direct massacres, but today they use airstrikes in Gaza and shoot innocent young Palestinians in the West Bank.
Deir Yassin was not an isolated incident; such a heartbreaking tragedy was flagrantly carried out in conjunction with “Plan Dalet.” Based on a policy of ethnic cleansing and terror, “Plan Dalet” was implemented by the Haganah to force Palestinians to flee their homes and to destroy their villages with the deliberate intent of establishing the State of Israel on Palestinian soil.
For Palestinians and their supporters, the massacre is a symbol. that marks  their deep sense  of dispossession.It is remembered as the pivotal onset of the 1948 Nabka. Deir Yassin is the "other shoe that fell," sparking over 750,000 to flee from their homes, 80 percent of the population at that time, from their homes so that Israel, a colonialist settler state, could be created on their land.Over two million scattered in a far-flung diaspora today, in what remains at the heart of the Israel/Palestine conflict.
The village  lay outside of the area assigned by the United Nations to the 'Jewish State'. It had a peaceful reputation, the Deir Yassin villagers had signed a non aggression pact with the leaders of the adjacent Jewish Quarter, Giv'at Shaul and had even refused military personnel from the Arab Liberation Army from using the village as a base.An Israeli psychiatric hospital now lies on the ruins of Deir Yassin, the remainder of which was bulldozed in the 1980s to make way for new settlements  and incorporated as a neighbourhood of Jerusalem. These streets shamefully carry the names of the Irgun militiamen who carried out the massacre.
Sixty nine years later the Deir Yassin massacre still remains an important reminder of Israel’s systematic measures of displacement, destruction, dispossession, and dehumanization.In keeping with Simon Wiesenthal's observation that "Hope lives when people remember," the suffering of the Jews has been rightly acknowledged and memorialised. But there are few memorials for Palestinians who died in 1948 and since. Their history, in which the massacre at Deir Yassin is a very significant event, has been largely buried and forgotten. And yet, like the descendants of the victims in Armenia (1915-17), in the Soviet Union (1929-53), in Nazi Germany (1933-45), in China (1949-52, 1957-60, and 1966-76), and in Cambodia (1975-79), the descendants of Palestinians want the world to remember what they suffered, what they lost and why they died. The calculated efforts by Israel to completely erase the history, narrative and physical presence of the Palestinian people will not be simply ignored or forgotten. It also serves to ask ourselves the question what  turns a victim into an abuser,a bully that keeps blaming its victims? And over the years we've been taught many things, that invasion was not invasion, occupation was not occupation, apartheid was not apartheid,ethnic cleansing was not ethnic cleansing,and that land theft was not land theft and Palestine was not Palestine.
But many years later the Palestinian peoples collective voice can still be heard from the refugee camps of Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, to the towns of the West Bank and Gaza, to the ghettos inside the Israeli green line. This determination and resilience has earned them respect and support of an increasing number of people around the world. Despite the humiliation and pain of their  occupation, you can't kill their  indomitable spirit and struggle.

Phil Monsour featuring Rafeef Ziadah - Ghosts of Deir Yassin

The writing on the hands are the names of the original villages in Palestine that these people were ethnically cleansed

Ghosts of Deir Yassin
They pretend that it’s forgotten
But somewhere small flowers grow
On the weathered stones of destroyed homes
Somewhere the light’s still in the window
You see that we are rising our day is surely coming
No longer in the shadows
Of the ghosts of Deir Yassin
They change the names on the signs
But it’s in our hearts these words are written
Of the children who don’t know their homes
They will walk the streets from which they are forbidden
You see that we are rising our day is surely coming
No longer in the shadows
Of the ghosts of Deir Yassin

Saturday, 8 April 2017

After an echo

The following poem dedicated to the memory of my beloved Jane Elizabeth Husband ( 9/5/ 60 - 8/1/17)  today marks 3 months since her passing.

After an echo

Last night, I heard an owl hooting 
from not that far away, 
releasing its comforting call 
I sipped calmly from a glass, 
before the time of sleep beckoned me
to paddle on the waves of dream, 
in the names of yesterday
and the chords of tomorrow,
in undulating scrawls, put pen to paper 
life is a memory, I thought, of days gone past,
songs in the sunshine,dances in the rain 
the smell of alcohol and smouldering devotion,
converging through darkness in sweet seduction
constructing sentences that flowed with wine.

But I don't believe in miracles any more 
because luck seems to run out all the time, 
yet outside the moonlight guided
and as thoughts got crowded and perplexed,
released some sense of power
carried me drifting, along meandering streams, 
swimming again with lullabies
and untethered emotions,
against the currents, thought of sunrise
as head went dizzy, I plunged under, closed my eyes,
let visions call that took me again, to a place of safety. 

Rejoicing in old image of the past, the magic released
allowed me to catch breathe, to look up to the the sky, 
and sigh as the beauty of an echo called 
sailing on another horizon, but still by my side, 
filled my soul with gladness, chased away the sadness
made my face glow, my heart to beat,
allowed me to listen once more
to the tranquillity of a deep blue sea,
the trees blowing gently in the breeze and clouds
faraway spirit, floating freely across a satin sky, 
in the distance there is a rainbow
a prism of colour, ever so wonderful,
as I row on into the world shining bright
with enough comfort and grace left to bestow.

Now is the time for diplomacy and restraint, not the time to be escalating the War in Syria.

Last Tuesday, images  of scores of Syrians whose bodies had been  ravaged by a chemical attack in the  Khan Shaykun area of Idlib, naturally horrified the world.Around 60 people were reported dead, many of whom were children and there were hundreds of further casualties. The use of weapons like this is obviously unacceptable to any right minded person. If  this was carried out by the Assad's  government, it would be an act of  brazen  impunity, coming during a major international meeting in Brussels where officials are debating whether the European Union and other countries will contribute billions of dollars for reconstructing Syria if it is presided over by a government run by Mr. Assad.
But while  fingers  pointed this way and that with who to blame for the use of chemical weapons, no one is absolutely certain, ( Both Syria and Russia vehemently deny that the Syrian military used chemical weapons, maintaining that the casualties were caused by gases released after an al-Qaeda-affiliated ammunitions depot was hit by conventional munitions in a government air raid. ) however this tragedy made people of  conscience respond with sadness and anger, yet with  little time for reflection or consultation with either Congress or the international community. the United States Government chose the way of war in response. Donald Trump  unilaterally ordered airstrikes on April 6, sending  59 Tomahawk cruise missiles into a Syrian government airbase which have reportedly killed nine civilians, including  four children to date. I agree with the President that " no child  of God should ever suffer such horror.” I disagree that the way to prevent  such horror is add more violence to violence and remember that only a couple of months ago he clearly demonstrated how much he cared about the plight of Syrian children when he attempted to introduce a totally unconstitutional ban on Syrian refugee children travelling to America, and now he's crying crocodile tears about their plight in order to justify lobbing even more bombs into Syria. He .had also ordered previously an airstrike on a mosque in Al-Jineh Syria March 16, killing 46 civilians.
The logic that  military strikes, like these,will deter and quell  the aggression taking place in Syria is a deeply flawed one. The situation in Syria is a deeply tragic one, a conflict which has been raging now for  six years, in what began as a citizen uprising in the spirit of the Arab Spring, and then  morphed into a complex proxy war involving foreign fighters, multiple regional powers, ISIS, Al Quada and Russia, which has resulted  in so much devastation, chaos and harm.According to United Nations reports, over 400,000 persons  have died due  to the conflict and millions have become displaced or fled Syria.Too many reports of horrors to mention. The U.S airstrikes though without any recourse to international law, without a proper investigation into what actually happened and in  violation  of the Chemical Weapons Convention,  according to the United Nations  simply adds fuel to the fire and any further unilateral action will only  escalate an already dire situation and inflame the terrible war that has already caused untold misery for the people of Syria country,threatening to widen the war even further.The long-term prospects for peace in Syria remain as grim as ever. While a ceasefire has technically been in place across Syria since the end of December between the moderate opposition and the government, both sides have continued to launch attacks, and a fifth round of peace talks in Geneva ended at an impasse at the end of last month.Tensions with Russia are already rising  as US says Assad must abide by deal not to use chemical weapons but fails to outline objectives Whatever happens next, now is the time for a level of diplomacy and to insist on a coordinated and global humanitarian  aid, food, shelter, medical care and assistance for refugees and displaced persons and search for avenues to end this conflict peacefully, rather than  rash decisions that could escalate this already tragic situation.
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has also urged restraint to avoid any escalation of the situation in Syria, in the wake of the U.S. airstrikes, he: “I continue to follow the situation in Syria closely and with grave concern.“Mindful of the risk of escalation, I appeal for restraint to avoid any acts that could deepen the suffering of the Syrian people.“These events underscore my belief that there is no other way to solve the conflict than through a political solution”, Guterres said in a statement.The UN chief called on the parties to urgently renew their commitment to making progress in the Geneva intra-Syrian talks.“The Security Council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security”, Mr. Feltman  he added. He also urged the 15-member body to unite and exercise that responsibility to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykun.“Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué remain the foundation of, and contain the core principles for, United Nations mediation efforts and ultimately a solution in this regard”, he said.
I do not support either Assad, Trump, Russia, or  ISIS, and  have been in unsettled by the amount of human rights abuses that have taken place across Syria, but I simply do not want to  hear of more death, bombs or destruction.The whole country is destroyed , there is no side to take, there is simply no winner. Civilians are paying the price in this deadly game of thrones. We must continue to show mercy on the people of Syria. We can't ignore there suffering  but we must also  concentrate on the world armourers and dealers who keep peddling and spreading their deadly trade, these profiteers of pain, misery, suffering, chaos and destruction,welcomed by all the leaders of the so called free world. Also the military industrial complex has to be fed with wars that never end , remember war is monstrous, its very nature is one of tragedy and suffering, oh  please , when will this perpetual madness cease.  

Bob Dylan - Masters of War - Lyrics

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Work Capability Assessment

The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which was introduced in 2008 is the primary assessment for Employment and Support Allowance, the main social security payment for ill and disabled people. In the above documentary advocates, lawyers and claimants outline the fundamental problems with the (WCA), and the adverse effects it has on claimants. They show how the WCA fails the disabled and fails on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) terms; it can worsen people’s health and does not help them return to work. The WCA is carried out by private companies (initially Atos now Maximus). Although some assessments can be carried out smoothly and professionally, others are in buildings that do not have disabled access, require people in pain to sit for hours on hard chairs, and are carried out by cold or even cruel assessors.
The film director Ken Loach  made a film "I Daniel Blake'  to show the harsh reality of applying for benefits .This month  the government plans to cut the new Employment Support Allowance (ESA) for ill or disabled claimants who are judged to be able to work in the future.The allowance will be reduced by a third to £73.10 per week, the same as Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and is designed to give an incentive to disabled people to find work.
Ken Loach says the most vulnerable are being targeted by the new 'benefit reform'.His film "I Daniel Blake' followed two benefits claimants plunged into poverty.The Department of Work and Pensions says, "Our welfare reforms are increasing the support and incentives for people who move into work, while keeping an important safety net in place for those who need it." yet many people who rely on it, in their time of need find it degrading and cruel, and reducing disabled and vulnerable peoples incomes even further is only going to make life harder.
Legal advocates say the assessment system for benefits is getting to many decisions wrong, forcing thousands of claimants to go to court.More than 1,600 complaints have been made against nurses carrying out fit-for-work assessments in the last five years.Read more at
These crude tests have caused horrifying suffering and led to homelessness, ill health , despair and tragically even suicides as people with serious health conditions are found fit for work and left without enough money to eat or keep the heating. There is also evidence that these tests have caused relapses in  claimants who also happen to be patients with serious mental health conditions. People witl long term mental health issues get very distressed about being assessed, because they don’t feel they are being listened to in their interviews or treated as  even as human, just as another tick on a box.There are also cases  of claimants who can barely leave their homes due to anxiety, depression, PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] or obsessive compulsive disorder being deemed fit for work and therefore having their benefits cut or removed, as a result there have been many reported cases of people relapsing as a consequence of getting distressed
Debbie Abrahams, the Shadow Work and Pensions Minister says 'it's a punitive system designed to get people off benefits, even if it has the effect of making people feel they have no choice but to take their own life'.The Work Capability Assessment is totally inhumane for people with invisible, but well documented mental health issues, especially for people with a factual  history recognised by their Consultants and General Practitioners.
It’s important to acknowledge that there are many people  who simply cannot work, and to force them through degrading assessments is simply appalling.I personally live in a state of fear and anxiety , just waiting to see if a brown  letter will  arrive, ordering me for re-asseesment. It is of many peoples opinion that  the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), no matter how much it may have been rejigged and  re-designed, is deeply flawed and  is simply not fit for purpose, and that no-one has any faith in it because of the appalling damage already inflicted on so many vulnerable claimants across the land. Many also  believe it needs to be scrapped, but the Tory's with no soul would never agree to this, and will probably as I write be thinking up more draconian measures, in which to inflict their brand of conscious cruelty.
The people who made the above video would like to thank everyone who their time to talk about the WCA. Some people have requested anonymity, therefore they have either used their voice only or got actors to record what they said (a lot of claimants are scared of the DWP).

(Music: )

Here is a link to Disabled People Against Cuts Website ( a very valuable resource ):- 

This post is dedicated to all those who are suffering , have suffered and those who have died whilst going through this inhumane process. 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Strength to Love - A poem for Martin Luther King Jr ( 15/1/29 - 4/4/68)

Just after 6 p.m. on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr was  fatally shot while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennesse. The civil rights leader was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers’ strike and was on his way to dinner when a bullet struck him in the jaw and severed his spinal cord. King was pronounced dead after his arrival at a Memphis hospital. He was 39 years old.
 For his entire adult life, until the very day he was assassinated in 1968, he was under constant surveillance from the federal government, under constant threat from millions of people who actually hated the causes and ideals he stood for, and, in his last days on earth, seemed to frequently suggest to his closest friends that he was aware he wouldn't make it much longer.
King also  fought against police brutality and actually even mentioned it by name in his celebrated speech. Dr. King did not just vaguely fight against the idea of poverty, he fought for equal pay, he fought for better work conditions in cities across America, he fought to protect workers who were regularly abused by corporations.
He did not just vaguely fight for peace in the world; he stood up and spoke out against the Vietnam War when it was still tremendously unpopular for a man of his stature to do so. He did not, in fact, fight for integration, as much as he fought against segregation.
 In  the months before his assassination, Martin Luther King became increasingly concerned with the problem of economic inequality in America. He organized a Poor People’s Campaign to focus on the issue, including an interracial poor people’s march on Wahington and in March 1968 traveled to Memphis in support of poorly treated African-American sanitation workers. On March 28, a workers’ protest march led by King ended in violence and the death of an African-American teenager. King left the city but vowed to return in early April to lead another demonstration. On April 3, back in Memphis, King gave his last sermon, saying, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop…And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”
One day after speaking those words, Dr. King was shot and killed by a sniper. As word of the assassination spread, riots broke out in cities all across the United States and National Guard troops were deployed in Memphis and Washington D.C On April 9, King was laid to rest in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Tens of thousands of people lined the streets to pay tribute to King’s casket as it passed by in a wooden farm cart drawn by two mules.Martin Luther King  is now best  remembered  for his ' I have a dream ' speech,but we owe him more than that,  this man  of great  purpose, humility and wisdom was also a radical and revolutionary by both deed and action. As injustice continues in this world of ours , we can still find the courage to stand up and say enough.

 " Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love  without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is  love implementing the demands of justice,  and justice at its best is power
correcting everything that stands against love.”- Martin Luther King Jr

Strength to Love

Martin Luther King had a dream
That still today stirs our conscience,
He rejected violence to oppose racial injustice
Spread a message of peace, love and understanding,
His only weapons were his words and faith
As he marched in protest with his fellow man,
A force for good, but radical with intention
Pursued civil disobedience  but was not afraid
                                            of confrontation
We are all born equal under skin
This noble struggle never stops within,
The causes of division must still be eradicated
There is so much more room for change,
As fresh iniquities call, lets keep hope alive
Standing firm let our voices ring out,
Keep sharing deeds of deep principle
In the name of pride and in the name of love,
We are all still citizens of the world
Let's stand up for the voiceless all around us
As Martin Luther carries on reminding
His words echoing down the corridors of time
“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.
The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.”
We must continue to resist and overcome,
One day soon, all our dreams will be realised.