Monday, 31 December 2018

The tradition of the Mari Llwyd / Y Fari Lwyd



The tradition of Y Fari Lwyd   which translates to Grey Mary in English is one of the strangest and most ancient of a number of customs in which people in Wales have used to mark the passing of the darkest days of midwinter.  It certainly has pre-Christian origins and is said to bring luck.Though the tradition's exact origins are murky, the image of a white horse has been a powerful symbol in the United Kingdom for at least 3,000 years. In Celtic Britain, the horse was seen as a symbol of power and fertility and prowess on the battlefield. In Celtic mythology, animals who had the ability to cross between this world and the underworld (the Celtic Annwn) are traditionally white or grey coloured. Arawn, the King of Annwn’s dogs, is white with red ears and he rides on a large grey horse.
Traditionally a New Year’s Eve luck bringing ritual Y Fari Lwyd consists of making a horse figure from a horse's skull,( though a genuine horse’s skull is gold dust these days ) with two black cloth ears sometimes sewn onto the cloth, making it look extra horrible, and the eye sockets are often filled with green bottle-ends, or other colored materialdecorative false ears and eyes attached.They adorn it with colorful reins, bells and ribbons and the equine image of death has an especially ghostly appearance thanks to the white sheet draped over the person carrying it.The lower jaw is sometimes spring-loaded, so that Mari's operator can snap it at passers by or householders. 
The Fari Lwyd and her group go from house to house and pub to pub and try to gain access by performing a series of verses, or ‘pwnco’ in Welsh. The inhabitants would reply with their own verses in a battle to outwit Mari and her gang and prevent her from entering. Eventually she will be let in, as this confers luck on the household for the coming year and scares out anything unwanted from the previous year. Once inside, more songs are sung and the group is given drinks and food.
The Mari party consists of commedia del’arte characters. The Merryman plays the fiddle; The Leader, plus top hat, holds the Mari’s reins; The Sergeant keeps the peace. Pwnsh a Siwan (Punch and Judy) are played by two male characters. The practice of disguising the characters was to preserve anonymity and to distance them from everyday life. This tradition of blackening or colouring the face to take on another ‘character’ can be found in most indigenous cultures and in Britain in the older Morris sides.
The industrial revolution and the rise of fire-and-brimstone chapel preaching had a serious effect on the Mari Lwyd. The parties had gained a bad reputation for drunkenness and vandalism as they roamed the villages. Many a sermon was preached against the continuance of such a pagan and barbaric practice, and the participants were urged to do something useful instead, such as taking part in eisteddfodau. Enter Nefydd, the Rev. William Roberts (1813-1872), a Denbighshire man who became a Blaenau Gwent Baptist minister. He hated the Mari Lwyd. He wrote a book entitled The Religion Of The Dark Ages, gave a detailed account of the Mari and transcribed 20 verses, so his congregation could recognise it. He campaigned with great fervour: “We must try and get the young people of our time more to interest themselves more in intellectual and substantial things such as reading and composing poetry, essays, singing etc, as is encouraged and practised in our Eisteddfodau… I wish of this folly, and of all similar follies, that they find no place anywhere apart from the museum of the historian and the antiquary.”
Christmas carols began to be sung at the doors  instead and the battle of insults and verse dissapeared, and in some areas the Welsh language gave way to English. By the 1960's  the custom of the Mari had almost died out. But the Welsh population hungrily seized on the fragments of the Mari’s tradition, and – thanks to Nefydd – we can now study the Mari verses in all their true splendour, and thankfully there has been a growing interest in Y Fari Lwyd in recent years, which has seen a resurgence in groups performing this tradition across Wales, Maris can now be spotted from Holywell in Flintshire to Pembrokeshire  involving bardic battles, revelry and much drinking. I do like a good revival, especially of something as unique and unusual as this.The strength of the Mari tradition can be measured at the National Eisteddfod, which takes place in August. At one Eisteddfod, 30 Maris turned up. Wonderful stuff long may this trdition continue to grow.

The tradition of the Mari Llwyd  - BBC Cymru



Sunday, 30 December 2018

Happy Birthday Warrior Poet Patti Smith


The legendary influential singer songwriter punk poet laureatte Patti Smith  turns 72 today. Smith was born in Chicago in om 30/12/1946, and was raised in New Jersey to former Jazz singer Beverly and mechanist Grand Smith. Even as a child, Smith felt that she was born to do great things despite her physical reality as an unpopular young girl who was not especially talented in school. Her vivid young imagination helped her through a difficult childhood. She was bullied by other kids due to her sickly appearance and poor background. The vague sense that she would grow up into something amazing was what kept her going, in spite of the odds.
After graduating high school in 1964, Smith immediately went to work in a factory, a short experience she hated so much that she titled the song about her time there as ‘Piss Factory’, which was her first single alongside the song ‘Hey Joe’. Putting meaningless drudgery behind her, Smith then decided to pursue art, and was set on becoming an art teacher until she was rejected for her refusal to abide by traditions.

Piss Factory - Patti Smith




Determined as ever, Smith then moved to New York in 1967 and worked in bookstores, where she began writing poetry.Patti Smith has been influenced by artists as diverse as Arthur Rimbaud, Antonin Artaud and William Blake, Jimi Hendrix,Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. As a high school student she was interested in jazz and poetry, and her early creative works were poems. Drawn to the act of performing her work, she read her poems with a guitarist, eventually adding an entire band. Spurred by her love for music dating back to her youth, Smith would eventually team up with her friends, playwright Sam Sheppard, Robert Mapplethorpe the photographer and writer/composer Lenny Kaye to read poetry, which soon would lead to her musical future.
Smith first published her poems in 1972, the same year she co-wrote a play, Cowboy Mouth, with Sam Shepard. Since then she has published a number of collections of verse, including Babel (1978), Early Work, 1970–1979 (1994), The Coral Sea (1996), and Patti Smith Complete: Lyrics, Reflections & Notes for the Future (1998).   Spurred by her love for music dating back to her youth, Smith would eventually team up with her friends, playwright Sam Sheppard, Robert Mapplethorpe the photographer and writer/composer Lenny Kaye to read poetry, which soon would lead to her musical future.
Smith’s 1975 debut album ‘Horses’ is still her most popular work of art to this day, and is one of the most acclaimed debut albums of all time. It was a wild commercial success at the start and loved by the critics too, who praised Smith’s amateur-yet-passionate vocals, combined  with an an explosive mix of androgyny , rebellion ,and relentless energy long have I thought of her as incendiary. At the time, Smith had feared that Rock and Roll was dying, and so she wished to help shake things up and inject some new life in a way that only she could.

Gloria - Patti Smith


Re-billing her act as the Patti Smith Group to give due credit to her band, ahe released her second album Radio Etthiopia in 1976. The Patti Smith Group then acieved a commercial breakthrough with Easter in 1978.All seminal pieces of art in my humble opinion, that I treasure.

Patti Smith - Dancing Barefoot


In 1979 she fell off the punk rock scene radar completely, for her own choice. She married, she moved to Detroit and she had two children with the former MC5 guitarist Fred Smith. But such an artist as Patti Smith couldn’t live without it for long, so she came back with Dream of Life in 1988. The new album featured her husband and it included People Have the Power, another successful single.

Patti Smith - People have the power



Patti only started touring again after a series of tragedies in her life. Some friends of hers, her husband and her brother died over a short period of time and she decided to keep making music to honour them. She moved back to New York around 1994 and she started touring with Bob Dylan in 1995 and released a new album in 1996, Gone Again.
Her work a fusion of rock and poetry,  she writes in a stream-of-consciousness style, often meditating on questions of mortality and faith. Of her 2008 Auguries of Innocence, critic Donna Seaman wrote that Smith “presents lithe works unsettling in their spiritual inquiry, archetypal imagery, and dissonant juxtapositions.” Being a social activist most of her life, she’s always focused her poetic vision on topics that concern the world., believing  that poetry, music, and art should be used as a link to expose what’s going on with the world. But that’s not enough. It must work as inspiration to make people aware and push them to act.Patti Smith,  is not only the rock icon of a whole generation but also a committed artist visionary  in every possible manner, whose spirit has nurtured generations. Smith holds to a deeply romantic belief that the true artist is an outsider and a visionary, someone who is able ‘to see what others could not’, as she puts it in her memoir Just Kids (2010). She believes in the power of art and the mythology of rock and roll, believes in poetry and music as means of transcendence. She believes that poetry makes things happen. ‘i haven’t fucked much with the past,’ she declares in the prose poem ‘Babelogue’, ‘but i’ve fucked plenty with the future.’ She is, above all, a believer. all this has all earned her a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in 2005, and in 2007 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On November 17, 2010, she won the National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids.

Feedback and Poetry - Patti Smith



She still remains a pivotal figure in the New York arts scene and probably her most prolific and deepest works were created in the last 20 years. Perhaps experience and the multiple tragedies she’s experienced throughout her life made her more acute to understand the human experience better. There are many forms of magic Smith just a particle.With her powerful voice she has left her mark in music history and culture forever. My love for Patti Smith’s music, has been one of  joyous liberation , intoxication and education.So happy birthday to this warrior poet,  still fighting for beauty truth and  and justice. Long may she continue to inspire.

Patti Smith - Because the night



Patti Smith: Poem about Arthur Rimbaud
clip from Stephen Sebring's 2008 film documentary
"Patti Smith- Dream of Life.





Patti Smith  Interview - Poems are like Prayers



Friday, 28 December 2018

Musical highlights of the year 2018



Another funny year has nearly flown, but has at least given me personally lots of musical respite. So in what has become an annual event, here are some musical highlights from 2018  that are listed in no particular order, they have all succeeded  in diferent ways to pick me up immensely.
Special mention goes  out  to the Cellar Bar, here in Cardigan, a musical venue of much magic and wonder. My deep commiserations  are offered to much loved independent venue the Parrot in Carmarthen, sadly closing its doors on New Year's eve.
Respect to the music makers, and those that have and will keep on supporting them, local or further afield,  let's continue to get lost in the power of music, with its mighty ability to lift  our hearts and stir our souls. Keep on listening, see you on the other side.

1. Le Trio Joubran - The Long March



2. The Good, the  Band and the Queen - Merrie Land



3. Spaceheads - New Worlds in our hearts



4. Gwenno - Le Kov



5. IDLES - Joy as an act of Resistance



6. Gruff Rhys - Babelsburg



7. Goat Girl - Goat Girl



8. Patrick Duff - Leaving My Fathers House


9. Red and the Hogweeds - Sweet Stuff  https://redandthehogweeds.bandcamp.com/



10.Barnstormer `1649 - Restoration  Tragedy 

https://www.culturematters.org.uk/index.php/arts/music/item/2881-barnstormer-1649-restoration-tragedy




11. Joe Strummer - Joe Strummer 001


12. Adwaith - Melyn



13. Boy Azagoo - 1,2, Kung Fu !



14. Sons of Kemet - Your Queen is Reptile



15.Young Fathers  - Cocoa Sugar



16. Catrin Finch  and Seckou Keita - Soar



17. Afro Celt Sound System  - Flight



18. Shooglenifty and Duhn Dorra - Written in Water



19. Geraint Jarman - Cariad Cwantwn



20. 47 Soul  - Balfron Promise



21. Scene Red - Shining Through The Trees https://scenered.bandcamp.com/



22. Neneh Cherry - Broken Politics



23. Dead Can Dance - Dionysus





Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Queen's Speech out of touch as usual



The  92 year old privileged Queen of England, known for living in a palace and spending tax payers money like water , had had her yearly Christmas lecture being rightfully slammed on social  media for being " out of touch " and disrespectful to families " struggling to make ends meet"
Some commentators pointed out the vast disparity between the Queen's opulence and the real-life situations of 'her subjects' as she called for people to come together not driven by tribalism. Telling us to respect one another.
One posted on Twitter " Always warms an old republican's heart to see the billionaire head of an antiquated institution surrounding themelves with gold in their modest 885 roomed detached home, while others are f***ing struggling to make ends meet."
Others highlighted the plight of food bank users over Christmas, with one writing :" Queen says from her humble and modest surroundings, family kept her 'well occupied' over the year. I suspect the thousands of mum and dads thay use food banks and struggle on Universal Credit each week could say the same."
Oh the bloody  irony, there she was sitting on a gold chair, in a gold room, with her gold fire guard and gold clock in front of a gold mirror, beside her bloody gold piano, writing with her bloody gold pen, next to her ruddy gold picture frame, wearing her flipping gold bracelet talking about poverty. I guess we should be so  grateful and proud. Our wonderful Queen still thinks of us plebs and allows us to see her pretty things, flaunting her excess and crassness,  a decade into austerity with homelessness and food banks daily rising. So out of touch with reality .Down with  the crown.Make monarchy history.

Stuff tradition.


Tradition is no excuse for cruelty. Tradition is no excuse for deceit.
Tradition is no excuse for breaking the law.

Boxing Day is a day of tradition. Disappointingly, one of those is still the boxing day hunt. Across the country, 250 hunts hunts were scheduled to meet today, including two on National Trust land, out in force, in all their regalia, on their trusty steeds attempting to convince the great British public that they are a valued part of society.
These hunting groups have recently faced allegations that blood sport has continued under the guise of trail hunting,  and charities say there have been dozens of reports of foxes being pursued and killed since November 2018 when the hunting season began. Wild animals – including foxes, hare and deer, are still being chased to exhaustion across the British countryside before being torn to pieces by packs of trained hunting hounds.  
A growing concern that the ban is being brazenly flouted has led Labour to announce that it would strengthen the 2004 Hunting Act – much maligned by both hunters and animal rights activists – if elected and remove legal loopholes that make prosecutions hard to achieve. Labour also said that it would consult on the introduction of custodial sentences for offences under the Hunting Act, potentially bringing the penalties in line with those for other wildlife crimes, if in government.
The shadow Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs secretary Sue Hayman also left open the possibility of a new “recklessness” clause to prevent trail hunting being used as cover for illegal hunting.
“Labour’s 2004 Hunting Act was a key milestone in banning this cruel blood sport, but since then new practices have developed to exploit loopholes in the legislation,” she said.
“While Theresa May proposed scrapping the Hunting Act all together, Labour is today calling time on those who defy the law by announcing several measures that would clampdown on illegal hunting.
“Labour is the true party of animal welfare. These new proposals form part of the next chapter in striving to ensure our laws and regulations on animal welfare are up to date and fit for purpose.”
Labour’s promise came as a poll commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports https://www.huntsabs.org.uk/found only one in six (16%) rural residents believe hunting with dogs reflects countryside values.
The polling by Survation found that over nine out of 10 (91%) rural residents think that observing nature reflects countryside values.
The poll found only 4% said they ever participate in hunting, compared to 63% who observe wildlife at least once a month, 59% who take part in walking or hiking at least once a month, 39% who participate in running, cycling or horse riding at least once a month and 52% who visit pubs at least once a month.
Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Hunting is claimed by a minority to be a cornerstone of country life, yet it is revealing that people living in the countryside get far more enjoyment from watching wildlife rather than killing it.
“Modern day countryside values are based around respect for nature, not the abuse of nature for entertainment.
“This polling confirms that we are a nation of animal lovers and that hunting needs to be consigned to history.”
– The polling took place in early December 2018 with a sample size of 1,072 people aged over 18 living in rural areas in England and Wales.
There remains though a serious threat that under Theresa May the Hunting Act will be repealed. May’s manifesto for the 2018 General Election included a pledge to give MPs a vote on legalising fox hunting. Furthermore hunts have still found many ways to circumvent the law and get away with killing wildlife.Whether through so-called ‘trail’ hunting, abusing exemptions in the law or exploiting legal loopholes, thousands of animals are being killed across the UK every year with impunity.This is not helped by landowners giving hunts access to land in order to carry out activities which could be cover for illegal hunting, or by legislation that is not strong enough tying the hands of law enforcement agencies. All this combined means that hunts are carrying on with killing wildlife in the way they always have. Anti-hunting groups contend that reports of foxes and hares being killed by hounds are often not followed up despite being supported by evidence. A decline in funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit, as well as cuts to local police forces, means hunts can often act with impunity unless they are monitored by members of Hunt Saboteurs, a non-violent direct action group. https://www.huntsabs.org.uk/   
A spokesperson for the group said: “Boxing Day is the PR stunt of the hunting world. The reality is that many hunts are gangs of countryside lawbreakers who endlessly flout the hunting ban and, even on this day when the eyes of the world are on them, will still chase and kill wildlife.  “It’s a sign of how the tide of public opinion continues to turn that various hunts are being turned away from their traditional prestigious Boxing Day meets by locals who are sick of their hypocrisy and the chaos they cause.”
The 'traditional' Boxing Day meets of the hunts gloss over the otherwise murky world of animal cruelty in which packs of hounds still literally tear apart their quarry of British wildlife. But everything it stands for is opposed by the majority of people in this country. There has never been a better time to strengthen the Hunting Act and bring an end to the illegal persecution of wildlife still going on under the guise of 'trail' hunting. If you love the countryside, it's time to stuff this tradition, it's not a part of British culture that should be preserved in the modern age. Well done to all those that are still fighting to keep hunting illegal. 

Stop the killing of Animals by Hunts in the UK

https://takeaction.league.org.uk/page/19719/data/1?ea.url.id=1668592

  The Disappearing Fox - A Mystery for the Boxing Day Hunts


Monday, 24 December 2018

Merry Crisis and a Happy New Fear


Capitalism used to work
by the simple promise of a carrot,
the joys of being wealthier than others
promotion, promotion, promotion,
but the carat has lost its lustre
and now a stick has to be used as well,
this stick takes the form of a war on the poor
to be witchunted, scapegoated and demonised,
in these times of crisis and deep trouble
as they get out their scissors, and cut, cut, cut,
to numb peoples senses, distract us with unreason
broken and beaten, dishevelled and divided,
in a continual ideological game of attrition
making us walk the path of least resistance,
if I was a violent man, I'd stand outside and fight
but all I can muster is a slow dance,
as I gather up some moist crumbs of happiness
and with some simple words  feed survival,
tomorrow, I will look and seek safe asylum
remember the victims who have no knowledge of the future,
in December's  receding days of calamity and fear
follow horizon engraved with the pulse of struggle,
awake and embrace a new dawn, plant some flares in the mist
gather the truth deep inside, hoping dreams get better for all.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Remembering Joe Strummer (21/8/52 - 22/12/02) The future's unwritten


It's been 16 years since Joe Strummer, slipped away, but only seems like a moment, this legendary heart and political soul of punk, whose  rebel spirit and righteous anger has still not faded, his songs still resonate, with immediacy and warning after all, " the ice age is coming,  the sun is zooming in, meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin."
His lyrics still  able to make us think, that help challenge our views of society. He also taught us,  that punk is not a uniform, it's an idea, a passionate grassroots idea to create change, standing up for what you believe, about being open minded, at the end of the day we are all individuals , you've gotta do what's right for you, follow your own heart, your own true spirit. 
Strummer died of a heart attack on December 22. He was only 50. As a member of The Clash Strummer was a punk-rock pioneer with a fondness for reggae, who changed peoples lives forever.They got a force that would shape how politics and music fit together, transforming this new, angry punk sound into something with purpose. Through his songwriting Strummer consistently critiqued capitalism, advocated racial justice and opposed imperialism. He showed young people there are alternatives to the complacency, opportunism, and political ambivalence that dominate popular culture. Strummer’s music remains an enduring legacy of radicalism, defiance, and resistance.
 As a musician, Strummer redefined music and reaffirmed the principles of committed and intelligent opposition. He seemed to be involved in so many different movements and supported so many causes before they were fashionable. The Clash were at the forefront of the Rock against Racism movement founded in the seventies to combat the rise of the far-right National Front. Never afraid of controversy, Strummer pushed the Clash to support publicly the H-Block protests in Northern Ireland, which began in 1976 when the British took away the political status of IRA “prisoners.”
 But co-founding one of the most important bands of the past 50 years has, understandably, overshadowed the full breadth of Strummer’s musical interests. His career outside the Clash included forays into rockabilly, folk-rock, African music and Spanish Civil War songs. 
Released nearly 16 years ater his death, Joe Strummer 001 a 32 track compilation  of remastered rarities and previously unreleased tracks, stands as a testament to his vision for open borders and open hearts. This collection gives a sense of the scope of Strummer’s career, and the passion with which he pursued it. Over the years, and through various musical incarnations, he never sounded less than joyful about what he was doing. He’s ready to rumble on opener “Letsgetabitrockin,” from the 101ers, which barrels along on a tumult of guitars and a lean rhythm. Later, Strummer pushes the beat a little on a more subdued acoustic demo from 1975 of the same song, as if he’s imagining the churning full-band arrangement to come. He sings with exhilaration over a booming mix of drums and guitar on “Love Kills,” the title track from the 1986 biopic Sid and Nancy; takes on a tone of wonderment as he threads his voice through hand drums and African chanting on “Sandpaper Blues”; and lets loose with scruffy, melodic abandon on the taut “Coma Girl,” from Streetcore, his posthumous 2003 release with the Mescaleros. Even on an aching “Redemption Song” with Johnny Cash, from Cash’s 2003 Unearthed boxed set, Strummer strikes a balance between worldweary and triumphant.
Strummer and Jimmy Cliff, the ska and reggae legend, are a natural pairing on “Over the Border,” from Cliff’s 2003 album Fantastic Plastic People. And Strummer builds on the Clash’s “Spanish Bombs” with jittery banjo and a vaguely Iberian tint on “15th Brigade”—his take on “Viva la Quince Brigada,” sung by Spanish Republicans in their fight against the fascists during the Spanish Civil War.
The second half of 001 is given over to demos and previously unreleased tracks, many of which are illuminating. “Czechoslovak Song/Where Is England” from 1983 rides a slow, heavy dub rhythm that bears only a vague resemblance to the song it morphed into: the Clash’s synth-laced single “This Is England.” The boxed set version of 001 also includes a more fully formed demo of “This Is England” from 1984, with gruff vocals and without the synths. The grungy blues “Crying on 23rd” and the countrified “2 Bullets,” soaked in pedal steel guitar, are outtakes from Sid and Nancy, and both feature Strummer’s former Clash bandmate Mick Jones on bass. 
As fun as the older stuff is, one of the latter-day unreleased tracks is a standout. Strummer recorded “London Is Burning” in 2002 with the Mescaleros, then reworked it into “Burnin’ Streets” for Streetcore. The version here is faster, punchier and more evocative: “London is burning / Don’t tell the queen,” he sings to set the scene. It would have been one of the best songs on Streetcore; instead, it’s an unexpected gem tucked away toward the bottom of the tracklist here. It’s a reminder of just how good Strummer could be, and makes you wonder what more he would have done had a congenital heart defect not felled him at 50. The consolation is knowing how much more material remains to be heard, and hoping there are more songs in the archives that are as good as the ones here.
 He performed for the last time on November 15, 2002 at a benefit for striking London firefighters. For someone who used his music to galvanize and promote progressive action, this final performance was most fitting. On the anniversary of his death I post this in a spirit of rememberence and joyfulness  that he has left behind  such a great legacy of music or us to enjoy.So  go easy, stay light, stay free, London might still be burning, we still have more than enough time to chant down babylon, after all, the future is unwritten. Know your rights.
Thank you Commandante Joe, gone but not forgotten. R.I.P

Link to Joe Strummer Foundation

remember  " Without people, your nothing." - Joe Strummer

http://joestrummerfoundation.org


" People can change anything they want to and that means everything in the world "

- Joe Strummer

Some favourites of mine:-

Joe Strummer - Redemption Song



The Clash - Clampdown



The Clash - Clash City Rockers




The Clash -  Tommy Gun




Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros - Johnny Appleseed



Joe Strummer - White man in Hammersmith Palis ( Glastonbury 2009 )



Joe Strummer and the mescaleros - London is Burning



Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros -  Bhindi Bagee



The Clash - I fought the law



The Clash - Police and Thieves




The Clash- White Riot





Thursday, 20 December 2018

Some thoughts on depression and Christmas


Christmas can be a daunting time for many, especially to those of us who are prone to depression. It’s known as 'The Most Wonderful Time of the Year' but for many, myself included, it’s filled with anxiety and depression.
 Some people get depressed at Christmas because of the excessive commercialisation of the season, with the focus on gifts with high expectations of perfect, happy families enjoying luxurious celebrations and gifts, but not all of us are able to live up to these ideals. Others get depressed because Christmas appears to be a trigger to engage in excessive self-reflection and rumination about the inadequacies of life (and a "victim” mentality) in comparison to other people who seem to have more and do more. Others become anxious at Christmas because of the pressure (both commercial and self-induced) to spend a lot of money on gifts and incur increasing debt. Others report that they dread Christmas because of the expectations of social gatherings with family, friends and acquaintances that they'd rather not spend time with.
For those who have recently lost a loved one, Christmas can intensify feelings of grief and sadness. Many others experience feelings of isolation, financial pressures or increased family conflict that make the season a very stressful time of year For people without a significant other, who don’t have family or who live far from family, the holidays can be especially tough. While longing for company, lonely people may isolate even more, leaving them feeling even worse.
Now try and imagine someone suffering  from depression or anxiety being constantly told to snap out of it, or just to smile. It is not as simple as that. Life can often be to unbearable, time does not have a magic formula . It is not something that can be quickly overcome, and is not a sign of emotional weakness. Generally not a lot of people are that informed about mental illness and come out with ill-informed, uneducated statements that do not help one bit. The stigma that we can suffer from can be immense, we need to confront these stigmas, and keep challenging the fears, myths and stigmas that still surround mental illness. Each source of stigma, is a barrier that is difficult to overcome, that can shatter hopes of recovery, leaving an individual feeling devastated and isolated.There are so many misconceptions that we have to unlearn.
 I for one have witnessed, that it is never an easy road, that anyone regardless of their personality, lifestyle or background can suffer from. Depression is different for everyone. Don't contribute to the stigma. There are many free services available that offer mental health support at this time of year, such as the Samaritans  who can be reached on 116 123 (UK)https://www.samaritans.org. If your symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression are severe or long lasting, see a doctor who can provide some guidance and treatment options.
Do hope yours is a good one, best wishes, and  take care. Heddwch/Peace

Monday, 17 December 2018

The Left Field Genius of Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart ( 15/1/41 – 17/12/10)



Left field American artist Don Van Vliet,  who was mainly known by his nom-de-plume Captain Beefheart was one of the most original musician- poets of the 20th century, to whom the term "ahead of his time"  can be applied. A true musical genius and iconclast who passed away in 2010 following several years of illness with MS.
Beefheart wild and free has been part of my life, for a long time. Brilliant, eccentric, indefinable, difficult – Captain Beefheart’s musical career was often seemingly impenetrable, but his true genius was in his experimentation that, along with the work of his mentor Frank Zappa, helped pave the way for a generation of creative musicians and break the boundaries between art and rock.
His music blended rock, blues and psychedelia with free jazz, avant-garde and contemporary experimental composition. He invented his own genre of music, which even seems to go beyond music itself. Captain Beefheart's music at its best is a form of art, that is maybe best compared to an abstract painting. His body of work is never an easy listen but over the 12 studio records that he created with The Magic Band there are moments of sheer  brilliance. Captain Beefheart was born January 15, 1941 to impoverished parents at Glendale, California. He had little time for formal education, claiming later: “If you want to be a different fish, you got to jump out of the school.” But from an early age he displayed artistic ability and, according to his own account, was offered a full scholarship at a European art school at the age of 13 by a local dairy, an offer his parents refused on the ground that all artists were ”queer”. in Glendale, California. He was born Don Vliet, but he changed his name into Don van Vliet in the early sixties. His genius was discovered very early through his paintings and sculptures, and at the age of thirteen, he was offered a scholarship to study in Europe. His parents didn't accept the offer, and decided to move to Lancaster instead. It was during his stay there, that Van Vliet met Frank Zappa. Although he had no formal musical training, he had a passion for the blues, a desperate desire to perform and a distinctive voice, very reminiscent of Howling Wolf. In 1964 Captain Beefheart formed The Magic Band, and in 1965 the band signed to A&M, for which they recorded two singles. The first, "Diddy Wah Diddy" (The Bo Diddley-song), was actually quite successful, but A&M wasn't interested in Beefheart's ideas for an entire album. In 1967, Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band finally got the opportunity to release their debut album, "Safe As Milk", on the label Buddah. After 1968's "Strictly Personal"  Frank Zappa offered his old friend to make an album on his own label Straight Records, promising him complete creative freedom. Of course Van Vliet couldn't refuse this offer, and he recorded arguably the, most fascinating, original and avantgarde rock album ever made: "Trout Mask Replica". It was released in 1969. It is considered to be his masterpiece produced by his friend Frank Zappa who allowed Van Vliet full creative control over the music. its 28 sprawling tracks retain something of Beefheart’s youthful obsession with the blues. But with individual instruments playing often fractured atonal and polyrhythmic lines in opposition to one another, the influence of free jazz exponents such as Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane is unmistakable. Thanks to the brilliance of "Trout Mask Replica" and its follow-up, "Lick My Decals Off, Baby" (1970), Captain Beefheart gained popularity in both the United States and Europe. These were followed by  "The Spotlight Kid" and "Clear Spot" (both released in 1972),  deemed too commercial to many but to me still garner lots of delight, then came  "Unconditionally Guaranteed" and "Bluejeans & Moonbeams" (both released in 1974)  It is true that "Bluejeans & Moonbeams" is not as experimental as Beefheart's early recordings, but I think it still contains some beautiful blues-oriented songs that are well worth a listen.
After a short collaboration with Frank Zappa  called  "Bongo Fury",  Beefheart returned  with 1978's "Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)" and 1980's "Doc At The Radar Station", then in 1982 came "Ice Cream For Crow". It would turn out to be his last album, for after "Ice Cream For Crow", Van Vliet decided to devote the rest of his life to painting.
During his retirement from music he lived in the desert of California in quiet solitude with his wife Janet  who he had married in 1970 and mainly engaged with the production of exquisite and primal painting in the Abstract Expressionist style.
The following was included in the exhibition document Stand Up To Be Discontinued in 1993. Its evident the MS was clearly taking  it's toll and is incredibly sad to listen to.

Captain Beefheart  reading "Fallin' Ditch" as a poem 


When I get lonesome the wind begin t' moan
When I trip fallin' ditch
Somebody wanna' throw the dirt right down
When I feel like dyin' the sun come out
 'n stole m' fear 'n gone
Who's afraid of the spirit with the bluesferbones
Who's afraid of the fallin' ditch
Fallin' ditch ain't gonna get my bones
How's that for the spirit
How's that for the things
Ain't my fault the thing's gone wrong
 'n when I'm smilin' my face wrinkles up real warm
 'n when um frownin' things just turn t' stone
Fallin' ditch ain't gonna get my bones
 'n when I get lonesome the wind begin t' moan
Fallin' ditch ain't gonna get my bones

Captain Beeefheart - Fallin' Ditch



Captain Beefheart reading "Skeleton Makes Good" as a poem


There's so many things to feel
and see while you're awake
they're just out of reach
out of grasp yeah out of reach
and just as many;
maybe more the minute that you sleep
so I got to throw my preach
skeleton breath
scorpion blush
I have a crush on your skeleton
watch out unsuspecting stranger
you'll fall off the log
headfirst into dreams
end up screaming
this will comb the wolf
and that will comb the fog
what will peen the rain
what will preen the hog
oh you mean earth
and hell over you
and laugh at your tire tracks
if you get up
skeleton makes good.

The Tired Plain 
 
The bra was white and yellow elastic
and held to foam cones
the corners triangular shaped
pyramid
three edges made one point
starfish and embry boards
triple D cupped and poked to a point
the main character was composed into a bow
that broke first in the front
and equal on adjacent sides
American cowboy was approaching on a collision course
– his hands groped outstretched three digits triangular
to the front nail a line was drawn from the middle
finger to the knuckle of the index finger across
the middle finger onto the third –
creating a perfect arrow
with an imaginary point
 
 The following documentaries are  also  so engaging  to watch.


The Artist Formerly Known as Captain Beefheart 



Beefhearts status as an outsider icon of strange music helped him cultivate a mythic presence in the history of popular music  and though  his work, whether in music or drawing, was never mainstream and only ever gained a relatively small following,  he was  nevertheless a larger-than-life character who pushed the boundaries of his art in a way which influenced many who followed in his wake.
Amongst those who have cited Captain Beefheart as an influence are Tom Waits and PJ Harvey, many post-punk bands, and exprimental artists while devotees include , Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) and the film director David Lynch
 
http://www.beefheart.com/

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Denial of Freedom of Worship in Occupied Palestine



About 93%  of Palestinians are Muslim, of the Sunni orthodox  sect, and about 6% are Christian, and a very small number  are Samaritans, adherents of an early form  of Judaism who live around Nablus in the West Bank. In the Occupied Territories, Palestinian Christians now constitute about 3% of  the population.
The majority of Palestinian Christians are Greek Orthodox, with smaller numbers of Roman Catholics, Armenian Orthodox, Copts, Episcopalians, Ethiopian Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Lutherans, Maronites, Syrian Orthodox, and several other Protestant denominations.
There are no official figures on the number of Palestinian Christians in the occupied territories, but according to the Lutheran ecumenical institution the Diyar Consortium there are 51,710 Christians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. They are concentrated mainly in East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Nablus. Christians comprise roughly 2% of the population of the West Bank, while Gaza's estimated 3,000 Christians account for less than 1% of the coastal enclave's population. The number of Christians in the occupied territories has continued to dwindle as many emigrate as a result of the difficulties of living under Israeli military occupation
Christians living in Gaza are a mere 73 km (45 miles) from Bethlehem, but for most of them it is impossible to celebrate Christmas in the place where Jesus was born. Bethlehem is surrounded on three sides by Israel's West Bank Wall, which has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice. In and around Bethlehem there are some 32 physical barriers to Palestinian movement erected by Israel, including checkpoints, roadblocks, dirt mounds, and gates. It continues to be a city under seige. It continues to be a city where 25,000 Palestinians experience apartheid on a daily basis.
 An international organization concerned with defending the rights of Christians in the Middle East and Northern Africa on Saturday said that Israel has not issued permits to Christians in Gaza to visit the West Bank, especially Bethlehem, during the Christmas holiday.
The organization Middle East Concern (MEC) https://www.meconcern.org/ issued a statement saying that Gaza Christians have not been given the necessary permits to enter the West Bank to participate in the Christmas celebrations or visit their relatives."
Christians in  Gaza request prayer that permits will be granted to travel to the West Bank to visit friends and relative over the Christmas holidays. " said MEC. which describes itself as "defending the religious freedom of Christians."  All inhabitants of Gaza one of the most densely populated places on Earth, face severe travel restrictions and have difficulty obtaining permits from the Israeli authorities to enter Israel through the Erez border crossing," it said. "In previous years. Christians lining in Gaza were privileged to be able to apply through the Greek Orthodox  Patriarchate  in Jerusalem to receive travel permits from Israel to visit family and friends in  the West Bank over the Christmas period. This year   however nearly all the Christmas permit applications have been reused by the Israeli authorities, with only Christians over the age of fifty-five being allowed to travel."
The restrictions means most of nearly 1000 Christians who still live in Gaza will not be able to travel as a family to the holy places in the West Bank since young people cannot join their elderly parents on this trip. The statement strongly denounced the Israeli measures preventing Gaza Christians from practicing their religious freedom.
In the occupied territories, Palestinian Christians suffer from the same discriminatory regime and restrictions, including on movement, applied to all Palestinians living under Israel's military rule  and occupation. These restrictions do not apply to the more than 500,000 Jewish settlers living in illegal settlements in the occupied territories.
Since 1993, Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza have been forbidden by Israel to enter occupied East Jerusalem without a difficult-to-obtain permit. As a result, millions of Christian and Muslim Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are prevented from accessing their holy sites in Jerusalem's Old City, which contains some of the holiest sites in Christianity and Islam, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Noble Sanctuary mosque complex.
Although Israeli officials boast that Christian and Muslim Palestinians have free access to their holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem and other areas under Israeli control, in reality Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement make it difficult or impossible for most Palestinians in the occupied territories to worship freely.
Since 1967, Israel has illegally occupied what is internationally known as the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Occupied East Jerusalem. This is not a matter of opinion but a matter of fact according to international law. Repeated UN Security Council Resolutions (including 242, 252 and 476) have called on Israel to withdraw its forces from territories occupied in 1967, and regard any actions taken to change the character and status of Jerusalem as invalid.
These actions include both the physical, and illegal, annexation of the city to the State of Israel and the maintenance of a significant Jewish majority, through such measures as the construction of the illegal Wall, the revocation of residency rights, demolition of houses and denial of building permits for Palestinians Jerusalemites, in flagrant disregard of international law. 
In Jewish and Biblical history, Jerusalem was the capital of the Kingdom of Israel during the reign of King David. It is also home to the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall, both highly sanctified sites in Judaism. In Islamic history, the city was the first Muslim Qiblah (the direction which Muslims face during their prayer). It is also the place where Prophet Muhammad’s Isra’ and Mi'raj (bringing forward and ascension to heaven, also called the night journey) ensued according to the Qur’an.
 Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem is regarded in Islam is considered the third holiest site in Islam and an important place for offering prayers. Thus the sanctity of Jerusalem resonates among many Muslims around the world, not just Palestinians Since 2005, Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have been denied access to the mosque by Israel’s forces under the pretext of security reasons. This amounts to denying Palestinians the freedom to manifest their religion or belief in practice, thus violating a fundamental aspect of the right to freedom of religion.
Israel’s policy of preventing certain groups of Muslims from reaching al-Aqsa dates back to the beginning of the occupation, the irony in this is that foreigners from all over the world can visit the site but Palestinians are not allowed to visit. This is clearly oppression and a violation of the freedom of religion and the right to worship
The fact of the matter is that Occupied East Jerusalem remains the socio-economic, cultural and spiritual heart of Palestine: there can be no viable, independent State of Palestine without it. It is an illegally occupied area and the capital of the Palestinian State. Therefore, the very idea that any Palestinian should need a permit to visit the city at any time of year, for any reason, is simply absurd. 
As long as Israel persists in its illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the rest of the Palestinian Territory occupied in 1967, the Palestinians have little choice but to accept the permit system.
 Rights are symmetrical. Freedom of all religious practices should be respected and treated equally. Whether it is the rights of Muslims or Christians being violated, all of it should be put to an immediate end. The right of freedom of religion or belief is enshrined in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and has been reaffirmed by the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, which was approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1981.This fundamental right is also protected by several instruments of international law, including Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
As Christmas approaches and we celebrate, please remember the people of Palestine and their struggle, and remember that despite Israel's occupation and apartheid regime , despite restrictions on their freedom of movement , their freedom of worship, as part of the international community we  must insist that Israel end its occupation and accept that it has no right to obstruct Palestinian access to any part of their occupied homeland. Let us stand with them in their fight for dignity, human rights and self-determination.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Freedom's Breath


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


https://iamnotasilentpoet.wordpress.com/2018/12/18/freedoms-breath-by-dave-rendle/

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Solidarity with the Stansted 15


 Last year, 15 people took non-violent direct action at Stansted on March 17; 2017 to prevent the deportation of 60 people on a  secretive charter flight bound for Ghana , Nigeria and Sierra Leonne. The Stansted 15 as they have become known  put their bodies on the line to prevent this flight taking off, locking themselves around the aircraft and physically blocking it from taxiing toward the runway, preventing  the flight from leaving, acting out of conscience and out of a concern, as they saw it, that people were at risk of suffering serious human rights violations if deported from Stansted.
They belonged to the groups  End Deportations  https://twitter.com/edeportations , Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Plane Stupid and aimed to show links between climate change, colonialism, homophobia and the border regime.The Stansted 15 expected to face retribution for their protest. and were charged with aggravated trespass, but four months later this was changed to “endangering safety at aerodromes” - a serious terrorism-related charge which can lead to a life sentence.
They never actually expected to be found guilty of terrorism offences.But on Monday, the group became the first activists involved in a non-violent direct action protest to be convicted under laws that were formulated in response to the Locherbie Bombing. After a judge told the jury to disregard evidence put forward to support their defence that their attempt to stop a deportation flight was intended to stop human rights abuses, the defendants must wait until February to learn if they will face custodial sentences.
 Deportation charter flights are part of the UK's hostile environment for migrants, which also includes immigration detention centres, raids, signing at the police station and keeping people in a limbo of uncertainty over their future – often for years. People deported on these flights are snatched from their communities and families - without due process and without time to challenge the deportation through legal means. The government’s punitive, racist asylum and deportation policies, aimed at criminalising the very act of migration, have devastating and long-lasting consequences for those seeking refuge. These secretive charter flights are pre-booked and later filled by the Home Office, creating a demand for migrant bodies to be removed irrespective of their current immigration status. The peaceful action of the #Stansted15 saved lives and resulted in 11 people out of the 60 who were on the plane to have been granted legal status in the UK.
We see the impacts of the UK's hostile environment in our communities every day and it is only when people come together to challenge it that we feel the cracks opening in this unjust system. The Stansted 15's action was incredibly important, not only for the people on the 'plane, who were able to continue with their asylum claims but also for what it represented and the ideas and conversations that have come out of it.  As the Windrush scandal has so clearly demonstrated, the Home Office has repeatedly harmed and otherwise callously mistreated many people in this country. It has misused and abused deportation powers against those with rights to British citizenship, against those entitled to asylum, and against those with other good claims to live in the UK. Here, 15 people were doing something they saw as a means to partly redress the balance. Actions designed to defend the rights of a powerless - and sometimes maligned - group.
Around the world, those who seek to defend human rights are currently under sustained pressure. In the Gulf (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE) human rights defenders have been virtually silenced. Closer to home, they’re under attack in Turkey, Hungary, France and elsewhere in Europe.
Amnesty International UK, who have supported the group throughout the trial, has launched a solidarity campaign with the 15.Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said: “This is a crushing blow for human rights in the UK.
“The terrorism-related charge against these individuals was always a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
“It’s deeply disturbing that peaceful protesters who caused disruption but at no time caused harm to anyone, should now be facing a possible lengthy prison sentence.
“This whole case will send a shiver down the spine of anyone who cares about the right to protest in our country.
“Around the world, human rights defenders are coming under increasing attack. The UK should not be bringing such severe charges against those who seek to peacefully stand up for human rights.”
This is a moment for people of a genuinely liberal conscience to take a stand. It is imperative that the Stansted 15 receive maximm solidarity for those who understand that their prosecution is the harbinger of hideous attacks on  what are meant to be open, democratic societies, who on  human rights day were found guilty of an appalling use of terror-related law for stopping a deportation flight and thereby saving lives.https://leftfootforward.org/2018/12/our-action-saved-lives-says-stansted-15-campaigner-found-guilty-on-terror-related-charges/
The Stansted 15 are: Helen Brewer, Lyndsay Burtonshaw, Nathan Clack, Laura Clayson, Mel Evans, Emma Hughes, Joseph McGahan, May McKeith, Ruth Potts, Jyotsna Ram, Nicholas Sigsworth, Benjamin Smoke, Melanie Strickland, Ali Tamlit and Edward Thacker. Apart from two who are 38 and 44, the activists are aged between 27 and 35. They put their bodies on the line to prevent a potential threat to and loss of life, now we have to show we’ll stand with them. They are human rights defenders - the real criminals are the Home Office. We must  and continue to treat refugees and asylum seekers with the respect and dignity they deserve
Today Tuesday 5.30 at the Home Office: Demonstrate in solidarity with #Stansted15. Protest the convictions & demand an end to brutal deportations, immigration detention, and the racist hostile environment (wear pink in solidarity)

https://www.facebook.com/events/369024590570460/

Monday, 10 December 2018

International Human Rights Day : 10 December 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/