Tuesday, 27 February 2018
According to Amnesty International the current EU withdrawal bill will "substantially reduce human rights in the UK" and members of the British public " don't even know", it has warned in its latest annual report, The State of the World's Human Rights : https://www.amnesty.org.uk/report-world-human-rights-2017
Amnesty's 409 page report on human rights around the world says the decision to convert the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights into domestic law via the withdrawal bill means British citizens will be stripped of protection.The Charter is important because it protects fundamental issues that are important to us all, such as dignity, workers rights, equality, fair trials, free speech, children, LGBTI, disabled people and more. It provides a stronger defense of fundamental rights because it overides acts of Parliament when there is a conflict over basic rights, thus making it a much stronger legal defense when combating violations of human rights.
The Government has decided not to convert the Charter into UK legislation after Brexit,https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/678333/Factsheet_6_-_Charter_of_fundamental_rights.pdf claiming that human rights will not be jeapordised by Brexit, saying that protections in the EU charter will still be protected by domestic law, contending that the citizens of the UK are protected through the democratic process, assuming that the ability to elect Members of Parliament is an adequate assurance that our representatives will protect their basic rights. It seems foolish, however, to found an entire group's basic protection solely on the goodwill and moral compass of the government. I personally do not trust their word one bit. The end result being that we will all now face a lower protection of our human rights. Lets not forget that we have been warned, after all our human rights are the basic freedoms that all human beings should be guaranteed.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International's UK director, said :" You don't have to be pro or anti Brexit to see that without reform the EU Withdrawal Bill is set to substantially reduce rights in the UK.
" Under cover of Brexit the Government is planning to strip the British public of protections, - and people don't even know their hard won rights are under threat."
We should all be very concerned. After all the current government has long had a poor relationship with human rights, having previously wanted to abolish the Human Rights Act and now wants to remove the Charter as well. They should not be allowed to continue with their plans unchallenged.
The report also warned that the Governments drive to secure new trade deals has seen UK ministers and officials " soft pedalling" with regimes who have poor human rights records. Also highlighting recent UK trade delegations to Saudi Arabia, and USA, that have shown an "unwillingness to speak publicly about human rights overseas."
The UK is set to quit the EU on 29 March 2019, at 11 pm.Theresa May has said previously that her vision of Brexit will be one that focuses on "the good we can do together in the world as a global Britain." However, any Brexit that ends up, prioritising and promoting arms sale and building ever closer relationships with human rights abusers is one that will only contribute further to war, conflict and the further erosion of freedom for people across the globe.
Brexit was just one of many topics mentioned in their annual report, Amnesty's report also criticized world leaders for promoting "hate and division to further their own political ends, suggesting that in the 70th year since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights protections are under serious threat, with authoritarian leaders seeking to narrow or withdraw them"
The group also highlighted the work of activists and protest movements around the world inspired by what it called regressive policies.
Monday, 26 February 2018
Music flows like water
Between shadows and light,
As books are read for therapy
And love returns, carried deep inside,
The alphabet of trees, offers comfort
Some sculptured imagination,
Releases language of truth
Memories of everlasting breath,
In the politics of free fall
Magic remains undiminished,
Takes us back to where we had begun
From outside, rearranges,
Shape shifting, through corridors of time
Allows us to keep on pursuing brightness,
Swallows every thought, beyond constant fear
In a world of confusion, revives tongue,
Communicating to the lonely
Shouting rebellion to those who listen.
Saturday, 24 February 2018
For me the Royal family represents inequality and conservatism, a dynasty that has no place in the modern world. Just look at the above photo, it represents everything that's wrong with the monarchy. The sense of entitlement on one side. the unquestioning deference on the other.
Far from uniting the country, the monarchy's role is seen by many people to be illegitimate and offensive, and simply entrenches hereditary pivilege at the heart of public life. While our government patronisisingly preaches democracy to the rest of the world, they still preside over an undemocratic system at home with an unelected head of state .
With their vestiges of privilege, the royal family continues to award themselves medals, appoint themselves to top military ranks that they simply they do not deserve. Allow themselves to be nominated as patrons of charities , degrading the real efforts of those who have really made general contributions. At a time when Britain is going through a time of national economic and social stress due to Brexit , austerity, incoming roll out of Universal Credit and so on. The Conservative Government currently imposing a draconian, financially crippling sanction on jobseekers because they dont want to pay out any money to those who are unfortunately out of work, while the Royals get there houses refurbished at tax payers espense, while many people cannot afford to heat their homes or put enough nutritional meals on their tables.
While so many far more importanst issues face us everyday, this continuing fawning to members of the Royal family and their hangers on,I simply find embarrassing. At a time of inequality, when public services, public sector jobs, wages, attacks on the most vulnerable among us continues, in the most savage round of austerity meaures ever seen in modern times, how the hell can some people still be proud of this patronage ridden monarchy is beyond my imagination. It certainly reinforces my feelings that some people are born better than others. It's the piacle of the class system which has held or socirty back for so long, enforcing the idea of an elite rling class.
Their nauseating displays of riches, power and privilege ,is simply an affront to human decency.I believe in a society, where we can all look into one another's eyes as equals , whatever our purpose or position in life. This continuing deference to them is simply offensive, and it has its consequnces. Since you and I, and every taxpayer across the land will have to fork out tens, if not hundreds of thosands of pounds for the Queens son's forthcoming marriage. The Royals have claimed that they will be paying, but the truth is, that on May 19 it is the taxpayer who who will be lanfed the enormous bill. I don't believe thiw is ok, they need to pick up the bill. So on this note would urge you to join more than ten thosand people in signing the following petition calling on MPs to make sure the royals pay for their own wedding.https://www.republic.org.uk/petition/royal-wedding
Here's to a better, more egalitarian world, yes a brighter monarchy, confine these pointless ornaments to the dustbins of history
Thursday, 22 February 2018
Many remember the name of Hastings as the site of the last invasion of mainland Britain by Norman forces in 1066, but many forget the less successful French attempt at invasion, which took place in Fishguard,West Wales in 1797.
Irish revolutionary leader Wolfe Tone had received support from France to help end British rule in Ireland. Part of this plan was to organise French invasions of Britin to divert and weaken the British forces, with the overall aim of sending a much larger force to Ireland to overthrow the British there.
So on February 18th, 1797, a collection of 1400 French mercenaries and bailed convicts, led by an Irish-American named Colonel Tate set sail from Camaret . Tate's orders had been to land near Bristol, England's second largest city at the time, and destroy it, then to cross over into Wales and march north into Chester and Liverpool. From the outet though things did not go according to plan. Wind conditions made it impossible for the four French warships to land anywhere near Bristol, so Tate decided to set course to here in Cardigan Bay instead, hoping the Welsh would join their revolt against English rule and join their Revolutionary cause.
On Wednesday February 22nd, the French warships sailed into Fishguard Bay. Upon landing, the French invasion force seem to have run out of enthusiasm, which could have been a result of having to survive for years on prison rations, and on all accounts were more interested in the rich food and fine wine of the locals, and after a looting spree many were simply too drunk to do anything.Having angered the Welsh locals by seizing their food and wine, they quickly assembled an army of volunteer militia, army reservists, and sailors to fight the invasion, this attempted insurrection. And after two days the invasion had collapsed. Tate's's forces surendering to a local militia force led by Lord Cawdor on Febuary 25, 1797, with the French being disarmed, and being marched of to imprisonment to nearby Haverfordwest .
It is iteresting to note that the surrender agreement drawn up by Tate' officers referred to the British coming at them "with troops of the line to the number of several thousand."No such troops were anywhere near Fishguard , at the time, however hundreds of local Welsh women dressed in their tradional scarlet tunics and tall black felts had come too witness asny fighting between the French and the loal men of the militia, and under the influence of too much wine, these women could easily have been mistaken for British army Redcoats.
One of the women who is said to be the hero of the hour went by the name of "Jemima Fawr" (Jemima the Great) 47 year old Jemima Nicholas, who was a local cobbler. She singlehandedly with nothing more than a pitchfork in hand rounded up twelve Frenchmen, and locked them inside the local St Mary's Church.
She would become a Welsh heroine and was awarded a pension of £50 gor the rest of her life. After her death a memorial was raised to her, the lady who confronted the French invader armed only with a pitchfork.
As the wars against France stretched on, Napolean himself made his own plans to invade the UK, plns that were ony dashed by his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.
This moment in history has since been memoralized in the Last Invasion Tapestry, the work of more than 70 women who stitched for over two years to coplete the project
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
Click on picture to enlarge
Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development are of great importance for people and planet. Yet due to globaliation, they are increasingly under threat. When languages fade, so does the world's rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression, valuable resources, become lost.
Languages,like people are subsequently in a constant battle for survival. It is believed there are about 6000 languages that are spoken in the world of which 3000 are listed as endangered by UNESCO with 10 languages becoming extinct every year. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.
Consequently International Mother Language is held every year on February 21 since the year 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism/. The day to celebrate this bond was originally chosen by the United Nations in 1999 to celebrate four students who were shot and killed in 1952 by Pakistani police for protesting the right to use their own language, Bengali.
This bond between individuals and their languages, one that if broken is forgotten for generations the UN recognises as a human right. Also with the rise of populist nationalism the threat of walls andsuspcion of integration , we should also worry what this means for migrant and Indigenous languages. After all language is a salient index of culture, and so any assault on cultural diversity is also an an assault on linguistic diversity.
Languages serves as powerful instrument of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. So all moves to promote the dissemation of mother tonques will serve not only to encourage linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world, but alse serves to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialgue.
International Mother Language Day is also a good opportunity to remind ourselves that children of migrants and Indigenous people have an international right to speak, grow up with, and celebrate their own heritage languages, wherever they reside. Languages enriches society, economic mobility and at end of the day is what makes us human.
For further information visit the UNESCO website http://www.unesco.org/new/en/international-mother-language-day/ or visit the UN's International Mother Language Day web pages.http://www.un.org/en/events/motherlanguageday/
Monday, 19 February 2018
At time of writing, according to the http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/mass-shooting there have been,975 incidents, 1,922 deaths, 3,330 injuries, 71 children killed or injured, 377 teens killed or injured, 32 mass shooting, 41 officers shot or killed, 312 subject or suspect killed, 235 home invasions, 192 defensive use of guns, and 229 intentional shootings in the United States.
I wrote following poem in response.
Against Gun Violence
Sometimes it seems that hope runs out
There seems no end, to waves of violence.
No prayers or thoughts can break the cycle
This endless primal, destructive spiral,
Innocent lives getting lost everyday
Can we not simply destroy the ammunition,
Instead of trigger happiness, stop the madness
So that darkness no longer releases its deadly load,
Is it too late to halt the hate, lament all who've been lost
On blood stained streets, where flowers wither,
Tell the NRA no one has right to bare arms
The second amendment has no moral purpose,
Stop the bullets flying, shots from killing
With Gun control heal a wounded nation.
Sunday, 18 February 2018
Remembering the fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War : The 81st anniversary of the Battle of Jarama
The volunteers were a mixture of Communists, Labour Party members, socialists, anarchists, trade unionists and other sympathisers, all bitterly opposed to the idea of fascism. They came primarily from the unemployed areas of Mersyside, Manchester, Scotland, Tyneside and London.On February the 18th the brigadiers launched a counter attack, but this was stopped by the fascists. Despite the poor conditons, the brigadiers managed to stand firm , As the men made their way up an outcrop that was later known as " Suicide Hill " they were mown down mercilessly by machine gun fire. They had little chance.Of the 500 brave men only 140 survived, the memory of this battle haunting them for many years later. But the vital road that Franco needed to have cut remained open.
Today I remember those who throughout this conflict their faith and ideals remained intact,with their bravery, sacrifice and committment to their noble cause. Comrades that stood together and fought for good against the evils of fascism.Ordinary people who made the extraordinary choice to leave their friends and family and fight in a brutal war far away from home, a common cause bringing them together, shoulder to shoulder with the workers and peasants of Spain fighting for their emancipation..
" It was in Spain that my generation learned that one can be right but can be beaten , that force can vanquish spirit, that there are times when courage is not its own recompense. It is this doubtless , which so many, the world over feel the Spanish drama as a personal tragedy" - Albert Camus
Battle of Jarama - John Lepper.
The sun warmed the valley
But no birds sang
The sky was rent with shrapnel
And metallic clang
Death stalked the olive trees
Picking his men
His leaden finger beckoned
Again and again
Dust rose from the roadside
A stifling cloud
Ambulances tore past
Men torn by shell-shards lay
Still on the ground
The living sought shelter
Not to be found
Holding their hot rifles
Flushed with the fight
Willed for the night
With the coming of darkness
Deep in the wood
A fox howled to heaven
Smelling the blood.
Jarama Valley - Woody Guthrie
Saturday, 17 February 2018
These photographs were published on Wednesday by the Shehab News Agency, and show a homeless palestinian family forced to live in a bus stop in the besiged Gaza strip.
Ths bus stop at Saraya junction in Gaza city is what the family has from the weather - the world outside offers them none.
According to a recent study, 80% of the 2 million inhabitants of the coastal enclave beseiged by the occupier Egypt and Israel , live in poverty and 65% in extreme poverty, with little access to the most basic serices.
As over 80% population depend on aid , the cuts to aid ( which have already been reduced before because of lack of funds ) by the Unied States will only worsen the situation. The U.S announced on Jan 16 to cut 67 million Us dollars from 125 million dollars that it had planned to provide to the UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza. The blockade has pushed Gaza's population into frther poverty as unemplyment rates hit 45%. The illegal blockade has been in place for over a decade , devastating Gaza's economy , causing widespread destruction and left most people cut off from the outside world.
The humanitarian needs are enormouse. People struggle to access clean water, food, medical education and to rebild their homes. The blockade prevents most of them from leaving Gaza or trading with the outside world and restricts vital reconstruction material from entering.
Over 60% of Palestinian residents in Gaza are living in food insecurity as many rely on foreign food aid, according to international organizations and United Nations agencies.The Crisis has delibertely been made in the beseiged Gaza by its beseigers and their enablers in the so called 'international community'.
The UN Security Council held a cosultative session on Wednesday to discuss the deteriorting situation in the Gaza Strip following warnings of a possible collapse of basic services in the Palestinian war-torn enclave, amid calls for urgent intervention to end the suffering of the Palestinians there.
Tuesday, 13 February 2018
From 13 – 15 February 1945, RAF and US Air Force planes dropped around 2,400 tons of explosives and 1,500 tons of incendiary bombs on the German city of Dresden. The 805 British and about 500 American bombers inflicted destruction on an unimaginable scale on the virtually-undefended, refugee-crammed city’s old town and inner suburbs.
The hundreds of thousands of high explosive and incendiary bombs caused a firestorm that trapped and incinerated tens of thousands of German civilians. Some German sources put the human cost at 100,000 lives.
The air strike was designed to bring a conclusive end to the Second World War, but the humanitarian catastrophe that resulted from the attack has continued to bring up ethical questions that are debated to this day.
The bombing of Dresden is sometimes given as an example of modern ‘total war’, meaning that the normal rules of war were not followed. Targets in total war are not only military, but civilian and the types of weapons used are not restricted.The fact that refugees fleeing the Soviet advance from the east caused the population to swell means that the amount of casualties from the bombing is unknown. Estimates put the number anywhere between 25,000 up to 135,000.
The late historian American Howard Zinn, who was himself a pilot in the Second World War, cited the bombing of Dresden, along with that of Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Hanoi, as an example of questionable ethics in wars which target civilian casualties with aerial bombs. Here's a poem I've written:
Evil falls from all sides
Spits its deadly poison,
In Dresden everyone felt
No one left alive could escape
As people burned in flames,
Left a mark that forever stained
Releasing years of mental turmoil,
Burning phosphorus still today falls
From, Gaza, Iraq to Syria,
Civilian casualties lost forever
Vanished under cruel clouds of ideology
Skin and bone melting and disintergrating,
Rising today as spectral ghosts.
Poem can also be found here :
Palestininian protest icon Ahed Tamimi , who I have written about previously, is back in a military court today today , facing 10 years in prison, an individual that for many symbolizes the Palestinians' David vs Goliath struggle against military occupation, high profile entertainers, scholars, and civil rights icons have just recently signed a just released letter in support of her and other Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel.On behalf of those who should be able to live out their childhood without the unrelenting encroachment of illegal Israeli settlements, occupation and military courts where they face 99% prosecution rates.
The signatories include prominent actors Danny Glover, Rosario Dawson, Grey's Anatomy star Jesse Williams and the Practice's LisaGay Hamilton, musicians including Vic Mensa, Talib Kweli and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, civil rights leaders Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza ( xo-founders of Black Lives Matter), Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander, political commenttors Marc Lamont-Hill and Angela Rye, and Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman and super bowl champion Michael Bennett.
There are also daily Teitterstorms organised by the Facebook page Free the Tamimi Women, https://www.facebook.com/FreeTamimiWomen/ which one could support. I believe we should all support those who dare to stand up to repression. Take action stand up for Ahed now.
Tell Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to release her without delay.
You can also add your name to this open letter targetting all World leaders
Monday, 12 February 2018
Noam Chomsky , world reknowned political analyst explainsthe standard technigue of privatisation.
"That's the standard technique of privatisation, defund, make sure things don't work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital."
Currently the NHS is being given away and the cost of rail travel soars, part of a meticulously planned ideological assault on the fabric of British society under Tory rule. who want to defund, demoralise , then privatise.The end result being that the wealth of our nation is left in the hands of a few , this is not a good thing. Lets not mistake it, the government is focussed on privatising public sector entities, managing them with a view not to revive them, but to prepare a case for their privatisation. Policies designed to extract wealth from the poor and weak at the bottom and transfer it to the already fat cats at the top of the rotten heap.
Lets hope there is a return soon to days when people mattered more than profits. If this makes you angry reshare and continue to fight against it, we must take back control of all our essential services..
Noam Chomsky on Privatisation
Friday, 9 February 2018
Before we make progress
Take some time to breathe,
Offer no explanation
Keep searching for what your looking for,
Imagination beyond caged confinement
Allow your pens to release defiance.
During the toughest of times , band together
With songs of immediacy and strength .
Humanity's conscience arriving in one breath
We are the future, we have always been,
Already committed, carry on assignement
Find resilience, some reallignement.
Possibilities appear, accellerate towards us
At the rivers edge, leave behind your chains,
Westward, seaward, deep and far
Follow rising tides, keep clinging on
The power we have is what we can share
Onwards we blaze, side by side.
Be creative, innovative and autonomous
Do not be controlled, afraid , do what they tell you,
The difference from yesterday, is now we have no fear
Our expectations necessary, survival depends on not getting stranded,
Somethings in the air, and there's no going back
Be an example, active force for change.
Never be limited, in ability to make earth better place
Together strong, we can rearrange,
Doors keep opening, no longer shut in face
The world is ours for the taking
Glimmers of hope, carried with purest faith
Power given back to the people.
Wednesday, 7 February 2018
This week marks 100 years since (some) women won the vote. Let's reflect on the victories won. but remember politics still doesn't work for everyone yet.
Today we maybe able to cast our votes, lets not forget the bravery . tenacity and passion of those who used deeds as well as words to get their messages out. Some who made the ultimate sacrifice for their cause.
Those who succeeded in bringing global attention to the suffragettes cause, triggering a fierce wave of feminist resistance and activism to the feminist cause, with their place in history guaranteed in an almost mythic way. Lets mot forget their legacy to women today, remember their strength of feeling, of the acts of these brave women who militantly committed themselves so that women could be treated as full citizens economically and politically.
But the fight to make politics work for everyone goes on. Whilst supporting the concepts of equality and freedom. I believe the Suffragette movement unfotunately helped perpetuate the myth that making an 'X' on a piece of paper can affect real change. It leaves many with the idea that they can vote and assuage themselves of guilt for not participating in any further action with the conviction that they have done all they need to do.
In 2018, democracies dominant parties still represent the few, alligned with corporations, private financiers that exploit the resources of our nation, not for us, but for the interests of the few, which they truly represent and uphold. Are we really free? Is not democracy a simple illusion. Struggles outside parliament still ruthlessly suppressed, criticized or simply ignored by the mainstream media.
Where is the democracy that sees communities being torn apart and stigmatised. The marginalised, the poor and disadvantaged singled out to pay for the shortfalls of the capitalist system, aided and abetted by nearly all the parties operating within the Parliamentary structure.
We still have a system where not all votes count. Big decisions are taken by unaccountable politicians and shady corporate interests. Together lets reflect on the sacrifices our ancestors made, the legacy of the Suffragetes lives on though in the hearts and minds of people who continue to daily practice deeds not words, who participate in direct action, constantly calling out for more radical change, lets make sure we don't have to wait another 100 years for the democracy we want.
Monday, 5 February 2018
Do you have trouble sleeping?
Are you a dissafected prole?
Do you carry on dreaming
Find some routes that do not keep you afraid?
Is your mind on fire, with unspoken thought?
On gentle breezes, can you find fantastical feeling?
Does your mind drift across oceans, react to understanding?
Do you watch silently, glancing now and then?
Can you hear the thundering noise of change in distance?
Can you make a difference, sustain your brothers and sisters?
Are you engrossed in a world of your own?
Living day by day, running free on wild emotion?
Away from the depths of solitude's thought,
Rising aloft in the sun's rays, are you caught?
Follow transient patterns, for the mind to beseech?
Find dimensions of meaning, in birth, life and death?
Listen to the crackling of breaking twigs
Birds nesting on branches of liqoirice,
Can you hear them, can you see them?
Open your eyes and gaze at our beautiful world
Carry hope, to live, to open eyes?
Think about others struggling to survive
Through poverty sickness and destruction?
If you answered yes, at least you are alive
Remember there are many like us,
Together we are not alone
Each one of us an island,
Engulfed by individual feeling
Until we blaze like meteors in the deep blue sky.
Friday, 2 February 2018
Why does the NHS have to pay £70 to change a lightbulb? Because of outrageous outsourcing charges that puts profit before people.
For anyone wondering why our NHS does not have enough money and can't see whu subcontracting out to private companies is bad read this from one hospital manager. This is not a joke, a sick one though maybe. But this is why Hunt and his cronies are so in favour of privatisation of our beloved NHS, driven not only ideologically but also by corruption.A simple fact is that too often NHS buters have't got a clue if they are overpayig because private firms are doig all they can do to keep their prices secret.
"Two examples of what happens with Carillion sub-contracts in Hospitals which landed on my lap this week. Firstly, in one hospital the contractor for the lighting are the onlt peope allowed to change lightbulbs.(This is not the start of a joke) The cost charged to the hospital for changing the lightbulb was £70 . Seventy pounds to change a lightbulb! The cost of a lightbulb is no more than £5 and the time it takes is abot 5 minutes so if the employee is being paid £10 an hourthen the labour charge is 80p. That means the cost of this is £5.80. What is the other £4.20 being paid for, In another example thehandwash dspensers installed on wards are already sited by a contractor. Some wards may have 70 such dispensers as infection spread infection is very important. The only people in this case allowed to replenish this handwash are the contractors, It would take less than an hour to replenish every dispenser on a ward and the handwash costs around a pound so £10 and £70 for the sanitiser £80 in total. The contractor invoices £20 for the dispenser. That is a total of £1400 . Where does the £1330 go? These are hust two clear examples for people who belive outsourcing saves money."
Is it any wonder that ore than half of NHS hospitals are now in deficit and in potential of going bust, as the government continues to starve the NHS of the reources it so desperately needs. If you wanted to find ways to bleed the NHS dry I couldn't think of more better examples than this. How is it that a private compay can flecce the NHS to this extent and still manage to sguander billions of pounds ?. I thought inefficency was a public sector failng, rght? If you can support the emergency NHS demo on Saturday 3 February. Remember too that not only in England has the NHS been cut to the bone bcause if Tory cutbacks and the inefficiency and creepng effects of prvatisation ilustrated above, funding here in Wales has been cut too. We are all n this together. People not proft.