Saturday, 30 March 2019

Palestinians mass at Gaza border to mark protest anniversary

Thousands of Palestinians  have been rallying  at the Gaza-Israel border today to mark the first anniversary of the weekly 'Great March of Return' protests, facing off against Israeli forces massed across the perimeter.
The protests call for the lifting of a security blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, and for Palestinians to have the right to return to land from which their families fled or were forced to flee during Israel’s founding in 1948.
 The Gaza Health Ministry said two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces near the border fence, during clashes that began on Friday. About 200 Gazans have been killed by Israeli troops since the protests started, according to Palestinian Health Ministry figures.
Gaza's Health Ministry said Saturday ten people have sustained injuries from live fire coming from Israeli troops, who also fired tear gas as dozens of protesters approached the fence.
The territory's Hamas rulers are trying to restrain the rallies.The militant group hopes a calmer demonstration would allow for the implementation an Egyptian-brokered agreement with Israel to ease the economic blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007. But warnings to stay far back from the heavily fortified fence were not being heeded by all."We will move towards the borders even if we die," said Yusef Ziyada, 21, his face painted in the colours of the Palestinian flag.
"We are not leaving. We are returning to our land."
March 30 also marks “Land Day”, that Palestinians  worldwide have commemorated Land Day since 1976, when Israeli security forces shot dead six Arab citizens of Israel killed by Israeli security forces during demonstrations over government land confiscations in northern Israel in 1976.
The main Land Day march in Israel is planned for Saturday afternoon in the northern city of Sakhnin, with additional marches and demonstrations expected across the country, as well as in the West Bank and Gaza.
More than 2 million Palestinians are packed into the Gaza Strip, a narrow coastal enclave where poverty and unemployment rates are high. The blockade is cited by humanitarian agencies as a key reason for impoverishment in Gaza. Lat year alone , about 200 Palestinians, including children, journalists, and the disabled, were killed  at the border, most by Israeli  live ammunition; 23,000 have been injured. 
Israel’s use of lethal force has drawn censure from the United Nations and rights groups. U.N. investigators said last week that Israeli forces may be guilty of war crimes for using excessive force.
The protests mark nearly  twelve years of a blockade that has made Gaza into what is often called the world's largest open air prison. They also come to invoke UN Resolution 194 their right to return in peace to their homes, from which they were expelled in 1948, when Israel was created.
 The Palestinians have no choice but to protest, their spirit not broken, despite their suffering they continue to carry on undaunted. Lets continue to gie them the solidarity and respect they deserve.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Show your solidarity with Palestinian resistance Stop Arming Israel

Incredible dancers in the UK perform Dabke, the dance of Palestinian resistance, in solidarity with the Palestinians on the frontline of the Great Return March. In the face of Israel's military attacks funded by complicit companies like HSBC, the Palestinian people continue to resist and fight for their fundamental rights. Tell HSBC to end its complicity in Israeli war crimes: And take to the streets this Saturday in solidarity with the Palestinian people, one year since the start of the Great Return March:
On March 30, 2018  evoking memories of the South African apartheid regime’s massacre of peaceful protesters in Sharpeville in 1960, Israel’s military committed a new massacre against Palestinian civilians as they were peacefully commemorating Palestinian Land Day, calling for an end to Israel’s brutal blockade of Gaza and asserting the UN-stipulated right of return for Palestinian refugees.
The Israeli military killed  at least 17 and injuring 1,400. Almost half of these were children. While Israel routinely carries out mass killings of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza strip, the massacre nonetheless stands out as a particularly flagrant attack on non-violent demonstrators with no conceivable pretext. 
Last month, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) published a damning indictment of Israeli forces' conduct in suppressing the protests. According to the COI, Israeli soldiers have been deliberately shooting civilians, killing and maiming protesters - including children, as well as journalists and medics. The COI's findings were welcomed by human rights groups who last year unsuccessfully challenged the army's rules of engagement and its shooting policy in Israel's Supreme Court.
Land Day has been commemorated by Palestinians every year since 30 March 1976, when Israeli military forces killed six Palestinian youth in mass peaceful protests in the Galilee against Israel’s large scale policy of confiscating their ancestral land to create exclusionary Jewish-only colonial settlements.
The Palestinians call for Israeli authorities to lift their 11 year illegal blockade on Gaza and allow Paletinian refugees  to return to their villages and  towns has still not been met.These demands are supported by international law as well as nearly every country in the world – with the marked exception of Canada, the USA, and Israel. In addition, the organizers of the march, which was supported by a wide cross-section of Palestinian political organizations, repeatedly insisted upon the non-violent nature of the march – claims supported by the observations of human rights workers
People of conscience across the world  must continue to pressure   international banks and investment funds, like HSBC  to end their complicity in Israel’s human rights violations,  support and show solidarity with  the Palestinian struggle, and demand that Palestinians’ fundamental rights to exist, resist , freedom , justice and return are respected.
If you're not around London, take action in your communities. Full list of events across the country here.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

So Long Scott Walker ( January 9, 1943 – March 22, 2019)

Pop music legend and avant-garde icon, 60's pop crooner, visionary  Scott Walker has died at the age of 76. The news was announced by his label, 4AD on Monday morning. “For half a century, the genius of the man born Noel Scott Engel has enriched the lives of thousands”, reads a statement posted to the label’s website. “He has produced works that dare to explore human vulnerability and the godless darkness encircling it.” The cause of death it seems was cancer.
 Radiohead’s Thom Yorke yesterday said the “kind, gentle outsider” would be much missed.
The poet Ian McMillan described his “unforgettable” voice as being like “a cathedral lit by a sunset”.
Walker was best-known for his work with blue-eyed soul trio The Walker Brothers in the 1960s, but it was his late-career trilogy of challenging art-rock albums that defined his reputation as one of avant-garde music's most electrifying auteurs.
Walker was born Noel Scott Engel in Ohio on Jan. 9, 1943 and rose to fame in the United Kingdom as part of The Walker Brothers.Who were pretty much the '60s equivalent of a boy band, and for a while  were bigger than The Beatles. (The group's members were unrelated, and none were born with the name Walker.) With the help of Scott Walker's booming baritone, the act topped the British charts  with covers of "Make It Easy On Yourself" (1965) and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)" originally recorded by Frankie Valli.(1966), but the trio never achieved the superstardom in the United States that they enjoyed overseas.
Hating the pace and hollowness of pop-star life, so much that he called time on the band at their peak, having tried to escape it all by using drugs, holing himself up in a monastery and attempting suicide. 
Scott said: “It was a very bad period. I thought everyone was trying to destroy my life. I had this idea that the press were people who misquoted me, fans were the ones who would not stop ringing my phone, smashing my door and making me move flats.”
Scott relied on Valium and sleeping pills to cope with his paranoia. He dabbled with cocaine and tried marijuana but abandoned it because it hurt his throat.
In August 1966 he tried to kill himself, but was saved when the obsessive fans outside his apartment that he had been so desperate to escape alerted the authorities. He later reflected: “Pressure wasn’t the only reason.“Nobody has the right reasons. I don’t remember a thing.”
Later that year he escaped to Quarr Abbey, on the Isle of Wight. He intended to spend ten days taking part in Gregorian chanting. But even a monastery provided no escape.
 He said: “We had obsessive fans and they discovered the monastery and they were ringing the bell the whole time.“We were plagued, and eventually I had to leave.”
The Walker Brothers split in 1967 but Scott went on to sell millions of records as a solo act, even though the BBC banned his first single, Jackie, for its references to drugs and “phoney virgins”.
Scott went solo  releasing the first of four eponymously titled solo albums: Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3 and Scott 4 — the latter released under his birth name.These records  are rightly considered today to be masterpieces,  that turned him ino a different sort of star—a cult icon revered by people who crave lyrics of profound literacy and powerful, complicated emotions, as he took on darker and more experimental tones as Scott’s interests in Jacques Brel, European art and cinema, formative drone music, Gregorian chanting and themes of death, decadence and European culture and history grew.
By 1969’s ‘Scott 4’, his first entirely self-penned album and released under his birth name, he was playing chess with Death himself on the Bergman inspired ‘The Seventh Seal’ and dedicating a track to the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. Though he was popular enough to be granted his own TV show Scott by this point, the album was a commercial disappointment, but is now considered his masterstroke, cited as a major influence on David Bowie , Radiohead, Nick Cabe among others.
Failing to chart 'Scott 4' sent Scott spiralling into booze and depression. On the orders of his record company he returned to making more commercial records but became more disillusioned with the music industry. He said: “I was acting in bad faith for many years during that time. I was trying to hang on. I should have stopped. I should have said, ‘OK, forget it’ and walked away. “I started going downhill, imbibing a little too much of everything.“I think I did temporarily go crazy, because I don’t remember the period at all very well.”
 A loner, Scott insisted he was not a recluse, but a solitary type, saying: “I like people but sometimes I can’t wait to get away and be on my own again.”
In the late Seventies The Walker Brothers reformed and put out three more albums. But it was not long before Scott disappeared into obscurity again after apparently becoming enraged by an out-of-tune trumpet while performing with his band on a cabaret tour in Birmingham. He never sang live again.
He released several albums, written by others, which failed to chart and which he described as “middle-of-the-road dross”. Much of the next few years was “sat in pubs watching guys play darts”.
Walker returned to other writers' songs for an eight-year stretch, resulting in four forgettable cover albums. But in 1978, Walker penned four of the songs on the regrouped Walker Brothers' final album, Night Flights, a noisy, avant take on the disco sound of the day. One of his credits on the album, an eerie track called "The Electrician," distinctly foreshadowed where Walker would wander on future recordings.
It was another eight years before Walker emerged again,interest in Walker’s output was renewed thanks to the Julian Cope-curated compilation Fire Escape in the Sky: The Godlike Genius of Scott Walker, released in 1981. Three years later, Walker returned with Climate of the Hunter, an avant-garde collection of fragmented and trance-like compositions lacking either titles or easily identifiable melodies.Though the album was again a commercial dud, Climate of the Hunter set the stage for Walker’s immense talents to be fully appreciated.
This album featured an assortment of studio musicians who — according to Walker in the documentary Scott Walker: 30 Century Man recorded their parts without knowing the melodies, to ensure that there was "no chance of everyone swinging together." Unlike most of Walker's recordings from the previous 15 years, Hunter was critically acclaimed.
It would 11 more years before Walker completed his metamorphosis from pop crooner to avant-garde godfather. That would come on 1995's Tilt, a work of art that features bleak, atmospheric orchestrations, with touches of minimalist experimental music and industrial music. Tying it all together was Walker's inimitable voice, which he pushed to awkward, operatic heights. Tilt was a harrowing listen, but its uncompromising singularity attracted experimental music fans of all types.
Again, it would be 11 years before Walker would release new music when 2006's The Drift was released on 4AD, Walker again sent shockwaves through the avant-garde community. While Tilt was, in part, adored for its misdirection, The Drift was celebrated for its execution. As the second part of Walker's late-career trilogy, it took his ornate orchestration to new depths; every second of its nearly 70-minute runtime felt intentional and intricate.
 Scott, who never listened to his own records, explained that he “needed an undercurrent of violence and that came into my head” and added: “There’s darkness in everything I do.”
Even Scott believed his penultimate album, 2012’s Bish Bosch, was not one to listen to for hours on end. “No! No! You’ll end up dead if you do that,” he told one reviewer.
Walker then surprised many fans with Soused, a collaboration with experimental doom-metal droners Sunn O))), in 2014. Consisting of five songs, each circa ten minutes in length. Each consisting of Walker’s abstract, Beckett-like incantations. Each consisting of sweeping monolithic guitar drones. Truly incredible channeling stuff,peerlessly deep and complex . 
In his final years he produced Pulp’s final album, We Love Life, in 2001, was celebrated with a Proms concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2017 and, last year, composed the score for the Brady Corbet-directed film Vox Lux, a musical drama starring Natalie Portman.
Much of his time, though, was spent out of the public gaze with long-term partner Beverly or doting on his granddaughter Emmi-Lee. He lived in Chiswick, West London, until his death.
He said: “I’m an outsider, for sure. That suits me fine. Solitude is like a drug for me. I crave it.” Speaking to The Guardian in 2018, Walker predicted that even his most far-afield work would eventually find an appreciative audience. "I'll be six feet under — but they will."
An absolute Musical genius, enigmatic, existential and intellectual. From teen idol  to avantgarde recluse , no one quite had  a career like him. The music world  currently mourns this uniquely challenging artist, whose seismic influence on popular culture will long be felt. So long Scott Walker.Rest in Peace.

 The Sun Ain't Gnna Shine Anymore - Walker Brothers

Make it wasy on yourself - Walker Brothers

Scott Walker - Jackie

 Scott Walker - Get Behind Me

Scott Walker - Dimple

 Scott Walker and  Sunn O))) - Lullaby

Free Lula Movement

The International Committee of Solidarity in Defence of Lula and Democracy in Brazil ( Portugese: Comitê Internacional de Solidariedade a Lula e à Democracia no Brasil), also known as the Free Lula Movement (Portuguese: Movimento Lula Livre), is a political and social movement composed of several Brazilian entities that advocates the release of the ex- Brazilian President Lula  from prison.
Lula has long proved a divisive figure , but the summary imprisonment has sounded the alarm for many people – even those who might not agree with his politics – about a danger to the fabric of Brazil’s democracy. How did a rising global power with a vibrant democracy plummet into a political abyss? 
Luís Inácio Lula da Silva was the most influential trade union leader in Brazil in the 1970s, and the most important leader of the ‘new unions’ emerging under the military dictatorship. These combative unions were centred in the consumer goods industries, state-owned enterprises and the civil service.
Between the late 1970s and early 1980s, Lula led some of the largest and most influential workers’ strikes in Brazilian history. He was also the leading founder of the Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT) in the early 1980s, spending several years as party president. But, despite media hype at the time, Lula was never a ‘socialist’ of any description. He was always a social democrat, and a negotiator: he is impressively good at reaching agreement across economic and political divides, and this quality was essential in his political trajectory.
He built the largest party of the masses in the country, he ran and lost three presidential elections, and he challenged the discrimination, the powerful upper class and the media, to become, in October 2002, the first worker elected president of Brazil. In eight years in office, he proved it was possible to change the destiny of the country.
Lula was favourite to win Brazil's 2018 presidential election but was barred from running by the country’s top electoral court, due to a controversial corruption conviction, which people  say was just a means of keeping him from returning to a move condemned by the UN Human Rights Committee.
This was the outcome of an unprecedented judicial persecution already lasting four years: the most egregious case of lawfare in the world today. The affair is thought to have contributed to the sudden death of Lula’s wife Marisa. His bank accounts, savings and pensions have been blocked, rendering him destitute. Yet, no allegation has been proven, and this ruling comes courtesy of a judge overtly aligned with a right-wing party and with close contacts with the US Department of Justice, who also played the roles of prosecutor and jury
The result was the election of Jair Bolsonaro, an ultra-militaristic, right-wing, religious extremist who has pledged to continue imposing neoliberal economic policies that impact Brazil’s working class and poor while encouraging hatred and violence against LGBTQI people, Black people, poor, social movements and dissidents in general.Threatening civil liberties, the rights of minorities and Brazil’s fragile democracy. These dark forces are preventing Brazil from being a truly democratic country.
On January 24, 2018, an appeals court in Porto Alegre, Brazil confirmed a previous ruling against Lula of the Workers’ Party, sentencing him to over 12 years in jail.
On April 4, the Supreme Court rejected the habeas corpus presented by Lula’s defense. The habeas corpus would have permitted Lula to remain free while he appealed his criminal conviction. The following day, Sérgio Moro, the federal judge heading the Lava Jato investigation and the soon-to-be Minister of Justice in the Bolsonaro presidency, gave Lula until 5 p.m. of the next day to present himself to the Federal Police of Curitiba, a city in the south of Brazil, to begin his sentence. The declaration of the judge caused an uproar both within Brazil and internationally. Major international media organizations denounced the decision as a sign of the decay of Brazilian democracy.
For  many he is considered  to be a political prisoner whose continuing detention tarnishes Brazilian democracy. Persecuted and imprisoned by the Brazilian elite he remains a symbol for progressive forces in Brazil. He is backed by the Brazilian trade union movement he used to lead and the Workers’ Party he helped to found.His supporters also include numerous MPs, cultural figures, alongside foreign leftist leaders, such as Michelle Bachelet from Chile and François Hollande from France, as well as the Bolivian leader Evo Morales and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.
Please  help  this important campaign by adding your name here:

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Happy 100th Birthday Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlinghetti heretic, civil libertarian, painter, poet, political activist and countercultural icon,  celebrates his 100th birthday today, a living legend who in 1953, founded the City Lights bookstore. Ferlinghetti's mission for City Lights was aligned with his socialist politics: to break poetry out of its stuffy academic cage and make it accessible to all.
A prominent voice of the wide-open poetry movement that began in the 1950s, he has written poetry, translation, fiction, theater, art criticism, film narration and essays. Often concerned with politics and social issues. His work counters the literary elites definition of art and the artists role in the world. Though  imbued with the commonplace, his poetry cannot be simply described as polemic  or personal protest, for  it stands out for  his craftmanship, thematics and grounding in tradition. Born in Yonkers, New York in 1919 , an activist whose beats still goes on, still brave enough and daring to challenge people's beliefs.His life  has seen him act as a catalyst for numerous literary careers and for the Beat movement itself, publishing the early work of Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder etc.
Ferlinghetti’s own verse came to national, and later international attention, with his  first self-published poetry book, “Pictures of the Gone World” (1955),  which was followed by “Coney Island of the Mind” (1958). a  voice  fresh and optimistic, even as he denounced consumerism, capitalism and the deadening effects of conformity. Making poetry accessible to all, with his lucid views he has long watered my senses. His bookstore long now  has been an iconic literary institution that  has embodied social change and literary freedom. A truly remarkable person, Ferlinghetti urges poets and writers to “create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic… you can conquer the conquerors with words.”
Fame first came to Ferlinghetti when he and City Lights clerk Shigeyoshi Murao were arrested and put on trial in 1957 for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s “controversial Howl and Other Poems , drawing attention to te issues of free speech. In a landmark decision, Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled that the Beat poet’s work was not obscene.Since then, Ferlinghetti’s activist voice has not softened. When speaking about President Trump, he is unequivocal: “Trump is an evil man,” he says. “He’s so dangerous. I think you’ve got to take this man seriously. I think he’s out to destroy democracy.”
He's grown "frail and nearly blind," writes Chloe Veltman at The Guardian in an interview with the poet this month, "but his mind is still on fire." Ferlinghetti “has not mellowed,” says Washington Post book critic Ron Charles, "at all."  but  he's  still got the edge, still got so much  force.His innovative poetics incorporating  slang, pop cultural references wry humour continue to examine the human condition.
Ferlinghetti  who has recenly released his latest book Little Boy,  is a consistently spirited and astute observer, spiking his vital, frank accounts with cultural, political, and personal insights both funny and stinging in language that is jazzy and lyrical. Soulfully open to the world and all its sorrows and wonders, Ferlinghetti affirms, in every line, the power of literature and art as essential navigational tools. Happy birthday  Lawrence Ferlinghett, whose voice  is still vital as ever, a giant who  long will inspire.

Poet as Fisherman -  Lawrence Ferlinghetti

 As I grow older I percieve
Life has its tail in its mouth
and other poets other painters
are no longer any kind of competition
Its the sky that's the challenge
the sky that still needs deciphering
even as astronomers strain to hear it
with their huge electric ears
the sky that whispers to us constantly
the final secrets of the universe
the sky that breathes in and out
as if it were the inside of a mouth
of the cosmos
the sky that is the land's edge also
and the sea's edge also
the sky with its many voices and no god
the sky that engulfs a sea of sound
and echoes it back to us
as in a wave against a seawall
Whole poems whole dictionaries
rolled up in a thunderclap
And every sunset an action painting
and every cloud a book of shadows
through which wildly fly
the vowels of birds about to cry
And the sky is clear to the fisherman
even if overcast
He  sees it for what it is :
a mirror of the sea
about to fall on him
in his wood boat on the dark horizon
We have to think of him as the poet
forever face to face with old reality
where no birds fly before a storm
And he knows what's coming down
before the dawn
and he's his own best lookout
listening for the sound of the universe
and singing out his sightings
of the land of the living.

The World is A Beautiful Place - Lawrence Ferlinghetti

 The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't mind happiness
not always being
so very much fun
if you don't mind a touch of hell
now and then
just when everything is fine
because even in heaven
they don't sing
all the time

The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't mind some people dying
all the time
or maybe only starving
some of the time
which isn't half bad
if it isn't you

Oh the world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't much mind
a few dead minds
in the higher places
or a bomb or two
now and then
in your upturned faces
or such other improprieties
as our Name Brand society
is prey to
with its men of distinction
and its men of extinction
and its priests
and other patrolmen

and its various segregations
and congressional investigations
and other constipations
that our fool flesh
is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all
for a lot of such things as
making the fun scene
and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
and singing low songs and having inspirations
and walking around
looking at everything
and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
and even thinking
and kissing people and
making babies and wearing pants
and waving hats and
and going swimming in rivers
on picnics
in the middle of the summer
and just generally
'living it up'
but then right in the middle of it
comes the smiling


Thursday, 21 March 2019

Spinning Predators

Catchy jingles, striking slogans and subliminal commands
Cook up the tailor baked insidious mixture,
Guilefully iced with fairy fingertips
Cunningly crafted to engender the bite,
Cultivating tastes and erasing senses
Resetting fashion and exploiting the impressionable,
Crippling the mind with fabricated dreams
Epitomising the dysfunctional corporate culture.

Relentless blitz campaigns infiltrate young minds
Wafting of empty catchpenny blurb,
Magnetising and harvesting incipient souls
Channeling conception of lifelong habits,
Casting the spell of deluded grandeur,
Emblazing emblems and velvet voices,
Pull at the fraying parental purse strings,
Planting the seeds of the anticipatory crop.

As unscrupulous measures invite comparison
And polarizing attitudes sever relationships,
Advocating change and facilitating division
Endorsing the social class perimeters.
Glorifying the rich, shunning the poor
Harbouring hate and compromising principles,
Breeding contempt and empowering crime
Stimulating suicides and signing death warrants.

The spectre of materialism courts capitalism
Reinforcing elitism and widening the gap,
The opulent empires triumph and prosper
Home to rapacious fat cats and parsimonious millionaires,
Embroiled in a mission of propelling persuasion
Shooting sugar coated spears at the statistical melange,
Bagging vulnerable victims with wily schemes
Prey of the coercive stimulus of obsequious ladder climbers.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Spring Resurrects

(Spring Equinox Greetings,we llive in sad times but life can renew, this old poem bought back afresh)

I have prayed for miracles
That simply do not exist,
Perception tested, rearranged
Obscured by realities mist,
In the morning tinged with sadness
Tickling blossoms return to nurture,
The air, bright clear and glorious
Plough all depths of possibility,
Old spirits return, needing to inspect
Sit beside me once more and investigate,
Call my name as birds sing
Spring guiding lifeblood of existence,
Resurrecting in subtlest way
While daffodils dance, and snowdrops bow
Nature alive again, with scented  treasure,
Love resonating with every sound
Touched with truth, that needs no eye,
In Camouflaged ripples of time
Trees whisper secrets of surrender,
darkness dwindles, hope releases
Under open sky, dreams tapestry unfurls,
Pagan life forces of crescendo
Lift  us forwards to tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Free Chelsea Manning Again


In 2013  the  courageous Amrican activist. human rights heroine and  US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning was given a 35-year prison sentence after she had leaked more than 700,000 confidential US State Department and Pentagon documents, videos and diplomatic cables about the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks. Mannings leak of military data was driven, she has said  by 'love of country and a sense of duty for others;'
In the documents that would become known as the Iraq War Logs and the Afghanistan War Logs, Manning exposed the military's standing orders to ignore the many allegations of physical and sexual abuse and torture of detainees perpetrated by the Iraqi Security Forces. She exposed contractors trafficking children in Afghanistan, and many instances in both countries where large numbers of civilian casualties went conveniently unreported between 2004 and 2009.
Perhaps the most notorious of the releases was a US military video that WikiLeaks titled 'Collateral Murder'. It showed the indiscriminate slaying of up to eighteen people in Baghdad on 12 July, 2007. The footage, taken from an Apache helicopter gun-sight, showed the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters journalist and his rescuers. A second Reuters staff member, employed as a driver and camera assistant, was also killed. Two young children, whose father was among those killed, were seriously wounded.
The video, together with the transcript of army exchanges during the indiscriminate US killings, shocked many around the world:
Let's shoot.
Light 'em all up.
Come on, fire!
Keep shoot, keep shoot. [keep shooting]
keep shoot.
keep shoot.
Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards.
Were it not for Chelsea Manning’s courageous disclosures, certain U.S. military atrocities might have been kept secret. She brought to light secret U.S. drone strikes carried out in Yemen, as well as the fact that Egypt's State Security Investigation Service, a wing of the police force which has committed obscene human rights violations, received training from the FBI. Her revelations were also key to exposing U.S. approval of the 2009 coup against the elected government in Honduras and U.S. dealings with dictators and oligarchs across the Middle East, which helped spark the Arab Spring rebellions.
Prior to her arrest in 2010, Chelsea Manning wrote: “I want people to see the truth, regardless of who they are. Because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
Manning, who’s now 31, spent a substantial amount of time in solitary confinement before her trial, in addition to years in prison afterward. She publicly came out as transgender just after she was sentenced, and she struggled with mental health while behind bars, resulting at one point in another week of solitary confinement. While in prison, Manning twice attempted to commit suicide.She was released in 2017, after her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama, two days before he left office following sustained pressure from activists.
In a move her defenders called "an outrageous government overreach and absolutely inhumane, on 8 March – International Women's Day – Manning was once again jailed after she refused to testify against WikiLeaks, and its founder Julian Assange, before a grand jury in Virginia, and was  incarcerated in the Alexandria, VA federal detention center. Her imprisonment can extend through the term of the Grand Jury, possibly 18 months, and the U.S. courts could allow formation of future Grand Juries, potentially jailing her again.
She said in a statement
'I will not comply with this, or any other grand jury.'Imprisoning me for my refusal to answer questions only subjects me to additional punishment for my repeatedly-stated ethical objections to the grand jury system.'I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech.'
Chelsea Manning is widely considered to be an American hero for risking her own freedom to expose war crimes committed by the United States military in Iraq. Many compare her with Daniel Ellsberg who released the Pentagon Papers exposing U.S. government lies about the Viet Nam War. Ellsberg calls Manning a patriot:
"She’s a very patriotic person. I know no one more patriotic, actually, willing to risk and even give her own freedom, her own life, in order to preserve our constitutional freedoms and the Constitution. I admired her then. I admire her now. And right now she’s refusing to take part in basically a conspiracy against press freedom in this country, led by the president of the United States and the secretary of state."
In an interview last week with Dennis Bernstein on Radio KPFA, John Pilger described the significance, and injustice, of the recent jailing of Chelsea Manning. The irony of her being imprisoned on International Women's Day was first noted, then Pilger pointed to the shameful silence from the women's movement, and other human rights activists:
'Where are they [human rights activists] on Chelsea Manning? Why were there only ten people outside the Court House? Where is Amnesty International? Where are the women's groups? Where are the LGBT groups? Where are the Pride people? Why aren't they massing in support of Chelsea Manning? Instead I see Chelsea Manning's story relegated in a sort of, "Oh well, that's almost inevitable this is going to happen." But this [...] is the most significant act of principle; an inspiration to all decent people; to democrats, to people who believe in justice. So where are the groups who have been very loud in their condemnation – rightly - of Donald Trump? Where are they? Why are we not hearing from them?'
The U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia is fooling itself if it thinks locking up Manning will compel her to testify. She has  bravely made  it clear that she has no interest in testifying in such a secretive setting. Her only offense is an unwillingness to cooperate with the same government that locked her up for exposing the kinds of horrors its military forces perpetrated in Iraq and  Afghanistan.
Chelsea Manning is a political prisoner who is being used as an example, her  imprisonment is cruel, punitive, criminal and totally unjustifiable. The White House wants to set a precedent for jailing whistle-blowers and journalists who publish information critical of the military and state apparatus. Even now, after her original sentence has been commuted, the state continues to pursue her and demands that she testify in secret hearings about events that she has already gone on the public record about . We  must demand the immediate and unconditional release of Chelsea Manning. There will always be a welcome for here in Wales.

Sign petition:

Write to her

Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, A0181426
William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center
2001 Mill Road
Alexandria, VA 22314

She can NOT accept books or cards.
She can receive letters, as well as newspapers.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Karl Marx's Tomb

the Marx Grave Trust, has asked  all members  of the public to respect the tomb of Karl Marx at Highgate Cemetary, London as a place of commemoration and family grave.
The tomb site  and the Marx Grave Trust were established with the  active support of Karl Marx's great grandsons.
The present monument commemorates the final resting place not only of Karl Marx, but also his wife Jenny von Westphalen, together with their daughter, Eleanor Marx, a prominent political and trade iunion activist, Harry Longuet, the grandson of Karl and Jenny Marx and Helena Demuth, their house-hold manager and the political confidante of both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
It is a Grade 1 listed structures of “exceptional interest.”
The Trust, which is the legal owner of the tomb and monument, is currently in close consultation with Highgate Cemetery over the necessary professional repairs to restore the monument, following recent damage caused by vandalism. It is also discussing issues of conservation and security with the Cemetery.
 In an  assault, reported to police on February 4, the grave’s marble plaque was repeatedly smashed with a hammer, damaging it beyond repair. A second attack on the night of February 15 saw the entire monument daubed in bright  redpaint on the grave of Highgate Cemetery's most famous resident. "It will never be the same again, and will wear tose battle scars for the future," said Ian Dugavell  of the friends of Highgate Cemetary Trust of the damage to the plaque   “Senseless, stupid, Ignorant,” the cemetery said. “Whatever you think about Marx’s legacy, this is not the way to make the point.”
 The graffiti covered inscriptions of Marx’s final words of The Communist Manifesto, “Workers of all lands unite,” and the most famous of Karl Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point however is to change it.” The contrast between Marx’s messages of hope and the violent smears that covered them could not be more jarring.
“It will never be the same again, and will bear those battle scars for the future,” said Ian Dungavell, chief executive of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust, of the plaque.

Read more at:
“It will never be the same again, and will bear those battle scars for the future,” said Ian Dungavell, chief executive of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust, of the plaque.

Read more at:
 The shameful attack on Marx’s grave in a far right targetted ideological assault  coincided with fascist attacks on the graves of socialist leaders in Spain and on Holocaust memorials and Jewish cemeteries in France, Poland, Lithuania and Greece. In Manchester, a Jewish cemetery was targeted on February 8, with fascist hoodlums smashing gravestones, windows and wash basins.
The monument has been attacked previously, most notably during the 1970s, when vandals damaged the face of the bust and attempted to put a bomb inside it to destroy it. No arrests have been made over the attacks.
As Mark Neocleous points out in his research on the interconnections between fascism and death. According to Neocleous, the fascist fears that their dead enemies are not properly dead, but “undead.” This means that the dead can — in some mystical sense — come back to life.
Grave desecration, as Mark Neocleous argues, is integral to fascist terrorism. According to Jewish law, “treating a corpse disrespectfully implies a belief that death is final and irreversible.” In other words, treating the dead disrespectfully gives no hope for their resurrection.
Fascists desecrated Jewish graves because it wasn’t enough that those interred were biologically dead; grave desecration meant that the fascists did not think they were dead enough. As Neocleous puts it, “Unable to actually engage in this struggle in the world of the undead, the fascist is forced to the next best thing: attack the grave.”
These attacks against Marx’s grave are meant to prevent Marx from coming back to life — not literally, of course, but in the figurative resurrection of a socialist movement. As Walter Benjamin once put it, not even the dead are safe from fascism; in this case, not even Marx’s grave is safe.
For fascists, Marx’s grave does not represent the site of someone dead, but of something threatening to reemerge. Marxism represents the eternal enemy of the fascist imagination; Marx is not dead, but undead. They fear that Marx is still influencing world history from beyond the grave. Worse, they fear that the socialist movement is resurrecting Marx from the oblivion of the past.
If capitalism is one day overthrown and humanity moves from its pre-history towards real history, then Marx will be more than a ghost; he will be immortalized.
Defacing a beautiful monument in this destructive manner will not change the power of his words. His overwhelming legacy refuses to die. Marx's intellectual influence still so strong,his ideas and thinking have become fundamentals of modern economics and sociology.  Marx’s legacy is pervasive, complex, and often polarizing. But  the epitaph carved in gold letters into his grey marble tombstone  in the hearts and minds of many cannot simply be erased. His grave remains a pilgrimage site for followers from around the world attracting thousands of people each year. and his ideas still play an important role in shaping political and cultural discourses in the UK and abroad.
 The German revolutionary socialist, author of “Das Kapital” and co-author of the “Communist Manifesto”, although was German born, he had to flee Germany and settle in London, living there from 1849 until his death in 1883.On Saturday, March 17, 1883 Marx was laid to rest in Highgate Cemetery, in the same grave in which his wife had been buried fifteen months earlier.
At the graveside Gottlieb Lemke laid two wreaths with red ribbons on the coffin in the name of the editorial board and dispatching service of the Sozialdemokrat and in the name of the London Communist Workers' Educational Society.
Frederick Engels then made the following speech in English:
"On the 14th of March, at a quarter to three in the afternoon, the greatest living thinker ceased to think. He had been left alone for scarcely two minutes, and when we came back we found him in his armchair, peacefully gone to sleep-but forever.
"An immeasurable loss has been sustained both by the militant proletariat of Europe and America, and by historical science, in the death of this man. The gap that has been left by the departure of this mighty spirit will soon enough make itself felt.
"Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore the production of the immediate material means of subsistence and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.
"But that is not all. Marx also discovered the special law of motion governing the present-day capitalist mode of production and the bourgeois society that this mode of production has created. The discovery of surplus value suddenly threw light on the problem, in trying to solve which all previous investigations, of both bourgeois economists and socialist critics, had been groping in the dark.
"Two such discoveries would be enough for one lifetime. Happy the man to whom it is granted to make even one such discovery. But in every single field which Marx investigated -- and he investigated very many fields, none of them superficially -- in every field, even in that of mathematics, he made independent discoveries.
"Such was the man of science. But this was not even half the man. Science was for Marx a historically dynamic, revolutionary force. However great the joy with which he welcomed a new discovery in some theoretical science whose practical application perhaps it was as yet quite impossible to envisage, he experienced quite another kind of joy when the discovery involved immediate revolutionary changes in industry and in historical development in general. For example, he followed closely the development of the discoveries made in the field of electricity and recently those of Marcel Deprez.
"For Marx was before all else a revolutionist. His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival. His work on the first Rheinische Zeitung (1842), the Paris Vorw?rts! (1844), Br?sseler Deutsche Zeitung (1847), the Neue Rheinische Zeitung (1848-49), the New York Tribune (1852-61), and in addition to these a host of militant pamphlets, work in organisations in Paris, Brussels and London, and finally, crowning all, the formation of the great International Working Men's Association -- this was indeed an achievement of which its founder might well have been proud even if he had done nothing else.
"And, consequently, Marx was the best-hated and most calumniated man of his time. Governments, both absolutist and republican, deported him from their territories. Bourgeois, whether conservative or ultra-democratic, vied with one another in heaping slanders upon him. All this he brushed aside as though it were cobweb, ignoring it, answering only when extreme necessity compelled him. And he died beloved, revered and mourned by millions of revolutionary fellow-workers -- from the mines of Siberia to California, in all parts of Europe and America -- and I make bold to say that though he may have had many opponents he had hardly one personal enemy.
"His name will endure through the ages, and so also will his work!"

Friday, 15 March 2019

Terrorist Attack in Christchurch, New Zealand


My heart is heavy with grief today  with the devastating  heatbreaking news that an Alt-right terrorist attack in New Zealand’s Christchurch has left 49 people dead and at least 48 wounded. The attacks occurred at two locations: Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque, which are approximately three miles apart.
Another set of lives, and families, tragically destroyed by an ideology of visceral hatred. The depravity of the killer is only underlined by the fact that he live-streamed the attack.
According to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, 41 people have been killed at Al Noor and another 7 perished at Linwood Mosque, another died at Christchurch Hospital, while dozens of victims are being treated for gunshot wounds at various local hospitals.
The New Zealand Police are reporting that four people, three men, and one woman, have been taken into custody in connection with the attacks. None of the suspects were on security watch lists but all hold extremist views. One of the gunmen posted live footage on social media of the attack as it unfolded. It appears that the camera was strapped to his head.
 The individual who posted the videos online tried to cloak himself in the façade of normality, describing himself as “just a ordinary White man.”
In fact, he was a self-confessed “eco-fascist”. He praises Oswald Mosley and the Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011.
 Shortly before the attack he, like his hero Breivik, posted a document online that used stock phrases from the alt-right to justify the murders. He talked of “white genocide” and cited spurious statistics about birth rates to explain away the savagery of his actions. As if anything could justify such mass murder. The document is called the “Great Replacement”, a phrase widely used in Generation Identity circles, a network close to British far right figures such as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Tommy Robinson).
 Hope not Hate chif executive Nick Knowles, said  the killers motives were clear:
“The bloody terrorist attack in Christchurch was carried out by a far-right activist who has published a manifesto explaining why he did it. It is full of praise for other anti-Muslim activists and ideas. This is where the ideologies of visceral hatred end up.
“The terrorist’s manifesto uses the stock phrases of the alt-right to justify murder, talking of ‘white genocide’ and citing spurious statistics about birth rates to explain away the savagery they have inflicted on people simply engaged in practising their faith…
“The attacker’s manifesto specifically says he wanted to ‘incite violence [and] retaliation’ against Muslims.”
Violence, terrorism and murder are part and parcel of his rationale. Through his murders, he wanted to “mobilise a race war and revolution.”
Mike Bush, New Zealand’s police commissioner, has warned people to stay away from mosques this Friday and for mosques to close their doors until further notice, according to the New York Times.
The country has been placed on its highest security threat level.
In these dark sad  times  we must  offer our full assitance to the Muslim community, condemning this abhorent crime srongly. This attack is a sobering reminder that the threat of far right political and religious violence is real and that we must remain vigilant against it.We must with our friends continually stand united in solidarity against the scourge of hate and intolerance and challenge the racism  and policies that feeds these attacks.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Jack Kerouac ( March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) - Joy Kicks Darkness

Have written about Jack Kerouac many times here before, this Beat icon, poet, writer and creator of spontaneous Bop prosity. This  eternal beatnik would have turned 97 today, his words like a gateway drug, that have helped me search for horizons, ways to be free, introducing me to the work of his friends, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Gary Snyder etc etc.
The shaman of the Beat Generation arrived today in 1922 as  Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac to a  French-Canadian family in the factory town of  Lowell, Massachusettsus USA. Variously called the Beat Generations apostle, poet, hero, laureate, saint. Through his own life story he created  a work of fiction .Soared so high, that in the end unfortunately found his own human skin, then found himself out of his depth in bottled delusion, where the burning ship had become his own.
Kerouac learned to speak French at home before he learned English at school. Reportedly he did not learn English until he was six years old . His father Leo Kerouac owned his own print shop, Spotlight Print, in downtown Lowell, and his mother Gabrielle Kerouac, known to her children as Memere, was a homemaker. Kerouac later described the family’s home life: “My father comes home from his printing shop and undoes his tie and removes his1920s vest, and sits himself down at hamburger and boiled potatoes and bread and butter, and with the kiddies and the good wife.”
Jack Kerouac endured a childhood tragedy in the summer of 1926, when his beloved older brother Gerard died of rheumatic fever at the age of 9. Drowning in grief, the Kerouac family embraced their Catholic faith more deeply. Kerouac’s writing is full of vivid memories of attending church as a child: “From the open door of the church warm and golden light swarmed out on the snow. The sound of the organ and singing could be heard.”
 Jack would earn a football scholarship to Columbia University, and planned to work in insurance after finishing school, according to the Beat Museum, which goes into detail about Kerouac’s rise to literary and cultural stardom. But his life only took a more hectic turn once he arrived in New York City, and he quickly clashed with his football coach. Jack dropped out of school, joined the Merchant Marines then joined the Navy. Unused to discipline Jack rebelled by punching his commanding officer. He was sent to a psychiatric hospital. His first diagnosis had been schizophrenia, but that was later changed to ' schizoid personality' with 'angel tendencies' and ' unrealistic self importance' He recieved an honourable discharge for 'indifferent character.'. He later claimed that he acted  crazy to escape the Navy and becoming a full time writer, he did this by landing in New York City and falling in with New York’s literary crowd, meeting Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Around this time, Kerouac took several cross-country road trips with his friend Neal Cassady that would later inspire his seminal work, On the Road.
Kerouac lived a life that symbolized freedom. Kerouac’s great novel On the Road was about the freedom that comes from traveling.  His literary style was modeled after the improvisational free spirit of Jazz music.  After Kerouac first got published and fame came with the popularity of his seminal book, he began to lose the latitude he enjoyed from being an unknown.  Jack Kerouac began to drink more as the world he knew and loved changed dramatically.  His books became accounts of his current despair and recollections of his youth. In his final days, Kerouac isolated himself from much of the counterculture movement he reluctantly started.
On The Road today is considered the Great American Novel. The story recounts Kerouac’s first trips across America between 1947 to 1950.The characters in it  though renamed were also writers who became known as Beat writers. The term Beat is attributed to Jack Kerouac who first used the term and the literary movement became known as the Beat Generation. The term beatnik became a blanket description of everyone associated with drugs, jazz and homosexuality and Jack Kerouac was referred to as the ‘King of the Beat Generation.”  The King of the Beats and much of what that title implied was rejected by Kerouac who said ‘I’m not a beatnik, I’m a Catholic”
The demands placed on Kerouac  at the time required him to make appearances on television and in his book Big Sur  the author recounts his experience on the Steve Allen Show,”the hell with the hot lights of Hollywood ( remembering that awful time one year earlier when I had to rehearse my reading of prose a third time under the hot lights on the Steve Allen Show….one hundred technicians waiting for me to start reading, Steve Allen he plunks at the piano, I sit there on the dunce’s stool and refuse to read a word or open my mouth,’I don’t have to REHEARSE for God’s sake Steve!’-‘But go ahead, we just wanta get the tome of your voice’….and I sit there sweating not saying a word for a whole minute….finally I say ‘No I can’t do it’ and I go …get drunk)(but surprising everybody  the night of show by doing my job of reading just fine.(Kerouac, Big Sur Pgs.24-25)
Viking Press, his publishers  demanded Kerouac produce a second book so they could build off of the success of On the Road This second book  became known as The Dharma Bums.The story within it  about Jack  and poet Gary Snyder’s search for Zen truths while they studied Buddhism. At the same time as the figurehead of an entire movement, Kerouac became severely alcoholic while he received all of the pangs of his success.
His early years appear mostly dominated by beer, which he would continue to drink, often as a chaser  for the rest of his life. However, through most of Beat history – from the early “libertine circle” days in New York, through the publication of the most important Beat texts and the subsequent “beatnik” fad Kerouac’s drink of choice was red wine, and it is this with which he is most often associated. It was, after all, wine that he drank during the famous 6 Gallery reading, while travelling America, and hiking in the wilderness.
Kerouac was aware of his alcoholism and his experiences which made up the text of Big Sur explain how the man was not coping with his problem.  In the following passage, Kerouac explains alcoholism. “Any drinker knows how the process works: the first day you get drunk is okay, the morning after means a big head…you can kill with a few drinks and a meal, but if you pass up the meal and go on to another night’s drunk, and wake up to keep the toot going, and continue on to the fourth day, there’ll come one day when the drinks wont take effect because you’re chemically overloaded and you’ll have to sleep it off but can’t sleep any more because it was alcohol itself that made you sleep those last five nights, so delirium sets in-Sleeplessness, sweat, trembling, a groaning feeling of weakness where your arms are numb and useless, nightmares (nightmares of death).” (Kerouac, Big Sur pgs 74-75). Big Sur was the last novel that would make up the Legend of Duluoz collection although the author would continue to write about his youth in future works.
In Big Sur Kerouac concludes the novel with a detailed account of his nervous breakdown. “Masks explode before my eyes when I close them, when I look at the moon it waves, moves, when I look at my hands and feet they creep-Everything is moving, the porch is moving like ooze and mud, the chair trembles under me” (Kerouac Big Sur Pg 200).
During a paranoiac passage, Kerouac explains a premonition of his death.
But angels are laughing and having a big barn dance in the rocks of the sea…Suddenly as clear as anything I ever saw in my life, I see the Cross…it stays a long time, my heart goes out to it, my whole body fades away to it.(Kerouac Big Sur Pgs.204-205)
After Kerouac’s breakdown on Big Sur in 1960, he returned home to be with his mother in Northport New York.  Kerouac attempted to improve his physical health and continue to work. Big Sur was released in 1962, a chronicle of the time he when he escapes to Big Sur, running from the world, and lost in a sea of depression and alcoholism, while trying to cope with  the pressures of celebrity.The novel earned critical success for its realistic accounts of sickness and madness where he rather poignantly reflects on the deterioration alcohol has caused. With the release of the novel, Kerouac began to move up and down the east coast. Kerouac still lived with his mother Gabrielle and together they relocated from New York to Florida in 1960 and from Florida to Lowell, Massachusetts in October 1962. (Gifford, Lee. Jack’s Book pg. 295)
In the late fifties or early sixties, Kerouac switched from wine  to whiskey,  and was also drinking rum at this point, but whiskey was to remain his drink of choice (and that of his mother) for the rest of his life. In Tristessa he had said that he was drinking “Juarez Bourbon whiskey” and that he mixed it with Canadian Dry, while most biographers and friends have recounted his fondness for Johnny Walker Red. During a trip to France, Kerouac began drinking Cognac, and once told Philip Whalen that “Cognac [is] the only drink in the world, with soda and ice, that won’t actually kill you.”
While a preeminent chronicler of America, Kerouac also spent a significant amount of time in Mexico, where he developed a taste for tequila and his signature drink, the margarita.Kerouac’s margarita is far from the saccharine slushie many would associate it with today. The drink is essentially a derivative of the Sidecar, substitute the cognac for tequila, the lemon juice for lime, keep the triple sec and you have it. Shake well, straining into a cocktail glass.After a few of these you’ll feel as free as Kerouac's  prose.
As the sixties progressed though, Kerouac’s alcoholism removed him as the head of the counter culture movement. Kerouac’s friend and fellow Beat writer Allen Ginsberg became  the figure head of the counter culture movement.
In November of 1966, Jack Kerouac married Stella Sampas in Hyannis, Massachusetts . John Clellon Holmes describes Kerouac’s mood the night he got married. “During their wedding celebration, he called us, and he put Stella on the phone. I had never met Stella-knew about her of course…he was drunk and happy. He sounded great."
Though Kerouac was married, his wife describes his isolation after marriage.  “It was bad for Jack, living in Florida. He had no real friends. In Lowell, Jack was…as isolated as he had been in Florida. Though she (Kerouac’s Mother) was fairly incapacitated by her stroke he was still operating under the stern eye of Memere.”
With Kerouac’s mother sick, the author attempted to continue his writing.  Between March and May of 1967, Kerouac wrote a reworking of the period of his life he covered in The Town and the City called the Vanity of Duloz . In February of 1968, Kerouac was told by his friend Luanne Henderson that Neal Cassady had died in Mexico City.  Henderson spoke of Kerouac’s reaction after hearing of Cassady’s death “Afterward, Jack liked to pretend he didn’t really think Neal was dead, even telling interviewers from The Paris Review that Neal would show up again someday and surprise everyone.”
After resettling in Florida by 1968, Kerouac settled with his wife and together they tried to take care of the author’s ailing mother. Jack wrote very little during his final year and would rarely leave the house. Stuck in a sad exile,this  mystical breath had grown tired, what was once beautiful  had begun to  drift towards bitterness. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Kerouac “was known to consume 17 shots of Johnny Walker Red per hour, washed down with Colt malt liquor.” and because of this his search for inner lamentation was  cut tragically far to short.
Kerouac died on October 21st 1969 aged 47. The official cause of Kerouac’s death was bleeding esophagel varices caused by cirhosis, the result of a life of heavy drinking, who had at least devoted most of it to the free spirit he cherished.  In his novels the life he lived became a symbol of freedom which resulted in the development of an entire Beat movement. The price for Kerouac’s vision led to his success which in turn resulted in excessive alcoholism.
Jack Kerouac in his eighteen books  and many others under Jack's influence were to me important epiphanies on my own path of self discovery. He taught me about "Spontaneous prose." - writing without revising....... He called this " a spontaneous bop prosody."  which is a bit like a jazz musician taking an improvised solo, and he took it as far as he could go, with  no editing and no pause of breath. Sometimes what is left, has no meaning, a void, but often their is a glimmer, that spells hope, that can become endless, can run off the page, infinite but still accessible.
There are two types of people in this world; those that ‘get’ Kerouac, and those that do not. I am in the first category, of course, so  happy birthday Jack, your impact continues to be felt , your satori breath released , and your legacy today is stronger today than ever ... om  switchin on.... tomorrow's dawns chorus echoes,anesthesising the sky.... sentences littered with wild perception, language as  a spell that  leaves us forever hooked. In human existence our contradictions will abound, freeze framed, on the road to nowhere. Blessed be you in golden eternity.
In his life, he had been part of a culture and people, who burned like meteors. Jack Kerouac was the Beat Generations very own mythologiser, he and his band of brothers helped  redeem a bit of America's soul. His legacy, like that of the Beat Culture, still alive, still relevant, still taking root.
This influential poet and writer who along with his friends, paved a way for a whole host of dreamers searching for risk, some form of adventure. Colouring our worlds with their crazy visions, their minds in revolt, searching for future's possibilities. Hand in hand with rebellion, against the conventions of the times.  I always looked to the writings of Jack Kerouac, not necessarily for answers, but for inspiration, for verve. If you were susceptible to such things, it was hard not to read On The Road or Visions Of Cody for the first time and not be enraptured and changed by its content. And even though Jack Kerouac was flawed  and far from perfect, with his apparent weaknesses by which obviously, many other  people have been similarly affected, I’ve come to terms with the sadness of Kerouac’s story ,his books have served as a  kind of window to myself and others and for that, I am ever grateful, as his words live on, for eternity, ever so deep. Joy Kicks Darkness "Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever on the road " - JK

In Vain - Jack Kerouac

The stars in the sky
In vain
The tragedy of Hamlet
In vain
The key in the lock
In vain
The sleeping mother
In vain
The lamp in the corner
In vain
The lamp in the corner unlit
In vain
Abraham Lincoln
In vain
The Aztec empire
In vain
The writing hand: in vain
(The shoetrees in the shoes
In vain
The windowshade string upon
the hand bible
In vain—
The glitter of the greenglass
In vain
The bear in the woods
In vain
The Life of Buddha
In vain)

Monday, 11 March 2019

Wherever You Are Remember Fukushima


On March 11, 2011, at 2.46 pm Japan Time, a 9.0 magitude earthquake struck the Tohoku region of Honshsho Japan. It was the strongest tremor to hit the country and one of the strongest in the history of the world. The tremors lasted six minutes. Some 20 minutes after the earthquake hit, a  assive massie tsunami swept across coastal towns from the northern island of Hokkaido to the southern island of Okinawa, destroying more than 400,000 buildings and homes, and killing 15,891people.
A nuclear disaster compounded the horror when tsunami waves reached the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, with power out,the emergency cooling generators weren’t functional, and explosions began in the reactor containment buildings; this in turn caused nuclear material to leak out of the plant. causing the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. In addition too those already lost more than 3,700 people  mostly from Fukushima, died from illness or suicide in the aftermath of the tragedy.
In addition, more than 3,700 people—most of them from Fukushima—died from illness or suicide linked to the aftermath of the tragedy, according to government data

Read more at:
Unsurprisingly, critics of nuclear power  seized upon the accident to argue that because nature is unpredictable, nuclear power is simply too risky. Following the nuclear meltdown, Japan's entire stable of nuclear reactors were gradually switched off. But almost half a decade on, Japan is considering whether it should recommence its pursuit of nuclear energy - especially given its continued struggle to decommission the Fukushima reactors that are still inundated by contaminated water. 
Nuclear reactor facilities, which need a reliable source of water for cooling purposes, are usually located near the ocean or alongside a large lake or river.That's a somewhat fraught positioning from the lens of climate science, particularly since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report from 2007 found that ocean levels are rising roughly 1.2 inches each decade, with some scientists predicting that water levels could rise by as much as a meter by the end of the century.
That may not sound like much, with most nuclear power plants a full 20 to 30 feet above sea level, but each additional inch of water increases the risk of flooding and heightens storm surges, two of the more significant threats of a warmer planet.
The potential risks of tsunamis to nuclear power plants are well understood and a set of international standards has been developed to mitigate those risks. Yet, despite Japan’s history of tsunamis, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Japan’s nuclear regulator, did not apply those standards. It failed to review studies of tsunami risks performed by the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco. It also failed to ensure the development of tsunami-modeling tools compliant with international standards.
Tepco was also negligent. It knew of geological evidence that the region surrounding the plant had been periodically flooded about once every thousand years. In 2008, it performed computer simulations suggesting that a repeat of the devastating earthquake of 869 would lead to a tsunami that would inundate the plant. Yet it did not adequately follow up on either of these leads.
Many people still do not trust Tokyo Electric because of its bungled response to the disaster..Around 12,000 people who fled their homes for fear of radiation have  since filed dozens of lawsuits against the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the stricken nuclear plant. And  eight years later, radioactive water is continuing to flow into the Pacific Ocean from the crippled No ,1 plant, while thee radiation levels at the crippled plant are now at unimaginable levels. 
As memorial services for the thousands killed in the Great East Japan Earthquake are held across Japan  despite the billions poured into reconstruction efforts by the Japanese government, scars on the landscape remain visible and the tragedy continues to wreak misery for many,  more than 50,000 people  still remain displaced, living in shelters, and the country is spending more on power eight years after the disaster.

Roughly one in two Japanese voters think the reconstruction of the disaster-hit area "is not making progress" despite the rebuilding of infrastructure such as railways and houses for people who lost their homes in the disaster.According to the poll, 72.9 percent of voters think the Japanese government should halt its policy of exporting nuclear technology, compared to 14.7 percent who support the policy.
Today outside the Japanese Embassy101 Piccadilly, London W11 17:30 – 19:30 there will be  silence and prayer, poetry, speeches, songs
And on Saturday there will be a march on Parliament  outside Japanese Embassy101 Piccadilly, London W1 12:00 for start at 12:30 Fancy dress/bright colours welcome – especially yellow! follpwed by a rally  at Old Palace Yard opposite Parliament 14:00 – approx 16:00
Where there will be a one-minutes silence  in remembrance of the victims of the continuing Fukushima disaster plus all victims of nuclear power generation

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Tibetan Uprising Day

After Chinas newly established communist government  took over Tibet in 1949- 50, in an invasion of unprovoked aggression a treaty was imposed on the Tibetan  government acknowledging  sovereignty over Tibet  but recognising the Tibetan governments autonomy with respect to Tibets internal affairs. But as the Chinese consolidated their control, they repeatedly violated the treaty, nut since it was signed under duress anyway  the agreement was already in  violation of international law. In open resistance and with simmering resentment growing it led to the first major popular uprising against Chinses rule.
On 10 March - in Lhasa in 1959, the Dalai Lama was supposed to attend a dance troupe performance, but he was told he could not bring his bodyguards.Fearing his abduction to Beijing soon thousands of Tibetans surrounded the Norbulinka summer palace of their spiritual leader, in order to protect him from being taken away by the Chinese army. From Tibet then aged 23 he reached the safety of India having escaped on foot disguised as a soldier in a 15- day journey over the Himalayan mountains, traveling by night and hiding by day. where he has maintained a government-in-exile in the foothills of the Himalayas ever since. 
Tibetan rebels launched an attack on March 19, but Chinese troops captured the city on March 25.The uprising was vastly outnumbered and met with extreme force, and brutal suppression, some 87,000 Tibetans were killed, and some 100,000 fled as refugees.resulting in the beginning of increasingly harsh  Chinese rule over Tibet.
The Chinese government dissolved the Tibetan  government headed by the Dalai Lama on March 28, 1959, and the Panchen Lama assumed control of the Tibetan government on April , 1959. The Malayan government condemned the Chinese governments use of military force against the Tibetans on March 20, 1959, and Prime Minister Nehru of India expressed support for the Tibetan rebels on March 30, 1959.
Prior to its invasion, Tibet had a theocratic government of which the Dalai Lama was the supreme religious and temporal head. The Chinese media routinely try to illustrate a narrative of oppression  being commonplace in Tibet  before their invasion and painting the Dalai Lama  as a terrorist and dangerous seperatist to justify their occupation, stating they freed the prople of Tibet from "misery" and " slavery" under a feudal serfdom controlled by the Dalai Lama and his followers to try and distract us from the human rights abuses that China committed.Though it was no Shangri-La like paradise not only are their contradictions in this false narrative of serfdom and oppression that China likes to portray, most scholars have soundly rejected it and are moving away from this idea.
Tibetans since the invasion were treated as second-class citizens in their own country. They are routinely kicked out of their homes and sent to townships so the government can ‘develop’ occupied spaces '. Over 6,000 monasteries have been destroyed and those that have survived are not being used by monks, but ironically, are used as spiritual attractions for – mostly Chinese – tourists while they tighten Tibetans’ religious freedom. Areas that were once spiritual spots and pure nature are used as nuclear waste sites. Worst of all, Tibetans do not have freedom of speech, religion or movement. Many passports have been recalled and the borders are closed, trapping Tibetans in the country as their culture and land diminishes.Chines replaced Tibetan as the official language, Despite official pronouncements, there has been no practical change in this policy. Secondary school children are taught all classes in Chinese. Athough English is a requirement for most university courses, Tibetan school children cannot learn English unless they forfeit stdy of their own language. In addition the Dalai Lama says 1.2 million people  have been  killed under Chinese rule, though China disputes this. 

The international community has since reacted with shock to the events that have ocurred in Tibet. The question of Tibet was raised at the U.N General Assembly between 199 and 1967. Three resolutions have been passed by the General Assembly condemning China's iolations of human rights in Tibet andcallung uponChina to resect their rightsincluding their right toself determination.
The following website  is a useful one to view a timeline of Tibetan resistance over the decades. Large scale protests across Tibet took place in the 1980s and in 2008, as Beijing prepared to host the Olympic Games. China's  response left 227 dead, over 1,000 injured and 6,810 in prison.  Some have since been released.  Some are still behind bars.  Some didn’t live to tell the tale. A few not only survived until release but then evaded surveillance and managed to escape into exile.Some 150 Tibetans, young and old, monks and nuns, have self immolated aince 2009 calling for the freedom of Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.– Tibetans light themselves on fire as an individual form of non-violent protest against oppression. It is regretable  too that the Chinese authorities have placed a ban on foreign travellers from entering Tibet during the 60th anniversary period, restrictions on access to Tibet are not new since  Tibet is almost entrely closed to foreign  hournalists, diplomats and UN experts, thus adding to its isolation from the outside world.
Recent evidence shows that there has been a significant increase of Tibetan political  prisoners since the protests, and torture has become more widespread than ever. In 2015, Tibet Watch put the testimony of seven torture survivors in front of the UN. Voices that China tried to silence now told tales of barbaric cruelty and incredible bravery.  They told of the unbreakable spirit of Tibetan resistance.Please see the following link for more details
Whilst Tibetans are preparing to pay tribute to the courage of generations both past and present, China is preparing to befuddle the UN Human Rights Council in response to last Novembers Universal Periodic Review. As previously, China has rejected most of the Tibet-related recommendations, including basic requests for UN officials to visit, calling them “inconsistent with China’s national conditions, contradictory with Chinese laws, politically biased or untruthful.” Bizarrely, China claims to have "already implemented" a recommendation to restart dialogue on Tibet, when in fact there has been no acknowledged formal contact with the Dalai Lama's representatives since 2010. 
At the moment the citizens  of Tibet do not have anything that resembles any form of basic human rights. Children and adults can dissapear at any time. To practice their religion means they will face prison, torture and death. The people are prevented from displaying their banned flag, or in joining mass protests, but Tibetans still assert their desire for freedom in the face of severe repression.
Today this struggle  is being carried forward by a generation of Tibetans whose parents and even grandparents do not remember a life free of Chinese rule. Tibetans’ spiritual leader has pleaded with the Chinese government to make Tibet truly autonomous so people can have freedom of speech, religion, and movement. The Tibetan people should be allowed to retain their right to protest and allow their struggle and dscontent with China and its illegal occupation and continued mistreatment of Tibetans to be recognised.Even though the plight of the Tibetans does not seem to garner the media attention it once recieved todays anniversary still marks  years of oppression and exploitation.The fact remains that China still occupies Tibet in much  the same way that Western empires of the nineteenth and twentieth century occcupied large parts of Africa and Asia. Chinas claims to have ' liberated 'Tibet rings hollow,and the continuing Tibetan resistance represents a legitimate important call for self-determination.
As Tibetans  and their supporters look back over the 60  long  years since their first uprising,let's remember the bravery and determined spirit of those  who fought and gave their lives, and we recommit to securing the promise of human rights and religious freedom for the people of Tibet and support their ongoing  struggle, not forgetting the thousands upon thousands of arrests, dissapearances, cases of torture, arbitrary detention and forced political indoctrination, and  recommit to securing the promise of human rights and religious freedom for the people of Tibet and support their ongoing  struggle. .