Friday, 28 February 2020

Myriads of Consciousness

(The following inspired by a friends  prompt  could one fit RAGBAG into a piece of writing to bring along to the February Session  of the Cellar Bards )

Myriads of Consciousness

My divergent thoughts are akin to a rag bag
frequently refuelled at dawn,
in spare moments, on vaults of eternity
spinning words, from waves of optimism,
infusing a melange of fermenting emotions
as waters levels rise above the equilibrium,
on a hill remembering those that came before
on pathways of navigation, measuring time,
under the influence of drum beats symphony
flavoured by tobacco, grass and rum,
searching for reasons, visions once lost
finding gravity, in moment's of flight,
rediscovering the joyful solitude of one
magic in music, oceans of sounds,
the moon gliding through the night sky
dancing pulsating stars, casting their light,
the memory bank of inner imagination
avalanches of alchemical surrender,
unlocking the doors of perception
secrets once locked away, now shared,
lessons from history, the illusion of choice
insurrectionary choruses with non-passive voice ,
tibetan charms, the belief in reincarnation
beautiful goddesses, on a mission,
mind drifts, towards sinuous horizon
the petals outside calling, springtime returning,
on the threshold of the land of dreaming
beyond borders, tremulous echos resonate.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

DWP condemned for destroying reports into people who committed suicide after welfare benefits stopped.

The DWP has admitted shredding reports on around 50 people who killed themselves following social security payments being withdrawn, promoting accusations of a “cover-up.” by some families who lost loved ones.
Officials at the DWP claim they shredded reports into suicides linked to benefit payments ,
made before 2015,  being stopped, citing data protection laws.
However the data watchdog has rubbished the claims, insisting that there was no legal requirement to destroy the documents by a specific date. They added that a “public interest” exemption could have been used.
One benefit recipient, Tim Salter, who had been left partially-sighted following a previous suicide attempt and who was experiencing mental health issues, was found ‘fit for work’ and his welfare payments were severely cut, just nine months before his death in 2013.
The admission from the UK government department comes following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by the BBC. It revealed that at least 49 internal reviews carried out by 2015 had been shredded.
The harsh changes to the welfare system, introduced by the then-Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith between 2010 and 2016, were widely criticized following concerns they were linked to suicides among claimants.
Stephen Timms, chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee, threatened ministers with an inquiry if he does not receive clarity on what improvements can be made.
Mr Timms said he was "sympathetic" to those who feared an internal cover-up, and speculated that the department was attempting to keep "hush-hush" any links between the deaths and decisions to stop benefits or deem the claimants fit to work.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the DWP should be looking to learn from past mistakes rather than disposing of evidence.
"I think families should be entitled to see these reports," said the Labour MP.
"The law does not specify five years or six years, and I think this kind of information should be held for longer.
"In any case, there's no reason why they should be destroyed. They should be kept and progress on implementing improvements monitored."
Mr Timms said one of the early things his committee will look at when it meets for the first time in this parliament is to agree on a letter calling for "clarification and improvements" from welfare ministers.
If the response is not deemed satisfactory an inquiry will be considered, he confirmed.
He told the BBC: "I think all of this raises very troubling questions for the department.
"For a long time they refused to address them at all. Now they're starting to address them but in a very secretive and unsatisfactory way.
"I think for a long time they were very reluctant to accept that what they were doing had contributed to these deaths at all.
"I think they are now being forced to own up to the fact. That is happening, but they're doing it very reluctantly and very slowly and trying to keep the thing as hush-hush as possible, and it's not good enough."
The news comes after  Labour’s Debbie Abrahams fought back tears in the Commons on Monday as she read out more than 20 names of people who died after experiencing difficulties with the benefits system.

The MP said some died after “taking (his/her) own life after being found fit for work” or through illness after losing their benefits.
Leading a Commons debate on the death of people on social security benefits since 2014, Ms Abrahams told MPs: “These are people’s family members and we are failing them, we’re absolutely failing them. We mustn’t let this continue.”
She added: “This isn’t an exhaustive list but it shames us all, it shames the Government in terms of the inaction.
“I’ve raised this so many times over the last five years and there’s been no change whatsoever.”
 Ms Abrahams accused the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of failing to have the right systems in place to learn from deaths linked to benefit issues, asking: “Do you not feel ashamed?” She also said: “It’s a scandal. These are British citizens who are dying as a result of policies implemented by this Government. “Everybody should be taking note.”
 Ms Abrahams said she has asked for a full independent inquiry and wants a response by the end of the week, noting: “This is too serious to be ignored.”
Earlier, the former shadow work and pensions secretary said: “Over three-quarters of claimants who appeal their assessment decision telling them that they are fit for work have the decision overturned. “And that’s because these are poorly people.”
She went on: “Peer-reviewed research published by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health estimated that between 2010 and 2013 work capability assessment was independently associated with an additional 590 suicides, 280,000 cases of self-reported mental health problems and 725,000 additional anti-depressant scripts. “These assessments are not only not fit for purposes, they are actually doing harm.”
Ms Abrahams, before reading out the list, also referred in detail to three cases – including 57-year-old Errol Graham who died in 2018 weighing just 4.5 stone, eight months after his Employment and Support Allowance was stopped after he missed a work capability assessment.
She said: “His daughter-in-law Alison has been scathing telling me of the anger she and husband Lee feel. “She said that what was particularly shocking was how the QC acting on behalf of the Government during the inquest tried to intimidate not just the family but others as well, shouting at the police officer who found Errol’s body about what else he’d seen.
“In particular what offended them deeply was that … the police officer was asked had they found takeaway menus or any takeaway cartons. “It was quite clear at that inquest the DWP, … and the Government, was far from listening and trying to learn from this but they were seeking to blame, which is absolutely unforgivable.”
Ms Abrahams also highlighted the cases of Jodey Whiting, who took her own life after her disability benefits were stopped, and Liverpool resident Stephen Smith – with MPs hearing his “emaciated” body was “more reminiscent of someone from a concentration camp rather than 21st century Britain”.
The Commons heard he died of multiple organ failure after being found fit for work.

 The individual  cases are listed here exactly as they were described in the Commons by Labour MP Debbie Abrahams. Changes to phrasing have been made by Hansard which produces a written record of the Commons. 

Errol Graham died weighing just five stone in 2018 after his ESA was stopped 
Jodey Whiting took her own life in 2017, three days after last ESA payment
Stephen Smith died of multiple organ failure after being found fit for work 
Jimmy Ballentine took his own life in 2018 after being found fit for work 
Amy Nice took her own life in 2018 after being found fit for work 
Kevin Dooley took his own life in 2018 after losing ESA 
Brian Bailey died in July 2018, taking his own life after being found fit for work 
Elaine Morrall died in November 2017, taking her own life 
Daniella Obeng died in December 2017, again taking her own life 
Brian Sycamore died in September 2017, taking his own life after leaving a note blaming the DWP after failing his work capability assessment 
Mark Scholfield who died in July 2017, was a terminal cancer patient who did not receive any UC before he died in spite of his illness 
Chris Gold who died in October 2017, was found fit for work following a stroke and was facing foreclosure when he died because he could not work 
Lawrence Bond collapsed and died in the street in January 2017 after being found fit for work 
Julia Kelly died in 2015, taking her own life after losing ESA for a third time 
Ben McDonald took his own life in March 2015 after being found fit for work 
Chris Smith who died in 2015, had cancer and was found fit for work despite a terminal diagnosis 
Michael Connolly took his own life on his birthday in May 2014 after losing his ESA
David Clapson could not afford to power his fridge to store his insulin and died as a result in July 2014
George from Chesterfield died of a heart attack in May 2014, eight months after being found fit for work despite having had three previous heart attacks 
Robert Barlow died of cancer in April 2014 after losing his ESA 
David Barr died in September 2014, taking hiThere is a mass of anecdotal evidence out there that indicate vulnerable people are being put under intense economic and psychological pressure by the actions of the DWP and their 'Job-Centre' foot soldiers.s own life after losing ESA 
Trevor Drakard took his own life in 2014 
Shaun Pilkington died in January 2014 
Terry McGarvey died in February 2014

DWP minister Mr Tomlinson said failings would be looked at by a Serious Case Panel.
But despite inquiries by  outlets such as the Disability News Service, the DWP has repeatedly refused to release details of how this panel will work.
There is a mass of anecdotal evidence out there that indicate deeply vulnerable people are being put under intense economic and psychological pressure by the actions of the DWP and their 'Job-Centre' foot soldiers, .that sees individuals, who are desperately in need of support,  not punishment, being tipped over the edge, often after benefits were withdrawn, leaving them stressed and penniless.
In what should be a national scandal, real lives have been lost because people could not see a future beyond the mess of their welfare payments. Every one of their deaths could and should have been avoided. While we must grieve for those lives, the starkest examples of the psychological fall-out of austerity, we should not forget. so many more who are suffering day-in, day-out. It’s yet more evidence that the welfare benefits system is unfit for purpose.
Shamefully, instead of taking all this into consideration, the Tory government’s punitive approach, (alongside that of the DWP)  is not likely to cease any day soon. They will continue to fail  the most vulnerable  among us, withdrawing support from those who so need it most, leaving people out of pocket and unable to afford the basic essentials and putting many lives further at risk. We have a long time to go to claim we live in a compassionate society when we allow  people to endure this systematic cruelty.

 In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email or

Monday, 24 February 2020

Protesters Demand Julian Assange Be Freed

Hundreds of people including Roger Waters, co-founder of the Pink Floyd rock group,  designer Vivienne Westwood, and former Greek finance minister Yannis Varoufakis. marched through central London on Saturday demanding that jailed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange be released.
Fashion designer and activist Vivienne Westwood wore a neon green paper halo with the word "angel" written in black marker. Assange was "the angel of democracy," she explained.

The case was injected with a dose of intrigue last week when the defence claimed US President Donald Trump had promised to pardon Assange if he denied Russia leaked emails of his 2016 election rival's campaign.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian GRU military intelligence agencies hacked the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the runup to the November vote.
WikiLeaks then published the stolen emails. Assange has previously said that he received them from through his website's anonymous file sharing system and had no idea who obtained them first.
The DNC hack plays no role in the US case against Assange and Trump denied promising a pardon but the court said last week that the evidence  was admissable.
Waving placards declaring “Journalism is not a crime” and “The truth will set you free,” the protesters marched to Parliament Square, where speakers included Assange’s father, John Shipton.
Assange, 48, spent seven years holed up in Ecuador's London Embassy before being dragged out in April. Shipton has said his son’s health suffered during in that time and may not survive the prosecution.and fears that sending his son to the United States would be akin to a death sentence.
He said: “I look over the crowd and see many familiar faces in the crowd and the press supporting Julian and I thank you.
“I bring to you his affection, his nobility of purpose and his strength of character after nine years. I don’t really understand why Julian is in jail here.”
He described the imprisonment of the Wikileaks founder as “arbitrary detention.”

The US aims to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act, accusing him of scheming with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack a password for a classified government computer. WikiLeaks subsequently published thousands of classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Assange faces 18 charges from the US, including conspiracy to hack into government computers.
The hearing, scheduled for today, will consider only whether the charges are political in nature — not Assange’s guilt or innocence, If the court finds the charges are political, his extradition would not be permitted under the UK-US extradition treaty.If found guilty he could face a 175-year prison sentence.
A hero to many because  he has exposed abuses of power, yet Assange is cast by critics as a dangerous enemy of the state who has undermined Western security. He says the extradition is politically motivated by those embarrassed by his revelations. Assange argues he acted as a journalist and is therefore entitled to First Amendment protection. He also maintains the documents exposed wrongdoing and protected many people.
Civil liberties groups and journalism organizations, including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, have urged the U.S. to drop the charges, saying they set a chilling precedent for freedom of the press. Amnesty International issued the following statement about the Assange “The US government’s unrelenting pursuit of Julian Assange for having published disclosed documents that included possible war crimes committed by the US military is nothing short of a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression.” 
Assange is currently incarcerated in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, having previously spent seven years inside the Embassy of Ecuador. He holed up in the South American country’s U.K. diplomatic mission in 2012 to avoid being sent to Sweden to face questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations. That case has since been dropped.Assange was evicted from the embassy in April 2019 and arrested by British police for jumping bail seven years earlier.
Ahead of the protests, 76-year-old singer-songwriter Roger Waters accused “the powers that be” of trying to “kill” Assange ahead of his extradition hearing. Speaking on Friday, Waters dismissed the charges against Assange as “nonsense” and claimed he faced a “kangaroo court”.
“He has committed no crime, he published something, he’s a journalist, he did what journalists are supposed to do. There was no threat to national security,” Waters said.
“It looks as if the powers that be have every intention of submitting to the demands of the United States government to have him extradited to the US so they can lock him up until he is dead.”
In addition to speaking at the protest rally, Waters put out a video supporting Assange, and suggested Assange should not be held for a “minor bail infringement”.
Asked who he believed was behind Assange’s imprisonment, he said: “The ruling class, the powers that be… the corporate world, the rich people, the people who run everything, the people who tell (prime minister) Boris Johnson and (US President) Donald Trump what to do. Those people.
“I’m not suggesting there are men in hoods and secret societies but we all see what’s happening.”
Speaking to the press near Battersea Power Station in south London, Waters posed for photographs next to a version of the inflatable pig balloon that featured on the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals.
Waters previously called for the release of Assange during a rally outside the Home Office in central London in September, when he played his former band’s hit track Wish You Were Here from a makeshift stage.
Assange's lawyer, Éric Dupond-Moretti, said on Friday that he intended to ask French President Emmanuel Macron for political asylum in France.
Assange lived in France for three years and has a child living there,  France rejected a previous asylum request in 2015.
 The extradition hearings at Woolwich Crown Court will be held in two parts, with the second section not starting until May to allow both sides more time to gather evidence.
Earlier today, Mr Assange spoke initially to confirm his name and date of birth to the hearing.
Mr Assange nodded towards the press benches before taking his seat. The court's public gallery was full with supporters of Mr Assange, including his father John Shipton. who a day before claimed his son had been "harassed" by a prison cell search.
After a visit to the prison on Sunday, Mr Shipton criticised the "plague of malice" which he said "emanates from the Crown Prosecution Service" towards Assange.
Mr Shipton urged that his son be allowed bail, telling reporters: "For the life of me I can’t understand why Julian Assange is in jail having committed no crime, with family here that he can come and live with."
Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis said Assange was in a "very dark place" due to spending more than 20 hours a day in solitary confinement.
Mr Varoufakis called for the extradition to be stopped "in the interests of 300 years of modernity, 300 years of trying to establish human rights and civil liberties in the west and around the world".
Assange's lawyer, Éric Dupond-Moretti, tsaid on Friday that he intended to ask French President Emmanuel Macron for political asylum in France.Assange lived in France for three years and has a child living there. France rejected a previous asylum request in 2015.
More than 40 international legal experts have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanding the "rule of law be upheld", claiming Mr Assange has not had proper access to his legal team.
The letter was handed in to 10 Downing Street on Saturday and also urged the British legal community to act "urgently" to secure the WikiLeak founder's release.
Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, whom Assange was charged to have conspired with, was sent back to jail last May for refusing a second time  to comply with a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and Assange. Many believe that Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange are both imprisoned and tortured for revealing the ugly truth about wars, empire, torture and political corruption. Hopefully soon justice will prevail. Here  is a link to Assange's Defence Opening Statement.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Exposing Crimes Isn't A Crime :Free Julian Assange

 Next week, on February 24, a court in the U.K. will hold a hearing to determine whether to grant Trump’s request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States for trial on 18 charges under the Espionage Act carrying up to 175 years in prison.
Assange’s alleged crimes date back to 2010, when the organization he founded, WikiLeaks, transmitted documents to media outlets including Le Monde, The Guardian and The New York Times. The documents, which were provided to WikiLeaks by whistleblower Chelsea Manning, included 250,000 US diplomatic cables and US army reports about military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and exposed cases of torture, abduction and disappearances.

 The publication of these documents by media outlets was clearly in the public interest, and not an act of espionage.  If the legal persecution of Assange continues, investigative journalism and press freedom will be the victims, since news organizations regularly rely on and publish classified information to serve the public interest.
Since his arrest Assange has been locked up in Belmarsh Prison in London and UN special rapporteur Nils Melzer reported that he has been deliberately exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment that could be described as psychological torture.
Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray has said “he has all the symptoms of a torture victim, in terms of disorientation & difficulty in asserting their will & speaking coherently"
 Massimo Moratti of Amnesty International has publicly stated on their website that "Were Julian Assange to be extradicted or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in  breach of its obligations under international law."
Human Rights Watch published an article saying. "The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk."
Assange's arrest and possible extradition to face charges related to an alleged conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to publish documents that exposed corruption and criminality by numerous private businesses, tyrant, and countries worldwide is ultimately  an attack on press freedom. The arrest sets a dangerous precedent that could extend to other media organizations. The NUJ has stated "US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists and their ability to protect their sources."
Assange is now in grave danger. The Trump administration is pressing for his extradition to the US, where he will be indicted on fabricated charges and face a heavy jail term or even the death penalty. Assange’s only “crime” has been to expose to the world the war crimes and diplomatic intrigues of US imperialism.
Rather than being extradited to the U.S to be tried and imprisoned, he should be released and allowed to return to his home to Australia. With  renewed attacks on civil liberties  by Boris  Johnson and the Conservative Government looking increasingly likely, this fight is part of the same fight to ensure we are not silenced over Palestine and that anti-trade union laws do not become any stricter. Stopping the extradition of Assange is a fight for us all. 
The risk of an unfair trial is very real given the targeted public campaign against Assange undertaken by US officials at the highest levels. This has severely undermined his right to be presumed innocent. 
Join in calling on the UK government to respect the principles of freedom of expression and the defence of journalism, and to respect Assange's human rights. If we no longer know what out governments are doing and the criteria they are following if crimes are no longer being investigated, then it represents a grave danger to societal integrity. 
Please sign the following  urgent petition to the UK  government. Don't extradite Assange to the U,S.  demanding that Assange is released  and that he is ensured his safe passage home to Australia. 
There is also a march from Australia House in London on 22 February. Find out more here.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Please Don't Buy The Sun

( Dedicated to Caroline Flack and the proud people of Liverpool)

They are destroyers of rationality
They are the myopic voice of unreason,
They lie and smear the dead
They spread hatred and division,
They plague our towns with ignorance
They embrace the politics of misfortune,
They harass ordinary members of the public
They need to hear our condemnation,
They are a shit rag, not a newspaper
They are an insult to journalism,
They are hard right and xenophobic
They are homophobic bigoted scum,
They are poisonous and full of lies
They are cowards, an aberration,
They release nothing of any real value
They simply litter our streets with distortion,
They cause pain and too much sadness
They are shameless and can't be forgiven,
They are heartless, immoral, contemptuous
They provoke outrage and much disgust,
They deserve to be put out of business
So please don't buy the bloody Sun.

Friday, 14 February 2020

The lasting Legacy of Peter Kropotkin

"It is often said that Anarchists live in a world of dreams to come, and do not see the things which happen today. We do see them only too well, and in their true colors, and that is what makes us carry the hatchet into the forest of prejudice that besets us." - Anarchism It's Philosophy and Ideal (1898 ) - Peter Kropotkin

13th February 1921, marks the funeral  of  zoologist, evolutionary theorist, revolutionary and,Anarchist Philosopher Peter Alexeivich  Kropotkin  (Пётр Алексе́евич Кропо́ткин) which took  place at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.
Kropotkin was born on 9  December 1842 into an aristocratic Russian family, and received a privileged education,as a member of the Russian ruling class but  became recognised as a brilliant student. At he age of 15,he entered  the Corps of Pages in St Petersburg, an elite Court institution attached to the imperial household.  In 1862 he was promoted to the army and utilising the privilege that members of the Corps could choose  their regiment, he decided to reject the career expected of him by his family and instead joined a Siberian Cossack regiment in the recently annexed Amur district.In Siberia he saw the horrors of the Tsarist penal system and witnessed  the poverty and injustice, caused by it, and became frustrated by the central  bureaucracy and  local corruption in St Petersburg.
Around this time, he also became aware of anarchist ideas there, when the exiled poet Mikhail Mikhailov gave him a copy of Proudhon's System of Economic Contradictions to read. In 1871, he renounced his aristocratic heritage in 1871,abandoning material success and would spend  his life in the Spirit of Revolt that is the title of one of his famous essays, he became convinced that the government was unable as well as unwilling to make meaningful change in the lives of peasants and workers. Kropotkin turned toward anarchism to find a viable path to social change. He believed that capitalism and authoritarianism creates artificial scarcity, which leads to privilege and inequality.
He worked with the Jura workers’ federation in Switzerland, smuggled forbidden radical literature back to Russia, and joined a workers’ circle in Russia, his political activities earned him a sentence in a St. Petersburg prison, which ended in a spectacular and risky escape in June 1876. Prison in Switzerland and France reinforced his views on repressive authority and helped forge his belief in the need for non-violent, humane, and less centralized forms of government. His 1877 plea for decent treatment in prisons, which he called “universities of crime,” was decades ahead of its time.
Like many an exile, after extensive travel across Europe, he ended up in England 1886 in the midst of radical debate across Western Europe. He moved between London, the south coast of England, and Switzerland, endlessly torn between debate in the city and clean country air for his prisonruined health. When not creating revolutionary theory, he wrote copiously, undertook technical translations, and contributed the definitive treatise on Anarchism for the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.
He continued his writing on science in numerous journals at this time as well as contributing to the anarchist press. An expanded second English-language edition of Modern Science and Anarchism appeared in December 1912, published to mark Kropotkin’s 70th birthday by the group around Freedom. Age had not diminished his hopes or activity, and he still stressed that the task of anarchists was “to aid the people to display in full its creative powers for working out new institutions, leading to free Anarchist-Communism” against the “two enemies” of Capital and the State.Through his many writings he attempted to put anarchism on a scientific basis, and pointed out the economical and social value of the human being, and the failure of Capitalism to reach this objective.He saw human co-operation as ultimately being driven not by government, but by groups of individuals, working together, in order to make the world a better place. He combined the qualities of a scientist and moralist with those of a revolutionary organiser and propogandist. He lived completely by his words and deeds, and was also known for his kindliness and towering intellect.
Kropotkin was a man of his time, a man of 19th-century science, philosophy, who was one of the great naturalists of his day, a sensibility that developed in him in congruence not only with his cientific interests but through lived experience,.In his book Mutual Aid  contended on the basis of his own naturalist research in Siberia that cooperation was as much a part of animal and human behavior as conflict. He was also in the forefront of challenging the prevailing Darwinian principle that evolution was strictly about competition and the survival of the nastiest.
Given Kropotkin’s belief that brutality, unbending repression, and inhumanity were the inevitable products of a centralized state, it is no coincidence that he was most impressed with commune -based democracy in Switzerland and with the self-help and cooperative movements in England.With the advent of the Russian Revolution, Kropotkin approved of soviets as giving the masses a voice but was appalled to see them subordinated to the direction of the Party. Like most anarchists, he held that replacing one autocracy with another, monarchy or republic, solves nothing, and that progress and justice for the working people can grow only from local power, cooperation, and equality.  Returning to Russia after the 1917 Revolution, he was honored by the new government, who desiring to legitimize Bolshevik authority with the reputation of a universally respected anarchist, Lenin maintained cordial relations with Kropotkin; Bolshevik propagandists took advantage of this to publicize the lie that Kropotkin was more or less in favor of the Bolshevik program. In fact, Kropotkin opposed their authoritarian program, as he made clear in a series of statements and protests. Far from endorsing Lenin’s seizure of state power, Kropotkin is quoted as saying “Revolutionaries have had ideals. Lenin has none. He is a madman, an immolator, wishful of burning, and slaughter, and sacrificing.”
Kropotkin died of pneumonia on February 8,1921 in the city of Dimitrov in Russia. In the 1920s Roger N. Baldwin summed up Kropotkin this way.
“Kropotkin is referred to by scores of people who knew him in all walks of life as “the noblest man” they ever knew. Oscar Wilde called him one of the two really happy men he had ever met…In the anarchist movement he was held in the deepest affection by thousands–“notre Pierre” the French workers called him. Never assuming position of leadership, he nevertheless led by the moral force of his personality and the breadth of his intellect. He combined in extraordinary measure high qualities of character with a fine mind and passionate social feeling. His life made a deep impression on a great range of classes–the whole scientific world, the Russian revolutionary movement, the radical movements of all schools, and in the literary world which cared little or nothing for science or revolution.”
Kropotkin’s funeral, on February 13, 1921, was arguably the last anarchist demonstration in Russia against Bolshevik tyranny, until the fall of the Soviet Union with thousands in attendance with the tacit approval of Lenin himself,making this funeral ceremony into a demonstration of unmistakable significance.Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman and many other prominent anarchists from abroad participated. They managed to exert enough pressure on the Bolshevik authorities to compel them to release seven anarchist prisoners for the day; the Bolsheviks claimed they that would have released more but the others supposedly refused to leave prison. Victor Serge recounts how Aaron Baron, one of the anarchists who was temporarily released, addressed the mourners from Kropotkin’s graveside before vanishing forever into the jaws of the Soviet carceral system.
When Kropotkin died, a few weeks before the Kronstadt rebellion, the repression of anarchists in Russia had not been completed yet.but in the course of the same year, this movement  was to be smothered by the Bolshevik  party, its leaders arrested, killed, on the run or deported.
Being the foremost opponents of tyranny, the anarchists were among the first victims of Soviet prisons and firing squads. Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and many others tried to warn the world of the horrors of Lenin and Stalin, but most people only learned about the gulag archipelago much later from Aleksandr Solzenhitsyn.
Deportation befell Grigori Maximov (1893-1950) who had represented the Russian Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists at Kropotkins burial. Maximov arranged for a photo report of the ceremony that started at the home of the deceased in the village of Dmitrov and ended at the graveyard of the Novodevičy monastery, with an in-state and procession in Moscow in between. The photo report was meant to become a memorial album (Berlin 1922) to 'make humanity acquainted with the work of Kropotkin'.
In the video footage above, the film shows the procession from Kropotkin’s home  to his final burial place. in one of the country’s great monasteries. The subtitles name the Anarchist great and good attending the funeral, including Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. There were also delegates from the Ukrainian Federation of Anarchists, exiled Anarchists from America, whose banner, in English, can be seen, and even some Mensheviks and, I think, Socialist-Revolutionaries. It was a truly mass meeting, perhaps the most touching moment of the documentary is at 7:40, which has footage of anarchist political prisoners temporarily released in order to attend  the funeral. A number of them never had another free day in their lives.
Kropotkin's  message that mutual aid and social cohesion should be encouraged over massive social inequity and the exaltation of the individual over society is as relevant to the central debates of our time as it was to the debates of his time. His legacy lives on, in the actions of the many who have been inspired by him and in his many writings, all of which are freely available online, a rich source of ideas for libertarians today.
Kropotkin, Emma Goldman summarised, “gave up his title and wealth for the cause of humanity. He did more: since becoming an anarchist he had forgone a brilliant scientific career to be better able to devote himself to the development and interpretation of anarchist philosophy. He became the most outstanding exponent of anarchist-communism, its clearest thinker and theoretician. He was recognised by friend and foe as one of the greatest minds and most unique personalities of the nineteenth century.”
Further Reading :-

Peter Kropotkin : From Prince to Rebel" (1996) by George Woodcock and Ivan Avakumovic, Black Rose Books, 1996

Cahm, Caroline. 1989. Kropotkin and the Rise of Revolutionary Anarchism 1871-1886. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

 See also Emma Goldman's Death And Funeral Of Peter Kropotkin

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Doctors of the World : Helping people in need at home and abroad


Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, the United Kingdom faces extremely high levels of homelessness, much more than it should face. Almost one in 50 Londoners are now homeless. A crisis that has regretfully been building for years,
Whether a person is experiencing street homelessness or is living in temporary shelters, squats, or insecure accommodation, homelessness has a deep impact on physical and mental health.
Homelessness can bee synonymous with loneliness and isolation. Often experiencing homelessness means facing a breakdown of personal and social relationships, and struggling to connect with a social network that can  provide support.
Loneliness has serious negative implications for the health and wellbeing of individuals. Many feel invisible. On top of that people who sleep rough often experience a high level of stigma, physical and verbal abuse. Many people experiencing homelessness will not see a doctor for long periods of time, due to difficulties in registering with a GP, travel distance from the clinic, and fear of stigma. Last year it was found that vulnerable people without a fixed address are being turned away from GP surgeries despite NHS guidelines that say they should receive treatment.
 Doctors of the World, is an independent humanitarian  movement working at home and abroad to empower excluded people to access healthcare. Their  volunteer doctors and nurses provide a first medical assessment, prescribe medicines, dress wounds, and provide advice. Their caseworkers help patients register with a GP, supporting them in building up their trust to access healthcare. They also strive to give a voice to the most marginalised, reporting on violence , injustice and unmet health needs wherever they find them, and campaign to ensure everyone can access the healthcare they need.
Durga Sivasathiaseelan, GP and coordinator, of Doctors of the World's; mobile clinic which opened on 16th October 2019  and runs on a weekly basis and visit predetermined spots across the city where rough sleepers and homeless people can attend. said: “It is incredibly hard for people experiencing homelessness and sleeping rough to access healthcare. And when diseases go untreated, they can worsen dramatically and affect people’s long-term health.
“This is particularly true for those who are experiencing street homelessness or live in unstable accommodation, where their lives can be chaotic, making it more challenging to address health needs.
“Accessing healthcare becomes less of a priority when you are worried about where you are going to sleep and if it will be safe and warm.
“The mobile nature of this clinic will allow us to reach the most vulnerable people in the City in a way that is flexible to their needs.”
Doctors of the World's  London Clinic is at the heart of what they do in the UK.Volunteer doctors, nurses and caseworker provide essential care and support to children, women, and men who have fled conflict and discrimination, or escaped torture, exploitation, and poverty. Many of them now live under the radar, in unstable accommodation, and struggle to survive, often homeless and living below the poverty line.
Helping people in need at home and abroad is central to Doctor's of the World's  ethos. As part of the Médecins du Monde international network, they strive to provide care to the most vulnerable, not only in emergencies abroad but also on our doorstep.They can count on over 3,000 volunteers working in 80 countries around the world,  focusing on conflict and emergencies, harm reduction, maternal and child’s health, and migrants.They work both long and short term, through emergency programmes, support to local healthcare systems, witnessing and advocacy.
The origins of MdM lay with the Médecins Sans Frontières .During the Vietnam War, the future founding members of MdM were approached with the idea of aiding Vietnamese refugees fleeing by ship on the South China Sea. The majority of the Médecins Sans Frontières were against aiding the Vietnamese refugees. However, Kouchner, along with volunteer doctors, journalists, and others organized a hospital boat, L'Île de lumière, to provide medical care and to report the refugees' suffering.
MdM was founded as Bernard Kouchner and 14 others doctors split from the group he previously founded,Médecins Sans Frontières  (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders). It has been reported Kouchner felt that MSF was giving up its founding principle of témoignage ("witnessing"), which refers to aid workers making the atrocities they observe known to the public.
They've since provided essential healthcare to Syrian refugees in the Middle East., and has also worked extensively with refugees in France and Greece, running both static and mobile clinics providing mental health support to refugees, migrants and  strengthening the local healthcare system.
Since opening in 1998, Doctor's of the World have directly helped almost 20,000 people in the UK. Health is a human right.  The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social conditions. The right to health for all people means that everyone should have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them. Doctors of the World depends on generous donations from individuals who believe no one should suffer or die because they cannot access the health services they need. Please consider supporting people who need healthcare.
£32 could pay for prescriptions for two patients
£49 could pay for a week of travel expenses for a volunteer
£160 could contribute towards the training and recruitment of their medical volunteers
£280 could help toward the running costs and medical supplies for their clinic

Donate by phone: 020 7167 5789

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Dawood al-Marhoon to spend another birthday on death row in Saudi Arabia

Today is Dawood al-Marhoon’s  25th birthday. It’s his sixth on death row in Saudi Arabia.  Dawood  was just a 17 year old boy when he was arrested for allegedly participating in an anti-government protest. He was tortured and forced to sign a blank document that would later contain his ‘confession’. Ultimately Dawood was sentenced to death by beheading. He could be executed at any moment, without prior notification.
As a teenager, Dawood was sociable and popular. He loved playing football and computer games. He excelled in his studies, and dreamed of pursuing his love for technology and computers by studying a degree in engineering. Thousands of young Saudis took to the streets demanding reform across the Kingdom in Arab Spring protests from February 2011, – Dawood was allegedly one of them.
He was questioned by Saudi police and asked to “spy” on protesters. After he refused, Saudi security forces arrested him from the Dammam Central Hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for an eye injury sustained in a traffic accident. Saudi forces surrounded the hospital and arrested him as he prepared for surgery.
Dawood was transferred to a juvenile offenders’ facility, where he was held incommunicado for nearly two weeks. During this time, he was tortured and abused. While still a child, he was beaten and kicking, trampled, and verbally abused. At least one interrogation session lasted for 18 hours.
The Saudi authorities tortured him for weeks and refused to allow him to communicate with anyone on the outside world. For two weeks, Dawood’s family had no idea where Saudi authorities were holding him, and he was prevented from speaking to a lawyer.
The investigators made him sign a blank document that would later contain his confession to the crime of attending anti-government protests, and association with fellow young protester Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr..
He was held for one year and four months before being transferred to the General Department of Investigations headquarters in Dammam. All access to legal counsel was denied during this period.
On 21 October 2014, after a total of seven hearings he was sentenced to death by beheading by Saudi Arabia’s widely criticized Specialized Criminal Court (SCC).
Throughout his time in detention and during his trial, Saudi authorities prevented Dawood from speaking with a lawyer. Reprieve understands that the Public Prosecution requested death by crucifixion.
The decision was appealed but the lawyers were not informed of any further trial proceedings. On 29 September 2015, the SCC confirmed the death sentence of death by beheading against Dawood.
In late September 2015, the Saudi authorities transferred Dawood from Dammam prison to Riyadh’s Al-Hayir prison, where he is being kept in solitary confinement with other people facing execution. Secrecy surrounding Saudi’s execution practices prevents the family or the prisoner from receiving prior notification of when the execution will be carried out, so Dawood could now be executed at any time.
The human rights crisis in Saudi Arabia is getting worse despite promises of reform. In 2019, there was a total of  184 executions in the Kingdom. There has been an exponential rise in executions in the kingdom since 2015.  
Saudi Arabia systematically discriminates against its minority citizens and to whomever is deemed a threat to the regime. Of those who are targeted by the Saudi police are political activists, Shia, women’s rights activists, and critics of the monarchy. More recently, 37 people were executed for allegedly spying for Iran and participating in anti-government demonstrations in the year 2019, 
including at least three who were children at the time of their alleged offences, just like Dawood
It is important to condemn the alarming escalation in the use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, and the unjust actions practiced, which clearly violate international fair trial standards, to extract confessions from their prisoners. The Saudi government must immediately release Dawood and provide him compensation for his unjust imprisonment, as well as release all prisoners on death row arrested and charged on spurious political charges. Dawood's situation is urgent.Many others, too numerous to be named, have also been sentenced to death on ambiguous charges and following unfair trials. The reality is, more and more violations of the right to life will occur without action.  Let's not forget them .
Saudi Arabia continues to use the death penalty as a tool of repression for non-violent and political activities, with children among the many executed. This systematic and flagrant disregard for basic human rights and respect for the rule of law must be addressed by the international community.Global pressure must be applied to convince Saudi Arabia to uphold international human rights standards, and place a moratorium on any further death sentences and executions. Such actions , as both Reprieve and Amnesty International /have noted, are a brazen violation of international human rights law.
Take action here :-

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Melvin B. Tolson - A Song For Myself (February 6, 1898 – August 29, 1966)

Poet and educator Melvin Beaunoris who inspired generations of students to stand up for equal rights and dignity. was born in Missouri on 6 February 1898. one of four children of Reverend Alonzo Tolson, a Methodist minister, and Lera (Hurt) Tolson, a seamstress of African-Creek ancestry. Alonzo Tolson was also of mixed race, the son of an enslaved woman and her white master. He served at various churches in the Missouri and Iowa area until settling longer in Kansas City. Reverend Tolson studied throughout his life to add to the limited education he had first received, even taking Latin, Greek and Hebrew by correspondence courses. Both parents emphasized education for their children.
In 1924 he began teaching at the historically black Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. His students included James Farmer, founder of the Congress of Racial Equality, and Heman Sweatt, who challenged the segregated University of Texas Law School. He encouraged his students not only to be well-rounded people but to also to stand up for their rights.
 He not only taught at Wiley College, he coached the junior varsity football team, directed the theater club, cofounded the black intercollegiate Southern Association of Dramatic Speech and Arts, and organized the Wiley Forensic Society, which was the Wiley College debating club. The debating club earned national acclaim by winning and breaking the color barrier very successfully. A dedicated mentor, Tolson coached Wiley's debate team through an impressive ten-year winning streak, from 1929 to 1939. Tolson wrote all of the speeches and the team memorized the speeches and used them. Tolson became such a master debater, that he would write the rebuttals for his opponents opposing arguments before the debate. In 1935, they defeated the national champions from the University of Southern California. Under Jim Crow segregation, African Americans did not often meet elite white schools in competition, so the team's success symbolized progress and equality. The film The Great Debaters depicted this David-and-Goliath story with Tolson portrayed by Denzel Washington.
After interviewing significant artists of the Harlem Renaissance for his Master’s thesis, Tolson was inspired to write poetry exploring the African American urban experience. His poetry began appearing in  African/ American newspapers  in the 1930s. In 1939 he published his first significant poem Dark Symphony; celebrating the accomplishments of the African race throughout history,while detailing the challenges they continued to face. it would win  a national poetry contest sponsored by the American Negro Exposition. The poem was later published in Atlantic Monthly; the poem also got the attention of an editor who published his first collection of verse, Rendezvous with America, in 1944.
 In 1947, Tolson was accused of having been active in organizing farm laborers and tenant farmers during the late 1930s (though the nature of his activities is unclear) and of having radical leftist associations, but after maintaining a successful teaching and coaching career at Wiley, Tolson accepted a position at Langston University .in Langston, Oklahoma. During that same year, he was appointed the Poet Laureate of Liberia, which inspired his second poetry book. Published in 1953, Libretto for the Republic of Liberia, honored the centennial of Liberia’s founding. Tolson's greatest achievement, Liberia had been founded in 1822 as part of a long-running and controversial debate about whether to establish an African homeland for former slaves.  By the time Tolson came to write his poem, however, the question he faced was rather different. What symbolic and cultural meaning did Liberia's founding now have for blacks here and across the world? In seeking an answer, reflecting on the history of slavery and writing while the memory of World War II and of the evil of European fascism was still fresh, Tolson came to major conclusions about the shape of Western civilization through the prism's of his dense, allusive poem.
In addition to his professional work, Tolson served two consecutive terms as Mayor of Langston, in Langston, Oklahoma from 1954 to 1960. Tolson’s final poetry book, Harlem Gallery, published in 1965, helped establish him as a widely recognized modernist poet, his masterpiece chronicles, as he put it, black Americans' "New World odyssey, / from chattel to Esquire!
President Lyndon Johnson invited Tolson to the White House in 1965 to present his latest poetry, a crowning achievement in his long and remarkable career. Tolson died the following year in Dallas on Augusr  29 after undergoing surgery for cancer, having left a legacy to be proud of.
The Library of Congress holds the papers of Melvin B. Tolson, which include correspondence, drafts of writings, speeches, research notes, and materials relating to Tolson's literary career, the Harlem Renaissance, and other aspects of African American art, literature, and culture.
After Tolson's death, Langston University in Oklahoma began an archive of African American culture and literature that bore his name. Today, that collection has grown into the Melvin B. Tolson Black Heritage Center. The Center houses over 7,000 volumes related to African American newspapers and periodicals. With increasing interest in Tolson and his literary period, in 1999 the University of Virginia published a collection of his poetry entitled Harlem Gallery and Other Poems of Melvin B. Tolson, edited by Raymond Nelson.
In the  following poem "A Song for Myself," the narrator discusses the human soul. Those who are bad men cannot escape the afterlife. In death, there is truth. If the person is a bad person in life and has a bad soul, they will be condemned in the afterlife. The narrator hopes he has a good enough soul to have a good afterlife.

A Song For Myself -  Melvin B. Tolson

I judge
My soul
Nor mole:
A man
Is what
He saves
From rot.

The corn
Will fat
A hog
Or rat:
Are these
Dry bones
A hut's
Or throne's?

Who filled
The moat
Twixt sheep
And goat?
Let Death,
The twin
of Life,
Slip in?

The earth
By class
and birth.

The People
Shall rout;
Crush flat
As tin.

Who makes
A noose
The goose.
Who digs
A pit
For it.

Shall tears
Be shed
For those
Whose bread
Is thieved
Tears right
No wrong.

Shall teach
The meek
To reach.
Leave not
To God
The boot
And rod.

The straight
Lines curve?
Of nerve?
Times have
Their Braille.

If hue
Of skin
A sin,
Blame not
The make
For God's

Since flesh
And bone
Turn dust
And stone,
With life
So brief,
Why add
To grief?

I sift
The chaff
From wheat
and laugh.
No curse
Can stop
The tick
Of clock.
Those who
Wall in
And grin
And spawn
A pest.

What's writ
In vice
Is writ
In ice.
The truth
Is not
Of fruits
That rot.

A sponge,
The mind
Soaks in
The kind
Of stuff
That fate's

Have lodged
With me.

I snatch
From hooks
The meat
Of books.
I seek
Not worlds
On biers.

The snake
The pig
With coils.
The pig's
Skewed wail
Does not

Old men
Grow worse
With prayer
Or curse:
Their staffs
Thwack youth
Starved thin
For truth.

The Few
Yield poets
Their due;
The Mass
Shall pass.

I harbor
One fear
If death
Crouch near:
Does my
Creed span
The Gulf
Of Man?

And when
I go
In calm
Or blow
From mice
And men,
What . . . then?

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Remembering Rosa Parks (4/ 2/1913 - 25/10/ 05)

The “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” Rosa Parks, who sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott on December 5, 1955, was born on this day in 1913.
Rosa Louise McCauley was born in Tuskegee, Alabama,  her parents, James and Leona McCauley, separated when Parks was two. Parks’ mother moved the family to Pine Level, Alabama, to live with her parents, Rose and Sylvester Edwards. Both of Parks' grandparents were former slaves and strong advocates for racial equality; the family lived on the Edwards' farm, where Parks would spend her youth. 
Parks' childhood brought her early experiences with racial discrimination and activism for racial equality. In one experience, Parks' grandfather stood in front of their house with a shotgun while Ku Klux Klan members marched down the street, and listened in fear as lynchings occurred near her home. The family moved to Montgomery; Parks attended various segregated schools in Montgomery before attending a laboratory school for secondary education led by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes. Shortly after starting secondary school, Parks left to take care of her grandmother who was sick. She married barber Raymond Parks in 1932, aged 19 and the couple joined the the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Montgomery chapter where she would eventually serve as secretary. 
 Parks is famously known for her refusal to obey bus driver James Blake’s order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. standing in the aisle on December 1, 1955.The Montgomery City Code required that all public transportation be segregated and that bus drivers had the "powers of a police officer of the city while in actual charge of any bus for the purposes of carrying out the provisions" of the code. While operating a bus, drivers were required to provide separate but equal accommodations for white and black passengers by assigning seats.
This was accomplished with a line roughly in the middle of the bus separating white passengers in the front of the bus and African American passengers in the back. When an African American passenger boarded the bus, they had to get on at the front to pay their fare and then get off and re-board the bus at the back door.
As the bus Parks was riding continued on its route, it began to fill with white passengers. Eventually, the bus was full and the driver noticed that several white passengers were standing in the aisle. The bus driver stopped the bus and moved the sign separating the two sections back one row, asking four black passengers to give up their seats.
The city's bus ordinance didn't specifically give drivers the authority to demand a passenger to give up a seat to anyone, regardless of color. However, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the custom of moving back the sign separating black and white passengers and, if necessary, asking black passengers to give up their seats to white passengers. If the black passenger protested, the bus driver had the authority to refuse service and could call the police to have them removed.
Three of the other black passengers on the bus complied with the driver, but Parks refused and remained seated. The driver demanded, "Why don't you stand up?" to which Parks replied, "I don't think I should have to stand up." The driver called the police and had her arrested.
The police arrested Parks at the scene and charged her with violation of Chapter 6, Section 11, of the Montgomery City Code. She was taken to police headquarters, where, later that night, she was released on bail. Four days later, Parks was tried on charges of disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance. The trial lasted 30 minutes. Parks was found guilty and fined $10, plus $4 in court costs.  Parks not only appealed her conviction, she formally challenged the legality of racial segregation.
Members of the African American community were asked to stay off city buses on Monday, December 5, 1955 , the day of Parks' trial, in protest of her arrest. People were encouraged to stay home from work or school, take a cab or walk to work. With most of the African American community not riding the bus, organizers believed a longer boycott might be successful. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, , as it came to be known, was a huge success, lasting for 381 days and ending with a Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation on public transit systems to be unconstitutional. And Rosa's  act of dignified defiance and courage triggered a wave of protest that reverberated throughout the United States.
Contrary to some reports, Parks wasn’t physically tired and was able to leave her seat. She refused, on principle, to surrender her seat because of her race, which was the law in Montgomery at the time.
The NAACP realized it had the right person to work with, as it battled against the system of segregation in Montgomery. It also worked with another group of local leaders to stage a one-day boycott of passenger buses, when Parks went to court.The group expanded to include other people, chose a name, the Montgomery Improvement Association, and planned an extended boycott.
But the MIA also needed a public spokesman with leadership qualities to make their fight into a wide-ranging cause.Their pick was a little-known pastor who had recently arrived in Montgomery: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In June 1956, the district court declared racial segregation laws (also known as "Jim Crow laws") unconstitutional. The city of Montgomery appealed the court's decision shortly thereafter, but on November 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower court's ruling, declaring segregation on public transport to be unconstitutional.
With the transit company and downtown businesses suffering financial loss and the legal system ruling against them, the city of Montgomery had no choice but to lift its enforcement of segregation on public buses, and the boycott officially ended on December 20, 1956. The combination of legal action, backed by the unrelenting determination of the African American community, made the Montgomery Bus Boycott one of the largest and most successful mass movements against racial segregation in history.
Rosa  for many years  after would continue as an activist in the movement  for the rights of exploited people.Facing continued harassment and threats in the wake of the boycott,and after losing  her tailoring job and receiving death threats.  Parks, along with her husband and mother, eventually decided to move to Detroit, where Parks’ brother resided.
In the years following her retirement, she traveled to lend her support to civil-rights events and causes and wrote an autobiography, “Rosa Parks: My Story.” She  remained an active member of the NAACP and became an administrative aide in the Detroit office of Congressman John Conyers Jr.  a post she held until her 1988 retirement.. The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute Of Self-Development was established in 1987 to offer job training for black youth. In 1999, Parks received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the highest honor a civilian can receive in the United States. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) also sponsors an annual Rosa Parks Freedom Award. Her husband, brother and mother all died of cancer between 1977 and 1979.
When she died at age 92 on October 24, 2005, she became the first woman in the nation’s history to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. At the time, she was only the 30th person accorded that honor. She was the first woman to receive the honor, and her coffin sat on the catafalque built for the coffin of Abraham Lincoln.
Rosa  passed away October 24, 2005 at the age of 92. City officials in Montgomery and Detroit announced on October 27, 2005 that the front seats of their city buses would be reserved with black ribbons in honor of Parks until her funeral. Today Rosa Parks’ legacy continues to live on in honor of her historic acts of courage. Her birthday, February 4, and the day she was arrested, December 1, have both become Rosa Parks Day, commemorated in the U.S. states of California and Ohio. Her monumental efforts were recognized when she won a Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.
In 2000, a library and museum in Montgomery were dedicated to Rosa Parks. The  Rosa Parks Museum houses a replica of the bus that sparked the civil rights activists to boycott an important mode of transportation. The library and children's wing not only tell the story of Parks to its hundreds of visitors, but also those of Nixon, Gray, and Colvin. There is a "time travel" machine that transports the visitors from the 1800s to the Jim Crowe era and to 1950s Montgomery.
Let us remember her today, and acknowledge Rosa's act of quiet resistance, that still resonates down the corridors of time. She remains a symbol to all to remain free. It is worth noting that in the  same week President Obama honored Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday, Israel announced two newly segregated bus lines for Palestinian workers traveling to Israel from the West Bank. The “Palestinian only” buses were introduced after Israeli settlers complained that fellow Palestinian passengers posed a “security risk.”The timing of Israel’s announcement set the internet abuzz with moralizing references to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Jim Crow.
Let us also think  what would happen if a Palestinian Rosa Parks chose to sit on a segregated West Bank Bus, Palestinians in the present moment are unable  to travel freely in their own country - they even have to have permits to enter Jerusalem.
 "Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust," Martin Luther King said  "All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority."
Like Rosa Parks before her,  Palestinians  are struggling against unjust laws, in their  case the injustice of a 50-year military occupation that denies Palestinians their land, right to travel and self-determination. Israel maintains an apartheid system of democracy for Israeli Jews - and discrimination against Israelis of colour - second-class citizenship for Israeli citizens of Arab descent, and dispossession and disenfranchisement for Palestinian Arabs in the territories.
We need more brave souls like Rosa Parks, because as history has  is possible for a single person to engage in an act of resistance against oppression that can park the seed of change. On this day, Parks would have been 107 years old. As Rosa Parks once said,Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.

The Neville Brothers - Sister Rosa

December 1, 1955
Our freedom movement came alive
And because of Sister Rosa you know
We don’t ride on the back of the bus no more

Sister Rosa she was tired one day
After a hard day on her job
When all she wanted was a well deserved rest
Not a scene from an angry mob

A bus driver said, "Lady, you got to get up
'Cause a white person wants that seat"
But Miss Rosa said, "No, not no more
I’m gonna sit here and rest my feet"

Thank you Miss Rosa, you are the spark
You started our freedom movement
Thank you Sister Rosa Parks

Thank you Miss Rosa, you are the spark
You started our freedom movement
Thank you Sister Rosa Parks

Now, the police came without fail
And took Sister Rosa off to jail
And 14 dollars was her fine
Brother Martin Luther King knew it was our time

The people of Montgomery sat down to talk
It was decided all God's children should walk
Until segregation was brought to its knees
And we obtain freedom and equality, yeah

Thank you Miss Rosa, you are the spark
You started our freedom movement
Thank you Sister Rosa Parks

Thank you Miss Rosa, you are the spark
You started our freedom movement
Thank you Sister Rosa Parks

So we dedicate this song to thee
For being the symbol of our dignity
Thank you Sister Rosa

Thank you Miss Rosa, you are the spark
You started our freedom movement
Thank you Sister Rosa Parks

Thank you Miss Rosa, you are the spark
You started our freedom movement
Thank you Sister Rosa Parks

Thank you Miss Rosa, you are the spark
You started our freedom movement
Thank you Sister Rosa Parks

Thank you Miss Rosa, you are the spark
You started our freedom movement
Thank you Sister Rosa Parks