Tuesday, 31 March 2020

30th anniversary of Anti - Poll Tax Riots .

, on  31st March 1990  people took to the streets of London and fought  back against Margaret Thatchers'  hated  and controversial  ideological driven 'Community Charge', which was first  introduced in Scotland in 1989, and the following year  the flat rate tax was then introduced in England and Wales in 1990, leading to a massive backlash, and widely condemned at the time by social campaigners as it meant the rich now paid the same rate of tax as the poor. The main objections were the fact that the same amount was paid by everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, and that liability was determined by being on the electoral roll. Thus it was dubbed the 'Poll Tax'. Thatcher was famously stubborn,  and refused to reconsider.
She should have, because ,the introduction of the poll tax was widely unpopular from the outset, and increased when tax rates set by many local councils turned out to be much higher than initially predicted resulting in Thatcher's increased unpopularity. Local groups opposed to the tax , known  as Anti-Poll Tax Unions sprung up across Britain, encouraging non payment, organising protests, and resisting bailiffs. But I remember the Labour Party at the time  shamefully announcing at their 1988 conference that they would not support those who refused to pay.
However despite of this failure a number of groups were created by activists on the left to support the non-payment of the tax and assist those who experienced legal troubles as a result of non-payment. The most important of these groups was the All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation (ABAPTF), organised by Militant, which used the local trade unions to help build a campaign of non-payment. The Socialist Workers Party, the other major far left organisation in Britain at the time, had a much more ambivalent attitude towards non-payment and the ABAPTF, which allowed Militant to become the dominant group campaigning against the Poll Tax. Outside of the Trotskyist far left, several anarchist groups also supported non-payment, especially the Anarchist Communist Federation who produced a pamphlet called Beating the Poll Tax (ACF 1990). People were encouraged not to stump up the money under the slogan "Can Pay, Won't Pay."
On this day, over 250,000 people sweeped into London, for many people it was not a case of wanting to demonstrate, it was a case of having too. There was no choice, this cruel tax would have seriously impacted on peoples lives.Most people on the day of this demonstration, arrived unaligned - ordinary people, families, pensioners, the unemployed, students, black  and white, all united as one to fight against this immoral tax.
The overriding opinion of the time,is that what started as a peaceful protest, with an almost carnival feel to it against an illegal tax was quickly turned into a bloody battle  by uniformed thugs acting under Thatcher's orders, with aided and abetted by agent provocateurs.Police shut an over-full Trafalgar Square at 2.30pm and blocked off either end of Whitehall, leading to a mass sit-in near the entrance to Downing Street.  After requests to move along were ignored, they began to arrest demonstrators.
 At 4pm, the use of  charged mounted police aggravated the situation, leading to many peaceful bystanders  with heads streaming with blood. A very frightening experience. as mounted police began to push marchers out to the corners of the square, skirmishes began. Police vans were struck and officers were pelted with building materials, while a fire broke out at the adjacent South African embassy.
 Later, police pushed demonstrators out of Trafalgar Square, sending some towards Soho and away from their transport near the river.  Some marchers, angered by police tactics, overturned and set cars alight, and smashed a number of shop windows.some looting began, and small groups began skirmishing with police, such was the anger and rage unleashed. I for one will never condemn the anger unleashed on this day in 1990, it is the inevitable  result of what happens when you push people to far..
By the end of the day, 339 people were arrested (mainly for public order offences) and 86 people were injured. Out of 2,198 police officers on duty, 374 of them had been injured, with 58 requiring hospital treatment. Materially, there were around 250 reports of property damage as well,  the cost of which was later estimated at £400,000.
To this day many people  lay the responsibility of the violence that happened on this day, firmly on the shoulders of Thatcher and her government. Despite the demonisation of the protesters in the mass media,  people still refused to pay, the campaign  flourished, culminating in millions of people's non payment, bailiffs  were resisted, courts unable to cope because of opposition and active resistance as more and more people said "can't pay, won't pay"
It would see the Poll Tax  becoming uncollectable  and unviable and eventually being destroyed, the tax was abolished in 1993 some £2bn in arrears.Thatcher’s popularity was at an all time low, the poll ratings of the Tories were dire and sections of the Tory Party – representing the interests of the ruling class – decided she had to go along with her “flagship” policy. It was Thatcher’s refusal to back down over the poll tax that ultimately brought her downfall..
Thatcher resigned in November 1990 and her successor John Major announced its replacement by the  more progressive council tax, which at least took some account into peoples ability to pay, which  is  still in operation to this day. In her own memoirs she cited the abandonment of the poll tax as “one of the greatest victories for these people [the working class – especially anti-poll tax campaigners] ever conceded by a Conservative government.”
Many years  later, the same simmering resentment towards the Conservative Government still exists. It seems that the tories have still not learnt from  their past mistakes,with  the introduction of  , universal credit and other horrors. The resistance to the  Poll Tax is  a reminder to all people who say it is impossible to fight back and that with clear. purpose and united mobilisation, it is possible to  defeat the forces of reaction

Police charge at crowd in Trafalgar Square

Poll Tax Riot 1990

Thatcher Poll Tax Riots 1990

Monday, 30 March 2020

44th anniversary of Land Day

Today, 30th March, is Land Day in Palestine and is marked by Palestinians wherever they live. Land Day is held on the anniversary of March 30, 1978,when Palestinian villages and cities across the country witnessed mass demonstrations against the states plans to expropriate 2,000 hectares of land in and around the Arab villages of Araba and Sakhnin as a part of a plan to "Judaise the Galilee".Israel's Galilee region. In coordination with the military, some 4,000 police officers were  dispatched  to quell the unrest.As demonstrators blocked roads and shouted slogans such as "these villages belongs to us, not to Israel", they were met with live ammunition from the Israeli army killing six protesters - Khayr Muhammad Yasin, Raja Hussein Abu Riya, Khader And Khalila, Khadija Juhayna, Muhammad Yusuf Taha and Rafat Zuhairi, leaving over one hundred injured by state security forces,  after simply calling for equality and recognition, and  their right of return.
The Day of the land - or Land Day marked the first mass mobilization of Palestinians within Israel against internal colonialism and land theft. It also signalled the failure of Israel to subjugate Palestinians who remained in their towns and villages, after around 700,000 of them were either expelled or forced to flee battles or massacres committed by Zionist armed groups in 1948.It's commemoration is a reaffirmation that the Palestinians who remained in the area on which Israel was declared in 1948, are an inseperable part of the Palestinian people and their struggle.
This important day in Palestinian history commemorates the Palestinians sense of belonging to a people, to a cause and a country, to stand united against racial oppression and rules of apartheid,and the discriminatory practices of the Israeli government, giving continual potency to the Palestinians cause , its quest for justice and Palestinian rights, and its resistance to injustice,who never cease to fight for their land while holding passionately to their history and identity. It is the right of return, recognised in the United Nations Resolution 194, that drives Palestinians to continue with the commemoration of Land Day - regardless of their geographical location.
The day is commemorated  annually by Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and further afield in refugee camps and among the Palestinian diaspora worldwide, with demonstrations, marches and by planting olive and fruit trees. Land Day is typically met with violent Israeli repression.
Land Day continues to be poignantly relevant as Israel continues to confiscate land, expand their colonies, and continue to build their illegal settlements in flagrant violation of all international conventions, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law. There are currently more than 65 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel, and Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The recent approval of Israel’s Nation State Law came to cement this apartheid and the second-class status of Palestinians.
But 2020, for the first year since 1976, Palestinians will not be holding a Land Day commemorative march, due to the fear of further spreading the coronavirus COVID-19 in the crowded Palestinian Occupied Territories.
Every year, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and abroad, commemorate Land Day with marches and remembrance. Land Day 2020 coincides with the two year anniversary of the launch of the weekly Great March of Return demonstrations in Gaza.
Through these demonstrations, Palestinians have been demanding their right to return to the land that is now known as Israel, as well as an end to the 13 year blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel and Egypt.
The Palestinian refugees in Gaza  hoped through the weekly non-violent protests to regain access to land, now in Israel, from which their ancestors were forced to flee during the country’s creation in 1948. Instead, the protesters were shot with live ammunition, killing hundreds and maiming tens of thousands. This went on weekly for nearly two years, with no repercussions for the Israeli soldiers who repeatedly shot non-violent Palestinian demonstrators.
According to Gaza medical officials, 215 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers firing from the other side of the border during the protests, with another 8,000 suffering gunshot wounds. In the past few months, the weekly protests have been smaller.
In 2019 U.N. Human Rights Council investigators said Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, with children and paramedics among the fatalities.
The total area of historical Palestine is 27, 000 square kilometres, 85% of which is under Israeli military control. Therefore only 15% of the ancestral land is available for indigenous Palestinians to cultivate their land. The Palestinian people continue to risk violence and even death in their struggle for freedom, justice and equality. The UK solidarity movement must do everything we can to amplify the Palestinian people's call for an end to the siege of Gaza and the implementation of the right of return, as enshrined in international law.
So far, nine out of the 97 coronavirus cases confirmed in the Palestinian territories have been confirmed in the Gaza Strip. Gaza’s hospitals, which were overwhelmed during the protests by gunshot wounds and amputations, are now gearing up for the challenge of containing the coronavirus in the coastal enclave of two million Palestinians, many living in refugee camps.
 Amid the pandemic, people around the world  are using social media to honour Land Day. With much of the world now in lockdown, for most Palestinian people this experience is nothing new. Before the coronavirus outbreak spread around the world, a UN report identified that “over two million Palestinians – around 40 per cent of the population” face:
"conflict and violence, displacement, and denial of access to livelihoods, among other threats; entrenched levels of food insecurity… [and] inadequate access to essential services for the most vulnerable households "
The UN estimated that around “three-quarters” of those people live in Gaza. Israel’s blockade of this area and violence against its inhabitants has already “devastated public infrastructure” and “disrupted and overwhelmed basic services”. On 23 March, B’Tselem warned:
"The spread of COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip will be a massive disaster, resulting entirely from the unique conditions created by more than a decade of Israeli blockade: a failing healthcare system, extreme poverty, dependence on humanitarian aid, dysfunctional infrastructure and harsh living conditions that compromise public health – even before exposure to the new virus – combine with overcrowding to form a nightmare scenario. " 
Coronavirus now affects us all. But in the midst of our personal chaos and confusion, the challenges we face seem easy in comparison to those facing people in Palestine. Not only has a US-based global tracker removed an entire country, but the horrific situation people in the occupied territories face trying to deal with the outbreak mean they need our solidarity now more than ever.  
This year, amidst the Covid-19 lockdown, for the first time ever Land Day will be  solemnly commemorated inside Palestinian homes. with gatherings everywhere in the world banned in order to combat the spread of coronavirus, the Palestinians decided that the best way to keep this memory alive is to raise the red, white, green and black Palestinian flag on rooftops and balconies of every Palestinian home. Palestinians are sadly used to lockdowns and curfews, which is perhaps why so many have taken it in their stride.  
Meanwhile, the Israeli regime is continuing to remove Palestinians from their land even exploiting the pandemic to do so. House demolitions in East Jerusalem continue, settlement building hasn't halted and there is even reported to be a spike in settler attacks on Palestinian properties in the West Bank. 
On this important day in the Palestinian struggle for liberation,their collective narrative - one that emphasises Palestinian resistance to Israeli colonisation and sumud (steadfastness), in solidarity I will continue to join other people of conscience in supporting the global led Boycott, Divestment and sanctions (BDS)  campaign, intensifying our collective efforts to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people in violation of international law. 
In particular, I call on the EU and member states to recognise a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and ban the importation of goods from illegal settlements, as well as warn European companies operating there to immediately cease their operations. Respecting today the Palestinians inside Israel, the Israeli-Occupied Territories of the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, and those in exile, who mark Land Day and view it as an assertion of the Palestinians' right to return to their homeland. From the rivers  to the sea one day Palestine will be free. For now the struggle continues.

Here's Why Palestinians in Gaza have been marching for two years.

 To our Land - Mahmoud Darwish

To our land,
and it is the one near the word of god,
a ceiling of clouds
To our land,
and it is the one far from the adjectives of nouns,
the map of absence
To our land,
and it is the one tiny as a sesame seed,
a heavenly horizon ... and a hidden chasm
To our land
and it is the one poor as a grouses wings
holy books . . . and an identity wound
To our land,
and it is the one surrounded with torn hills,
the ambush of a new past
To our land, and it is a prize of war,
the freedom to die from longing and burning
and our land, in its bloodied night
is jewel that glimmers for the far upon the far
and illuminates whats outside it . . .
As for us , inside,
we suffocate more !

Translated by Fady Joudah

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Walt Whitman (31/5/1819 -26/3/1892) - This is what you shall do.

Remembering Walt Whitman, American poet, essayist, journalist who died  on this day in 1892, with his timeless advice on living a vibrant and rewarding life. It''s an excerpt from the preface of the 1855 edition  to his verse collection Leaves of Grass. 
We are currently living in unsettling times, so thought I'd share a beautiful quote , that  contains a truth that remains undiminished since it was originally written..

" This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."

Here's some earlier posts of mine on Walt :-



Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Take Action for Gaza :End the Siege

Over the weekend we heard devastating  news of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Gaza,
According to Deputy Health Minister Youssef Abulreesh, the two cases are  Palestinian men who returned from Pakistan through Gaza's Rafah on Thursday, March 21 and were placed under quarantine. On Saturday, March 22 their tests were confirmed positive for COVID-19. The two are now in a field hospital in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. More than 1,210 people haven placed in quarantine in hospitals, hotels and schools. 
The Gaza strip is the largest open air prison in the world. It's Palestinian population, many of whom are refugees expelled from  their homes during the creation of Israel in 1948. Israel has carried out three major military assaults (in 2009-09. 2012 and 2014) against Gaza, unleashing the force  of the regions most powerful army and sole nuclear power, on one of the most densely populated and poorly defended refugee areas in the world. In the 2014 attack 2,251 Palestinians were killed, among them 1,462 civilians and 551 children.
Gaza's two million residents most with claims to return to their homes, supported by international law are being asked to practice social distancing. This is impossible and the virus would spread like wildfire. Hamas has shut down restaurants, reception halls and Friday prayers at mosques, and any Palestinian returning from abroad are either being quarantined or are self-isolating. Though people have been ordered to only leave their homes to buy food, there is high risk that the virus will spread very rapidly in the densely populated enclaves and refugee camps of Gaza. Israel have responded to the confirmed cases by closing its borders  with Palestine (including the West Bank) completely.
The blockade has caused grinding poverty resulting in more than two-thirds of Gazan families being dependent on aid. Due to fuel shortages and damaged electrical infrastructure, there are power shortages  for up to 16 hours per day in most areas of Gaza. 70 percent of households in Gaza receive running water for only 6 to 8 hours every two to four days. Over 90 percent of the water extracted  from the Gaza aquifer is unsafe for human consumption, while needed filtration equipment cannot be imported to Gaza.Nearly 90 million litres of untreated or partially treated sewage is dumped into the sea off Gaza every day, while equipment needed to build new or maintain existing treatment facilities are banned from entering Gaza. As a result of  the blockade the economy,  education, medical care, agricultural and fishing industries have worsened, in some cases in near collapse. 
Gaza's wealth is largely unreachable s a direct result of Israel's occupation and blockade. Most agricultural land is located in places declared closed military areas. Access to traditional   fishing grounds is restricted by the Israeli Navy. Development of their natural gas reserves is forbidden by the Israeli government. All of this while the movement of people into and out of Gaza is severely restricted and both the import of goods and the export of products from Gaza is strictly limited. 
Israel has supplied Gaza with only a few hundred COVID-19 tests for its almost 2 million people. Gaza only has 65 life-saving ventilators (19 of which are already in use) and most of the equipment used in hospitals is in very poor condition and there are not enough adequate quarantine facilities to deal with the virus. It's a catastrophe in the making. Health officials warn that containment and treatment under the Israeli blockade will be impossible. This is truly a nightmare situation. Israel will not be able to deflect the blame if this nightmare scenario turns into a reality , that it created and made no effort to prevent. In the shadow of the global pandemic, these conditions in Gaza are a recipe for a disaster. Yet they are not the result of some unfortunate accident, but are are a result from deliberate Israeli state policy, consciously designed and maintained to achieve Gaza's, oppression, isolation and disintegration.
It is difficult to identify a date when the siege on Gaza began. The population of Gaza swelled in the aftermath of the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced from their homes in 1948 and ended up in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and beyond. In 1967, Israeli forces invaded the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula, marking the beginning of the military and civilian occupation of Gaza. Palestinians have been subject to military rule since 1967, while Israelis who settled there were provided the protections of civil law. Following the first Intifada in 1987 Israel tightened its external and internal control and by 1994 it had established a fortified external control zone around Gaza through fencing, walls and militarized zones and imposed strict limitations on entry and exit, thus beginning a policy of isolating Gaza.
This crisis has been building since Israel's life-threatening blockade began 13 years ago, after the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas fighters, but it is clear that the siege has been in effect for decades:. 
Gaza is a  segregated, debilitated and subjugated colony of Israel. The occupation writ large is reminiscent of apartheid South Africa, the medinas of French colonies, the indigenous reservations across North America and other colonial regimes. Gaza represents an extreme form of settler colonialism—the conversion of a Bantustan into an open-air prison. Israel manufactures humanitarian crisis through its siege to create permanent isolation and deprivation, which is supported by the international community through its political inaction and its supplying of humanitarian aid in spite of the Israeli government’s legal obligations.
Critics of Israeli policy have long expressed a concern that the occupation relies on collective punishment, which is prohibited by international law. De-development and the siege, however, represent a kind of collective torture, forcing Palestinians to cope and endure in conditions that, while met by resilience, no group should be forced to endure. This torture takes the form of a frontal attack on the physical and mental health of Palestinians, a denial of the basic requirements of medical care, sustenance, community and mental health through infrastructures of dispossession.
Due to the Israeli siege, the healthcare system in Gaza is totally unprepared to deal with this pandemic. Palestinians in Gaza are living in crisis even without the Coronavirus, and the almost inevitable outbreak of the virus is essentially another nail in the coffin from the Israeli state. It is absolutely crucial that the Israeli siege on Gaza comes to an immediate end, and the 2 million people trapped on the Gaza Strip are finally allowed access to reliable electricity and medical aid. As long as Israel maintains the siege Palestinians will remain prisoners in their own land.  Palestinians like all people in the  the world, want to live in freedom. The pandemic's arrival threatens to make Gaza even more unlivable under Israeli siege. 
In this most moment when people in more privileged countries can just slightly relate to a life in confinement, separated from loved ones, uncertain about basic needs and worrying about their collective future, it is imperative to think of the inhabitants of Gaza who have suffered much worse for decades, and are at the risk of a far more devastating blow now that this terrifying pandemic has reached their shores. Please take action by writing to the Foreign Office. It's imperative for the UK to use its diplomatic power to insist the inhumane siege in Gaza ends immediately, and for Palestinians to have access to the healthcare they need.

Monday, 23 March 2020

There is silence in the streets.

There is silence in the streets, long nights of uncertainty
There is power in music, collective threads of solidarity,
Vibrations non-conforming, searching for different realities
Where laborious thoughts keep on gathering,
There are joyful rivers  and  flowing streams
There is our shared humanity, among days of disbelief,
In Gaza  people daily facing unrelentless suffering
Waiting for the darkness to  be  overcome,
There is despair woven into the landscape of life
Where countries are scarred by war and division,
The lonely and forgotten ensnared by disease
There are so many things we fail to see,
In this world, there is pain so great and terrible
Paths laden  with discomfort and so much fear,
There are times when no reason arrives at all
Weary now, timid with all that we collectively face,
There are those that reach beyond this bleakness
Beyond the shattered hopes, gloomy hours in isolation,
There is still beauty, new dawns approaching
The continuing intermingling of minds persistence,
Where our love can heal, holding on to mutual beliefs
Where the affliction  of  existential life can cease.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Coronoavirus Global Solidarity

“We cannot forget migrants, we cannot forget undocumented workers, we cannot forget prisoners in prisons.” Dr Michael J Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme on why we mustn’t forget the vulnerable and excluded when tackling Coronavirus.

Doctors of the World is committed to helping these groups. That’s why they've launched their Coronoavirus Global Solidarity Fund. This emergency fund will help keep their  services for the most vulnerable running through, and beyond, the current crisis. Please, if you can, do give today .

We’re all worried and a little scared.

Coronavirus is making us all feel nervous, agitated and worried. It is an unprecedented time in our recent history and we need to come together to overcome this terrifying pandemic.

This is all putting a great strain on healthcare around the world. We know from experience that when this happens it is often the most vulnerable groups of people that are hit hardest.

 Doctors of the World, are working with their colleagues and partners to do all they  can to mitigate the impact of this global pandemic.

As you can imagine, this costs money. That’s why they are asking us to give to their Coronoavirus Global Solidarity Fund. They will use this money to continue to provide our services and help those most in need.

Some of this will help them continue our ‘business as usual’ work and some will be for new projects that arise from the emergency.

They  have already translated advice for patients in 20 languages. These were produced in partnership with the Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice at no charge to patients. As guidance changes, we will update these.

As Dr Ryan ends by saying:

‘We’re in this together, and I hope we can finish this together’

Please, if you can, give generously now. Together we can help those who need us most.

With confirmed cases crossing 200,000 and more than 8,000 people already dead, the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak seems to have launched a war against humanity.

The worst affected countries are mainland China, with 3,237 deaths, out of 80,894 cases, of whom 69,601 have been cured. Italy follows with 2,503 deaths, 31,506 cases, Iran 1,135 deaths, around 17,000 cases, Spain 558 deaths and 13,716 cases and France with 175 deaths and 7,730 cases. Turkey, Bangladesh, Moldova and Burkina Faso have all reported their first deaths.

The pandemic has resulted in countries imposing travel restrictions and shutting down major events, shops and schools. But this is not the time to panic.

History has proved that through sincere, firm and coordinated actions, the world community can surmount any challenge. The deadly virus can certainly be beaten back by solidarity within communities and within nations.

Robust, bold and effective containment and control measures initiated by most countries are already raising hopes that the tough times could be overcome.

Governments in Europe, Asia and North America have rolled out strong measures to put the brakes on the ferocious spread of the pandemic.

Now is the time for each one of us to respond to the worldwide coronavirus crisis by being in solidarity with others, across countries and continents  especially with those who are most vulnerable and most at risk  in order to fight COVID 19,

We live in an interwoven, interconnected world where an injury to one is truly an injury to all. We must confront the coronavirus with solidarity and fight for a society where the health of all is more important than profits for a few.

A pandemic  makes the slogan of solidarity literal: an injury to one is an injury to all. We become isolated, that makes us all vulnerable.

 We can protect ourselves and others by changing our behaviour, asking governments to act, and donating.

Now more than ever , we need one another.

We must build on the trust, relationships and power we have built  over years to support our communities at this time of unprecedented strain and stress.

While we may have to distance ourselves , we can increase our social solidarity, and our commitment to work together for the common  good, sharing the concept of mutual aid.

Also consider joining the online World against  racism rally  showing solidarity with the fight against racism. https://www.facebook.com/events/525590474784471/

These are scary times, I wish you and your loved ones well.

Please stay safe, stay strong, we will come through this.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Spring's Promise

A poem in celebration of the spring equinox

In the midst of  a frayed world
The hurried breaths of life,
Times of distrust and confusion
General malaise and  disruption,
The sap is rising, new life returns
As buds awaken from winter's sleep,
Spring embraces, weaves its great design
Like a shawl, that offers protection,
From darkness we greet the light
Blossoms emerge from slumber,
And eggs dyed red as the womb
Are offered as gifts.

We hail the green goddess
Salute nature's renewal,
The spring equinox we celebrate
Planting desires, scattering seeds,
Time of rebirth and days of hope
To refresh us with new beginnings,
Of spirit and wonder.
The earth stands afresh
Hares leap, Ostara walks,            *
Flowers bloom, the sun kisses
Moistens and refreshes,
As we praise the day
And bless the night,
Honor and express
Sustain one another. 

( Ostara or Eostre , was the Goddess of Dawn (Saxon) who was responsible for bringing spring each year.    

Tom Waits - You Can Never Hold Back Spring

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

New World Disorder

Feet become restless
In chaos and confusion,
With minds plagued by avarice
Heedless of humanity.

As parliament pends closure
And maroons the barren land,
Immoral forces sweep the nation
As old and infirm suffer the sting.

In desperation and despair
When guidance is  pivotal,
A yellow 2 legged centipede
Crawls with frivolous complacency.

Social distancing becomes the new order
Songs of light arrive to comfort,
Beyond the vortex of feverous fire
the crying of the living, the solemnity of the dead.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Remembering Rachel Corrie, still not forgotten ( 10/4/79 - 16/3/03 )

It has become customary  of me to pay tribute to the passing of  Rachel Aliene Corrie, 
a courageous  23 year old American Peace activist and humanitarian  from Olympia, Washington who was crushed to death by an Israeli military, caterpiller D 912 bulldozer in 2003, while undertaking non-violent direct action trying to protect the home of  innocent  Palestinian  homes from demolition in Rafah in the Gaza strip. whilst serving with the ISM - International Solidarity Movement.
Rachel had come to Gaza during part of her senior college assignement that connected her home of Olympia with Rafah, Rachel  had engaged with other International Solidarity Movement activists in efforts to prevent continued demolition of Palestinian homes in operations that the Israeli military claimed were aimed at eliminating weapons smuggling tunnels.
 She was horrified at the destruction she witnessed. Homes were destroyed and people detained and killed on a daily basis. Rachel recorded what she observed and felt in letters and emails to her family. In one email she wrote, "Now the Israeli army has actually dug up the road to Gaza, and both of the major checkpoints are closed. This means that Palestinians who want to go and register for their next quarter at university can't. People can't get to their jobs and those who are trapped on the other side can't get home, and internationals who have a meeting tomorrow in the West Bank, wont make it."
In another email she wrote, "Just feel sick to my stomach a lot from being doted on all the time, very sweetly, by people who are facing doom... Honestly a lot of the time the sheer kindness of the people here, coupled with the overwhelming evidence off the willful destruction of their lives, makes it seem unreal to me."
On 16 March 2003 in the Gaza Strip's southern city of Rafah, Corrie stood  before an Israeli bulldozer in hopes of stopping it from  demolishing the home of a local Palestinian  family.
Corrie believed that her foreign features and blonde hair would deter the bulldozer, but she was wrong. She was crushed to death when the bulldozer driver ran over her repeatedly, according to witnesses.
The people of Gaza received news of her murder with grief and horror, describing her as a "martyr "and staging a massive funeral for the American activist. Since then the name Rachel Corrie has become synonymous with the Palestinian cause, an icon of global solidarity withe the people of Palestine. Her name was chosen as the name for an Irish aid ship that set out to Gaza in 2010, while her story has been told in several documentary films  portraying Palestinian suffering. 
So today day I reflect upon Rachel's brave stand in Gaza and her courage to resist, and all  those who continue to live and struggle there. And all those passionate change makers across the globe who each day act with conscience and work tirelessly to try and make a difference.
Justice has never been served for her, along with many others who have been killed under the Israeli occupation. In 2005 Corrie's parents filed a civil lawsuit against the state of Israel, for a symbolic one U.S dollar in damages, to make the point that the case was about justice for their daughter and the Palestinian cause, she had been defending. Charging Israel with not conducting a full and credible investigation into the case and with responsibility for her death.  In August 2012, an Israeli court rejected their suit.
Her death they said was a " regrettable accident " for which the state of Israel was not responsible. According to Judge Oded Gershon of Haifa Court she had " put herself in a dangerous situation " whilst dressed in a bright orange and acting as a human shield, jacket when she was crushed to death. Israel to all intents and purpose declared itself not guilty of her murder. giving its stamp of approval to the flawed and illegal practices of the Israeli military. the verdict  failed to hold Israel's military accountable for its continuing violation  of human rights. 
The home Rachel died trying to protect was razed to the ground, along with hundreds of others.  and today Israel still acts with impunity, There is still no justice when their courts show such contempt for justice's meaning. There is no justice either , when the Gaza strip remains a sealed open prison, there is no justice when countless Palestinian families  are made homeless, their houses destroyed. Where is the justice for them or their friends after the uneccessary death of their loved ones.
Remember that what is happening in Palestine is no inexplicable cycle of violence where each side is as bad as one another.It is no more than an equal  cycle of violence than that seen in apartheid South Africa. Being against this injustice is not anti-Jewish, as is standing up to the British Government's injustices is seen as being anti- British.
Rachel Corrie understood these links and connections and would have known about an active Israeli peace movement, and of the hundreds  of Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories, many of whom have been jailed for their stance. Israel has invaded Palestinian land in breach of international law. Rachel died while attempting to prevent a demolition of a home, a common practice that the  Israeli army, uses as a collective punishment that has left more than 12,000 Palestinians homeless since the beginning of the second uprising in September 2000. A practice that violates International Law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.
So here's to the memory and bravery of Rachel Corrie  a true American hero,who courageously died whilst living her dreams, staying human and showing her solidarity with her beloved friends, the Palestinians. who continues to inspire activism and compassion across the globe, her  spirit lives on, challenging us to get out of our comfort zones and act with our convictions.
Rachel's death was tragic, but  brought the world's attention to the suffering and death of thousands of Palestinians. At least 6,500 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli occupation since 2000, so the international community must carry on fighting for their justice too, as well as that of Rachel's, the situation sadly in the West Bank and Gaza, still no different today.
The world must not stay silent, while the struggle continues against the demolition and occupation of Palestinian homes and lands, restrictions of movement, detentions, arrest, collective punishment, the siege of Gaza and the aggressive military attacks that continue  on a daily basis. Here is a link to the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice set up in her memory , I for one will not forget her, who  continues to remind us to be kind, generous, strong even in the most difficult of circumstances. 


I'd Rather Be Dancing (Rachel Corrie's Song ) -  Jim Page

The words of following song are based on actual letters Rachel wrote home to her parents, before she died.

. Genesis P-Orridge, 1950 – 2020: Uncompromising Artistic Provocateur

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (born Neil Andrew Megson; 22 February 1950) the pioneering and boundary shifting English singer-songwriter, musician, poet, performance artist, occultist,  disciple of William S. Byrroughs, transgressive counter-cultural icon and a pioneer of radical performance has died aged 70. after  battling leukemia for 2½ years, the Dais Records label announced.
The label shared a statement from P-Orridge’s daughters Careese, and Genesse on their parent who identified as third gender, they wrote:

Dear friends, family and loving supporters, It is with very heavy hearts that we announce thee passing of our beloved father, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge
S/he had been battling leukemia for two and a half years and dropped he/r body early this morning, Saturday March 14th, 2020.
S/he will be laid to rest with h/er other half, Jaqueline “Lady Jaye” Breyer who left us in 2007, where they will be re-united.
Thank you for your love and support and for respecting our privacy as we are grieving.
Caresse & Genesse P-Orridge
P-Orridge was born in Victoria Park, Manchester on February 22 1950,, as Neil Andrew Megson and grew up in Essex. As a teenager, he attended Solihull School in Warwickshire, where he was interested in occultism, avant-garde art, radical politics and underground music.After being hospitalised aged 17 following a blackout they decided their life should be dedicated to art. They began to conduct ‘happenings’ designed to spark an “artistic revolution”. Such works were controversial – their Hull University magazine Worm, which published anything submitted without editorial interference, was banned for obscenity by the Student Union.
S/he left the University of Hull to join the Transmedia Explorations commune in London, leading lights of the counter-culture scene since 1967, leaving the commune after three months to found the controversial avant-garde art and improvisation music collective COUM Transmissions  with artist Cosi Fanni Tutti, inspired by the subversive prankery of thee dadaists and the situationists. COUM Transmissions founded its own counter-culture commune of artists and thinkers called the Ho-Ho Funhouse in a dockside warehouse and moved towards more theatrical performance art, such as purposefully turning up to play as gig with no instruments, or encouraging audiences to boo them offstage.Their 1976 exhibition at London’s Institute of Present-day Arts, titled Prostitution, scandalised the art world, and prompted Conservative MP Nicholas Fairbairn to denounce the group as “the wreckers of civilization”
It was during this time that s/he also began a friendship and correspondence with Beat writer William Burrroughs that wuld last until the authors death in 1997. Soon afterwardsr Genesis and Tutti branched out to form Throbbing Gristle in 1975 with Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson. The band was named after Yorkshire slang for an erect penis.They released "United "  b/w " "Zyclon B Zombie," their first single, on their own Industrial Records label"

Releasing their debut album The Second Annual Report in 1977. Crude, uncompromising and deliberately malicious, it was not always an easy listen, – based all-around a number of variations of the music Slug Bait and Maggot Loss of life, which in depth sadistic functions of violence and murder. Only 785 copies were being pressed, but the album was a critical affect on the industrial movement, a a lot more antagonistic cousin of punk. As a member of this seminal band, P.Orridge  contributed shock tactics and performance art with subversive, hybrid aesthetics, thus helping to define the nascent industrial genre as an adventurous and edgy one. The hugely influential group traded in harsh, grating confrontational music, white noise, primitive, based samples,  drum loops and spoken word poetry and disturbing visuals,  that often featured nudity, self- mutilation  and images of Concentration Camps were active from 1975 to 1981 and again from 2004 to 2010. Their third album, 1979's 20 Jazz Funk Greats is considered to be one of the most influential industrial albums of all time. A vast array of alternative acts, from My Bloody Valentine,;Killing Joke to Nine Inch Nails and Aphex Twin  and Ministry remain firmly in its debt.
The band collapsed in 1981 due to personal issues and P-Orridge went on to found the experimental “video group who does musicPsychic TV with Alternative TV’s Alex Fergusson. They embraced video art, psychedelia, electronica and punk. Delving further into P-Orridge’s interest in the occult, and fetishism they also utilised magical sigils, Tibetan instruments made of human thigh bones, and explored the teachings of LaVeyan Satainism; they hoped reclaim television as a form of eso terrorist” magick rather than a tool of establishment indoctrination, and scored a minimal hit with Godstar, a tribute to late Rolling Stone guitarist Brian Jones.

Psychic TV made their debut in 1982 at a four-day multimedia event in London and Manchester called the Final Academy, which featured artists including  William S Burroughs and Brion Gysin.
The band’s output was prolific – releasing much more than 100 albums, and entering the Guinness Reserve of World Data after issuing 14 dwell records in the room of 18 months. From 1988 onwards they became under the influence of acid house.
 P-Orridge was also a founding member  in 1981 of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth  ' anti-cult'  TOPY gathered members of the industrial music subculture, artists and occultists, into a loose network with the aim of, in Genesis' words, "changing society through the magical transformation of individuals". TOPY was dedicated to the occult, chaos magic, and ultimately attacking British society,  who existed to promote a system ov functional, demystified magick, utilising both pagan and modern techniques..

With these projects, as well as their abundant  visual arty, P- Orridge, applied the cut and paste techniques of William S.Burrough and the occult philosophies of Aleister Crowley to cultural  work that aimed to corrupt and unsettle the habits of normative consensus society and brazenly confronting power and pushing the boundaries of acceptance wherever they could. “I am at war with the status quo of society and I am at war with those in control and power,” said Genesis in 1989. “I’m at war with hypocrisy and lies, I’m at war with the mass media.”
In  1992, Genesis’s dwelling in Brighton was raided by Scotland Yard’s Obscene Publications Squad after a  Channel 4 Dispatches programme claimed to have footage of P-Orridge abusing children in sex-magic rites. The  material was later found to be video performance artwork from the early 1980s – partly funded by Channel 4 itself, and featuring no children.programme.
Despite this the artist went into self-imposed exile in the US. Consistently pushing the boundaries of adventurous art, P.Orridge pioneered new ways of thinking around identity, gender and relationships and S/he met the performance artist Lady Jaye Breyer in the nineties. Together the legendary couple moved to New York and began a lifelong project of “pandrogeny”which  was Genesis's attempt to virtually "become" Jaye via physical and spiritual transfiguration Breyer and P-Orridge underwent numerous cosmetic, surgical, and medical treatments in order to approximate one another, thus finally merging into a single pandrogynous being named Breyer P-Orridge. “Pandrogeny as a concept is not about gender—it’s about the ending of all binary perception.It’s influenced by the allegory of the path of no distinction—that all definitions, distinctions, values, matters of what could be considered good, bad, delicious, or revolting are all human-made. They’re not innate. That’s true of identity, which includes gender.For for us it’s about erasing the need to even consider gender.”
This pandrogyny project was cut short when Breyer died of acute heart arrhythmia in 2007, an especially painful loss at a time when P-Orridge was beginning to receive highbrow acclaim,triggering a long cycle of grief  for h/er partner. Undergoing gender reassignment surgery in the mid-2000s and, according to a 2019 interview in the Los Angeles Times, preferred gender-neutral pronouns in part because of “a desire to include into conversations the voice of their longtime creative and romantic partner Jacqueline ‘Lady Jaye’ Breyer.
S/he had been diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia in 2017,a year after Psychic TV recorded their final studio album. It was a diagnosis which s/he took on with the spirit only a true avant-garde, occultist could. Speaking to The New York Times in 2018, P-Orridge had this to say about her philosophy on life:“When you’ve got a terminal illness, you think about what your
legacy might be. My only answer is, we would hope that it would inspire people to see that they can do a life totally as they would like it to unfold. Live your life every day like a page in your book of life, and make that page as interesting as you can. Whenever you have a choice, say: Which is the better page in my book?”
TryMarie Losier’s documentary film The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye was released in 2011,

 and in 2016 the Rubin Museum of Art in New York hosted Try to Altar Everything an exhibition of P-Orridge’s paintings, sculptures and installations. In 2018 s/he published Brion Gysin: His Name Was Master, a collection of interviews and essays.
In 2003 P-Orridge had unveiled PTV3, a new band drawing on the legacy of Psychic TV. They released four albums and several EPs between 2007 and 2016. In 2018 they performed at Heaven in London.
P-Orridge is survived by two daughters, Genesse and Caresse, from a first marriage, to Paula Brooking, which ended in divorce.
A  daring authentic, uncompromising musical  pioneer, cultural engineer,  provocateur extraordinary, shapeshifting purveyor of the senses, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is arguably one of the most important icons of Alternative Culture of the latter quarter of the 20th century and beyond who leaves a legacy of much richness, who remains a hugely influential figure on young musicians looking for new directions,a unique persona who has certainly inspired me,  may  s/he continue to find unconditional love as s/he travels into the infinite. Goodbye to this musical legend, there is beauty and there is ugliness, and angels and demons in every land we tread., Genesis will be missed deeply.

Throbbing Gristle - Almost a kiss

Throbbing Gristle - What a Day

Throbbing Gristle - Dream Machine

Psychic TV - Infinite Beat

Psychic TV - Pagan Day

Psychic TV - The Alienist

Psychic TV - Just Drifting (for Caresse)

Friday, 13 March 2020

Some basic things we can do to meet our fears and diminish our anxiety over Coronavirus.

We are ALL connected. The coronavirus is spreading across the world. It has reached pandemic proportions and we are facing.a global health crisis. It's a tough time for all of us.

From the United States to Italy, Iran to South Korea,  the epidemic is getting worse. sending countries into economic meltdown as markets whipsaw and panic buying leading to food shortages. .

Governments have issued new rounds of travel bans. Institutions, schools  and public places facing shutdown.

At the same time some politicians are using the crisis for political gain, but the virus itself, has no politics, does not discriminate and sees no borders.

Trustworthy health advice has never been  more vital. It could be the difference between life and death.

It is important to remember that there is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.

Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses;.

Please note, each infected person will start being infectious after 12 to 24 hrs, showing symptoms after  5 to 12 days. They will infect  on average 2.6 other people

The public has a crucial role in containing the virus. and here are  some basic things we can do to meet our fears and diminish our anxiety:

Ignore conspiracy theories and peddlers of misinformation,  it's  so easy to feel scared and alone at times like this, that's why we need to ground ourselves in our collective strength and grow strong by caring for each other.

Practice social distancing, work from home,  people should avoid gathering in public places,and participate in gatherings virtually instead.

Stay at home as much as possible.

Cancel non essential appointments

Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.

Don’t touch your face.

Elbow bump, touch your heart, or gently bow instead of hugging or shaking hands.

Disinfect around you and buy what we need (just what we need).

Protect your immune system with plenty of fruits and vegetables and get caught up on sleep.

If you are sick and experiencing symptoms (coughing, fever, and shortness of breath, please stay home so that you do not get others sick.

Perhaps the most important message the coronavirus offers is that the natural world is conspiring to save us from ourselves, to slow our materialistic greed and reign in our aggressive, self-centered, short-term, and xenophobic tendencies.”

It feels strange and hard to refrain from social engagements when we are feeling anxious and the need to connect. But right now the best way we can support each other is by keeping each other healthy.

Think about how we can support each other and our neighbors while not being together in person.

Reach out to one another by phone, email, text message, facebook etc.

While many of us are decreasing our physical contact, we need one another more right now, not less.

Be kind to those who are working, who are doing the jobs  that care for life.

Notice them, thank them, help calm their anxieties.

Keep in mind that during times of crisis, those who are most vulnerable, the poor, the elderly, women and children .

Making sure older neighbours have enough food, shops are doing home deliveries, community organisation are checking in with people they know are struggling.

Please do not  panic, Spread the love.

We will get through this together.

Here is a link to  the latest information on the Novel Coronavirus from Public Health Wales


Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Tory Hand Wash Out

Filthy Torys telling us to wash our hands with soap
Words of advice from those that offer no bloody hope,
Daily releasing immorality and stains so impure
With toxic, rotten, cruel, conscious ideology,
Sordid,vicious, ill-inclined, carrying the stench of evil
Creating  division, iniquity, infecting the land,
Places where no one is left with room to dream
Voices are denied, discounted, so easily excused ,
Where music has been stilled, no joy to be found
As people search for crumbs, some healing air,
Trapped and controlled  by usurpers who rule by stealth
Who could not give a fuck about the nations health,
Wherever they roam or walk just give offence
The simple fact is we can't trust the Conservatives,
As they continue to destroy essential services
Abandon care for many people in need,
Led by a bumbling narcissistic circus clown
How can we  trust them on coronovirus,
Whose double standards put us all in jeapordy
Continuing to release unfurling tragedy.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

International Women's Day - Solidarity to my Sisters.

Celebrated on March 8 every year, International Women's Day is a day dedicated to honoring the achievements of women throughout history and all across the globe, and is typically a day for women from all different backgrounds and cultures to band together to fight for gender parity and  women's rights.
 This year, International Women's Day occurs on a Sunday and will be celebrated with the special 2020 theme, #EachforEqual, celebrating  "Generation Equality” and the continued fight for equal rights for women.
 “We don’t have an equal world at the moment and women are angry and concerned about the future,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in a statement. “It's an impatience that runs deep, and it has been brewing for years…..Though we are radically impatient, we are not giving up and we are hopeful.”
 International Women’s Day is a time for reflection of how far women have come, advocacy for what is still needed, and action to continue breaking down barriers. With over a century of history, IWD is a growing movement centered around unity and strength. 
International Women’s Day has a rich history dating back 108 years, at the beginning of the 20th Century women across Europe and America were finding their voice. That wanted and demanded decent jobs, better pay, and the right to vote or hold public offices, for their emancipation. It was out  of this air of dissatisfaction that International Women's Day was born. 
At the beginning of the 20th Century women across Europe and America were finding their voice. That wanted and demanded decent jobs, better pay, and the right to vote or hold public offices, for their emancipation. It was out  of this air of dissatisfaction that International Women's Day was born.
In 1909, the United States labour movement and the push for women’s suffrage were both gaining steam. Russian refugee, labor organiser, and journalist Theresa Malkiel served on the women’s committee of the Socialist Party of America. Envisioning a more active role for women within the movement, she declared February 23, 1909 “National Woman’s Day.” New York socialists celebrated with a meeting of about 2,000 people in Manhattan.
“The very first observation of our national Woman’s Day,” recalled activist Meta L,Stern three years later, “proved so successful that Woman’s Day became generally accepted as an annual Socialist holiday.” Along with May Day, she explained, the day stood “for new hopes and new ideals; the abolition of wage slavery and sex slavery; the coming of a freer, better and happier manhood and womanhood.”In 1910 at the Second International,  a world wide socialist  congress, German Socialist  Clara Zetkin https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2015/07/happy-birthday-clara-zetkin-571857.html proclaimed International Women's day to commemorate the US demonstrators ( garment workers who had marched and picketed  demanding improved working conditions  and a 8 hour day)  whose ranks were broken up by the police, and honour working women the world over.  
 Originally called National Woman’s Day, the monumental annual celebration spread across the world (officially celebrated in 1911), but it was Russia who unknowingly set the March 8 trend and helped spark a revolution. When tens of thousands of women converged in Petrograd, Russia to mark the holiday—as well as demand an end to World War I and protest food shortages—the demonstrations  turned into a massive strike. Within hours, 100,000 workers, including men, walked out on their jobs to join the demonstrators.
The movement grew to as many as 150,000 striking workers within a few days. Eventually, even the Russian army joined the marchers, withdrawing their support from the Tsar Nicholas. It was the beginning of the Russian Revolution.
After World War II, the holiday picked up steam, and lost many of its associations with socialism and radical politics. As the women’s liberation movement swept around the world in the 1970s, the United Nations designated 1975 International Women's Year and celebrated the holiday for the first time. Two years later in 1977,  designated March 8 International Women’s Day, and, in 1996, began to adopt an annual theme for every year. The first theme was "Celebrating the past, Planning for the Future." This year’s theme #EachforEqual is meant to be a shared goal throughout 2020.
"We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations, and celebrate women's achievements," states the organization's site. "Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world. Let's all be #EachforEqual."
The IWD 2020 campaign theme draws on the notion of "collective individualism," which refers to the idea that every individual is a part of a whole, and that an individual's actions, behaviors, and mindsets can all have an impact on larger society. IWD is a national holiday in 27 countries like Russia, Afghanistan, and Laos; in some countries, like Nepal and China, it’s a national holiday for women only.
IWD is a day to celebrate the social, political and other acheivements of women. A day to recognise the oppression that still  flourishes, caused by both capitalism and patriarchy. An  unfortunate and undeniable reality for the majority of women today.The  fight for womens rights might looks a little different today, but our sisters are still facing discrimination and injustices across the globe.
In recent times, issues of women's political influence and economic equality have been joined by broader struggles against, racism, war, violence, environmental destruction, and other forms of oppression for peace and social justice  and is now often spread into  a whole week of activities.
Time to celebrate the gains  women have made and to  keep on calling for the changes that are still very much needed. Women are still not equally represented in business or politics, girls facing sexual objectification from an early age,  girls told  to shrink themselves make themselves smaller. Women still forced to flee domestic abuse,  others facing honour killing, a practice that allows family members to murder women for dishonouring their families, by refusing arranged marriages, removing their faith or for simply dressing in ways considered inappropriate. I also note that the basic needs of most Palestinian women are daily being violated by Israels's ongoing occupation and siege. The siege in Gaza a contributing factor in one fifth of maternal deaths in Gaza.
Yet  contrary to Orientalist  misrepresentation, women have been at the heart of liberation struggles in the Middle East and North Africa. At the moment in the region of Turkey and Kurdistan women are being politicised in a long struggle against theocratic totalitarianism, inspiring us in their fight for emancipation and freedom.
So today as I observe International Womens Day, I stand up for all women still trapped by injustices, still suffering from abuse, at the end of the day I believe the women's struggle is a struggle for the freedom of all people, recuperating the fair value of people over things. I recognise the practice and theory of mutual support that women have laid, that are the foundations of social change that we must keep building. Women who recognised the tactical necessity of standing and working together, lest they be destroyed individually, women who put to shame the ridiculous notion of  a 'women's place. Their struggle is ours too. I acknowledge all those  who have been persecuted, jailed, tortured, simply for being a woman. Especially those who are among the most vulnerable in this present moment of time - the refugees. 
Let us also celebrate the  powerful women who've fought dictatorship, risked their lives to fight climate change and led mass movements for justice across the world, we cannot let their contributions go unnoticed today and every day.
Solidarity with the women of  Kobane, Mexico, Afganistan, Gaza, women of the world, to my sisters nearer home and to all the comrades  who are still fiercely opting to break every chain.
Despite strides made by the international women’s rights movement – and union campaigns for women’s rights – over many years, protests will be staged across the world today against injustice, abuse, discrimination, violence and harassment targeted at women and girls.,calling for gender equality, an end to gender-based violence and occupational segregation,
If you do one thing this international Women's Day, can you please push the following petition that will help drive real change to make our society safer and better for girls and women, everyday of the year.


Heddwch/Peace. Solidarity forever

" Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation,  and it is perhaps, the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress, towards equality, development and peace."

- Gen Secretary of the UN  - Koffi Annan

oh and as Emma Goldman pointed out  :-

" The most  violent element in society is ignorance."

Here is a link to the Socialist Roots of International Women's Day


Thursday, 5 March 2020

Muna Abdulahi - Explaining Depression to a Refugee

Muna Abdulahi is a Spoken Word Poet based in Minneapolis MN.

 In her work, she explores many themes of belonging and identity, particularly in the context of migration and nationality.

As a writer/poet, Muna pushes herself to tell the stories that are erased, silenced, devalued, or buried, the stories that are difficult, the stories that bring together communities, youth, and discussions.

 In her poem Explaining Depression to a Refugee she delivers a powerful  important message of the refugee experience, covering  diaspora, depression and doctors, that gives voice to the voiceless.

Abdulahi expresses the confusion her mother, a former Somalian refugee, displays as she is unable to fathom her daughter being diagnosed with depression.

She explains the stigmatisation the Somali culture places on mental health as her “native tongue doesn’t speak of it to its existence.”

 After a brutal war, one that caused many to see their loved ones murdered before their eyes for simply belonging to the wrong clan.

Fearing for their lives, people fled on foot and paid smugglers for entry to foreign lands.

Somali refugees are forced to grapple with the cultural and economic battles common to many who are forced to abandon their lives and seek refuge thousands of miles away from home.

But in spite of that shared pain, in the Somali community, goes largely unaddressed

Here is a link to a musical version of the poem.


Find more from Muna Abdulahi  here.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Some Praise for Dewi Sant / St David


It's become a bit of a tradition to mark the occasion of St David's Day/ Dydd Gŵyl Dewi, which celebrates my nations patron saint, who died on this day back in 601. The day is marked by parades, concerts and the wearing of one or both of Wales’s national emblems, the daffodil and leek.
The ancient tradition of eating and wearing leeks on St David’s Day supposedly goes back to the 6th century. It is said that St David told  Welsh warriors to wear leeks in their helmets in battle against the despised Saxons to differentiate themselves from their enemies,  and that the leeks won them victory. This is pure legend of course, but soon the association between leeks and war was firmly cemented in the Welsh mind. In the 14th century Welsh archers adopted green and white for their uniform in honour of the leek. And to this day the Royal Welch Fusiliers uphold the tradition of eating raw leeks on 1 March.
St David’s status as a modern national icon is a good example of how easily myth can trump historical evidence (or rather the lack of it). He lived and died fifteen hundred years ago, during a period of Welsh history often referred to as ‘the Age of the Saints’. The fifth and sixth centuries saw an intense bout of religious activity in Wales as holy men like David preached the word of God, founded churches and, if the monkish historians of the Middle Ages are to be believed, performed all manner of miracles.
Yet we have very little reliable information about who David was, what he did, or even when exactly he lived. It seems likely that his fame stemmed from the establishment of a monastery in modern-day Pembrokeshire in the late sixth century – a settlement which we know today as the cathedral-city of St Davids. However the earliest direct references to him are found in manuscripts dating from the eighth century, almost 200 years after his death, so it is difficult to be sure about much else.
Luckily the Welsh have never been inclined to let a lack of evidence get in the way of a good story. While little is known  about his life, much of the traditional tales about St David are based on Buchedd Dewi (Life of David), which was written by the scholar Rhigyfarch at the end of the 11th Century.
 Rhygyfarch's life of Saint David is regarded by many scholars as suspect because it contains many implausible events and because he had a stake in enhancing Saint David's history so as to support the prestige of the Welsh church and its independence from Canterbury, the center of the English church (still Catholic at the time). According to David Hugh Farmer in The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Rhygyfarch's history of Saint David "should be treated as propaganda, which may, however, contain some elements of true tradition." So most of what we know about Saint David is really legend; and none the less inspiring for it.
Saint David's existence at least does not seem to be in doubt; it is attested to in written records from earlier dates. He was born in the 6th century in or around South Cardigan and North Pembrokeshire in what is now southwest Wales, the exact year of his birth is unknown, with estimates ranging from 462 to 515 AD.  Born into local royalty, his mother was Saint Non, daughter of a Celtic chieftain, a  woman of great beauty and virtue.Saint David's father was a prince called Sant, son of the King of Cardigan But David wasn't the child of a love-filled marriage. He was concieved after his father either seduced or raped Non, who went on to become a nun.
David's greatness was prophesied, both in the Christian and pagan worlds. Merlin, the great mage at the court of King Arthur, foretold his coming. St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, who at that time lived near St Davids, or Mynyw as it was then known, is said to have wanted to found a monastery nearby, but was told by an angel that the place was reserved for another who would appear in due course. St Patrick’s disappointment was soothed by a vision which showed him that his true vocation lay in Ireland. St Davids father, was also warned by an angel that he would find three treasures by the River Teifi in Cardiganshire, which should be set aside for his son; a stag, a salmon and a swarm of bees. These seemingly strange gifts each had a great significance. The stag, said to eat snakes, represents Christianity's conquering Satan (the serpent); the fish represents Saint David's abstinence from liquor; and the bees represent his wisdom and spirituality.
Even from his birth strange things have been said about David. It is said he was born in a wild thunderstorm, the birthing process was said to have been so intense and fraught that his mothers fingers left marks as she grasped a rock. As David was born a bolt of lightning from heaven is said to have struck the rock, splitting it in two and at the moment of birth a spring of pure water gushed out of the ground. A blind old man who held David at the baptism. had his sight restored by applying this remarkable water to his eyes. This is one of the colourful stories about the childhood of Dewi Sant.
Non named her son Dewidd, though local Dyfed pronunciation meant he was commonly called Dewi. David is an Anglicised variation of the name derived from the Latin Davidus.
Brought up by his mother in Henfeynyw near Aberaeron, David is said to have been baptised at nearby Porthclais by St Elvis of Munster. It is said that a blind monk, Movi, was cured after drops of water splashed into his eyes as he held David.
David was educated at a monastery, usually taken to be Whitland in Carmarthenshire, under St Paulinus of Wales. He is said to have cured his tutor of blindness by making the sign of the cross. Seeing  David as blessed, Paulinus sent him off as a missionary to convert the pagan people of Britain.Having chosen life as a missionary monk, David travelled to France, Ireland, and the Middle East to learn and to proselytize.He went from place to place helping the poor, and teaching men to live as he did. David is known for converting his countrymen to Christianity.
It is said  that once when David  was preaching at a large outdoor gathering, in Llanddewi Brefi people complained they couldn’t hear or see him  until a white dove landed on David’s shoulder, and as it did, the ground on which he stood rose up to form a hill, making it possible for everyone to see and hear him , both near and far off, where a church now stands. The dove became his emblem often appearing in his portraits and on stained-glass windows depicting him. Doves are considered pure due to their typical role as a messenger or a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
There are many other stories about the man, no one can actually tell if any of them are actually true or not but create a nice tale to tell nevertheless. It is also said that he once rose a youth from death, and milestones during his life were marked by the appearance of springs of water.
In 550 AD, St David was named the Archbishop of Wales at the Synod of Brefi church council and stayed in the settlement of Mynyw and set up a large monastery. David was a bit of a disciplinarian and hard task masker, but the monks in this monastery  obeyed him and lived a simple life, drinking water and eating only herbs and bread. Dewi became known as Dewi Dyrfwr (David the water drinker) as meat and beer were forbidden. Although the monks farmed the surrounding land, David insisted that they did not use animals to carry their tools, they were to carry them.Also none of the monks were allowed any personal possessions and they spent evenings praying, reading and writing.
Eventually became so unpopular with his monks for the life of austerity he made them live, that they tried to poison him.David was informed about this by St Scuthyn, who as legend says, presumably in the absence of a ferry or a Ryanair flight, travelled from Ireland on the back of a sea-monster for the purpose.
He frequently visited other places in South Wales, and churches were afterwards built in  many of these villages in memory of him.  A legend says that Dewi  once went to Jerusalem with two companions, St Teilo https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2016/02/st-teilos-day-dydd-sadwrn-teilo.html?m=1 and St Padarn. The three left Wales together "with one mind, one joy, and one sorrow." When after a hard journey they arrived at Jerusalem they were received with joy and hospitality, and the Patriarch of Jerusalem gave Dewi, before he returned to Wakes, a remarkable bell which " shone with miracles," a staff, and a coat woven with gold.
 Dewi's last recorded words appeared in a Sunday sermon. Rhygyfarch, himself the son of a later Bishop of St David's, records the words as "Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us."
Dewi is said to have lived for over 100 years, some say, hold your breathe, to the age of 142 or 147 (his clean living ways, sure must have helped him) and died on Tuesday 1 March 589, in the week after his final sermon. He was buried in the grounds of his monastery, which was said to have been "filled with angels as Christ received his soul".
 Mynyw is now known as St David’s, the UK’s smallest city (,near the southwestern tip of Pembrokeshire.) in his honour. The monastery has since become the magnificent St David’s Cathedral and was a prestigious site of pilgrimage in the middle ages and is still a site of immense interest to this day. It is said by some that two pilgrimages to St Davids are equal to one pilgrimage to the Vatican in Rome. His shrine  became so famous that three English monarchs - William 1, Henry 11 and Edward 1 are said to have made pilgramages to it. 

St David’s Day has been celebrated in Wales on 1st March since the 12th Century when David was made a saint by Pope Callixtus II, at the height of the Welsh resistance to the Normans. You will find churches and chapels dedicated to him in south-west England and Brittany, as well as Wales. His influence also reached Ireland, where the Irish embrace his beliefs about caring for the natural world.
The nickname ‘Taffy’ for a Welshman links back to St David as the original and ultimate Welshman – the term dates to the 17th century and derives from ‘Dafydd’, the Welsh for David.William Shakespeare name-dropped St David in Henry V. When Fluellen’s English colleague, Pistol, insults the humble leek on St David’s Day, Fluellen insists he eat the national emblem as punishment: “If you can mock a leek, you can eat a leek” (Act V, Scene I).
Whatever the true story of Dewi Sant is , there is no doubt that he was indeed a figure of much historical and spiritual significance that still carries with him much importance to the people of Wales today,  a cheerful and celebratory day as my country comes together in honour of their patron saint to celebrate Welsh history, culture, and identity with pride.
In 2000 the National Assembly for Wales voted unanimously to make St David’s Day on the 1st March a bank holiday., but  the idea was rejected by Westminster, surprise, surprise. Nevertheless, St David’s position as the patron saint of Wales has only grown stronger since then, with parades and concerts now a staple part of the festivities each year.
This time of the year also serves to remind me that the miracle of spring is just around the corner, unlike David however I will be having a few pints of cwrw/ beer. The day  might  bring  some rain to the land of my mothers, but don't let that stop you from putting on your leeks and daffodils and singing the praises of good old Dewi Sant.  Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus i bawb /Happy Saint David’s Day to you all. Heddwch/ Peace

Links to a few earlier St David's Day/  Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Posts

Gillian Clarke - Miracle on St David's David's Day 


The Praise of St David's Day Showing the reason why the Welch -men Honour the Leeke on this Day 


Evan James (Ieuan ap Iago) An Ivorite song to be sung to the tune of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau


Harri Webb -  The Red , White and Green


The Welsh Language - Alan Llwyd