Sunday, 31 May 2020

Justice For George Floyd; Black Lives Matter

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, was killed by the Minneapolis Police. Officer Derek Chauvin, a white police officer with over a dozen complaints for brutality during the course of his career, kneeled on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — even though Floyd was lying face down on the ground and hand-cuffed from behind. Officer Thomas K. Lane held Floyd’s legs down and Officer J. Alexander Keung held his back. The other arresting officer, Tou Thao, stood by and watched.
Floyd protested that he could not breathe. Under the circumstances, it is clear that Floyd posed no threat to anyone. Officer Chauvin continued kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 2 minutes and 53 seconds after Floyd had become unresponsive. When bystanders pleaded on Floyd’s behalf, they were threatened with being pepper-sprayed. Floyd was tortured to death. This was a lynching of a black man, pure and simple.
Following this horrific incident  Minneapolis, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. are just a few cities where protests, riots, and looting has occurred within the last few days, with civil unrest  erupting  across America. In Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, the site of a 1921 massacre of black people that left some 300 dead, protesters blocked intersections and chanted the name of Terence Crutcher, a black man killed by a police officer in 2016.
Police have arrested nearly 1,400 people in 17 US cities as protests continue over the death of George Floyd, according to the Associated Press news agency.The actual number is likely higher as protests continue.Some observers have rushed to  judge the  protesters, among them Donald Trump, highlighting the irrationality  of looting and burning buildings in their own neghbourhoods, but in the words of Martin Luther King " a riot is simply the cry of the unheard"and where there is oppression there will be resistance.I support the uprising  in Minneapolis, the intifada of people subjected to an ongoing, vicious, and structural racism. inheriting a lengthy and rich tradition  of Black restance, organizing and struggle.
Many people around the world  are also condemning this latest killing and are showing solidarity with Mr Floyd, his family and the entire black community, the demonstrations have morphed into wider anger over police killings of black men, with  thousands of protesters gatherering in Berlin, London and Toronto and in cities across the US  to demonstrate against police brutality, racial injustice and decrying years of deaths at police hands. .
Dozens of protesters gathered in front of the American embassy in Berlin with banners sporting slogans like "Black Lives Matter"” “No justice no peace” and “I can’t breathe”.
“I can’t breathe” were some of George Floyd’s last words, heard in the footage of his death.  Chauvin with over a dozen complaints for brutality during the course of his career, has since been charged with  third degree murder..
The calls against racial injustice were also heard today in the London at Trafalgar Square, partly to show solidarity with Floyd but also to point that the UK isn’t innocent when it comes to racism. It is crucial that we in the UK  recognise that we are not immune from this disease of state-sanctioned murder. Black people disproportionately suffer from police use of force in the UK.
“We’re doing this because we’re angry. We feel like our voices haven’t been heard,” said one protester. Some London protestors, crowded together despite social distancing  restrictions, holding signs reading ' Justice for George' and ' Rest in Power.'
Following the earlier  killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012  and after the African American unarmed  teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014, the epidemic of police violence against people of color in the US captured national and global attention, for a time.
When Brown was killed, the words of Eric Garner, gasping “I can't breathe” as he was crushed by officers in New York City a month earlier, were still echoing in the national conversation. Protests rose up in Ferguson, a new movement for racial justice grew under  the banner of Black Lives Matter  and talk of systemic reform filled the air.
Six years have passed  which has seen police-involved shootings of unarmed people of color further fuel efforts to increase accountability of public safety officials and better understand the needs of the communities they are meant to serve.And as national protests spread anew in reaction to the state violence inflicted on black people by the police,  people are asking what has changed and are actively resisting with  the grief , anger trauma reaching boiling point. Black men are still more likely to die by police violence than white men. According to a study published  in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, over the course of a lifetime, black men face a one in 1,000 risk of being killed during an encounter with police, a rate much higher than that of white men. This is the kind of unequal and brutal treatment African Americans can expect from police who are potentially in mortal danger every time they happen to get near to a police officer,
Because of the recent  death people are standing up for their brothers and sisters across America and the world. They are simply saying enough to a system which has persecution and inequality hard wired into it. 
It is crucial that we show our solidarity and support, The Minnesota Freedom Fund is one that  has been asking for it,  while the following  black-led organisations and bail funds also deserve and require support right now. &
We are all one, Power to the People,  I can understand the undertows of rage and disbelief, our tears cannot be simply washed away. We must demand that all four officers be charged in the murder of George Floyd and that the charges against all four include murder one. They should all spend the rest of their lives behind bars. We must demand justice for George Floyd and all victims of racist police brutality. Black Lives Matter.  People are rightfully outraged and disgusted.  No one should lose their lives  by the hands of those charged with protection, we must never give up  on demanding a system where all lives can live and thrive. Those of us who believe in freedom will not rest until it comes. Rest in Power George Floyd. 
Please sign the following :-

Friday, 29 May 2020

These are The Bastards - Commoners Choir


 The clapping is coming to an end, and with it a big chunk of the goodwill, community and solidarity that were there when we first locked down and started to understand the value of the frontline workers and what they do for us. The neighbourliness isn’t fading away because we’re tired of it. It’s because the government, and specifically Boris Johnson, has undermined, ridiculed and dismissed it with his open, slavish, arrogant lick-spittle support for his boss Cummings. 
 The start of the pandemic, and specifically our national reaction to the lockdown, showed how we could learn to look after each other, on a local, street-by-street, level. There really was a feeling of us all pulling together, taking care of our neighbours and our families and making decisions for the good of all of us, not just ourselves. 
Even though the daily press briefings turned quickly into party political broadcasts for the Conservative Party, and became daily lists of excuses and denials for everything they got wrong (and the list was long), we still had a sense of communal responsibility. 
This all evaporated with the Cumming’s road trip to Durham, or in fact with Johnson’s refusal to admit to the hypocrisy and the lies. The gloves were off; we were back to the same-old, same-old. One rule for them, the old boy’s club, the old school tie, the powerful elite sticking together like shit. So we’re back to us and them, back to anger instead of hope. That’s what this song is about
But there is a way out, and that is to take the stuff we learned among ourselves – the stuff about valuing everyday workers above super-rich politicians, the stuff about asking our neighbours if they needed shopping, the stuff about doing without everyday rampant consumerism – that we can hold on to. 
If we can mix that sense of possibility and change in with the anger that we now have towards the two-faced political class in power, then we might, just might, be on to something... 'These Are The Bastards' film by Catherine Long, music by Commoners Choir, a radical choir that combines political activism with singing – and hope, and my goodness we need  a barrel loads in days like these.
Companion song/film 'These Are The Hands (After Michael Rosen)' is here:

 These Are The Bastards 

 These are the bastards... 


That underfund That rarely work 

That pay no tax That swagger and smirk
That print the fibs That build the walls 
That fiddle the books That write the laws 

These are the bastards... 


That make the money Declare the wars 
That play their golf That damn the poor 
That manage the funds That privatise 
That shoot the grouse That tell the lies 

These are the bastards... 


That missed the chance And failed to act 
Delayed the tests And botched the masks 
That favoured Herd immunity
That couldn’t supply The PPE 

These are the bastards...

That understaff 
That underpay 
That claim and fence 
Our rights of way 

That cut the grants
Condemn the sick
With public school 

 (Nursery rhyme):
 “One and one is two
 Two and two is four 
They’re making sure it all goes back to
The way it was before...” 

These are the bastards... 


That sell the arms 
That hurt, abuse 
That own the land 
That fake the news 

That front the appeals 
That sing and smile 
Then fly off back
To their domiciles 

These are the bastards...


That set up an airline
Flew a balloon
Bought an island 
Promised the moon 

Proudly sued The NHS 
Then sent a grovelling 

These are the bastards... 

And after the clapping has faded away 
– Remember what we learned today 

We are currently living  in a state that  cannot be  refprmed must  be rebuilt anew we must get angry, correct the wrongs.

Join Undod : For a Radical Independent Socialist Wales

With Westminster politics sinking to a new low, a  rotten system broken beyond  repair. with one rule for them another for the rest of us.and Unionist politicians showing their contempt for Wales, now's the time to join the new socialist pro-independence Group Undod  who are working with other groups to promote the march for independence the people of Wales want. One that could create real democracy and challenge capitalism and state power. "The current ongoing crisis (of which Covid-19 is the latest episode) – and the growing suffering of communities across the country – has created the necessary conditions for change".  People only have to look at the chaos in Westminster to understand Wales could do it much better if we had the right to rule ourselves.”
Undod (meaning ‘unity’) say they will fill a “vital gap in the burgeoning indy movement” by representing the “dominant socialist heritage” of the country whilst being  radical and the same time, a future that is not rooted in the cvrumbling corridors of Westminster.
The new group set out their working principles as follows:

 We are a democratic, non-hierarchical, republican movement established to secure independence for Wales.
1(i) The British state is a fundamentally undemocratic, warmongering and imperial order which exploits the working class, the marginalised and the dispossessed for the benefit of the elites.
(ii) We vigorously reject national chauvinism, racism and intolerance in Wales in all its guises. We stand opposed to all forms of fascism and neo-fascism.
(iii) An independent Wales should be a beacon of international solidarity. We support oppressed peoples, leftist movements and progressive independence movements, oppose warmongering and imperialist wars, and strive for peace.
2) (i) We stand for the protection of our natural environment as it is essential for all our futures as Welsh citizens and inhabitants of this planet to ensure a worthwhile life for ourselves, our children and generations to come.
(ii) The means of economic production and Wales’s natural resources should be owned by the people of Wales. Justice, care and sustainability are the cornerstones of the economy and the basis for a flourishing nation, not profit and capital.
(iii) We support an ethical economy for Wales; we oppose the military and prison industrial complex.
3 (i) Welsh is our national language and it belongs to everyone in Wales. We demand Welsh-medium education for all and use of the language in all areas of everyday life. We will work to see it flourish as a community language in all parts of the country.
(ii) We demand justice for women, people of colour, LGBT people, migrants and disabled people. Together, we will fight for a society where everyone is liberated from oppression.
(iii) We demand shelter and high quality healthcare for all, and free universal education for people of all ages.
We intend to use our democratic rights to free assembly, freedom of expression and protest. We will exercise these rights vigorously, through non-violent direct action to secure our aims and further our values.

 "Offering a practical vision for an alternative Wales & working now to achieve it is necessary – a vision that offers food for the soul, & one that above all, emphasises that compassion can conquer."
Sick of Westminster politics? There Is An Alternative that provides hope and vision whilst clearly articulating  the kind of independent, radical socialist Wales we need to develop, one that speaks of the principles  of social justice,.equality, fairness, internationalism and which  our small nation can contribute sustainably to peoples economic, social and environmental wellbeing..While at same time supporting the most disadvantaged and vulnerable among us. Rydw i'n cefnogi annibyniaeth  radical Gymru.,ymuno fi yma.. I support the  movement  for a radical independence of Wales. Join me here.:-

Link to Join

Link to Twitter 

Link to facebook

Link to Blog 

New pro-Welsh independence movement Undod confirm Aberystwyth ...

Monday, 25 May 2020

Piers Morgan reaction to PM defending Dominic Cummings

I don't respect Piers Morgan as a journalist or as a human being, after all was show business editor of the Sun and editor in chief of its sister paper the News of the World, who was as adapt as any at practicing  the darkest acts of his profession,also seen at his later tenure at the Daily Mirror, but on this latest scandal he is spot on.  He has slammed the “accountability-avoiding cowardice” of government ministers who have defended Dominic Cummings ' coronavirus  lockdown trip to see his  parents 20 miles away in Durham. Boris Johnsn's senior aide is under increasing pressure to resign after reports emerged claiming he broken the government’s lockdown rules.
 After the prime minister  and other cabinet ministers – including health secretaryMatt Hancock foreign secretary Dominic Raab  and chancellorRishi Sunak – publicly defended Cummings by claiming his journey was essential, Piers claimed it “summed up” the government’s “collective moral bankruptcy”.
He tweeted: “Cabinet ministers rushing to publicly support Cummings breaking the Govt’s own lockdown rules just about sums up their collective moral bankruptcy & fridge-hiding, accountability-avoiding cowardice.
“The public won’t stand for this shameful hypocrisy, whoever they vote for.”
 During No. 10′s coronavirus briefing on Saturday, Piers claimed ministers and experts were “rewriting the lockdown rules before our eyes” after transport secretary Grant Shapps reiterated a statement from Downing Street, which said the actions of the PM’s chief adviser were in line with guidelines.
Shapps also said restrictions put in place by the government on 23 March should only be followed “to the best of your ability” and that it was “up to the individual” to make decisions on how best to follow them.
Piers tweeted: the following

'They’re lying to us. Again. Ministers & experts. Literally rewriting the lockdown rules before our eyes just to save the Prime Minister’s chief adviser. How can anyone defend this Govt any more?'
The public are also rightly furious. They've followed Government advice making huge sacrifices to do so.People robbed of the chance  to say goodbye to their loved ones.Boris Johnson has simply gone to far this time, and has been exposed as the arrogant, aloof, serial truth evader and hypocrite who holds ordinary people in contempt,  by sticking by this most fragrant breach of the rules. I feel absolutely disgusted by all this It's simply one set of rules for them and another for the rest of us, but has that not always been the case.
At the end of the day Dominic Cummings will always be in demand wherever skulduggerry, cheating and twisting  are needed, but after over 60 k excess deaths, the worst toll in Europe and second worst in the world, not forgetting the countless deaths due to austerity and now  along comes this, it must be Johnson's final gig. A Government of zero integrity, zero honesty and zero credibility. No wonder they have no idea how to deal with the predictable disaster they alone have fashioned and created.
Even some Tories have had enough and  the press too are finally attacking the Government,far too late, since they are one of the main reasons our society is so brainwashed and broken. The clock is ticking. Johnson must resign and take Cummings with him. Two halves of the same apple, rotten to the core,  neither having fallen from the tree of self-centred corruption, deceit and disdain for the public. Johnson is sticking his two fingers up at us and is insulting the millions of us who have followed the rules of lockdown.
For  now I am furious and in despair, and as Twitter lose its mind with outrage, I really wonder how different everything would be if Jeremy Corbyn was Prime Minister. Please sign the following  petition, because we all deserve better : Public Vote of No Confidence in PM Johnson. or maybe a simple spot of civil disobedience is in order, since he has absolutely no respect for any of us, or the rules of decency. He is a sheer and utter bloody disgrace.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Weathering the Storm

We are driven by diversion, waves of rumination
There are masterclasses in everyday,
Music of life and death, humanity still dancing
Our different languages, not constrained by time,
Despite distance, the universe is still singing
Beyond the bleakness, of our tired days,
All of our grieving, in transience
We can still play games of freedom,
With colors of memory and survival
Push away the handcuffs of despair,
Transform the darkness into light
With hurried breaths, waving not drowning,
Where mercy delivers interludes of pause
On every battlefield, the release of senses,
As our days breaks, get torn into pieces
Amid the flurry of sombre thoughts,
Our worries and rages, collectively itching
Banks of respite, full of conjured navigation,
We keep enduring despite the weeping
From deep within, release restorative seeds,
To scatter and shatter what is lost
We have no choice, but to try and carry on,
Tracing the patterned stars above
Carrying dreams and hopes that sustain,
Against the winds rattling all around
The struggles that pour over the earth,
The myriad sensations of ingenuity echo
Releasing richest thoughts, filled with self worth.

Above can also be found here

Thursday, 21 May 2020

A Tale of Two Countries ; Wales vs England

                                 Southend Beach

This is Southend Beach, England hundreds of people  yesterday  crowded  on beaches to bask in the sun on the hottest day of the year. It's allowed, coming after the UK Government announced an easing  of lockdown restrictions on May 10,  new rules in England allow people to enjoy unlimited exercise, sunbathe,  picnic and drive to beauty spots in the country as long as they respect social distancing guidance and return home the same day, so everyone in the photo has a right to travel to the beach for a day out. So this was kind of inevitable, but 2m distancing, fat chance. Bloody  imbeciles! This is so risky, there's 'easing ' the lockdown. Then there's just reverting back to normal. It beggars belief, it's simply crazy,
Meanwhile thanks to the Welsh Government/ Senedd Cymru, people are staying at home and saving lives. Take a look at the contrasting  photo below taken on the same day in Barry Island, Wales.The lockdown restrictions were in place across the UK  for a reason to try and stop the spread of coronavirus,This makes it a health matter, and in Wales, health is a devolved issue , and is therefore a matter for the Welsh Government to decide on, not the UK Government. Welsh Government First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford has previously voiced concerns about the transmission rate of Covid-19 in Wales.
At a recent press conference he cited  projections which showed that if the rate of infection increased above the 1%  mark in Wales, it would  lead to hundreds more lives lost and further strain on NHS resources. So for now Wales will continue with strict lockdown measures for at least another three weeks. I much prefer this more cautious approach compared to our blustery Prime Minister Bojo the clown who has put his faith into the 'common sense'  of the British public, more concerned about saving the economy than saving lives. His actions are those of a man convinced that he, and by extension, the country he leads possesses the magical ability to escape a disease that has brought much of the world, including neigbors like France, Spain and Italy, to its knees.Under him 62,000 UK citizens have died The mind truly boggles at times. We can only hope there is not a second wave because Europe's top World Health Organisation official Dr Hans Kluge  has warned that a more deadly spike arriving in the winter could coincide with outbreaks of other infectious diseases. Speaking to the Telegraph he warned that now was the time for preparation, not celebration." I guess Johnson has not heard him, strange because it's one of his favourite papers,he used to have his own column.  I personally know who I would trust, oh and where is Johnson hiding we don't see much of him nowadays,.

                                 Barry Island, Wales

Monday, 18 May 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week (18-20 May 2020). MHAW, first started in 2020 and is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation annually,  Over the years it has become incredibly successful in raising awareness of the scale of mental illness amongst the population and removing the stigma  about talking about mental health and aims to support communities, families and individuals in driving change towards a mentally healthy society for all.
The event  raises awareness of particular issues by focusing on a different theme each year.
From depression, to anxiety, to eating disorders, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem each year. Many of us increasingly experiencing daily life as a battle. Emotionally, our heads are only just above water. Mental illness scares us and shames us. Those who suffer are often, like me, ashamed to speak of it. Those who are lucky enough to be free of mental illness are terrified of it. When it comes to mental illness, we still don't quite get how it all works. Our treatments, while sometimes effective, often are not. And the symptoms, involving a fundamental breakdown of our perceived reality, are existentially terrifying. There is something almost random about physical illness, in how it comes upon us , a physical illness can strike anyone – and that is almost comforting. Were mental illness to fall into that same category, then it too could strike any of us, without warning. And that is terrifying.
But more than simple fear, mental illness brings out a judgmental streak that would be unthinkably grotesque when applied to physical illness. Imagine telling someone with a broken leg to "snap out of it." Imagine that a death by cancer was accompanied by the same smug head shaking that so often greets death by suicide. Mental illness is so qualitatively different that we feel it permissible to be judgmental. We might even go so far as to blame the sufferer. Because of the  stigma involved  it often leaves us much sicker.
Mental ill health is a real and important thing in the exact same way as physical illness, trauma and inherited conditions. It is however to say that in a better organised world our lives would be less pressured into brokeness, despair and ill health. Our minds, like our limbs, break under stress. Our lives within the capitalist system are harmed by the system, often we medicate not to make ourselves well, but very often we medicate in order to continue to function in a broken society, and capitalist system where our only immediate  value is in how they exploit us. It should be noted  that many  people believe that our Governments policies are actually fuelling the current  mental health crisis. Budget cuts to mental health services combined with no genuine support are driving  many people to the edge. As a result many young people and adults are left isolated facing long waiting lists for mental health therapies and diagnostic assessments.
This is a MHAW with a difference , with many of us worried about coronavirus and how it will affect us and those we love, with experts saying the months spent under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic could have a ‘devastating’ and long-lasting impact on our mental health. According to organisers Mental Health Foundation: ‘We think it could be the most important week we’ve hosted, not least because our own research shows that protecting our mental health is going to be central to us coping with and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic – with the psychological and social impacts likely to outlast the physical symptoms of the virus. ‘
The Covid-19 pandemic is the prime environment for anxiety  to rear its head, and it is no surprise that rates of depression, and anxiety have increased significantly. The crisis has turned up the volume on mental heaalth issues for so many people.The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 was intially set to be sleep. However, the focus of the event was changed by the Mental Health Foundation to kindness in response to the coronavirus pandemic on 9 April, with the organisation saying it would return to its original theme at a later time.
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, wrote on the event's website: "We have chosen kindness because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity.
"It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive."
One thing that we have seen all over the world is that kindness is prevailing in uncertain times. We have learnt that amid the fear, there is also community, support and hope. The added benefit of helping others is that it is good for our own mental health and wellbeing. It can help reduce stress and improve your emotional wellbeing.
Beyond ourselves, the Mental Health Foundation's report reveals how inequality is rising in our society and its harmful effects on our health.Life expectancy is falling for the poorest for the first time in 100 years. As child poverty rises, children and young people in the poorest parts of our country are two to three times more likely to experience poor mental health than those in the richest.
After the 2008 credit crunch, it was the most vulnerable in our communities who experienced the severest consequences of austerity, with devastating effects on their mental and physical health. This not the hallmark of a kind society.We must not make the same mistakes after this pandemic.
Poor mental health is very much part of everyone’s life. If it’s not ourselves directly affected then then it’s our friends, our family, or our work colleagues who suffer. So in this Mental Health Awareness week it feels important to say that we have a problem with mental health, and it’s serious.  Meanwhile, Mental Health UK recommends (among other things) starting each day of the week by sending an inspirational quote to someone to start their day. These are tough times, if your struggling with your mental health, remember you are not alone, reach out to loved ones for support. In the meantime also try be kind to one another, share our vulnerabilities, our struggles,  keep strong, take care and keep safe, the world is still full of hope, and what better way of  spreading fairness and making kindness matters, than after the current crisis ends, to continue to rage against injustice and a time that we must build a better society, a new system that gives us a healthy context in which individuals might thrive and our mental health can flourish, in a society where we are free from economic and social fear, and we can develop into our own best selves. Remember no act of kindness is ever wasted, solidarity and mutual aid are acts of kindness too, long may they give us strength. ,

"Be patient and tough, some day this pain, will be useful to you " - Ovid

 ' Not until we are lost, do we begin to understand ourselves .; - Henry David Thoreau 

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Help the Palestinian Dabke Band to Survive and Grow !

Dabke (Arabic: دبكة‎ also spelled as Dabka or Debka) is a modern Levantine Arab folk circle dance of possible Canaanite or Phoenician origin.. When first created, the Dabke dance was practiced by people of the villages and towns of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, and some Quasi-Bedouin tribes that were in nearby territories.
It has been reported that people in these regions built houses with tree branches and mud. Anytime the weather would change, the mud would crack and community or family members would come and patch it up by forming a line and joining hands, stomping the mud into place. In colder months, they would sing to stay warm. As roof building technology developed, this tradition was passed  as a work and dance song through generations as a reminder of the importance of family, community, and tradition. Dabke signifies aspirations, struggles, and history of the Palestinian people, making it one of the most important cultural forms of art in their culture. 
The dabke is a participatory dance in which people form a line that can be expanded as new dancers join the moving chorus. The movements of the line are led by a lawith, a dancer who leads and initiates changes in the line formation, and who is followed by a chorus. The dance involves movements up and down in space, and includes rhythmic stomping, clapping, and changes of pace. There are breaks created by individual dancers performing solos and the group response to them.
The dance has been celebrated for years and in recent times has more closely been tied to the Palestinian identity, especially within the context of social, political, and national aspirations.
It was performed at  the Great March of Return protests in Gaza, which were launched on March 30, 2018 to peacefully demand the right for Palestinian people to return to their homes in what is now Israel.Some of the dancers wore Keffiyeh scarves, inspired by the late Palestinian resistance leader Yasser Arafat, to protect themselves from tear gas shelling. The dabke, which was traditionally performed at joyous occasions like weddings and celebrations, has now become a symbol of Palestinian resistance .

 Dabke is just one way in which Palestinians have protested human rights violations while celebrating their equality and dignity. To use this dance as a form of not only protest through artistic expression is really significant in regards to fighting for what you believe in. The point of the dance is to tell a story. A certain narrative that will solidify Palestinian identity and experiences. A simple message of locking arms together, stomping to the ground, and singing or chanting in unison, can send a tsunami of feeling and empathy towards a certain cause. Although the purpose of dabke originated from just repairing the roof of a neighbor’s house, it has revolutionized into a symbol of love, life, solidarity, cooperation, steadfastness, and determination. It is a form of art through which Palestinians express joy and gratitude to each other, and also to their land. and struggle. It is a dance that tells the story of a striving but persistent and united community. 
 The Asayil Watan Band for Palestinian Hertage and the Palestinian dabke from Gaza , are a team of competent, motivated & committed people of all ages and genders , eager to deliver the Palestinian narrative. Their  aim is to unify two million Palestinian ; to reach out to the outside world and raise awareness about the Palestinian Cause — their cause, their struggles, pain, past, futures, and indeed their triumphs in the face of adversity.Here is a link to a video of them performing. 

All members of this organisation are vehemently opposed to all forms of prejudice and racism and any form of discrimination on the basis of ability, gender persuasion, religion, race or skin colour.For members of the dance group, their art is also a form of resistance. It is a way for them to share stories and express their frustrations and emotions about the occupation in creative and non-violent ways.
Please consider helping them continue to talk about the Palestinian issue by preserving the Palestinian Dabke and spreading Palestinian heritage after their team headquarters were bombed by the occupation in Palestine. You can  take a look at their story and what is their goal now via the link below, it certainly inspires me.Stand up for Palestine culture. Cheers, solidarity.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Marking the 72th Anniversary of the Nabka ( Day of Catastrophe)

Today, across the world, Palestinians will be marking Nakba Day, ( the Arabic word for catastrophe or cataclysm ) commemorating the events of 1948 that saw over 750,000 Palestinians forced to flee from their homes, and over 450 Palestinian towns and villages wiped off the map in which Zionist forces used a terror campaign to expel Palestinians from their land. The Nakba was a deliberate and systematic crime of ethnic cleansing,to make room for a racially supremacist settler-colony.
The date was chosen to follow immediately after the Gregorian calendar date of Israeli Independence Day – 14 May 1948 – although, since Israel uses the Hebrew calendar to mark time, the days rarely align. The two anniversaries might be observed weeks apart or coincide on the same day, as they did in 2005. This year Israeli Independence Day occurred on 28 April.
Nakba Day commemorations typically take the form of rallies and speeches in cities around Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, with Palestinian marchers commonly brandishing placards, flags and house keys, the latter symbols of the homes and still-deserted villages their families have not been allowed to return to, mourning their dispossession, expulsion and replacement, which continues unabated. Many still cling to the keys of their homes which they long to return to.
The rupture of 1948 and the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Nakba are central to both the Palestinian society of today and Palestinian social history and collective identity. Remember 72 years after the Nabka, Palestinians still have no state and no equality. Refugee camps still exist all over the world and a majority of Palestinians live in the diaspora. Against their will, the Nabka has divided the Palestinian people between Palestine and diaspora, between  Gaza and the West Bank, between those who hold a refugee identification card and who don't. The vast majority of Palestinian refugees, both those outside the 1949 armistice lines at the wars' conclusion and those internally displaced, were barred by the newly declared state of Israel from  their right to return to their homes or the reclaiming of their property, and in doing so Israel violated international law. The Palestininian diaspora has since become the largest in the world.The injustice continues.
 Every Palestinian family is impacted by those events. Every Palestinian lives with the reality of the continuing Nakba, the unresolved injustice that leaves refugees trapped in an ongoing exile, that sees Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem living under siege and military occupation, and Palestinian citizens within the state of Israel treated as second class, subject to a barrage of discriminatory laws and policies. The catastrophes of the Nakba continue through ongoing land theft and expulsion. Israel’s regime of military occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid is more vicious than ever in grabbing as much  ancestral land as possible. We are also just weeks away from the likely threat of annexation, which would mean even more deeply entrenched apartheid, more home and village demolitions, and the further loss of Palestinian land, livelihoods, and connections.
We must refuse  to be a part of this plan and put pressure on governments, diplomats, and NGOs to use their power to stop annexation, we must also help build a stronger global movement.The message to the Palestinian people today and every day is this: “we have seen the injustice you suffer and you do not stand alone.”  
This year  amid the coronavirus pandemic, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has officially authorised digital activities to observe the anniversary, with many planning to join virtual reality tours and Zoom video chats.As  as part of the Week of Palestinian Struggle, various organizations and campaigns have urged Palestinians and supporters of Palestine to join a twitter storm today and use the hashtags #KeyToJustice and #NakbaDay, in order to focus on Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their original homes and lands throughout historic Palestine.
Tonight at 7pm UK time  their is  also a global rally  with an an amazing line up of speakers and performers where we will reaffirm our commitment to spread solidarity and to campaign for justice. If you have not registered then please do so. 
Don't worry though - you can still join  by watching the livestream on facebook if you are unable to get into the zoom rally room. The rally will be livestreamed on the facebook pages of all organising partners: Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK / Jewish Voice For Peace / BDS Movement / South African BDS Coalition
With the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people  still under unprecedented attack, we  must make our collective voice louder in calling for freedom, justice and equality for our Palestinian brothers and sisters.As they fight to halt annexation their struggle continues, with hope and meaningful solidarity  we must  continue to insist on the Palestinian peoples right to freedom, justice, equality and dignity and right to return. From the rivers to the sea one day they will be free.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

The Death of James Connolly (5 June 1868 – 12 May 1916)


James Connolly was an Irish republican and socialist leader. He was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World  and founder of the Irish Socialist Republican Party. For a man so linked to Irish history, Connolly was actually  born in  the Cowgate Area of Edinburgh, Scotland. The area he lived in was  nicknamed ' Little Ireland' and was one of the city's slum areas. He subsequently spoke with a Scottish accent throughout his life. His parents  were originally from County Monaghan and their life in Edinburgh was hard. He left school for working life at the age of 11, but became one of  the leading revolutionary theorists of his day.
James Connolly joined the British Military at age 14 to escape his extreme poverty. Seven years later at the age of 21, Connolly left military life and eventually settled in Dublin in 1896. In 1903 Connolly emigrated to the United States, living for a brief period in Troy New York with a relative, and worked for an insurance firm as a salesman. But by 1905 he left Troy to persue his ideals of organizing a militant working class movement and soon joined the newly formed IWW ( Industrial Workers of the World ) as a member and full-time organizer.
Connolly came back  to Ireland at the invitation of a small socialist group. Here he soon made his mark as a talented organiser, speaker and writer. It was James Connolly above all who was responsible for the alignment between working class organisations and the goal of irish independence.Connolly wrote brilliantly on the necessity of socialism to the cause of Irish independence, as well as all manners of topics relevant to the world socialist movement. He believed it was the working class who could shake the foundations of the British empire, for the benefit of all the oppressed of the world.
James Connoly addressed meetings in north Wales, after which the celebrated Welsh socialist and local  Independent Labour Party leader Silyn Roberts recalled :
"Gyda Larkib ym 1911 y cyfarum ag ef ac y dysfgais ei edmygud a'i garu. Un o drysorau gwerthfawrocaf fy llufrgell yw copi o'i gyfrol Labour in Irish history, a roddwyd i mi ganddo a Larkin i gofio am eu hymweliad a Chymru".
 "I met him with Larkin in 1911, and learnt to admire him and love him. One of the greatest treasures in my library is a copu of his volume Labour in Irish history, which he and Larkin gabe me as a momento of their visit to Wales", With James Larkin, he was centrally involved in  the Dublin lock-out of 1913, that paralyzed commerce and transport for many weeks. During the general strike Connolly organized the Irish Citizen Army amongst striking workers, in a self defense response to wide spread beatings of striking workers by the Irish police and British military. The Irish Citizen Army became the nucleus of the Dublin Division of the Army of the Republic during the 1916 Easter Rebellion against British rule of Ireland.
With the outbreak of war, Connolly became increasingly committed to formenting an insurrection against British rule in Ireland; he had gradually changed from labour organiser and agitator into military commandant and theorist. In mid-January 1916 he reached agreement with the Irish Republican Brotherhood Military Council to co-operate in an insurrection the following Easter. He joined the Council, and on the day before the Rising its members appointed him vice-president of the Irish Republic and Commandant-General, Dublin Division, Irish Army.
Connolly proved himself to be the most effective and inspirational of the rebel leaders during the insurrection. On Easter Monday, 24th April, he led the Headquarters Battalion from Liberty Hall to the General Post Office and commanded military operations there throughout the week – supervising the construction of defences, determining and adjusting strategy, summoning reinforcements and deciding on the disposition of his forces. That only nine volunteers in the post office garrison died during the fighting is testimony to his talents. He himself took constant risks with his own safety but even after being severely wounded on 27th April, he remained, as Patrick Pearse said, "still the guiding brain of our resistance".
At noon on Saturday 29th April Connolly supported the majority view of the leaders that they should surrender as he 'could not bear to see his brave boys burnt to death'. His expectation was that the Risin's organisers would  be shot and the rest set free. Under military escort, Connolly was carried to the Red Cross Hospital at Dublin Castle where hours later he signed Pearse's surrender order on behalf f the Irish Citizen Army. He was court-martialled there, propped up in his bed, on 9th May. At  his trial he read the following brief hand -written statement which said :
 “Believing that the British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland, the presence, in any one generation of Irishmen, of even a respectable minority, ready to die to affirm that truth, makes the Government forever a usurpation and a crime against human progress. I personally thank God that I have lived to see the day when thousands of Irishmen and boys, and hundreds of women and girls, were ready to affirm that truth, and to attest to it with their lives if need be.”
As spring was turning to summer, a city still coming to terms with the death and destruction of the Easter Rising was being forced to accept yet more blood-letting. Despite his severe wounds, on 12 May 1916 he was transported by military ambulance to Kilmainham Gaol, carried to a prison courtyard on a stretcher, tied to a chair and executed by the British military by firing squad to the outrage of many people in Ireland and across the world. It certainly significantly contributed to the mood of bitterness in Ireland. His body (along with those of the other rebels) was put in a mass grave without a coffin. The executions of the rebels deeply angered the majority of the Irish population, most of whom had shown no support during the rebellion. It was Connolly's execution, however, that caused the most controversy. Historians have pointed to the manner of execution of Connolly and similar rebels, along with their actions, as being factors that caused public awareness of their desires and goals and gathered support for the movements that they had died fighting for. It was the death of their leaders, and particularly of Connolly, that sparked the flame of Irish republicanism across this island, launched a mass rebellion, and ultimately led to the creation of an Irish republic. Of all the executions carried out during the 1916 Easter Rising, none raised as much public anger then or since as the execution of James Connolly
Though considered by many historians to be an " Irish Nationalist ", Connolly did not believe in ignoring class divisions in the name of nationalism. That Ireland could not be free until the working class of Ireland was free.
In the aftermath of his death Kerry journalist Liam MacGabhann penned The Poem of James Connolly in 1933. MacGabhann, who was born on Valentia Island in 1908, wrote the stirring piece from the view of a soldier in the firing party ordered to shoot Connolly.
In 1916 a Welsh regiment on its way to the Western Front was diverted to Ireland as backup for troops trying to crush the rebellion in Dublin. MacGabhann heard a story about a young soldier, a son of a Welsh miner, who was part of that regiment and was included in the firing squad for Connollys execution and felt utter guilt and shame because of it.
In the aftermath of the ghastly deed this unnamed Welsh solider  tracked down Connolly’s widow and children to ask for their forgiveness. as she later recalled, he told Lily:
" I am a miner. My father was a miner, and my grandfather was a miner -they were both very busy in the tade union. How can I go back home? They would know about James Connolly even if I didn't. I haven't been  home onleave. I can't go home. I'd let something slip, and they'd know I'd killed James Connolly.Oh,why was I chosen tokill a man like that?"
Lily replied : James Connolly has already forgiven you. He realised yu were being forced, he realised you were only a working class boy".
MacGabhann took this anonymous Welsh soldier as the voice for his poem who reflects on his participation in the execution of Connolly with heavy regret.
The Poem of James Connolly -  Liam MacGabhann 

The man was all shot through that came today
 Into the barrack square;
 A soldier I – I am not proud to say
 We killed him there;
 They brought him from the prison hospital;
 To see him in that chair
 I thought his smile would far more quickly call
 A man to prayer.
 Maybe we cannot understand this thing
 That makes these rebels die;
 And yet all things love freedom – and the Spring
 Clear in the sky;
 I think I would not do this deed again
 For all that I hold by;
 Gaze down my rifle at his breast – but then
 A soldier I.
 They say that he was kindly – different too,
 Apart from all the rest;
 A lover of the poor; and all shot through,
 His wounds ill drest,
 He came before us, faced us like a man,
 He knew a deeper pain
 Than blows or bullets – ere the world began;
 Died he in vain?
 Ready – present; And he just smiling – God!
 I felt my rifle shake
 His wounds were opened out and round that chair
 Was one red lake;
 I swear his lips said ‘Fire!’ when all was still
 Before my rifle spat
 That cursed lead – and I was picked to kill
 A man like that!

Today, James Connolly is regarded as one of Ireland's greatest heroes. He was a revolutionary socialist and militant unionist who dedicated his life not just to the cause of Irish liberation, but also to international socialism. He inspired not only the republican and socialist tradition in Ireland but anti-colonial & anti-imperialist movements around the world. In the history of the international working class movement we should remember James Connolly as a hero and martyr who acted on his beliefs.
Today, a statue of James Connolly stands in pride of place at the centre of Dublin. A brass engraving of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic also sits at pride of place in the window of the General Post Office headquarters, where Connolly made his stand for the liberty of his nation and the working class during four fateful days in April 1916. .
I will end with  this final quote from him :-
"A revolution will only be achieved when the ordinary people of the world, us, the working class, get up off our knees and take back what is rightfully ours."

 Andy Irvine - Where is our James Connolly

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Word of the day - Palpable

Palpable is a word often used to describe things that usually can't be handled, such as emotions or sensations. You probably wont see palpable being used to describe,  say an egg or a doorknob or a motorcycle. Palpable is usually reserved for situations in which something becomes invisible becomes so intense that it feels as though it has substance or weight. When the towers came down, the sense of sadness, it was palpable. Loneliness, longing and loss can be palpable too, and currently because of the coronavirus we are facing it has created a real  atmosphere of palpable fear and worry that is currently being felt globally. 
We feel that the world has changed , and it has. The loss of normalcy, the fear of economic toll, the loss of connection.This is hitting us all and we are all grieving. Collectively, we are simply  not used to this kind of collective grief in the air. Personally I feel a palpable rage at this present time.


adj:- capable of being perceived,
especially capable of being handled or touched or felt.

( of a feeling or atmosphere) so intense as to seem almost tangible.

" a barely palpable dust"

"felt sudden anger in a palpable wave."

" the air was warm and close - palpable as cotton"

"a palpable lie"

" Popular opinions, on subjects not palpable to sense, are often true , but seldom or never the whole truth " - John Stuart Mill

I personally have a palpable distrust for politicians, who  often release words of palpable nonsense. Take our Prime minister Boris Johnson for instance  who  publicly thanked Britain’s beloved National Health Service for successfully treating him for Covid-19 over a seven-day period in early April. “It’s hard to find words to express my debt,” the prime minister said, naming several nurses, and thanking two in particular for standing by his bedside for 48 hours when “things could’ve gone either way.”
Johnson’s speech, which he might have hoped would be lauded for its graciousness, served instead as a reminder that the NHS is a success despite him. When the first cases of Covid-19 in the U.K. were confirmed in late January, Johnson’s Conservative Party government claimed that it was prepared for any eventuality.
That turns out to have been a lie. The government’s failure to provide sufficient protective gear, which has so far contributed to the deaths of at least 114 health care workers in Britain, was  preventable. Moreover, two separate investigations have now revealed high-level attempts to cover it up.
Recently the  BBC’s Panorama showed that the British government’s pandemic stockpile lacked key equipment, such as gowns, visors, swabs, and body bags. The government was of course aware of this deficit and yet, even after the pandemic hit the country’s shores, U.K. leaders refused multiple opportunities to bulk-buy PPE. When the lack of supplies became obvious to the public, the government tried to hide the problem by inflating PPE numbers, counting one pair of gloves as two items of PPE.
Another investigation, by the Sunday Times, a decidedly right-leaning newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch that has previously swooned over Johnson, calling him a “rockstar,” showed just how casually the prime minister confronted the pandemic. Johnson had skipped five high-level emergency meetings to discuss the virus, the newspaper reported. He insisted, in a manner reminiscent of U.S. President Donald Trump, that briefing reports be as short as possible. He went on holiday to a country estate, refused to work weekends, and attended a fundraising ball.
After his thank-you speech, Johnson retired to Chequers, the lavish 16th century, 1,500-acre manor house used by British prime ministers, where he was photographed strolling the grounds with his pregnant fiancée and their Jack Russell terrier. The world was in the grip of an unprecedented crisis, but the U.K. was without a leader.
Johnson’s NHS caregivers, meanwhile, returned to work immediately, and every day, reports stream in of front-line health workers like them who are forced to combat the highly contagious virus in clinical waste bags and plastic aprons. They were asking schools to donate science goggles. They were adapting snorkels as respirator masks. When UNISON, the U.K.’s largest public services union, opened a PPE alert hotline, it was flooded with calls from health care workers who talked about having to buy their own equipment.
Of the health care providers who have died so far, one, Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, a consultant urologist in London, had written a Facebook post appealing to Johnson to protect him and his co-workers. “I hope we are by default entitled to get this minimal support,” he wrote on March 18, five days before he was hospitalized. Johnson is responsible for his death, and for the death of every other health care worker in the country.
 Johnson also after recovering from Covid-19 and the birth of his son said  he "bitterly" regrets the Covid-19 crisis in care homes and expressed frustration about problems supplying personal protective equipment. He will  be making a statement on the route out of lockdown at 7pm conveniently following from the 75th anniversary of VE day. But quick fixes and crowd pleasing politics will not save us in an emergency. We should not forget that the Tories have been in government for ten years prior to the pandemic and had  consistently run down the NHS and the Public Health Service. They were willing to contemplate millions of deaths in order to achieve 'herd immunity' and their focus was more on Brexit than any wish to save lives.
The late great Aneurin Bevan once said that he could not get the hate for the Tories out of his heart and that he thought that they were lower than vermin, I am quite clear now as to why he held that view. The Tories initially opposed the establishment of the NHS and every time they have been in power  have sought to undermine it, in their recent current response to our needs they have given massive contracts to the likes of SERCO to provide public health services, a company renowned for failing at all other services provided to the public sector.
There is a palpable sense that people are increasingly hungry for new political approaches. We now have at least the time to pause and reflect upon the palpable sense of urgency in changing some fundamentals about our society. This crisis is a wake up call to us all. The virus has no respect for borders, and demonstrates fundamentally, that we live in an interconnected world, that we need nations to work together in times of crisis, and above all we need serious, sensible politicians of good intent at the helm. 
There will certainly be a palpable sense of relief when this crisis is over, hopefully united by a common purpose, newer approaches and new behaviors and  a  renewed sense of community that will hopefully not see us going back to our old ways, and when we eventually come out of this catastrophe , people must remember the shocking behaviour of Boris Johnson. As we eventually reconnect let us all  continue to feel the palpable waves of love,