Saturday, 31 October 2020

Samhain Reflections

As we in the northern hemisphere cross the threshold of autumn into winter, I am reminded what a powerful time of year it is. As the ancient Celts referred to it, Samhain.The word is Irish Gaelic for "summer's end".It is usually pronounced "sow-in" with the "ow" following the same sound as "cow".There are some regional dialects of it though which include "sow-een", "sowin" (with the "ow" similar to "glow").Now called Halloween, it was a time of honouring the dead. Not just the ancestors who've crossed over, but the parts of our lives that are readying to die. Samhain was both a community and a spiritual event, when bonfires were lit and food offered to the spirits who had crossed over from the Otherworld for the night. 
This year’s Samhain has a few unusual characteristics. For one, this year’s Samhain features a full moon that is visible in all time zones on Earth, something that hasn’t happened since 1944 and won’t happen again until 2039. (The moon is also a Blue Moon this weekend, following on the Harvest Moon earlier in October.) With NASA’s recent announcement that it has found water molecules in the sunlit surface of the moon, this has proven to be an exciting week for lunar news.
And in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, where people are suffering and dying because of the deadly virus, as of October 29, nearly 1.2 million have died of the coronavirus, and nearly 45.5 million cases have been reported worldwide,  and despite of  social distancing and other measures as part of coronavirus prevention strategies,  Samhain  still has much relevance, and  it's precisely because of the current situation that it's essential to hold on to customs like this, that can bring us all together, despite our isolation from one another.
Under the guise of Halloween, Samhain  has since morphed into a nonsensical circus of skeletons, witches in pointy hats, masks, trick or treat, gouged turnips and the like, frivolous and commercialised aspects that are the products of American secular capitalism, but let's not let this take away from its original importance.The appreciation of each other, and, above all, a layer of spiritual awareness that keeps us connected to our dearly departed, and despite many celebrations being cancelled this year, the spirit of Samhein must certainly live on. 
The Celts, who lived around 2000 years ago, celebrated their new year on November 1st. They believed this day marked the beginning of the dark, cold winter, and Samhein was understood as a liminal time, when spirits and ancestors from the Otherworld could more easily enter this one. The ancients would hold great gatherings to mark the end of the harvest season, and the entrance into the darker, leaner half of the year. The souls of the dead were said to seek hospitality in their old homes, so the living would set places at the feasting table for them with offerings of their dead kin's favourite meals and drinks.Huge sacred bonfires would then be lit for releasing and cleansing rituals. People would gather to burn crops and animal sacrifices.They would also wear costumes, often consisting of animal heads and skins. The Samhain bonfires were also symbolic of the transmutation process of nature's seasons. Traditionally certain kind of wood were burned in a sympathetic magic with the season, symbolising the necessary sacrifice of those things in our lives that inhibit the power of growth
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III made November 1 a day to honour saints and martyrs.To keep the peace with the pagans, he made sure All Saints’ Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The name Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening which is also referred to as Allhalloween or All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve – the eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day, which is better known as All Saints’ Day.Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day, which is better known as All Saints’ Day.
For those of us who follow the wheel of life and as the spirits awaken, beyond the destructiveness of Capitalism, there is also a profound connection between honouring our ancestors and following the call for change. If you think of your life as the fruit of a long surviving tree, you are an expression of a dream once seeded by your ancestors. The privilege and responsibility now falls to keep that expression alive, even if it means releasing inherited fears. Despite the limitations and difficulties now placed upon us all we can still enjoy safe celebrations at home. Let's remember the spirits of nature, of land, of place and our departed watching over us, keep sowing seeds of change and transformation. Remember the dead, keep on fighting for the living and may the new year be brighter than the one that has come before. There is still much magic all around us.

 Bright Blessings (A Poem for Samhain )
Though darkness treads this day of ours
today is one of celebrating light,
time to remember the paths of ancestors
forever casting their eternal beams,
goddesses returning, resurrecting feeling
whispering enchantment, releasing power,
as the veil of  life gets thinner and dimmer
time to welcome old spirits that walk among us,
that enable us to dance and sing again
beyond this realm allows us to be blessed,
as leaves turn golden, and fall to nourish the land
under trees branches we can all nobly stand,
mother earth reaching out offering protection
absorbing our longings, accepting our wrongs,
in the vortex of time, keeps on shining bright
guiding us as we follow ancient paths of wisdom,
slipping through time, surrounded by love
allowing truth and justice to be the natural law.

( when the barrier between the worlds is whisper-thin and when magic, old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it.
~Carolyn MacCullough, Once a Witch)

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Diane di Prima, Pioneering Feminist Beat poet and activist, dies at 86

I am saddened to write that Diane di Prima, lifelong  feminist poet, activist and teacher who was one of the last surviving members of the Beats and one of the few women writers in the Beat movement, has died at age 86.
Di Prima's longtime partner Sheppard Powell told The Associated Press that di Prima had been in failing health and died Sunday in San Francisco General Hospital. She had Parkinson;s disease and the autoimmune disorder Sjogren's disorder.She had been writing poems almost to the end of her life, even as her arthritic hands forced her to dictate some to Powell.
 Di Prima was known for her epic 1978 multi-part poem “Loba,” referred to at times as a feminist counterpart to Allen Ginsberg's “Howl!” which was,dedicated to a wolf goddess – spending over 100 pages exploring what it’s like to be female, moving chronologically through the phases of womanhood, from youth through childbirth and motherhood.
“How was woman broken?

Falling out of attention.

Wiping gnarled fingers on a faded housedress.

Lying down in the puddle beside the broken jug.

Where was the slack, the loss

of early fierceness?

How did we come to be contained

in rooms?”

 She is also remembered  for the anthology “Pieces of a Song";  and for her controversial,  fictionalized and explicit “Memoirs of a Beatnik” inspired by her experiences with the Beats  and for the autobiography “Recollections of My Life as a Woman.” During the Band's farewell concert in 1976 at the Fillmore in San Francisco, the basis for Martin Scorsese's documentary “The Last Waltz,” she got on stage  and read a one line poem, "Get Yer Cut Throat Off My Knife," before going into "Revolutionary Letter #4":

Left to themselves people

grow their hair.

Left to themselves they

take off their shoes.

Left to themselves they make love

sleep easily

share blankets, dope & children

they are not lazy or afraid

they plant seeds, they smile, they

speak to one another. The word

coming into its own: touch of love;

on the brain, the ear.


Di Prima was  born August 6, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York, the only daughter and eldest child of Francis and Emma di Prima. Her maternal grandfather, Domenico Mallozzi, was an active anarchist, and associate of Carlo Tresca and Emma Goldman. She began writing at the age of seven, and committed herself to a life as a poet at the age of fourteen,  with enough literary talent and precocity to be corresponding with Ezra Pound in her late teens,and thereafter visited him regularly in a psychiatric hospital in Washington. . 
Di Prima attended Hunter College High School in New York City, where she began writing. In 1951, she went to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, but dropped out two years later to join the bohemian community in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village,  then alive with jazz musicians, writers and counterculture artists. where she became a member of the Beat movement and developed friendships with John Ashberry, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Denise Levertov, and Frank O'Hara, among others.
She was set on learning from writers she respected – most of whom were men in an age when women were prevented from achieving true artistic freedom.
 “However great your visioning and your inspiration, you need the techniques of the craft,” she reflected in an interview in the 1980s. “They are passed on person to person, and back then the male naturally passed them on to the male. I think I was one of the first women to break through that.”
In the 1950s and ‘60s, she divided her time between New York and California, and became lovers with Amira Baraka, who was calling himself LeRoi Jones at the time. In a 2017 interview with The Washington Post, she recalled that some of her fellow Beats were interested in her for reasons other than poetry.
"Jack (Kerouac) wanted me to hang out because everyone was gay and I was straight," she said. “He was probably hoping to get laid later.
She and Jones helped found the New York Poets Theatre, a leading avant-garde venue in the early ’60s, and co-edited the literary newsletter The Floating Bear,  (1961-1969). In 1966 she moved to upstate New York where she participated in Timothy Leary’s psychedelic community at Millbrook.In 1964, di Prima, along with her first husband Alan Marlowe, founded the Poets Press, which published books by David Henderson, Clive Matson, Herbert Huncke, and Audre Lourde, who had gone to high school with di Prima, and for years taught at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, in Boulder, Colorado. She also co-founded the New York Poets Theatre and founded Eidolon Editions and the Poets Institute. A follower of Buddhism, she also co-founded the San Francisco Institute of Magical and Healing Arts.
Di Prima’s poetry mixed stream-of-consciousness with attention to form and joined politics to spiritual practice. In an interview with Jacket magazine, di Prima spoke about her life as a writer, a mother, and an activist.
 “I wanted everything—very earnestly and totally—I wanted to have every experience I could have, I wanted everything that was possible to a person in a female body, and that meant that I wanted to be mother.… So my feeling was, ‘Well’—as I had many times had the feeling—‘Well, nobody’s done it quite this way before but fuck it, that’s what I’m doing, I’m going to risk it.’” 
 In San Francisco, she became a member of the Diggers, a  group of anti-capitalist activists and actors who collected food for the lost souls who wandered Haight-Ashbury.  Like many of her male peers, di Prima was a free thinker, a political activist and a target for government censorship. The FBI arrested her in 1961 on obscenity charges (They were later dismissed) and she would allege that was frequently harassed by law enforcement officers. She opposed the Vietnam War in the 1960s.When pressed on her political leanings, she allowed she was likely an anarchist, much like her grandmother.
Ginsberg openly praised this same radical bent in di Prima’s work: 
 “Diane di Prima, revolutionary activist of the 1960s Beat literary renaissance, heroic in life and poetics: a learned humorous bohemian, classically educated and twentieth-century radical, her writing, informed by Buddhist equanimity, is exemplary in imagist, political and mystical modes. … She broke barriers of race-class identity, delivered a major body of verse brilliant in its particularity.
She was together with Powell for more than 40 years and had learned enough before him to decide they were better off never marrying. She had been married twice, divorced twice and had five children with four different men, including Jones. She was a nonconformist down to her last name, spelling it "di Prima," in honor of her Italian ancestors, even as other family members capitalized the “D.” 
Di Prima's legacy is impressive, even though little known to thee general public, including many Beat devotees. She authored more than thirty collections of poetry, as well as plays, short stories, novels, nonfiction, and more. She received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and her work has been translated into more than twenty languages. In 2009, she was named the poet laureate of San Francisco, and in 2006 received the  Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achieivement and community service.At the press conference where she was named Poet Laureate of San Francisco, she told thee crowd about a dream she'd had that showed her how all the work was ever witten was part of the same big piece that "cuts through time and cuts through space, and we have no idea what it is - it is wonderful and large." Her deepest service, she added, was to poetry and to humans. 

Her final collection of poems, “The Poetry Deal,” was published in 2014. As often was the case, City Lights was her publisher. Di Prima continued to write until weeks before her death, though her arthritis forced her to use a stylus on a cellphone to write. Sometimes, Powell said, she’d dictate her verse, often to him. She is survived by Powell, two brothers, five children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A truly remarkable poet and activist and pioneer who broke through boundaries of class and gender to publish her writing, Di Prima's messages about non-conformity and the importance of imagination are more important than ever, says her daughter. And her poetry has gained a new resonance as new resonance as a new generation of activists takes to the streets to protest racism, fascism and police brutality. Her  life and works should be explored and celebrated alongside those of her peers, and coveted for their unapologetic examination of what it was like to be a female in a frequently hostile and stifling environment. Forever a free spirit,  a life lived with revolutionary passion. Rest in Power Diane di Prima.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Sean Taylor - Herd Immunity (part 2)


In the UK more people have died from coronavirus than any other country in Europe. The delayed lockdown cost lives and was combined with both unclear and contradictory messaging. The release of untested patients into care homes led to thousands of deaths. It has taken over six months and between 40,000-60,000 deaths to bring in some airport testing and compulsory facemasks in most public spaces. 

Deregulation, outsourcing and corruption has been the Conservative hallmark. The Tories have given contracts to unaccountable private companies (their friends and donors) who have failed to provide adequate PPE or a testing system that works. 

In the last few years both America and the UK have become breeding grounds for far-right extremism. Conspiracy anti-lockdown fascists have been empowered by the racism of Trump and Johnson.

As an artist  Sean Taylor uses his work to challenge a criminally negligent ruling class and the growth of fascism. 

'Herd Immunity (part 2)'

 written by Sean Taylor 

Produced by Mark Hallman 

Film by Reel News 

Sean Taylor - vocals, piano and guitars 

Mark Hallman - bass, drums & hammond organ 

Joe Morales - saxophone


Herd Immunity (Part 1)

Monday, 26 October 2020

It Comes In Waves

John Coltrane was right
let's not pretend,
love is supreme
in the corner of the night
with a bottle half empty
a candle burns bright
as the wind blows fiercely

Now an essence fills me with light
as I wait among the shadows
want to serve  all night long
been waiting for my hands
to bring home with me
give some love and attention.

I see a glorious diamond smile
want to release her dancing feet
who have never stopped loving 
as angels fly far above
and the gardens offer their flowers
it's this witch on earth, this song is for.

Sailing sea and sky
restless in the mind
try to listen to my heart
as I fall head over heels
in surrealist love and surrender
and my consciousness awakens.

Waking with dreams
to fill all my senses 
inner longing releases the topor
a rose ignites the passion within
wave after wave, crescendo hits
while prisms of light, deliver peace.

Despite the virus, still on the loose
I keep on running, moving forwards
cant find yet, an escape route
where absence obliterates like a plague
all of us stranded, in search of hope
the pipes of pan keep on calling

Saturday, 24 October 2020

British MP's Appeal


The British government has come under heavy scrutiny and criticism recently  after more than 300 Tory MPs voted against free meals for school children over the holidays.

Earlier this year, Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford led a successful campaign that allowed hungry children to have access to free meals during the summer holidays, drawing upon the own troubles that his mother went through when he was a child.

A motion had been brought back to the Commons to have the same initiative extended for the upcoming October half-term break and the Christmas holidays in order to help families that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and were already struggling in the battle against poverty.

However, the motion was defeated by the government's majority with prime minister Boris Johnson, chancellor Rishi Sunak, health secretary Matt Hancock and former PM Theresa May amongst the 320 Tories who voted it down. The Tories were joined by Dr Julian Lewis, the independent MP for New Forest East.

Tensions proved to be high in the Commons during the debate with Tory backbencher Christopher Clarkson accusing Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner of calling him 'scum'  She later apologised.

The uproar about this decision, which will affect millions of families across the country has been sizeable. Even Nigel Farage, possibly one of the most disliked politicians in Britain, called the government "mean" and asked why they were able to subsidise money for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme but can't help hungry children.

But let's  put  all this aside for a moment and forget the hungry school children because of course more important people are in need. Remember that this isn't a comfortable time for so many in parliament at the present moment.

Whilst considering these hard dome by souls for the record here are all the Tory MPs that voted against the school children having access to free school meals. Bless each and every one of them, even though their Tory scum.

Nigel Adams (Conservative – Selby and Ainsty)

Bim Afolami (Conservative – Hitchin and Harpenden)

Adam Afriyie (Conservative – Windsor)

Imran Ahmad Khan (Conservative – Wakefield)

Nickie Aiken (Conservative – Cities of London and Westminster) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Peter Aldous (Conservative – Waveney)

Lucy Allan (Conservative – Telford)

David Amess (Conservative – Southend West)

Lee Anderson (Conservative – Ashfield)

Stuart Anderson (Conservative – Wolverhampton South West)

Stuart Andrew (Conservative – Pudsey)

Edward Argar (Conservative – Charnwood)

Sarah Atherton (Conservative – Wrexham)

Victoria Atkins (Conservative – Louth and Horncastle)

Gareth Bacon (Conservative – Orpington)

Richard Bacon (Conservative – South Norfolk) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Kemi Badenoch (Conservative – Saffron Walden)

Shaun Bailey (Conservative – West Bromwich West)

Duncan Baker (Conservative – North Norfolk)

Steve Baker (Conservative – Wycombe)

Harriett Baldwin (Conservative – West Worcestershire)

Steve Barclay (Conservative – North East Cambridgeshire)

Simon Baynes (Conservative – Clwyd South)

Aaron Bell (Conservative – Newcastle-under-Lyme)

Scott Benton (Conservative – Blackpool South)

Paul Beresford (Conservative – Mole Valley) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Jake Berry (Conservative – Rossendale and Darwen) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Saqib Bhatti (Conservative – Meriden)

Bob Blackman (Conservative – Harrow East) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Crispin Blunt (Conservative – Reigate) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Peter Bone (Conservative – Wellingborough) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Peter Bottomley (Conservative – Worthing West)

Andrew Bowie (Conservative – West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)

Ben Bradley (Conservative – Mansfield) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Karen Bradley (Conservative – Staffordshire Moorlands)

Graham Brady (Conservative – Altrincham and Sale West)

Suella Braverman (Conservative – Fareham)

Jack Brereton (Conservative – Stoke-on-Trent South)

Andrew Bridgen (Conservative – North West Leicestershire) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Steve Brine (Conservative – Winchester)

Paul Bristow (Conservative – Peterborough)

Sara Britcliffe (Conservative – Hyndburn)

James Brokenshire (Conservative – Old Bexley and Sidcup)

Anthony Browne (Conservative – South Cambridgeshire)

Fiona Bruce (Conservative – Congleton)

Felicity Buchan (Conservative – Kensington)

Robert Buckland (Conservative – South Swindon)

Alex Burghart (Conservative – Brentwood and Ongar)

Conor Burns (Conservative – Bournemouth West) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Rob Butler (Conservative – Aylesbury)

Alun Cairns (Conservative – Vale of Glamorgan)

Andy Carter (Conservative – Warrington South)

James Cartlidge (Conservative – South Suffolk)

William Cash (Conservative – Stone) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Miriam Cates (Conservative – Penistone and Stocksbridge)

Maria Caulfield (Conservative – Lewes)

Alex Chalk (Conservative – Cheltenham)

Rehman Chishti (Conservative – Gillingham and Rainham)

Jo Churchill (Conservative – Bury St Edmunds)

Greg Clark (Conservative – Tunbridge Wells)

Simon Clarke (Conservative – Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Theo Clarke (Conservative – Stafford)

Brendan Clarke-Smith (Conservative – Bassetlaw)

Chris Clarkson (Conservative – Heywood and Middleton)

James Cleverly (Conservative – Braintree)

Thérèse Coffey (Conservative – Suffolk Coastal)

Damian Collins (Conservative – Folkestone and Hythe) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Alberto Costa (Conservative – South Leicestershire) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Robert Courts (Conservative – Witney)

Claire Coutinho (Conservative – East Surrey)

Geoffrey Cox (Conservative – Torridge and West Devon) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Virginia Crosbie (Conservative – Ynys Môn)

James Daly (Conservative – Bury North)

David T C Davies (Conservative – Monmouth)

James Davies (Conservative – Vale of Clwyd)

Gareth Davies (Conservative – Grantham and Stamford)

Mims Davies (Conservative – Mid Sussex) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Philip Davies (Conservative – Shipley)

David Davis (Conservative – Haltemprice and Howden) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Dehenna Davison (Conservative – Bishop Auckland)

Caroline Dinenage (Conservative – Gosport) (Proxy vote cast by Caroline Nokes)

Sarah Dines (Conservative – Derbyshire Dales)

Jonathan Djanogly (Conservative – Huntingdon)

Michelle Donelan (Conservative – Chippenham)

Nadine Dorries (Conservative – Mid Bedfordshire) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Steve Double (Conservative – St Austell and Newquay) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Oliver Dowden (Conservative – Hertsmere)

Jackie Doyle-Price (Conservative – Thurrock)

Richard Drax (Conservative – South Dorset)

Flick Drummond (Conservative – Meon Valley)

David Duguid (Conservative – Banff and Buchan)

Iain Duncan Smith (Conservative – Chingford and Woodford Green)

Philips Dunne (Conservative - Ludlow)

Mark Eastwood (Conservative – Dewsbury)

Ruth Edwards (Conservative – Rushcliffe) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Michael Ellis (Conservative – Northampton North)

Tobias Ellwood (Conservative – Bournemouth East)

Natalie Elphicke (Conservative – Dover) (Proxy vote cast by Maria Caulfield)

George Eustice (Conservative – Camborne and Redruth)

Luke Evans (Conservative – Bosworth) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

David Evennett (Conservative – Bexleyheath and Crayford) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Ben Everitt (Conservative – Milton Keynes North)

Michael Fabricant (Conservative – Lichfield) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Laura Farris (Conservative – Newbury)

Simon Fell (Conservative – Barrow and Furness)

Katherine Fletcher (Conservative – South Ribble)

Mark Fletcher (Conservative – Bolsover)

Nick Fletcher (Conservative – Don Valley)

Vicky Ford (Conservative – Chelmsford)

Kevin Foster (Conservative – Torbay)

Mark Francois (Conservative – Rayleigh and Wickford) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Lucy Frazer (Conservative – South East Cambridgeshire)

George Freeman (Conservative – Mid Norfolk) (Proxy vote cast by Bim Afolami)

Mike Freer (Conservative – Finchley and Golders Green)

Richard Fuller (Conservative – North East Bedfordshire)

Marcus Fysh (Conservative – Yeovil) (Proxy vote cast by Craig Mackinlay)

Mark Garnier (Conservative – Wyre Forest)

Nusrat Ghani (Conservative – Wealden) (Proxy vote cast by Steve Baker)

Nick Gibb (Conservative – Bognor Regis and Littlehampton)

Peter Gibson (Conservative – Darlington)

Jo Gideon (Conservative – Stoke-on-Trent Central)

Cheryl Gillan (Conservative – Chesham and Amersham) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

John Glen (Conservative – Salisbury)

Robert Goodwill (Conservative – Scarborough and Whitby)

Michael Gove (Conservative – Surrey Heath)

Richard Graham (Conservative – Gloucester)

Helen Grant (Conservative – Maidstone and The Weald) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

James Gray (Conservative – North Wiltshire)

Chris Grayling (Conservative – Epsom and Ewell)

Chris Green (Conservative – Bolton West)

Damian Green (Conservative – Ashford)

Andrew Griffith (Conservative – Arundel and South Downs)

Kate Griffiths (Conservative – Burton)

James Grundy (Conservative – Leigh)

Jonathan Gullis (Conservative – Stoke-on-Trent North)

Luke Hall (Conservative – Thornbury and Yate)

Stephen Hammond (Conservative – Wimbledon)

Matt Hancock (Conservative – West Suffolk)

Greg Hands (Conservative – Chelsea and Fulham)

Mark Harper (Conservative – Forest of Dean)

Rebecca Harris (Conservative – Castle Point)

Trudy Harrison (Conservative – Copeland)

Sally-Ann Hart (Conservative – Hastings and Rye)

Simon Hart (Conservative – Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire)

John Hayes (Conservative – South Holland and The Deepings)

Oliver Heald (Conservative – North East Hertfordshire) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Chris Heaton-Harris (Conservative – Daventry)

Gordon Henderson (Conservative – Sittingbourne and Sheppey)

Darren Henry (Conservative – Broxtowe)

Antony Higginbotham (Conservative – Burnley)

Damian Hinds (Conservative – East Hampshire)

Kevin Hollinrake (Conservative – Thirsk and Malton)

Philip Hollobone (Conservative – Kettering)

Adam Holloway (Conservative – Gravesham) (Proxy vote cast by Maria Caulfield)

Paul Holmes (Conservative – Eastleigh)

John Howell (Conservative – Henley)

Paul Howell (Conservative – Sedgefield)

Nigel Huddleston (Conservative – Mid Worcestershire)

Eddie Hughes (Conservative – Walsall North)

Jane Hunt (Conservative – Loughborough)

Jeremy Hunt (Conservative – South West Surrey)

Tom Hunt (Conservative – Ipswich)

Alister Jack (Conservative – Dumfries and Galloway)

Sajid Javid (Conservative – Bromsgrove)

Ranil Jayawardena (Conservative – North East Hampshire) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Mark Jenkinson (Conservative – Workington)

Andrea Jenkyns (Conservative – Morley and Outwood)

Robert Jenrick (Conservative – Newark)

Boris Johnson (Conservative – Uxbridge and South Ruislip)

Caroline Johnson (Conservative – Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Gareth Johnson (Conservative – Dartford)

David Johnston (Conservative – Wantage)

Andrew Jones (Conservative – Harrogate and Knaresborough)

Fay Jones (Conservative – Brecon and Radnorshire)

David Jones (Conservative – Clwyd West)

Marcus Jones (Conservative – Nuneaton)

Simon Jupp (Conservative – East Devon) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Daniel Kawczynski (Conservative – Shrewsbury and Atcham)

Alicia Kearns (Conservative – Rutland and Melton) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Gillian Keegan (Conservative – Chichester)

Julian Knight (Conservative – Solihull) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Greg Knight (Conservative – East Yorkshire) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Danny Kruger (Conservative – Devizes)

Kwasi Kwarteng (Conservative – Spelthorne)

John Lamont (Conservative – Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Robert Largan (Conservative – High Peak)

Andrea Leadsom (Conservative – South Northamptonshire)

Edward Leigh (Conservative – Gainsborough)

Ian Levy (Conservative – Blyth Valley) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Andrew Lewer (Conservative – Northampton South)

Brandon Lewis (Conservative – Great Yarmouth)

Ian Liddell-Grainger (Conservative – Bridgwater and West Somerset) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Chris Loder (Conservative – West Dorset)

Mark Logan (Conservative – Bolton North East)

Marco Longhi (Conservative – Dudley North) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Julia Lopez (Conservative – Hornchurch and Upminster)

Jack Lopresti (Conservative – Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Jonathan Lord (Conservative – Woking) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Craig Mackinlay (Conservative – South Thanet)

Cherilyn Mackrory (Conservative – Truro and Falmouth)

Rachel Maclean (Conservative – Redditch)

Alan Mak (Conservative – Havant)

Kit Malthouse (Conservative – North West Hampshire)

Anthony Mangnall (Conservative – Totnes)

Scott Mann (Conservative – North Cornwall)

Julie Marson (Conservative – Hertford and Stortford)

Theresa May (Conservative – Maidenhead)

Jerome Mayhew (Conservative – Broadland)

Karl McCartney (Conservative – Lincoln) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Mark Menzies (Conservative – Fylde) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Johnny Mercer (Conservative – Plymouth, Moor View)

Huw Merriman (Conservative – Bexhill and Battle)

Stephen Metcalfe (Conservative – South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Robin Millar (Conservative – Aberconwy)

Maria Miller (Conservative – Basingstoke)

Amanda Milling (Conservative – Cannock Chase)

Nigel Mills (Conservative – Amber Valley) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Andrew Mitchell (Conservative – Sutton Coldfield)

Gagan Mohindra (Conservative – South West Hertfordshire)

Robbie Moore (Conservative – Keighley)

Penny Mordaunt (Conservative – Portsmouth North)

David Morris (Conservative – Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

James Morris (Conservative – Halesowen and Rowley Regis)

Wendy Morton (Conservative – Aldridge-Brownhills)

Kieran Mullan (Conservative – Crewe and Nantwich)

David Mundell (Conservative – Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale)

Sheryll Murray (Conservative – South East Cornwall)

Andrew Murrison (Conservative – South West Wiltshire)

Robert Neill (Conservative – Bromley and Chislehurst)

Caroline Nokes (Conservative – Romsey and Southampton North)

Jesse Norman (Conservative – Hereford and South Herefordshire)

Neil O’Brien (Conservative – Harborough)

Guy Opperman (Conservative – Hexham) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Owen Paterson (Conservative – North Shropshire) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Mark Pawsey (Conservative – Rugby)

Mike Penning (Conservative – Hemel Hempstead) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

John Penrose (Conservative – Weston-super-Mare)

Chris Philp (Conservative – Croydon South)

Christopher Pincher (Conservative – Tamworth)

Rebecca Pow (Conservative – Taunton Deane)

Victoria Prentis (Conservative – Banbury)

Mark Pritchard (Conservative – The Wrekin)

Jeremy Quin (Conservative – Horsham)

Will Quince (Conservative – Colchester)

Tom Randall (Conservative – Gedling)

John Redwood (Conservative – Wokingham)

Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative – North East Somerset)

Nicola Richards (Conservative – West Bromwich East)

Angela Richardson (Conservative – Guildford)

Rob Roberts (Conservative – Delyn)

Laurence Robertson (Conservative – Tewkesbury)

Mary Robinson (Conservative – Cheadle)

Andrew Rosindell (Conservative – Romford)

Lee Rowley (Conservative – North East Derbyshire)

Dean Russell (Conservative – Watford)

David Rutley (Conservative – Macclesfield)

Gary Sambrook (Conservative – Birmingham, Northfield)

Selaine Saxby (Conservative – North Devon) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Paul Scully (Conservative – Sutton and Cheam)

Bob Seely (Conservative – Isle of Wight)

Andrew Selous (Conservative – South West Bedfordshire)

Grant Shapps (Conservative – Welwyn Hatfield)

Alok Sharma (Conservative – Reading West)

Alec Shelbrooke (Conservative – Elmet and Rothwell)

David Simmonds (Conservative – Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner)

Chris Skidmore (Conservative – Kingswood)

Chloe Smith (Conservative – Norwich North) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Greg Smith (Conservative – Buckingham)

Henry Smith (Conservative – Crawley) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Julian Smith (Conservative – Skipton and Ripon)

Royston Smith (Conservative - Southampton, Itchen)

Amanda Solloway (Conservative – Derby North)

Ben Spencer (Conservative – Runnymede and Weybridge)

Mark Spencer (Conservative – Sherwood)

Alexander Stafford (Conservative – Rother Valley)

Andrew Stephenson (Conservative – Pendle)

Jane Stevenson (Conservative – Wolverhampton North East)

John Stevenson (Conservative – Carlisle)

Bob Stewart (Conservative – Beckenham)

Iain Stewart (Conservative – Milton Keynes South)

Gary Streeter (Conservative – South West Devon) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Mel Stride (Conservative – Central Devon) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Rishi Sunak (Conservative – Richmond (Yorks))

James Sunderland (Conservative – Bracknell)

Desmond Swayne (Conservative – New Forest West)

Robert Syms (Conservative – Poole)

Derek Thomas (Conservative – St Ives)

Maggie Throup (Conservative – Erewash)

Edward Timpson (Conservative – Eddisbury) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Kelly Tolhurst (Conservative – Rochester and Strood)

Justin Tomlinson (Conservative – North Swindon)

Michael Tomlinson (Conservative – Mid Dorset and North Poole)

Craig Tracey (Conservative – North Warwickshire)

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Conservative – Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Laura Trott (Conservative – Sevenoaks)

Tom Tugendhat (Conservative – Tonbridge and Malling)

Martin Vickers (Conservative – Cleethorpes)

Matt Vickers (Conservative – Stockton South)

Theresa Villiers (Conservative – Chipping Barnet)

Robin Walker (Conservative – Worcester)

Charles Walker (Conservative – Broxbourne)

Jamie Wallis (Conservative – Bridgend) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

David Warburton (Conservative – Somerton and Frome) (Proxy vote cast by Stuart Andrew)

Matt Warman (Conservative – Boston and Skegness)

Giles Watling (Conservative – Clacton)

Suzanne Webb (Conservative – Stourbridge)

Helen Whately (Conservative – Faversham and Mid Kent)

Heather Wheeler (Conservative – South Derbyshire)

Craig Whittaker (Conservative – Calder Valley)

John Whittingdale (Conservative – Maldon)

Bill Wiggin (Conservative – North Herefordshire)

James Wild (Conservative – North West Norfolk)

Craig Williams (Conservative – Montgomeryshire)

Gavin Williamson (Conservative – South Staffordshire)

Mike Wood (Conservative – Dudley South)

William Wragg (Conservative – Hazel Grove)

Jeremy Wright (Conservative – Kenilworth and Southam)

Jacob Young (Conservative – Redcar)

Nadhim Zahawi (Conservative – Stratford-on-Avon)

Five Tory MPs voted against the government: Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne), Robert Halfon (Harlow), Jason McCartney (Colne Valley), Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot), Holly Mumby-Croft (Scunthorpe). Ansell has since reportedly quit her post.

All votes can be seen via the parliament voting website.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Autumn: A Dirge - Percy Bysshe Shelley

The power of seasons changing in the following poem by the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley nicely evokes the overall power yet grace the natural world consists of. Here, the elements themselves seem to be moaning about the injustice that is corrupting the society.  Autumn is a fitting background for Shelley's own vision  of political and social revolution because  it can have such a drastic change on the Earth's physical appearance. Shelley often suggested that the natural world held a sublime power over his imagination. Nature also had a creative power over him because he was very inspired by the natural world and what nature is capable of.
Autumn ; A Dirge ' was published by Percy Shelley's widow Mary in 1824, two years after Percy's death in Italy at the age of just twenty nine. Unlike his contemporary John Keats, Shelley makes no attempt to evoke Autumn's golden harvests, but calls on all but the most carefree summer months to keep vigil by the dying year. 

Autumn : A Dirge - Percy Bysshe Shelley 

( from Posthumous Poems : 1824 )

The warm sun is falling, the bleak wind is wailing,
The bare boughs are sighing, the pale flowers are dying,
And the Year
On the earth is her death-bed, in a shroud of leaves dead,
Is lying.
Come, Months, come away,
From November to May,
In your saddest array;
Follow the bier
Of the dead cold Year,
And like dim shadows watch by her sepulchre.

The chill rain is falling, the nipped worm is crawling,
The rivers are swelling, the thunder is knelling
For the Year;
The blithe swallows are flown, and the lizards each gone
To his dwelling.
Come, Months, come away;
Put on white, black and gray;
Let your light sisters play--
Ye, follow the bier
Of the dead cold Year,
And make her grave green with tear on tear.

Below are links to  two earlier posts about Shelley:

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Eugene V. Debs ( 5/ 11/1855 - 20/10 /26 ) - Working Class Hero

Outspoken  Socialist firebrand, political activist  and labour organiser Eugene Victor Debs passed away on this day, October 20, in 1926..In the waning years of the 20th century Debs emerged as a working class leader, a hero of the railroad workers of the U.S and Canada. Aftr working for the railroad, first as a labourer and then a locomotive fireman, Debs went on to  lead the Fireman's union , assist in the organising of other rail unions and ultimatey organise the nations first industrial union - the American Railway Union ( ART). By the turn of the 20th century, Debs emerged as the leader of the Socialist party, and from there went on to assist in the founding of the Industrial Workers  of the World  (IWW) aka the Wobblies, helping to pioneer a fighting union politics that organized all workers, becomming the beloved figurehead of American radicalism. Debs story is the story of labor battles in industrialising America, of a working class politics grown directly of the Midwestern heartland, and of a distinct American vision of Socialism.
Eugene Debs was born on November 5, 1855, in Terre Haute, Indiana to parents Jean Daniel and Marguerite Marie Bettrich Debs, who both immigrated to the United States from Colmar, Alsace, France. and operated aa grocery store. He dropped out of High School at the age of 14 to work as a painter. He did several jobs such as boilerman and grocery clerk. 
In 1875 he was elected secretary of the Terre Haute lodge of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. His intelligence and commitment, coupled with his conservative outlook (he argued against participation in the nationwide railroad strikes of 1877), attracted the attention of the brotherhood’s leaders. By 1881, he was national secretary of the brotherhood, increasingly its spokesman on labor issues, and its most tireless organizer. Simultaneously, Debs entered politics as a Democratic candidate for city clerk in 1879 when only 23. First elected over Republican and Greenback-Labor party candidates, Debs was overwhelmingly reelected in 1881. Four years later, he was elected to the Indiana State Assembly with broad support from the wards of Terre Haute’s workers and businessmen.  Debs organized the American Railway Union, which waged a strike against the Pullman Company of Chicago in 1894
During the 1880s Debs’s ideas began to change. At first a firm proponent of organization of workers by their separate crafts, he resisted the industrial organization implicit in the efforts of the Knights of Labor and ordered his members to report to work during the Knights’ 1885 strike against the southwestern railroads. But his year-long involvement (1888-1889) in the strike against the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad altered these views. He now thought craft organization divisive, a hindrance to working people’s efforts to secure fair wages and working conditions. And concentrated corporate power, he argued, had a debilitating effect on the political rights and economic opportunity of the majority of Americans. By 1893 he had resigned his position as secretary of the brotherhood and begun organizing an industrial union of railroad workers, the American Railway Union (aru).
The  1894 strike against the Pullman Company of Chicago marked a second turning point in Debs’s thinking. Pullman Palace Car Company, was  the largest railway car company in the United States at the time, George Pullman the owner had a business plan that was, if nothing else, creative. He built a company town around his factory in Illinois, named it after himself and made it a requirement that the workers live there (and pay rent to their employer, guess who?). Some historians have said of the town of Pullman (now a suburb of Chicago), that it was "a version of the Indian reservation system.
 The ARU, even before its first convention, was besieged with reports from Pullman as to the unfairnesses of the company towards its employees including a unilateral; 25% cut in wages in 1893, while all of the world reeled from a great economic depression. This, in spite of a discreet increase in the annual dividend payment Pullman sent to his stockholders. 

The workers at Pullman contacted the ARU and Debs paid the town a visit. With Debs in command, the ARU agreed with the suggestion made by Pullman workers, and called for a boycott of all trains in America pulling Pullman cars. It was a risky move but the ARU fell behind its new members from Pullman. Train traffic in and out of Chicago collapsed almost immediately. The press, owned by smaller tycoons, came out in Pullman's side calling Debs a "dictator" and "King Debs". The New York Times called Debs "an enemy of the human race". The cover of the popular magazine, Harper's Weekly had an image of Debs sitting on an idle Chicago railway yard, wearing a crown. 
Railroad owners hired security firms to break the strike and violence broke out. US President Grover Cleveland sent in the federal militia, railway cars were set on fire and inevitably, gun fire broke out. The courts helped out in issuing an injunction on this basis:
"… (that) the interstate transportation of persons and property, as well as the carriage of the mails, is forcibly obstructed, and that a combination and conspiracy exists to subject the control of such transportation to the will of the conspirators."
This led to Debs being arrested with other boycott leaders on July 17, 1894, and jailed. This broke the union as Debs later described:
"Once we were taken from the scene of action, and restrained from sending telegrams or issuing orders or answering questions, then the minions of the corporations would be put to work..
"Our headquarters were temporarily demoralized and abandoned, and we could not answer any messages. The men went back to work, and the ranks were broken, and the strike was broken up, … not by the army, and not by any other power, but simply and solely by the action of the United States courts in restraining us from discharging our duties as officers and representatives of our employees."
Clarence Darrow signed up as Debs' lawyer and argued the case before the Supreme Court of the United States in March of 1895, to release Debs and his union brethren from their prison cells. The decision went against the union, with Justice David Josiah Brewer writing:
"A most earnest and eloquent appeal was made to us in eulogy of the heroic spirit of those who threw up their employment, and gave up their means of earning a livelihood, not in defence of their own rights, but in sympathy for and to assist others whom they believed to be wronged. We yield to none in our admiration of any act of heroism or self-sacrifice, but we may be permitted to add that it is a lesson which cannot be learned too soon or too thoroughly that under this government of and by the people the means of redress of all wrongs are through the courts and at the ballot-box, and that no wrong, real or fancied, carries with it legal warrant to invite as a means of redress the cooperation of a mob, with its accompanying acts of violence."
The unified power of railroad management working intimately with federal authorities  ultimately broke the strike but  Debs emerged from this experience as an avowed and committed socialist and dedicated himself to the start-up of a number of institutions now prominent in the American politics and international labor law such as Social Democracy of America, the Social Democratic Party of the United States, the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Debs questioned the ultimate ability of trade unions to combat successfully capital’s economic power and, after the 1896 elections, looked upon socialism as the answer to working people’s problems.
Between 1900 and 1920 Debs was the Socialist party’s standard-bearer in five presidential elections. In 1912, in a four-way race with Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, he received 6 percent of the vote-,highest total ever.
Between campaigns, Debs was a tireless, charismatic and paassionate  speaker who sometimes called on the vocabulary of Christianity and much of the oratorical style of evangelism—even though he was generally disdainful of organized religion.
Debs often was uncomfortable with his position  as a  leader, despite the Socialist's great love for him and his oratorical skills. Debs  personal values  and lifelong philosophy can be summed up by the following quotes from him  : 
"I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.
" I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world."
" In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor  and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to decieve and overawe the People. "
"Years ago, I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth... While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
As an  organizer he traveled the nation defending workers in their strikes and industrial disputes. Although many workers enthusiastically applauded Debs’s vision, sadly relatively few actually  endorsed his political program. n 1
In 1918, just as World War I loomed, Eugene Debs directed his very effective speaking talents at the federal government, speaking out against the war as soon as it began.;
". I   am for that war with heart and soul, and that is thee world-wide war of the social revolution. In that war I am prepared to fight in any way the ruling class may make necessary, even to the barricades." 

One speech, later analyzed by the federal government, resulted in Debs being charged with sedition, he was charged with having:
"… caused and incited and attempted to cause and incite insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny and refusal of duty in the military and naval forces of the United States".
 These words meant he was convicted and even though he was 63, he was given a 10-year prison term (also disenfranchised for life meaning he could never again vote again in America). At his sentencing he told the court:
"Your honor, I ask no mercy, I plead for no immunity. I realize that finally the right must prevail. I never more fully comprehended than now the great struggle between the powers of greed on the one hand and upon the other the rising hosts of freedom. I can see the dawn of a better day of humanity. The people are awakening. In due course of time they will come into their own."
His conviction was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States who, again, ruled against him and upheld both the conviction and sentence.
Over time, calls went out that Debs be pardoned  bringing this remark this from President Woodrow Wilson:
"This man was a traitor to his country and he will never be pardoned during my administration."
Debs conducted his last campaign for president as prisoner 9653 in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary and received nearly a million votes, though he had been stripped of his citizenship. In his five campaigns as the Socialist Party candidate for president of the United States, Debs excoriated the economic exploitation of workers, including the then rampant abuses of child labor, with rare oratorical skill. He advocated for unions in all major industries and promoted a vision of socialism as grassroots economic democracy. In a deeply racist, patriarchal society, he was also staunchly anti-racist and pro-women’s rights.
Refusing to ask for or accept special treatment, he was confined to his cell for fourteen hours a day and was allotted twenty minutes a day in the prison yard. He wore a rough denim uniform. He ate food barely fit to eat. He grew  gaunt and weak. He  became an American folk hero, a principled advocate of free speech, and and even as he grew sicker Convict No. 9653 refused to ask for a pardon.
On Christmas Day  1921 he was released without a pardon but with a commuted sentence. He was 66. But Debs never recovered from his time in prison  and lived most of of what remained of his life  in a sanatorium.  He died on October 20, 1926, at the age of 70 in Elmhurst.
 He is remembered as an opponent to big corporations and World War One. American socialists, communists, and anarchists honor his compassion for the labor movement and motivation to have the average workingman build socialism without large state involvement. He motivated the left in America and continues to this day. In the legacy of Eugene Debs there is much more than a speech here, a prison term there, and nor did he push the plow of labor rights by himself. But on countless occasions he said what had to be said, urged on his nervous union leaderships to do what was right in spite of the overwhelming force and might of the wealthy in America of his generation. In this, he always put himself on front lines and paid the prices that were collateral to his duties as a social justice crusader: jail, fines, ridicule in the press, but also the heavy personal cost of not just those personal injuries but also of being necessarily loud and alone at the front of a still unawares and very suspicious population as slowly, the American citizen became aware of the importance of unions and of worker rights.
Ten years after his death  later his beloved wife, Kate, was buried beside him. Debs was cremated and his ashes were interred in Highland Lawn cemetery, Terre Haute, with only a simple marker. Today, his home in Terre Haute, Indiana has the designation of a National Historic Landmark, and a website   dedicated to him Debs citizenship was finally restored in 1976, fifty years after his death and in 1990, the U.S. Department of Labor named Debs a member of its Labor Hall of Honor.
As a socialist, Debs denounced as irrational and unjust a capitalist system that created extravagant wealth for a few at the top, while millions of ordinary working people struggled to get by. Most important, he thought it was possible to build a new, cooperative society, to transcend the irrationality, waste, and greed of the capitalist economic system, and to end wage slavery and all forms of social oppression. He called this socialism. 
 The life and legacy of Eugene V. Debs stands as a rich and vibrant testament to one man’s dedication to a liberated future. Indeed, Debs was an individual for whom solidarity with his fellow humans was in his blood. who used his  voice in defense of the common man, his legacy can  best summed up in his own words.:
 "Yes, I am my brother's keeper," he wrote. "I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by maudlin sentimentality, but by the higher duty I owe myself.

As a principled left-wing socialist, Debs was cut from a different cloth than most mainstream politicians, then and now. How many career politicians today would be willing to go to prison for their views and ideals. In short Debs  is a socialist icon that we  so need  in our present times.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Turbulent Daze

Getting so tired of these times
Sometimes it's so hard to listen
I know I take things for granted
But under the influence, I question
Not  forgetting the moonshots
Hands,  face, space, time continuam
All the friends and lovers gone
Stolen, secrets, hungry glances
Thinking of ways of fixing one another
Instead of mistakes that make us hurt,
Ready made oven deals sealed with haste
A Government that deliver no protection
Stay at home, under three tier system
Keep on working, support economy
Eat out, dance in your gardens, on your own, 
But because I don't have to much belief
I  don't know which way to go
Maybe, try recapture heart of another
Before, finally all my time is done
Check daily for some small change
Reboot, Reskill, Reboot, Remember
Keep on chasing rainbows, try reaching for moon
The comfortable tangible touch of magic
Beyond the sad opiated smile of capitalism
The future belongs to all, who believe in the beauty of dreams
Where imagination matters  and love and passion rules 
With forces of doldrum  abandoned, we sing impromptu..

Monday, 12 October 2020

Indigenous Resistance Day

Christopher Columbus arrived in the Bahamas 528 years ago this week, beginning a process of colonization and genocide against Native people, which represents one of the darkest chapters in the history of this continent, that  unleashed unimaginable brutality against the indigenous people of this continent.that killed tens of millions of Native people across the hemisphere. From the very beginning, Columbus was not on a mission of discovery but of conquest and exploitation—he called his expedition la empresa, the enterprise. 
Columbus deserves to be remembered as the first terrorist in the Americas. When resistance mounted to the Spaniards’ violence, Columbus sent an armed force to “spread terror among the Indians to show them how strong and powerful the Christians were,” according to the Spanish priest Bartolomé de las Casas. In his book Conquest of Paradise, Kirkpatrick Sale describes what happened when Columbus’s men encountered a force of Taínos in March of 1495 in a valley on the island of Hispañiola: " The soldiers mowed down dozens with point-blank volleys, loosed the dogs to rip open limbs and bellies, chased fleeing Indians into the bush to skewer them on sword and pike, and [according to Columbus’s biographer, his son Fernando] “with God’s aid soon gained a complete victory, killing many Indians and capturing others who were also killed.”
All this and much more has long been known and documented. As early as 1942 in his Pulitzer Prize winning biography, Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Samuel Eliot Morison wrote that Columbus’s policies in the Caribbean led to “complete genocide”—and Morison was a writer who admired Columbus.
Many countries are now  acknowledging this devastating history by rejecting the federal holiday of Columbus Day which  is marked on October 12  and celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead to honor centuries of indigenous resistance.If Indigenous peoples’ lives mattered in our society, and if Black people’s lives mattered in our society, it would be inconceivable that we would honor the father of the slave trade with a national holiday. Let alone allow our history books to laud Columus as some kind of hero. For oppressed people this day is a constant reminder that many of their ancestors and their suffering simply did not matter. As a result many countries in the Americas  now celebrate October 12 as Día de la Raza and many indigenous peoples and other progressive people celebrate it as Indigenous People's Day or Indigenous Resistance Day. Because this  so-called “discovery” of the America caused the worst demographic catastrophe of human history, with around 95 percent of the indigenous population annihilated in the first 130 years of colonization, without mentioning the victims from the African continent, with about 60 million people sent to the Americas as slaves, with only 12 percent of them arriving alive.Therefore, Native American groups consider Columbus a European colonizer responsible for the genocide of millions of indigenous people. Not an individual worthy of celebration  because he helped contribute  to the Europeans Colonization of the Americas which resulted in  slavery, killings, and other atrocities against the native Americans
As a counter to official celebrations of "Columbus Day"  with indigenous people increasingly demanding their rights, in 1992 the United Nations declared October 12 as the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, ruining thereby the determination of Spain and other countries to call it International Day of America's Discovery, this was then followed  by Venezuela which was the first country of the region to grant the demand under Hugo Chavez's administration, accepting their suggestion of “Day of Indigenous Resistance” in 2002. Chavez described the previous name “Day of Race” chosen by then President of Venezuela, Juan Vicente Gomez in 1921, as “discriminatory, racist and pejorative.”​
Nicaragua and Daniel Ortega´s Sandinista government  has been the only country going as far as Venezuela until now, also choosing the name “Day of Indigenous Resistance” in 2007.
With several exceptions, such as the conservative governments of Paraguay, Colombia and Honduras, for instance, many other countries of the continent have nevertheless changed the infamous name “Day of Race.”
It became the “Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity” in Argentina, after the failure of a legislative project in 2004 to change it to “Day of Resistance of Indigenous Peoples.” Argentina has more than 1,600 indigenous communities, and over a million Argentinian people who claim their indigenous identity according to the National Institution of Indigenous People.Yet the indigenous communities of Argentina organize counter-marches to protest against this name, recalling the damages caused by the conqueror Julio Argentino Roca to their ancestral lands at the end of the 19th century.
In Chile as well, where the Mapuche community are still fighting to claim their native lands in the fertile south of the country, the day was renamed even more weakly, “Day of the Encounter Between the Two Worlds” in 2000.
In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa changed the name to “Day of Inter-culturality and Pluri-nationality” in 2011. That same year in Bolivia, President Evo Morales, the first indigenous leader in South America, changed it to "Day of Mourning for the Misery, Diseases and Hunger Brought by the European Invasion of America." The diseases were indeed the main cause of the indigenous genocide, as the invaders brought viruses and bacterias the indigenous peoples were not immune to.

In El Salvador, social and indigenous organizations presented a legislative project before the parliament, for which the congresspeople of the governing Farabundo Marti Front (FMLN) expressed their support. In June 2014, the congress finally approved a constitutional reform recognizing the existence of indigenous peoples in the country. In 2016, Salvadorean and Uruguayan indigenous peoples began demanding a name change of their governments. The Charrua community of Uruguay for instance has made the demand since 2010, but has faced strong opposition by conservative sectors. In 2014, the National Assembly approved a legislative project, but only changed the name to “Day of Cultural Diversity.” The ruling party Broad Front (Frente Amplio) had pushed for the same name as in Venezuela and Nicaragua, but the legislative commission then chose to modify it.
Indigenous peoples in Latin America account for about 13 percent of the total population – about 40 million, with around 670 different nations or communities, according to the CEPAL. Most of them are in Mexico, Guatemala, and Andean countries. They all face some level of racism, discrimination and poverty, suffering more than the rest of the population from an unequal access to resources like employment, health and education services, but also deprived of their ancestral lands and natural resources – about 40 percent of rural populations are indigenous, according to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. 
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, Indigenous people have experienced some of the highest mortality rates in the county. High rates of diabetes, obesity and other poverty-related health problems make Native Americans more vulnerable to the virus than other populations. 
The Navajo Nation, which spreads across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, has been one of the hardest hit locations .Due to pollution caused by mining and lack of basic infrastructure, about 40 perceent of those who live on the Navajo Nation lack access to drinking water and haul water or rely on water trucks. This lack of clean, running water makes it nearly impossible for Navajo people to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to constantly wash their hands and surfaces.  
In Mississippi, rates of COVID are 10 times higher among the Mississippi  Choctaw, the only federally recognized Native nation in the state, than among the rest of Mississippi’s population. So far, more than 1,000 people or more than 10 percent of all Mississippi Choctaws have contracted coronavirus, and many have lost multiple family members. 
Exacerbating the crises within Indigenous communities across North America, the Trump administration’s border wall and immigration policies have caused further devastation to many Native communities. Thousands of migrants, including many who are from Indigenous communities within Central America, have been exposed to the virus in U.S. detention centers. By housing migrants in these dense holding centers—without proper medical care, sanitation or personal protective equipment, and then deporting them—U.S. immigration practices have exported  the virus to Indigenous communities across Guatemala and Mexico.  
The border wall and these immigration policies have brought further violence and risk of exposure to Native nations whose homelands straddle the U.S.-Mexico border. Native nations like the Kumeyaay in California and the Tohono O’odham, whose lands stretch between Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora, have fought for years against the construction of Trump’s border wall through their lands. Within the last month, multiple Kumeyaay and Tohono O’odham demonstrators have been arrested   and forcibly removed from their own homelands as they attempted to halt construction of the wall and protect their sacred lands.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States,” writes, “By and large the history of relations between Indigenous and settler is fraught with conflict, defined by a struggle for land, which is inevitably a struggle for power and control. Five hundred years later, Native peoples are still fighting to protect their lands and their rights to exist as distinct political communities and individuals.”
Because  of historical traumas inflicted on indigenous peoples that include land dispossession, death of the majority of the populations through warfare and disease, forced removal and relocation, assimilative boarding school experiences, and prohibiting religious practices, among others, indigenous peoples have experienced historical losses, which include the loss of land, traditional and spiritual ways, self-respect from poor treatment from government officials, language, family ties, trust from broken treaties, culture, and people (through early death); there are also losses that can be attributed to increased alcoholism.  These losses have been associated with sadness and depression, anger, intrusive thoughts, discomfort, shame, fear, and distrust around white people   Experiencing massive traumas and losses is thought to lead to cumulative and unresolved grief, which can result in the historical trauma response, which includes suicidal thoughts and acts, IPV, depression, alcoholism, self-destructive behavior, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, and lowered emotional expression and recognition .These symptoms run parallel to the extant health disparities that are documented among indigenous peoples.
Today is about acknowledging all this whilst  honoring the rich history of resistance that Native communities across the world  have contributed to and  it is  also about sharing  a deep commitment to intergenerational justice. Celebrating Indigenous People’s Day is a step towards recognizing that colonization still exists. We can do more to end that colonization and respect the sovereignty of indigenous nations.  .May we spend this day, and all days, honoring Native Peoples’ commitment to making the world a better place for all. Reflect on their ancestral past , the ongoing struggles of indigenous peoples in protecting their lands and freedoms,celebrate their sacrifices and celebrate life whilst.recognizing the people, traditions and cultures that were wiped out because of Columbus’ colonization and acknowledge the. bloodshed and elimination of those that were massacred.Transforming this day into a celebration of indigenous people and a celebration of social justice  allows us to make a connection between this painful history and the ongoing marginalization, discrimination and poverty that indigenous communities face to this day.