Thursday, 22 February 2018

The Last Invasion of Britain - Fishguard 1797

Many remember the name of Hastings as the site of the last invasion of mainland Britain by Norman forces in 1066, but many forget the less successful  French attempt at invasion, which took place in Fishguard,West Wales in 1797.
Irish revolutionary leader Wolfe Tone had received support from France to help end British rule in Ireland. Part of this plan was to organise French invasions of Britin to divert and weaken the British forces, with the overall aim of sending a much larger force to Ireland to overthrow the British there.
So on February 18th, 1797, a collection of 1400 French mercenaries and bailed convicts, led by an Irish-American named Colonel Tate set sail from Camaret . Tate's orders had been to land near Bristol, England's second largest city at the time, and destroy it, then to cross over into Wales and march north into Chester and Liverpool. From the outet though things did not go according to plan. Wind conditions made it impossible for the four French warships to land anywhere near Bristol, so Tate decided to set course to here in Cardigan Bay instead, hoping the Welsh would join their revolt against English rule and join their Revolutionary cause.
On Wednesday February 22nd, the French warships sailed into Fishguard Bay. Upon landing, the French invasion force seem to have run out of enthusiasm,  which could have been a result of having to survive for years on prison rations, and on all accounts were more interested in the rich food and fine wine of the locals, and after a looting spree many were simply  too drunk to do anything.Having angered the Welsh locals by seizing their food and wine, they quickly assembled an army of volunteer militia, army reservists, and sailors to fight the invasion, this attempted insurrection. And  after two days  the invasion had collapsed. Tate's's forces surendering to a local militia force led by Lord Cawdor on Febuary 25, 1797, with the French  being disarmed, and being marched of to imprisonment to nearby Haverfordwest .
It is iteresting to note  that the surrender agreement drawn up by Tate' officers referred to the British coming at them "with troops of the line to the number of several thousand."No such troops were anywhere near Fishguard , at the time, however hundreds of local Welsh women dressed in their tradional scarlet tunics and tall black felts had come too witness asny fighting between the French and the loal men of the militia, and under the influence of too much wine, these women could easily have been mistaken for British army Redcoats.
One of the women who is said to be the hero of the hour went by the name of "Jemima Fawr" (Jemima the Great) 47 year old Jemima Nicholas,  who was a local cobbler. She singlehandedly with nothing more than a  pitchfork in hand rounded up twelve Frenchmen, and locked them inside the local St Mary's Church.

She would become a Welsh heroine and was awarded a pension of £50 gor the rest of her life. After her death a memorial was raised to her, the lady who confronted the French invader armed only with a pitchfork.

As the wars against France stretched on, Napolean himself made his own plans to invade the UK, plns that were ony dashed by his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.
This moment in history has since been memoralized in the Last Invasion Tapestry, the work of more than 70 women who stitched for over  two years to coplete the project 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

International Mother Language Day

Click on picture to enlarge

Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development are of great importance for people and planet. Yet due to globaliation, they are increasingly under threat. When languages fade, so does the world's rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression, valuable resources, become lost.
Languages,like people are subsequently in a constant battle for survival. It is believed there are about 6000 languages that are spoken in the world of which 3000 are listed as endangered by UNESCO with 10 languages becoming extinct every year. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.
Consequently International Mother Language is held every year on February 21 since the year 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism/. The day to celebrate this bond was originally chosen by the United Nations in 1999 to celebrate four students who were shot and killed in 1952 by Pakistani police for protesting the right to use their own language, Bengali.
This bond between individuals and their languages, one that if broken is  forgotten for generations the UN recognises as a human right. Also with the rise of populist nationalism the threat of walls andsuspcion of integration , we should also worry what this means for migrant and Indigenous languages. After all language is a salient index of culture, and so any assault on cultural diversity is also an an assault on linguistic diversity.
Languages serves as powerful instrument of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. So all moves to promote the dissemation of mother tonques will serve not only to encourage linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world, but alse serves to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialgue.
International Mother Language Day is also a good opportunity to remind ourselves that children of migrants and Indigenous people have an international right to speak, grow up with, and celebrate their own heritage languages, wherever they reside. Languages enriches society, economic mobility and at end of the day is what makes us human.
For further information visit the UNESCO website  or visit the UN's International Mother Language Day web pages.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Against Gun Violence

At time of writing, according to the there have been,975 incidents, 1,922 deaths, 3,330 injuries, 71 children killed or injured, 377 teens killed or injured, 32 mass shooting, 41 officers shot or killed, 312 subject or suspect killed, 235 home invasions, 192 defensive use of guns, and 229 intentional shootings in the United States.
I wrote following poem in response.

Against Gun Violence

Sometimes it seems that hope runs out
There seems no end, to waves of violence.
No prayers or thoughts can break the cycle
This endless primal, destructive spiral,
Innocent lives getting lost everyday
Can we not simply destroy the ammunition,
Instead of trigger happiness, stop the madness
So that darkness no longer releases its deadly load,
Is it too late to halt the hate, lament all who've been lost
On blood stained streets, where flowers wither,
Tell the NRA no one has right to bare arms
The second amendment has no moral purpose,
Stop the bullets flying, shots from killing
With Gun control heal a wounded nation.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Remembering the fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War : The 81st anniversary of the Battle of Jarama

Today in history: marks the 81st anniversary of the Battle of Jarama,in the Spanish Civil War, which   was an attempt by General Franco's fascist forces to dislodge the anti-fascist lines along the river Jarama, just east of Madrid. Franco's troops forced back the anti-fascists, including the International Brigades, but after days of fierce fighting no breakthrough was achieved. Anti-fascist counterattacks along the captured ground likewise failed, resulting in heavy casualties to both sides. Many American anti-fascist volunteers from the Abraham Lincoln Brigades fought and died in this battle to stop the spread of fascism. 
 Jarama marked the beginning of a bruising and often dispirited campaign and witnessed one of the bloodiest battles of Spain's Civil War.. By the end of the first day of battle, the British batallion found itself with less than half the number they had set out with.On February 12th the British, deployed in the hills on the east bank of the river Jarama, in a place that became known as 'Suicide Valley",  the fascists were able to virtually surround the British Batallion  but even though they were outnumbered, they still  managed to keep the fascists at bay, but suffered  heavy losses.
The volunteers were a mixture of Communists, Labour Party members, socialists, trade unionists and other sympathisers, all bitterly opposed to the idea of fascism. They came primarily from the unemployed areas of Mersyside, Manchester, Scotland, Tyneside and London.On February the 18th the brigadiers launched a counter attack, but this was stopped by the fascists. Despite the poor conditons, the brigadiers managed to stand firm ,  As the men made their way up an outcrop that was later known as " Suicide Hill " they were mown down mercilessly  by machine gun fire. They had little chance.Of the 500 brave men only 140 survived, the memory of this battle haunting them for many years later. But the vital road that Franco needed to have cut remained open.
Today I remember those who throughout this conflict their faith and ideals remained intact,with their bravery, sacrifice and committment to their noble cause. Comrades that stood together and fought for good against  the evils of fascism.Ordinary people who made the extraordinary choice to leave their friends and family and fight in a brutal war far away from home, a common cause bringing them together, shoulder to shoulder with the workers and peasants of Spain fighting for their emancipation..
We should never forget this heroic struggle against the forces of fascism that remains today, the struggle continues, they shall continue to not pass. No pasaron. Remember the Internationale unites the human race.’

" It was in Spain  that my generation learned that one can be right but can be beaten , that force can vanquish spirit, that there are times when courage is not its own recompense. It is this doubtless , which so many, the world over feel the Spanish drama as a personal tragedy" -   Albert Camus

Battle of Jarama - John Lepper.

The sun warmed the valley
But no birds sang
The sky was rent with shrapnel
And metallic clang

Death stalked the olive trees
Picking his men
His leaden finger beckoned
Again and again

Dust rose from the roadside
A stifling cloud
Ambulances tore past
Klaxoning loud

Men torn by shell-shards lay
Still on the ground
The living sought shelter
Not to be found

Holding their hot rifles
Flushed with the fight
Sweat-streaked survivors
Willed for the night

With the coming  of darkness
Deep in the wood
A fox  howled to heaven
Smelling the blood.

Jarama Valley - Woody Guthrie

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Homeless in the World's largest Prison

These photographs were published on Wednesday by the Shehab News Agency, and  show a homeless palestinian family forced to live in a bus stop in the besiged  Gaza strip.
Ths bus stop at Saraya junction in Gaza city is what the family has from the weather - the world outside offers them none.
According to a recent study, 80% of the 2 million inhabitants of the coastal enclave beseiged by the occupier Egypt and Israel , live in poverty and 65%  in extreme poverty, with little access to the most basic serices.
 As over 80%  population depend on aid , the cuts to aid ( which have already been reduced before because of lack of funds )  by the Unied States will only worsen the situation. The U.S  announced on Jan 16 to cut 67 million Us dollars from 125 million dollars that it had planned to provide to the UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza. The blockade has pushed Gaza's population into frther poverty as unemplyment rates hit 45%. The illegal blockade has been in place for over a decade , devastating Gaza's economy , causing widespread destruction and left most people cut off from the outside world. 
The humanitarian needs are enormouse. People struggle to access clean water, food, medical education and to rebild their homes. The blockade  prevents  most of them  from leaving Gaza or trading with the  outside world and restricts vital  reconstruction material from entering.
Over 60% of Palestinian residents in Gaza are living in food insecurity as  many rely on foreign food aid, according to international organizations and United Nations agencies.The Crisis has delibertely been made in the beseiged Gaza by its beseigers and their enablers in the so called 'international community'.
The UN Security Council held a cosultative session on Wednesday to discuss the deteriorting situation in the Gaza Strip following warnings of a possible collapse of basic  services in the Palestinian war-torn enclave, amid calls for urgent intervention to end the suffering of the Palestinians there.



Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Love is Liberation.

                                                    Love is Liberation
                                                    Found In the pulse of everyday
                                                    For rich and poor to ever seek
                                                    Let it reveal it's wild contagion
                                                    A soothing plaque to heal world
                                                    Touching the void of emptiness
                                                    Freeing minds and captive souls
                                                    Stretching to infinity, travelling on waves
                                                    In patterns of endless recurrence
                                                    More than enough to go round
                                                    Filling the air with dizziness
                                                    An essence that cannot be caged
                                                    We can all be free within it's grasp
                                                    Casting warm shadows on our lives
                                                    A taste of freedom we can embrace
                                                    Running relentlessly through veins
                                                    Generating kindness, shows no fear
                                                    Sharing the gift of understanding
                                                    Opening eyes to magical emotion
                                                    Can unshackle hearts from tears.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

After Dresden (13/2/45 - 13/2/18).

Evil falls from all sides
Spits its deadly poison,
In Dresden everyone felt
Horror unimaginable,
No one left alive could escape
As people burned in flames,
Left a mark that forever stained
Releasing years of mental turmoil,
Burning phosphorus still today falls
From, Gaza, Iraq to Syria,
Civilian casualties lost forever
Vanished under cruel clouds of ideology
Skin and bone melting and disintergrating,
Rising today as spectral ghosts.

Poem can also be found here :

Free Ahed Tamimi

Palestininian  protest icon Ahed Tamimi , who I have written about previously, is back in a military court today today , facing 10 years in prison,  an individual  that for many symbolizes the Palestinians' David vs Goliath struggle against military occupation, high profile  entertainers, scholars, and civil rights icons  have just recently signed a just released letter in support of her and other Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel.On behalf of those  who should be able to live out their childhood without  the unrelenting encroachment of illegal Israeli settlements,  occupation and military courts where they face 99%  prosecution rates.
The signatories include prominent actors Danny Glover, Rosario Dawson, Grey's Anatomy star Jesse Williams and the Practice's LisaGay Hamilton, musicians including  Vic Mensa, Talib Kweli and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, civil rights leaders Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza ( xo-founders of Black Lives Matter), Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander, political commenttors Marc Lamont-Hill and Angela Rye, and Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman and super bowl champion Michael Bennett.

There are also  daily Teitterstorms  organised by the Facebook page Free the Tamimi Women, which one could support.  I believe we should all support those who dare to stand up to repression. Take action stand up for Ahed now.
Tell Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to release her without delay.

You can also add your name to this open letter targetting all World leaders

Monday, 12 February 2018

Noam Chomsky, explains the standard technique of privatisation:

Noam Chomsky , world reknowned political analyst explainsthe standard technigue of privatisation.

"That's the standard technique of privatisation, defund, make sure things don't work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital."

Currently the NHS is being given away and the  cost of rail travel soars, part of a meticulously planned ideological assault on the fabric of British society under Tory rule. who want to defund, demoralise , then privatise.The end result being that the wealth of our nation is left in the hands of a few , this is not a good thing. Lets not mistake it, the government is focussed on privatising public sector entities, managing them with a view not to revive them, but to prepare a case for their privatisation. Policies designed to extract wealth from the poor and weak at the bottom and transfer it to the already fat cats at the top of the rotten heap.
Lets hope there is a return soon to days when people mattered more than profits. If this makes you angry reshare  and continue to fight against it, we must take back control of all our essential services..

Noam Chomsky on Privatisation

Friday, 9 February 2018

For now.

Before we make progress
Take some time to breathe,
Offer no explanation
Keep searching for what your looking for,
Imagination beyond caged confinement
Allow your pens to release defiance.
During the toughest of times , band together
With songs of immediacy and strength .
Humanity's conscience arriving in one breath
We are the future, we have always been,
Already committed, carry on assignement
Find resilience, some reallignement.

Possibilities appear, accellerate towards us
At the rivers edge, leave behind your chains,
Westward, seaward, deep and far
Follow rising tides, keep clinging on
The power we have is what we can share
Onwards we blaze, side by side.

Be creative, innovative and autonomous
Do not be controlled, afraid , do what they tell you,
The difference from yesterday, is now we  have no fear
Our expectations necessary,  survival depends on not getting stranded,
Somethings in the air, and there's no going back
Be an example, active force for change.

Never be limited, in ability to make earth better place
Together strong, we can rearrange,
Doors keep opening, no longer shut in face
The world is ours for the taking
Glimmers of hope, carried with purest faith
Power given back to the people.