Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Owen Smith reacts to Corbyn's lead in the polls


I needed a chuckle, Jeremy Corbyn looks set to achieve a second landslide victory in the Labour leadership election, according to a YouGov poll released this week. The headline figures put Corbyn at 62 per cent of the vote, with his rival Owen Smith staggering behind on 38 per cent. If such a margin were to hold for the official election, Jeremy Corbyn would be elected with an even greater mandate than the one he received less than a year ago. 
The reason that Corbynism works I guess is because it is real; in comparison, everything Smith does looks pre-packaged and false. When it comes to Jeremy Corbyn, what you see is what you get. You may not like that – and that’s your right – but it’s clear that across the Labour membership, Corbyn is liked and admired.
 But if you are a Corbyn supporter do not be complacent - we do not know if this poll took place before some of the purges of members who lost their vote. So keep voting, and if you have not received your email or your ballot - complain! If you have been purged then this is what to do here, to get your vote back"



Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Emma Goldman (27/6/1869 -14/5/40) - Patriotism, a Menace to Liberty



"WHAT is patriotism? Is it love of one’s birthplace, the place of childhood’s recollections and hopes, dreams and aspirations ? Is it the place where, in childlike naivete, we would watch the fleeting clouds, and wonder why we, too, could not run so swiftly? The place where we would count the milliard glittering stars, terror-stricken lest each one “an eye should be,” piercing the very depths of our little souls? Is it the place where we would listen to the music of the birds, and long to have wings to fly, even as they, to distant lands? Or the place where we would sit at mother’s knee, enraptured by wonderful tales of great deeds and conquests ? In short, is it love for the spot, every inch representing dear and precious recollections of a happy, joyous, and playful childhood?
If that were patriotism, few American men of today could be called upon to be patriotic, since the place of play has been turned into factory, mill, and mine, while deafening sounds of machinery have replaced the music of the birds. Nor can we longer hear the tales of great deeds, for the stories our mothers tell today are but those of sorrow, tears, and grief.
What, then, is patriotism? “Patriotism, sir, is the last resort of scoundrels,” said Dr. Johnson. Leo Tolstoy, the greatest anti-patriot of our times, defines patriotism as the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers; a trade that requires better equipment for the exercise of man-killing than the making of such necessities of life as shoes, clothing, and houses; a trade that guarantees better returns and greater glory than that of the average workingman.
Gustave Hervé, another great anti-patriot, justly calls patriotism a superstition - one far more injurious, brutal, and inhumane than religion. The superstition of religion originated in man’s inability to explain natural phenomena. That is, when primitive man heard thunder or saw the lightning, he could not account for either, and therefore concluded that back of them must be a force greater than himself. Similarly he saw a supernatural force in the rain, and in the various other changes in nature. Patriotism, on the other hand, is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit.
Indeed, conceit, arrogance, and egotism are the essentials of patriotism. Let me illustrate. Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.
The inhabitants of the other spots reason in like manner, of course, with the result that, from early infancy, the mind of the child is poisoned with bloodcurdling stories about the Germans, the French, the Italians, Russians, etc. When the child has reached manhood, he is thoroughly saturated with the belief that he is chosen by the Lord himself to defend his country against the attack or invasion of any foreigner. It is for that purpose that we are clamoring for a greater army and navy, more battleships and ammunition. It is for that purpose that America has within a short time spent four hundred million dollars. Just think of it - four hundred million dollars taken from the produce of the people. For surely it is not the rich who contribute to patriotism. They are cosmopolitans, perfectly at home in every land. We in America know well the truth of this. Are not our rich Americans Frenchmen in France, Germans in Germany, or Englishmen in England? And do they not squander with cosmopolitan grace fortunes coined by American factory children and cotton slaves? Yes, theirs is the patriotism that will make it possible to send messages of condolence to a despot like the Russian Tsar, when any mishap befalls him, as President Roosevelt did in the name of his people, when Sergius was punished by the Russian revolutionists.
It is a patriotism that will assist the arch-murderer, Diaz, in destroying thousands of lives in Mexico, or that will even aid in arresting Mexican revolutionists on American soil and keep them incarcerated in American prisons, without the slightest cause or reason.
But, then, patriotism is not for those who represent wealth and power. It is good enough for the people. It reminds one of the historic wisdom of Frederick the Great, the bosom friend of Voltaire, who said: “Religion is a fraud, but it must be maintained for the masses.”
That patriotism is rather a costly institution, no one will doubt after considering the following statistics. The progressive increase of the expenditures for the leading armies and navies of the world during the last quarter of a century is a fact of such gravity as to startle every thoughtful student of economic problems. It may be briefly indicated by dividing the time from 1881 to 1905 into five-year periods, and noting the disbursements of several great nations for army and navy purposes during the first and last of those periods. From the first to the last of the periods noted the expenditures of Great Britain increased from $2,101,848,936 to $4,143,226,885, those of France from $3,324,500,000 to $3,455,109,900, those of Germany from $725,000,200 to $2,700,375,600, those of the United States from $1,275,500,750 to $2,650,900,450, those of Russia from $1,900,975,500 to $5,250,445,100, those of Italy from $1,600,975,750 to $1,755,500,100, and those of Japan from $182,900,500 to $700,925,475.
The military expenditures of each of the nations mentioned increased in each of the five-year periods under review. During the entire interval from 1881 to 1905 Great Britain’s outlay for her army increased fourfold, that of the United States was tripled, Russia’s was doubled, that of Germany increased 35 per cent., that of France about 15 per cent., and that of Japan nearly 500 per cent. If we compare the expenditures of these nations upon their armies with their total expenditures for all the twenty-five years ending with I905, the proportion rose as follows:
In Great Britain from 20 per cent. to 37; in the United States from 15 to 23; in France from 16 to 18; in Italy from 12 to 15; in Japan from 12 to 14. On the other hand, it is interesting to note that the proportion in Germany decreased from about 58 per cent. to 25, the decrease being due to the enormous increase in the imperial expenditures for other purposes, the fact being that the army expenditures for the period of 190I-5 were higher than for any five-year period preceding. Statistics show that the countries in which army expenditures are greatest, in proportion to the total national revenues, are Great Britain, the United States, Japan, France, and Italy, in the order named.
The showing as to the cost of great navies is equally impressive. During the twenty-five years ending with 1905 naval expenditures increased approximately as follows: Great Britain, 300 per cent.; France 60 per cent.; Germany 600 per cent.; the United States 525 per cent.; Russia 300 per cent.; Italy 250 per cent.; and Japan, 700 per cent. With the exception of Great Britain, the United States spends more for naval purposes than any other nation, and this expenditure bears also a larger proportion to the entire national disbursements than that of any other power. In the period 1881-5, the expenditure for the United States navy was $6.20 out of each $100 appropriated for all national purposes; the amount rose to $6.60 for the next five-year period, to $8.10 for the next, to $11.70 for the next, and to $16.40 for 1901-5. It is morally certain that the outlay for the current period of five years will show a still further increase.
The rising cost of militarism may be still further illustrated by computing it as a per capita tax on population. From the first to the last of the five-year periods taken as the basis for the comparisons here given, it has risen as follows: In Great Britain, from $18.47 to $52.50; in France, from $19.66 to $23.62; in Germany, from $10.17 to $15.51; in the United States, from $5.62 to $13.64; in Russia, from $6.14 to $8.37; in Italy, from $9.59 to $11.24, and in Japan from 86 cents to $3.11.
It is in connection with this rough estimate of cost per capita that the economic burden of militarism is most appreciable. The irresistible conclusion from available data is that the increase of expenditure for army and navy purposes is rapidly surpassing the growth of population in each of the countries considered in the present calculation. In other words, a continuation of the increased demands of militarism threatens each of those nations with a progressive exhaustion both of men and resources.
The awful waste that patriotism necessitates ought to be sufficient to cure the man of even average intelligence from this disease. Yet patriotism demands still more. The people are urged to be patriotic and for that luxury they pay, not only by supporting their “defenders,” but even by sacrificing their own children. Patriotism requires allegiance to the flag, which means obedience and readiness to kill father, mother, brother, sister.
The usual contention is that we need a standing army to protect the country from foreign invasion. Every intelligent man and woman knows, however, that this is a myth maintained to frighten and coerce the foolish. The governments of the world, knowing each other’s interests, do not invade each other. They have learned that they can gain much more by international arbitration of disputes than by war and conquest. Indeed, as Carlyle said, “War is a quarrel between two thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take boys from one village and another village, stick them into uniforms, equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against each other.”
It does not require much wisdom to trace every war back to a similar cause. Let us take our own Spanish-American war, supposedly a great and patriotic event in the history of the United States. How our hearts burned with indignation against the atrocious Spaniards! True, our indignation did not flare up spontaneously. It was nurtured by months of newspaper agitation, and long after Butcher Weyler had killed off many noble Cubans and outraged many Cuban women. Still, in justice to the American Nation be it said, it did grow indignant and was willing to fight, and that it fought bravely. But when the smoke was over, the dead buried, and the cost of the war came back to the people in an increase in the price of commodities and rent - that is, when we sobered up from our patriotic spree it suddenly dawned on us that the cause of the Spanish-American war was the consideration of the price of sugar; or, to be more explicit, that the lives, blood, and money of the American people were used to protect the interests of American capitalists, which were threatened by the Spanish government. That this is not an exaggeration, but is based on absolute facts and figures, is best proven by the attitude of the American government to Cuban labor. When Cuba was firmly in the clutches of the United States, the very soldiers sent to liberate Cuba were ordered to shoot Cuban workingmen during the great cigarmakers’ strike, which took place shortly after the war.
Nor do we stand alone in waging war for such causes. The curtain is beginning to be lifted on the motives of the terrible Russo-Japanese war, which cost so much blood and tears. And we see again that back of the fierce Moloch of war stands the still fiercer god of Commercialism. Kuropatkin, the Russian Minister of War during the Russo-Japanese struggle, has revealed the true secret behind the latter. The Tsar and his Grand Dukes, having invested money in Corean concessions, the war was forced for the sole purpose of speedily accumulating large fortunes.
The contention that a standing army and navy is the best security of peace is about as logical as the claim that the most peaceful citizen is he who goes about heavily armed. The experience of every-day life fully proves that the armed individual is invariably anxious to try his strength. The same is historically true of governments. Really peaceful countries do not waste life and energy in war preparations, With the result that peace is maintained.
However, the clamor for an increased army and navy is not due to any foreign danger. It is owing to the dread of the growing discontent of the masses and of the international spirit among the workers. It is to meet the internal enemy that the Powers of various countries are preparing themselves; an enemy, who, once awakened to consciousness, will prove more dangerous than any foreign invader.
The powers that have for centuries been engaged in enslaving the masses have made a thorough study of their psychology. They know that the people at large are like children whose despair, sorrow, and tears can be turned into joy with a little toy. And the more gorgeously the toy is dressed, the louder the colors, the more it will appeal to the million-headed child.
An army and navy represents the people’s toys. To make them more attractive and acceptable, hundreds and thousands of dollars are being spent for the display of these toys. That was the purpose of the American government in equipping a fleet and sending it along the Pacific coast, that every American citizen should be made to feel the pride and glory of the United States. The city of San Francisco spent one hundred thousand dollars for the entertainment of the fleet; Los Angeles, sixty thousand; Seattle and Tacoma, about one hundred thousand. To entertain the fleet, did I say? To dine and wine a few superior officers, while the “brave boys” had to mutiny to get sufficient food. Yes, two hundred and sixty thousand dollars were spent on fireworks, theatre parties, and revelries, at a time when men, women, and child}en through the breadth and length of the country were starving in the streets; when thousands of unemployed were ready to sell their labor at any price.
Two hundred and sixty thousand dollars! What could not have been accomplished with such an enormous sum ? But instead of bread and shelter, the children of those cities were taken to see the fleet, that it may remain, as one of the newspapers said, “a lasting memory for the child.”
A wonderful thing to remember, is it not? The implements of civilized slaughter. If the mind of the child is to be poisoned with such memories, what hope is there for a true realization of human brotherhood ?
We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon helpless citizens. We are ready to hang, electrocute, or lynch anyone, who, from economic necessity, will risk his own life in the attempt upon that of some industrial magnate. Yet our hearts swell with pride at the thought that America is becoming the most powerful nation on earth, and that it will eventually plant her iron foot on the necks of all other nations.
Such is the logic of patriotism.
Considering the evil results that patriotism is fraught with for the average man, it is as nothing compared with the insult and injury that patriotism heaps upon the soldier himself - that poor, deluded victim of superstition and ignorance. He, the savior of his country, the protector of his nation - what has patriotism in store for him? A life of slavish submission, vice, and perversion, during peace; a life of danger, exposure, and death, during war.
While on a recent lecture tour in San Francisco, I visited the Presidio, the most beautiful spot overlooking the Bay and Golden Gate Park. Its purpose should have been playgrounds for children, gardens and music for the recreation of the weary. Instead it is made ugly, dull, and gray by barracks - barracks wherein the rich would not allow their dogs to dwell. In these miserable shanties soldiers are herded like cattle; here they waste their young days, polishing the boots and brass buttons of their superior officers. Here, too, I saw the distinction of classes: sturdy sons of a free Republic, drawn up in line like convicts, saluting every passing shrimp of a lieutenant. American equality, degrading manhood and elevating the uniform!
Barrack life further tends to develop tendencies of sexual perversion. It is gradually producing along this line results similar to European military conditions. Havelock Ellis, the noted writer on sex psychology, has made a thorough study of the subject. I quote: “Some of the barracks are great centers of male prostitution.... The number of soldiers who prostitute themselves is greater than we are willing to believe. It is no exaggeration to say that in certain regiments the presumption is in favor of the venality of the majority of the men.... On summer evenings Hyde Park and the neighborhood of Albert Gate are full of guardsmen and others plying a lively trade, and with little disguise, in uniform or out.... In most cases the proceeds form a comfortable addition to Tommy Atkins’ pocket money.”
To what extent this perversion has eaten its way into the army and navy can best be judged from the fact that special houses exist for this form of prostitution. The practice is not limited to England; it is universal. “Soldiers are no less sought after in France than in England or in Germany, and special houses for military prostitution exist both in Paris and the garrison towns.”
Had Mr. Havelock Ellis included America in his investigation of sex perversion, he would have found that the same conditions prevail in our army and navy as in those of other countries. The growth of the standing army inevitably adds to the spread of sex perversion; the barracks are the incubators.
Aside from the sexual effects of barrack life, it also tends to unfit the soldier for useful labor after leaving the army. Men, skilled in a trade, seldom enter the army or navy, but even they, after a military experience, find themselves totally unfitted for their former occupations. Having acquired habits of idleness and a taste for excitement and adventure, no peaceful pursuit can content them. Released from the army, they can turn to no useful work. But it is usually the social riff-raff, discharged prisoners and the like, whom either the struggle for life or their own inclination drives into the ranks. These, their military term over, again turn to their former life of crime, more brutalized and degraded than before. It is a well-known fact that in our prisons there is a goodly number of ex-soldiers; while, on the other hand, the army and navy are to a great extent plied with ex-convicts.
Of all the evil results I have just described none seems to me so detrimental to human integrity as the spirit patriotism has produced in the case of Private William Buwalda. Because he foolishly believed that one can be a soldier and exercise his rights as a man at the same time, the military authorities punished him severely. True, he had served his country fifteen years, during which time his record was unimpeachable. According to Gen. Funston, who reduced Buwalda’s sentence to three years, “the first duty of an officer or an enlisted man is unquestioned obedience and loyalty to the government, and it makes no difference whether he approves of that government or not.” Thus Funston stamps the true character of allegiance. According to him, entrance into the army abrogates the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
What a strange development of patriotism that turns a thinking being into a loyal machine !
In justification of this most outrageous sentence of Buwalda, Gen. Funston tells the American people that the soldier’s action was “a serious crime equal to treason.” Now, what did this “terrible crime” really consist of ? Simply in this: William Buwalda was one of fifteen hundred people who attended a public meeting in San Francisco; and, oh, horrors, he shook hands with the speaker, Emma Goldman. A terrible crime, indeed, which the General calls “a great military offense, infinitely worse than desertion.”
Can there be a greater indictment against patriotism than that it will thus brand a man a criminal, throw him into prison, and rob him of the results of fifteen years of faithful service?
Buwalda gave to his country the best years of his life and his very manhood. But all that was as nothing. Patriotism is inexorable and, like all insatiable monsters, demands all or nothing. It does not admit that a soldier is also a human being, who has a right to his own feelings and opinions, his own inclinations and ideas. No, patriotism can not admit of that. That is the lesson which Buwalda was made to learn; made to learn at a rather costly, though not at a useless price. When he returned to freedom, he had lost his position in the army, but he regained his self-respect. After all, that is worth three years of imprisonment.
A writer on the military conditions of America, in a recent article, commented on the power of the military man over the civilian in Germany. He said, among other things, that if our Republic had no other meaning than to guarantee all citizens equal rights, it would have just cause for existence. I am convinced that the writer was not in Colorado during the patriotic regime of General Bell. He probably would have changed his mind had he seen how, in the name of patriotism and the Republic, men were thrown into bull-pens, dragged about, driven across the border, and subjected to all kinds of indignities. Nor is that Colorado incident the only one in the growth of military power in the United States. There is hardly a strike where troops and militia do not come to the rescue of those in power, and where they do not act as arrogantly and brutally as do the men wearing the Kaiser’s uniform. Then, too, we have the Dick military law. Had the writer forgotten that?
A great misfortune with most of our writers is that they are absolutely ignorant on current events, or that, lacking honesty, they will not speak of these matters. And so it has come to pass that the Dick military law was rushed through Congress with little discussion and still less publicity - a law which gives the President the power to turn a peaceful citizen into a bloodthirsty man-killer, supposedly for the defense of the country, in reality for the protection of the interests of that particular party whose mouthpiece the President happens to be.
Our writer claims that militarism can never become such a power in America as abroad, since it is voluntary with us, while compulsory in the Old World. Two very important facts, however, the gentleman forgets to consider. First, that conscription has created in Europe a deep-seated hatred of militarism among all classes of society. Thousands of young recruits enlist under protest and, once in the army, they will use every possible means to desert. Second, that it is the compulsory feature of militarism which has created a tremendous anti-militarist movement, feared by European Powers far more than anything else. After all, the greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism. The very moment the latter is undermined, capitalism will totter. True, we have no conscription; that is, men are not usually forced to enlist in the army, but we have developed a far more exacting and rigid force - necessity. Is it not a fact that during industrial depressions there is a tremendous increase in the number of enlistments ? The trade of militarism may not be either lucrative or honorable, but it is better than tramping the country in search of work, standing in the bread line, or sleeping in municipal lodging houses. After all, it means thirteen dollars per month, three meals a day, and a place to sleep. Yet even necessity is not sufficiently strong a factor to bring into the army an element of character and manhood. No wonder our military authorities complain of the “poor material” enlisting in the army and navy. This admission is a very encouraging sign. It proves that there is still enough of the spirit of independence and love of liberty left in the average American to risk starvation rather than don the uniform.
Thinking men and women the world over are beginning to realize that patriotism is too narrow and limited a conception to meet the necessities of our time. The centralization of power has brought into being an international feeling of solidarity among the oppressed nations of the world; a solidarity which represents a greater harmony of interests between the workingman of America and his brothers abroad than between the American miner and his exploiting compatriot; a solidarity which fears not foreign invasion, because it is bringing all the workers to the point when they will say to their masters, “Go and do your own killing. We have done it long enough for you.” This solidarity is awakening the consciousness of even the soldiers, they, too, being flesh of the flesh of the great human family. A solidarity that has proven infallible more than once during past struggles, and which has been the impetus inducing the Parisian soldiers, during the Commune of 1871, to refuse to obey when ordered to shoot their brothers. It has given courage to the men who mutinied on Russian warships during recent years. It will eventually bring about the uprising of all the oppressed and downtrodden against their international exploiters.
The proletariat of Europe has realized the great force of that solidarity and has, as a result, inaugurated a war against patriotism and its bloody spectre, militarism. Thousands of men fill the prisons of France, Germany, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries, because they dared to defy the ancient superstition. Nor is the movement limited to the working class; it has embraced representatives in all stations of life, its chief exponents being men and women prominent in art, science, and letters.
America will have to follow suit. The spirit of militarism has already permeated all walks of life. Indeed, I am convinced that militarism is growing a greater danger here than anywhere else, because of the many bribes capitalism holds out to those whom it wishes to destroy.
The beginning has already been made in the schools. Evidently the government holds to the Jesuitical conception, “Give me the child mind, and I will mould the man.” Children are trained in military tactics, the glory of military achievements extolled in the curriculum, and the youthful minds perverted to suit the government. Further, the youth of the country is appealed to in glaring posters to join the army and navy. “A fine chance to see the world !” cries the governmental huckster. Thus innocent boys are morally shanghaied into patriotism, and the military Moloch strides conquering through the Nation.
The American workingman has suffered so much at the hands of the soldier, State and Federal, that he is quite justified in his disgust with, and his opposition to, the uniformed parasite. However, mere denunciation will not solve this great problem. What we need is a propaganda of education for the soldier: anti-patriotic literature that will enlighten him as to the real horrors of his trade, and that will awaken his consciousness to his true relation to the man to whose labor he owes his very existence. It is precisely this that the authorities fear most. It is already high treason for a soldier to attend a radical meeting. No doubt they will also stamp it high treason for a soldier to read a radical pamphlet. But, then, has not authority from time immemorial stamped every step of progress as treasonable? Those, however, who earnestly strive for social reconstruction can well afford to face all that; for it is probably even more important to carry the truth into the barracks than into the factory. When we have undermined the patriotic lie, we shall have cleared the path for that great structure wherein all nationalities shall be united into a universal brotherhood, - a truly FREE SOCIETY.

 Emma Goldman, 1911; Patriotism, a Menace to Liberty


 Emma Goldman on Patriotism

Read by Sandra Oh




Emma Goldman, 1911; Patriotism, a Menace to Liberty

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Uncertainty


Welcome friends
Nothing new here today,
The same old points of rememberance
The home environment still bathed in blue,
Clouds in slow motion dark and grey
Waiting for thunder to bellow,
Lightnings electrons to releases a spark
The unapproachable and unknowable,
The quantum uncertainty still at large,
Schrödinger’s cat inside Pandora’s box
The hard-drive clambering among confusion, 
Life currently debauched by profiteers
The drowning despair of capitalism,
The earth and lovers slowly dying
A future that remains unknown, 
Time now to turn up the music loud
Do a spiral dance, pause for reflection,
As the universe passes by in ambivalence.

Try to cling on to  threads of hope
Seek and clasp new forms of clarity,
From depths of moments indecision
Keep on looking for signs to rearrange,
Through the blur and scope of time
Different forms of distraction to keep engaged.
Allow mind like a compass to pass through the haze
As darkness falls, the day takes another shape,
Fresh currents emerge to engulf consciousness
To combat feelings and paths of uncertainty,
In glistening dawn,  distraction  dissolves,
Mindstreams of  exhaustion might be resolved.
.

.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Rawabi - A city of hope



Palestinians see the West Bank, which Israel captured in the Six-Day War in 1967, as part of their independent state, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Under the Oslo Accords reached two decades ago, the Palestinian government now rules about a third of the territory. The rest remains under Israeli control and is home to some 370,000 Jewish settlers. The last round of peace talks broke down two years ago, and prospects for resuming negotiations—much less reaching an agreement—are dim.
But after years of setbacks, Palestinians are proudly starting to move into their first planned city, Rawabiwhich is currently being built in the West Bank. This move is not just about real estate but also a symbol of Palestinians quest for statehood after nearly 50 years of Israeli military occupation.This privately financed city project in the heart of occupied West Bank symbolises both a possible future for the beleaguered Palestinian people.
That it has got this far in a place under military rule for almost half a century, and in the teeth of political obstruction, controversy and criticism, is a testament to the vision of its founder and driving force, a Palestinian-American entrepeneur called Bashar al-Masri,who dreamed up Rawabi, or hills in Arabic, in 2007. Work only began in 2012.Palestinian critics accused it of "normalising the occupation", of making deals with Israel for private profit. Jewish settlers on nearby hills watch and worry as Rawabi rises from the ground."I am defying the occupation," insists  Masri “Some people say Rawabi sugarcoats the occupation. I disagree. Rawabi is being built despite the occupation. We expose the occupation by our battle for basic things like water and a road.” For the last nine-years the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has created multiple delays in the development of the city. But the last hurdle has been the much needed approval for a water hookup from the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee.According to a 1995 interim agreement under the Oslo Accords, the JWC must approve water and sewage projects for Israelis and Palestinian in the West Bank. Although its first batch of apartment buildings is finished, homeowners have been unable to move in for the past year because the city lacked water. Masri said one of the major hurdles in starting Rawabi was getting approval from Israel for an access road and water supply to the city, which took years. "Dealing with occupation is not dealing with a proper nation," he said. "It's dealing with an ugly system."
Water has not been the only problem though. Rawabi is situated in Area A, the 18% of the West Bank that is under Palestinian control. But access to the city lies through Area C, the 60% that is under full Israeli control. Masri had to negotiate for permission to build a road on which trucks could deliver construction materials and cars and buses carry Rawabi workers – and, eventually, give Rawabi residents access to the rest of the West Bank.
Rawabi which is north of Ramallah perched on a once desolate hilltop, is the first Palestinian city being built according to a modern urban design plan. The organized layout and modern facilities are in jarring contrast to chaotic Palestinian towns and villages in the area. It now has a yearly renewable permit to use a narrow road that passes through an adjacent 1-kilometer stretch under Israeli control. A pipeline, which passes through the same area, brings in 300 cubic meters of water a day—insufficient for the residents as well as the construction that's underway.Additional water is currently being brought in on tankers, and some people supplement their supply from a nearby village. Masri said his next battle is to triple both the width of the seven-meter road and the water supply.Currently 250 families live in the city. That population is expected to swell to 60,000 when construction ends in about five years. A three-bedroom apartment averages about $100,000, about 25 percent less than in the main Palestinian West Bank city of Ramallah nearby.At the heart of Rawabi will be the city center where art and culture will enjoy center stage,along with a large amphitheater that can hold 12,000 people, Rawabi now boasts also an industrial zone, schools, and the first big Western-style open-air shopping center in the West Bank. Such attractions lumped together in one city are unheard of in Palestinian areas.There is a mosque under construction and also a church which will serve the Palestinian Christian minority. About 10 percent of Rawabi residents are expected to be Christian.
Meanwhile though in sharp contrast no place in Palestine is less like Rawabi than Gaza. Sadly two years after the last of the three wars in six years whole districts lie in ruins, families are living in homes missing large sections of walls and roofs.  In these desolate streets there is neither electricity nor water and families say bitterly they are forgotten. The war displaced 500,00 people and 90,000 are displaced today, and 1.3 million people need aid, according to the UN.
Only 40% of the $3.5 billion pledged for reconstruction after the 2014 war has been delivered. The most basic infrastructure is in tatters, only kept functioning at all by resourceful engineers and administrators. In districts where there is electricity the cuts are sometimes 18 hours at a time. Ninety per cent of the water is contaminated. Stinking lakes of untreated sewage lie right by where people live and a visitor must cover the nose to bear driving close. UN technical reports have said that by 2020 Gaza will be unliveable – mainly because of the water crisis. One teacher said simply, “our life is already hell.” During our visit to his office patients twice burst in, and only agreed to wait because he was seeing “foreigners”.
In addition Israeli airstrikes still hit the Strip – as recently as last week. Even worse is the eight year blockade of the 1.8 million people — internationally recognised as collective punishment breaching international law.
Rawabi though  the first Palestinian city to be established in thousands of years can at least at a time of growing malaise over a standstill in Middle East peace efforts, offer some source of pride, hope and excitement for the Palestinian people while at the same time not distracting from the harsh realities of life under occupation.


Israeli settlement Ateret in background as the Palestinian national flag flies from the highest point of Rawabi

              A large amphitheater will hold about 12,000 people in the entertainment complex.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Letter of support to Standing Rock: Stop pipelines, climate change, and capitalism


Dakota Access—a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP—has proposed a $3.7 billion, 1,168-mile pipeline that will transfer up to 570,000 of crude oil per day from the  North Dakota Bakken region through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois.The potential of oil leaks would contaminate the only source of water for the reservation. While Dakota Access claims oil leaks are unlikely, an oil leak from a separate pipeline in North Dakota was discovered (8/15/16) to have leaked over 500 barrels of oil since the leak began on July 19, 2016. You can read the article here: http://bit.ly/2aVm5cv. A leak like this from the Dakota Access pipeline would leave the Standing Rock Sioux without any clean water. However, for the past several months, native American communities and landowners have been battling the construction of the DAPL.
A couple hundred tribal members went to the construction site on Aug. 12 with a vow to stop the pipeline. And to make that point clear, Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault chose to be arrested after crossing into the construction zone. Since that day, hundreds of Native Americans and allies from across the country have been camped near the Missouri River to join the protest. For now, construction has ceased while a court hears the tribe’s suit against the Army Corps for failing to comply with environmental and historic preservation laws.
The people of Standing Rock, often called Sioux, warn that a potential oil spill into the river would threaten the water, land, health  and sacred lands of their reservation.Their fight is also against a system of domination that has been imposed on the original nations.The Hunkpapa Nation (including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe) is part of the larger Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires of the Teton Nation), sometimes known as “the Great Sioux Nation.” The United States regards the entire geographical area of the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota (Oceti Sakowin) territory as part of the national territory of the United States. The United States sees itself as a nation that possesses the territory of original Native nations “in full sovereignty and dominion.But this sovereignty is really an unjust form of domination that limits human freedom, the government stealing indigenous peoples land for corporate profits.I admire the bravery of these people prepared to stand up for the earth and their health. I stand with the Lakota Tribe and Protesters against the pipeline, I hope they keep fighting and never give up.


Please sign the following petition:-

Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

 https://www.change.org/p/jo-ellen-darcy-stop-the-dakota-access-pipeline




The following statement is reposted from the website of The Red Nation.

August 21, 2016
Brave resisters and water protectors descended on the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site to halt its construction as it lurches towards the Mni Sose, the Missouri River, at Cannonball, ND. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Oceti Sakowin (The Great Sioux Nation) have opposed the pipeline and all pipelines trespassing treaty territory, as defined by the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie treaties. The proposed 1,172-mile pipeline would transport Bakken-produced heavy crude oil across the major freshwater source for countless human and nonhuman lives, the Missouri River.
The Red Nation calls on everyone to support resisters and water protectors as they put their lives on the line to halt this devastating wasicu, fat-taker capitalist pipeline. On July 27, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia to enforce the tribe’s federally protected rights against the pipeline’s construction. On August 24, Standing Rock as well as several other Native Nations will have a court hearing to undo the US Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of the pipeline.
[UPDATE: At the August 24 hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, as hundreds rallied outside, the judge announced that the ruling would be made on September 9 and the next hearing would be September 14.]
In violation of treaty law, the Corps negotiated the pipeline’s passage with the Texas-based pipeline corporation Energy Transfers through treaty territory despite massive protests citing the desecration of burial sites and culturally sensitive areas as well as threatening clean drinking water for millions. The Corps is also responsible for the continued violation of Native water rights by altering the flow of the Missouri River. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Corps, working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, constructed 107 dams and six major dams on Native treaty territory. These dams flooded 611,642 acres. More than half of this land was Native land and resulted in the removal of 600 Native families. The Corps continues to violate Native water rights as defined by the Winters Doctrine, which prohibits altering the flow of rivers or the selling of water rights within original Native treaty territory even if that territory has been diminished. Natives and non-Natives still suffer from the devastating effects of these dams and forced relocation. The Missouri River has never recovered and 90% of its wild game and plants were annihilated.
In typical industry fashion, the public and vulnerable Native communities will pay for cleanup and contamination when — not if — the pipeline breaks.
Bakken oil and gas production, as it peaks, has already devastated the Native and non-Native communities, leaving the land and water dead and communities torn apart. Yet, oil and gas companies continue reap huge profits as Bakken jobs decline, the land becomes more unlivable, and the social malaise of violence inherent to boomtown economies continues to wreak havoc.
Meanwhile, the Energy Transfers corporation is attempting to sue the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for protesting the pipeline and law enforcement is arresting resisters and water protectors, and the true criminals walk free. Instead of merely stopping Dakota Access, we demand that the Army Corps and Energy Transfers be held accountable for the crimes of putting at risk vulnerable water supplies, the public at large, and the violation of treaty rights. We demand that their profits — and the assets of all fossil fuel companies responsible for climate change — be seized to pay for the cleanup and to help begin to mitigate the deadly effects of climate change.
Capitalism is the enemy of all life and it must be stopped!
We must also recognize that upholding Native treaty rights is essential to combat climate change and benefits everyone. We demand that the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie treaties be fully obeyed as law and the restoration of the original treaty lands to the Oceti Sakowin.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse!
Hecetu Welo!
The Red Nation

Please sign the following petition:-

Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

 ttps://www.change.org/p/jo-ellen-darcy-stop-the-dakota-access-pipeline

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Save our Human Rights Act


Have written on this subject many times, but it is too important a subject not to broach once more. As the media currently tries to distract us with a non story about Jeremy Corbyn's train seat this ****** government of ours is still trying to abolish the Human Rights Act. Liz Truss,  the newly appointed Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, revealed the news while dismissing concerns from some Conservatives that the plan, a manifesto pledge in both 2010 and 2015, had been axed.This is  the law which gives us the right not to be tortured, the right to a fair trial and the right to an education and allows us to hold public institutions like the police, prisons and councils to account that has served the people of Great Britain well..
Lyn Truss and co want to replace it with a British "Bill of Rights and Responsibilities". It will curtail the power of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Britain..
In effect, the Conservatives will reduce the ECHR to no more than an advisory body. Should the ECHR not accept Parliament’s veto of its rulings, the government would withdraw from the Council of Europe, the human rights watchdog that is not related to any European Union (EU) institution. All Europe’s 48 countries, except Belarus—a military dictatorship—have signed up to the Council of Europe and made the Human Rights Convention part of their constitutional and domestic laws.
The new measures will erode the right to life, to privacy, to a fair trial, to protest and to freedom from torture and discrimination. It will enable the government to deport more people and defy ECHR’s requirements. In relation to foreign policy, the repeal of the act means that UK armed forces could act with impunity, as they would no longer be subject to human rights legislation. Even the right-wing Economist magazine, which speaks for British finance capital and demands a more assertive British foreign policy, lamented the “poor signal” it will send “about Britain’s commitment to international law.” The current law gives us the right to get justice from British courts without having to go to the European Court. It requires all public bodies, including central and local government, the police, the National Health Service, prisons and other services to abide by these human rights, and extends to outsourced public services such as care homes.
The legislation also  includes the right to life, not to be tortured or subjected to inhumane treatment, not to be held as a slave, to liberty and security of the person, to a fair trial, not to be retrospectively convicted for a crime, to a private and family life, to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to freedom of expression, to freedom of assembly and association, to marriage, to an effective remedy, not to be discriminated against, to the peaceful enjoyment of one’s property and the right to an education.
The Human Rights Act was introduced by the Blair Labour government in 1998 and came into force in 2000. Its antecedents are in the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights, drawn up after World War II in response to the horrendous crimes carried out by the Nazis. The Convention, based in part at least on the principles enshrined in the Magna Carta, drew upon the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It was one of a number of mechanisms, along with the Marshall Plan, during the Cold War against the Stalinist Soviet Union that served to rehabilitate capitalist rule—under conditions where it had been widely discredited—and show it was compatible with democracy and civil liberties, particularly those of Europe’s millions of displaced peoples and refugees.
The Conservative government proposal is simply appalling and unacceptable, trying to get rid of the Human Rights Act is a blatant open  wholesale assault on democratic rights and must be opposed part of our protection to be able to function as citizens in a democratic country as the ***** Tory's know too damn well.
The plans also contravene various national agreements. The Sewel convention dictates that parliament cannot legislate for devolved matters without the consent of Scotland and Wales and to push the bill through against this "would be horrific", said one legal expert. In Northern Ireland, abolishing the act would place the UK government in breach of the Good Friday Agreement, a direct violation of international law that would "plunge the UK into a constitutional crisis", says the Guardian.
Surely it can't have escaped the Tory's attention that our country has seen a spike in hate and division recently, considering this they should not be  pouring yet more public money, into scrapping human rights and equality protections that are needed now more than ever.People power got us these rights, and now it’s up to us to stand up for them again.We can prove public opinion is against scrapping the Human Rights Act - and show we’re prepared to fight for it. It could convince the government to nip these plans in the bud once and for all. 
Please sign and share the following petition, it  means a lot to me, thanks.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-human-rights

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The shame of Burkini ban.




This week we have seen an  uptick in body policing and body shaming.We saw armed police surrounding a Muslim woman on a beach in Nice and forcing her to remove clothing. This is part of the racist and sexist policy being imposed on Muslim women in France, where so far 15 towns have introduced a ban on the burkini. The bans are claimed to be “protecting the population” of France from terrorism and religious ideas, but women choosing to cover up on the beach is no threat to society.
We should be ashamed of this because forcing an old lady,  to take off her Burkini, throws all values of freedom it has straight into the trashcan, so far removed from the message of Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité. Practicing  hypocrisy and double standards seems to be the new order of the day.missing the real opportunity to acknowledge female diversity that comes in various shapes and forms.Intentionally marginalizing Muslim women, highlights the country’s own issues with misogyny and racism by ironically dictating what women can and cannot wear, treating them as ideological commodities, to be denied the  freedom to  define or express themselves surely must be questioned.It is simply absurdity born of paranoia and the impulse to dominate others.
The burkini  symbolises leisure and happiness and fitness and health, worn voluntarily and sold by popular high street and haute couture brands alike, burkinis have become a widespread sartorial choice for many practicing Muslim women in France and beyond. Being praised for blocking sun-rays and the male gaze, the attire is often also embraced by non-Muslim women, most notably also by TV chef Nigella Lawson. Hopefully, the  next generation will look at this burkini ban much as we view the chastity belt.People should be allowed to wear what they like, at a time when politicians should be doing everything to avoid tension between communities, they have done exactly the opposite.Sadly though it is not surprising that it is men who  are the ones fighting over what women ought to be doing with their bodies. Depending on the era — and often the prevailing religion — women are either showing too much or too little
So who is better, the Taliban or French politicians? An interesting link that discusses this further can be found here:-
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/24/i-created-the-burkini-to-give-women-freedom-not-to-take-it-away?CMP=share_btn_tw

There is a demo at the French Embassy, 58 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7JT this Friday, 6pm, to protest the burkini ban.

This protest is called by Stand Up to Racism and supported by MEND

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Gilli Smyth ( (1/6/33-22/8/16) - Space Whisperer R.I.P


 

Goodbye to Gilli Smyth, aka Shakti Yoni, 83 years young. Poetess, cosmic feminist, priestess of space-whisper and founding member of the seminal band Gong, as well as her own band Mother Gong sadly passed away yesterday in Australia after a long illness, her son Orlando Allen has confirmed.
He says: "She passed amongst loved ones reading poetry and singing at exactly 12pm Australian time today. She is flying to the infinite through all the bardots as we speak so all your prayers of light, love gratitude and beaming energies are a shining light for her.
"Bless her psychedelic cotton socks, she will be in our and deeply in my heart forever. One of the strongest, most loving forgiving and powerful shakti being mums I have ever known.
"I give thanks for the blessing of her her being her example and shakti mumma presence and happy she is out of pain now and soon to be with, Daevid her dingo Virgin and all her favourite animals."
Gilli had three degrees from King's College London, where she first gained notoriety as the outspoken sub-editor of "Kings News", a college magazine. After a brief spell teaching at the Sorbonne (Paris) (where she became bilingual), she began doing performance poetry with the jazz-rock group Soft Machine, founded by her partner and long-time collaborator, Daevid Allen, in 1968. They would go on to co-found together the magical avant garde, anarchic musical ensemble band Gong  and all of the songs on the albums Magick Brother and Continental Circus are listed as written or co-written by her. In her spoken-word poetry, especially within Gong's "Radio Gnome Invisible" Trilogy, she portrays a prostitute, a cat, a mother, a witch, and an old woman, and was known for wearing such costumes on stage. This became part of the cult mythology, which was written into sixteen albums that were produced. Gilli pioneered a revolutionary singing style known popularly as Space Whisper, a textural ambient cosmic voice/instrument and became known for her haunting seductive voice.
Over the decades she had continued to tour and record with various incarnations of the Planet Gong family and many other visionary acts, a floating gang of individuals and idealists trying trying to effect social change for the better.Also as a poet she had published several books of artful verse.
Her 1978 album Mother which I have just been playing stands as one of the first and most uncompromising feminist dispatches from the progressive rock universe in which she bought a very needed feminine voice ( a realm overpopulated by regressive and rather misogynist views towards women), the album's exploration of gender roles, cosmic consciousness, and domesticity remain vital and rewarding.I have posted a link below, a record that for me remains powerfully rewarding.
The Goddesses which  inspired much of Gilli's work, were to  her symbolic of life force,energy flowing  through the invisible web of being that links all life. "Leave behind your old attitudes and celebrate being.You are always now and tomorrow afternoon. You unfold your life like a fresh newspaper and read whichever page you choose. Surf the far waves of emotion, explore mysterious dimensions from the danger of your own head." Her life's journey continues to be a source of inspiration to those who rode or are continuing to ride similar, artistic and political seas. Her legacy and that of her old lover, with whom she shared two children with and a long creative journey lives on.
with whom she shared two children and a long creative journey.

Read More: Gong Co-Founder Gilli Smyth Dead at 83 | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/gilli-smyth-died/?trackback=tsmclip
with whom she shared two children and a long creative journey.

Read More: Gong Co-Founder Gilli Smyth Dead at 83 | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/gilli-smyth-died/?trackback=tsmclip

Peace, love and light. R.I.P. Onwards and upwards.

Gilli Smyth - Mother (1978)


Tracklisting :-

I am a Fool
Back to the Womb
Mother
Shakti Yoni
Keep the Children Free
Prostitute Poem
OK, Man, This is Your World
Next Time Ragtime
Time of the Goddess
Taliesin

Monday, 22 August 2016

Happy Birthday Ray Bradbury (22/08/28 - 5/6/12) - Everyone must leave something behind.


Ray Bradbury, known for his imaginative and evocative tales of Martian lands and sinister carnival characters, was born  96 years ago today.In his lifetime Bradbury wrote hundreds of stories, a number of screenplays, and over two dozen novels,of subtle genius including The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine,and I sing the body electric. earning Bradbury a place within the canon of modern Western literature. Long have I been an admirer of his work. Here is a link to a piece I wrote when I heard about his death , a few years ago on hearing about his death :-https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/ray-bradbury-220828-5612-rip-something.html A beautiful, writer, of gentle, probing, persuasive thought best known as a science fiction author, Ray Bradbury’s writing was courageous and visionary, combining poignant social criticism..
His  novel Farenheit 451, which came out in 1953 at the height of the “Red Scare” period most memorably exemplified by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s vicious, witch hunt against supposed communists and communist sympathizers which included attempts to remove suspect books from public libraries. This was also the period of the Hollywood blacklist, with many actors, directors, and screenwriters being banned from working on Hollywood films or television. Although Bradbury has said that the book-burnings in Fahrenheit 451 were inspired by the 1933 Nazi book-burnings, he was much more likely inspired by the censorship that accompanied the Red Scare of his own era.
Set in a bleak, dystopian future,where we find Guy Montag, the main protoganist, a fireman,whose main focus isn’t to fight fires, but to start them. In order to control information and its dissemination, the government has banned books. Anyone found in possession of them is subject to having their house burned to the ground by the fire department.
In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor one Clarisse McClennan , who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.He  become disillusioned with the societal distractions his wife had engaged in and  becomes fascinated with the people who hide and defend the books he is ordered to destroy. As such, he begins secretly hoarding books from the houses he is sent to destroy.Towards the end, Montag is befriended by individuals who have been labeled outcasts for their love of books and knowledge. Montag is speaking with one of them, named Granger, who delivers the following message :

"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.
It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away.It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime....


- Ray Bradbury - Farenheit 451.

This end signified a turning point from hoplessness to hope, but the message of the book still powerfully acts today as a warning, teaching us not to accept what we are told is right or wrong as governments around the globe today continue today to suppress knowledge and the free flow of information. We  must keep on clinging to the freedom to read, the freedom of ideas, and the freedom of communication.
The gardeners to  be remembered, leaving their marks of unfettered imagination, seeds of the future to be forever  cherished and treasured. Everyone must leave something behind! Happy birthday, Ray Bradbury.

Another night in Gaza.


Last night suddenly the media went off duty. The Israelis (and by extension the US) would rather you didn't know, the Israeli army fired missiles into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia on Sunday afternoon and evening, injuring several Palestinians, including a 17-year-old boy, when Israel attacked the besieged Gaza Strip on Sunday night, after a rocket fired from Gaza fell inside the southern Israeli city of Sderot, with no injuries or damage reported by the Israeli army.The heavy artillery bombardment was followed by systematic mocking raids on the area.
Israel was supposed to have ended its permanent military presence in the Gaza Strip in 2005 in what it called the "Gaza disengagement". However, the area remains effectively occupied as Israel retains control of its airspace, seafront and all vehicle access, blocking trade and free movement for the territory's two million residents.Palestinians in Gaza have been living under siege and blockade for ten years, with Israel tightly restricting what can come in and out.The latest attacks coming two years after the summer of 2014 when Israeli forces killed more than 2,200 Palestinians in Gaza, including more than 500 children.Key parts of Gaza's infrastructure were damaged or destroyed by Israeli airstrikes,including apartment buildings, sports fields, kindergartens , electricity substations, schools and hospitals.
Israeli forces maintained their land, sea and air blockade of Gaza, imposing collective punishment on the territory’s 1.8 million inhabitants. Israeli controls on the movement of people and goods into and from Gaza,particularly on essential construction materials, combined with Egypt’s closure of the Rafah border crossing and destruction of cross-border tunnels, severely hindered post-conflict reconstruction and essential services and exacerbated poverty..
Palestine’s youth have grown up in a war zone, in which violence, loss, and hatred have marred any semblance of normal life. In recent months, approximately 373,000 children requiring “direct and specialized psychological support have found themselves unable to return to school, in a community where unemployment stands at a staggering 43 percent. Growing feelings of abandonment and hopelessness have fed a recent spike in youth suicide rates,.Because of these conditions it has fostered even more resentment among the Palestinian people toward their Israeli occupiers.
So when a rocket is fired in anger and frustration and falls on an open area and is then  faced with 30 missiles in less than 15 minutes, the balance of powershould be recognised and the occupying forces reponse considered to becompletely disproportionate. The Gaza Strip is not responsible for the one who fired the rock. Even the one who fired it didn't know where it was to fall.However, the Israeli defence army know exactly where their bombs, shells, rickets are falling. Falling near populated areas at the middle of the night. Children asleep. Parents helpless.Electricity off. No place to hide.Living in fear. Facing collective punishment, reinforcing the hardships already imposed on the civilians of the Gaza strip.Another long night in Gaza.
It should be noted that international law forbids punishing individuals for acts that they did not personally commit. It also forbids targeting civilians.Under international law, all states are obligated to actively facilitate the passage of humanitarian supplies to civilians.Blatantly disregarded time and time again with Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip and the actions that took place last night, all clearly intended to make the lives of Palestinian civilians as miserable as possible, severely affecting every man, woman and child.
The following link to a Guardian article  chooses to ignore many of the above context.It does not even inform readers that Gaza is under siege by Israel.


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/22/israel-launches-up-to-50-strikes-on-gaza-after-rocket-attack

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Taff Vale Railway Strike




Between 1893-98 coal mining strikes in South Wales brought suffering to railway workers and miners with the suspension of the guaranteed sixty hour week and lay offs. The Taff Vale railway workers moved a quarter of the eighteen million tons of coal dug out by South Wales miners. The Boer war increased the demand for South Wales coal and the miners won pay increases but rail workers did not even though the cost of living increased. Grievances running high  about wages and conditions, but also about a specific charge of victimisation against a signalman by the name of John Ewinfton,  General Manager of the Taff Vale Railway's  refusal to meet with their representatives the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (thw workers union),certainly did not help, so at  midnight of August 19th 1900  1,327 workers of the Taff Railway Company went on  strike. Richard Bell, ASRS general secretary, travelled to Cardiff to organise the picketing against scab labour. In the course of the struggle, tracks were greased, trucks uncoupled and locomotive engines put out of action.The picketing that took place is said to be the best organised in any railway strike in Britain with no coal trains running on the first day.At the height of the strike, a mass demonstration of around 12,000 took place at Cathays Park in Cardiff, organised by the Cardiff Trades Council, in support of the railway workers. The company drummed up strike breakers, known as blacklegs or scabs, through the National Free Labour Association and ordered strikers and their families to vacate rented company cottages.Finally furious employers plotted with the strikebreaking National Free Labour Association and the Employers Parliamentary Council to smash the strike with an injunction, which was duly granted. Although the strike was settled by mediation after only eleven days, the employers carried their legal case for compensation to the Lords and successfully sued for damages against the union to the tune of £23,000, with additional costs of £27,000 – a formidable sum at the time.
It also proved to be a landmark decision, as it shattered the belief that unions could not be held responsible for damages as a result of the actions of their members, this prosecution followed a decade of attacks on trade union rights and the verdict practically eliminated the strike as a weapon of organised labor. The newly formed unions for the unskilled workers had suffered loss of membership due to unemployment. Employers recruited the unemployed, including criminal gangs to break strikes, and a whole series of court decisions deprived the unions of the right to a closed shop and to refuse to deal with non-union firms.The Tory press launched a tirade against the unions, calling them 'our national mafia' and called upon the state to protect the public from 'working class tyranny'.
The Taff Vale case had an immediate impact it would help foster the growth of the recently formed  formed Labour Representation Committee. It was essential for the unions that legislation be put through Parliament to reverse this judgement and guarantee unions immunity during an industrial dispute. The lack of trade union support for the LRC changed. In 1900 it had less than half the trade union movement affiliated. Key unions like the Miners Federation saw the implications of Taff Vale for themselves and switched to Labour from supporting the Liberals. Within two years the affiliated membership of the LRC had doubled from 455,450 to 861,200.
The Taff Vale judgement helped make minds up in favour of a Labour Party in parliament which by now has been formed,. however at the 1906 general election three corner contests were avoided through agreements between the LRC and Liberal Party. It was a Liberal landslide including 29 LRC MPs. These 29 MPs were though able to exercise enough pressure upon the Liberal Government to pass the Trades Disputes Act of 1906. Legalizing peaceful picketing and restoring union immunity against actions for damages caused by strikes.The behaviour of one employer had been sufficient to cement the links between the trade unions and the Labour Party. The ruling class now had to face a labour movement which was going from strength to strength and able to exercise influence in Parliament as well as on the industrial front. The years of the Liberal Government saw increasing industrial militancy with disputes in all the major industries such as mining, the docks and the railways. A triple alliance was forged between the unions of the three main industries. Amalgamation Committees were set up and the number of trade unionists increased. The Labor Party though in parliament seemed to be irrelevent to union militants who turned to direct action and were being pulled towards revolutionary ideas such as syndicalism and workers control . The Taff Vale Railway Strike to be remembered as a landmark in the history of industrial relations in Britain not to be forgotten today as Tory anti-trade union legislation continues to set back trade union rights over one hundred years.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Captain Beefheart- Flower Pot



'Take this magic flower from my flowerpot
Tell your little girl it can help you a lot
Wear it in your hair
Wear it on your heart
With the magic power of this flower
We shall never be apart
We shall never be apart
Jungle free city hot
Can’t fool me or my flowerpot
Magic petals magic stem magic mountains and magic men.'


- These are the original unused lyrics by Herb Bermann for the unreleased track Flower Pot, recorded as an instrumental only at the end of 1967.

http://www.beefheart.com/i-was-a-scribe-for-captain-beefhe…/

http://www.beefheart.com/herb-bermann-speaks-part-2/

Friday, 19 August 2016

Simone Segouin (b; 3/10/25) - Symbol of Female Resistance


On this day in 1944 the above picture was taken. It has since become a symbol of women’s involvement in the French Resistance. Here we can see a man with makeshift army fatigues to the left and a young man on the right, but the person who grabbed everyone's attention is the girl in shorts in the centre. 
Her name was Simone Segouin, an 18 year-old girl aka as Nicol Minet. In 1944, at the height of the Nazi occupation of France, she joined the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (Free-shooters and Partisans, or FTP) – a combat alliance made up of militant communists and French nationalists, to help liberate the capital.The group named themselves after the French irregular light infantry and saboteurs who fought the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War.
Stealing a bicycle from a German military administrator was the first mission she was assigned. After the successful outcome of her first mission, the bike was painted so it could become Simone’s ‘reconnaissance vehicle’, allowing her to deliver messages and stake out targets.
Shortly, after displaying her skills in secret weapons training, she was allowed to take part in dangerous combat missions. In 1944, at the height of the Nazi occupation of France, Simone Segouin was involved in armed actions against enemy convoys and trains, attacks against enemy detachments and acts of sabotages. She also assisted in capturing 25 German POWs during the fall of Chartres. The French newspaper Independent Eure-et-Loir on its August 26, 1944 issue described her as “one of the purest fighters of heroic French Resistance who prepared the way for the Liberation”. .
Simone became known to the world after American reporter Jack Belden interviewed her for a Life magazine feature headlined ‘The Girl Partisan of Chartres’ Her bravery would make her s symbol of female resistance across the world.
After the war Simone was promoted to lieutenant and awarded the prestigious Croix de Guerre, along with other fighters who had by then been organised into a formal military organisation called the French Forces of the Interior (FFI).Simone went on to become a paediatric nurse in Chartres, where her wartime daring acts made her hugely popular . A street in Courville-sur-Eure was named for her.Simone experienced the heaviness of war years. .People have asked Simone if she has killed anyone before. "On July 14, 1944, I took part in an ambush with two comrades. Two German soldiers went by on a bike, and the three of us fired at the same time, so I don’t know who exactly killed them. You shouldn’t have to kill someone like that. It’s true, the Germans were our enemies, it was the war, but I don’t draw any pride from it." She and other women in the French resistance  played a vital role in the fight for liberation from the Nazis, showing exemplary courage under atrocious circumstances.The price of participation was enormous. Resisters suffered arrest, imprisonment, interrogation and sometimes torture, and deportation to concentration camps as political prisoners. La Roquette women's prison in Paris figured on many a woman's itinerary; another larger women's facility in Rennes grouped women resisters from the entire northern zone. From prisons in France, many were shipped to camps farther east, where they perished from disease, starvation, exhaustion, beatings, or more systematic forms of extermination. Many Frenchwomen were sent to Ravensbrück, the concentration camp for women east of Berlin. Jewish resisters and those deemed particularly dangerous were also sent to Auschwitz in eastern Poland; this is the case of the famous convoy known as the "31,000" (the series tatooed on their arm upon arrival). Unlike their male counterparts,  full recognition  and important  central role in the French Resistance  has only came several decades after the events.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Respect to Scottish Football fans as they show solidarity for the Palestinian people.



Fans at a football match between Glasgow Celtic and Israeli side Hapoel Beer Sheva turned whole sections of the stadium into a sea of Palestinian flags in an amazing show of unity, strength and solidarity on Wednesday night protesting against the Israeli occupation on night, ignoring an official ban on political demonstrations, despite Scottish police urging fans to not bring Palestinian flags, threatening them with arrest. However many Celtic fans have long identified with left-wing causes, among them the Palestinian struggle. The flag of Palestine is seen flying at games the club plays, and the match with Hapoel Be'er Sheva will be no exception.When hundreds of Palestinians were on hunger strike in Israeli jails in 2012, the group unfurled a banner reading "Dignity is more precious than food.".Also  through extensive fundraising work the supporters have helped bring Palestinian youth to the UK to take part in football tournaments and cultural tours.Numerous members have also visited the occupied West Bank.
Celtic could now  face penalties from UEFA, Europe’s football governing body, for allowing the protests to go ahead, but some fans said they were prepared to pay any fine themselves to show their opposition to Israel's participation in the competition.This has got Celtic into hot water with the football authorities previously. The club was fined 16,000 pounds ($20,750) by the Union of European Football Associations ( UEFA) after fans flew Palestine flags during a game against the Icelandic side KR Reykjavik. The game took place at the same time as the Israeli army's "Protective Edge Operation in Gaza", which left more than 2,200 Palestinians and at least 73 Israelis dead.
More than 800 people joined a Facebook group titled “Fly the flag for Palestine, for Celtic, for Justice.The group’s creators called on Celtic fans to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, saying that people should express their “democratic rights to display our opposition to Israeli apartheid, settler colonialism, and countless massacres of the Palestinian people”.The Facebook group also said that UEFA should not support Israel and its policies. “When someone is representing Israeli state institutions it is sadly never merely a game; football, UEFA, and Celtic FC are being used to whitewash Israel’s true nature and give this rogue state an air of normality and acceptance it should not and cannot enjoy until its impunity ends and it is answerable to international law and faces sanctions for the countless UN resolutions it had breached,” it read.The Palestinian flag is more than a national symbol; it has taken on the mantle of a symbol of defiance in the face of colonial oppression and apartheid, it should not be a crime to wave it.
Celtic won the match 5-2 and now appear likely to qualify for the lucrative group stages of the UEFA Champions League, in which Europe's top clubs compete for the game's most sought after trophy.Much respect to the Celtic fans, thanks from the bottom of my heart for showing humanity at its best.Sending a clear message to the Palestinians that their struggle is not forgotten. Free Palestine..

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Butterfly Collector


(some free verse
for jane the flutterfurb)


I'm a collector of many things
music and books, friends who bring kindness
butterflies that roam among the flowers and grass
who often call fluttering down gently
whispering softly above my head
dancing and teaching me ways to be free
allowing my mind to drift past sadness
filling my heart with joy and gladness
under the sky and influence of love
reminding me of other things to cherish 
that continue to enrapture and capture the heart.
.