Sunday, 4 December 2016

Victory at Standing Rock: Permit denied for Dakota Access Piipeline.


The US Army Corps of Engineers have announced  today they will no longer allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under  lake Oshe near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, marking a huge victory for Native Americans and protesters who had long opposed the construction.
They say they are going to reroute it. The pipeline was intended to pass through North Dakota's Lake Oahe, which is a burial site sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux. The tribe voiced concerns the pipeline would threaten the community’s drinking water and would also damage sites of sacred significance and threaten water sources and cultural sites.
Military veterans joined activists, who call themselves water protectors, at Standing Rock this week, with more than 3,500 pledging to join the demonstration.In a statement, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said the tribe welcomed the decision, but he also sounded a note of caution saying he hoped the incoming Donald Trump administration would "respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point." Archambault II went on :"When it comes to infrastructure development in Indian Country and with respect to treaty lands, we must strive to work together to reach decisions that reflect the multifaceted considerations of tribes. Treaties are paramount law and must be respected, and we welcome dialogue on how to continue to honor that moving forward. We are not opposed to energy independence, economic development, or national security concerns but we must ensure that these decisions are made with the considerations of our Indigenous peoples."
I am glad that the water protectors were able to divert the path of the pipeline. I feel saddened though that it took so long after months of violence and brutality by the state to get a basic easement off land that the oil companies had no legal right to be on in the first place. Some 26 activists were injured in a November 20 confrontation when police fired water cannon in below-freezing temperatures. Rubber bullets and tear gas were also reportedly used against the water protectors on site.Around 564 people were arrested during the protests, according to the Morton County Sheriff's Department for simply trying to peacefully defend this sacred land from  pillage.
I hope they stay true to their word.The people I fear will have to remain ever vigilant until all traces of the pipeline are removed. The World is still watching.Some good news for the time being, a huge victory for the thousands of demonstrators across the country who flocked to North Dakota in protest, standing firm  against corporations willful  destruction of our planet, and for the many concerned individuals across the world who have been in solidarity trying to raise awareness about this ongoing fight. People before profit.

Frank Zappa ( 21/12/40 - 4/12/93) - Social Commentator


Not sure, how, that in the years I've been writing this blog, I have not touched on the work of the late Frank Vincent Zappa, I have been an admirer of his work for a while, having numerous records, dvds by him. Anyway on this day in 1993 this musician and iconclast, who rode to fame in the late 1960s as leader of the eccentric Mothers of Invention and kept on breaking the musical rules, died in Los Angeles, CA of prostate cancer aged 53.
In his 33-year musical career, Zappa proved to be one of the most prolific musician-composers of his era, releasing over 60 albums during his lifetime, almost all of which consisted of original compositions.His work was a frothy stew of '50s doo-wop, rhythm 'n' blues,straight edged rock serious experimental jazz,free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity, and avant-garde classical strains, often heaped high with perverse, often scatological, lyrics.In albums with such far-out titles as "Freak Out," "Lumpy Gravy," "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" and "Weasels Ripped My Flesh," and "Sheik Yerbouti," Over the years, Zappa, whose albums were never huge sellers, sustained a cult following and was admired by legions of  fans worldwide that  ensured the marketability of a seemingly endless stream of eclectic recordings.Best remembered for the mark he made on the experimental rock counter-culture of the late 1960s, his influence extended into the worlds of jazz, classical and electronic music, and his love of experimentation was present in all of them.
His anarchic demeanor, and occasionally juvenile antics, accusations of misogyny were counterbalanced by an increasingly strong sense of social commitment, an individual  who shirked rampant commercialism and embraced nonconformity.In addition to being one of the most prolific and versatile composers of the rock idiom of his time,an incredible artist who produced an insane body of work Zappa he was also an astute and outspoken social and political commentator., a acerbic, prolific agent provocateur beyond categorisation. His music dealing with weighty subjects commenting on societal norms, politics and religion that still resonate in todays social and political climate.
An atheist, who grew up in a religious Catholic household. He said that by the time he was 18, he had “escaped the bondage of being a devout believer.” But the rebellion against religion started long before that. He said,"[My parents] tried to make me go to Catholic school, too. I lasted a very short time. When the penguin came after me with a ruler, I was out of there."He certainly did not have kind words to say about religion, especially the Abrahamic traditions. Just look at some of his  song titles: “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing,” “Jesus Thinks You’re a Jerk,” “Heavenly Bank Account,” “Dumb All Over.” Zappa’s disgust of religion was rooted in the belief that religion is anti-intellectual, that it promotes ignorance. He said about the story of Adam and Eve,
"What was it that Adam ate that he wasn’t supposed to eat? . . . it was the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The subtle message? “Get smart and I’ll fuck you over–sayeth the Lord.” God is the Smartest–and he doesn’t want any competition."
He was especially critical of religious leaders who he viewed as hypocritical, preaching one thing and practicing another, those who became wealthy off the donations of their followers, and those who use religion to influence political change.Zappa described himself as a Practical Conservative, meaning he wanted small government and lower taxes. He said he understood that there were certain large services that only the federal government could provide, like national defense and large infrastructure projects, but that these services should be administered with the most efficiency and at the lowest price possible. He advocated for elimination of income taxes and a greatly reduced role for the federal government.
He was especially critical of the Reagan administration for, among other things, what he saw as its pandering to the Christian right. he was a libertarian in many ways.Zappa was skeptical of authority and indoctrination, and was critical of the mainstream media.He was also fierce defender of free speech and waged a public battle against the Parents Music Resource Center and its proposed ratings system, he testified before a congressional committee in 1985, voicing his opposition to legislation that would require labeling of music to warn parents of explicit content. In his prepared statement, about how such regulations are a threat to the First Amendment, Zappa said, " The establishment of a rating system, voluntary or otherwise, opens the door to an endless parade of Moral Quality Control Programs based on “Things Certain Christians Don’t Like.” What if the next bunch of Washington Wives demands a large yellow “J” on all material written or performed by Jews, in order to save helpless children from exposure to concealed Zionist doctrine?"
Zappa clearly wanted government out of all business except that which only government can provide, and he was willing to attack both political parties when he thought the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights were threatened. But his faith in the political machine wasn’t exactly resolute. As Zappa put it,"Government is the Entertainment division of the military-industrial complex"
In 1986, Frank Zappa engaged in a fiery debate about dirty lyrics and censorship based on religious morality in this classic clip from CNN’s “Crossfire.”Debating with John Lofton, conservative columnist for the Washington Times, Zappa noted that:The biggest threat to America today is not communism. It’s moving America toward a fascist theocracy. Everything that’s happened under the Reagan Administration is steering us right down that pipe.
Asked later in the interview to give “one example of a fascist theocracy” by co-host Tom Braden, Zappa replied: When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion, and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view, and if that code happens to be very very right wing, almost toward Attila the Hun…
Lofton responded: “Well then you are an anarchist. Every form of civil government is based on some kind of morality Frank,” but Zappa set him straight, curtly remarking: “Morality in terms of behavior, not in terms of theology! You can watch the exchange, below,

Zappa defines Fascist theocracy

 For more of this stuff, I recommend checking out Thorsten Shutte’s new documentary, Eat that Question: Frank Zappa in his own words, an intimate encounter with the iconoclastic composer and musician  with rare archival footage revealing a provocative 20th-century musical genius and fierce public intellectual whose worldview resonates into the present day and beyond.Frank Zappa’s diverse work throughout his career as a musician and activist all combine to form an image of Zappa as a confirmed iconoclast who used his talents as composer, guitarist, entertainer, band leader, and social commentator to skew the status quo, illuminate hypocrisy, and slaughter sacred cows. The legacy of Frank Zappa will long be remembered.However for a nonconformist composer, so vehemently opposed to commercialization, it is kind of ironic though that Zappa’s image is now preserved in brand-name aspic by the strenuously protective Zappa Family Trust.

 Eat that Question: Frank Zappa in his own words, Official trailer 2016

Frank Zappa - Absolutely Free

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Daily Mail hypocrisy

The rag known as the Daily Mail's hypocrisy continues to hold no bounds. On the same day that it tried to stoke up anti-immigrant and anti-refugee feeling on its front page, alongside it ran a tribute to  86-year-old actor Andrew Sachs, who has sadly died in a care home last week,after having battled with dementia for the past four years alongside the image of his best known character; Manuel, an European migrant hotel worker who is subjected to daily verbal and physical abuse, whose accent and level of English is perpetually mocked, and who is restricted to the low-paid service sector? Of course the Mail is paying tribute.
You could call it ironic or just bloody plain insensitive because Andrew was born in Berlin, Germany, and as a Jew had to flee the country to escape the Nazis - the same Nazis that the Daily Mail at the time enthusiastically supported.Let’s not forget remember that the Mail opposed Jewish refugees coming to Britain in the 1930s. It was ‘an outrage’ they said.
Although the rag does acknowledge Sachs’ relatives background in an obituary to the actor on web page ten, the entrance web page goes a incredibly lengthy way to illustrate the way that this tawdry rag has run a program of dehumanising migrants of any kind as much as possible, stoking up fear about migrants to Britain from Europe and then havinge the gall to pay tribute to Andrew Sachs, a migrant from Europe.
While this odious little paper continues to spew poisonous bile into the  atmosphere,  I do think it needs to be publicly vilified and refuted at every opportunity.Let's think about the people of today who are forced to flee oppressive rĂ©gimes and let's not be like the Daily Mail.
My deepest condolences to Andrew Sachs and his family.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Defend The Sacred ( A Poem for Standing Rock.)

"The Indians knew that life was equated with the earth and its resources, that America was a paradise, and they could not comprehend why the intruders from the East were determined to destroy all that was Indian as well as America itself." - Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee; April 1970.

On the heels of increasingly severe human rights violations against the water protectors of Standing Rock, the Army Corps of Engineers released a statement that on Dec. 5 that they plan to shut down the Oceti Sakowin camp — the primary camp where water protectors and allies have been resisting the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline for months now.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota has stood in agreement with the plan by ordering the water protectors to evacuate the camp.The water protectors have been standing strong in the face of police assaultswith  rubber bulets, concussion grenades, tear gas, and water cannons in freezing temperatures, and the risks are threatening to become worse.
As a result, the camp has issued an emergency call for others to stand in solidarity on Dec 4. 

Defend The Sacred ( A Poem for Standing Rock.)

Water if life, oil is poison
one is a creator, one is a destroyer,
under angry sky proud people stand
defending ancestral burial ground,
in a battle for survival  treated so shamefully
pleading for sanity in a state of distress,
daily faced with disrespect and intimidation
rubber bullets, intruders threatening,
invaders returning, stealing and encroaching
in a thirst for profit, means of fairness hidden.

Let us  pray for all the tribes of Standing Rock 
deprived of joy and laughter, a means of survival,
grant safe keeping, peace, love and many blessings
respect the water protectors for courage and brave heart,
release them from oppression, free from corruption
offer peace, love and many blessings,
worldwide unity as they battle to save our planet
people before needless, senseless profit,
souls drenched, not from water, but tears
grant power to the people, united so strong.

Those at Standing Rock remain steadfast and free
peacefully trying to erase enormous pain,
armed with the truth, waiting for justice to call
sorrow and sadness to dissipate, healing to return,
to escape the bonds, flee the enemy
to be at one with mother earth,
indigenous resistance we must celebrate
honor and protect their sacred fight,
let our warmth melt their fears
allow their magic to forever flow.

The above poem, can also be found here :-

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Rosa Parks act of resistance remembered.

On December 1, 1955, 42 year old Rosa Louise Parks, a black American seamstress was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing  to give up  her seat on  a bus to  a white man. Her act of civil disobedience, led to black  citizens boycotting the bus company for over a year, in what was to become known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which   was to continue for  over a year, setting up the seeds  of a social revolution, putting the effort to end segregation on a fast track.Rosa became nationally recognized as the “mother of the modern day civil rights movement” in America. Her act of dignified defiance and courage triggered a wave of protest that reverberated throughout the United States.
Contrary to some reports, Parks wasn’t physically tired and was able to leave her seat. She refused, on principle, to surrender her seat because of her race, which was the law in Montgomery at the time.
She was also a long-time member of the NAACP and highly respected in her community.
The NAACP realized it had the right person to work with, as it battled against the system of segregation in Montgomery. It also worked with another group of local leaders to stage a one-day boycott of passenger buses, when Parks went to court.The group expanded to include other people, chose a name, the Montgomery Improvement Association, and planned an extended boycott.
But the MIA also needed a public spokesman with leadership qualities to make their fight into a wide-ranging cause.Their pick was a little-known pastor who had recently arrived in Montgomery: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rosa was briefly jailed and paid a fine, but for many years would continue as an activist in the movement  for the rights of exploited people.Facing continued harassment and threats in the wake of the boycott, Parks, along with her husband and mother, eventually decided to move to Detroit, where Parks’ brother resided. Parks became an administrative aide in the Detroit office of Congressman John Conyers Jr. in 1965, a post she held until her 1988 retirement. Her husband, brother and mother all died of cancer between 1977 and 1979. In 1987, she co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, to serve Detroit’s youth.
In the years following her retirement, she traveled to lend her support to civil-rights events and causes and wrote an autobiography, “Rosa Parks: My Story.” In 1999, Parks was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor the United States bestows on a civilian. When she died at age 92 on October 24, 2005, she became the first woman in the nation’s history to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. At the time, she was only the 30th person accorded that honor. She was the first woman to receive the honor, and her coffin sat on the catafalque built for the coffin of Abraham Lincoln.
Let us remember her today, and acknowledge Rosa's act of quiet resistance, that still resonates down the corridors of time. She remains a symbol to all to remain free.Let us also think  what would happen if a Palestinian Rosa Parks chose to sit on a segregated West Bank Bus, Palestinians in the present moment are unable  to travel freely in their own country - they even have to have permits to enter Jerusalem.
We need more brave souls like Rosa Parks sparking the seeds of change.

Earlier post on the Montgomery Bus Protest can be read here.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Look ahead


Look ahead,beyond the chaos
our only hope is the children,.
make them see, make them care
show them a brighter vision,
where people no longer bludgeon each other
for a slice of bread or less.
Destroy apathy that does not give a toss
just keeps the status quo running at
                                   huge human cost,
a case of hope deferred, energy lost
when we should be keeping spirits high
by fighting for a nobler cause.
Try not to become defeated or foiled
reach out for freedom, peace,equality
keep looking for another way of possibility
or be doomed forever as prisoners of time.
Teach the children to listen
offer them the gift of understanding,
if fear is the only way
frighten them into caring.
When this task is undertaken
beyond the walls of illusion,
we can all become one
society re-moulded, re-cast,
for future generations to come.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Paul Nuttall leader of UKIP, we should not be laughing.


We should not be laughing as it is announced that Paul Nuttall is now the new UKIP leader.Even though I have posted a rather silly picture of him. His views alone are pretty worrying, he is a sexist, racist, climate denier, who thinks immigrants are taking all our jobs, he wants to abolish the NHS, and come down hard on abortion, he has also called for a referendum for bringing back the death penalty and a repeal of the hunting ban, Nuttall is a leading advocate for banning the burqa,"The law should be clear - either you are allowed to express your religious beliefs at all times, or you accept that there are some occasions where these are restricted," he said last year."Face coverings should be banned in any public building. while Nuttall is in favour of removing the right of Muslims to wear what they please, he does not believe there should have been any restrictions on the right of Christians to express religious discrimination.In 2011, Peter and Hazelmary Bull were found to have acted unlawfully in refusing to allow a gay couple to stay in their hotel. Nuttall was not impressed with the ruling." This week has been a good week for the PC brigade," he wrote on his blog.
In the same post Nuttall went on to defend football pundits Andy Gray and Richard Keys after they were sacked for making sexist comments. In 2015, he faced criticism after joking that “perhaps we should throw (Scottish First Minister Nicola) in front of a hunt horse." in order to commemorate the day of celebration for the life of Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. For this he was branded as misogynistic and insensitive.In some respects he is an even more hard line right-winger than Nigel Farage.
The 39 year old new leader has been MEP for North West England since 2009 and has served as Ukip's chairman and deputy leader.He had previously stood for the Tories in 2002, and failed:Don't see him as some sort of comedic figure though,it's easy to make fun, but this doesn't seem to work, after all isn't that what they did with Donald Trump? While some of you are probably guffawing at him, I think his acceptance speech alone will ring alarm. We are witnessing a new dangerous strain of empowered Far-Right thinking politics, flourishing at the moment, Paul Nuttal is one of many, appealing in pro Brexit times to beleaguered, alienated working-class people. 
Mr Nuttall, who was born in Bootle, Mersyside, with working class roots, a former history lecturer who played football for Tranmere Rovers as a boy, has claimed that he is well placed to snatch working class voters from Labour to further his vision of making UKIP, the "voice of patriotic Britain." He has made clear his sights are on poaching votes from Labour, arguing that the party under Jeremy Corbyn was more interested in "dinner party" topics like climate change and fair trade than the interests of their working class voters, such as immigration and social mobility. "Ukip's future is bright but for it to be so, Ukip must unite. Today's result has ensured that it will." The politics of hope, decency and social justice are now under threat, we must forever be on our guard from the likes of Nuttall and his friends in UKIP with their brand of reactionary, divisive politics  that threatens the character and cohesion of our society. There is nothing patriotic in stoking up hatred and mistrust of our neighbours. UKIP should not be seen as a comedy party on the slide, they still pose a serious threat. You have been warned.