Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Happy Birthday Walt Whitman : Legendary American Poet (31/5/1819 - 26/3/1892)


                                         Walt Whitman , pictured in 1887

Happy birthday, Walt Whitman,  one of the most influential American poets of all time and  the father of free verse. I've written of him previously but don't apologise for writing about him again such an important figure in our collective history.
Born to  the second son of Walter Whitman, a housebuilder, and Louisa Van Velsor who were both Quakers. The family, which consisted of nine children, lived in Brooklyn and Long Island in the 1820s and 1830s. At the age of twelve, Whitman began to learn the printer’s trade in New York City, whilst at the same time he fell in love with the written word. Largely self-taught, he read voraciously, becoming acquainted with the works of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and the Bible. Tolerant of all faiths but a believer in none. A humanist, and free thinker he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Author of the seminal "Leaves of Grass" (1855), among other works, in this  monumental book  he  celebrated life, democracy,  humanity, nature, love, friendship  and the strength of the human body and spirit. Chanting praises to the body as well as to the soul, and found beauty and reassurance even in death.
After a devastating fire in the printing district demolished the industry, in 1836, at the age of seventeen, he began his career as teacher in the one-room school houses of Long Island. He continued to teach until 1841, when he turned to journalism as a full-time career.
He founded a weekly newspaper, Long-Islander, and later edited a number of Brooklyn and New York papers. In 1848, Whitman left the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to become editor of the New Orleans Crescent. It was in New Orleans that he experienced firsthand the viciousness of slavery in the slave markets of that city. On his return to Brooklyn in the fall of 1848, he founded a “free soil” newspaper, the Brooklyn Freeman, and continued to develop his unique style of poetry. He became a confident, earthy, crude, and vibrant,  self-styled natural man whose personas were nonetheless carefully crafted. Upon the debut of Leaves of Grass, Walt sent complimentary copies to a number of prominent literary figures (now a common promotion tactic, then a rare move of boldness). And when Ralph Waldo Emerson responded favorably to the copy he received, Whitman took the liberty to publish the response in the New York Daily Times without asking for Emerson’s permission. He even went so far as to anonymously publish reviews of his own work in several newspapers.
Moved by horror and compassion at the magnitude of death and suffering he observed, he worked some years as a nurse to the Civil War wounded, and spent much of his somewhat meagre earnings on supplies for their comfort and care.These experiences led to the poems in his 1865 publication, Drum-Taps..
He remained single but had many lovers, probably mostly homosexual, though he praises the physical beauty and power of women as lavishly in his poems as he does those of men. All the while, starting at just over age 30, he began to write his highly idiosyncratic, free verse poetry celebrating the authentic and the crafted self, the human body, democracy, equality, work, nature, and companionship. A master of the love for everyday life. Whitman’s  poetry with its espousal of comradeship  across class lines, and advocacy of a utopian democracy has long inspired, with its interlocking themes of shared values, expressing the divine light in every individual, an almost organic view of society. Whitman wrote a lot in his day and was known for his long lines and wordiness, which was frowned upon by certain academics and because of his casual and both implicit and explicit tones towards sex, his books were deemed obscene by critics, he certainly shook up the poetic world but his poems became loved by the general populace.
A big influence on another writer I admire his great British disciple and pioneering gay rights campaigner Edward Carpenter. Carpenter became a vital conduit in bringing Whitman's work before a broader British audience, later visiting him in New Jersey and, so he claimed, sleeping with America's national poet.
Whitman’s philosophy expressed a divine light in every individual, the value of the individual en masse, this vision can be grabbed for our own times. Plagued by health problems, Whitman moved to Camden, New Jersey, in the mid-1870s. When he died, on March 26, 1892, aged 72, the news of his death was widely reported.
The San Francisco Call, in an obituary of Whitman published on the front page of the March 27, 1892 edition, said:Early in life he decided that his mission should be to 'preach the gospel of democracy and of the natural man,' and he schooled himself for the work by passing all his available time among men and women and in the open air, absorbing into himself nature, character, art and indeed all that makes up the eternal universe.”
Whitman was interred in a tomb of his own design, in Harleigh Cemetery in Camden, New Jersey.
His beautiful words and poetry still manage to lift the soul many years after his death  and continue to be  profoundly moving, rich in depth and emotion.
Walt Whitman's achievement as a poet is truly monumental. He exercised a deep influence on his immediate successors in American letters, and even on modern poets, although he himself was a highly individualistic poet. As a symbolist, his influence was felt in Europe, where he was considered the greatest poet America had yet produced. Whitman, though a man of his age, an essentially nineteenth-century poet, has since exercised a profound influence on twentieth-century poets and modern poetry.Whitman's style and subject matter became  influential on South and Central American poets, like Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, J. L. Borges. He was admired by contemporary British poets such as Tennyson and Swinburne, whom he influenced. His free-verse style also influenced continental European poets in France and Italy, etc  and also on poets such as Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg. The anarchist Emma Goldman , was an avid consumer of his work. He taught me that poetry does not  necessary  have to rhyme or follow the rules of literary convention, the most important thing it can do is release emotion and feeling. Whitman  is widely seen as the first great modern poet, in terms of poetic style and lifestyle. I believe he left a positive mark and influence on the world.His examination of the world around him, from the intimate to the cosmic  transcends time and place, he was certainly ahead of his own. He is a poet not only of America but of the whole of mankind, he has such universal appeal. Everyone should find a place for Whitman in their heart.  Thank you Walt, happy birthday.

In his preface to the original edition of Leaves of Grass he included the following prophetic- like passage.  

"This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."

Beat! Beat! Drums - Walt Whitman


Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying,
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers’ bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley—stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow.


A Woman Waits For Me - Walt Whitman

A woman waits for me, she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the right man were lacking.

Sex contains all, bodies, souls,
Meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal milk,
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals, all the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth,
All the governments, judges, gods, follow’d persons of the earth,
These are contain’d in sex as parts of itself and justifications of itself.

Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex,
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.

Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that are warm-blooded and sufficient for me,
I see that they understand me and do not deny me,
I see that they are worthy of me, I will be the robust husband of those women.

They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann’d in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike, retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right—they are calm, clear, well-possess’d of themselves.

I draw you close to me, you women,
I cannot let you go, I would do you good,
I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for others’ sakes,
Envelop’d in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.

It is I, you women, I make my way,
I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable, but I love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you,
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for these States, I press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually, I listen to no entreaties,
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated within me.

Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
In you I wrap a thousand onward years,
On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me and America,
The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and athletic girls, new artists, musicians, and singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-spendings,
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you inter-penetrate now,
I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of them, as I count on the fruits of the gushing showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death, immortality, I plant so lovingly now.


I Sing the Body Electric - Walt Whitman

1

I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?

2

The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself balks account,
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.

The expression of the face balks account,
But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists,
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist and knees, dress does not hide him,
The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.

The sprawl and fulness of babes, the bosoms and heads of women, the folds of their dress, their style as we pass in the street, the contour of their shape downwards,
The swimmer naked in the swimming-bath, seen as he swims through the transparent green-shine, or lies with his face up and rolls silently to and fro in the heave of the water,
The bending forward and backward of rowers in row-boats, the horseman in his saddle,
Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performances,
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open dinner-kettles, and their wives waiting,
The female soothing a child, the farmer’s daughter in the garden or cow-yard,
The young fellow hoeing corn, the sleigh-driver driving his six horses through the crowd,
The wrestle of wrestlers, two apprentice-boys, quite grown, lusty, good-natured, native-born, out on the vacant lot at sun-down after work,
The coats and caps thrown down, the embrace of love and resistance,
The upper-hold and under-hold, the hair rumpled over and blinding the eyes;
The march of firemen in their own costumes, the play of masculine muscle through clean-setting trowsers and waist-straps,
The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell strikes suddenly again, and the listening on the alert,
The natural, perfect, varied attitudes, the bent head, the curv’d neck and the counting;
Such-like I love—I loosen myself, pass freely, am at the mother’s breast with the little child,
Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march in line with the firemen, and pause, listen, count.

3

I knew a man, a common farmer, the father of five sons,
And in them the fathers of sons, and in them the fathers of sons.

This man was of wonderful vigor, calmness, beauty of person,
The shape of his head, the pale yellow and white of his hair and beard, the immeasurable meaning of his black eyes, the richness and breadth of his manners,
These I used to go and visit him to see, he was wise also,
He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years old, his sons were massive, clean, bearded, tan-faced, handsome,
They and his daughters loved him, all who saw him loved him,
They did not love him by allowance, they loved him with personal love,
He drank water only, the blood show’d like scarlet through the clear-brown skin of his face,
He was a frequent gunner and fisher, he sail’d his boat himself, he had a fine one presented to him by a ship-joiner, he had fowling-pieces presented to him by men that loved him,
When he went with his five sons and many grand-sons to hunt or fish, you would pick him out as the most beautiful and vigorous of the gang,
You would wish long and long to be with him, you would wish to sit by him in the boat that you and he might touch each other.

4

I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.

There is something in staying close to men and women and looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well,
All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.

5

This is the female form,
A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot,
It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction,
I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor, all falls aside but myself and it,
Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth, and what was expected of heaven or fear’d of hell, are now consumed,
Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the response likewise ungovernable,
Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling hands all diffused, mine too diffused,
Ebb stung by the flow and flow stung by the ebb, love-flesh swelling and deliciously aching,
Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of love, white-blow and delirious juice,
Bridegroom night of love working surely and softly into the prostrate dawn,
Undulating into the willing and yielding day,
Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh’d day.

This the nucleus—after the child is born of woman, man is born of woman,
This the bath of birth, this the merge of small and large, and the outlet again.

Be not ashamed women, your privilege encloses the rest, and is the exit of the rest,
You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of the soul.

The female contains all qualities and tempers them,
She is in her place and moves with perfect balance,
She is all things duly veil’d, she is both passive and active,
She is to conceive daughters as well as sons, and sons as well as daughters.

As I see my soul reflected in Nature,
As I see through a mist, One with inexpressible completeness, sanity, beauty,
See the bent head and arms folded over the breast, the Female I see.

6

The male is not less the soul nor more, he too is in his place,
He too is all qualities, he is action and power,
The flush of the known universe is in him,
Scorn becomes him well, and appetite and defiance become him well,
The wildest largest passions, bliss that is utmost, sorrow that is utmost become him well, pride is for him,
The full-spread pride of man is calming and excellent to the soul,
Knowledge becomes him, he likes it always, he brings every thing to the test of himself,
Whatever the survey, whatever the sea and the sail he strikes soundings at last only here,
(Where else does he strike soundings except here?)

The man’s body is sacred and the woman’s body is sacred,
No matter who it is, it is sacred—is it the meanest one in the laborers’ gang?
Is it one of the dull-faced immigrants just landed on the wharf?
Each belongs here or anywhere just as much as the well-off, just as much as you,
Each has his or her place in the procession.

(All is a procession,
The universe is a procession with measured and perfect motion.)

Do you know so much yourself that you call the meanest ignorant?
Do you suppose you have a right to a good sight, and he or she has no right to a sight?
Do you think matter has cohered together from its diffuse float, and the soil is on the surface, and water runs and vegetation sprouts,
For you only, and not for him and her?

7

A man’s body at auction,
(For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale,)
I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business.

Gentlemen look on this wonder,
Whatever the bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it,
For it the globe lay preparing quintillions of years without one animal or plant,
For it the revolving cycles truly and steadily roll’d.

In this head the all-baffling brain,
In it and below it the makings of heroes.

Examine these limbs, red, black, or white, they are cunning in tendon and nerve,
They shall be stript that you may see them.

Exquisite senses, life-lit eyes, pluck, volition,
Flakes of breast-muscle, pliant backbone and neck, flesh not flabby, good-sized arms and legs,
And wonders within there yet.

Within there runs blood,
The same old blood! the same red-running blood!
There swells and jets a heart, there all passions, desires, reachings, aspirations,
(Do you think they are not there because they are not express’d in parlors and lecture-rooms?)

This is not only one man, this the father of those who shall be fathers in their turns,
In him the start of populous states and rich republics,
Of him countless immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments.

How do you know who shall come from the offspring of his offspring through the centuries?
(Who might you find you have come from yourself, if you could trace back through the centuries?)

8

A woman’s body at auction,
She too is not only herself, she is the teeming mother of mothers,
She is the bearer of them that shall grow and be mates to the mothers.

Have you ever loved the body of a woman?
Have you ever loved the body of a man?
Do you not see that these are exactly the same to all in all nations and times all over the earth?

If any thing is sacred the human body is sacred,
And the glory and sweet of a man is the token of manhood untainted,
And in man or woman a clean, strong, firm-fibred body, is more beautiful than the most beautiful face.

Have you seen the fool that corrupted his own live body? or the fool that corrupted her own live body?
For they do not conceal themselves, and cannot conceal themselves.

9

O my body! I dare not desert the likes of you in other men and women, nor the likes of the parts of you,
I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with the likes of the soul, (and that they are the soul,)
I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with my poems, and that they are my poems,
Man’s, woman’s, child’s, youth’s, wife’s, husband’s, mother’s, father’s, young man’s, young woman’s poems,
Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the ears,
Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eyebrows, and the waking or sleeping of the lids,
Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws, and the jaw-hinges,
Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition,
Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoulders, and the ample side-round of the chest,
Upper-arm, armpit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb, forefinger, finger-joints, finger-nails,
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, backbone, joints of the backbone,
Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward round, man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above,
Leg fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg,
Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel;
All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body or of any one’s body, male or female,
The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame,
Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, maternity,
Womanhood, and all that is a woman, and the man that comes from woman,
The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laughter, weeping, love-looks, love-perturbations and risings,
The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shouting aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking, swimming,
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
The skin, the sunburnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body,
The circling rivers the breath, and breathing it in and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health;
O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
O I say now these are the soul!

In Midnight Sleep - Walt  Whitman

IN midnight sleep, of many a face of anguish,
Of the look at first of the mortally wounded—of that indescribable look;
Of the dead on their backs, with arms extended wide,
I dream, I dream, I dream.

Of scenes of nature, fields and mountains;
Of skies, so beauteous after a storm—and at night the moon so unearthly bright,
Shining sweetly, shining down, where we dig the trenches and gather the heaps,
I dream, I dream, I dream.

Long, long have they pass’d—faces and trenches and fields;
Where through the carnage I moved with a callous composure—or away from the fallen,
Onward I sped at the time—But now of their forms at night,
I dream, I dream, I dream.

I Sit and look out - Walt Whitman

I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all
oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with
themselves, remorseful after deeds done;
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying,
neglected, gaunt, desperate;
I see the wife misused by her husband--I see the treacherous seducer
of young women;
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be
hid--I see these sights on the earth;
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny--I see martyrs and
prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea--I observe the sailors casting lots who
shall be kill'd, to preserve the lives of the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon
laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;
All these--All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look
out upon,
See, hear, and am silent

"Whatever satisfies the soul is truth ."

- Walt Whitman

“The greatest country, the richest country, is not that which has the most capitalists, monopolists, immense grabbings, vast fortunes, with its sad, sad soil of extreme, degrading, damning poverty, but the land in which there are the most homesteads, freeholds — where wealth does not show such contrasts high and low, where all men have enough — a modest living— and no man is made possessor beyond the sane and beautiful necessities.”

- Walt Whitman


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Election video 2017


The upcoming General Election on June 8th is hugely important for the future of our country and we hope this video will help people with their decision on who to vote for.

The video script was written by two ordinary guys, a junior doctor and a copywriter.

To read more about the issues raised in this video please visit: GetTheTruth.org.uk

The video was produced by the team behind School Of Life:

Animation by Peter Caires, follow him at @peterlikesthis
In collaboration with @MadAdamFilms
Voice over by Sam Caseley

Please like and share! Thank you.

 I will add some further thoughts, I actually have many friends who choose not to vote, do not trust any politician or party, it's not that they suffer from apathy, they do not support the current democratic process, many participate in direct action, protest and make their voices known, political opinion does exist beyond that  represented by the mainstream parties, outside parliament and government. Many angry and dissatisfied, but still with a thirst for change, at the end of the day they should not be forgotten. I would  urge non voters though not to be silent in this forthcoming election. If there is no actual candidate or party who they still do not trust to work hard for things they believe in, then vote NONE in protest. I've decided who i'll be voting for, you can hazard a guess from some of my previous posts. I want change we're not going to get any with the current incumbents.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Kick out the Tories


Following the awful  terrorist atrocity in Manchester last Monday, we must remain dedicated to unite people from divisions currently effecting our society. Lets not forget that because of security and intelligence cuts, the Tories have failed to protect us.
The general election campaign is now back in full swing and the latest polls suggest that Theresa May could be losing her lead. Theresa May called this general election in a cynical attempt to crush the opposition to her hard Brexit, we must continue to work together to stop the Tories getting a landslide and pushing through her destructive policies. If we don't we could be forced to live with the devastating  consequences for years to come.
Theresa May has shown herself to be a poor choice for Britain's future. She keeps inflicting on us her cruel policies for the few and not the many.This week she u-turned over her manifesto commitment, nicknamed the "dementia tax". Theresa May even had the audacity to pay Google Ads to try and stop people talking about it, but it  has only had the effect of encouraging absolutely everyone to talk about it,  huge swathes of people sharing the story on social media. Also over the course of her short premiership she has flip-flopped on at least nine policy pledges.  https://infacts.org/theresa-mays-top-9-flip-flops/.Does this sound like a strong and stable leader, I don't flipping think so. In addition she and the rest of the Tories are increasingly indulging in the politics of fear. We must continue in our efforts to stop her  in her tracks and making a mess of our country. Another tory win will destroy the NHS, continue to inflict damage on our public services, combined with there cruel welfare cuts, the likelihood of pushing  millions  of us further into poverty is a very real threat indeed.
Forget what the pollsters and bookies tell you, ignore the Tory medias campaign of distortion and falsification and bias, rags like the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Express and the Scum, that keep carry on pumping out the same disingeneous and divisive rubbish, with the BBC also guilty misleading people into parroting Tory narratives and soundbites.
We should not forget the Tory's  ruthless, toxic and unjust policies. Their constant assaults  on the N.H.S, the Royal Mail, people on welfare, the disadvantaged, the poor, which includes poorly paid workers, then we've got people using food banks, pensioners with slashed fuel allowances, the hated bedroom  tax, rising homelessness, dodgy benefit assessments. The list goes on and on,.
it is still possible to stop the Tories wreaking havoc on the nation and block the hard Brexit that could cripple the economy, the tories are beatable. Labour still have a clear chance of victory in this snap election. We have to keep pushing, otherwise May and co will just push  us back years, we need a fairer society, not one of ruin.
We can restore the NHS to health: cancel all debts to the PFI sharks; train more doctors, nurses and staff and raise their wages. Abolish the internal market and the Trusts. It is not to late to stop May’s “Back to the ’50s” reactionary grammar school nonsense and pledge the creation of a National Education Service from nursery to university to adult education. We need grants, not fees, for all. For a fully comprehensive system with no selection, an end to league tables and the semi-privatised status of free schools and academies. We can solve the housing crisis, with a huge housebuilding programme, encouraging Labour local authorities to build council houses at genuinely affordable rents. Regenerate areas that suffer from high unemployment and insecure, low paid jobs; draw up public investment plans and tool up workers with the skills to do the work. Time now to abandon their ideological conscious cruelty of austerity for good.
There is money out there to pay for it,  there are the rich with their vast piles of inherited wealth, the fat cats in the City with their eye-watering bonuses, we can have wealth redistribution through fair taxation, a clampdown on big corporations that continue to cheat on their taxes, big business could pay an additional  amount of money, through a hike in corporation tax, raising more money by reversing tory tax giveaways on levies including capital gains and inheritance tax. We could also see a  return off our nations utilities to public ownership. It is not a utopian vision that wants to see a reduction in financial inequalities in our society. These are challenges that we must take in order to create a fairer more equal society for the many not the few.
I have not voted for a while, having become distrustful of politicians in general, but have come to the conclusion, we have too much to lose, the current situation is very grave, so on 8th of June kick out the Tories, put Jeremy Corbyn in no 10 for a more humane, caring and workable direction for society. It's time to look forward to a future, that we can actually take pride in. Surely even if Labour can only deliver half of what they promise in their manifesto, that's still a million times better than what the Tories have to offer.
Finally will add that Stick it to the Tories have sent out thousands of stickers and badges over the last few weeks. Anti Tory Stickers are all over Britain! Let's have one last push to get even more out there on the streets! Time to take down these Tories . Make June the end of May.
Get your stickers here: http://stickittothetories.org.uk

Newtown Neurotics - Kick out the Tories





Sunday, 28 May 2017

Me and Mary and sweet Jane


Me and my dearest companion
would often visit Shropshire
to  pay our deepest respect,
we'd find some stone circles
get lost in love and stuff,
in nature we would walk
follow the steps of Mary Webb
the sunlight of all reason
the quiet awakenings of the day,
feeling strong in landscapes
                             of beauty,
on pilgrimages, we touched magic
still resonating to this day,
celebrate humanity
and love unconditionally,
as echoes return ,waving endlessly
I try to keep discovering.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Cut the rich not, the poor - .Captain SKA - Liar Liar GE2017



for all the Daily Mail and scum readers a counterbalance to your hate filled propaganda and outright lies

Available for download NOW - tell everyone you know!

Captain Ska's "Liar, Liar" is officially released today. We have one week to get it in the top 40s, forcing the BBC to play it over the airways!

Band member and song writer Jake said: "We’ve re-mastered our Liar, Liar song for this General Election because we want to do all we can to expose the horrific effects Tory policy has had on ordinary people. Theresa May lies her way through interview after interview without addressing the real issues."

"We’re sick of her and her party of millionaires privatising and cutting our public services while it’s poverty and deteriorating living standards for the rest of us. The money is there to improve the lives of the majority but it’s in the hands of the wrong people."

"We want to do all we can to make sure Theresa May is kicked out of Downing St on 8 June. I’m confident we’ll get into the UK Top 40’s which would mean the BBC will have to play it on their chart show next Sunday."

All money spent on downloads of the track between 26 May and 8 June 2017 will be split between food banks around the UK and The People's Assembly Against Austerity. 





Thursday, 25 May 2017

John Frost : Radical Chartist Leader (25/5/1784 - 27/7/1877)

John Frost  radical Chartist leader was born in Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales  on this day  25th May 1784, the son of John Frost and his wife, Sarah, landlady of the Royal Oak public house in Mill Street, Newport. His father died when John was very young and his mother remarried twice. Aged about sixteen, Frost was apprenticed to a tailor in Cardiff. In 1804, he was an assistant woollen draper in Bristol and the following year he worked in London as a merchant tailor. There he joined radical circles and sharpened his political education by reading Paine and Cobbett. On his return to Newport about 1806, he continued his business as a tailor and draper. On 24th October 1812, Frost married Mary Geach (née Morgan), widow of a timber dealer, with whom he had eight children between 1815 and 1826.In 1821 Frost became involved in a legal dispute with Thomas Prothero, a Newport solicitor. The original problem concerned the will of John Frost's uncle, William Foster. Frost accused Prothero of being responsible for Foster's decision to exclude Frost from his will. When Frost included this in a letter, Prothero sued for libel and in March 1822, Frost was fined £1,000. Frost continued to accuse Prothero of malpractice and in February 1823, he was found guilty of libel again, and this time he was sent to prison for six months.
Frost was told he would serve a long prison sentence if he repeated his allegations against Thomas Prothero. Frost therefore decided to direct his anger against Prothero's close friend, Sir Charles Morgan, one of the major landowners in Newport. In 1830 he wrote a pamphlet, A Christmas Box for Sir Charles Morgan, where he accused the landowner of badly treating his tenants. In the pamphlet John Frost also advocated that universal suffrage and secret ballots was the only way to curb the power of people like Sir Charles Morgan.
Over the next five years Frost established himself as the leader of the supporters of universal suffrage in Newport. As a result of the Municipal Corporation Act, tradesman such as John Frost became more powerful in the running of towns. In 1835 Frost was elected as one of Newport's eighteen new councillors and was also appointed as a magistrate. The following year he was elected mayor. However, his aggressive behaviour upset a lot of people and Frost was replaced as mayor in 1837.
Frost became  an enthusiastic supporter of the People’s Charter, launched in 1837 to fulfil the aims of Chartism. A year later he was elected by his supporters to go to London and represent them at the National Convention organised by the Chartists as a sort of alternative Parliament  The Chartists wanted the vote for all men (though not for women) and a fairer electoral system. They also called for annual elections, the payment of MPs, and the introduction of a secret ballot. Working conditions in many coalfields and ironworks in South Wales were harsh, and there was often conflict between workers and employers. Across Britain men, women and children worked 14 hours a day for little reward. For a time workers looked to the Radicals in parliament, but the much talked about Reform Act Of 1832 only gave votes to the rich. John Frost said that the working man should 'look to no one but himself, for if he depends on those who are in superior situations, he will always be disappointed.' Chartism was about the working class looking to itself. Given these circumstances, it was no surprise that Chartism developed quickly. In the summer of 1838 a Working Men's Association was formed in Newport, Monmouthshire to publicise the People's Charter.


Following a split in the movement, Frost threw in his lot with the Physical Force Chartists, who advocated violent action to achieve reform. This outraged the Home Secretary Lord John Russell and in March 1839 Frost was sacked as a magistrate.
Around Britain, and especially in South Wales, discontent was smouldering  and in May 1838 eloquent speaker Henry Vincent was arrested for making inflammatory speeches. When he was tried on the 2nd August at Monmouth Assizes he was found guilty and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment. Vincent was denied writing materials and only allowed to read books on religion.
Chartists in Wales were furious and the decision was followed by several outbreaks of violence. Frost toured Wales making speeches urging people not to break the law. Frost's plan was to march on Newport where the Chartists planned to demand the release of Vincent.
The authorities in Newport heard rumours that the Chartists were armed and planned to seize Newport. Stories also began to circulate that if the Chartists were successful in Newport, it would encourage others all over Britain to follow their example. On 4 November 1839, 5,000 men roused with much anger  marched into Newport ,and attempted to take control of the town. They marched to  Westgate Hotel, where they had heard that after several more arrests, local authorities were temporarily holding several chartists, began chanting "surrender our prisoners". Troops protecting the hotel were then given the order to begin firing into the crowd, killing at least 22 people, and another fifty being wounded and resulted  in  the uprising being bought to an abrupt end. Among the injured was a Chartist named John Lovell, who was shot in the thigh and badly wounded. It would be the last large scale uprising in the history of  mainland Britain.


After the Chartist attack on the Westgate Hotel Frost and others involved in the march on Newport were arrested and charged with high treason. During Frost's trial  his popularity grew," His self-possession, dignity and respectability, reported during his trial at Monmouth impressed many people."
Several of the men, including John Frost, were found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered in what would be a traitor's death. The severity of the sentences shocked many people and protests meetings took place all over Britain.
Some Physical Force Chartists called for a military uprising but Feargus O'Connor refused to lead an insurrection.
The British Cabinet discussed the sentences and on 1st February the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, announced that instead of the men being executed they would be transported for life.
John Frost was sent to Tasmania where he worked for three years as a clerk and eight years as a school teacher. Chartists continued to campaign for the release of Frost. Thomas Duncombe pleaded Frost's case in the House of Commons but attempt to secure a pardon in 1846 was unsuccessful.
Duncombe refused to be defeated and in 1854 he persuaded the Prime Minister, Lord Aberdeen, to grant Frost a pardon but he stipulated that he must not enter British territory.
Frost and his daughter, Catherine, who had joined him in Tasmania, went to live in the United States. Frost toured the country lecturing on the unfairness of the British system of government.This campaign for his return  had kept running for 16 years, until he was an old man of 72 and he was finally granted a full pardon.
To the surprise of the authorities, he had not been forgotten and in 1856 several thousand people crowds turned out in Newport, London and elsewhere to see and hear this man of principle, and give him a hero's welcome. He told them that one day not only would they have the Charter but they would also have 'something more'--a better world where those who make the wealth would enjoy it to the full.
Frost retired to Stapleton near Bristol where he wrote articles for newspapers on subjects such as universal suffrage and prison reform. John Frost died at the  grand old age of ninety-three on 27th July, 1877.
John Frost Square, in Newport city centre, was named in his honour. A 1978  mural of the Newport rising in the square was shamefully  demolished in 2013 :- https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/destruction-of-chartist-mural.html
We should be grateful to John Frost, that almost all of the reforms for which he and the Chartists had campaigned had been enshrined in law. I believe it is important to respect and honour the legacy of the Chartists and John Frost and the sacrifices they made , as the struggles for democracy continue. Many people have been arguing that modern politics is broken, and now is a time for a  new People's charter. Generations later  the fight to defeat elite driven policies continues, for the many not the few. There is still so much to fight for.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Light rises up


When  blinded by our differences
Life often makes no sense at all,

It's enough to darken the soul
The world  falling  apart at the seams,
Nothing left but blood and bodies
Images that haunt our compassion,
Some people will shout for vengeance
Others  will sing songs of peace and love,
Finding time to ease the pain
Light  candles among the darkness.
.
Mourning the loss of innocents
That fall on this twisted earth;
United in grief and solidarity
We stand together and cry,
Carrying the weight of heartache
The need for blind retribution must die,
Step by step we can run from  fear
try to reconcile ourselves with one another.

Clinging on to healing overtones
Find the strength and courage to move on;
To a place where hate refuses to grow
Too much pain keeps us suffocating
Not sure we can withstand much more,.
Lets spread  tender inclinations
Build bridges out of  destruction,
In moments of despair cling on.

There is much in life worth saving
But we have to keep working together;
Otherwise the same old divisions take hold
And the second we close our eyes;
Every advance we've ever made
Drowns in  pools of  impossibility;
Hold hands now with your neighbour
Share what you have in common
Beyond our different sadness, light rises up.


* The above poem can also be found here :-


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Manchester Terror Aftermath


At least 22 people were killed and up to 50 injured in an explosion at the end of a concert by pop star Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena last night.  Prime Minister Theresa May said the incident was being treated as a terrorist attack. People are being urged not to speculate about the attacker's identity or share names until police confirm more details.
If confirmed, it would be the deadliest militant assault on Britain since four British Muslims killed 52 people in suicide bombings on London’s transport system in July 2005.
Police responded to reports of an explosion shortly after 10:35pm at the arena, which has a capacity for 21,000 people, and where the U.S. singer had been performing to an audience that included many children
The S**n  newspaper this morning sickeningly has since been using this terrible tragedy to push their own disgusting political agenda .Their article about Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell  on their front page is opportunist, ill-timed, inaccurate and quite simply beyond the pale.The Daily Mail equally should be ashamed of itself.
We cannot let this latest incident make us more divided, if this is the case the perpetrator's job is done.All over the UK we cannot allow our communities to slip in to fear and hate, which is what whoever was behind this would want. There are too many bad people out there who see things like this as something to exploit sadly. We need as much goodwill now as ever before, and that goes for all of us.
I remember that dear Jane was a frequent gig goer in Manchester and worker, thank goodness to the  people of Manchester,  who valiantly helped out to save lives last night, they will mourn, but will not be cowed  ever. Have been reading reports  of acts of kindness and resilience in light off the attack, people across Manchester offering up rooms for those affected by the suspected attack, donating blood and taxi drivers provided free lifts as road closures left survivors unable to get home. In Manchester's darkest hour the cities huge spirit still shines through. The city has come together after previous incidents, and hopefully will carry on going from strength to strength.
While politicians bicker daily at how best to run the NHS and how many policemen and women should be on our streets, it is quite something to hear reports of how they have continued to work under the greatest of stress. It’s at desperate times like this where we should all be grateful to the dedicated men and women in the emergency services..
This post dedicated and in loving memory and in defiance of all those who would harm innocents for a murderous cause. Hopefully the perpetrators will face the full weight of justice.
Several people are still missing in the wake of the attack and their pictures are being circulated on social media. Their friends and family are asking people to retweet and share them in the hope of finding them.A hotline has been set up for anyone concerned about loved ones who may not have returned home.  Families and friends can ring 0161 856 9400 or 0161 856 9900.
Now is not the time for politics, it is time to show some bloody respect to those that died and those who have been injured. May the 22 rest in peace and the rest of us live in peace.
In the meantime, if you want to donate money, Manchester Evening News has set up a crowdfunder for the families of victims of the attack.

If you felt inclined to make a complaint to the Independent press standards organisation, about certain newspapers inflammatory reportage you can do so here:- https://www.ipso.co.uk/make-a-complaint/complaints-form/

Monday, 22 May 2017

You Ain't Done Nothing If You Ain't Been Called a Red


The American folk music revival during the early half of the 20th century was infused with a very strong sense of left-wing rebel sentiment .The following song makes me smile from ear to ear. An inspiring one, that hopefully makes people, get up and want to make the world a better place.
Maybe not as popular as “Solidarity Forever” or “The Red Flag”, but this one is still one glorious uplifting anthem . I simply love its fighting spirit. I for one am not ashamed to be called a Red.
Taken from Rebel Voices: Songs of the Industrial Workers of the World.An extensive collection of writings by and about the Industrial Workers of the World union in the US, compiled and edited by Joyce L Kornbluh and first published in 1964.
http://libcom.org/history/rebel-voices-iww-anthology

You Ain't Done Nothing If You Ain't Been Called a Red

When I was just a little thing I used to love parades
with banners, bands and red balloons and maybe lemonade
when I came home one mayday my neighbours father said
them marchers is all commies tell me kid are you a red?


well, I didnt know just what he meant my hair back then was brown
our house was plain red brick like most others in the town
so I went and asked my mamma why our neighbour called me red
my mummy took me on her knee and this is what she said

Well you ain't done nothin' if you ain't been called a red
if you've marched or agitated, you're bound to hear it said
so you might as well ignore it, or love the word instead
cause you ain't been doin' nothin' if you ain't been called a red

When I was growin' up, had my troubles I suppose
when someone took exception to my face or to my clothes
or tried to cheat me on a job or hit me on the head
when I organised to fight back why the stinkers called me red

But you ain't done nothin' if you ain't been called a red
if youv'e marched or agitated, you're bound to hear it said
so you might as well ignore it, or love the word instead
cause you ain't been doin' nothin' if you ain't been called a red

When I was livin' on my own one apartment that I had
had a lousy rotten landlord let me tell ya he was bad
but when he tried to throw me out I rubbed my hands and said
you haven't seen a struggle if you haven't fought a red!


And you ain't done nothin' if you ain't been called a red
if you've marched or agitated, then you're bound to hear it said
so you might as well ignore it, or love the word instead
'cause you ain't been doin' nothin' if you ain't been called a red

Well I kept on agitatin', cause what else can you do?
you're gonna let the sons of bitches walk all over you
my friends said you'll get fired, hanging with that commie mob
I should be so lucky buddy, I ain't got a job

And you ain't done nothin' if you ain't been called a red
if you've marched or agitated, then you're bound to hear it said
so you might as well ignore it, or love the word instead
cause you ain't been doin' nothin' if you ain't been called a red

Well I've been agitatin' now for fifty years or more
for jobs or for equality and always against war
I'll keep on agitatin' as far as I can see
and if that's what being red is then It's good enough for me

'cause you ain't done nothin' if you ain't been called a red
if you've marched or agitated, then you're bound to hear it said
so you might as well ignore it, or love the word instead
cause you ain't been doin' nothin' if you ain't been called a red


Here's a fantastic version by 96 year old Faith Petric. Simply awesome



Saturday, 20 May 2017

Theresa May: She’s a Liar Liar! You can’t trust her - Captain Ska



Captain SKA's track 'Liar Liar' has been remastered to target Theresa May and the Conservative Party for the General Election. It's a scathing attack on Tory Government's record.
It only takes a few thousand downloads to get it in the top 40s. We need your help to spread the word to your friends, family, workmates.
In 2010 the original track hit No 1 in the UK Reggae charts - the target that time being Cameron, Clegg and the Coalition government. In the run up to such a crucial election we want to think big and get it into the official top 40- obliging the BBC to play it on the airways  reaching millions.
Today I share a short teaser video - please share on social media, spread the word and get ready to download it on Friday 26 MayAll proceeds during the election will be split between foodbanks, and  The People’s Assembly Against Austerity directly helping those suffering most at the hands of the Tories and and also to help sustain a campaign for the alternative to austerity.
The group says it was “just so angry” recently when Theresa May appeared in one of her first proper media interviews of the election campaign. In her interview with Andrew Marr on 30 April, the presenter challenged May’s record in several key areas. And in particular, he asked about her record on public sector workers who’ve received below inflation pay rises. Marr said:We have nurses going to food banks at the moment. That must be wrong.
The country has seen food bank usage grow and grow under the Conservatives. And what left Captain SKA and others across Britain so angry was May’s failure to give a simple and convincing response to Marr’s point. The Conservative leader simply said: there are many complex reasons why people go to food banks
She also claimed that the problem would only be solved “if you have a government that understands the importance of that strength in the economy”. This in spite of organisations like The Resolution Foundation saying we’re set for the biggest rise in inequality since the Thatcher years. And after seven years of Tory rule, it’s difficult not to point the finger.
Theresa May has already undertaken a number of U-turns since she became Prime Minister. She also has the record of being only the second Home Secretary in history to have been found in contempt of court. A ruling which saw a judge slam her behaviour as “regrettable and unacceptable”.
And her party doesn’t have a much better record itself. In fact, citizens have almost come to expect that the Conservatives will break their promises:
2010 saw Captain SKA hit the spotlight for the first time with the original version of Liar Liar – aimed at the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition:



More recently, the group recorded the following song, which it “dedicated to everyone fighting against the privatisation of our public services”. The inspiration behind the song, it said, was the increasing “marketisation of our education system”; a system in which “head teachers are having to focus far too much time on business plans, marketing strategies and league tables”.



The Conservative government and their toxic flotilla of cuts are ruthlessly hacking away jobs, damaging vulnerable lives and chipping away at the very fabric of our society. We cannot afford to stand by and let this country sail towards a future of inequality.

For more from Captain SKA, check out their YouTubeFacebook and Twitter pages.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017


Old people - we'll take your house and your pension  and make sure  you pay for your own social care

Young people - We offer you no future

Poor people - we'll keep making you poorer

Benefit Claimants - we  will exterminate, exterminate

Children - buy your own lunch you scroungers, Theresa May strong and stable will steal the food from your table

Workers - have less money

Public Services - Cut, Cut, Cut

An affordable home for every landlord

Tax dodging corporations - we'll spend even less chasing you

Cut taxes to the rich

Corrupt millionaires - don't worry we're getting rid of the serious fraud office

Kill more wildlife

Corporate Media - Thank you for having our back , we'll cancel that pesky enquiry into your ethics

NHS -  cackling laughter and the sound of circling vultures

More Fracking

Hard Brexit

No turning back

Strong and Stable

Light on detail

Repeat , Strong and Stable

Vote Conservative June 8th

You Know it makes no sense at all

( Disclaimer: We don't have to live in the dystopia  outlined  by Theresa May . The wonderful thing about living in a democracy is that we have a choice, a fairer Britain  or the backward vision summarised here.)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

R.I.P Chris Cornell, singer and songwriter for Soundgarden, dead at 52 (20/7/ 64 - 17/5/17)


Sad to hear that, the powerful dynamic singer Chris Cornell, best known as the lead singer of the grungeband Soundgarden, who were one of the architects of grunge music has  passed away  Wednesday night just hours after a sold-out show in Detroit.
He was 52.
The singer-songwriter made his name with the Seattle-based rock band,  founded in 1984 creating such hits as “Black Hole Sun” and "Spoonman" in the 1990s, before branching out to create Audioslave, where he found renewed success with former members of Rage Against the Machine.
Prior to Audioslave, Cornell lent his impressive vocal range to another supergroup to honor his deceased friend Andrew Wood by teaming up with members of Pearl Jam to create Temple of the Dog.
Cornell had been on tour with his band and tweeted out a message celebrating their return to the "Rock City" just before performing Wednesday evening.The musician's representative Brian Bumbery confirmed the news that he passed away. The cause of death is currently unknown, but was sudden and unexpected, and the police in  Detroit are treating the death as a possible suicide.
Whatever the circumstances heartbreaking nevertheless for all his friends and family, and his legion of admirers.Bumbery stated that Cornell's wife, Vicky Karayiannis, and family were shocked by his "sudden and unexpected" death.
Mr. Cornell appeared to be active on social media in the hours before his death. A post on his Twitter account on Wednesday announced that the group had arrived in Detroit, and a clip of the group’s 2012 release “By Crooked Steps” was posted to his official Facebook page hours before his death.
Mr. Cornell had admitted in interviews to struggling with drug use  and depression throughout his life. In a 1994 Rolling Stone article, he described himself as a “daily drug user at 13,” who had quit by the time he turned 14.
After Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, Mr. Cornell returned to heavy drug use, he told The Guardian in a 2009 interview, describing himself as a “pioneer” in the abuse of the opiate OxyContin, and saying that he had gone to rehab.
Cornell also pushed himself as solo artist, putting out four studio albums between 1999 and 2015.Known for his soulful covers of popular songs. Cornell co-wrote and performed “You Know My Name,” the theme song for the 2006 “James Bond” film, “Casino Royale.”
He released the single "The Promise" in March on iTunes, with all proceeds going to the International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian aid, relief and development nongovernmental organization.
In addition to his music, Cornell also became involved in philanthropy and started the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support children facing challenges, including homelessness, poverty, abuse and neglect.
Out of the big four, the original vocalists for Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains are all dead now… Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is now the only living original singer of these bands.
R.I.P Chris Cornell far too young. Tough one this one , as is every passing, but did listen to his beautiful voice quite a lot over the years. Can hear him singing at moment, his  unique voice lives on. Hey Chris say hello to Jane, a favourite person, who keeps reminding me over and over what could have been..

Chris Cornell -  Black hole Sun ( solo acoustic)



Chris Cornell - Be Yourself  (solo acoustic)


Chris Cornell - The Promise



International Rescue Committee

https://www.rescue.org/

The Samaritans offer support and advice to people feeling suicidal or vulnerable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Their website is http://www.samaritans.org, email address jo@samaritans.org or call free on 116 123.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Brave Whistleblower Chelsea Manning walks free at last


In fantastic news Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of giving classified government  material to WikiLeaks was released this morning from a Kansas military prison after serving a punishing, cruel seven years
Manning who was born  in  Oklahoma  to a Welsh mother spent part of her formative years in Pembrokeshire following her parents divorce. She attended Tasker Millward School and still has friends and family in the area. As well as her mother, she has aunts and other relatives in Wales who have been  campaigning  for her release since she was jailed. She also has many supporters in Ireland, where her granddad, Billy Fox emigrated from Dublin to Wales in 1948.
President Barak Obama had granted 29 year old Chelsea clemency on  his final days in office in January.
In 2010, the former military intelligence analyst, then known as Private First Class Bradley Manning, provided thousands of secret documents to WikiLeaks, Manning was given a 35-year sentence by a court martial. A extraordinarily punitive punishment for a crime which brought direct physical harm to no one. Much to the contrary, Manning’s act had the highly beneficial effect of providing previously-concealed information to the public, which otherwise would have been kept under wraps.
Manning for many was  nothing less than an honourable whistleblower who felt compelled to tell the world about apparent US wrongdoing in its military conduct in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Working as a US intelligence analyst in Iraq, Manning began to see documents that convinced her that the US military was committing war crimes overseas and doing nothing to bring the perpetrators to justice. Worse, it may well have been deliberately covering up such conduct.
The best-known example was the attack by two US Apache helicopters on a group of civilians in the al-Amin al-Thaniyah district of Baghdad on July 12 2007.At least 12 people were killed,when US military conduct in Iraq was highly dubious, here was vivid cockpit video and audio laying bare the callous behaviour of the US pilots. Some of their cockpit commentary includes language like: “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards … nice. Nice. Good shootin’.”
Other documents including “after-action reports” describing US soldiers’ experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, proving that civilian deaths were far higher than officially acknowledged. The cables revealed damning evidence of official US lying, including dossiers on the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay proving that most of them had no significant role in terrorist operations.
Chelsea fulfilled her legal duty to report war crimes . She complied with her duty to obey lawful orders but also her duty to disobey unlawful orders. Enshrined in the U.S Army Subject Schedule No , 27 -1 is ' obligation to report all violations of the rule of war.'
Manning went to her chain of command and asked them to investigate  the Collateral Murder video and other "war  porn" but her superiors refused. Manning's revelations actually saved lives. After WikiLeaks published her documentation of Iraqi torture centres established by the United  States , the Iraqi Government refused Obama's request to extend immunity to U.S . soldiers who commit criminal and civil offenses there. As a result  Obama had to withdraw U.S forces from Iraq.
In a just world, Chelsea Manning wouldn’t have been jailed and tortured, but celebrated as a hero for alerting the public to the crimes of its government.
From July 2010 to April 2011, she was held under atrocious conditions at Quantico Marine brig in Virginia, much of that time stripped naked as a “security” measure. All told, Chelsea Manning spent nearly a year and a half in solitary confinement, 23 hours a day, a form of detention classified as torture by human rights groups
What happened to Manning as a result of her whistleblowing is well-known.The revelations over wrongdoing (including the Baghdad helicopter attack) went un-investigated, while Manning herself was court-martialled and given the longest sentence in US history for leaking information.
This low-ranking, twenty-something was punished in such a way as to send an unmistakable message to other would-be whistleblowers. .Ahead of Manning’s court martial in the summer of 2013, Edward Snowden had exposed a previously unknown global apparatus of surveillance being run by the US’s National Security Agency.If the US authorities couldn’t get Snowden (who was granted asylum in Russia), they could certainly punish Manning.
You might think the US military authorities wouldn’t stoop to vindictiveness when punishing one of their own, but you’d be wrong.During eight months of pre-trial solitary confinement at the US marine corps base Quantico in Virginia, Manning was kept in often cruel and degrading conditions confined in a windowless 12-feet-by-six-feet cell containing only a bed, a toilet and a sink
After putting Manning on suicide watch, the Quantico authorities subjected her to a regime of draconian and demeaning rules: clothing and glasses confiscated, required to observe strict verbal commands and replies, even at one point having to sleep and stand to attention completely naked.
In an Amnesty podcast pod cast from last year Manning said;
“The conditions in my cell were far beyond what is normally associated with solitary confinement. I needed permission to do anything in my cell. I was not allowed to move around the cell to exercise. I was not allowed to sit down with my back against the wall.”
It was all clearly designed to break Manning down ahead of her court martial, and the UN believed it was part of “an effort to coerce her into ‘co-operation’ with the authorities,” possibly to pressure her into implicating others.
Manning almost died as a result of her incarcernation , having to endure long stretches of solitary confinement and the systematic denial of health care, and relentless abuse, despite this she survived and continued to use her voice to speak out about human rights. To fight against the injustices she went on hunger strike. And clinged on to an unrelenting sense of compassion and justice despite all that she had to endure.
Activists  drew attention to her through actions and protest,  rallies were held throughout the world, ads were taken out in major papers, billboards were rented near her trial and prison,petitions signed
contingents marched in solidarity with Manning during pride parades around the world, and supporters packed the military court room, even as the court martial proceedings dragged on for months. These supporters, like myself must be overjoyed currently with the news that Chelsea is now free.
Last week Chelsea released a statement saying:"For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea. I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world. Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine. Now, freedom is something that I will again experience with friends and loved ones after nearly seven years of bars and cement, of periods of solitary confinement, and of my health care and autonomy restricted, including through routinely forced haircuts. I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team and countless supporters.
"I have watched the world change from inside prison walls and through the letters that I have received from veterans, trans young people, parents, politicians and artists. My spirits were lifted in dark times, reading of their support, sharing in their triumphs, and helping them through challenges of their own. I hope to take the lessons that I have learned, the love that I have been given, and the hope that I have to work toward making life better for others."
Now she is free at last , closing a painful chapter on what has been an extraordinary and thoroughly disturbing saga. 
Manning almost died as a result of her incarcernation , having to endure long stretches of solitary confinement and the systematic denial of health care, and relentless abuse, despite this she survived and continued to use her voice to speak out about human rights. To fight against the injustices she went on hunger strike. And clinged on to an unrelenting sense of compassion and justice despite all that she had to endure. Manning has kept in touch with her supporters and the outside world throughout her experience mainly through Twitter. Recently, she wrote of her pending release: “I want that indescribable feeling of connection with people and nature again, without razor wire or a visitation booth. I want to be able to hug my family and friends again. And swimming—I want to go swimming!”
With her freedom, she will be leaving behind the abuses of prison but also the life she built there. The family of other incarcerated people who kept her alive when she was cut off from the rest of the world.In February after her commutation, Chelsea wrote to her friends inside:
“I never would have made it without you. Not only did you teach me these important lessons, but you made sure I felt cared for. You were the people who helped me to deal with the trauma of my regular haircuts. You were the people who checked on me after I tried to end my life. You were the people that played fun games with me. Who wished me a Happy Birthday. We shared the holidays together. You were and will always be family.”
Ahead of Manning's release, Amnesty International called for an investigation into the potential human rights violations exposed by the soldier. 
The organization called for protections to be put in place to ensure safety for whistleblowers like Manning.  'While we celebrate her freedom, we will continue to call for an independent investigation into the potential human rights violations she exposed, and for protections to be put in place to ensure whistleblowers like Chelsea are never again subjected to such appalling treatment,' Margaret Huang, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, said: in a statement. 
Huang added: 'Chelsea's treatment is especially galling given that nobody has been held accountable for the alleged crimes that she brought to light. 
'The US authorities' vindictive treatment of Chelsea Manning after she exposed potential military wrongdoing is a sad reflection of the extremes those in power often go to in order to deter others from speaking out.' 
We should remain critical of a government  intent  on punishing and prosecuting someone who exposed war crimes , rather than those who commit them.Chelsea's brave whistleblowing exposed  the corruption of our governments and the brutality of our wars. Thanks to Chelsea we have a clearer picture of what needs to be done. We need whistleblowers like Chelsea more than we ever have before. We have lot to learn from her. We should celebrate the strength and heroism she has shown. After her release from her ruthless ordeal she will  need the continual support from her legions of admirers worldwide, I hope she continues to get the respect and healing that she deserves as she now takes her first steps to freedom, and  works to rebuild her life.
Ahead of Manning's release, a group of musicians released a compilation album with all proceeds to go to the former soldier as she starts a new life.' Hugs for Chelsea,' here's a link:
a digital album available for a $25 donation, featuring tracks by artists known for their left-wing activism including Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and Sonic Youth co-founder Thurston Moore. 

“Thank you for what you did for everyone, Chelsea. Stay strong a while longer!”   – Edward Snowden