Thursday, December 25, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

"Palestinian and foreign activists and journalists within the 40 kilometer-long strip of open-air prison tweeted and live-streamed images more horrific than the best Hollywood productions. Weathered journalists broke down sobbing at the sight of Palestinian civilians, especially children being targeted like prey by one of the world's most wickedly powerful armies and navies. Doctors who have seen the mutilated corpses and scarcely-living bodies of Palestinian elderly, men, women and children many times before were yet still appalled by the brutality of these latest attacks."

Eva Bartlett

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


A few years ago, I can't remember the year, I was following the Tour de France on a circuit that passed through Brittany. One place name on the route intrigued me, Saint-Jean-Brévelay. Who was this Saint John? The full name was reminiscent of Saint John of Beverley, an early medieval bishop in my home territory.
Saints featuring in Breton place names have a variety of origins, but usually, as far as I could tell were Celtic, Ronan (Irish), Aneirin (British), etc. John of Beverley was an Anglo-Saxon and had never visited the ancient nation of the Bretons. So how did his cult take root here with enough devotion for him to leave his mark on the topography?
As sometimes happens I found the answer among the literature lying about at home while looking for something else.
An article in "The East Yorkshire Historian", volume 4 (2003) was entitled "The Life and death of St John of Beverley". It was by Pamela R. Hopkins.
I quote -
"Abroad, by the eleventh century, his feast day was included in Breton church calendars at Vannes and Nantes. Saint-Jean-de-Brevelay (sic), in Brittany, claims to have part of the skull of saint John of Beverley. Susan Wilson, in her thesis The Cult of saint John of Beverley states that these relics could have been given by King Athelstan to his godson, Alain Barbe-Torte, when he returned to Brittany to reclaim his land, after having taken refuge at Athelstan's court for many years."

Athelstan was "King of the English" in the first half of the tenth century.
Alain Barbe-Torte, Duke of Brittany, died 952.
Wikipedia gives the name of Saint-Jean-Brévelay as Sant-Yann-Brevele in the Breton language. No date given for the founding of the settlement.
It appears, surprisingly, that neither the Yorkshire town nor the Breton commune have considered twinning.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The story behind a song; the creative process, the influences, the contributors, the differing memories and accounts. I love it. I love the song, I love the video, and I miss Kirsty MacColl.

Monday, December 08, 2014

More of the same - these provocateurs pretend to be Palestinians, then kidnap children. Anyone who tries to rescue this poor kid is threatened with shooting.
We are witnessing the accelerating disintegration of Ersatz Israel, a failed experiment in colonisation, and transplantation of populations. Many innocents on both sides will suffer in the coming débacle. Palestinians like this lad at the moment, but when the opportunity for retribution presents itself can we expect to avoid bloodshed and persecution?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bland Aid (fleece the world)

No knighthoods, honorary or otherwise, for these folks.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Last week the death was announced of María del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, 18th Duchess of Alba. Now in addition to the Dukedom of Alba this lady held four other Dukedoms, including the Berwick title of the Fitzjames. Then there were the 18 condados (countships) amongst a muliplicity of titles of nobility and grandeza.
Now the original Dukedom of Alba was held by a family called Álvarez, then passed by marriage to a family named Silva, then to Fitz-James Stuart. This hoovering up of titles by means of marital alliances seems to be particularly common in Spain. Some systems of nobility don't allow titles to pass through a female line. The Alba example of titles sticking together like flies on flypaper suggests to me the possibility that one day, in the distant future all Spanish titles of nobility might be invested in one individual staggering under the weight of a redundancy of noblesse.
My interest in the Irish diaspora once brought to my attention a Spanish gent styled the Conde de Morphy, anglicised as Count Morphy. He was the grandson of an Irishman named Murphy and was ennobled by reason of a post as secretary to the then Queen of Spain.
The count died sine prole, that is, childless. So did the title die with him as it surely would have in Britain? No, it passed by some means to an Irish niece, and as far as I know is extant. The last named holder of the title that I found had one of those multiple surnames, all Spanish, favoured by the hidalguía. This individual was probably completely deficient of the Murphy gene, but the Condado de Morphy lives on.

Addenda: It turns out that I short-changed this lady on the list of her baptismal names She was María del Rosario Cayetana Paloma Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Fernanda Teresa Francisca de Paula Lourdes Antonia Josefa Fausta Rita Castor Dorotea Santa Esperanza Fitz-James Stuart, Silva, Falcó y Gurtubay.

I also underestimated the number of titles that became attached to her person. There is a fuller list on Wikipedia

Friday, November 21, 2014

So now we know why it goes on and on and on ...

Sexual Abuse Against Palestinian Child Detainees Reported
"... the Queen mother famously stated that she would have been happy for the Nazis to invade the UK, as long as they kept the Royal family."
God bless yer, Ma'am (tugs forelock).

The contrasting fates of Alan Turing and Lord Sempill

Monday, November 17, 2014

(Carlos Latuff)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

... and on and on and ...

Now it's two-year-olds.

Friday, October 31, 2014

I'm struggling at the moment with a work called "Against World Literature" by Emily Apter (Verso, 2013). Struggling because it is in great part written in academic language of theoretical discussion, far above my head. Let me cite an example -

"The emergent paradigm of a prophetic, discontinuous chronotope capable of releasing the now-time while projecting a narrative hologram of divine program, can be seen as nothing short of an attempt to reconcile worldly 'reality' (Weltwirklichkeit) with messianic eschatology."

Yet there is so much of interest in this book for me. Its theme is translation, translatability and untranslatability, a subject that does exercise my mind from time to time. There are essays here that I want to read, and will, perhaps without taking as much from them as one dedicated to the study of language and translation. I'm sure it was not intended for the lay person.
I didn't know that Eleanor Marx Aveling, daughter of Big Karl, translated Flaubert's Madame Bovary into English.
I was interested that the author discusses Wu Ming and the Novel "Manituana"; and I was pleasantly surprised that Umberto Eco is nowhere mentioned.
But most intriguing for me is a chapter entitled "Paranoid Globalism which covers the fiction of writers such as Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon, and apprises me of an American artist named Mark Lombardi, until now unknown.

"Anti-market cyber communism emerges as the tain of capitalism's paranoid mirror; both are world-systems that are everywhere and nowhere reliant on their formal invisibility to mobilize paranoid projection as a social imagery. It is a credit to the acuity of the artist Mark Lombardi that he devised ways of making visible this highly elusive relationality of the virtual world, mapping unseen economies that contour the globe. In a series of diagrams (assembled in his 2003 'Global Networks' retrospective at the Drawing Center in New York), based on information and statistics mined from public databases, Lombardi transforms corporate and political scandals into cartographies of conspiracy. He charts capital flow using a system of delicate skeins, arrows, and hubs that indicate the paths of illicit money transfers, laundering operations, and offshore accounting. The Bank of Credit and Commerce International is thus revealed in a compromising web of connectedness to the Saudi Bank of Paris, Osama Bin Laden, the Houston Main Bank, and George H. W. Bush. Whether it is Meyer Lansky's financial network circa 1960-78, Oliver North's Iran-Contra operation of 1984-86, the Keating savings and loan debacle of 1978-90, or the Harken Energy scam of 1979-90, Lombardi's maps of corporate kleptocracy clearly illustrate how all the dots are connected in ways that were always suspected but rarely worked out in such detail. Little surprise, then, that FBI representatives appeared at the opening of his posthumous retrospective and expressed their incredulity that an artist with access only to information in the public domain, and working without a computerized database, could have plotted the scandals with such accuracy. Rumors also flew that the artist's apparent suicide was actually a murder motivated by any number of possible parties whose illicit finances he had exposed."

More on Mark Lombardi here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

On the 28th February last year I published a photograph of a gang attacking a Palestinian woman under my "Zionist Heroes" label.
It turns out that three of the women assailants in the photograph are now suing the photographer for defamation. It seems that they are upset that the world has witnessed their thuggery.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"By all appearances, Google’s bosses genuinely believe in the civilizing power of enlightened multinational corporations, and they see this mission as continuous with the shaping of the world according to the better judgment of the “benevolent superpower.” They will tell you that open-mindedness is a virtue, but all perspectives that challenge the exceptionalist drive at the heart of American foreign policy will remain invisible to them. This is the impenetrable banality of “don’t be evil.” They believe that they are doing good. And that is a problem."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

... and on, and on ...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Those poor settlers, struggling against olive-picking female terrorists. Olives contain stones, you know, and stones are the Palestinians terrorists' weapon of choice. Why do the US media ignore such stories of heroism?

Monday, October 06, 2014

Back in April of 2012 I posted a piece about Roman East Yorkshire and the civitas of Petuaria near Hull.
I stated that the forerunner of Hull, Wyke came into existence in late medieval times, and inferred that there was no settlement in the Hull area in Roman times.
I was wrong. Though the evidence for a settlement in the area is archaeological and no written record has turned up to date.
I quote here from a recent publication, "The Parisi: Britons and Romans in East Yorkshire" (The History Press, Stroud, 2013), the work of Dr. Peter Halkon of Hull University.*

"For many years ... it was supposed that much of the lower Hull Valley around the City of Kingston upon Hull itself was devoid of Roman activity because it was under water and the few Roman finds handed in to Hull Museums were attributed to servicemen returning from overseas losing the ancient souvenirs picked up during their foreign postings in the First and Second World Wars ... In the series of excavations undertaken in the Old Town, the discovery of Roman pottery showed that buried Roman land surfaces may exist (Bartlett, 1971), but it was not until 1984 that this suspicion was confirmed when the owner of a new house at Greylees Avenue, on the outskirts of the city just off Beverley High Road, not far from the West Bank of the River Hull, recognised samian and other Roman pottery as he prepared his new garden. The occupant informed Hull Museums and the subsequent excavation yielded 4,000 Roman finds from the later first to fourth centuries AD, including building remains and ditches suggestive of land management."
(Halkon p.156)

"Excavation in the 1990s in the Sutton Fields Industrial Estate at Malmo Road, to the east of the River Hull, revealed drip-gullies from rectilinear buildings, postholes, pits and ditches and a 60m cobbled trackway ... Further investigation was undertaken here in 2005 ... with finds including ceramic building material, animal bone and pottery from the second and third centuries AD. The ceramic building material included tiling from both roofs and central heating systems and a fragment from a stamped tile of the VI Legion. These find are intriguing: is this a demonstration that people local to the area here had fully absorbed Roman lifestyles. or was the site in some way connected along the river system to the legionary fortress at York?"
(ibid., p.157)

The reference to Bartlett, 1971, is to a report on excavations in Hull's old town in the Kingston upon Hull Museums Bulletin, nos.3 and 4, 1971, by John Bartlett, and entitled "The Medieval Walls of Hull".
I quote -
"In the museum there are a number of complete Roman pots from Hull i.e. from Thoresby Street and from National Avenue, and extensive collections of sherds from the neighbourhood of Haworth Hall, from the Barmston Drain near Endike Lane and from Saltend. It is therefore not true, as has sometimes been suggested, that before the foundation of medieval Wyke the site that was to become Hull had always been uninhabited. How important Romano-British settlement was around the lower reaches of the River Hull cannot yet be estimated. It seems likely that a Romano-British land surface exists below the town at considerable depth sealed by sterile layers of river alluvium laid down in Saxon times. It is only very exceptionally that there has been any penetration in modern times down to these depths."
(loc cit., p 26)

I feel the need for some names, locative or personal, to place these artefacts in a human context.

*In my earlier post I referred to this local population (tribe?) as the Parisii, because that was the spelling I first encountered. I know also that I've seen Roman Brough called "Petuaria Parisiorum", only later did I see the spellings Parisi and Parisorum. I have not emended my earlier post.
Halkon does discuss a connection between the the Parisi of Britannia and the Parisii of Gaul, and cites favourable evidence while remaining neutral on the topic.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

[Salman] "Abu Sitta went to Geneva for a week to check out the newly-opened archives of the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross]. According to him, the archives were opened to the public after accusations that the ICRC had sided with the Nazis during World War II. It was an opportunity that he could not miss in terms of seeing what the ICRC had recorded of the events that occurred in Palestine in 1948. It was there he stumbled onto records discussing the existence of five concentration camps run by the Israelis."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hidden history - first I've heard of a planned coup to oust Franklin D. Roosevelt, or of the Black Legion.
Headline I read today
"IS wants to destroy civilisation"
Well, IS, or whatever your name is this week, all you have to do is sit back and watch the news. The US is doing a damned good job of global destruction.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"For years, reporters have watched Israeli soldiers bait Palestinian children by abusing them through loud-speakers. Then they shoot them dead. For years, reporters have known about Palestinian women about to give birth and refused passage through a roadblock to a hospital; and the baby has died, and sometimes the mother.
"For years, reporters have known about Palestinian doctors and ambulance crews given permission by Israeli commanders to attend the wounded or remove the dead, only to be shot through the head.
"For years, reporters have known about stricken people prevented from getting life-saving treatment, or shot dead when they've tried to reach a clinic for chemotherapy treatment. One elderly lady with a walking stick was murdered in this way - a bullet in her back."
(John Pilger)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

... and on and on ...

... and on and on and ...

Sunday, September 07, 2014

On and on it goes, but look out brave warriors, the headscarves are coming.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Funny thing -
I'm looking round the garden this morning and see a butterfly, a Red Admiral on the bird table. Surely it's not eating crumbs. Maybe it's on the way out and has flopped there. I approach the table and the butterfly takes off. So I continue walking round, then I turn and see the butterfly is back. Now it's on the inside of a bowl of water and looks like it's taking a drink. This is weird!
I go over to the table and see that there's something in the water - a pigeon feather? A closer look informs that it's a large moth and the butterfly seems to be touching it with it's nose, or whatever protrudes at the forward end of a butterfly. I take hold of the bowl and the butterfly's off again. I drop the bowl on the grass to get rid of the mucky water and the dead creature, and what do you know? 'Dead' creature starts to flutter about the ground.
What can I do? Nothing, is my decision. I leave the moth (or is it a colourless butterfly?) to dry out survive or perish, or make a meal for a passing bird. Well, I couldn't take it to a vet and I don't know any hospital for lepidoptera.
Later my missus goes in the garden and sees that the Red Admiral is back and on the grass keeping the moth company.
Sad end to strange tale; the moth died and it's companion disappeared.

How to explain? I can't. Insect solidarity? Empathy? Altruism? I'm stumped.

Correction (6.9.14): The butterfly was not a Red Admiral but a Peacock, the missus tells me.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

This week I finally got my hands on a record I've been after for years. It's the incidental music from a film of Roger Vadim call "Sait-on jamais ...". I give the original title because nobody seems to agree on its English name. I've seen it under the name "When the Devil Drives" and "One never Knows". The title on the album was "No Sun in Venice", which is maybe what it was called in the USA.
The music is by the Modern Jazz Quartet, and I love it. Now at last I've got it, along with three other MJQ albums on one CD - bargain.
The film itself has always fascinated me. I've referred to it before as a portent of the Nouvelle Vague. I have seen a review of the film by J-L Godard, vaguely positive is all one can say of that. It is for me a cult film whose only adherent is my sorry self, though I think I remember somebody I met in the army who knew it and approved.
Here's some bella musica, from John Lewis's score -

In addition to the MJQ's music, we were treated to a Gerald McBoing boing cartoon, a song by Juliette Greco, and snatches of a favourite song of mine, Bécaud's "Alors Raconte". Then there was my favourite screen villain, Robert Hossein, doing his nasty thing. To ask for more would be greedy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Today, being under the weather and unable to go anywhere, I watched a film I've borrowed - Inside Llewyn Davis, a Coen Brothers film about a sixties folk singer.
Now I was a haunter of folk clubs in the sixties, so this was something of a nostalgia trip for me. I knew pretty much all the songs, though sometimes with slightly different lyrics, and I sang along with as much gusto as my weakening vocal chords would allow.
The main character, Llewyn Davis is supposed to be based on Dave Van Ronk, an influential figure in Greenwich Village, New York, USA, in the early sixties. If D.V.R. was anything like Llewyn D. then he was an objectionable twat. I hope that's not the case. D.V.R. was a Wobbly, an IWW, for some part of his existence, and passed through a selection of the 57 varieties of Marxist groupuscules in his time.
One of the characters in the film, Roland Turner, is played by John Goodman, a Coen regular. His parts seem to get weirder and weirder in the Coen stories and Brother Turner is a doozy. I have to say I was left wondering about the fate of Roland and his chauffeur/nurse, Johnny Five, whom Davis deserted in fraught circumstances on the road from New York to Chicago. But then he tends to desert everybody after sponging off them for a while.
After watching the film my interest in its place and time was awakened. I went online to try and obtain a copy of the late Suze Rotolo's memoir, but it seems to be available only in download form or in expensive second-hand. Sod that!
I have some D.V.R. stuff and must admit that there are better interpreters of the material, but he was a father figure and tutor(?) to more famous people, so he has his place in history. Apparently he too published a memoir. I'll see if it's available and in my price range.

Addendum, 22.8.14: something I noticed in the film credits and forgot to mention. At the very end where they do the "No animals were hurt ..."etc, there was a little seal bearing the words, "Kosher for Passover" - a Coen joke?
Mention of animals reminds me of a funny quote involving a poor cat Llewyn D. was looking after for someone, "Where's his Scrotum Llewyn? Where's his scrotum?"

Monday, August 18, 2014

I've been hankering after a poetry season and thought one was due. However, it turns out that it's only six months since the last one. I'll just have to give myself a booster shot, i.e., a single poem. I turn to the old master Sorley MacLean.


In these evil days
when the old wound of Ulster is a disease
suppurating in the heart of Europe
and in the heart of every Gael
who knows that he is a Gael,
I have done nothing but see
in the National Museum of Ireland
the rusty red spot of blood,
rather dirty, on the shirt
that was once on the hero
who is dearest to me of all
who stood against bullet or bayonet,
or tanks or cavalry,
or the bursting of frightful bombs:
the shirt that was on Connolly
in the General Post Office of Ireland
while he was preparing the sacrifice
that put himself upon a chair
that is holier than the Lia Fail
that is on the Hill of Tara in Ireland.

The great hero is still
sitting on the chair
fighting the battle in the Post Office
and cleaning streets in Edinburgh.


Anns na laithean dona seo
is seann leòn Uladh 'na ghaoid
lionnrachaidh 'n cridhe na h-Eòrpa
agus an cridhe gach Gàidheil
dh'an aithne gur h-e th'ann an Gàidheal,
chad'rinn mise ach gum facas
ann an Ard Mhusaeum na h-Eireann
spot mheirgeach ruadh na fala
's I caran salach air an léinidh
a bha aon uair air a' churaidh
as docha leamsa dhuibh uile
a sheas ri peileir no ri béigneid
no ri tancan no ri eachraidh
no ri spreaghadh nam bom éitigh;
an léine bh'air O Conghaile
ann an Ard Phost-Oifis Eirinn
's e'g ullachadh na h-Iobairt
a chuir suas e fhéin air séithir
an naoimhe na'n Lia Fàil
th'air Cnoc na Teamhrach an Eirinn.

Tha an curaidh mór fhathast
'na shuidhe air an tséithir
ag cur a' chatha 'sa Phost-Oifis
's ag glanadh shràidean an Dun-Eideann.

(1971, English translation by the author)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Eighty-one congressmen, or about 20 percent of the US House of Representatives, will visit Israel over the next three weeks during Congress’s summer recess, with the first group of 26 Democrats scheduled to arrive on Monday.
The week-long trips are sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which brings large delegations of congressmen here every other August."

In a related development, The Israel Project will be bringing a group of 18 Washington-based ambassadors from Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America to Israel on Monday for a weeklong tour and high-level meetings. Like the congressmen, they will also go to Ramallah, for a meeting with PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Among the countries represented on the trip are Albania, Barbados, Belize, Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Macedonia, St. Lucia and Uganda.
Some of these countries have been mentioned by officials in Jerusalem as likely candidates to either vote against, or at least abstain, when the vote on Palestinian statehood comes before the UN in September.
(Jerusalem Post, August 13th 2014)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"One must remember that, just between the beginning of 2012 and the end of 2013, pro-Israel lobby groups donated over $8 million dollars to Congressional and presidential candidates. Over the last couple of decades, these lobbies have donated tens of millions of dollars to candidates. And there are few more self-serving bodies in the world than the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. So what if babies, sleeping in their cribs, are savagely ripped apart by weapons that violate international law? Criticizing such murders might reduce the size of the check from some Israeli lobby or other. No, the risk there is far too great.
"So, while barely murmuring a whisper in opposition to Israeli genocide of the Palestinians, the U.S. finances it. While indicating some displeasure with Israel’s decision to bomb a U.N. school housing thousands of Palestinian refugees, the U.S. actually sends more weapons to Israel, so it can continue ‘mowing the Gaza lawn’."
(Robert Fantina)

Monday, August 11, 2014

La República de los Desperados

Many years ago I read a book called "Gentlemen Convicts" by one François Poli. It was translated from the French ("Gentlemen Bagnards") by one Naomi Walford. The original was published in 1959, the English translation in 1960.
The story told was of the adventures of some escapees from the penal colonies of French Guiana. The main characters survived many ordeals and became, under assumed identities, successful businessmen in the Caribbean.
One of the men, Elizondo, spent some time in a place known as the Desperadoes' Republic. When I read the account I wasn't sure whether the Republic was a real place or a product of the author's imagination. I still don't to be honest.
however, a few years later I read an article in a magazine about the republic. It didn't appear to be based on Poli's book. A couple of names occurred in both accounts; the town of Camaia, the American Marcus, or Markus. One additional detail from the magazine article; the authorities in Colombia, or Venezuela, or both, had had enough of the Republic. bombed it from the air, and ended its existence.
Once I got access to the internet I went in search of more information on the Desperadoes' Republic. To my astonishment I found none. Not in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese. Could the whole thing have been a tall story?
I have decided to post this so that some account exists on the internet. First, as a starting point for anyone undertaking a search, as I did. Second, to draw out any information that is held by others but not yet published. The following is quoted direct from Poli's book (novel?).

It is called the Republica de los Desperados because it is peopled exclusively by ex-convicts, murderers, thieves and gangsters whom no country in the world will receive within its borders. It lies on the borders of Colombia an Venezuela, between the Rio Negro and the Orinoco. The story began in about 1930.
The first outlaws to settle in this territory, which is half the size of France and is covered with virgin forest, had only one aim; to escape the police who were on their trail. There were all sorts among them: Mexican, Venezuelan and Colombian bandits, escaped convicts from both American prisons and from Saint-Laurent-du-maroni. For some the only law recognised was was that of the knife and the Colt. Then a leader was appointed; he collected "ministers" about him and drew up a code of laws which the outlaws agreed to respect. And they did respect it. there was honour among thieves. The penalty for the first offence was expulsion from the Republic; for the second, a bullet. They had law courts, police and an executioner. But they had to live, and as panning for gold did not bring in enough, the desperadoes organised periodic raids beyond their borders with the object of attacking shepherds and robbing them of their flocks. Complaints reached Caracas and Bogota and the existence of the Republic was revealed. The police sent in punitive expeditions, which failed. Robbery continued. New arrivals crossed the frontier every week, the greater number coming from American prisons and the French penal settlement in Guiana; but there were also women from the casitas of Rio, Buenos Aires and Caracas. How did they get through the forest? No one knows. They arrived in a state of exhaustion,lured by gold and diamonds and by these men, who had the reputation for being open-handed. Saloons on the western model were opened, and a whole town grew out of the jungle; it was called Camaia. Hostilities at an end, a deputation of outlaws went to Bogota and concluded a strange treaty with the Colombian government. The desperadoes would refrain from stealing livestock on condition that no police ever entered their territory, and that they might be allowed to live in peace.


[Here Elizondo is speaking]
"The man who is president today is called Markus: an escaped prisoner from America. The mayor of Camaia, the second man in the state, is an Italian; the chief of police is a Corsican. Nearly all the traders are from Central Europe; the builders from Italy. Many of the sheep-men are American ex-convicts. Altogether there are between fifteen and thirty thousand men in the Republica de los Desperados, but there are no statistics to give the exact figures of the population. ... It seems that in Camaia they're getting worried, and that Venezuela and Colombia have had enough of the Republica."

Friday, August 08, 2014

Plenty of Palestinian children left alive, Mr. Obama. Send more bombs and bullets to Sergeant R. and his comrades. US taxpayers are not complaining.

An Israeli army officer who fired the entire magazine of his automatic rifle into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl and then said he would have done the same even if she had been three years old was acquitted on all charges by a military court yesterday.

Friday, August 01, 2014

"It has been exposed as war propaganda by too many sources to count, including UN reports, investigations by Human Rights Watch, & international journalists. In fact, UN reports document that it’s Israel that uses Palestinian children as human shields & accuses Israel of torturing & abusing Palestinian children in the Israeli gulag, including with solitary confinement & threats of sexual assault. These are not Hamas accusations. They come from UNICEF & the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in reports issued just last year."
(Mary Scully on the Israel's big lie)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Matters more serious and pressing have caused me to delay signing off on this year's Tour de France. So let's get it done now.
My team, Bretagne-Séché-Environnement, finished in 18th place out of 22 teams. Team leader, Brice Feillu finished in 16th place out of 164. The whole team finished the race on the Elysian Fields, pretty good considering that most had never taken part in the Tour before, had never, most of them, ridden for longer than a week before.
Let's see if they are invited to any more "grands tours".

The overall winner was Vincenzo Nibali of Astana, but who cares about that? Not me.

Monday, July 28, 2014


I've been too busy lately to post here. The genocidal onslaught on Gaza has preoccupied me and I've been posting elsewhere. I'll try to get back soon (if anybody gives a monkey's).
Meantime, a poem by Michael Rosen. It's in response to the Israeli government's banning of the naming of murdered children on the radio.

Don't mention the children.
Don't name the dead children.
The people must not know the names
of the dead children.
The names of the children must be hidden.
The children must be nameless.
The children must leave this world...
having no names.
No one must know the names of
the dead children.
No one must say the names of the
dead children.
No one must even think that the children
have names.
People must understand that it would be dangerous
to know the names of the children.
The people must be protected from
knowing the names of the children.
The names of the children could spread
like wildfire.
The people would not be safe if they knew
the names of the children.
Don’t name the dead children.
Don’t remember the dead children.
Don’t think of the dead children.
Don’t say: ‘dead children’.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"This was the sole Gaza content on the BBC home page this morning."

Monday, July 21, 2014

Today is a rest day in the Tour, une journée de repos. Time for an update on the progress of Brice Feillu and the Bretagne-S-E team. We left Brice in 23rd place after stage 10. We take up the story at -

Stage 11, 24th and 11 minutes 32 seconds in arrears
Stage 12, no change
Stage 13, 21st, 11'32"
Stage 14, 19th, 21'00"
Stage 15, no change

Brice's brother and team mate, Romain, finished in the first ten yesterday, but he's well down the classification (the fate of the domestique), and the effort will make little difference. B-S-E still has a full complement of nine riders and stands at 18th out of 22, in the team classification. The other wild card team, Netapp-Endura, is doing a little better in 15th place.
It looks like Vincenzo Nibali of Astana is destined for first place on the podium in the Champs Élysées, barring accidents (Kein Ain-hora).

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Brave warriors of Zion

Friday, July 18, 2014

"We should all be with the people of Gaza tonight now that the Israeli brutal operation began. I think we all can support the Hamas terms for a ceasefire and not fall to the western narrative that Israel accepted the ceasefire and the Hamas did not. This is 1947 all over again, Israel 'accepting' the partition resolution and the Palestinians rejecting it and 2000 again Israel makes a generous offer and the PLO rejects it.
"The Egyptian-Israeli ceasefire offer is to continue the siege, the starvation, strangulation and the ghettoization of Gaza. No decent person should accept such a dictate for being incarcerated when the only offence he or she committed is being a Palestinian in Gaza.
"We were trying this evening all over Israel to stage demonstrations and what we received was a bloodthirsty response from a society that thrives on militarism, fanatic nationalism and racism. The time will come when deeper work from within will bear fruits, but now we need, as never before, a strong BDS campaign and a insistent demand from our politicians and media to show a modicum of decency after more of a century in which they ignored the Palestinian suffering and provided Zionism and Israel immunity for their policies against the native people of Palestine."

Ilan Pappé

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"I'm a warrior of Zion, you terrorists don't scare me. Oo-er! Don't come any nearer."

Monday, July 14, 2014

On the Tour de France, which I've neglected to mention to date -
The Yorkshire stages, one and two, were a resounding success. "Le Tour de Yorkshire", UK journalists named it, but the French organisers stuck to "Le Tour en Yorkshire". Everyone was surprised that the people of Yorkshire could organise anything, particularly the London based media.

I usually choose a competitor who I think will win. I think my success rate is about 20%. This time I didn't bother. Most of the pundits were placing their faith in Froome or Contador, but neither has survived, both crashing out. Now they're tipping Vincenzo Nibali, the current Yellow Jersey.
I decided to pick an underdog team and follow its progress. My choice was Bretagne-Séché-Environnement. They are what is known as a "wild card", a less successful outfit given a chance for a little publicity. The leader is Brice Feillu who won a tour stage back in 2009. Most of the rest have never ridden in "The Big Lap". The sponsors are the Breton regional government and a recycling firm. Four of the team members are Bretons.

This is Brice Feillu's form so far -
Stage 1: 53rd (of 192) clocking the same time as the stage winner
Stage 2: 52nd (progress!) 1 minute 19 seconds in arrears
Stage 3: 41st same time gap
Stage 4: 41st 1'19"
Stage 5: 42nd 9'10"
Stage 6: 39th 9'10"
Stage 7: 38th 9'10"
Stage 8: 27th 10'23"
Stage 9: 22nd 6'43"
Stage 10: 23rd 9'56" (tough stage)

Rest day tomorrow.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What a lucky little girl! After all, so many of her contemporaries are being blown to pieces. She has only been shot in the face.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Was it yesterday or the day before? I heard Norman Smith, the BBC's "chief political correspondent" refer to the union UNITE as "Labour's paymaster". I wonder if he will ever refer to the multi-passported Lord Ashcroft as the Conservative's paymaster?
That's Lord Ashcroft who WASN'T involved in drug smuggling or money laundering.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

And a fragment of a song
(A. and M. Bergman)
Some bits of lyrics stick with you even if you don't know the whole song.

The large print giveth
And the small print taketh away
(Tom Waits)

The radio's playing Charlie Rich
He sure can sing, that sonofabitch
(same fellow)

I can't cut loose
Till I've had my juice
(Jon Hendricks)

Some would rob you with a six-gun
And some with a fountain pen
(Woody Guthrie)

If ever I get my liberty
Rough company I will shun
Likewise the walking of the streets
And the drinking of strong rum

That her dark hair would weave a snare
That I would one day rue
(Patrick Kavanagh)

The sun and the moon from me you've taken
And God Himself if I'm not mistaken
(Traditional, translated Lady Gregory?)

And we left that bastard's bones to bleach
On the trail of the buffalo

There's not a woman in our town
Will look at the blackleg miner

My son was no informer boys
He died a Fenian blade

I was hoping you'd join me
'Cos I ain't got no money
(Ani DiFranco)

So you don't like your job
Nobody likes their job
(same lady)

Women got my number
But they don't call 'cos they don't care
(Waylon Jennings)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Once I found out which Church of England parish I lived in I could look up the figures. Poverty in England, parish by parish. It seems we are not doing well in the Parish of All Saints. Some results -
We stand at no. 12,635 out of 12,775 parishes no.1 being the least deprived. So there are 140 that are worse off than us.
Percentage of children living in poverty - 42
Percentage of pensioners living in poverty - 37
Percentage of working age residents living in poverty - 27
Percentage of people living in social housing - 36
Percentage of families with one parent - 35
Percentage of residents aged over 65 years - 11

This last would probably be higher if life expectancy were not below the mean:
Male - 69 years
Female - 75 years
plus a large immigrant presence, on the whole younger than the host population:
Percentage of non-white and non-British residents - 32

All is revealed here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Posted by Clancy Sigal on his facebook, yesterday 21st June.


Today is the 50th anniversary of “Freedom Summer” and the murder by Mississippi Kluxers of three young civil rights volunteers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and “Mickey” Schwerner. The triple killing was world news mainly because Goodman and Schwerner were white Jewish New Yorkers. If it had been only the African American Chaney, nobody outside the “beloved community” of the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee would have cared. The deep south’s culture of violence against blacks was a given.

What’s not so given, even today, is the black community’s long tradition of armed resistance. I’m riffing off Charles Cobb’s new book “This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible”. Cobb, a Brown university professor, is a former SNCC field worker, a bland way of saying he was under constant fire. I’m also dipping into my own experience in the Freedom Summer south…but also north.

Ever since slaves were imported to Jamestown in 1619, armed self defense was an authentic part of the African American experience. I don’t just mean well-known rebellions like Nat Turner’s, but ordinary day to day. Almost every household I ever visited in the south had a hidden shotgun or pistol under the bed. This contradicted MLK’s dominant peace-and-love message, his honestly-held outreach to whites, many of whom (like me) flocked to his Gandhian banner. Less publicly known is that wherever “Martin” traveled he was bodyguarded by men with guns. Indeed, his own Atlanta home was a discreet arsenal of weapons.

Even less public was the role of armed black women who for decades had to endure sexual and physical assaults by white southern cops and other thugs who, given immunity from prosecution, felt they could rape at will. Attending church services in Tuscaloosa, Selma or Montgomery, I was no longer surprised sitting next to a respectable black woman who opened her purse to fan herself revealing a modest little .22. Cobb cites the well-known story of Mama Dolly Raines in southwest Georgia (where I stayed with SNCC) sitting by her window with her shotgun to protect the Rev. Charles Sherrod, a passionate believer in nonviolence, who was staying with her.

In Albany, Georgia, where I was longest, love and commitment were the hallmarks of community organizing. The locals we were embedded in took us in like their own children. We were family. They would do anything to protect us from the constant threat of beatings and death. Or as Mama Dolly, a midwife, told Sherrod, “Baby, I brought a lot of these white folks into this world, and I’ll take ‘em out of this world if I have to.”

It’s sometimes hard for civilized nawthenuhs to remember how American-cherrypie violence was in the south. In Chattanooga, where I first went to school, streetcar conductors wore holstered pistols; city bus drivers all over the segregated south “packed”. You shot a “nigger” who gave you lip without second thoughts or fear of arrest. If you’re the local sheriff in rural Georgia and fancied a black man’s woman you erased him from the picture by beating him up and jailing him for assault.

Passive resistance began to change when WW2 veterans, trained in weapons, came home. Suddenly bad whites were confronted by armed ex-soldiers in the Deacons for Defense or ex-Marine Robert Williams’ Black Armed Guard (with an NRA charter yet!) in Monroe, North Carolina, to defend against racist attacks. Historically, there had always been the odd, defiant black man with a shotgun standing on his porch confronting KKK cross burners. Now, here and there, wherever Rev. King went, or was afraid to go, was collective resistance. In Birmingham when one of King’s bodyguards was asked how he protected his man, he replied, “With a nonviolent .38 police special.”

Up nawth the black mind set wasn’t all that different but with an entirely different circumstance. When I held a seminar on Black Nationalism at Monteith College for half a dozen young street blacks each one of them proudly showed me his shiv or cheap pistol. My sweet tempered Detroit host, Jim Boggs, the African American auto worker and Marxist activist, walked me to the corner bus stop on my last day but not before reaching behind his prized bust of Lenin on the mantelpiece and withdrawing his own .38 to escort me a city block. In my old Chicago neighborhood my host, a postal worker, waved me up to his apartment by pointing a shotgun out of the window to signal to the gang kids downstairs, including his own son, he meant business.

The 10th District cops I rode with, both African American, were armed: each hid a .45 under his clipboard, wore a hip holstered .38 and an ankle .25 caliber as backup to the backup plus two Mosberg 500 riot shotguns in the rack. “And you know what,” said my police driver, “we’re still outgunned.” His theory was that much of Chicago’s black-on-black violence was a form of culture shock. “These southern boys come up north with their mamas looking for work. Down in Alabama and Mississippi they had to toe the line or get lynched. Yassuh noesuh shonuff suh. All that peckerwood crap. Take that train up to Chicago and the chains drop off. They ain’t no more oppressed. Run wild. Cuss, shoot dope, murder each other or white folks. They wouldn’t dare do that in Yazoo County.”

So in honoring Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman, martyrs to a beloved community of non violent resistance, I can’t help thinking how it might have turned out differently if on that lonely Mississippi road in 1964, they’d been tailed not by murderous morons but by the Deacons for Defense.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Has anyone the stomach for this?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Some time ago, I saw the above picture in a newspaper. I cut it out and eventually stowed it away, I thought in some atlas or other large tome.
Later, when I looked for it I couldn't find it anywhere, so I tried looking online for a copy. It was by R.B.Kitaj, an artist I like, and was called "The Antiquary", or so I thought. Nothing turned up, though I waded through a large section of Kitaj's work. It was a lost masterpiece.

Then recently I was searching for something else and turned up my picture among a pile of stationery. On the back was the name, "The Orientalist". No wonder I couldn't find it online. Armed with the correct title I tried again. Success

Friday, June 13, 2014

Just wondering -
Has anyone ever seen a bareheaded Rory McIlroy? Does he sleep in that twat-hat? Is it stapled on to his head (or "this advertising space for hire" as it should be known)?
When he dies will it have to be surgically removed? Or is there a clause in his contract that requires him to go to his grave looking gormless?
"The findings, based on an analysis of the World Health Organisation’s World Mortality Database, and published in The Lancet medical journal, add to recent evidence that the UK’s child mortality rate is the second-worst in western Europe.
"Both studies identified higher levels of child poverty and economic inequality in the UK as key factors behind its declining performance.
"The new study, carried out by experts at University College London, also highlighted that problems in the UK’s healthcare system may be a factor – a reference to longstanding concerns that the NHS performs poorly in terms of caring for patients with long-term health conditions."
(Charlie Cooper, The Independent, 12.6.14)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tom Brown on the Luddites.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"If you're going to take me you'll need reinforcements."
Our six-year-old grandson stayed over last night while his parents were involved in hospital visiting. I was subjected to a short course in superhero identification. This also involved the naming of their enemies, known to my grandson as "the bad guys". It seems that the USA has an endless supply of superheroes and supervillains (if the latter can be so called).
I tried to memorise as many names as possible, but they came thick and fast. One thing I picked up on; anyone bearing the title "Doctor" is a villain. I remember Dr. Octopus and Dr. Doom.
So let's see how many I can remember -
Spiderman, Iron Man, The Hulk, Robot Hulk, Captain America, Wolverine, Green Lantern (the good guys).
The aforementioned doctors, Sandman, Abomination, Bane, Mister Mysterio, the Question (the bad guys).
Electro, Magneto, Strongman (I can't remember which group these should be assigned to).
Battledroids; these may not belong here, but grandson informed me that they are useless, because they run away or fall down.
Additional useful information: Mister Mysterio (Misterio?) has a round head with no eyes, nose or mouth; the Question has an oval head with just a nose.

It seems that there are toy versions of all these creatures, and electronic games involving them. So dig deep, parents of boys.

Note: my grandson uses the word "guys". English language courtesy of Hollywood.

Addendum: Ghost Rider. Sounds like a baddie, but I'm not sure. Either wears a skeleton suit or is a skeleton, memory failure again. Head is on fire, Arthur Brown style.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Yesterday I read of the death of a US author named Henry Bernstein who was first published at the age of 93. I was going to comment that I might get published yet, but I've no intention of writing anything, so why pretend.
It's a little like my missus talking of what she would do with a big lottery win in spite of not participating in "the tax on stupidity" (Adam Smith?).
Thinking about the whole business of authorship and publication brought to mind an occasion when I was called on to be a literary midwife (so to speak).

A mate of mine of a criminal bent, in and out of prison for various acts of dishonesty, turned up at my gaff one day with a sheaf of grubby notepaper and a biro. "Me and you's gonna write a play" he declared.
"What are you on about?" was my first question.
Well, I've just seen in the paper about this jam duff who got murdered by his boyfriend. He'd written a play, and it said it was making so much money he wouldn't have to do a stroke for the rest of his life."
He was referring to the recent murder of the playwright Joe Orton, murdered by his lover who then committed suicide. "Jam duff" was my mate's term for a homosexual, rhyming slang that only works for Northerners.
"What are you going to write about?" I asked.
"Oh, I've got plenty of ideas. I just need you to do the spelling and put in the full stops and stuff like that."
He outlined one story, a revenge yarn, a sort of "Count of Monte Cristo" in a modern setting. He jawed on for what seemed like hours without writing a single word. Then, thinking of something else he had to do, he gathered up his writing materials and left.
I didn't see him again for a few months. When I ran into him I asked him how the play was going. The desire for literary fame and fortune had not lasted. Nothing had made it to paper. Another moneymaking scheme had been conceived, far less honest than play writing. Was I interested in joining him in its operation. I was not.

Another time I met him in a pub with his wife. He'd just come out of prison. "Show him that poem I wrote to you while I was in there" he said to the missus. She pulled out a letter and handed it to me. The poem began as expected.
I love you X I really do.
You know I always will be true.
That kind of thing for about six lines, then it turned very literary, obviously written by a real poet.
"Get out of it", I said, "you didn't write that." His wife couldn't hear, of course.
"I copied it out of a book in the prison library" he admitted. "Good though, innit."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The three young Germans in the photograph were executed by the Nazis in 1943 for their resistance activities, mainly distributing anti-Nazi literature. The reason I post it is that I was exercised by something I'd seen on BBC Channel 4 on Saturday.
For three successive Saturday evenings the BBC has shown a German mini-series, "Generation War: Our Mothers, Our Fathers". It was pretty harrowing stuff, but the so is war, so is enemy occupation.
The story was about five young friends, c.20 years old. Two of them are soldiers about to depart for the Eastern Front. The third male is Jewish, and is planning to leave for France. One of the two females, in love with one of the soldiers, has become a military nurse, the other is a singer, and the lover of the Jewish lad, Viktor. Initially all but Viktor are loyal Germans, accepting Nazi rule without any fanaticism. They accept too the necessity of war while regretting the separation it brings.
Gradually, as the story progresses, disillusion sets in along with the realisation that defeat is inevitable. The struggle to survive becomes the main motivation.

Immediately after the final episode a discussion of the series took place, in true BBC fashion. There was a line to be followed. The main theme of the party line was that it was impossible for Germans of that age to feel as they did, to have second thoughts about the regime and the war. All would have been educated under the Nazis and been enlisted in the Hitler Youth.
The story of the White Rose resistance group gives the lie to the BBC line. That is why I feature it here.
A second gripe from the assembled revisionists; the portrayal of Polish partisans as anti-Semitic. Not so, they claimed. Well there were Jewish partisan groups, and there were Communist partisans who would have suppressed any open anti-Semitism in their ranks. But there were anti-Communist, anti-Semitic partisan groups who regarded Jews and Communists as being out of the same belly. Anti-semitism was prevalent in Poland, as elsewhere in Eastern Europe.To deny this is dishonest, but deny they did.
One member of the panel was Eva Hoffmann, a historian whose work I've enjoyed. She did suggest that anti-Semitism existed in Poland, but didn't make much of it. Perhaps she felt that a little soft pedalling was in order.
Now I have to admit that, being sickened by the falsity of the discussion, I gave up on it after the anti-Semitism, or NO anti-Semitism, discussion.
I had expected a further gripe.
In the final episode Viktor returns to Berlin and begins the search for Greta, his lover. In the course of his enquiries he visits an office run by the occupying Americans. There he comes face to face with the SS officer who had sent him to the death camp (he escaped en route). This man was now working for the Americans. Viktor informed the US officer in charge of the SS man's identity, and was ignored.
The employment of Nazis as administrators by the occupying forces is well known. One reason was that most of those opposed to the former regime were mainly Communists and not trusted by the allies.
I'm sure that this allusion to the reinstatement of the recent enemy would not have been allowed to stand by the historical revisionists. Some things, well known to historians, are not for widespread dissemination. The makers of the film would, I'm sure, have been criticised for that scene, historically accurate as it was.

The following is about the White Rose group.
Today in Mighty Girl history, one of Germany’s most famous anti-Nazi heroes, Sophie Scholl, was born in 1921. As a university student in Munich, Scholl, along with her brother, Hans, and several friends, formed a non-violent, anti-Nazi resistance group called the White Rose. The group ran a leaflet and graffiti campaign calling on their fellow Germans to resist Hilter's regime.
Scholl became involved in resistance organizing after learning of the mass killings of Jews and reading an anti-Nazi sermon by Clemens August Graf von Galen, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Münster. She was deeply moved by the "theology of conscience" and declared, "Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare express themselves as we did."
In 1943, Scholl and the other members of the White Rose were arrested by the Gestapo for distributing leaflets at the University of Munich and taken to Stadelheim Prison. After a short trial on February 22, 1943, Scholl, her brother Hans and their friend Christop Probst, all pictured here, were found guilty of treason and sentenced to death.
At her execution only a few hours later, Scholl made this final statement: "How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause. Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?"
Following the deaths of the White Rose's leaders, their final leaflet was smuggled to England. In mid-1943, Allied Forces dropped millions of copies of the "Manifesto of the Students of Munich" over Germany. Scholl is now honored as one of the great German heroes who actively opposed the Nazi regime.
For two books for adult readers about Sophie Scholl and the White Rose, check out "Sophie Scholl and the White Rose" ( and "The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943" (
For an excellent film about Scholl's incredible story, we highly recommend "Sophie Scholl – The Final Days" which received an Oscar nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2005. The film, recommended for viewers 13 and up, is an excellent way to introduce teens to the bravery and perseverance of those who resisted the Nazi regime -- learn more at
For books for both children and teens about girls and women who lived during the Holocaust period, including stories of other heroic resisters and rescuers, check out our post for Holocaust Remembrance Week at
For our recommendations of the best books and films about another real-life Mighty Girl who lived during this period, visit our tribute to Anne Frank: "Hope in a Hidden Room: A Mighty Girl Salutes Anne Frank" at
To browse our entire "WWII/Holocaust", visit
For more true stories of heroic girls and women, visit A Mighty Girl's "Heroes" section in biographies at

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Moving Target.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Jeremy Paxman leaving the BBC - Director General Tony Hall called him "a rare and dazzling talent". Imagine how pathetic the rest of the BBC crew are. "Rare" probably means he's not a paid up member of the Conservative Party (though one can never be sure).

Consider the fact that as of 2011 (the point at which they stopped counting) the actual figure of those lost due to the actions of the Tories stood at 10,600 people dead, so that figure is going to be a great deal higher now. Therefore, this list is not an exhaustive one as it shows only those names that have been reported upon via the press and media.

It will be added to as new victims come to light.

Thanks to Paul Smith for most of these names...

Terry McGarvey, 48. Dangerously ill from polycytheamia, Terry asked for an ambulance to be called during his Work Capability Assessment. He knew that he wasn't well enough to attend his WCA but feared that his benefits would be stopped if he did not. He died the following day.

Elaine Lowe, 53. Suffering from COPD and fearful of losing her benefits. Committed suicide.

Mark Wood, 44. Found fit for work by Atos, against his Doctors advice and assertions that he had complex mental health problems. Starved to death after benefits stopped, weighing only 5st 8lb when he died.

Paul Reekie, 48, the Leith based Poet and Author. Suffered from severe depression. Committed suicide after DWP stopped his benefits due to an 'Atos fit for work' decision.

Leanne Chambers, 30. Suffered depression for many years which took a turn for the worst when she was called in for a WCA. Leanne committed suicide soon after.

Karen Sherlock. Multiple health issues. Found fit for work by Atos and denied benefits. Fought a long battle to get placed into the support group of ESA. Died the following month of a heart attack.

Carl Payne, 42. Fears of losing his lifeline benefits due to welfare reform led this Father of two to take his own life.

Tim Salter, 53. Blind and suffering from Agoraphobia. Tim hanged himself after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.

Edward Jacques, 47 years old and suffering from HIV and Hepatitis C. Edward had a history of severe depression and self-harm. He took a fatal overdose after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.

Linda Wootton, 49 years old died just nine days after the government found her fit for work.

Steven Cawthra, 55. His benefits stopped by the DWP and with rising debts, he chose suicide as the only way out.

Elenore Tatton, 39 years old. Died just weeks after the government found her fit for work.

John Walker, 57, saddled with debt because of the bedroom tax. He took his own life.

Brian McArdle, 57 years old. Suffered a fatal heart attack the day after his disability benefits were stopped.

Stephen Hill, 53. Died of a heart attack one month after being found fit for work even though he was waiting for major heart surgery.

Jacqueline Harris, 53. A former Nurse who could hardly walk was found fit for work by Atos and her benefits withdrawn. She took her own life.

David Barr, 28. Suffering from severe mental difficulties. Threw himself from a bridge after being found fit for work by Atos and failing his appeal.

David Groves, 56. Died of a heart attack the night before taking his work capability assessment. His widow said it was the stress that killed him.

Nicholas Peter Barker, 51. Shot himself after being told his benefits were being stopped. He was unable to work after a brain haemorrhage left him paralysed down one side.

Mark and Helen Mullins, 48 and 59 years old. Forced to live on £57.50 a week and make 12 mile trips each week to get free vegetables to make soup. They both committed suicide.

Richard Sanderson, 44. Unable to find a job and with his housing benefit cut forcing him to move, but with nowhere to go. He committed suicide.

Martin Rust, 36 years old. A schizophrenic man who killed himself two months after the government found him fit to work.

Craig Monk, 43. A vulnerable gentleman and a partial amputee slipped so far into poverty that he hanged himself.

Colin Traynor, 29, who suffered from epilepsy, stripped of his benefits. He appealed. Five weeks after his death his family found he had won his appeal.

Elaine Christian, 57 years old. Worried about her work capability assessment, she was found at Holderness drain, drowned and with ten self inflicted wrist wounds.

Christelle and Kayjah Pardoe, 32 years and 5 month old. Pregnant, her benefits stopped, Christelle, clutching her baby son jumped from a third floor balcony.

Mark Scott, 46. His DLA and housing benefit had been stopped. Sinking into deep depression, he died six weeks later.

Cecilia Burns, 51. Found fit for work while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She died just a few weeks after she won her appeal.

Chris Cann, 57 years old. Found dead in his home just months after being told he had to undergo a medical assessment to prove he could not work.

Peter Hodgson, 49. Called to JCP to see if he was suitable for volunteer work. He had suffered a stroke, a brain haemorrhage and had a fused leg. His appointment letter arrived a few days after he took his own life.

Paul Willcoxsin, 33 years old. Suffered with mental health problems and worried about government cuts. Committed suicide by hanging himself.

Stephanie Bottrill, 53. After paying £80 a month for bedroom tax, Stephanie could not afford heating in the winter, and lived on tinned custard. She chose to walk in front of a lorry.

Larry Newman suffered from a degenerative lung condition. His weight had dropped from 10 to 7 stone. Atos awarded him zero points, he died just three months after submitting his appeal.

Paul Turner, 52 years old. After suffering a heart attack, he was ordered to find a job in February. In April he died from ischaemic heart disease.

Christopher Charles Harkness, 39. After finding out that the funding for his care home was being withdrawn, this man who suffered with mental health issues, took his own life.

Sandra Louise Moon, 57. Suffering from a degenerative back condition and depression worried about losing her incapacity benefit. Sandra committed suicide by taking an overdose.

Lee Robinson, 39 years old. Took his own life after his housing benefit and council tax were taken away.

David Coupe, 57. Cancer sufferer found fit for work by Atos in 2012. Lost his sight, then his hearing, then his mobility, and then his life.

Michael McNicholas, 34. Severely depressed and a recovering alcoholic. Michael committed suicide after being called in for a WCA by Atos.

Victor Cuff, 59. Suffering from severe depression. Hanged himself after the DWP stopped his benefits.

Charles Barden, 74. Committed suicide by hanging due to fears that the Bedroom Tax would leave him unable to cope.

Ian Caress, 43. Suffered multiple health issues and deteriorating eyesight. Found fit for work by Atos, died ten months later having lost so much weight that his family said he resembled a concentration camp victim.

Ian hodge, 30. Suffered from the life threatening illness, Hughes Syndrome. Found fit for work by Atos and benefits stopped, he took his own life.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A new saint, John Paul, patron saint of CIA assets. Pinochet must wait a little longer for canonisation.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I've lived in Hull for about 65 of my 75 years and I've never seen chip spice, never heard anyone mention chip spice. In fact I wouldn't know of the existence of something called chip spice if I hadn't seen it mentioned on the internet. I still don't know what it is.

Friday, April 11, 2014

It's the BBC again, now more pro-Israel than the US government and the US media -

Kerry’s frustrated remarks about Israel were not reported at all in that article, or elsewhere by the BBC online. Careful not to alert its audience to the US Secretary of State’s allegations against Israel, or to carry a narrative that even so much as hinted at them, the BBC said only: “He blamed both sides for taking ‘unhelpful’ steps.” The rest was ignored.

Amena Saleem

Monday, April 07, 2014

Surrender, Avi, you've been headscarfed.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Reading today's "Independent" I came across a term that really annoys me - ex-pat. What the hell is an ex-pat - a renegade Irishman? The intended word is expatriate, someone living in a country other than their own. OK? Some time ago this word was shortened, God knows why, to expat. Then came ex-pat, presumably after the press decided they didn't need to pay sub-editors. This was followed by the back-formation 'ex-patriot'. I've seen both of these examples of slovenly writing and checking in the press. It seems that the Independent, a supposed 'quality' paper, has standards as indifferent as those of the tabloids.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Look out, Israel, the headscarves are on the offensive!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Carlos Latuff again.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I came across this today, courtesy of one Ellie Flack. I'm betting she's a teacher.
I've been enquiring about the activities of someone once known in his native Aberdeen as "Red Mike", without success. The search goes on.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17th, rings a bell. Am I missing something?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Friday, March 14, 2014

Yesterday I was trawling round the charity shops. The haul was one map and two books. Now one of the books was a hardback in mint condition, £2.50, original price £20.00. The author is Natalie Zemon Davis, a name new to me; the title is "Trickster Travels: in search of Leo Africanus sixteenth century Muslim between two worlds".
The name Leo Africanus was recognisable, some kind of Renaissance historian. That was it. I checked the inside back cover for information on the author, "one of the most influential historians alive". Get away! And I'd ever heard of her, but I had heard of one of her works, "The Return of Martin Guerre", which I thought had been written by a French academic. Wrong, James!
Looking inside I found a work very much to my taste; 270 pages of text, 102 pages of notes, a four-page glossary of Arabic terms, and a 27 page bibliography. That's a real scholarly work. The list of acknowledgements was longer than the Litany of the Saints, so many wise heads had helped in the period of incubation and creation, so many had pored over the finished text and nodded approval. This historical work comes with a guarantee (insofar as such is possible in the reconstruction of a life lived so long ago).
One acknowledgement - more, a dedication - engaged my curiosity and led me to search for an explanation.
I quote it.
"This book is dedicated to Chandler Davis in appreciation for his innumerable discussions with me about its themes and his tireless reading of drafts, and even more in tribute to all he has done over the decades to help our earth become a place where peoples can live together in peace. Whether travelling the globe or locked in a prison cell, he has never lost faith in a future in which, greed, violence and political repression might give ground to justice, negotiation and an unhindered quest for the truth."
Amen to that. I am lost in admiration for author and dedicatee, and I'm only on page 19.

Natalie Zemon Davis

Chandler Davis

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

That sector of the US Stasi known as Hotmail has shut me out of my email account. I sign in and am asked to type in my codeword. I haven't got a codeword, or maybe I have. It seems that Hotmail has sent a codeword to my email account, so all I have to do is log in and learn what it is.
I wonder what overpaid cretin thought that one up.
So I go for help. It's your password I'm told. Change your password and the problem's solved. So I change my password and sign in. Type in your codeword, I'm told.
Baszom az anyát! I reply (in English, of course, but I don't wish to offend those who haven't offended me).

Before I ever had a computer or email I'd heard bad stuff about Hotmail and other Stasi linked IT outfits. I didn't choose Hotmail, a librarian set up an email account for me so I could reply to some messages passed on to me by fellow workers in dispute with their employer. Naturally he chose the best known facility, and I didn't bother to change it. To lose the account would be no great loss, except for a couple of folders of correspondence on historical and biographical subjects. Also, my grandchildren send me photographs attached to emails. Have I made copies them all?

Maybe getting out of Hotmail/NSA is no bad thing. But I'd like to salvage a few items before I bow out.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Thirty years on, the cover-up continues.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

"The Panama invasion, and the overthrow and arrest and removal to the US of Panama’s elected President Manuel Noriega, is particularly instructive, as it involved protecting a strategic US overseas base — the US Canal Zone — much as Russia is protecting its naval bases in Crimea, operated under a long-term lease from Ukraine but threatened by the recent Ukrainian coup. The US, headed at the time by President George H.W. Bush, invaded Panama under the pretext of protecting Americans in that country, but the attack (which had been planned well in advance of any threats to Americans) quickly morphed into an overthrow of the Panamanian government, the arrest of its leader, and the installation of a US puppet leader."

I note that the BBC is calling the kleptocrat Yulia Tymoshenko a "dissident". As with the gangster-kleptocrat-dissident Berezovsky, now departed from our midst.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Here's a great website, local history, 19th and 20th centuries in pictorial form (with a few notes).
I particularly like the section on the dockers, but also the one on barges and bargemen.
My old grandad was docker and a strong union man after being invalided out of the army. My old man used to unload those barges on the River Hull. We had a fine collection of docker's hooks at home when I was a kid.
Me, I did a bit of deal carrying in a timber yard - lasted a fortnight.

I should give credit to William Braquemard's blog, "Hull and Hereabouts" (listed among the links on this page), which led me to the site.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria, et al., et al.

(from Disclosure News Magazine)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

COME TO SUNNY GAZA says the BBC hack, and it isn't satire.
"Somehow he manages not to see, as he admires the view, the Israeli gunboats that are ever present on the horizon, waiting to shoot at Gaza’s fishermen as they struggle to make a living for their families.
Nor, at any point during his visit, does he spot the Israeli warships which patrol the waters. And he fails to see or even hear the drones which constantly buzz in the skies above Gaza, causing fear and uncertainty in those below."
Amena Saleem

Thursday, February 20, 2014

(photo by Sarah Hemingway)
Bloke on the right with hands in pockets. Can't even pick up a placard or banner. Looks like he's in the wrong place.

Between 60 and 70 cheerful, friendly people turned out for yesterday's protest against the ATOS killing machine in Hull. Listening to their stories one wondered how they managed to keep so upbeat, the targets and victims of ATOS, that is.
There was also support from unions; GMB, Unison, Unite, banners flying. I also saw CWU members present (and one IWW).
How it went in other towns is still something of a mystery. I can't find any mention on the national news. But, as one of yesterday's speakers pointed out, 40,000 people protested against the bedroom tax in London and the BBC didn't even notice. I wait for reports from out citizen journalists.

Addendum: film of some of the demos here

Addendum plus: I forgot to mention the presence of Karl Turner, MP for East Hull. Only fair as I predicted that none of Hull's three parliamentary representatives would show.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Not everyone has written Hull off. I came to this article via "Hull and Hereabouts".

Saturday, February 15, 2014

REVERSE! REVERSE! There's a headscarf blocking the route.
What do you know? The BBC commissioned an academic to prepare a report on its record as an impartial reporter. He found that it was biased to the right. The report didn't suit so was shelved.
Now the professor has decided to let the public know what the BBC and its government paymasters don't want us to know. So the voice of reaction has had to react. It has done so in the manner those of us who complain about its bias are used to -

“BBC News aims to provide clear, impartial and balanced coverage across all output to represent a range of views. Inevitably, there may be disagreements over the level of prominence given to any story. We are editorially independent and do not bow to pressure from political parties.”

And that's that.
Still the truth will out in time.

"The serious criticism by a distinguished media professor suggests that the BBC has compromised its impartiality by depending too heavily on sources from business, the media, law and order and politics.
By contrast, ITV and Channel 4 make much greater use of sources from academia, medicine, science and non-governmental organisations"

"Cardiff research found that 50 per cent of BBC sources came from politics, business, law and order and media, compared to 10 per cent from the knowledge-based professions and civic groups. Business sources accounted for 11.1 per cent of the total on the BBC, but only 3.8 per cent on ITV and 2.2 on Channel 4."

More here

Friday, February 14, 2014

My favourite song in the whole world of music. The delivery's a little corny, but it usually is whoever sings it, apart from Pietra Montecorvino. But being a traditionalist I prefer to hear love songs addressed to women sung by men.
Ricordi di una bionda Genovese chi ha cercato a insegnarmi le parole.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

more here
Wednesday, February 19th from 11am, Stanley Street, Spring Bank, Hull, HU3 1JP

Monday, February 10, 2014

Friday, February 07, 2014

Thursday, February 06, 2014

William Roache, television star with high-powered legal team, not guilty of multiple rapes and sexual assaults. So all those women lied. How could they? Our Bill's a national treasure (I'm sure someone will have called him that at some stage). He'll soon be back onscreen, big legal bills you know.
Remember when he said that youngsters who are sexually abused are being punished for something they've done in a past life? Can't call him a rapist; can call him a nutter.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

A couple of chapters from the "Kiltartan History Book" of Lady Gregory. I suspect that she was transcribing a version of history from the mouths of Irish peasants. There is a story told of Yeats and Augusta Gregory going round the cottages of the Gaelic speaking peasantry. The gentle lady entered the cottages of the poor, sat among them, listening to their tales, and writing them down. The middle class Yeats thought himself too good to mingle with the lower orders and waited outside.
He was, in his own mind, the rightful Duke of Ormond.

"Henry the Eighth was crying and roaring and leaping out of the bed for three days and nights before his death. And he died cursing his children, and he that had eight millions when he came to the Throne, coining leather money at the end."

"Queen Elizabeth was awful. Beyond everything she was. When she came to the turn she dyed her hair red, and whatever man she had to do with, she sent him to the block in the morning, that he would be able to tell nothing. She had an awful temper. She would throw a knife from the table at the waiting ladies, and if anything vexed her she would maybe work upon the floor. A thousand dresses she left after her. Very superstitious she was. Sure after her death they found a card, the ace of hearts, nailed to her chair under the seat. She thought she would never die while she had it there. And she bought a bracelet from an old woman out in Wales that was over a hundred years. It was superstition made her do that, and they found it after her death tied about her neck."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I often try to listen to the 'Today' programme on BBC4. I usually change stations within fifteen minutes, disgusted by the blatant right-wing bias, and presentation of the government line on any topic as the reasonable option.
One of Today's gimmicks is to have the programme produced and presented occasionally by non-journalist guests. This is in line with what Marina Hyde has dubbed 'celebocracy', the line that anything can be improved by the towering presence of someone famous in another field, entertainment being favoured. No doubt the BBC ascertains that the guest producer is "a safe pair of hands", i.e., a right-winger or a political naïf.
However, something went awry earlier this month. The guest was the recording artist P.J.Harvey who introduced taboo subjects and people on the BBC's blacklist. Thus my prediction that John Pilger would never be allowed to broadcast from a BBC studio has had to be discarded
So, Ms. Harvey, your relationship with the BBC is subject to revision. I hope someone keeps a check on how often Ms. Harvey's recordings are aired on the corporation's music programme's following her act of subversion.

Predictably, reactionary voices bewailed afterwards that the BBC had broadcast 'left-wing tosh' and 'liberal drivel'. Nick Robinson, the BBC's 'impartial' political editor, took particular exception to the contribution by John Pilger, while the pro-war Murdoch employee David Aaronovitch, a Times columnist with a penchant for wagging a warning finger at Glenn Greenwald, objected to being 'lectured at in a news programme'

That's Nick Robinson the out and proud Conservative Party member, and Aaronovitch, the self-proclaimed socialist who is well paid for spewing out anti-left propaganda.

'For the 21st-century British Right, though – used to seeing their sense of what is important go largely unchallenged in day-to-day political broadcasting – the programme was an outrage. [...] Since this year's group of guest editors also included such establishment figures as Dame Eliza Manningham Buller, former head of MI5, and Anthony Jenkins, CEO of Barclays Bank, there are clearly no grounds for complaint from the Right about the overall balance of this year's holiday editions.'

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"Got you, you mini-terrorist*!"

*'Terrorist' is Israeli-speak for 'Palestinian'.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


because I'm tired of all the bullshit.
Nicolas Anelka, not the brightest star in the firmament, made a certain gesture in a goal celebration. He has since been accused of anti-semitism and making "an inverted Hitler salute".
This is a lie. Anelka says that he made the gesture in solidarity with his friend Dieudonné Mbala Mbala, who, we hear, is to have his children seized by the French state because the French ruling élite don't like him. DMM is a controversial figure in France, and has been accused of anti-semitism. He is fond of making the so-called quenelle in the direction of his many enemies and critics. So the "anti-Semite" makes a gesture of defiance, of dismissal, and it becomes an anti-Semitic gesture.
Is DMM an anti-Semite? He may well be. He is a friend of Jean-Marie le Pen, and that neo-Nazi can't have many black friends.
However, that doesn't make the quenelle (silly name) anti-semitic. It is a gesture much older than DMM. I quote Desmond Morris, from his book "Gestures" (1979) -

The cryptic forearm jerk
In some regions, the full-blooded gesture is considered so obscene that it is possible to be arrested for employing it in a public place. This has led to a cryptic version of it, understood by both the gesturer and his victim, but not sufficiently conspicuous to attract attention from outside the group in which it is being used. on the island of Malta, where there is a strong taboo against the full gesture, the cryptic form is no more than a mild rubbing of the left hand on the right upper arm. In other regions two fingers of the left hand are slapped on to the right upper arm. These are gestural equivalents of spoken phrases such as 'eff off', or written phrases such as '', which transmit an obscene message without actually saying or writing down the obscene word.

It seems that the Hitlerian association was invented by the ever reliable British press. To the French establishment the quenelle, or lesser bras d'honneur, was anti-Semitic. It had to cross the chamnnel to become a Nazi salute, though nothing like the kind favoured by racist football fans and the English (sic) Defence League -

Fin décembre 2013, Nicolas Anelka effectue une quenelle après un but dans le championnat anglais. Il est félicité par Dieudonné mais condamné par la ministre des Sports Valérie Fourneyron et par l'ancienne ministre des Sports Chantal Jouanno. À cette occasion la presse anglaise parle pour la première fois de cette affaire en France en désignant le geste comme un « Nazi Salute », ou « Nazi Gesture »
(Wikipedia, French language, s.v. "Dieudonné")

Jacob Cohen writes,
and speaks.