Posts Tagged ‘Deaths’

We Own It Appealing for People to Attend Planned Protest Against NHS Privatisation

January 20, 2023

I’ve also had this email from the pro-NHS, pro-nationalisation organisation, We Own It about a planned demonstration they’re holding against the privatisation of the NHS in February. They’re appealing for people to go to it. I can’t, due to expense and illness, but I’m putting it up here in case there are people interested in it, who may be able to attend.

‘Dear David,

BREAKING: private health companies donated £800,000 to the Conservative Party over the last decade. Now we know why the government is doing nothing about NHS privatisation!

A recent Oxford study linked NHS privatisation to the preventable deaths of 557 people.

It is time to make the government feel the power of organised people over organised money.

Can you sign up to become one of 557 people in Parliament Square from 2 – 4pm on Saturday, 25th February demanding an end to NHS privatisation?

So far, 541 people have signed up. We need 89 people to reach our final goal of 630 (that is, 557 people representing the victims of NHS privatisation, 43 people to help carry signs and banners and 30 stewards to help manage the event).

Sign up to become one of the remaining 89 people on Saturday 25th February in Parliament Square

You are involved in our NHS campaign because you believe that our NHS should work for people, not the greedy private companies that donate to the government.

Unite the Union, Just Treatment, Doctors for the NHS and Socialist Health Association fully agree with you. That is why they are now supporting our action.

It is time we make the government feel the power of organised people over organised money.

We want to bring together 557 people representing the 557 people whose deaths are linked to NHS privatisation to put on a powerful display that can get into the papers.

More press coverage means more pressure on the government. The more of us there are at the action, the more likely the action is to get press coverage.

We need 89 more people to reach our goal. Can you sign up now to join us?

Sign up to take action from 2 – 4pm on Saturday 25th Feb in Parliament Square

Because of the incredible efforts of our NHS nurses and ambulance workers who are fighting to save our NHS, the government is already feeling pressure.

With the recent study that links NHS privatisation to 557 preventable deaths, there is no better time than now to pile onto that pressure they are feeling.

The government already knows that over 75% of the public, according to our last poll, want to end NHS privatisation. But they don’t feel that people will fight to see that happen.

You can show them from 2 – 4pm on Saturday 25th February in Parliament Square that you will.

The more people join this action, the more powerful it will be. The more powerful it is, the more likely it is to receive coverage from the press.

This coverage will pile on the pressure on the government and start forcing them to take action.

I will stand up and fight to force an end to NHS privatisation

We need 557 people to represent the 557 people whose deaths are linked to NHS privatisation, according to a recent Oxford study.

But we need even more people to make sure the action is big and effective. So after signing up, please send the link to your friends and family, especially those who live in London and ask them to sign up too.

Thank you so much for always standing up against NHS privatisation.

Cat, Johnbosco, Matthew, Kate – the We Own It team

PS: 30 years ago today the British Coal and British Rail (Transfer Proposals) Act 1993 was passed, paving the way for privatisation of our railway. We’ve put together a list of 30 top failures of rail privatisation from the last 30 years. Take a read and share with friends and family.’

Graham Hancock – A Crank, Possibly, But Definitely No Racist

December 9, 2022

My discipline, archaeology, has been massively going after Graham Hancock this week. Hancock’s ah, um,, ‘maverick thinker’, I suppose you’d say, who’s been presenting a series on Netflix arguing that thousands of years ago there was a highly advanced civilisation that perished in a cataclysm, but passed on its secrets to other ancient civilisations around the world. This has understandably annoyed archaeologists and a number have put up videos, some of them lengthy and quite detailed, disproving him. Hancock’s been promoting this idea for some time now. Going back two decades and more, he had a series on Channel 4 with the title ‘Water World’ or something like it, also arguing that there was a global advanced civilisation, whose monuments have been covered up by a flood, as recorded in the Bible and other ancient religions. Now I’m sure that Hancock is wrong, and the criticisms of his dodgy history and archaeology are right. But I take exception to one of the other accusations levelled at him, which is that he is racist.

This accusation is partly based on his false ascription of the achievements of indigenous cultures around the world to this putative prehistoric civilisation. It denies those people the credit for their achievements. But the accusation is also that it’s similar to the ideas of some bonkers White supremacist groups, who are using Hancock’s ideas to promote themselves. One archaeologist posted a video saying that Hancock should have disavowed the use of his ideas by these fascists. It also criticised him for being friends with Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson. There are fair criticisms to be made of both of these men. Peterson’s an arch-conservative and anti-feminist, but hardly a Nazi. Rogan was pushing anti-vax nonsense and is an advocate for some mind-expanding drugs. A few years ago people were accusing him of being a ‘gateway to the Alt-Right’. Possibly, but he also talks to people from the left, who are otherwise denied a platform by the lamestream media. Journalists like Abbie Martin, who talked about Israeli propaganda against the Palestinians and how she found, when she visited the beleaguered Arab nation, that the reality was nothing like the picture painted by the Israeli state. He’s also talked to biologists and journalists exposing the lies of the trans ideology. This is not Alt-Right, no matter what groups like Mermaids, Stonewall, Antifa and the rest say. The people criticising the gender ideology tend to be radical feminists, many from the socialist left. Part of their opposition against it is that it reduces masculinity and femininity to traditional, stereotypical sex roles. One of the feminist vloggers interviewed one of the leading activists against the trans ideology, who was furious that people like her were being presented as right-wing. Another feminist activist criticised Matt Walsh for misrepresenting feminists as uniformly in favour of trans ideology, and then criticising them for it. Rogan gives a voice to people outside the mainstream. Sometimes it’s rubbish, and sometimes it’s immensely valuable. He has also interviewed a number of Black celebs, so again, not a Nazi.

The White supremacist ideas being referred to seem to me to be the Traditionalist ideology of Giulio Evola. Evola was an Italian Fascist and occultist, who was a major ideological influence on the scumbuckets behind the Bologna railway bombing in the 1970s. A fascist group bombed the station, killing and maiming over a hundred people. Evola believed that there was a strongly hierarchical, ‘Aryan’ civilisation in Hyperborea in the arctic, which was responsible for all the subsequent cultural achievements of the civilisations around the world. This is twaddle. But Hancock’s ideas are also similar to those of others, which don’t come from people in the fascist fringe. A couple of years ago I picked up an old book, Colony Earth, which had been published in the 1970s. This claimed that Earth may have been an extraterrestrial colony, whose advanced civilisation was destroyed in a nuclear war. The pyramids may have been fall-out shelters, as were the megalithic tumuli in Britain. It’s an interesting read, but certainly wrong. I think Charles Berlitz, who started the Bermuda Triangle myth, also believed in this, supporting it in one of his books with artefacts from Aztec tombs that look like aircraft. Berlitz is someone else, who I’m fairly certain has absolutely no connection to fascism whatsoever.

And I don’t believe Hancock is either.

When he was travelling the world on his Channel 4 series he was accompanied by his wife, who is Sri Lankan. Now, White supremacists do not, as a rule, marry dark-skinned people from outside Europe. If they do, they’re angrily denounced as ‘race traitors’. In one edition of this earlier series, Hancock reported on the mysterious ruins of ancient city found off the coast of the Bay of Bengal. He was shown talking respectfully to an Indian gent, who told him how such findings tie in with Hindu ideas of the antiquity of civilisation and ancient Indian legends of flooded cities. Again, this isn’t quite behaviour you’d expect from a genuine White supremacist. He also travelled to South and Central America, where he proposed the old theory that the Mayans, Aztecs and other ancient Amerindian civilisations must have learned how to build their pyramids from someone else. I think this was once again ancient Egypt. But who brought that knowledge to the New World? Black Africans. He pointed to an Olmec bas relief of a warrior’s head, and declared its features to be ‘proudly African’. If this is racism, then its Afrocentrism rather than White supremacy. As for the ancient race behind these monuments, Hancock doesn’t say what colour they are. In this, he breaks with some of his predecessors, who say they must have been White because the legends of numerous Amerindian peoples state that vital parts of their culture were brought to them by White gods. Hancock is therefore less racialised in what he says than his predecessors.

I disagree profoundly with Hancock’s ideas, but he has a right to say them like everyone else. And if it piques people interest in these ancient cultures so that they want to find out what they were really like, that’s all to the good. But I do think it’s profoundly wrong to accuse him of racism. That just further cheapens the word and weakens it as a weapon against the real thing.

Email Calling for the Labour Party to Speak Up for Palestine

December 2, 2022

I got this email from Labour and Palestine asking people to sign their call to the Labour party to speak up for the Palestinians against their continued oppression and dispossession by the Israeli state, in stark contravention of international law. The email runs

Labour Must Speak up for Palestine – add your name!

UPDATED FOR #PALESTINEDAY 2022: Sign here // Share here // Read our article here // Retweet here

“To be an internationalist and democratic socialist party, it is the responsibility of the Labour Party to speak up for Palestine and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their fundamental rights, including to self-determination.

Recent actions by the Israeli Government have illustrated the continuing nature of Israel’s illegal occupation and the denial of the rights of Palestinian peoples with the use of militarised violence and forced displacements. The attacks on Gaza in August 2022 killed 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, and were described by the UN Special rapporteur as an act contrary to international law. The Israeli army’s killing of the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh; the attacks on the Al Aqsa mosque and the outlawing of 7 NGOs who spoke up for Palestinian rights being just some examples.

The seriousness of the situation facing the people of Palestine is confirmed by the fact the International Criminal Court is holding an inquiry into abuses committed in the occupied Palestinian Territories since 2014.

The continuing de facto annexation of Palestinian land by accelerated settlement building alongside statements of Israel’s continuing intention to proceed with annexation, show it is clearer than ever that the Israeli State is intent on eliminating any prospects of Palestinian self-determination, including by trying to annex Jerusalem as its sole capital.

Major reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem have concluded that Israel is practising the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN.

Labour must build on – not step back from – its commitments to immediate recognition of the state of Palestine and an end to the blockade, occupation and settlements as outlined in the 2017 and 2019 manifestos, and in the motions overwhelmingly passed by the Party’s annual conferences in 2018, 2019 and 2021, the last  of which stated “that the Labour Party must stand on the right side of history and abide by these resolutions in its policy, communications and political strategy.”

We must support “effective measures” including sanctions, as called for by Palestinian civil society, against actions by the Israeli state that are illegal according to international law. This must include action to ensure that Israel stops the building of settlements, reverses any annexation, ends the occupation of the West Bank, ceases the blockade of Gaza, brings down the Wall and respects the right of refugees to return to their homes under international law.

We oppose measures designed to stop civil society using non-violent actions, including ethical investment policies, to try to ensure Israel complies with international law.”

* Sign here // Share here // Read our article here // Retweet here

I’ve signed it, as it is clearly a matter of simply justice to defend the victims of persecution regardless of the state doing it. I fear that it will probably do little good, as Starmer is ‘100 per cent Zionist’ and backs the Israeli state to the hilt, even employing a former Israeli spook to hunt down the emails and social media posts of people he can smear as anti-Semitic. But if you are a member of the Labour party or a Labour supporter and feel the same way about it I do, please consider signing this as well.

Sketch of Musical Comedy Duo Hinge and Bracket

November 27, 2022

The two ladies, Dr. Evadne Hinge and Dame Hilda Bracket, were a drag act, the comic creations of George Logan and Patrick Fyffe. The Wikipedia page on them notes that they started off in the gay clubs before entering the mainstream, and that they differed from other drag acts as the comedy was based far more on character. The section on this on the Wikipedia entry runs

‘Patrick Fyffe and George Logan devised the Hinge and Bracket act after they met performing at the Escort Club in Pimlico, London. Fyffe had already gained experience performing in his cabaret drag act as a glamorous soprano named Perri St Claire, and his character had appeared in small parts on television shows such as Z Cars and Doctor in the House, as well as the 1972 film version of Steptoe and Son.

Fyffe and Logan began to work on a comedy act featuring Fyffe as a retired opera singer who still thinks she can sing, with Logan as her male accompanist. The idea developed into a dual drag act featuring a pair of eccentric old ladies. Their act was distinct from drag queens in that their portrayal was more realistic than exaggerated caricature, allowing them to gain more mainstream appeal beyond gay clubs. Some fans were convinced by their performance and were unaware that the elderly ladies were being acted by two young men, although their act was frequently decorated with double extenders. Hinge and Bracket were portrayed as a pair of elderly spinsters who had spent their lives performing classical music. They frequently indulged in reminiscences of their heyday singing in opera and performing with Ivor Novello and Noël Coward. Their characters evoked a genteel English inter-war world and their stage act was frequently interspersed with performances of popular songs (often Novello or Coward) and light opera numbers, especially pieces by Gilbert and Sullivan. Both were singers, and Dr Hinge usually provided the accompaniment seated at the piano.[2] Writer Gyles Brandreth described Hinge and Bracket as “a drag act with a difference. They offered character and comedy instead of glamour and sex appeal.”[5]

The ladies shared a house (known as The Old Manse or Utopia Ltd) in the fictional village of Stackton Tressel in Suffolk; the name was adapted from Fyffe’s Staffordshire birthplace of Acton Trussell. They employed the services of an eccentric housekeeper, Maud, played in the radio series by English character actress Daphne Heard.’

Apparently, they got their broadcasting breakthrough in 1976 when they appeared on The Good Old Days, following which they had their own series on Radio 4, The Enchanting World of Hinge and Bracket which ran from 1977 to 1979. This was followed three years later by a BBC 2 series, Dear Ladies, which ran from 1982 to 1984. They also had another series on Radio 2, The Random Jottings of Hinge and Bracket, from 1982 to 1989. This was followed by another series, At Home with Hinge and Bracket, in 1990. Wikipedia also notes that they also appeared at the Royal Opera House in a production of the Die Fliedermaus, a West End production of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest, and Peter Shaffer’s Lettice and Lovage, as well as numerous appearances in pantomime and Royal Variety Performances. They also released a record, Hinge and Bracket at Abbey Road, with a cover spoofing the Beatles album. Logan stopped performing as his character after death of Fyffe from cancer in 2002 at the age of 60, but brought her out once more for a performance of the comic opera, The Dowager’s Oyster in 2016.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinge_and_Bracket

I can just about remember them from my childhood in the 1970s but wanted to write about them as they show how TV drag shows have changed between then and now. Hinge and Bracket and Danny La Rue were mainstream evening entertainment. I got the impression that whatever the origin of drag in gay culture, on TV at least it was strongly influenced by Music Hall. There was a joke about La Rue that ‘he wasn’t born, they just found him on Mother’s Kelly’s Doorstep’, referring to one of the old Music Hall songs. And it wasn’t just gay men who performed in drag. Many straight comedians did, including Les Dawson and Ronnies Corbett and Barker. The two were also part of a trend of musical comedy that includes people like Victor Borge, Richard Stillgoe, Kit and the Widow, and Victoria Wood. They’ve been succeeded by the Australian Tim Minchin, while drag returned to television with Paul O’Grady’s creation, Lily Savage and RuPaul’s Drag Race. Minchin’s far edgier than Hinge and Bracket, who were a gentle, genteel form of comedy, while the Drag Race is much more sexualised. This is in line with general changes in sensibility, in which comedy has become more satirical and much more savage and bitter. There’s also an explicit connection to sexual politics through the radical trans movement and the influence of Queer Theory. This would have been extremely difficult in previous decades when homosexuality was illegal, and gays were still extremely unpopular following decriminalisation. But I’ve got considerable nostalgia for the earlier TV drag shows, when it was just about comedy and entertainment. Perhaps this type of distinctly British drag will return in time.

Yiddish Workers’ Song

November 25, 2022

This is a real piece of forgotten Jewish working-class culture. I’ve put up a number of Socialist Jewish songs and anthems in Yiddish and Hebrew, including the Communist Internationale and the anthem of the Russian/Polish Bund. The Bund were the mass Jewish socialist party in Poland, fighting for the rights of Polish Jews who strongly rejected Zionism and wished to live in peace and equality in their native country with their gentile Polish compatriots. This song, Dem Arbeters Lid, ‘The Workers’ Song’, from Jane Peppler’s channel on YouTube, is characteristically Jewish but also strongly internationalist It says at one point that ‘race and nationality mean nothing to you’. It comes from the Jewish Labor Movement, which I would imagine is the American Jewish socialist movement, as shown by the thumbnail of a picket line of lady tailors on strike. It’s composer, Louis Gilrod, used as the tune the American song ‘The Mother of the Girl I Love’. It’s in Waltz time and reminds me very strongly of Edwardian British parlour songs.

It opens by describing the exhausted, penniless, ‘self-enslaved’ Jewish workers toiling as tailors. Their children are naked and their wives sick and weak. But they will bring about a new social order in which they will be free and there will be no rich and poor. These are sentiments that would no doubt leave the British Jewish Labour Movement, now a part of the Labour party, screaming in fury along with some of the other Blairites. Because somehow, some of them have got it into their tiny minds that socialism is anti-Semitic because it’s against capitalism. Presumably the Blairite moron who said this Radio 4 didn’t realise that by equating capitalism with Jewry she had just expressed the same views as Hitler and other grotty fascists, such as our own wretched Oswald Mosley. The picture of the squalor and poverty of the workers in the garment industry is absolutely accurate. Many, perhaps most of the Jewish immigrants to America were Yiddish-speaking Romanian fleeing persecution in that country. They were dirt poor, living in poorly furnished, overcrowded tenements, sometimes even just occupying stairwells. Many of the women were poorly paid workers in the garment industry. One of the most horrific disasters that hit the New York Jewish community in this period was a fire that broke out in one of the upper stories of one of the clothing factories. This resulted in tens, perhaps over a hundred dead. some of the women were killed because there were no adequate exits, and so leapt to their deaths. As for the myth of Jews sticking together against gentiles, the factories’ owners were also Jews who lived in the affluent districts uptown with their gentile neighbours.

More Sketches of Geniuses of British Comedy: Bob Monkhouse, Rod Hull, Emu, and their Victim Michael Parkinson

November 25, 2022

Bob Monkhouse is, in my opinion, one of the very great figures of late 20th century and early 21st century British comedy. He was not just a comedian, but also game show compering some of the nation’s favourite shows. I can remember him from the early or mid ’70s compering The Golden Shot, for those that can remember that far back. The contestants had to give instructions to blindfolded marksman, Bernie the Bolt to get him to aim a crossbow at a target. If he got it, they won the prize money. I can still hear the words, ‘Up a bit, left a bit…’ and so on. I don’t know if Monkhouse took over from someone else, but there are clips of it on YouTube with a Black presenter with a broad Yorkshire accent. Later on, in the 1980s he presented Family Fortunes. He was asked in one interview what the worse moment from the show was. He replied that it was when one contestant kept replying to each question, ‘Christmas turkey?’ This led to exchanges like ‘What item would you take to the beach on holiday?’ ‘A Christmas turkey’. ‘Interesting answer. We’ll see. Our survey said. -‘ and then the buzzer to indicate that the people surveyed definitely had not replied that they would take a Christmas turkey to the beach’. Monkhouse asked the poor fellow afterwards what happened. He said that he didn’t know, his mind just went blank. In the ’90s or early years of this century he started to come back after a period when he was off camera. I think this followed an appearance on Have I Got News For You, where he displayed his wit. Actually, I think he had scriptwriters with him handing him gags, or perhaps I’m confusing him with another comedian and entertainer whose career was revived by the show.

Monkhouse began his career away from the camera, writing jokes for other comedians and children’s comics. In an interview with the popular science magazine, Focus, he recalled how he nearly created Star Trek. He had been a science fiction fan, and so had an idea about a spaceship, called ‘Enterprise’, whose captain was a Scotsman called Kirk. Ah, that would have been interesting. He also gave praise to the other comedians he believed deserved it for their skill. One on series about various TV comedians, he described Jimmy Carr as ‘the comedians’ comedian’. But that phrase could also easily describe him. He was acutely interested in other comedians and the craft of comedy itself. In the 1980s he had his own show at about 7.30 in the evening, in which he interviewed comedians he admired from Britain and America. One of them, if I recall rightly, was our own Les Dawson. His house was also full of old film and clips of past comedians. He died of prostate cancer a few years. After his death one of the TV channels broadcast his farewell show, with commenters from other comedians. They said they didn’t realise how terribly ill Monkhouse was at the time, and that he was saying ‘goodbye’ to them. Another great comedian lost to us.

Rod Hull and Emu – another brilliant comedy act taken from us by the Grim Reaper. Hull said he was inspired to create Emu while watching a nature programme in New Zealand. This may have shown the country’s national bird, the Kiwi, another flightless bird rooting around on the forest floor. Or it may have shown Australia’s great flightless bird, the emu. Either way, the bird inspired Hull to create this avian monster of children’s television. It was the most terrifying puppet not to come out of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, though some cruel individuals may detect a certain resemblance to the villainous Skeksis in the film The Dark Crystal. Whatever its inspiration, Emus temperament was more like the 12-foot carnivorous Terror Birds that lived after the demise of the dinosaurs. Hull and Emu had a variety of children’s programmes. I remember him from E.B.C. 1 – ‘Emu’s Broadcasting Company’ with Billy Dainty on BBC 1, and then he moved over to ITV and Emu’s World. On E.B.C., Hull and Emu attempt to perform pieces from the Bard, complete with Emu wearing an Elizabeth cap. I also remember a recurring segment where Dainty, another great performer in his own right, dressed in Edward strongman long johns, tried to give advice on getting fit. This was introduced by the 20th Jazz song, ‘Keep fit, take exercise, get fit, and you’ll be wise, whatever you do, keep fit’. The music that introduced the Shakespeare segment, I later found out, was the 16th century German Mohrentanz, played on shawms and crumhorns. Emus also did weather forecasts, which were introduced by the jingle, ‘Weather, weather, all together, what’s it going to do? We don’t know, and so let’s ask, weatherman Emu.’ In addition to his own programmes, he also appeared as a guest on others, most notorious on Parkinson.

Emu’s style of comedy was pure, anarchic slapstick, whether he was on his own programmes or a guest on a chat show. These performances usually started off calmly, with Hull talking quietly and the puppet behaving itself on his arm. If they were being interviewed, Emu would act docile, snuggling up to the interviewer to be stroked. ‘There, he likes that’, Hull would say approvingly. Then it would start to go wrong, the beak would curl up in a snarl and before long Hull, his guest star or the interviewer would be savagely attacked by the thing’s beak, all with Hull screaming, ‘No, Emu! No!’ This would often end up with the three struggling on the floor while the set collapsed around them in a heap of overturned furniture. Emu was a force of pure chaos, bringing down televisual order. And hilariously funny. But it wasn’t all laughs. I can remember my grandmother telling me I was not to get like him with the sock puppets I made, as Hull had admitted he couldn’t control it. I don’t know if that was true, or another reworking of the old fear about ventriloquists and their dummies. I think Emu was also like Sherlock Holmes as the artist’s creation its creator would like to kill off and move away from but couldn’t because of the characters’ immense popularity. Hull himself was sadly taken from us in a domestic accident. He fell off his roof trying to fix his TV aerial.

I couldn’t sketch Rod Hull and the monstrous bird without also including his most famous victim, the chat show host Michael Parkinson. Parkinson’s show, simply called Parkinson, was one of the mainstays of British television. Parkinson interviewed a number of great and famous stars, like Oliver Reed and Mohammed Ali. And then he had the misfortune to interview, and get assaulted, by Emu. This incident has gone down as a piece of broadcasting history. It became so notorious that it was included in a skit in Private Eye commemorating Parkinson being given an honorary degree or doctorate from one of the universities. Whenever a celebrity, actor, sportsman or whoever, is awarded one of these honorary qualifications, the Eye prints a piece celebrating it in Latin, with the title ‘The …. Laudation In Full’. The Latin is easily understood, recognisable from the Latin vocabular in English. The Parkinson laudatio mentioned his interview with pugilist Mohammed Ali, before adding ‘assaultam cum Emu, avis horribilis. Ave, Emu, salutamus Emu, laudamus Emu’. Or words to that effect. Parkinson had his revenge a few years later when he appeared on Room 101. Parkinson naturally wanted Emu to be consigned to the room containing everything rubbish and terrible in the world. He was obliged when Emu was brought on in a miniature guillotine. Parkinson naturally threw the switch or pulled out the block, and one of children’s television’s most comically terrifying puppets was beheaded, with Parkinson shaking his head as if he couldn’t quite work out whether this was appropriate or not.

Heroic People Stop Shooter at Gay Nightclub

November 20, 2022

I just found this report by Sky News’ Bethany Minelle, ”Heroic people’ stopped attack at US gay nightclub in which five died’. There’s been yet another mass shooting in America, but according to the report at least two people stopped the gunman killing any more people. And the maximum possible respect to them. The article begins

“Heroic people” confronted a gunman at a gay nightclub in Colorado and stopped him killing any more people, police have said.

Five people died and at least 18 were injured at Club Q in Colorado Springs.

The suspect has been named as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, who was taken into custody and treated for injuries.

In a news conference, officers said the gunman used a “long rifle” and began shooting as soon as he entered the venue.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said: “At least two heroic people inside the club confronted and fought with the suspect and were able to stop the suspect from continuing to kill and harm others.

We owe them a great debt of thanks.”

John Suthers, the mayor of Colorado Springs, said their actions “clearly saved lives”.

At least two firearms were found at the scene, and the FBI is assisting with the investigation, Mr Vasquez said.

His officers are working to identify those that died, and to establish whether anyone helped the suspect.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who is openly gay, commended the “brave individuals who blocked the gunman”, describing the attack as “horrific, sickening and devastating”.

The venue called the shooting a “hate attack”. It said: “Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends. We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”‘

For more information, see: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/heroic-people-stopped-attack-at-us-gay-nightclub-in-which-five-died/ar-AA14jNUj

One of the most horrific aspects about such mass killings is that they’ve happened so regularly that people have got used to them. I don’t know how many such shootings occur each year in America, but it’s huge. And while there are areas with a high level of gun ownership which have very low rates of gun violence, such crimes are related to the easy accessibility of at least certain types of firearms. The American left-winger Robert Reich stated in one of his posts that when certain types of very powerful weaponry were briefly outlawed, the incidence of these shootings, or perhaps just the number of deaths from them, fell 70 per cent.

As for the type of maniacs who carry them out, some of them, like this scumbag, are clearly motivated by hate. Others, like those who shoot up schools, stores and bus queues, have a grudge against the world in general and simply go where they can find enough people to take out their rage on.

And after such killings you hear from the Republicans the refrain that instead of banning guns, there should be better mental health care. Well, it would probably help stop these atrocities if there was, but when in power the Republicans have always voted to cut mental health provision and funding.

And so terrible acts like this continue to break out, and it’s left to the cops and ordinary, great people like the heroes above, to stop them.

American Transpeople Joining Gun Clubs Against the Coming ‘Trans Genocide’

November 8, 2022

This is both weird and alarming. Karen Davis is a gender critical Black American woman, who gives her critique of the trans cult and its excesses on her vlog, ‘You’re Kidding, Right?’ on YouTube. She’s a musician and a music teacher. I think she teaches special children. She’s also been a care worker in a social club for schizophrenics. She has an excellent grasp of the medical literature and frequently cites relevant papers on the damaging side-effects of puberty blockers, gender transition surgery and the mental and physical differences between the sexes that persist despite the surgery and hormone treatment. She’s an important voice in the debate, but I deliberately haven’t posted her here. This is because she has very strong and uncompromising views, expressed in similarly strong language. And I don’t want to offend any of my readers unnecessarily.

Yesterday, however, she made a couple of posts reporting a very alarming development. It seems some American transpeople have worked themselves up into such a state of fear over an imagined coming genocide that they’re joining a set of gun clubs, ‘The Pink Pistols’, set up by gay people in the early 2000s in order to teach them to shoot in order to protect themselves. This came out when she was talking about the reaction among some trans people to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ passage of a law in Florida banning gender treatment for minors. This forbade doctors and clinicians from putting trans-identifying children on puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones or surgery. This is important, as gender surgeons have been performing mastectomies on girls as young as 12. DeSantis is a Republican, and while I generally despise the Republican party, I think he’s done the right thing about this. Children are way too young to be able to make responsible decisions about such life-changing medical treatment. After all, we don’t allow kids of 12 to buy tobacco or alcohol, and over here they can’t buy glue at that age. It’s also the case that 65-85 per cent of children with gender confusion actually grow out of it, usually settling down as gay men or women. There’s real concern among part of the gay community that gender reassignment surgery is being used by homophobic parents as a kind of gay conversion therapy. If this is the case, then it’s as nasty as the historic gay conversion techniques involving electric shocks, isolation, starvation, sleep deprivation and other sadistic tortures. I don’t doubt that there are some people who really need trans therapy and medical treatment, but there are also very many who don’t and for whom it is inappropriate and damaging.

The people on one of the trans chatrooms visited by Davies, however, interpreted DeSantis’ legislation as the first steps towards the trans holocaust. One poster, InnocenceClaire, said that she was having fantasies of killing people. Her partner was in the navy, and she was concerned about having to shoot members of the US military when the state openly began killing trans people. She was also thinking of emigrating to Canada. Someone then suggested she join Pink Pistols, which is the subject of a further vlog post by Davies.

Okay, I’m very definitely someone who believes very strongly in gun licensing and restrictions on firearms possession. But I honestly don’t blame gay Americans for setting up their own gun clubs considering the violent persecution gays have suffered and still do in some quarters. Western society is much more tolerant now than it was when I was growing up. But I’ve been told by American friends that even though homosexuality has been legalised at the federal level, many individual states continue to have laws against homosexuality. And I don’t doubt either that transpeople get their share of abuse and violence. While drag has been part of British pantomime and the Music Hall tradition since the 19th century, it was illegal for ‘men to walk about in the clothes of the opposite sex for immoral purposes’, as the act put it. I don’t know when it was legalised. One of the gobbets we had to read in a book intended to help young people navigate their way into adulthood in RE when I was at school was about a young transvestite bloke in prison. In the 90s Private Eye in its ‘Funny Old World’ column published the obituary of an older transvestite, who had been frequently up before the beak. And the violence and abuse against trans people was covered in the small press magazine Aeon – the Magazine of Transkind. One of the great commenters here has posted a link to a BBC report on the abuse a transwoman received from a mob after an ambulance arrived to take her to hospital in this country.

But from what I can tell, most of the violence, abuse and threats of violence in this controversy come from trans rights activists, who may not be trans themselves, against gender critical feminists. Maria Maclachlan of the ‘Peak Trans’ vlog was the victim of one assault. A feminist protest in Spain against that country’s new gender identification laws had to be abandoned because of the menacing mood of the trans counterprotesters. There has been a lot of argy-bargy from the trans activists at the rallies Kelly-Jay Keen has held in Britain, including Bristol and Brighton. One of the trans rights activists there set off a smoke bomb and another was arrested with a bag of knives. Keen is on a campaign tour of America. She wanted to speak in Portland, but received hostile, threatening messages and was told by the cops that they wouldn’t be able to protest her. She wisely called it off. Now there have been social media posts smearing her as a member of the Proud Boys. Similar threats and attacks have happened to others. There was outrage a couple of weeks ago when Fred Sargent, a senior member of the American gay community and a veteran of the Stonewall riots, was knocked to the ground at a Pride march and had coffee poured on him because he was carrying a banner stating that transwomen weren’t women. And there were any number of posts on Twitter by people posting about how TERFs – Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists – were fascists and Nazis and should be killed.

In fact, the violence actually suffered by transpeople in Britain in America is small. I think in Britain three trans people were killed a couple of years ago, and there have fortunately been no more murdered since. According to Davis, 36 trans people have been killed in the Land of the Free this year. That’s obviously 36 too many, but it’s a tiny number compared to the 1,800 women murdered by their parents, often after they’ve given birth. Gender critical feminists aren’t fascists and there no trans holocaust.

I am not saying this to vilify transpeople, only to make the point that there are parts of that milieu that is violent and abusive. My fear is that this section of the trans community will tool itself up with firearms and bring them to demonstrations, like other armed groups. I can remember a couple of years ago when a militia group turned up to face down Black Lives Matter protesters. There was a stand-off, but mercifully no-one was shot. My fear is that some trans protesters equipped with firearms won’t exercise similar restraint, not if they really believe that TERFs are Nazis. And that would be a catastrophe. Apart from the loss of the life, many gays and transpeople are afraid that the militancy and extremism of the trans rights movement will provoke a backlash against all of them. That could very well come true if someone is shot at a rally. I really hope cooler heads prevail.

For further information, see the posts ‘MTFs ARM IN RESPONSE TO FLORIDA MOVE TO PROTECT KIDS’ and ‘FEMALE IMPERSONATORS GET GUNS WHILE REAL WOMEN GET KILLED’

Avaaz Petition for FIFA to Compensate the Families of Migrant Workers Who Died Building Stadium in Qatar

November 1, 2022

This is another internet petition I’ve received and signed. As many people have pointed out, the conditions for migrant workers in Qatar is very much like real slavery, and it is only just that the families of those who have died building the multi-million dollar footie stadium for the coming world cup receive their proper compensation.

More than 6750 modern day slaves have died preparing Qatar for the 2022 World Cup. Hundreds of thousands more still toil for as little as a dollar an hour. FIFA stands to make billions of dollars in profit, but refuses to compensate workers or their families fairly. Sign now to demand that FIFA pay these workers and their families what they deserve! #PayUpFIFA

SIGN THE PETITION

Dear friends,

Imagine being so desperate for work that you left your family behind to live in a squalid camp thousands of miles away and toil in the desert heat for as little as $1 an hour. Then you died, alone, and your family got nothing. This was the terrible fate of more than 6,750 modern-day slaves who died preparing Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.

Now imagine that those who exploited and abused you were set to rake in billions while the family you left behind spiraled deeper into poverty.

FIFA chose Qatar’s despotic regime to host the World Cup, well aware of reports that forced labor and abuse of poor migrant workers was a common practice in the country.  As a direct result, more than 6,750 vulnerable migrant workers have died building the glitzy stadiums and posh hotels that will be filled with football fans in a few weeks. 

That’s 40 deaths for every goal expected at this year’s World Cup.

Don’t let FIFA profit off of abuse!

FIFA is under pressure to set aside $440 million for these workers – the same amount that will be awarded to the winning teams. Rights groups, footballers, and even some of the World Cup’s top corporate sponsors are part of the push. But with less than four weeks until kickoff, we need to amplify this call to force FIFA to do the right thing. So sign now and we’ll deliver your voices straight to FIFA’s front door in Zurich.

Don’t let FIFA profit off of abuse!

Avaaz stands up for human rights and workers’ rights around the world. Already in 2015 Avaaz urged Qatar to end its modern slavery ahead of the World Cup, receiving almost a million signatures. In the years since, the Qatar government has taken steps to address these issues, but more can be done!

With hope and determination,
Bieta, Nate, Christine, John, Laura, Miguel, Marta and the rest of the Avaaz team

More information:

Questioning the Supposed Link Between Slavery and Black Obesity

October 29, 2022

Sorry, folks, but I’m returning here to the something my favourite right-wing YouTube historian posted yesterday. Lenny Henry is the co-editor of a book that’s recently been published on the dire state of Black Britain, Black British Lives Matter, and Simon Webb has been reading it. He posted two videos attacking what he considered to be a couple of its untruths yesterday. One was a demolition of a list in the book of Black people, who have supposedly died in police custody. Except that many of them didn’t. One woman in particular, who the book claims died in 1986, really only died in 2011 or so, according to Wikipedia. The other video concentrated on a chapter about Black British health. Four times as many Black mothers die in childbirth as White mothers. Webb states that one of the causes of this is likely to be obesity. The book notes that a higher number of Black people are obese than Whites, who in turn have a higher level of obesity than east Asians. Webb likes this, as it fits in with the Bell curve and the statistical distribution of intelligence between races. Blacks are thicker than Whites, who are in turn thicker than east Asians. Now according to Webb, the book claims that Blacks have higher levels of obesity because they were fed scraps and other bits of rubbish, like molasses, by the plantation masters when they were slaves. Webb criticises this by saying this makes as much sense as blaming the rise of obesity in working class Whites on the highly calorific food working class people traditionally ate. He argues he could use that to excuse himself getting fat, but it’s still within his power to change his diet.

Now I think here he does have a point. I don’t think you can blame slavery for Black obesity, or not entirely, for the following reasons:

  1. At some point in the 18th century, the plantation masters started giving their slaves plots of land on which they could work on Sundays growing their own food. This was partly a ploy so that they didn’t have to give them so much rations. But it resulted in the development of a market economy in the Caribbean, with the enslaved population producing food which they sold at Sunday markets.
  2. African slaves also took some of their own foodstuffs to the New World. I’ve only read of this in the context of Black American cuisine, but apparently the slaves in the southern US also included food plants from their west African homelands. My guess is that something similar also happened in the Caribbean.
  3. In the 19th century the British deliberately set about improving the slave diet. Yams were introduced from Polynesia and the British government also started laying down regulations on the amount of food the planters had to give their slaves. This consisted of so many plantains, so much fish and ‘farinaceous material’ – presumably wheat and cereals – per week. I’m not a nutritionist, so have no idea whether the prescribed amounts would have been enough. But the legislation is contained in the British parliamentary papers on slavery compiled in the 1820s, and anyone interested could use them very productively as a research tool.
  4. Even if there is a link between slavery and obesity in Blacks, this would only apply to people of West Indian descent. Or rather, it would only have a racist context for those enslaved by the British. It wouldn’t apply to recent African immigrants, unless you wish to argue that they are inclined to obesity because of the diet their enslaved ancestors were fed by their African masters. African societies also owned slaves, the proportions varyiing between 30 to 70 per cent of the population according to culture. And they were fed scraps. In West Africa, people received food in relation to their position in the social hierarchy. The master of the house ate first, and passed his scraps on to his favourites, who in turned passed theirs down to their social inferiors, with the women getting whatever was left. Akapolo slaves in east Africa were also fed poorly, and expected to eat their food off the floor, rather than from pots.
  5. The ideal of beauty in some west African societies is for plump and fat women. In some west African cultures girls are taken to a special hut when they hit puberty where they are fattened up ready for marriage. And if I remember correctly, this has been an issue of feminist concern.

There’s also a class factor at work here, I feel. The British diet traditionally contained a lot of calories and stodge because most people did physical work. Now we live more sedentary lives and so don’t need as much rich, fatty food. This would also apply to people from the West Indies, where much of the work would also have been veery physical, particularly during slavery.

Then there is the question of the amount of healthcare Black women receive compared to those of Whites and other races. Thomas Sowell in one of his books on race debates this issue. He notes that Black mothers have a higher incidence of complications and mortality than Whites, and receive less care than Whites as well. But Mexican mother receive the least healthcare, but have much less infant mortality than Blacks. He therefore argues that the amount of healthcare isn’t the cause of Black infant mortality. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there wasn’t a genetic predisposition towards obesity in Blacks in the same way that there is in people of South Asian origin, who have a higher rate of heart disease than Whites. And if Blacks are genetically more predisposed to complications in pregnancy, in the same way that they suffer higher rates of sickle cell anaemia, then it simply means that Blacks need higher levels of medical care in pregnancy. Or perhaps different kinds of medical care to search for particular kinds of complications than Whites. The fact that Black Americans have higher rates of infant mortality than Mexicans despite receiving more medical care isn’t an argument for complacency and saying that somehow it’s all their fault. Clearly Black women need particular care during pregnancy, and there are initiatives to make sure they get it. There was an article on the local BBC news for Bristol a few months ago stating that a couple of Black nurses had started a scheme to combat the higher rate of deaths of Black mothers. That’s clearly welcome and necessary.

But blaming all of this on slavery is bad history and worse race relations. And it may be doing actual harm by preventing historians and healthcare specialists examining other, possibly equal relevant causes of Black health problems.