Friday, 5 August 2016

Thursday, 4 August 2016

The gross act of grouse shooting

It's pretty obvious to any normal person that grouse shooting is for toffs, but apart from the big money making needless slaughter of birds did you know about the wide reaching destruction of wildlife and natural environments that takes place through land management and predator control to make this blood sport possible?
watch these 3 vids! then please consider signing the government petition below.....

Grouse shooting for 'sport' depends on intensive habitat management which increases flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions, relies on killing Foxes, Stoats, Mountain Hares etc in large numbers and often leads to the deliberate illegal killing of protected birds of prey including Hen Harriers

There's a government petition you can sign which currently has as of today 73,000 signatures. It needs 100,000 to be considered for debate in parliament. there's a link to the petition after the last video.

sign the petition
Ban driven grouse shooting!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Crimson Coat

So here is the brother's new release.....

All written and performed by Strummer Brand himself.

Pretty bloody trangin I reckon!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Please Scrap Trident!

See below my letter urging the Crewe and Nantwich MP to vote against the renewing of the Trident nuclear submarines on Monday.  I used various bits of info from, The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament of which I am a member.  You can use this link to easily lobby your MP, there is a template letter which you can send as it is or edit as I did.
.....or you could just tell me to f**k off you tree hugging lefty, which is exactly what I expect Edward Timpson will do when he sends me back another one of his letters saying in a polite round about way that he loves war, nuclear weapons and killing foxes and there's no way he will rebel against his Tory masters.

Dear Edward Timpson MP,

I am writing to ask how you plan to vote when the Government brings forward plans for replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system on 18 July.

The Government has reiterated its commitment to spending at least £205bn on a new generation of nuclear weapons despite public services facing continued austerity.

I believe that nuclear weapons are immoral and illegal under international law as they kill indiscriminately, they are strategically irrelevant in the face of the actual threats we face today.   Each trident submarine can carry up to 40 nuclear warheads on board, each of these warheads is eight times more powerful than the atomic bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima!  These weapons have no legitimate purpose: their use would be illegal under almost every conceivable circumstance, as huge numbers of civilian casualties would be unavoidable. That is why the International Court of Justice ruled in 1996 the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law.

Rather than a deterrent, Britain's nuclear weapons make us appear to be a threat and thus encourage proliferation across other nations.  As a weapon system we can never use trident is just symbolic.  Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, one of the biggest supporters of replacing Trident in 2007, has admitted that the only purpose of maintaining the nuclear weapons system is to give Britain status.

Concerns have also been raised about the security of Trident itself in the future, especially with the ongoing development of underwater drones and sophisticated cyber-warfare which could disable the submarines' systems.

The opposition to Trident is growing across society. A number of leading military experts have denounced nuclear weapons and there is widespread opposition amongst faith communities and trade unions and from across the political spectrum.  Trident was a major point of debate in the 2015 General Election, with the spectacular gains of the Scottish National Party (SNP) a stark indicator of opposition to nuclear weapons in Scotland. The Scottish people are joined by millions all over the UK who want to see an end to Trident.

The government is in favour of replacing Trident at a cost of at least £205 billion. This money would be enough to improve the NHS by building 120 state of the art hospitals and employing 150,000 new nurses, build 3 million affordable homes, install solar panels in every home in the UK or pay the tuition fees for 8 million students.

I would be very grateful if you would let me know how you would vote on Monday 18 July, and I urge you please to consider the points I have made and vote according to your own personal judgement, which ever way that may fall, rather than follow Conservative Party recommendation.

Yours Sincerley,

John Brand

Friday, 8 July 2016

Chilcot's Blind Spot

The long awaited Chilcot report has been declared damning and highly critical of Britain's path to war in Iraq but actually doesn't really say anything we weren't already saying despite it's 2.6 million words.  We know there were no WMDs, we know we were lied to and presented with false evidence already so how about investigating the real reasons we went to war?  This article from Open Democracy UK reveals more in one page than Chilcot has in 7 years of writing.  Chilcot failed to explore the persistent push by Britain and the US to privatise the Iraqi oil industry taking it out of state control and into the hands of BP and Shell.
see article.....

Chilcot's blind spot: Iraq War report buries oil evidence, fails to address motive
When the UK invaded, Iraq had nearly a tenth of the world's oil reserves -- and government documents "explicitly state" oil was a consideration before the war. Why didn't Chilcot explore it further?

British troops carry out an evening patrol targeting smugglers at an oil plant in southern Iraq in 2003. 

The long-awaited Chilcot Report was finally released today, examining the UK’s involvement in the Iraq War and occupation. Unfortunately, on the most important question, the report’s conclusions are all but silent: why did the UK go to war?
Chilcot takes at face value the Blair government’s claim that the motive was to address Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and limits its criticism to mistakes in the intelligence on WMD, and on insufficient administrative and military planning. He shows a remarkable lack of curiosity about the political factors behind the move to war, especially given the weakness (even at the time) of the WMD case.
Chilcot takes at face value the Blair government’s claim that the motive was to address Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
Most important of these is oil. Buried in deep in volume 9 of the 2.6 million-word report, Chilcot refers to government documents that explicitly state the oil objective, and outlining how Britain pursued that objective throughout the occupation. But he does not consider this evidence in his analysis or conclusions. Oil considerations do not even appear in the report’s 150-page summary.
To many people around the world, it was obvious that oil was a central issue, as Iraq itself had nearly a tenth of the world’s oil reserves, and together with its neighbouring countries nearly two thirds. There was a clear public interest in understanding how that affected UK decisions. Chilcot failed to explore it.
Section 10.3 of the report, in volume 9, records that senior government officials met secretly with BP and Shell on at several occasions (denied at the time) to discuss their commercial interests in obtaining contracts. Chilcot did not release the minutes, but we had obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act: they are posted here. In unusually expressive terms for a civil service write-up, one of the meeting’s minutes began, “Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP are desperate to get in there".
Also in that section, Chilcot includes references to several pre-war documents identifying a British objective of using Iraqi oil to boost Britain’s own energy supplies. For example, a February 2002 Cabinet Office paper stated that the UK’s Iraq policy falls “within our objectives of preserving peace and stability in the Gulf and ensuring energy security”. A Foreign Office strategy paper in May 2003, which Chilcot didn’t include, was even more explicit: "The future shape of the Iraqi oil industry will affect oil markets, and the functioning of OPEC, in both of which we have a vital interest".
During the direct occupation of 2003-4, the UK consistently pushed oil policy towards the longer-term issue of privatisation, rather than the immediate rebuilding of the war-damaged infrastructure.
So there was the motive; but how did the UK act on it? That same section 10.3 refers to numerous documents revealing the UK’s evolving actions to shape the structure of the Iraqi oil industry, throughout the occupation until 2009. The government did so in close coordination with BP and Shell. This full story – with its crucial context ­– was told in Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq.
As the UK’s strategy evolved with changing circumstances, two priority objectives remain consistently emphasised in the documents: to transfer Iraq’s oil industry from public ownership to the hands of multinational companies, and to make sure BP and Shell get a large piece of that.
During the direct occupation of 2003-4, the UK consistently pushed oil policy towards the longer-term issue of privatisation, rather than the immediate rebuilding of the war-damaged infrastructure. The government installed Terry Adams, a former senior manager of BP, in Baghdad to begin that work.
British officials knew their plans were not what Iraqis wanted. One document in 2004, seen but not released by Chilcot, noted that the oil issue was “politically sensitive, touching on issues of sovereignty”. Without recognising any conflict, it recommended that Britain “push the message on [foreign direct investment] to the Iraqis in private, but it will require careful handling to avoid the impression that we are trying to push the Iraqis down one particular path”.
British officials actively pressed the oil issue on the interim government in 2004-5, the provisional government in 2005-6, and the permanent government of from 2006. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw wrote to Tony Blair in July 2005 setting out the progress on those activities. He wrote that Iraqi oil “remains important for the UK commercially and in terms of energy security. Foreign investment is badly needed and we need to continue to support Iraq to create the right framework for investment, while also supporting UK companies to engage”.
During the December 2005 election, British Ambassador William Patey sought to pressure candidates to accept passage of an oil privatization law as a top priority for the new government. During 2006 and 2007 this law became the key focus of British and US political efforts in Iraq. Forcing passage of this law became a major focus of UK and US political efforts over the subsequent two years, and was closely tied to the “surge” in troops that President Bush announced in January 2007.
Attempts by Britain and the US to force a law through that legalised oil privatisation failed
Deep in volume 9, when Chilcot refers to these British efforts, he presents them under the veneer of normal diplomatic activity, neglecting the reality that the UK and USA still had 150,000 troops the country, and had directly appointed the interim government. The permanent government in 2006 was established through elections the UK and USA had designed, and contested by the politicians they had promoted. Terry Adams was even commissioned to draft the contracts that would be signed with the likes of his former company.
In the end, attempts by Britain and the US to force a law through that legalised oil privatisation failed. The law was not passed, largely because of a popular Iraqi campaign against it. It was then decided to sign long-term contracts even without any legal basis for doing so.  Iraq´s oil industry is largely now run – illegally – by companies like BP, Shell and ExxonMobil.
Chilcot has said he was not asked to judge whether the war was legal.  Yet in his failure to examine the real motive for war, he has side-lined crucial evidence that might tell us about the legality of the war and occupation, and the culpability of senior UK officials, including Tony Blair.

Iraq´s oil industry is largely now run – illegally – by companies like BP, Shell and ExxonMobil.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

The Bass Operator, Operating

5 days of indulging in fantastical Glastonbury madness and my best memories happen to be when we took a break from it all.  Saturday afternoon the three of us climbed up the hill to the highest point of the festival and sat there for a couple of hours drinking beer, looking down on the whole site, chatting shit and listening to the rumble and noise of 200,000 people revelling beneath us.  That different perspective shared with friends was Glasto magic enhanced by a random encounter with some bloke called Ali!

We watched some fella trudge all the way up the hill carrying a guitar and a rather tinny sounding amplifier.  He slowly ambled over, stopped in front of us and started playing a trangin funk groove on his bass and just repeated the same groove over and over again, but repetition is fine you've found the best bassline ever to be heard by a human ear.  A few pauses to swap banter and then back to the groove with some rap type chants thrown in.  The exclusive video above shows a couple of minutes of this legendary performance, THE best act of Glastonbury Festival 2016 played to a small but exuberant crowd of three.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Flowers to the people

The best festival in the world, even when it's horrifically muddy.  The attention to detail on such a huge scale is incredible.  Here's some more photos from Glasto 2016 but these ones I didn't take.   These are nicked from

Flowers to the people