Sunday, 31 March 2013

The way forward for musicians?

I should preface this post by saying that I don't know much about the music industry but have come across an approach to making a career in music that seems honest and real.
Things have certainly changed hugely for musicians and other performers. Bands that used to able to make a fortune in record, then CD sales must have seen those sales decline as people download their songs for little or no money. Live performances can still bring in the dosh but this means touring a lot and I don't know about other people but I often find the price of tickets too high! So how can we ensure our talented singers/songwriters/musicians thrive without pricing ordinary people out of their gigs? How can we make sure they don't starve in garrets when we can download their creations for free?
A singer/songwriter I admire very much is David Rovics

.David Rovics
He writes and performs songs 'of social significance', songs of protest, defiance and celebration. I love his music! Whenever he writes a new song, he sends a Youtube recording of it out to anyone who wants to be on his mailing list, for free. You print off his lyrics for free and when he tours this country, he encourages anyone who wants to organise a gig in their town, to add it to his list. His gigs are cheap, for access to all. True to his principles he is starting a Croudsourced career whereby 1000 people who think he's really good and worth keeping creating, pay £34 a year to him in return also, for lots of goodies (CD's, free passes to gigs, even a guitar lesson!).
I like this idea. It means he can stay creative. It means he can continue to be open and generous with his work. It means people who have no money can still access his music. It involves a personal responsability from his audience - if you want him to be able to make music, you can enable that. Most important of all, for me, is that he continues to write songs about what's happening to the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, the victims of wars, the soldiers that suffer in conflicts, the politicians that lie, cheat and steal and also, how great we can be when we stand together in solidarity. 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Jackie dies after deportation

 This is an account of the death of Jackie Nanyonjo - here she is at a recent demo.
I've simply re-posted the account from the Movement for Justice website. To her family and many friends in this country, who fought so hard to keep her with us, I send my deep sympathy.

Jackie demonstrates at Lunar House for the Yarlswood women Jackie Nanyonjo died in Uganda last Friday as a result of the injuries inflicted by the Home Office's licenced thugs who deported her from Britain on 10th January. Jackie was a fighter for herself and for others: a lesbian who escaped from anti-gay persecution and a brutal forced marriage, and a member of the Movement for Justice. In Britain she had been able for the first time to live and love openly as a lesbian; she was much-loved by a wide circle of friends who kept in touch with her after she was deported and who miss her deeply. All of us who knew her, or who didn't know her personally but are determined to end the regime of racism and anti-immigrant bigotry that is responsible for her death, will fight to win justice for Jackie.

Jackie had been through the mental torture of the immigration and asylum system, with its arbitrary, subjective decisions and impossible demands to 'prove that you are a lesbian'. UK Border Agency and an Asylum Tribunal had dismissed out-of-hand the ample evidence of friends and her partner that Jackie was a lesbian and rejected her claim for asylum. She was sent to the further mental torture of Yarl's Wood women's detention centre in November 2012 - a few weeks after detainees had shaken the power of the UKBA in an uprising of mass protest against brutality and injustice led by the Yarl's Wood Movement for Justice group and Jackie had been part of a solidarity demonstration at the UKBA headquarters in Croydon. Jackie continued her fight in Yarl's Wood. When the UKBA tried to deport her in December Jackie resisted bravely despite the brutality she suffered at the hands of the 'escorts' provided by the contractor, Reliance. She forced them to abandon the attempt and when she got back to Yarl's Wood she lodged a complaint to the UKBA - a complaint the UKBA rejected.

With all the limited avenues of Britain's racist immigration laws closed to her and facing deportation to a country where it is a crime to be gay and where the political and religious leaders have whipped up a murderous anti-gay witch-hunt, Jackie's only option was physical resistance. On 10th January, on Qatar Airways Flight QR76, Jackie fought bravely for her freedom with all the strength she could gather against four Reliance guards. She continued fighting when the guards drew curtains round their end of the plane to hide their crimes. She struggled for as long as she could until, beaten up, half strangled and bent double, she was overcome by the pain in her chest and neck and was unable to breathe.

When Jackie arrived at Entebbe Airport the 'escort' party handed her over to the Ugandan authorities, who held her for many more hours without any medical attention. When family members finally met her, long after the flight had landed, Jackie was in terrible pain and vomiting blood; they rushed her to a clinic, but in a country with widespread poverty and limited medical facilities they were unable to get the medical attention Jackie needed. Since Jackie was in hiding as a known lesbian, protected by relatives, every trip to a doctor or hospital involved a risk to her life and to the safety of her family. They were condemned to watch the agonising decline of Jackie's health and strength over the next two months.

The Home Office and the UKBA are guilty of Jackie's murder. They have licenced the brutality that Jackie suffered, even if they pretend 'to look the other way'; they protect the thugs and the security companies if an asylum seekers' death or injury becomes public knowledge. Their policies and decisions are responsible for Jackie's death. The guards who brutalised Jackie should be in jail and Reliance should be condemned as an accessory to murder, along with Qatar Airways and the repressive Qatari Government that is so willing to do Britain's dirty work - but the real guilt lies with the politicians and bureaucrats who run the Home Office and the UKBA, and ultimately with the Coalition Government. Jackie Nanyonjo was a victim of the immigrant bashing policies of Theresa May, the racist Home Secretary.

The Movement for Justice is putting the UKBA on trial for Jackie's murder. Jackie is by not the first person to die at the hands or through the actions of the UKBA but we want to make sure that she is the last. Justice for Jackie means above all exposing the UKBA before the Court of Public Opinion, challenging its power so that what happened to Jackie never happens to anyone else, and shutting down Yarl's Wood detention centre. It means building the movement that Jackie joined, in Yarl's Wood and other detention centres and outside, in our communities and on our campuses, and end the injustice of detention and deportation. Join us this Thursday at the demonstration and speak-out at the Home Office on Marsham Street, London SW1.

End Detention! Stop Deportations! Defend Asylum Rights!
Open Borders & Equal Citizenship for All!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Kew diary 1

What to do with a year's pass for Kew gardens? Go there lots and record the beautiful plants, trees, wildlife of course!
I'll never be able to do it properly justice but will have a go over the months, maybe do a bit of drawing there when it's less busy. This visit was on a very cold day so was mostly spent indoors. March is Orchid month at Kew - hundreds of the things in wild bursts of colour - so exotic when all is a bit drab and wintry outside the glasshouses.


 I'm particularly drawn to the cactii - the shapes are just wonderful.

Another indoors gem is Marianne North's gallery. It's possibly the worse presentation of paintings I've ever seen but is strangely compelling after the initial overwhelming tumble of colour and detail. Two rooms stuffed with botanical paintings by an intrepid woman born in 1830 I think. She set about travelling when she turned 40, visiting around 17 countries, often painting alone in forests, jungle, plains and swampland. What a woman!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Attack of the monster birds

I made some papier mache birds a few years ago, as Christmas decorations but a couple somehow turned out as monsters that would have scared the horses and so they ended up on the rooftop, as guardians of the strawberries instead. What's strange is that while the wren-type monster has stayed untouched, the robinesque monster has been repeatedly pecked and turfed over. You can see some of the stabs in this photo. I put two and two together when I watched a robin land there, check out the fake pretender to the territory and fly off again. I've read how territorial robins are and that they will size up to any small patch of red that could be a rival.

Friday, 8 March 2013

What cuts mean to disabled people

Here are three friends, interviewed about the cuts to ILF (Indepenedent Living Fund). The fund allows them to live independently, like you or I.
Thanks to strong campaigning by these activists, they have at least won a judicial review at the High Court on the 13th and 14th March. They are fighting on behalf of all those disabled people who cannot.
Something we need to remember too, is that we are living to a greater age now and most of us will end up with some form of disability in the future. We should not leave the burden of action and dissent to those who struggle the most in life.