Sunday, 23 June 2013

is any one there?

acknowledgements to the guardian newspaper

Like Mary and Bob, I was a bit surprised by the lack of comment re my last post on PRISM the UK/USA GOVERNMENT SNOOPING program. (Is any one there?) I have removed the recently added anti spam sign-in procedure in case it was too much trouble for any one thinking of leaving a comment.

Meanwhile....... perhaps it is really high time we all revised our thinking on spending priorities from the top down and took a long hard look at the real cost of austerity cuts. The national deficit remains exactly where it was at the start of the ConDem dynasty. This a truth they refute while the latest reports by independent experts maintain it is the case. It is increasingly clear that the most vulnerable people in these lands are the ones paying the highest price and suffering the most as public services crumble and morale among their workers goes through the floor.

A young school girl is suicidal. After assessment she is returned to school where her teacher identifies there is still a problem. She is held overnight in a police station where she says "police officers looked after me really well" for forty eight hours but "it was a frightening experience" and she says "I felt like a prisoner". There was no other accommodation available. Places of safety are disappearing along with Social Service staff and other relevant workers and agencies because of Government cuts. A Shelter worker told me their available drop-in time for homeless young people in London, has been halved......

A man on TV is thrashing a car around a race circuit. He is learning about drifting, a new style of motor racing. During the experts demo for the novice, a tyre was shredded by the constant skidding and drifting at every camera loving corner. The fifteen minute session cost three hundred and fifty quid in rubber. By the time the newbie had finished his training, then participated in a competitive race , the combined cost of every drivers burnt rubber must have been in the thousands...... 

It has been suggested that if the budget clothes retailers put an extra two pence on a T- shirt then the wages of the clothing workers in Bangledesh could be doubled.

I'm off to Lincolnshire for what promises to be a lovely little gig at THE FUNNY AS FOLK FESTIVAL in Cabourne next saturday. I hope the weather is fair. 

From time to time I might post a little piece on here about my summer travels and may be  a photo or two but, I won't be posting much for a while.

I'm a story teller from now and then
it's been a long hard winter driving down
its a cold rain beats on this train
while waiting to be warm

crow sits waiting in an oak tree
which gonna live longer than me?
who gonna say the winds blow
which way?

see my sen with a few good fren'
  brothers and sisters united come the day
and feel your love
from a way away

I know you know me
I shall fall through sparks
in a shower of stars
soon in your arms

          Laters ………. 


Monday, 10 June 2013

lies, damn lies and gchq statistics

GCHQ - heart of big brother?

In 1990 the Berlin Wall came down. One of the outcomes was the facilitation of citizens of the bankrupt GDR to have access to secret files kept on them by the hated Stasi, the Ministry for State Security. The Stasi has been described as one of the most effective and repressive secret intelligence services in the history of the world.
protesters against the Stasi in East Berlin

When people accessed files on themselves they discovered that even some family members had spied on them for rewards such as moving up the waiting list for housing or a new “cardboard car”, the Trabant. It might be said that the GDR government, with its KGB association and support, has done much to dirty the good name of socialism. The spying on “ordinary citizens” by their fellows extended to reporting them for illegal political meetings and action that could be described as political dissent of any kind.

The tendency of governments to lie about their worst excesses has never been more apparent. During New labour's term of office Jack Straw (Home Secretary) categorically denied UK involvement with rendering. This is the practise of kidnapping individuals and housing them in friendly countries such as Turkey with out recourse to legal representation. Straw vehemently denied accusations of UK involvement with the torture of these political prisoners in the name of anti terrorist security policy. Turkey has more imprisoned journalist than any government in the world. It has since become clear the UK involvement was rife with co-operation with the CIA who were the biggest player in the practise of rendering.

whistle blower 

Edward Snowdon the man responsible for leaking the latest revelations around American Prism spying on it's citizens is in hiding in Hong Kong. He used the name VERAX meaning truth-teller in Latin, in his communications with the Washington Post. He said he earned 200,000 dollars a year for his work as a CIA employee but leaked the Prism information "because there are more important things than money". This is another example of a whistle blower who will probably pay dearly for his revelations like Bradley Manning the American army intelligence officer.

When Obama spoke about the leaked information yesterday he stumbled and stammered uncomfortably like any common place liar. Another politician who puts political expediency before the truth. This is the man who vowed he would dismantle Guantanamo Bay prison, the practise of keeping alleged terrorists with out trial and water boarding the American's favourite form of torture. 

As I write this I am listening, on the radio, to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, making a statement in the House of Commons in Westminster. He denies all improper use of spy ware used to spy on “ordinary citizens” but, why should we believe him? I do not believe this governments assertions on much at all and the Prism scandal is no exception. This is the man who only a few days ago apologised for the torture and murder of suspected Mau Mau terrorists during Britain's rule in Kenya back in the bad old days of Empire. This was denied by successive UK governments for years. I repeat why should we believe him now or at any time?

When I was “kettled” during the Westminster square demo against student loans cuts the police took photographs of every one leaving after we had been held on Westminster bridge for two hours after five hours being "kettled" in Westminster Square. It is technically illegal to take photographs of a police officer. We were, for the most part, UK citizens demonstrating in a peaceful manner. What were they afraid of?

Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act, passed by New Labour in 2000, allows our own security agencies to gather information about people's phone calls and peruse our web-surfing histories. The RIP Act is an extraordinary piece of legislation. It restricts the right of private companies and individuals (including journalists) to hack into people's data and baldly decrees that only the state and its trusted offshoots shall have such powers of intimate hackery. It allows agencies(including Defence Intelligence Staff, MI6, MI5 and Her Majesty's Revenue and Custom) to intercept our communications, including tapping our telephones, getting access to our emails and checking our web-browsing antics. It also allows "lower level" forms of spying, or what it calls "directed surveillance", and this power can be invoked by all the security agencies as well as local councils, the Office of Fair Trading, the Serious Fraud Office and others. Local councils have used the RIP Act to spend loads of public money on buying zoom binoculars, night-vision goggles and GPS tracking devices, which they have used to snoop on our telephones and access our emails.The RIP Act gave Britain what were then unprecedented powers of internet spying. It gave rise to a new institution, called the Government Technical Assistance Centre, which can carry out surveillance of the email messages held by ISPs. The aim of the RIP Act is as simple as it is terrifying – to allow the authorities, in the words of a Home Office official, to “ obtain a picture of a persons life, activities and associates”.
The increased surveillance of our every move has reached almost total saturation. Cookies on web sites provide information on our purchasing habits and a lot more. It was recently discovered that when Sony BMG hid a “rootkit” on their CDs, they spied on you the music lover and let hackers into your computer. What were they thinking?

It is not possible to travel any where with out our every move being recorded on CTV cameras and through banking card transactions. We often hear the assertion that if we have nothing to hide then we have no reason to be concerned. This was an assertion often heard in the early days of The Third Reich which heralded the full blown horrors of the Nazi regime in Germany. The culture of a any government spying policy directed at what the government call “ordinary citizens” will lead to a decline in transparent political standards and values and a relaxing of political moral practise. It will be increasingly easier to by pass the usual protocols that are designed to protect us from state intrusions into our private lives and the price will be high.

Privacy as we knew it began to decline some time in the 20th Century and we see that the continued erosion is almost complete. For some time George Orwell's idea that one day the state would remove all personal privacy appeared to be mistaken. In fact it was more the case that we were watching Big Brother and it's propaganda on television. This is no longer the case. Big Brother is more than likely watching YOU in spite of protestations that this not the case.

So, is Edward Snowdon a traitor or a hero? Do you accept what William Hague has said about GCHQ and the Prism affair? Do you believe that this government will act responsibly over surveillance of suspected criminals or terrorists and not extend their surveillance  to ordinary citizens who democratically oppose their policies?


Thursday, 6 June 2013

at the monarch

camden lock

Just down the road from Camden lock is a great little pub venue called The Monarch. I played there last night and for me, it was a night out with the young 'uns. Wooden Maria, A Girl Called Ruth and Mia. It was so good to sit and watch these young performers before I took to the little stage by the window where, just outside people passed by in a never ending colourful stream. If you have never been to Camden or Chalk farm this has to be one of the must see destinations in London. Even on a Tuesday evening the place is filled with the young and beautiful and some of the more elderly and interesting. If you like people watching you need look no further, this is the place. People will tell you that Camden is not what it used to be but then no where is. Every thing must change. It is a vital and busy place and a great area for live music. 

The Monarch is a small well appointed venue that serves good food and hot tunes. Lewis Borthwick who runs The Davenport Collection promotes his gigs there once a month. He is a very energetic young guy who is a singer song writer and promoter of slightly off the wall performers. Young Mia is typical of the kind of acts you might see there. Playing a national steel style guitar she oozes the blues in her own style with just a touch of Billie Holiday. The supporting acts were all good and distinctive in their own way and so I only make special mention of Mia because a white, female blues singer of her kind is rare and special.

Brother Steve and his partner Moni came to see me which meant a lot to me. We have been through some thing of a separation since the end of the EBB and I was so very pleased to see them and that they both enjoyed the gig. Steve said they were coming so when he turned up it was very special for me and meant a great deal. That he liked the gig was also very cool and the high light of the evening for me.

I only managed to play about half of my usual set as time was tight but I loved playing there with one of the best onstage sounds for a long time. It makes every thing easy and I admit I took special care to be on my game because Steve was there. Most of you will know what I am up to by now so there is no need for me to run through the songs I played. Suffice to say the mostly young crowd enjoyed it so it was job done. It means a lot to me when the young 'uns get me.

After saying my farewells I walked outside where a bus stop stood and waited for the night bus to take me south via Trafalgar Square. I saw a guy closing up the cafe next door to The Monarch and noticed he had a bright yellow vintage bicycle with an Allin frame. Allin was a Chinese guy who worked for Stan Bates a bike frame builder in Croydon. When World War Two began Stan went off to fight leaving Mr Allin in charge. He obviously did well in Stan's absence and his frames are quite desirable items these days. I have an Allin racing frame that I had painted pink and equipped with modern Campagnolo parts back in the day when I used to ride the odd time trial. Ha ha! Odd was the operative word. There is nothing like the ride of a quality steel frame though now I ride an aluminium frame with carbon forks. Any way we had a good old chat and then my bus came, headed for Pimlico. I usually get a mini cab on my way to London gigs but love getting the night buses home. I am always fascinated by the coming and goings of the night people. I have met some amazing characters in the night, in London.

So another day another dollar and a very satisfying night out in Chalk farm. I will definitely be heading back there if Lewis is kind enough to invite me. He said he will so, here's to it and thanks Lewis.