We’ve a real gift of a podcast for you this episode, since “gift” was our theme. Of course, we didn’t all stick to the theme – this is Ungagged after all…
In this episode, Red Raiph will be retelling The Raven, Em Dehaney will be talking about Christmas gifts and not always getting what you want, Chuck Hamilton will be reading White Ribbons For Indy, an article written by the Ungagged collective, and later coming back to read his own piece, The Monkey Trap, Ola’s Kool Kitchen will be chatting about how white supremacists on social media fan the flames of hate and misinformation and Richie Venton will be back with the second part of his piece on the 1917 Russian Revolution. Paul Sheridan will be telling us all about the Diggers movement, Damanvir Kaur will be giving us the latest in the Free Jaggi campaign, and George Collins will be talking about the rise and fall of Empires.
The world is full of doom and gloom, and in today’s messed up world, it’s easy to get bogged down in all the things we as a species are getting wrong. But to build a better world, you need a clear idea of what a better world would look like, as well as knowing what needs improvement. So today on Ungagged we will be exploring ideas of how to build utopia.
We’ll be hearing from Fuad Alakbarov on five ways to deal with tax havens, Victoria Pearson on how possible it actually is to build utopia, Richie Venton on the 1917 Russian Revolution, Damanvir Kaur, on the campaign to free Scottish citizen Jagtar Singh from unlawful detention in India, George Collins on the unconstitutional neoliberal landgrab happening in Barbuda. Debra Torrance asks what kind of catastrophe we’do need to kickstart a global revolution of empathy, Chuck Hamilton talks gun control in America, and why he’s unimpressed with Leninism. Red Raiph ponders World Kindness Day, tax avoidance and inequality, Sandra Webster* talks about services for children on the autistic spectrum in Scotland, and the role of kindness in building utopia, Thomas Morris discusses imaginary borders, the nature of Independence, and visiting countries that dont exist, Neil Scott** talks about the proto-utopia torn down in the 80s, Marisa Snider speaks from her perspective as a Native American woman in a STEM field about the need for greater access to the internet on Native reservations, Masta X-Kid talks about the dystopia Trump is creating in Ungagged America, and Derek Stewart Macpherson will be joining us for the final part of his conversations with his daughter, and the result of the Equal Marriage referendum in Australia.
What would your utopia look like? How do we start to build a better world? Think we are all talking utter pish? Get yourself Ungagged and let us know your thoughts in the comments, or on our twitter or Facebook.
Ungagged is a not for profit co-operative, and we rely on the generosity of our listeners. If you’d like to donate us the cost of a newspaper or a cup of coffee, you can do so through PayPal here.
On this episode of Ungagged, introduced by Neil Scott, Chuck Hamilton will be talking us through two revolutions, Russia and Iran, George Collins will be talking about the changing nature of American political humour, Damanvir Kuar will be giving us an update on the hunger striking Baput Surat Singh Khalsa.
Debra Torrance will be talking about the responses to the #MeToo trends, and why the current climate is not at all funny, Derek Stewart Macpherson will be talking Citizenship Games, or how a former hot shot lawyer PM got his arse handed to him in the High Court, and Liz Castro will be joining us from her rooftop in Barcelona for an update from Catalonia.
Flavia Tudoreanu will be talking about the CND, Cllr Graham Campbell will be talking about why the break up of the British State is necessary, and Thomas Morris will be giving us the case for #ThisGuyCan; why our boys deserve a range of male role models to break down toxic expectations boys and young men face.
We will hear from both Teresa Durran and Victoria Pearson on why sexual assault is not a laughing matter. Luckily, with all that doom and gloom, we also have Red Raiph with some things to look forward to!
On this episode of Ungagged, edited by Neil Scott, with assistance from Neil Anderson, we are talking about moving forward and making progress.
We’ll be hearing from Red Raiph on his thoughts on following the 2014 Scottish referendum, and how he moved on following the result, Victoria Pearson will be talking about why we haven’t yet moved on from having the same old dry and dusty debates, and Em Dehaney will be discussing The Handmaid’s Tale, and why it isn’t so far from reality.
We couldn’t let events in Catalonia go unremarked upon, particularly as there seems to be a wall of silence on the issue, so John Andrew Hird will be getting us up to date on the ongoing situation, and we’ll be having a self determination themed poem from Debra Torrance, Catalan to Cambuslang.
We’ll also have Chuck Hamilton talking about the evolving narratives in the bible, Catriona Stevenson discussing her part in the Scottish Independence movement, Joe Solo on the We Shall overcome event, Neil Scott asks where the Independence butterflies have flown off to, and Heiko Khoo tells us all about how Warner Brothers are trying to stop the Karl Marx walking tour from stopping outside Karl Marx’s house.
This time on Ungagged we wanted to talk about Peace People, but we nearly didn’t manage it. The Ungagged team has been plagued with illness and injury and sudden busyness, and we were beginning to think this was the cursed pod. We got there in the end though, and we hope it was worth the wait.
It’s Ungagged’s birthday, and we are so excited to have been going strong for a whole year. We couldn’t do it without the support of our listeners – your downloads, conversation generated from your tweets, facebook comments and comments here, as well as your wonderfully generous donations make Ungagged what it is. It is as much yours as is it ours.
On this “hidden” themed Ungagged we’ll hear from Em Dehaney, on the hidden hate uncovered by Brexit and Trump, Victoria Pearson will be discussing the extraordinary situation unfolding in Rojava, Syria, Chuck Hamilton will be giving us the 4th part of his Meaning of Life series, George Collins will be talking about the hidden culture of indigenous Americans, Debra Torrance will be talking hidden disabilities and hidden agendas, Sarah Mackie will be fact checking Theresa May’s claims about nurse numbers in the NHS, Richie Venton will be chatting about the High Court descision regarding tribunal fees, and Neil Scott will be discussing the rise of the right wing in traditionally left wing online spaces.
Summer and the time is right for dancing in the street… and getting wet.
And protesting the most socially right wing Government since the last one, supported by the bigoted DUP.
Having said that, one small act of resistance at the ballot box has saved many a fox… and perhaps hopefully changed the political landscape.
Podcasting, livestreaming, facebooking, tweeting, instagramming all acts of resistance you have seen and you have taken part in or you have come across online, adds to a narrative of change. Progressive change.
The right mastered the use of the TV – that was too costly for you and I to have our own channels on… that passive screen in which you can do nothing but watch and accept as truth.
The internet is a game changer. A place we can resist with our voices and our thoughts and our disgust at the way the billionaire controlled media reframes what is going on to keep their faces deep in the trough of what our misery produces.
Ungagged is one of those small acts of resistance. Listen and get involved.
We’ll hear from Red Raiph on the night of the long knives…for the Tories, Derek Stewart Macpherson gives us part 4 of his Spin Cycle, Damanvir Kaur discusses the continued political prisoners in India and Chuck Hamilton gives us an American perspective on the UK General election.
On this Pre-Election special, we’ll have Derek Stewart Macpherson with the first part of his Spin Cycle series, John McHarg talking about voter choice, Richie Venton on the choices socialists are facing in this election, and we’ll be hearing from Nick Durie about how this election proves the YES parties have failed to integrate movementism into their political practice.
We’ll have a magical poem called Invocation from Steve McAuliffe,Debra Torrance will be talking politics and football, Fuad Alakbarov will be talking about the election and ex Derry British Army Commander Eric Joyce will be talking about Corbyn, the IRA, Martin Mcguiness, Trident and Iraq.
In this episode, Mark Little will be leading us in 20 seconds of hate, we’ll hear part one of The Meaning of Life according to Chuck Hamilton, Teresa Durran will remind us that seven weeks is a long time in politics, Joe Solo talks about how optistic he is feeling in the run up to this electionRed Raiph reminds you that if you vote Tory, you’re a Tory, Artist Taxi Driver shares his poem on the zombification of Britain, Nick Durie discusses “nationalism” in the UK, and Victoria Pearson asks people to think carefully before throwing the vulnerable people under the Brexit bus.
Neil Scott will be giving us a short reprieve from the election by talking about the red Elvis, Debra Torrance talks Scelection scelectrix and playground politics, Steve McAuliiffe gives us a #fakenews Conservative party political broadcast, Eric Joyce draws parallels between May’s brexit mandate and Scotland’s independence mandate, George Collins discusses his part in the struggle, Simone Charlesworth talks about staying engaged in politics, despite voter fatigue, and why the Scots are the most political aware country in the UK, Mara Leverkuhn talks about the importance of nagging with people outside of your echo chamber, Derek Stewart Macpherson gives us the Hitchhikers Guide to Local Elections, and we have an Independence Live interview with Roza Salih and Euan Girvan.
On this episode of Ungagged, presented by Neil Scott, we’ll hear from Chuck Hamilton, on how we sold our revolution for a pair of trainers, Em Dehaney, talking about how she has never been to America, but America is in her, George Collins, and Eileen Eddy of Radio KRFP talking about cultural and political imperialism.
Red Raiph asks just what exactly happened to that Big Onion, Debra Torrance casts her mind back to the 80s and finds that we’ve not come along very far. Simone Charlesworth makes her debut on Ungagged, jumping in at the deep end with a brief history of Sarin, and Steve McAuliffe presents his poem America First.
In this episode of Ungagged we are joined by guest speaker Priya, who volunteers at Umbrella Lane in to tell us about the current laws in the UK regarding sex work, and why she thinks the Nordic model is dangerous.
* CORRECTION: In her piece “Don’t Be A Twitter Lemming, Think For Yourself”, Victoria states that Iain Allinson currently earns £27k per annum. The correct figure is in fact approx £36k. V would like to apologise for the mistake, and thank Mr Allinson for pointing it out and clarifying the figure.
On this International Womens Day special of Ungagged, we’ll hear from Amber Daniels on the progress of women’s rights, and why International Women’s Day is still needed, Ruth Hopkins with a #NoDAPL update, Debra Torrance with a Dear John letter, and Ruth McAteer on women finding their voices.
Nick Durie will be speaking about women in community groups, Red Raiph will discuss racism, Victoria Pearson will talk about the different struggles we face under the current system and some of the forgotten women from history. Mara Leverkuhn will be discussing what she sees as the problems of feminism, and the struggle we should really be focusing on, Eric Joyce will talk about women in the media, and Steve McAuliffe will share his poem An End to Time and Motion.
We’ll be hearing from new contributor Teresa Durran with a piece on the Icelandic strikes in 1975 and how they link to women’s marches today, as well as special guest speakers Daniellé Dash, on trying to achieve your dream, Em Dehaney on how feminism is not a dirty word, Zareen Taj, secretary of Muslim Women’s Association of Edinburgh talking about uniting communities, and about the toxicity of Prevent, and Natalie Washington on the journey to becoming yourself, and how everyone has an equal right to be wrong.
The theme for our first podcast of 2017 is Hope and, as usual, the Ungagged team have come up with a vast array of different interpretations.
In this episode Max Newland reminds us that the tide always goes out before a tsunami, Debra Torrance talks about the hopeful start to 2017 in Scotland, and Andrew McPake asks what the real aims of unionism in regards to Scotland are and we have an update from Ruth Hopkins.
Joe Solo talks about the erosion of hope through the politics of despair, Chuck Hamilton reminds us that white + poor does not = bigot, Matt Geraghty discusses hope in hopeless times and Victoria Pearson urges us to fight to regain our home ground in Hope is a Revolutionary Act.
In this bumper festive episode, Roy Møller interviews Stiff Little Fingers singer Jake Burns, Chuck Hamilton talks about what Jesus would be like were he around today, Red Raiph treats us to anite afor chrismas (Scottish style), and Victoria Pearson fixes the rip in the fabric of space-time to restore normality before 2017.
Matt Geraghty talks the joyless joy of commercialmas, Mara Leverkuhn discusses the Snoopers Charter, we hear from Beinn Irbhinn with a message from Kazakhstan, and John McHarg tells us the true story of the time he ended up in a jail cell in San Phillips, Mexico.
On this equality themed episode we have Debra Torrance speaking about the iniquity of lack of action on tax avoiders and the punitive measures on the sick and disabled, Julie Bindel talking about surrogacy, Amber Daniels discussing gender inequality and a confession from Victoria Pearson.
In this episode Debra Torrance talks about what emancipation means to her, Matt Geraghty asks if democracy in the UK and USA is a punch in the face or a kick in the shins, and Ruth McAteer speaks about independence for disabled people.
With Victoria Pearson talking about remembrance, Red Raiph on Halloween, and Matt Carr from One Day Without Us talking about the planned day of action on February 20th in protest of the dangerous rhetoric surrounding the migration debate.
Born in Glasgow; grew up in Mississippi, Iceland, California and Sicily (military brat) before returning to Dunoon, in Argyll, when I was 13.
What do you do?
Disability rights activist, children’s book writer and international recruiter.
What is your favourite colour?
Who is your favourite politician ever?
Tough question – I don’t think I have a ‘favourite politician ever’ as such but if we were to look at activists, I think I will go with Rosa Parks. As a disabled rights activist, I take inspiration from other movements and Rosa demonstrated incredible courage and determination in a hostile environment. Plus, it goes to show that non-violent acts of civil disobedience are sometimes necessary when fighting for your rights.
What is your favourite political moment?
The Berlin Wall coming down. I remember my teacher at the time returning from Germany a few weeks later and he brought a piece of the Wall to class with him. He spoke of the significance with such passion that it always stands out as an important moment in political history.
What was the worse political moment?
Brexit. I hate everything about it.
What is your favourite meal?
It’s hard to beat a good spaghetti bolognaise.
What song gets you up and going?
My recent Spotify would tell you Dua Lipa or The Weeknd but it’s definitely just about anything by Michael Jackson.
If you were a superhero what would your powers be?
Oh, that’s easy. Flying. 100%.
Meeting on the other side of town and the bus is late? Doesn’t matter – I can fly.
Traffic on the M8 a nightmare? No worries – I can fly.
Can’t reach the jar of pickles on the top shelf? Not all flights are long haul…
As I vacuum the dark green carpet while listening to an interview with author and Democracy Now! Co-host Juan Gonzalez, I’m struck by a particular statistic: 70% of the world’s population will reside in cities in the next two years. The implications of this, says Gonzalez, are gigantic for progressivism, as these cities will become the main venues of social change and civil disobedience as ideas and movements gain steam. Resting the vacuum in its upright position, thoughts of the current evolution of American cities come with feelings of hope and dismay at the current state of the country’s major urban centers and what the could develop into when they reach their full potential.
Cities have played a central role in the shaping of American culture and history since before the country’s birth. Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore served as meeting hubs in the colonial United States where the figureheads of the American Counter-Revolution could spread ideas and draw on support from large clusters of disgruntled colonists. New York City and Los Angeles emerged as culture centers in the 19th century and helped craft a unique American identity at a time when the nation struggled to distinguish its culture from that of Europe. Later in that same century, the rise of mass production and heavy industry stimulated population clustering as Americans sought to participate in the explosive development of American economic dominance in the world. The places were packed, smelled like puke and piss, and you probably stepped over a few rotting horses on the way to work for your 21-hour shift. Improved sanitation guidelines and refinement of industries into well-oiled production powerhouses branded urban centers like Detroit as gold standards of wealth accumulation in the 1950s and birthed the standards of the mythic American Dream we become conditioned to achieve.
Sixty years later, Detroit became the first major American city to declare bankruptcy in 2013. Its infrastructure and crime statistics sank to levels comparable to lower-income nations and affluent whites who could afford to fled the city in droves to leave the crumbling core to the impoverished black and Arab communities. We were left wondering how the wealthiest city in America fall so far and if this was the future of the American city. As author and journalist Charlie LeDuff warns, we can go ahead and laugh at Detroit until we realize it’s also Philadelphia, St. Louis, Seattle, and so many more that could suffer the same brutal evisceration in the darkness of the corporate police state’s shadow.
Such a fate on a broad spectrum is possible, but certain strides in municipal government grant me some hope.
Income inequality and wealth disparity became primary political and social dilemmas in the U.S. after the Occupy movement broke open the floodgates on discussions about class in 2011. These economic trends afflict the nation as a whole, but the major urban centers serve as microcosms of these regressions and offer a glimpse into the potential consequences of maniac sprawl. My own neck of the woods has become a spotlight for these trends. Seattle’s median housing costs hit a record high of $777,000 in March of this year with the city’s Eastside wing reaching a median of $950,000. The central city sees a growing homelessness population that now borders on becoming a full-blown crisis, and the unaffordable rents combined with stagnant wages shove hundreds of people to the suburban towns to spend an increasing portion of their lives travelling in a heavy metal box on I-5. None of the police officers in the Seattle police department live in the city they swear to protect. The same is true of firefighters and many civil servants. The same trend can be found in San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Washington D.C. and many more.
Does a prosperous city like Seattle or Silicon Valley become the Detroit of tomorrow as the purchasing power of the middle and working classes is swallowed by debt service and unaffordable living costs? Such an outcome seems to be the ticket if the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen like the American waistline.
But city councils across the nation are recognizing the dangers associated with uninhibited sprawl and growing wealth disparity. Seattle’s city council approved a controversial “head tax” last week that taxes the city’s large businesses based on employee head count. While the motion has yet to be signed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, it’s a bold pivot into wealth redistribution territory for the council. Socialist Alternative councilmember Kshama Sawant has been advocating for rent control for years, and her efforts to raise the minimum wage contributed to the successful passage of the increase to $15/hour in Seattle.
Promising developments appeared in Baltimore city hall last month as proposals to reverse the city’s government-sponsored economic segregation appeared. One proposed measure seeks to create an equity assessment committee to investigate the city’s agencies and capital projects and root out discriminatory practices. Other proposals address the lack of accessible public housing in the city itself and hopes to reroute capital investment into affordable housing programs. Similar calls for increased spending in the public housing sector echo in other major cities across the U.S.
Cities served as the birthplace for the ideas of the original Counter-Revolution of 1776, and it seems they are once again playing David against the Goliath of the federal government’s authoritarianism. The passage of legislation at the municipal level to redistribute wealth and create new opportunities for working and middle-class families to live a secure existence has steamrolled into larger movements nationwide. Sawant’s Fight for 15, Mayor Rob Davis of Davis, California’s original Sanctuary City, and the prospective public housing developments in Baltimore now enjoy national momentum as they push forward with more punches every day.
The American city of old may be at the end of its industrial career, but a return to its roots as a hub of change and civil disobedience is on the horizon. In fact, it may already be here.
Ungagged asked me to expand a bit on a recent twitter thread on social media abuse and I’m happy to do so. I emphasise these are just my personal views but I hope they are helpful. I have made all the mistakes over the years so you don’t have to.
I have been on twitter since 2010. I’ve seen it get bigger and uglier and been through various stages of trying to handle abuse from challenging it, to RTing it, to blocking it and finally muting it. For me, muting it is the best solution. I’ll tell you why.
Challenging it is pointless. Someone abusing you on twitter knows they’re being horrible so there’s no point in telling them that, they want to upset you and make you angry. If you challenge them they will only get worse. The same goes for RTing abuse. I know people sometimes do this to highlight it, but this simply invites other users to join in and participate in a nasty squalid fight that will just leave you drained and depressed.
Blocking people can also make them worse, I’ve had people set up new accounts so they can continue to have a go at me because I blocked them. I do block people in some circumstances but I find muting people is much better at just getting rid of them from my timeline and mentions.
I’ve muted many hundreds of people and twitter is much better for that. I have muted people on the No side and I have muted people on the Yes side. In my opinion a lot of nonsense is talked about the relationship between political positioning and social media abuse. The fact is you get toxic people across the board. Twitter gives you the option to mute them, so use that option. Mute them, forget about them. If they really cross the line, block and report them. And remember – on your twitter you decide what the line is.
If someone threatens you or another person don’t hesitate to go to the police. It may not result in action being taken there and then but you are still providing intelligence which may enable action to be taken at a future point if the perpetrator is following a pattern of behaviour.
I have also thought about my own use of twitter. Quote-tweeting is something I do less and less now due to the way it can instigate pile-ons if you have an above-average number of followers. I realised I was guilty of that after I quote-tweeted what I thought was a particularly silly comment from a political journalist, poking fun at him. My tweet wasn’t malicious or intended to be. I was just taking the piss. But a lot of the replies to my tweet copied in the journalist, were quite abusive and it just went on and on and on.
Coincidentally there was a recent discussion on twitter about why a well-known unionist blogger had been blocked by a large number of SNP MPs. I had blocked this chap myself after he RTd me, leading to a stream of nasties in my mentions. (If you want to stop someone being able to RT you directly, you need to block them).
Probably the blogger didn’t intend to set the flying monkeys on me – any more than I had intended to set them on the journalist – but just didn’t really think about it before quote-tweeting something he saw as silly. We all need to learn that lesson. If you instigate pile-ons, either wittingly or unwittingly, people are entitled to block you. And, for the avoidance of doubt, MPs are people.
I also have to mention twitter clyping in this context – this describes the situation where someone tweets a comment about another person and a different user replies @ing that person in. If the original tweeter wanted to @ the person into their tweet they would have done so. Don’t do it for them because it can result in a confrontation they don’t want.
Inevitably we come to the vexed subject of misogyny. There has been a great deal written about the level of sexual abuse and threats sent to women so I won’t add too much to it. It’s ugly stuff. And the more high-profile a woman is, the worse it gets.
Some may think that high-profile twitter targets never actually have to read the abuse directed at them but they (or people around them) do have to, because they need to assess if they contain any credible threats. The recent Westminster Hall debate which allowed women MPs to talk about the horrific abuse they received was, I hope, an eye opener for some. And, as in life, it’s worse if you are a black woman, a lesbian, a Jew, because misogynists are so often bigots too.
Plus, for all women, twitter tends to have the same double standards as you get in real life – men are assertive, women are aggressive, men are confident, women are arrogant, men are witty, women are silly and childish. And be careful about telling jokes – some men really don’t like it!
So why do I stay on this hellsite? Well, for one thing I rather enjoy being silly and childish on twitter. Twitter at its best is joyous, I have had so many good laughs over the years. For another, I have genuinely made some good pals who I would miss if I left – and that applies to people on both sides of the constitutional divide. So I’m sticking around with my mute button at the ready. Otherwise I’d have to go back to facebook and that would be a fate worse than death.
In his 1999 show Bigger and Blacker, Chris Rock explained white privilege this way: “There ain’t a white man in this room that would change places with me. None of you. None of you would change places with me, and I’m rich! That’s how good it is to be white.”
There’s a line from the Bruce Hornsby song The Way It Is that describes perfectly the interplay, internal if not verbal, between the privileged and the un- and underprivileged. “Man in the silk suit hurries by; as he catches the poor old lady’s eyes, just for fun he says, ‘Get a job’.”
Privilege is Israeli Jews sitting on a hillside in lounge chairs and couches to spectate over the bombing of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Ghetto and cheering each explosion.
Privilege is serving the greed of the few to the detriment of the needs of the many.
Privilege is the white liberal who, in the words of Dr. King, “…is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers the absence of tension to the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season’”.
Privilege is white liberals and older Afro-Americans who say the same things to the Movement for Black Lives and their allies about their civil disobedience in the response to massive and growing police brutality and murders by police.
Privilege is Madelaine Albright telling us that there is a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other in reference to Hillary Clinton in 2016 when she herself supported Edmund Muskie in the 1972 Democratic primaries, the same in which Shirley Chisholm and Patsy Mink were also running. Of course, those two contenders were Afro-American and Japanese-American, respectively, so perhaps for Albright they don’t count.
Privilege is Gloria Steinem and others like her campaigning to shame sex workers in order to cover up the fact that their brand of feminism is mostly for affluent white women.
Privilege is Noam Chomsky condemning the antifascist movement known as antifa in language that validates their equation with Nazi thugs by Trump, aka Agent Orange.
Privilege is when someone uses phrases like “look at the big picture”, ‘be a team player”, and “accept things the way they are” to bully, manipulate, and shame you into belaying or putting aside your own needs in deference to their desires.
Privilege is when lesser mortals clear the streets of Windsor and Maidenhead of their homeless to make everything pretty for a royal wedding.
Privilege is waxing eloquent about global overpopulation and how people need to have fewer children shortly after the birth of your third child in a country where the poor on benefits are penalized for the same thing.
Privilege is when an all-male panel pontificates on women’s issues, whether they happen to be U.S. Congressmen or Scottish champagne socialists.
Privilege is the often patronizing and paternalistic manner with which the middle class treats the working and pauper classes.
In truth, what we today call the middle class is nothing other than an upper working class that is desperate to distinguish itself from the lower working class and to maintain that distinction by any means necessary. Oblivious to the fact that being a house slave makes them no more free and no less exploited than the others in the fields, they carry out almost by instinct the will of their masters of the 1% and their overseers of the 10%.
Privilege is when Yanks, Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, Canucks, and other white westerners travel to or live in foreign countries belonging to brown people and treat their hosts as lesser beings, committing social incest in their golden ghettoes. Of course, this same principle operates in their own countries between classes and even in those afore-mentioned non-white majority countries.
When I with the Navy at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, there was this lower enlisted guy in our unit who often had to do escort duty with local, uncleared contractors, meeting them at the gate to the compound and then sitting watching them work all day. Often he would spend the time reading, pretty sure none of the workers were equivalent to the Vietcong.
After about a week, the Air Force security police at the gate began wanding the work crew for weapons. At first, they began to refuse, until our enlisted guy told the guards to do him first, to show it was okay. In fact, he did so for the next few days until the guards got tired of or too embarrassed about subjecting one of their own to the same treatment inflicted on the locals.
In many ways, the middle class, the upper working class rather, is the biggest obstacle to the general welfare of the working, or lower working, and pauper classes. Mostly because those in it go along to get along. Its members don’t even think of being afraid of rocking the boat because doing anything that might alter their fortunes is beyond conception. So they assuage their consciences with thoughts of the rewards for their complacency and their complicity. And continue to do so even when that course will bite themselves in their own arse.
Something antagonist Lindsey McDonald said to protagonist Angel in the episode “Underneath” paints a good picture of this: “Every day you sit in your big chair behind your big desk, and you sign your big checks, and you learn a little more how to accept the world for the way it is. Well, here’s the rub: good people don’t do that. Good people don’t accept the world the way it is. They fight it.”
So stand up. Fight. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Live as if the world is as it should be to show it how it can be, and remember that the smallest act of kindness can be the greatest gift in the world.
Fight in ways against which there is no defense but which do no harm. Be the darkness that illuminate. Be the silence that resonates. Be the stillness that agitates.
I am a Terran, a citizen of Earth. The whole world is my home, and all its people my brothers, sisters, and cousins, regardless of synthetic or organic origin. Like our distant cousins on other planets across space and throughout time, we are all children of the universe
The UN must recognise Palestine’s right to exist, says leading Human Rights Campaigner
Today 136 out of 193 UN member states have formally recognised Palestine. The UK needs to show some leadership and be amongst the first Western European countries to recognise Palestine and its right to self-determination.
British Government already recognises the principle that the Palestinian people have an inalienable right to self-determination but has not granted this officially because it wants to reserve the right to do so at a moment of its choosing to best help bring about peace.
That moment is now. Recognition is a good starting-point for negotiations and would help guarantee that the focus of talks is about how Palestine becomes a viable and secure sovereign state – not whether it becomes one. Denying recognition as the current British government is doing is entirely at odds with the principle of self-determination.
Of course, neither Israel nor Palestine’s right to exist should be subject to veto or any kind of conditions and we must actively challenge any refusal by either side to deny the other’s right to exist. It can be difficult to understand the scale of the human tragedy that is occurring on this narrow strip of land, day in day out. Not just when the camera crews and journalists are there, but every single day.
It’s vital that human rights violations and violence on all sides cease and that the international community take strong action to hold the perpetrators to account.
One of those core causes is the eternal question mark that hangs over Palestine’s right to exist. Recognition would help the process of removing that question mark and allow Israelis and Palestinians to look forward to a future defined by equality, justice, freedom and peace.
In Gaza, entire families sit in the darkness of their living rooms, with candles creating the only light. Thousands of families have lost loved ones in house fires. Gaza’s residents face so much struggle and pain, just to secure one of life’s basic necessities.
Today, if you ask Palestinians in Gaza how they are doing, they might respond: “Alive, due to lack of death.” This commonly used expression captures the misery of everyday life in Gaza.
Every second in Gaza under Israel’s blockade – where water and medical care are luxuries – is tainted by tragedy. Every time a family can’t afford to put food on the table, every time a house fire claims yet another victim, every time a cancer patient can’t acquire life-saving treatment or another desperate human ends their life, the dreadfulness of the blockade comes into full view.
The UN has declared Gaza “unliveable”, and the blockade creates a passive, collective death. What will it take to convince the international community that the people of Palestine, like all humans on this Earth, deserve to live in dignity?
So long as Israel maintains great control over Palestinian lives but denies them their basic rights and freedoms, it cannot call itself a democracy.
The premeditated murder by the Israeli Zionist state of another 58 innocent Palestinians is further evidence that Israel the Apartheid state is being protected by the US and the West in its policy of ethnic cleansing.
These brutal murders along with thousands of innocent Palestinian protesters injured are being portrayed by the BBC as “clashes”. Not one Israeli has been injured in these so-called “clashes”. It is obscene and racist the way the BBC and other mainstream media report on these barbaric acts by the Zionists.
The Labour Party also need to take to task “Labours friends of Israel” organisation who are absolving the Zionists of any blame for the murderous carnage and acting as apologists for the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces).
The UN, EU and the West stand by and watch this genocide unfold and do nothing. They are all complicit with Israel and the US who allow and condone these atrocities.
Palestine is under occupation by the Zionists who have one of the biggest militaries in the World. The IOF used marksmen to shoot and kill innocent unarmed Palestinians including women and children. Tear gas from drones was also used to incapacitate the peaceful Palestinian protests before carrying out their cold-blooded murders of innocent people. Many of these weapons used to kill Palestinians will have been made in the UK. We need to continue to expose these companies and the Government for allowing these weapons to be sold to Apartheid Israel. Yet the Western powers turn the other cheek and pay homage to the American dollar.
We all need to do what we can in anyway we can to support the Palestinian resistance to the illegal and immoral occupation, a resistance that will never die or be defeated by elite Zionists in occupied Palestine.
Trump and his fascists in the White House are dancing to Netanyahu’s tune and are determined to invade Syria and Iran to create the greater Israel the Zionists desire and also to plunder the rich resources these countries hold.
The Palestinians are brave beyond words. Their land has been occupied for 70 years by the Zionists with the total support of the West. Unemployment in Gaza is at 60% because the Apartheid state decides who can and cannot work. Power and water are controlled by the Zionists. There is no freedom of movement on their own land with hundreds of checkpoints set up as part of the control mechanism used by the Zionist IOF.
We all have a responsibility to do what we can, however small an act, to support the Palestinians in their struggle for Justice, Peace and Equality.
NO PEACE FOR ISRAEL, WITHOUT JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIANS.
On this privilege themed Ungagged, introduced by Neil Anderson, we will be hearing from Steve McAuliffe, who will be talking about islamophobia, George Collins will be talking with ethnomusicologist and African religious scholar Javoen Byrd about Christian privilege in the United States and the suppression of African spiritual practices in times of resistance, and Debra Torrance will be talking about how great privilege comes with great responsibility.
We’ll hear from Richie Venton on his unanimously passed policy proposal of guaranteed 16 hour contracts for all workers who want them in an attempt to bring income stability to part time workers, Red Raiph talking about the all under a banner march and naked gardening day, Julie will perform her spoken word piece The So Called Inclusive Movement, Thomas Morris will be talking cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, and Chuck Hamilton will shock us all by sticking to the theme and talking about privilege.
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A vastly experienced live act with over 500 shows under their belts, The Twisted Melons (Paul Johnson – Lead Guitar and Vocals, Stephen Johnson – Bass and Backing Vocals, Mark Johnson – Drums and Backing Vocals) are one of the west of Scotland’s best kept secrets, playing live relentlessly in small venues throughout the country while regularly producing and releasing their music 100% independently.
Comprised of the three Johnson brothers, the band have an uncanny sibling musical telepathy that makes every show a one-off. Moving effortlessly between psychedelia, hard rock, pop, funk, fusion and electronica, the band recall the great bands of the past while moving towards the future along their own path.
Their diverse sound has seen them supporting a wide range of acts including Otherkin, Blaenavon, Fufanu, The Vryll Society, Here We Go Magic, Rituals, Pete MacLeod, Focus and Deacon Blue.
The Twisted Melons 4th album “West Of The Rock” was released on 1st April 2016, featuring the singles “Love Is A Drug” and “More Fool Me”.
The first single from the forthcoming album “77” was released on 4th May 2018.
Inspiration for the track
We grew up in the shadow of RAF Machrihanish, which during the Cold War was one of the most strategically important bases in the whole of NATO. We were exposed to militarism at close quarters and were very much aware of the power of the state.
Militarism is in our culture in the UK, so much so you get called an extremist and an insurgent for criticising the war culture and wanting the UK to take a deep breath before involving itself in conflict. We were protesters against the Iraq war and wrote and released pro peace songs during that time. At the time of the Iraq War we kept getting told about how important it was to win the hearts and minds of the populations of countries the UK were invading. The propaganda to paint the UK as just was astonishing.
This is all background to a new brigade of the British Army which was created under the Army 2020 project, a brigade that was involved in “non-lethal warfare.” This brigade is called the 77th Brigade and it will reach full operational capacity in January 2019. When launched the press described this brigade as “Facebook warriors.” The Brigade is involved in online and media operations. It is a organisation designed to control the narrative online.
In this era of fake news and realities created by online entities we thought it important to raise awareness of this particular branch of the army, especially when their predecessor was deployed against the British public online to try to gain public support for the invasion of Libya. If the British army were willing to deploy it’s “hearts and minds” division against the British public on the Libya issue what else are they willing to use it on and to what ends? This is a serious liberty issue, especially with the backdrop of clandestine organisations trying to disrupt our democracy. What else have they been deployed for? Who are they targeting and why is our tax money being spent on trying to troll and argue with people on line, especially British citizens?
There was a time when the Internet was your friend. Now it’s a battlefield for your thoughts, one for hearts and minds, and one where victory can never be defined. Why should the British Army’s agenda get government funding and be allowed to roam unchecked online? This is an assault on our democracy and this time, we’re all on the front line.
Nearly 4 years after the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, “All Under One Banner” organised an event on the 5th of May with the hopes of sending Westminster a message that we will not be silenced anymore and the support for Scottish Independence is as alive as it ever was. The organisers had hoped that there would be a 40000 turnout to beat the Rally of 2014. Early estimates predict that there were around 80000 people in attendance
People of all ages were welcome and it was sold as a family friendly event. This was very much in keeping with the whole Yes movement and earlier rallies. With this in mind, we made the journey from Greenock to Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park where the march was to begin at 11.30am sharp. We met up with many other pals from Moodiesburn and others from Inverclyde including our local MSP Stuart MacMillan and local Councillor and SNP depute contender, Christopher McEleny. On arrival, the atmosphere was just electric; families, dogs, wheelchair users and so on turned up donning saltires as well as Catalan, EU and CND flags and banners
There was no better feeling, than marching through the Yes city of Glasgow with such an amazing turnout and happy bystanders – albeit a very small contingent of Unionists who spent their minutes spouting hatred, giving the middle finger here and there (to small children) and my personal favourite, their nazi salutes. Their vitriol was drowned out by positivity and chants from the crowd. I am so proud of my fellow yessers that we did not stoop to their level and proved that we are the positive change that Scotland so desperately needs
The march continued on towards Glasgow Green where there were stalls and a stage for the speeches and the all important entertainment. I cannot stress enough how as we waited for the rest of my group to arrive, the crowds just kept coming and coming, filling up the whole of Glasgow Green. For miles and miles you could hear the sound of the pipes and people generally having a good time.
Two hours of walking certainly works up an appetite and it was at this point that we made our way for the West Brewery (the old Templeton Carpet Factory). The place was absolutely bouncing with attendees and we happily took a spot in the beer garden, sharing tables with other Yes folk. It was here that I discovered that people from all over the country had turned up to show their support. We sat with 2 lovely ladies who had made the journey from Ballachulish. Then there was a rather large group from Fife and Sutherland. My children even spotted their teachers there, all Gaels from the Uists, Barra and Lewis bigging it up for the Gaelic contingent of the cause. It would literally bring a tear to a glass eye to have sat there once more with such a feeling of hope after the despair and grief we had unanimously felt back on the 19th of September 2014.
The one thing on everyone’s lips however was “I wonder what the BBC will report?” and “Are they going to make it another Fake News Story”? These fears had been somewhat justified with the BBC’s initial reluctance to report the event and when they did, they stated that there were only around 35000 people there. They got this figure from Police Scotland who initially reported close to 90000 in attendance. Give it to the good old BBC to take the lower estimate but then again we all know that they are a State Propaganda machine who are used to push the Westmonster agenda at every turn whilst being supported disproportionally by Scottish Licence Fee payers.
Thanks to Social Media and great coverage by the National and Independence Live, we have a better view of what happened and we can only ask that those who were there, to shout it out from the rooftops and share the news amongst all their friends. We shall not be silenced again and the fight for Indy 2 has well and truly begun.
When Ungagged asked me if I’d like to write something about the baby box stooshie my initial reaction was to think it might be too depressing. But then I thought no, that’s how the Tories want us to feel. So here goes.
It all started with a Guardian story based on two pillars: one, that that a cot death expert had questioned the use of baby boxes as safe sleeping spaces and two, that the baby box does not have safety accreditation.
On the first point, there’s no reason to doubt the expertise of the person making the comments. But, as the Guardian itself reported, he is but one of a large panel of experts advising the Scottish Government on the baby box. Experts don’t always agree but the norm is to go with majority opinion.
On the second point, yes there is no single safety accreditation for the baby box for the simple reason that no such thing exists yet, though it is reported to be in development. But the baby box and its contents meet all relevant safety standards currently in place and the Scottish Government has given a commitment to ensure it complies with any new standard that is introduced.
The story was continued the next day, with suggestions that the SNP had exaggerated the impact of the baby box in reducing child mortality in Finland. This was based on a close analysis of websites, speeches and years-old tweets.
Let’s be absolutely, scrupulously fair and say that you could make a case for this. It’s possible that some claims which were made about the baby box could be interpreted as being overstated. Fair cop. But if you subject claims made by any human beings to a close analysis you will find parts that are overstated. Including in the Guardian’s story.
On the key point, the Scottish Government has never claimed that the baby box will reduce cot death and the Guardian had to amend its article to reflect this reality. The case for the baby box in Scotland is exactly the same as it is in Finland – it is part of a wider range of supports for parents and children to encourage engagement with maternity and ante-natal services and give all children the best start in life.
Now all of this might have been fine – journalists are perfectly entitled to subject government policies to close scrutiny – were it not for the toxic interaction between newspaper stories and political opportunism that characterises much of Scottish politics.
Because the story was not only picked up by other newspapers but exploited by the Conservatives (and, shamefully, a few Labour voices) via an outbreak of concern-trolling on twitter and in the Scottish Parliament itself. Calls were made for information on safety accreditation to be published, even though it already was.
This led to an interesting diversion caused by the First Minister who questioned why the Tories were so dead set against the baby box. Was it simply because it was SNP policy? Was it because they preferred to take state support away from families rather than provide it? Or was it because there was no rape clause defining eligibility to receive it?
The latter comment was, apparently, beyond the pale. The rape clause is far too obscene to be mentioned in polite society, you see. It spoils the discourse. Now, I quite agree the rape clause is obscene. That is precisely why it should be raised in polite society at every single opportunity until the Tories finally acknowledge its obscenity, get their discourse together and do something about it.
But back to the baby box. At the end of it all we’re left with the question, are baby boxes safe? Yes, they are.
We all bring our own experience to bear when reading stories like this and my own experience, as someone whose job regularly brings me into contact with health professionals, is that the NHS tends to be pretty risk averse. For me, the idea that the Chief Medical Officer and the serried ranks of health professionals behind her would support anything that potentially places babies at risk is ludicrous. This is just a personal opinion, of course, but one which I suspect would be shared by most people with experience of how the NHS operates.
I’ve talked to health visitors who think the baby box is a fantastic initiative, not only because it ensures that every parent can have a box of essential items ready for bringing baby home but because it provides a simple and effective way to work with and support new mums and dads, especially those who don’t have the help of other experienced parents around them to draw on. This includes talking about safe sleep. If I’m asked to choose between the opinion of health visitors and the opinion of Tory MSPs, I’m going with the health visitors every time.
So what have we learned from all of this? Apart from the fact that the Sun never knows when to stop, the main thing, I think, is that the politicians who made hay with these various stories did so because they were against the baby box to begin with. And maybe we need to ask the same question as Nicola Sturgeon. What is it about the baby box that makes Tories so very angry?
I think I know the answer. It’s because people like it.
My view, to be fair, is largely based on anecdotal evidence. I don’t know what polling has been done on the subject but the large uptake of baby boxes suggests that parents like it. And so do other people.
What do people like about it? It’s not necessarily the specific policy imperatives it is designed to support. I suspect it is much simpler than that.
They just like the idea of the government providing – on our behalf – a gift for every newborn child. They like what that says – welcome to the world, little one, we care about you, we want you to have a good life and we want to help. They like the fairness of treating every baby equally. They like the generosity which, even in tough times, can find a helpful way to welcome each little miracle of life. They like it because it’s a lovely thing to do and they have no time for mean-spirited penny pinchers who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
That’s what makes the Tories angry but they’re just going to have to get used to it. The baby box is here to stay and I for one am delighted about that.