Poet Benjamin Zephaniah on British general election


This video from Britain says about itself:

21 February 2009

Benjamin Zephaniah reads his poem ‘Money’ on the hoof in Newcastle city centre, back in 1991. Now even more topical, this poem is from his 1992 Bloodaxe collection CITY PSALMS.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Benjamin Zephaniah

Wednesday 1 April 2015

If I were Prime Minister: I’d order a review of all deaths in custody and dismantle the honours system

Our series in the run-up to the General Election – 100 days, 100 contributors, but no politicians – continues with the poet, writer and musician

I’m an anarchist. So maybe I shouldn’t be here. After seeing what politicians of all persuasions have done to our country (and our world), there was no other way to go for me. People need to understand just how much they can do for themselves, so if I were forced to do the job I’d abolish the post of Prime Minister.

Before I put myself out of a job I’d get rid of every bit of privatisation in the NHS and have a radical shake up of health services. I’d introduce a new 999 service – for emergency mental health issues. Between 20 to 30 per cent of all police call outs relate to people with mental health problems, problems that the police are not trained to deal with.

I’d introduce new health awareness programmes for things like prostate cancer and HIV. There’s a lot of ignorance and fear and that can mean people die needlessly. Most black men, for instance, have no idea that prostate cancer is racist! 1 in 4 of them will get prostate cancer, compared to 1 in 8 men overall. Prostate Cancer UK’s Men United campaign aims to tackle that injustice through research and making sure men know their risk, and are informed about their own health. I’ve already written a comedy about prostate cancer, so I’d back Men United in research and in getting its messages out to people through football, music, comedy – any way they can.

With HIV there’s been huge advances in research and treatment since the eighties and nineties, when it was considered a death sentence. But attitudes haven’t changed. Like prostate cancer it’s still a taboo subject for some. So I’d aim to get families and communities talking about these things, understanding risks, and learning that early diagnosis can save lives. I’m currently heading an awareness campaign in the West Midlands that I would roll out all over the country. HIV, three letters, not a sentence.

A lot of this comes down to education and I would turn all schools back into good old-fashioned schools for all pupils. Forget academies, free schools, foundation schools and all those other fancy names, I’m talking about good schools, with well paid, creative teachers. There’d be excellent universal education for every student, paid for by all of us, for all of us. Everyone would have the same opportunities, and education would be wide-ranging.

I would order a review of all deaths in custody. That’s in police stations, prisons, hospitals, the lot. And that would be part of a comprehensive prison reform. My new prison system would be based on preparing prisoners for life beyond their sentence. Rehabilitation would be the top priority.

I might end up pushing up the prison population though, because I’d make it a criminal offence for employers to pay women less than men. The Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970, but forty-five years later and men still earn 17% more than women on average per hour. I’d give mandatory prison sentences to bosses who discriminated against female staff.

I’d also put a value on the work done in the home. Housework and caring for family members would be factored into the Gross National Product. There are people working very long hours at home who get no recognition for their role in underpinning the economy – I’d have to change that.

I would stop sending young men and women to fight in foreign lands, and I would get them building hospitals and trains for a nationalised rail service instead.

I would abolish the House of Lords and make all them so called Baronesses and Lords apologise for thinking they were better than us, and then I would recognise the State of Palestine. I would also get all those police officers that beat me up in the seventies and eighties to apologise to my mother, and then stand in a truth and reconciliation commission to confess their sins.

I would get rid of that Trident nuclear war machine, tax banks appropriately, make sure that big companies don’t use loop holes and trickery to avoid paying their share of tax, stop wasting money paying for the monarchy and politicians’ privileges, and I would invest in the green economy. The green economy is the future no mater what anyone says, it really is just a matter of how long we delay it, and how many lives are lost before we wake up.

I would dismantle the honours system. That would include abolishing the post of Poet Laureate. Poets should be poets of the people and shouldn’t be paid to work for the monarchy, writing about living or dead tyrants, or for so called state occasions. Poets should be free spirits. They should spend their time seeking truth, beauty, and attending sex parties.

Benjamin Zephaniah is Professor of Creative writing at Brunel University. He latest novel for young adults is Terror Kid.

USA: Texas could cut $3 million from HIV prevention programs in favour of abstinence education: here.

Poem about British right-winger Katie Hopkins


This video from Britain says about itself:

Katie Hopkins Racial Stereotypes

11 July 2012

Radio Scotland interview with an English ‘business woman’ who also appears to be a self-appointed spokesperson for all that is English. In this part of the interview she lets fly at both Andy Murray and a caller who is Welsh and is living in England. You may remember this woman from the TV programme The Apprentice, where her right-wing outspoken views ruffled a few feathers. She is both quintessentially ‘English’ and outrageous in equal amounts – the very embodiment of imperialism that made England what it used to be.

Katie Hopkins from England, sometimes Rupert Murdoch tabloid employee, sometimes television personality, is famous ‘for being famous’ and infamous for racism.

This poem is by British poet Benjamin Myers:

Tuesday 31st March 2015

I Saw Katie Hopkins

I saw Katie Hopkins shoplift from Oxfam a porcelain figurine of a Newfoundland dog with a wooden barrel on its back in which you put brandy.

I saw Katie Hopkins asleep in a plate of chicken nuggets at a Little Chef; she was wearing a Cats tour jacket and one glove.

I saw Katie Hopkins urinate in a homeless war veteran’s begging cup from a distance of six feet.

I saw Katie Hopkins scratch a swastika onto a Mothercare billboard at the bus stop.

I saw Katie Hopkins shove a cork in a dolphin’s blowhole at SeaWorld.

I saw Katie Hopkins go berserk at a Ghurka for wearing a burka.

I saw Katie Hopkins getting a tattoo of a lethargic gryphon.

I saw Katie Hopkins selling used batteries at a carboot sale.

I saw Katie Hopkins buying Jethro DVDs from the garage.

I saw Katie Hopkins jogging with James Delingpole.

I saw Katie Hopkins eating worms at Kew Gardens.

I saw Katie Hopkins trying to set fire to Rochdale.

I saw Katie Hopkins force a child up her chimney.

I saw Katie Hopkins alone on a waltzer at 11am.

I saw Katie Hopkins grope Rod Liddle in Aldi.

I saw Katie Hopkins punch a newborn lamb.

I saw Katie Hopkins playing bass for UB40.

I saw Katie Hopkins smash a pint glass.

I saw Katie Hopkins snorting Bisto.

I saw Katie Hopkins’ rotten soul.

I saw Katie Hopkins laughing.

I saw Katie Hopkins sobbing.

I saw Katie Hopkins alone.

I saw Katie Hopkins.

Not that one.

Benjamin Myers is a novelist, poet and journalist. His novels include Beastings (2014), Pig Iron (2012) and Richard (2010). His most recent poetry collection is Heathcliff Adrift. His website is https://benmyersmanofletters.wordpress.com/.

Katie Hopkins accused by police chief over remarks about Pakistanis. Sun columnist under investigation over race hate claims accused by police commissioner of equating Pakistanis with child abusers: here.

Katie Hopkins calling migrants vermin recalls the darkest events of history: here.

‘Anne Frank died earlier in Hitler’s concentration camp than thought’


Symbolic tombstone for Anne and Margot Frank in Belgen-Belsen concentration camp

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Anne Frank died earlier than thought”

Today, 12:11

Anne Frank and her sister Margot died probably earlier than hitherto assumed. The Red Cross said in the 1950s that the date when the Jewish sisters died in the camp Bergen-Belsen from typhus should be between 1 and 31 March 1945. New research by the Anne Frank Foundation shows that they probably died a month earlier.

The exact date when Anne and Margot died is not known. As stated in the statement of one of their fellow camp inmates: “One day they were just not there anymore”.

Researchers looked therefore at archives of the Red Cross and testimonies of survivors of Bergen-Belsen. The girls arrived in November 1944 at the camp.

Twelve days

The Anne Frank House in its research about the last months of Anne and Margot Frank concluded that it is unlikely that the girls were still alive in March. The sisters in early February 1945 had already, according to statements from inmates, symptoms of typhus. According to the National Institute for Public Health and Environment most people die about twelve days after the first symptoms.

Argentine military dictatorship in London theatre


This video from Britain says about itself:

These Trees Are Made of Blood – Minidoc (Client: Lucy Jackson Productions)

2 March 2014

1978. With the world watching, Argentina has won the World Cup and patriotism is running riot.

After some development time at BAC, director Amy Draper continues exploring her cabaret style show about Argentina’s Disappeared, which intertwines live music and narrative.

By Michal Boncza in England:

Theatre: War crimes caught in the acts

Wednesday 25th March 2015

MICHAL BONCZA recommends a cabaret exposing the long night of fascism in Argentina; These Trees Are Made of Blood, Southwark Playhouse, London SW1 4/5

THE THOUGHT of a play dealing with the “dirty war” in Argentina during the 1970s and ’80s might fill anyone familiar with that grim period with trepidation.

The appalling enormity of the crimes instigated by the US beggars belief to this very day. But These Trees Are Made of Blood by Amy Draper, Paul Jenkins and Darren Clark rapidly dispels such misgivings.

In the theatre’s small C-shaped auditorium, the crowded intimacy of a cabaret is recreated as the quartet of musicians in the corner play The Boy from Buenos Aires.

The “hosts” for the night are the 1976 putschists, the supreme commanders of the three branches of the armed forces, whose rationalisation of their odious deeds is subjected by the authors to biting ridicule — the targeting of the nazis in the musical Cabaret comes to mind — yet the hint of menace and foreboding is never far away.

To the authors’ credit, the combination of slapstick and song is an effective device — bar some ancient jokes — in advancing the narrative in which Greg Barnett is suitably slimy as The General while Alexander Luttley as the air force chief emanates egotism and duplicity.

So far, so satirical, but in an unexpected development one of the guests of the show Gloria Benitez (Val Jones) sees her daughter disappear when invited on stage to join the naval chief (Neil Kelso) in his magic tricks.

This tragedy, and her evolution from housewife to protester with the legendary Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, is charted with unassuming mastery by Jones.

After the interval the mood changes and, in a series of rapid vignettes, the historical blanks are filled in.

Everything from CIA involvement, the torture chambers at the school of naval mechanics, the Malvinas war and finally the trial of the military chiefs comes under scrutiny.

There’s a fair degree of disconcerting detail, some loose ends and short cuts that may baffle some in what occasionally comes across as over-elaborate. But it remains a riveting production, directed by Amy Draper with panache, with a cast that is as gifted as it is passionate. The songs by Darren Clark effectively catch the nuances of mood and, Greek chorus-style, comment on the action.

That culminates in a powerful theatrical moment at the conclusion when the curtains around the auditorium are drawn back, revealing walls filled top-to-bottom with the faces of the disappeared to a shell-shocked audience.

This video is called Amy Draper: These Trees Are Made Of Blood; rehearsal.

These video from London says about itself:

These Trees are Made of Blood Trailer

16 March 2015

At Southwark Playhouse from 18 March – 11 April 2015

#TheseTreesShow

Call 020 7407 0234 or click here to buy tickets.

And for our next act …

The Magical Military Junta …
Will make 30,000 people disappear before your very eyes.

During the 70s and 80s, Argentina was locked in a period of state terrorism, with a military dictatorship waging war on suspected left-wing political sympathizers. Thousands of citizens were “disappeared”; seized by the authorities and rarely heard from again.

Set in a timeless Buenos Aires cabaret club before, during and after Argentina’s Dirty War, These Trees are Made of Blood tells the story of one Mother’s search for her daughter. Blending original live music and exciting cabaret acts with an urgent narrative, this is a new piece of political theatre which promises to be an unforgettable audience experience.

So come on in. The club’s open all hours and history can always be rewritten after one too many.

This video says about itself:

These Trees are Made of Blood: How to make empanadas

5 March 2015

The team behind These Trees are Made of Blood give you a taste of what’s to come from this new production.

Remembering Latin America’s Disappeared: here.