1968 – Tommie Smith, 2017 – Colin Kaepernick. What’s Changed?

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” – Benjamin Franklin

As the new NFL season kicks off, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been denied a chance of playing by team owners and management.

In taking the knee last season during playing of the national anthem Kaepernick has paid a heavy price. Yet all he did was protest against the injustices of the criminal justice system. Especially police brutality and racial profiling against blacks.

Contrary to what some of his critics and detractors have said Kaepernick (known to his teammates as “Kap”)  is still a decent NFL quarterback worthy of a starting position. At times in Kap’s career he was superlative, especially from 2012-2014 under coach Jim Harbaugh for the San Francisco 49ers.

Yes, Kap’s form had dipped (following surgery) and he started last season as a reserve quarterback for the same San Francisco 49ers. But by the end of the season Kap had won back his starting place. He played well despite working under head coach Chip Kelly who was fired due to poor results.

I admire Kap for taking such a brave and unpopular stance. In an era when sport stars and other high profile figures have been criticised for their lack of genuine political and social activism Kap has stood up courageously. Kap’s protest was non-violent.

Do I agree with all of Kap’s comments? No. But it is so refreshing to see a young man like Kap speaking up.

In the UK you hardly ever witness British sporting stars taking the lead on any activist stances. When there is ample need for such figures to front up and set an example. In Jamaica such stars stay far away from the activist platform. Sad.

If there was one criticism I had of Usain Bolt was, despite declaring his love for all things British, he said nothing on the harsh immigration controls stacked against Jamaicans hoping to visit the UK. The only time Bolt spoke out on an UK based issue was on his taxes!

I admire Kap for protesting during the Obama presidency in particular. The mainstream media and liberal activists kept their coverage/outrage over racial profiling issues to a dignified minimum, so as not to upset the Obama administration.

What I find strange is the lack of genuine support from high profile black figures who usually love to join a political bandwagon. They all seem scared to support Kap for fear of harming their own financial interests and lucrative sponsorship deals.

However, I feel that some on the left were angry when Kap called out Hillary Clinton (as he did Trump) during the presidential campaign.

Both are proven liars and it almost seems like they’re trying to debate who’s less racist.”

Some in Conservative circles were ecstatic when former sports stars Jim Brown and George Foreman publicly slammed Kap for his actions. Brown accused Kap over defaming the US flag (which Kap never did).

Brown also added that Kap needed to decide whether to be an activist or an NFL player. Is Brown implying an activist cannot have a job? 

Brown shows a high degree of hypocrisy given during the 1960s he too was a respected civil rights activist whilst being an NFL player and subsequently a Hollywood actor.

But former baseball legend Hank Aaron has come out in support for Kap. So too Tommie Smith. Aaron said he will boycott watching any NFL games this season.

The stance taken by Kap has similarities to the black power salute by US sprinters  John Carlos and  Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympic Games.

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l-r Peter Norman, Tommie Smith and John Carlos @ 1968 Olympics Games

Back then Smith and Carlos were banned from athletics for life for their stance by Olympics chief Avery Bundage an admire of Adolf Hilter.

In his auto bio “Silent Gesture, Tommie Smith explained how he felt let down at the time of his stance in 1968 by a number of black athletes including Jim Brown and George Foreman. Smith stated other black athletes such as former 100m world record holder Jim Hines blamed him for loss of earnings.

Even NFL team LA Rams withdrew from drafting Smith to play for them.

Today, Tommie Smith and John Carlos are now revered as icons and are feted all over the globe. I attended such an event in Smith’s honour in London 2011.

Will Kap endure the same fate as Smith and Carlos? Call it what you like but Kap is being banned dressed up as “poor form”, “unpatriotic” & “distraction”.

There are 32 clubs in the NFL. Each team has up to 3 quarterbacks on the roster meaning there are roughly 96 in the league. Yet no place can be found for Kap who is one of the top 20 quarterbacks of the last 5 years.

New York Jets is one NFL team with a consistent record of recruiting and developing  third-rate quarterbacks. Some NFL experts do not expect the Jets to win a single game this season due to the club’s current quarterback deficiencies.

But there is no chance of the Jets hiring Kap as their quarterback or even as a reserve given the owner – Woody Johnson – is a Trump supporter and current US ambassador to the UK. Trump came out earlier this year and predicted with confidence that no NFL team would hire Kap.

Kap’s charity efforts has been noble and well documented. .He recently donated $800k to a number causes relating to young people. Last week Kap donated $33k to assist former incarcerated men and women prepare for employment.

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Jim Brown Slams Kap

The hypocrisy of the NFL is stark. There have been numerous NFL players who have committed serious criminal offences such as drinking driving & killing a pedestrian (Donté Stallworth), child abuse (Adrian Peterson), animal abuse (Michael Vick) and domestic abuse (Greg Hardy); yet all were given contracts after serving suspensions and/or convictions.

Greg Hardy was hired by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who felt the player deserved a second chance following his domestic abuse issues. Yet this week Jones warned his players that they will be fired if they make any Kap-like protest.

Then there is quarterback Brock Osweiler, who in 2016 moved from the Denver Broncos to the Houston Texans in a $72million deal in 2016.

Brock was so awful that the Texans gave up on him last season and off went Brock to the Cleveland Browns this summer. But before Brock could even play a single game Cleveland quickly moved him on –  back to the Denver Broncos. Brock will be paid  $775,000 by the Broncos and $15.2 million by the Browns.

 

IMG_2048Hank Aaron Supports Kap

One NFL player who has consistently supported Kap’s activist stance is Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks. After the recent events in Charlottesville Bennett said he will not stand for the National Anthem at NFL games. On 26 August Bennett had his own frightening experience with the police in Las Vegas which he described in an emotional tweet.

for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time” and the police threatening to “blow his fucking head off”.

Police brutality is still real for black people in the US and UK. Black Canadians have amplified similar concerns.

Racial profiling against black people by the police, the wider society in the US and UK is just the norm. It is so common in the UK as you are prejudged before you can say boo.

Yet there are times when you have stand up and speak out. If others are upset by your (non-violent) stance, then tough.

Many Republican and Conservative supporters would have us believe that some black people are over reacting to the issue of racial profiling.

But in the US Congress itself, Republican Senator Tim Scott spoke earlier this year of the numerous racial profiling encounters he has faced; even on Capitol Hill.

“”The (police) officer looked at me, a little attitude, and said, ‘The pin I know — you I don’t. Show me your ID,'” Scott said. “Later that evening I received a phone call from his supervisor apologizing.” Scott went on to add…

“I do not know many African-American men who do not have a very similar story to tell, no matter the profession, no matter the income, no matter their disposition in life”

Kap’s stance received worldwide attention and generated discussions that any well meaning government or think tank report could not have achieved.

Just last week in the UK, Labour MP David Lammy produced a report on the “discrimination against black and ethnic minority people (BAME) in the criminal justice system”. In the report Lammy stated that in England and Wales blacks make up 3% of the population and 12% of the prisons.

  • Beyond the media, political and legal circles is anyone aware of Lammy’s report?
  • Has the tabloid press covered the story with passion and thrust?
  • Are discussions going on in the media today?
  • Is the African American community discussing the report?

Hardly.

Kap’s simple stance gained more traction, more awareness and more outrage in the UK than Lammy’s report.

  • Can you imagine the publicity (+ FIFA outrage) if a black English footballer like say Rio Ferdinand had made such a protest similar to that of Kap in the UK?

Just as with Tommie Smith and John Carlos will the noble actions of Colin Kaepernick be acknowledged 50 years too late?

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Colin Kaepernick deserves to play

 

This is America. Anyone is free to protest about anything they want.” – Nikki Haley US Ambassador to the UN

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Posted in black history, Colin Kaepernick, NFL, sport, sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Goodbye Mr Bolt – Hopefully We’ll Meet Again

It was 17 years ago in Jamaica when a relative of mine said to me “Reggie Bolt have one relative, him fast you see Gary”.

Now the late Reggie Bolt was a childhood friend of my dad who grew up in the Davis District near Old Harbour during the 1920s-1950s. Reggie eventually migrated – like my dad – to England in the 1950s. Reggie passed away in the 1990s.

Never thought much about my relative’s comments as in Jamaica everyone knows someone who has seen a child who can run very fast!

Then in 2002 I saw the high school champs results in the local paper and there was Bolt’s name in the race results.

But when Bolt won so emphatically at the World Juniors I had caught a bit of Bolt fever.

It was now my turn to tell folks in London that Bolt will be the next star of athletics and that Michael Johnson’s 200 metres world record is toast.

When Bolt moved to the senior level I was hyping his expectations at various upcoming major events between 2005 & 2007. But Bolt’s ascendancy stalled due to injuries or some below star performances.

Then in 2008 the Bolt phenomenon  took off courtesy of his world records and Olympic gold medal exploits in Beijing. I felt relieved about my hyping of the young man.

In June 2009 I was in the departure lounge at Kingston’s international airport heading home to London. As I browsed the merchandise in a gift shop I heard a crashing sound. I turned to see Usain Bolt laying across the counter chatting playfully to the 2 female staff.

Stunned, I pointed at Bolt and said “Don’t Move!” as I rummaged through my bag for the camera.

Bolt willingly posed for photos (now lost) and we had a good chat. He too was heading to London but on a different flight to mine. The departures area was filled with athletes heading to Europe following Jamaica’s national trials.

I was struck by Bolt’s humility and his maturity. Looking back what also hit me was that there was this young global superstar in a small shop with no handlers, no agent chatting willingly to little old me.

At the end of our chat I told Bolt I will see him race in London at an athletics event in Crystal Palace weeks later.

Seeing Bolt race in the flesh at full tilt is something else. That cold wet evening at Crystal Palace Bolt blew away his rivals.

But as he did his lap of honour he spotted me and gave a nod. For that minute you could imagine one’s ego in the stands. I was also struck by how fast he ‘jogged’ his lap of honour!

It was at that Crystal Palace meet where I saw firsthand the star appeal of Bolt to young fans. In all the major events I ever attended I had never seen hundreds of children gravitate comfortably to a personality as they did to Bolt.

To me Jamaica on a whole took longer to fully appreciate Bolt’s star appeal than say the European public.

At that time many Jamaicans I knew still held Asafa Powell in a much higher regard than Bolt despite Bolt’s stunning achievements in the 2008 – 2012 period. Some spoke out against his playful behavior before in the races. Some had described Bolt as a clown.

Many would continue to doubt Bolt’s chances of winning gold medals at every major championships he participated.

(Who can forget when Bolt returned from Beijing in 2008 and was greeted at Kingston’s airport by fans, wagonists and politicians? Only for the then Prime Minister Bruce Golding to address Bolt as “Asafa”.)

We must not forget that some top sporting officials were not impressed by Bolt’s pre race behaviour and post race celebrations. e.g. former Olympics chief Jacques Rogge.

Former top sprinters such as Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene found it difficult for years to pay Bolt any genuine credit. Lewis in particular just kept sniping innuendos at Bolt.

But former sprinters such as Ato Bolden, Michael Johnson and Darren Campbell fully appreciated the excellence of Usain Bolt.

Usain Bolt gave Jamaica immense credibility and publicity across the globe. More than it deserved at times. Even this week after relay disappointment the anti-Bolt brigade has resurfaced again in Jamaica.

Bolt the man was beyond sport and moved at great speed into popular culture across the globe and stayed there.

The best example of Bolt’s stardom for me was in 2009 when he kicked off a football match in Spain that included Real Madrid.

 I feel one of Bolt’s greatest off the track achievements was forcing the UK government to change their tax laws on non-UK resident athletes appearing at local meets. Previously the UK would tax visiting athletes on their entire worldwide earnings and not what was earned solely in the UK.

My only slight (greedy-of-me) criticism of Bolt was that in the last 5 years he rarely raced his main rivals such as Justin Gatlin outside of major championships.

Disappointed too that Bolt and his training partner Yohan Blake agreed in later years never to face each other in non championship races. Especially after Blake became a genuine rival in 2011.

Such moves just robbed the fans of regular sprinting battles that would have boosted the sport’s overall popularity.

Imagine if in tennis Federer and Nadal faced each other just once or twice a year? 

Many say Bolt is the greatest athlete of all time but that is just bar or Facebook talk. Bolt is the best of his generation.  He is definitely one of the most charismatic human beings the world has seen.

I could never say compare Bolt’s on-the-track exploits with the likes of say Jesse Owens, Fanny Blankers-Koen, Bob Hayes, Wilma Rudolph, Edwin Moses and Tommie Smith.  Bolt and these former sprinters were great for their respective eras.

E.g. Tommie Smith’s (who once held 11 sprint world records) ascendancy to greatness was blocked due to his civil rights stance in Mexico 1968.

These other greats ran on inferior surfaces, were amateurs and thus could never afford the luxury of running in multiple Olympic Games. There was no such thing as a World Championship for athletes until 1983.

For Bolt to stay at the top for over a decade has been truly remarkable. Greatest of all time is relative.

No surprise that Bolt lost the 100 metres in London last week. He was just never 100% prepared or fit.

When your surname is Bolt and you are the fastest man in the world you are a gift to the advertising industry; especially with an engaging personality like Usain. I am so pleased Bolt maximised his popularity to good use and made himself a very rich man.

Will Usain Bolt return to the track? I hope so. For one last stab at his favourite distance – 200 metres. Yet the injury he suffered in London looks far more serious than was earlier reported.

If he does not return to the track, then thank you Mr Usain Bolt you made the world smile. You epitomized that popular mantra of enjoying your profession & have fun doing it.

Given Bolt’s girlfriend Kasi Bennett’s roots is 5 streets away from my parent’s home in Old Harbour I am sure we will see him and around the local area.

If only Reggie Bolt had lived to witness the illustrious career of one his own.

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Blew away his rivals including the tax man

Posted in athletics, black history, bolt, Caribbean, jamaica, jamaican, sport, sports, track and field, usain bolt | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

IAAF Prize Money Sucks: Do Athletes Need Their Heads Testing?

Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and other top athletes are in the final stages preparing for the IAAF World Championship Athletics at the Olympic Stadium in London this August.

Next to the Summer Olympic Games the biennial IAAF World Championship is the biggest event for the athletes and fans.

Bolt and Farah have for the last decade made athletics appealing and fun to watch. But as athletes face anti doping tests this summers I wonder if their brains also needs checking too.

In 2007 the World Championship prize money for the finalists were as follows:

Place Individual.      Relay (per team)
1st     $60,000            $80,000
2nd   $30,000            $40,000
3rd    $20,000            $20,000
4th     $15,000            $16,000
5th.    $10,000            $12,000
6th     $6,000              $8,000
7th     $5,000              $6,000
8th     $4,000              $4,000

Since 2007 athletics has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity worldwide thanks to the achievements and ascendancy of stars including Bolt, Farah, Allyson Felix, David Rudisha, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, Valerie Adams, Christian Taylor, Sally Pearson, Jessica Ennis and Wayde van Niekirk. Athletics is one of those rare sports where super stars come from right across the globe.

The last 2 World Championships were held in 2013 (Moscow) & 2015 (Beijing) respectively and was seen on TV in over 200 nations. More than the Super Bowl.

With the upcoming World Championships in London I can guarantee that each session (rain or shine) will draw a sell-out crowd and an incredible atmosphere.

With that said the prize money for London 2017 will be as follows:

Place   Individual. Relay (per team)
1st.     $60,000       $80,000
2nd    $30,000       $40,000
3rd.    $20,000       $20,000
4th     $15,000       $16,000
5th.    $10,000       $12,000
6th     $6,000         $8,000
7th     $5,000.        $6,000
8th     $4,000         $4,000

No prize money increase since 2007.

  • How could such these athletes allow the governing body – IAAF – to get away with not increasing prize money for 10 years?
  • How could a former star athlete such as lord Sebastian Coe sit on the IAAF board throughout this period and not push for increased prized money? Coe has been IAAF president since 2015.

In the world of top class professional sports this freeze on any prize money increase is just crazy. It does not make business or sporting sense.

Next week’s Wimbledon tennis tournament in London will be seen in as many countries as that of the World Championship Athletics. Yet each loser (32 players) in the second round of Wimbledon will each earn $74,000.

In 2007 the Wimbledon single title winners each took home roughly $1.4 million. In 2017 the single title winners will each receive $2.8 million.

Since 2012, athletics has faced some bad publicity over a number of doping and corruption scandals, leading to the likes of Adidas ending their official sponsorship of the sport. But athletics is still an attractive enough sport to maximize lucrative sponsorship deals.

Contrary to popular myths other sports have also suffered bad press over doping & other scandals. Yet they continue to thrive with major financial deals/prize money for their top players. e.g. Major League Baseball, NFL and MMA.

[The winner of the PDC World Professional Darts championship  in 2017 won just over $450,000. Darts!]

I am not sure if the athletes have a trade union type body that speaks collectively on their behalf, but they certainly need stronger group representation when negotiating with the IAAF. This oversight by the athletes in the prize money for the Worlds is quite frankly unprofessional.

With a month still to go before the World Championship starts; should the athletes make a last ditch effort for improved prize money for the London event?

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Sebastian Coe – International Athletics Austerity Fund?

 

 

 

Posted in anti-doping, athletics, BBC, olympics, sport, sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Black Lives Hardly Matter: Jamaica’s Murder Surge

Even by its recent standards Jamaica’s current violent crime rate is scary.

Since the start of 2017 there has been over 660 murders in Jamaica. So far in June alone there has been roughly 84-90 murders (Update: 141 murders as at 27 June) . This murder spree in a nation with a population of just 2.7 million people.

Today it is common to come across reports in Jamaican media of;

  1. Multiple murders from one crime scene.
  2. Children being killed by adults or school mates.
  3. Families in one home being wiped out by guns and arson.
  4. Pensioners (as old as 97) being attacked in their own home and sometimes murdered.
  5. Mob killings in the name of jungle justice.
  6. Killing of those living rough with mental health issues.
  7. Jamaicans returning permanently from overseas violently targeted by criminals.

Just last Wednesday & Thursday there were 20 shootings 8 of which were fatal including 2 children. In one of those incidents that had multiple fatalities, the alleged shooter was a 14 year old boy.

(There’s been at least 45 multiple shootings in 2017.)

For a small country Jamaica’s murder rate has been for decades  a disgrace. In 2011 there were 1117 murders,

  • 2012 (1085 murders),
  • 2013 (1192),
  • 2014  (1005),
  • 2015 (1200) and
  • 2016 (1350).

Given the current murder rate for 2017, Jamaica could sadly be on course to get close to the horrendous figure in 2005 when there were 1674 murders.

One senior police official told parliament last week that there is a need to bring the current murder rate down to 30 a month. His comments may seem laughable but it is the reality of what Jamaicans are facing today.

The current Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has suggested that the media should not popularise these murders as it gives Jamaica a bad image and could affect the tourist industry. But Bartlett is so wrong as the media would never have the space or time to report on even a tenth of the violent crimes (incl. sexual assaults & robberies) that occurs in Jamaica.

Indeed, I do find it strange that Jamaica’s murder carnage is not covered more widely by the international media. We know the international media would report such violent incidents in Jamaica if a member of the LGBT community or a tourist was attacked.

If Jamaica’s murder wave was covered in the international media then maybe local politicians, security services and wider society would be more proactive in tackling violent crime effectively.

The causes of the high violent crime rate are many. Causes include short tempers, gang warfares, money, illegal drugs trade, materialism, relationships, envy,  grudges and the profilerations of (& easy access to) illegal firearms.

We can not ignore the political violence of previous decades has also had an impact on certain violent crime activities today.

https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06KINGSTON758_a.html

https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/07KINGSTON1470_a.html

In the past 10 years it is frightening to see how many personal friends and acquaintances of mine that have been murdered. It affects your mindset deeply makes you wonder – why?

Jamaica’s security services & governments were caught napping for decades as thousands of guns were illegal imported from Haiti via Jamaica’s southern coast.

But for me Jamaica has simply lost the respect and value for human life. People get into violent skirmishes over the slightest issue.

Children or elderly being murdered is so common that any public outrage last for 48 hours before the news cycle moves on to next such report.

I wish there is a quick solution to stem the crime surge. Jamaica officially is not at war but the data paints a tragic picture.

The current Jamaica Labour Party government and the opposition People’s National Party should both swallow their political pride and ego and agree to take a bi-partisan approach to crime reduction and community safety for even 1 term.

It is embarrassing to see National Security Ministers and the official opposition trying to score political points over which government had a better record reducing the number of murders. Even though both had over 1000 murders annually under their watch.

The current Jamaican government is planning to bring in measures under a new Anti-Crime Bill which include curfews aka as special crime zones.

Jamaica needs sustained help from the international community. The security forces alone cannot stem this crime surge. Society needs a reset on how one’s life should be treasured and respected.

It is critical for Jamaica to seek serious international assistance to bring in the technology and expertise personnel to reduce crime, without affecting the human rights of law abiding citizens..

  • More than ever Jamaica needs sophisticated and integrated CCTV systems which includes Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) supported by command centres. This system is needed across the island to assist in the solving and prevention of violent crime. The techno and expertise is there across the globe.
  • Jamaica needs help on modern good practice initiatives for the effective rehabilitation of offenders. E.g Why Scandinavian Prisons Are Superior
  • There is a need for international assistance to help forensic experts to speed up their investigations as too many violent crimes go unsolved or just not investigated.
  • Education and Community Development has to play a more vital role at empowering the youths into career paths away from crime.

On a whole it is the Jamaican society that has to help each other to cut out this carnage in the medium to long term.

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11 year old Taysha Hughes – one of the latest victims of gun crime

Update 30 August: 114 Murders In 20 Days – More Than 1,000 Jamaicans Killed Since The Start Of The Year

Posted in Current affairs, jamaica, jamaican | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

UK General Elections: Winners and Losers

The UK electorate produced another fascinating election result to match those elections of 2015 and 2010. I did expect a hung parliament but never imagined the Labour Party to win in places like Kensington and Canterbury. (Thomas Beckett must be turning.) Theresa May won the most seats but no majority. All her fault.

But here are some of my winners and losers.

Winners

  1. Jeremy Corbyn – Jezza stepped up and ran a smart, aspirational and energetic campaign. Getting 40% of the vote is an incredible achievement. Made Labour relevant again.
  2. Young voters – Thanks mainly to Corbyn and his social media connections 72% of young people got out there and voted. The future is bright for young people getting involved.
  3. Social media – Proof again that today no modern successful political campaign can do without effective social media messaging.
  4. Ruth Davidson– Continues to make the Tory Party a significant player in Scotland. Davidson’s success in Scotland may have saved Theresa May’s Premiership. Davidson is a worthy successor to May.
  5. Social Care – Credit to Corbyn for making social care a key issue from the moment he became Labour leader and during the election campaign.
  6. Female MPs – Record number of 207 female MPs (32%) will be in the House of Commons.
  7. Police – Tories no longer has the votes to make further cuts to police funding.
  8. Amber Rudd – Despite just scraping through her seat with a majority of 346, Rudd was the Tories’ most effective performer during the debates. She may demand a safer Tory seat for next time.
  9. House Select Committees – With a minority government Select Committees will have more influence on how the Tories govern.
  10. Backbench MPs – Tory minority government means every single MPs vote matters.

Losers

  1. 170 Labour MPs – If these MPs from the last parliament had just given Corbyn even 5% support Labour would be in power today. Major own goal by the likes of John Woodcock, Stephen Kinnock, Yvette Cooper, Owen Smith etc.
  2. Theresa May – Self centered May is too much like former PM Gordon Brown and it showed during her disastrous campaign.
  3. Nicola Sturgeon – She overplayed the Scottish independence card and it just got tedious. Backfired big time.
  4. Boris Johnson – Must regret not challenging for the Tory leadership in 2016.
  5. Nick Clegg – Politically was a dead man walking since the tuition fees u-turn in 2012 when he was Deputy PM.
  6. Alex Salmond – One of the heavyweights of British politics over the past 20 years. The biggest shock of the night for me.
  7. Media – For 2 years the media threw everything at Corbyn. Especially Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre. They patronised his leadership credentials at every turn. You knew the Tory media were getting desperate when they played the IRA card against Corbyn in the final week of campaign…
  8. DUP -…yet the  irony of May being propped by the Democratic Unionists Party (DUP) is not lost on some. Given the DUP’s past links to terrorist and paramilitary groups. The DUP are a 19th century version of the Tea Party. Given the DUP anti gay marriage stance….How does May explain this kumbaya with the DUP to LGBT Tories such as Ruth Davidson and Justine Greening?
  9. Labour Party Grandees – Now will the likes of Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Alan Johnson, Charles Clarke, Jacqui Smith keep their anti Corbyn rants to themselves for the rest of  2017?
  10. UKIP – Will former leader Nigel Farage return again?
  11. Diane Abbott – Despite Abbott’s 30 plus years of media experience – amidst everything – she was just a disappointment in interviews.
  12. Michael Fallon – The mother of car crash interviews
  13. Grammar Schools – May’s desire for more grammar schools look a non-starter.
  14. Queen Elizabeth– The contents of next Queen speech may mean very little.

 

Britain's outgoing Prime Minister, David Cameron, incoming prime minister Theresa May and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, laugh during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, in central London

Complete May Madness

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in BBC, Boris Johnson, BREXIT, britain, British Labour Party, british politics, Current affairs, david cameron, england, great britain, jeremy corbyn, journalism, labour party, NEWS, politics, theresa May, UK NEWS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK National Security – Enough is Enough of Theresa May?

Tough seeing these never ending terrorist attacks across the U.K. lately.

What more can the UK’s  government and security services do to prevent further attacks?

The British government and its security services must now realise that there is no such thing as a low level so-called UK jihadist. They are all a major threat.

Once again Prime Minister Theresa May has come out with fighting words. Yet it was May as Home Secretary and now PM that has failed the national security test.

May’s time as Home Secretary (2011-2016) led to a major reduction in neighborhood policing which up to then was a key strand of effective local intelligence gathering.

The authorities understand that most of these extremists are homegrown and developed amongst minority communities. Thus there has to be push to recruit more front line intelligence officers from ethnic minority communities.

The government and media pundits keep lecturing the Muslim community to speak out more on extremist suspects.

Yet has the government tried hard enough to recruit intelligence officers from minority groups?

In 2014/15 MI5 had 8% (322) of its workforce (4000+) who are non white.  You can bet a large percentage of those minority staff at MI5 work in administrative and office support roles. There were no senior management staff at MI5 from the ethnic minority community.

MI5 needs a workforce of at least 20% – 30% from ethnic communities to target extremists suspects and their support base on the ground. There is more than enough established ethnic minority civil servants across central govt (32,000) that could be seconded to MI5.

Labour and Tory UK governments over the last decade have tried to deliver an effective counter terrorism strategy on the cheap in the name of efficiency savings and austerity.

Extra human resources is necessary to push frontline ethnic minority intel staff to be embedded in certain locations where these Islamic extremists thrive. Towns like Luton and East London areas such as Leytonstone, Leyton, and in particular Walthamstow are prime examples.

Notorious Islamic extremists such as Anjem Choudary, Trevor Brooks and members of groups such as Al-Muhajiroun used local pockets in Walthamstow and Leyton to develop their extremists agenda. Thus attracting other extremists from across the U.K. to spend time in East London.

Some of their support base hide behind “respectable” businesses as a front to their real purpose in these towns.

These extremists in East London get a real buzz out of their hate preaching in the streets. If you are a non white male they will approach you, exchange pleasantries (“hello my brother”) and talk frankly of their desire for sharia law to be introduced in places like Walthamstow.

I have had my own tensions with some of these self extremists  when I lived in Walthamstow. These exchanges would get acrimonious especially if I was walking with a Muslim female friend or acquaintance. One such friend from West London was so terrified at the intimidation and collective staring (by women) that she never visited Walthamstow again.

There is a belief that there are over 3000 extremists across the U.K. backed up by a support base of another 20000.

How many more times will the UK public hear that the next extremist attacker “was known” to authorities but not regarded as a genuine threat?

Therefore a more diverse team of intelligence staff needs to be embedded into certain communities working amongst Islamic bookshops, independent mobile phone stores/internet cafes, mini cab offices, bookmakers, local library and especially Halal-based fast food take aways.

Since 2011 most of the British media has given Theresa May a free pass on her performance on national security. May continues to push for more internet regulations. Yet GCHQ, and MI5 has more than enough powers and technology in place to perform their roles effectively.

(GCHQ also needs a more diverse workforce. As at 2014/2015 just 3-4% (166) of GCHQ staff (5564) were non white.)

The Daily Mail and other like minded leaning media houses are doing their best to ignore the current Tory government’s national security failings to ensure May wins tomorrow’s election.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has every right to attack Theresa May’s record on national security. But Corbyn’s choice of Diane Abbott as Home Affairs spokeswoman was a dreadful decision; given the number of former Home Office ministers on the Labour backbenches.

Today the likes of Anjem Choudary, Trevor Brooks and others are serving time in prison. Soon or later they will be released and the next government must ensure that these men will no longer find a support base anywhere across the UK to restart their sick extremist agenda.

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Walthamstow Town Centre & next to the local library

Posted in Diversity, great britain, jeremy corbyn, labour party, london, London Bombings, politics, Terrorism, theresa May, UK NEWS, uk politics, united kingdom | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Mighty Diamonds – Royalties Dread

Last week I heard an interview that featured Donald “Tabby” Shaw and Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson who both are members of reggae group the Mighty Diamonds. The other member, Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson, was absent due to illness.

Now the Mighty Diamonds has been singing since 1969. By the late 1970s they recorded numerous international hits such as “The Right Time”, “Africa”, “I Need a Roof” and “Shame and Pride”. Songs that consistently still sell well even with today’s younger generation.

The Mighty Diamonds wrote all their songs. So I was surprised  to hear Tabby and Judge state that they earned no royalties from the sale of those hits.

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Over the years we have heard stories of reggae singers/songwriters being ripped off, short changed or tricked into signing away their publishing rights without realising the consequences.

From the 1960s – 1980s many Jamaican artistes never knew their songs were being sold in volumes overseas.

  • In 1987 I  saw music by my own cousin – Junie Ranks – being sold at Tower Records then Europe’s largest record store. Junie had no idea that her songs were released.
  • The late Alton Ellis used to tell us stories of the rough times experienced when he first moved to London from Jamaica despite his songs doing well in the UK reggae charts.
  • Singer Marcia Griffiths once said that all she received from some of her earlier hits at Studio One was “lunch money”.

Fans purchased these records and must have enriched someone, some organisation, some family, but not always the singer/songwriters.

Today many of these iconic Jamaican artistes are living under harsh conditions. Some face major health issues which is costly. We only need to see the health and financial pressures that plagued the late Frankie Paul in his final days. It was well known that Paul suffered from financial trickery by unscrupulous record company officials.

Recently the Mighty Diamonds performed on stage in Jamaica. But while Tabby and Judge were mobile on stage Bunny stood still because of his own health issues and you felt for him.

Despite being in their 60s the Mighty Diamonds continue to tour overseas to make a living. Yet the proceeds from the hits they composed should have provided them with a comfortable pension package. We know good money from reggae sales was made by record companies during the 1970s.

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During the 1970s the Mighty Diamonds’ records were sold in the UK on the Frontline label. Frontline was setup by Virgin’s Richard Branson.

In his best selling book “Screw It, Let’s Do It” Branson wrote:

“(1977-1978) I went to Jamaica as a holiday but I also intended to look for bands and sign them up, so I took a suitcase filled with money…. Fortunately I had cash in my case that enabled me to sign up almost twenty bands and some toasters. We sold a lots of records with them; a perfect example of my motto- have fun and the money will come….

Further on in the book Branson summed up that exciting period of his life:

...I had signed up bands in Jamaica and ended up with an airline and (Necker) island.

The late Clement “Coxsone” Dodd – founder of Studio One label – was notorious for not paying his artistes their due royalties. Today a number those former singers from that period are philosophical about their experiences with Dodd. Despite Dodd’s actions some are grateful for the exposure he gave them. That sounds all well and good but someone is earning today what should simply be theirs.

  • Should the reggae fan be smarter at how and why they buy records – especially music from the 1960s/70s? 
  • Should record companies be forced to inform the consumer who earns from any sales?

As consumers we have become smarter in buying food products thanks to better labeling e.g. Freetrade. Maybe each CD/download etc should provide a percentage breakdown on where the proceeds of record sales ends up. Especially for albums.

Would the Mighty Diamonds fan purchase “The Right Time” if they knew that the songwriters would earn zero from the sale?

If I knew back then that so few Jamaican artistes earned so little royalties from their endeavours then maybe my record collection would have been a lot smaller.

Posted in jamaica, jamaican, music, reggae, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment