Sep 222017
 

Suzanne Kelly asked the Cock and Bull about its current stance on Donald Trump, given that it had proudly supported the tycoon years ago. With all the incontrovertible evidence Trump was a bigot, let alone how the environment and Menie residents were treated, surely the restaurant would have had second thoughts? Not quite. By Suzanne Kelly

A long time ago, Donald J Trump showed up in Aberdeenshire with a host of empty promises, a bad reputation, and more than a whiff of racism and sexism.

Despite how Menie Estate residents were treated by his team (water cut off for months for the Forbes family, who he called pigs; journalists arrested; a respected photojournalist threatened, etc. etc), a selection of businesses were keen to get in bed with him.

Many local businesses did and do trade with him (even though the Trump organisation fired a chef for having a photograph on his private Facebook page that they didn’t like – a story well-known in the catering trade), and fair enough, everyone has to make a living.

Some local restaurateurs supported the Menie Estate residents, and their support is steadfast and appreciated to this day. BrewDog attended an event there to sell beer and it got a good deal of criticism at the time. However, they decided subsequently to make a video poking fun at the bouffanted racist (what do you call someone who prevents black people from owning dwellings in his apartment buildings but a racist?).

While plenty of local businesses understandably did business with Trump, some went out of their way to take a pro-Trump stand.

The Marcliffe fawned over the tycoon, and invented the phrase ‘The Trump effect’ to say how much money was flowing into the area because of Trump’s presence.

Only that’s not what happened. The Marcliffe has been in sell-off talks from time to time, and its profit margin probably cannot have been helped by the homophobic comments of proprietor Stewart Spence. The Trump club posts year-on-year losses, and observers rarely see even a half-full parking lot. The environment has been changed and residents badly treated: this is the real Trump effect.

Few businesses went as far as the Cock and Bull. They hung a pro-Trump banner which many say also ridiculed an elected councillor.

They won’t take a stand on Trump now, but they tell me that it was a former employee who hung the banner – ie a big boy did it and ran away. The venue had all the intervening years to say they did not stand with Trump if they wanted to. They didn’t do so then and they refuse to distance themselves from him now.

The restaurant was approached, in polite terms, on Facebook to find out its current position. The chance to take a stand against Trump and all he stands for was turned down.

Instead of supplying an answer – and any sensible business that cared about racism, sexism, the welfare of residents across the road from them, and of the rights of people in the catering industry to have whatever they want on their personal Facebook pages – they decided to suggest I was asking for the opinions of their employees.

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

We are talking about a president who has the endorsement of the Klu Klux Klan

Whether or not you like the restaurant or what you think of Trump, readers are invited to compare the initial conversation with what the Cock posted subsequently. Ask yourself if they are misrepresenting what the initial conversation was.

Ask yourself why they didn’t name me, which both made me look cowardly, and prevented me having a say early on to derail the misconceptions they offered up. The restaurant uses the scales of justice as an image; readers might want to use those scales to measure the two threads.

It is up to the individual whether it’s more important to have a good steak dinner from a venue that will not condemn racism or not. It is up to a business that has literally flown the flag for Trump in the past (even though there was more than enough evidence that he was as bigoted as the entire world can now see) whether they will either change their opinion, stick to their support, or instead start a hysterical campaign against the person who asked them if they still have the courage of their past convictions.

This is not a witch hunt as the restaurant suggests; it was giving them the chance to say no to bigotry and sexism (let alone the current Trump threat to use nuclear weapons against 24 million people suffering under the N Korean dictatorship).

Political differences are one thing and are to be celebrated. We are talking about a president who has the endorsement of the Klu Klux Klan, who has denigrated women and is implicated in rapes, and who is being investigated for collusion with Russia contrary to US law.

Contrast what the Cock and Bull posted with the initial questions, and ask yourself who is being dishonest and manipulative – me or them.

Why boycott dictators and those who support dictatorships in the first place? Because every business, charity, and high-profile person (let alone newspapers such as the P&J) which is friendly to the corrupt adds respectability to the dictators in question. The despot needs the veneer of respectability, and those who go along with bigotry are complicit. This is not a political point. This is a question of ethics: do you support racism and sexism or not.

People who have formed opinions based solely on what the Cock posted after my initial approach should have both sides of the story: not just the Cock and Bull cock and bull side of things – which is far from the real, complete picture. For instance, this sentence they wrote is a complete fabrication and huge distortion:

“I was contacted by said journalist and asked to publicly renounce any support for Donald Trump I may have (the man, not the course) in order for us to be excluded from the boycott list.”

This statement by the Cock is untrue; it is a gross exaggeration.

“…had it not been for your inflammatory comments regarding the restaurant elsewhere I would not have felt the need to reply.” The Cock writes; I will be interested to have them show proof of these inflammatory remarks I am meant to have made, as I am unaware of any at all.

The original post:

SK: “Just a quick question; yes or no will be fine: does the Cock and Bull support Trump? Thank you”

The Cock and Bull Balmedie: 

“Not sure I’m understanding your point here Suzanne, are you asking all businesses in the area to poll the political affiliations of their staff?”

Suzanne Kelly:

“It seems pretty simple to me. I’m aware of the position of many area businesses such as the Marcliffe, and a number of restaurants. Why do you add 2+2 and get 5? I am not asking anything about political private affiliations of your staff. Did the Cock and Bull ever hang a pro-Trump banner? I was told the restaurant had gone public with its support for Trump – in which case my question is even more valid than it already was.

“In case you don’t know, there is a major anti-Trump backlash, an international boycott of his businesses and their supporters (and even an app), and I’d be delighted to tell my contacts re. the boycott that the Cock and Bull has not, and does not, side with Trump’s racist, sexist ideas.”

Third party:

“They did have a ‘We Welcome Trump to Menie’ (paraphrasing here) banner. I saw it but it was some years ago. It wasn’t there last week.”

The Cock and Bull Balmedie:

“Sorry for the late reply – business to run, wages and bills to pay and all that. Personally I have no clue as to what you are going on about but given the tone of your posts you obviously have an axe to grind and have chosen a local business page to do so (not cool).

“However if you are alluding to the fact that Donald Trump dined at this restaurant many years ago when planning his course then yes he did. If you or your contacts choose to boycott us and all other shops, restaurants, hotels etc he has frequented and add us to your “blacklist” for that reason then it is your prerogative to do so and I respect your decision.

“We also have many guests staying and dining with us who play on his course so if that is classed as support then you may want to add that to your reason to boycott also.”

Suzanne Kelly:

“Thank you. Now returning to the question, and in the intervening hours people such as (Third party) have mentioned the banner your restaurant hung, are you pro-Trump as the Marcliffe for instance, or do you oppose racism and bigotry? I just want to let people know if your welcome to Trump still stands. Thank you.”

The Cock and Bull Balmedie:

“I’ve seen your witch-hunt on the Tripping up Trump page – you’ll get nothing further here. You want to up the boycotting of local businesses because you “think” you know their views then you be my guest.”

Suzanne Kelly:

“I gave you a chance to disavow your previous pro Trump stance in light of a mountain of evidence the man your banners supported is a bigot who has been caught in numerous lies; as you don’t wish to distance yourself from the man, I know all I need to. Many thanks.”

(Third party suggested I stay out of this issue)

Suzanne Kelly to third party: 

“Lol. You don’t seem to be aware the cock n bull story – or to be logical. They put up a sign welcoming Trump; they made a public declaration, which is their right. I have the right to ask them if it still applies even though it is evident to the world Trump is a racist and sexist. All the best”

The Cock and Bull Balmedie:

“A mountain of evidence? A banner that was hung some ten odd years ago by a member of staff no longer here that supported a golf course (golf course!) being built by a man who was at the time a business man and not president-elect?

“Due to this we are meant to support racism, sexism and bigotry as you have implied? A disgusting implication and had it not been for your inflammatory comments regarding the restaurant elsewhere I would not have felt the need to reply.

“Enough time wasted, I’ll get back to running a restaurant where thankfully the good vibes from lovely customers outweighs the frankly awful “boycott local businesses” campaign being run by yourself.”

Here is what the Cock and Bull posted on Facebook on the 20th September:

“I was made aware this week that due to us voicing our support for a new golf course in the area a decade ago, a journalist and anti-Trump activist was looking to include us in a “blacklist” to encourage customers to boycott the Cock and Bull, her words were “time to up the boycotting of pro-Trump businesses”.

We will not deny that we were advocates of the course when the plans were submitted ten years ago as we knew that the oil would not sustain the city forever and and know first-hand how important golf tourism is to Aberdeen. I was contacted by said journalist and asked to publicly renounce any support for Donald Trump I may have (the man, not the course) in order for us to be excluded from the boycott list. I refused. I did this not because I endorse Trump’s policies (I do not) and not because the political affiliations of anyone connected with the Cock and Bull are any of her business (they are not) but because her hatred for the man had overshadowed any other contributions that we make to our community and I wanted no part of it. She was not asking me the important questions of why you should choose to shop/dine/stay in my (or any) establishment – do we run our business ethically and sustainably, do we treat our staff fairly and morally, do we source our supplies responsibly, do we treat our customers hospitably and equally and we do we connect with our local community charitably. None of this was relevant to her and in my silence I was then branded a supporter of racism, sexism and bigotry. I find it incredibly sad that someone would want to tear down what another has built up due to an ill-conceived, ill-judged difference of opinion. Ours was not the only local business named that may be added to the list so by sharing this I hope that customers will make up their own minds about where they want to take their business using the points raised above and not be swayed by another person’s agenda. Our diversity of opinion is what makes us interesting but it is our humanity that allows us to understand why another’s opinion may differ from our own and our empathy that allows us to live together despite these differences.”

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Mar 022017
 

With thanks to Guy Ingerson.

This weekend Scotland learned that the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and possible future contender for Labour leader, thinks the Scottish Independence movement is on par with the rise of far-right nationalism across Europe and the election of Donald Trump.

While the war of words in both the press and social media raged on, Aberdeen Greens grappled with being lumped in with the likes of the BNP.

Aberdeen Branch Co-Convenor and candidate for George St/Harbour ward Guy Ingerson said:

“Waking up of a morning to see Sadiq Khan compare pro-independence parties like ours with Donald Trump was frankly baffling and enraging. We Greens have been leading the fight against Trump and people like him since our inception. We seek to build bridges between communities, not burn them.

We call for Aberdeen Council and Labour leader Cllr Jenny Laing to clarify if she agrees with Sadiq Khan? Does she really thing pro-independence voters are bigots?”

Branch Co-Convenor and prominent independence campaigner Myshele Haywood said

“The vast majority of the independence movement has been internationalist and opposed to racism. We want an independent Scotland in order to be an example to world of what a sustainable and socially just society can look like. The movements Sadiq Khan is comparing us to are the polar opposite.”

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Nov 142016
 

Old Suzannah relects on the result of the US Presidential Election. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryTrump is in as POTUS elect – cue gushing from Spokesperson Sarah Malone saying what a ‘visionary’ he is. There is celebrating among the racists, and wailing and gnashing of teeth from those who care about the environment, about others, and the future in general.

I spent way too much time on Facebook before and after this catastrophe. There were articles to write, research to do, and crazy attitudes to try to understand and counter.  Mostly I learned that countering people who are stuck in a mindset, particularly one they acquired in childhood, is a non-starter.

Facebook was essential for my trying to figure out what people were thinking and why. I failed.

Some people even more left-leaning than I (it’s possible) have gone down the conspiracy theory hole. Hillary was an evil blood-sucking monster who the white knight Julian Assange was trying to slay. The fact that some US publications had actually printed celebratory ‘Hillary Wins’ programmes and magazines was proof positive that the election result was fixed.

I tried to counter this BS only to be told I that in effect I was naïve and had no idea what was really going on in the world. There are powerful people like the Rockefellers and Rothschilds you see – I had no idea – had you?

The diehard Bernie supporters were filled with ‘I told you so’ rhetoric. Great stuff, but hardly productive or useful against Trump.

Third party voters before the election were adamant it didn’t matter what they were doing with their vote, and that any of the candidates were able to win this horserace. There were only two people who were ever likely to win. Pity that the one with the most popular votes did not actually win the election. After the votes were counted, these third party voters were keen to deny any involvement in Trump’s victory.

The simple, black-and-white fact that they elected to vote for someone other than HRC was in effect the same as not voting at all is lost on them, and they are not going to admit they had a chance to vote against racism, sexism and nationalism – and they decided to, in effect anyway, remain neutral.

Then we come down to the far right. The only people making threats, attempting to denigrate political opponents and sharing bigoted bile were on the far right. Trump has made it acceptable to be a hate-filled, xenophobic nutter. We are going to do something about this, because unlike these hatemongers, we actually know where this kind of hatred takes the world. Is evil too strong a word for someone who hates others who are from different cultures, countries and races? Not for me it isn’t.

The most worrying aspect of this and media coverage is how dumbed down we all are, myself included. Any news report these days, however transparent the truth may be on a point, seems to have to include a counterpoint. If the sky is considered to be blue, someone will source an ‘expert’ somewhere who will explain that the sky is actually yellow, and they are given equal air time.

That’s the media. The real worry for me is the way education in the USA’s Trump-supporting states is turning children’s minds into mush. I’m not the only to worry about this phenomenon, but to illustrate, there are schools which will present Creationism and ‘Intelligent Design’ as being equally valid theories as Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Ignoring the fact there is no evidence for apple-wielding snakes and plenty of evidence the world is just a little older than 6,000 years, pupils are taken to creation museums and taught creation as fact, fact as equally valid as the evidence-based Evolutionary theory. Not only are we filling their heads with superstition masquerading as fact, we are training them to fear a god at the same time.

Oh, and the hours spent on this blatant indoctrination, dumbing-down, and conformity-inducing dogma, we are losing the time we could be spending on teaching them to gather evidence from a variety of sources (yes, even those outside of Fox News), researching (in libraries not just on Wikipedia), and how to take information and form valid conclusions.

This is my greatest fear – we are moving away from the Renaissance values of seeking enlightenment and many people are now seeking comfortable beliefs and comforting fables to wrap themselves in. While Roma is most assuredly burning.

I’m afraid; many people are. But there are things we can do, and this is not the time to give up, but the time to redouble efforts. Figures out what you want to fight for – a better environment, biodiversity, fairer governments around the world, a decent Southern Railway service – whatever it is – and get about trying to fix it.

On a rather personal note:

This has been a crap week for me. My friend Vanessa tells me that the three main areas of your life – love, home, and money/work never seem to be in balance – get any two right, and the other falls apart.

At present, well let’s just say that I’ve no idea where I’m going to be living in the near future, I need to find my next paid stable work gig yesterday, and the love life is now a Shakespearean comedy – without the laughs.

The trump triumph hardly fills me with glee, I feel a responsibility to act as cheerleader to others when I can barely find reasons to cheer, and I can’t honestly decide if the futile hopes that exist – that DJT gets KO’d by the courts over his racketeering charge (or other charges) – are life buoys to cling to, or are sirens calling me to drown with false promises.

And while I am trying to outwardly be strong and cool, my asthma’s gone into hyperdrive, and the medicine I usually need once or twice a month to fend off an attack of CVS (you really don’t want to know), I’m eating by the handful. You can try to tell yourself you’re not stressed, but if you listen to your body, well, you can’t fool it.

Then, I momentarily feel worse because I realise how selfish I am to even think of myself and my first world problems.

I have the option of finding work (even it if’s just as likely to be stacking shelves or flipping flipping burgers at this point). I can see, hear, walk and think (well, after a fashion). I won’t starve anytime soon. Most of all, I know some excellent people, and call many of them friends. It’s a bad week or so at present, but it’s going to get better.

No one’s firing plastic bullets at my face while I’m trying to stop a pipeline going through Lakota sacred land. No one’s bulldozing the forest I live in. I’m not forced into marriage (like to see anyone try), and I can still come and go as I please (Canada remains an option).

My first world problems – your first world problems – are all things we can either fix, or try to fix. And even when we don’t succeed in our goals, be they protecting water supplies, the environment, stopping Trump’s March of the Giants – the fact that someone, somewhere tried to do some good and made any progress at all in this matrix we’re living in – may yet provide the building blocks and/or the inspiration for those who will come after us.

Then I think – it’s hard fighting against the things that need to be combatted today – but it’s a hell of a lot easier to do so than it will be for the next generations.

We have a POTUS elect who doesn’t believe in climate change, and who will have surveillance powers over – I suppose – just about everyone. He will in theory have access codes to nuclear weaponry, and once asked why don’t we use them if we have them?

He may yet lose his POTUS elect status if he goes down for the felony offense of racketeering for his ‘university’.

Students in Utah are working to find legal ways to debar him from the presidency – and there may indeed be grounds. Michael Moore is creating action lists and people are responding. There is always something I can do; there is always something you can do. Whatever it is, however big or small, please consider fighting for something now.

‘We much each of us tend to our own gardens.’

Figure out what is wrong in your own neighbourhood be it your back garden, town, country or world – and there will be something you can do to raise the issue, fight the problem, and make others care. You may not always win; you may never win, but there is much satisfaction in trying, and who knows – if enough people roll up their sleeves, things might just get better.

STOP PRESS:  The DJT Resistance wants you:  https://www.thedjtr.com/

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Jul 082016
 

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryHurrah! Result! We’re to leave Europe. Or maybe not – no one knows for certain what Scotland’s future looks like at this point, but isn’t it fun and a bit exciting?
And we might get either Michael Gove or Teresa May as the new PM! The Brexiteers Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson as so magnanimous in victory that they’ve scarpered.

You might compare their running away from the result they pushed for to insects running to hide when you turn over a stone, but I know that they’re just getting ready for some further selfless acts of heroism.

Another hero who shuns the limelight is former PM Tony Blair. With the Chilcot report released this week, you’d expect Tony to take the credit for the Iraq war. After all, he saved us from those Weapons of Mass Destruction. Thanks TB.

Looking at this week’s news, here are a few little facts you might enjoy:

When the dust settles a bit on Brexit, Old Susannah will revert with more facts – that’s if anyone’s saying anything factual at all. While Scotland voted to stay, the Brexiteers said that the EU was costing us £350 million a week which could be better spent on the NHS. Clearly that in no way meant that any money saved would be spent on the NHS, which of course is in fine shape anyway.

In far more important news, it was the Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival last weekend, and the weather was largely fine. The Black Isle Brewery was on hand, as was Dyce’s new brewer, Fierce. They have some delicious gear, I bought a lovely wheat beer and a coffee and vanilla concoction. In the meantime BrewDog’s launched a few Jackhammer Variants; Jackhammer being my favourite brew with off-the-scale bitterness.

Blackhammer is my favourite; I hope to see it around for a long, long time. BrewDog is also doing its bit for up-and-coming music and comedy talent; comedy troupe Wildly Unprepared have been doing their improve thing on Thursday nights in Underdog (the venue beneath BrewDog Castlegate). Hope to see you there.

One person though has managed to end years of The Malt Mill’s and Downstairs’ nurturing of fledgling bands. Someone moved to a flat near to the venue – a venue with ‘LIVE MUSIC’ in giant letters proclaiming that the Malt Mill, which looked like a bar with live music to the rest of us – and you’d never guess it – there was live music going on at night!

If only there had been some clue that a flat on a busy commercial road close to a long-running music venue and bar might not be quiet at night! Now Old Susannah understands that people need to play music for whatever reason, and I suppose there should be some allowance in society for that kind of thing in small doses.

It was always going to be the event of the year

Perhaps the venue should have just spent £100,000 from their petty cash and soundproofed the place. After all, if you put on live bands, that means you’re rolling in money.

Hopefully we’ll get something useful in place of The Malt Mill – like a mobile phone shop or Estate Agent. And from now on, let’s all be very, very quiet when we are out on the streets late at night.

Perhaps the hero who forced this closure could let us know when it’s convenient for the rest of us to make any noise on Holburn? I’d absolutely love to hear from you. My words of congratulations for your fighting for your individual right to quiet (rather than using ear plugs, moving, or just getting used to it) and successfully closing down a place for the rest of us to hear new bands are ready any time you want to hear them. I salute you.

Finally, we will all remember where we were when celebrity misogynist Donald J Trump flew into Menie this past week. It was always going to be glamorous with Sarah Malone in attendance. It was always going to be the event of the year with the Press & Journal present. But when Rupert Murdoch AND Jerry Hall flew in as well – what can Old Susannah say? Words cannot convey how exciting this was; it was like being a part of history in the making.

How unfortunate then that a few spoilsports decided – I can’t imagine why – to hang up Mexican Flags near the course. It’s bad enough these people live close to the course in houses The Donald finds unattractive, but to add to the visual pollution – well, that was unforgiveable.

Perhaps not as unforgiveable as Trump’s people: cutting off residents’ water and electricity supplies, calling the police to arrest lawbiding journalists, blocking access for the disabled at various points on the estate, threatening a grandmother with eviction, stopping Michael Forbes from salmon fishing, or threatening to use compulsory purchase orders to steal homes – but it’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

(NB – the residents decided not to stage a personal protest, but to just have the flags reminding the world of Trump’s bigotry towards Mexico and everyone who isn’t a white male billionaire. The massive amounts of news cover the flag protest generated in advance of the visit was remarkable. The brief, chaotic, rambling words of Trump to a few score of journos just didn’t cut it. With all of her professional qualifications i.e. being a former beauty queen, the polished, finely-tuned press call on the day was what I expected.).

But at this rate there won’t be any definitions, and I very much want to get back to that part of this column. By the way, this column will finish with No. 200. That will be quite enough for this format, but it doesn’t mean that I’ll take my eyes off The Granite City. Anyway, a few words – about trees and consultations in Aberdeen.

Consultation: (English noun) An exercise in which various experts and/or stakeholders are asked for their opinions and facts on a particular subject.

Peterculter Tree Cull consultation: (Aberdonian noun) An exercise in which various experts and/or stakeholders are asked for their opinions and facts on a particular subject, and the majority of people involved don’t get a look in. and facts are overlooked.

DSCN1516Secondly, the trees were old, and we’ve got enough old stuff around here anyway.

Then there was the fact that the trees were cutting down the amount of sunshine reaching one or two people in adjacent housing.

I for one know that if the sun’s not streaming in my Scottish windows 24/7 365/365, it can only mean the trees (not clouds, storms, snow, hailstones) are blocking the light.

Of course, some of the more intrepid people actually go outside when it’s sunny – but you can hardly do that if you’re living somewhere as dangerous as Peterculter.

So the city got back some responses from people who hated the trees, and cut them down.

Some councillors were very quick to defend this action too. Some councillors said that the trees were diseased and posed a hazard. That must have been a hell of a tree disease. On the one hand, it must have come up very quickly – or surely the city would have taken action before now.

On the other hand, it’s a pretty interesting kind of tree disease when instead of getting rid of the trees (or heaven forbid trying to treat it), you can decide what to do about the trees not by saying their diseased and cutting them, but by asking residents what they want done with the trees.

DSCN1513

One person at least tried unsuccessfully to get through to the relevant people at the city, but as we know, the city responds instantly to any and all queries.

Another funny thing is the city’s existing tree management policy. It seems to say that if it owns trees that are not close to a dwelling, they aren’t going to cut them down.

It’s not that I’m cynical, but I’d love to find out what the disease was that was so bad the trees had to come down but not bad enough that the residents’ opinions could have stopped it. For more info, see here.

Some people claim their responses to the consultation were unanswered. Would the city ever do that?

Tree for Every Citizen scheme: (Aberdonian noun) An exercise in which various experts and/or stakeholders are asked for their opinions only if they are from the SNH or stand to make lots of £££ from killing deer on the hill, or wear shoulder pads (Aileen ‘Ho’Malone), in which consultation existing plans to kill deer are deliberately left out, stopping the public from taking much interest, so their opinions can be ‘managed’ in the words of the SNH. 

No one objected to the proposal – until it was too late. Funny that they didn’t announce the cull when they mentioned the other operational details (rabbit fences).

Even funnier; they refused to listen to free advice from experts on how to have trees and deer. And now we have no deer and no trees. We do have a consultant who’s at least £100,000 better off. And ranger Ian Tallboys got an award from Princess Anne. Result!

The award-winning, manicured Tullos Hill forest will provide a cost-neutral lovely recreation area for city residents. Only that it’s cost a packet, cost the lives of 38 deer (give or take – the city’s record-keeping is so bad we don’t know), and the trees are in such poor shape we’ve been warned that we might have to give the government its grant money back.

That would be nothing new, the previous attempt to plant trees on this former garbage tip with very poor soil didn’t work, either – I wonder why – and cost us £43,800.

Sometimes there is no need to bother even with a token consultation, as the people of Bedford Road can tell you. If they didn’t read page 47 of the Evening Express, read community council notes and city papers – and magically deduce that a ‘bus gate’ meant they would not be allowed to drive on their street again, then it’s their tough luck.

No one thought it necessary to write to them to ask for opinions; although funnily enough, the Peterculter residents were written to about cutting down the trees (apparently 2 people said to cut them – and that was good enough for ACC).

You don’t have to consult the public over minor details like the Marischal Square project either. Just tell them an iconic, smart, forward looking building will breath new life, etc. etc. into the area, but the architects will respect the importance of Provost Skene’s house: then hope they won’t notice when the reality is nothing like the original promise.

In fact, the reality is so much better! We can barely see the provost’s house now, and I hear we might get a hamburger joint. AND – the Press & Journal are going to move in! The best loved, most cutting edge newspaper in the best-loved, most cutting edge building! Result! as they say.

Next week: Blair, Brexit, Boris

PS – An observation

I was walking through Torry one early evening, past where a small green space off Victoria Road has a small but pretty collection of flowers. A couple were there, possibly Eastern European. We said hello as I passed. They had a little girl. She was smiling from ear to ear, pointing at the flowers, and jumping up and down.

Completely devoid of any prejudice, mindless hatred, greed, or ill-will, she was just delighted to be with two obviously adoring parents, looking at beautiful flowers.

I wondered whether it was too much to ask that we stop hurting our kids by pouring our prejudices and poisons into them. Will this girl be one of the 5 who will eventually be sexually assaulted? Will she encounter kids at school who are mean to her – because their parents taught them to hate people who are ‘foreign’ or ‘different’?

Will she be encouraged to study whatever she wants to study – science, art, languages, history – or will the system channel her into ‘girlish’ activities or will well-meaning people make her study things which lead to well-paying jobs while forsaking arts and philosophy? If she were a Muslim/black/Native American/Asian child, what kinds of barriers, doors and hatred would she be experiencing before long.

I wondered, is it too much to ask that with all the problems we’ve left for the next generation that we can at the very least manage not to fill these little people with hatred and just be nice to them instead? The answer, sadly, is that it probably will be too much to ask. I hope she remembers how happy, free and innocent she was that night. I wish she could live like that always – if she and her peers could, then there’s a chance we could have another world and a far better one.

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Jun 172016
 

Old Susannah turns her head awa frae Aberdeen this week as her lugs pick up gunfire in the States – again. By Suzanne Kelly

DictionaryLand of the Free, Home of the Brave, Bastion of Gun Worship; Americans witnessed another senseless bloodbath this past week. It was an American born Muslim extremist

in Orlando, Florida, with an automatic assault rifle in a nightclub. Which politicians will try to use these deaths to score points and whip up a bit more hatred (give you three guesses as to one of them)? Where will it be next time?

America needs some new slogans. ‘Land of the Free, home of the brave’ just doesn’t cut it anymore.

It seems to me that no one’s genuinely free. Minority groups, women and the poor have one set of laws to govern them, and freedoms are more than a little limited.

There is now an expression specifically for spurious, racially-motivated arrests, ‘Running (or driving) while black’.

The more money you’ve got, the better illusion of freedom you can afford, and the better protected you will be. Policing is biased in many places, and as we’ve seen from the Brock Turner rape case, Justice peeks from behind her blindfold, and can tell when there is some gold on her scales. Law and law enforcement have long since gone their separate way from Liberty. ‘Truth, Liberty and Justice for All’ no longer reflects the reality.

Aside from if you were a Native American, it all seemed such a good idea at the time.

The American experiment if taken literally would see people today free to choose where and how to live, collecting their own rainwater without fear of prison, living off the grid if they felt like it, and dare I say it – using whatever plants (including cannabis) however they chose to.

Funny, no one wants to take the freedom, equality and rights-concerned sections of the Constitution literally – but the NRA certainly wants to ensure that we take very literally ‘the right to bear arms’ (which of course was in the context of having a militia and when muskets ruled, not semi-automatics and Saturday Night Specials).

In the USA there are those who take the bible literally too, and are at great pains to prove the world is only 6,000 years old and the righteous will float up to heaven in the Rapture (NB this is a US invention, not that most of the bible belters will admit that). The only parts of the bible they don’t want to take literally (while they build ‘creation museums’ showing dinosaurs romping with humans) is the ‘love one another’/ ‘do unto others’ bit.

What a selective species we can be. Interpretation of Truth and Liberty have been warped by special interest and greed to the point they’ve broken.

When I moved to the UK from New York people would ask me why, and I’d half-jokingly reply ‘because I don’t want to get shot’. Some would look at me funny; I’d explain handgun proliferation and gun culture to the interested. But no one I met in the UK could really understand why some Americans are dead set on ‘protecting’ themselves with guns.

From all the evidence (accidental misfire killings and wounding;, parents shooting children arriving home late, etc), I don’t understand how a gun ‘protects’ the average Yank either.

One reason I’m going to try and write on this topic (once more) was a post Nick Tesco (a founder of The Members, but you know that) made on Facebook in the wake of Orlando:

“Dear American friends, do these mass murderers see children, church goers and gay people as tools of the tyranny that they’ve been obliged to take up arms against as demanded by your Second Amendment and like your NRA say? Or is that something you might need to take a look at when you’ve finished giving women a hard time about abortion?”

21st Century – Still tribal after all these years.

In his post Tesco seems to be asking for an American re-examination of values, guns, the meaning of freedom, and where the focus of securing freedom should be.

Tesco’s since qualified his post; he well knows that not all Yanks are the problem, and if you look at the UK through a similar lens, you might not see a pretty picture either.

For instance there is some unnecessary, ugly violence going on over the beautiful game in France at present. Nationalistic fans clash with nationalistic fans in the streets and bars of France on some primitive tribal quest to prove who’s the most warlike (and I suppose to their minds this makes them superior, manly, desirable). Things aren’t different in the US. Scenes at pro-Trump rallies make thinking-people cringe, and that’s before the violence starts.

What is the American Republican/Democrat push-pull if not mindless tribalism? Everyone wants their side to win, and most people stick with whichever party their parents belonged to. No one looks at what their elected officials’ backgrounds are or what entities fund them and chooses – just whether the elephant or the donkey wins.

You might be living in a trailer park on benefits in America, but if mom and dad were Republicans, you’re likely to vote for a billionaire because he’s in the Republican livery, however exploitative he is of you and your fellow poor Americans. The ingrained desire to be a ‘winner’ overrides logic, fact, and common sense for some.

There is a lot to love about America – most of the people, the environment, and the idea of liberty.

How, when and why did a country which declared the notion of freedom being its core value turn into a racist, sexist, elitist police state governed by the rich for the benefit of the rich and their richer multinational masters? Perhaps being formed on top of, rather than along side of, Native American rights and values, and on the back of slavery meant the American dream was always going to become a nightmare, but the bloodshed and inequality has to be countered before it’s too late.

Ultimately I don’t think it’s too late to turn it around (or I’d not bother writing about it) but this must happen now before more ground is lost to the crooked cop, the bent judge, the lobbyist-controlled congressman and the multinational.

An observation which may or may not be a non-sequiter came to mind. I’ve a good number of intelligent American friends and acquaintances; most far more intelligent than I am. A few have put their brains into music, art, politics; the majority have harnessed their talents to making money. I can’t help but think if they hadn’t been conditioned to think that money equalled success that such talent could have been applied to creative, political and humanitarian ends.

I also can’t help but think for some people, they’d be a lot happier if they hadn’t been worried about being a lot richer.

You might think you are freer in the US than in other places. Gun-loving Americans clutch their guns and decry they will use them to guard their freedoms. They think this is freedom; they think it is a free country. I beg to differ. Here are a few thoughts on how freedom is doing these days.

Free Elections?

Turning back to gun violence, there are many worthy groups fighting to get guns under some form of control. Why don’t people just vote for congressmen who will deliver gun control, and that will be the end of the problem?

In order to run for office, a candidate needs millions of dollars. Perhaps candidates start out with high hopes and best intentions. I respectfully suggest that with a few notable exceptions, by the time they raise this money, they will get their hands dirty. They will owe favours. Will they owe the National Rifle Association, arguably the most powerful lobbying group in America? More than likely.

“According to OpenSecrets, a site that tracks money in politics, the NRA spent $984,152 on campaign contributions during the 2014 election cycle. It also spent more than $3 million on lobbying in both 2013 and 2014. The NRA also spent $28,212,718 on outside political contributions during this period, which includes ads paid for directly by the NRA. That makes it the tenth biggest spender when it comes to such political spending.”
http://fortune.com/2015/12/03/san-bernadino-nra-political-spending-gun-violence/

Voting is a right people fought for, but not everyone uses. About 40% of the country will either not bother to turn out for a presidential election – or do not vote for more sinister reasons.

There are those who want to vote – but get turned away in increasing numbers for spurious reasons. Names go missing from electoral rolls. Last minute demands for photo ID sends some away. In a paradox, questions were raised about some of the votes delivered from Florida by Governor Jeb Bush to clan Bush member Dubya – were all of those who voted: alive, able to vote, received postal votes themselves that they alone completed – questions remain.

Can elections be rigged? Of course. Does that only happen in the third world? Of course not.

So, we are not free to select the best candidate to run for office; we are selecting from candidates pre-selected by vested interest groups who give their candidates enough money to run. We are not free to vote if we are turned away because of unconstitutional practices, and racism does still stop people from getting to the ballot box:

“Thousands of black electors in Florida were disenfranchised in last November’s [2000] election by an electoral system tainted by “injustice, ineptitude and inefficiency” a leaked report by the US civil rights commission says. It accuses Governor Jeb Bush, the president’s brother, and his secretary of state, Katherine Harris, of “gross dereliction” of duty, saying they “chose to ignore mounting evidence” of the problems. 

“The eight-strong commission, whose report will be published on Friday, found that black voters were “10 times more likely than white voters to have their ballots rejected”, and pointed to the use of a flawed list of felons and ex-felons to purge the voting rolls. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/jun/06/uselections2000.usa

Freedom fail.

Tesco also once posed on Facebook that everyone should vote; this is true up to a point. Not that I take all my political leads from musicians, but Jerry Garcia is attributed with having said (I paraphrase again) ‘If you vote and choose between two evils, you are still choosing evil.’

So – while I must vote for Clinton – as a vote against Trump – it is not because of any woman solidarity, and it’s certainly not because I approve of her Monsanto links.

She is clearly the better choice over Trump. A nation of 260 million people – and it comes down to this. I might well write in George Takei who has always spoken out against violence and intolerance, or for heroic filibustering senator Chris Murphy whose stamina has forced a congressional vote to ‘close the terror gap’.

In the end, I will vote for Clinton, to avoid the Trump presidency, and the catastrophe that would spell. (besides which, I’d like to be able to visit the US in the next 4 years without winding up in a boiler suit on my way to GitMo). As far as I know, unlike Trump, Clinton’s not racked up 3,500 lawsuits, hasn’t opened a fleecing operation posing as a ‘university’ and doesn’t want everyone armed. She’s no plans to ‘take out’ people related to terrorists, or to ban Muslims / American Muslims from travel.

Free to have guns.

Anything you need to know about the illogic and insanity of having automatic weaponry freely available can be found in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine documentary. The sad thing is that this film was made in 2002. Oh, and the wealth and power of the NRA tells you why the country is like this.

Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness.

At the same time we Americans are telling ourselves how ‘free’ we are, and how we want to bring freedom to other countries (frequently those with resources NB), liberty is getting a beating at home and abroad. The same ilk of senator who will keep automatic guns on sale is legislating to give American water not to Americans, but to sell or give it to companies like Nestle, which is bottling it up and signing lucrative deals to take water in states like Oregon.

Want to collect rain water on your own property? In many states that will land you in prison – like Oregon, which is giving your water to Nestle.

Nick Tesco is right in his Facebook post when he alluded to abortion, but it is actually worse and worsening for any woman who wants control over her body and life. Have a spontaneous abortion – don’t do it in certain states, or you’ll go to jail for failing to carry full term.

There are places where you will be mauled by a police dog, beaten to a pulp or beaten to death – or shot for offences like having a tail light out on your car, driving too slowly, running, or just being non-white in a white area. The police are brutal in some states. There is no other way of putting it.

And Justice for All? 

Some police officers are people who want to make the world better; however, organisations like Police the Police are proving time and again that the police force today includes Ku Klux Klan members, paedophiles and sadists. They largely seem immune from prosecution – while the guy collecting rain water or trying to live ‘off the grid’ will spend years in prison. In some states, growing marijuana can lead to decades in prison.

However, if you are white, privileged – and a good swimmer – raping an unconscious woman will get you a few months in a cell at most.

I’d add a description of how Native Americans have been treated past and present – but I cannot do it justice at all. Here is a good place to look at one issue though – the veritable kidnapping of Native children who are chemically coshed and placed with white, extreme ‘Christian’ families for no good reason other than money is made from it, and families and culture is destroyed in the process. This is the tip of the iceberg for Native issues.

It’s lunacy, and as far as the eye can see, the root causes are greed and self-interest.

Does this make me a conspiracy theorist?

Does it serve the interests of those in power when these incidents happen? It doesn’t always hurt. You’ve got Trump insisting if everyone had a gun, Orlando wouldn’t have happened (so no hostage or crossfire casualties in his world I suppose). When the serial killer in question is non-white and non-Christian – then the authorities insist we have an Islamic jihad problem that can only be served by the rest of us giving up more of our freedoms and… by panicking the suggestible into buying guns to protect themselves.

We know how well that works out.

CODA

Just as I finish this piece, Jo Cox MP has been shot and stabbed; she supports the Remain campaign, and works to help Syrian refugees. Allegedly the assailant yelled ‘Britain First.’ [17 June:  Jo Cox has been murdered. Britain First’s Facebook page has a BF ‘news’ item that the murderer didn’t shout ‘Britain First’ – they shouted ‘Put Britain First’.  A trivial distinction which ignores the fact she is dead, and those who have worked tirelessly to ratchet hatred up several notches are at least in part culpable.]

If the reports prove true, and they are a Britain First supporter, they have shown BF in its true light. Despite its many Facebook posts using click bait such as veterans, dog fighting, elderly issues – they are only nationalistic, white supremacist violent thugs. If this is how their followers try to advance their cause, let’s ensure we stop sharing their posts at the very least, and let’s make sure they don’t get a foothold.

The US is rapidly becoming ruled by gunpower – let’s ensure that never happens here.

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Jan 282016
 
Immigration What's the story

Christian Allard at the launch of ‘Immigration: What’s the Story?’ at the Scottish Parliament with (left) Nicola Hay, Campaign Manager and (right) Gillian Eunson, Educational worker.

With thanks to Sarah Masson.

North East MSP Christian Allard praised the ‘tremendous’ work of Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) on their 20th Anniversary. Mr Allard made the comments after viewing ‘Immigration: What’s the Story?’ film by SRtRC at the Scottish Parliament today.

SRtRC is an anti-racism educational charity which was established in January 1996. The charity aims to combat racism through enabling role models to present an anti-racist message to young people and others.

Over the last 20 years, SRtRC has worked extensively across Scotland and the rest of the UK delivering training to more than 50,000 individuals per year.

In response to negative attitudes expressed towards migrant communities, SRtRC developed a UK wide educational film, elevating the voices of people who have moved from one country to another, to dispel some of the popular myths and provide an alternative view.

Christian, along with colleagues, saw the film at an event in the Scottish Parliament last night. The North East MSP looks forward to Show Racism the Red Card Scotland’s visit to Pittodrie this year.

Commenting, Christian Allard MSP said:

“’Immigration: What’s the Story?’ is another great educational film from Show Racism the Red Card.

“They have achieved a tremendous amount in the last 20 years making sure everyone’s voice is heard and challenging attitudes in our society.

“As an Aberdeen FC Supporter I am delighted to see the initiative making its way up to the North East to work with schools across the city.

“I was delighted to speak to all the team at Show Racism the Red Card and the footballers and wish them all the best for the next 20 years.”

Mr Allard submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament celebrating Show Racism the Red Card’s twentieth anniversary and the work that they have done.

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Jan 202016
 

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Suzanne Kelly fights her way through the hordes.

Trump Ban Petitioner, Suzanne Kelly.

Suzanne Kelly launched the petition requesting that Donald Trump be banned from the UK for his hate speech, as so many others have before. An unprecedented number of signatures – 570,000 – triggered the Westminster debate.

The debate took place on Monday 18 January, which also happened to be Martin Luther King Day.

Suzanne said afterwards:

“It was a pleasure to see so many of the speakers condemn Mr. Trump and his hate speech.  Some of those who spoke helpfully referred to the cases in the United States where people have committed violent acts or intended to, where Donald Trump’s speech had been the clear source of inspiration.”

“Teresa May still has it in her power to put the ban on Donald Trump; The Public Order Act 1986 has been used to ban over 80 people so far, and to me Mr. Trump’s words put him squarely in that category in my opinion, and in the opinions of some of the MPs.”

“It was surprising and disappointing to see that MP Paul Flynn, tasked with introducing the debate, decided to go to the media in advance of the debate and announce he was against the ban. I found that unethical, even though Flynn and the Petitions Committee apparently have no issue with it. I believe this sent a message to his party members and others to follow suit. 

“Moreover, if the member of the Petitions Committee charged with introducing my petition and my points did not support them, how robust a job could he be expected to do? Initially Flynn told me not to contact him when I wrote to him with the details of the arguments in favour of the ban. He did not believe he should communicate with me because of his role on the committee. The Petitions Committee disagreed with him. 

“What I found improper was his comments against any ban coming less than 24 hours before the debate. He hadn’t done me the basic courtesy of letting me know he was speaking out about the petition in advance. Therefore I lost an opportunity to counter him. Flynn’s amazingly idealistic concept of convincing Trump that multiculturalism works by taking Trump out to meet people is ridiculous. 

“If Flynn has that little handle on Trump’s  make-up, then he was not the person to lead the discussions. While he made some of my points, I hardly thought his presentation looked or sounded robust. Perhaps the Petitions Committee might reconsider how a petition is introduced in future.

“Flynn’s position was also that to ban Trump might potentially advantage him / make him seem a ‘martyr’ to some of his followers. I would have thought upholding British law would have come first to an MP. However it seems that second-guessing any potential outcomes of applying the law of the land overrides any duty to uphold the law for some.

“Thankfully some speakers were aware of the difference between hate speech and free speech. There were excellent points made by those who supported the petition. Others chose, somewhat disingenuously I thought, to decide that the requested ban on Trump was somehow an assault on Freedom of Speech. I wonder where those impassioned speakers were when it came to the 80+ people the UK has previously banned, and if they will now seek to overturn the historic bans against hate preachers.

“Some MPs seemed to fear that banning Trump was an attack on the US / that we should not meddle in US politics. How they came to the conclusion that this matter of UK law was less important than taking a stand against hate speech would be interesting to hear.

“However, virtually everyone who spoke had the harshest of words for Trump. ‘Buffoon’ seemed the word of the hour. It was good to see that there is a widespread condemnation of Trump’s policies.

“Sarah Malone-Bates, Trump’s spokesperson issued a statement which was to me feeble as well as hypocritical. She bemoaned the cost of this exercise to taxpayers, saying we were wasting valuable Parliamentary time. Perhaps it’s a case of amnesia or ignorance, but with her employer dragging the Scottish taxpayer through every court in the land in his selfish desire to scupper an important offshore wind farm project, I think Malone-Bates would find that Trump has cost far more money and time than the debate did.

I think the desire of 570,000 people to have the debate is just a bit more important than Trump costing Aberdeenshire money, time, clean energy and work in the clean energy sector.  She’s claimed that ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’ are being ‘pumped’ by Trump into the Scottish economy. 

“I’ve asked for sight of the proof of this wild claim; it’s not forthcoming, nor is a response to my request to have a live debate with her on the issues, which still stands.”

“I would like to thank the Petitions Committee administrators, who were very helpful throughout. Thanks too to the media for their interest and support. Thanks to Aberdeen Voice especially Fred Wilkinson, editor, and Julie Thompson who has worked on a number of stories with me. Gratitude goes to the MPs who understood the law and the purpose of the petition and who spoke eloquently; gratitude to those MPs opposed who nevertheless in some cases made useful comments.

“Finally, thanks very much to the people who took the time to sign this petition.

“Sometimes the system works. I see this petition and the debate as huge victories. Trump has lost his Global Scot status, his business is apparently no longer wanted in much of the Middle East; his honorary degree from Robert Gordon University was withdrawn, and Trump branded goods are being axed from shops.  If this is a defeat for me, I’ll live with it.”

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Jan 142016
 

Alex-Salmond-MP-MSPthm-Credit-SNP-AberdeenshireWith thanks to Tom Collins, Press Officer, Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond MP MSP

Alex Salmond has responded to the latest comments from Donald Trump. Referring to Mr Salmond as ‘an embarrassment to Scotland’ and a ‘stupid man’, Trump defended his purchase of Turnberry golf course and issued scathing criticism of Salmond pertaining to his support of windfarms, and the early release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

Mr Salmond said:

“The problem for Mr Trump lies not with his golf courses, but with him. The golf courses are excellent. ‘The Donald’ isn’t.
 
“Unfortunately, his claims of the level of future investment in Scotland bear no resemblance to the reality of the last eight years. His ownership of Turnburry places it effectively out of The Open Championship circuit at a cost of £100 million to the Scottish economy. His legal objections to wind demonstrators in Aberdeen have thus far deprived the North East of Scotland of a vital £200 million diversification into offshore wind technology at a time of great difficulty in oil and gas.
 
“However, the real difficulty is his recent statements on Mexicans and Muslims, which go beyond the pale of acceptable comment and an association with him is increasingly damaging to Scotland. That is why over half a million people have signed the parliamentary petition seeking to ban him from the country!
 
“As far as his remarks to me are concerned, I have fought and won nine elections. Mr Trump has yet to win one.
 
“On his remarks about Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, he is out of date. Megrahi’s release was in 2009. Since then, the SNP has won an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament and 56 seats out of 59 in a UK General Election. On Megrahi, Trump is like a cracked gramophone record playing in a digital age.
 
“Although, I have to admit it is very easy to issue statement after statement, tit for tat. I suggest instead Mr Trump calls into LBC next Wednesday at 16:00 (GMT), where he can ask me anything he likes. The number is +44 (0)345 60 60 973. If he has a beef I’ll be happy to take his call. We’ll see if debating here is as easy as debating over there!”

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Jan 142016
 

Suzanne Kelly fights her way through the hordes.

Suzanne Kelly, the woman behind the petition to the UK government to ban Trump, has released a summary statement supporting the requested ban. Her petition asks that Donald Trump be banned from the UK for hate speech, as has happened to some 80 people previously.

The petition will be debated on 18th January, along with a counter-petition. Kelly wants to ensure that everyone is aware of all the details.

The actual petition is limited to only a certain number of words by the Petitions Committee. Kelly understands the need for this, but is keen to get further details widely known before the debate.

Kelly is calling David Gladwin out, asking him to debate his pro-Trump petition with her prior to the Parliamentary debate. His petition reads:

“There are proposals to ban Donald Trump from the United Kingdom. At least, there’s a petition on the topic. This is totally illogical.” 

Kelly says:

“I’ve no idea who David Gladwin is, but I asked the UK Petitions Committee to ask him to get in touch. If his only argument is that the petition I started, signed now by an unprecedented 570,000 people, is ‘totally illogical’, let’s get him to say why. I also understood that a large number of his petition’s signatures were discounted, and I would like to know what he says about that, too.
 
“Trump’s hate speech has visible, violent outcomes in America. A homeless Hispanic man was badly beaten in Boston; those who were arrested said words to the effect ‘Donald Trump is right, we have too many immigrants.’ William Celli is accused of trying to make pipe bombs and attack Muslims; he is a Trump supporter who said he would follow Trump ‘to the end of the world.’ 
 
“I am particularly worried by Trump’s statement that relatives of terrorists should be ‘taken out’. He says nothing of trial, due process – he just calls for taking people out.  Is this an incitement to violence? I believe so. It is as dangerous as his call – made after my petition went live – to ban all Muslims from ENTERING the USA. The US has between 3  to 7 million Muslim citizens.

“He has lumped every follower of this religion into a group he wants to monitor and control, and in so doing tars peaceful people with the same brush as the dangerous terrorist fanatic, I of course condemn terrorism. This is hate speech. This is not free speech. Free speech carries responsibilities; Mr Trump seems completely unaware of this.
 
“The UK Government now has 570,000 people wanting this ban. They have evidence that Trump’s words have caused injury. They also have the unprecedented condemnation of Trump’s Islamophobic statements by no less than the US Secretary of State and top Pentagon officials. We must ban him. I see  no reason to treat a billionaire differently than we have treated those we have already banned.
 
“I would also suggest that people should go back and look at the Panorama programme ‘The Trouble with Trump.’ The BBC’s investigations certainly seemed to link Donald Trump to an American underworld figure. Trump’s position as I recall was that he couldn’t always know who he was doing deals with. This adds to the ever-growing list of reasons I hope that America will not make him its next president.”
 
“David Gladwin – or any Trump spokesperson, particularly local Sarah Malone-Bates at the Trump Menie Estate course, I challenge you to a debate before this petition. Let’s hear your views on Trump’s ‘freedom’ to ban travel based on religion, to ‘take people out’ for being related to terrorists (does this apply to William Celli’s family I wonder?) and his ‘freedom’ to continuously, unrepentantly insult people based on race, religion or sex. I really cannot wait to hear your defence of the man.”

Kelly has received a threat – someone wrote to Aberdeen Voice where she is a contributing writer, suggesting she should never leave the UK again as people want to get their hands on her – and that she could be put to work in a cotton field. Of the reaction to the petition Kelly says:

“I started this petition for my neighbours who were targets because of their religion and national origins, for my friends who were insulted because of their race, and my sisters, denigrated for being women. The huge number of signatures signals to me that people are weary of speech designed to drive wedges through communities.  There have been far more kind words than threats.

“Donald Trump was stripped of his honorary degree at Robert Gordon University following a petition I started; their values did not match his. On the occasion of losing this degree, Trump said words to the effect he will be a ‘smart and strong’ president. I personally feel that the man has confused ‘smart and strong’ with manipulative and brutishly bullying.”

Kelly has asked Aberdeenshire Council and the Trump International Golf Links Scotland to fix all outstanding planning breaches. This includes removing a giant bund of earth near Leyton Farm Cottage where it blocks the former views to the sea, Kelly finds it ironic that an organisation that wants to stop an offshore clean energy wind project for its visual impact would treat its neighbour in such a manner.

The bund now seems strongly implicated in the flood damage to the road and area by the cottage. Kelly also asked for immediate restoration of fishing access for farmer Michael Forbes. In the BBC Panorama programme ‘the Trouble with Trump’ Donald Trump Jr mocks Forbes for not fishing – his access to fish had long since been blocked by the Trump organisation.

Kelly expects a reply from the council on 13th January. The Trump organisation has refused to reply to date, or take requested remedial actions.

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Jan 072016
 

Paul Johnston Martin FordWith thanks to Martin Ford and Paul Johnston.

Two Aberdeenshire councillors are dismissing Mr Donald Trump’s latest threat to cancel investment in his Scottish golf courses. Mr Trump was reacting to the petition calling on the Westminster government to ban him from the UK signed by over 570,000 people.

Democratic Independent and Green councillors Paul Johnston and Martin Ford are questioning the likelihood of the investment going ahead whether Mr Trump is banned from the UK or not.

Said Cllr Martin Ford,

“Mr Trump has been promising hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment in Aberdeenshire for ten years. He has also been threatening not to make the investment ever since he announced it.

“Mr Trump routinely uses threats to try to get his own way, to attempt to exert leverage over Aberdeenshire Council or Scottish Government decisions.

“Back in 2007, Mr Trump’s threat not to invest if he didn’t get everything he wanted clearly had the Council and the Scottish Government dancing to his tune.

“Surely, no-one is going to fall for this meaningless threat now. After ten years of promising an investment that has yet to materialise, the sensible working assumption has to be it’s not going to happen. The rational response to Mr Trump’s pronouncements is to ignore them.”

On Wednesday (6 January), Mr Trump said he would not invest £500 million in his Menie development nor £200 million at Turnberry if he was banned from the UK by the UK government. In 2007, Mr Trump promised to invest £1 billion at Menie – a claim repeated regularly over the following years. Mr Trump’s actual spend at Menie is believed to be less than £30 million.

Last year, Mr Trump announced his intention to apply for planning permission for housing and other further development at Menie. No corresponding planning applications have been submitted.

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“We should deal in facts, not Mr Trump’s media comments. Mr Trump has invested less than £30 million at Menie and makes an operating loss on the course. All else is speculation.”

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