Aug 042016
 

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

Dictionary

The answers to the world’s problems have been right under our noses all this time. Not until we elected Teresa May to run UK plc did we find out there were so many ways to solve the world’s problems. Between May and Donald Trump – who has some very interesting means of making America and the whole world Great Again – I think we’re on the brink of world peace. More on that later, but get the champagne ready.

Firstly, apologies for the late running of this service. I’ve been on a journalism course in London for a few days, then I went on holiday.

The Centre for Investigative Journalism threw its annual summer school, which was for the most part very interesting.

There were some people from Bristol who started a newspaper and are selling shares in it. It’s a whole year old and a whole new way to get local communities involved in news. To Fred Wilkinson – maybe we should try something like that in Aberdeen? Just a thought.

Anyway the highlight of the summer school was the Panama Papers. The men who received the Panama Papers leak and brought it to the world, Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer, gave a talk.

It was kind of boring though – unless you’re interested in minor details like who is really running the world, who’s funding wars and drug production, which countries are starving their citizens while their elite are buying London penthouses, and what companies launder dirty money.

If you for some reason do care about money flowing through a German law firm in Panama to oppressive regimes, shady billionaires and known criminals, and care about this leak which saw prime ministers (Iceland) resign, further FIFA scandal, Putin and his money-moving pals named, this may be of some passing interest.

Obermaier and Obermayer must be pretty lazy journalists; they’ve not even read all the information leaked to them, and instead are just letting anyone look into the leaked documents here.  It’s as if they wanted to share information or something.  Coming in at 11.5 million documents spanning 40 years and still growing, it might take a few more weeks for them to read everything.

Why bother with dusty old shell companies and billions of pounds when you could be out there looking for a Pokemon Squirtle? For one thing, the Panama Papers database shows there is more than just beauty, glamour and wit to be found in Manhattan’s Trump Towers.

Someone operates out of Donald Drumpf’s building a wee company called Concord International Investments. This has a wee related company, Concord Consultant Services Ltd. This small enterprise, operating from the British Virgin Islands, has some interesting directors. There’s Sheik Aly Hafiz Wahba (apparently a Saudi minister), and, er. the Isis Investment Group.

The Concord lot are tied into a company called Barfield which operates down under.

Also this summer, I’ve been trying to read up on science a bit.

Its registered address is shared with a whole host of interesting nominee companies.

I could go on – and will do if I can ever unravel it all.

But I think we can agree on one thing: even if Mr Drumpf is not directly involved in any of these companies operating out of his building (let’s face it, you might not even know who operates out of your flagship premises if you’re a mere real estate moghul), it shows that there is no bias against people from other cultures in the Trump world. Well done Mr T.

‘What do any of these companies and people do?’ you might ask. I’m sure they must do something more than transfer money around from place to place (and let’s face it, that’s hard work itself as we all know). If I ever find out, I’ll let you know. So, hunt your Pokemon by all means. Perhaps someone out there however might like to spend some time chasing down the rich and powerful using the Panama Papers leak. Just a thought.

Also this summer, I’ve been trying to read up on science a bit. It must be getting more important and popular, as there are more TV-related science programmes on now.

Did you know some people think the world is even more than 6,000 years old? I read this week that the woolly mammoths might have died from thirst. It seems when the climate was changing, their drinking water supplies started to dwindle and get contaminated by all the critters trying to get water. They all competed for the dwindling water, trampling the existing resources such as food plants into the ground, and there were too many of them to eat and drink in a world which was changing.

I mean, it’s kind of interesting to read about that kind of stuff I guess – but it’s not as if we can really learn much which is useful to us now about overpopulation in a species using up its food and other resources to the point of no return. And that brings me back to how the world’s been saved and why we should be grateful.

Climate Change: (Old English proper compound noun) Outdated fashionable notion the earth, biodiversity, and life in general were under threat of some kind

Climate Change Problem Solved! Result!

Not even a month into her stewardship of the United Kingdom, Teresa May has in one fell (very fell) swoop fixed the climate change problem: she closed the former ‘Department for Energy and Climate Change’. 

we’re probably going to start using more coal and ‘shale gas extraction’

Sensibly, it’s now part of the much more important new entity ‘Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’.

I can’t tell you how happy I am.

Simple solutions to complex problems. Worried about Cimate Change? Answer: sweep it under the rug – or at least into another department which acknowledges business and energy are more important than the climate changing.

There are a few climate change denier deniers out there. They’ve had some hurtful words for our new PM such as:

“Stephen Devlin, an environmental economist at the New Economics Foundation (NEF), said the department’s abolition was a terrible move by our new Prime Minister”.

He said it appeared to signal “a troubling de-prioritisation of climate change by this government”.

“Tackling climate change is an era-defining challenge that must direct and determine what industries we develop, what transport infrastructure we construct, how we manage our land and what our diets look like. It requires a central co-ordinated strategy; if we leave it to the afterthoughts of other departments we will fail,” he said.

“This reshuffle risks dropping climate change from the policy agenda altogether – a staggering act of negligence for which we will all pay the price.”
– http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-department-killed-off-by-theresa-may

But don’t let the alarmists worry you. It’s not as if there is any history of our Conservatives appeasing businesses, and if climate change were lucrative – sorry – important, we’d probably get round to doing something about it.

Instead we’re probably going to start using more coal and ‘shale gas extraction’. This is great, because it means more jobs. Furthermore, the article has over 800 comments from people calling climate change denier deniers ‘weirdos, cranks and lefties’ – so that’s any scientific or environmental campaigners’ told.

If you happen to look at statistics that show the world is warming at the same time our fossil fuel consumption is increasing, that the Maldives risk flooding (as many other places), that there are freak storm systems defying known patterns, then just remember – the world changes a lot, there are other things to think about (Pokemon, celebrity baking on ice). If there were a problem, Teresa May would be on it. So – rejoice! Problem solved.

Terrorism: (Modern international noun) The belief that violence and shock are the best means to win arguments, gain power and destroy opposition.

Terrorism – that’s so yesterday. We’re going to elect Donald Trump president, and he’s already itching to know why we just haven’t nuked the terrorists. With an incisive mind like that, should the unthinkable happen and he loses the election, we could always put him out as a diplomat. After all, talking tough is the only thing that’s respected, and we must stop being weak. Nothing says tough like dropping a nuclear bomb or two.

Once we let President Drumpf nuke a few of the terrorist strongholds (London, Paris, Tehran, Nigeria, Palestine, New York, Germany), then people will start behaving. No longer will we have people willing to die to exert control over the freedoms and behaviours of others. No, by then we’ll all be ruled by the Trump convention mentality and will conform if we know what’s good for us.

Women will stop all this feminist nonsense and realise the fulfilment they can have as being ‘a great piece of ass’ as Trump would say. Mexicans will dutifully stay put, and happily earn their pesos by sewing Trump neckties. The Chinese will stop ‘raping America’ economically and realise America is Great Again. Trump’s right: we’ve over 7,000 nuclear weapons and we’ve not used a single one. That’s hardly making good economic sense, is it?

The source for this claim is MSNBC news personality Joe Scarborough:

“Several months ago, a foreign policy expert went to advise Donald Trump,” Scarborough said.

“And three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons — three times he asked. At one point, ‘If we have them, why can’t we use them?’”

The Trump camp dismisses this as untrue. Scarborough fair? Not to Trump supporters.

Time Magazine also disputes the claim Trump asked about using nukes. In a recent piece it suggested that he doesn’t want to use them. Here’s a quote:

“I will have a military that’s so strong and powerful, and so respected, we’re not gonna have to nuke anybody… I will have a military that’s so strong and powerful, and so respected, we’re not gonna have to nuke anybody,” he said, adding that he would be “amazingly calm under pressure.” Still, Trump told the magazine he wouldn’t get rid of the nuclear weapons because “other people have them” and are “unfortunately gaining more and more.” “It is highly, highly, highly, highly unlikely that I would ever be using them,” he added.” 

Well, if Trump says it’s ‘highly, highly, highly, highly unlikely’ that he’d ever nuke another country, that’s good enough for me. After all, he has proven time and again he’s a man of his word. If he does drop a bomb, we can not only be sure that the act will dissuade any further terrorism – we can be sure it will be the biggest, best, strongest, most respected bomb in the world.

With a Trump White House ensuring world peace by nuking some bad guys, and climate change abolished by Teresa May, I think a celebration is in order. I’ll either be in BrewDog having one or two, or in an underground bunker stockpiling water and Monsanto vegetable seeds.

Next week? If we are still here, more Panama Papers and local news.

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Jun 242016
 

A vigil was held to celebrate the life of the remarkable MP Jo Cox, brutally murdered while looking after her constituents. Dame Anne Begg was one of several speakers at the event; her moving words were impromptu, but for Aberdeen Voice she has written a reconstruction of her message. By Dame Anne Begg.

Jo Cox Mem2I didn’t know Jo Cox but I had heard of her as someone to watch in the new intake of Labour MPs.

I was aware of her humanitarian work and a life dedicated to public service.

Exactly the kind of person who should be an MP.

I have fought most of my political life for increasing the diversity of our elected representatives, to make getting involved in politics attractive enough that more people, with a range of experiences and backgrounds, would want to put themselves forward.

I have fought so that people exactly like Jo Cox wanted to become an MP and was honoured to be elected to the Commons.

If her murder makes it harder to persuade good, decent people to put themselves forward for election, our democracy will be the poorer.

An attack on one is an attack on us all – politician and citizen.

I don’t think we appreciate in this country just how open and accessible our politicians are. We don’t appreciate that we can ask to meet our MP or MSP or Councillor and they will see us. You see them in your community, going shopping, attending local events, out and about and you can stop and speak to them. No body-guards, no cavalcade. Direct contact with the people they have been elected to represent. This is something very rare across the world.

If Jo’s murder makes it harder for us to have that direct access to our politicians because they have retreated behind security measures, our democracy will be the poorer.

Most politicians are decent, hardworking people who want the best for their communities and their country so the constant denigrating of our politicians has to stop.

Constantly saying that all MPs, all politicians in the UK, are corrupt, venal and just in it for themselves has to stop.

The personal abuse politicians get on-line and in e-mails has to stop.

The playing the man and not the ball when people, not surprisingly, disagree has to stop.

The trolling, abuse, threats and misrepresentation on social media has to stop.

The threats of rape, violence or murder that many women receive on social media has to stop.

If it doesn’t stop then the poison wins. Those who want to undermine our democracy win. Those who would do us harm, win.

And if they do, we lose the good, dedicated people our political system is crying out for.

We lose someone of the calibre and talent of Jo Cox.

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Aug 192013
 

A benefit concert has been arranged in aid of George ‘Dod’ Copland whose Aberdeen home was at the centre of a dramatic armed siege on June 7. With thanks to Ruaridh McAilein.

The concert featuring Oi Polloi, Billy Liar, The Bucky Skanks and T34 takes place at Audio, 14 Midland Street, Glasgow this Friday, Aug 23.

As reported in a previous Aberdeen Voice article, much of Mr Copland’s property was damaged or destroyed as police forced entry to search his unoccupied house following what was later reported to be a hoax call.

Mr Copland is still seeking an apology and compensation from the police.

Ruaridh McAilein, lead singer of popular punk band Oi Polloi told Aberdeen Voice.

“Dod has clearly been the victim of a significant injustice here. It’s extremely disturbing to think that something like this can happen in the first place but the fact that he has still not been compensated for either the damage to his property or to his reputation – not to mention the adverse effect that this must have had on his health – simply beggars belief.

“We’ve known Dod for the best part of thirty years now and can vouch for how willing he has always been to put himself out to help other people in need both through his community work and also in his personal life – and we also know how much pleasure he has brought to others over the years through his musical endeavours with Toxik Ephex – so the least we can do is to attempt in some small way to return the favour now that he finds himself in these straits after being treated in this quite frankly disgraceful way by the police.

“It’s a sad indictment on the state of affairs in Aberdeen that the authorities appear to have done very little to put right this clear wrong and that it is left up to other ordinary people like ourselves to help someone in this situation.

“On the positive side, when we first suggested the idea of a benefit concert for Dod it was greeted very enthusiastically indeed by the many people in Edinburgh and Glasgow who have come to know Dod through his musical performances with Toxik Ephex.

“He has a lot of friends all over Scotland, and there will be plenty of us coming together in Glasgow on Friday night to not only raise some much needed cash to help Dod repair some of the damage to his house but also to enjoy a night of excellent music and partying of the kind that Dod himself has so often provided for us over the years.

“We are hoping to not only collect a decent sum for Dod but also to show him that he’s not alone in facing what’s happened and that he is held in considerable affection by a lot of people throughout the country who have come to know him through his music.

“We also hope that further publicising what exactly happened to Dod will help keep the pressure on the authorities to apologise and properly compensate him.

“We’d encourage as many people as possible to come along for a night of great live music and to support the cause of a person who has spent so much of his own time over the years helping and entertaining others.”

Bands: Oi Polloi, Billy Liar, The Bucky Skanks, T34

Venue: Audio, 14 Midland Street, Glasgow
Friday Aug 23, 8pm
£6 on the door

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May 312013
 

By Duncan Harley.

After the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich last week, the media were swamped with images, news and comment about the
event.

It was of course a tragedy, and there is no getting away from that.

The backlash against the Muslims of the UK is also a tragedy, and there is no getting away from that either.

The men who killed the poor soldier had seemingly seized on Anders Breivik’s concept of attempting to bring about change through the shock of terrorist acts against random victims. Breivik, who of course famously boasted of being an ultranationalist, murdered his victims in a very public spectacle and on a scale almost unheard of since the atrocities perpetrated by the fascists during the 1940s.

He calculated, wrongly as it turned out, that his actions would be the spark which would bring about a mass revolt against what he called multiculturalism in Norway. Breivik wanted to be seen as sane, so that his actions wouldn’t be dismissed as those of a lunatic. He said that he acted out of “necessity” to prevent the “Islamization” of his country.

He got that wrong, since his actions in murdering 77 men and women simply horrified the world and led to many in Europe questioning the apparent leniency of the 21-year sentence imposed on him by a Norwegian court.

Breivik continues to make headlines by disseminating his ideas from his prison cell and has recently tried to register a political association which lists amongst its aims the “democratic fascist seizure of power in Norway” and the establishment of an independent state.

An abiding and powerful image from his trial is of Breivik in the dock, with one arm raised in a neo-fascist salute reminiscent of those, hopefully long gone, days of National Socialism. The harnessing of the power of the image for propaganda value is of course nothing new.

In 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte, who was at that time a mere general in the French army, invaded North Africa, landing near Alexandria in early July and entering Cairo on the 24th of that month.

He took with him a group of artists who had the task not only of recording the Egyptian artefacts and buildings which they came across, but also of portraying Napoleon’s victories and conquests in the Nile Delta and at the Battle of the Pyramids.

Ultimately, the campaign came to grief and some revisionist historians might even consider it a complete disaster.

The French fleet was utterly destroyed by Nelson at the Battle of the Nile in Aboukir Bay, and a combination of local resistance from the Mamelukes plus the intervention by the British meant that the French adventure in Egypt was virtually over by September
1801.

Not one to boast about failure however, Bonaparte returned to France with his war paintings and diaries portraying great and heroic victories. These were very well received, and by 1804 he was able to crown himself Emperor of all France. The rest is history as they say.

The advent of the portable camera in the early part of the 19th Century enabled the propagandists of the world to use images in much more powerful ways. Instead of heroic paintings of charging soldiers or victorious generals on horseback, images could for the first time reflect reality. The American Civil War, the Crimean War and the Boer War were amongst the first photo-documented conflicts.

Although the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson is often credited as being the first photojournalist, this is almost certainly not the case. His images are sharp, his composition is tight: however, somewhat like Napoleon Bonaparte, his marketing skills may have led some folk to this rather dubious conclusion.

Roger Fenton photographed the Crimean battlefields in 1853 long before Cartier-Bresson was even a twinkle in his parents’ eyes. Balaclava, Lord Raglan and the Light Brigade were amongst Fenton’s subjects as he toured the battlefields with his horse drawn “photographic van”.

Mathew Brady photographed the American Civil War. At the beginning of that war, in 1861, Brady organised his employees into groups, in order to spread them across the war zones, and provided them with horse drawn carriages. These were in fact rolling darkrooms, needed to develop the photographic plates into pictures.

Almost killed by shell fire at the Battle of Bull Run, Brady through his many paid assistants took thousands of photos of American Civil War scenes. Much of the popular understanding of the Civil War comes from these photos.

The photojournalist is not quite dead, although many have indeed died getting that shot

The Boer Wars, known in Afrikaans as the Vryheidsoorloë, or literally “freedom wars”, were two wars fought during 1880–1881 and 1899–1902 by the British Empire against the Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic.

There are literally thousands of images taken during the wars by dozens of photographers, including a few of Winston Churchill in his pre-glory days.

Things have changed in recent years however. The boundaries between the professionals and the amateurs have become blurred. Anyone with a few dollars and a strong shutter finger can record events. Facebook, YouTube and Flickr will host most images and comments. Sky News, Al Jeezera and the BBC encourage the sending-in of anything remotely newsworthy in the hope of a scoop.

The photojournalist is not quite dead, although many have indeed died getting that shot. These days though, everyone is a taker of images. The mobile phone and social media allow news, comment and images to span the world in seconds. All of us are now citizen photojournalists and when the issues with smart phone image quality are solved, as indeed they will be, there will be little need for the professional.

However who today has made the connection between extreme events and the use of social media via the “smart” phone, which can make us all promoters of the extremist elements in our midst? The Woolwich terrorists, if that indeed is what they are, are indebted to folk like Steve Jobs and that man from Microsoft.

The images on the front of the tabloids and the footage streamed into our living rooms following the murder of Drummer Rigby were not taken by professional photographers. The news teams missed the event. In fact they were not even invited. The killers of Drummer Rigby made sure of that.

They knew only too well that passers-by and onlookers could and would record the event and broadcast footage and comment around the world within minutes of it happening.

The propaganda victory for the killers is of course that we saw it all as it happened. There were a few heroic folk who intervened, of course. But at the end of the day, the good citizen photojournalists of Woolwich played right into the plans of the terrorists and took some nice snaps of the event.

Sources

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May 172013
 

Moray based theatre company Right Lines Productions, in association with Eden Court, are touring a powerful new play throughout Scotland in May.  Be Silent or Be Killed, written by Euan Martin and Dave Smith, and is based on the true story of Roger Hunt as told in his book by Roger Hunt and Kenny Kemp.

A production of intense, dramatic theatre, Be Silent or Be Killed concerns the impact of international terrorism on the individual and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
The production is a multi-media project, with the audio/visual aspects being an integral part of the process from the outset.

In November 2008, Roger, a North East businessman set off from his home in Macduff destined for Mumbai, to set up a new project for the Royal Bank of Scotland in the country’s financial capital.  However, little did Roger know that this routine business trip would turn into an extraordinary, life-changing experience.

Shortly after his arrival in Mumbai, Roger became caught up in a deadly terrorist attack which claimed the lives of many innocent people.

For 40 hours, Roger lay hidden and alone in his hotel bedroom as terrorists moved from floor to floor seeking Western targets. Amazingly, he was able to communicate via his BlackBerry with colleagues at RBS headquarters in Edinburgh, and it was this support, along with Roger’s calculated decision-making, personal resilience and determination to survive that led to his eventual rescue.

The fourth anniversary of his ordeal was in November 2012.

Euan Martin commented:

“We were absolutely delighted when Roger agreed to Right Lines adapting his story for the stage. He and his wife Irene have been 100% behind the project from the outset.  He has seen the script and is comfortable with it which is a great relief! 

“Needless to say, there are some difficult issues to tackle in the story and we deal with that in an interesting theatrical way.  However, there are also lighter moments in the show – believe it or not we manage to cover Aberdeen Football Club and disco dancing at different points in the play – so it’s not all about a man hiding behind a sofa for 60 minutes!”

“Be Silent will really appeal to a teenage and young adult audience because it is relatively short, but action-packed.  The sound design by Forres man Dave Martin is fantastic and the video projection work by our colleague John McGeoch from Arts In Motion is really innovative and engaging.”

The tour will commence in Inverness and other venues include Musselburgh, Perth, Cumbernauld, Falkirk, Greenock, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dunfermline, Glenrothes, Findhorn and Paisley, before finishing in Aberdeen.

The highly talented Scottish cast includes James Mackenzie, who plays Roger. The other cast members are Helen Mackay (Irene) and Ewan Donald (Chris) and the play is directed by Ian Grieve, all of whom have worked with Right Lines previously. Set and Video Design is by John McGeoch, Sound Design by Dave Martin and costumier is Kay Smith.

Be Silent Or Be Killed

The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen Friday 24 & Saturday 25 May 7pm 

£12/£10 + booking fee
Box Office 01224 641122
www.boxofficeaberdeen.com

Post show discussion with Roger Hunt Saturday 25 May