Nov 072016
 

Director Anthony Baxter catches up with Aberdeen Voice about his film being released for free before the US elections. With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

anthony-baxter-after-uk-premier-ybtt2

Just the ticket. Director Anthony Baxter relaxes following the UK premiere of You’ve Been Trumped Too at Aberdeen’s Belmont Filmhouse.

A soaring number of Americans tuned in Sunday night to a special live streaming of two films Donald Trump has battled to suppress – multi award winning You’ve Been Trumped and the critically acclaimed You’ve Been Trumped Too.
Official figures show that more than half a million potential voters tuned in to watch one or both films over the course of two Facebook live events, with over 3 million more reached through Facebook shares, twitter and other social media.

Trump has reacted furiously to the content of You’ve Been Trumped Too – threatening to sue cinemas showing the film – adding to previous blistering attacks on both the film’s director launched on Twitter and lashing out at local residents branding them ‘morons’

Following Trump’s legal threats, the filmmakers took the unprecedented decision to get the films out to as big an audience as possible through Facebook.

Director Anthony Baxter, who is currently touring Scotland’s cinemas with You’ve Been Trumped Too took part in a groundbreaking Q&A live to Facebook viewers from Inverness last night. Thousands of viewers reacted with fury to revelations contained in the film, that 92 year old Molly Forbes had been without a working water supply for 5 years, ‘all because of Trump’.

Now with just hours to go before Americans go to the polls, some UK cinemas are busy planning special You’ve Been Trumped Too events in defiance of Trump’s threats. For example, At Nottingham’s Broadway theatre a distinguished panel of political experts has been assembled to discuss the film following tomorrow night’s screening. They’ll also be hosting a presidential quiz as the first results come in.

Described as a ticking timebomb’ by Indiewire and ‘the most important film of the year’ by The Irish Times, You’ve Been Trumped Too continues to stream live at trumpedfilm.com and at the film’s Facebook page. The film is also playing at a growing list of cinemas despite Trump’s legal threats.

Among those showing the film are London’s Picturehouse Central, the GFT Glasgow (where Baxter will be present for a Q&A tonight at the 8.45 screening), the Eden Court in Inverness, St Andrews New Picturehouse, the MacRobert Centre Stirling, Dundee DCA, Aberdeen Belmont Filmhouse and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse. The film has also been playing in theatres in the United States and Canada.

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Nov 022016
 

trumped-too-baxter-from-facebook-page-2With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Donald Trump is using legal threats to prevent a new documentary from reaching American voters – according to the producers of ‘You’ve Been Trumped Too’, which opened in New York on Friday and began in UK cinemas this week.

You’ve Been Trumped Too contains footage showing Donald Trump wanting to ‘get rid’ of houses and building Mexico border style walls around homes in Scotland. 

It also explores the 5-year long saga of a 92-year-old widow who went without proper water supply for half a decade after having it cut off by Trump workers.

But the Trump Organization has issued a legal challenge threatening to sue if anyone dares show the film, and is pledging to take a frail pensioner to court over claims made in the film.

Montrose Pictures, a small Scottish based company, has completed a successful Kickstarter campaign – attracting more than thousand backers, aimed at bringing the film to as many American voters as possible ahead of the election through a digital or TV platform. 

Director Anthony Baxter added,

“Mr Trump tried the same approach with the BBC back in 2012.  But the corporation aired YOU’VE BEEN TRUMPED anyway, to widespread critical acclaim. We’re now looking for an American broadcaster or streaming platform willing to get the truth out there.  According to the critics, this is a film all Americans need to see.”

The film been called a ticking timebomb’ by Indiewire, ‘laced with enough maddening new material for it to feel like a valuable addition to the most hollow house of cards in the history of American politic.’  The New York Times said the film was ‘timely’ and added:

“this time the “you” in the title is the United States.“  

According to Variety: 

“the movie raises a valid question…how would Trump, if elected, treat the American people?”

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Oct 212016
 

trump sticks fingers upWith thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Suzanne Kelly, who launched a petition to ban Trump from the UK for hate speech, ridiculed spokesperson Sarah Malone’s recent defence of his reputation.
Kelly commented: “It’s risible. We are expected to take the word of a former beauty contest winner working for Trump that he’s not a sexist.  The evidence is out there that he is a sexist and worse. He is damned by women coming forward and by his own words, whatever Malone might expect us to swallow.”

Kelly was responding to a Sunday Times piece on the topic of his sexism, in which Sarah Malone Bates defended Presidential Hopeful Trump, saying:

“That’s not the man I know,

“It’s not the Trump I’ve dealt with.” 

Malone was curator of a local museum until Trump hired her for a post she had no real previous experience for; she admitted at the time to know very little about golf.

Kelly says:

“Jumping from a museum to being Vice-President at a multi-million pound golf resort and housing building project is a leap and a half.  Please do not try to tell me she has any idea of what constitutes sexism, feminism or fair play or is qualified to tell us what to make of Trump’s own words.”

Malone is married to Damian Bates, the editor of the Aberdeen Press & Journal. The paper often features pro-Trump advertorial material and Bates decided not to include any material from local protest group, Tripping Up Trump.

Kelly added:

“Malone-Bates had better think again before defending a man who admits to grabbing women by their genitals and kissing unsuspecting women out of the blue.  She’s certainly not been a sister to the women who live on the Menie Estate she presides over.  Photographer Alicia Bruce was threatened by a security guard who was going to smash her camera. 

“Local residents had male security guards demand identification from them, and according to one woman, guards would jump out at her late at night demanding ID and to know where she was going – when they must have known full-well she was a resident.

“This self-proclaimed icon of feminist doctrine did nothing to help Sheila and Molly Forbes when Trump cut their water supply – accidentally – and left it like that for years.  She let a woman in her late 80s carry water from a stream. Very sisterly.

“There are plenty of people who would look askance at a woman being plucked from a small local museum with no knowledge of golf to be involved in the controversial Trump. When that woman, who entered a beauty contest, tries to tell us her employer Trump is not a sexist, well – why would we listen? 

“Any credibility she might have had ended when she went for a beauty crown, took a job she had no relevant experience for, and when she sat by when women were getting mistreated by the security guards she employed.”

Kelly’s petition to ban Donald Trump from the UK under its existing hate speech laws attracted 580,000 signatures. She has reported extensively on developments at the estate, including severe storm damage to part of the course, and revealed the marriage of Sarah Malone to Damian Bates, editor of local newspaper Aberdeen Press & Journal, where Donald Trump had an ‘exclusive’ column.

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Oct 062016
 
Michael Moore and Anthony Baxter courtesty of A Baxter

Anthony Baxter with Michael Moore. Baxter’s 2011 film, ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ won the Special Jury Prize at Michael Moore’s prestigious Traverse City Film Festival.

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Film maker Anthony Baxter launched a crowd funding appeal to get his next film out before the American elections.

From the Menie Estate to the American presidential campaign trail, Anthony takes us on a further journey exploring what Donald J Trump has done to Aberdeenshire residents, the environment and how his campaign became the most bigoted circus in American presidential politics – ever.

Menie Estate residents will confront American Trump supporters with facts; the film will share these reactions.

Anthony and his partner Richard Phinney will bring us the latest from the Aberdeenshire coast and some of those caught up in the activities at the estate.  When the duo worked on their first film, You’ve Been Trumped, they were infamously arrested – the first time journalists were arrested in Scotland.

The arrests were condemned soundly by the NUJ. The crime? Trying to find out when the Forbes Farm residents would have their water supply restored after Trump’s construction team broke the supply pipes. Charges were dropped.

The film will go out in American in advance of the Thursday 8 November election date. An Aberdeen premier will be announced shortly.

In order to complete the film, Baxter’s crowd funding campaign needs to raise a minimum of $70,000 by the 30 October. So far it has attracted 432 backers and raised $36,207.

There are a variety of rewards available, and all contributions are welcome.

Further details can be found here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/anthony-baxter/youve-been-trumped-too

Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne Kelly was one of many people interviewed for the film.

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Sep 162016
 

Is Mother Nature Beating Trump Back? A Freedom of Information request response indicates the Marram-haired moghul is no match for Mother Nature. The FOI disclosure also shows that while the club and the Shire have a chummy, joking relationship, they are failing to keep the Master Plan updated. Suzanne Kelly reports.

empty-golf-course2016 correspondence between Aberdeenshire and Trump International Golf Links Scotland indicates all might not be well at the so-called ‘World’s Greatest Golfcourse’.

The Masterplan is not looking particularly masterful.

Scotland’s shifting sand dune system appears to lack the level of deference Aberdeenshire has shown to Trump so far.

A Freedom of Information Request was lodged to disclose:

“… all correspondence – whether electronic or paper based between Aberdeenshire Council and Trump International Golf Links Scotland, Menie Estate, Balmedie AB23 8YE, and / or any parent company thereof concerning: environmental health issues, use of chemicals, waste management including incineration of waste, drainage, ‘bunds’ such as those near Leyton Farm Cottage on Leyton Farm Road, animal populations, use of private security firms, data protection compliance for the year 2016 to date.

“Such correspondence might be to or from: Sarah Malone, Sarah Malone-Bates, Sarah Bates, Donald J Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, George Sorial.”

The heavily redacted response (some pages are fully redacted) shows that sand and wind are causing havoc.

*  A 22 February memo refers to a site visit which took place on 19 February. This email memo indicates work was done on the burn and the dunes; an email presumably from the Shire council asks for photographs of the burn prior to works being carried out.

*  on 23 February, someone (presumably a TIGLS employee) wrote back with the requested photographs to say:

“… you will clearly see that the burn is full of sand which has caused the water levels to rise and flood and cause damage to our bridge, etc. You guys personally witnessed the sand/blow movement that was blowing sand into areas of the burn. And that was not even a dry windy day. 

“The pictures of the dunes again you will clearly see we did not clear any existing marrum grass of [sic] the dune itself. All these areas were pure sand caused by the storms which resulted in the sand blowing all over the 4th hole and filling up the burn on the far side. 

“As you witnessed we are doing our best to replant with Marrum to try and save/stabilize the dune and also protect our championship golf course. Also you will see the tunnel/area where it was cutting through from the sea to the golf course.” 

Perhaps attempting to stabilize a sand dune system on the North East coast of Scotland in Winter was not such a good idea.

suzanne-kelly-by-collapsed-section-of-course-photo-by-rob-av

Suzanne Kelly witnesses course erosion on a previous visit to Trump International.

The Shire subsequently acknowledges that the before and after pictures ‘shows the damage’. There is banter between the parties as to how cold it was on the visit, and how being a marram planter is not one of the visitor’s career choice. The conversational tone is perhaps not the same as the Shire’s planners use when dealing with normal members of the public who have had planning breach issues.

When the planning and environmental issues were dealt with by the Scottish Reporters’ Report, when the golf complex was approved, the idea was to have environmental monitoring that would be robust and thorough. This is not happening.

On 10 March, stating the obvious – i.e. that the dunes are not static – the Shire writes:

“Having reviewed the approved Management Plan this does not cover such events [presumably the winter storms; if so this would seem to be a major oversight] in sufficient detail (Major blow out of the dune ridge). These dune systems are very dynamic in nature [you don’t say] and one of the features it is [sic] particularly noted for is the mobility of the dunes. Therefore it is likely that the same event could reoccur in the future.

“The dunes between the Ythan Estuary and Blackdog have been identified by Aberdeenshire Council as a Local Nature Conservation Site – a regionally important site for biodiversity and geomorphology. One of the key features of the golf course at Menie [is] the nature of this stretch of coastline will change in nature but it is important to manage future events to minimise the disturbance to the dune ridge.”

Is the Shire suggesting that the protection of the club needs to be managed? Who will weigh whether such future ‘management’ will have a negative impact on biodiversity and tne nature of the unique dune system? Certainly not Professor Bill Ritchie. Ritchie was quoted in the Reporters’ Report as supporting the Trump scheme.

He was to have kept the environmental watch group ‘MEMAG’ working – but as its minutes show, MEMAG descended into shambles, with Trump personnel skipping meetings. Ritchie never commented on this situation.

The email continues, noting a rather serious failure; the Management Plan is not being reviewed annually:

“I note that the Management Plan states it is to be reviewed annually which has not been the case as far as I am aware. Therefore I would request that this is reviewed in light of the recent storms and steps identified of how to deal with future storms with particular emphasis on the watercourse and coastal dune ridge. 

“This would enable future storm damage to be dealt with without the same intervention from outside agencies [what agencies? one wonders] and minimise any long term damage to these dunes.”

Is so-called ‘long term damage’ the same as the dunes following the previously-natural moving and shifting pattern? Did the environmental experts do their job correctly in approving the area for a golf course? The case could be made that the environmental experts might have underestimated the power of storms and the dynamic nature of the dunes.

Having stood on part of a collapsed course some years back, and reading this now – it looks like a case could be made that the experts got it badly wrong.

The email continues:

“We would consult with SNH, Environmental Planners and SEPA on the proposals. … In addition I would request that the Habitat Management Plan is also reviewed in relation to Otters to avoid further complaints regarding their habitat.”

It could be inferred that the Habitat Management Plan is possibly not updated either, seeing as the Management Plan is not being updated. Sadly, the emphasis is clearly on avoiding complaints regarding otter habitat rather than on protecting the otters, their habitat, and other wildlife.

Perhaps this failure to properly estimate the dynamic dunes, the wildlife and the storms means that an overly-rosy picture was painted by the golf resort’s protagonists? From here, it looks like development of a wild place at all costs prevailed on the day the course was permitted.

However, it now seems Mother Nature has failed to read the memo on Trump’s vision for the ‘world’s greatest course’ and is taking a bit of direct action herself.

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Sep 092016
 

Old Susannah’s takes account of how no one is accountable any more for their actions. By Suzanne Kelly

DictionaryA lovely week of great weather in the Deen has passed; if only we had some city centre concrete slabs we could have relaxed on instead of a suntrap in the form of a sunken, historic, green, grassy garden. Oh well.

BrewDog threw another of its Drink and Draw events; these are for people of all abilities, and are going down a storm. Lush helped raise awareness and funds this past weekend for excellent charity DAWGS.

This past week in the UK saw some of the great thinkers of our time explaining some of their great works.

A 63 year old man in Manchester is being unfairly persecuted for punching a 5 day old baby in a supermarket. The proud parents were holding the child up to show to some of their friends on the child’s first-ever day out, when the man came over and punched the child in the head.

For some reason security called the police and the child was hospitalised (apparently she is fine now). Inexplicably, the police wanted the man to explain.

“I thought it was a doll,” he said. 

The Manchester City doll-punching finals will be held next month, we hear.

Closer to home, Aberdeen City Council is once again the toast of the town.

Not content with giving us Marischal Square and giving the P&J free rent for a year (while we have homeless on the streets and empty, habitable council properties it should be noted – thanks Pete Leonard), they are making the streets safe. By safe, I mean they are covering those hazardous cobbled streets of the merchant quarter (if that’s what we’re calling the Green this week) with tar.

No more high-heel-related trips; no more boring historical ambiance. It was all going to be lovely – then the not in my back yard brigade demanded the cobbles should be restored.

If only there were someone in charge of making decisions about our Housing and Environment who could know what’s going on and what’s happening. But if you’re only going to pay someone about £112,000 a year plus expenses and a £20,000 a year pension contribution, you’re not going to find anyone but a selfless saint to take on the job and actually know what his department heads are up to (isn’t that right Pete Leonard?)

Well, autumn is on the way, and Old Susannah will be joining Aberdeen’s fashionistas to do some shopping. And where better to wear the latest fashions?

ESCALE FRANCE is a Union Street shop selling fox and racoon fur clothing. Nothing screams ‘I am ignorant, self-absorbed and don’t care about needless suffering’ than decorating yourself with the pelt of an animal that was caged, tortured, terrified and skinned, usually alive, sometimes after being clubbed to death.

SPECIAL OFFER: Visit Escale France, and for every OS reader who tells them to stuff their fur where there will be no danger of sunburn, I will buy you a free half pint of BrewDog. I am serious. Send me a photo of yourself in front of their shop with an anti-fur poster to Aberdeen Voice, and I will stand you to a drink (first 50 people).

It is a well-kept secret, but it is possible to be warm and good looking in 21st century Scotland without sewing together the skins of tortured dead animals, raised only for fur, to wear.

Whether it’s making money out of torturing animals, tarring over a medieval cobblestone street, selling Aberdeen taxpayer-owned land for a pittance, or punching infant girls, the people who engage in such activities always have excuses.

Just remember – you can do anything you like – as long as you have a good back up story. Here are some examples of today’s best excuses, great and small. Have you screwed up? Did you lie down on the job? Over your head and don’t know what’s going on? Here are some helpful examples of how great leaders cope.

Clerical Error: (Modern English compound noun) To make an unintentional administrative mistake, which might include making a typographical error, mis-filing documents.

Didn’t get obey the law on Data Protection? No idea there was one? Are you charged with No clue how to do anything but your nails? No worries! If you’ve not registered your multi-million pound, 6,000 person employing golf resort complex with the UK authorities and are in breach of some serious human rights – just tell them you made a clerical error.

If you’ve been filming all those tedious plebs, camera crews and residents for years but didn’t actually register your activities, just tell the authorities it was not your fault, but one of your thousands of employees made a mistake and didn’t file.

According to that leftie newspaper The Guardian, the Scottish Information Commissioner’s office said:

““The Data Protection Act requires every organisation that processes personal information to register with the ICO, unless it is exempt. Failure to do so is a criminal offence,” the commissioner’s office said last week. “We’ll be writing to the company, asking it to clarify how it is registered.”

The award-winning most beautiful golf course in the world ever told the Guardian:

“We take the security of our employees and guests’ personal data very seriously and comply with all aspects of the Data Protection Act. [sure you do – Old Suz] A clerical oversight has just been brought to our attention which is now being rectified.

“As a public facility open to all, Trump International has CCTV cameras located at its entrance and around the public buildings within the estate, for the safety and security of its members, guests and staff. [but not for the safety and security of ramblers like Rohan Beyts, filmed while on the course, obvs – Old Suz]

So, it’s all just a clerical error. The clerk in question forgot to register with the Information Commissioner, assuming they had the sense to know that if you put up security cameras you need to do so. It would be a harsh person indeed who disagrees with the Trump position this is a clerical error.

Far be it from Old Susannah to suggest this is yet another mistake in a catalogue of mistakes (planning, budgeting, forecasting, course design – remember when part of the course was washed away?…) which demonstrate the management shows that it is both out of its depth as to what is required for legal compliance, egotistical to the point they feel themselves above the law, and demonstrative of disdain for the rest of us.

Yes, just a clerical error.

Bonus example of clerical error: The Press & Journal has reported on how lovely the course is, and how tastefully decorated the Trump-crested MacLeod house is. It also reported on Rohan Beyts’ being arrested for allegedly urinating in the Marram grass – and being allegedly filmed on Malone-Bates’ orders.

However, I can’t find a record of Damian Bates’s P&J reporting on Mrs Sarah Malone-Bates’ failure to register the Trump resort with the Scottish Information Commissioner. This omission is most likely just a clerical error.

Road Repair: (Modern English Compound noun) act of ensuring street surfaces are safe.

You really have to hand it to the people responsible for road maintenance in The Granite City. For centuries a cobbled street surface at the Green managed to endure. It’s just wild speculation, but in the past, Old Susannah guesses that if a cobblestone got chipped or loose, either it was replaced or the area around it would have been fixed. How did those past craftsmen manage for the hundreds of years before ACC 2016 existed?

Yes, someone near the top of the food chain, possibly of course in Housing & Environment (would that be you Pete Leonard?) decided the thing to do was to tar over the cobbles. Now I prefer the romance of a tarred street in a historic area as much as the next gal, but apparently people complained, and the cobbles will be restored.

Why did the city suddenly decide to tar the road over? According to the BBC:

“Aberdeen City Council said the resurfacing on Windmill Brae was necessary because some of the stones had come loose. Concerns had been raised on safety grounds by local businesses.”

The BBC piece continues:

“However, the local authority said the work was below standard and the tar would be removed. A “permanent solution” is being sought.” 

Why fix a few loose stones when you can tar over history? You might think that since policy seems to be pothole repair is done on a patchwork spot by spot area (when it’s done at all), some due care might have been given to fixing whatever stones were loose.

It does get better though – this whole debacle shows just how responsive and caring our council is. Local businesses – not named, not coming forward – apparently have safety concerns about the cobbles. Naturally, whenever a business or a person expresses a concern or a wish, the city will immediately spring into action to fix the issue or respond to the request. Just like when 3,000 of us and three community councils asked the city to leave Tullos Hill alone, spare the deer and save money.

If you don’t recall, the head of Housing & Environment helped push the destruction of 36 deer and we now have neither deer nor thriving trees in the scheme our head called ‘cost neutral’ (but you were wrong on all counts, and it’s cost the taxpayer a five figure sum so far, hasn’t it Pete Leonard? Ever thought of going into a different line of work?) But I digress.

Yes, some businesses apparently had safety concerns. Answer: change the hundreds of years old cobblestone streets. I am on the edge of my seat to see what businesses come forward to say they wanted this, and to see what the ‘permanent solution’ would be.

So the next time you vandalise a historic structure by covering it with tar (why didn’t the workmen wonder at the stupidity of their task you might ask?), just say you were trying to please local businesses, and it was unsafe – but you’ll undo it anyway. Makes perfect sense here in the Deen.

Finally, while I am in two minds about including this in a satirical column, sometimes satire is a good response in place of fury. Here are some of Pete Leonard’s excuses for the Aberdeen Crematorium ash scandal. Despite industry bodies existing in the UK for decades, despite best practice standards being easily found on the internet, despite being the man ultimately in charge, Pete Leonard has his reasons for what happened on his watch.

Vacation: (English Noun) State of being away from work, perhaps involved in travel and/or leisure.

While the families who were denied the chance of personally disposing of the ashes of their offspring waited for answers, Leonard was on vacation.

Signed off Sick: (English compound noun) Non attendance at work due to illness.

Mr Leonard did not return from holiday; he is signed off ill.

No Excuse:

So many people seek power and money; I’ve lost track of the people who asked me to try and help with long-running Aberdeen City housing issues (some quite horrific). I’ve tried to make Pete Leonard see sense over the deer cull; he would not take any heed or even listen to the experts who were lined up to give free advice on how to control deer without culling.

Leonard did however deliberately stop the proposal put forward by a councillor to retain and enhance the meadow at Tullos and leave the deer alone – Leonard said leaving the land alone was ‘too costly’.

Housing & Environment always had a reason for delays, bad decisions, and stubbornness. I will, as stated, publish a crematorium review report, but I leave you with this sobering conclusion from the public-facing report (I am trying to get the ‘secret’ report released, you know – by contacting that Information Commissioner Malone hadn’t a clue about). Here is what the report said about the crematorium service, which fell under Leonard’s remit:

“this was a section of the City Council working in almost complete isolation without any strategic direction, development or quality control of the service, so far as it related to babies, infants and non-viable foetuses. There was little knowledge by Senior Management of the service provided to the families of these babies.

“There was insufficient interest taken or leadership shown by management” 

I am sorry if Mr Leonard is ill. I do however want him out of office, as I have done since first encountering him. I am far sorrier for all the people who should have had someone in this highly-paid senior management who actually gave a damn. The evidence over the years convinces me he never did.

Let’s not leave on this bitter note though. Just a few words of advice in summary.

1.  if you are going to run the world’s greatest golf course, there may well be some laws that apply – even to you.

2.  Fur belongs on the animals that bear it. The animals do not belong in cages. The fur trade is obscene.

3.  If you are the sort of person involved in the doll-punching scene, try to make sure you can tell the difference between a doll and a living, breathing infant. If not – consider asking for permission to punch someone’s doll/child before actually doing it.

Next week: hopefully a report on Leonard’s resignation, and more definitions. And – hopefully by then Aberdeen City Council will have offered Aberdeen Voice a free office space too – if they do it for the P&J, then they should do it for us too (nb – we’d turn it down because of things called journalistic ethics, principle, and the fact Marischal Square is nearly as unpopular with the pubic as the P&J has made itself.)

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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.]

Jun 242016
 

Suzanne Kelly responds to Sarah Malone’s claim: “I would categorically dispute any claims that we have purposely made life difficult for the neighbors or done things that were wrong,” she told NPR earlier this year. “We simply haven’t.”
Kelly concludes there are only two possible explanations for Malone issuing that quote: either Malone is ignorant of what happens on her watch and what she herself has said and done – or she is a liar.

Munro bunds gateSarah Malone Bates is under siege; I almost start to pity the Trump spokesperson – then I recall what has happened at Menie.
Plucked from the relative obscurity of a post in a small Aberdeen museum and placed in charge of what was meant to be a multi-million pound golf/hotel/housing complex, she had no relevant training or experience.

She had however won a beauty contest and she had married the editor of the local newspaper.

Over the past 6 years she’s stuck to the Trump line on all of the issues arising from Trump’s presence: that Trump is welcome in the area, only a few people object to Trump’s activities, The Donald is ‘pumping hundreds of millions of pounds in the area’ and the club is a huge success. All around her are the signs that all is not well.

And yet she continues to issue statements which lack factual basis. Claims such as the ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’ spent in Scotland have been largely unchallenged in the press; I’ve written to the club for proof, but like all my recent emails to TIGLS, it remains unanswered. This latest pronouncement though – the ‘categorical’ denial of anything being wrong with how residents and others are treated – is clearly untrue – and she knows it.

You will find all the back up to the following bullet points in sources including the documentary ‘You’ve been Trumped’, in Andy Wightman’s report on the Menie Estate and in the Aberdeen Voice archives. Here is a partial selection which demonstrates Malone’s denial must either mean she is not telling the truth – or does not know what she has said and done, and what goes on at the course she manages.

Malone’s got off relatively Scot-free with her quotes in the past. Here are just a few reasons why Ms Malone should not get away with it this time. But first, a look at what her word is worth…

“I can’t work for someone I don’t believe in”

Malone started working for Trump in 2009. She told the Herald Scotland she believes in him:

“We have a world-class developer whose brand is associated with luxury and excellence. I think he is a visionary, a very positive man. I can’t work for someone I don’t believe in.”

She’s still working at TIGLS, so we can conclude she still believes in Trump. Despite the racism, the sexism, the nationalism: she believes in him still, or she would have quit. She stands by her bigoted man. Either she shares his views and believes in him – or she isn’t a bigot, but has already made herself dishonest by this Herald Scotland post. Now she says that nothing amiss has happened. The question is – do you believe in her?

Amnesia? Being Economical with the Truth? Or just plain lying?

Maybe you will agree with Executive Vice President Sarah that there’s nothing amiss in how she has and is treating residents, journalists and visitors. Here is a bullet point list to recap some of the incidents that happened under her watch, in no particular order.

  • Trump private security guard threatens established photo journalist Alicia Bruce “I’ll smash your camera”. Bruce wants to press charges but the police (which have a ‘special policy’ for the Menie Estate) dissuade her from doing so.
  • Accessing without permission David and Moira Milne’s lands, removing a fence, damaging property, accidentally cutting a telephone line in the process of this unauthorised work – and sending an exorbitant bill to the Milnes for the fence.
  • Trying to charge Michael Forbes with theft after he removed marker flags from his land/disputed land which had shown up without any explanation. The police were instructed – by whom I wonder – to charge him with theft of goods worth £11, although he had made no attempt to retain these flags.
  • A local area resident was taken against his will to the clubhouse to explain where he was walking and why – in complete contravention of his rights. He had been on his way to Michael Forbes’ farm, and the security guards prevented him doing so before grilling him.
  • Construction workers ‘accidentally’ cut off the water supply to Michael Forbes’ property, forcing the family, including 80 something year old Molly, to go to a stream to collect water by hand. Over a week passed before anything happened. The water supply is still not satisfactorily restored.
  • Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney went to the site office while filming, and asked the manager when water would be restored to the Forbes Farm. Someone – I wonder who – then called the police and reported the two journalists for a ‘breach of the peace’. They were stopped by a patrol car at Susan Munro’s cottage, and with one police officer growing increasingly aggressive, the two reporters were bundled into the police car, held, their cameras and recordings temporarily held. They never got their day in court, as charges were dropped. The National Union of Journalists condemned this unprecedented act.  If Sarah had no idea this happened, she can’t be paying attention.
  • Blocking Michael Forbes’ access to the beach, preventing him from further salmon fishing.
  • Someone – I wonder who – called the police to say protestors were at the Forbes House and police responded to find no protestors – but rather surveyors from Trump’s camp on Forbes’ land, causing damage. Forbes told the police that this was a boundary dispute and the surveyors had no right to be on the disputed land – and as should not be the case, the police made Forbes stand by and watch as the Trump operatives accessed his land, damaging his boat and other property. Who possibly could have called to report protestors at a sparsely populated farm when there were no protestors?
  • Continuous, ongoing deviations from the approved plan – from the giant flagpole to building a huge wall of earth between Leyton Farm Cottage and the cottage’s former views of the sea and its light. Sand and dirt from this mound got into the cottage, killed plants in the garden, and damaged vehicle engines.
  • Allowing Leyton Farm Road to deteriorate making it veritably impossible for residents to use the road; it was eventually patched up after outcry.
  • MEMAG was an environmental group set up to monitor how TIGLS was operating; per its minutes, representatives from Trump simply did not go to the meetings and therefore did not co-operate.
  • Scottish Outdoor Access Code: a giant gate is put at the point Leyton Farm Road meets the new Trump parking lot; it is locked shut. Plants on either side of it prevent anyone with mobility issues accessing the course from that direction – despite requests to open the gates and reminders.
  • Ostensibly so none of the golfers would be upset by offshore windfarms, Trump has fought an offshore experimental windfarm project which would have meant local jobs. The costs for the legal action to the taxpayer are not at present known.
  • Security guards often parked close to Leyton Farm cottage and shone their headlights into resident’s windows late at night.
  • The Trump parking lot, itself not to the agreed planning spec, had very high, bright overhead lights. These shone into the nearby cottage’s windows and were often left on all night. One night the lights were not on was… the night Aberdeenshire council, journalists and the public attended to measure how bright the lights were.
  • Security guards would stop people on foot and in vehicles demanding their identification.

There are more instances.

Kelly calls Malone out

Thinking both of Malone’s ‘belief’ in Donald Trump, and her protestations that the Trump team never “…purposely made life difficult for the neighbors or done things that were wrong,” it is not hard to reach some conclusions. Either Malone is herself a bigot and can thereby support Trump, or she is not a bigot and then ‘misstated’ that she can’t work for someone she doesn’t believe in.

As to the more important, wilder claim she makes, either all the journalists, residents and visitors, and all the local, national and international films and news reports are wrong, but Malone and Trump are right – or Malone either is ignorant of what her employees and indeed she herself does – or she is a liar.

I am ready to publicly debate these issues with Malone-Bates anytime.

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Jun 102016
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Jenni_head and shoulders 1Representatives from local tourism body VisitAberdeenshire are heading south of the border to promote the north east of Scotland to international MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) buyers later this month. Business development director Peter Medley and Jenni Fraser (pictured), business development manager, will attend The Meetings Show in London from 14-16 June, to promote the region to the lucrative meetings, events and conferencing market.

Over 5,000 meetings industry professionals from across the globe will attend the exhibition, where they will have the chance to learn about the new developments in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s venue and incentive offering.

As well as exhibiting to the masses, Peter and Jenni will meet with key business MICE buyers in order to discuss the finer details of what the region has to offer business travellers.

Peter Medley says,

“Attending events like The Meetings Show is an incredibly important step in marketing Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire as a business travel destination to the wider world.

“Although business tourism has dipped in the north east of Scotland over the past year, there are a number of new developments which will make the region an incredibly attractive prospect for those organising world-class conferences and events.

“Hotel room rates, which were once at an all-time high thanks to the high level of energy industry professionals visiting the city, are now at a much more affordable level, making the region much more enticing to those looking for an affordable – and well-equipped – destination to hold a conference or event.”

Improvements to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s infrastructure are making it easier than ever before for overseas travellers to arrive in the north east. Aberdeen International Airport is currently undergoing a £20 million expansion programme, which will see its landside, airside and security facilities improved and updated.

Coupled with new flight routes from Icelandair, which open up faster routes to many US cities and other global destinations, it has never been simpler to travel to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

But it is not just the region’s travel facilities which are being overhauled. The Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) is about to undergo a massive £333 million redevelopment and relocation, which will see it moved closer to the airport and the Western Peripheral Route.

Due to open in 2019, the new AECC will provide greater connectivity and convenience for those travelling to exhibitions and conferences in the area. New flexible space – including a subterranean area for holding large exhibitions – will provide greatly improved facilities for those organising events.

Similarly, Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Music Hall – both situated in Aberdeen city centre – are experiencing major renovations worth £30 million and £7 million respectively. Providing the perfect venues for gala dinners, drinks receptions and conferences, these new and improved venues will be major assets to the region’s business tourism offering.

Peter concludes,

“When many think of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, their mind springs immediately to oil and gas, however the region has much more to offer meetings and conferences in all sectors – as evidenced by the wide variety of events celebrated by the Team Aberdeen Ambassador Awards earlier this year.

“The north east is also well equipped to cater for the incentive travel market. We are incredibly lucky to have a number of world-class golf courses in the region, including Royal Aberdeen and the Trump International Golf Links. Add to this a number of spectacular whisky distilleries which offer tours and tastings throughout the year, and it becomes quickly apparent just how much the region has to offer.

“We look forward to meeting event organisers from a wide variety of industries at The Meetings Show in London, and revealing to them exactly what Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire can provide.”

For more information about VisitAberdeenshire, visit www.visitabdn.com

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May 162016
 

princess3 from clipartlordA modern day fairytale by Suzanne Kelly.

Once upon a time, well right now actually, there lives Donald Drumpf – a very rich, powerful handsome man that all the women adore, even black, Mexican, Muslim and Jewish ones. He bought a Scottish estate to the delight of the Scottish peasantry and the whole world, and then hired a very special person – a genuine princess – to run this new Scottish property and build hundreds of houses, a great club and golf courses.

This was Princess Sarah. She knew nothing about golf, planning, the environment, residential development – or anything at all, really.

It was said she’d not be able to organise a piss up in a brewery. Nevertheless, she was absolutely beautiful, and let’s face it – what else matters? And by a very happy coincidence she was married to the man who ran the local newspapers, who could say great things about Donald Drumpf.

Anyway, she had been crowned The Face of Aberdeen. Verily she was a princess.  In fact she was so delicate and sensitive, a tiny pee could throw her into a frenzy, and lo, so it came to pass.

By and by, Donald Drumpf was given permission to do with the estate and its wildlife whatever he pleased. The wildflowers and plants were scraped away by diggers.

Scores and scores of truckloads of sand were dumped, irrespective of wildlife habitat. Trees were dug up and buried in pits.

It was said that the burrowing animals were gassed. A golf course was laid out in a former wild place which had all its legal environmental protection removed. Scottish Natural Heritage which should have protected Scotland’s Natural Heritage did nothing but deliver some lame, unintelligible scientific jargon to the Reporters, who were told by Scottish Enterprise that this golf course was needed (although golf courses were closing nearby).

The resident peasants who wouldn’t sell to Drumpf were ridiculed, hassled by security guards and, interfered with by police. Elected officials who voted agains the destructive scheme were ridiculed by Princess Sarah’s husband’s newspapers as traitors – simply for applying the existing law to the land owned by The Donald as it would have applied to mere mortals.

One traitorous councillor was even punched on her doorstep by a Drumpf loving woman.

Residents had their water, electric and telephone lines ‘accidentally’ cut off by Drumpf’s construction crews at different points. A resident farmer who had gone salmon fishing for decades was told he’d be arrested if he tried to fish ever again. The rare, moving sand dune system was ‘stabilised’, altering forever a unique habitat once without equal.

Public money was spent by Scottish Enterprise to helicopter Drumpf’s people around while he was wined and dined by the ‘impartial’ First Minister.

One nearby resident was frogmarched to the clubhouse

Two journalists were arrested and manhandled for ‘breach of the peace’. This was without precedent, and the machinations of the police were such that the two never got to have their day in court, which they very much wanted.

Drumpf operatives tried to trick people into selling their homes with blatant lies. Compulsory purchase orders were a threat hanging over the heads of those who refused to sell. A giant bund of sandy earth was deliberately put up between one person’s home and their former views of the sea. This caused dirt and sand to blow into the cottage owner’s house, gardens and car engines – ruining the engines and killing the plants in the gardens.

Trees were planted in this bund. They died, and others were planted in an attempt to further block the cottage. The wildlife visibly dwindled, while the clownish Professor Bill Ritchie, who had previously said the development was great, disappeared as his feeble wildlife monitoring programme was allowed to fizzle out.

One nearby resident was frogmarched to the clubhouse and held by security – he had merely been trying to visit a farm. A huge heap of mixed waste was piled high nearby. A respected photographer was threatened by security who screamed he’d smash her camera.

Then something terrible happened.

One day a woman was accused of doing something so horrifying it should only be spoken of in whispers. She had been walking on the dunes and the shore for hours, and it is alleged she – urinated. In the grasses of the sand dunes. Please forgive me for even alluding to this; I hope you haven’t hit your head when you fainted at the thought.

Now Princess Sarah had had to put up with lots of hardships up until this point. She had to read out press statements for the dozen or so wee planning permission deviations that occurred under her stewardship. Worse – she did not get permission for the 80 foot flagpole – and it certainly seems she really desired a big one, I do wonder why.

Flying a giant flag would have proved once and for all that Drumpf loved Scotland and everyone would be nice to him forever, forgetting his one or two small foibles. But the mean burgermeisters decided this was just too big. But I digress.

A peasant on Drumpf land was bad enough – Sarah was flushed with rage. But for someone to actually take the piss – the Princess decided enough was enough.

Now Princess Sarah was a very delicate, fragrant creature. Indeed, Princess Sarah was so very lovely and fragrant herself, it was widely held that she never needed to go to the bathroom at all. Indeed, the people for miles around said she was full of sh*t.

Late one evening, Police Scotland’s finest showed up

Princess Sarah had everyone who walked across the golf course spied upon – after all, hardly anyone went there in the first place, and you have to get your security guards to earn their bread somehow.

No one came near the place without some employee, security goon in a van or on foot intervening.

This spying, recording, filming and eavesdropping will in no way deter future golfers who might have wanted to play golf and/or talk business without being filmed and recorded – but I digress again.

To show her good taste, great judgment, empathy, public-friendly nature, kindness, and what a whizz she was, the clever princess made three of her lackeys film the woman on their mobile phones. Then she immediately called the police. As any right-thinking person would do. Conveniently her husband’s newspaper had a journalist on the spot before the allegedly urinating woman was able to leave.

The princess arranged for the police to track the peasant down, and of course they obliged.  Late one evening, Police Scotland’s finest showed up at the home of the allegedly peeing pensioner and sneered that ‘there was enough evidence’ to convict her of – peeing. “Urine Trouble Now!” they told the pensioner in her home that night.

The courageous, law-biding Princess issued a statement:

“Offensive behaviour such as this is a matter for the police… This disgusting and shameful act took place in broad daylight in full view of our staff and guests by an individual who has been disruptive in the past.”

Quite right. If she’d not called the police, then people would think Drumpf’s place was going down the pan.

Some people said that there was something immoral, pervy, weird and demeaning about the princess ordering her minions to film this alleged event, but there you go. As to the perpetrator – it’s bad enough to be accused of answering the call of nature – but to be disruptive with it – that’s going too far. If there ‘s one thing we can’t have on this golf course is any kind of disruption.

If we don’t move to stamp this kind of thing out, there is no telling where it might end. How would you feel if one evening for example you were in the Aberdeen town centre and drunk men (and women) were just urinating in the streets? Yes, if we don’t stamp out this menace, there is no telling what will happen. People might also start experimenting with disruption.

The police have been asked to tell us how many other such arrests there have been. I think they have found the subject far too unseemly to be able to respond. When they do, I’ll let you know. No doubt this information will eventually leak out.

 Police Scotland have been too busy doing real work

For my part, after all the wonderful things Drumpf, Princess Sarah and Master Bates have done for us, I think perhaps a statue of some sort might be appropriate. Maybe a parade, too.

Perhaps we should have a National ‘Face of Aberdeen Day’, or put Sarah’s face on a postage stamp or a fiver.

And as to the police who decided hounding a grandmother was a good way to spend their time and our tax money, perhaps they should also be rewarded with some public recognition. What about those brave guys who decided to whip out their mobile phones to film the alleged event? I’d love to thank them personally, and I’m sure others would too. Any one of us would film a pensioner allegedly squatting in a sand dune if ordered to by our bosses I’m sure.

People have in the past been turned away by the police when trying to report thefts, attempted thefts and other issues. Police Scotland have been too busy doing real work such as meeting Drumpf when he jets in than to find your stolen bike or car. In fact, it seems to be your fault your car is stolen if you keep your car keys locked in your house where anyone could break in and get them.

By the way, one cancelled visit from Herr Drumpf cost the taxpayer a few thousand pounds; I wonder what it costs when he does show up? I did ask, but it was far too difficult to calculate for our poor police to be able to answer.

Back to our story: before she left the golf course land, the alleged perpetrator was met by a black vehicle, out of which popped people including someone identifying themselves as a reporter. (Maybe someday I’ll become a professional reporter like that.

I can see it now – I’ll get that phone tip-off :

“Come to a golf course – a granny has possibly strained her greens- we think.”

A story like that might get me writing for Wikileaks. Alas! Putting my name to a by-line like that in newspaper sadly is something I can only dream of. I wondered what they meant by leaking a story to the press – now I know.

As to someone who would allegedly urinate in a sand dune, forcing others to film the episode, I’m thinking it’s a pity that we got rid of hanging. Perhaps just tarring and feathering would do the trick, and then banishment.

A card of condolence will be made available to Princess Sarah – we only hope she’s not had to look at the footage or the crime scene (I wonder if they dust for urine?). I hope that at this difficult, stressful, emotional time she can still continue to defend Mr Drumpf and his desire to wall up the rapist druggie Mexicans, to stop China raping the US, and to ban those pesky Muslims from going to the US.

Without the princess to tell us what’s disgusting or disruptive, where would we be indeed?

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Apr 142016
 

donprespicBy Suzanne Kelly.

Master Bates had just parked the Maserati in his space and was making his way through the hallowed hall of the Press & Churnal.

The receptionists seemed even smilier than usual; the secretaries he walked past smiled and said “Good morning sir”, and seemed to be gigglish.

From further down the corridor, he could hear voices and laughter.

“Well, they say it even looks like him – big head of strawlike grey hair.”

“Well, Bates might as well give Drumpf a column; Drumpf’s given his wife a column and all.”

“Wonder if it’ll have her looks?!

“What if it has her brains and Donald’s looks?”

Bates didn’t quite hear all of that however; he had a searing headache. The reporters got sight of him and scarpered, scattering to all quarters of the newspaper’s offices.

Bates hadn’t slept well. He knew things were going to be different – life was going to be different now. But he hadn’t bargained on all that constant bawling. The whinging, the crying, the temper tantrums at the slightest provocation. That wrinkled face going beet read. The screaming. Yes, life with Donald Drumpf was trying – very trying. Thank goodness he could escape now and then to look after the newborn Malone-Bates baby, Donadina.

He pressed his fingers to his temples and massaged them as he got into his big leather chair at his big leather covered desk and sighed.

Giving Donald Drumpf his own column. He had little choice. He remembered well, how it unfolded. One day his wife came back from the Drumpf clubhouse and had told him:

“Darling, Donald wants to give you a present”

He thought at the time ‘Christ, not another damned Chinese t-shirt with the Drumpf logo or another cheesy Mexican baseball cap with the Drumpf name in giant letters’.

“Precious – how are you? How’s Donald? Happy to help of course.”

“It’s just a teeny weeny favour he’s going to do you”

‘Hope to hell it’s more advertising revenue’ he thought, ‘after we printed that weekend supplement about the MacDonald hotel with its garish orange duvets dyed to match The Donald’s skin makeup colour.’

That actually took a bit of pride-swallowing to print.

“it’s Fabulous! Donald’s going to give you a column to put in your newpaper! You’re always saying you need to fill up the space between advertisements with something or other. Well, he’s going to write you an exclusive column – that mean he’s not going to have it printed anywhere else.”

Damian remembered the little remaining colour running out of his face – something that never seemed to happen to his apparent new columnist.

“Darling, sweetheart, mother of my daughter – I’d er, love that almost as much as I love you. But angel, we’ve just spent a packet hiring Alex Salmond.”

“Yes, that was a mistake, it’s a good thing I talked Donald around about that – that was me using my great skills. I had to blink my eyelashes at him all afternoon about that, but he forgave you. Now he wants that column. Tell Alex he’s to make room for his old pal Donald. Donald says they are getting along now, so that must be true.”

“Sarah, darling – isn’t Donald going to be a bit busy running for president to actually write a column?”

“Silly boy – he’ll not actually write it – he’s far too important to do any actual writing. I thought I might write it myself; he says I’m very good with words. Why I can memorise what they write for me to tell the press in just a matter of hours now that I’ve been practicing.”

Damian was white now.

“Er darling, you’ll be too busy too, running the golf course and looking after little Donalda.”

Sarah wrinkled her pretty nose.

“I’m going to be too busy to look after her that much; the nanny will have to work more hours. And of course, when Donald Drumpf becomes president, you know what that will mean, don’t you?”

Puzzled, Bates couldn’t quite find the words.

Almost as if she could sense his bewilderment she answered:

“Silly – I’m the Vice President – remember? He made me Vice President a few years ago! I’ll have to go to Washington, and go to all those fancy State Dinners and Balls and meet the Queen and everything.”

The rest of that conversation seemed a blur. Bates only remembered that he gave Sarah a few thousand for a pair of rhinestone Jimmy Choos and he gave Drumpf a weekly column.

Bates had been outnumbered and outgunned. Donald’s ghost writer and advertising team sent over their full page, full colour ad – although there wasn’t going to be any advertising revenue! The pain of that increased Bates’ now permanent headache. The ad was monstrous – Drumpf in full open mouth basking shark mode, against the drapery of the US Flag. The Scottish public would undoubtedly find this a bridge too far.

But the contents of the column. How Drumpf had won over the Scottish people. ‘Me, Sarah, Woody – well, that’s three of us won over anyway’ thought the gloomy Bates. ‘How will I ever show my face after this and damn – what’s going to happen at my next RGU journalism lecture?’

His mobile phone bleeped at him. It was a text from Sarah.

“Hello darling; Donald just loves his column now he’s had a chance to read it. He says don’t worry – he’ll have a new column for you to print once a week at least. And he’s here now – will send you a photo in a sec. Love you. PS – can you get a courier to bring me your Barclaycard Platinum? Mine seems not to be working; must be the strip thingy on the back, and what’s ‘exceeded your credit limit’ mean again?”

His head throbbed worse than ever. He put the phone down. Looking out the window of his office he could see the Maserati in the parking lot.

Was that Magritte, the new student intern who was looking at the car so admiringly? For one split second he started to wonder. Then the phone blipped at him. Picking it up, he opened the JPEG message from Sarah. Donald stood next to Sarah; he was holding the baby. His little daughter had a crop of unruly blonde hair, and she was wearing a tiny Drumpf-embroidered baseball cap.

“Donald holding little Donalda MacLeod Sarah Damiana Malone Bates.” read the caption.

Bates put the phone down. He reached inside his desk for the extra strength anadin, and shook his head.

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