£5 Mutiny

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Vegans and vegetarians have voiced outrage after revelations that the new £5 notes contain animal fat. The Bank of England confirmed via Twitter on Monday that the new plastic fivers are made with tallow – a substance derived from fat and used in candles and soaps.

“There is a trace of tallow in the polymer pellets used in the base substrate of the polymer £5 notes,” it confirmed.

Innovia, the company that makes the banknotes said it obtained the animal fat through a supplier, which it declined to name. The company said it used the substance to give the notes their anti-static and anti-slip properties, and pointed out that thousands of products contain tallow. It could not confirm which animals the fat had come from.

Animal fat used in plastics is most commonly derived from beef and mutton, though it can come from pork or other meats.

A petition has already been launched to remove the new note – which only became legal tender in September – from circulation. At the time of writing it had been signed by more than 5,000 people.

However, we have, once again, failed to learn a lesson from History.

The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was a rebellion in India against the rule of the British East India Company, that ran from May 1857 to July 1859. The rebellion began as a mutiny of sepoys of the East India Company’s army on 10 May 1857, in the cantonment of the town of Meerut, and soon escalated into other mutinies and civilian rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain and central India, with the major hostilities confined to present-day Uttar Pradesh, western Bihar, northern Madhya Pradesh, and the Delhi region.

The rebellion posed a considerable threat to East India Company power in that region, and was contained only with the fall of Gwalior on 20 June 1858. The rebellion has been known by many names, including the Indian Mutiny, India’s First War of Independence, the Great Rebellion, the Indian Rebellion, the Revolt of 1857, the Rebellion of 1857, the Uprising of 1857, the Sepoy Rebellion, the Indian Insurrection, and the Sepoy Mutiny.

It was over the ammunition for the new Enfield P-53 rifle. These rifles, which fired Minié balls, had a tighter fit than the earlier muskets, and used paper cartridges that came pre-greased. To load the rifle, sepoys had to bite the cartridge open to release the powder. The grease used on these cartridges was rumoured to include tallow derived from beef, which would be offensive to Hindus, and pork, which would be offensive to Muslims. At least one Company official pointed out the difficulties this may cause:

unless it be proven that the grease employed in these cartridges is not of a nature to offend or interfere with the prejudices of caste, it will be expedient not to issue them for test to Native corps.

However, in August 1856, greased cartridge production was initiated at Fort William, Calcutta, following a British design. The grease used included tallow supplied by the Indian firm of Gangadarh Banerji & Co. By January, rumours were abroad that the Enfield cartridges were greased with animal fat.

Company officers became aware of the rumours through reports of an altercation between a high-caste sepoy and a low-caste labourer at Dum Dum. The labourer had taunted the sepoy that by biting the cartridge, he had himself lost caste, although at this time such cartridges had been issued only at Meerut and not at Dum Dum. There had been rumours that the British sought to destroy the religions of the Indian people, and forcing the native soldiers to break their sacred code would have certainly added to this rumour, as it apparently did. The Company was quick to reverse the effects of this policy in hopes that the unrest would be quelled.

On 27 January, Colonel Richard Birch, the Military Secretary, ordered that all cartridges issued from depots were to be free from grease, and that sepoys could grease them themselves using whatever mixture “they may prefer”. A modification was also made to the drill for loading so that the cartridge was torn with the hands and not bitten. This however, merely caused many sepoys to be convinced that the rumours were true and that their fears were justified. Additional rumours started that the paper in the new cartridges, which was glazed and stiffer than the previously used paper, was impregnated with grease. In February, a court of inquiry was held at Barrackpore to get to the bottom of these rumours. Native soldiers called as witnesses complained of the paper “being stiff and like cloth in the mode of tearing”, said that when the paper was burned it smelled of grease, and announced that the suspicion that the paper itself contained grease could not be removed from their minds.

… Dirty money.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker, was visiting family in Iran with her two-year-old daughter, Gabriella, in April this year. They were about to board a plane home to the UK when Nazanin was arrested. More than six months later, Nazanin is still in prison in Iran. In September, she was sentenced to five years behind bars after an unfair trial and the official charges against her remain a secret.

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Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe. Source: iranhumanights.org.

British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport. She was about to fly home to the UK with her two-year-old daughter, Gabriella, following a family visit. Nazanin was allowed to leave Gabriella with her parents, but the toddler’s British passport was confiscated. Since then Nazanin has been allowed only very restricted visits from her family, subjected to solitary confinement, and accused of plotting the ‘soft overthrow of the Islamic Republic’. She may have been coerced into making a ‘confession’.

Nazanin’s family said she was sentenced to five years in prison on unspecified ‘national security-related charges’ on 6 September. Amnesty does not believe she received a fair trial.

Throughout her time in prison, Nazanin has spent time in solitary confinement, barely been given access to a lawyer and has had very limited contact with her daughter – who is still in Iran with her grandparents, as she had her UK passport confiscated at the airport. She has been treated appallingly, according to my sources.*

This is my short letter to Nazanin:

I’m thinking of you and join the many people calling for your release. Stay strong, you’re not alone.

Your plight is not going unheard.

Have faith in yourself.

Hugs from an icy Yorkshire.

Andy

But, why am I telling you this? Not so I get the warm-fuzzy-feel-goods about ‘doing my bit for the needy’ but because this is a toddler’s mum! Imprisoned without charge and held in nightmare conditions.

*Below, I will transcribe the open letter I received from Amnesty tonight. It is written in the first person by the man who knows Nazanin the best; her husband.

The last time I saw my wife and daughter was before they went to visit Nazanin’s family, in April this year. My wife was visiting her parents in Iran with our then 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella – a trip she’s made many times over the years. We had no reason to think that this one would be any different.

But as they were about to board the plane back to the UK, Iranian security forces seized Nazanin at the airport, and confiscated Gabriella’s passport. We have been in a living hell ever since.

Nazanin was arrested, imprisoned and kept in solitary confinement.  The interrogators told her she was being detained for ‘national security-related’ reasons.  In September, after an unfair trial, she was sentenced to five years in prison.

The charges against her remain a secret, and she has committed no crime. Amnesty considers her a prisoner of conscience and is supporting my calls to release her immediately and unconditionally.

Nazanin is struggling. We have been able to talk a few times on the phone in recent months, and I am increasingly worried about her health. She recently confessed that she has been thinking of ending her life, and has talked at length about feeling suicidal. This is so far from the strong Nazanin that I know and love.

During the past couple of weeks, Nazanin has been on hunger strike in protest at her conditions. She was already experiencing health problems, which have worsened – heart problems, blurred vision, joint pains. Prison officials sent her to hospital, but quickly returned her to her cell. She has agreed to start eating again for the sake of our daughter, but her health problems persist.

We are all struggling with Nazanin’s situation, but one thing keeping us going is support from people who have heard of our situation and are calling for her freedom.

While we continue to call on the UK government and authorities in Iran to do the right thing and let Nazanin and Gabriella come home to the UK as soon as possible, I want to ask for your help to keep Nazanin’s spirits up.

A single message can make the difference between a good day and a bad day to Nazanin, isolated in prison. Every message that you write, Amnesty will post to Nazanin in Prison in Iran.

Send Nazanin a message of hope

We keep fighting for her release, but in the meantime, your support means everything.

Thank you,

Richard Ratcliffe

Husband of prisoner of conscience Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

There you have it – the plea of a married man and a father to bring his family home. I know that whoever reads this article would move hell & high water to ensure the safe return of their daughter and partner. That is what Richard Ratcliffe is trying to do – all I am asking is for you to sign a letter to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. This is the link you need.

So – I have given you the link – here it is again – please, play your part.

Last W/E In November 2016

Fun times were had by all!

Friday was a quiet night in with Mrs. Backhouse – we just chilled in front of the telly and had a good catch up – it’s the backbone of our relationship – these quiet times – and it is an amazing thing that we still get to have them. I love my wife with all of my heart. She is someone very special to me – if I put in a bit more work she may reciprocate the sentiment 😉

Saturday night and Allan’s studio, Creao, stank of Allan’s, Watson’s and my creative juices. We had everything flowing from premium lager to Dub Mixing. We are investigating getting Bitwig Studio for the band (Guerrilla Dub System) and we were trying to get that sorted. Then we had a live dub and a DJ sesh.

Sunday was spent getting ready for the evening. We met Karen & Stewart at the train station and were Leeds bound within minutes. The first stop was the restaurant Little Tokyo – the fun-size Japanese restaurant complete with Geisha dog – Bork Bork!

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Me and Stewart had a pint of Asahi Beer and Kat went for a smaller lager – both were really palatable but what stole the show was Karen’s Plum Wine – it was like nectar! The main courses: we all ordered Bento Boxes on the advice of Stewart & Karen – I had Mackerel in Teriyaki sauce with Tempura veg – It was amazing! The highlight of the meal was the Japanese style profiteroles – Ice-cream deep-fried in batter on a skewer; although I think my wife won the pudding tournament with her marshmallow spring rolls – she claimed they were ‘genius’.

We then hot-footed it up to the Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen to see the world famous Sun Ra’s Arkestra!

I had been waiting around eight years to see this band live – whilst they did not have the man himself (he orbits a different star now) they were led by the spritely Marshall Allen, at 92 years young.

Photo: Marek Lazarski
Photo: Marek Lazarski

There seemed to be four surviving musicians from the Arkestra under Sun Ra in the early days of Space Jazz. Dozens of musicians—perhaps hundreds—passed through Sun Ra’s bands over the years. Some stayed with him for decades, while others played on only a few recordings or performances.

Sun Ra was personally responsible for the vast majority of the constant changes in the Arkestra’s lineup. According to contra-bassist Jiunie Booth, a member of the Arkestra, Sun Ra did not confront any musician whose performance he was unsatisfied with. Instead, he would simply gather the entire Arkestra minus the offending musician, and skip town—leaving the fired musician stranded. After repeated instances of U.S. jazz musicians becoming stranded in foreign countries, Sun Ra’s unique method of dismissal became a diplomatic liability for the United States. The U.S. State Department was compelled to tell Sun Ra to bring any fired musicians stateside rather than leave them stranded.

But, what was the experience of seeing Sun Ra’s Arkestra like for a fan-boy like myself? Well, it surpassed expectation. Hands down the best gig I have been to in years. Whilst I did not recognise all of the tracks that they played – seeing ninety year old’s dressed as Space Pharaohs lucidly conducting an Afro-Futurist ensemble was worth a trip out in anyone’s books.

Sun Ra Gig - a crap photo by me.
Sun Ra Gig – a crap photo by me.

 

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

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Click Me

Did you know that today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women? Human rights violations take multiple forms across the world and countless acts of violence are committed against women every single day.

I found the following on the UN’s site. I have tried to edit it down to slightly more readable English – however, my brain hurts and it is late on a Friday …. I’m hungry and cold … I have ear-ache.

However, I am a white male – people tend to listen to white males more than any other strata of society. White Privilege/The Patriarchy, I hear you cry? “Smash the system from within”, I say.

Here is the text lifted/edited from their site:

“In 2016, the UN’s UNiTE campaign strongly emphasizes the need for sustainable financing for efforts to end violence against women and girls. This will build towards the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

One of the major challenges to efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls worldwide is the substantial funding shortfall. As a result, resources for initiatives to prevent and end violence against women and girls are severely lacking. Frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals, which includes a specific target on ending violence against women and girls, offer huge promise, but must be adequately funded in order to bring real and significant changes in the lives of women and girls.

To bring this issue to the fore, the UN Secretary-General’s campaign “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” has a rallying call. This year’s rallying call is ‘Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women and Girls’.

The initiative provides a moment to bring the issue of sustainable financing for the cause. This includes initiatives to prevent and end violence against women in to global prominence. It also presents the opportunity for resource mobilization for the issue.

Share your photos, messages and videos showing how you orange the world at facebook.com/SayNO.UNiTE and twitter.com/SayNO_UNiTE using #orangetheworld and #16days. For more information about “Orange the world,” see this year’s Call to Action and download the fundraising toolkit. For more information about Orange Day, please contact Anna Alaszewski, UNiTE Campaign Coordinator, anna.alaszewski[at]unwomen.org

The United Nations Official Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women will take place on 21 November from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. Harrogate time.”

LANDR Review (With Audio)

As ever, I am probably the last to the party on this one – but – this is my LANDR Review (with audio). Now then, I often make out that I am some sort of audio-file; I really am not that much of an audiophile. However, I do like it when my radio shows sound good. So, I have subscribed to the online Mastering Studio, LANDR. But, what are my first impressions?

The User-Interface is good; very intuitive and clean with crisp fonts and graphics. I like their look. The site is easy to navigate and you soon find out where you are and what you are doing.

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I decided to test it with one of my radio shows. The edition I tested LANDR with was an, as yet, un-broadcast version of the Guerrilla Dub System’s Radio Show – a dub and roots show in which I just play records and with no talking. Here, below, is the version run through LANDR.

After the initial (slow) upload of 990MB – LANDR presented me with three versions of the mix to chose from. The option was to then download one of the versions as a High Quality MP3. I chose the version with the ‘High Intensity’ mastering – it seemed to fit with what I was hoping to achieve. However, I will let you be the judge of whether you think the mastering worked. Level-wise, the mix was all over the place originally – there was a lot of contrast between the volume levels of the tracks – do you think the mastering has made it better? I do. If you want to chip in with your two-pence worth then feel free to leave a comment in the box at the bottom of this post.

As readers of this blog know, I have a few irons in the musical fire and I intend to use LANDR for the benefit of those projects. I reckon I will roll out the use of my account to a few mates too – in exchange for beer. It seems I will be using the app for all of my radio shows.

However, if I was to gripe about one thing it is that there is only the option for ‘Low’, ‘Medium’ & ‘High’ mastering – it seems like one big normalise switch. However, if taking the dynamic range out of your recording is what you want to do then this is for you.

You will have to choose your own side in the loudness war – the options are simple and concise with few variables – it is kind of like the speak-and-spell version of mastering. But, that is the level I operate on. The idea is to get the components of the tracks (yes, I will be using it for music too) sorted – then – we will be cooking on gas.

Vintage Fairs & Pints (Lots Of Pints)

So, what happened at the weekend? Quite a bit as it happens – I did not sleep so that meant there was a lot of w/e overtime put in.

I managed to re-haul my web design site www.treebark.design and I am quite please with how it looks. I have gone for a set-up that makes it easier to read and therefore slightly better optimised for search engines. It still has HTTPS (an SSL Certificate) so this means it will help with the rankings too. All in all I hope to have improved the set up and the flow of the site. Please, use this link to see what I have done.

Saturday was spent listening to music – something I find great joy in doing. I have quite a good setup (I inherited from a loved one) and a comfortable chair upon which to perch to listen to the music. See, I am on the mailing list of a PR firm based in Berlin – so I get a whole heap of avant-garde music to listen to and play on my radio show, The Parish News.

Saturday was a good day.

Sunday saw us in a bit of a panic – Kathryn had won four tickets to an (excellent) vintage fair in York. We only found out about it around 1am on Sunday morning! We contacted a few friends to see who was up for coming to York with us to take advantage of the free tickets and the voucher. Andy & Helen F were the first to reply in the affirmative so we met them at Harrogate Station and caught the soon to arrive train to York.

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Merchant Adventurers Hall

I managed to lose my bearings crossing the platform to the York Station’s exit – thankfully Helen was on hand to get us to Fossgate and The Merchant Adventurers Hall, the venue of the great vintage fair that we were destined for.

The vintage fair was called York Does Vintage – as run by the firm, Britain Does Vintage. They have a web site and I will post their banner below. But first I would like to witter on a bit about them – if you don;t mind.

Now then, I have never really been much of a fan of vintage clothing – I see it as a posh charity shop without the moral backbone. The clothes normally smell of piss and are always too small to fit my Tons-Of-Fun physique.

However, there was a class and elegance to the products on sale at York Does Vintage – the stall holders were all very friendly, polite and courteous. They went out of their way to try and help you.

Kathryn ended up spending a fortune on two jackets (Summer / Winter) and I bought a French Work Jacket for the token price of £15 – Bargain. Andy and Helen bought a few thing and we settled down for cake – a wedge of coffee and walnut cake with a strong brew to refresh us.

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Then we hot footed it across town, via the Cornish Pasty Shop (Steak & Stilton for me, Cheese & Mushroom for Kathryn – Vegetarian for Andy & Helen). We called in to the York Tap on at the station to await on our train and sipped a libation – I can’t quite remember what I had to drink as I was running on vapours and was getting a bit confused.

We caught the train home and then met Scooby in Major Toms for a power pint and left as the quiz was starting. Scoob and me popped in to The Little Ale House on the way home: first impressions are that they do a good pint and the bar staff are friendly – we will call again when we have more time and I will write a full appraisal up here on Ijo Pona.

On the way home, Scoob showed me the window of horror: I recoiled and ended up sleeping for 11 hours with troubled dreams..*

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*Possible witchcraft?

Paris Deal

In 67 days, President Trump could go to war with climate action. But governments are at their annual climate summit right now. If we act fast, we could get them to lock in progress before he can destroy everything we worked for. Please sign the petition here.

nbc-fires-donald-trump-after-he-calls-mexicans-rapists-and-drug-runnersGermany, China, India, Brazil, the climate vulnerable countries, and others are reasserting their commitment to the Paris climate deal. But if enough of us call for it we could get them to urgently lock in the way to zero climate pollution, demand the US keeps its Paris promise, and commit to advance faster towards climate solutions that Trump won’t be able to stop.

Let’s ask them to make an unequivocal statement for climate action, regardless of what Trump does. Trump has called climate change a hoax, dismissed the Paris agreement, and just gave a climate denier with ties to Big Oil the job of determining his environmental policy in the next few months!

But over 100 countries have signed up and Paris is already in force. Now the world’s most vulnerable countries are leading the charge for urgent climate action. Yesterday, Germany announced a bold new plan to radically cut carbon and, crucially, China is shutting down coal and breaking records on renewable energy. India too.

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Trump could pull the US out of the UN climate convention when he comes to power – and as the world’s largest per capita emitter, that will have huge impact not only on the people of the US, but on all of us. But such a withdrawal is a bureaucratic nightmare that could take years. If enough of us join together now with a roar of NO! we can find ways to stop it, and ensure the rest of the world speeds up if the US slows down.

We simply can’t let this ignorant billionaire destroy the only path to save our planet. Let’s go all out now to keep the world on track when Trump takes office.

Sign now to get our leaders to recommit to our planet and forward this on!

Together, we helped make the landmark Paris climate agreement possible. We marched, donated, signed, and called. In the end, we helped push good leaders to be champions and made it difficult for anyone trying to block progress. Paris was always a starting point. We still have a long way to go to save everything we love from climate change. But if we lose it now, this shot at global cooperation is gone. This week we must act.