Saturday, August 31, 2019

NOT "a constitutional outrage", by JD

Constitutional outrage? No, not in the least!

Galloway explains very clearly why the prorogue proposed by the Prime Minister is perfectly legal. He also says that the UK has an unwritten constitution but that is not strictly correct because even though it is written down, it is not all in one single document and more to the point it is not sacrosanct and is amended constantly.

"Being uncodified, the Constitution of the United Kingdom is in a state of constant flux. Each new law, each new major decision by judges, becomes a new stone in the edifice of the British Constitution. Thus, the British constitution changes all the time, very slowly, often imperceptibly. Britain moves forward by evolution, not by revolution."

An amendment to the constitution can occur after an Act of Parliament becomes law but that amendment may not become apparent until many years later. A perfect example of that in our current situation is the 1972 European Communities Act. Nobody realised that Parliament had abolished itself and handed over all legislative power to the EU. A few people knew but they did not speak. EU law take precedence over UK law where there is a conflict between the two and that is what lies at the root of the conflict between those who wish to leave the EU and those who wish to remain.

In essence English and Scottish law is grounded in common sense whereas Europe's Napoleonic code is based on rules and regulations: in the UK we are free to do as we wish unless it is against the law - in Europe we are allowed to do only that which is specified in the law.

Sackerson comments:

Lord Justice Laws explained ECA1972 as a "constitutional statute" - a statute enabling secondary legislation, but of a higher order than other such, so that it overrode elements of later Parliamentary Acts where they clashed with it.

However, he went on to say (para 58 here):

‘There is nothing in the ECA which allows the Court of Justice, or any other institutions of the EU, to touch or qualify the conditions of Parliament’s legislative supremacy in the United Kingdom. Not because the legislature chose not to allow it; because by our law it could not allow it. That being so, the legislative and judicial institutions of the EU cannot intrude upon those conditions. The British Parliament has not the authority to authorise any such thing. Being sovereign, it cannot abandon its sovereignty.’

So the issue - and it touches on far more than EU laws and regulations - is about government by secondary legislation.

Friday, August 30, 2019

FRIDAY MUSIC: Lhasa de Sela, by JD

Lhasa de Sela was a singer/songwiter who died almost ten years ago at the age of 37. She is not well known but she had and has a huge following and justifiably so because her music is very very good. Might not 'grab' you on first listening but you will find that it burrows its way into your consciousness.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Tales From The River Bank, by Wiggiatlarge

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

This quote struck me last year when I saw the boat in these photos. It is owned by a neighbour who has a garden, large, that goes down to the river's edge. The scene down there is tranquil, a million miles away from the hustle and bustle to the front of his house.

The story of his acquisition is as remarkable as the little boat. He was talking to a friend who had visited and the friend said he should have a boat on the river; only a canoe or small rowing boat would be allowed on the couple of navigable miles as the river and area are deemed to be of natural interest.

To my neighbour's surprise the friend said he knew someone who could make him one. "Won't that be expensive?" "Not if you speak to the man nicely,"said the friend, "as he makes them and other items for pleasure not profit, but you will have to wait awhile if you agree to go ahead."

After meeting the maker it was agreed and a few months later the boat was ready and has been in use every year since. The price was not revealed but it appears to be not much more than materials and a large beer !

The other reason I was intrigued was about a  man who could put so much craftmanship into such an object - not easy to see in the photos but the different wood spliced paddles give an indication - and who would do it in his spare time just for the pleasure of the final result. He knows little of boats; I have no idea where he got the skills he needs for that type of building but it works and has been much admired by others who do know. The builder is/was a cabinet maker by trade who just likes working with wood; long may skills like that continue.

Friday, August 23, 2019

FRIDAY MUSIC: Chloe Feoranzo, by JD

A long time ago I pointed out that young people today have better musical taste than our 'pop culture' would have us believe. One or two of them featured here -

Chloe Feoranzo is especially talented and deserves a post to herself. Two of the following videos demonstrate why: in the first one below (seen in the previous post) she is half way through her solo when Bob Draga has a quiet word with the rest of the band and then says to her ".... you go girl!" and she does, effortlessly with a mere split second hesitation into a second chorus. That is class; and in Montagne Sainte-Geneviève she displays wonderful technical mastery of a very difficult piece and does it with great style.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

JULIAN ASSANGE: A Letter to the Home Secretary

I've tried, and you can probably do much better - I hope you do. I see Assange as essentially a political prisoner and think that despite his faults he should be defended - for our sake as well as his.

You can also write to him direct to help his morale - I repeat the guidance for this at the end here.


Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, Home Secretary
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Dear Ms Patel

Julian Assange

I write to you in your capacity as Home Secretary and congratulate you on your recent appointment.

As you know, Mr Julian Assange has spent seven years effectively in solitary confinement at the Ecuadorian Embassy and has recently been seized from there and confined in Belmarsh Prison.

You will be very familiar with the details of his case. As you know, there is widespread disquiet about the British Government’s treatment of this journalist whose work has been given the Serena Shim Award “for uncompromised integrity in journalism.” (

May I most respectfully request that your Department:

  1. Ensures that Mr Assange’s medical problems are addressed promptly, appropriately and fully, seeing that the distinguished journalist John Pilger reports him to be in poor and worsening health (
  2. Ensures that he has access to papers and sources of information relevant to his defence and that items illegally seized (as reported in The Guardian here ) are returned to him as soon as possible
  3. Notwithstanding our country’s desire to maintain the most amicable relations with our friends in the United States, carefully and sympathetically considers appeals against his extradition
My reason for contacting you about this is that I feel that our country’s moral standing in the international world is in danger of being compromised in this case.

Yours sincerely

Julian Assange is being held in the maximum security Belmarsh Prison and appears to be in ill and declining health. Some people are concerned that he is not receiving adequate medical treatment, is being harmed by continuing long periods of solitary confinement and is allowed insufficient time to meet with his legal advisers and others.

Aside from protests, demonstrations and fund-raising, one way to show support is by writing letters - to your political representative, to the current Home Secretary Priti Patel, and to Julian himself (which MUST be done IN THE RIGHT WAY, as shown below).

Some links:

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Space: the superstore for energy and minerals?

Just connecting a few dots here, but there's an outside chance that doomsters could be confounded by technofixes involving space technologies.

A couple of years ago, The Sun newspaper reported on a planned NASA exploration of some of the asteroids sharing Jupiter's orbital path around the sun. One, "16 Psyche", appears to be the metallic core of a protoplanet and contains vast amounts of iron, nickel and precious metals:

How could we extract these materials profitably and get them to where they are needed?

Could we bring an asteroid home?

And what about the potential out there for solar power generation?

If we are able to gather energy in space, how do we get it back to Earth? One suggestion is to beam it through the atmosphere down to ground-based receivers - but this involves energy loss on the way, and problems with ensuring that the beam is directed accurately and safely.

Here's a suggestion that occurs to me - probably kited already among the bright brains in those research units: space elevators (cables tied to the ground at one end, and to a geostationary satellite at the other.)
People are already experimenting with the idea on a smaller scale:

- but instead of (or as well as) being a ladder for space vehicles to climb into orbit, couldn't they be high-tension power cables?

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Brexit: Stay Out The Car

A scene haunts me, from the biopic "Pollock", and it keeps telling me about Brexit. The final moments are based on real events, with only minor changes (a strangers' house instead of a bar)...

By 1956 the abstract painter Jackson Pollock had passed the peak of his fame:

"The art critic Clement Greenberg—Pollock’s onetime champion—would later say that by this time “Jackson knew he’d lost the stuff” and was “never going to come back.” Pollock was drinking heavily and had fallen into an abyss of nonproductivity; he was in a “death trance,” according to another biographer friend, Jeffrey Potter." (1)

Pollock's lover Ruth Kligman returned to him from a stay in New York, bringing the receptionist (Edith Metzger) from the beauty parlour she frequented, because her friend Bette wouldn't come.

After dinner they drove out to a party.

"On his way to the car Jackson staggered and Edith asked Ruth if he was "all right? I mean, are you sure he can drive? He's been drinking all day." After reassuring words from Ruth they got in the car - all three in the front seat...

"We drove toward East Hampton. Jackson drove fine, then suddenly started driving very slowly, then slower and slower. Finally he came to a full stop in the fork of the road."

A policeman spoke to Pollock and let him continue.

Edith whispered to me, 'Ruth, he's drunk. Let's go home.'
'Take it easy. He knows what he's doing. Don't worry.'

... Again he started to fall asleep. He drove about twenty miles per hour, his great head falling, his eyes glassy, moaning incoherently. I wished to God I knew how to drive. 'Jackson, please let's go home'... We got him to stop. He turned around in front of [...] a roadhouse bar. [...]
Edith quickly got out of the car. 'I'm going to call for help or call a cab; I must do something.' She was panicked. She was right, but I called her back.

Jackson got furious. 'She can't go in there, get her back.' ...
'Edith, get back in the car. Come on! Don't go in there!'
'But Ruth, he's drunk. I don't want to drive with him. I'm afraid.'
'No, he's not, he's fine, I promise you, we're going home. Come on! Get in!'

[...] I finally coaxed Edith to get back in. We started on our way home. Jackson was fully awake, fully conscious. He was angry, annoyed at us, and began to speed.

Edith started screaming, 'Stop the car, let me out!' She was pleading with him. Again she screamed, 'Let me out, please stop the car! Ruth, do something. I'm scared!'

He put his foot all the way to the floor. He was speeding wildly.

'Jackson, slow down! Edith, stop making a fuss. He's fine. Take it easy. Please. Jackson, stop! Jackson don't do this.' I couldn't reach either of them.

Her arms were waving. She was trying to get out of the car.
He started to laugh hysterically.
One curve too fast. The second curve came too quickly. Her screaming. His insane laughter. His eyes lost. We swerved, skidded to the left out of control - the car lunged into the trees.
We crashed." 

The car had crashed into two small elm trees. All three were thrown from the car. Jackson and Edith were both dead. Ruth survived. (2)

- - - - - - -

Started so well... lost control... drunk, arrogant and overbearing... passenger's move to escape... stupid advice to stay in, from friend... going faster as the squeals get louder...

That's how it feels, to me.

Saturday, August 17, 2019


Julian Assange is being held in the maximum security Belmarsh Prison and appears to be in ill and declining health. Some people are concerned that he is not receiving adequate medical treatment, is being harmed by continuing long periods of solitary confinement and is allowed insufficient time to meet with his legal advisers and others.

Aside from protests, demonstrations and fund-raising, one way to show support is by writing letters - to your political representative, to the current Home Secretary Priti Patel, and to Julian himself (which MUST be done IN THE RIGHT WAY, as shown below).

Some links:

Friday, August 16, 2019


We are into that time of year which used to be known as the 'silly season' which coincides with school and Parliament holidays and the newspapers are filled with trivial or inconsequential stories. Times have changed somewhat and it sometimes feels as though the silly season lasts all year round!

But to maintain the 'tradition' here is a potpourri of musical strangeness. (- in keeping with this year's strange weather.)

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Sackerson adds:

From the sublime to... here is a favourite of mine -


JD tells me some swine actually did this for real:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

1978 - when TV political debate was more serious

Here is the Thames TV debate on the Common Market and its relevance to the minority Callaghan government. If only modern debate could be more like this.

Dennis Skinner is very good on the multiple impacts on British industry and labour.

I like the comment by John Pardoe (Liberal) towards the end of Part 2 when he talks about the disadvantages of government by a party that has secured an overwhelming majority in Parliament.

I think that EU membership and recent British government have highlighted the need to revisit:

  • The increasing power of the Executive
  • The use of prerogative powers
  • The expansion of secondary legislation that is merely waved through both Houses

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Epstein: a prediction

I have read that Jeffrey Epstein used to document everything about his activities and clients, presumably as a form of insurance. Now that he is dead - rather mysteriously - his properties can be searched without hindrance.

I predict that nothing will be found that would prove any of the allegations or rumours made against some of the rich, powerful and famous people with whom he had been associated. Not at his homes, offices or lodged with his lawyers past and present.

For I'm confident that America is just as good at losing information as we are.

You may remember that in 1984 Conservative MP for Huddersfield, Geoffrey Dickens passed a file about paedophiles and child pornography to the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan. Dickens had been campaigning on this issue for some years and had even used Parliamentary privilege to name a former British High Commissioner. He claimed there was a paedophile network involving "big, big names – people in positions of power, influence and responsibility" and threatened to name them in the Commons also.

Brittan had told Dickens that the file would be passed to the police; Scotland Yard later said that they had no record of any such investigation. And in the same week that the dossier was given to Brittan, both Dickens' London flat and consituency home were broken into and ransacked - without any ordinary valuables being taken.

Also in the 1980s, it is said that former Labour Cabinet Minister and then MEP Barbara Castle gave investigative journalist Don Hale a dossier alleging the involvement of MPs and peers in the Paedophile Information Exchange. Hale was then visited by police and Special Branch and ordered to hand it over.

That file seems to have been lost, too.

Here's a challenge for a brave and tech-savvy blogger to take up: install one of those programs that identifies your readers' computer addresses and geographical locations, then run a piece titled something like "British VIP paedophile network: notarised copy of Geoffrey Dickens' 1984 file found among deceased lawyer's papers" - and see who looks in.

Or - and I guess this is best - let sleeping dogs lie. As Stalin liked to say, "A man, a problem; no man, no problem."

Friday, August 09, 2019

FRIDAY MUSIC: Ex Africam # 2, by JD

The Proms on BBC4 at the weekend featured Angélique Kidjo and I found this review from the Evening Standard:

The review gives special mention to the percussionist but I thought the drummer was even better and special guest Roberto Fonseca was excellent, as usual.

Watching the show I was reminded that we need a further helping of music 'out of Africa'.
Part one was here -

....and we continue, belatedly, with more of the same and it is easy to see how the Blues and the S.American rhythms were derived from Africa's musical traditions.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Parliament's Conundrum

Brexit: Legal bid to prevent Boris Johnson shutting down parliament

Parliament voted to repeal ECA 1972.

Parliament voted to trigger Article 50.

Parliament rejected the dWA a record 3 times in the same session (a breach of established protocol that we can only hope will never be repeated.)

If the EU fails to offer an acceptable revised deal, how can there be anything more to say?

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Fake News and Misleading Adjudicators

People look for quick answers, for someone to tell them whether a claim is true or false.

But the judges themselves may not always tell the full story when putting their stamp on it.

Zero Hedge, 28 December 2018: "Angela Merkel: Nation States Must "Give Up Sovereignty" To New World Order"

This is labelled "Fake News" by Maarten Schenk on "Nowhere does she mention the "New World Order" and there is no place where she says "sovereign nation states must not listen to the will of their citizens when it comes to questions of immigration, borders, or even sovereignty".

I reply:

"Some misquoting, perhaps - but the essential point is correct, if you read the original KAS press release ( 

You will know from that, that the conference was about the tension between national sovereignty and globalisation; and that Frau Merkel is in favour of the latter, merely using parliaments as the instrument to surrender sovereignty. 

This ignores the tension between parliamentary representatives and the people they claim to represent, as has been clearly instanced in the UK. 

So, not quite fake news after all. Do you think you yourself have been slightly misleading here?"

Who shall guard the guardians?

Monday, August 05, 2019

Simon Reeve on why we should have completely open borders

Hopping channels, we got a few seconds of this: "Mediterranean", with Simon Reeve.

He's just been spending a bit of time with lads on the North African coast who are trying to get into Europe illegally. And here's what he says, now on board ship and looking over the Strait of Gibraltar at 17:30 minutes in:

"Across the Mediterranean, from Africa to Europe, from Morocco to Spain, it feels that under the watchful eye of those lads in the forest who look at these big ships carrying their hopes and their dreams across to southern Spain. And I just get to do it thanks to this (gets out his passport) little thing: my passport (chagrined grimace); an accident of birth."

Yes, indeed. It's hard not to feel sympathy with people who want a better life.

But if you're going to play on our emotions in this way, there should also be a cool head to go with that warm heart.

There are three options:

a.) Let anyone and everyone into Europe, anytime.
b.) Let nobody in, ever.
c.) Let some people in.

Since (a) and (b) are obviously lunatic, it must be (c). And if (c), then we need a system.

It really doesn't help the political discourse to have TV presenters and celebs indulge in obiter dicta without considering the implications of what they say.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Getting past eco-guilt

There's some element of psychological sado-masochism at work in the Great Plastic Rubbish Crisis. It's almost as though the real driver is the need to make (other) people feel bad about themselves, which mostly they do anyway. 

If you're going to whip the world you'll need a long lash, and in this case there's plenty of thong. We've all seen the animal pictures, and then there's the five great ocean garbage patches to remind us what a messy, throwaway lot we are.

Like the WW2 British tearing down park railings on tne pretext that they were needed to make into tanks and aircraft - which they weren't, so I understand, it was just to keep the populace aware that There Is A War On And We Must All Make Sacrifices (geez Louise, as though we didn't know) - we've had the Plastic Shopping Bag Guilts foisted on us.

The 5p charge has indeed been effective at reducing waste, and that's a good thing:

- because it is always good not to be wasteful.

But then there's the link between that and Killing Sea Turtles (etc.):

By and large, it's not me. I live 100 miles inland and what my Local Authority doesn't recycle it burns - creating atmospheric particulate pollution that may be more of a health hazard than Deadly Diesel (the fuel that the Government wanted us all to switch to, then very much not).

So the Mail boasts of how it has successfully influenced our consumer behaviour, yet only last year ran a story explaining that most of the seaborne plastic garbage comes from rivers in far-off continents:

- a story based on a German scientific news item from the year before:

We may be indirectly responsible, in that until recently we sent a lot of garbage to China to be processed, but China is calling a halt to much of that: (sodding paywall)
But you can read this follow-up:

It seem the real answer to 90% of the problem is to get faraway foreign countries to stop throwing the stuff into the rivers - a perfectly practicable, political issue.

And then maybe a cleanup of the floating ocean crap - initial cost estimate c. £1 billion:

- though likely to be far more:

- yet even then, still a tiny fraction of the cost of building an aircraft carrier, for example.

Meantime, I wish the new prophets would get out of my head with their arrogant Save The World stuff.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

9/11 Conspiracy Theory Gets Legal and Scientific Teeth

24 July 2019: The Fire Commissioners of the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District outside of Queens, New York have passed a resolution calling for a formal enquiry into allegations that explosives were planted in the Trade Centre buildings prior to the airplane suicide attacks -
NY Fire Commissioners Demand New 9/11 Probe, Citing "Overwhelming Evidence of Pre-Planted Explosives"

This comes after a petition to the New York Southern District Attorney's office by victims' families on 10 April last year, stating “The Lawyers’ Committee has reviewed the relevant available evidence . . . and has reached a consensus that there is not just substantial or persuasive evidence of yet-to-be-prosecuted crimes related to the use of pre-planted explosives and/or incendiaries . . . on 9/11, but there is actually conclusive evidence that such federal crimes were committed.”

That Grand Jury Petition made on 10 April 2019 can be read here:

Friday, August 02, 2019

FRIDAY MUSIC: Al Andaluz Project, by JD

...tip of the hat to Mr Sackerson for this which popped up in his sidebar of random selections from the archive. I haven't yet checked out "Marko Markovitch's tremendously vibrant jazz band" but I did look for the Al Andaluz Project and they were very interesting.

They are a collaboration between a German group called Estampie and L'Ham de Foc from Valencia.

This from their web page -

"The encounter of the three "leading" cultures of the Middle-Ages - Muslim, Jewish and Christian - a topic as fascinating and controversal as ever - is reflected in the Al Andaluz Project by the origin of the involved musicians. Just recently violent-prone fundamentalist movements, whether religious or not, have taken centre stage of public debate. Unfortunately, the necessary basic knowledge of the matter is often fragmentary, this being due to a general ignorance of the historical context. And this in view of the incredible abundance of musical literature. In some regions this music has never ceased to be living tradition until today. Especially in the realm of music, the peaceful co-existence of the three great cultures lasted for centuries - a shining example for a mutually enriching and inspiring social life."

"Al-Ándalus is the name chosen by the Ummayad conquerors for the Iberian Peninsula. Moorish-governed Spain was not only famous for its tolerance and scholarship, but for prosperity, trade and flourishing arts as well. For many centuries, people with different religions - Muslim, Jewish and Christian - lived together in peace and inspired each other. Philosophers, poets, artists and musicians were most welcome at the courts of occidental rulers like Alfonso X "the Wise" of Castile, and made their artistic contribution to a unique merging of cultures."

The music is not all from Andalucia, the first video below is Portuguese/Galician* but it fits the style and the mood of all they do.

*Sackerson asks:

"Can you describe for our readers the technical differences between Portuguese/Galician music and Andalusian?"

JD replies:

Well I can try :)

This is a traditional version of the Portuguese/Galician song -

As you can tell the AlAndaluz Project adapted it to their Arabic/Sephardic rhythms and tunings but the melody is identifiably the same.

Their style of music is nothing like the popular image of Andalucian music, i.e. flamenco which has roots in the north African 'tarab' as I showed in my previous post -

The Al Andaluz Project web page mentions the influence of the Umayyad caliphate which had its origins in Damascus and they were one of the more enlightened sects of Islam in contrast to the Abbasids who drove them out of Damascus prompting their migration to Al Andalus. The link I had in the references helps to explain things -

I think there is a lot of guesswork goes into reconstructing history and as I have pointed out elsewhere historians only tell us about the 'gangsters' who, animal like, fight each other for power. They tell us little or nothing about how people lived and even less about their traditions and their arts and music but if we open our eyes and our ears we can get glimpses of the influences from one tradition to another.