Wednesday, 4 October 2017

What now for Spain after State Brutality in Catalonia?



[Image description: Spanish state flag & Catalan regional flag flying side by side]


I read the Spanish newspaper El País because I find out news that never gets reported here in the UK. However, I am well aware that it is very right-wing. In their oped of events of the "illegal referendum" on 1st October, they naturally criticise the politicos in Catalonia for inciting the trouble - despite years of grievances between Catalonia and Madrid. Nonetheless, its prime minister Rajoy, and, thus as its representative, the Spanish State, which are blamed the most. This is quite surprising given the newspaper's usual stances.

Son injustificables en Rajoy su pasividad, su impericia y la delegación de responsabilidades.

One cannot justify Rajoy's passivity, his lack of authority and the delegation of responsibilities.

By failing to condemn the violence & brutality perpetrated by state forces against the Catalans, King Felipe may have condemned Spain & the Spanish monarchy to being inexorably broken up and diminished. El Rey lost an opportunity to really use the monarchy to bring all Spaniards together. By being so partisan he has sided with Rajoy: by not condemning his handling of the political situation nor the use of police brutality. The monarch ought to have tried to heal the rift and act as king of all Spaniards, whatever their political persuasions & allegiances.

By failing to condemn the violence & brutality perpetrated by Spanish state forces in Catalonia, the EU has once again shown itself to be incapable of stepping in to hold up European citizens rights - Article 7 must take precedence over Article 4 - and thus is yet again diminished in the eyes of its citizens who cannot understand its failure to stand up for its so-called democratic values. It looks as if the European Union is not going to be of any use to either Catalans nor Spaniards. (And yes I can say that: cf. English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh & British, one can be two different nationalities at the same time.)

The EU has tied its own hands. It cannot intervene in Catalonia


The International Community was and is appalled at the way the Spanish State has handled the issue and the state brutality it brought to bear. Rajoy and the Spanish police forces brought shame upon Spain's reputation. According to the opinion polls prior to Madrid's actions, the referendum would have been won easily by those who wished to remain in Spain. Rajoy's in/actions have pushed more Catalans into wanting independence and probably others around Spain. They appear to be the actions of a weak & very foolhardy person. To support Rajoy & the police, is to accept that international opprobrium is a price worth paying. If the majority of Spaniards believe they were the right and moral actions, then unfortunately the Spanish will lose their reputation for being some of the most affable folk in Europe. I hope, however, that if tempers are given the chance to cool, then reason will re-assert.

If you have read all that I have posted on Catalonia across social media, then you know that I believe it to be better for her to remain with Spain. But Madrid has to give here: not just to the Catalans, but to the rest of the Spanish nationalities and regions. El País - recall a right-wing newspaper - has been calling for years for Madrid to do the same and to renegotiate the Constitution.

Now it is Spain's only hope of holding itself together. Well, that is without a military coup - but who would want that?

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Catalonia (English)/ Catalunya (Catalan)/ Cataluña (Castillian)


 [Image Description: the Estelada, Independent Catalan flag; by tooooo - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=739696  ]

I am flying the Estelada not because I think that Catalonia/Catalunya/Cataluña should go independent from Spain, but because I believe in the inherent right to self-determination of all peoples, which has also been a concern of international law since 1860. In modern times, as I understand the matter, all new states have only been considered such after the United Nations has agreed to same.

In all this, one should recall that modern nation-states as we understand them are all relatively new, only since the nineteenth century.

My personal opinion is that the Catalans should be better within the Spanish association, but only if Madrid shares out resources more fairly and treats Catalans with more respect.

However, under Rajoy's PP minority government, I cannot see that happening anytime soon.

Spain is too much controlled by Madrid - the seat of the Spanish centralised government. The State needs to be looking at a much looser association, if it does not want the Catalans, Galicians, Andalusians and maybe even Valencianos seceding. I should suggest devolving as many powers as possible to the regions, etc. and only controlling from the centre defence and the highest level diplomacy, such as for treaties, etc. That awful EU neologism 'subsidiarity' should be the mark of the modern, democratic State.

And that also goes for the UK too, where Scotland is treated not dissimilarly by the British equivalent of Spain's Partido Popular, our Conservatives - commonly referred to as the Tories - who are likewise a minority government. 

Friday, 22 September 2017

Class Action Against PACE Triallers?


Firstly I am no expert in law, science, ethics, statistics or any area covered by this article; I am just a layman.


[Image description: histogram table comparing PACE triallers' stated effectiveness of given treatments compared to results recalculated by independent statisticians & M.E.-supporters, demonstrating the exaggeration by the triallers and proving no "statistically significant advantage" for posited treatments. Taken from & © http://www.virology.ws/2016/09/21/no-recovery-in-pace-trial-new-analysis-finds/]

We are twelve months on from the publication of the statistical review of the data released, after a court order to do so, by the PACE triallers. That review demonstrated that the triallers massively over-exaggerated success rates. Since then, PACE has been heavily criticised my scientists, academics, statisticians and M.E.-sufferers, and lampooned for its blatant disregard for science let alone fact or reason.

My understanding is that the ethics committee that approved the original protocol for the PACE trial is responsible throughout the process for ensuring that the trial was run ethically and responsible for oversight of the trial. When the protocols were altered the ethics committee was thus accountable for approving any changes. In this instance the changes appear now to have significantly altered the trial to such an extent that the ethics committee was obligated to refer the matter back to the trial's funders to ensure that they also were content for the revised trial to proceed.

If this is correct, then - assuming they were apprised by the ethics committee - the funders are culpable as well as those who conducted the trial for the misinformation and thus all subsequent harms. A class action or similar, in order to obtain collective redress for harms done, would therefore seem appropriate against inter alia the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health (DoH).

Were they not informed, then the ethics committee is culpable and its members should be brought before their respective professional panels for appropriate disciplinary action.

Additionally, I should have thought that those who led the PACE trial ought now also to be held to account before their own professional bodies for the serious failings in their conduct. I imagine they also might be considered co-respondents in any class action (or similar) case.

Even were any such class action (or similar) to ultimately fail, it would at the very minimum raise awareness of the utter uselessness of the PACE trial's alleged results and thus lead to changes in support in the medical establishment for cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) & graded exercise therapy (GET) for people with M.E. (pwme).

Any thoughts?


Thursday, 14 September 2017

Sexual Naïvity At Fifteen


[Image description: a seated, strapping man in work-attire, named as Adam Fussell;
no photo credit nor © stated;
found at http://larsfredriksvedberg.tumblr.com/post/141769279326/adamfussell]

I have no idea who this handsome chap is, despite him being named as Adam Fussell. However, the image has made me recall a close-encounter in an Austrian country village's festival Bierhalle (beerhall).

It was 1980, I was fifteen - but looked older, seventeen or eighteen, due to facial features - and I was on my first-ever excursion outside of England, on a school-trip to Vienna and then Göstling-an-der-Ybbs for a few days in each. At said point I had fair communication in German, but still not fließend (fluent). I was bookish & arty & creative & dramatic and hated sports. At the all-boys school I attended, some labelled me a poof or gay; but I had no real idea what they meant. I liked boys as much as I liked girls, but in a completely asexual sense. Only the previous year, whilst queuing for class in the technical block, had fellow classmates P.J. and A.M. sufficiently described the mechanics of masturbation for me to work out what to do myself. So, the reader hopefully has a picture of a sexually naïf chap who appeared older than his actual age.

The tradition in a Bierhalle is for newcomers to fill up the spaces at already taken tables before taking an empty table. My fellow school-mates & I occupied most of two tables, but there was an empty place beside me. I had already attained my maximum adult height of 172 cm. (In the 1990s onwards, after years of yoga, I was and am now 174 cm due to better posture.) So when I say this huge fellow came over and sat beside me, one can gather he had something of the giant in him. He even towered over Jewy, the biggest lad in our group. He was clad in traditional Lederhosen, work-boots and a white cotton shirt opened at the neck. Hatless, one could see his blond straight hair was already thinning, poor chap. But he had friendly, blue, coruscating orbs. Everything about him appeared on the very large side, from feet to hands to head. His skin was fair but had the healthy complexion of one who labours outdoors. His nose, his nape and at least the visible "v" of his upper chest were all tanned where his hat had not offered shade.

I practised my German small-talk; but I cannot now recall his name let alone what we chatted about. We all dined on Wurst & Semmeln (sausage & bread-rolls) or fresh chicken, I drank Wein (wine) along with some other companions whilst others quaffed the offered Bier (beer). The local lad supped from his Bierkrug or Maß (tankard), at a much faster pace than any of us. His complexion became more and more roseate and eventually inclining to crimson.

Obviously from time to time one takes a visit to do one's ablutions and the Austrian chap decided to pursue me. Only I had no idea at the time that he was doing so. His flashing of his member was in hindsight an
obvious come-on; but innocent of sexual mores I mistook it, as he had seen mine whilst I was urinating, as a quid pro quo - I'll show you mine because I've seen yours - and excused it as drunken lack of co-ordination and decorum.

Still later, as some of my peers liked a smoke, we went outside - away from the prying eyes of our teachers - for some fresh air. As my fellows were returning to their beverages, the local youth appeared beside me and all good-naturedly engaged me in chit-chat. He was attempting to get me to go off with him - thank the Maker I did not understand the ramifications of this! However, he had become quite physical and had me in a locked embrace (hug hold), in which I felt decidedly uncomfortable. At the time, I hated being touched by anyone - so the reader can imagine how appalled I was to be hugged by a stranger!

Despite my protestations, he refused to release me. To my enduring gratitude at least three of my classmates including S.D. and G.J. (and I think A.Y.?) came to my rescue. They certainly untangled me from his limbs and ensured I was protected henceforth. I think, I know, that was one of the very few times in my life I ever felt truly protected. (I had an awful home life, so there was certainly no protection there.) To this day, I still view Jewy as a bit of a hero. 

[NB. Names have been disguised to avoid causing any embarrassment.]



 

[The interior of a Bierhalle in Munich]


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Clubbing with Todd Terry*


Clubbing with Todd Terry*




experience
feel the heat
taste the saline sweat
feel the beat
competing
with the inferior in your chest
both subsisting
within the undying constant
pulse of existence
feel the burn
as muscles go into optimum drive
then overload
let your senses overflow
let your spirit free your mind
let your mind release its hold
let your body take control
ignore the destination
just go
dance to the rhythm
bear the cost in your soul
feel yourself flow
the contours in your sight blur
images contort and slow
no human sound can disturb
salient music incessant
and strangely silent
listen to the loquacious angelic hush
the electronic roar
elation kicks in
synthetic drugs
or natural rush
you soar, you soar
existence where there was none
true being has now begun
you become an addict
but just for fun
seek for
demand more
death will eventually come
for sure
your body in motion
one with all flesh here
your spirit sees the light
God is in clubbing
in Oneness is delight
your mind knows
there is nothing to fear
simple love we share
acceptance with joy
our rubric
in dance
in music
our freedom
we let it show
feeling good
onwards we go
forwards to our tomorrow
good being
and feeling good
in our lives we will know
feeling good in every way
whilst clubbing



* inspired by & based on Todd Terry's "Something goin' on" - YouTube link above