We are just hours away from President-Elect Donald Trump taking the oath of office and becoming officially the 45th President of the United States.
I can only imagine how Ed Snowden is feeling right now. There must have been a part of him which was hope for a Presidential pardon from the outgoing President Obama – alas, it wasn’t to come. And so what now for America’s highest profile whistleblower and exile who has just been given leave to remain in Russia for another three years?
Well, like most things Russian – there is no such thing as a guarantee and if I were Snowden I’d be very very nervous right now. The Russian’s will have obtained everything they need or wanted from Snowden and in fact, his presence there was merely Putin sticking a pin in the side of Obama.
If we enter into a thawing of USA/Russian relations, an easy win for Trump would be getting Snowden back to face the music for releasing millions of confidential documents.
Snowden has tweeted that he would rather be “without a state than without a voice” – soon, he may find himself in Russian state custody – whilst awaiting extradition back to the United States – facing the rest of his life in prison and finally losing the voice he cherishes so much.
In 2016 I spoke to the author James Bamford who has met and interviewed Ed.
They say politics is – show business for ugly people – well, new Chancellor Philip Hammond claimed that Ball’s Charleston was better than his economic forecasting…well, we will hear from Ed Balls about Strickly, the EU referendum and the future of the Labour party.
Our featured artist of the week is: Singer-songwriter and producer Kirsty Maccoll who released pop hits like “They Don’t Know.” If she was alive – she’d be 57 years old – as it was she was killed in a boating accident in December 2000 – aged 41.
Secretary of State David Davis made a statement in the House of Commons on the next steps in leaving the European Union. He used his appearance to tell EU leaders including that any attempt to damage Britain “is not a good strategy to pursue”.
In the final hour Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton debated in a town hall setting during the second presidential debate of the 2016 election. We will hear some of the memorable moments from the debate
Jason has more reaction to those terrible events over in America as President Obama says the Orlando gunman, who shot dead 49 people at a gay nightclub, was a home-grown terrorist. Omar Mateen’s father has condemned his son – saying he’s “sad” but also “mad” about the attack.
We will hopefully cross live to Orlando and get the latest news and reaction.
After 9pm tonight we talk about another murder – but on British soil and one that happened over 30 years ago. Hilda Murrell was 78 and an anti-nuclear campaigner – when she was abducated from her home – stabbed and left to die in the Shropshire country side. Her nepher, former naval commander Robert Green – insists that she was killed by the state and or nuclear interested parties.
There is the latest music news and we may even hear from Nigel Farage who was in #sittingbourne #kent today.
The featured artist is Paul McCartney who turns 74 on Saturday – after 8pm we have 4 non-stop songs from the man with Wings.
In the early hours of June 12, 2016, a gunman, who I’m not interesting in naming, walked into the gay night club called Pulse in Orlando, Florida and started shooting at a group of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered people – who were doing nothing but being who they were and enjoying themselves.
This was a direct attack on gay people, freedom, humans, love and a different way of life. As a gay man in love with another man you are always aware that there are people who would hurt, damage or kill people like me – just because of who they love. Attitudes to gay people have fundamentally changed in the UK since I was born in the late 1970s. Hostility was very present in the 80s when gay bars started to spring up in cities, albeit usually in discrete and concealed places – until the 90s and 2000s when the gay movement stopped hiding and people like me felt comfortable being open about our sexuality at work and so rather than being some distant object of derision – we become up close and personal with our straight colleagues – who realised – we were just like them.
But we are still not in a world, or country where being gay is still acceptable across the board. When a bakery can refuse service to customers who wanted a gay themed cake because it is ‘against their belief’ – backed up by Christian groups and media elements. It demonstrates to gay people that although we have journeyed far – the route back to the dark ages of the 1950s when we were illegal, arrested and in-prisoned – isn’t as far away as we might like to believe.
On my Monday Matters radio show I spoke to gay radio presenter DJ Justice, who presents his show in Orlando and often visited Pulse and lost people that he knew in the atrocity.
Nothing bristle’s the hairs on the back of my neck to stiffen quicker than an oppressive dictatorship demanding the people within a democracy shut up and stop questioning the way they torture and execute their people.
That is exactly what Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom indicated in an article published in the Daily Telegraph today.
He said “The Kingdom has always had to deal with a lack of understanding and misconceptions” – and I don’t doubt that for one moment. Maybe it is our lack of understanding about how a teenage boy could be found guilty of taking part in a demonstration that resulted in him being sentenced to death by beheading – followed by the very 21st century punishment of crucifixion??? Or, an elderly man being thrown in prison for more than 12 months – with the prospect of being lashed – just for having wine in his car? (I understand the punishment wouldn’t of been carried out – but only at the whim of the Saudi Royal family – if they had decided otherwise the punishment would have been given).
So, go on Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz – correct my ‘mis-understanding’. Re-adjust my ‘misconception’ of the dictatorship you speak for – by explaining how in just these two cases – you can claim a reasonable sentence and a just outcome. And if Sharia Law is from God – how can the Saudi King grant pardons and stay of executions? Is he above God? Is he equal to God? Does the Saudi Royal family have the power to tell God that – ‘actually, we disagree with you on this one God – maybe next time you’ll get it right’?
To be fair on the Saudi Ambassador – he does try and explain things a little when he says “Our justice system is based on Sharia law and implemented by our independent judiciary”. But the truth is, his claim to divine inspiration for this system of ‘justice’ – is a mask which allows the Saudi’s full control over the laws which are imposed on their people.
Why, for example – do they deny women the right to drive? And, if this is an explicit rule from God – why doesn’t every country insist on this? If there is only one God – why must he enforce this law in Saudi Arabia – but not even consider it an issue worth discussion in countries such as Pakistan, Turkey or America? Is He a ‘lazy’ God? Maybe the people of Saudi Arabia are just so bad under the rule of the Royal family, God doesn’t have time to check the rest of the world to see if they are also stopping their women from driving or even worse – mixing with men? Oh yes, I forget – this must be the “lack of understanding and misconceptions” Mohammed bin Abdulaziz speaks of.
But then, the more I think about this subject the more I get confused. If all of these laws from God must be enforced in Saudi Arabia – why does the Saudi Royal family not stay away from countries like America or the UK – and all our un-godly laws – which treat women equally and allow them the freedom to decide whether they wish to drive? Where woman mix freely with men and decide whether or not to use public transport and be seen out alone?
Why would anyone from the Saudi Royal family want to visit London? Why frequent the fashionable hotels, restaurants and jewelry shops – where alcohol is served and drunk in large quantities; women mix freely with men – men who can marry other men if they choose? Why do Saudi Princes snap up expensive London apartments and drive their luxury cars around our ungodly streets? Is it because they too enjoy getting out of the Kingdom and enjoying the freedoms that living in a democracy provides. Some in the Saudi Royal family even take it to extremes, as was demonstrated recently in America when the Saudi Prince Majed Abdulaziz al-Saud was arrested on suspicion of ‘forced oral copulation of an adult’ and was later accused of snorting cocaine, getting drunk, enjoying gay sex and arranging for escorts to come to his home. Even us ‘ungodly westerners’ were shocked by many of the revelations that emerged and we wouldn’t dream of doing half the stuff that this Saudi Prince indulged in.
It turns out he was only arrested when his behavior become so abusive – that those who worked for him fled in fear of their lives and reported him to the police. Luckily for this Prince – the long arm of the Western law – doesn’t lead to a shortening of his.
And that brings me back to this article in the Daily Telegraph by Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz. Our democracy isn’t perfect by any means and we don’t demand that the Saudi’s adopt our laws or change thier God. What we say is you should respect the rights of human life – men AND WOMEN; do not use your wealth and power to subdue those under your care and STOP the barbaric and hideous tortures, lashings and executions – that you do in the name of religion. Men , women and children deserve BETTER.
And finally – do not think to tell the people who live in an open democracy – NOT to criticise you or your regime – because you spend lots of money on us. You have been lucky enough to live above oil reserves – which has made you and a small group of your extended family very, very very rich.
Just because you are wealthy and have people fawning all over you – desperate to get a share of it – doesn’t make YOU right and therefore exempt from discourse and comment. You may STAMP it out in Saudi Arabia – but you won’t STAMP out discourse and freedom of expression here. Oh, and if I ever see you in London drinking or smoking or indulging in vices that you would deny to those in your home country – I will take a picture and happily spread it around. Because, no one is free from all vices. No one. And and also – because here I’m free to take pictures, talk openly and marry a bloke – if I so chose.
Soviet leader Chernenko dies at 73 and is replaced by Mikhail Gorbachev, 54. Rock Hudson dies of AIDS at age 59. He’s the first major star to fall victim to the disease. Madonna launches her first road show, the Virgin Tour.
Dozens of top-name musicians and bands perform at the Live Aid concerts in Philadelphia and London. The shows benefit African famine victims. With the availability of relatively inexpensive laser printers and computers, tools for desktop publishing begin to be commonly used.
Wow – ok, so news kinda started trickling out that Barry Manilow got married to his long-time partner and manager Garry Kief.
My gaydar isn’t always tuned into the right channel – but even I have had the sheet pulled from under me by the revelation that Barry M. is gay! Of course he is! Of. Course. He. Is.
Maybe I just didn’t care enough about Manilows personal life.
But, what a wonderful way to announce both your marriage and the fact it’s to the same sex. And to be fair on the media – rather than go with slogans such as “I can’t smile without….Garry” or “Mandy…I wish you were Andy”… or “Barry MANiBlow”….or something – they handled it fantastically.
Well done to Barry – couldn’t have done it in a more perfect way.
Mary Oliver is an American poet who was born in Maple Heights, Ohio, a semi-rural suburb of Cleveland.
Her first collection of poems, No Voyage and Other Poems, was published in 1963, when she was 28. She has won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times described her as “far and away, [America’s] best-selling poet”
Every Saturday morning at around 07:50 on 106.9 SFM – Gill Fraser Lee (@Ahappyflower) reads poems in our Tranquil Time spot. Today’s poem is by Mary Oliver and is called The Journey
The medieval way in which terrorist organisation ISIS dispatched Muadh al-Kasasbeh, a Jordanian pilot, to his death in January 2015 was something that caused nausea to anyone who cherishes life and believes in human dignity. Of course, not everyone gasped a breath of repulsion with news reports circulating that Isil broadcast the murder on giant public screens to crowds that included young children cheering and chanting in Raqqa, the de facto capital of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Of course, I say medieval – however, one does not need to look back to the middle ages to find tales of atrocious behaviour carried out by man kind up man kind. As is pointed out in the blog “We Are Respectable Negroes”
For almost a century, the United States practiced a unique cultural ritual that was as least as gruesome as the “Medieval” punishments meted out by ISIS against its foes.
What is now known as “spectacular lynching” involved the ceremonial torture, murder–and yes, burning alive–of black Americans by whites.
In fact, the burned to death images of the black body were one of the most popular types of mass culture in 19th and 20th century America.
And who can forget the many atrocities carried out by German’s under the NAZI flag including beastly experiments with victims coerced into participating; they did not willingly volunteer and there was never informed consent. Typically, the experiments resulted in death, disfigurement or permanent disability, and as such are considered as examples of medical torture.
The terror and brutality that is being carried out by ISIS is not new – the speed and method of the delivery of the images is. I’m grateful to have been brought up in the West – in a country where religion is a private matter and the freedom to live life is not dictated by the passages of a religious text or by the gun or knife or a brutal regime that won’t accept dissent. People in Britain must be free to choose to have a religion or not – but it must be a choice and as Allison Pearson writes in the telegraph:
Yesterday came a damning official report by Louise Casey saying that Labour’s Rotherham borough council was “in complete denial” and had failed to respond properly to last year’s scathing report by Prof Alexis Jay. Men of Pakistani origin had been allowed to abuse white girls in part because of “misplaced political correctness”: council staff were terrified of being labelled racist. Cowards and fools, they “decided such issues should be dealt with by people from the Pakistani community”. Good thinking, chaps!
In Rotherham, Casey also found that police had failed to pursue Pakistani perpetrators for fear of “offending the community”.
What community? Not yours and mine, that’s for sure. So desperate is the situation that Whitehall-appointed commissioners are to move in and take over the council. In Rotherham, we see with terrible clarity how the whole edifice of multiculturalism is as rotten as a Tudor monarch’s mouth.
What Allison fails to note is that the kind of abuse that happened in Rotherham isn’t just limited to a particular ethnic group – white men will take just as much advantage of girls as any other race – the worrying element is if the report is true and staff failed to act out of a fear of being racist. And this is why I am strongly against religious schools where children are divided along lines of cultural and often racial background and never mix with anyone who is not of their belief nor race. This cannot be good for our future.
If we are to learn anything from the atrocities committed by ISIS – is that we must integrate the different cultures and backgrounds that exist within Britain better than we are doing at the moment. What makes a teenage boy or girl think that their life is only valuable when it has a bomb attached to it and they are kill themselves and as many people as they can?
How did we let this situation happen? The Prime Minister David Cameron has jumped in feet first to tackle what they would term welfare scroungers – but what about extremists and extremism? It is lazy to think of this as a muslim probably – any more than suggesting that when the IRA was active on British shores they were a catholic problem.
One of the reasons we elect politicians is to make us safe – so far, they have failed us. But if UKIP is the answer – we’re most definitely asking the wrong questions.