Showing posts with label london. Show all posts
Showing posts with label london. Show all posts

Sunday, 11 September 2022

Oliver Bullough on Dirty Russian money at Edinburgh book festival 2022

Oliver Bullough spoke on Dirty Russian money with Ian Rankin at Edinburgh book festival 2022, ad his new book Butler to the World.

In the 1990s journalist Bullough worked in Kurdistan and Russia – when there was huge hope in the east. Then he was in St Petersburg, two weeks before Putin, who has transformed Russia in his own image – with rigged elections, war – tycoons, tax dodgers and criminals.

 

Russia Oligarchs transformed London as supposed “philanthropists and wealth creators”,. So what went wrong? – the answer is to follow the money. There are Kleptocracy tours London to West London, Eton square, Belgravia.- who store their great wealth in offshore shell companies, 20 billion is hard to spend, and they migrate around the world…

 

*The Suez Crisis 1957

And the loss of empire. Before pound sterling was the dominant currency, after it was the dollar. Before during the empire. Britain had been an oligarchy and sold expertise to others. Afterwards the Dollar became the main currency for financing trade.  

 

A large part of the world is not accounted for – hard to hide wealth. 

 

*One Trillion in British and Scottish shell companies in Edinburgh Britain then had a special role protecting illegal wealth –defamation laws. Britain began to protect illicit, unexplained wealth. – they donate and are donors for universities. Here UK we don’t investigate financial crime and agencies are not funded. There are no rules…..less regulated skulduggery

The City of London has great loopholes, and is known as the London Laundromat. Foreigners break laws elsewhere, and their money is not safe in these territories. 


The Offshore market – was 4B in the 60s: 41B in 80s: and 3 trillion now

 Accounting money is like a “Sponge through a sieve– which splinters into thousands of tiny single cell organisms.” With massive online gambling, and Euro dollar

 

Countries became independent – Caymen islands, British Virgin islands, and were reinvented as shell companies, and worlds biggest tax havens. With secrecy and tax free. Private fund Ltd. Partnerships are less regulated. 

One trillion dollars has been stolen from Russia. There has been enormous crime done to victims all over the world. 

 

Roger Mullen SNP mp – worked to try to close loopholes. An Economic crime bill 2016 under Cameron didn’t go far enough. Also the Russian Report was delayed and redacted - about potential Russian interference in Brexit, and elections

 

Questions?  Have any countries resisted? – America quite good, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, 

Armies of lawyers write all the rules. Non Dom status and investor visas. Unexplained wealth. We can’t do anything unless everyone does something? Is this true? Can we not investigate anyone who doesn’t work but has huge unexplained wealth?

 

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Thatcher’s Deregulations and the dangerous cladding


Thatcher stopped independent "Building safety" and "Material certification" as she believed in a reckless free for all capitalism for businesses. This de-regulation left a harmful legacy. A recent horror has been the disaster of Grenfell tower, when 72 people lost their lives. So who is to blame?

 

The main flaw was cladding that created a fire trap around the tower block. It now turns out that 11m people are trapped and unable to sell in modern buildings that are surrounded with this cladding. The construction firms of this cladding were left to do their own inspections – rather than an independent inspection firm. So who is liable and who should pay to remove all this cladding?

 

On Newsnight they spoke of the tax payer footing the bill, just as the tax payer had to pay for the banking collapse of 2008 – rather than the banks. The Tories plan is even further de-regulation. 

The Tories unregulated capitalism means we all pay a price.

 

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Is Scotland Ready?


Irish Times writer Fintan O’Toole is an excellent, creative thinker and I enjoyed his essays, in the Sunday National. He writes that we must not idealize what independence will mean. Unlike Brexit, we have given Scottish Independence careful consideration, both by past artists and also in recent times.  

In the years leading to the historic 2014 vote on Scotland’s indy, one of the most significant changes that occurred was the rise up of renewed, energised and enthusiastic debates on all aspects of our views on how to build a healthier democracy, and with all walks of life here being more engaged. These debates led to creative imaginings of the type of country we might build here. This progress has been totally missed by the London based press. (And as Angus Robertson well points out, little attention is paid by the UK press to the UK regions, nations or to the European press) 
  
The twenty years of the Scottish Parliament has brought renewed confidence in our ability to govern ourselves, even while history tells us Scotland has always had some form of self government. Another big change was with young people. For the first time 16 and 17 year olds were given the vote, which meant political debate was considered in schools. Young people also take their news from diverse sources online. There has also been a reworking and recreating of Scotland’s arts, heritage and history. According to leading historian Tom Devine, until the 1960s Scottish history, particularly from Union to the present day, had been seriously neglected by academic study. 

My impression is all these discussions greatly moved Scotland on, with new creative ideas on how to make our own nation. Its been clear for decades now (as the polls point out) that Scotland has been moving in its own and different trajectory to those in England. 

Re Brexit – I’m getting worried now for the state of things here UK. Gerry Hassan, who has a new book, Scotland the Brave, thinks we’ve come to the limits of devolution and where do we go now?  The new guy Adam Price leading Plaid Cymru in Wales is very interesting too. He’s lived over in the States and believes we might all be stronger here with 4 diverse nations working together, as comparable to the Benelux countries of Netherlands, Luxemburg and Belgium which thrive independently but also co-operatively. Perhaps we need to define better what indy means and that the four British Isles nations would work closely together to build security, trade etc.  In todays internet world its such a different business to the days of ship travel! Worryingly UK politics appears in melt down, and with the hoping Brexit is some impossible quick fix.

On our social challenges. My view is we need to close private schools. The trouble is a big shift in culture like that can't really happen over night. After centuries of empire building and a Them versus Us culture, real social change will take some time I believe. We should seriously look at the Finnish education system - which believes in a "co-operative culture" rather than a "survival of the fittest" of creaming off an elite you nourish while the rest are disregarded. Because Scots history tells us we thrive when we are all given a chance, re libraries and education here.

There was an interesting write up in the Sunday Times June 21 (I like to read the right wing press also!) on Dr Geetha Marcus, professor of education Glasgow who advises the Scottish government. She advocates abolishing private schools in favour of a high-quality comprehensives model, and in line with the approach by Finland after the second world war, as required to reduce our nations attainment gap.Marcus argues segregated education is holding Scotland back. She also advises masters degrees for all teachers. Finland with a similar population, is recognised as an education success story since it replaced private and selective schools with ‘common’ schools on the basis that a society divided by class and poverty would weaken the country.There are 30K pupils in 74 independent schools in Scotland, around 4%, which encourages a privileged few.

It is vital we close the attainment gap. This can only be achieved, through a radical shift in attitudes. All children deserve a fair chance in life. We must also have mixed ability groups in primary schools and a Montessori type of education with mentoring. 

Worryingly the establishment and media continue to be run by private school elites. They want to protect the status quo and are rigidly against change, but this flies in the face of progress and of a real future of younger generations. So the question is, what do they really stand for? Those in London need to listen to more diverse voices, and not only to an isolated Tory party or a dysfunctional Labour. Huge changes are coming and I certainly don’t see the Brexit party or Lib Dems as an answer.

We need to look for the bigger pictures. Too many are only concerned for the personal and party issues. Why are the unionists running away from discussing Scotland’s pressing issues in a Peoples Assembly/? What are they scared of? Those on all sides of Scottish politics agree we need control of our immigration, drugs policies, and are against any Westminster power grab. We must find consensus – we can have an ever stronger British isles, just not one where all is controlled at Westminster. 

I am presently reading Fintan O’Toole’s recent book, Heroic Failure, on the Brexit carry on, and what an excellent story teller he is in this well researched tale of this highly confusing break down. He states that Brexit is really not about the EU, but an existential crisis. 

Scotland sits on the edge of Europe and for centuries has been an outward-looking nation. We must embrace this now – and become the welcoming, non-hostile nation, most who live in Scotland wish to be part of. 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Grenfell Tower Fire!


This burnt out blackened building is a ‘metaphor’ for the Tories failed policies.

This disaster is beyond comprehension. Unforgivable.
That those in authority have such disregard for those who are just starting out - the young, the students, the refugees coming here for a better life…
 what is London offering them?

Any inquiry will take years. Action needs to happen much quicker to have safety inspections on other tower blocks across the country.

Any fire should be contained on each floor, this did not happen. The other story is that the cladding outside was put there recently for cosmetic reasons.
 And all this in the richest burgh in the UK. Totally shocking. Any country that doesn’t value all its citizens and looses sight of humanity or that puts fast profits before human life is bound to fail.


Our PM Theresa May went to visit the people caught up in this disaster – but she never spoke to any of them… 
This is what happens when its all about a few rich elite, and a society neglects its citizens. Trickle down economics is dead and does NOT work!!
The Grenfell Renovation cost 10m - £4,750 for fire-resistant cladding is a drop in the ocean. Cutting corners will cost them many millions... Now we have to wonder, what is the value of human life?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Emeli Sande at Royal Albert Hall



Some days are ordinary grey days, but yesterday was an extraordinary day.
There was a glorious blue sky and those small fluffy white clouds as I headed to South Kensington via bus and tube and for a late lunch at the V & A café, where the pianist played under the ornate Victorian rooftops. 

2012 has been a big year for Sande, not only did she get married, her debut album Our Version of Events was the top selling album and went triple platinum in the UK. She has a glowing warm stage presence with her large smile and her sincerity. I have seen her perform at several of Glasgow's top venues - the Oran Mor, King Tuts and the Old Fruitmarket. 

It felt very strange to be in such an iconic venue. I entered the hall via its Stage Door entrance for my Pass, where we waited. Professor Green came in shortly after!  I shook his hand and said how much I enjoyed his big hit song with Emeli - Read All About It. Green had a beautiful girl with him who looked  like a model. I took in the images on the walls – in particular one memorable image of Frank Sinatra as he waved to his enthralled audience taken from the stage by photographer David Redfern, I was in awe!. I thought how hard it is now to get those kind of images with all the restrictions imposed on photographers these days – only the first three songs, no moving about etc. etc.  I wished to savour every moment knowing these were moments I would never forget.    

I will never forget ascending the narrow steps that entered the arena the theatre’s red and gold lights shimmered above us, where there were the shadow outlines of people on the tiered circle galleries as spotlights hovered and I feel I have now entered a realm of fantasy, folklore, mystique and hidden memories.

Another Emily, from New York – an Emily King played as the support.


When Emeli appeared in the shadows at the top of the dark steps we know she is a star in the making. She savoured the experience, as she paused to take in the atmosphere and those moments as she arrived on the iconic stage.  The halls doomed arena offer perfect acoustics for voices to reverberate and bounce into the air. 

Sande began with her distinctive song Daddy, which was followed by Tiger and Where I Sleep. Then the backing singers and band got a chance to shine with the refrain I Left My Heart in Pluto.
In the middle of her set Emeli sat at the piano centre stage and said, 'This is where I know myself and where I am raw.’ She started with the emotional Clown and she said sometimes we all need to show the Clown in us.  Next she sang her well loved song River. She said she’d had emotional responses to this song and that one young girl who’d never been to a music concert before had said to her that Emeli was 'her river of music.'  Then she sang a song by one of her main musical influences, Nina Simone, ‘I Wish I Knew How It Feels to Be Free’ which drew positive audience reactions.


‘We should all speak up and use our voices.’ Emeli said when she sang Read All About It: and the audience was delighted when Professor Green came on stage to perform for this number one hit song. Emeli returned to the stage in a red dress and with her song Wonder: a song full of light when she got the audience on their feet
Anything can be achieved if you have love, when she spoke of the support of her parents. Then she sang her hit song Heaven that has that danceable drum beat and soaring vocal. Labrinth then appeared to sing their chart song Underneath Your Beautiful. And for her encore she sang her touching Maybe, followed by her rousing Next To Me.

Emeli makes the dream her own, but she also takes us with her. This was one of my best days too.
Having followed Emeli's career for five years since 2007, it is both strange and wonderful to see her now on the Big Stage and called the Voice of 2012. I remember the intimacy of her Oran Mor gig and how moving her voice was there.

THE SET:  Daddy, Tiger, This is Where I Sleep, Breaking the Law, ( two new songs)  My Kind of Love, Abide With Me, Clown, River, Nina Simone’s How It feels to be Free, Read all About It, Wonder, Mountains, Heaven, Maybe, Next to Me,
Proceeds to the Princes Trust. The concert was being filmed for a DVD, photography was restricted, but the colours and vibe were awesome. 

Monday, 26 November 2012

Wasted Love


Award winning Fringe musical for Best Lyrics – Wasted Love was written by the Kielty brothers John and Gerry. The show was performed at the Actors church Covent garden on November 25th 2012.

The Kieltys were previously known as The Martians, and they used to busk on Edinburgh High street during the festival and perform their comedy routines with Gerry distinctive high voice.  They then won the Cameron Mackintosh prize for best new musical in 2006 for the musical The Sundowe which was performed at Eden Court theatre in Inverness..


John Kielty is an actor and writer and he has performed in shows at the Lyceum theatre Edinburgh.

John Kielty

Martians Edinburgh high street

Sunday, 16 September 2012

London Music


I look through NME 2012 ( or Q also) and I am so bored of the music coming out from the London labels these days – the predictable rock bands, samey pop for the tweeny market, and the introspectiveness of the guitar singer songwriter. There is little original. it is all to a preset formula - like a recipe that worked before and saying ‘well let’s just stick with what we know will sell.’ It is boring and samey.

Any true creativity offering something new never happens in the mainstream but rather in the peripheral edges.
There are the performers - Let Me Entertain You Robbie - and then is there is the real side of art and music the writers and creatives and that interests me.
As Joni Mitchell said, you can’t start out wanting to be both.  Elton, Carly Simon, Dylan and Emeli Sande all started out as writers and later were performers also.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Lana Del Rey 'National Anthem' Video

Lana has released artwork for her forthcoming video for her single National Anthem. She has a very unique style and she likes her music to be about the images too. The video is set to see Lana taking on the role of Jackie O with rapper A$AP Rocky playing John F. Kennedy. Del Rey cited the video as "definitely the most beautiful thing" she's ever done. As of June 29, 2012, it has garnered over one and a half million views.
REVIEW What Culture -http://whatculture.com/music/lana-del-rey-national-anthem-music-video-review.php - It’s actually really really sad and a truly stunning video (especially the end monologue) – it is all about nostalgia, memories, life, love and loss. I preferred the more upbeat demo version of National Anthem originally but I think this video makes the most of the new more forlorn version and bolsters it upwards. Will it set the charts alight…if it does provide a breakthrough then it is much deserved. Get ready for the Summertime Sadness video soon but in the meantime, rejoice in a national anthem that everyone can actually remember the words to.  Stars, stripes and serenading the President are all in a day’s work for the 2012′s First Lady of Pop as she delivers another note-worthy all-American visual.

Born to Die has sold more than 1.4 million copies worldwide. It peaked at number one in Greece, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and other European countries.
Del Rey's music has been noted for its cinematic sound and its references to various aspects of pop culture, particularly that of 1950s and '60s Americana. The singer has been described as a "self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra" and cites many contemporary artists such as Elvis Presley,Britney Spears, Nina Simone, Nirvana, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, and Antony and the Johnsons amongst her musical influences.
Del Rey possesses a wide contralto vocal range, which has been described as unique, captivating and highly emotive, being able to transcend from sounding high and girlish in her timbre, down to a low and jazzy sound with great ease, although both these areas of the voice can be conflicting in their sound and polarise opinion. 
http://youtu.be/60cvtxwlJr8

Lana Del Rey wows crowd at Hackney Weekend!

It is good to see Lana is now performing with scaled back stings and piano rather than the out-of-step rock band that backed her on her Saturday Night Live performance and which didn't match her range of jazz infused soul sound at all.
Lana performed her next single National Anthem as her encore and shook hands with the enthusiastic crowd. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejg2zFpvTzI 


Interesting. Also I heard this track on the radio today. Lana Del Rey and Bobby Womack 'Dayglo Reflection' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eJkETkfdSg –
Del Rey is due to play a host of UK festivals, including this weekend's Isle Of Wight Festival as well as Radio 1's Hackney Weekend and Latitude Festival.  Earlier this month she played Los Angeles' El Rey Theatre and debuted a brand new song, 'Body Electric', at the show.

I watched LDR on the YouTube clips when she received poor reviews of her performance on Letterman. I also watched some other clips, where she performed with only piano and I posted on YouTube how much better she sounded with the piano backing rather than the band, where she looked and sounded ill at ease and rather lost.
Del Rey has spoken about how hard she found being judged by music fans and critics at the start of the year. "When you focus on being a writer for ten years and then after that people start listening to the work and they decide that they don't like you and that's kind of off-putting," she told BBC Radio 1. Adding: "Just because when you've put all your work into crafting words and melodies and then people start thinking about you as a person, that's a little off-putting."
As of March 2012, Born to Die has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. It peaked at number one in Greece, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and other European countries.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Songwriters Circle BBC 4

October 7th - Leon Russell, Nick Lowe, Paul Brady.

October 14th – Donovan, Buffy St.Marie, Roger Cooke.

October 21st – Neil Finn, Janis Ian, Ryan Adam.

October 25th – KT Tunstall, Ray LaMonatgne, David Gray.

Fridays 9.10.pm. Held at the Bush Hall London. The art and process of songwriting. They perform, collaborate and chat about their songs.

Followed by ‘Singer Songwriters at the BBC.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

James Blake at the Oran Mor Glasgow 2nd June 2011

'Unexpected Journeys'
Twenty-two-year old Blake performed his electronic dubstep piano tunes at the Oran Mor venue to an upbeat young crowd.   

Blake had an easy warm charm which gave him a relaxed fun rapport as he looked over to the packed crowd.
He sang songs from his debut album released in February 2011 and performed his single 'Limit To Your Love' - a song by Canadian singer songwriter Feist, which had disquieting pauses and thudding sub-bass.  Another song echoed the refrain 'I'm Falling...'  His music created disjointed tempos with unexpected twists; sometimes mournful and haunting, other times pensive and warm. 

His songs are edgy melodramatic songs that leave emotional questioning spaces.  He has a powerful voice that is an assured instrument - that cracks and reached deep places yet soothes and soars.  It is hard to categorise his multi-layered music. Perhaps post-modern and minimalist in the style of The XX -  his sound is totally now and of the moment.  Blake has been receiving strong industry backing and good reviews. 

He is a British electronic composer from London UK.   He is described as the 'most experimental and original' artist to make the annual hotly tipped list.  In 2011 he was announced as the runner-up in the BBC's Sound of 2011 annual poll. His self-titled debut album was released in the UK in February 2011.  Blake was supported by Cloud Boats.

http://jamesblakemusic.com/
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Friday, 13 May 2011

GREAT Headlines! It has been a week of stupendous headlines!


A Disney fairytale week! First the 'beautiful princess' Kate Middleton in a dress of ivory lace married her 'handsome prince' (Prince William) who wore an Irish Guard uniform with a scarlet jacket and blue sash. 

On Monday the 'baddie'  -  one of the most evil men of our times - was killed in a raid on his hide-out.
I saw a post about his death on a YouTube clip and I thought at first it was simply a joke!  On checking the BBC Breaking news, I found this was actually real!  In fact the American security team had watched the raid in real time in the White House Situation Room.    

Monday, 2 May 2011

**Producer George Martin: Known as 'The Fifth Beatle'



**'Arena: Produced by George Martin'  BBC 2 Monday25th - Awesome. A Legend.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/arena
I highly recommend watching this program on BBC iPlayer.
Martin had  36 no 1's with the Beatles in the 60s..

(In my other life I am a record producer!)  He says that The Beatles didn't sound so great at first either... :
A very well made docmentary and such an interesting character!  I especially liked his comment that when the Beatles first arrived in the studio! 'Their music was rubbish - but importantly they made you feel good and they had charisma.' 

Also his reference to Degas' quote about his art  "It's not what you see, it's about what we make others see", in comparing this with what he hoped to achieve in sound. He hoped to 'paint' in the studio rather than to simply make a copy.
The program was followed by The Beatles  'A Hard Days Night', so many memories......!  P Keightley

George Martin is an English record producer, arranger, composer and musician. He is sometimes referred to as "the Fifth Beatle"—a title that he owes to his work as producer of all but one of 'The Beatles' original albums. He is considered one of the greatest record producers of all time, with 23 number one hits, an unmatched achievement.  George Martin, recognised as one of music's most versatile and imaginative talents, entered the music industry in 1950 after studying at the Guildhall School of Music and playing the oboe professionally in London. He began recording classical music specialising in the Baroque period. His later experience with jazz and pop led to his appointment as Head of the Parlophone in the EMI Group in 1955.
As a producer he has been responsible for bringing a host of artists into recording studios particularly in the humorous field with brilliant performers such as Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Flanders and Swann and the 'Beyond the Fringe' team - Jonathan Miller, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett. He has also worked with jazz artists Cleo Laine, John Dankworth, Humphrey Lyttelton and Stan Getz. 


Monday, 21 March 2011

Billy Franks and Christopher Brookmyre at 'Aye Write' book festival Glasgow March 2011

Respected Scottish crime writer Christopher introduced an evening of song with his long time friend -  Londoner Billy Franks, from Fulham. Christopher Brookmyre is a Scottish novelist whose novels mix comedy, politics, social comment and action with a strong narrative. He has been referred to as a Tartan Noir author. He was at the 2010 Edinburgh Book festival to discuss his new book 'Pand aemonium' which mixed science fiction and horror.
Billy introduced Christopher as his most 'generous and supportive fan'   for over the past twenty years.