28 February 2011

Last US veteran of WWI dies

I have been tracking the passing of WWI veterans here since 2007. Yesterday saw the death of the last US veteran, Frank Buckles. He was 110 (thanks to Steve at The Yellow Something Something for drawing my attention to the news).

Buckles was born in Missouri in 1901. He enlisted in the United States Army in August 1917 when aged 16 (Like my father he lied about his age to join the services). He served in England and France, driving ambulances and motorbikes. After the Armistice he escorted prisoners of war back to Germany and was discharged in 1920.

In the 1940s, Buckles worked for a shipping company in the Philippines. He was interned by the Japanese in 1942 spending over three years in the Los Banos Camp in Manila. He was rescued on February 23, 1945.

He died of natural causes yesterday, 26 days after his 110th birthday.

Rest in Peace

There are now just two WWI veterans alive, both British: Claude Choules (now resident in Australia) who served in the Royal Navy and Florence Green who served in the WRAF as a waitress.

Some things never change

Watercolour by surgeon Charles Bell of a solider wounded at the Battle of Waterloo

Watercolour of Private Green, September 1918 prior to reconstructive surgery by Harold Gillies, the ather of modern plastic surgery.

The surgical skills may have improved in the intervening century but the workload of the army surgeon certainly did not...

Both paintings are included in the current Watercolour exhibition at the Tate Britain.

The exhibition which I visited today, is a comprehensive study of (mainly) British watercolour art from about 1200 to 2010. Arranged by themes it was unsurprising that the wart art had the greatest impact on me, especially Eric Taylor's study of corpses at Belsen.

The exhibition has some dross and a fair few works that left me unmoved either way. That said there is plenty to enjoy (particularly some well loved Turners and Blakes) and it is wel worth a couple of hours.

The same could not be said for the Susan Hiller exhibition - Except for the installation Witness which I loved

Westminster council - Caring and compassionate

My thanks go to Skuds for drawing my attention to this little tale.

Accordng to Ekklesia Westminster Council has opened a four week consultation on a new byelaw which will fine people in the Victoria area if they “lie down or sleep in any public place”, “deposit bedding” and distribute free food and drink.

This byelaw will affect rough sleepers and charity workers in the Vitoria area,particularly the area around Westminster Cathedral where charities regularly give food to homeless persons

The consultation period is running until 25 March.

A copy of the proposed byelaw can be sen here. The bye law, if enacted, will make the following illegal in an area around Westminster Cathedral:

  • No person shall lie down and sleep in any public place
  • No person shall at any time deposit any sleeping materials used or intended to be used as bedding in or on any public place
  • No peson shall distribute any free refreshment in or on any public place (sporting events and free samples of food excepted)
  • No person shall knowingly permit any person to distribute any free refreshment in or on any public place
There yopu have it. Nobody is pretending that food runs solves the issue of rough sleeping. It does provide a lifeline though.

Banning rough sleepers and charities that provide food to them will solve absolutely nothing either except to move the problem to another area. From the council's perspective (and to paraphrase Stalin) it's a case of "No homeless, no problem"... at least the problem will not be across Victoria Street from the council HQ.

It's not law yet and hopefully it will be ditched but the proposal hardly sits well with Cameron's Big Society... Then again the council is not exactly known for its compassion (remember Shirley Porter?)

27 February 2011

Yet more nephew

Blair politely asks Ghaddafi to stop murdering protestors

It seems that Tony Blair is looking to redeem himself somewhat for his past associations with Ghaddafi.

According to the Independent he phoned Ghaddafi twice on Friday and asked him to stop killing protesters rising up against the regime.

Unsurprisingly Blair’s appeal fell on deaf ears…

UN imposes tough sanctions on Libya...

The UN Security Council has finally taken its gloves off and has voted 15-0 to impose some of the toughest sanctions imposed on any member state.

All Libyan Airilnes fights are suspended except for a single weekly flight to Kerry International Airport.

Import of Ferrero Rocher chocolates will be limited to one box per citizen per month

Members of Ghaddafi's immediate family will be refused entry to Parc Asterix near Paris - unless accompanied by a responsible adult.

The Security Council has also rejected Libya's plan for the immediate abolition of Switzerland although consideration will be given to a plan for the country to be phased out by 2040

26 February 2011

Gerry Adams TD

Gerry Adams has been elected to the Dail as a TD for Louth.

I don't like the man, don't have any respect for the man and I doubt I ever will.

Now he sits in the Dail rather than the House of Commons I hope he chooses to go to Leinster House...

In other Irish election news Fianna Fail are bing slaughtered. Of the 34 TDs elected so far (out of a total of 166) just three belong to Fianna Failure and one of these is the Ceann Comhairle (the speaker of the Dail who is automatically returned).

Signs of protest - Libya

From Buzzfeed's display of Libyan protest signs. These are from within Libya. Unsurprisingly the mood is more sombre than those produced by expatriates. I would be interested to see what the sign with Homer's brain says...

Signs of protest - Expatriates

Buzzfeed has a selection of Libyan protest signs both from within Libya and from expatriates around the world. Here are some from the US and UK expatriates. It is good to see Beavis return on the side of the Libyan protestors....

25 February 2011

Photo Hunt and 4000th post

The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is mainly black so here's Lord Horror (aka Ted) again. He is of course considering how much drivel can this blogger spew on this, the occasion of the Poor Mouth's 4,000th.

Even the ghost of the dear departed Mimi is so stunned that I have been able to say absolutely nothing of worth over so many installments that it is back to show its astonishment

Ah well, onwards and downwards (in quality) to post 5,000

Ghaddafi still has his friends...

More Libyan diplomats resign, a major airbase goes over to the rebels; Ghaddafi's minions still kill protestors and his son Saif has pledged that the family will die in Libya (probably sooner than he thinks).

It may be more than cold comfort that he still has friends across the world... well in and around the Caribbean anyway.

Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua has given his support; Fidel Castro spins the violence as a golden opportunity for US/NATO intervention.

And now, unsurprisingly Venezuela has gotten in on the action:

Earlier today Chavez tweeted the following message "Long live Libya and its independence! Ghaddafi faces a civil war!" Make of that what you will.

However, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro addressed the Venezuelan National Assembly saying that while the country "repudiates the violence" in Libya, the conflict merits "objective" study (wtf????) . "Conditions are being created to justify an invasion of Libya, and the central objective of that invasion ... is to take away Libya's oil,"

Is Chavez showing his usual level of gross stupidity when it comes to foreign affairs? I freely admit that I loathe the man but it seems that he is up to his usual tricks.

It would be wrong to post photos of Castro, Ortega and Chavez cosying up to Ghaddafi without posting a few others, however...

(to damn them all with faint praise) none of the above are singing his praises now!

Here's to a day very soon when the graffiti seen here will be repeated across all of the country

Englishmen abroad

It's good to see full blooded Englishmen upholding decency and reserve abroad....

Apparently it was -15C on the night in question

24 February 2011

Nephew again

More of nephew


Gang aft agley

As the best laid plans of mice and men so often do....

The plan was to go to my sister's house on Tuesday evening, spend the night there and get an early start on a planned photo project with my nephew.

I had hoped to use a range of good locations near their home - woodland, cemetery, station... Both of us didn't mind the fact that the forecast was for rain. At least it wasn't bloody cold

I woke up in good time. Nephew did too but feeling shite so we delayed setting off . We did manage to get a number of photos in the park and cemetery before setting off to try some photos in the nearby woods.

After tho falls and a jarred knee (thanks to the bloody mud) we cut our losses, hobbled home and watched South Park episodes instead....

Still I did get just over 100 photos, some of them are worth playing with

Next time, wait until the ground is less muddy and I won't require painkillers to sit and type....

21 February 2011

Libyans used to be afraid. But...,

after they saw the blood they aren't afraid anymore, they are angry. (To use a quote from a Guardian article)

- Protests have spread like wildfire out of Benghazi and other western towns to the doorsteps of the regime;

-the Libyan military murders the protestors by the score and yet the protests continue

- Diplomats are defecting and fighter pilots are seeking asylum rather than bomb or strafe protestors.

- Various tribes

Papers are even carrying rumours that Ghaddafi has upped sticks and has fled to Venezuela.

The last item sounds like a rumour (But oh if it were true!). Ghaddafi's son has appeared o tv denying airstikes on protestors (they were hitting ammo dumps, honest guv!).

There are reports that Ghaddafi will appear shortly on Libyan tv. However defiant he may be it now looks clear that his 42 year hold on Libya is close to its end. He is staring into the abyss...

Just one more push and he tumbles into the abyss...

Unit 731 Revisited?

Shiro Ishii, Unit 731 Commander to 1942 - EVIL

The BBC reports that excavations have commenced at the site of a former medical school in Japan. The excavations might yield evidence of war-time experiments on prisoners.

The site in western Tokyo is said to be linked to the infamous Unit 731. Unit 731 was an Imperial Japanese Army unit that conducted experiments in China that were as appalling than those conducted by the likes of Mengele under the Reich.

The excavation was ordered after Toyo Ishii, a former nurse at the school i said that workers had been made to bury dozens of bodies there after Japan’s surrender.

A nurse in the hospital's oral surgery department, Ishii said she had no knowledge of any experiments on humans at the site, but she and her colleagues were ordered to take bodies and body parts for burial in the compound before US troops arrived.

"We took the samples out of the glass containers and dumped them into the hole," she wrote in a statement in June 2006. "We were going to be in trouble, I was told, if American soldiers asked us about the specimens."

Excavation of the site had to be delayed until residents had been moved from the area.

"We are not certain if the survey will find anything," Health Ministry official Kazuhiko Kawauchi told the Associated Press news agency.

Unit 731 was based in Harbin in Mancukuo during WWII, the Japanese puppet state in Manchuria. Under the guise of an “Epidemic Prevention and Water Sanitation” unit it conducted a series of horrendous biowarfare and human vivisection experiments. The number who died at the hands of these butchers is not certain but almost certainly runs into the hundreds of thousand. It would take pages to outline their depravity

While a number of Unit 731 members were tried and sentenced as war criminals by the Soviets (receiving terms of imprisonment up to 25 years), those in American hands received went scot free.

Perhaps one of the most disgraceful acts undertaken by the allies after WWII was the grant of immunity from General MacArthur to members of the unit in return for details of their research.


Instead of ending their lives in prison, most members seem to have returned to successful careers. For example, one Unit 731 commander, Masaji Kitano (Above), died peacefully in 1986 having become Chief Director of the Japanese pharmaceutical company Green Cross. I could not care less if MacArthur had been a saint in every other respect (Hahaha!) He deserves a special place in hell for granting vermin like this a free pass from justice.

Douglas MacArthur - Scum

Sadly information was more important than mass murder. The same logic ensured that many Nazi war criminals were welcomed with open arms. Operation Paperclip was not the collection of a group of earnest and apolitical scientists from a war torn Germany…. And yes the Americans ere not the only guilty parties.

I would be interested to know how this story is being covered in Japan.

Cadaver tomb

Detail of the cadaver tomb in Southwark Cathedral

Another ASBO builder

From a mural of angry builders on Southwark Street.

20 February 2011

Harrassed by ASBO builders

A passer by berated by a mural on Southwark Street in south London

The photo is heavily cropped. I must go back next week with a longer lens

Slaughter in Libya

The numbers vary from news source to news source but it seems certain that the number of people murdered by Libyan security forces is over 100.

According to the Independent, Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimates the death toll at 104 people have been killed since the start of protests in Libya. It believes, however, that this is a conservative estimate.

The crackdown prompted about 50 Libyan Muslim religious leaders to issue an appeal, sent to Reuters, for the security forces, as Muslims, to stop the killing:

"This is an urgent appeal from religious scholars, intellectuals, and clan elders from Tripoli, Bani Walid, Zintan, Jadu, Msalata, Misrata, Zawiah, and other towns and villages of the western area," said the appeal. We appeal to every Muslim, within the regime or assisting it in any way, to recognize that the killing of innocent human beings is forbidden by our Creator and by His beloved Prophet of Compassion (peace be upon him)...Do NOT kill your brothers and sisters. STOP the massacre NOW!"

Libya's state news agency unsurprisingly has accused outside agencies for fomenting discontent” "a foreign network trained on how to create clashes and chaos so as to destabilise Libya."

Witness accounts have been hard to verify independently because Libyan authorities have not allowed foreign journalists into the country since the protests erupted and local reporters have been barred from travelling to Benghazi. Mobile phone connections have often been out of service and Internet service in Libya has been cut off. However, People in Tripoli said they had Internet access late on Saturday.

A Benghazi resident said security forces were confined to a compound from which snipers were firing at protesters. "Right now, the only military presence in Benghazi is confined to the Command Centre Complex in the city. The rest of the city is liberated," he said late on Saturday.

Whether this is true or not remains to be seen

The Telegraph’s reports are even starker, although one cannot be sure how much is rumour and how much is fact.

According to the Telegraph Gaddafi has made use of foreign mercenaries tanks and helicopter gunships to put down demonstrations. It states that fighting has also broken out in the cities of Al-Bayda, Ajdabiya, Zawiya, and Darnah (These seem mainly to be in the Eastern part of the country, close to Benghazi),
Protestors in Ajdabiya even claimed that it was now a "a Free City" after the HQ of Gaddafi's Revolutionary Committee was burned down on Friday, along with 14 other buildings.

Whether much of this is also true remains to be seen

One thing that is certain – Gaddafi is in some trouble and is being utterly brutal in crushing dissent (even by the standards of the region).

Will he fall? I certainly hope so but I have no idea how easily hope can turn to reality.

Happy 110th Birthday Florence Green

Today’s Independent celebrates the 110th birthday of Florence Green, the last WWI veteran resident in the UK.

Florence Green, from King's Lynn, Norfolk, was 17 years old when she joined the Women's Royal Air Force, in the late summer of 1918. When WWI ended she was working as a waitress at RAF Marham,

When asked what it's like to be 110, Mrs Green, who lives with her 89 year old daughter May, said "It's not much different to being 109,” (Fair enough I am sure that 48 will feel much the same as 47!)

Mrs Green was only identified as a surviving war veteran in 2008, when a researcher of gerontology found her service record, listed under her maiden name, Patterson, at the National Archives.

Though she never saw the front line, her service in the WRAF qualifies her for veteran status. She is now one of just two surviving Britons from the conflict. The other, Claude Stanley Choules, served in the Royal Navy and now lives in Australia. His own 110th birthday is on 3 March.

Apart from Florence Green and Claude Choules the only other , only surviving WWI veteran is American Frank Buckles who served in France as an American ambulance driver who turned 110 earlier this month.

Her’s wishing Florence a belated happy birthday and Franck Buckles an even more bleated one! It is pleasing to see that three veterans of WWI are still with us.

19 February 2011

A heap of Brancusi hits

In November I went back to look at some photos I took in 2008 in the Atelier Brancusi in Paris. I wasn't very happy withm at the time. With a bit of work I was able to make a sort of silk purse out of a few of them so photos and so I posted them on this blog

I was a little surprised to notice that I have received over 3,000 visits to my Brancusi posts over the last day or so. It's not as if they are particularly good photos as you can see below

It wasn't until I opened Google to see why

Yesterday was the 135th anniversary of Brancusi's birth and Google had created a doodle to mark the occasion. This explains everything

I hope that some visitors will want to learn more about Brancusi. He truly was one of the greatest ever sculptors.

Robert Calvert - Urban Indian

One of the last songs recorded by Calvert before his death in 1988. Calvert co-wrote and provided vocals to most of the songs on the Amon Duul II album Die Losung. The album was released in 1989

Tanks on the lawn in Dublin?

The Irish Air Corps prepare to bomb the Dail

Will there be Scorpion tanks on the lawn outside Áras an Uachtaráin? Will Leinster House be strafed by Pilatus PC 9s? Will the political elite of Ireland be executed on St Stephen’s Green?

Does this sound risibile to you? It does to me but not to outgoing Fianna Failure TD Ned O’Keefe.. The former Cork East TD told the Cork Evening Echo last week the he believed the political situation in Ireland was so bad that an Army coup was a real possibility - thanks to the incompetence of former Taoiseach Brian Cowen and finance minister, Brian Lenihan

Hunting for BIFFO?

“Our political system is going to fail further. The two Brians have made a right mess of the country and I see the real possibility of an Army coup” he said. “People thought I was mad with all the things I have predicted through the years, but I foresaw the economy collapsing due to lax regulation on building housing estates and unwanted shopping centres.”

Still hunting for BIFFO?

Hmm it’s one thing to forecast trouble for Ireland’s economy but quite another to think that the Irish Army would intervene.

BIFFO has been found - Lock and Load

Ireland’s defence forces have a total strength of about 10,000. While they are lightly armed (no MBTs no strike aircraft to speak of), they are well trained and well disciplined and decidedly apolitical. Somehow the idea of Lt General McCann (the current chief of staff of the Irish Defence Forces) heading up a junta is as likely as as Oliver Cromwell being hailed as an Irish national hero!

President for Life - Pah!

O’Keeffe went on to say that Charlie Haughey would be turning in his grave if he saw what Ireland had become.

“So what if Charlie liked nice women and a few extra nice shirts? He was the best leader we ever had.”

Anyone who thinks that the corrupt criminal Haughey was the best ever Taoiseach is clearly insane!

Then again this is the same Ned O’Keefe that wanted the film Babe banned because it would affect the sales of ham…On the other hand such a comment may not be so surprising as O’Keefe owns a large pig farm…

18 February 2011

Photo Hunt - Silhouette

The theme for the week's Photo Hunt is silhouette. This isn't a silhouette but still a nice and contrasty image of Lord Horror himself (That's Ted to those who don't fear his wrath!)

For those unfamiliar with Roky erickson

Bloody Hammer

You're Gonna Miss Me - 13th Floor Elevators

Simulacrum news part 34,952

I can thanks the Fortean Times Breaking News section to bring my attention to another fine simulacrum. This one was found on a rocking chair n Orange County, California.

Chair owner Lynn Balducci said that her husband had discovered the image on the chair last week after they decided to throw away some old cushions.

The rocking chair that has been sitting in their backyard for years..

"He didn't think too much of it at first, " said Mrs Balducci. "He showed it to me and to a few of our friends and everyone agreed that it was indeed an image of of Jesus."

Balducci believes that the image is a sign and a blessing from God. She's not sure what it means, she hopes it is a sign of better things to come. She and her husband want to share the image with others hoping it will bring everyone inspiration to live better lives.

Personally I think that this one looks more like cult musician Roky Erickson (he of the 60s band the 13th Floor Elevators and a number of fine solo works) than Jesus. Ah well perhaps the Balduccis are not familiar with him, hence the misidentification.

17 February 2011

David Cameron is my new best friend!

The spam filter on my email account is usually very effective. It is not often that spam gets through. It's also rare that genuine emails are filtered.

Earlier on I received an email from which might well have been erroneously identified as spam but mercifully wasn't:

I am Rt Hon David Cameron MP,Prime Minister, First Lord of the
Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service British Government. This
letter is to officially inform you that (MasterCard Number 5404 5000 0041
0640) has been accredited with your favour. Your Personal Identification
Number is 4724.The MasterCard Value is £2,000,000.00(Two Million, Great
British Pounds Sterling).

This office will send to you an ATM MasterCard that you will use to
withdraw your funds in any ATM MACHINE CENTER or MasterCard outlet in the
world with a maximum of £5000 GBP daily.Further more,You will be required
to re-confirm the following information to enable;The Rt Hon William Hague
MP First Secretary of State for British Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
begin in processing of your MasterCard.

(1)Full names: (2)Address: (3)Country: (4)Nationality: (5)Phone #: (6)Age:
(7)Occupation: (8) Post Codes (9):Sex

Rt Hon William Hague MP. First Secretary of State for British Foreign and
Commonwealth Affairs
Email; uk_govt@2g.cc
Tel: +44-702-409-4640

TAKE NOTE: You are warned to stop further communications with any
other person(s) or office(s) different from the staff of the State for
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to avoid hitches in receiving your


Rt Hon David Cameron MP
Prime Minister

£2 Million for little old socialist me? Well who'd have thunk it!

I am impressed that William Hague can find the time to pull himself away from the situation in the Middle East to process this claim. Such personal attention is laudable

Naturally this windfall won't change my lifestyle significantly. I might set aside enough to have Andrew Rosindell, our poltroon of an MP tarred and feathered... or is that a mark of ingratitude.

Well it made a change from the usual 419 scam email!

More trees?

From Langtons, Hornchurch