Sunday, 31 January 2010

Potawatomi of Wisconsin ask for your help to End Global Warming

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Saturday, 30 January 2010

Highland Links

Highland Links

Scottish highland fiddle music

click here to visit the site

101 Reasons to do Nothing by Bruce MacGregor
This is the first solo recording for Inverness’s Bruce Macgregor, who is a founder member of Blazin’ Fiddles and member of the excellent Gaelic group Cliar.

A Fiddler's Tapestry by Archie McAllister
Some of the best tracks of champion fiddle player Archie McAllister from 4 previous albums.

A Long December Night (CD) by Ivan Drever & Duncan Chisholm
With the byline "Live by the fireside" this album gives a rare taste of these two fine musicians in relaxed mode.

An Clàr Geal (The White Album) by Alasdair White
Fiddle player Alasdair White is a wonderful musician. Now aged 23, having been highly regarded and talked about since his early teens, An Clàr Geal is his first solo album.

An Island Heritage by Iain McLachlan
Traditional music of the Western Isles

Aonghas Grant - The Hills of Glengarry by Aonghas Grant
A long-awaited recording from the famous 'left-handed fiddler' Aonghas Grant

Blazin' Fiddles - Magnificent Seven by Blazin' Fiddles
The third CD featuring the fab five fiery fiddlers.

Blazin' Fiddles Live by Blazin' Fiddles
With the fiddlers in the band hailing from Mallaig (Allan Henderson) Shetland (Catriona Macdonald), Glenfinnan (Iain MacFarlane), Inverness (Bruce MacGregor) and Oban (Aidan O'Rourke), it's fair to say that Blazin' Fiddles embodies the spirit of today's Highland fiddle music.

Bowstroke by Gregor Borland
A lovely fiddle CD featuring Gregor Borland who learned his craft from master musicians Donald Riddell and Hector MacAndrew.

Collectors' Items by Duncan Dyker
The great composers are represented - the Gows, Marshall, Mackintosh, Skinner et - but some of the joy of this recording is the discovery of amazing tunes from lesser-known sources which are rarely performed.

Estd. 1976 by Allan Henderson
This long-awaited CD features West-Highland fiddler Allan Henderson. Well known for his fine work with Blazin' Fiddles, Allan is also a talented piper and composer.

Farrar by Duncan Chisholm
Duncan Chishom's fiddle playing is one of the most sensitive and beautiful sounds today. This is Duncan's third album and a classic.

Fiddlers Rock by Archie McAllister
What a player! The amazing Archie McAllister on crackling form!

Fire On! by Blazin' Fiddles
'Blazin' Fiddles are one of Scotland's top bands of the moment. Every where they go people remember them and they are definately staking a claim as Scotlands most fun band.

Flying Fiddles by Flying Fiddles
A striking group of young fiddle players from the Outer Hebrides with some fab musical guests!

Glad Company by Anna Massie
Debut CD from BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2003. Virtuoso fiddler and guitar player Anna is joined on accordion by Mairearad Green and Jenn Butterworth on guitar and vocals.

Lan Tighe Chaileagan (A House Full of Lasses) by Teine
An album of stirring vocal harmonies, marvellously fluent fiddle playing and sheer cool fun!

Loch Ness by Bruce MacGregor
For centuries the composition of Scottish traditional music has been inspired by the beauty of the landscape and the people who live there. This CD is about the places and the folk of Loch Ness-side

Music Of The Fiddle Volume 1 (CD) by Charlie McKerron
A great selection of tunes on this album, with Capercaillie fiddler Charlie McKerron and Keith Collins on fiddle, George Cowie on Bass and Jennifer Wilson on piano.

Nesta by Sarah-Jane Summers
Sarah-Jane Summers is a great Scots fiddler from Inverness and on her CD Nesta she demonstrates that she is also an excellent Hardanger fiddle player

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© Foot Stompin' Celtic Music

The Scottish Haka

Unusual Suspects

Photo by Lieve Boussauw

…the performance of a lifetime, they rewrote the book on how folk music should look and sound… If you witnessed this extraordinary performance, you can look back years from now and say: "I was there." Unforgettable.'

" It's big, bold, brassy, and adventurous... This whirlwind of sound takes Scottish music to unimagined heights."

How it all kicked off...

The Unusual Suspects is the brainchild of its musical directors Corrina Hewat & David Milligan.

They first came up with the idea almost a decade ago, but it wasn't until Glasgow's Celtic Connections Festival director Colin Hynd offered them a platform to put their 'folk-orchestra theory' into practice, that this monster band became a reality.

On a Sunday afternoon, late in January 2003, thirty-two of Scotland's finest and most dynamic musicians took to the stage of the main auditorium in Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall as part of the 10th Celtic Connections Festival. What followed was described by the Herald newspaper as:

"...a beautiful noise. A jigging, reeling juggernaut... brilliantly arranged - the putative 'Scottish National Folk Orchestra' walloped off the main auditorium stage in sound waves that thumped into your chest with the impact of a benign piledriver"

The Scotsman newspaper said: "This was the gig that had been generating the biggest advance buzz of Celtic Connections 2003 - and what a total, massive, glorious blast it turned out to be... awesome power - a harmonious, often uproarious dance between full-throttle rampage and orchestrated finess."

The concert was hailed as the crowning glory of that year's festival, and in 2004 The Unusual Suspects made a triumphant return appearance at Celtic Connections. The 2004 festival concert was followed by a UK tour put together by Folkworks, a wonderful organisation based in the north east of England, dedicated to promoting and furthering traditional & contemporary folk music. Due to touring logistics, a mere 22-piece(!) version of the band went on the road, and played to critical acclaim and nightly standing ovations the length of the country, from London to Inverness.

 click here to visit their site 

In the band's first five years, they've done dozens of performances in venues from large concert halls and theatres, down to Village Halls. Since they started, over 60 of Scotland's top musicians have performed with the group! 

In addition to performing and touring with the mighty Scottish band, Corrina and David, along with horn-section leader Rick Taylor, have also collaborated with Canadian musician, singer and songwriter Gordie Sampson to produce the Unusual Suspects of Celtic Colours, for the Celtic Colours Festival in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The project consisted of Canadian and Scottish musicians, sharing their respective traditions to create a unique and wonderful sound.




The Paul Cortez Defense Fund, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation formed under the laws of the State of New York to help fight the wrongful incarceration of Paul Cortez.

On November 27th, 2005 a young, aspiring dancer was found murdered in her apartment in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, one of the wealthiest and most prestigious neighborhoods in the world. With the media hungry to exploit a high profile tragedy, the New York Post and other tabloid media obsessed about and fabricated details of the murder, despite a lack of any relevant witnesses, surveillance videos, DNA, or other material evidence. Amidst a media frenzy and worldwide press, the police were under tremendous scrutiny and pressure to produce the killer. Three weeks following the victim’s death, the police charged Paul Cortez, the victim’s boyfriend, with murder, based on the following limited circumstantial evidence:

A pre-existing fingerprint was found covered with blood at the crime scene. The print, however, did NOT appear until the policed applied chemicals to the entire wall of the victim’s apartment on the third sweep. Nevertheless, the prosecutor incorrectly characterized the partial print as a “bloody fingerprint” left by Paul Cortez.

Paul’s cell phone records placed him in the general vicinity at the time of the murder. However, this is consistent with Paul’s past cell phone records, which show that he worked, socialized and spent the majority of his time within a few block radius of the victim’s apartment on the Upper East Side.

Taken out of context, the prosecutors took a few lines from thousands of love poems, comic book sketches and deeply
emotional prose found in Paul’s 10+ years of personal journal to incorrectly paint a portrait of “violent thoughts.” At trial, an acquaintance of Paul’s perjured himself stating that Paul wore a specific type of Skecher boot that matched a footprint at the murder scene. This testimony comes in direct contradiction to a statement he made six months earlier when he told CBS’s 48 Hour Mystery that he had absolutely no recollection of Paul’s attire that evening.

Paul Cortez was represented by two low-budget attorneys who were held in contempt of court for missing the first three days of trial. After the trial, it was discovered that Paul’s attorney was being prosecuted on drug smuggling charges by the same District Attorney who was prosecuting Paul.

Inexplicably, Paul’s attorneys did not perform any DNA testing on numerous pieces of evidence, call a single forensic expert or hire a private investigator to explore the inconsistencies and questions in order to construct a basic and standard defense for Paul. A prime example being that despite the fact that Paul has dark brown hair and the murder victim had brown hair as well, Paul’s attorneys did not request a DNA analysis on the blond hairs found between her fingers.

Paul Cortez was sentenced to 25 years to life even though the prosecution produced no physical evidence, murder weapon, witnesses, or other concrete evidence. He has now served three years for a crime he did not commit.

Paul's last chances at justice rest on filing an appeal with the New York State Court of Appeals. There is, however, a time limit on that possibility of appealing the verdict. Paul is locked in a 6 X 8 foot jail with no resources. His life is in our hands.


  1. Please visit for details

How large is the cause?


 just got this email from Diane

Paul Cortez\'s letter on Veganism
Posted by sandy - 2008/08/30 04:29
I got this letter by mail from some unknown sender. Pretty lengthy, but I liked it.

My name is Diane Seltzer. Together with other young professionals in the New York area, we recently formed a support
group to help Paul Cortez fight for justice ( (

Last year, Paul was sentenced to 25 years to life for a crime he DID NOT commit. At this time, Paul Cortez is in a Class
A maximum security prison. He was tried and convicted by the press and an over zealous prosecutor just as we saw
happen at Duke lacrosse debacle. Unlike the Duke lacrosse players, however, Paul did not have the public outcry or the
finances to fight the allegations. We are trying to correct that on appeal but it is a daunting task.

By way of background, Paul has always been a very spiritual and evolved individual, a yoga devotee and a truly
compassionate person. Paul's experiences and treatment in prison has provided him better insight into the plight of
animals commonly part of the Western diet. As a result, Paul has become a vegan in prison. Despite the limited dietary
selections in the prison world, Paul has refused to make these helpless animals part of his diet. Paul has actually written
a letter about his experiences. I have attached this letter to this email.

I am hoping that you can offer your support and help Paul in his struggle for justice in any way you can. There is a time
limit for an appeal and Paul's opportunity is running out. We hope you can therefore appreciate the urgency and how
DESPERATELY we are trying to fund raise in order to afford a competent attorney and help him avoid spending his life
in prison for a crime he did not commit. We have a committed attorney but are trying to raise the money needed for the
monumental task of hiring experts, investigators, do DNA testing, and prepare documents. We are in need of help in any
form and are appealing to all caring people to join this campaign.

This is a scary situation that any one of us could face. We hope that all good people will step up and give him an
opportunity to prove his innocence. Please take the time to visit the web site to learn more
about the specifics surrounding this awful situation. Please sign our petition.

I thank you in advance for your time and attention. Please sign our petition.

Very truly yours.

Diane Seltzer



In March of 2008, just several days why of my 28th birthday, I made the life-long choice to become Vegan. Veganism, or
the rejection of consuming and using animal products of every kind, is more than just a diet or lifestyle; I consider being
Vegan a moral and political commitment to the end of animal and human exploitation everywhere.

I am still a “newborn” in this way of life, and do not consider myself an expert by any means; though, I am learning more
and understanding more everyday. To me, being the “perfect” Vegan not only takes a constant awareness of all that we
consume, wear, and use, but it extends to how we as a people think about and treat every living and sentient (capable of
feeling and suffering) being.

The fundamental principles of Veganism, as I understand it, are those taught by the great religious and social leaders of
all times—from Buddha, to Christ, to Gandhi, to Martin Luther King, Jr., Veganism is the foundation of non-violence,
compassion, morality, and the end of all forms of exploitation, beginning with animals, and extending toward all sentient
being regardless of species, class, race, sex, religion or culture.

Once I was arrested for murder, despite my innocence, I was immediately stripped of all my rights as a member of the
moral and social community. Our rights are our only legal protection of our most basic personal interests such as life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Once my right to liberty was unjustly taken from me, as a prisoner, the value of my
freedom to the moral and social community was rendered null and void. As a result, if other people think that I should
stay imprisoned for no other reason than that my incarceration would benefit them or cause them some twisted form of
pleasure, I have no right to liberty that would protect me from such exploitation. Indeed many people, parties, and
corporations have benefited from my unjust incarceration, including Detective Getz, District Attorney Casanare, Judge
Berkman, The N.Y. Post, The Daily News, CBS’s 48 Hours, Fox News Corp., and others, by perpetuating the possibility
of my guilt, even before I was arrested or tried.

Once a prisoner passes from the tragic stage of being held captive by county jails as a citizen with rights “temporarily
suspended,” to the status of being a convicted prisoner with rights altogether revoked indefinitely (or until the prison term
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and any further probation has ended), that convicted prisoner is then considered “state property.” His or her name is no
longer their identifying factor within the prison system; instead the prisoner is tagged with a number and a cell location.
The “property” owner becomes the State, who then loans out the use of that human commodity to the superintendents of
various prisons throughout the State. The overseers are the lieutenants, captains, sergeants and officers who then
“cultivate the property” for maximum use for the State.

After a prisoner is admitted to any certain prison, he or she goes through a mandatory orientation program that dictates
the rules and regulations of that facility. Very shortly after, the prisoner is required to meet with the Program Committee in
order to put that prisoner to good use. If the prisoner is of little use to the facility’s industries, then a prisoner can decide to
take certain “educational” or trade-learning programs so that the prisoner can be put to use eventually in a labor for the
facility’s interests. If a conscientious prisoner refuses to work or be programmed, he or she is “keeplocked” or revoked
general population privileges such as outdoor recreation or food-buy commissary days or the ability to make outside
phone calls. Prisoners are given 12 to 50 cents an hour, depending upon the job and the amount of time working at a
particular job. By giving this “wage” and calling them “workers,” the State is able to legally mask what these prisoners really
are—slaves working in the modern day slave trade.

Because of its prisoners, prison facilities are completely self-sufficient. Tax dollars fund the state to provide meager
amounts of poor quality “food” (cooked and served by prisoners) that is animal based, as well as sub par medical
healthcare whose main tasks is to supply and distribute pill and liquid medications to many of the prison population for
maladies ranging from tuberculosis, hepatitis, staff infections, depression, insomnia, to psychotic behavior and more.

The prison system’s pseudo name is ‘The Department of Corrections.’ D.O.C. acts under the guise of being a rehabilitative
system that promotes educational growth and trade learning opportunities for the prisoner in order to allow him or her to
assimilate these institutionally acquired “skills” back into society upon release. However, the constant demoralization,
exploitation and abuse from correctional officers, state teachers and facility administration do not allow the prisoner to be
a well-adjusted, law-abiding citizen when their prison term is up.

In my experience and communication with prisoners within the system, the talk of their “rap sheets,” or previous prison
sentences, is discussed with the normalcy of talking about the color of a shirt worn the other day. Many prisoners are so
beaten down, bitter or jaded by the time their prison term is over, they hate society and would rather choose a life of
crime. Others turn to crime again because of the near impossibility of attaining a decent job with a criminal record.
Others, still, feel that they need to make up for “lost time” and choose to return to crime in order to quickly advance to the
same financial status as their peers.

When I was free, I never really thought about how hard it is for a prisoner to return to society. No one thinks about
rehabilitating prisoners, but instead, people often think of just punishing them for their crimes. I feel that this type of
apathetic and uncompassionate thinking has gotten us to where we as a nation are today—the nation with the highest
incarceration percentage of males (1 out of very 100), and the highest criminal repeat offender rate in the world.

Because prisoners are regarded as state commodities and not as persons with basic human rights, correction in the form
of punishment, abuse and exploitation, as opposed to rehabilitation and empowerment, is D.O.C.’s sole function. I myself
have personally witnessed a correctional officer about 5’10”, 225 pounds beat a 5’4”, 125 pound Asian prisoner to a bloody
pulp for not cleaning up the kitchen area quick enough. I have seen a gang of officers beat a prisoner unconscious even
though his hands were cuffed behind his back, for cursing at a Sergeant. I have viewed a prisoner beaten and maced by
a group of officers while he was naked, because he didn’t want to bend over and spread his butt cheeks a second time
for the frisk officer known by us prisoners to have a lingering eye.

But more often than not, these cases of abuse, though justified by the administration with no repercussions toward the
officers involved, are frowned upon. An injured prisoner is a useless prisoner; though these abuses serve as intimidation
tactics to thwart dissent or opposition. Nevertheless, it is more common that an officer will set a prisoner up. Either the
officer will plant contraband (weapons, drugs or other banned items) in his target prisoner’s person or cell occupation, or
the officer will influence another prisoner to attack his target. But most often a correctional officer will fabricate some sort
of infraction of institutional rules against the prisoner which will result in the prisoner being “keeplocked” or packed up and
shipped to “the box” or “the hole” in order to break his spirit and ensure complete obedience, fear and servitude.

I myself have been victim of the abuse by officers. Because the media extensively covered my case, many officers within
the prison system had claimed to know all about me and my case. As a result, I have experienced more derogatory and
demeaning language, senseless abuse and general hatred than usual from various officers. Just recently, an officer who
had previously attempted to fabricate infractions against me and have me shipped to the box several times before, was
ultimately successful. The Superintendent and Deputy of Security allowed this officer’s false accusations to land me in the
box for 60 days, despite the fact that several eye witnesses—who were civilians—verbally testified against this officer’s ticket,
after further investigation.

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I cannot accurately relate the intensity of psychological suffering, the physical distress that the box inflicted on me. Just
image that you are locked behind four impenetrable walls (8’x6”) and one gate that is reinforced with heavy-duty chicken
wire and Plexiglas 24/7 with only a metal cot (5’x10”), 1-1/2” thick mattress, a filthy toilet and sink, and ten books. I was
afforded three showers a week that were timed to be no more than five minutes. I was given three meals a day. I
eventually opted for the alternative meal plan that is basically an inadequate vegetarian diet that often had meals
consisting solely of four slices of cheese, a hot dog bun, and a quarter cup of applesauce. The cells were not regularly
heated, and I spent a week straight once able to see my breath. I was allowed one visit a week, and if the C.O.’s felt like
it, I was allowed to go out to an hour of “recreation”—which meant being escorted to a series of seven cages no bigger than
two cells each and individually locked in for an hour on the facility’s roof, exposed to the elements through the gated
ceiling. In a 60-day period, I was allowed out to recreation three times. If I was let out of the box for any of the previously
mentioned reasons, I was rear hand-cuffed through a slot in the gate, then the cell box door was opened. I was
instructed to slowly back out, then I was escorted by two or more officers to whatever destination. I only spent 60 days in
this isolation, but others have been sentenced to years, enduring such conditions.

At first, I experienced a lot of anxiety, followed by feelings of claustrophobia, then panic attacks. There would be periods
of random crying which I would stifle in the sheets so no one would hear me and think that I was crazy; periods of
extreme depression where I tried to sleep the day away were common; and every so often I would become manic and
intensely work out for two and a half hours until exhaustion. I had never before experienced such mental distress.

Around half way through this box period, I had visibly lost a lot of weight. A C.O. allowed me to weigh myself en route to
a visit one week and I was 145 pounds. On my 5’8” frame—perhaps this weight doesn’t seem so bad—but the fact that I had
lost 15 pounds in such a rapid and unhealthy way affected me. Because the State food was often so poor and meager, I
was regularly cold and weak. To cope with this physical stress, I returned very deeply back into my hatha yoga practice
as well as a physical program that I constructed for a friend. I also deepened my meditation practice, sometimes
meditating for about two hours straight in the seated half-lotus position.

One day during a meditation period, I began to ponder how our society could allow such inhumane treatment of people.
My mind then started focusing on a conversation that I once had with my Vegan friend on a visit in the fall of 2007.

She told me of the inhumane treatment of animals in our world. The farm-raised animals who we exploit and use for
clothing, products, product testing, amusement, and food have no rights whatsoever. These harmless and defenseless
animals are annually slaughtered in the tens of billions! The conditions of their imprisonment before they are slaughtered,
and while they are being exploited for their secretions and unborn is beyond atrocious. They are held captive in cages,
pens and stalls which don’t even allow these animals to turn around. They live steeped in their own feces, as well as the
feces of others under poorly ventilated and temperature regulated conditions. Infection and disease among the farm
animal population is not uncommon. These beings are raped by humans through forever synthetic procreation with tubes
to extract semen and inseminate females. The amount of hormones and antibiotics pumped into their blood stream
produces abnormal growth and “productivity” rates.

These animals that are labeled “cage-free,” “free-range,” “organic,” “humanely” or “compassionately” treated, often suffer just as
much or more than those who are tortured traditionally. I have seen pictures of “free-range” chickens, and have read
animal rights activists’ articles about them, and though they are not living in battery cages, it looks as if they were on the 4-
train at rush hour in Times Square! They are crammed together in such a way that “humane” or “compassionate” could be
as far from the truth as to how they are truly treated.

This not-so-new trend of animal welfarist individuals and corporations (as opposed to animal rights activists) promoting
only the appearance of marginally better conditions (before the animals are ultimately slaughtered) and then tagging the
words “compassionate” or “humane” to those products, is absolutely disgusting.

The people who buy these “free-range,” “organic,” or “humanely/compassionately” treated animal products, thinking that they
are making a moral choice, are severely deluded.

If someone imprisoned your son or daughter, then raped them, then hooked up pumps to their breast or genitals to
extract their secretions over a period of a quarter of their natural lifespan, then stunned them with a heart-stopping
electric gun, and chopped their heads off, but gave them an inch more space in their cage, would you call it
compassionate or humane? Would you attach the word “free” to them? Would you be able to consume their flesh and call
it a moral choice?

One of the reasons that the majority of us do not know the standards and conditions of our animal family is because
these animals have no rights to protect their life, liberty or pursuit of happiness. Also, large animal product organizations
and corporations see it not in their best financial interests to inform the public of the amount of torture, pain and suffering
that goes into each bite of that porter house steak or pork chop or fried chicken or fish fillet or omelet or scoop of ice
cream or glass of milk.

As my thoughts furthered along this line of thinking, I realized that there is no fundamental difference between animals
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and any part of the human race. Animals are sentient beings just like us. As animal rights activist Gary Francione has
stated, “Sentience is a means to the end of continued existence; sentience is a characteristic that has evolved in certain
beings a mechanism to facilitate continued existence… the ability to feel pain.”

But most of us deny animals’ similar nature to our own. Instead, a majority of people feel we have superiority over
animals that make it okay for us to kill and eat them. Some mistakenly quote the Bible to support their speciesist
mentality that God gave men animals and plants to eat. But in my Bible, the verse that refers to this is Genesis 1:24-30: “
God also said, ‘See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it
to be your food, and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, all the living creatures that crawl on the ground,
I give all the green plants for food.’ And so it happened.”

Nowhere does it state that the God of Genesis intended humans to eat animals. Instead, it clearly states that plants and
fruits are our food—this is the Vegan diet.

I also realized that it is because we treat all animals (so utterly defenseless against our brutality) as objects, as property,
as commodities used for nothing more than our perverse pleasure, vanity and financial gain—it is because of all this that
we are unable to treat all of our fellow human family members with compassion and respect regardless of their class,
race, sex, religion or culture.

I then began to reflect upon the baby calf used as veal. From birth, this bay is taken away and separated from his mother
and put into a lightless pod or cage that restricts all movement. He is malnourished as well, which along with the lack of
mobility forces his muscles to remain lean and tender—the sickly appetizing aspect of “gourmet” veal.

Then at four to six months, the baby calf is murdered. He never knows sunlight. He is a stranger to contact with his own
kind. He has never felt the dew of soft earth in the morning before grazing in a pasture. The baby calf has only
experienced pain and torture of the most heartless kind, and then he is slaughtered.

Something like this never before touched my heart. It was a moment of pure empathy, and I began to sob uncontrollably.
All the pain and suffering that has been building up within me for the past several years since I lost of my dearest friend
at the hands of a brutal killer, and then was wrongfully charged and convicted of that crime, was trapped into and
fractionally released by that baby calf. I know I have not experienced even a tenth of what the average farm animal
experiences daily, but for a moment I could understand and identify with that feeling of abandonment, isolation,
powerlessness and dread.

After that experience, I realized that I could no longer consume or use animals or animal products. I vowed to become
Vegan for the rest of my life. However, because of my weight loss and malnourishment, I couldn’t muster up the courage
to face nearly 21 days left of box time with even less food, and the impact it might have on my health. Therefore, I
decided to become vegetarian in the way that I believe vegetarianism should be used—as a transition to becoming Vegan.
Being vegetarian without moving toward veganism is a disingenuous commitment to the abolition of all animal suffering,
exploitation, rape and slaughter. As soon as I left the box, I became Vegan and continue to understand and practice
more fully its ideals.

To me, becoming Vegan is the first and most crucial step in the peace and equal rights movement. If we cannot honor
the lives of peaceful, defenseless sentient beings by not enslaving them and treating them as property or commodities,
then how can we honor the lives of human beings who are capable of such horrific injustices, senseless violence,
corruption and heartlessness?

Being Vegan—committing to the non-exploitation and right to life for all animals—eventually leads the individual to abolish in
her or himself the social diseases of classism, racism, sexism, religionism and culturalism. The individual is society.
Therefore, the more individuals who became Vegan, the larger the society we will have of people consciously caring to
exist by the only true moral standard—respecting the lives of all diversities of sentient beings everywhere by eliminating our
own contributions to their suffering and death. For me, being Vegan is the most powerful choice that any individual—free or
otherwise—could make toward the benefit, peace and well being of our earth and all her inhabitants. Truly, being Vegan
has empowered me in this most powerless of situations.

I once mistakenly thought of Veganism as a bourgeois, elitist dietary lifestyle for those trying to be chic. But there is
nothing bourgeois, elitist or chic about what I’m doing here in prison, or Veganism in general. On the contrary, it is the
definition of elitist to eat the dead flesh from a species you claim dominance over for your own convenience and

Another mistaken idea of being Vegan is that only the rich can support such a diet. But quite oppositely, I am able to buy
more beans, rice and vegetables in this prison facility due to the money I save from not buying meat from the prison
commissary. Also, in free supermarkets, you can buy T.S.P. (Textured Soy Protein, a meat substitute) for under $2 for a
five-serving bag!

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The last myth of being Vegan that I’ve found to be completely false is that my health would suffer from not eating meat or
animal products. If I had to rely on state food served in the mess hall, I would be emaciated and would most likely be
hospitalized. It is very unfortunate that the state does not honor the Vegan diet; but it only validates a system built for the
enslavement, exploitation, abuse and demoralization of its population that would not support a way of life that seeks to
abolish its root principles.

Fortunately, I am able to buy non-animal products at commissary, and once in a while I receive a package from my
Vegan friend, even though she hardly has the money to support herself. There is a great Vegan book about acquiring all
the essential (and non-essential) vitamins and minerals to support the Vegan diet called ‘Becoming Vegan’ by Brenda
Davis, R.D. and Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D.

Since becoming Vegan, I have found an inner shift within me that makes me feel like my life has meaning even though I
am a prisoner.

As Gary Francione has said, “Veganism is the one thing that each of us can do right now. Veganism is not merely a
matter of diet; it is a moral and political commitment to the abolition of animal exploitation on the individual level.”

We each can make the commitment right now to stop eating meat of all kinds, as well as eggs, dairy and honey; thus
being part of the healing solution for the environment and society.

The best way is to start by educating yourself on being Vegan, and learning about the origins of your current food
choices and product choices? We all have the ability to rise up above apathy, habitat and social conditioning.

For more information, please visit the following websites listed below.

Paul Cortez
Re:Paul Cortez\'s letter on Veganism
Posted by Desert Girl - 2008/09/01 17:22
Wow, that was fantastic! What an experience hey? We think we have it so good, but anyone of us could fall victim to the
merciless judicial sysstem being accused of a crime we didn't commit.

Whether prisoners are innocent or guilty, they shouldnt be treated that way in prison. Even without all those
punishments, beatings and time in isolation, just beinh in a prison is punishment enough -the lack of freedom. All that
other stuff is unnecessary.

I would like to see prisons as education centres for people to get a second chance at a trade or university degree. I also
think prisons should run on a system using NVC, where all the staff use it and are trained in it, and the prisoners are
taught the skills too. They can work voluntarily if they wish at award wages. Standard equivelent rates for rent and food
can be deducted from their wages to feed into the prison system but the rest can be saved by the prisoner to be used
upon their release or invested from prison, or given to family outside of prison. Anyone in prison is going to need all the
help they can get when they get out to start a new life so a bit of savings will help. Prisons should be rated according to
their success rates for the success of released prisoners. That should be the end goal of all prisons -to release better
people into the community. Even better -prevent people from going to prison in the first place by providing all that stuff I
mentioned in the prison like NVC and university to our youth!


Desert Girl
Posted by Desert Girl - 2008/09/01 17:32

On November 27, 2005, 25-year-old Paul Vincent Cortez endured an unthinkable devastation: his girlfriend, Catherine
for Earthlings Movie About Society Treatment of Animals - Board Forum Component version: 1.0.4 Generated: 29 January, 2010, 19:14
Woods, was found gruesomely murdered in her Upper East Side Manhattan apartment.

The next morning, Paul's mother delivered this crippling news to him at work. In the midst of his devastation and grief,
Paul made his way down to the police station in an attempt to find answers as well as assist in any way that he could.

Desperate for police to find Catherine’s killer and hoping that even the smallest detail might prove illuminating, Paul freely
opened himself to six hours of interrogation.

The police continued to sweep the apartment, but no relevant DNA, surveillance videos, or any other illuminating
evidence surfaced. Perhaps this would have been different if they chose to test the blond hairs found in Catherine's hand
at the murder scene, or the DNA found under her fingernails.

Despite his candor, because of his close relationship with Catherine, Police informed Paul that he was one of two prime
suspects: the other being Catherine's ex-boyfriend and roommate David. Certain that his innocence would inevitably
clear him in the investigation, Paul continued to cooperate with police without legal representation. He endured hours of
intense interrogation, allowed his hands and body to be photographed, volunteered his DNA, handed over his cell phone,
and permitted the police to search his apartment without a warrant.
Posted by lionandlamb - 2008/09/02 08:45
Sandy, DG -- will be sure to read this thoroughly later
Re:Paul Cortez\'s letter on Veganism
Posted by alexloverh - 2008/09/03 21:04
wow, that was incredible, such a powerful story to relate the exploitation of humans and non-humans. Really glad I read
it. I'll be forwarding this to some friends. Thanks Sandy!


Thursday, 28 January 2010

Return the Wallace Safe Conduct Letter..

Many thanks for this Link Ana

please take a moment to read and sign the petition

Most of us knew that the Guardian of Scotland was kidnapped and murdered by men acting on behalf of King Edward I. How many of you knew that he was carrying a letter which is currently being held at the English national archives in Surrey?

The letter is known as the 'safe conduct letter' and was written by the King of France. It is the only confirmed personal possesion of our favourite patriot in existence. Sadly, we can't see it, as it is hidden away in a drawer at the English records office at Kew. It is a disgrace that an artefact of such important historical significance to the people of scotland is being held in kew, not even on display. The letter along with the great man himself were unjustly removed from Scotland, he was murdered, it was stolen. We want it back. We demand it be returned to scotland for display in the national museum in edinburgh, so that all scottish people (and our visitors) have full rights of access to view this historic document.

Please can you all assist by signing the petition below,

I have read the Return of the Wallace Safe Conduct Letter Petition to Chief Executive of The National Archives, Kew, and I hereby sign the petition:

Name: (required)

Email Address: (required)

Comments: (optional)

Country: (required)

Please note: All information you provide on this petition signing form will be public on the petition signatures page, except your email address, for which privacy is set here:
Email Address Privacy Option: (choose one) 
 Available to Petition Author

Explanation of Email Address Privacy Options:

"Private" means your email address is stored in a secure private location, for signature validation only.
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"Public" means anyone viewing the signature pages on the Web for this petition can get your email address and send you email.

View Signatures Without Signing

i simply ask you to send this letter back to Scotland where it belongs ,peace and light

Bruce Kelly

Neil Bunt
Quite simply, this letter is a wee bit of Scottish history and it’s proper place is back in Scotland.
United States
Will Mathews

Gregory Alan Orcutt

United States of America
Larry (McGlothlan) Ransom

Robert Thomson Kerr
Return our letter!
Deborah Ann Barnum

Berni Freeman
"FREEDOM!!!" for all us Scots.
Jean Graham
return what is rightly ours .

Rose Marie
The Letter Should Be Returned To Scotland.
Jocelyn Stewart
Please return to where it belongs.
Roger Stewart
Please return it to Scotland were it belongs
Geoff Crolley
The Safe Conduct Letter and the Lubeck Letter (showing that Allyn Wallace was the father of William), should be on display together in Scotland.
peter howe

Jeannette Hoffman
Please return this most important historical artifact to the people who deserve to hold it.
United States
Ian Vallely

James McGilp

Rona Topaz

Alexander McCallum
This rare and important document needs to be seen its proper context for future generations on display in Scotland
Andrew Logan

LaDawn Young
For Scotland
Paul Anderson
Scotlands rightful property - give it back!
Paul Clarke
This letter is the property of the Scottish people and Sovereign realm of Scotland - We demand its immediate return.
Irene Clarke
Sir Willaim Wallace and the letter of safe conduct were take illegally from Scotland - Return it to the Sovereign people of Scotland now.
Kate Young

Allerlei Hume

Misty CLark

david edwards
thieving english humps
Jennifer (Clark) Bucko
Scotland's history belongs to Scotland, and therefore belongs IN Scotland!
David Gilchrist Morrison
Bring it back to where it belongs.
Nicole J. Clark
Alba Gu Brath
Kathryn Black

Tracie Ca'mel-Yohe
Being from the Family "Drummond" of Scottland, this is VERY important and to my heart
LaDawn Young
For The Love Of Scottland
Dana Marie Carney-Tilghman

T. C. Maugham

Laura Summers

Beth Morrison

Sheila Maclean
This letter is of no value to England; it belongs to Scotland and must remain on Scottish soil.
United Kingdom
Yvonne Malcolm
are you scared to return this letter in case it is another nail in the union,s coffin
Jim Malcolm

Scott McLean

neal cowan

Cameron Edwards
Give us our letter back please.
Murray Fraser
Please return it to where it belongs
United Kingdom
alexander dodds
pamela fletcher

Rab Steel
Return it to where it belongs
Mary Ellen Kelnhofer
Second Generation Scot
View Signatures : 2292   2242   2192   2142   2092   2042   1992   1942   1892   1842   1792   1742   1692   1642   1592   1542   1492   1442   1392   1342   1292   1242   1192   1142   1092   1042   992   942   892   842   792   742   692   642   592   542   492   442   392   342   292   242   192   142   92   42 

further update

Wallace letter is English?
January 28, 2010, 1:26 pm
Filed under: Badger's Blog | Tags: ,
Below is an email the badger received from Natalie Ceeney the Chief Executive of English National Archives in Surrey. In it she states that her expert curators believe the document wasn’t a safe conduct letter, but was an instruction written by the French king to his agents in Rome. She goes on to claim that the actual safe conduct papers found on Wallace at the time of his ‘unlawful’ arrest in August 1305 can’t be confirmed as having survived beyond 1323. In addition to this, and quite unbelievably in our opinion, she states that the absence of seals, annotations or notarial marks suggests it is not in fact an original French document but a ‘copy’ made by English agents working in Rome at the time. She has no proof of this of course and is asking us to believe that a letter written by the French king to the Italian Pope on behalf of Wallace supporting Scottish independence from England would be helpfully copied by mysterious English agents in Rome. In summary she states that the letter is part of the English national record. She is actually claimimg the letter is English and belongs to the people of England, can any of you actually believe the cheek of it? Come on Natalie get a grip, you’re not getting away with that, not on my watch.. Our group suspects that in the year of a referendum your motivations are politically motivated rather than historical. Regardless of this issue it is still a letter written by a French king to the Italian Pope in support of a Scottish patriot. Bottom line – We want it back.
She also says that the National Archives has received ‘no official requests’ regarding the retrurn of the document. For me this is the saddest and most frustrating thing of all. The people of Scotland have made it very clear we want it back. Our Keeper of the records of Scotland has said he recognises there is a ’strong and enduring interest in this important document’. The badger has copies of emails and letters from several politicians who have been involved in this issue all the way up to our First minister Alex Salmond. So why is it then that English National Archives and the lovely Natalie have not received an official request? From the tone of Natalie’s politically motivated email it would seem she is unlikely to be co-operative but nonetheless we can’t be critical of her unwillingness to co-operate if she hasn’t actually been approached.
Our understanding is that Christine Graham MSP is heading up the so called ‘campaign’ in Holyrood on behalf of us the people of Scotland. We are waiting for her progress report to date and will update you all when we receive it.
Please invite your friends to join our group:



Dear andy,

Here's some exciting music to end a dark January. 22 piece band The Unusual Suspects made this CD a few years back and attracted amazing reviews. We're offering it to you for £3.99! 60% OFF normal price. This offer is valid for One Week Only! One of our reviewers said "This really is an adrenalin rush featuring 22 of Scotland's finest 'folk' based musicians who perform with such passion and vigour that you get the feeling they've all got a point to prove."
1. New Releases - includes The Outside Track, Wendy Weatherby, Skipinnish Scottish Music Show
2. Foot Stompin' Valentines Day Cards
3. Scottish music hero: Matt McGinn
4. Snippets - Job Opportunity, Happy birthday Phil Cunnngham
5. Foot Stompin' Free Ringtone - Sonas
6. Reviews - The McCalmans, Rachel Walker
7. Best Sellers: Jean Redpath, The Occasionals, Mairearad & Anna
8. Foot Stompin' Scotch Whisky
9. Discussion forum
10. Testimonials
11. Foot Stompin' on Facebook and Twitter
1. New Releases (remember if you've bought from us before you get our loyalty 10% discount off everything)
CURIOUS TITLE!! Curious Things Given Wings - The Outside Track: The second CD from this talented band is a mix of traditional Scottish, Irish, Canadian and original songs and tunes, and features Norah Rendell (Canadian Traditional Singer of the Year nominee), Mairi Rankin (Rankin family, Beolach), Ailie Robertson (Live Ireland Winner, BBC Young Trad Finalist), Fiona Black (BBC Fame Academy Winner), and Cillian O'Dalaigh (Trazz. A talented line-up whose synthesis of virtuosity and energy delivers a very good CD indeed! £11.25 (12.50 for first time customers)
ARE YE DANCIN?!! The Skipinnish Ceilidh House  - The Scottish Music Show : This CD is as close as you'll get to a ceilidh without actually going to one! The Skipinnish Ceilidh House in Oban is the most vibrant, authentic and exciting display of Highland music and dancing you are likely to come across. Every year thousands of visitors  enjoy a unique combination of award-winning musicians, singers and dancers. The aim of the show is to provide a real ceilidh experience and this CD demonstrates the tremendous music on offer at this west-coast venue and gives the listener a flavour of the wonderful musical culture of Scotland. £11.25 (£12.50 for first time customers)
CELLO & SCOTS SONG!! A Shirt Of Silk Or Snow - Wendy Weatherby: The cello is such a beautiful instrument and in a folk music setting its sonorous tone lends great richness to any ensemble. Wendy Weatherby is a fine cello player and an excellent Scots singer and she combines both talents to great effect on this always interesting album featuring 14 tracks of Scottish traditional songs and tunes. Wendy's guest musicians are Stevie Lawrence - Bouzouki, Guitar, Whistle & Percussion; James Ross - Piano; Pete Clark - Fiddle & Viola; Bruce Adams - Trumpet & Flugelhorn; Linda Adams - Guitar, Banjo, Concertina & Vocals. £11.25 (£12.50 for first time customers)

ORKNEY DEBUT!! Skalder  - Cora: The debut CD from 4-piece Orcadian 'Danny Award' winners Skalder and a fine piece of work it is too!. A thoughtful album from this young but very confident band with lead instruments, the piano and fiddle of Jennifer Austin and Louise Bichen. Beautifully played with atmospheric arrangements and instrumentation full of ideas. The album title comes from the name of a boat  "The Cora" which carried Jennifer's great uncle Sandy and a trapper across the North West Passage on a desperate venture into the Arctic. Winter ice forced them to leave the boat at a Shetland bay and continued by dog sled. but they never got back to the boat and the bay became known as 'Cora Bay'. £11.25 (£12.50 for first time customers)

Pocket Scottish History (book): condenses all the important facts in Scottish history together in an easy to read format. A comprehensive reference book for use at home or in school, providing a fascinating and informative guide to all aspects of Scottish history. £4.50 (£4.99 for first time customers)

Remember you can also buy from Foot Stompin' by phone - +44 (0)131 441 3135. We take all credit cards. If you like a friendly voice at the end of your phone we're here!

2. Foot Stompin' Valentines Day Cards
Don't leave it to the last moment! Why not earn yourself some brownie points by getting your loved one a 'different'  Valentines Card today. There are two versions - our Foot Stompin' fiddler or bagpiper - both available with a lovely verse in Gaelic or Scots. You can't buy cards like these in the shops! £2.25 (£2.50 for first time customers)
Bagpiper Valentine's Card in Gaelic
Bagpiper Valentines Card in Scots
Fiddle Valentine's Card in Gaelic
Fiddle Valentines Card in Scots
3. Scottish music hero: - Matt McGinn
Matt McGinn was one of the most important topical songwriters in the British Isles. He was born in Ross Street at the corner of the Gallowgate in Calton in 1928, one of a family of nine. At the age of twelve, he was sent to an approved school for two years. On his release he worked in the Hillington factory of Guest, Keen & Nettleford, spending his spare time at evening classes and reading, When he was thirty-one, he gained a prestigious Trade Union scholarship to Ruskin College in Oxford. After taking his diploma in economics and political science, he went to Huddersfield Teachers' Training College. Upon qualification Matt McGinn went to work as a teacher in Rutherglen for three years before becoming the organiser of the Gorbals Adventure Playground.
McGinn found himself in the folk business after winning a song contest with a song entitled "The Foreman O'Rourke." McGinn met Pete Seeger in 1961 when he was touring the British Isles. Seeger championed McGinn's music in the United States and arranged for McGinn to be part of a concert performance at Carnegie Hall, where McGinn met a young Bob Dylan. His career in music began during the folk revival of the 1960's but whilst others leaned towards traditional song, Matt carved his own niche as a humourist and playwright as well as a singer/songwriter. He was a prolific songwriter, drawing on his experiences of Glasgow life for much of his material. His performances in clubs and concert halls were hugely popular, often leaving the audience in tears of laughter.
He passionately believed in the overthrow of capitalism and supported many union disputes and helped the needy.
Matt died on January 6th 1977 aged 47 from the effects of smoke inhalation. Although brought up a Roman Catholic he abandoned religion and at his funeral the Communist anthem 'The International' was movingly sung by the large congregation ........he will always be remembered. His songs live on and are still performed.

The Linlithgow Folk Festival Association has played an important role in bringing Matt's work to life again - they hold an annual "Matt McGinn Night." The next one is scheduled for Saturday March 6th. For more details tel 01506 510132.
Listen to Matt's music.
The Return of The Two Heided Man -
The Best of Matt McGinn -
4. Snippets
Job opportunity!
Jim Sutherland's True North Orchestra and La Banda Europa are looking for a very capable and experienced person who would see this job as an opportunity to develop a successful arts business/organisation from the ground up working towards a permanent relationship with LB Ltd. It is intended that the person recruited for this project will become the permanent Producer for the organisation.
Happy Birthday Phil!
Phil Cunningham is 50 today and still at the top after all these years.
Dancin' in Angus!
The Legendary BBC Radio Scotland programme Take the Floor is going to Montrose. To be part of the audience with popular host Robbie Shepherd and  the Bruce Lindsay Scottish Dance Band get your tickets here.
Serious Burns!
A Burns Night Celebration on BBC iPlayer. Folks in the UK can watch BBC Scotland's A Burns Night Celebration with Rod Paterson, Mick Marra and Eddi Reader. .........and Eddi has just agreed to become the first celebrity 'Burns Ambassador'
Come on Andy Murray!
Scottish tennis player Andy Murray is doing very well at the Australian Open and it's amazing to see so many Scottish flags wherever he goes! Fingers crossed he makes it to the finals but even if he doesn't he helping to sell the Scottish brand all over the world.
Thoughts and prayers for Alistair Hulett
We hear the Scots singer songwriter is critically ill in hopital where he is awaiting a liver transplant.

Calling all Scotia Bar Folkies!
Arthur Johnstone of The Laggan and The Stars Band has decided to invite all who where ever a part of the thriving folk scene in The Scotia Bar in the 60s and 70s to a reunion in Laurie's Bar, 34-36 King Street, Glasgow G1 5QT on Sunday the 21st Feb at 2pm.

I'm flagging up this wee bit of software again as I've just had to transcribe 10 tunes from a CD for a course I'm running. Usually this job can take forever as you play rewind play rewind each section till you've got it. This time I loaded each tune as a MP3 and Transcribe slowed it down to 25% (whilst keeping it in tune) and I raced through the job. Also works for songs.

Don't forget!
The BBC Young Traditional Musician 2010 Finalists Concert followed by the 10th Anniversary 'Birthday Bash' this Sunday..
5. Foot Stompin' Free Ringtone
Why not download our latest ringtone. This week we're featuring the fab Scots Trad Music Awards nominated MacGregor, Brechin & O' hEadhra from their Sonas CD. The reel you will hear is called The prince's welcome to Inverness.
6. Reviews
Live Concert: The McCalmans, Celtic Connections: Reviewed in The Herald.
A refreshingly diverse set cemented the trio's reputation as outstanding story-tellers. From ruminations on an idyllic life in the Hebrides to self-flagellation over terrible hang­overs, the group switched happily between sweet balladry and topical satire, portraying all the differing sentiments with compassion and bravura. And if you can't remember the last time you had a genuine belly laugh at Celtic Connections, you clearly haven't encountered the spectacular comedy legend of Ian McCalman. He could easily find himself bookings as a stand-up should he reconsider his retirement this year. The Herald.

CD: Air Chall (Lost) - Rachel Walker. Customer Review 5 stars
Fantastic singer with lots of stars backing her . She couldn't go wrong...Hieland laddie
DVD: Caithness Connections. Customer Review 4 stars
As afrequent visitor to the area holidaying at Dunnet Head this DVD is an all year reminder of how beautiful and peaceful the area is a good addition to my DVD collection of Scotland....Daniel Gage
7. Best Sellers

CD: Mairearad & Anna: The Mairearad Green (accordion) and Anna Massie (fiddle, guitar) are both excellent and inventive players and this their debut as a duo is a demonstration of their abundant talents.
CD: Jean Redpath - Songs of Lady Nairne: Jean's clear pure voice is gorgeous on this album.

CD/DVD: The Full Set - The Occasionals:  This is a fabulous package! A great audio CD featuring one of the best dance bands ever plus a DVD showing the band as they go round the country.
CD: The Complete Songs of Robert Burns 12 Volume Box Set:  This collection of songs touches on all aspects of human nature and is a true representation of a vigorous folk tradition past and present. 

8. Foot Stompin' Scotch Whisky
With our partners Masters of Malt we've got two more fabulous whiskies for you to peruse. We're going to feature the Speyside Tamdhu whisky. When the Strathspey railway first graced Speyside's locality, a dependable means of travel was, at last, brought to the area and several distilleries were built as a result. Tamdhu was founded in 1896 by a group of whisky blenders, including William Grant and Sons among others, and designed by the famed, prolific Speyside distillery architect, Charles Doig of Elgin.
Tamdhu 8 Year Old - MacPhails: A light, fruity 8 year old bottling from the Tamdhu distillery, bottled by Gordon and MacPhail. The nose is full of juicy sultanas and sherried peels with a note of bitter chocolate and vanilla fudge! £19.95
Tamdhu 18 Year Old: A light, honeyed 18 year old single malt from the Tamdhu distillery in Speyside. The nose is quite clean and light with Notes of grist with cereal sweetness, hints of cut herbs and rubbed petals. £39.95
9. Foot Stompin' Discussion Forum
Here's what's being discussed at present. Feel free to join in!

Albums or downloads?
 I was listening to Beoga the other day on my iphone and it occured to me that although I owned their 3 albums as downloads it didn't feel as real as owning 3 CDs. In fact I felt that I didn't feel like I owned their albums at all more like copies.....

Background music at gigs
...most of us come along to a gig to listen to the main act and/or support (Preferably both) but we don't really want to hear the sound engineer's choice of music prior to and after the gig or during the interval and any other necessary(sometimes not) interludes ....
10. Testimonials
Absolutely delighted with your service, got my first order from you within 24hours of ordering. very impressed and will recommend you to my friends. Well done. Rosemary Cowe
Just received my order (Finlay Macdonald CD) very speedy delivery. Thanks, Mariel Coates
11 . Foot Stompin' on Facebook and Twitter
Follow Foot Stompin' on Facebook and Twitter and we'll send you daily Scottish music updates
Foot Stompin' has a presence on the social networking site Facebook. Come and pay us a visit!
If Twitter is more your scene you can visit us here

The Final Leap two Monarchs

flickr film 1 015

With the North wind howling outside it is lovely to have my feet resting near to the burner on a wee log and dreaming the dream of days gone bye..
A wee story comes to mind of a day by the river ,not long ago
So as the snow outside retreats up the ben ,no longer a carpet of pure white snow more a thread bare rug discarded across the glen.

let me tell you of a day in the magical mountains of SCOTLAND.

As i made my way down the moss covered bank i pushed gently on the silver birch branch in front of me..
I knew at once this was a place i wanted to sit and watch a while
a wee golden pool at the foot of a waterfall was visible through the wood lined banks
The silver birch was in full leafed splender  and here and there spindly branches leaned out across the peaty water and dipped there tips into the warm water.
The sky above was filled with a moon so large that it felt you could leap on it and go for a night ride across the sky .
the wee river leading from the pool was bubbling and dancing around large rocks in it’s way under the moon light
as i made my way to the edge of the pool i could see some slight movement from the surface of the pool so i carefully took my seat and focused on the spot
for the next couple of seconds nothing stirred in this wee piece of heaven ,then YES
i was sure it is .it is a salmon one of the monarchs of the mountains a fish that i believe embodies all about us Scots.
a great wanderer a fighter and such passion to reach the place of its birth

So as i sat there every nerve a tingle ,the joy at being able to witness the return of this great fish
his head out of the water looking at the waterfall for the way forward over this last great barrier to the pool of his birth less than 20 yards away.
The journey he had just completed seemed to flash in his eye a journey off thousands of oceanic miles or more, perils and dangers than he cared not to think off,the day he had finally spotted the river estuary  but he had made it and with a final sum of his energy he knew he would be there soon..
he seemed to gaze at me for a split second then with all his reserved energy he began to climb out of the water twisting this way and that in an effort to release all the energy at one single explosion and almost as if in slow motion he gained high first one foot then another and just as it seemed he would make it he fell backwards into the pool
I watched as for a couple of minutes no movement on the pool i feared he had used all his energy and with a hint off sadness i looked to the moon still beaming still beaming how many times had you seen this journey i thought .
Then a slight movement in the golden bubbly waters and i knew he was back (like i said a true SCOT) the battle was not over and with an even more dramatic burst of power he leapt clean 3 foot in the air and with the moon shinning brighter as if in encouragement a final splash at the surface he made it and with a quick glance backwards to me he headed to the pool of his birth there in the magical mountains of the northern country of Scotland..

then from nowhere fish first one or two then what seemed hundreds filled the pool and started to scale the waterfall from all angles fish leapt and failed the jump then more would leap and some succeeded this seem to send more and more hope until they seemed to take the barrier in their stride but a few with every ounce of energy spent drifted to the bank DEAD and DYING  ..

at that moment i was about to get and go home when from the corner off my eye two huge yellow things seemed to fall from the sky
the moon was hidden behind a wandering cloud but still enough light escaped to allow me to see what it was
An eagle larger and more colourful than i have ever seen swooped legs stretched out talons at the ready ,wings folded back plummeted through the gap in the trees and with an amazing accuracy landed on one of the floundering fish and gently came to earth his meal well and truly secure
With a loud call that reverberated across the glen he tucked into his meal one monarch feeding another .the way it has always been

peace and light

the dafthermit x

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Andy the Daft Hermit lives 45 minutes outside Inverness with his wife Mel in an old bus parked in a layby. This current home of theirs is the longest they have ever stayed in one spot. “I’ve been travelling now 25 years,” said Andy Lowe. “Mel’s been travelling 15. One of the reasons we’ve come and stayed up here is because of Mel’s health. I wanted to bring her to the mountains for fresh air and clean water and just a slower pace of life.” Mel has had breast cancer twice, skin cancer once, and for three years believed she had bone cancer after being wrongly diagnosed. Andy’s belief in the restorative powers of the north made them pack up ‘The Black Bus’ that they live in and cross the border into Scotland. New Highland home for hermit couple Andy and Mel “I think we both believe in trying to get to a more simple way of life,” said Andy, “but it’s strange for us because we are sort of hermits, or we like to live separate, but it’s not being anti-social… it’s just the way we are that allows us to be creative.” Andy first began travelling when he left the army. Fed up with bureaucracy he packed a rucksack and left for France and has been travelling ever since. By investing any money the couple have earned into solar panels and wind generators they now live a self-sustaining existence, without electric bills, and collect rain water “straight from Heaven”. “It’s not easy,” said Mel. “There might be time when there might not be enough facilities around, but you always find a way, you know?” Rather than rejecting technology, Andy blogs about his travels online and collaborates with artists from around the world via his ‘Scratchy Heid Film Studio’, which he runs from a static trailer next to the couple’s bus. He explained his philosophy: “My belief is that if you can go through life and you drop dead and you’ve got a balance there that slightly outweighs the good than the bad, you’ve done alright. “Yesterday, with what Mel’s been through with the cancer and all that, I had a woman on one of my sites there that thanked me for the writing, for the positive things, and to me that’s worth everything. You can keep your millions, we’re not interested. That is what we do.” To check out Andy’s artwork and video projects check out his website. MORE FROM THE NORTH

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Scottish Independence TV

Scottish Independence TV
This group has been set up to raise awareness of Scottish Independence in the run up to the 2014 referendum. We also welcome groups that support Palestine, Wales, Catalonia, The Basque and a United Ireland. We promote healthy debate on this group feel free to add your friends or anyone you think may be interested in the topics discussed here. We will also be setting up a youtube channel so anyone who can make decent videos message the admin. Twitter accounts and Blogspot pages will also be linked to this group so watch this space! Saor Alba!


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