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Member since: Sat Nov 12, 2011, 02:37 PM
Number of posts: 1,684

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Lockerbie: Case closed

Wednesday, December 21, 1988 was the longest night of the year, the night of the winter solstice. At 6.30pm that evening Pan Am Flight 103 took off from London Heathrow airport en route to JFK New York. On board Clipper Maid of the Skies, as it was called, were 16 crew members and 243 passengers, many of whom were carrying Christmas gifts in their luggage for family and friends.



The innocent individuals and their families deserve to know if the man convicted was the man who carried out the attack, and a man possibly wrongly convicted the right to clear his name.
Posted by MichaelMcGuire | Thu Mar 1, 2012, 05:15 AM (1 replies)

A Thoroughly Modern Girl

Conceived as a piece of site specific work, A Thoroughly Modern Girl is part of an ongoing series to be installed in public locations as a response to the multitude of dead space within urban Edinburgh. The works range from single boards to multiples carrying illustrative and text-based commentaries on their chosen site and surrounds.

In the case of this piece the site is the by now defunct, and much maligned, State Cinema on Great Junction Street, Leith. I have long admired this building’s façade as one of only a handful of examples of art deco architecture throughout the city.

The image of the girl was taken from an Escher woodcut (Girl With Flower) of the same period as the building (1930). At the core of his original work is a wistfulness and suggestion of transience, marked by the innocence of youth. She is shown in the height of fashion of the day, with bobbed hair and a geometric patterned dress akin to the avant-garde textiles of Sonia Delauney. The piece is contemplative in nature, with the underlying subtext of youth, beauty, longevity and mortality, symbolised through the use of a Spring flower.

I replaced the flower with a Saltire to have this wistful deco girl contemplate an idea, re-directing the viewer toward issues of identity, whilst retaining the original idiom of transience through the choice of contemporaneous decaying venue.

Again, true to the original this work is a woodcut. Albeit scaled up by around 200%, the girl is cut from a single standard metric sheet of oak veneered 18mm MDF 2440mm x 1220mm. She is made entirely of vertical cuts (other than the flag) scored into the face of the board with an angle-grinder.

If the work were to be inked up you could take a print from her in the same manner as the original.



I think its a great idea to turn areas of dead space into art.
Posted by MichaelMcGuire | Wed Feb 29, 2012, 11:06 AM (1 replies)

Professor Erik Swyngedouw: The Antinomies of the Post-Political and Post-Democratic City

Erik Swyngedouw is Professor of Geography at the University of Manchester. He is committed to political economic analysis of contemporary capitalism, producing several major works on economic globalisation, regional development, finance, and urbanisation. His interests also include political-ecological themes and the transformation of nature, notably water issues, in Ecuador, Spain, the UK, and elsewhere in Europe


Posted by MichaelMcGuire | Wed Feb 29, 2012, 10:19 AM (4 replies)

Trident – Nowhere to Go

Brian Quail explores why an independent Scotland means the end of Trident in the UK.

This is the title of a detailed analysis of government archives published by John Ainslie of Scottish CND in Jan 2012. This timely report analyses, using the MoD’s own assessments, why alternative locations to Faslane and Coulport in Scotland are simply not tenable.

With locations including the 2012 Olympics sailing venue, National Trust land and densely populated residential areas, there is simply nowhere for Trident to go. An independent Scotland means the end of Trident in the UK.

For more than half a century people have campaigned against nuclear weapons. The basic tactic was always “convert the opposition, then get it elected”. Now all that is changed. Utterly. In Scotland, we have won. Game, set, and match. We have a government in power which shares our goal.

But it is not enough for the Scottish government to be opposed to Trident politically. It must also find the courage to recognise and affirm the manifest illegality of Trident.

Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998 reserves to Westminster *“control over nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction”*. Thus, by its own words the British state recognises that Trident is a WMD. As such, it violates the Geneva and
Hague Conventions, and the other acts of International and Domestic Law, which uphold the sacrosanct principle of civilian immunity.

On 21st October 1999 Sheriff Margaret Gimblett instructed the jury at Greenock Sheriff Court to acquit Angie Zelter, Ellen Moxley and Ulla Rode, who had been charged with causing £80,000 damage to a Trident related barge. The jury did so, and Trident was – ipso facto -
recognised as being illegal. Thus was a noble and honest decision.

On 30th March 2001, in the Lord Advocates Referral (LAR) Lords Prosser, Kirkwood, and Penrose overturned this decision, and in a perverse and shameful display of toadying to the imagined interests of the British state, ruled that Trident was legal. They claimed the rules of war do not apply in peace time. (We were, in fact, at war in Kosovo at the time of the LAR, as we are now at war in Afghanistan.)

Since then, courts in Scotland have used this LAR ruling as a precedent, and all those who seek by peaceful, non-violent, direct action to uphold the law and frustrate the deployment ot Trident, have been found guilty. This farce simply cannot go on. The new Scottish government must find the courage to challenge the LAR, to admit that this was – quite simply – wrong, and to confront the UK government directly on the illegality of Trident.

The fact remains that all the Unionist parties support the UK’s government’s present deployment of Trident, and its replacement in 2025 with an even more advanced nuclear WMD.

Their is a perverse rationality in this. Since the nuclear fetish lies at the very heart of the (British) nationalism that all the Unionist parties share, they are logically obliged to kow-tow to this great British national idol.

The current political debate in Britain is not internationalism versus nationalism, as the ultra-left fondly imagines. What we have in the UK is a conflict between two opposing nationalisms. British (which is imperialistic and conservative), and Scottish, which is (generally) more social democratic and internationalist in character. One cannot
be a genuine internationalist, without first recognising the cogency and validity of nationalism. The British ultra-left is very keen on supporting anti-imperialist movements and nationalist aspirations in foreign lands, but perversely opposed to this same phenomenon when it
is a question of Scotland’s future. Their much-vaunted internationalism is in fact a mask concealing the face of good old-fashioned British imperialism. Who was it said we are destined to become what we are afraid of?

The British left has not yet made the connection between nuclearism and Britishness, and, in Scotland, has paid the price in its self-indulgent road to oblivion. They fail to see the innate
imperialism of the British state. All talk about “the British road to socialism” is as contradictory and irrational as talking about “the Zionist road to socialism”

The British state is historically, congenitally and irredeemably an imperialist construct, as is Zionism. To try to build socialism – or any progressive political structures - on this basis of the continued existence of the British state, is building castles in the air.

The problem for SCND is that some of our members are long time activists in the Labour Party, and resolutely opposed to independence (“separatism”). So, what do they do? My message to these people is this. You must decide which you hate the most, Independence or

more: here
Posted by MichaelMcGuire | Wed Feb 29, 2012, 10:08 AM (2 replies)

Munro Film (In Production)

Preproduction Teaser

clip one

clip two

In June 2011, I left the village I grew up in on the south-east coast of Scotland and began walking north-west towards the mountains.

The idea was to spend 5 months living in a tent and walking across Scotland to climb the Munros, the 283 mountains in Scotland that rise above 3000ft, while documenting the experience and the people that I met.

It took 6 long and draining days to reach the first mountain, Ben Lomond, the most southerly Munro. At the cloud covered top, I wondered what the hell I was doing and almost turned back. In reality, my dream was more like a nightmare.

But somehow I found the will to keep going. I experienced the sublime and the surreal, the joy and the despair of a journey that often felt like a futile and absurd quest. After 4 long months and climbing 173 mountains, late-October snowfall forced me to reluctantly stop.

I was already over month behind schedule caused by adverse weather and the technicalities of filming, so I reasoned that the film would be better off if I retreated for winter and return in spring 2012 to complete the journey over a further two months.

With now over 100 hours of footage, I am currently finding and shaping the story that will form the basis of a feature documentary film. The story is still unfolding, but do not expect a banal account of calories consumed and self-styled adventurism to reach the extremes of human endurance.

The footage in the video above is some of what I have already captured. I hope it gives you a sense of my journey and that you might like to see the finished film.

Intertwined with the story of the journey, my film aims to capture the essence of Scotland's wild places and landscapes, while exploring various ideas and themes surrounding our connection to, and estrangement from wilderness and our human roots in an age of cheap thrills, fast food and reality TV.

I met many interesting people along the way and it is these people that will bring the film to life. However, I need help if the film is going to get finished and ulimately reach cinema screens.

Before production began I had a very successful crowdfunding campaign on thanks to some very generous people who helped me buy essential film equipment. I was also lucky enough to be supported by RAB http://rab.uk.com/ who supplied some excellent outdoor clothing and equipment.

But I now need help to fund the next stage of the journey and everything afterwards including editing, postproduction costs, music licensing, distribution and marketing costs, and festival fees.

If you like the sound of my project and would like to help then please consider contributing towards this campaign.

More: here

by James Urquhart

As a keen outdoor-est myself I'd love to see this pull through so I'm rising awareness. I've always found interesting people from all over that enjoy and find escape in Scotland.
Posted by MichaelMcGuire | Wed Feb 29, 2012, 07:06 AM (0 replies)

Scotland's Red Squirrel

Gie us yer nuts

{edit} Just to be clear this post is about rising awareness of the red squirrel. Thanks to Luminous Animal for unlocking {edit}

Beautiful pictures here

Red Squirrel

Sciurus vulgaris

Body Length: 20-22cm

Ears:Tufted, especially in winter

Tail colour:One colour all over but can be vary from dark reddy/brown colour to a light “bleached” appearance

Body weight: 300g

Shape: Slender

Habits: Often shy, spends time high up in trees

‘The 132 years since the introduction of the American grey squirrel has seen the rapid demise of our native red. Scotland in now home to over 75% of the entire UK red squirrel population. We are their best and last chance’.

It all began 34 million years ago with Protosciurus, the oldest known tree squirrel fossil. Squirrels in the 21st century don’t look very different from their prehistoric ancestors, but nowadays, there are at least 267 species of squirrel throughout the world, which come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. Squirrels belong to the Order Rodentia, characterised by their efficient gnawing front teeth and including other animals such as mice and voles. Within this Order, the Family Sciuridae covers the three groups of squirrels – flying squirrels, ground dwelling squirrels and tree squirrels, the latter of which includes both red and grey squirrels.

more here

Threats To Red Squirrels
The Spread of Grey Squirrels

The grey squirrel was introduced into Britain in the late 19th century (1876 onwards), and has replaced the native red squirrel in most of its former British range. Red and grey squirrels occupy a similar ecological niche, as they are both small tree-dwelling mammals that rely on similar food sources (tree seeds, nuts, berries, etc). However, because of differences in their ability to digest large seeds from broadleaved trees (in particular, acorns), grey squirrels have a competitive advantage over red squirrels in broadleaved and mixed woodland, as they are able to feed on these seeds before they are fully ripe, and gain more nutritional benefit from them than red squirrels. This results in weight loss and reduced breeding success for reds.

The presence of the Squirrelpox virus is now the single largest threat to the survival of red squirrels in Scotland. Grey squirrels are carrying the virus into Scotland from England but while it does not harm them, it is fatal to the native red. Red squirrels that contract the disease suffer from discharge and lesions around the face and genitalia, increasing lethargy, and generally die within two weeks. In the presence of this disease grey squirrels can displace and replace red squirrels 20 times faster than if the disease is not present.

Changes in Woodland Habitat

Between 1914 and 1945, there was extensive felling of woodlands throughout Britain. These, and subsequent felling of Scots pine and Norway spruce plantations as they mature, have largely been replaced with new plantations of Sitka spruce, that offer a limited and unpredictable food supply for red squirrels. Remaining woodlands have been further fragmented by the loss of an estimated 52.5% of the hedgerow habitat in Scotland between the 1940s and 1980s (SNH, 1997). Continuity of habitat is important, and the loss of hedgerow links between woodlands can result in the isolation of red squirrel populations.

Felling can also lead to the isolation of red squirrel populations from both each other and their food sources, and increases the risk of losses from predation if red squirrels have to cross open areas.

Road Kills

A number of red squirrels are killed as the result of road accidents, particularly on smaller, less used country roads where there is woodland bordering either side of the road.


Red squirrels that come to gardens to feed are vulnerable to predation from domestic cats, particularly if they have to cross open ground to get to feeding stations. Natural predators of red squirrels include pine martens and birds of prey, which may have a significant effect on local populations where squirrels become a favoured prey item. It should be noted that predators are just as likely to take grey squirrels as reds.


Posted by MichaelMcGuire | Sun Feb 26, 2012, 07:28 AM (18 replies)

Oldest instrument is dug up in Skye cave

Sunday 26 February 2012 00:03

THE remains of what could be the oldest stringed instrument to be found in Europe have been discovered in a remote cave on Skye.

The burnt fragment was dug up last year during an archaeological project. It is believed to be at least 1,500 years old and pre-dates any similar item previously found on the continent.

The artefact, which resembles a bridge of an early stringed instrument, was unearthed in Skye’s High Pasture Cave – a focus of Bronze Age and Iron Age research since 1972 – and is currently being examined by experts at Historic Scotland.

Rod McCullagh, a Historic Scotland Archaeologist, said: “The cave has provided many fascinating discoveries, including a burnt fragment of a small wooden object that we have asked experts to study as it appears to be the bridge of a stringed instrument.”

Until now the oldest stringed instruments found in Europe have been lyre harps dated around 600AD, which were played by Vikings throughout Scandinavia.

However most of the artefacts discovered at the High Pasture Cave are much older, with many of the finds dating back to the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age, up to 2,000 years earlier.

Until now it was believed that the only instruments made during that time were flutes, pipes and bronze instruments such as crudely fashioned trumpets. But the Skye instrument could date from around 500 AD and may have been left there by later inhabitants of the caves.

More: Scotland on Sunday
Posted by MichaelMcGuire | Sun Feb 26, 2012, 04:39 AM (33 replies)

The Amazing Underwater Dog Photography of Seth Casteel

More here:
Posted by MichaelMcGuire | Fri Feb 24, 2012, 05:46 AM (1 replies)

Exhibition marks sacrifices of the Scots who fought Franco

The sacrifices of 500 Scottish volunteers who fought Franco during the Spanish Civil War are being marked in a new exhibition which is being seen for the first time in Scotland.

Short of weapons and training, the Scots who joined the International Brigade suffered heavy losses in their fight against fascism.

More: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-16908024

Website Leisure and Culture Dundee website.
Posted by MichaelMcGuire | Thu Feb 23, 2012, 09:40 AM (0 replies)

Why Tibetan Monks Watch Braveheart

Independence isn’t just history.”

By Andrew Barr

That was the message of leafleters outside Scottish cinema screenings in the 1990s as Wallace rode onto our screens ready to free the nation.

Today the Braveheart effect on Scottish politics may have worn off, with modern nationalism now being centred on economics, democracy and future aspirations. But with the referendum set to be held in 2014, the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, just how closely the independence movement should run to historic sentiment is still a real issue of debate.

Recently, several sources including the Scottish Centre of Himalayan Research reported that Tibetan monks had been watching Braveheart, even between prayer times, presumably encouraged by the story of Scotland and its fight for independence from a much larger and much more powerful neighbour.

Perhaps it is the monks’ philosophy of all things being interconnected that has in some way influenced these developments – and that is something we should learn from. Independence movements around the world are bound together by a common goal; and in the new age of internet democracy that solidarity will have an even greater part to play.

These developments on the role of our history in Tibet are particularly interesting due to our own criticisms of the subject. Scotland’s story is a “Hollywood invention”, we are often told. It was “wildly romanticised”, or simply “didn’t happen”. Whilst we should ensure our knowledge of the subject is as factual as possible, it is fair to say that Scotland’s obsession with freedom is not a post-Braveheart phenomenon but a very real and long-lasting notion centred at the very heart of our culture. We wouldn’t dismiss India’s struggle for independence as fictional due to some inaccuracies in the 1982 film Ghandi. Films do not create these notions; they interpret them.

More: http://nationalcollective.com/2012/01/13/why-tibetan-monks-watch-braveheart/

Posted by MichaelMcGuire | Mon Feb 20, 2012, 07:42 AM (1 replies)
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