from-the-horses-mouthHello. My magazine has now been running for three years so I think it’s fair to say it is  established.

Of course, the magazine couldn’t have existed without input and cooperation from many helpful people like my parents, Robert Williams, Ruth Minich, Brenda Condoll and Michael Blackburn. I have been fortunate to witness the magazine readership grow weekly and have seen a steady  increase in the number of subscribers.

The competitions have proved to be a popular inclusion in the magazine and have provided me with some very interesting material which I have been able to use.

Many people have been kind enough to let me interview them about their work and lives and this is something I intend to continue doing in the future. If you would like me to interview you, you can contact me

The magazine exists for everyone and aims to give a voice to people who are usually ignored – you can view the magazine at:

Best Wishes, Dean Charlton.



UK election: Theresa May’s full statement

(CNN)UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced Tuesday that there will be a snap general election on 8 June 2017. Here is her statement in full.

Last summer, after the country voted to leave the European Union Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership. And since I became prime minister the government has delivered precisely that.
Despite predictions of immediate financial and economic danger, since the referendum we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations.
We have also delivered on the mandate we were handed by the referendum result. Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back.
And as we look to the future, the government has the right plan for negotiating our new relationship with Europe. We want a deep and special partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart its own way in the world.
That means we will regain control of our own money, our own laws and our own borders. And we will be free to strike trade deals with old friends and new partners, all around the world.
This is the right approach and it is in the national interest. But the other political parties oppose it.
At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster. But instead there is division. The country is coming together but Westminster is not.
In recent weeks Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union.
The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill.
The Scottish national party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union.
And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.
Our opponents believe, because the government’s majority is so small, that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course.
They are wrong. They underestimate our determination to get the job done.
And I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country. Because what they are doing jeopardizes the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home. And it weakens the government’s negotiating position in Europe.
If we do not hold a general election now, their political game-playing will continue. And the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election.
Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country.
So we need a general election and we need one now. Because we have, at this moment, a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.
I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion. Since I became prime minister I have said there should be no election until 2020.
But now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take.
And so tomorrow I will move a motion in the House of Commons calling for a general election to be held on the 8th June. That motion as set out by the Fixed-term Parliament Act will require a two thirds majority of the House of Commons.
So I have a simple challenge to the opposition parties, who have criticized the government’s vision for Brexit, who have challenged our objectives, who have threatened to block the legislation we put before parliament.
This is your moment to show you mean it, to show that you are not opposing the government for the sake of it, to show that you do not treat politics as a game.
Let us tomorrow vote for an election. Let us put forward our plans for Brexit and our alternative programs for government and then let the people decide.
And the decision facing the country will be all about leadership. It will be a choice between strong and stable leadership in the national interest with me as your prime minister or weak and unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn propped up by the Liberal Democrats who want to reopen the divisions of the referendum, and Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.
Every vote for the Conservatives will make it harder for opposition politicians who want to stop me from getting the job done.
Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate for Britain with the Prime Ministers, Presidents and Chancellors of the European Union.
Every vote for the Conservatives will mean we can stick to our plan for a stronger Britain and take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future.
It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election. But it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.
So tomorrow let the House of Commons vote for an election.
Let everybody put forward their proposals for Brexit and their programs for government, and let us remove the risk of uncertainty and instability and continue to give the country the strong and stable leadership it demands.

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Presenting the Trump doctrine: ‘forever war’

Trumps enthusiasm for war is the logical endpoint of a grim process started years ago by his predecessors in the White House

Moab sounds more like an incestuous, war-torn biblical kingdom than the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, AKA the mother of all bombs. Still, give Donald Trump credit. Only the really, really big bombs, whether North Korean nukes or those 21,600 pounds of Moab, truly get his attention. He wasnt even involved in the decision to drop the largest non-nuclear bomb in the US arsenal for the first time in war, but his beloved generals we have the best military people on Earth already know the man they work for, and the bigger, flashier, more explosive, and winninger, the better.

It was undoubtedly the awesome look of that first Moab going off in grainy black and white on Fox News, rather than in Afghanistan, that appealed to the president. Just as he was visibly thrilled by all those picturesque Tomahawk cruise missiles, the equivalent of nearly three Moabs, whooshing from the decks of US destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean and heading, like so many fabulous fireworks, toward a Syrian airfield or was it actually an Iraqi one?

Weve just fired 59 missiles, he said, all of which hit, by the way, unbelievable, from, you know, hundreds of miles away, all of which hit, amazing Its so incredible. Its brilliant. Its genius. Our technology, our equipment, is better than anybody by a factor of five.

Call it thrilling. Call it a blast. Call it escalation. Or just call it the age of Trump. (If you look at whats happened over the last eight weeks and compare that really to whats happened over the past eight years, youll see theres a tremendous difference, tremendous difference, he commented, adding about Moab: This was another very, very successful mission.)

Trump announces Lt Gen HR McMaster as his national security adviser at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Anyway, here we are and, as so many of his critics have pointed out, the plaudits have been pouring in from all the usual media and political suspects for a president with big enough well, hands, to make war impressively. In our world, this is what now passes for presidential. Consider that praise the media version of so many Tomahawk missiles pointing us towardwhat the escalation of Americas never-ending wars will mean to Trumps presidency.

These days, from Syria to Afghanistan, the Koreas to Somalia, Yemen to Iraq, its easy enough to see Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump as something new under the sun. (It has a different ring to it when the commander-in-chief says, Youre fired!) That missile strike in Syria was a first (Obama didnt dare); the Moab in Afghanistan was a breakthrough; the drone strikes in Yemen soon after he took office were an absolute record! As for those regular army troops heading for Somalia, that hasnt happened in 24 years! Civilian casualties in the region: rising impressively!

Call it mission creep on steroids. At the very least, it seems like evidence that the man who, as a presidential candidate, swore hed bomb the shit out of Isis and let the US military win again is doing just that. (As he also said on the campaign trail with appropriately placed air punches: You gotta knock the hell out of them! Boom! Boom! Boom!)

Donald Trumps first 100 days in office in four minutes

Hes appointed generals to crucial posts in his administration, lifted restraints on how his commanders in the field can act (hence those soaring civilian casualty figures), let them send more military personnel into Iraq, Syria andthe region generally, taken the constraints off the CIAs drone assassination campaigns, and dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group somewhat indirectly to the waters off the Koreas (with a strike force of tweets and threats accompanying it).

And theres obviously more to come: potentially many more troops, even an army of them, for Syria; a possible mini surge of troops into Afghanistan (that Moab strike may have been a canny signal from a US commander seeking to showcase Afghanistans myriad threats to a president paying no attention); a heightened air campaign in Somalia; and thats just to start what will surely be a far longer list in a presidency in which, whether or not infrastructure is ever successfully rebuilt in America, the infrastructure of the military-industrial complex will continue to expand.

Institutionalizing war and its generals

Above all, President Trump did one thing decisively. He empowered a set of generals or retired generals James Mad Dog Mattis as secretary of defense, HR McMaster as national security adviser and John Kelly as secretary of homeland security men already deeply implicated in Americas failing wars across the greater Middle East. Not being a details guy himself, hes then left them to do their damnedest.

What I do is I authorize my military, he told reporters recently. We have given them total authorization and thats what theyre doing and, frankly, thats why theyve been so successful lately.

As the 100-day mark of his presidency approaches, theres been no serious reassessment of Americas endless wars or how to fight them (much less end them). Instead, theres been a recommitment to doing more of the familiar, more of what hasnt worked over the last decade and a half. No one should be surprised by this, given the cast of characters men who held command posts in those unsuccessful wars and are clearly incapable of thinking about them in other terms than the ones that have been indelibly ingrained in the brains of the US military high command since soon after 9/11.

That new ruling reality of our American world should, in turn, offer a hint about the nature of Donald Trumps presidency. It should be a reminder that as strange as his statements, tweets and acts may have been, as chaotic as his all-in-the-family administration is proving to be, as little as he may resemble anyone weve ever seen in the White House before, hes anything but an anomaly of history. Quite the opposite.

Like those generals, hes a logical endpoint to a grim process, whether youre talking about the growth of inequality in America and the rise of plutocracy or the form that American war-making is taking under him.

When it comes to war and the US military, none of whats happened would have been conceivable without the two previous presidencies. None of it would have been possible without Congresss willingness to pump endless piles of money into the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex in the post-9/11 years; without the building up of the national security state and its 17 (yes, 17!) major intelligence outfits into an unofficial fourth branch of government; without the institutionalization of war as a permanent (yet strangely distant) feature of American life and of wars across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa that evidently cant be won or lost but only carried on into eternity.

None of this would have been possible without the growing militarization of this country, including of police forces increasingly equipped with weaponry off Americas distant battlefields and filled with veterans of those same wars; without a media rife with retired generals and other former commanders narrating and commenting on the acts of their successors and proteges; and without a political class of Washington pundits and politicians taught to revere that military.

In other words, however original Donald Trump may look, hes the curious culmination of old news and a changing country. Given his bravado and braggadocio, its easy to forget the kinds of militarized extremity that preceded him.

Police officers in riot gear approach demonstrators in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2016. Photograph: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

After all, it wasnt Donald Trump who had the hubris, in the wake of 9/11, to declare a Global War on Terror against 60 countries (the swamp of that moment). It wasnt Donald Trump who manufactured false intelligence on the weapons of mass destruction Iraqs Saddam Hussein supposedly possessed or produced bogus claims about that autocrats connections to al-Qaida, and then used both to lead the United States into a war on and occupation of that country. It wasnt Donald Trump who invaded Iraq (whether he was for or against the invasion at the time). It wasnt Donald Trump who donned a flight suit and landed on an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego to personally declare that hostilities were at an end in Iraq just as they were truly beginning, and to do so under an inane Mission Accomplished banner prepared by the White House.

It wasnt Donald Trump who ordered the CIA to kidnap terror suspects (including totally innocent individuals) off the streets of global cities as well as from the backlands of the planet and transport them to foreign prisons or CIA black sites where they could be tortured. It wasnt Donald Trump who caused one terror suspect to experience the sensation of drowning 83 times in a single month (even if he was inspired by such reports to claim that he would bring torture back as president).

It wasnt Donald Trump who spent eight years in the Oval Office presiding over a global killlist, running Terror Tuesday meetings, and personally helping choose individuals around the world for the CIA to assassinate using what, in essence, was the presidents own private drone force, while being praised (or criticized) for his caution.

It wasnt Donald Trump who presided over the creation of a secret military of 70,000 elite troops cosseted inside the larger military, special-ops personnel who, in recent years, have been dispatched on missions to a large majority of the countries on the planet without the knowledge, much less the consent, of the American people. Nor was it Donald Trump who managed to lift the Pentagon budget to $600bn and the overall national security budget to something like a trillion dollars or more, even as Americas civilian infrastructure aged and buckled.

It wasnt Donald Trump who lost an estimated $60bn to fraud and waste in the American reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, or who decided to build highways to nowhere and a gas station in the middle of nowhere in Afghanistan. It wasnt Donald Trump who sent in the warrior corporations to squander more in that single country than was spent on the post-second world war Marshall Plan to put all of western Europe back on its feet. Nor did he instruct the US military to dump at least $25bn into rebuilding, retraining and rearming an Iraqi army that would collapse in 2014 in the face of a relatively small number of Isis militants, or at least $65bn into an Afghan army that would turn out to be filled with ghost soldiers.

In its history, the US has engaged in quite a remarkable range of wars and conflicts. Nonetheless, in the last 15 years, forever war has been institutionalized as a feature of everyday life in Washington, which, in turn, has been transformed into a permanent war capital. When Donald Trump won the presidency and inherited those wars and that capital, there was, in a sense, no one left in the remarkably bankrupt political universe of Washington but those generals.

As the chameleon he is, he promptly took on the coloration of the militarized world he had entered and appointed his three generals to key security posts. Anything but the norm historically, such a decision may have seemed anomalous and out of the American tradition. That, however, was only because, unlike Donald Trump, most of the rest of us hadnt caught up with where that tradition had actually taken us.

The previous two presidents had played the warrior regularly, donning military outfits in his presidential years, George W Bush often looked like a GI Joe doll and saluting the troops, while praising them to the skies, as the American people were also trained to do. In the Trump era, however, its the warriors (if youll excuse the pun) who are playing the president.

Its hardly news that Donald Trump is a man in love with what works. Hence, Steve Bannon, his dream strategist while on the campaign trail, is now reportedly on the ropes as his White House counselor because nothing hes done in the first nearly 100 days of the new presidency has worked (except promoting himself).

Think of Trump as a chameleon among presidents and much of this makes more sense. A Republican who had been a Democrat for significant periods of his life, he conceivably could have run for president as a more nativist version of Bernie Sanders on the Democratic ticket had the political cards been dealt just a little differently. Hes a man who has changed himself repeatedly to fit his circumstances and hes doing so again in the Oval Office.

In the world of the media, its stylish to be shocked, shocked that the president who campaigned on one set of issues and came into office still championing them is now supporting quite a different set from China to taxes, Nato to the Export-Import Bank. But this isnt faintly strange. Donald Trump isnt either a politician or a trendsetter. If anything, hes a trend-senser. (In a similar fashion, he didnt create reality TV, nor was he at its origins. He simply perfected a form that was already in development.)

If you want to know just where we are in an America that has been on the march toward a different sort of society and governing system for a long time now, look at him. Hes the originator of nothing, but he tells you all you need to know. On war, too, think of him as a chameleon. Right now, war is working for him domestically, whatever it may be doing in the actual world, so he loves it. For the moment, those generals are indeed his and their wars his to embrace.

Honeymoon of the generals

Normally, on entering the Oval Office, presidents receive what the media calls a honeymoon period. Things go well. Praise is forthcoming. Approval ratings are heartwarming.

Donald Trump got none of this. His approval ratings quickly headed for the honeymoon cellar or maybe the honeymoon fallout shelter; the media and he went to war; and one attempt after another to fulfill his promises from executive orders on deportation to repealing Obamacare and building his wall have come a cropper. His administration seems to be in eternal chaos, the cast of characters changing by the week or tweet, and few key secondary posts being filled.

In only one area has Donald Trump experienced that promised honeymoon. Think of it as the honeymoon of the generals. He gave them that total authorization, and the missiles left the ships, the drones flew and the giant bomb dropped. Even when the results were disappointing, if not disastrous (as in a raid on Yemen in which a US special operator was killed, children slaughtered, and nothing of value recovered), he still somehow stumbled into highly praised presidential moments.

So far, in other words, the generals are the only ones who have delivered for him, big-league. As a result, hes given them yet more authority to do whatever they want, while hugging them tighter yet.

Heres the problem, though: theres a predictable element to all of this and it doesnt work in Donald Trumps favor. Americas forever wars have now been pursued by these generals and others like them for more than 15 years across a vast swath of the planet from Pakistan to Libya (and ever deeper into Africa) and the chaos of failing states, growing conflicts and spreading terror movements has been the result. Theres no reason to believe that further military action will, a decade and a half later, produce more positive results.

What happens, then? What happens when the war honeymoon is over and the generals keep right on fighting their way? The last two presidents put up with permanent failing war, making the best they could of it. Thats unlikely for Donald Trump. When the praise begins to die down, the criticism starts to rise, and questions are asked, watch out.

What then? In a world of plutocrats and generals, what coloration will Donald Trump take on next? Who will be left, except Jared and Ivanka?

This piece was originally published in TomDispatch. Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the cold war, The End of Victory Culture

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Kieran, can you tell me a bit about this club you’re involved with? ANDYMANSCLUB  is a great place for men, from all backgrounds, to get together and discuss problems like mental illnesses (I suffer from bi-polar) and alcoholism etc. We all get together and it becomes almost like a brotherhood.

Where do you meet? My main meeting place is the Shay Stadium in Halifax although we have meeting places in Hebden Bridge Town Hall, Hull (Pulse Rate Group Wincolmlee), Leigh Sports Village, S. Wales (Bridgend The Brewery Field) and one has just opened in H.M.P. Armley for the people in there. Please note that all meetings are at 7 pm on a Monday evening, everything is confidential in the room, not judgemental and no counsellors are present.

Who started the group? A professional rugby league player called Luke Ambler who has played for Halifax and represented England and Ireland.

What made Luke start the group? His brother-in-law Andrew committed suicide out-of-the-blue, having seemingly never having had a problem in his life; he left his kid and his wife behind so Luke took responsibility for them both and realised that men don’t often express their feelings and talk about their problems – they have a shield up and feel they have always got to be the ‘man’. So Luke created this safe place for men to go in order to try and stop things like this happening again.

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from-the-horses-mouthSubject: Nature

Open to everyone. First Prize: £100, Second Prize £50 and Third Prize £25.

Maximum entry is 3 pictures per entrant. Maximum 4MB per image file.

Email pictures as jpg or png to:

You must join the magazine (free) via sign-up form at: from the same email address as the address used to send the images to us.

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Isis sends female supporters to serve as frontline suicide bombers

As jihadis retreat from key Middle East territories, they have made a drastic U-turn on deploying female recruits, posing a challenge for security organisations

Islamic State is using increasing numbers of women to evade security measures and spearhead a wave of attacks across Europe and the Islamic world as it loses territory in the Middle East.

Previously, female members of Isis have been confined to support roles and kept away from the battlefield. However, this policy appears to have been reversed in the summer, as military pressure on its main strongholds in Iraq, Syria and Libya intensified and substantial territory began to be lost. Researchers describe a drastic U-turn.

Officials have repeatedly warned that Isis would launch attacks as it retreated from earlier gains. Since August, a series of plots involving women have been uncovered by security authorities in Europe and north Africa.

The new tactic poses a challenge for security organisations which already have difficulty penetrating extremist networks and identifying potential attackers. Its a concern There is constant evolution as the pressures on [Isis] increase, so we are not complacent, said one western European security official.

A plot in Paris in September, involving four women aged between 19 and 39, received significant media coverage. The cell, organised by a known Isis militant in France, was the first to be entirely female. Two of the women had been listed as potential security risks by French intelligence agencies after attempting to reach Syria to join Isis. A third was recently married to a militant shot dead by police on the outskirts of Paris in June, after he stabbed two police officials to death at their home.

If at first it appeared that women were confined to family and domestic chores by the terrorist organisation, it must be noted that this view is now completely outdated, Franois Molins, a French prosecutor, told reporters after the four were arrested.

But a series of other plots around the world, which involve women playing combat roles, received less attention. In August, Isis was reported to have deployed at least one female suicide bomber in Libya, while last month 10 alleged female attackers were arrested in Morocco. All were in their teens, had sworn allegiance to Isis, and were in possession of bomb-making material, officials said.

The women, believed to have been planning a series of suicide attacks, got in touch with [Isis] elements via the internet and were brainwashed into committing destructive acts targeting tourist sites in particular, said Abdelhak Khiame, who leads Moroccos Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations.

This is the first time we have found a terrorist cell that was entirely composed of women. Terrorists are focusing [recruitment] efforts on minors who are female. That is very worrying for all of us. Its an alarm bell, Khiame said.

Women have long played a role in Islamic militancy, and have been deployed in frontline positions before. Palestinian groups have used women suicide attackers. So, too, have organisations in central Asia and the Caucasus. However, senior commanders of al-Qaida, the extremist group responsible for the 9/11 attacks, has consistently made clear its opposition to women taking part in combat activities, insisting that they should support male mujahideen and the broader struggle, rather than physically take up arms themselves.

The ruling has not always been obeyed. Al-Qaidas own affiliate in Iraq deployed a female suicide bomber in 2005 to attack a hotel in Amman, Jordan. The decision prompted much criticism within extremist circles.

Isis, which shares broad ideological objectives with al-Qaida but differs dramatically over strategy and tactics, initially restricted the many thousands of female volunteers it attracted from Europe and the Islamic world to support activities. Thus far, Isis has stifled the role of women in the caliphate by limiting them to the house, ensuring they raise the next generation of jihadi militants and provide for their husbands, said Rachel Bryson, of the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics in London.

There have been some exceptions: female lone wolf attackers who attacked without official sanction from the group, and one major affiliate Boko Haram in west Africa which has systematically used young women as suicide attackers.

The recent change would suggest the group is starting to heavily feel the pressure from the action taken against it, Bryson said.

In recent months, Isis has lost significant ground in Libya, and its core territory in Iraq and Syria is now threatened. Offensives are now under way against the cities of Raqqa, the provincial centre in Syria seen as the headquarters of the group, and Mosul, the biggest single urban centre under Isis control and the seat of the caliphate declared by its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, more than two years ago.

As important as the loss of territory is the diminishing population under Isis authority. Although some revenue is earned from oil and other resources, most funds are raised through taxation of individuals, communities and businesses.

Analysts are split over the impact of military defeat on Isis. Some believe the organisation will be able to continue to attract support because of its past record of victories, with volunteers taking the view that it needs help now more than ever. Other experts believe that the appeal of Isis will be seriously weakened.

Bryson said: As [Isis] and others start to lose more ground, their pool of recruits will grow smaller, meaning that theyll need more women to take up combat roles. Furthermore, Isis knows that the death of a woman evokes a larger response worldwide than that of a man, and for Isiss PR machine increasing the groups media platform is an attractive prospect.

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Written by Philip Wilson

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, is one of those people who seem to provoke extreme reactions especially between traditional Labour voters and the right-wing British press who constantly try to vilify him. Let’s begin by looking at some facts about his professional and personal life as we will then have a clearer picture of what kind of man he is:

He was born Jeremy Bernard Corbyn on 26 May 1949, in Chippenham, Wiltshire.

He attended Adam’s Grammar School (where he achieved two E-grade ‘A’ levels)       and went on to North London Polytechnic where he began to study for a degree                     in Trade Union Studies. He left the course having disagreed with his tutors about              the curriculum.

He has always had an interest in ‘left-wing’ politics and was an active member of his      local Labour Party, The Wrekin constituency Young Socialists and also was a                member of The League Against Cruel Sports.

He became vegetarian following two years doing Voluntary Service Overseas in Jamaica, where he did some work on a pig farm.

He has always heavily been connected with the Trade Unions and in 1971, worked as an official for the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers. He also worked as a trade union organiser for the National Union of Public Employees and Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union.

When he was 24 he was elected to Haringey Council in the South Hornsey Ward and successfully supported a motion calling for dentists to be employed by the NHS rather than by the private sector.

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