Friday, 31 October 2014

Local Food Assembly Taster & Launch Party next Wednesday














Lancaster's new Food Assembly will be holding its official Taster & Launch Party next Wednesday 5 December 2014 from 6.30pm - 8.30pm at the White Cross Pub on Lancaster's canalside.

The Food Assembly is a new way of buying and selling food where you will soon be able to place orders for local food directly from  a choice of local farmers and food producers and then collect it from the White Cross Pub every Wednesday between 6.30pm - 8.30pm.

The Assembly will sell a wide range of products: organic milk, cheese and meat from Clitheroe; organic veg direct from Pilling; Lancashire Honey, fresh bread and soups made in the heart of Lancaster; traditional style classic colas made with British Sugar, delicate French style patisserie; fresh Italian style pasta and gluten free pies, bread and cakes… There will be something for everyone in Lancaster’s Food Assembly!

On the upcoming launch, Lancaster’s host, Joanne Halliwell commented
We all know the benefits of eating and shopping locally but it isn't always easy when we are all so busy! The Food Assembly website allows you to browse local food products and pay online before a weekly collection at the White Cross Pub, I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to bring this idea to Lancaster. Wednesday nights will never be quite the same again!”

Joanne added “The launch will be a fun way to give people chance to come and learn more about the Assembly and taste the amazing food on offer”

Collection time is a great opportunity to meet the people who grow and make your food, swap recipes, ask questions and find out how to best way to use their produce… or just pop in, pick up and go, the choice is yours!

The Food Assembly allows communities to come together to buy directly from food producers. All of the food is sourced from a 150 mile radius of the city, which may sound like a lot, but in food miles that is not very far at all! It's a good way to support local food sustainability - and to be sure of getting good quality produce too.

Launched in France in 2010, The Food Assembly has grown from strength to strength. There are now over 600 assemblies held in France and Belgium with more opening every week. In June this year, assemblies were launched in the UK, Germany and Spain, a small number of assemblies are now live in London and one in Chester. The Food Assembly in Lancaster will be the very first in Lancashire and the furthest North in the UK so far.

You can find out more about the Lancaster Food Assembly and its producers and members at the website at https://thefoodassembly.com/en/assemblies/112.

Check out Lancaster Food Assembly on facebook at
https://www.facebook.com/foodLancaster.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Pinochet's Nemesis, Dr Juan E. Garcés, to speak at Lancaster University

Dr Juan E. Garcés
Dr Juan E. Garcés is the Spanish lawyer who master-minded the arrest and detention of General Pinochet (Chile’s former dictator) in 1998, for massive violations of human rights.

He will speak about the struggle to bring dictators to justice in Spain and Latin America at Lancaster University on 6th November at 5pm in the Cavendish Colloquium Room (Faraday Building). This event is free and all are welcome.

Garcés is a recipient of the Alternative Nobel Prize (Sweden, 1999) and was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre Nationale du Mérite (France, 2000) "...for his long-standing efforts to end the impunity of dictators.”

Pinochet coup
When Salvador Allende became President of Chile in 1970, he invited Garcés to be his personal adviser. He was with the President when Chile's armed forces, led by General Augusto Pinochet, bombed the presidential palace. Garcés was the sole survivor among Allende's political advisers when the coup had run its course.

He was forced to leave Chile and went to France, where he worked as adviser to the Director General of UNESCO and the National Foundation of Political Science. In these years he wrote a number of books and articles about the Allende years. He returned to Spain after the fall of Franco, became a member of the Madrid Bar Association and set up a law firm.

Justice without frontiers
In 1985, a Spanish law was passed that permitted victims of crimes of genocide, terrorism and torture, whether Spanish nationals or not, and whether the crimes were committed in Spain or not, to seek justice in Spanish courts according to the principles of universal jurisdiction. Dr Garcés filed a criminal complaint against Pinochet for 'crimes against humanity' in July 1996.

Simultaneously a civil suit was filed on behalf of the families of victims of Pinochet's regime, who had been organised by and whose lawyers had been directed by Garcés. The Spanish courts accepted both suits.

London arrest
When Pinochet visited London in October 1998, Garcés sought his arrest and extradition to Spain to face trial. Pinochet was arrested but after months of legal battle, in which ex prime minister Margaret Thatcher and former US president George H W Bush both campaigned vigorously for his release, Home Secretary Jack Straw ruled in January 2000 that he should not be extradited, on grounds of ill health. He was released and returned to Chile.

Pinochet's immunity from prosecution in Chile was eventually lifted and he was rearrested there to be tried for his role in a very large number of political assassinations and other extreme human right violations. He died in 2006 before the case could come to court.

BAE Systems Bribes
One factor influencing Mr Straw's decision is thought to be the arms deal brokered by Pinochet between the Chilean army and British arms firm BAE Systems. This was also thought to be the real reason behind Pinochet's visit to the UK.  The Chilean Army reportedly spent $60 million on the Rayo rocket system in a joint-venture with BAE Systems starting in 1994, before eventually abandoning the project in 2003, after Pinochet's final arrest. In September 2005, a joint-investigation by The Guardian and La Tercera revealed that BAE Systems had paid more than £1m in bribes to Pinochet, through a front company in the British Virgin Islands, which BAE used to channel commission on arms deals. The payments began in 1997 and lasted until 2004.

Precedent established
The Pinochet case, and the precedent that it established, marked a breakthrough in the struggle against impunity in crimes against humanity and the corruption they engender. Since 2009, Garcés' legal work has sought to bring a number of such cases to justice, including the crimes against humanity committed under General Franco's Dictatorship. He is currently advising on cases initiated in Argentina to address the human rights crimes of the Franco regime.

The Lecture, which is organised by the Lancaster University’s Law School and Dynamics of Memory Research Group, is the second of a series of “Sugarman Seminars” honouring Prof. David Sugarman, Lancaster University’s law professor and a leading authority on the Pinochet Case.

Everyone is welcome.  Further details from Prof. Mercedes Camino: m.camino@lancaster.ac.uk. You can find out about this and many other Lancaster University Law Department events at:
http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fass/faculty/event/current/dept/12//

Cats shot on Marsh Estate, Police investigating

Lancaster Police have received two reports of three cats being harmed or shot from residents of the Marsh Estate, Lancaster.

"This is a cruel and completely unacceptable crime which has left pet owners feeling unsettled," said a spokesperson, who also pointed out that this is an unusual offence which will likely surprise and disgust local residents.

"May we reassure pet owners that this matter is being investigated under the Animal Welfare Act and enquiries are ongoing.

"Pet owners should consider where possible keeping pets indoors over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period."

The attacks have occurred in a residential area where it is quite possible that a neighbour, friend or family member will be aware of what happened. If anyone has any information regarding these incidents, please contact 101 to speak with PCSO 7158 Elliott.

• If you'd like to support the work of the local brach of Cats Protection, their annual Christmas Fayre tales place this Saturday, 1st November 2014, at St Martins Centre, Westgate, Morecambe from 11.00am until 3.00pm. The Cats Protection Charity Shop at 4/6 Regent Road, Morecambe, has been open since October 2011. The shop is a source of much needed funds for the local branch. 

• The charity are currently having to turn down requests for help as we simply do not have the space to take in any more cats. They are urgently looking for more foster homes so that they are able to help as many cats as possible. Web: www.lancaster.cats.org.uk

Students protest BAE's 'careers in killing'

Students protest against BAE Systems on campus
(Image from 2007 protest)
The Lancaster University Careers Fair was again the venue for a protest against the inclusion of BAE Systems. A Group of Lancaster University Students and activists staged a "die-in" at the careers fair in the university's Great Hall this afternoon. The group lay on the floor to symbolise the death and destruction caused by arms manufacturer BAE Systems, who were represented at the fair.

A number of students also held a vigil outside the hall, to remember those killed by the arms trade.

Cllr Jack Filmore, who represents the university ward, was present at the protest and said 'I think it is ethically unacceptable for a company such as BAE Systems to be allowed onto campus. We wanted to send a clear message that companies with no regard for human life are not welcome here.'

Horrific Human Rights Abuses
A spokesperson for the group said 'BAE has a horrific human rights record, having sold arms to Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Algeria and Qatar. The company produces everything from nuclear submarines to the handcuffs and shackles used at Guantanamo
Bay.

'The fact that they are here, at this respected institution, lends legitimacy to human rights abuse. We are here to say that this is not okay.'

Gaza? - Kerching!
It's hard to put a finger on when this area became dependent on the manufacture of weaponry and its associated systems. To the point where, through BAE, we could even see profit from the bombing of civilians in Gaza.

Lancaster University is only one of the many universities that rely heavily on BAE for research funding. The university's Sci-Tech faculty now has a Security Centre and develops 'solutions' for 21st century rulers interested in secrecy, surveillance and control, as well as drone technology and other military systems.

But the uni isn't the only camp-follower to the arms dealers in the region. The students have been protesting against it for years now, but for the rest of us it seems that militarisation is increasingly part of our normality.

Military-Industrial Planning
As well as being famously involved in bribery and fraud across several continents overseas, BAE Systems is deeply embedded in local business and planning networks. The Lancashire Enterprise Zone boasts that it is anchored by BAE Systems across its two sites at Samlesbury and Warton. Pretty much every local and regional plan, from economics and housing to retail developments, cites BAE as the regional driver for growth - a strategy that depends heavily on escalating global insecurity and aggression.

BAE Systems
BAE Systems is the world's third largest arms producer. Its portfolio includes fighter aircraft, warships, tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery, missiles and small arms ammunition.

BAE's arms are sold indiscriminately around the world. The company has military customers in over 100 countries and around 95% of its sales are military (SIPRI).

BAE has 5,900 employees in Saudi Arabia and provides operational support to the armed forces including the Saudi air force, which bombed Yemen in 2009.

Saudi army troops enter Bahrain in BAE-supplied apcs,
to suppress the popular uprising.  March 2011
The Economist Intelligence Unit publishes a "democracy index". The 2012 index saw Saudi Arabia ranked 163rd out of 167 countries. Only Syria, Chad, Guinea-Bissau and North Korea were assessed as worse.

BAE supplied 200 Tactica armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, which were used by Saudi troops helping to suppress pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in March 2011 (Jane's Defence Weekly, 23.3.2011).

Somebody else
When asked to comment about the student protest, a security guard representing BAE Systems  said, 'Its all about the profit. If we don't do it, somebody else would.' He may have been quoting British PM Tony Blair, who famously said the same thing about the indiscriminate nature of UK arms industry sales in 2002.

What that means is, that it's ok to facilitate harm - even atrocities against humanity - as long as it's not just you doing it.  If the Uni is in the market for a new motto, they need look no further.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 29th October to 6th November 2014 by Peter Clarke

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

There are two new releases during this period, the thriller Nightcrawler (15) and the horror film Ouija (15). In addition we have the return of animation with the The Nut Job and the excellent feel good movie Pride.

We see the loss of films The Boxtrolls and What we did in our Holidays. Also it looks like the movies Dolphin Tale 2 and This is where I leave you may soon be coming to the end of their season.

With Halloween almost upon us it is good to find supernatural thrillers are well represented with Ouija, Horns, the extended cut of The Shining and Frankenstein. However a younger audience will find Disney is also well represented this period with Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins and Frozen Sing-A-Long.

Finally this week also offers some high culture with A Streetcar Named Desire and the opera I Due Foscari.

Reviews

Annabelle
Director: John R Leonetti
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard
The film is set in California in the 1960's where a young couple move into their new home. The wife Mia (Wallis) is pregnant and has a hobby of collecting dolls. The husband John (Horton) is a medical student and he gives a creepy pigtailed doll to Mia to add to her collection. Yet the doll is possessed and with its acquisition comes a series of disturbances including slamming doors and the malfunctions of an elevator. Mia gives birth and the newborn is also threatened by these disturbances. The film is the prequel to 'The Conjuring' but was shot with limited budget. It borrows heavily from other horror movies and comes complete with cookie neighbour and helpful priest. However despite a rather stilted dialogue and lack of originality, it successfully builds suspense to become quite an effective horror movie.

Frozen
Director: Chris Buck
Certificate PG
Cast Includes Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad,Alan Tudyk, Jonathan Groff
This Disney musical animation is loosely based on the fairy tale 'The Snow Queen' who has condemned a kingdom to eternal winter. It is up to Anna (sister to the snow queen) and a loner Kristoff to undertake an epic journey to find the Snow Queen and convince her to lift the icy spell. This is a magical movie destined to become a classic. It will appeal to families and children of all ages.

Fury
Director: David Ayer
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Brad Pitt, Scott Eastwood, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf
The film was written and directed by David Ayer following extensive research, and much of the filming took place in the UK. Set towards the end of the second world war, it tells the story of Sargent Dan 'Wardaddy' Collier (Pitt) and his crew of a Sherman tank as they undertake a mission behind enemy lines. One of the tank crew was recently killed in action and they are joined by a new recruit Norman Ellison (Lerman). The film shows war thought the eyes of Ellison as he becomes brutalized as a result of his experiences. All the actors give a stunning performance in this loud and intense portrayal of the violence and ugliness of war. An authentic and memorable war film.

Gone Girl
Director: David Fincher
Certificate: 18
Cast Includes: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
The film is based on, and is pretty much true to, the best selling book by Gillan Flynn. It is the fifth wedding anniversary of the Dunne's. Nick Dunne (Affleck) goes for a drive, and returns to find his wife Amy (Pike) is gone and the house ransacked. He reports her as missing to the police and initially he is treated with sympathy. However as time passes he becomes a prime suspect. The film is told in a broken time-line and we see in flashbacks that the marriage had started to fail. However is Nick guilty of murdering his wife? The film is a psychological thriller with the plot taking a sharp turn in the latter half of the film. This is an excellent, must see, movie.

Horns
Director: Alexandre Aja
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Kelli Garner, James Remar
Ignatius (Ig) Perrish (Radcliffe) is a small town DJ whose girlfriend and childhood sweetheart Merrin (Temple) is murdered. Ig finds himself the prime suspect with the town locals turning on him. He wakes one morning to find horns starting to grow from his temples and these confer powers. He finds people confess to him their sins and he can easily persuade others to act on their base impulses. With these powers Ig is able to seek his sweetheart's murderer and to exact a revenge. The movie is based on the novel by Joe Hill and it uses flashbacks to develop the relationship between Ig and Merrin. This is a film that breaks new ground and is difficult to categorise, being part murder mystery part religious satire but mainly a dark comedy. It is not destined to be a classic supernatural film but worth seeing. for its originality.

Love, Rosie
Director: Christian Ditter
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Lily Collins, Sam Claflin
Rosie (Collins) and Alex (Claflin) have been friends from early childhood and repeatedly become close to falling in love with each other. However every-time they start to come together other people and situations serve to come between them and they drift apart. In time. Rosie becomes a single mother and Alex in turn gets married. However there remains a spark between them - but will they ever get together? The movie is based on the 2004 novel 'Where Rainbows End' by Cecelia Ahern. The acting is first rate and the whole is a first rate romantic comedy.

Nightcrawler
Director: Dan Gilroy
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ann Cusak, Rene Russo
Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a petty thief with no family and few morals. One night he comes across film crew, filming an accident. He realizes there is money to be made in free-lance journalism, filming victims of accidents and crime and then selling the footage to news stations for broadcast. Lou gets a camcorder, a radio to listen to police broadcasts, and throws himself with enthusiasm into making this his career. His first scoop is bought by journalist Nina (Russo) and so a partnership forms. Lou never has qualms about his new profession and as the film develops he increasingly adopts an attitude of anything is permissible for the best footage. The film is set in contemporary LA and most of the action takes place at night. This is a riveting, disturbing and very original movie, providing a satire on modern journalism.

Ouija
Director: Stiles White
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Olivia Cooke, Douglas Smith, Daren Kagasoff, Shelly Hennig
Debbie (Hennig) confesses to playing with an Ouija board but she is murdered. Her friend Laine (Cooke) decides to investigate her death by using the Ouija board to contact Debbie's spirit and to this end she enlists the help of a group of friends. They hold a seance in Debbie's house. However, they inadvertently connect with a murderous spirit which starts to attack them. The whole is a competent horror film complete with ghosts, unexpected noises and frights for the viewer. Given the film was released just before Halloween, it merits a visit to the cinema.

Pride
Director: Matthew Warchus
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Bill Nighty, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton Joe Gilgun, Ben Schnetzer
The film is based on a true story and is set in the summer of 1984 during the miners strike. Mark Ashton, a member of a London based gay and lesbian group organises a collection for the miners. However when the group came to offer the donation, they were rebuffed due to prejudice (the AIDs epidemic is one of the backdrops to the film). The group therefore decide to bus to a mining village in the Welsh Dulais Valley to make the donation personally. This movie is played for laughs. It is an excellent comedy supported by an excellent cast and it explores the clash of two very different cultures.

The Maze Runner
Director: Wes Ball, Douglas Cumming
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Kaya Scodelario, Dylan O'Brien
Thomas (O' Brien) awakes with no memory to find himself trapped with dozens of other boys inside an enclosure with towering walls. He subsequently discovers this to be a gigantic maze. He integrates in the society of boys, becoming one of the runners, a sub group who try to map the maze and find a way out. Attacking the boys are Grievers which are giant spider like creatures who also inhabit the maze. Thomas has dreams about an organisation called W.C.K.D. and he must uncover his purpose and find a way to escape. The movie is a decent adaption of the best selling novel by James Dashner, the first in a trilogy. The acting is strong and the depiction of the maze and its grandeur is very impressive. The movie is aimed at young adults but it contains some violence and the whole has a rather joyless atmosphere. The ending was somewhat complicated, designed perhaps to pave the way for the forthcoming sequel.

The Nut Job
Director: Peter Lepeniotis
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl
Set in the 1950s, this animation follows the adventures of Surly the squirrel who, with his friend Buddy the rat, plan to steal from Maury's Nut shop. However the shop proves to be a front for gangsters who are planning to rob the nearby bank. This combination leads to action, car chases jokes and general mayhem. This is an inoffensive film that will amuse children but leave parents a little bored. An enjoyable romp, but not destined to be a cartoon classic.

This is Where I Leave You
Director: Shawn Levy
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Jane Fonda, Kathryn Hahn, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Abigail Spencer, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver
A comedy drama with big name stars, based on the book of the same name by author Jonathan Tropper. The film is narrated through the character of Judd Altman (Bateman) who, on his wife's birthday, discovers she is having an affair with his boss. Shortly after the shock of this, his Jewish father dies. The Altman family follow the Jewish tradition of Shiva, requiring them to coming together for seven days. Hence their mother Hillary (Fonda) hosts her children Jason, Wendy (Fey), Paul (Stoll) and Phillip (Driver) for the seven days of mourning. The family prove to be very dysfunctional, each having issues to overcome and the interaction leads to effective one liners and real moments of high comedy. An enjoyable film.