America will cry as the body bags start arriving.

I was unhappy to say the least when on Friday of last week General Soleimani of Iran was assassinated by a drone on arrival at  Iraq. This was an act of War, a War Crime to be laid at the door of Donald Trump and probably no less by Mike Pompeo. Since it seems the General’s only crime appeared to be taunting Trump via tweet they’ve rapidly invented some pending action the General was going to take against America. Odd then that it appears he was in Iraq for peace talks.

Iraq not wishing to get in the middle of a retaliation asked America to remove it’s troops from their bases in Iraq. Trump refused which he has no right to do in  a Sovereign country. Of course an act of revenge came against an  American occupied base in Iraq putting Iraqi civilians at risk. There will be body bags travelling home  and tears when they arrive. I don’t know whether this is going to be  allowed or even encouraged into War or maybe some more rational being will apologise to Iran and try to enter into a treaty with them again. The Nuclear Agreement was working well until the U.S. withdrew it’s support.

The Republican Senators are the ones in the best position to bring this to an early end. They must forget their fear of Trump  and what his base may do and search their consciences as to whether they want to send the American Military back to war because their Commander in Chief committed an act of War without seeking the approval of Congress. Now is the time to complete the impeachment, dispose of Trump to criminal action preferably, sack Pompeo and check to see whether charges should be brought against him and send President  Pence to Iran with an apology and a peace plan.

The world does not need another war. May I remind those American Allies in Europe and the UK that Trump has not treated you as allies. Has not offered any sign of Respect since he came to power.Broke the  Nuclear Agreement that you’ll all tried to shore up. This is the time to back away and work out where your support should go. Iran who tried to keep to it’s agreement or the US that has now decided it can do pretty much as it likes including not informing allies of an action it was about to take that could precipitate war. Britain and the EU should stay out of this action. Don’t copy Trump Boris or you could be PM for the shortest time. We’re fighting a rearguard action against climate change, we have starving people al over the world, we have refugees from disasters that’s what we should be fighting, not another war. Please end Trump’s tenancy of the White House, don’t let him stand for a second term. You’ve got 10 months to convince the electorate that you still deserve to be in a job.

Hugs to all

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Newest Information.

Today I received a message from Clive Stafford Smith who has been Kris’s lawyer for about 26 years now, sometimes I think the world has so many problems,  what’s one more and since this one doesn’t involve Kurds being slaughtered by the savagery of the Turkish forces with beheadings and there are children dying in cages inside the U.S. border that maybe a problem like this one can take a backseat as no-one is dying. I find it can’t. I’m invested in this case because Kris is innocent of the murders he was charged with and he has been in prison for 33 years for no reason. You could say that his wife Marita who has stood beside him for the whole time is also in a prison albeit one of her own making. Recently a woman who while a policewoman, shot and killed a man in his own home. She was found guilty and given 10 years to serve. Kris has served over three times that sentence for something he didn’t do and they still won’t let him out.

It’s my belief that the State of Florida is either totally without feelings since they’ve seen the same proof as everyone else or they’re stretching proceedings out in the hope that Chris will die. They can no doubt just draw a line under it then and claim ‘It’s one of those things’. We can’t let that happen, Kris and Marita must have the chance to embrace again in a  place of their choice with no-one telling them ‘Time’s up’.

Anyway, here is the letter I received. Maybe you can see some fairness in it that I can’t.

Dear David,

Every time I think that Kris Maharaj cannot be subjected to any more injustice, agents of the State of Florida comes up trumps.

I last visited Kris in the euphemistically named South Florida Reception in September. I went to share the good news that the Magistrate Judge had set a hearing for October 17th. This meant we would finally be allowed to prove that his trial was manifestly unfair – and the last 33 years he’s spent in Florida’s prison system are unjust.

I should have known the devastating impact of a broken justice system could not be remedied so quickly – 33 years and counting.

The Magistrate had already agreed that we had submitted proof such that no reasonable juror could now convict Kris of the murders of Derrick and Duane Moo Young in Room 1215 of Miami’s Dupont Plaza Hotel all those years ago on October 16th, 1986.

We dismantled every element of the prosecution case against Kris, and obtained sworn testimony from six unimpeached alibi witnesses who placed him far away. Kris even passed his lie detector test: the prosecution’s star witness did not.

Lastly, we lined up half a dozen Colombian cartel witnesses who expressed shock that Kris was locked up for killing the Moo Youngs. The murders were a hit ordered by Pablo Escobar, they said – the Moo Youngs had been stealing from the Narcos and “had to die.”

One might imagine that this would be sufficient for Kris to be restored to the arms of his long-suffering wife Marita, but under current U.S. precedent it is – we are told – possible that a fair trial should come to the wrong result.

Hence, logic mandates, the mere fact that you are innocent is not enough: you must prove the trial was itself marred.

I stayed with Marita the night before my prison visit. She lives a lonely life in Florida, only permitted to visit her husband every week or two. Those visits are sacred to both of them.

The only disciplinary sanction Kris has got in the last three decades he has spent in prison involved a violation of the visitation policy – he stole a second kiss with his wife, when the rules only allow one.

Marita’s cottage is a shrine to the life they once had, with pictures of the couple in their London heyday, when Kris was a self-made millionaire.

She served me breakfast at the table where, every Christmas for the past 33 years, she has set a place for her husband, maintaining the fantasy that he might walk in any moment.

In the prison visitation area, Kris and I planned for his hearing. Though the Magistrate had only given us three weeks to prepare, we would meet the deadline. After all, it meant that Kris and Marita might – at long last – actually share their Christmas dinner this year.

After 26 years working on the case, we were ready to prove multiple constitutional violations – from the suppression of exculpatory evidence (a government informant told them in 1986 that the cartel committed the murders), to the fact that the judge had himself been arrested on the third day of the trial for taking a bribe from a law enforcement agent posing as a drug dealer.

The first slap came with the State’s request for three months extra to prepare. That may not seem much, but it takes us into 2020, by which time Kris will be 81-years-old and Marita 80.

The potential knock-out blow came the next day when the State filed an appeal, to try to prevent the hearing altogether. For 20 pages they argued that Kris should be barred from presenting evidence at all.

It is all nonsense, of course.

They even had the gall to argue that we have not been diligent in pursuing proof of innocence, when I have been to Colombia and back to get it. We will do what we have always done: trudge on towards justice, hoping to persuade the appellate judge to respond with expedition.

Meanwhile the State’s lawyers callously run down the clock on Kris’s life.

I do sometimes wonder how people sleep at night. I know I have often not been able to in the 26 years when Kris and Marita have been my responsibility, but that is because I fear I have not done enough, rather than too much.

I am working with Kris and the team at Reprieve to prepare for Kris’ trial in January. Hopefully, no other blows hit us between now and then. Kris and Marita should not have to spend any more time apart because of an unfair trial 33 years ago.

Thank you for reading,

Clive Stafford Smith
If you can write to your Senator or your Representative and ask them to look into this case and push for a speedy conclusion I’ll be grateful.
As always, Hugs to you All.
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Major Setback

Since I brought the news that Kris Maharaj had been granted an evidentiary hearing on October 17th this Brit who has been on death row in a Florida prison for more than 33 years for a crime he could not have commited , has been anticipating the day he would walk into freedom on the arms of his devoted wife.

Unfortunately and to me confusingly the Florida Department of corrections sought and was granted a 90 day extension until January 18th 2020. As this is my birthday I can only hope the evidentiary hearing grants me a present and releases Kris. Why I am confused about this is because I wonder why the Department of Corrections would have an  interest in needing an extension given that I would expect them to be responsible for his incarceration and not with the legalities of his sentence.

This date will take us almost to Kris’s 81st birthday and I’m sure Marita would be overjoyed to have Kris at home to celebrate. I’m going to ask if you’d be kind enough to share a few words of support and hope for Kris who must be downcast at the news.

Kris is a British man who was charged with a murder he could not have committed. Yet he remains in a Florida prison. His chance at justice has again been delayed, this time for another 90 days. Add your words of support to Kris and his wife Marita as they endure the latest instalment of their ordeal:

Thank you,

Huge Hugs


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Injustice Update.

I was so pleased to receive an  email today that I couldn’t wait to share.

Dear David,

I’ve just had some incredibly exciting news on the case of Kris Maharaj, the Brit who has already spent 33 unjust years in Florida’s prison system for a murder he did not commit.

Kris will finally have an evidentiary hearing on October 17th.

The meaning of that might not be initially obvious, but I assure you it’s a very significant development. It’s one I have been pushing for, for a long time.

It means that Kris finally has the chance to prove in a US federal court that he should not have been deprived of his liberty for more than three decades, let alone have been sentenced to death.

I’ve been involved in more than 400 capital cases over the years, and Kris’ is the greatest injustice of them all.

Evidence uncovered in 2014 proved beyond doubt that Kris is not guilty of the murders for which he has been imprisoned. The state trial court nevertheless refused to order a new trial at the time. That’s why I’ve been pushing for a Federal evidentiary hearing.

When I took on this case back in 1993, I had no grey hairs. Twenty-six years on, you’d be hard pushed to find a hair on my head that isn’t grey or white – and a fair number of them have been caused by the traumas of Kris’ case.

But just imagine the impact of the last 33 years on Kris and his wife Marita.

It is hard to believe that we could get justice after all the crushing disappointments we’ve been through over the years, but perhaps – just perhaps – Kris will finally come home for his first Christmas in more than three decades.

The possibility of justice would never have arisen were it not for the kindness of all his supporters.

Both Kris and Marita have said their hope wouldn’t have lasted this long without the support they get from the Reprieve community.

It’s going to be a busy month ahead as I prepare for this hearing, but the Campaigns team at Reprieve will be in touch to update you in the run-up to the 17th October.

Thank you, as always, for your support of Reprieve so we can help many people like Kris and Marita.

Clive Stafford Smith
Donate to help more people like Kris

We fight over months, years, and – in the case of people like Kris – decades, to secure justice for victims of human rights abuses. Reprieve supporters like you are a huge part of the team that keeps going and going until the battle is won.

Could you join the fight for justice for people like Kris by making a donation today ➝

I thank you for the interest shown by you all in the original post I did on this case. I’d like  to think that one of you was able to help.

Hugs to you all                                                                                                                                             David


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Injustice. A break from the norm.

I have always felt that when  an injustice has been created, the avenging angels rush down to put things right. OK, I’ve never felt that, but I did always believe that an innocent man would not be left in prison once his innocence has been established. I’m therefore horrified to find  out that under the American system, the guilt or innocence of the person has no bearing on whether they remain  imprisoned or not.

Chris Maharaj is over 80 and has been in  prison, on death row, for 33 years for a crime he did not commit.I won’t say the jury who found him guilty made a mistake because things pointed ti Kris’s guilt at that time. It’s since been proved that the lead detective on  the case committed perjury. In 2016, 6 members of the Medellin Drug Cartel testified that Kris was innocent and that this was a cartel killing. Clive Stafford Smith of the Reprieve Organisation has been working on this case for a long time and has unpicked the prosecution case piece by piece to reach the truth. Kris’s wife has stood by him the entire time he’s been in prison. The thought of Kris spending another year inside is terrible knowing he’s innocent and worse still, ther courts also knowing he;s innocent but they’re prepared to leave him there.

Please offer your support to Reprieve and for Americans, perhaps you could ask your senators and representatives to look into why an innocent man is still in prison after 33 years and work for his release.

Huge Hugs to you all.

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President Barack Obama said at the funeral of Nelson Mandela :-

There is a word in South Africa – Ubuntu – a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.

We can never know how much of this sense was innate in him, or how much was shaped in a dark and solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small – introducing his jailers as honored guests at his inauguration; taking a pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS – that revealed the depth of his empathy and his understanding. He not only embodied Ubuntu, he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.

The term Ubuntu was known in South Africa around the middle of the 19th C.  Reported translations covered the semantic field of “human nature, humanness, humanity; virtue, goodness, kindness”.

The term appears in the Epilogue of the Interim Constitution of South Africa (1993), “there is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimisation”

According to Michael Onyebuchi Eze, the core of ubuntu can best be summarised as follows:

‘A person is a person through other people’ strikes an affirmation of one’s humanity through recognition of an ‘other’ in his or her uniqueness and difference. It is a demand for a creative intersubjective formation in which the ‘other’ becomes a mirror (but only a mirror) for my subjectivity. This idealism suggests to us that humanity is not embedded in my person solely as an individual; my humanity is co-substantively bestowed upon the other and me. Humanity is a quality we owe to each other. We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you are, and since you are, definitely I am. The ‘I am’ is not a rigid subject, but a dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation and distance. (from wikipedia).

Visitors do not need to burden themselves with carrying provisions – all they need is to dress properly and be on the road. All visitors are provided for and protected in every home they pass through without payment being expected. In fact, every individual should try his or her best to make visitors comfortable – and this applies to everyone who is aware of the presence of a visitor within a locality.

Children are never orphans since the roles of mother and father are by definition not vested in a single individual with respect to a single child. Furthermore, a man or a woman with “unhu” will never allow any child around them to be an orphan.  In the Shona language spoken in  Zimbabwe unhu is Ubuntu.

Ubuntu: “I am what I am because of who we all are.” (From a definition offered by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee.)                                                                                Archbishop Desmond Tutu  offered a definition in a 1999 book:[14]                                      A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

The African worldview is about living as one family.  It is about kindness to all because all are part of we, part of us. There are opportunities that pass us by every day where we could practice Ubuntu because we don’t feel joined to others, a part of them and their lives.That concern could bring us all closer together and remove the urge to disparage others, and not to shrug off our oneness and revert to the old disdain to wards those of colour or different in some other way. I have touted the benefits of Hugs in my Buthidars Blog it sounds like my ideal world is with Hugs and with Ubuntu where we are all One and more or less responsible for the care of those within our reach who need help. Caring for those around us  as Mandela said.

Massive Hugs to all.




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Storm Clouds & Shrouds

It has bothered me for some time now that Donald Trump would not agree to continue the agreement the other powers had in place with Iran. It kept Iran well away from developing nuclear material. Things seemed to be going nicely according to everyone except the American end, in particular John Bolton, who was responsible for troops going into Iraq under the guise of there being WMD which did not exist, during George Bush Jnr’s time. While I’m no fan of the Imams who practise Sharia law against the  people of their country instead of the Iranians deciding for themselves the type of Government they’d prefer, and they may well decide on a Religious Government, it’s none of my business.

photo from the New Yorker. John Bolton.

What is my business however is whether or not either Bolton or Trump or both together have fabricated evidence that Iran is responsible for attacking two ships carrying oil in the Hormuz Straits last week. There is what appears to be a boat of the Revolutionary Guard of Iran by one of the tankers but strangely no revolutionary guard. The Japanese whose ships they are say no-one from the boat could have attached a limpet mine where one blew a hole. If Iran was responsible I think they would have said so. This has the feeling of a manufactured incident and comes at a point when a deflection from the thought of impeachment could impede Trump’s electioneering. While he calls no collusion and states that Mueller’s report exonerated him from trying to bring an end to the investigation by having Mueller sacked, it was exactly the opposite and at least ten examples of obstruction were listed. If Trump is able to declare war on Iran, and he already has warships in the area then the U.S. could soon be making shrouds for it’s dead servicemen. As bad for me is the thought that as allies my Government would be stupid enough to stand with the U.S. instead of with the agreement made with Iran which it would be better to preserve. Far better to go to war with Saudi Arabia for killing the journalist working for an American newspaper Jamal Khashoggi who was well liked and yet Trump has done nothing despite knowing Saudi was responsible, in particular Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The likelihood of Saudi being attacked is nil since Trump has a good relationship with all Dictators and this one is buying billions of dollars worth of weapons from him.

Another war would see the involvement of others with an Interest. Iran has allies in the Middle East, Shiite Muslims but so do those who  follow the Sunni sect like Saudi Arabia. Russia has an interest in the area and would like a bigger one. Things could escalate out of all control and leave us with WW111. Some people would say we are overpopulated and could do with thinning down but we don’t need the deaths of a population of young men and women to leave us mourning for our children.

If you feel there is likely to be a war please bombard your politicians to say No, you don’t want to lose your children. Trump may withdraw his support from the Iran agreement but the others are prepared to carry on. Trump can always use his famous tariffs instead. Keep hugging your neighbour to show you have no warlike tendencies and you could try hugging others too. Let’s hug our way out of war.

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No More The Victim.

I have to say thank you to someone who has taught me a great lesson. I have a collection of watches that I don’t keep on show but three or four watches that I have kept in my bedroom for quite a while because they are special in one way or another. There is one Mike bought me at a car boot sale, by a Danish designer, gold, very slim and great to wear with browns and creams. There was a square faced one with a broad leather strap in brown made by fossil that I bought after the original one was stolen in a burglary. That had been bought as a gift for me by my wife and daughter on a holiday they had. None of them had any great value except perhaps to the sneak thief who came in through my unlocked front door while I was in the house. They must have been very quick and just done the one room. The most annoying part is that if someone really needed help I would have given it gladly.

Now I shall trust a little less and my front door will be locked even when I’m home. I don’t want to be the perpetual victim and lose things that mean a lot to me on a regular basis. The watch collection is out of the way since the burglary but I don’t want to be hiding my things everywhere. I don’t want to stop trusting people, I don’t want to stop hugging people. But the door now stays locked. So thank you little thief for teaching me something I should have learned before. Stay secure.



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A Timely Reminder

I had a shock today and it was very unwelcome. At the start of this month I’d gone through my address book and sent out Christmas cards to all my friends. In one or two I’d added a note perhaps regretting I’ve not seen so much of them recently. I must have thought of it as a duty performed. Today as I came home from being with Yvonne I picked up my cards from behind the door. After an urgent trip to the loo for bus journey bladderitis I put some lunch on then opened my cards.

One card had but a single name on it and I couldn’t quite register the fact and I know my eyes scanned the card for the other name, the lead name. It wasn’t there. There was a note which I read carefully. My friend’s wife told me he’d been diagnosed with liver cancer this year and had died peacefully in August. I’d known nothing of it because I’d not seen anything of them this year and the last time I’d written was an Easter card. At one point Mike and I used to see them virtually every Saturday morning as we were finishing our shop as they arrived to start theirs. Then we started and finished a little earlier to satisfy me and that contact, slim as it was, had been broken.

J had been the Senior Officer in an office I used to visit perhaps once a week for benefit surgeries. I’d been going there a few years and he was always pleasant and would always pass the time of day  until the office opened. There were others there that I perhaps I used to talk to more but it was for only about ten minutes until the office officially opened and my work started. Ten minutes, maybe once a week for some years. I could never honestly say we were friends but we were friendly. When I became ill and  went on long term sick very few of my work colleagues visited me (says more about me than about them) but J made the occasional visit. After Ju died he perhaps came a little more often and maybe stayed a bit longer. He and his lovely wife even took me to a concert which had my nerve ends screaming but I managed it. He insisted they were only ever a phone call away. They did not deserve my neglect and just the occasional card. He had become a friend who deserved so much more as did his wife who might have needed some of the support they gave me when I needed it.

OK, the reason for this post is to maybe remind some of you that if you’ve got friends you haven’t seen in a while and have perhaps just dropped the odd card on. It might be a nice idea given the time of year if you can perhaps give them a phone call or maybe even a little visit.  I’m sure they’d appreciate it and hopefully you aren’t met with the shock I was.

Image result for free christmas gifs with sound

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The Coming Christmas.

Here we are mid November and is the world in a happier place for Christmas? Of course not. Half the countries in the World don’t celebrate the same season as the West since they don’t worship the same God as the West. But, that distinction allowed, each set of peoples is happy to watch and share in the joy of another peoples holiday. At least I am, having been happy to share in the joy of Diwali just a couple of weeks ago. India celebrates a national holiday on 25th December so maybe that joy will be reciprocated.

What bothers me more than usual at this time of the year though are divisions within our own countries, pitting one side against another with little give and take. In my Country for instance there is the ever nearing Brexit separating one side from the other instead of the Bremainers just giving in gracefully and saying lets just make the best of it we can. It’s much easier it seems to complain about it right to the last moment and each side to blame the other for not getting the results they wanted.

The American side seems worse. The problem here started in the early days of the 2016 election when one side seemed to concentrate on policies and the other purely on the cult of personality. Tell a lie, big it up and then start a chant. I have no idea whether Hilary Clinton would have made a better President (the odds are with her) than this man who chanted Lock Her Up seemingly from morning to night and never once had to discuss a  programme of reform. No-one who knows me will be in the least surprised to hear me say I HATE Trump, bu it may surprise you to hear that I have no fondness for the Republican Party either. they have since the election ended put forward no policies intended to benefit the Country. Plenty which will benefit themselves by way of tax breaks but no help for businesses, the working man. Trump is not a working man and his businesses relying on Business as Usual seem to be OK.

In the recent mid-term elections Republicans ensured that a large number of votes were removed or hampered from minorities. In Georgia this was done by the man standing as a Republican candidate against a black person. That’s cheating pure and simple yet it’s unlikely to draw much condemnation. Trump never carried out his early promises of building  a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, nor having the Mexicans fund it. He has fallen down on all his election promises to the people yet all he has to do is mention the wall and people cheer. It would be better if he and the Republicans had tried to repair the ACA and found some insurance for health care that carried promises from the previous President.

Before January is upon us and the new Representatives take their seats in the house Maybe the two sides in this war found ways in which they could agree to help the people and put forward legislation to make 2019  a brighter year, not for themselves but to benefit the United States. Let Christmas 2018 be a time of Peace on Earth.


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