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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Modern Day Slavery.

Eritrea is a small African country in the North East or Horn of Africa. It’s Capital is Asmara. After the Second World War Eritrea was taken away from the Italians and administered by the British until 1952. At that time the UN General Assembly voted to make Eritrea self governing but tied to Ethiopia it’s larger neighbour for a period of ten years. In 1962 the Government of Ethiopia annulled the agreement and tried to annexe Eritrea bringing about armed resistance from the Eritreans and they proved to be difficult to defeat. In 1991 after almost 30 years continual warfare Eritrea got it’s wish. Or did it? It became a one party state under the EPLF which later became the People’s Front for Democracy. In itself, if this didn’t make me laugh I’d have to cry. National  legislative elections have been postponed time and again.

The Government of Eritrea has been accused of some of the worst Human Rights abuses in the World with arbitrary arrests and detentions. Freedom of speech and freedom to assemble are limited and the press has been placed at the bottom of a list of 180 countries and there is no private press in Eritrea.I’m sure by now you think I have no point to make, but here it is. A steady flow of Eritreans want to leave the country and head for Europe ( to the countries that pillaged their own in the past). They leave Eritrea after paying smugglers.and get to Rama in Ethiopia then go on from Rama to Omdurman in the Sudan (where Gordon fought the Mahdi ). From Rama to Chad and on to Tripoli in Libya. The journey is fraught with perils as there are plenty of slavers about but for now these people are safe in Tripoli.

Only they’re not safe. Once there they’re handed over to someone else to complete the journey to the West only to find they’ve been sold. More money is demanded to help them complete their journey with torture and severe beatings while the subject is force to make a phone call back to Eritrea for money. Those that can’t get it may be tortured some more then sold on again or may just be murdered. When the ‘lucky’ ones get more money they’re moved on, but very often just to continue the process of being bought and sold. While in the camps they’re very often not fed and when they are it may be a piece of bread.

We know this slavery goes on.My question is this, “Why do we let it?”  Libya has gone to pot since Ghaddafi  fell which had an awful lot to do with the machinations of the Western powers. Satellite imagery should be good enough to spot these slave camps and I’m sure troops could be helicoptered in there from an adjoining friendly nation to rescue the slaves and take the slavers in . It should work provided no money is changing hands between the slavers and members of the Government who know when an operation is happening. Whatever way it could be done and I’m sure there are many other theories of a better way, it should be done rather than leave these already desperate people in the hands of the slavers.

Massive Hugs to all.

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More Tears of Shame …

A heartfelt plea from a dear friend to bring some kind of sanity to the U.S. And some kind of Hope and Love to the poor children separated from their parents and parents separated from their children. The man ultimately responsible for this evil blames everyone but himself for what has happened.

Filosofa's Word

Trump signed an executive order earlier this week that did … nothing.  Nonetheless, that didn’t stop him from preening and patting himself on the back.  While thousands of children remain terrified and separated from their parents, held in old warehouses, tent cities, and wherever the U.S. government can find room to stow them.

Administration officials admit that there is no immediate plan to reunite these children with their families.  Melania Trump visits them wearing a jacket that says, “I don’t care, do U?”  Fox television host Brian Kilmeade says we should not be concerned because “These aren’t our kids … it’s not like he is doing this to the people of Idaho or, uh, or, uh, Texas. These are people from another country.” Members of Congress, congressional candidates, and the press have been denied entry to tour the facilities.  A senator was escorted from the premises by police…

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