HEM TURNS TWO: The Half-Eaten Mind marks its second anniversary

Yesterday was a very special day for the Half-Eaten Mind. While for the owner it was yet another long one at work and surviving the Hammersmith and City line followed by buses that just don’t want to wait for you, the blog has marked two years since its establishment on the 16th April, 2012. That’s a whole two years of news stories covering the globe, of entertaining and visually powerful features on a variety of subjects, hordes of awards and of course, the dozens of friends and supporters I have made along the way. It has been a great twenty-four months, in which I have developed and grown as a blogger and journalist and the blog has become a labour of love which has brought a lot into my life, even if that means slogging a bit on the weekends. Especially when my landlord supplied with a squeaky second-hand office chair that is a heavy as a pregnant walrus and does my back in.

In the couple of days running up to the anniversary, I was slowly becoming jittery with measured excitement at the Half-Eaten Mind reaching this important milestone. On its official Twitter account, I tweeted on the impending birthday a couple of times, complete with our own unique hashtag #HEMturnstwo. The way I was going would have perhaps got the casual observer wondering if I was talking about a living breathing human being… or going slightly soft in the brains, but for me, HEM has been almost like a child of mine, one that I helped nurture and grow. Now it has reached the tender age of two, I can stand back from my laptop and say that I have really achieved something here, which for someone like me who was not born with a prestigious life and a silver spoon in his mouth, means a great deal.

To ready HEM for its birthday, I decided to do a reorganisation of the front menu and basically sort our two hundred plus articles and blogposts into set categories based on subject. I did this, as apart from being a bit of an organisation freak, I wanted to give HEM a more professional news website setup as you would find with any mainstream news media outlet. Equally important, there was a significant need to make the blog more user-friendly too. By reforming the menu options, visitors would not only find it easier to locate what they’re looking for but also to search around subjects that interest them. So for example, if you are looking for international news, there is now a tab on the menu that takes you directly to all our ‘World News’ stories, with minimum fuss and maximum relevancy. This of course supplements the existing search option on the right of the webpage which came pre-packaged with the theme I’m using. As the blog matures and increases its online presence, and with the anniversary rapidly approaching, now more than ever was an ideal time to tidy up the menu. All articles were categorised according to certain broad themes and using the HEM dashboard’s ‘quick edit’ function, took only two days to designate those categories for eleven pages of articles stretching back to our very first feature published in the spring of 2012. I was incredibly grateful for the quick edit function. It made things for me a lot easier than having to manually edit each article which would have taken more like two weeks than two days.

On the 16th April, 2014, I was unable to produce this article then as I was on the day job. However with the long Easter break coming up and with both the upcoming Friday and Monday being public holidays (bank holidays), I was in for a long lie-in. So after arriving home with a steaming hot lamb doner kebab in hand, I stuffed tonight’s dinner in the fridge for later and went upstairs to my room and the epic nerve centre that is the home of this blog. In other words, my Toshiba Satellite C660 laptop. Literally the first thing I did upon switching the laptop on and waiting for it to (slowly) power up, was to begin searching for pictures. Why, you may ask?. Because just like a chef will rummage through the fridge to find the right ingredients for the perfect casserole, I needed to find the right visual ingredients to make the official HEM second anniversary graphic. I used the Google CC search to pick out media and blogging related images, but the crux of this beastie was a wallpaper. A free PC wallpaper that showed a glass sphere sitting and refracting sunlight onto a newspaper page so straight and flat it appeared to have been heavily ironed and folded immaculately.

While there were many other wallpapers and backgrounds with a newsprint or journalistic theme available, this particular wallpaper spoke volumes to me. I needed something that would fit the blog’s purpose as a news site, but not be gaudy, childish or be too loud for the components I would be adding later. The contrast of light and physical state between the orb and the paper struck me as being particularly attractive yet subtle in its portrayal. This was amazing especially given that the image, taken from a free wallpapers site, was in black-and-white. The image’s simplicity, unabashed intellectual design, and its size would give me ample room to work on with my graphic design skills and follow the recipe instructions that were rapidly unfolding in my head as I opened up another website that would be the online ‘kitchen’ of my ideas….the photo editing page of piZap.

Those of you who have followed this website for a while will know that piZap is my go-to source for easy to make yet flawlessly appreciable graphics. Indeed a lot of the homemade graphics I have produced for the Half-Eaten Mind, including our Plaistow tower blocks header came out of the pizap foundry. I won’t go into the long and probably boring detail of how exactly I put the HEM 2nd anniversary image together, but let’s put this way, this image was probably one of the best I have created to date.

HEM 2 Years Anniv Graphic pizap.com10.175250617321580651397672683079

 

Now while I do have a good eye for the artistically wild side of life, I’m not under any delusion that I am an amazing Photoshopping whizzkid who can make Michealangelo masterpieces with some pixels and a few clicks of a mouse. But when I finally pulled the tarpaulin off this baby, I was so shocked that I could hear my mind shout at me “I’m bloody impressed”. After about one and a half hours of working on an empty stomach, mind buzzing while tweaking image sizes and opacity and moving text boxes all over the place, I had created a masterpiece that I think would win a few plaudits at your local design awards bash. I think what works for this special ‘poster’ graphic is just that it appears professionally done and forged in the visual essence of what the media is about in a single element.

This image is colourful, but restrained in its expression. It is busy but not over the top. It’s catchy, but not in-your-face. You could say I have reached a happy and settled medium between my desire to go crazy with all the colours and widgets that piZap offers, and the need to project a professional clean-cut image, which is a steadily increasing importance as my blog matures as a news and views website. Everyone will have their impression and perception of this picture, but when I looked at it yesterday I was saying to myself that this would not look too out of place in a trade magazine or even as a half-page spread in a newspaper. Subeditors: if you like what you see, you can find my contacts on the About page ;)

Please bear in mind that the clarity and resolution of the HEM 2nd anniversary image might be less than perfect. That is due to the limitations of showing piZap images on these blogpages but also due to resizing to help accommodate it in this article. You can see the original unstretched version on the HEM Flickr page. 

Since producing the above image, I have assigned it to places of pride on our social media network. It is the current cover image for our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HalfEatenMind) and as a background for our Twitter account (https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind) on a temporary basis. 

 

Before we round off things with a little birthday cheer, here is a Top Ten of HEM-related stuff from the past two years we have brought you cutting-edge news and amazing features, as well as various other facts and tidbits.

All-time (total) blog views – as of 17/04/2014 13.06

58,577

All-time number of comments – as of 17/04/2014 13.06

1,695

Blog facts and follows

220 POSTS

10 CATEGORIES

1,386 TAGS

379 BLOG FOLLOWERS (WORDPRESS & EMAIL)

17 COMMENT FOLLOWERS

866 TWITTER FOLLOWERS

12 FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS

Top 10 most read articles (excluding home page)

1. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014: Vijay’s best new year images (10,141 views)

2. PHOTO MOMENT: Islamic New Year – Hijri 1435 (3,696 views)

3. DESIGN YOUR OWN NUMBER PLATES: The Half-Eaten Mind’s personalised registrations (1,774 views)

4. LLOYDS BANKING GROUP: Lloyds and TSB to part ways (1,747 views)

5. ATACAMA HUMANOID: Alleged extraterrestrial corpse is of this world (1,632 views)

6. WALLPAPER: Diwali 2013/2070 (1,525 views)

7. SHRIMANT BAJIRAO PESHWA: Legendary warrior of the Marathas  (1,428 views)

8. PHOTO MOMENT: Is Putin giving Van Damme a stunt-run for his (Volvo) money? (1,177 views)

9. SCAREDYCATS BEWARE!!: Grave Encounters – a review and a trip down Memory Lane (903 views)

10. ANNOUNCEMENT: New wallpaper to celebrate Diwali (851 views)

Top 10 countries by views

1. United States - 16,115

2. United Kingdom - 13,318

3. India - 8,229

4. Canada - 1,273

5. Australia - 971

6. Pakistan - 774

7. Germany - 763

8. Indonesia - 761

9. France - 736

10. United Arab Emirates - 643

Top 10 referrers (websites bringing visitors to HEM)

1. Google Search (24,453 views)

2. Google Image Search (8,255 views)

3. Google Mobile (682 views)

4. Yahoo Search (489 views)

5. Bing (479 views)

6. Ask.com (183 views)

7. search.babylon.com (76 views)

8. AOL (65 views)

9. mywebsearch.com (55 views)

10. isearch.avg.com (54 views)

Top 10 search engine terms

1. grave encounters (279 views)

2. diwali (235 views)

3. atacama humanoid hoax (176 views)

4. new year 2014 (137 views)

5. lloyds tsb split (119 views)

6. bajirao peshwa (98 views)

7. happy diwali animated gif (74 views)

8. happy new year animated gif (70 views)

9. anjali family photos (69 views)

10. new year images 2014 (61 views)

This is the week that HEM turns two, and while the blog cannot exactly say ‘thank you’, I would like to wish the Half-Eaten Mind a very happy 2nd birthday!!

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HALF-EATEN MIND!!

 

(c) Gif Stop

(c) GIFAK.net via SooziQ

SOURCE:
WordPress statistics page for the Half-Eaten Mind.
IMAGE CREDITS (HEM 2nd anniversary poster):
“C28 Free Wallpapers” – Maryam Dihuni, wallpaper (5 April 2007) LINK
“Media of Malaysia” – Wikipedia/ Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. LINK
“File:2010 magazines German 6649597627 871ef1b6b3 o.jpg” – HDValentin via yud4h, Wikimedia Commons (1 September 2010) LINK
“Data Journalism Handbook to launch under CC BY-SA” – Jane Park & ‘jwyg’, creative commons (26 April 2012) LINK
piZap LINK
IMAGE CREDITS (HEM 2nd anniversary article):
“Free Birthday Gifs” – Gif Stop LINK
“The Best Celebrity Memes Of 2013″ – SooziQ (1 January 2014) LINK
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GIF MOMENT: Easter 2014

In the United Kingdom, the days from the 18th to the 21st April are the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. I have booked a day off work so that means an impressive five-day long rest, which honestly I badly need. Easter is one of the most important Christian festivals celebrated here, and over much of the world. Children and parents look forward to munching their way through tonnes of chocolate Easter eggs and for many churchgoers it is a time to reflect on the lifetime of their religion’s founder Jesus Christ and his dying and resurrection for mankind’s sins. For the less religious or people of other faiths it is also a time to celebrate the arrival of spring and a chance to welcome longer, sunnier days.

 

Easter eggs

Easter eggs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Some Easter facts…..

 

1. Although Easter is a well-known festival in Christianity, its origins predate the religion. In fact the word ‘Easter’ as used in Anglophone countries is said to come from the name of the Saxon/Germanic fertility goddess Eostre, whose spring festival was celebrated at about the same time as our current Easter.

2. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ three days after his death. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year.

3. Eggs are popular during Easter due to their significance among Christians as symbols of joy, celebration, new life and resurrection.

4. In Ukraine, people paint real eggs with different colours and patterns based on traditional art after hard-boiling them first. In many parts of the world, people even dye chicks with non-permanent colours.

5. The Easter bunny is an integral part of the festival’s celebrations, but the rabbit that brings tasty eggy delights to good little boys and girls did not make its first appearance until the 1500s. Its first story was not published until 1680.

6. Hot cross buns, which are another staple of Easter in the UK, were originally baked by monks who would distribute them to the poor. The cross on each bun has a religious significance and lends the food its name.

7. Every year before Easter, 90 million chocolate eggs are sold and bought in the U.K.

8. The U.K.’s first chocolate egg was made by Fry’s of Bristol in 1873. The company still exists as a subsidiary and brand-name of manufacturer Cadbury’s.

9.  The tallest chocolate Easter egg ever was made in Italy in 2011. At 10.39 metres in height and 7,200 kg in weight, it was taller than a giraffe and heavier than an elephant.

10. On Easter Sunday in Scotland and north-east England, some people have great fun rolling painted eggs down steep hills. This is also popular in parts of America, but people there push the egg along with a spoon. The White House, the official residence of the US president, organises its own ‘Easter Egg Run’.

The Half-Eaten Mind brings a special GIF celebration of the Easter week with these cool animated images that can be used for greetings or family websites and blogs. Many of them revolve around the theme of eggs and bunny rabbits, which make them especially endearing to the little ones.

 

The Half-Eaten Mind would like to wish everyone a very HAPPY EASTER in advance!!

 

 

(c) Stacy/LoveThisPic

(c) dreamer/profilecomments.com via LoveThisPic

(c) dreamer/GlitterBell.com via LoveThisPic

(c) 9TO5GIFS

 

(c) RUGU

 

(c) kewlgraphics.com via Pics & Photos

(c) Candy Shaffer via Super Funny Images

(c) Candy Shaffer via Super Funny Images

(c) Too Late…

(c) 9TO5GIFS

(c) eclectech.co.uk via Il Divo

SOURCES:
“11 Facts About Easter” – DoSomething.org LINK
“What Is The Meaning Of Easter? 8 Fun Facts You May Not Have Known About Religious Holiday” – Susmita Baral, Latin Times/IBT Media (11 April 2014) LINK
“Pocket Money’s top 10 Easter egg facts!” – Pocket Money, NatWest LINK
IMAGE CREDITS:
“File:Vajicka1.jpg” – Karakal, Wikimedia Commons (16 April 2006) LINK
“Happy Easter” – Stacy, LoveThisPic LINK
“Happy Easter” – dreamer, LoveThisPic LINK
“Happy Easter” – dreamer, LoveThisPic (different picture) LINK
“2014 Easter Gifs” – 9TO5GIFS LINK
“Happy Easter Gifs” – RUGU (4 April 2014) LINK
“IM BUSY DOING CRAFTING” – PICS & PHOTOS LINK
“Happy Easter animation 2014″ – Candy Shaffer, Super Funny Images LINK
“Un Paste Fericit!” (A happy Easter) – Theo, TOO LATE… (24 April 2011) LINK
“Easter Animations Free Gifs” – 9TO5GIFS LINK
“IL Divo – A Musical Affair: The Greatest Songs of Broadway Live , on Thursday Feb 27, 2014 – Tokyo, JP – Budokan” – Kinx (comment), IL DIVO – Forums (4 November 2013) LINK

 

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INNER PEACE AWARD: Special nom by Don Charisma

Our good friend Don Charisma has been exceptionally kind to this Half-Eaten Mind. While bits of my medulla oblongata have been falling off thanks to the stress of having to call like a stalkery madman at work yesterday, Don has showered us with some great awards these past few months, many of which come with badges he has created himself. I am always in awe of DC’s graphic and photography skills and he has a unique and rare talent. Probably the best thing to come out of Thailand since Red Bull and Singha beer.

Our latest DC gift is his retake on the Inner Peace Award. We were previously nominated for this award under its original badge by Ajay on June 16, 2013. The original badge features the line drawing of a dove with its bottom side changing into a olive branch. The dove prepares to launch itself from a hand drawn in similar fashion. Both doves and olive branches are, in the Western world, symbols of peace and tranquility.

Don, in inimitable fashion, has reworked the badge completely. Out with the birds and in with the sagely Yoda from the epic Stars Wars films. Blessed with the patience and ethereal mutterings of a miniature Dalai Lama, and the fighting hand-to-hand combat skills of a laser-sabre-totting Jet Li, the short wrinkly alien – who trains Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Force – is in splendid cartoonish form in DC’s new badge.

 

(c) Don Charisma

(c) original designer via Don Charisma

The two Inner Peace Award badges side by side (well, top to bottom).

The Don was awarded the Inner Peace by Maryam Jamil, from entertainmentstarters and Foxy-O from foxyolive on October 2013 (Maryam) and March 2014 (Foxy-O). The Half-Eaten Mind was in turn awarded on the 11th April 2014. This is one of Don Charisma’s favourite awards. For him, it is a lovely idea. In a world bereft by turmoil, a bit of ‘inner peace’ is a useful and beneficial addition to our lives.

Conditions For Accepting The Award

The only “rule” for the inner peace award is that you write a short piece on why you are accepting it. I would suggest that you forward on to other bloggers who you think would like it, 3-10 up to you :)

Why I’m Accepting The Inner Peace Award

For me, inner peace is very much about being at peace with oneself. In my life I have been through a lot of suffering and turmoil. I have also seen those close to me get hurt in different ways. Struggling internally with these horrible events and things, I have tortured myself mentally in the past, but as of late I have tried to look deep within my heart and soul and eventually self-repaired. Inner peace is coming to terms with what you are, understanding that you are not perfect but still a special and unique specimen of humanity. Inner peace is being proud of yourself but setting that pride with humility. Things are not perfect. I have a bad temper (but thankfully that beast has been locked and caged by the inner peace I developed within) and get easily frustrated, but I have learnt to look at the world in a new light, thanks to inner peace. As a Hindu, peace is an important and intransigent element of our faith and relationship with each other and God. It is no surprise that many Hindus and non-Hindus meditate upon this sacred mantra “Aum Shanti Aum” – where Aum is the sound of the divine, and “shanti” itself means peace. For humanity. For all living beings.

Awardees

I’m awarding this “The Inner Peace Award” to :

1. Inger Anna Jones (So you want to be a writer?)

2. Effrosyni Moschoudi (EFFROSYNI’S BLOG)

3. The Wine Wankers (The Wine Wankers)

4. stine1_online (Zizzling Zazzle – Home of stine1 on Zazzle)

5. Angie Jordan (Angie M Jordan)

6. Sourcerer (Sourcerer)

7. Wayne Herbert (Introspections of a displaced Boulevardier)

Congratulations to all nominees and to DC, once again, a huge thanks coming your way!

I will paraphrase the late great Yoda here and say “Charisma Don, my day you have made. May the Force be with you!”

(c) Special Events Alaska

SOURCE:
“The Inner Peace Award”, Don Charisma, DonCharisma.org (11 April 2014) LINK
IMAGE CREDITS:
“The Inner Peace Award”, Don Charisma, DonCharisma.org (11 April 2014) LINK
“Star Wars” – Special Events Alaska, Special Events Alaska, LLC. LINK
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BUTTERFLY LIGHT AWARD: Nomination by Don Charisma

On the 10th April, 2014, the Half-Eaten Mind was nominated by Don Charisma (doncharisma.org) for what I can describe as our first ever award with moving parts….well virtually speaking.

It is spring here in London, and while I have seen a few daffodils start springing up in ordered rows in the Newham parks near where I live, I have yet to see a butterfly. Plenty of house flies and a handful of bees mind you, but not one bleeding butterfly. No cabbage whites, no monarchs, no British blues, nadda, zilch, shunya, nothing. Nevertheless, Don Charisma has brought in a bit of spring fever all the way from sunny Thailand with this amazing new gift: The Butterfly Light Award.

(c) original designer via Don Charisma

The Butterfly Light Award (BLA) is a blogging award meant for those beautiful bloggers who have spread light into other people’s lives. Now while I am usually disseminating hard news stories, some of which can be quite depressing, I also make an effort to write blogposts and articles that are useful, fun and bring happiness and the light of knowledge to readers’ lives. Just like the BLA I make a big deal of colour, movement and joy on my blog, because at the end of the day, when there is so much strife and unhappiness in the world, I do want to make a difference, even a small one to someone’s life and goings-on.

DC features the BLA prominently on his blog. The colourful award with its butterfly behind rippling frosted glass and rays of sunshine is a majestic sight to behold – as far as award badges go. It has even earned a nickname from the Don himself; the Disco Flutterby Award.

DC received the award from Belinda from the ‘idiotwriting’ blog. I am not sure if Ms. Belinda created the BLA herself but she had asked the Don to release her offering into general circulation and the Half-Eaten Mind is privileged to be the first listed nominee for it. The back story goes that DC helped Belinda with an incessant malware problem, on account of Charisma’s expertise with technology repair. The problem was fixed expertly, and Belinda rewarded the Don with this sumptuous thank you gift now rippling just above these paragraphs.

DC’s flutterby nickname for the BLA comes from the fact that “partly because I can’t read, and partly because when I first saw it I wasn’t thinking on anything. What I saw was a disco mirror ball with coloured lights. It became apparent later that it’s actually a butterfly, so jokingly, I’d added the Flutterby, like kids or dyslexics might mis-say.” (DC’s own words). Interestingly I once remembered hearing a nursery rhyme which may have been either an old British or an old American one, where a butterfly is described as a flutterby, but just like a butterfly, it seems to have left my half-eaten brains and fluttered somewhere. I’m sure Google will help you solve the mystery.

Conditions For Accepting The Award

Don Charisma has added a couple of conditions for accepting the award :

1. You must write an acceptance post, making sure you link back to the blogger who awarded you and thank them. You MAY NOT lump this award in with a batch of other awards.

2. You must individually name and re-award to a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 9999999 bloggers. You must let them know either personally with a comment on their blog OR a pingback (I’d suggest their about page)

3. You must link back to Belinda’s blog either to http://idiotwriting.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/i-love-charismatic-geeks/ OR http://idiotwriting.wordpress.com/about/

4. You must write a short paragraph (yes only one paragraph – damn this is easy) – Entitled either “How I’m Spreading Light” OR “How I’m A Positive Influence”

5. Display Belinda’s lovely “Butterfly Light Award” badge on your blog.

How I’m A Positive Influence

While I am a journalist, and journalism is very much about detailing the negative as well as the positive, I do try to make a positive impact in my reporting. I try not to offend people and always pay more than lip service to the reporter’s essential values or accuracy, objectivity and telling the truth. My blog is a small ‘window on the world’ and I want to give as clear and unobstructed view as feasibly possible. I often reach out to other bloggers via awards articles like this one, and enjoy bringing a smile to their faces, not just through the awards themselves but also through writing sympathetically and knowledgeably about them. I occasionally write on social issues such as an article on a UK mental health charity published in 2012. On a personal level, my blog has been a source of pride among my family and friends and I have collaborated with my youngest sister Anjali on a few articles. That has helped her gain more confidence and keeps a big smile on her face, while showing her talents which normally otherwise are left understated.

Awardees

I’m awarding this “The Butterfly Light Award” to :

(awardees chosen from the HEM Bloggers Twitter feed)

1. Vincent (Real Poems)

2. Johanna Bradley (RESTLESSJO)

3. Tanumoy Biswas (The Nomadic Soliloquist)

4. Andrew Ginsburg (Andrew S. Ginsburg)

5. Sage Doyle (SageDoyle ~ Fiction & Poetry)

6. Eduardo Meza-Etienne (Aquamosh’s Blog)

7. Lil Family Adventure (Little Family Adventure)

A big hearty thanks to Don Charisma for including me in his own awardees list  followed by a massive congratulations to all of my selected nominees!! :)

…and as we are on the theme of butterflies, here’s a traditional HEM choice animated GIF to go with our latest award.

BREAKING NEWS!!!
 
The Half-Eaten Mind has also been nominated for this same award by Mahesh Nair of “Write Might” on the 11th April 2014.
I would also like to thank Mahesh for once again kindly considering me for this unique award.

(c) midnightgemini via Sodahead

SOURCES:
“The Butterfly Light Award … Disco Flutterby Award :)” – Don Charisma, DonCharisma.org (10 April 2014) LINK
IMAGE CREDITS:
“The Butterfly Light Award … Disco Flutterby Award :)” – Don Charisma, DonCharisma.org (10 April 2014) LINK
“COMING TO REBECKA’S RAVE PARTY ???” – AGAINST OBAMA-MARY, SodaHead (21 February 2010) LINK
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BEAUTIFUL DARDO OF VERSATILITY: HEM scoops another three awards

Our awards season continues relentlessly as the Half-Eaten Mind scoops another three awards to cram onto our mantelpiece.

 

Firstly our new friend Mahesh Nair of the blog “Write Might” who only last week  presented to us the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award, has now sent the Versatile Blogger Award our way. This blog’s rules stipulate that only one award per badge can be accepted to prevent duplication, however I have made a one-off exception for Mahesh and will include this award in my own nominations.

Mahesh announced the nomination of my mind half-eaten with this comment left on one of our articles:

“It’s awards season, Vijay, and I’m pleased to be nominating you for the Versatile Blogger Award.”

His ‘Awards Season’ seemed to go into full swing after receiving a nomination for the Versatile Blogger from someone named ‘Tangerine Dreams’. He created an article in honour of this blessing on the 6th April, 2014 (this past Sunday) and we received confirmation of our nomination on the same day.

(c) original designer via M. Nair

As always there are rules, blogging rules (and etiquette) and there are award rules. As I have received three awards, I am going to be a bit flexible rule-wise. You will soon find out what I mean later on in this article.

The rules of the Versatile Blogger Award require me to give away seven interesting facts about myself. So as per these rules, prepare to have your mind blown. Sort of.

1. On Saturday while at my sister’s flat, I tried hula-hooping with my niece’s plastic hula hoop. Honest to God I looked so stupid, although it did make me happy that my dismal circle-spinning made my niece smile…and my sister now has a video to blackmail me with. Jinkies!!

2. I really like cream soda. It’s got a not particularly overpowering sweet taste and it looks like a more vivacious and fun version of mineral water.

3. At work I am the go-to expert on SIC codes. For those of you (and that’s most of you) who are outside the realm of database administration, SIC codes are special codes used for designating business types in database systems. So for example, ‘BN24′ is for legal firms and ‘TD12′ is for retail businesses.

4. I can just about touch the tip of my nose with the tip of my tongue. Pointless exercise really.

5. I am currently looking for a one-bedroom flat or studio in the London area. My search so far has been fruitless. They go like hot cakes around here.

6. I am 6 feet 5 inches tall. In metric measurements for all you non-Brits, that’s around 1.96 metres tall. While being tall has its advantages, like for example not getting mugged on the street and giving your niece the Mount Everest of piggybacks, I do genuinely wish I was a few inches shorter. Being a tall man in a normal-sized world isn’t really child’s play.

7. I have a very loud sneeze that makes people jump out of their skins. AAAAAATCHOOOO!!!

***********

Our second award is also the Half-Eaten Mind’s very first non-English language award. Say hi to the Premio Dardos (Dart Award) from Tomas Morales of the blog “Los Sentidos De La Vida“, which as you might have guessed is a site in the Spanish language. Los Sentidos De La Vida translates as “The Senses Of Life” and is a blog dedicated to film, fine wines and music in approximately seventy-five words per article. It has a great selection of film reviews and Tomas’ perceptions of various wines from some of Spain’s renowned and lesser-known viticulturists.

The Half-Eaten Mind retains a number of bloggers in our community who express themselves in the Spanish tongue, and I am proud to accept the Premio Dardo in honour of them. I can speak some basic Spanish, having learnt it in secondary school and can appreciate the beauty and power of  ‘la lengua Espanola‘. I also like a hefty glass of good Spanish wine (such as Rioja) from time to time.

The Premio Dardo is an honour for bloggers who transmit core human values through their post, pictures and other work. Indeed, this is a very special award because it recognises personal, ethical, cultural and literary values ​​transmitted through writing. Tomas nominated us on the 1st April, but we received confirmation via comment message a few days later.

(c) T. Morales

Tomas recieved this award from two other bloggers in the Iberian blogosphere –  “traficodeletras” and “perdriel27″.

The rules of the Dart Award are as follows (translated from Spanish):

1. Place the image of the award (badge) on your blog.

2. Thank the person who nominated you.

3. Nominate 15 other blogs.

As Tomas was nominated twice, he ended up with a list of thirty blogs. However I am bending the rules a bit and only nominating ten as I have been getting so many these past few months.

To Mr. Morales, I would like to say this:-

Gracias, Tomás, por este maravilloso premio. Estoy muy agradecido a aceptarlo y le deseo todo lo mejor!!

***********

Then, thirdly on the 7th April, 2014, just a day after Mahesh started off the week with a good vibe, another new member of the HEM crew, Yazmin a.k.a The Reading Girl, nominated us for the Beautiful Blogger Award. As the title of the blog suggests, Yazmin is a girl who loves to read. She in facts describes herself as a ‘book nerd’. She regularly publishes reviews of books she has thumbed through and puts out personal articles and motivational pieces. Sometimes she even gets inspired further and writes her own poetry, posts pictures she takes and lets you know about anything interesting in the reading world. 

Two days earlier, the Reading Girl was nominated for the BBA by two bloggers named Frankie and Edward. In her special article on the BBA, she mentions that she was very surprised and happy with the nominations. 

Essentially, the BBA is an honour bestowed by fellow bloggers to show how much they love reading your blog and appreciate the beauty in your words.

(c) original designer via The Reading Girl

Here are the BBA rules:

1. Copy the Beautiful Blogger Award logo.

2. Thank the person who nominated you and create a link back.

3. Nominate 7 (yes only seven) other bloggers and say a little something about them.

So, of course in the spirit of the BBA, I would like to thank Yazmin for being so beautiful in her consideration for choosing the Half-Eaten Mind as one of the lucky recipients. I am also grateful for her unwavering support of HEM and the undeniable pleasure I have felt from reading her posts. Well done and congrats for being nominated yourself.

I really enjoy his posts. Very different from what I used to but very informative and entertaining.

 - Yazmin on the Half-Eaten Mind.

This is the part where I am going to bend the award rules a little bit. I am going to nominate ten bloggers, randomly chosen from previous likes (to make it fair). All ten nominees will receive the three awards I mentioned in this blogpost. You can accept all, some or none of them, but never forget you deserve them all.

And the nominees are:

1. TheCrazyBagLady http://bulanlifestyle.wordpress.com/

2. Sawa Minori http://angelartstar.wordpress.com

3. KOH http://383g.wordpress.com/

4. CeeLee http://swimintheadultpool.com/

5. Ruben Demirjian http://tigranelgrande333.wordpress.com/

6. sagedoyle http://wallgrimm.wordpress.com/

7. alienorajt http://alienorajt.wordpress.com/

8. Tammy Hopkinson http://tammyhopkinsonmba.wordpress.com/

9. moviejoltz http://moviejoltz.com/

10. Don Charisma http://doncharisma.org/

Well done all of you!!

To Mahesh, Tomas and Yazmin, I thank all of you for making my work and blogging all that much sweeter.

(c) LadyFire/Photobucket

Here are the original nomination articles:

MAHESH -IT’S AWARDS SEASON – VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD NOW

TOMAS Nominación Premio Dardos 2014

YAZMIN The Beautiful Blogger Award/ Two times

Versatile Blogger Award now

 

SOURCES & IMAGE CREDITS:
“IT’S AWARDS SEASON – VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD NOW” – Mahesh Nair, The Write Might (6 April 2014) LINK
“Metres to Feet & Inches Full Height Conversion Chart (0m-2m)” – Feet to Metres Height Conversions, DXDW.com LINK
Google Translate, Google Inc. LINK
“Nominación Premio Dardos 2014″ (Darts Award Nomination 2014) – Tomas Morales, Los Sentidos De La Vida (1 April 2014) LINK
“The Beautiful Blogger Award/ Two times” – Yazmin, The Reading Girl (7 April 2014) LINK
“Thank You – thumb cat” – LadyFire, Photobucket LINK

 

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ANGEL AWARD: New award by Don Charisma; HEM nominated

Today, we pick up the second award for this week and this month, with a never before seen badge for 2014 especially created by our good friend, Don Charisma. He has nominated us for the very dazzling Angel Award.

Don Charisma is a very intelligent and multi-talented blogger who has an impressive with both texts and graphics. Whether it is panoramas of Thai temples, taking pictures of a rather rude gentleman with a parrot touting for tourist dollars, or his amazing line in award badges, I have been privileged to call DC, as he’s affectionately known here, a friend and a fellow blogging enthusiast.

DC was himself nominated for this award by a good friend of his named Angie. She is, from what I gather, the originator of this heavenly divine award.

(c) Picgifs.com

This award is dedicated to all the HEM Community as well as my youngest sister Anjali, whose name sounds very much like ‘angel’ (although nothing to do with angels, her name has a spiritual meaning). Yesterday, while visiting my mum’s house, I spent time with her teaching her how to draw graffiti-style art, after a special request from her, and I also took the chance to resurrect my drawing skills with the help of Anji’s massive set of glitter and ordinary gel pens. I did some logo designs that I plan to feature on the Half-Eaten Mind at a later date.

(c) original designer via Don Charisma

(c) Don Charisma

The badges for the Angel Award – original badge first, DC’s version depicted below.

Especially, I would like to give a big hearty thanks to the Don for selecting me. The badge is really beautiful and detailed, indeed, probably one of the best badges I have ever seen. I think both versions are awesome, but DC’s version works better because there is a tie-in with the name of the award and the picture of an Renaissance-era angel. The background as well has a heavenly feel to it. The way the light breaks into its component colour wavelengths as it emanates from an angel’s wings perhaps. What is even more touching is that DC made up this badge as a kind favour to his friend Angie – a small offering, but one in which the angels will smile on.

The Angel Award does not come with any rules or need for nominations. To take a leaf from DC, your only requirement is to do an acceptance post too. I am offering the Angel Award to ALL of the bloggers in the HEM community, so feel free to accept.

SOURCE:
“The Angel Award – Thanks Angie :)” – Don Charisma, DonCharisma.org (5 April 2014) LINK
IMAGE CREDITS:
“Angels graphics” - Picgifs.com LINK
“The Angel Award – Thanks Angie :)” – Don Charisma, DonCharisma.org (5 April 2014) LINK
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WONDERFUL TEAM MEMBER READERSHIP AWARD: ‘Write Might’ gifts first award of April

WARNING: This is not….I repeat…NOT a late April Fool’s joke.

Ladies and gentlemen, dogs and cats, and everything/one else in between, the Half-Eaten Mind is proud to announce that we have received our first award of this April. This time we’re clearing out space for our latest piece of virtual ‘silverware’, a Wonderful Team Member Readership Award from Mahesh Nair of the blog “Write Might“.

On the 2nd April 2014, Mahesh, a blogger and photography buff who is a recently joined member of the HEM Community gang, nominated us as one of fourteen blogs to pick up the WTMRA for our services to the blogging world. I am incredibly chuffed and monumentally grateful to Mahesh for not only awarding us but also for his brilliant blogposts.

(c) M. Nair

(c) M. Nair

Mahesh is a keen writer who tries to pen something everyday. He is also a bit of a traveller and operates a sideline as a trained actor and photographer in New York City, where he resides. Originally he hails from India and possesses an academic certificate in English writing from New York University. His blog, “Write Might” has a catchy rhyming title that sounds like heavy machinery and certainly packs a steely punch with its well-written stories and eye-catching imagery.

The blog’s recent highlights include a “Weekly Photo Challenge” feature on Mahesh’s home city’s street life, a post covering his recent trip to Great Stirrup Cay, a lesser-known tourist magnet in the islands of the Bahamas and an ode to Jacqueline Kennedy of ‘JFK Assassination’ fame. His take on life in one of the most bustling and international cities in the world, with all its idiosyncrasies, novelties and visual highlights is a ‘must-view-and-read-and-linger-a-bit’ if you want to peek into the mind of a resident New Yorker who is very much an observer and sojourner of the Big Apple too. As a Londoner of parents originally not from London, I can really relate to Mahesh’s life experiences, and maybe you could too.

As Mahesh himself puts it, the blog is:-

My perspectives and opinions – the world-view – may not matter to a lot of people, but they do count in the grand universal scheme of things. I write what I think is right, and I keep it as true to truth as possible. What I write, though leaves me, returns more purified.

Mahesh himself collected this award from another blogger “Dear Kitty”, who is also a member of the HEM Community and has previously nominated us as well.

(c) original designer via M. Nair

Award Rules:

1) The nominee shall display the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award logo on his/her blog.

2) The nominee shall nominate 14 bloggers s/he admires, over a period of 7 days, all at once or little by little, by linking to their blogs and informing them about it.

My Wonderful Nominees:

1. http://kaligrafinusantaraonline.wordpress.com/

2. http://parttimemonster.wordpress.com/

3. http://jacquelinemhadel.wordpress.com/

4. http://bulanlifestyle.wordpress.com/

5. http://airportsmadesimple.com/

6. http://franciscojaviertostado.com/

7. http://saimonblu.com/

8. http://rabirius.wordpress.com/

9. http://doncharisma.org/

10. http://cristimoise.net/

11. http://keitochansays.com/

12. http://rachelcarrera.wordpress.com/

13. http://wallgrimm.wordpress.com/

14. http://andykaufmanskavalkadekrew.wordpress.com/

Congratulations to all nominees and hope you all have a brilliant weekend. As always, you can accept or decline the award. It’s entirely up to you!

I would like to humbly thank Mahesh for choosing me as one of his nominees and for making it a brilliant week. Nice one, bro!! – as I always say!….

 

 

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDITS:
“WONDERFUL TEAM MEMBER READERSHIP AWARD” – Mahesh Nair, Write Might (2 April 2014) LINK
“ABOUT ME” - Mahesh Nair, Write Might LINK
“ABOUT THE BLOG” - Mahesh Nair, Write Might LINK
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WRESTLEMANIA XXX: Thirty years of the ultimate wrestling PPV

with Sunny Atwal (idea contributor)

On the 6th April 2014, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the city of New Orleans in America’s Louisiana state, will play host to one of the most talked about and respected pay-per-view wrestling shows of all time – Wrestlemania XXX – also known as Wrestlemania 30.

The first Wrestlemania ever to be held in Louisiana, the monumental event, created by wrestling entertainments company WWE (Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment) will see old scores settled and old friendships broken as the locker-room roster amaze audiences with piledrivers and twists of fate as well as devastating and action packed 30-man battle royal. Two champions will also be putting their titles on the line as four hours of the ‘greatest show on Earth’ makes its impact felt thousands of miles beyond the squared circle.

(c) WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)/Wikimedia Commons

This show-stopping event, dubbed the ‘Show of Shows’ and ‘The Grandest Stage of Them All’,  has been one of WWE’s most successful PPVs to date. It began life on the 31st March, 1985 at the Madison Square Gardens in New York, where the headline was a tag team match between the ‘Hulkamaniac‘ Hulk Hogan and his partner and jewellery-laden star of 1980′s action series The A-Team, Mr. T. They faced a challenge from Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Fans who witnessed the very first Wrestlemania almost thirty years ago still now speak with fondness of the guest appearance by boxer Muhammad Ali and André the Giant decimating Big John Studd in a $15,000 Body Slam Challenge. André celebrated the win by sharing his duffel bag of cash with the capacity crowd in attendance.

Fast forward another three decades, and this year’s Wrestlemania promises to be as explosive as ever. A series of matches involving the many feuds and alliances on the WWE signature shows Raw and Smackdown, Wrestlemania tickets went on sale in the United States on  November 16, 2013, several months in advance, as WWE buckles down for a deluge of ticket purchases from its army of loyal fans. 

Andre the Giant applying a bear hug to Hulk Ho...

Andre the Giant applying a bear hug to Hulk Hogan in their WWF Championship match. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In January this year, Batista returned to the ring and won the 2014 Royal Rumble against overwhelming odds earning himself a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania XXX. Meanwhile, Randy Orton survived the Elimination Chamber while defending that same belt to clinch his place in the match in April at New Orleans. February saw the return of WWE legend Hulk Hogan, who fought at the very first Wrestlemania and is being tipped to host the thirtieth one. The Hulkamaniac soon got his new role alive and kicking when on the March 10th episode of Raw, he announced a thirty-man battle royal will happen to celebrate the thirty years of the event’s existence and in memory of the lofty man-mountain and seasoned French wrestler André the Giant. The winner of this epic clash will receive the André the Giant Memorial Trophy.

These are the headliner matches that will be taking place at Wrestlemania XXX (as of 30th March 2014).

In the run-up to the event, WWE will be hosting a special press conference which will stream live on the WWE Network this Tuesday from the Hard Rock Café in New York City  at 11:00 a.m. ET (United States Eastern Time). Reigning World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton will come face-to-face with his nemesis and challenger Batista. Fellow competitors Daniel Bryan and John Cena as well as show host Hulk Hogan and manager Stephanie McMahon will also be in attendance. The event itself will be prefaced by a two-hour ‘pre-show’ to get fans fired up for the big matches.

The first hour of the WrestleMania 30 Pre-Show will feature analysis of the action-packed card from a star-studded panel of Superstars past and present, along with on-the-scene interviews featuring Superstars preparing to battle on The Grandest Stage of Them All. The first half of the WrestleMania 30 Pre-Show can be viewed on WWE Network, WWE.com, the WWE App, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pheed.

Then, at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT, the Pre-Show continues exclusively on WWE Network, where the all-star panel will continue to break down the stacked WrestleMania lineup. In addition, the action will begin with an exclusive Pre-Show Match! (WWE.com)

In the United States, Wrestlemania will be broadcast for the first time on the WWE Network service, a dedicated wrestling entertainment channel. It will begin at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, it will be shown on Sky Sports Box Office and Sky Sports HD Box Office (priced at £17.95 for UK customers,  24.95 for viewers in the Republic of Ireland, for the whole pay-per-view).

 

SOURCES:
“WrestleMania XXX” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. LINK
“March 31, 1985 WrestleMania I” – WWE/WWE, Inc. LINK
“WrestleMania Press Conference to stream live on WWE Network this Tuesday” - WWE/WWE, Inc. (28 March 2014) LINK
“Watch the two-hour WrestleMania 30 Pre-Show on Sunday, April 6!” - WWE/WWE, Inc. (19 March 2014) LINK
“WrestleMania XXX: Watch Hulk Hogan host and The Undertaker fight Brock Lesnar” – Sky Sports/BSkyB (28 March 2014) LINK
IMAGE & VIDEO CREDITS:
“File:WrestleMania XXX Poster.png” - WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), Wikimedia Commons (22 March 2014) LINK
“File:Hogan and Andre.jpg” – codinghorror.com, Wikimedia Commons (24 October 2007) LINK
“Wrestlemania XXX: Top Matches/Match Cards + Promos – HDWWETitantronsV1″, HDWWETitantronsV1, YouTube GB (26 March 2014) LINK
“WrestleMania XXX all-star press conference” – WWE, YouTube GB (18 February 2013) LINK
“John Cena vs Bray Wyatt WrestleMania 30 Eminem Promo #2″ - Hero83, YouTube GB (18 March 2014) LINK
“WrestleMania 30 Official Trailer” - TheOfficialSlimber, YouTube GB (17 April 2013) LINK

 

 

 

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TUSC: Alternative political party makes presence felt in Newham

The London Borough of Newham is situated in London’s eastern flanks and is well known for its ethnically and cultural diverse population, its collection of close-knit communities, vibrant workforce and more controversially, for its reputation as one of the poorest of Greater London’s 32 boroughs. Once home to part of the old east London dockyards and the crossroads between the East End and the county of Essex, Newham now has a population of over 310,500, according to the last national Census of 2011.

Traditionally, Newham was a working-class area, home to factory workers and dockers. Though demographics have changed a lot since the last century, the borough has largely remained true to its working-class roots. Politically, the borough’s working class profile and traditional ‘East End values’ of community and family has kept it a Labour stronghold, although the Conservatives and various smaller parties including the Greens, the Christian People’s Alliance and a mix of socialists and independents now also have wide support among some of the borough’s residents.

Logo on the roadside at sunset

Logo on the roadside at sunset (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The current Mayor of Newham is Sir Robin Wales, who represents Labour. Born in 1955 in Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, Scotland, Sir Wales was elected in 2002 and was the borough’s first directly elected Labour mayor at the time of his appointment. Wales also made another first as England’s first directed mayor from the party after mayoral reformations instigated in 2002, enabled Newham residents to have a direct say in who governs them. He has led Newham Council as a councillor since 1995. Sir Wales was elected twice more in 2006 and 2010.

While the Mayor has been lauded for his efforts in raising the borough’s profile, including new opportunities in education and training for Newham’s unemployed residents, helping the borough secure holding rights for most of the 2012 Olympics events and sites; and establishing reading, sports and musical programmes for the borough’s schoolchildren; he has also come under controversy. He tangled with traders in the Queen’s Market in Upton Park who protested against the demolition of their businesses for a housing development project and has come under fire for awarding himself a 4 per cent pay rise at a time when Newham Council has lost a significant amount of central government funding and has been financially pressured into forcing through devastating cutbacks in council services. The Mayor has also affected his political standing and overall popularity slightly with Newham’s ethnic minorities while realising his vision of ethnic cohesion. His bid to promote greater integration between Newham’s many peoples has seen council premises been closed to events celebrating individual ethnic groups and the removal of foreign language newspapers from all of the borough’s libraries in a bid to pressure immigrants into acquiring English skills. Funding for the borough’s highly regarded translation services has been slashed and Sir Robin Wales has been accused of veering to the right and suppressing diversity to attract white middle-class voters, while the Mayor’s office claims he is putting an end to ethnic ‘apartheid’ and has helped non-white residents and recent immigrants by tackling poor housing conditions for example. Recently, the Mayor has come out in support of working people, supporting residents’ desires to improve their lives and being accessible to locals in listening to their views and concerns. He aims to give people a better standard of living and spending appropriately council money on services people need, according to a statement published on the council’s website.

Newham Town Hall in East Ham (E6)

Newham Town Hall in East Ham (E6) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Newham’s next mayoral elections are scheduled for 22 May 2014. As many people grow increasingly weary of government cutbacks in services and financial support and the disillusionment among Newham’s working poor and unemployed remains as strong as ever, a new political party has began making its presence felt in the borough, while other mayoral candidates from parties big and small begin canvassing voters to appoint the possible successor to Robin Wales.

The Newham Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is an alternative newcomer to the borough’s political scene – it is a local branch of the countrywide socialist political activism group of the same name, as is the norm with the mainstream ‘big three’ parties. Their website and blog only began operations in February this year, and were formed as a political reaction to the government’s austerity cuts, including the benefits cap which has become hated by many Newham residents struggling with rising rents and prices and declining income, as Westminster tries to cut expenditure in public spending and the billion-pound strong welfare bill. The party made up of a coalition of locally based trade unionists and left-wing politicians who have united to fight via the ballot box what they call “the 100% New Labour council that has carried through the Con-Dems’ cuts”.

The TUSC have put forward Lois Austin as their candidate to usurp Sir Wales at the May local elections. A dyed-in-the-wool trade unionist and activist, she has supported working people’s rights since her teenage years and participated in protests against the despised Poll Tax instituted by the late Margaret Thatcher as prime minister in the Eighties. She has also being involved in anti-racism campaigns after the racist killing of Stephen Lawrence, a Caribbean-British teenager in 1993 and was a member of the Stop The War Coalition protesting against British involvement in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan at the turn of the 21st century. Just before joining the TUSC and throwing her hat into the Mayoral candidate race, Austin was working in a trade union campaigning against privatisation of government services and job cuts, while also a housing activist defending the need for social housing, ironically a policy established all over the country by the current Mayor’s ‘Old Labour’ predecessors.

Austin has been billed as the ‘Worker’s Mayor’. While Sir Robin Wales has awarded himself a pay rise that has pushed up his yearly mayor’s salary to £80,029, the TUSC candidate for Newham’s highest political prize promises to only award herself the salary of an average working Londoner which is around £24,000 as of 2012 levels. Both her and her party have championed themselves for the causes and representation of working people’s rights, which could well see her donning the Mayor’s robe and chains as mainstream politicians still reel from the recent expenses scandal and frequent accusations of wasteful spending. The TUSC condemns Newham Council for allegedly calling out bailiffs on almost fifty per cent of its properties to chase council tenants for rent arrears while at the same time spending £111 million of taxpayer-sourced funds on the modern Building 1000 office complex which aims to centralise Newham Council’s various services, which are currently dispersed across the borough. The Labour-led council has also been slammed by the TUSC for pushing forward the benefits and council funding cuts ordered by the Cameron-Clegg administration despite having a reserve funds kitty of £185 million, according to Austin.

Pamphlet distributed by activists of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition outside Plaistow Tube Station in March 2014. (c) V. Shah/HEM

TUSC logo

TUSC logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While taking an average worker’s salary in solidarity with struggling average and low-income Newhamers, Austin will donate the rest of the mayoral salary to charity, especially campaigns for social justice for working families,  and additionally has pledged to only claim the bare minimum in expenses needed to do her job as Mayor if she is elected in less than two months’ time. Her election manifesto for Newham includes a cap on private rents rather than benefits and a complete reversal of the Cameron austerity cuts alongside a war on rogue ‘rip-off’ landlords who charge above-market rents to desperate homeseekers. Austin also proposes to bring private rents in line with the council’s social housing rents. She wants to make housing more affordable and more available by building extra council housing stock on unused brownfield sites in Newham as well as acquire empty properties to house the borough’s rapidly growing population.

In a direct challenge to the Government’s programme of austerity cuts, Austin also plans to abolish the council’s policy of imposing the widely derided ‘ bedroom tax’  - where people with spare bedrooms and who claim housing benefits are forced to take a cut in their welfare payments – as well as the new council tax payments that Newham’s current adminstration have imposed  on benefits claimants due to Whitehall’s decision to no longer fund Newham’s welfare bill – the same claimants who were previously exempt from paying any council tax pre-recession. She also plans to write off council arrears caused by austerity and to shield Newham’s NHS medical trusts from the government’s bid to outsource their services to private companies to save money. Her manifesto is also good news to the homeless and people trapped in ‘zero-hours’ contracts – jobs where only the minimum wage is usually paid and hours are arbitrary and given at short notice – who have particularly felt the post-recession austerity impact while their numbers have increased. Her manifesto proposes the introduction of a borough-wide minimum wage of £10 an hour, somewhat higher than the current London Living Wage of £8.80 per hour and resurrect the Educational Maintenance Allowance supplement for college students from poorer backgrounds, another victim of costcutting decisions from central government.

Lois Austin has already proved an obstacle for the current mayor, who may well seek a fourth term. Last week, at the Manor Park Library, she and a group of mothers from Focus E15, a Stratford-based charity for single parents and teenagers from deprived backgrounds, confronted Sir Robin Wales at a ‘Meet the Mayor’ event. In a blog post she is shown confronting the mayor with a group of mothers from Focus E15, who have allegedly been threatened with eviction while the Mayor, wearing a suit and his regalia, is seen in a photo discussing the council’s position. Activists from the TUSC have also commenced canvassing potential voters with brightly coloured leaflets. One was seen distributing the A4 sized pamphlets to commuters returning home at the exit of Plaistow tube station this past week and the TUSC are organising a meeting at the Katherine Road Community Centre in Forest Gate. The meeting is scheduled to take place on the 5th of April where Austin will be in attendance with other party candidates, which will also mark TUSC’s official election launch.

The official position of the Mayor’s Office on the new socialist challenge from Lois and the Newham TUSC is not clear, but the Socialist Party claimed on its website that the Mayor was seen behaving dismissively towards campaigners in a 2011 protest against the Labour-led cabinet at Newham Town Hall in East Ham. 150 trade unionists and local residents had assembled in front of the large redbrick Victorian complex and were petitioning the cabinet against the first wave of post-recession cuts  - which included the loss of 200 council jobs and a seven per cent rise in council tax bills. Sir Wales was said to appeared on the town hall steps ‘smirking’ and was then alleged to have made ‘provocative gestures’  towards the protesters before ‘retreating behind police lines’.

 

DISCLAIMER: The Half-Eaten Mind is a news blog. It is not affiliated with any political party, politician or political movement or ideology and is independent of the author or site owner’s own political views and opinions, unless otherwise stated in the article or in a disclaimer like this one.

 

 

SOURCES:
“London Borough of Newham” – Wikipedia,  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. LINK
“Robin Wales” - Wikipedia,  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. LINK
“Newham mayor accused of attack on immigrants after launching ethnic integration plan” – Joseph Watts, London Evening Standard/Evening Standard Limited (19 September 2013) LINK
“Elections – voting” – Newham London/Newham Council LINK
“About” – Newham TUSC Against Cuts/Newham TUSC LINK
“New UK Living Wage £7.65 New London rate £8.80″ – Living Wage Foundation/Citizens UK (4 November 2013) LINK 
“Newham TUSC mayoral candidate joins Focus E15 mums to confront austerity mayor” -  Newham TUSC Against Cuts/Newham TUSC (22 March 2014) LINK
“Mayor’s priorities” – Sir Robin Wales, Newham London/Newham Council LINK
” ‘One-party state’ Labour regime in Newham imposes cuts” – Socialist Party (2 March 2011) LINK
“Where’s our recovery? – FIGHT BACK AGAINST THE CUTS ” – Bob Severn & Lois Austin, Newham Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (leaflet)
IMAGE CREDITS:
“File:London Borough of Newham.jpg” - Atelier Joly, Wikimedia Commons (14 November 2004) LINK
“tmp_20140329_1149491578539522″ – Vijay Shah/The Half-Eaten Mind, Flickr (29 March 2014) LINK
“File:Newham Town Hall.jpg” - Piolinfax, Wikimedia Commons (16 February 2005) LINK
“File:TUSC transparency.png” - Ben Robinson/TUSC, Wikimedia Commons (2 February 2010) LINK

 

 

 

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