first_imgThis narrative of an illegitimate democracy was arguablywhat motivated the murderer of Jo Cox, who is alleged to have shouted “this isfor Britain” before carrying out his attack. The murder, which took place days before the EU referendum,was a great shock to both the country and to the world. This was the first timein over 25 years that a sitting British MP had been killed. I ask Smith whetherthe murder was a freak occurrence, or evidence of a much wider phenomenon. “Whathappened to Jo Cox is not a one-off. There has already been a plot to murderRosie Cooper MP earlier this year which was stopped by the police.” Jacquirefers to the plot by far-right extremist who purchased a sword online andresearched how to cut the jugular artery before his plans were thwarted by aninformant. Renshaw was sentenced to life in May 2019. It is especially chillingto think that there is a real risk of future attacks. “There is considerable evidence of a growth in intimidation,death threats and abuse. The business model incentivises this – there is apremium for agitation.” I meet Jacqui at the Big Tent Ideas Festival, a day of political debate and discussion with MPs, academics and journalists held in Mudchute in South London. The former Home Secretary was appointed chair of the Jo Cox Foundation in May 2019. As is customary at all political events these days, before entering the venue I have to pass through a thorough security check, where a metal detector is passed up and down me, the contents of my backpack emptied out , each item individually inspected – a reminder of how much effort is now needed just to ensure MPs are able to engage with the public in safety. Jacqui is speaking at a panel discussion on the abuse facingthose in public life, alongside Angela Eagle MP and Lord Jonathan Evans. Amongthe ideas discussed on the panel was  Eagle’sproposal for an outright ban on all anonymous social media accounts,  given that these are disproportionatelyresponsible for the proliferation of abuse. I ask Jacqui whether that’s somethingshe supports: She seems reticent to endorse a full ban on anonymity. But, I ask Jacqui, while social media has given a platformto those who wish to abuse MPs online, what difference would it make to shutthem down? The people would still exist, they would still hold and express thesame views, only it would be less visible to the rest of us as they gounderground. The volume of abuse directed at parliamentarians hasballooned in recent years. Research by Amnesty International on online abuse in2017 revealed the full extent of the problem. In the period January to June2017, 8,121 out of 140,057 ofall tweets mentioning @HackneyAbbott, the Twitter Handle of Diane Abbott MP wereclassified as abusive. Women and minority MPs are disproportionately affected:the shadow Home Secretary receives almost half of all abusive tweets directedat women MPs. Does the severity of the risk call for strong legislativechange to mitigate the risk of further violence? Smith is clear that the Jo Coxfoundation is not in the business of lobbying for changes to the law, or tomake party-political points: “We don’t want changes in legislation but rather ajoint standard agreed between all parties. The Foundation has three objectives;local communities that are engaged, cohesive and able to contribute to what’sgoing on; a national politics that is lively but also respectful and developinga fairer world.” A message which I think few can disagree with.center_img “What shocks me is the way in which verbal and physicalabuse is so prominent – I’m really worried about that. I’ve spoken to peoplewho say they want to step down. People who changed their roles because ofthreats and intimidation. People say it prevents them from coming forward.” Jacqui tells me the visibility of abusive online messages iscausing those who work or want to work in politics to reconsider. Some  rudimentary Twitter research confirms that theproblem persists. [mi3] Justin September 2019 I found hundreds of abusive Tweets directed at Diane Abbott,who was called a ‘traitor’ 104 times, ‘fat’ 27 times, ‘ugly’ 20 times, ‘cow’ 18times, ‘twat’ 18 times, ‘bitch’ 14 times, ‘pig’ 10 times. I also found over 100tweets in the last 3 days alone calling Diane ‘thick’. It’s quite shocking tosee how brazenly people are prepared to issue insults and verbal attacks ontheir representatives – I’m minded not to quote several full length abusive tweetsas Amnesty have done. “There might be circumstances like whistleblowing whereanonymity is justified,” the former Home Secretary says. “What is not justifiedis hiding behind anonymity to commit criminal acts.” “Everybody has the right to demonstrate and protest – thatis a healthy thing but not when it undermines the democratic system. One of thethings identified is a view that the democratic system is illegitimate.” “It’s not just that social media is what people sayface-to-face. Social media radicalises: it develops the attitudes not justfacilitates communication.” Smith tells me.last_img read more


first_imgMy grandmother was a professional amateur historian.Stacked on shelves and tables around her house were books and pamphlets about Wise County and Norton, Virginia, where she lived the vast majority of her life. In college, I ended up majoring in history, and I credit much of my early interest in times past to the hours I spent rifling through the books she collected or wrote. Contained therein were images chronicling the early settlers of the mountains of Southwest Virginia, their hardscrabble existence captured forever in sepia or black and white.Looking back at early 20th century Appalachia is an interest I share with violinst and singer/songwriter Jenny Scheinman. Here latest record, Here On Earth, drew its earliest inspiration from a film project called Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait, a collection of archived movie footage shot across the North Carolina Piedmont between 1936 and 1942.Scheinman found common ground between the stark, deliberate lifestyle captured in those Depression era loops and her own approach to music; honest, raw, and self-reliant.I was able to chat with Jenny Scheinman about the new record, the images that so captured her from the film footage, and using a fiddle tune to break out of prison.*BRO – What was it about the footage of the Depression era South that inspired this collection of songs?JS – It’s loosely based on the old time acoustic fiddle music that was played all through Appalachia and the South throughout the Depression. The band in our live show is based on a specific scene of an old time country dance party in which the dancers are accompanied by a little string band – fiddle, resonator guitar, and banjo. Here On Earth takes that acoustic core and adds the cinematic element of Bill Frisell’s big electric swarmy open vista heart sound – he is in the movie when there is no movie.BRO – Is there a particular sequence in Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait that you have a hard time getting out of your head?JS – I have really strong and specific feelings for many of the characters in the film. When I’m playing the show, it feels like we’re relating to each other. They dance to the music, they look up at me, and yet, of course, they’re dead. It’s like a fever dream loop where the same paradoxical system keeps circling around and around. There’s a girl in the beginning and the end of the show who haunts me. I call her Freya. She twirls in slo-mo, looking down at her feet and then up at the camera, mysteriously, like she understands something we don’t.BRO – We are featuring “A Kid Named Lily” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?JS – I started writing lyrics to this one with my niece, Lily, when we were up at my mom’s house a few years ago. We were serenading a little brown goat that just been born in the barn, and I had my fiddle and Lily was swinging her legs off of a hay bale. It was all very country. It started very PG – I had a goat and her name was Lily/hair like a cinnamon swirl – and ended up  . . .  not so.BRO – Trail Mix included a track from Danny Barnes last month. How was it working with him on this project?JS – I wanted these songs to have banjo and fiddle at their core. That old time core, that magic combination. And Danny was the man. I’m such of fan of him and his music. I’ve been trying to lure him into the mix for years. We tried in 2013, and then again the year after that, but between our two remote locales and touring schedules, it just never seemed to work. Finally, when I just couldn’t get him out of my head, I made a little pilgrimage up to the San Juan Islands and we recorded at a little home studio there near his house. He blew our minds.BRO – Should you ever end up in the pokey, what’s your go to fiddle tune?JS – Maybe something hypnotic, like “Rowan.” I’d put a spell on the guards and then run for it.Jenny Scheinman is out west this weekend, with two shows scheduled in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Early May will find her in New York City before she heads abroad for some dates in Japn.For more information on Jenny Scheinman, her new record, or Kannapolis: A Moving Portait, please check out her website.* One of my favorite parts in researching this piece was reading about a childhood conversation Jenny had with her mother while they were traveling in the car. Jenny’s mother urged her to learn poetry, for the sole purpose of entertaining the other prisoners after Jenny inevitably landed in prison. Jenny later took up fiddle, figuring it might be an even more powerful tool on the prisoners – and perhaps, even, the guards.last_img read more


first_imgThree tires dangling from a suspended chain rock steadily back and forth in Regis Prograis’ backyard in Houston last week.One of his two toddlers could seemingly use it as a swing, but it’s not being utilized that way at all. Instead, the super lightweight is pounding on them relentlessly. Unlike a heavy bag in the gym, there’s no give when hitting this solid rubber. But that doesn’t stop him from punching the third tire so hard that he’s literally beating the tread right off of it. View this post on Instagram I’m so excited about next week I can’t sleep. Might as well put some work in #prograisrelikh #beltsontheline #regisprograis #RougarouShit 🐺🥊A post shared by Regis “Rougarou” Prograis (@regisprograis) on Apr 20, 2019 at 10:51pm PDT“I do it to strengthen my knuckles, make them harder,” Prograis tells Sporting News. “Some people say it’s not good for your hands. I don’t know, my hands feel perfect. I never broke my hands or nothing like that. I really do it whenever I feel like doing it.”Especially when he can’t sleep in anticipation and excitement for his matchup against WBA super lightweight champion Kiryl Relikh in the semifinal of the World Boxing Super Series on Saturday night at the Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana, live on DAZN.If successful against Relikh, Prograis will advance to the WBSS final to face the winner of IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk and Josh Taylor, who fight May 18. That illuminates the path to leave the tournament as a unified super lightweight world champion and opportunities in boxing don’t come around like this too often.“To be a unified champion three fights into the tournament is exactly why I entered into the tournament into the first place,” Prograis says. “It’s perfect. Outside the tournament, you’re not getting those type of opportunities.”From there, he could even entertain further unifying against WBO super lightweight titleholder Maurice Hooker. The Dallas boxer and Prograis have traded verbal jabs before, with the latter insisting it isn’t personal.MORE: Join DAZN to watch 100+ fight nights a year“Maybe it’s personal for him, but for me it’s not that personal,” Prograis says. “I just want to take his belt and I don’t think he’s that good — that’s all. If he still got the belt by the time I’m outside the tournament, then, yeah, I’ll fight him or [WBC champion Jose] Ramirez. Whichever way I feel like going.”But, of course, that’s looking way ahead at this point. For now, the path for Prograis (23-0, 19 KOs) to attaining all his boxing glory begins with getting past Relikh (23-2, 19 KOs) first and that figures to be a tall order.“He can fight,” Prograis says of the WBA junior welterweight titleholder. “They don’t just give out those type of belts — he’s a world champion. I’m expecting the best person.”Prograis and his team didn’t delve too much outside the box during this training camp, but did make an effort to simulate what fighting the Belarus boxer will look like come Saturday night.“The only thing we have changed is the sparring,” Prograis’ trainer Bobby Benton says, “to try and imitate the opponent.”That being said, some home cooking at the Cajundome should also help “Rougarou” on Saturday night.“Right now, I live in Houston and I’m from New Orleans, so Lafayette is halfway between both of them,” Prograis says with a Southern drawl that’s a mix of New Orleans chopped and screwed with Houston. You got the best of both of worlds and at the same time, Lafayette is a big fight city. I expect a big crowd from Lafayette to be there on top of the people coming from New Orleans and Houston.”****Nearly a decade ago, Prograis found himself at a crossroads between the aforementioned latter two cities he loves most. Little did he know at the time that it would become his defining moment — one that arguably paved the way for him to be on the brink of becoming a world champion.In fact, he tweeted about it earlier this month.The best thing my momma ever did for me was leave me in Texas alone and let me fend for myself. It was either sink or swim. I been swimming ever since. A man gets introduced to himself when faced with adversity.— Rougarou (@RPrograis) April 7, 2019Prograis, who turned 30 in January, begins explaining that it was just he and his mom living together in a one-bedroom apartment in Houston, while his sister was still residing in New Orleans.“My mama wanted my sister to come back so bad, so she told her to come out to Houston with us,” Prograis says. “It was [my sister] and my nephew. We were all staying in a one-bedroom apartment … and that was it.“My mama got fed up with everybody and said, ‘You know what? I’m leaving,’” he continues. “She gave us a set date, told us she was leaving and got a job all set up. So, she just left and it made me really, really grow up.”His mom’s move made Regis the man of the house at 21-years-old.“I had to become real independent, real early,” he remembers. “It was me and my younger sister. She’s only two years younger than me and she had a baby at the time. She wasn’t working, so I was doing everything.”With that, came plenty of trying times, as Prograis and his sister had their lights cut out on more than one occasion unable to pay the bills and had to make do with what they had.“We were eating Oodles of Noodles every day, bread and water, but we made it through it,” Prograis says.Young Regis threw everything he had into boxing, building a name for himself in Texas before getting opportunities to fight elsewhere and broadening his horizons.“My mama feels bad that she did it, but I always tell her that was the best thing she ever did for me,” Prograis says in retrospect. “If not, I’d probably still be a mama’s boy or something like that. It was hard at first, but it just made me very, very independent and now, I don’t depend on nobody.”But there are those who depend on him. Prograis is a doting dad to a five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, but he hasn’t ruled out pulling a sink-or-swim move, as his mom did, when his kids get to be young adults to help build their characters. Although there’ll be many years for that.While he pounds away on those tires, his mom’s move that helped build his ascension up boxing ranks and his children might cross his mind. As does becoming a world champion. Prograis has defeated formidable opponents such as Terry Flanagan and Julius Indongo, but beating Relikh and taking his belt would give his career a turbo boost. MORE: Join DAZN and watch Prograis vs. Relikh on April 27 “[Relikh] says he’s a little smarter than me, got better boxing skills than me,” Prograis says, “so we’re gonna see what’s up with it Saturday night.”If his tireless motor and the way he hits those tires are any indication, perhaps “Rougarou” wins with body shots.After all, he’s already survived a gut check to get here.last_img read more