na

29 FEBRUARY 2004

David Hatcher Childress
inside the tunnel beneath the pyramid at Utitlan in Guatemala, November,
2003.

David
Hatcher Childress

“Rogue adventurer and maverick
archaeologist, David Hatcher Childress,takes the reader on unforgettable
journeys deep into deadly jungles, windswept mountains and scorching deserts
in search of lost civilizations and ancient mysteries. Travel with David
and explore stone cities high in mountain forests and fantastic tales of
Inca treasure, living dinosaurs, and a mysterious tunnel system. Whether
he is hopping freight trains, searching for secret cities, or just dealing
with the daily problems, of food, money, and romance, the author keeps
the reader spellbound. Includes both early and current maps, photos, and
illustrations, and plenty of advice for the explorer planning his or her
own journey of discovery.


    
“At the age of 19 David Hatcher Childress left the United States on a six
year research and adventure odyssey.


    
“Childress would study firsthand the ancient civilizations of Africa, the
Middle East and China; along with journeying into dangerous territory occasionally,
like Uganda during the overthrow of Idi Amin.


    
“Further expeditions to South America, Africa and remote Pacific Islands,
along with his books and media attention certified Childress as the Real
Life Indiana Jones. 

    “From
Childress further 20 years of global search for lost cities, ancient mysteries
and clues of humankind’s origins, The LOST CITIES SERIES of 8 titles has
come about.


    “The
style of this author is an entertaining blend of his personal experiences
with people and legend along the way coupled with well researched facts
that can give both the armchair adventurer and hardened Skeptic somewhere
to hang their hat. “

na

28 FEBRUARY 2004

John McLaughlin: Zen
and the art of guitar-playing

John McLaughlin’s new LP
was 12 years in the making. Meditation kept him sane, he tells Martin Longley


26 February 2004 The
Independent


 

The career of John McLaughlin
is full of extreme musical contrasts. When his guitar was electric – as
with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Tony Williams’s Lifetime – he gave us
frenetic runs at awesome speeds, cloaked in murderous feedback. But when
he moves to an acoustic guitar, he is one of the most delicately sensitive
players, exploring Indian classical music with Shakti, or reinventing flamenco
with Paco de Lucia.


    
The Yorkshire-born McLaughlin flew to New York in 1969; two days later,
he was playing with Miles Davis on the sessions for In a Silent Way. McLaughlin
stayed in Manhattan for 15 years, but has now lived in Monaco for the past
20. When we meet, his thumbs are encased in sticking plasters. Has he been
playing too much vigorous axe, fast and intricately picked? Er, no: he
hurt them during a spell of DIY.

    McLaughlin
recently released Thieves and Poets, an ambitious work for orchestra and
improvised guitar that was 12 yearsin the making. McLaughlin considers
it a monumental effort. “That was without doubt my magnum opus,” he says.
“I never worked so hard on a recording.”


    Improvisation
lies at the heart of McLaughlin’s playing. “I’m improvising a lot. I’m
not a classical player. I don’t want to be a classical player. I love to
improvise, because things happen that never happen anywhere else.”


    The standards
on the album are all identified with jazz pianists. “I started off as a
piano-player,” McLaughlin says. “I was 11 when I started guitar. Blues
came, and I was blown away by that. And then, in the space of four years,
flamenco, jazz and Indian music. By the time I was 16, I was already under
the influence.” All those are improvising forms, of course.


    
In the late Sixties, McLaughlin and the Wolverhampton-born bassist Dave
Holland shared a flat in London, before both were discovered by Miles Davis.
“Can you get more lucky than that, for a European jazz musician? We were
sitting in this club, and Miles turned round and said, ‘It’s time you formed
your own band.’ This is the most honest man I ever met. Brutally honest.”


    In 1997,
Zakir Hussain was invited to tour by the Asian Music Circuit and given
free rein to choose his musicians. The tabla-player met McLaughlin and
suggested a Shakti revival. “I’m hooked again,” McLaughlin says. “Shakti
are phenomenal players. I have a great affection for Indian culture and
music. They’re delightful people just to be with – there’s a wonderful
atmosphere in the group.”


    That
wasn’t the case with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Between 1980 and 1985, McLaughlin
tried to re-form the original band because it had ended in such acrimony.
“This really pissed me off, because music’s not about that – it’s not about
your ego. It’s about joyful experience or moving experience. We were together
only two years. I think we had too much success too quickly. I’d just finished
this Love Devotion Surrender tour with [Carlos] Santana. All was not well.
Jan [Hammer] and Jerry [Goodman] would not talk to me any more, which was
very weird. We went on stage for the first concert and they still weren’t
talking to me. We had a break and I said, ‘I don’t care if I’m the worst
sonofabitch in the world, but spit it out! I don’t want to play with people
who don’t speak to me.’

    
But they just turned round and walked out of the room. Next time I saw
them I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on with you, but I don’t want to
live like this. If you don’t want to talk to me, then we’ll fold the band
and you do what you want, and that’ll be the end of that.’ They went their
own way and formed their own band, but they were soon at each other’s throats.
Human nature!


    “It was
a great band. Jerry came to me some time later and said that he couldn’t
believe he was responsible for the break-up. He regretted it deeply.”


    McLaughlin
gave up trying to re-form the original Mahavishnu Orchestra. John and Jerry
renewed their friendship, but Jan never called. “I must have been a little
weird at that time,” McLaughlin says. “I was studying meditation with Sri
Chinmoy and had a spiritual name. Maybe that got up their noses, I don’t
know. I didn’t ask them to meditate with me, or pray. I don’t care, they
could have as many girls as they want, do drugs. Everyone’s got to live
the way they want to.”


    McLaughlin’s
spiritual quest is central to him. “I have a profound affection for
Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism’s particular ways of meditating. This is the
way I want to live, because it makes me feel good. I’m an old hippie: I
did a lot of acid, a lot of grass, a lot of other things. By
the end of the Sixties it was clear to me that to have an altered state
of consciousness is very important, for sanity’s sake.
For
my own sanity, let’s say. I can only speak for myself.
I didn’t want
to have an altered state of consciousness by ingesting chemicals, or mushrooms,
or stuff like that. This became part of my life by the end of the Sixties.
I will do it until I’m gone. I’m convinced that it helps me not just mentally,
intellectually or spiritually, but physically.” He must be right, judging
by his trim, youthful appearance.

    
Shakti will tour again this summer, probably in a double bill with Jeff
Beck. “My old comrade-in-arms, another one who’s about as deaf as me. Listen,
when you put everything up to 11, your ears pay for it eventually…”


    The two
toured together regularly in the 1970s, and McLaughlin says Beck is his
favourite guitarist. “He’s looking for new formats, and I identify totally
with that. My next record’s going to be completely bonkers. I want to go
more underground. I think the jazz critics will really crucify me this
time.”


    All McLaughlin’s
musical incarnations are brought together on a new box set of live recordings
made at the Montreux Jazz Festival between 1974 and 1999. McLaughlin hadn’t
heard that music since it was played. “It was very emotional for me, to
hear this music, these bands. I don’t have time to listen much to what
I do. It was so powerful, very nostalgic.”


     
McLaughlin is also recording a DVD guitar tutorial, documenting the content
of his masterclasses. “Teaching is a very strange thing. I believe that
all we can do is show how we do what we do, starting with the basics. How
to master improvisation, exercises, development of phrases.


    “I’m
62 years old. I’ve got a lot of stuff in my head and I don’t know when
I’m going to go. Jazz musicians are not known for their longevity. I want
to get it down, so people have access to it.”


 

Thieves and Poets’ is
out now on Emarcy; Verve is reissuing his 1992 album ‘Que Alegria'; and
the 17-disc box set ‘The John McLaughlin Montreux Concerts’, is available
through Warner Jazz 

na

25 FEBRUARY 2004

Whistleblower walks free
after charge is dropped


GCHQ case collapses over
leaked ‘dirty tricks’ memo


By Shenai Raif and Pat Clarke,
PA News


25 February 2004

The
Indpendent

A former intelligence officer
walked free from the Old Bailey today after an accusation of disclosing
information in the run-up to the Iraq war was dramatically dropped. 


   The Crown Prosecution
Service refused to go into the reasons why, after nearly a year, it had
decided to offer no evidence against Katharine Gun. 

    But both
Ms Gun, 29, and her legal representatives demanded explanations of the
circumstances leading up to today’s about-turn. 


    Her counsel,
Ben Emmerson QC, said: “Katharine Gun is entitled to know – and, perhaps
more importantly, the public is entitled to know.” 


    Ms
Gun, 29, of Moor End Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, had been accused
of leaking a memo on an alleged American “dirty tricks” campaign. 


    She
was arrested in March last year and in June she was sacked from her job
as a translator at the Government Communications Headquarters, the security
service’s main monitoring centre. 


    In November
she was charged under the Official Secrets Act, accused of disclosing security
and intelligence information. 


    But another
three months passed before the CPS finally informed her lawyers yesterday
that the case was to be dropped. 

   
She had been accused of disclosing a request allegedly from a US National
Security Agency official requesting help from British intelligence to tap
the telephones of UN Security Council delegates in the run-up to the war
in Iraq. 


   
Ms Gun said at the time: “Any disclosures were justified because they exposed
illegality by the US, who tried to subvert our security services.” 


    
She left court today saying “I have no regrets and I would do it again.” 


    She had
no idea why the charge had been dropped. “But I would like to know why,”
she added. 


    Ms Gun’s
solicitor John Welch added: “It is quite appalling that a whistleblower
who had acted in good conscience should have been threatened with two years’
imprisonment for exposing that the American Government had asked our Government
to do something which was illegal and would have undermined the deliberations
of the United Nations.” 


    
But the Crown refused to give a fuller explanation of why it had changed
its mind ˆ in spite of being continually pressed to do so in court by Ms
Gun’s barrister. 

    
After the judge formally entered a not guilty verdict, Mr Emmerson said
he was “bound to raise issues about the way this case has been conducted
by the Crown Prosecution Service. 


    He said:
“Katharine Gun was arrested on March 5 last year following the publication
in The Observer newspaper of the contents of an e-mail which she admits
having disclosed, having received it through her employment at GCHQ. 


    
“After that, eight months passed during which consideration was given by
the Attorney General whether she should be prosecuted.” 


    
He went on: “On November 13 she was charged. Her first appearance was in
magistrates’ court on November 27. It is her first appearance here today.
Last Friday, an article appeared in The Guardian newspaper indicating that
the case was to be dropped today. 


    “Apparently,
it was sourced to sources close to the prosecution. Those who instruct
me rang the CPS and were told it was not possible to confirm that was the
Crown’s intention. 


    “Yesterday,
on February 24, the defence served on the prosecution a document setting
out her defence and making requests for disclosure certain diplomatic communications
and certain items of Government legal advice. 

    
“A call was received yesterday afternoon from the CPS indicating a decision
had been taken to drop the case. There are two issues requiring serious
examination.” 


    Mr Emmerson
told the judge the first issue requiring examination was “whether, by whom
and why the decision was leaked to The Guardian six days before it was
communicated to the defence. 


    “If a
decision was made last Friday, why was it not communicated to the defence
and if it had not been taken last Friday, what has happened in between?” 


     
He pointed out that eight months had elapsed between Ms Gun’s arrest and
the decision to charge her, and another three months since she was actually
charged. 


    Mr Ellison
refused to be drawn, apart from saying: “You will understand that consideration
had been given to what is appropriate for the Crown to say. It is not appropriate
to give further reasons. 


    “I am
reluctant to go further than that unless the court requires I do.” 

    
The Recorder of London, Judge Michael Hyam, asked whether there was “any
form of inquiry which I would be entitled to make?” 


    He was
told by Mr Ellison that apart from making an order for the defence costs,
there was not – as the Crown had offered no evidence. 


    The judge
freed Ms Gun from the dock where she had spent less than 30 minutes after
months of waiting. 


    As she
left court, wearing a grey trouser suit and pink top, she said: “I am absolutely
delighted and extremely relieved.”