Category Archives: Blog

Northern Ireland/Belfast Food & Drink – Things I love & miss from home & A few I don’t!

Things I miss ( and some I don’t ) from homeBelfast

Ok so here’s a list of things I love and miss from home , food and drink I grew up with which are still firm favorites and will be known to all Belfast/Northern Ireland folk the world over. And the good news is you can actually order some of these iconic foods online , including Veg Roll ( who knew ) , Dulse and my fav Tayto Cheese and Onion. So if you have a husband or wife originally from Belfast/Norther Ireland you could bring a smile to their face and the taste of childhood memories. See individual listings for order details were available.

Having just returned from a trip home, working on my forthcoming book and taking in the glorious 12th whilst there I’ve feasted on many of these childhood favorites and so I’m not missing them as much as usual, but give it a few weeks/months and I’d sell my granny for a Pastie Supper from Beatties on the Shankill after a few jar in The Royal or Blues.

The list is a work in progress, so if you notice something missing please email me, leave a comment below or send me a Tweet .

@bfchild66

And a MASSIVE BIG thank you to all my Twitter friends whom helped me compile the list and offered many comments and suggestion along the way – I couldn’t have done it without you guys helping me – so Thank You All.

Barmbrack

Barmbrack is a yeasted bread with added sultanas and raisins and has long been a favorite of Northern Ireland folk.

It is usually sold in flattened rounds and served toasted with butter. The dough is sweeter than sandwich bread, but not as rich as cake, and the sultanas and raisins add flavour and texture to the final product.

I loved this toasted when I was younger , the smell of hot sultanas and raisins was to die for.

Cook it at home :  Barmbrack Recipe

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Beef Sausages

Although beef sausages are available all over the UK the ones from Belfast and my childhood remain a firm favorite and no Ulster Fry is complete without one or two in my humble opinion. I do love a sausage now and again , but I’m very fussy and only eat the top brands or those infused with herbs. cheese , onions, peppers or spices etc . But given a choice I would give them all up for one from home.

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Belfast Bap

Big, crusty bread famed throughout Northern Ireland and Belfast the stuff of legends and a firm favorite for generations of Norm Iron folk.



Often split in the middle and stuffed full of any filling you like , a pastie, crisps or some folk like Dulse in them, but that’s just wrong in my book.


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Brown Lemonade

 Brown Lemonade is a brown coloured lemonade flavoured fizzy soft drink sold in Northern Ireland. It is made by companies such as Cantrell & Cochrane (C&C) and by Maine.

When I first moved to London and went drinking in the bars and clubs I couldn’t believe that none of them sold or had heard of brown Lemonade. Grrrr……..

Link to : Brown Lemonade – Stujak Blog

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Brandy Balls

Brandy Balls, a traditional Irish hard boiled sweet, with a sweet brandy hint about them and a taste that transports me back to 1970’s Belfast.

My granddad always seemed to have an endless supply of these in his “magic ” pockets , which held all sorts of weird and wonderful things he would randomly produce. Looking back I think he sucked them so me Granny wouldn’t smell the smoke on him & as he was supposed to have stopped and he’d get a telling off.

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Buckfast

Buckfast Tonic Wine is a caffeinated fortified wine originally made by monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England, now made under a licence granted by the monastery, and distributed by J. Chandler & Company in the United Kingdom and Richmond Marketing Ltd in Ireland.

This stuff is legendary and splits the crowd big style. I’d drank it when I was younger back in Belfast , but had not had it in ages. So whilst I was home ( working on my book & taking in the 12th 2019 ) I decided to try a bottle, small to be fair. But I’d been on the Shankill drinking all day and by the time I drank it , mid afternoon I was already pissed outta my head. To be fair i had drank about 15 pints of Harp & countless Gin n Tonics. Anyways I lost a few hours of my life and had little memory of what i got up to during this sad period. Ive been informed that I was drinking like there was no tomorrow in the Royal, The Blues and various other pubs in and around the Shankill. How I managed to stay conscious long enough to watch the Bonfires is a mystery, but I did have a monster hangover whilst watching the bands on the 12th

See my Tweet below , posted whilst I could still stand, just .

NEVER again !!

Link to :  Buckfast: a drink with almost supernatural powers of destruction

English People Try Buckfast For The First Time

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Club  Orange

Club is the brand name for a series of Irish carbonated soft drinks produced in Ireland by Britvic Ireland and previously by Cantrell & Cochrane (C&C). It is bottled by the Britvic plant in Dublin. The series includes Club Orange, Club Lemon, Club Rock Shandy (a mixture of the orange and lemon flavours) and Club Apple soft drinks.

History :

Club Orange, an orange flavoured carbonated drink, was the first orange fruit juice to appear on the Irish market. It was launched in the late 1930s, with the formula refined since then to its present state. The name Club derives from the Kildare Street Club in Dublin, which commissioned C&C to make an orange-flavoured drink. In 1960, Club Lemon was introduced as a sister product, and in the 2000s several other flavours were added to the range.

In 2004 C&C relaunched Club Lemon, which now also contains vesicles. Over the years a number of drinks have appeared under the Club label, including Club Orange and Cranberry, Club Berry, and Club Apple. Diet and sugar free versions were also produced.

Not a lot I can say about this apart from it was a childhood favorite and there were always a few bottles lurking about in the cupboard or fridge at home. Its got a unique flavor that I’ve never tasted in an fizzy orange drink elsewhere in the world!

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Champ


Champ is an Irish dish, made by combining mashed potatoes and chopped scallions with butter, milk and optionally, salt and pepper. As recently as the mid-20th century it was sometimes made with stinging nettle rather than scallions but this is rarely seen now

I never liked this for some reason and when my wee granny use to make it when I was a kid in Glencairn back in the early 70’s I’d wait until she’d left the room and then throw it in the bin or dog, whichever was closer. My wee granny wasn’t the kind of person to take cheek from a nipper like me and i’d have been in trouble if I’d complaint about the food. Plus i loved her and didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

Link to : Easy Traditional Irish Champ

 

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Cowboy Supper

Cowboy supper (plural cowboy suppers). (Northern Ireland ) A meal of sausages, baked beans, and chips or mashed potatoes.

Ok this one’s not strictly traditional Northern Ireland cuisine but once again a firm childhood favorite and a treat on a Friday night when me Da got paid. Once again plastered in HP sauce and a Belfast Bap to make a piece ( Northern Ireland slang for sandwich ) beans and all!

The wife often makes it now, but with posh sausages , caramelized onions , mash and she tries to get me to have it with carrots or some other veg, but sometimes I rebel and much to the amusement of her and the kids I insist on having it with beans ,the taste of my childhood

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Dulse

Dulse (Palmaria Palmata) is a wild seaweed that grows on the North Atlantic coast of  Britain. Its Gaelic name is duileasg, and the fronds are long and membranous with a dark reddish-purple translucent hue. It formed part of a regular diet for coastal-dwelling communities in Scotland and Northern Ireland for centuries, as it is highly rich in vitamins and minerals, and a good source of protein. It is a very versatile ingredient; it can be eaten raw, having a salty flavour and chewy texture, like a natural chewing gum. It can also be dried and consumed as a snack or added to broths and stews to enhance the flavour and act as a thickener. It can be boiled for several hours into a pulp which has a porridge-like consistenc

Always loved this as a child growing up in Belfast and it was one of my favourite childhood snacks. We use to get it in Bangor ,  Millisle and Donaghadee and it was served in a small white paper bag and fresh from the sea, covered in dry salt. My mum and many others would make a sandwich (piece in Northern Ireland slang ) and eat it like this, but I thought that was gross !

Nowadays it seems harder to come across and it just doesn’t taste as good as what I remember.

Travel Bloggers Eat Dulse For the First Time

You can order it here : Get some Dulse delivered straight to your door

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Guinness

Guinness is a dark Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate, Dublin, Ireland, in 1759. It is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, brewed in almost 50 countries, and available in over 120.

Now I know its controversial, an Irish man not liking the   the “ Black Stuff”, but I have a good excuse , trust me!

When I was in my teens my granda use to take me down the Woodvale/Shankill whilst he put a few bets on the horses and watched the results as he supped a few beers in the bars. I was always given a coke and told to be quiet whilst he watched ( and lost on )  the races. As I got  a bit older I kept on and on at him to let me have a “real” drink and so one day in order to shut me up he got me a half pint of Guinness . One sip and I hated it, but he insisted I drank the lot and I was sick as dog afterwards.

So that’s why I can’t stand the “Back Stuff

The perfect pint of Guinness

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Harp

Harp Lager is an Irish lager created in 1960 by Guinness in its Great Northern Brewery, Dundalk. It is a major lager brand throughout most of the North of Ireland, but is a minor lager brand in the rest of the Republic.

What can I say apart from  the taste of Belfast in a glass. The crowd is split on this one, but I’ve always enjoyed it and any time I’m home it’s my drink of choice , apart from gin off course

A pint of Harp and packet of dates please Harp Lager TV Ad 1992

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Irish Stew

Irish stew is any variety of meat and root vegetable stew native to Ireland. As in all traditional folk dishes, the exact recipe is not consistent from time to time, or place to place. Common ingredients include lamb, or mutton, as well as potatoes, onions, and parsley. It may sometimes also include carrots.

This is more like the stew I had when I was a kid in Belfast. Although ours use to be much thicker and better looking.

In recent years Ive perfected a recipe that uses lamb on the bone and I gotta say its to die for. But when I was a kid in Belfast my family use to make in with mince meat ( we couldn’t afford real lamb ) , loads of spuds, onion, carrots and thickened it up with gravy.  A big bit of bread ( Belfast Bap ) and HP brown sauce made it a winter favourite that would leave me stuffed and needing a wee lay down on the sofa.

Link to: Irish Stew recipe

Link to: How to cook the perfect Irish stew

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Maine Sarsaparilla

Maine Sarsaparilla – For over 65 years The Maine Man has continued the tradition of delivering quality soft drinks to our doorsteps.

Families throughout Northern Ireland have fond memories of regular weekly orders of their favourite flavours such as Sarsaparilla, American Cream Soda, Pineappleade and Cloudy Lime in glass returnable bottles.

Practically everyone who grew up in Northern Ireland remembers the Maine mineral van coming with a crate of goodies every week. Flavours like Sarsaparilla, Pineappleade and American Cream Soda came in glass bottles which were returned empty and new ones replaced them.

It all began when the Harkness family established a soft drinks business, Braid Mineral Water Co., in Ballymena in 1919. The founder’s son, John Harkness, decided to branch out on his own in 1949 and formed Maine Soft Drinks. In 1959 the business relocated to its current premises in Ballymoney.

The company is still owned by the Harkness family and is now into its 4th generation.

It has expanded and branched out in different ways including supplying to supermarkets and contract bottling. They are also exporting to various companies on the UK mainland. Regardless of expansion the doorstep delivery side of the business is still very important, with more than 40,000 homes supplied on a weekly / fortnightly basis.

Maine Soft Drinks employs more than 100 people, half of which are based in Ballymoney and the other half spread throughout Northern Ireland in depots located in Lurgan, Belfast and Derry-Londonderry.

What can I say apart from this is another childhood favorite and I loved all their drinks especially Cream Soda, Pineappleade and Cloudy Lime , which in my book all have a unique flavor I’ve never come across before throughout my 30 years of living in the land of the English. And having it delivered straight to your door was an added bonus.

Link to : Maine Soft Drinks Website

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Nambarrie

Nambarrie was launched back in 1860 and for over 150 years has been our wee country’s beloved bold and hearty tea that can be relied on for the perfect cuppa at any time of the day.

Nambarrie is the brand name of a tea company based in Andover, Hampshire, now owned by Twinings. Nambarrie Tea Co. Ltd. now operates delivery depots in Mallusk, County Antrim and Glasgow, being the third biggest brand in Scotland

On 10, April 2008 Nambarrie announced its plans to close its factory in Belfast. The factory is now closed and production currently takes place in England. The signage at the Belfast Nambarrie factory is still attached, however the building is now disused and has since fallen into disrepair.

Writer and comedian Will Self is a self-confessed fan of Nambarrie.

This was the only tea served in our house when I was a kid and has a very distinct strong taste that lingers on the palette . great for dipping Rich Tea biscuits in and the odd Hob Nob. The wife doesn’t like it so we have “English” breakfast tea at home, which is ok to be fair, but not the taste of my childhood. When I’m back in Belfast , tucking into an Ulster fry or Pastie Supper I always have a big mug of this on the side, with two sugars , sometimes three if I’m feeling rebellious . Don’t tell the wife though , she’s got me on sweeteners at home !

Nambarrie TV Advert

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Pastie Supper/ Pastie Bap

Pastie Supper – A pastie /ˈpæstiː/ is a large to medium-sized round battered pie common to Northern Ireland. Generally served with chips to form a “pastie supper” (“supper” in Northern Irish chip shops meaning something with chips), or in a bread roll as a “pastie bap”, it is a common staple in most fish and chip shops in the country.

Recipes vary, but the most common ingredients are minced pork, onion, potato and seasoning formed into a “round” (just like a burger) which is then covered in a batter mix and deep fried. Traditionally, chip shops coloured the pastie’s filling with a cochineal dye, giving it a bright pink colour, supposedly to make the snack more appetising. Many shops have stopped using this method due to cochineal allergies.

Another taste from home that I yearn for after a beer or six. Although the crowd is split on this I’ve always preferred the pink ones

This is one of the things I miss most about Belfast, the good old Pastie supper, preferably from Beatties on the Shankill. When I first moved to London after a skin full of beer one day I went into the local chippy and tried to order a Pastie Supper. To my absolute horror and continuing disappointment they hadn’t a clue what I was talking about and tried to give me everything from Jamaican Patti to a plastic bag and some very funny looks.

Grrr……  I was gutted

Thrush and Jen challenge. Join us as we make Belfast pastie baps

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Pigs Trotters

A pig’s trotter, also known as a pettitoe,  is the culinary term used to refer to the foot of a pig. The cuts are used in various dishes around the world, and experienced a resurgence in the late 2000s. Before sale, the trotters are cleaned and typically have the hairs pulled with a hot tank and beaters.

They are often used in cooking to make stocks, as they add thickness to gravy, although they are also served as a normal cut of meat.

Back in the early 70’s my Da use to bring these home from work every Friday night and I use to love them, although sometimes they still had hair on them and that was kinda gross to say the least, but didn’t put me of eating them.  These days I wouldn’t touch one with a barge pole , but they bring back memories of my beloved dad and therefore will always be special to me.

See: Getting Stoned with Paul Weller

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Plain Bread

Plain Bread , preferably O’Hara’s – O’Hara’s Plain Bread is a batch bread made in a large baking tray, which means the loaves only form a crust on the top and bottom. it differs from a pan loaf, which is baked in an individual tray and so forms crust round the whole bread. I know the picture is Sunblest , but I couldn’t find a picture of an O’Hara’s one ! If you have one please send it over.

Another thing I really miss from home is plain bread. Nothing tastes better toasted or fried and the crust is always the best bit. I can’t understand why they don’t sell/make it in England  .

If they do , where please ?

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Potato  Bread

Potato bread is a form of bread in which potato flour or potato replaces a portion of the regular wheat flour. It is cooked in a variety of ways, including baking it on a hot griddle or pan, or in an oven. We fry it in our family as most others in Northern Ireland do.

This is as iconic as its possible to be when talking about food from Belfast / Northern Ireland. A must have in every Ulster Fry , best served fried in a shallow pan with loads of oil , although some folk like them toasted and covered in butter, my wee granny use to love these served that way. Nowadays its readily available in most of the big UK supermarkets, but it’s just not the same as back home and the taste of my childhood O’Hara’s . Although I do buy and eat it in England , its always a bit of a disappointment.

Also known as Tattie Scone to our friends from Caledonia .  I ran a poll on Twitter last year and had over 25,000 votes (see below) and surprisingly Tattie Scone came up tops by a vast margin. I can only assume more Scottish folk responded as its clearly “ Potato Bread “ to most folk in Belfast /Northern Ireland .

Recipe from Ulster Folk Museum

See : Is this Potato Bread or Tatti Scone?

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Shandy Bass

Shandy Bass is a 0.5% ABV shandy made with Bass beer and lemonade Introduced in 1972, it is made by Britvic.

When I was 12/13 me and my cousin Wee Sam were given a tin of this each ( or did we steal it ? I can’t remember) on the 11th of July. It was the first time I recall drinking alcohol ( I know ) and we were both pissed as a newt, or acted as if we were anyways and we sang and dance to all night long until me granny came and dragged us of to bed. Innocent days I’ll never forget.

Funny Drunk People Compilation

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Soda Bread

Soda bread is a variety of quick bread traditionally made in a variety of cuisines in which sodium bicarbonate (otherwise known as “baking soda”, or in Ireland, “bread soda”) is used as a leavening agent instead of the traditional yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. Other ingredients can be added such as butter, egg, raisins, or nuts. An advantage of quick breads is their ability to be prepared quickly and reliably, without requiring the time-consuming skilled labor and temperature control needed for traditional yeast breads.

Another icon of Northern Ireland foods and star of any Ulster Fry. Like the good old potato bread it can be served toasted or fried and like most of my peers I love it well fried with the yoke of a runny fried egg running all over and soaking into it.

Link to: BBC Irish soda bread recipe

Link to youtube :  How to make a very quick and easy Irish Soda bread.

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Snowball

Preferably from O’Hara’s back in the day.

A kind of round bun , dense sponge covered in coconut flakes and held together with icing sugar in the middle.

I loved these as a kid and when I started secondary School, Cairnmartin Ballygomartin , after the bell went I would hang about out side the O’Hara’s at the bottom of Glencairn in the hope that there would be some cheap cakes/buns left over before closing, which they always sold at a knockdown price to get rid of them. If I was lucky there would be a few snowballs on offer , which I loved pulling apart and licking the icing suger from the middle and dunking some in my after school cup of Nambarries tea. Heaven ! They are very popular in Scotland also, but there not the same as the Belfast ones of my childhood.

Steakette

Steakette – Is kind of like a hamburger coated in batter and deep fried in oil.

Not for the faint hearted – These are another favorite of mine and when I’m home and on the beer I head straight for Beatties if I’m on the Shankill and get one. Last time I was home I order a Pastie & Steakette in one sitting and I gotta say they booth went down well. They are normally swimming in fat and grease, but I love them just like that ( don’t tell the wife ) smothered with loads of salt and vinegar. Yum Yum

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Tayto Cheese and Onion

Set deep in the heart of the Ulster countryside in Tandragee is Tayto Castle where Tayto crisps and snacks have been made for the past 60 years. A ‘Taste of Home’ our products have been a big part of growing up in Northern Ireland.

Established in 1956 and still owned by the same family – the Hutchinsons, we pride ourselves in employing local people and using local ingredients and materials to produce great tasting crisps and snacks for everyone to enjoy. In our 60th year, we are also proud to support Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016.

Within the Castle is a closely guarded room where the unique Tayto Cheese & Onion flavour is made to the same recipe as it has for the last 60 years. Only a very select few know the secret recipe which has been carefully passed down to the current day.

Come and visit us at Tayto Castle to see for yourself how our crisps and snacks are made and meet our very own Mr.Tayto – why not book a tour today?’

Another of the things I miss most from home and something I always stock up on when visiting Belfast. My daughter orders me a box for Xmas, which was very thoughtful of her. But the problem was they came from the Tayto brand in Ireland (ROI) , in an insulting blue packet, lol.  They just aren’t the same as the ones I still love and crave since childhood.

You can order them here and I believe they do international delivery : Follow this link to order

Link to: Book a tour here

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Tennants Larger

Tennents is the most popular draught lager beer in Northern Ireland, according to the latest research. 2007It was piloted in Northern Ireland before being rolled out across the rest of the UK.

Tennents lager was produced by the Bass Brewery on the Glen Road in west Belfast until a cutback in 2003.

Now it comes from the Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow, but the company, owned by Belgian group InBev, still has a warehouse and logistics operation in Belfast.

A specific draught is brewed for Northern Ireland with an alcohol volume of 3.7% compared with the 4.1% Scottish drinkers buy as research has shown it to be what local consumers want.

Another iconic Northern Ireland ( and Scotland ) drink from my childhood in Belfast and one which cause much uproar and debate, regarding the sexy ladies on the them. You’d never get away with that now ! I remember my Da and uncles having card schools and drinking vast amounts of this stuff and me and my brothers,cousins always had a good wee look at the ladies on the tin and we all had our favorites. For the record my favorite was Linda

See : The Scotsman – The story of Tennent’s Lager Lovelies

Link to survey in Belfast telegraph

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Ulster Fry

The best known traditional dish in Northern Ireland is the Ulster fry. An Ulster fry, although not originally particularly associated with breakfast time, has in recent decades been marketed as Northern Ireland’s version of a cooked breakfast. It is distinguishable from a full breakfast by its griddle breads – soda bread and potato bread, fried (or occasionally grilled) until crisp and golden. Sometimes also including small pancakes. Bacon, sausages, an egg, and (as a modern development) tomato and sometimes mushrooms complete the dish It is usually served with tea and toast.

This is a the king of Northern Ireland foods and has been enjoyed for generations of folk from Belfast and throughout the six counties since time began, relatively speaking . It will satisfy any hunger or cure any hangover and is served with an array of tasty N.I things , depending on your preference , including  fried eggs, the all important fried potato and soda bread, perfect pork sausages or beef sausages in my house , crispy bacon, black and white pudding ( optional ) and a few slices of Veg Roll (always in my house ) and a mug of strong sweet tea to wash it all down.

With or without Beans?

That is the question  – OK I’m going to get slated for this, but I always have beans with an Ulster Fry, blame my English wife for teaching me bad habits. HP sauce is also a must

Ulster Fry Up: Full Northern Irish Breakfast in Belfast, Ireland

Link to : Is the Ulster fry best in UK

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Veda Bread

Veda bread is a malted bread sold in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . It is a small, caramel-coloured loaf with a very soft consistency when fresh. Allied Bakeries Ireland (ABI) is the market leader with over 81 per cent value share of the Veda market within Northern Ireland, which it sells as “Sunblest Veda”.

Stylish Belfast city centre hotel Malmaison has teamed up with Northern Ireland’s biggest bakery Allied Bakeries Ireland (ABI) to serve up one of the Province’s best loved bread brands to residents and customers.

Veda bread, while very much a Scottish invention, has become a Northern Ireland phenomenon since Allied Bakeries Ireland launched its first Veda loaf back in 1930 and continues to grow from strength to strength.

Sunblest Veda, launched in 1956, is the market leader with over 81 per cent value share of the Veda market within Northern Ireland and an established local favourite.

I love this toasted and its smells amazing when covered in butter and eaten whilst still hot. we always had this in the cupboard at home and whenever there was nought else to eat this always filled a hole.

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Vegetable Roll

Vegetable Roll is a uniquely Northern Irish delicacy, made up of cuts of lean beef and seasoned with fresh herbs and vegetables such as leeks and onions.

Always served with an Ulster Fry in my family and controversially we always kept the plastic cover on whilst cooking, although take it off before eating , if I’m sober at least ! In another of those little Northern Irish things that make my England friend laugh, its as far from being “vegetable “ as can be. I think it just makes us feel we’re getting one of our five a day as it has ” vegetable ” in it. LOL

You can order it here: Home Butchers Northern Ireland 

Twitter : @meatdelivered They deliver Veg roll folks !!!

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Veg Soup

A traditional soup made by my parents and grandparents and a traditional winter soup in Northern Ireland and especially popular served as a starter to Christmas dinner. Pure, simple, wholesome comforting and natural food. As with all one pot dishes, it always tastes better the following day when all the ingredients have had time to marinate and got to know each other so if you want to impress, make it the day before serving.

Link to : All Recipes Northern Irish Veg Soup Recipe

Another classic I love and miss from home and I have never had this outside Belfast or a soup taht tasted anything like it. It’s common to cook it with a whole chicken (I know ) or shin bone and this is often removed and stripped before being eaten, my family use to leave it in.

Once my veggie sister in law was half way through a bowl before anyone had the heart to tell her it was made with a chicken involved.

Ouch……..

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Willicks

An edible sea snail – The common periwinkle or winkle (Littorina littorea) is a species of small edible whelk or sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc that has gills and an operculum, and is classified within the family Littorinidae, the periwinkles.

This is a robust intertidal species with a dark and sometimes banded shell. It is native to the rocky shores of the northeastern, and introduced to the northwestern, Atlantic Ocean.

The common periwinkle is sold by fishmongers at seafood markets in large cities around the world, and is also commonly found in seafood restaurants as an appetizer or as a part of a seafood platter. In some countries, pubs may serve periwinkles as a snack.

Entrance of a sea snail’s house with living sea snail within. Veddö naturreservat, Sweden 2005.

Most of the volume fished, is consumed by France, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands.

I loved these as a child and we use to go round the coast of Antrim and beyond collecting, cooking and eating. We’d spend ages boiling them and when they were cooked we would all gather round, with a pin in hand, to pick the eyes out  and tuck in. A taste and smell that always brings me back to my childhood. 

Once I was in a French restaurant with the wife and she ordered snails ( Escargots ) and I had the cheek to turn my nose up. Hee hee , The contradiction was not lost on me, but Willicks are just one of those things that I was raised eating/liking and was way more civilized than eating slimy French snails in my book. LOL

Belfast Granny just won’t let him cook his Willicks in her home.

Other things Northern Ireland folk grew up with and love and know know

  • Caramel Squares
  • Cockles
  • Dale Farm ice-creams
  • Golden Cow Butter
  • Gravy Ring
  • Moy Park Chicken
  • Portavogie prawns
  • Yellow Man

See: How to speak Belfast/Northern Irish

See: Mickey Marleys Roundabout

See: The Loyalist Mod

And don’t forget to check out my homepage and read extracts from my forthcoming autobiography: Belfast Child

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The day A Squirrel sh*t on my head –

A Squirrel once sh*t on my head –

Image result for squirrel doing a shit

It was a beautiful summers day the birds were singing in the trees and I was out walking in Hyde park with a ( rather hot ) lady nurse from Great Ormond Street Hospital and some of her nursy friends.

I’d not long been in London and was delighted when I moved jobs to work in Russell Square , as all the local bars and clubs were full of student nurses and other hospital staff and to my sheer joy they seemed to like my Belfast charm and accent and I felt confident that I may pull me a sexy nurse.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.jpeg

Hey, I was a young hot blooded male back then.

It was also full of trainee police staff , but to be honest they kind of scared me a little and I kept my distance. This was obviously a hangup from growing up in Glencairn and in and around the Shankill. Back in those days we tended to police ourselfs ( well UDA / UVF did ) and whilst we respected the police it would never enter our heads to ask them to settle local disputes or fallouts.

Related image

The day way going great until I heard the gentle calling chimes of the Poke Man ( icecream van in Northern Ireland slang to those who don’t know )and thought I’d treat myself and all the nice girls to a nice big Poke.

Image result for ice cream van belfast 1970s

I inquired of the ladies present if any of them would like to have a Poke with me and through howls of laughter I took their orders. Of I go and on my way through a grove of tree I look up and pause for a moment, watching as two beautiful squirrels seemed to play tag with each other , jumping and swinging from branch to branch they disappeared in to the tree tops above me. It felt like a special moment in time and I was kind of entranced and touched by it all.

And then one of the little feckers shat on my head!

How feckin rude is that ?

I knew it was squirrel shit immediately because it was the most logical answer and also they were both up there in the trees, starring down at me and I swear I heard them snigger.

Also the one that done the dump on my head must have had a curry the night before because as it ran down the side of my face , hot and sticky it smelt shocking and to make matters worse I could feel lumps cascading through the shit and gagging I realised they were poo covered bits of nuts.

Image result for throwing up sick on tree

Bending over a tree I start throwing up all over the place and prayed for the ground to open up and swallow me alive. Sadly it didn’t happen.

Then to my utter shame and horror my Lady Nurse friend was beside me, stroking my back and asking if in a mummy voice if I was OK. It wasn’t a pretty sight to be fair and wiping my hair with a tissue I excused myself and proceeded to go get the pokes.

Sadly I wasn’t successfully that day in pulling a sexy nurse ( but more than made up for it over the comings months) and those bare stories for any day.

See: How to speech Belfast : https://belfastchildis.com/2017/04/30/how-to-speak-belfast-northern-ireland-2/

Death Row Dates – Billy Wayne Coble : 28th Feb 2019

Update: 2/3/2019

Execution Carried Out

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A Texas inmate was executed Thursday evening for the killings nearly 30 years ago of his estranged wife’s parents and her brother, who was a police officer.

Billie Wayne Coble received lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the August 1989 shooting deaths of Robert and Zelda Vicha and their son, Bobby Vicha, at separate homes in Axtell, northeast of Waco.

Coble, 70, once described by a prosecutor as having “a heart full of scorpions,” was the oldest inmate executed by Texas since the state resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982.

Asked to make a final statement, Coble replied: “That’ll be $5.”

He told the five witnesses he selected to be in attendance that he loved them, then again said: “That’ll be $5.” Coble nodded to the witnesses and added, “take care.”

He gasped several times and began snoring.

As Coble was finishing his statement, his son, a friend and a daughter-in-law became emotional and violent. They were yelling obscenities, throwing fists and kicking at others in the death chamber witness area.

Officers stepped in and the witnesses continued to resist. They were eventually moved to a courtyard and the two men were handcuffed.

“Why are you doing this?” the woman asked. “They just killed his daddy.”

While the witnesses were being subdued outside, the single dose of pentobarbital was being administered to Coble. He was pronounced dead 11 minutes later at 6:24 p.m.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jeremy Desel said the two men were arrested on a charge of resisting arrest and taken to the Walker County Jail.

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier Thursday turned down Coble’s request to delay his execution.

His attorneys had told the high court that Coble’s original trial lawyers were negligent for conceding his guilt by failing to present an insanity defense before a jury convicted him of capital murder.

A state appeals court had previously rejected Coble’s request to delay Thursday’s execution and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down his request for a commutation.

Coble “does not deny that he bears responsibility for the victims’ loss of life, but he nonetheless wanted his lawyers to present a defense on his behalf,” his attorney, A. Richard Ellis, said in his appeal to the Supreme Court.

In Coble’s clemency petition to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, Ellis said his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his time as a Marine during the Vietnam War and was convicted, in part, due to misleading testimony from two prosecution expert witnesses on whether he would be a future danger.

See USA Today for full story

Billy Wayne Coble

Crime : Multiple Homicide

Crime

Coble was convicted in 1990 of killing his in-laws, Robert and Zelda Vicha, and their son, Waco police Sgt. Bobby Vicha, at the family’s Axtell home

After shooting the three, Coble kidnapped his estranged wife, Karen Vicha, threatened to sexually assault and kill her, but was injured when he crashed his vehicle during a police chase in Bosque County.

Coble has a list of appeals, the only one successful filed in 2007 with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that resulted in the dismissal of the death sentence and an order for re-trial on punishment after the court’s opinion stated Coble’s jury faced two questions that were unconstitutional.

The punishment re-trial ended with the same result, a death sentence.

A retired police officer who worked on the Coble case and a current district judge who back then was a prosecutor and who took Coble to trial on the capital murder case for the first time were among a few dozen people who crowded into the 54th District Courtroom on Wednesday to watch the hearing.

After a few minutes the judge asked one of the bailiffs why Coble wasn’t in the courtroom and the bailiff said he was refusing to leave the holding cell.

Johnson sent a squad of bailiffs to retrieve Coble, but they reported he refused to come to the courtroom, after which Johnson called the case, read the preliminary documents concerning the appeals Coble has filed since his conviction, and then set the date.

Coble has a list of appeals, the only one successful filed in 2007 with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that resulted in the dismissal of the death sentence and an order for re-trial on punishment after the court’s opinion stated Coble’s jury faced two questions that were unconstitutional.

See: www.kwtx.com for full details.

See: The Forgivenes Centre for more details

Death Row Dates – Domineque Hakim Marcelle Ray: 7th Feb 2019

Update : 7/Feb/2019

Court grants Muslim death row inmate stay of execution

Melissa Brown  

Montgomery Advertiser

The U.S. Court of Appeals has granted a stay of execution for a Muslim death row inmate in Alabama as he continues his ongoing bid to have an imam present at his execution.

Domineque Ray maintains the absence of his imam in Alabama’s death chamber would violate his constitutional rights, as the state has an established practice of including a Christian prison chaplain in previous executions. Wednesday’s ruling overturns a Montgomery federal judge’s denial of a stay last week.  

Ray was slated to be executed at 6 p.m. Thursday.

5:27 PM EST Feb 6, 2019

See: Montgomery Advertiser

Domineque Hakim Marcelle Ray

Crime : Rape & Murder

Ray was sentenced to death for the 1995 rape and fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville of Selma. Months before his death penalty trial, he was sentenced to life for a 1994 slaying of two teen brothers, The Associated Press reports.

The Alabama death row inmate, is challenging the state on religious grounds after prison officials denied his Muslim spiritual advisor access to the execution chamber.

See: montgomeryadvertisernews for more details

See: The Forgivenes Centre for more details

Gangster Warlords – Amado Carrillo Fuentes – Lord of the Skies

Gangster Warlords

Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Lord of the Skies

Image result for Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Amado Carrillo Fuentes  December 17, 1956 – July 4, 1997) was a Mexican drug lord who seized control of the Juárez Cartel after assassinating his boss Rafael Aguilar Guajardo.

Related image

Amado Carrillo became known as “El Señor de Los Cielos” (“The Lord of the Skies”), because of the large fleet of jets he used to transport drugs. He was also known for laundering money via Colombia to finance his large fleet of airplanes.

Image result for Amado Carrillo Fuentes

He died in July 1997, in a Mexican hospital, after undergoing extensive plastic surgery to change his appearance.

In his final days Carrillo was being tracked by Mexican and U.S. authorities

BornAmado Carrillo Fuentes
December 17, 1956
Guamuchilito, SinaloaMexico
DiedJuly 4, 1997 (aged 40)
Mexico City, Mexico
Other namesEl Señor de los Cielos
OccupationDrug lord
EmployerHead of Juárez Cartel
Known forDrug trafficking and weapons
PredecessorRafael Aguilar Guajardo
SuccessorVicente Carrillo Fuentes
Spouse(s)Lesley Arriaga Carrillo
ChildrenVicente Carrillo Leyva
RelativesErnesto Fonseca CarrilloVicente Carrillo Fuentes

Early Life

Carrillo was born to Walter Vicente Carrillo Vega and Aurora Fuentes in Guamuchilito, Navolato, Sinaloa, Mexico. He had eleven siblings. Carillo was the nephew of Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, also known as “Don Neto”, the Guadalajara Cartel leader. Amado got his start in the drug business under the tutelage of his uncle Ernesto and later brought in his brothers, and eventually his son Vicente José Carrillo Leyva.

Image result for Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo,
Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo,

Carrillo’s father died in April 1986. Carillo’s brother, Cipriano Carrillo Fuentes, died in 1989 under mysterious circumstances.[

Career

Initially, Carrillo was part of the Guadalajara Cartel, sent to Ojinaga, Chihuahua to oversee the cocaine shipments of his uncle, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo (“Don Neto”), and to learn about border operations from Pablo Acosta Villarreal (“El Zorro de Ojinaga”; “The Ojinaga Fox”) and Rafael Aguilar Guajardo.

Amado Carillo Fuentes – Mexican Drug Lord Kingpin (Crime Documentary)

Later, Carrillo worked with Pablo Escobar and the Cali Cartel smuggling drugs from Colombia to Mexico and the United States. He worked with El Chapo Joaquin Guzman Loera, the Arellano Felix family and the Beltran Leyva Organization. During his tenure, Carrillo reportedly built a multibillion-dollar drug empire. It was estimated that he may have made over US$25 billion in revenue in his career.[

Death

Image result for amado carrillo fuentes death

Amado Carrillo Fuentes

The pressure to capture Carrillo intensified among U.S. and Mexican authorities, and perhaps for this reason, Carrillo underwent facial plastic surgery and abdominal liposuction to change his appearance on July 4, 1997, at Santa Mónica Hospital in Mexico City. However, during the operation, he died of complications apparently caused either by a certain medication or a malfunctioning respirator.

Two of Carrillo’s bodyguards were in the operating room during the procedure. There is also very little paper work regarding the death of Amado Carillo Fuentes. On November 7, 1997, the two physicians who performed the surgery on Fuentes were found dead, encased in concrete inside steel drums, with their bodies showing signs of torture.

Image result for amado carrillo fuentes death

Juárez Cartel after Carrillo

On the night of August 3, 1997, at around 9:30 p.m., four drug traffickers walked into a restaurant in Ciudad Juárez, pulled out their guns, and opened fire on five diners, killing them instantly.[

Police estimated that more than 100 bullet casings were found at the crime scene. According to a report issued by the Los Angeles Times, four men went to the restaurant carrying at least two AK-47 automatic rifles while others stood at the doorstep.[

 On their way out, the gunmen claimed another victim: Armando Olague, a prison official and off-duty law enforcement officer, who was gunned down outside the restaurant after he had walked from a nearby bar to investigate the shooting. Reportedly, Olague had run into the restaurant from across the street with a gun in his hand to check out the commotion. It was later determined that Olague was also a known lieutenant of the Juarez cartel.[

Mexican authorities declined to comment on the motives behind the killing, stating the shootout was not linked to the death of Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Nonetheless, it was later stated that the perpetrators were gunmen of the Tijuana Cartel.

Underworld Tijuana Cartel Documentary

Although confrontations between narcotraficantes were commonplace in Ciudad Juárez, they rarely occurred in public places. What happened in the restaurant threatened to usher in a new era of border crime in the city.[

In Ciudad Juárez, the PGR seized warehouses they believed the cartel used to store weapons and cocaine; they also seized over 60 properties all over Mexico belonging to Carrillo, and began an investigation into his dealings with police and government officials. Officials also froze bank accounts amounting to $10 billion belonging to Carrillo.[

In April 2009, Mexican authorities arrested Carillo’s son, Vicente Carrillo Leyva.[

Funeral

Carrillo was given a large and lavish expensive funeral in Guamuchilito, Sinaloa. In 2006, Governor Eduardo Bours asked the federal government to tear down Carrillo’s mansion in HermosilloSonora.[

The mansion, dubbed “The Palace of a Thousand and One Nights”, although still standing, remains unoccupied.[c

Main Source : wikipedia Amado Carrillo Fuentes

Media Portrayals

See : Kiki Camarena – The Brutal Torture & Death of a Narc

See: Dublin’s Deadly Gang-War

Kiki Camarena – The Brutal Torture & Death of a Narc

Enrique S. “Kiki” Camarena Salazar (July 26, 1947 – February 9, 1985) was a Mexican-born American undercover agent for the United StatesDrug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who was abducted on February 7, 1985, and then tortured and murdered, while on assignment in Mexico.

Enrique Camarena Salazar

Enrique-camarena1.jpg

Nickname(s)“Kike” (also spelled Quique) (Spanish),[ “Kiki” (English)
BornJuly 26, 1947
MexicaliMexico
DiedFebruary 9, 1985 (aged 37)
GuadalajaraJalisco, Mexico
Allegiance United States
Service/
branch
 United States Marine Corps(1973–1975)
 Drug Enforcement Administration(1975–1985)
Calexico Police Department 1975
Years of
service
1973–1975 (U.S. Marine Corps)
RankSenior Police Officer II (Calexico Police Dept.)Special Agent (ICNTF)Special Agent (DEA)

Whats my thoughts ?

I’ve been reading a lot about Mexican gangs/ cartels recently and their sheer brutality and total disregard for the sanctity of human life has left me sickened and appalled in equal measures. Among the countless acts of indiscriminate and at times very personal , repulsive murders the case of Kiki Camarena struck a chord deep in my soul and I felt physically sick when I researched and learnt more about his abduction, torture and eventual death.

Coincidentally the Netflix Narcos: Mexico series has been screening and watching it I was able to align the story line/s with the brutal real life characters I have been reading about and those involved in Kiki’s savage murder. The shows depiction of his kidnap and torture was nowhere near as brutal as the real event and it is right that Kiki should be remembered as a hero who give his life in what I sometime feel is the pointless War on Drugs.

Like it or not the demand and market for the supply and distribution of drugs is a fact of modern life and thats never going to change. In my humble opinion we should legalise all drugs and remove the drug lords/gangs from the equation. At the end of the day if a consenting adult wishes to get stoned on weed or high on coke thats his/her choice and providing they aren’t breaking the law or hurting anyone (but themselves) then who’s business is it?

Amen!


Narcos: Mexico | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

7

Early life and education

From 1973 to 1975, Camarena served in the United States Marine Corps. After his military service he became a police officer in his hometown. Camarena was also a Special Agent on the original Imperial County Narcotic Task Force (ICNTF) while working in Calexico, California.

Image result for Kiki Camarena young
Kiki Camarena

Camarena first joined the DEA, at their Calexico, California office. In 1977, Camarena moved to the agency’s Fresno office, and in 1981, he was assigned to their Guadalajara office in Mexico.

Abduction and murder

In 1984, acting on information from Camarena, 450 Mexican soldiers backed by helicopters destroyed a 1,000-hectare (2,500-acre) marijuana plantation in Allende (Chihuahua) with an estimated annual production of $8 billion known as “Rancho Búfalo”.

Camarena, who had been identified as the source of the leak, was abducted in broad daylight on February 8, 1985, by corrupt police officers working for drug lord Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. Camarena was tortured at Gallardo’s ranch over a 30-hour period, then murdered.

The Guadalajara Cartel

His skull, jaw, nose, cheekbones and windpipe were crushed, his ribs were broken, and a hole was drilled into his head with a power drill. He had been injected with amphetamines and other drugs, most likely to ensure that he remained conscious while being tortured.[

 

Links to: 1. The Camarena torture tapes

Links to: 2. The Camarena torture tapes

Link to: Camarena Autopsy Report

Camarena’s body was found in a rural area outside the small town of La Angostura, in the state of Michoacán, on March 5, 1985.

Image result for Camarena's body

Investigation

Seal of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.svg

Camarena’s torture and murder prompted a swift reaction from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and launched Operation Leyenda, the largest DEA homicide investigation ever undertaken.

A special unit was dispatched to coordinate the investigation in Mexico, where government officials were implicated—including Manuel Ibarra Herrera, past director of Mexican Federal Judicial Police, and Miguel Aldana Ibarra, the former director of Interpol in Mexico.

Investigators soon identified Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo and his two close associates, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo and Rafael Caro Quintero, as the primary suspects in the kidnapping.

Félix Gallardo

Under pressure from the U.S. government, Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid quickly apprehended Fonseca and Caro but Félix Gallardo still enjoyed political protection.

Rafael Caro Quintero
Narco History, El Padrino’s Rise and Fall

Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo

The United States government pursued a lengthy investigation of Camarena’s murder. Due to the difficulty of extraditing Mexican citizens, the DEA went as far as to detain two suspects, Humberto Álvarez Machaín, the physician who allegedly prolonged Camarena’s life so the torture could continue, and Javier Vásquez Velasco; both were taken by bounty hunters into the United States.

Despite vigorous protests from the Mexican government, Álvarez was brought to trial in Los Angeles in 1992. After presentation of the government’s case, the judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict, and charges were dropped. Álvarez subsequently initiated a civil suit against the U.S. government, charging that his arrest had breached the U.S.–Mexico extradition treaty.

The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that Álvarez was not entitled to relief. The four other defendants, Vásquez Velasco, Juan Ramón Matta-Ballesteros, Juan José Bernabé Ramírez, and Rubén Zuno Arce (a brother-in-law of former President Luis Echeverría), were tried and found guilty of Camarena’s kidnapping.[

Zuno had known ties to corrupt Mexican officials, and Mexican officials were implicated in covering up the murder.[ 

Mexican police had destroyed evidence on Camarena’s body

In October 2013, two former federal agents and a self-proclaimed ex-CIA contractor told an American television network that CIA operatives were involved in Camarena’s kidnapping and murder, because he was a threat to the agency’s drug operations in Mexico. According to the three men, the CIA was collaborating with drug traffickers moving cocaine and marijuana to the United States, and using its share of the profits to finance Nicaraguan Contra rebels attempting to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government.

A CIA spokesman responded that:

“it’s ridiculous to suggest that the CIA had anything to do with the murder of a U.S. federal agent or the escape of his killer”.[

Legacy

Image result for kiki camarena time

In November 1988, TIME magazine featured Camarena on the cover. Camarena received numerous awards while with the DEA, and he posthumously received the Administrator’s Award of Honor, the highest award given by the organization.

In Fresno, the DEA hosts a yearly golf tournament named after him. A school, a library and a street in his home town of Calexico, California, are named after him. The nationwide annual Red Ribbon Week, which teaches school children and youths to avoid drug use, was established in his memory.

Image result for Camarena's wife Mika

In 2004, the Enrique S. Camarena Foundation was established in Camarena’s memory. Camarena’s wife Mika and son Enrique Jr. serve on the all-volunteer Board of Directors together with former DEA agents, law enforcement personnel, family and friends of Camarena’s, and others who share their commitment to alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention. As part of their ongoing Drug Awareness program, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks awards an annual Enrique Camarena Award at local, state and national levels to a member of law enforcement who carries out anti-drugs work.

In 2004, the Calexico Police Department erected a memorial dedicated to Camarena. The memorial is located in the halls of the department, where Camarena served.

Several books have been written on the subject. Camarena is the subject of the book O Plata o Plomo? The abduction and murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena (2005), by retired DEA Resident Agent in Charge James H. Kuykendall.[

Roberto Saviano‘s non-fiction book Zero Zero Zero (2015) deals in part with Camarena’s undercover work and his eventual fate.

Personal life

Image result for kiki camarena family photos

Camarena was married to Mika and they had three sons.[

Media depictions

Drug Wars: The Camarena Story (1990) is a U.S television mini-series about Camarena, starring Treat Williams and Steven Bauer,

The History Channel documentary Heroes Under Fire: Righteous Vendetta (2005) chronicles the events and features interviews with family members, DEA agents, and others involved in the investigation.

Netflix drama Narcos

In the Netflix drama Narcos, Camarena’s death and its aftermath are recapped in news footage in the first season episode “The Men of Always”. In the spin-off series Narcos: Mexico, Camarena is played by American actor Michael Peña.


Desperados

by Shannon Elaine

Main source : Wikipedia

Image result for Enrique S. "Kiki" Camarena Salazar pictures

Mika Camarena with Kiki’s Bronze Bust

Top 10 Notorious Real Life Narcos

Who’s who in ‘Narcos: Mexico’?

Characters of the new series 'Narcos: México.'

See: True story behind Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico

The Battle of the Diamond & The Peep o’ Day Boys

The Battle of the Diamond & The Peep o’ Day Boys

 

Capture

The Battle of the Diamond was a planned confrontation between the Catholic Defenders and the Protestant Peep o’ Day Boys that took place on 21 September 1795 near Loughgall, County Armagh, Ireland.

The Peep o’ Day Boys were the victors, killing some 30 Defenders, with no casualties in return. It led to the foundation of the Orange Order and the onset of:

 

“the Armagh outrages”.

 

Background

In the 1780s, County Armagh was the most populous county in Ireland, and the centre of its linen industry. Its population was equally split between Protestants, who were dominant north of the county, and Catholics, who were dominant in the south. Sectarian tensions had been increasing throughout the decade and were exacerbated by the relaxing of some of the Penal Laws, failure to enforce others, and the entry of Catholics into the linen industry at a time when land was scarce and wages were decreasing due to pressure from the mechanised cotton industry. This led to fierce competition to rent patches of land near markets.

 

peep boys.JPG

By 1784, sectarian fighting had broken out between gangs of Protestants and Catholics. The Protestants re-organised themselves as the Peep o’ Day Boys, with the Catholics forming the Defenders. The next decade would see an escalation in the violence between the two and the local population as homes were raided and wrecked

Planned confrontation

 

site of battle of dimond.jpg

The Diamond, which was a predominantly Protestant area, is a minor crossroads in County Armagh, lying almost half-way between Loughgall and Portadown. For several days groups from both sides had been arriving at the crossroads. The Defenders had made their base on Faughart Hill in the townland of Tullymore, less than a quarter of a mile south-west of The Diamond.

The Peep o’ Day Boys, which historian Connolly states were of the “Orange Boys” faction,encamped on a hill in the townland of Grange More to the north-east.

Word of a planned confrontation appears to have been widespread well before it took place, even being gossiped about by militia-men stationed Dublin and Westport.[

Catholic Bernard Coile, from Lurgan, County Armagh, who had rose to become a merchant in the linen industry, called upon the local two parishes to agree to a non-aggression pact. This appears to have succeeded in regards to the Lurgan area, were no Lurgan men were amongst the combatants. There would also seem to have been adequate time for preparations, with one County Tyrone militia-man sending home a guinea to purchase a musket for the Defenders,  and Peep o’ Day Boys scouring Moy, County Tyrone for gunpowder.

The fact word seems to have been so widespread meant that the government could not have been unaware that trouble was stirring.

The Peep o’ Day Boys are cited in three accounts of the battle as possessing Volunteer muskets, with additional weapons provided by local squires.  One account, by Charles Teeling, who had given up hopes of being a mediator, stated that on his return to Lisburn, County Down, he saw re-formed Volunteer corps with all of their equipment heading for The Diamond.

The Defenders on the other hand may not all have been armed and possessing lesser quality firearms.

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The days before the battle

The numbers had increased so much that by Friday 18 September 1795, a local magistrate, Captain Joseph Atkinson, who lived about a mile north of The Diamond, called for a peace conference between four Protestant landowners and three Catholic priests.  A priest accompanying the Defenders persuaded them to seek a truce after a group called the “Bleary Boys” came from County Down to reinforce the Peep o’ Day Boys.

At some point large numbers of Defender reinforcements from counties Londonderry and Tyrone are claimed to have been prevented from crossing the River Blackwater by James Verner and his sons who led a detachment of the North-Mayo militia, based in Dungannon, northwards to seize the boats by the river.

The Defenders failed to await substantial reinforcements from Ballygawley, County Tyrone and Keady, County Armagh, and were starting to become panicked by the situation, being on enemy soil and winter not far away.

The landowners summoned by Atkinson were: Robert Camden Cope, of the grand Loughgall Manor, MP for County Armagh and Lieutenant Colonel of the Armagh Militia; Nicholas Richard Cope and his son Arthur Walter Cope, proprietors of the much smaller Drumilly estate; and James Hardy, the squire of Drumart.

The priests were father’s: Taggart, possibly Arthur Taggart, parish priest of Cookstown, County Tyrone, who was notoriously erratic; McParland, future parish priest of Loughgall from 1799, possibly Arthur McParland; and Trainor. William Blacker claims a leader of the Defenders, “Switcher Donnelly”, was also present.  According to Patrick Tohall, there is reason to doubt the sincerity of all the delegates at this peace conference. He claims some may have used it to blindside the genuine peace-makers, with the two armed sides seeing the clash as inevitable.

On Saturday 19 September, the priests who had stayed the night in Atkinson’s house, left apparently satisfied at the outcome.  There are conflicting accounts of what happened next. According to Tohall, writing in 1953, the local Catholics had obeyed the priests, and this is evidenced by none of them being counted amongst the eventual combatants. He goes on to state that the priests seemingly failed to go to Faughart Hill and persuade the Defenders.  Blacker, who was there on the day of the battle on the Protestant side, however said when he was being questioned by a government Select Committee meeting on the Orange Order on 4 August 1835, that the Defenders had agreed to disperse and that the Peep o’ Day Boys would do likewise.

Later that day there was sporadic shooting, which didn’t trouble Atkinson, and this was followed on Sunday 20 September by overall quietness.

Some Defender reinforcements from County Tyrone however made it to The Diamond and appear to have encouraged their comrades to become:

“determined to fight”

and a decision seems to have been taken that night to advance the next day. Blacker claims:

“a large body of ‘Defenders’ not belonging to the County of Armagh, but assembled from Monaghan, Louth and I believe Cavan and Tyrone came down and were disappointed at finding a truce of this kind made, were determined not to go home without something to repay them for the trouble of their march”.

 

The battle

On the morning of 21 September, the Defenders, numbering around 300, made their way downhill from their base, occupying Dan Winter’s homestead, which lay to the north-west of The Diamond and directly in their line of advance.  News of this advance reached the departing Peep o’ Day Boys who quickly reformed at the brow of the hill where they had made their camp.  From this position, they gained three crucial advantages: the ability to comfortably rest their muskets, allowing for more accurate shooting; and a steep up-hill location which made it hard for attackers to scale; and a direct line-of-sight to Winter’s cottage which the Defenders made their rallying point.

This has been claimed as showing that the Peep o’ Day Boys had more experienced commanders.

The shooting began again in earnest,  and after Atkinson gave his weapon and powder to the Peep o’ Day Boys, he rode to Charlemont Garrison for troops to quell the trouble. There was no effective unit stationed in the garrison at the time, despite the fact a detachment of the North-Mayo Militia was stationed in Dungannon and a detachment of the Queen’s County Militia was at Portadown.

The battle according to Blacker, was short and the Defenders suffered “not less than thirty” deaths.  James Verner, whose account of the battle is based on hearsay, gives the total as being nearly thirty, whilst other reports give the figure as being forty-eight, however this may be taking into account those that died afterwards from their wounds.

A large amount of Defenders are also claimed to have been wounded.  One of those claimed to have been killed was “McGarry of Whiterock”, the leader of the Defenders. The Peep o’ Day Boys on the other hand in the safety of the well-defended hilltop position suffered no casualties.  Blacker praised the Bleary Boys for their prowess in the fight.

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200th Anniversary Battle of the Diamond Parade 1995

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Aftermath

 

See also: Orange Order and Peep o’ Day Boys § The Armagh outrages
In the aftermath of the battle, the Peep o’ Day Boys retired to James Sloans inn in Loughgall, and it was here that James Wilson, Dan Winter, and James Sloan would found the Orange Order, a defensive association pledged to defend :

“the King and his heirs so long as he or they support the Protestant Ascendancy”.

The first Orange lodge of this new organisation was established in Dyan, County Tyrone, founding place of the Orange Boys.

One historian claims that the victors saw the battle as:

“a Godly conquest, construed as a sanction for the spoliation of the homes of the Philistines”.

This saw violence directed firstly at the Catholics in the vicinity of The Diamond who had refrained the participating in the battle, before spreading throughout the county and further afield.

The winter of 1795–6, immediately following the battle, saw Protestants drive around 7,000 Catholics out of County Armagh in what became known as “the Armagh outrages”. In a sign that tension over the linen trade was still a burning issue, ‘Wreckers’ continued the Peep o’ Day Boys strategy of smashing looms and tearing webs in Catholic homes to eliminate competition.

This resulted in a reduction in the hotly competitive linen trade which had been in a brief slump. A consequence of this scattering of highly-political Catholics however was a spread of Defenderism throughout Ireland

 

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The Peep O’Day Boys of Ulster

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See : Peep o’ Day Boys

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel Turner – Forever 18

Daniel Turner

daniel tuner

daniel tuner donate

We are raising funds to help towards the funeral costs for Daniel Turner , a beautiful eighteen year old boy who tragically died suddenly last week after an  epileptic  fit.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his mum Rebecca and girlfriend Lauren and all his friends and family at this desperately sad time.

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Daniel went out with  our daughter Autumn for three years and was like a member of our family during this time and will always hold a special place in our hearts and minds .
We use to feed him and look after him when he had a fit and as a family we always worried that he was taking his medicine and looking after himself.

Although they had drifted apart over the past year  his death has hit Autumn and us hard and  our hearts are broken for his mum , Lauren  and all those that loved and cared for him.

Life can be so unfair sometimes and the sadness of Daniel’s sudden death is a reminder how fragile and precious life is.

Rest Easy Daniel and fly high !

daniel tuner donate

All funds will go directly to Daniels mum and any  funds left over after the funeral expenses will go to an epilepsy charity chosen by his Mum.

daniel tuner donate

Dread Pirate Roberts & The Silk Road

Dread Pirate Roberts

 

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Ross Ulbricht

&

The Silk Road

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Silk Road was an online black market and the first modern darknet market, best known as a platform for selling illegal drugs. As part of the dark webit was operated as a Tor hidden service, such that online users were able to browse it anonymously and securely without potential traffic monitoring. The website was launched in February 2011; development had begun six months prior.

 Initially there were a limited number of new seller accounts available; new sellers had to purchase an account in an auction. Later, a fixed fee was charged for each new seller account.[

In October 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shut down the website and arrested Ross Ulbricht under charges of being the site’s pseudonymous founder “Dread Pirate Roberts”.

On 6 November 2013, Silk Road 2.0 came online, run by former administrators of Silk Road.

It too was shut down, and the alleged operator was arrested on 6 November 2014 as part of the so-called “Operation Onymous“. Ulbricht was convicted of eight charges related to Silk Road in the U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole

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The Silk Road: who was the real Dread Pirate Roberts

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History

Operations

 

Silk Road was founded in February 2011. The name “Silk Road” comes from a historical network of trade routes started during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) between Europe, India, China, and many other countries on the Afro-Eurasian landmass. Silk Road was operated by the pseudonymous “Dread Pirate Roberts” (named after the fictional character from The Princess Bride), who was known for espousing libertarian ideals and criticizing regulationTwo other individuals were also closely involved in the site’s growth and success, known as Variety Jones and Smedley.

In June 2011, Gawker published an article about the site  which led to “Internet buzz” and an increase in website traffic. Once the site was known publicly, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer asked federal law enforcement authorities to shut it down, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Justice.

In May 2013, Silk Road was taken down for a short period of time by a sustained DDoS attack. On 23 June 2013, it was first reported that the DEA seized 11.02 bitcoins, then worth a total of $814, which the media suspected was a result of a Silk Road honeypot sting.

 

The FBI has claimed that the real IP address of the Silk Road server was found via data leaked directly from the site’s CAPTCHA, but security researchers believe that the PHP login page was manipulated to output its $_SERVER variable and real IP following site maintenance reconfiguration.

Henry Farrell, an associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, analyzed Silk Road in an essay for Aeon in 2015.

He noted that Ulbricht created the marketplace to function without government oversight but found it difficult to verify anonymous transactions. To sustain a steady stream of revenue, he started increasing oversight to ensure low transaction costs. To do this, he added measures to ensure trustworthiness with implementation of an automated escrow payment system and automated review system.

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The dark Web, Silk Road

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Arrest and trial of Ross Ulbricht

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Thanks in part to off-duty research conducted by IRS criminal investigator Gary Alford, Ross Ulbricht was alleged by the FBI to be the founder and owner of Silk Road and the person behind the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR). He was arrested on 2 October 2013 in San Francisco  at 3:15 p.m. PST

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in Glen Park Library, a branch of the San Francisco Public Library. Ulbricht was indicted on charges of money launderingcomputer hacking, conspiracy to traffic narcotics, and attempting to have six people killed.Prosecutors alleged that Ulbricht paid $730,000 to others to commit the murders, although none of the murders actually occurred. Ulbricht ultimately was not prosecuted for any of the alleged murder attempts.

The FBI initially seized 26,000 bitcoins from accounts on Silk Road, worth approximately $3.6 million at the time. An FBI spokesperson said that the agency would hold the bitcoins until Ulbricht’s trial finished, after which the bitcoins would be liquidated.

In October 2013, the FBI reported that it had seized 144,000 bitcoins, worth $28.5 million, and that the bitcoins belonged to Ulbricht. On 27 June 2014, the U.S. Marshals Service sold 29,657 bitcoins in 10 blocks in an online auction, estimated to be worth $18 million at current rates and only about a quarter of the seized bitcoins. Another 144,342 bitcoins were kept which had been found on Ulbricht’s computer, roughly $87 million.

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What are bitcoins?

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Tim Draper bought the bitcoins at the auction with an estimated worth of $17 million, to lend them to a bitcoin start-up called Vaurum which is working in developing economies of emerging markets.

Ulbricht’s trial began on 13 January 2015 in Federal Court in Manhattan. At the start of the trial, Ulbricht admitted to founding the Silk Road website, but claimed to have transferred control of the site to other people soon after he founded it.  Ulbricht’s lawyers contended that Dread Pirate Roberts was really Mark Karpelès, and that Karpelès set up Ulbricht as a fall guy.

However, Judge Katherine B. Forrestruled that any speculative statements regarding whether Karpelès or anyone else ran Silk Road would not be allowed, and statements already made would be stricken from the record.

In the second week of the trial, prosecutors presented documents and chat logs from Ulbricht’s computer that, they said, demonstrated how Ulbricht had administered the site for many months, which contradicted the defense’s claim that Ulbricht had relinquished control of Silk Road. Ulbricht’s attorney suggested that the documents and chat logs were planted there by way of BitTorrent, which was running on Ulbricht’s computer at the time of his arrest.

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What is BitTorrent?

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On 4 February 2015, the jury convicted Ulbricht of seven charges, including charges of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and computer hacking. He faced 30 years to life in prison.  The government also accused Ulbricht of paying for the murders of at least five people, but there is no evidence that the murders were actually carried out, and the accusations never became formal charges against Ulbricht.

During the trial, Judge Forrest received death threats. Users of an underground site called The Hidden Wiki posted her personal information there, including her address and Social Security number. Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said that he and his client “obviously, and as strongly as possible, condemn” the anonymous postings against the judge.

“They do not in any way have anything to do with Ross Ulbricht or anyone associated with him or reflect his views or those of anyone associated with him”,

 

Dratel said.

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In late March 2015, a criminal complaint issued by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California led to the arrest of two former federal agents who had worked undercover in the Baltimore Silk Road investigation of Ulbricht, former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Carl Mark Force IV and Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges.

The agents are alleged to have kept funds that Ulbricht transferred to them in exchange for purported information about the investigation. The agents were charged with wire fraud and money laundering.

In late November 2016, Ulbricht’s lawyers brought forward a case on a third DEA agent, who they claim was leaking information about the investigation and tampered with evidence to omit chat logs showing conversations with him.

In a letter to Judge Forrest before his sentencing, Ulbricht stated that his actions through Silk Road were committed through libertarian idealism and that “Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices” and admitted that he made a “terrible mistake” that “ruined his life”.

On May 29, 2015, Ulbricht was given five sentences to be served concurrently, including two for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

He was also ordered to forfeit $183 million. Ulbricht’s lawyer Joshua Dratel said that he would appeal the sentencing and the original guilty verdict. On May 31, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied Ulbricht’s appeal, and affirmed the judgment of conviction and life sentence, in a written opinion authored by the Honorable Gerard E. Lynch, United States Circuit Judge.

The Supreme Court declined to review the case.

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Other trials

In February 2013, an Australian cocaine and MDMA (“ecstasy”) dealer became the first person to be convicted of crimes directly related to Silk Road, after authorities intercepted drugs that he was importing through the mail, searched his premises, and discovered his Silk Road alias in an image file on his personal computer.

Australian police and the DEA have targeted Silk Road users and made arrests, albeit with limited success at reaching convictions. In December 2013, a New Zealand man was sentenced to two years and four months in jail after being convicted of importing 15 grams of methamphetamine that he had bought on Silk Road.

Dutch drug dealer 23-year-old Cornelis Jan “Maikel” Slomp  pled guilty for large scale selling of drugs through the Silk Road website and was sentenced in Chicago to 10 years in prison on 29 May 2015 with his attorney, Paul Petruzzi, present.

Dealer Steven Sadler was sentenced to five years in prison. There have been over 130 other arrests connected with The Silk Road, although some of these arrests may not be directly related to The Silk Road, and may not be public information due to legal reasons.

Products

In March 2013, the site had 10,000 products for sale by vendors, 70% of which were drugs. In October 2014, there were 13,756 listings for drugs, grouped under the headings stimulantspsychedelicsprescriptionprecursors, other, opioidsecstasydissociatives, and steroids/PEDs.

Fake driver’s licenses were also offered for sale. The site’s terms of service prohibited the sale of certain items. When the Silk Road marketplace first began the creator and administrators instituted terms of service that prohibited the sale of anything whose purpose was to “harm or defraud”.

This included child pornography, stolen credit cards, assassinations, and weapons of any type; other darknet markets such as Black Market Reloaded gained user notoriety because they were not as restrictive on these items as the Silk Road incarnations were.

There were also legal goods and services for sale, such as apparelartbookscigaretteseroticajewelery, and writing services. A sister site, called “The Armory”, sold weapons (primarily guns) during 2012, but was shut down because of a lack of demand.

Buyers were able to leave reviews of sellers’ products on the site, and in an associated forum where crowdsourcing provided information about the best sellers and worst scammers.Most products were delivered through the mail, with the site’s seller’s guide instructing sellers how to vacuum-seal their products to escape detection.[78]

Sales

 

flowchart depicting Silk Road’s payment system. Exhibit 113 A, entered into evidence at Ulbricht’s trial.
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Based on data from 3 February 2012 to 24 July 2012, an estimated $15 million in transactions were made annually on Silk Road. Twelve months later, Nicolas Christin, the study’s author, said in an interview that a major increase in volume to “somewhere between $30 million and $45 million” would not surprise him.

Buyers and sellers conducted all transactions with bitcoins (BTC), a cryptocurrency that provides a certain degree of anonymity. Silk Road held buyers’ bitcoins in escrow until the order had been received and a hedging mechanism allowed sellers to opt for the value of bitcoins held in escrow to be fixed to their value in US$ at the time of the sale to mitigate against Bitcoin’s volatility. Any changes in the price of bitcoins during transit were covered by Dread Pirate Roberts.

The complaint published when Ulbricht was arrested included information the FBI gained from a system image of the Silk Road server collected on 23 July 2013. It noted that, “From February 6, 2011 to July 23, 2013 there were approximately 1,229,465 transactions completed on the site. The total revenue generated from these sales was 9,519,664 Bitcoins, and the total commissions collected by Silk Road from the sales amounted to 614,305 Bitcoins.

These figures are equivalent to roughly $1.2 billion in revenue and $79.8 million in commissions, at current Bitcoin exchange rates…”, according to the September 2013 complaint, and involved 146,946 buyers and 3,877 vendors. According to information users provided upon registering, 30 percent were from the United States, 27 percent chose to be “undeclared”, and beyond that, in descending order of prevalence: the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Canada, Sweden, France, Russia, Italy, and the Netherlands. During the 60-day period from 24 May to 23 July, there were 1,217,218 messages sent over Silk Road’s private messaging system.

Similar sites

The Farmer’s Market was a Tor site similar to Silk Road, but which did not use bitcoins.[84] It has been considered a ‘proto-Silk Road’ but the use of payment services such as PayPal and Western Union allowed law enforcement to trace payments and it was subsequently shut down by the FBI in 2012.

Other sites already existed when Silk Road was shut down and The Guardian predicted that these would take over the market that Silk Road previously dominated. Sites named ‘Atlantis‘, closing in September 2013, and Project Black Flag, closing in October 2013, each stole their users’ bitcoins.

In October 2013, the site named Black Market Reloaded closed down temporarily after the site’s source code was leaked. The market shares of various Silk Road successor sites were described by The Economist in May 2015.

Book club

Silk Road had a Tor-based book club that continued to operate following the initial site’s closure and even following the arrest of one of its members. Reading material included conspiracy theories and computer hacking. Some of the titles included mainstream books as well as books such as The Anarchist Cookbook and Defeating Electromagnetic Door Locks. Most of the titles on this book club were pirated. This book club still exists as a private Tor based chatroom.

Direct successors

 

Silk Road 2.0

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Alert placed on the Silk Road’s homepage following its seizure by the U.S. government and European law enforcement

On 6 November 2013, administrators from the closed Silk Road relaunched the site, led by a new pseudonymous Dread Pirate Roberts, and dubbed it “Silk Road 2.0”. It recreated the original site’s setup and promised improved security.

The new DPR took the precaution of distributing encrypted copies of the site’s source code to allow the site to be quickly recreated in the event of another shutdown.

On 20 December 2013, it was announced that three alleged Silk Road 2.0 administrators had been arrested; two of these suspects, Andrew Michael Jones and Gary Davis, were named as the administrators “Inigo” and “Libertas” who had continued their work on Silk Road 2.0.

Around this time, the new Dread Pirate Roberts abruptly surrendered control of the site and froze its activity, including its escrow system. A new temporary administrator under the screenname “Defcon” took over and promised to bring the site back to working order.

On 13 February 2014, Defcon announced that Silk Road 2.0’s escrow accounts had been compromised through a vulnerability in Bitcoin protocol called “transaction malleability”.

While the site remained online, all the bitcoins in its escrow accounts, valued at $2.7 million, were reported stolen. It was later reported that the vulnerability was in the site’s “Refresh Deposits” function, and that the Silk Road administrators had used their commissions on sales since 15 February to refund users who lost money, with 50 percent of the hack victims being completely repaid as of 8 April.

On 6 November 2014, authorities with the Federal Bureau of InvestigationEuropol, and Eurojust announced the arrest of Blake Benthall, allegedly the owner and operator of Silk Road 2.0 under the pseudonym “Defcon”, the previous day in San Francisco as part of Operation Onymous.

Others

Following the closure of Silk Road 2.0 in November 2014, Diabolus Market renamed itself to ‘Silk Road 3 Reloaded’ in order to capitalise on the brand. In January 2015, Silk Road Reloaded launched on I2P with multiple cryptocurrency support and similar listing restrictions to the original Silk Road market.

This website is also defunct.

Advocates of deep web drug sales

Meghan Ralston, a former “harm reduction manager” for the Drug Policy Alliance, was quoted as saying that the Silk Road was “a peaceable alternative to the often deadly violence so commonly associated with the global drug war, and street drug transactions, in particular”. Proponents of the Silk Road and similar sites argue that buying illegal narcotics from the safety of your home is better than buying them in person from criminals on the street.

 

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The Story of Dread Pirate Roberts

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More information on Ross Ulbricht

 

Uncle Sam – Extracts from my Autobiography Belfast Child

Uncle Sam

uncle sam

Extracts from my Autobiography Belfast Child

 

Finally the day for Uncle Sam to be released from jail arrived and the whole family along with friends and acquaintances gathered to give him a welcome home party he would remember. All day long preparations were made for the night’s celebration and the house was awash with food and alcohol of every description. When Sam finally walked through the door a huge cheer rang out and after the greeting and hugs the party got into full swing. Although dad had only been dead a few months and the pain was still tearing me apart inside, I really enjoyed myself that night and for a while forgot about the state of my life.

Uncle Sam was dad’s younger brother and was well respected throughout the estate and surrounding areas. He was lovable rogue and with his swarthy good looks and mischievous manner all that knew him loved him and all the local women fancied him. Also, more importantly he was a Loyalist Soldier and had served time for a cause he believed in.

For your information:

I am writing this as a ten year old child growing up in Loyalist West Belfast during the 1970’s  and the worst  years of the Troubles . My daily life was engulfed and controlled by the “war” going on around me and the loyalist paramilitaries lived and operated among us.

Many were friends and family and that was all perfectly normal in our world. At the time there was no escape from the madness that was stalking the streets of Belfast and many normal , honest , decent men joined the paramilitaries in response to the continuing and never ended terror campaign of the IRA and other republican groups. Sadly the paramilitaries also attracted many psychopathy killers whom used the “war” to feed their dark desires at the expense of the innocent. 

As a loyalist child  I was completely submerged in the Loyalist  culture & traditions  and at the time I was way to young to understand or differentiate between republican terrorists and the nationalist community and like those around me I had been raised from an early age to hate and mistrust all Catholics and the hated Antichrist in Rome.

Thankfully as I grew older my hatred of all Catholics faded and I was to go on to have many catholic friends during my mod days and later life.

Now I don’t judge  any man or women based on their religious beliefs . In fact I don’t give  two flying fecks who or what you worship,  providing they are peaceful and respectful of all others , thats OK by me.

I still have a problem with Nationalism and the call for a United Ireland, but I respect democracy and peoples right to exercise their democratic rights. But that don’t mean I agree with them and I never will.  That means I wish to maintain the status quo in Northern Ireland and hope and pray our people can learn to live more harmoniously together and our children have a better future than the long , dark soul destroying days my generation lived through

Amen!

See The Loyalist Mod

All male members of the family looked up to Uncle Sam and we all wanted to be just like him when we grew up. That night we were permitted to stay up into the wee hours and when the adults were full of drink the talk soon turned to dad and I was proud to hear them all talk about what a great man dad was and how they all missed him terribly and wished things could be different.

Although we were a very close family, we were typical of the area and emotions were something men never showed and that night I felt proud when I went to bed, knowing that dad’s memory would live long in this house and others were sharing my grief at losing him.

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After Uncle Sam had settled back into life outside jail, his thoughts naturally turned to how he could earning a living and bring some money in for the family. Whilst in jail he had done a course in painting and decorating and on his release he let it become known around the estate that he was available for hire at a very reasonable rate. Before long the work started to come in and if he had a job at the weekend Wee Sam and I went with him and helped in any way he seen fit, which included cleaning up the mess behind him and making endless cups of tea. If we were really lucky and the owner of the house was out, Uncle Sam would sit chain smoking and watch us paint the bottom section of the wall to the best of our ability. At first he was making good money and Wee Sam and I were more than pleased with the few quid he give us after completely the job.

After a while the work started to dry up and Uncle Sam pondered long and hard to come up with a new means of earning some money.

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Suddenly one day he proclaimed that he was going to set up a door to door business selling firewood and half an half later the three of us were on our way to Glencairn Park behind the house , with a wheel barrel and a chain saw he had borrowed from a reluctant neighbour. When we had walk some way into the forest Uncle Sam stops, gazed around for a moment and before we knew what was happening shouted “ timber” as the tree first let out an agonizing groan and thundered to the ground below.

After Uncle Sam had chopped the tree into manageable sizes, wee Sam and I loaded the wheel barrel with as much as possible and taking a handle each swayed our way back to the house were we dumped the wood in the back garden and went back for more. Later that night we all gathered in the back garden and bagged the wood into bags , before setting off and selling it door to door around the estate. After a short time money was pouring in and we had established a large client basis throughout the estate.

Although what we were doing was highly illegal, we carried on oblivious to the laws we were breaking and chopped down trees on an industrial scale. In Glencairn and the surrounding areas we followed our own rules and pretty much ignored the laws of the land. Business was that good I was able to save enough money to buy myself a second hand chopper from the bike shop down the Shankill. Sadly all good things come to an end and one day as we were making our way to our favourite felling spot, a team from the forestry department apprehended us and Uncle Sam was read the riot act.

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The game was up and we watched with shock as Uncle Sam shamelessly agreed to everything they were saying and promised never to do it again. Wee Sam and I were bitterly disappointed and begged Uncle Sam to chance  his mind. As we made our way home empty handed he explained that because he was out on licence, the last thing he need was the police paying him too much attention or he might end up inside again. What he said made perfect sense and Wee Sam and I reluctantly agree with him. “Besides, as Uncle Sam pointed out winter would soon be over and sales would dry up with the changing weather.

1 loyalist prisoner aid

 

Another scheme Uncle Sam got me involved in was selling his UDA sweepstake cards. As a member of the UDA he was not only expected to pay a weekly donation or dues to the cause, he was also expected to help raise money for loyalist prisoners and their families. The UDA was run along very strict guidelines and had its own welfare department that raised and distributed money were most needed. This was done in a variety of ways, mostly illegal and generated huge sums of money for the organisation.

At the weekly meeting sweep cards were handed out to all present to sell and most members would take £25.00 quid’s worth and sell then to their friends and family. As with anything he couldn’t be arsed to do it himself, he recruited Wee Sam and me.One Saturday he handed us a bundle of sweep stakes and told us if we sold them all he would give us two quid each, which sounded like a fair deal to me. After giving us instructions on what we were selling and how best to sell them and how much they costed, he sent us of and told us not to return until they were all sold.

1 a pint of harp

He would wait for us in community centre, he informed us solemnly as though he was getting the short end of the stick, when in fact we knew that he would be having a few pints and playing cards with his mates.

Equipped with the necessary information wee Sam headed to the top of the estate and I headed to the bottom and knocked on the first door I came to. After a moment or two a woman’s head appeared round the door and I immediately went into my sales pitch, which I had been working on for a few days and perfected on the walk down the Road.

“Excuse me misses, would you like to buy one of these?

You write your name, pick two numbers between 1 and 50 and if you win you win £25.00.

Price 20p a go,…

most people buy a sheet of five and its  only £1.00 in total…….Oh and the profits go to the prisoners and their families “

“Ah…god love you love, thinking of the prisoners. Go on”, I’ll have two sheets she replied”

and I was in business.

I took this like a duck to water and before long I was outselling Wee Sam on an embarrassing g scale. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was a natural sales man and years later would have a successful career in London selling everything from life insurance to industrial chemicals, but much more of that later.

Eventually Wee Sam threw the towel in and I took over the whole operation. That’s not to say it was always easy. Lots of people turned me away, some were nice about it and others told me fuck off and never darken their door again. but even back then I was a natural sales man and the insults just rolled over my head and I apologized for interrupting them and wishing them a good day I  made my way next door and another  potential sale.

It wasn’t long before I had built up a substantial client basis and when on the job I knew exactly which houses to call at and which were best avoided. For my efforts I got £2.00, which was duly spend on sweets and other treats I had promised myself.

 

1 car bomb

 

As I pounded the Roads of Glencairn selling my sweep stakes the war raged on around me and like most people I took it in my stride. I took some pride in the face that I was contributing to the cause, by raising money for the prisoners and their families . One morning when we were all getting ready to leave the house for school, there was a sudden commotion outside the front door and we all rushed into the front garden to see what was happening.

There were loads of armed RUC personnel frantically running from door to door, evacuating the inhabitants into the field outside the community centre. Uncle Sam and Gerry gathered us all up and we went to join the dozens of other families milling about the field. After having a chat with one of the local leaders we heard Uncle Sam explain to Gerry that the IRA had planted a bomb under the car of one of our neighbours, who was a member of the UDR ( Ulster Defence Regiment ) .

This news sent waves of fear and anger through the gathered crowd. How dare the IRA enter our estate in the dead of night and try to kill one of our people. Apparently the man in question had left the house to check the car over before dropping his children at school and going through his normal security checks had discovered the bomb under the passenger’s side of the vehicle. Had he been less vigilant the bomb would have gone off killing not only him, but also his three children and anyone else in the vicinity. This relisation filled everyone gathered with outrage and resentment and once again our hatred of the IRA and their Catholic supporters was justified.

After they were sure that everyone in the immediate vicinity was evacuated, the army bomb disposal unit sent a robot in to detonate the bomb and we all watched in awe as the ground below us shook violently and the robot along with large sections of the car was blown high into the sky to smithereens. We were all kept of school that day and naturally the talk was of how close we had been to being caught up in the bomb that morning and possibly being killed. Wee Sam and I knew the children of the man in question and often played with them after school, so it was with sadness that a few days later we watched them pack their belongings onto a removal van and drive out of the estate never to be seen again.

Like Wee Sam, David and Pickle I felt an immense hatred towards Catholics and Nationalists that day and longed for the day I would be old enough to take up arms and join the war against the IRA and their Catholic supporters. Although I was too young to understand the complexities of the conflict between us and the nationalists I understood that we hadn’t started this war and all the pain and suffering in Northern Ireland was a direct result of the IRA and nationalist call for a united Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s Protestants were a remnant of colonial Britain and we clung to our sovernty like a comfort blanket and the IRA & nationalists were trying to rip our blanket away from us. We felt abandoned and Britain seemed to have turn her back on us The Americans and wider outside world sympathised with the romantic notion of a United Ireland and offered us no support. No one seemed to understand our position and we were living under the brutal, daily menace of the most brutal terrorist organisation of the century and this isolation feed the fears of the loyalist and ensured a steady stream of new recruits for the loyalist paramilitary groups.

During the mid 70s relationships between the two warring sides had reached a new low and innocent people from both sides became legitimate targets in tit-for-tat murder campaign like never before, between the nationalists and loyalist paramilitaries. The violence was out of control and as a child I watched in horror and disgust as the nightly news told of the latest IRA atrocity, as the death toll mounted. Like most of the people around me I rejoiced when news of an IRA or other republican member being killed or even better executed came through and I mourned the passing of any loyalist killed. I hated Catholics with a passion and blamed them on all the troubles of our country and like all around me I saw them as my natural enemy. In response to the increase of IRA atrocities and through self-preservation the loyalist paramilitaries, with the blessing of their people, stepped up the campaign and the streets of Belfast flowed with the blood of the innocent and guilty alike.

See:  The Loyalist Mod

See: Autobiography on home page