“These pilots are not on our land, but the ways the culls are being carried out is increasingly worrying and we are now concerned for the credibility and usefulness of the exercise. This sense of shifting scientific sands is a real issue for us, particularly if faced with any future proposition for wider culling.” — Patrick Begg, National Trust rural enterprise director
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
— From In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, May 1915
It was that time of year again, when sellers of poppies knock at the door and veterans line the streets of the local town with collecting tins and trays of fake red flowers sold in aid of the Royal British Legion; a time when, if you don’t buy or wear a poppy you would be made to feel ‘unpatriotic’. But times they are a-changing.
The official UK government policy on genetically modified (GM) crops is “precautionary, evidence-based and sensitive to public concerns”. Who are they kidding?
My heart always sinks when, listening to the BBC’s Today programme, someone from the Department for International Development starts talking about the “international food crisis”, and the starving people in all those poor undeveloped countries (the ones we helped to pauper with our empire building).
Till kicked and torn and beaten out he lies
And leaves his hold and cackles, groans, and dies.
John Clare – The Badger
The lanes of Somerset and Gloucestershire are being haunted by people from all walks of life but they all have one thing in common – they want to bring a halt to the killing of badgers. Continue reading →
When midnight comes a host of dogs and men
Go out and track the badger to his den
John Clare – The Badger
One always knows that, when government Ministers resort to defending Ministry policy in the local press, they are losing the argument with Joe Public. So it came as no surprise to read in the Gloucester Echo the justifications for the highly unpopular badger cull as written by Owen Paterson, UK Minister for the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) – Continue reading →
The UK Ministry of Defence is worried; worried that the public have become ‘risk averse’ to the point that we won’t want to go to war anymore; so worried that in November 2012 they wrote a report – The Implications of Current Attitudes to Risk for the Joint Operational Concept – made public today by the Guardian. The report, while purportedly studying ‘risk’, is really asking ‘How do we sell war to the public’? Continue reading →
“…we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God and all professors for Gods sake; we shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.” — John Winthrop 1630
Any student of history knows that many of the problems the Middle East and Africa are now experiencing stem from the Great Powers having parcelled up the land, drawn borders where none had existed and put into power various friendly leaders in the aftermath of World War I. That includes the failures of Western actions in Iraq and Libya, and the ongoing failure of Syria, the West’s refusal to accept a popular President in Bashar al Assad and its efforts to undermine him, resulting in a horrific humanitarian mess.
There has been an epidemic of outrage in the United Kingdom over the last few days, most of it coming from the great and not so good. The original cause was the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria. With no hard evidence as to what the attack involved and who was actually responsible, our leaders had no hesitation in blaming President Assad, and suddenly we were awash with demands for ‘intervention’, military of course, as if the West hadn’t been intervening from the start.
‘Water, water everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.’
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
At long last Britain is discussing and objecting to fracking – or we would be if the general public had access to accurate information. As it is, Prime Minister David Cameron is going all out to promote a country-wide embrace of shale gas.
Climate change along with the disastrous effects it will have on the earth and humanity is being ignored by much of society. I differentiate between the earth and humanity because many people only relate to the problems that humans might suffer, not fully understanding that what damages the earth also damages us. During the 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio, media headlines were screaming “We’ve only got 20 years to save the earth!” An environmentalist dryly pointed out, “No. The earth will survive. We have 20 years to save humanity.”
Will the biotech companies ever give up on trying to sell Europe their genetically modified crops? Their latest PR man is the UK’s Minister for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Owen Paterson. His website (very bland and uninformative apart from his list of engagements) says he is “a passionate supporter of localism, free enterprise and less interference in people’s lives”. But he also loudly supports Monsanto et al, and wants all of Europe to grow and eat GM foods. I would say that thoroughly destroys any localism, interferes in the most basic way with our lives, and any enterprise is freely handed to big corporations that already have far too much power over people.
Great Britain is a small island, no more that 600 miles on its longest north/south axis from John O’Groats in Scotland to Lands End in Cornwall. Yet it has the most diverse geology, layer after layer of it laid down over the millennia. In other countries one might travel for 200 miles or even much more before the scenery changes in any way. Here 20 miles will do it, and the most obvious sign is what the old houses are built of. Continue reading →
For some years an international campaign has been gradually building – ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The goal is a treaty banning nuclear weapons, a Convention such as the Landmine Convention and the Cluster Munitions Convention. It will follow the same process, and requires enough nations, supported by their citizens, to sign up to it, bring it into being and then to ratify it. Once ratified, the development, possession and use of nuclear weapons becomes illegal. The beauty of this approach is that it sidesteps the bogged-down Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in which states that have undertaken to get rid of their remaining nuclear weapons endlessly argue about ‘process’ with the aim of hanging on to their horrifically destructive toys.
Being born ‘with a silver spoon in your mouth’ means that you start with an advantage that others don’t have: parents with money, property, influence, business connections and so on, connections that can last for generations. A silver spoon that appeared recently was the exceedingly generous compensation paid to British slave owners when the UK abolished slavery in 1833, though not one penny went to the freed slaves. The ancestors of many well-connected people (including David Cameron) benefited. Continue reading →