November 22, 2011

Government does not solve problems - it subsidizes them.

The global economy is in “a devil of a mess” according to Ken Clarke, UK Justice Secretary.

Thank you Ken, we already knew. And we know that none of you in government have the foggiest clue how to put it right. You are working on old solutions to old problems, and no amount of history will provide the answer. 

You haven't yet worked out that we need new solutions to new problems.  Rapidly widening inequality, pointless wars, diminishing resources, climate change; all new problems needing new solutions. The history books won't help us now. Taking the hard decisions will.

Problem - high inequality. The income gap had been closing since Victorian times, but now it's widening at a terrifying pace. Top company executives are now earning more than 75 times the average wage. In 1980 it was about 13 times. The Green Party has long considered that 10 times is about right.

Average UK wages have increased threefold since 1980, the chief executive's package at the now partly state-owned Lloyds Bank has increased by more than 3,000%. This is an astronomical pay rise for poor judgement, bad management, and downright fraud.

Tough talk about market forces is tantamount to bullying. The 1%ers are just well connected idiots whose proof of greed, mismanagement and foul play is on record. It's time to call their bluff. The High Pay Commission recommends transparency, accountability and fairness I recommend pay cuts.

Problem - war.  There are always those who think wars can be a catalyst to move past a crisis. Military rhetoric surrounds us. War is not a tool to solve our current problems. It is an abhorrence. Mumblings about Iran grow louder. Israel and the US are about to start playing the war game entitled  Juniper Cobra 12 to check that their missiles can be properly co-ordinated in times of what can only be called blatant aggression.

Israel is a nuclear power and more than willing to use it (but that's a secret of course). The US is a nuclear power and has already used it. What has Iran done to deserve our wrath- apart from not cowering to the whim of the West.

War with Iran will cost taxpayers dear. It will not solve our economic problems. It will make them worse. I recommend an outbreak of peace together with military spend being diverted to clean energy projects worldwide. The armed forces have the engineers, the logistics, the manpower.

Problem - diminishing resources. We cannot have unlimited economic growth in a world of finite resources.  Water scarcity looms. Land to grow unsustainable crops to feed and mobilise a massive increase in human numbers is in short supply, yet we cannot kick the old habits of thoughtless consumerism. We eat too much meat, use too much oil, pollute too much air. In short we are, unscrupulous, unethical, unsustainable. We have to change our ways and no government has the guts to tell the truth. Listen if you will to the tired old political rhetoric, but it won't solve the problem. Lifestyle change will.

Problem - Climate change. It's galloping up to us right now. Atmospheric CO2 has risen from 310 parts per million to an alarming 389 in just 50 years. Precious little is being done about it. NIMBY's don't like windmills, bird lovers don't like them offshore; governments spend fortunes (of our money) promoting nuclear because it gives them weapons grade material. It seems everyone likes the dirtiest power source of all - coal. Or do they want magic? I recommend New Education  for all based on ethical lifestyle and hands-on problem solving.

For too long governments have been put into office by big money and big media to do their bidding. The people and the planet are not even second. They were not even on the agenda - until now.

Hat's off to the Occupiers, to the Trade Unions, to the people waking up to the real world. We are on the agenda, and we might just write it!

November 16, 2011

White Poppies Make History

The outbreak of red poppy fascism across the British media is alarming. The red poppy has morphed into some kind of corporate uniform to the point that it seems probable that anyone attempting to enter the BBC last week, without said appendage, would be turned away.

Do the wearers understand what they are doing? Have they given it even a modicum of independent thought? Have they considered the White Poppy for peace?

I do not want to take anything away from the British Legion whose work in picking up the pieces of the war ravaged is very important, but I do wish to say that war is not the glorious sacrifice we are taught it to be. Today’s wars are about resources, destabilization of sovereign states, and big big money. The military /industrial complex cannot wait to do their version of ‘picking up the pieces’. The lucrative rebuilding contracts are the icing on the cake for the mega corporations who have already creamed off the tax-payer subsidised weapons manufacturing industry. The arms trade rub their collective hands with perverse glee as they watch the built-in obsolescence of their products obliterating countries where they personally have no chance of being harmed. Killing, maiming, genetically mutilating, destroying, indiscriminate and arbitrary execution - no weapon or tactic is too abhorrent to use. More bombs and tanks can easily be made – and sold - to governments who continue the relentless cycle in cruel denial of basic truths and human rights. Today’s wars are not the honourable red poppy event of misty-eyed valour they have been painted to be. Today’s wars are about as far from courageous self-defence as you can get.

As independent thought is being ground out of us, conflict resolution is shunned. Research into what makes a good peace is cast into the wilderness and the proposed Wales Peace Academy languishes in the back rooms of despair together with those great thinkers who know there is a better way. Peace has been given a bad name because there is no money in it for the greedy few. 

In the face of unrelenting moves to ever more vile wars, peace campaigners in Newport have resurrected the White Poppy, and it is to the credit of the British Legion in Newport (SE Wales) that for the first time, possibly anywhere, the White Poppy wreath was laid as part of the official rembrance ceremony at the Cenotaph in Clarence Place. For just one moment it was possible to think that the laying of White Poppy wreaths would no longer be a clandestine activity, as if peace was not to be talked about in polite circles and White Poppy wreaths laid only at dead of night. For one moment Peace was actually up front and on the agenda.

The Peace Pledge Union have this year sold more white poppies than any time since 1934. When they bother to consider the reality, people are thinking differently about war.

November 03, 2011

I Mind that You Have Bought My Government

The Greek government has defaulted. Should we rejoice? 

For the most part Greece has defaulted on the impossibly high interest rates it has been asked to pay for borrowing money to survive in a system of economic duplicity and political corruption. Any smidgen of growth Greece can wring from its depleted economy will go towards paying interest rates forced upon them by the undemocratic ratings agencies such as Standard and Poor, and the banking cartel who like to think they have us all firmly stitched up in their grubby little mits.

The third world – or that which we laughingly call the developing world – which has been prevented from developing largely by the sharp practice of the IMF, the World Bank, and utterly mis-named fair trade agreements, has been in this position for decades, with any economic surpluses being put not towards their own growth, but to the bottomless coffers of the banking fraternity in the form of interest rates, infamously known by its other name: usury.

Some of us look upon the panic in the EU and the US with wry amusement. Some of us are taking part in the downfall of the industrial-military-political complex of greed by getting out there and Occupying. Others are wringing their hands because life as we know it is ending.

St Paul’s Cathedral, the chair and trustees of which are drawn from the financial conglomerates of Lloyds Bank, Lloyds Banking Group and Pricewaterhouse Coopers , has, by a twist of fate been hosting the London Occupy movement in the face of enormous pressure from the Establishment. Yet it has remembered its first calling, the people, and faced down the bankers.

Italy is next in line to default, and the sharp suits lining up at the G20 belie the panic. The Euro currency is falling apart. When EU monetary union was formed, they forgot the story of the Three Little Pigs, and built their houses on straw. But it is not the Big Bad Wolf which is blowing their houses down, it is the quiet decisions of the people.

Peacefully they congregate in the face of violence. They know it will work. Governments send in the troops to put off other would-be occupiers, but still the movement grows.

Young people are rising above their tick box education with the vision to see right through this system of greed. The bankers, blinded by decades of unfettered greed, have wormed their way out of a mere 0.05% on financial transactions commonly known as the Robin Hood Tax. Aided and abetted by government they spontaneously combust at the thought of higher taxes on the rich – even though a one-off, one year only, tax of 20% on the top 10% UK wage earners would wipe out the £800 billion UK deficit in one foul swoop.

Their greed is paving the way to their own undoing. They think they can buy us all. They have bought our governments, and manipulated our systems for the furtherance of their own pointless gratification. Ordinary people are feeling stitched-up. They have stopped buying ‘stuff, they have stopped listening to the propaganda. The sword of Damocles hangs over every job in town and the belts are drawing tighter. Economic growth is no more. Bankers and governments are looking like ridiculous parodies of Canute as they try to force back the incoming tide of change.

We don’t want a new system, we want those who are being paid to improve our lives to get on and do the job – to work for the future health and security of people and planet.

September 24, 2011

In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between problems large and small – Albert Einstein.

Are any of our elected officials truly interested in justice?

It appears that it is now more expedient to exchange silence for a seat at the top table. The trappings of power, the money, the TV interviews and the glory have become the aim. The fight for justice becomes a few forgotten words on the eve of polling day, and in the end we are left with poor leadership, and those who would benefit most from the effective use of power are unceremoniously abandoned in the posturing of high office.

Those who look good in the media, have charisma and charm, are heavily marketed. Those who know their stuff, but do not produce the right kind of sound bites are left trailing. In the end we are left with a few well-connected, well educated buffoons who can talk the talk, but under closer scrutiny cannot walk the talk, or even walk the walk. Career politicians are a global curse. They soak up money and maintain the preferred status quo of their sponsors. They clearly do not know what they are doing, or we would not be facing economic collapse, high level fraud and unjustifiable banksters bonuses for which the struggling poor and middle classes are expected to pay.

The rich use our transport systems and our communications systems. They benefit from advances in government sponsored healthcare and subsidised technological achievements, yet they do not like to pay taxes. It seems that some feel they are above it, and often they are encouraged to think this way, yet it should be a pleasure to pay tax, to contribute to the economy and to help the less fortunate.

The only reason we send people to occupy those seats at the top is to leverage the power of the community to enhance national prospects and to work on behalf of those who need help the most.

But we fall for the same old tricks every time. We do not recognise good people when they come before us. We are more inclined to be tricked by the hype, for the election leaflet which looks like a pizza menu – but with even less nourishment on offer.

Occupying these seats at the top table is important. Engaging in the struggle for justice is important, leadership is important. Yet the leaders of conscience are marginalized – maybe their hair is not trendy or their suit a little crumpled – and the result is that we do not have authentic representatives of our values to occupy those seats.
Therefore, we must pay attention and hone the skill of discernment. We must not give our vote to just anybody to occupy these positions of power. We must not allow fakes to represent us. Fakes are those who wear the jackets of pseudo-authority, but who do not engage in the artful use of power on our behalf. Discerning who is genuine and who is fake has been difficult, but, take a closer look. The arrogance of those who do not have the interests of the people at heart is getting easier to see by the day. Their actions are a clue that they are not interested in our values.

It is long past time to wake up. Few stand up and fight for truth and justice in this world of desperate need. When we look beyond the smoke and mirrors of politics and power, it hurts. We have to re-evaluate everything, our past, our present, our future - so mostly we turn away in denial, preferring the comforting surreal, disneyland media trance which is presented to us on a plate. But once awake, we have the choice of fooling ourselves indefinitely, or facing up to what needs to be done and acting. The transition takes time, but once our eyes are open, they can only see. And we find we are not alone.
The UN speeches from Palestine and Israel last Friday apparently meant little to Americans, where media coverage of any kind has been scanty. Nevertheless a recent opinion poll from the Pew Research Centre shows that 42% favour the US recognizing Palestine as an independent nation, with 26% against. Nearly a third (32%) expressed no opinion. The US veto obviously does not represent he American people, only the American elite.
Had they been able to see the numbers in the table below, it would have been impossible for Americans to have no opinion.

5.5 million Jewish
11 million (7M refugees)
Overall Land Controlled
Military Personnel
1,500 large
Combat aeroplanes
Nuclear weapons
$195 billion
$4 billion
Military expenditure
$10 billion
Killed (over 63 years)
Homes demolished
Refugees created

Obama has been vacillating between his own conscience, and the wishes of those pulling the strings. he, like so many others, has traded his own sense of justice for a seat at the top table – the outward show of power, the trappings, the posh dinner parties. It may be an uncomfortable presidency for him, but it is a good deal more uncomfortable for those who most needed the justice he promised.

August 05, 2011

Not Wanted In Israel

The grating sound of metal on metal and the shuddering CLANG of heavy prison doors closing on you. The smell of prison; the malicious looks of the guards; the claustrophobic feel of a cell which distorts your intestines and bleaches your thoughts even before you enter.

‘I am legally in Israel. I have not been charged with anything. Does anyone know I am here?’ The walls are as interested as the Israeli guards.

My ‘crime’ was to say I was going to Bethlehem. There were 11 of us on the Easyjet flight from Luton, and every one of us was to be incarcerated in the lies and disinformation that was Givon Jail, Ramla, about 30 km south east of Tel Aviv.

The press dubbed us the ‘flightilla’, and Netanyahu had unilaterally announced we were hooligans and dangerous provocateurs about to undertake violent demonstrations against Israel. In reality we were a bunch of (mostly) middle aged men and women who had been invited by 14 Palestinian civil society groups to join them in a cultural tour, which would include theatre and arts groups dedicated to helping young people to live under occupation and channelling their energies towards passive resistance. To me this way of dealing with the psychology of living under an apartheid system was important and fascinating, and I was eager to learn more.

But we were branded as radicals; this motley crew from Belgium, France, the US, Australia and the UK were suddenly an attack on the very existence of Israel – without a shred of evidence. Some of our party were interrogated by British forces at Luton airport. When they said they were not going to demonstrate, they were accused of lying. We had all undertaken not to demonstrate.

The flotilla to Gaza had been delayed by many weeks, and boats were still trying to get through as we packed our bags. Netanyahu, in his hysterical attack on us, had linked our long pre-booked flight to the flotilla and whipped the press into a frenzy of ill feeling. Watching the news unfold from the safety of my home in Wales, it was disconcerting to see how the facts of our trip were being so grossly distorted, but we were committed to supporting our Palestinian friends in our small way.

It transpired that I, alone, was the one whose passport was stamped by Israeli passport control to go through to Israel and, as I declared, Bethlehem. I waited for others to join me, but to my surprise none did. I was in touch by mobile with those who had been delayed and was told that about 40 people of all nationalities were being held in the basement of Ben Gurion airport. Security cameras had been rigged up and were filming. Suddenly I received a text from a fellow Newport resident. It said: “We are being attacked. GET HELP”. Soldiers had strode into their midst and were heaving people of Arab appearance away. It was supposed to provoke a riot. There were scuffles as those being taken were dragged back, but there was no riot.

I looked around. The airport was almost empty, a few uniformed people were milling around and I tried to enlist their help. They stalled. I showed them my text message and tried to explain the situation. No-one was interested. In the far corner of the large arrivals hall I espied 2 TV cameras so I approached them to enlist some help. I tried to show them the text message. One camera found me interesting, so thinking this was at least some insurance, I strode back into the airport, banging the doors open with my suitcase as I went. I was subsequently told that though they filmed me, my words were mistranslated when the piece was broadcast.

Lined up before me were about 17 security guards ready for trouble. They shooed the journalists away, and to my horror the press meekly obeyed. This left me alone and vulnerable and I knew it. When the doors closed, a large man made a grab for my mobile. I was asking for help at the time and was unprepared for this. With my suitcase in one hand and my phone in the other hand I tried to stay on my feet as a struggle ensued, it was five on one. A hand was held to my throat, my arms were battered, my legs were pulled from under me and I landed face down on the hard floor. Air expelled from my body as the full weight of a 17 stone man landed on the small of my back. I am a 57 year old woman! The mobile clattered in pieces to the floor and my arms were pulled roughly behind me, my wrists roughly handcuffed. I had only asked for help.

The following hours were interesting. I was told I was being taken to see my friends, but instead I was taken to an interrogation room where uniformed people sneered and jeered at me whilst some paperwork was devised, which I was asked to sign. It was written in Hebrew, so I refused. Next they told me I was being taken to my friends, but instead I was taken to a ladies cloakroom where about 20 women continued to try and humiliate me with shouts and snide remarks (you don’t have to know the language). My luggage was ransacked.

Finally they said I was being taken to my hotel, which I thought was strange because I had not booked one. I was unceremoniously put in a compartmentalised police van and shut in for hours. Through the narrow metal grating which served as a window, I could observe uniformed people smoking and laughing. A woman was shouting she needed a toilet. This provoked yet more laughing.

Razor wire, gates, bright lights and shouting announced I was at my ‘hotel’. One man got mad at me when I said I was legally in Israel and was being held without charge. I asked to make a phone call. I asked to see the British consulate. At no time did I raise my voice. He clenched his fists and shouted at me. “WE DON’T WANT YOU HERE. WE DON’T CARE IF YOU ARE LEGAL OR ILLEGAL. WE DON’T WANT YOU HERE”, which was a lovely welcome.

I was shown to a solitary cell and refused to enter. They promised violence. I stood my ground. Finally at 2.00am I was taken to a cell with 5 other women, and there we languished for 5 days. I was never allowed to make my phone call. Our group conversation with The British Consul was recorded.

I have never been charged with any crime nor received any paperwork. I am informed only that I have been in transit, and have never been to Israel. By inference the British Consulate supported this untruth.

There remain unanswered questions:

· Why does my government allow me to be assaulted and held in prison for 5 days without papers, or explanation, or charges?

· Why does my country accept Israel as a sovereign state when it has no fixed borders?

· Why does the UK and EU give Israel special status (EU-Israel Association Agreement) when its Human Rights position is untenable?

· Why can Israel sing in the Eurovision Song Contest and take part in UEFA football championships whilst being an apartheid state?

· Why are British police ordered to act on Israeli paranoia and lies and interrogate British citizens before they go to Israel?

· Why did the British Consul allow our conversations to be recorded?

· Why does the British Consul in Israel say that no visitors are allowed to visit the West Bank, when the FCO website says no such thing?

8 out of 13 million Jews choose not to live in Israel, who can blame them.

Full prison diary is at

June 18, 2011

Generals always fight the last war, especially if they have won it.

Fighting against the polluting and depletion of resources is the real war. Not bombing other countries. Yet they say generals always fight the last war, especially if they have won it, and the war against our own excessive consumerism has never before been fought. We cannot bomb pollution into shape.

Prosperity has brought us cars, fast-food, stress and frightening pollution. An average coal-fired power station emits the same amount of CO2 as the felling of 61 million trees a year, every year.

We know we have rampant air pollution which damages our health, we know we are choking our landfill with myriad consumer waste, and we know that our energy creation, with few exceptions, creates dangerous toxins which will foul the air and the ground indefinitely.

If everything we create comes from the planet, how is that humans have managed to turn passive worldly resources into poison?

Basically design has failed. We have to accept that fact, correct our mistakes and move forward. We have to accept that our methodology has not looked beyond the end of our noses. Short term gain has seen us burn oil to get our cars to the shops, burn heavily polluting coal to create energy so that we can cook our over-packaged, over-refined meals which fall short on nutrition and clog up landfill with their residue. It’s a lose/lose situation, but we could not have known that in the beginning because the whole picture was yet to emerge.

The climate is changing. Do we wait for more crop withering heat waves such as in Russia in 2010? Do we wait for water shortages as aquifers become depleted and salinated? Do we wait for droves of desperate climate refuges to knock at our own front doors? We do not know where the tipping point is. Nature is the timekeeper and we cannot see the clock.

We have never experienced these things. They are the unknowns, the complexities and the challenges for which no strategy has yet been written, yet this is the real war.

The faint-hearted turn away from the sheer magnitude of the task, but it can be done. It has been costed at $200billion a year of additional expenditure - one-eighth of the current world military budget. This is the new security budget and we must act at wartime speed. It can be done! In 1942 President Roosevelt met the car manufacturers and asked them to switch to making armaments. All car manufacture was stopped and in just 2 years American industry had created 229,600 aircraft and 5000 extra ships from a standing start. But it wasn't just quality, innovation was essential, and the Rolls-Royce Merlin aero engine went from 1000hp in 1939 to 2000hp by 1945 through intensive experimental development and the incorporation of new features into the production lines in a highly controlled and imaginative way.

Restructuring the economy – wartime speed

We cannot continue to measure economic data as a measure of success because the market is not telling us the truth. The true cost of everything we do and buy is hidden. We need tax shifts away from income tax towards carbon emitters. The amount of tax we pay will not change, but we must price pollution in order to minimise it. Puma, for example, have published the environmental impact of its business in cost terms. They understand that ecosystem services upon which businesses depend include pollination by bees, flood protection by forests and genetic resources from plants used for live-saving drugs. As these resources become ever-more scarce, businesses will have to pay to protect them. The services nature provides are not infinite, and therefore should no longer be considered as free.

Redefining security for the 21st Century – wartime speed

The threats are climate change, population growth, water shortages and failing states. Most governments are still choosing to define security in military terms , but you cannot have food, water or energy security without climate security. Food price stability depends on near record world grain harvests every single year. Grain harvest depends on water which is over used and diminishing. Saudi Arabia has depleted its fossil aquifer (fossil aquifers do not recharge with rainfall) and its 3 million ton wheat harvest is virtually eliminated. Similar events are happening all over the world. Food prices are rising.

Cut global carbon emissions by 80% - wartime speed.

Ban deforestation worldwide and plant billions of trees. It can be done! India mobilised 600,000 people to plant 10.5 million trees in ONE DAY. China has planted 2 billion trees, Ethiopia 1.5 billion, Turkey 700 million, and we need more.

We must arrest the fall in water tables by raising water productivity – more efficient irrigation systems and water efficient crops. Continuous recycling is needed in cities.

Help for Failing States – wartime speed

The absence of democratic power is symptomatic in environmental degradation. For example Yemen is running out of both oil and water. Economic and social stresses brought on by rapid population growth in a poverty stricken society where the absence of order allows depletion of resources such as wells drying out, trees disappearing and soils eroding.

Stabilizing population through education – wartime speed

Universal primary school education for girls and boys, reproductive healthcare and family planning services for girls and women everywhere. Let women choose the size of their families, not poverty and ignorance.

All this and more, but it can be done!

World on the Edge by Lester Brown -