Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

14/12/2014

Green Surge #greensurge and #Votegreenif

It’s really exciting in the midst of all the horror that is being visited upon us by the Con-Dem government and their corporate cronies that the Green Party is really hitting its stride with online campaigning. The leap in membership this year is truly phenomenal. We’ve had so many barriers placed in our way (who possibly could have believed a senior BBC official would leave and become head of comms for UKIP – erm well me actually) and we’ve been ignored, denied, excluded and ridiculed by many who ‘inform’ those who vote in this country. We don’t need you – we CAN and WILL do it our way, and the people will see and know that there is a real alternative to your hate-fuelled, prejudiced, bigoted austerity for some and banquets with tax-avoiders for others. The people and the planet we depend on for our survival are not just numbers on a balance sheet for you to buy and sell. So #Votegreenif you really believe that a change for the common good is the only way to balance the scales.

26/05/2013

Universal Declaration of Human Rights – always remember, never forget and never look away.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
United Nations
[babel fish]

Preamble
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and
inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the
foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in
barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and
the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of
speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been
proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have
recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and
oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of
law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly
relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter
reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity
and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and
women and have determined to promote social progress and better
standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in
co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal
respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental
freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is
of the greatest importance for the full realisation of this
pledge,
Now, therefore,
The General Assembly
Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common
standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end
that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this
Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and
education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by
progressive measures, national and international, to secure their
universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the
peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of
territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards
one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in
this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race,
colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion,
national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the
political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or
territory which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust,
self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of
person.

Article 4
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the
slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person
before the law.

Article 7
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any
discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to
equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this
Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent
national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights
granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or
exile.

Article 10
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair, and public
hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the
determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal
charge against him.

Article 11
Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be
presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public
trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his
defence.
No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account
of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence,
under national or international law, at the time when it was
committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that
was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his
privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his
honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of
the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13
Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence
within the borders of each State.
Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his
own, and to return to his country.

Article 14
Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other
countries asylum from persecution.
This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions
genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary
to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15
Everyone has the right to a nationality.
No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor
denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16
Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to
race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found
a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during
marriage and at its dissolution.
Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full
consent of the intending spouses.
The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by
society and the State.

Article 17
Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in
association with others.
No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and
religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or
belief. and freedom, either alone or in community with others and
in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in
teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression:
this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference
and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any
media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20
Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and
association.
No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21
Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his
country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in
his country.
The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of
government, this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine
elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall
be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures

Article 22
Everyone as a member of society, has the right to social
security and is entitled to realisation, through national effort
and international co-operation and in accordance with the
organisation and resources of each State of the economic, social
and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free
development of his personality.

Article 23
Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment,
to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against
unemployment.
Everyone, without any discrimination has the right to equal
pay for equal work
Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable
remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence
worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other
means of social protection.
Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for
the protection of his interests.

Article 24
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable
limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for
the health and well-being of himself and of his family including
food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social
services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment,
sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of
livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and
assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall
enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26
Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free
at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary
education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education
shall be made generally available and higher education shall be
equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
Education shall be directed to the full development of the
human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human
rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding,
tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious
groups and shall further the activities of the United Nations for
the maintenance of peace.
Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education
that shall be given to their children.

Article 27
Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural
life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific
advancement and its benefits.
Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and
material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or
artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in
which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be
fully realised.

Article 29
Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free
and full development of his personality is possible.
In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be
subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely
for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the
rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirement
of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic
society.
These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised
contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for
any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or
to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights
and freedoms set forth herein.

With thanks to davidpbrown.co.uk.
Human Rights should be universal – available freely to all, not just the rich, not just the bosses, not just the corporations – but every single human being on the planet. Those rights should also be transferred by extension of kindness and respect to every single millimeter of this our planet home. Until all are free.

22/04/2013

Earth Day

How many people think, actually think about the planet that we all live on. How is sustains us, where their food comes from, how all of the ‘stuff’ they have came into being, and where ‘away’ is when you throw stuff away.
If you do nothing else today just spend 5 minutes looking around and thinking about ‘stuff’ – the earth is amazing, but it is a finite resource and we really need to slow down – especially us in the ‘west’ – and think about how we live and what will happen in the future.

15/04/2013

The Vegan Society. A wish fulfilled.

I became a vegetarian, for the second time, when my youngest daughter was born. We live in a society where eating meat is the casual, unthinking norm. Being different is hard – and sometimes a person caves. I caved when I was 22 after being veggie for about 5 years for reasons personal and numerous. I’m not proud of it so let’s move on to things more recent and relevant.

So, my youngest daughter was born, now aged 18, and I decided I wanted to commit to being a vegetarian for environmental reasons, and that I wanted my children to be raised as vegetarians. A lot of this was prompted by a Greenpeace leaflet that I saw. I joined and I’m still a member. I suddenly started to become aware of a lot of things that were occurring around the world that I had never seen, heard, or been aware of before. Unfortunately I would say that there is even more selective information passing today than there was then.

I had some false starts, I had challenges and I found myself being invited out by friends less as no-one seemed to know how to cook food anymore – there is still so much fear and trepidation when you tell people you don’t eat animal products; people who normally eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, people who can cook well, people who know how to use the internet or cookbooks – just the word vegetarian seems to send them into a panic.

I carried on quite happily for quite a few years thinking that I was doing a good thing, living healthily and helping the planet and preventing the worst cruelty to animals. Then one day I decided to give up any animal related items from my diet just for a few weeks. I’m not religious, but I do try to have a period of reflection and self-sacrifice once a year – we live in such a relatively wealthy and comfortable society that I feel it is good to challenge ourselves to live less comfortably occasionally. I decided to go ‘vegan’ for a month. No dairy, no eggs, no milk chocolate, no milky coffees or cups of tea, no quiches, no pizzas and no cheese sandwiches!
The first thing I noticed was my knees! I used to have terribly painful knees – 30 something and coming down stairs in the morning like an 80-year-old – tests at the doctors had revealed ‘markers for inflammation’ but no real solution – but here I was almost skipping downstairs in the morning – this was very interesting!

So, I tried a range of soya milks until I found one I really liked in tea (Sunrise unsweetened just in case you’re interested!), I bought a couple of vegan cookbooks and rifled through my beloved Rose Elliot cookbook for the more vegan friendly recipes. What I didn’t do was immediately rush out and start buying the expensive, and for me, not particularly enjoyable, like for like replacements for items like cheese and eggs – I just cooked a lot more with vegetables, beans and eventually nuts (which I really should have been doing from the start – but we’ve all been made so wary of them, which we really don’t need to be – just avoid peanuts has been my general feeling as they’re not particularly healthful anyway). So – I just got on with life – it has made eating out pretty difficult (especially when I was also diagnosed gluten intolerant) – but I can’t afford it anyway and I’d rather cook a meal for friends than go somewhere and pay large sums of money for rotten food prepared by people who don’t care and often can’t cook anyway (how many ‘eateries’ nowadays just have bulk frozen meals delivered – I’m not giving them my money!) but I feel well in myself and the longer I’ve been vegan, and the more I’ve learnt about how to shop and cook vegan, but also about the terrible environmental damage that dairy-farming causes and the cruelty of egg and dairy production systems (including organic) the more glad I am that I challenged myself 5 years ago to try it for just a month.

Just before Christmas last year I happened to walk past my daughter’s computer – I spotted The Vegan Society logo scrolling down the side of the screen and clicked on it to see what the post said. ‘Do you want to work for The Vegan Society?’ is what it said!

So – to cut this rambling story far shorter than it could be, and yep I know I waffle ( yep it is vegan waffle!) – it’s a fault, one of many, I do have them and I acknowledge that – I got a job, different to the one I applied for, but still it’s a job. Pretty much my dream job. Ever since I started working in the charity sector, helping to set up SENSIS and then setting up the NAS branch I have wanted to work in the charity and voluntary sector for, hopefully, the rest of my working life. I cannot imagine ever being able to work somewhere that I know huge profits are being used to cause misery and suffering and destroy the planet – it would break my heart and I don’t think a broken-hearted employee is a good employee!

I have worked at The Vegan Society now for nearly 6 weeks. It is an amazing place to work, incredibly busy, requiring multi-tasking, multi-skills, a frenetic work pace and adaptability – but I also work with the most amazing people in a really friendly, supportive environment doing what I love doing, for a cause that is really special and important. How many people can say that about their jobs?

29/03/2013

Lazy, greedy property developers and the battle for a better future – short term economic gain for a few and a long term poor future for many

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/shakespeare-birthplace-trust-no-sell-out-save-shottery#
Big business again tries to ride roughshod over beautiful countryside that could be used for feeding the nation in a sustainable way, and short term profit tries to destroy history, culture and beauty. One day there will not be an inch of agricultural land left – and as an island we will then have nowhere to grow our own food if there is ever a conflict. There are tens of thousands of empty bedrooms in mansions and Mcmansions in this country, and hundreds of thousands of abandoned offices, factories and pieces of industrial/developed land that is not used for its purpose any longer – this is sheer and utter LAZINESS on the part of developers – wanting virgin land that is quick and cheap to develop as opposed to land that has to be cleared and/or cleansed first. WE MUST STOP lazy and greedy developers – most of whom take from this country but do everything they can to avoid putting anything back (financed by international investors, with international shareholders and using every tax-avoidance scheme in the book) and stop believing that such schemes are in the interest of local communities – THEY ARE NOT! The transport links and job opportunities, school and health services are not present in this location – there are so many more suitable places. This development is a lazy, selfish, greedy, cynical money-making scheme – another commuter dormitory of off-plan houses drawn up decades ago with no imagination or sympathy for their surroundings or the wider needs of the community OR the future inhabitants (or the planet!) Are the houses going to be ‘future-proof’ – will they be fully disabled accessible for our ageing population? Will they conform to the absolute best environmental standards – or the minimum? We deserve better and we should demand better – and this campaign is doing that! Who owns Wildmoor Spa – do those who comment in favour of this development know – or are they working on behalf of that organisation, an organisation that is responsible for some of the worst horrors of modern planning that are destroying the character and the environment around Stratford, leading to traffic chaos, social isolation, the loss of historic local family businesses and much needed farm land in the area. In 20 years there will be no tourists, there will be no farm land, there will be no independent shops – there will just be rows and rows of homogenic, poorly built, poor quality houses and a few supermarkets, where those who cannot get jobs, or just work in the supermarkets for minimum wage, wander backwards and forwards with nothing beautiful to look at, no lessons of history to learn from and the planet slowly but surely suffocates…..

07/12/2012

About

About.

Love this – telling it like it is – but with humour – something I sometimes forget when I am struggling with the anger and the sadness of what is being done to our society and all of the most vulnerable and voiceless.

08/11/2012

Excellent critique and extension of Monbiot’s piece.

07/11/2012

Why leaving saving the planet (or pretty much anything really) to the politicians is pointless

An open letter from George Monbiot to the government (current and previous) about their policy of ‘business first’ which is likely to lead to environmental catastrophe for the ash tree – and who knows what else:
http://www.monbiot.com/2012/10/29/what-were-you-thinking/

What Were You Thinking?
October 29, 2012

An open letter to the former ministers who appear to have let a devastating tree disease into the UK.

To Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for the Environment from 2007 to May 2010

and

Caroline Spelman MP, Secretary of State for the Environment from May 2010 to September 2012.

Sent to them by email on 28th October 2012 and published on the Guardian’s website, 29th October 2012.

Dear Hilary and Caroline,

I am writing to ask why you failed to ban imports of ash seedlings and saplings from continental Europe into the United Kingdom, when it has been clear for several years that the species was widely infected on the Continent with ash die-back (Chalara fraxinea).

You are both said – by people who worked with you and others who know you well – to have taken your brief as secretaries of state for the environment seriously. Yet it now emerges that there were repeated warnings from experts about the spread and gravity of the disease, and that European ecologists – as well as British foresters and conservationists – were begging the UK government to take all necessary measures to prevent the fungus from arriving here, so that there would at least be one uninfected redoubt.

Am I wrong in thinking that you ignored their warnings? If so, could you show me what action you took to prevent the disease from arriving here?

At the moment Owen Paterson, the current secretary of state, is being held responsible for the problem. But by the time he took charge of Defra, it was too late. All he could do was to shut the stable door after the horse had bolted. I believe that politicians will not take the long-term consequences of their decisions seriously unless they are held to account for them. Political short-termism is one of the natural world’s greatest threats.

So, though neither of you are now in government, I think you both have some explaining to do: quite a lot of explaining, in fact. If ash die-back is now spreading across Britain as a result of your combined inaction, you carry responsibility for causing one of the greatest environmental crises ever to have struck this country: a profound loss that will be felt by everyone who loves the natural world.

I would be grateful if you could tell me what happened – or what didn’t. Why did you fail to ban imports of live ash trees and to take other measures necessary to prevent the arrival of the disease? Was it an obsession with free trade at any cost? Was it a desire not to be seen to be “anti-business” by regulating corporate activity, however strong the case for so doing? Was it the lack of political incentives, as very few people outside government were aware of the danger, which meant that the political cost of inaction was low?

Why did you fail to alert parliament and the public to the danger? I have checked the parliamentary record, and found that not a word has been said there, in any forum, about the disease before 11th October 2012. There is a single mention of the pathogen before October 2012 on the Defra website. A progress report on plant biosecurity published in July 2012 notes that, at an unspecified date, but presumably during the previous winter,

“Fera made a significant interception of Chalara faxinea [sic] on ash plants imported from the Netherlands and followed this up with FC [Forestry Commission] providing assistance in the form of disease recognition.”

In other words, Caroline, your department was aware that infected seedlings were arriving in this country and that officials did not possess the expertise required to spot them. Yet you still allowed imports to continue. What were you thinking? Where were the urgent warnings, the urgent action required to defend this country from a pressing threat?

Those of us who are now dreading the likely outcome of the disease, and wondering how, in the information age, we could have been kept in the dark about it by the department you ran, would dearly like some answers. I undertake to publish them as soon as they are received.

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,

George Monbiot

25/06/2012

BBC – still home to objective journalism? Interviewer has an agenda when interviewing single mother.

http://www.change.org/petitions/bbcnewsnight-i-deserve-an-apology#
Bring back proper objective journalism – not state sponsored rhetoric and advertising. The BBC is now a puppet for the right wing culture of victimisation.
I am a single parent, although I was married when I had my 2 children – but my ex-husband turned out to not be a very good father or husband and I had to leave for safety reasons. I had a very good career and was well paid – but my eldest daughter struggled in education and was eventually diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition. The education system is under-funded and unable to cope with any child who is not compliant and average. I had to give up my job due to my daughter being excluded by the education system and due to the ridiculous benefits system eventually lost my home too. Why is it that millionaires who can afford to pay accountants to help them pay no tax at all are somehow seen as model citizens, evidence of ‘hard workers’ – but someone like me, who has worked, paid taxes and now cares on a very low income for my family but takes a minute amount of money out of the state (but tries to give back by volunteering many hours to help others, studies and hopes one day to go back into work hopefully helping others) is seen as an evil, lazy scrounger. I support this young woman and her right to make choices with her life and her body. The interviewer should be ashamed of herself.

30/05/2012

Petition to ask for Warwick District Council to impose a ‘Nil Cap’ on adult entertainment venues

This petition has been set up by a group in Leamington and Warwick, after they successfully challenged a request by a sexual entertainment venue for a new licence.
Please consider signing it:
http://www.change.org/petitions/warwick-district-council-impose-a-nil-cap-on-sexual-entertainment-venues
It is well known that there are links between violence towards women and such venues.
Amnesty is also running a campaign to end violence against women (of course violence against men is unacceptable and to be deplored – but sadly violence against women is far more common, frequent, sexual in nature and like to end in death).
http://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=10254
In this atmosphere of giving businesses anything they want in the name of ‘growth’ and ‘progress’ and job creation, it needs to be recognised that often such venues cause other businesses to lose custom, it can cause areas to become no-go areas, and it can affect an area at all times of the day – not just at night, as a general air of seediness decends and there is some evidence that drugs and drug dealers are also linked with such venues. Is this what we want in the middle of our communities – communities that will be eroded in the name of profit?