Archive for September, 2009

It really is a jungle out there

It’s been alleged that Britain is proactive towards the international community and cares about all the vulnerable people out there but don’t believe it folks.  It’s a myth.

I’ve been reading about the immigration camps of Calais and about the way the residents there have been totally dehumanised by people who are supposed to care about human rights.  The people in the camps were mainly from Afghanistan and Iraq and seeing as Britain helped create the crisis then Britain, in any reasonable view, surely bears some responsibility.

It’s easy to get despondent but thank goodness for people like Green party leader, Caroline Lucas who said . . .

Rather than fulfilling their responsibilities to seekers of asylum under both EU and international law, the French and British governments are turning a blind eye to the suffering taking place on their own doorsteps. Home Secretary Alan Johnson‘s glee in the wake of this aggressive police raid is particularly disturbing.

“The plan for mass deportations of these refugees rides roughshod over the European Convention on Human Rights, the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Geneva Convention. And given that so many facing expulsion are children, the plans may also breach the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Makes me want to weep with shame.

To paraphrase Jim Jay from this excellent article, our own Home Secretary Alan Johnson took great delight in the swift and decisive rounding up of the happy campers.  Britain is refusing to take in any of the refugees in spite of the UNHCR asking them to give asylum to some of them.  Well Johnson has to consider what the good and compassionate citizens of Britain would say if he let more needy immigrants in.  And lord knows what the Daily Mail would have to say?  I mean, those pesky and bothersome Jungle dwellers were becoming an eyesore for the civilised people of France.  And Britain was shaking with apprehension at the thought of even more scrounging, sub-humans arriving to steal our jobs and our homes, to take over our beloved NHS and overrun our schools.  I mean we can’t have them coming here and contributing to our economy and doing all the crappy jobs and bringing in their skills and knowledge and stuff can we.  That would make us look even more dumb.

Sarcasm over, great shame on Johnson for putting public and political opinion before the needs of genuine humans.  And that goes for the rest of the sorry bunch and their cold and detached attitude towards the plight of these people including families, children.  Of course France has the right to maintain public order etc. but the refugees have the right to seek  asylum and these people have not been given access to the correct asylum procedure.  The French are simply sweeping the problem from one place to another.  Someone aptly said out of the jungle and into the wasteland.

It’s to their utter shame that Western governments are not only refusing to help these refugees but are treating them like criminals.  The British and French politicians are fully aware of the horrors occurring in Afghanistan.  They know damned well about the conditions that drive people to make extremely dangerous and high-risk journeys in order to seek asylum.  Who would got to dreadfully extreme lengths if they weren’t desperate?  Who wouldn’t try to seek a better life for their families when they’ve been living in holes for successive Winters with no access to education or health care, drinking water from disease-ridden muddy rivers and constantly fleeing from brutal, Western-empowered regimes?  Who wouldn’t?

Again,  who – wouldn’t?

What do we live for if it’s not to make life less difficult for each other? George Elliot


A Modest Proposal by poet Danny Chivers

Trident Talk

No doubt you’ll have heard that Gordon Brown has offered to cut his Trident missile-carrying submarines from four to three.  That’s an exact reduction of 25% so if the total long-term costs of replacing the fleet are estimated by the government to be around £65bn (disregarding independent estimations) and a quarter of those costs were slashed, they’d make a saving of £16bn, but maths being an illogical old thing, they’re telling us it will save between £3 to £5bn.  Well at least it would cover the £2bn cut that they’re going to make in the education budget.  That’s assuming they’ll use the saving wisely and not award it to fat-cat celebrity financial consultants or to pay off their second mortgages.

Once upon a moonshine ago, the then chancellor Gordon Brown was utterly opposed to replacing Trident.  He said so himself.  In some strongly worded words, he said, and I paraphrase, that the programme was unacceptably expensive, economically wasteful and militarily unsound.  He also said a replacement was against British treaty obligations.  Some time later he made a 360° U-turn and became passionate about replacing our wonderful weapon of mass destruction.  Now he’s making a U-turn on his U-turn.  Well, a quarter of a U-turn at least, which means we may finally begin to stop being in breach of the NPT.

I feel obliged to say it’s a good start but if Brown was a really, really brave man, he would cancel the whole deal and abolish the lot.  Then global nuclear disarmament would look like a real possibility.  We don’t need Trident.  It’s a pointless deterrent.  Renewing and maintaining the Trident fleet was never a sensible plan.  It never made me feel safer.   No-one wanted it apart from the guys in the defense industry – you know, the good buddies of the Prime Ministers and the Presidents who made potloads of money from war and conflict.

Now, let’s just end the whole sorry thing and focus on real threats.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t invest in our country’s security. We most certainly should.  But I’m thinking more in terms of imminently real threats such as climate change and unsustainable runaway dependence on fossil fuels.

Just think what good £100 billion could do.

One of the best things I’ve read in a long time

It’s actually a speech written and delivered by Written by Paul Hawken earlier this year.

The Commencement Address by Paul Hawken to the Class of 2009, University of Portland.

I have read it three times in a row.  It’s utterly inspiring.

Harvest Moon

The Autumn season is once again upon us and it’s a great time to appreciate and celebrate the fruits that Mother Earth provides in such wonderful abundance.

Today is the day of the Autumnal Equinox – or Mabon as it’s known in the olde worlde.  T’is a multi-faith/secular/pagan celebration and no single religion has the monopoly over this season.

It’s the time of the year when we gather our harvests, nature prepares for hibernation and we reflect on the past season.  The length of the day matches that of the night time.  Equal light and darkness.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if other things in life could be so naturally equal.  If only humankind would let in social equality so that the wonderful Earthly harvest could be shared equally and no-one would be hungry.

I love all the seasons.  Beauty, peace, drama and wonder thrive in all of them but Autumn is particularly vibrant.  The sun is lower and some of the most amazing sunsets can be seen at this time of the year.  And the harvest moon glows enchantingly at this time.

There’s nothing more satisfying in a mind, body and spirit kind of way, than getting out and walking on a crisp and fresh Autumn day so my usual message followeth:

Whatever your spirituality or life ethos happens to be, a merry, peaceful and reflective Autumntide is wished for.  Go outside.  Walk.  Don’t let the beauty of this season pass you by.

On Peace Day

Today is the 9th International Day of Peace but seeing as it’s now almost tomorrow and I haven’t heard news of any major breakthrough’s coming from the Department for Peace I guess it’s not worth holding out for any lasting ceasefires or global harmonic pledges.  Hell, the girls at work couldn’t even hold off the bitching for a day – not even for a couple of hours. What’s more, I’ve been trying to get onto the IDofP website since six o clock this evening but all it wants to do is pick a fight with me so I haven’t been able to see what the peace activists have been up to in honour of this day or whether I missed any one-minute truces.  I would post a link to their site but seeing as I can’t get on it, I won’t.   I could keep trying . . . if I was dedicated and all but it’s late so sod that for a game of soldiers.  Oh, wrong choice of phrase to use on a world peace day.

Well I tried their website again and it worked.  One hour before the day ends, it works.


Now I’m feeling bad.  They’re trying to build peace bridges between cultures, between people, between each other, and it’s not right to knock their efforts.   Ok, we can be cynical and say what’s the point or that we should strive for peace every day, but if the world had peace just one day a year, think what that would mean for humanity.  One day a year isn’t enough but it’s a start.

Like many other cynics, I’m of the belief that it’s pointless to go around feeling good and hugging each other for one day to give our consciences a 24 hour reprieve.  Holding one peace day a year won’t change the world and it sure as hell won’t bring about the much-needed mass ethical-cleansing of our leaders.  But I do respect and support the good intent of the Peace Day movements.  We desperately need to replace the global culture of killing with a sustainable culture of peace.  Who can argue with that?

On an individual basis, there’s nothing stopping us from seeking peace within ourselves and with those around us every day. It’s important to teach peace and lead by example for our children.  We should give our children a world in which they know only peace – a world where there is no alternative.

And you know, the Earth and the environment are closely linked to world peace.  If we cherished nature, we wouldn’t use weapons of mass destruction that devastate the Earth and kill innocent people.  If we cared about the environment, we wouldn’t use chemical weapons that poison the atmosphere and burn little children.  If we loved our Earth, we wouldn’t use heavy artillery that trashes the land, pollutes the air and the sea and causes massive human collateral.  Basically, if we respected our planet, there would be world peace.

The force and the strength for peace will come from people. And that will happen when people start to realize that all the diversity and differences we see of nationalities, of religions, of cultures, of languages, are all beautiful diversities, for they are only on the surface. And deep down we share the same humanity, the global humanity. Satish Kumar

The Age of Stupid

Big global screening event 21st/22nd September 2009.  Don’t miss it!