Archive for the ‘Offload’ Category

Olympic Legacy

I used to love the Olympic  Games. Me and my dad, we loved watching the events together and cheering on the Brits . But the more I learn about the truth behind the glossy Olympic veneer, the more disillusioned I become.

We’re told that the Games leave a great legacy for the host country – that the economy will greatly benefit, that tourism will soar, that employment, investment and regeneration will thrive.  They convince us that the Games will encourage the whole nation to get active and that suddenly everyone will be transformed into healthy, keep-fit fanatics.  They sell us the idea of superb sporting facilities –  swimming pools, tennis courts and such-like that will be available for everyone to utilise post-Olympic games.

Well there is another line of thinking which argues that the golden Olympic legacies are mostly mythical, that there is a more sinister side to the Olympic movement and that beyond the hype, real lives are detrimentally and irreversibly affected.

Well let’s take a wee look:

Planning displacement/Forced evictions. How many people do you think were displaced in Beijing to make way for the games?  This report says it’s 1.5 million.  And this website goes into more detail.

Atlanta 96– what went on there?  Amongst other stuff, housing rights violations and – get this – the criminalisation of the poor and the homeless, many of whom were detained without trial for the duration of the games so they wouldn’t be an embarrassment.

London 2012 – how many evictions have taken place so far in London alone due to the building works?  What about the allotments that have been forecably taken to make way for the games?  The businesses that have lost their sites.  And the social housing estate, Clays Lane, that became subject to a compulsory purchase order, against the wishes of the tenants, to build the athlete’s village.

Ethics. London 2012 is so ethical that it’s own ethics chief resigned because of its connections, via Dow Chemicals, with the 1984 Bhopal disaster that killed thousands of its citizens.  When you consider just who the leading corporate sponsors are it’s hard not to be cynical . . .  BP, the aforementioned Dow Chemicals, Rio Tinto . . .  a trio of polluting multinationals with dire environmental records as official sponsors of the “greenest games ever”? Give me a break!

Democratic rights. Be in no doubt, preemptive arrests are very much on the cards at these London games for peaceful protesters.  Just wait and watch our PM trample on our civil liberties, empowering the police to make sweeping arrests before objectors even begin their peaceful protests at the games.  You’ll have to look hard though because it won’t be widely reported.

There’s more.

The Food. McDonald’s (hiss, spit), official partner of the games, have pledged to use only British chickens but what about the beef and the fish? And in any case, come on!  McDonald’s! The unhealthiest food in the world being ‘officially’ supplied at a major, global sports event!  Someone had a sarcastic sense of humour there.

The environmental impact.  The London games are supposed to be the greenest ever.  UK officialdom wants the London games to be an environmental showcase and wants us to believe that the environment won’t be touched at all by these games but nobody can tell me that there has been no major environmental impact.  It’s not possible.  I can’t even be bothered going into detail.  I’ve gone on enough and I’d be stating the bleeding obvious anyway.

To sum up, basically, they’ve sold us a tale of turning the nation into health and fitness fanatics but does anyone really believe that people will get off their backsides en masse and get jogging because they been so inspired by nine-minute sprinters or record-holding marathon runners?  No, we will all watch the games from the comfort of our lounges (or if we’re lucky, from a seat in the stadium) and then we’ll forget about it!  And I’m sure all those super-duper sports facilities that they say the citizens will inherit really will be fantastic – if you can afford the membership fees!

Sure, there will be economic benefits but they will be short-term and there’s little evidence to say that these benefits actually reach those most in need and much historical evidence to say that existing entrepreneurial types and wealthy stakeholders usually reap the most of the rewards.  They say that tourism will benefit and yes, if the games were to be held in Backendofnowhere I’m sure that many ordinary citizens would greatly benefit from increased tourism (or perhaps not depending on your view but you get the point).  But the games are always held in major cities, eg, London.  Tourism is London’s biggest industry and it’s booming, so where will the added value come from?  It’s so small, it’s more likely to cause greater pressure and utter turmoil.

The misrepresentation, the myths, the corporate spin, the total greenwash. Folks, the social and environmental impacts of the games are considerable.  The Olympic legacy is not all rosy but is in fact, pretty much all fallacy.  It certainly does not result in all-round sustainable urban facelifts or jobs for life or booming economies.

So, whose boycotting the games then?

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Tree People – we need you now!

It seems that our unmandated government really has it in for our forests.  They have thus-far failed to slip through a bill that would allow them to sell our woodlands to private firms who would subsequently turn them into a profit-making  commodity.  So now they’re going to revise planning laws making it easier for developers to, well, develop on them.

If we are to believe our government (snigger), these proposed new planning policies will have no impact on our green and pleasant land but their promises will soon be put to the test according this article in today’s Guardian. The writer tells us that Oaken Wood in Kent is potentially at risk due to an application for a quarry extension and this highlights some serious concerns.  From the article:

At stake, under a single application for the extension of an existing quarry, is 32 hectares of ancient woodland, home to rare lady orchids, firecrests and nightingales. Under pressure from conservation groups including the Woodland Trust, and thanks to the efforts of local campaigners, Eric Pickles, local government secretary, called in the controversial application in July last year. It is scheduled to go to public inquiry in November. . . .

. . . . Today, ancient woodland covers just 2.7% of England and is home to more wildlife of conservation concern than any other terrestrial habitat. These woods are irreplaceable and require protection.

For goodness sake folks, you heard him! We don’t have much ancient woodland left in England and when it’s gone, it’s gone! Our woodlands are important on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start but to paraphrase Earl Attlee when asked what plans they had to improve ancient woodland protection in the final version of the National Planning Policy Framework, he said it’s not possible to put an economic value on ancient woodland because it is irreplaceable.

It all takes me back to a time, many moons ago, when I camped out in a beautiful ancient woodland with a bunch of tree-hugging eco-warriors in an effort to stop it from being bulldozed to make way for the M65.  Well, I say camped-out . . . taking food, drinks and blankets each day to the protesters and generally playing a supportive role would be closer to the truth but hey, I was there with the likes of  Swampy, suitably clad in wellies, camouflage trousers and an attitude.

The protesters weren’t all stereotypical tree huggers with dreadlocks and doc-martens but they became known by the locals (who mostly supported them it has to be said) as the Tree People. And these guys were fantastic.  They were radical and inventive and totally committed.  They’d lived in those self-built tree-houses for months and they were determined not to give way.  The stakes were high and their determination was downright heroic. They constructed a woodland network of ropes and tree-top walkways so that they were all connected making it very difficult for the axe-men to chop even one tree down without risking the life of a protester.  As non-violent resisters they suffered many injuries at the hands of the burly security men but they never gave up.  At one point militant-me had a very heated debate with the sheriff of somewhere-or-other (probably not Nottingham) but, being  the mardy-pants that I am, I backed off when two large, grumpy-looking policemen started to walk towards me with intent.  Yep, I was passionately proactive and I really believed in the cause but those coppers looked big and mean and there’d already been several arrests.

Anyhoo, needless to say, we were unsuccessful in our efforts. The inevitable forced eviction took place and those yellow-hats stood smugly by as the activists were dragged ruthlessly from the their tree-houses.  Subsequently, and very sadly, the beautiful woodland, where deer used to roam and wildflowers grew freely, was razed to the ground. And now a dirty, great big concrete motorway sits in its place.

I might have turned into little more than a keyboard warrior since then but I’ll tell you this folks – if our few remaining woodlands are put under serious threat of demolition because of these proposals, I WILL GET OFF MY LAZY ARSE!  I will reclaim my activism mojo!  I will tie myself to a tree and I won’t budge until those bloody useless, self-serving, arrogant set of nobs in government do something positive and permanent to protect our magnificent and vitally, vitally important woodlands.

I kid you not.

Sack Andrew Lansley

Seriously, seriously!  Why is this guy still here?  His manic NHS mission has been nothing short of shambolic from the very start.  But then, Cameron – the man in a position to sack him – has stubbornly supported his reckless scalpel-wielding all along so he needs to be punished too.

Really folks, he so badly shouldn’t be here now.  He has failed on many levels and the bill hasn’t even gone through yet!  The scale of opposition to this remarkably ideological Health and Social Care Bill is vast yet Lansley and Cameron, in their isolated world of privatisation and non-accountability, continue to arrogantly bulldoze their way through while pretending to listen to the health care experts who are screaming WOAH! at every hurdle.

It’s actually really bad.

But, let me pause for a minute . . . we’re not stupid.  We can see what they’re doing.  I see health care workers on all levels growing more alarmed and I’m confident that these reckless plans will crumble.  Even David Cameron’s spinning skills won’t be able to salvage this bill.

Thing is, the very fact that they pursued this crazy dream of bulldozing the NHS and turning it into a profiteering machine for themselves and their buddies in the first place shows just how inept, uncaring, arrogant, and totally profit-centred these Tory boys are . . .  so we need to stay vigilant.

If we want to see health justice, Lansley, having lost all credibility, must be sacked, the current bill must be scrapped . . .  and Cameron must be slapped across the face, repeatedly, with a soggy dressing that has just been removed from a chronic leg ulceration.  (I have contacts in that department).

Seriously folks, for the sake of the nations health (and my mental health), please let me wake up tomorrow to the news that Andrew Lansley has been fired.

This and that and rather a lot more

It’s increasingly challenging for me to find the time to blog these days so it’s frustrating to say the least when there’s just so much to blog about.  For instance, George Monbiot’s nuclear-powered, shot0gun-held-to-his-head U-turn on nuclear power.  Well he must have had a shot-gun held to his head when he wrote this.  Either that or his body was taken over and possessed by an evil force from the nuclear industry.  I mean how else do you explain such an aggressive change-of-heart from someone who spent most of their life campaigning against nuclear power.  He appears to have based his newly-found affection for nuclear energy on the fact that Fukushima was hit by an earthquake and a tidal wave and didn’t cause a global catastrophe.  Oh!  He plays down his pre-Fukushima stance by describing his then views as nuclear-neutral.  Well that’s a load of tripe!  He was never nuclear-neutral.  He was blatantly anti-nuclear.  Here’s what he said a few years ago…

“…nuclear power spreads radioactive pollution, presents a target for terrorists and leaves us with waste that no government wants to handle.”

There’s loads more where that came from.  Hmph!  Bloody turn-coat.

And what about this quiet little item?  A new EU directive comes into play soon which will give more power to Big Pharma.  More power! I hear you exclaim.  I know!  Anyway, this new directive sounds ok at first glance. Indeed, but there are implications.  A EU-wide ban will be in place in a few months but from the 1st of May, hundreds of herbal remedies that have been used in the UK for decades will no longer be available to people who have been benefiting from their properties.  This of course may result in people trying to get hold of them via the Internet thus making the control of such remedies impossible . . . and there’s also the added risk that some of these Internet-acquired products will be of a much poorer quality.  It’s a big win for the pharmaceutical profiteers but let me just ask the politicians who’ve made this decision (I suspect muchly due to some sneaky hand-shaking and bribery from the drug companies) a question . . . What do you think people were doing to relieve their illnesses hundreds and hundreds of years ago?  And actually, an important thing to consider is that many herbal medicines are taken by healthy people in order to try and prevent illness.  And we all know the saying about prevention and cure.  But there’s no profit in healthy people is there.  Avaaz have a petition up here.

They’d better keep their hands off my herbal tea!!

Is there room to squeeze in a little personal message to David Cameron?  Yes?  Ooh goodie. . . .

David, do be quiet dear.  Do try to stop being such a condescending twit.  I know it’s hard to keep up the facade of nice, popular man-of-the-people but please try harder to hide your real chauvinistic, homophobic character.  We know you were only trying to be funny and clever and that, but you’re not funny and clever.  You’re witless and boring so do hush up.  Oh and David dear, please try to keep that arrogant, snot-faced, creepy little chancellor of yours under control.  His sneering, giggly, immature face is really making me want to vomit bucket-loads each and every time I see it.  Thank you dear.

Speaking of the patronising Cameron, I’m taking bets on how long after the Royal wedding will it be before Shallow Cam starts using the happiness of the event to spin his ideological visions for Britain.

And to finish, I’ll pop up a picture or two, just to keep the place alive, barely, but alive just the same.  Oh and I’ve sneaked a little video in at the end – a party political broadcast of the Green variety.  Go on – vote for the Green party.  You know you want to.

My middlie taking part in the May Pole dancing for St. George’s day.  So there, BNP.  You can stop spreading the myth that celebrating Englishness is being outlawed.

Bolton Abbey Priory.  I took that picture with my broken little Nikon Coolpix L22.  Impressed?  I am.

Newscloud of sorts

Big Fish Rugby Tour in Swansea . Fabulous rugby-playing by our Under 11 boys . Much bad sportsmanship displayed by winning team’s coaches by-way-of entering two teams separately and doing some dubious jiggery-pokery with said teams . Me-laddie getting pushed about by huge brute of a boy of the ginger-haired variety . Me trying in vain to mask my blatant glee when me-laddie got his revenge on aforementioned huge ginger brute by making an enormously heroic tackle on him thus sending him flying into touch and me-laddie going on to score a magnificent try .  Magnificent try disallowed by dodgy and quite clearly biased ref . Gorgeous weather . Lot’s of freckles .  Too much beer . Too much food . Too little time . Late nights/early mornings . Back to work . Off work again! . Lot’s of pain and soreness, mostly caused by a confused immune system that wouldn’t know a healthy joint (that does not need it’s owners immune system to kick in and randomly attack it and all its brother and sister joints thankyouverymuch) from a real live streptococcal throat infection (that actually does require some attention by said immune system . . . and promptly if you pleaseandthankyouverymuch) . sigh .  Much outpouring of misery and feeling sorry-for-oneself . Back to work . double sigh . Much team conflict . sigh, wail, gnash teeth . Lot’s of regret for having returned to work instead of prolonging sickness leave by exploiting existing condition .

Thank the gods of mercy for weekends.

Arts cuts, police cuts, nursing, crime and tangents . .

Isn’t it strange how the news regarding police cuts doesn’t seem to get the left as animated as they get towards other cuts.  I know the police have not won many public hearts lately due to their public displays of aggression and intimidation at recent protest rallies and suchlike – and quite right too.  We’ve seen some appalling police behaviour and the lack of accountability is downright criminal but I guess they’re not all our enemy.  Just as there are good and bad nurses and good and bad teachers, the same surely applies to the police.

I had three police officers at my house this morning.  Two officers came and went followed by a crime scene investigator.  They were here, in short, because my eldest daughter’s car was broken into.  The poor girl has only had the car for one week.  She was chuffed to bits about it.  What with the sky-scrapingly high insurance costs for new, young drivers, she thought she would never be able to afford a car.  But to her credit,  she somehow made it happen.  She chose the smallest, cheapest, cutest little car available – one with low economical running costs and not so harsh on the environment.

Being a student nurse,  she receives a little bursary each month which just about pays for said car.  But crucially, being a student nurse, she has to go on placements far and wide and at all times of the day and night so a car is really quite essential.  I was very tempted, incidentally, to talk her out of nursing.  She was all set up for university.  Had a guaranteed place at Liverpool and everything.  She couldn’t wait to start.  Why she changed her mind, I’ll never know.  And why she chose to go into nursing befuddles me even more but I suspect her boyfriend, and the reluctance to leave him, had something to with the decision. Ho hum.

Anyway (tangents dear girl, tangents), her shiny, new little car was violated right outside our house the other night and she was gutted.  The perpetrator just popped the lock right out of the door.  Nothing was taken because there was nothing to take.  The police officer said he was probably looking for spare change or hoping to find an ipod because the car came with an ipod thingy where you can plug in your ipod and listen to your playlist.

The first two officers who attended were very nice and helpful.  They showed care and concern towards my daughter and were very attentive.  After they’d completed their bit they left and told me a crime scene investigator would come along later to take fingerprints and stuff.  They asked my daughter if she would need to use the car today and she said yes – she had to go into uni at 12 o clock so they said they’d try to get the forensic guy to come before then.  I didn’t expect this to happen but lo and behold, the lovely lady turned up at about 10.30 with her little black bag of forensics tools.  I was impressed.  She too was very caring and concerned but she couldn’t do any dusting on the car door because it was raining.

I had been listening to the news all morning and there was much talk about the police cuts and cuts to the Arts.  Objections to the Arts cuts, by the way, are easy to dismiss but I don’t mind admitting that I object to these cuts almost as much as other cuts, not least because Art enriches all our lives but more importantly,  there will be many-a knock-on effect by way of employment, education and suchlike and will result in only the well-off being able to afford to study an Arts degree or pursue a particular ‘Arts’ talent.  And youth theatre groups, sports groups . . . what about all those youngsters who are committing time and energy to something fulfilling that they enjoy . . . something that helps to keep them fit and healthy.  We already know that too many unfit teenagers spend their time hanging around streets with nothing to do and nowhere to go.  Tell me what’s beneficial about taking away their facilities when those things give them a focus, where they can learn about commitment, self-respect and teamwork.  The Arts have the power to transform and vastly improve lives.  I’ve seen it working.  Dance teachers are creating community dance-groups everywhere.  It’s classless, genderless and available across the scale.  The kids who attend such groups are growing daily in self-esteem and self-confidence.  And they’re active for god’s sake!  Off the streets.  Not being thugs!  Not being a nuisance!  Not committing crimes!  Isn’t that the goal?  You need look no further than the absolutely fantastic Dance United to realise just how effective and empowering such groups can be.

Basically, Arts funding is there to provide equal opportunities for everybody to have their lives enriched and improved. The Arts cuts are regressive and will make Art and Culture elite and inaccessible to all but a privileged few.   Osborne’s few.

Anyway, where was I? (More tangents.  Focus girl!) My police experience, although brought about by a nasty and annoying crime, was an altogether positive one but it got me thinking about the cuts and how it might affect the three nice officers who dealt with our case.  I don’t know anything about the structure of police forces.  I know that like nurses, doctors, paramedics etc. police officers take a lot of crap from the public.  They deal with aggressive and abusive people on an almost daily basis and are always the first in line for a bashing and being blamed for everyone’s problems.  I do stand by my belief that a lot of officers join the police force for the wrong reasons (ie: power, means to bully etc) but generally speaking, I like to think that, like nurses, teachers etc., most of them are decent with a genuine desire to help others and like most of us, they face worrying times and insecurities.

There’s more to a police force than the images we see of police thuggery on our TV screens and the government’s promises not to cut front line jobs is meaningless given that front-liners depend on non-front-line staff to do their jobs properly so no matter how they spin it, the cuts will detrimentally affect the police and how they protect the public and no matter how bitter the relationship between activist and policeman is, it’s surely in our interest to support them at this time.

Gosh!  It’s all or or nothing with me.

On hating George Osborne

“No attempt at ethical or social seduction can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.” Aneurin Bevan

Did you know that if you google the words I hate George Osborne you get 612,000 results.

I try not to give in to the hate emotion.  I really do.  My mother always encouraged us not to use the word hate when referring to someone we don’t like but it’s not always easy to control those feelings when one takes an extreme disliking to someone.  The old emotions tend to take over the logical, calm side and its not usually a pretty sight.  And dammit, that bloody detestable fella George Osborne has gone and forced me to disrespect my dear mum’s sagely advice by making me hate him with a passion.  A fiery, burning passion.  I hate the Tories collectively but I’m feeling a dark urge to specifically target old Gideon.

There’s even a Facebook page called I hate George Osborne and I really don’t know what’s stopping me from joining.  Dignity probably.  I mean when I’ve done with the hate rant that I’m about to embark upon, I’ll need to salvage any dignity remaining and joining such a Facebook group would only make me feel even more sullied. Kind of like how I feel when I read Melanie PhillPots blog or accidentally tune in to the Jeremy Kyle Show.

So why do I hate him?

Lordy, where do I start?

It’s not just his lamentable and downright spiteful budget or the callous cuts that make me detest this vile person.  It’s the smug, uncaring and grossly arrogant demeanor of the man.  He sneers at people folks.  It’s not an unfortunate act of nature that makes his facial features appear to look sneery.  He really does willfully sneer.  And remember when he poked fun at Nicholas Sarkozy for being short.  Now I’m no admirer of Sarkozy, far from it, but for a politician who should be displaying a mature and responsible public face to make fun of a person’s  physical appearance is a personal and really rather shallow thing.  Not funny at all. Gideon thought it was though.  You can see the egotistical twerp laughing hysterically at his own joke here.  Don’t watch it.  You will cringe. He’s also got away with ageist slurs against Dennis Skinner and homophobic jibes against Chris Bryant – letting slip the true bigoted colours of the Tory boys.

And there’s even more to hate.  It’s not just the deliberate targeting of the poor and the squeezed middle.  It’s the unethical pro-wealthy, right-wing ideology that drives him.  It’s the grim fact that he really does aspire to keeping the poor in their place while preserving the luxuriously elite status of a small group of wealthy people.  It’s his blatant generosity towards big business in the face of those at risk of losing their jobs/homes/benefits.  It’s the stealthy tearing away of workers rights and family-friendly flexible choices so that employers can use people as they wish and pay them rock-bottom wages.

In a nutshell, it’s the fact that he is stubbornly pursuing this Tory ideology of a Thatcher magnitude without ever having won a true mandate.  I really believe he is actually enjoying inflicting this pain.  I hope to goodness the karma gods are paying attention.

I must now go into a dark room and chant a mantra or two, before the hatred consumes me completely.