Wednesday, 21 December 2011


From a vantage point in South Devon Wayland Wordsmith welcomes the Solstice :

"Few places allow a better view of the march of the sun than the East bank of the Exe Estuary. The Western hills provide a stage where this oldest of dramas is played out year after year. For thousands of pre Christian years the many different pagan races who lived on the high ground towards Woodbury would have kept a close eye on the setting sun as, day by day, he sank dramatically behind the Haldon Hills ever further to the South, across the wide Estuary. They would have followed his slow apparent journey from his midsummer position on the high moors behind the Turf Lock Hotel (which pub of course they all knew well!) to the seacoast at Dawlish, and they probably prayed to the gods of the age to encourage the sun to fight, fight against the dying of the light which, in the end he always did and, which, as yet, he has never failed to do."

More here.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


A seasonal thought, from Euromonitor:

"Christmas is becoming less of a celebration lasting days than a spiritual feeling that boosts consumption for over two months a year."

Aaaaah, ain't that sweet.

Monday, 28 November 2011

REDD Herring

Dying of Consumption

Just as the fossil fuel nations have already consumed the easiest oil and gas resources and are now scraping the bottom of the barrel, reaching into ever more difficult and dangerous areas, so also are we forcing our way into ever more remote places as we suck the life out of the biosphere. Concentrating wealth into fewer and fewer hands. Devising ever more cunning and devious ways of asset stripping the Earth and our fellow human beings. Destroying genuinely sustainable ways of life and replacing them with the here now, throw tomorrow uncertainty of modern Western consumer atomisation. Blaming the poor for our greed. Turning a private profit from destroying the common heritage of humanity.

Carbon Cowboys Draw Up New Plans to Eliminate Indians

REDD Monitor has produced a list of the top ten worst climate cons being perpetrated against defenceless communities in the name of "saving" the environment from the consequences of our Western fossil fuel addiction.

By way of example, a project in the Amazon region threatens the Guarani people by shutting them off from the forest that is their very means of subsistence, ignoring the fact that, as film-maker Paul Kell explains:

“These tribes are not the reason our ecosystem is being threatened, but they are now being made scapegoats and are actually going to prison for it. As is often the case, hastily (and insanely profitable) laws are put in place to appease the collective conscience, when in fact, the real criminals behind crimes against Nature are being rewarded with unheralded growth and prosperity. Such is progress.”

Not What it Says on the Tin: REDD Will Not 'Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation'

Here's a video view from the grass-roots.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Occupational Therapy

It seems the authorities are tiring of their recent 'give em enough rope' approach to #occupy. In the meantime, Michael Albert has been using the breathing space productively to go visit people involved in the movement all across Europe. Here are his conclusions. Ta, P2P.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

EU Finance: the Emperor’s New Haircut

The latest in the great Eurozone Crisis Saga.

And what is a haircut, you may ask?

"Gary Jenkins, head of fixed income at Evolution securities, outlined what a haircut would mean for Greek bond holders. ‘It involves a "voluntary" bond exchange with a nominal discount of 50% on notional debt held by private sector holders with €30 billion provided by the eurozone member states for credit enhancements, and it aims to reduce Greek debt to 120% by the end of the decade.’" Citywire.

Sounds like more of the usual paper-shuffling and prestidigitation to me.

How about recapitalisation?

"To what extent taxpayers have to plug the gap – and whether state aid rules then kick in – could depend on the timescale banks are given to raise the capital. Huertas told Newsnight that the EFSF would be there as a "last resort". He said: "The plan is for banks to access public markets first," before turning to nation states for support – and then the EFSF." Graun.

Yeah, yeah, yeah ….

Maybe commenter Moggoid sums it up better, over at the Slog: “I stumbled upon this article – tying to find out what “recapitalisation of banks” actually means. And I gather it means that somewhere large amounts of money are found and then just given to the bank – Is that right?”

The banks love the deal, which should make anyone who’s not a banker suspicious. The much-courted and fawned over “Markets”* love the deal - but then they loved the glistening 2000s bubble that preceded the 2008 Crash, didn’t they. So what do they know.

*The "Markets" - basically a bunch of saddoes with nothing better to do than play Crackberry with large numbers and screw the rest of us.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

We Are All Prostitutes

Stuffed with words, words, words, humanity eats itself.

Hearing about experiences at #Occupy gatherings is enough to put anyone off participating. In contrast to much of the modern "Right" which, now it has thrown away that pesky conservative social responsibility, cheerfully celebrates the lowest common denominator of selfishness, aggression and Mammon, the "Left" has a serious existential problem. This problem lies in the paradox of simultaneously being an individual; a human animal with urgent wants, a personal survival instinct, desire to belong, sex and sex drive, an ego, an image, and all the rest that we like to pretend we don't have, but at the same time trying hard to see beyond our selves and our own little in-group to care about fairness, equality and self-determination for everyone.

Trying to reconcile these opposing drives leads to endless, endless argument.

Here's Flavia Dzodan at Tigerbeatdown, on ideological bullying in the Left blog and twittersphere:

"Call out culture, a phenomenon that casual readers might not even notice, is to me, the most toxic aspect of blogging. Not because it is set to correct wrongs and engage in meaningful ways to actually enact change. No, call out culture is toxic because it has developed as a tool to legitimize aggression and rhetoric violence. Its intent, at the root, is seemingly positive. Constructive even. It works more or less like this: I say something ignorant. Perhaps I make a statement that can be constructed as bigoted or maybe “problematic”. A favorite word in call out culture, problematic is more often than not, used to mean “I didn’t like it” or alternatively, “I disagree with you”. But instead of saying you, the audience disagrees with me, you will call my statement “problematic”. And because we have established that we are at once consumers and producers of media content, you create a blog post or a tweet or a Facebook update “calling me out”. And more often than not, in your post, you tell your readers, other prosumers, to please join you in this call out. BECAUSE THIS IS A SERIOUS WRONG THAT NEEDS TO BE CORRECTED! Unbeknown to me, there are now ten posts in ten different blogs and social media platforms calling me a “BIGOT AND THE WORST PERSON EVER”. Each time, every one of these posts escalating in rhetoric and volume. Each new post trying to outperform the previous one in outrage, in anger, in righteousness. This performance of acrimony and reproach turns into the “pile on”. And I will have to apologize for what I said …”

It's back to the dark days of the Soviets and Cultural Revolution.

Hat-tip: Forty Shades of Grey.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Always Check Assumptions

Full Ministry of Justice statistics on the cohort arrested in connection with Augusts's English riots offer considerable support to the analysis coming from the liberal left at the time, namely that rioters were, in the main, directionless, alienated and deprived youth.

"The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Home Office background analysis shows that those arrested during the riots overwhelmingly came from deprived areas and had the poorest educational backgrounds." Guardian.

"More than one in 10 of the young people appearing before courts had been permanently excluded - [whereas] the figure drops to 0.1% among all those aged 15." BBC.

So far, so obvious.


Now, I've not seen the report itself, but it seems that (at least) one major assumption is built into this, an assumption which must skew the figures quite radically; MoJ analysts apparently assume that the sample of those arrested is automatically representative of all those taking part. If anything, the converse seems more likely to me, and that those caught by the authorities are not a representative sample, but simply those less able and less practised in escape and evasion.

Not very scientific.

Update from John Robb: US gang membership is now estimated 40% higher than in 2009, and the combined factors of high unemployment with all these elective overseas oil wars and their inevitable product - returning, often traumatised and uncared for combat veterans who can see little or no future - is not a happy prospect, to judge from past history. 

So maybe it's a bit too soon to get complacent about gangs and organised crime.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Neither Left nor Right but Realism

So says Prof Steve Keen in addressing Occupy Sydney's last public event before the attempted suppression of dissent there. See video here. Unlike many other countries, Oz protesters were actually at the national Reserve Bank of Australia. Some of the usual suspects have suggested that the network of Central Reserve Banks is the most appropriate focus for blame, and reformation, in connection with the ongoing global crisis - now termed the "late-2000s financial crisis" by Wikipedia - yes, this Crisis keeps on growing bigger and deeper!

"[P]rotesters have joined Harvard law professor and Creative Commons board member Lawrence Lessig's call for a convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution made at a September 24–25, 2011 conference co-chaired by the Tea Party Patriots' national coordinator, in Lessig's October 5 book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress – and a Plan to Stop It, and at the Occupy protest in Washington, DC ..." Wikipedia entry on the Occupy Movement, 23/10/11.

"Vas Littlecrow, a tea party die-hard since the movement’s early days, let the Internet noise about Occupy Wall Street wash over her, leaving her alternately annoyed and intrigued. She went on Google Plus to debate the Occupiers, “and they started saying things that clicked with me,” she said. “This was deja vu with how I got into the tea party” ..." Read more at the Washington Post article "For Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, some Common Ground."

This is not a simplistic Left/Right issue, however much some of our leaders, with their customary divide and rule strategy, might like to make us believe it.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Amabhulu Anyama Asenzeli Iworry

"How can you claim to be a private citizen?” he fumed. “There is nothing like that. South Africa is ruled by the ANC. We all belong to the ANC, like it or not!” Comrade Mayor, South Africa 2011.

"There is something wrong that is happening in this country. That is not what we struggled for.” Archbishop Tutu, 2009.

The Archbishop's latest run-in with the ANC State, over the Dalai Lama being refused entry to South Africa, ought to have drawn quite a bit of unwanted high profile attention to that country's growing deficit in the values of freedom that the self-styled "Rainbow Nation" was once claimed to uphold.

When are those in the international community who supported the fight against Apartheid going to wake up to what's really being done in the ANC State now. As Pedro Alexis Tabensky wrote in February this year: "The poor are steadily getting angrier and they are preparing for something. They have relatively little to lose, except the hope that drives their movements, informed predominantly by desire for justice for those who are systematically dehumanized in our country today."

Toussaint Losier in a detailed piece from "Left Turn" further explains: "[O]nce elected, the ANC government failed to live up to its campaign promises, as commitments to neoliberal trade agreements and the paying-off of apartheid-era debt quickly overruled its social democratic proposals. In 1996, the ANC reiterated earlier agreements with South African capital and the International Monetary Fund by formally adopting the Growth Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) policy as its economic program."

"Reflecting a neoliberal approach to development, GEAR has promoted market deregulation, fiscal discipline, wage restraints, and the privatization of government services. In place of redistributive policies, GEAR relies on foreign direct investment and integration into the world market to ‘trickle down’ benefits to the poor and working class. As a result, the government has largely relied on bank-financing and private construction firms to meet the vast housing backlog."

With the new South Africa looking like a very scary chimaera of totalitarianism and neo-liberalism, little wonder then that it also presents naturally fertile ground for the blossoming #occupy global movement.

"We will occupy Grahamstown in the name of freedom. We insist that all people have the right to organise themselves according to their own free choices. We denounce the ANC for the murder of Andries Tatane and all the others. We denounce the ANC for the repression of the Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Landless People's Movement, the Anti-Eviction Campaign and all the others. We denounce the ANC for their attempts to censor the media. We denounce the ANC for continuing to claim that the movements of the poor are a Third Force. The ANC insult us by making us live like pigs and excluding us from all decision making and then, when we rebel, they insult us again by saying that it must be a white academic that is making us rebel. The ANC is incapable of understanding that poor black people can, like all other people, think for ourselves. The ANC is incapable of understanding that they do not and have never had a monopoly on struggle. The ANC is incapable of understanding that they are the real counter-revolutionaries."

From the Unemployed People's Movement Press Statement, 13th October 2011
@ Abahlali baseMjondolo

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Post Dialectic

There is a theory that the rise in extremist religiosity and fundamentalism is actually a form of fearful defensive reaction to the secular decline in the credibility of religious ideologies and belief systems.

At a time when the Saudi monarch is coming under carefully enunciated backlash for attempting even a slight loosening of restrictions against women there, religious fundamentalists in the US are regularly snatching headlines, and some police seem to be feeling that they have a kind of license to go around laying down dress codes for American women, not unlike the religious policemen of the Middle East.

But there is cause for optimism that, in the longer run, sanity will win out and the Taliban, Dominionists and neoCons alike are just the last desperate gasp of fanatics, and that the days of enforced institutional religious enthusiasm could indeed be numbered.

“The US is increasingly portrayed as a hotbed of religious fervour. Yet in the homeland of ostentatiously religious politicians such as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, agnostics and atheists are actually part of one of the fastest-growing demographics in the US: the godless. Far from being in thrall to its religious leaders, the US is in fact becoming a more secular country, some experts say. "It has never been better to be a free-thinker or an agnostic in America," says Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) …” Read more.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Hiding from Reality

Three weeks ago over a thousand environmental protesters were arrested outside the White House with barely a squeak from the MSM. Last week some British (so-called) newspapers pulled news of unrest in Rome off their pages, leaving here only the Daily Mirror to report actual news, afaics. This week the corporate media blackout of the Wall Street protests in the USA continues.

Some timely reportage at #occupywallstreet, amongst others.

Paul Harris' Grauniad blog gives some background info on the Wall St protests.

HT: Erich Vieth at Dangerous Intersection.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

When Cokie the Clown Played with Louise

So, Chancellor George Osborne a NoFX fan? Could this be?

Guido suggests so.

Whatever else, our George really ought to be up for the coveted "Most Gruesome Website of the Month" award for this one.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Just Say Bollox

Abstinence Costs Lives and Money.

“The addiction treatment industry in America is expected to have revenues of $34 billion by 2014, an increase of 55% from 2005. The vast majority of that spending -- nearly 80% -- is underwritten by public funding, and the remaining portion paid for by insurance or private fees. There are are more 11,000 addiction-treatment centers in the United States, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.” DailyFinance.

Yet, “the typical detox/rehab system … has a success rate of less than 15% ... the response to failure is to put people through the same process again and again.”

How many more people have to die like Amy Winehouse before reality is faced up to?

Just like the “War on Drugs” and the ludicrous ideology-driven "just say no" abstinence campaigns that cost millions in taxpayer funds every year, it is the detox / rehab industry that is mad, bad, dangerous and completely counter-productive.

Stop it now!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Fearful Irony

Nothing Like a State-wide Conflagration to Bring Out a Man's True Character.

- Fk the free market gimme the funds to fight the fires, Feds - is what Mad Hatter Republican Governor Rick Perry, who only recently cut funding to the main fire-fighting forces in Texas by 55% seems to be saying.

See the frightened Governor call for Federal Funding, here.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Dangerous Instruments

Aaron Peters writes in

"The suspension of 'everyday' legislation is now becoming normal. 'Exceptional' conditions are increasingly viewed as quotidian, something Giorgio Agamben explores in his book 'State of Exception'. We will increasingly see tactics designed to deal with crisis employed during ANY situation of mass public assembly – whether it be a political protest, carnival or sporting event.

As Brett Neilson writes of Agamben's thinking on the matter,

"...this figure of generalized catastrophe under a sky void of transcendental authority...(is) characterized by 'governmental violence that ignores international law externally and produces a permanent state of exception internally, while all the time pretending to uphold the law.In light of Cameron's remarks on the recent London riots and 'silly' European human rights legislation, Agamben's views on executive power replacing legislative power in contemporary ‘liberal democracies’ are especially pertinent ..." [more ...]

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

President Turns a Blind Eye as Masses Arrested at White House

"... Now, here’s the thing: while it’s great to see the press corps pushing the Administration to recognize our demonstration, the fact that Carney hasn’t yet briefed the President on the protest and the pipeline is a worrying sign about how out of touch this administration is on this issue."

“Just in the last two days everyone from the president’s chief climate scientist to an 84-year-old grandmother was arrested on his front doorstep,” said environmental author Bill McKibben, who is spearheading the White House protest. “This is the largest civil disobedience action in the environmental movement in a generation, and if they really aren’t even discussing it with the president, that signals a deep disrespect for their supporters ..."

More at Tarsands Action

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

AgroFuels: Pushing Prices of Vital Commodities Ever Higher

Priced out of the UK wood market by subsidies given to electricity generators

It seems there is a new casualty of the drive, or should that be forced march, toward biofuel; timber-based industries, and users of wood products (which is all of us). The Countryman has been hearing from the Wood Panel Industries Federation.

Alistair Kerr of WPIF says, “The government has failed to disclose to the public that generators like Drax, E.ON, RWE NPower and Scottish and Southern Energy will use the subsidy paid by taxpayers to source as much wood as they can from the UK before venturing further afield. If allowed to continue unchecked, not only are the UK’s wood processing industries at serious risk of being wiped out thereby putting at risk tens of thousands of jobs, but the forests that the British public care deeply about will be decimated – and it is the public that will have paid for it to happen.”

More here.

How high do corn prices have to be to get end-users to reduce consumption?

Scarcely credible - scarcely human - but this is the sort of question that economists, those nice men who never rape or commit foul crimes, are now amusing themselves with. Try replacing the phrase "end-users" with the word "people" and you get some idea of the (im)moral universe economists inhabit.

Southeast Farm Press reports that "This year's corn crop is not big enough to meet the entire consumption base that has been built ... [and] ... The largest competitor for corn in the coming year will be the ethanol industry where USDA analysts currently estimate 5.1 billion bushels of corn use."

After six months of peak already in 2011, the World Food Price Index looks set to continue inexorably upward from peak to peak ...

Saturday, 13 August 2011

"We _ Have _ a _ Bigger _ Army _ than _ the _ Police"

You must have seen the films where police batten down the hatches knowing that a turf war is breaking out on the streets.

So it is very unfortunate that the authorities who shot Mark Duggan and then kept his family hanging about outside their station, as rumours and anger grew, did not take more immediate action to ensure that they beefed up both soft and hard power in the Tottenham area; simultaneously speaking extremely softly and carrying a much bigger stick.

If you wish for peace, prepare for war.

They must have known who they were dealing with, as we are now told, Mark Duggan was the nephew by marriage of Desmond Noonan, and a man who spent his formative years visiting with the Noonan Family in Manchester, as they in turn used to stay with him and his family when in the Capital.

For three years Donal MacIntyre followed "the trials and tribulations of Dominic Noonan", head of the Family, making a documentary film called "A Very British Gangster". Described by the New Statesman as "a crime lord of misrule who parodically bought old police cars and ambulances to make up the fleet of his new "security" company", Mr Noonan has frankly declared that  “I've got a bigger army than the police. We have more guns than the police.” 

It is said that "the family act as an unofficial community police force or social service – with many neighbours and associates preferring to come to the Noonans in times of trouble or family crisis rather than go to the relevant authorities often insisting that doing so is more beneficial."

How has it escaped wider public notice over the last week that the family motto is; "Look after those that look after you, fuck off those that fuck off you", something which sounds all too prescient after four days when the police lost control of large areas of of our English cities to gangs of the young, and not so young?

So one question people really ought to be asking is, who is in charge in England now, the bickering politicians and police, or the gangs who now replace the broken family structures in our cities?

Unfortunately for the authorities - and the rest of us - the cat is now out of the bag. After this exercise the gangs now know that, given an element of surprise, they can pull out large enough numbers over wide enough areas to flexibly achieve whatever ends they choose.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

No Rest for the Wicked

Having already had their holidays delayed by one emergency session, on Wednesday July 20th, for a statement by the Prime Minister on the News of the World Hackgate Scandal, followed by lengthy discussion, Westminster politicians faced further mutterings as both European and North American economies experienced ever worsening crisis.

This then culminated in an emergency recall of both Houses today to shake heads over 4 days of civil disorder in cities across England, and yes, a statement from the Chancellor on the economy.

As Lord Knight put it in Lords of the Blog: "The Government faces a big challenge. It has to manage two crises. One of economic growth and the other of social breakdown. As the Prime Minister said in his statement, [get this!] “crime has a context, and we must not shy away from it”..."

“We can argue about whether some of the measures in response to the economic crisis will exacerbate the social crisis, but most important is the Government putting an absolute priority on tackling the twin challenges"

"Parliamentary time is limited between now and next May when the current session finishes. This unprecedented set of economic and social problems are such that I don’t think Parliament has the luxury of being able to legislate and debate anything else of substance."

In the current state of affairs we can only take bets as to whether hard-done-by parliamentarians will be able to spend the rest of their holidays in relative tranquillity, or no.

As for Eurocrats, they aren't having it much easier either, because "the Socialists & Democrats party bloc in the European Parliament has called for MEPs to be recalled from the summer recess to tackle the eurozone crisis."

Hey ho. 

Nor Any Drop to Drink

Chido Makunike asks how foreign investors will get along exporting food from famine-stricken countries …

I dunno, some people! They seem to think that their being able to eat is more important than company profits!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Ethiopian People Starve as Government Flogs off Land to Foreign Interests Aided by British Taxpayer

Having felt forced to renounce overt imperial control, the West's ruling powers went on to develop a sorry history of supporting 3rd World dictators who appear to serve our regime's interests as well as their own megalomania. To a long list, some of whose more recent luminaries include the likes of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gadaffi, have we to add Meles Zenawi Asres, distinguished founder of the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray, and a man who combines his job as Prime Minister of Ethiopia with being Chairman of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and head of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)?

In an article appearing today in Abugida, the Ethiopian American Information Centre, entitled “Meles Zenawi`s land lease and famine in Ethiopia” Seifu Tsegaye Demmissie denounces the rule of Meles Zenawi as an “ethno-fascist regime” in which “political expediency is the main reason behind Meles Zenawi`s policy of preventing private ownership of cultivable land because he knows that it would mean losing control of farmers and triggering the end of his political power in Ethiopia.”

“The unfavorable domestic land ownership policy of the ethno fascist regime of Meles Zenawi has a pivotal role in making the country vulnerable to the devastating famines. It is to be recalled that the west had blamed the ravaging famine of the 80s on the policies of the military regime of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. In fact, the current pro-western regime of Meles Zenawi has inherited and pursues the same land ownership policy which hampers productivity. It is to be recalled that the west had blamed the ravaging famine of the 80s on the policies of the military regime of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. Despite this glaring fact, the west are blaming the famine in Ethiopia on drought and this shows an apparent effort on their part to deny or cover up the failure of their close partnership with the regime of Meles Zenawi. This is a partnership which has been instrumental in the formulation and implementation of economic policies which are impoverishing the ordinary citizens and aggravating famine and poverty. As opposed to the current ethno-fascist regime of Meles Zenawi, the military government had never embarked upon leases or sales or transfers of ownership of fertile and virgin lands to foreigners.”

Under the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front regime the economy is dominated by “endowment” corporations controlled by the Party. The largest of these is EFFORT, the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray. It comes as no surprise to find that the deputy chief executive of EFFORT is one Azeb Mesfin - none other than Zenawi’s wife.

In 2010, after a 6 month investigation Human Rights Watch researcher Ben Rawlence described Ethiopia as “one of the most repressive societies in the world.”

"We found systematic discrimination from one end of the country to another against people who were members of the opposition party or people who disagreed with the regime."

Latest Report: “Ethiopia 'using aid as weapon of oppression'".

When will the Powers That Be take action to prevent our aid - which we can ill afford anyway - from being abused in this way? Don’t hold your breath. But a wink to Mr Zenawi here - you might like to ensure your back is well covered, as Western governments have a nasty habit of turning on their friends and you wouldn't want to end up like Muammar ... or Saddam now would you?

Hat-tip to the Land Grab blog.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Economic Senility

Way back on July 13th economist Zanny Minton Beddoes suggested on Radio 4’s Today programme that although Italy had coped thus far with its large debt, that if (if!) problems occurred then the ECB could step in and start buying their bonds, that in turn being the likely start of federalising the debt.

And sure enough, as Berlusconi froths about the ‘locusts of international speculation’ (shades of the interwar era?) the West’s senile economies are only kept going by increasingly large doses of their chosen narcotics.

Over here Federal Europe may be beckoning. Declan Ganley will be pleased.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Ethics Ain’t Hip, Apparently

You may be used to losing out, being downgraded and passed over, simply because for ethical reasons you stubbornly refuse to drive a car or indulge in all that glamorous consumerism of convenience. But what is really ironic, is to realise that most so-called environmentalists and right ons are just as easily impressed by the jet-setting, car-driving and consumerist lifestyle as the normal people they often like to sneer at for being “conned”.

And so it seems that that is exactly how Mark Kennedy managed to gain the confidence of many in the activist community, as he burned around Europe doing the environment scene, maan …

“He was a very popular lad at the Sumac Centre …”

“That’s how I remember him – a cool guy with a flash car who dropped off this cool coffee. He got involved with helping anyone with transport, because he was ‘climate’ by trade.”

“Sometimes he’d have jobs on the side and would disappear, but because of the couriering you never really knew where he was. We were under the impression it was all black economy. He’d be like, “don’t worry - I’ll get you a drink next time I see you.” So he was seen as a bit of a geezer.”

Patrick Smith, Veggies, Nottingham, in LeftLion magazine.

So much for being cool!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Carmarthenshire Blogger Arrested for Performing a Public Service

Not long since South Tyneside Council's very expensive attempts to stop Independent Councillor Ahmed Khan's inconvenient publicising of local Council officers' activities, news arrives that Carmarthenshire Council is now sending in the police to arrest innocent members of the public just for filming open meetings - meetings that in many other areas are already streamed online for everyone to see, paid for by the taxpayer. And here is blogger Caebrwyn doing it for free in her own time. Far from being harassed, she is doing a good turn and should rather be congratulated for her excellent service to the community.

Caebrwyn says: "I was taken outside the door, handcuffed, searched, my phone taken and marched out to the waiting police cars. I was then taken 30 miles to Llanelli police station where I remained handcuffed for another hour before being 'processed', and put in a cell for another two hours.

By this time I was very disorientated, worried about my young daughter who needed picking up from school, I was cold (the police had taken my jacket and shoes and socks) and distressed. Without a solicitor present, I was then threatened by three police officers who said that if I didn't sign an 'undertaking' not to film/record any more meetings I would be kept in overnight, I am not sure now whether they could even keep me that long. Earlier in the day I had been told that they was looking at the relevant legislation and were 'talking' to the council, it is now clear exactly what was discussed ..."

More ...

So after all this, you may well ask, just exactly what has the Council got to hide?

What price transparency and accountability of the, ahem, democratic process?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Dirty Secrets Hidden on Craggy Island

In the Irish Catholic State
Mary Norris ended up in a Magdalene laundry for disobeying an order. A teenage servant in Kerry, she took a forbidden night off, and was taken away to a convent where the nuns had her examined to see was she still a virgin (which she was). From there she was dispatched to the Magdalene laundry in Cork. Immediately on arrival, the nuns changed her name – standard practice in all the Magdalene laundries. "When I went in there," recalls Mary, "my dignity, who I was, my name, everything was taken. I was a nonentity, nothing, nobody." '

Imprisoned, dehumanised and forced to work as a slave. Pour encourager les autres. Place in authority a corps of uniformed functionaries who are cut off from normal social interaction and deny their fundamental human nature as sexual beings and you have disaster in the making.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Wind Up?

Here are the turbines that Artists Against Windfarms say, perhaps a little melodramatically, "will destroy the beauty of North Devon":

See anything?

No, neither could I this May from Codden Hill as the first turbines are going up.

The windmills are certainly visible from Crow Point, but far less obtrusive than the noise that can blow across from large roads like the A39 and the main Barnstaple to Bideford road. Maybe the Artists could campaign to get rid of those eye and earsores instead?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Dr Mountebank's Perpetual Motion Machine

Rob Dietz at think-tank CASSE highlights the work of a top economist whose "work has been highly influential among elite political and corporate leaders. Ronald Reagan is a prominent example. President Reagan once famously said, “There are no limits to growth and human progress when men and women are free to follow their dreams.” That’s a close paraphrasing of Dr. Mountebank’s conclusion to his magnum opus, Infinity and Beyond: The Magical Triumph of Economics over Physics ..."

Read the full hagiography here.

Can Banking Be Good?

With the end of the tax on bankers bonuses, government borrowing this April the worst on record and small business still being held to ransom by the financial sector, NEF and Compass are holding a Good Banking Summit today, in a perhaps forlorn attempt to inject some realism into the discourse. There don't seem to be any details online, but Ann Pettifor at Debtonation blog is one of the speakers, doing a bit of last minute publicity.

Loans & Lies: Bankers and Politicians Out of Touch

Back in the day the local bank manager was a key figure. Someone who knew his patch and the people and businesses in it, who would be a good risk and who wouldn't. Nowadays that's all out of the window, as David Boyle explains:

"Neither the politicians nor the bankers will admit it - in fact they collude in this - but the big banks are no longer able to lend effectively to the SME sector. It isn't that they won't, it is that they have consolidated beyond the point where they can. They have no systems, no local managers, which would allow them to. But until the politicians accept this, and the bankers admit it - which they do privately - we can't move on ..."

"A friend of mine who has a small business approached their bank for a loan last week. They were told they had three options, a loan to buy a car, a loan to go on holiday or to put it on their credit card. This is another symptom of the Big Lie. It is time someone in frontline politics had the courage to nail it once and for all."

Monday, 23 May 2011

Of Schemes and Schemers

Con + Insult = Consult

"There's funding available ..." Words to make any hungry consultant salivate, and as Private Eye reports in its latest issue in "REDD faces all round" the feeding frenzy is just beginning:

"There’s funding available from the World Bank to help countries draw up REDD plans, as well as assistance from some enthusiastic European nations. Most of this REDD-readiness money is ending up in the pockets of international consulting firms …"

Clever and complex schemes.


The new 'market', as many hipsters like to call it, in carbon credits is already creating fantastic global opportunities for business. Australian bureaucrats in charge of implementing climate change avoidance and mitigation have been warned of the "possibility of GST fraud on carbon credit trades under so-called "carousel fraud". The scam, which has operated overseas, involves the skimming of GST on the sale of carbon credits bought tax-free overseas." 

Sky Money

"The Netherlands' emissions trading authority has  [also] been the target of 'large-scale criminal activity, including fraud, money laundering and the financing of terrorism'. The Papua New Guinea "sky money" scam, involving the sale of worthless carbon credits, is also detailed in a spate of 2009 briefings."

And so it goes.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Fracking the UK

The Tyndall Centre report on potential shale gas extraction doesn't look too cheerful, pointing out that hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking' consumes and pollutes huge quantities of water - a vital resource increasingly under stress already now. With Britain being a much more densely populated country than the USA all the impacts will be even greater on us than Americans are currently suffering.

Are you going to get fracked?

Check out this map from the British Geological Society.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Planet for Sale

Alexis Marant (interview here) has directed a new film called "Planete a Vendre" which will be on French TV April 19th 2011.

The Global Land Grab blog posts with more details, explaining the dangerous logic behind what's going on:

“To feed the 9.2 billion people expected by 2050 will require doubling agricultural production. A boon to investors who pushed up from 5 to 175 billion in speculative capital invested in agricultural commodities between 2000 and 2007.”

There's also a trailer here showing the factors that are now driving most wealthy Middle Eastern countries, for example, to get a-hold of poorer people's land overseas and make sure that their populations, which are also still increasing, will continue to be able to import most of the food they demand.

Don't ask where the poor will be able to grow their food in the future ...

Friday, 15 April 2011

As ye Sow ...

Film-maker Mirjam von Arx talking about her film Seed Warriors: “Financially it’s almost ridiculous how little money you would need to get going, but it’s just incredibly difficult, from what we’re told, to raise it and to get governments to give money.”

“I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m not so sure we can trust in humans to do the right thing, but I think there is a possible solution. If we’re doomed, it’s because we’re too stupid – not because it can’t be done.” SwissInfo.

Annals of Botany Blog tells us that 87% of Economist online readers believe the world needs to spend more on agricultural research, while in the comments, Jeremy Cherfas wonders how well-founded the public’s grasp of the facts actually is. Not being too sure myself, when it comes down to cold numbers, I did what you do these days in that situation, and google.

According to the Science in Farming website “In the United States, there has long been a mixture of publicly funded and private research, but, until recent decades, publicly funded research was predominant … Public funds spent on agricultural research increased persistently, especially after World War I, reaching about $2.1 billion by the mid-1980's.”

By contrast however, as pointed out in Lee R Martin’s book “A Survey of Agricultural Economics Literature: Agriculture in economic development 1940s to 1990s” (1992) “developing countries usually under-invest in agricultural research." It's also demoralising to discover that vitally important research into agroforestry or institutes like the Centre for Forestry Research struggle along on tiny amounts; a few tens of $million a year on a global basis.

The problem, it seems to me, boils down to the fact that at one extreme, way too much money is splurged by the wealthy industrialised nations on research which is directed towards the capital and technological intensification of agriculture - very profitable for a minority, but with massive negative externalities for the environment, biodiversity, and us ‘little people’ at the bottom - whereas far too little is spent on the ecologically and socially beneficial research that we really need to create a secure and healthy farming sector that benefits us all, people and planet.

We will increasingly pay a heavy price for that imbalance.

Hat-tip to commenter Survivalist, and AgBioBlog.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Yellow Water on the Run

Agreeing to Be Seen to Disagree

Last month Nick Clegg said to David Cameron: "“If we keep doing this we won’t have anything to bloody disagree on in the bloody TV debates.”

And now looking at the election leaflets though the door; on the one side of their Focus news-sheet the Liberal Democrats wail, "Tories destroy Devon", while on the other side they trumpet "LIB DEMS 1st YEAR IN GOVERNMENT" with little vignettes celebrating nice things they have done for us ... er ... hang on a minute ...

Just how dim-witted do they think we are?

Meanwhile those cabinet colleagues, Cameron and Cable are, sure enough, busy generating column inches of "disagreement" over immigration.

I'm not the only one to smell a rat here, Sarah Hayward does too: "Vince’s intervention, Cameron’s speech and the pre & post media coverage of both appeal directly to core voters of both parties and it’s clearly designed to enable both Coalition parties to express a separate identity prior to polling day in May."

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

BOGOF Redbridge!

Over Barkingside way the clever councillors are past masters at smoke and mirrors, a talent that comes in very handy in these days of entropy in the incredible shrinking society. B21 reports on the ‘two-for-one’ police officer offer that may not be quite what it seems …

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

It's All a-Happening!

Starting tomorrow there's a three-day conference on land-grabbing in Brighton. Speakers include Tania Murray Li, who:

"... critiques land deal mainstream thinking and brings labour consequences to the centre of her analysis. She highlights how land deal dispossession leaves some without shelter, food or the means of (re)production. Like Olivier de Schutter, she is not convinced by arguments in favour of a 'code of conduct' to make land investments 'pro-poor'. Rather, she argues that, where safeguards have been effectively put in place for the rural poor, they have been the result of political organisation and social mobilisation: "Without such struggles, and such settlements, even the most assiduous regulatory regime has no purchase"..."

And, for those over Sussex way next weekend, there's a celebratory walk  in St Leonard's Forest on Saturday the 9th, organised by Action for Access. "You will see that the Forestry Commission is in the middle of a huge programme of restoration work to bring back the heathy rides and the old broad-leaved forest, to make glades and restore worn pathways. This is brave work, and comes not a moment too soon, for the early decades of their ownership, after their purchase in circa 1951, did great and harsh damage to what was left of the old forest ecosystem." And more events planned for May as well ...

April 17th and 18th sees Free Our Seeds, an invitation "to participate in two days of action during which we will make clear our opposition to EU policies and our intention to resist against them."

"We are not prepared to accept that the basis of our livelihood is handed over to multinationals. In the future we intend to maintain and pass on the heritage of our plant varieties. The main event will take place on 17 April, the day of international peasant resistance declared by Via Campesina, followed by a demonstration on the 18th. If you cannot come to Brussels, organise similar events in your countries, cities and villages!"

Not too much sign of peasant resistance 'ere in North Devon ...

Uz, um, peasants, up here be just a little bit more sedate, with the Orchards Live 20th anniversary Tea Party taking place in Kings Nympton village hall on the 1st of May.

Monday, 21 March 2011

One Rule for Libya Another for Bahrain and Saudi

Whatever some on the left may say, Western decisions over where and how to intervene in the ongoing Middle East chaos are not, and will not be primarily about whether counties have oil, nor about human rights. Such decisions are about naked self-interest and hurried judgements as to which dictators can survive and which are likeliest to be most sympathetic and receptive to Western interests in future.

ÖMER TAŞPINAR, a columnist at Turkish daily, Today’s Zaman sees that:

“Washington is engaged in a high-wire balancing act. Not only is the American superpower unable to shape events, it is also unable to adopt a consistent policy. Realism and idealism, the two most powerful -- and often clashing -- currents of American foreign policy are creating embarrassing double standards …”

“ … when it comes to a country like Bahrain, where the US has vast military and security interests at stake, the rights of citizens are secondary to these “realpolitik” considerations.”

“According to the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom [sic] … Bahrain has the freest economy in the Middle East and North Africa region and is tenth overall in the world.” says Wikipedia.

“Petroleum and natural gas, the only significant natural resources in Bahrain, dominate the economy and provide about 60% of budget revenues.”

With the King of Bahrain a solid and respectable Sunni whose interests are safely and inextricably allied with Saudi Arabia and the Western order, as against the Shia of Iran, it seems clear that he is a safe pair of hands, whatever his little local difficulties with impudent subjects - in sharp contrast to the turbulent revolutionary Muammar Gadaffi, who has never been a true friend of the West or of the Sunnah.

Friday, 18 March 2011

What's the CGIAR Ever Done for Us?

Asks Luigi Guarino at the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog.

Dave Woods points out in the comments that:

"[T]here is a glaring hole about the value of the germplasm collections as the basis for varietal improvement both within and beyond the CG and their future value under climate change. But a lot of this value was in bringing in and screening new samples year by year. This was ticking along at about 12,000 samples around the time of the CBD but now seems to have gone down to 5,000 or so a year under the FAO Seed Treaty: FAO is being coy about this number. Unless this figure goes up fast the Treaty is not a policy plus for the CG and could damage global agriculture."

And then there's the dead hand of bureaucracy and "intellectual property" represented by SMTAs ...

Threat Multipliers

Man unkind chooses to build his vulnerable industrial complexes in hurricane, flood, earthquake and volcano areas. When natural disaster hits, as it obviously does, these go down like dominoes, piling man-made onto natural and creating mega disasters, or as Garry Peterson puts it, cascading disasters, which in turn may likely be magnified by a deliberately globalised financial system.

Ever more people, ever more industry, ever more threats.

Oh yes, man’s so clever he cuts himself on a regular basis.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

It's a Lock-in

The Screeching of Positive Feedback

It shouldn't be a surprise to see chaos in a part of the world where human numbers have been and continue to double in mere decades, and fertile land as well as water for growing food is already insufficient and depleting rapidly. So, amid renewed talk of oil-induced recession, the world seems to be going round in ever more vicious circles:

Lack of investment in agriculture and population increase -> Food price rises -> civil unrest including in oil producing countries -> oil price increases -> food price increases -> more unrest -> and so on and on …

Actionaid USA have produced an interactive map of the places under greatest stress from food import dependency. They note that:

"As a result, [of subsidies] U.S. farmers have diverted 40 percent of corn production from food and feed to fuel, and land once used for soybean production has been converted to corn to meet the demand for biofuels set out in the federal RFS. Seven times as much corn is sent to ethanol plants than is being kept in our national stockpiles. Over the last two years, the amount of corn fed to livestock fell by 3 million metric tons, while corn shipments to ethanol producers grew by 33 million tons. These shifts put pressure on food stocks until they cross a tipping point, driving prices up."

"Spending scarce taxpayer dollars to shift crops from food to biofuels at the expense of hungry people and already stressed resources like soil, water and air is unsustainable."

HT Worldwatch blog.

Stuart Staniford at Early Warning blog points out that, "It's worth noting that the energy content of the human food supply is about a sixth of the energy content of the human fuel supply (about 86 mbd of liquid fuels, equivalent to somewhere in the neighborhood of 120-130mbd of ethanol). This is the core problem with converting food to fuel - we are taking from a small pool to try to make up for deficiencies in a large pool, and we will have a much bigger effect on the level of the small pool than the bigger pool."

Wealthy motorists and the private car lobby are literally driving the world into starvation and recession.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Killing the Green Party

The weakest link

You’ve maybe heard the old saying “when elephants fight it’s best to stay well away, to avoid getting squashed.” Well this is something that the Green Party of England and Wales don’t seem to understand. Let’s hope they do get it before they are well and truly sunk.

Someone called Toby Greene has apparently resigned from the party, helpfully leaving a lengthy explanation for his action, which appears on Bob from Brockley’s blog, here. He starts off with this:

“The crisis in the party is caused by several factors. The first is that the active membership is really very small - definitely less than 1000 people. In this situation, it is very easy for a relatively small interest group to hijack it for its own ends. This is what has happened with GreenLeft.”

So entryists are at the root of the problems. No surprise there then. And so he progresses, via John Gray, Freud and the Christian - Jewish nexus.

There’s clearly a big push on to win over left-wing opinion. At Liberal Conspiracy Ben White, author of the provocatively titled 'Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide' has this to add:

“Over the last year, Tel Aviv-based think tank The Reut Institute has offered a lot of advice to supporters of Israel in the West on how to respond to “the erosion in Israel’s diplomatic status” (aka ‘deligitimization‘), including a focus “on engaging the hearts and minds of liberal progressive elites”.”

“A recent report looked specifically at London saying “liberal and progressive left” voices are the ones “most effective” in shielding Israel. Reut urged Israel’s defenders to “substantively engage liberal and progressive circles” by “responding to their concerns and building personal relationships”.”

No-one on the site has challenged these quotes, or called their veracity into question.

Which takes on to the painful Maoist self-criticism exercise held at Greens Engage some 15 months ago, where Mira Vogel leads the inquisition; “Can we please stick to talking about Rupert’s actions, and their effects?” and Rupert Read gamely plays along until he becomes exhausted by his abject failure even to grasp the nature of the crime he has committed - encouraging people to read a Glad Atzmon piece - eventually disappearing, having managed to rope in his friend Adrian to try to help him out.. Come on now, feel sorry for the poor guy, he’s only a professional, paid philosopher who, so say, specialises in one of the most abstruse thinkers in the known universe!

“Rupert … Please do the right thing and write a further self-appraisal in which you reflect upon how antipathy against Zionism (as opposed to lucid criticism) can prejudice anti-Zionists and corner them with antisemitic thinkers. We will make sure it is the last thing people see on this post. It will of course be subject to criticism (analysis, I mean), but if it’s good it will draw a line under this episode.”

“Antipathy to Israel leaches out and hurts Jews again and again and again. And we have been trying for a long time now to get this phenomenon addressed in the organisations of which we are members, but it has not been addressed.”

Food for thought indeed.

Live by the Dictator, Die by the Dictator

While the Establishment eagerly hope for a quick return to their Business-as-Usual model, doing their usual rounds of hob-nobbing with the international elite, luxury hotels and the attendant business jamborees, trade fairs and arms sales, others, like Humanist on Yahoo, are asking the obvious question: "Do Foreign evacuees from Libya remind you of rats leaving a sinking ship?"

Seems like some are happy to take stolen money and goods, but don't like the consequences of their actions when the people they've trodden over to get that wealth start objecting.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Hokey Kokey Brighton and Hove

You put your cycle-lane in,
You take your cycle-lane out,
In, out, in, out,
Shake £2 million around …

The latest in the all too familiar saga of “must be seen to be doing something no matter how crap” traffic management by Authorities. In this case, Brighton and Hove is the guilty party, where the Tories had the largest number of councillors when the offending cycle lane was built not mujch more than two years ago.

And the cycle lane in question is not just any old cycle lane, oh no. BikeNews tells us that it “was completed in 2008 as the centrepiece of Brighton and Hove's successful bid to become a Cycle Demonstration Town, with £3m in government funding provided by Cycling England in the glory days of 2005. It is part of the infrastructure that won the Transport Authority of the Year award only last year”

“CTC and Bricycles, the local campaign group, are opposed to the plans. Both were also opposed to the original poor design of the bike lane, which is not built to Dutch-standards and, for many cyclists, has made cycling on this stretch of road even more dangerous than prior to the bike lane.” BikeBiz.

"Tony Green of Bricycle told road cc: “When instated, less than three years ago, the city council described this scheme as a state of the art Cycling Freeway, but now they think it is a blot on the landscape. The administration seems to have lost the plot and is behaving like a headless chicken.”"

Sho-called Shycling Shitties - among which Bristol seems to come a very poor place behind York - take note!

As if.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Blowing Bubbles

Hmm, how to keep house prices artificially high and at the same time save the whole market from seizing up. Yes, it’s business as usual in the Economics of the Impossible world we inhabit. Matt Griffith from PricedOut uncannily sums up pretty much exactly what I was thinking while hearing the dialogue of the deaf on Radio 4’s You and Yours today. Lots of people phoned in with perfectly cogent analyses - that basically the market is overpriced - only to have the idiotic presenter ignore all that and keep asking “oh, but how is it for you personally”. After a while it became obvious that not only did she not want to hear what they were saying, but that she believes they couldn’t possibly have anything useful to say because they are not “experts” - those same experts who have a vested interest in inflating the bubble.

Let’s just hope that Shapps and Co don’t try the Aussie wheeze of what Steve Keen calls “First Home Vendors Boost” ie using taxpayers money to keep prices high.

Price of Gold

Why is the price of everything going up and up? Could it be that the modern economic fantasy of perpetual motion growth is climaxing in its inevitable failure?

So, while the end-game lasts, why not stave off that nagging sense of futility by piling your gold ever higher and higher and paying off security guards to chase away any poor people who might get hungry and try to get a few crumbs off you, the filthy scrounging bastards!

Check out your investment ...

Yes, this is how the 'libertarians' 'real world' operates. Their sickness can only be cured by gold.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Ravilious Country

                Oak on our way to Halsdon NR

Easily attained from either Exeter or Barnstaple courtesy of taking a seat on Stagecoach bus 315, Dolton is a friendly sort of a place. Quiet, picturesque, it's only twenty minutes’ stroll down the lane at the feet of ‘mighty great hedges', richly stocked with even mightier great trees, to Halsdon nature reserve in the Torridge valley, where you might yet see an otter if you keep very quiet. Even now the countryside round here can sometimes still have a living feel, with real people in it, walking or working, the kind of thing James Ravilious recorded more eloquently than I, some thirty years ago.


                                                           Beech on our way to Beaford

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Is the Boat Rocking - or Sinking?

Demonstrations in Muslim majority lands against secular leaders who are widely seen as puppets of the West rarely have a happy outcome from the modern, western, pluralist democratic point of view - no matter how enthusiastically the ever-optimistic liberals have taken part in them. No trouble, they can always be 'eliminated' afterwards. Iran, where demonstrations began a whole year before the final overthrow, should be a textbook case.

A survey which should give liberals pause for thought before cheering demonstrations on, was conducted by the Pew Research Centre's Global Attitudes Project as recently as December 2010 (PDF here), which found that:

"At least three-quarters of Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan say they would favor making each of the following the law in their countries: stoning people who commit adultery, whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery and the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion. Majorities of Muslims in Jordan and Nigeria also favor these ... punishments."

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Getting Rid of All Those Poor People

When evictions become routine
There's far too much funny money sloshing around the crazy world of finance, greedily seeking high returns and excessive profits now. Are we in the last phases of a centuries-long, ever intensifying global exploitation binge?

Whatever, it's quite clear who are the real misanthropists: the transnational land grabbers taking advantage of poverty, war, corruption, failing governance and inadequate land rights, turning the poor off their land and taking it to grow agribusiness monocultures, often for export.

The BBC radio have at last started to catch up with the trend with their feature today on ‘Crossing Continents’ about stomach-turning events in Cambodia, where “an estimated 15% of the country is now leased to private developers and stories are filtering in from the country's most impoverished farmers who tell of fear, violence and intimidation as private companies team up with armed police to force them from their land.”

They talk with Loun Sovath, a monk from Siem Reap province where peasants have been "victims of a high-profile land grab by rich and powerful people earlier this year [2009] which saw them lose 100 hectares. Some villagers were shot and wounded during a protest at the disputed site. The monk said the police arrested and handcuffed villagers just as the Khmer Rouge had done, then jailed them" according to the Ki-Media blog which reported on villagers' attempts at petitioning the government.

Already between 2006 and 2007 Adhoc, a Cambodian rights watchdog reported that "about 50,000 people throughout the country were evicted for development projects" and the problem just seems to be getting worse, with land in the capital being seized from the poor by a government working hand in glove with private companies to build luxury apartments and shopping malls.

Happy and Docile

How are we all kept in our place? Simple.

1. Consumerism. This brilliant idea was invented following the industrial slaughter of two world wars by Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays. The aim was to sublimate all those nasty wild and unruly human emotions into one single, easily manipulable emotion: greed.

The Century of the Self by Adam Curtis.

2. Built in Obsolescence. This is added insurance. Just in case the lure of consumerism isn’t enough to keep profits flowing in as well, manufacturers ensure that we must keep on buying, by making the things we buy break down and not be able to be repaired easily or cheaply.

Buy and Throw video.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Heinz Fifty Million Varieties Award

Now that we’re all warm and cosy leafing through our seed catalogues, it’s a good time to remember the brilliantly resourceful and ever inventive ancestors who provided us with all these lush varieties we enjoy growing - and eating today.

Here’s the Global Crop Diversity Trust’s Cary Fowler, quite a useful heritage variety himself, enthusing about seeds. Happy news that he won a Heinz Award recently as it’s very much deserved for the life's work that he’s put into saving our food crops from monocultural doom (eg here).

All the Heinz Awards last year were devoted to global change, and the year before that to environment; recognising the uncomfortable fact to some, that these are the most important issues we at last must start facing up to.

Crisis Committee Coming to Britain

In case we had forgotten, Britain is on the list of STUPID, heavily indebted countries, and later this month we can expect a visit from the EU’s Special Committee on the Financial, Economic and Social Crisis (CRIS) headed up by Wolf Klinz, onetime partner at McKinsey & Co and board member of the East German privatisation agency the Treuhandanstalt, so says Wpedia.

Herr Klinz opines (here pdf) that Europe is at a crossroads needing a "deepening of integration in the economic, budgetary, and social fields, more investments in infrastructure, a functioning labour market as well as a completion of the internal market ... a standstill of reforms in Europe would mean regression."

And on his blog he writes that:

"Reforms of the EU treaties are essential to master the crisis. By failing to address this issue, European leaders are pulling the wool over the eyes of European citizens. The heads of state should be honest to the citizens and they must act rapidly to address their concerns.

The solutions lie in more European integration. What Europe needs is a strengthening of the Community method and less intergovernmentalism."

I wonder if we will hear much about this visit from our media?

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

What a Lot of Bankers!

The Daily Mirror and Ann Pettifor have been investigating, and found that, guess what, the government which is very anxious that we shouldn't be so down on bankers, is made up of .....

Friday, 7 January 2011

It's Socialism for Corporations, Stupid

Philip K Dick may have taken too much whizz, but he sure could cut through the crap of post-war America to see the nasty reality underneath all the hypocritical posturing of politicians. Interesting to find that 2010 saw the debut of a film of his book Radio Free Albemuth. Very timely.

And as ever in politics, plus ca change. Here's Kevin Carson at the Centre for a Stateless Society:

“If Obama’s such a socialist and all,” ask these know-it-alls, “How come he’s got an economic policy team made up entirely of investment bankers and hedge fund managers?”

"Well, I’ll tell you, Mr. Smarty-Pants Intellectual. It’s because he’s the worst kind of Marxist: a deep undercover Marxist. And all this seeming flirtation with Wall Street elites and corporate CEOs is just part of his master plan to destroy capitalism and turn the great Representative Republic of our Founding Fathers into a People’s Democratic Republic."

Read more here ...