Diesel Vehicles: Killer in our Midst.

 

 

         Driving in our diesel car,

                                                 It doesn’t matter just how far.

We don’t think, so we don’t see,

What harm there could be.

Just another fun day out,

Sheep and cows, kids all shout.

Kids enjoying their day,

Laughing, screaming, in general play.

 

Over one million other cars

Left town that day for shops and bazaars;

Bought goods from a foreign land,

No one stopped to understand

The carbon footprint of that brand.

They just moaned about parking spaces,

Didn’t look to find others faces.

Engine idles while checking the bar for room.

A steady build-up of carbon fumes.

thB3DXYF39The diesel vehicle long promoted as green and a safe economic family car has become the nightmare of health and environmental experts. It was paraded as a cheaper option because of fuel consumption and therefore economic but also less damaging to the environment. A win – win or so we were told. To boost the car industry governments gave tax incentives and other inducements to bolster sales. Now the tune has changed and we are forced to pay to get rid of the bloody things.

In June 2012, The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified diesel exhaust as Group 1 which means it’s carcinogenic. The World Health Organisation (WHO) followed suit. Diesel houses “four (4) dangerous carcinogens”. What a turn around, from the best thing since sliced bread to something we all should dread. Once again we have been ‘had’ – ‘taken’ for a proverbial ride. www.second-opinions.co.uk/diesel-lung-cancer/

Paris is to start a ban on all diesel vehicles: trucks and buses built before September 2001 will be banned from July 2015. Cars manufactured before 1997 will be scrapped from 2016.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris wants all diesel vehicles off the road by 2020. A big ask, but how will people find the money to buy a new car. Well, the government will be offering €10,000 towards a new electric car if you get rid of the old diesel. www.europe.autonews.com/article/20150210 Businesses will be offered 50% bribe and 50% low interest loan to replace their diesel vans etc. France24 news

My question would be—why are the car industry not paying, they made all the promises and all the profit in the first place.

  1. Why did they promote these cars in the first instance?

Our government spokesperson will explain:th42KERJEG

To safeguard the car industry and thereby the jobs and thereby the income of the workers and thereby the family and thereby the community and thereby all the peripheral jobs associated with the industry.

  1. No mention of the big boys, of profit, of a lifestyle of mansions, of private education, of flash cars, the odd yacht, of a bucket load of bling.

No. Everything was done for your benefit­—-you the worker, were their priority. Who has a handkerchief?

All joking aside this is a very serious issue with an estimated 42,000 deaths a year through pollution in Paris and probably more. Such is the smog in the city and the danger it poses action is being taken. It is understood that 80% of vehicles in Paris are diesel which brings a clear understanding as to the haste. France24news.But why has it not been tackled before? London started in 2008.

The London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) came into effect in 2008 across the Greater London area. The plan is to reduce emissions from diesel vehicles. The Euro standard has been upgraded in 2012 and 2013. The costs of not meeting the LEZ are high at £100 per day for a large van and £200 for Lorries, coaches and buses. Charges for diesel cars will follow soon.

An interesting point arose in the 2013 discussion as the mayor decided that only buses would have to meet the new LEZ emissions for oxides of nitrogen (NOx), coaches and lorries get to skip this one and save around £350 million. Call me suspicious but I think the big boys have had a word in the Mayor’s little ear as the city stands to lose a lot of money. What about people’s health?

So why the urgency?

I have already mentioned the deaths in Paris but London too has a high number at 29,000 per year “…dying prematurely from air pollution”. www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/

  • Should diesel vehicles be banned now?
  • Should we force industry to pay a serious levy?
  • Why do we have to wait until industry builds new engines?
  • Why are we putting profits before people?

 

The problem emerges with the soot that comes out of the exhaust – you can see it as cars etc. pull away from traffic lights – the soot contains ‘particulates’; “Particulates are the deadliest form of air pollution as they get into the lungs”. It is estimated that this contributed to 370,000 premature deaths in the EU in 2005 and a possible 3.2 million globally. www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particulates/ See also www.unee.org/index.php?id=31228/   

It gets worse as a WHO study in 2011, “…concluded that traffic exhaust is the single most serious preventable cause of heart attack in the general public”. (Wikipedia) This is scary stuff especially with the key word being ‘preventable’. When was the last time—–or the first time you saw a poster or a TV advert warning you of the dangers? Thousands are dying every year and they don’t think it’s important enough to keep us informed. Perhaps the real reason is the cost of doing something about it; they may have to charge the industries a green tax for causing the pollution and that would not go down well with the big boys. How are we expected to be rational consumers when we are lied to?

This raises another contentious issue that being why industry has not picked up the tab e.g. the oil business for diesel and the engine manufacturer and the marketing companies. The charge in London is being paid by the vehicle owner who inadvertently bought the car etc. on what appeared sound advice. Now the poor sod is being forced to pay for the privilege of driving the ‘die from’ car.

And yet another point arises from the income the LEZ is bringing into London. What is happening with the money raised? Has there been any reduction in the number of vehicles driving through London? Pollution is every bit as high according to the most recent coverage in the press. So! It is alright that thousands are dying, unknown numbers have lung and heart disease; that asthma affects millions, it’s ok because we are charging the drivers? What is the money being spent on!

The recent smog alert in England sparked off health warning for asthma sufferers and the elderly. Kay Boycott of Asthma UK said that “two-thirds of asthma sufferers find that pollution makes their asthma worse”. The pollution can easily “trigger an attack”. www.france24.com/en/20150319-britain-smog-alert/

A further warning was highlighted by the Daily Mail 2015/03/20 that the pollution          “…could cause fatal asthma attacks or heart problems”. It warned that toxins in London reached ten (10) the highest number. The newspaper quoted Dr Penny Woods of the British Lung Foundation, who warned those with respiratory problems to “…stay away from main roads”. If this was a war zone there would be widespread panic at the number of deaths and complications caused by the smog.

Incredulous! There is no doubt that diesel cars are still being sold to unsuspecting drivers. The sales pitch is exactly the same as ten (10) years ago. I think a law should be passed immediately allowing drivers to sue if they have purchased a diesel vehicle in the last ten (10) years. After all, the powers that be, have known about the pollution problem all that time. How long has this been going on? Let’s stop the sale of diesel vehicles!

Paris. The smog is so dense the mayor has ordered immediate action. Anne Hidalgo has got the go-ahead from the government to make public transport free over the weekend 20th / 23rd of March. A partial driving ban has also been introduced whereby odd number plates are allowed and then a swap over will occur. Emergency action is being taken because ‘particulates’ could go well over the maximum. Particulates can, “…penetrate deep into the lungs and the bloodstream and can cause cancer”. www.france24.com/en/20150321/

A professor at Columbia University, Patrick Kenney suggests that danger comes in two sizes, PM10 from the smoke and dirt and PM2.5 (particulate microns) which contains toxic organic compounds. The latter is the worse. Kenney says Paris is bad because of the number of diesel cars. Modern diesel cars are better, “But the filters in even the latest models can’t get rid of the most dangerous fine particles”. Anne Hidalgo. There are 200 cities in the EU with low emission zones. What does that suggest to you? www.france24.com/en/

Based on the figures the problem is massive; deaths are extraordinary high and general health issues must cost £€ millions yet it is under rated by the media and by our politicians. I need to find a word much more forceful than ‘scandal’. It would seem that there is a conspiracy of silence, and the people are being used as guinea pigs or just disregarded. The overall costs must be in the billions.

Profit before people once again!

Do some good…..join Robin Hood

 

 

 

To The Barricades!

 

thROE354NRA future ravaged by revolution, French style where the rich and powerful meet their fate on the guillotine or by firing squad in a Russian type overthrow. The crime will have been the denial of rights to the majority and an utter contempt for the masses. The growing separation through inequality may force the hand of the poor to take action.

There is little doubt that inequality is increasing; Ha-Joon Chang (p333) points out, “Since the 1980s, income inequality has risen in the majority of countries”. He goes on to highlight that this is especially so on the UK and USA, “…which lead the world in pro-rich policies”. Economics: The User’s Guide. Krugman (p73) lends his support concerning the USA “…the income of the typical family grew less after 1980 than before”. End This Depression Now!

This view is shared by Stiglitz (p9) who illustrates his point with a host of data over the last 30 years:

  • Low wage earners – increase over the period          = 15%
  • Top 1% of earners –                                                  = 150%
  • Top 0.1% of earners –                                               = 300%

Over a slightly different time scale Krugman (p76) substantiates the point made by Stiglitz. What this means in reality for the American worker is: an auto worker in 2007 could expect to earn $28 per hour now new hires are taken on at $15 an hour. Stiglitz (p71-72) The Price of Inequality

Another telling point comes from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which suggests that, “… the UK economy would have been 20% bigger had the gap between rich and poor not widened since 1980s”. Guardian 2014/12/09

thXB41ZEDFThe disparity is clear the rich have benefitted greatly, the super rich have benefitted fantastically. Over the same period extreme poverty has risen dramatically in the US as between 1996 – 2011 it has doubled to 1.5 million based on World Bank (WB) measures. Stiglitz reckons that 25% of all kids in the US live in poverty. (p20-21)

Two of the world’s rich nations have a damning ratio of inequality; what must it be like elsewhere: India, China and Africa, I dread to think. Moreover, we cannot rely on democracy to iron out the creases in our system, “…the political agenda is biased towards corporate power”. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralism

A statement which is borne out by Chang (p325) “… recent dramatic upswings in inequality in the US and the UK can mainly be explained by deregulation and tax cuts for the rich”. A view supported by both Stiglitz and Krugman.

“Currently, as the wealthiest obtain more wealth, they use a portion of that wealth to reduce the risk of having and obtaining additional wealth. A good example of this is how the tax rate on the wealthiest decreases as they obtain more wealth. The average tax rate for the top 1% in the US is now 17%. The tax rate for the poorest is closer to 50%”. Maxkeiser.com cited in www.larsschall.com2011/06/13/hegels-masterslave-dialectic/

 

Therefore our politicians are less interested in the electorate. Is it because we are skint? In contrast we have the thoughts of Wang Fuzhi a 17th century philosopher who was critical of the rulers, “…government should benefit the people, not those in power”. A lovely sentiment but can we have it adopted in today’s world. It is a view shared by the 20th century philosopher Karl Popper who thought it essential that we have a society where ‘political institutions can be changed by the governed’. Personally I would have Wang’s statement emblazoned onto banners and paraded everywhere where there is a protest. It should be a mantra for all who believe in equality and democracy.

Unfortunately, we seem to be headed towards a society based on Hegel’s master – slave dialectic and the fight for survival that ensues. (Larsshcall.com as above)It would seem that we are outside /beyond the thought processes of the rich. In a study for the WB in 2000 which surveyed 10,000, Can Anyone Hear Us? Deepa Narayan et al. One of the main issues raised by those surveyed was the lack of a voice. Nobody listens! Stiglitz (p21 + 390 notes 69) It’s to their own detriment but the rich cannot understand the concept of fairness.

In elementary psychology the point is made clearly, “It is important for us to feel that we have some control over what happens to us”. Understand Psychology (p119) The rich accept no responsibility for the growing inequality; that is inexcusable. They cause it and then turn a blind eye to the consequences of their actions. According to the philosopher P.F. Strawson it is only natural that we hold others responsible for what they do. www.plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-responsibility

Nobody listens! Especially our politicians except when it’s election time. Then the voters are herded through a narrow alley where they are bombarded with spurious rhetoric and a bucketful of promises. At the other end they are set loose, once again, to fend for themselves against the wolves and other predators. Little wonder therefore that there is a rise of alternative political parties. These new parties have emerged because the people want a voice and because the mainstream parties have stopped listening.

People will make sense of the world in which ever way they can, in the environment they find themselves living; be it crime, gangs or non-participation in general society. However, any notion that such groups should be shut out of the welfare system will result in new sub-cultures with unforeseen consequences.

Moreover, control of the hoi polloi has more tentacles than your average octopus: booze, drugs, and soap operas etc. However, not even the legalisation of marijuana will depress the feeling of unfairness. On the other hand it may actually heighten the feeling of dislocation and anger. And the present fascination of the star-struck dilettantes, dazzled by the glamour will not dislodge the desire for equity.

Reality for most has two edges, work or unemployment. Those in work are generally thRZSGUKD9happier people. Understand Psychology (p256-257). For those out of work various studies have shown a marked deterioration in physical health which exacerbates the problem. Long term unemployment can lead to ‘learned helplessness’ (p118) which can lead to apathy and a resignation which prompts an attitude of ‘why bother’ and, generates a ‘victim mentality’. The consequential costs over generations can prove so severe for society that government should set up training centres and community work to reduce the knock on effects.

The reality of the downtrodden is depressing. It is easier looking in than living the life. Nonetheless, people have a strong tendency to want to help as Chang (p197) suggests, “…people can, and do, pursue enlightened self-interest”. But these are generally ordinary folk who understand that at times we all need a hand because they too know aspects of that life. The rich are too busy flashing their bling in our faces.

M.K. Covey maintains that “Trust is the glue of life”. The Leaders Guide to Influence (p79) The same terminology is used by Stiglitz (p152-153) when he emphasises that social capital / trust is the ‘glue’ in society; that cooperation and trust are important,     “…in every sphere of society”. Without the ‘glue’ without the belief that the economic and political system is fair, society won’t function well. He gives several instances where social capital works exceptionally well and where it has failed.

A poll carried out on behalf of the NYT/CBS News in 2011 found only 10% of respondents trusted their government to do things right most of the time. Stiglitz, (p440 notes 8) The distrust of politicians is widespread. In the UK trust has been steadily eroded by promises never kept and by the scandal of M.P.’s fiddling their expenses. Some have also utilised their position of authority for a fee to business. Obviously, lobbying is not enough for some businesses.

thP0BYI7XHHowever, corruption of politicians is not a new phenomenon as Chang (p338) purports that business “…let’s not mince words- legally and illegally [are] buying up politicians and political offices”. Krugman (p86) is equally forceful in his view, “There is plenty of raw corruption—politicians who are simply bought, either with campaign contributions or with personal payoffs”. Stiglitz (p137-138) weighs in with several instances of ‘dishonest accounting’. It will make your eyes water with anger.

More recently in Brazil, the Petrobras scandal has 54 politicians in the dock and President Dilma Rousseff under suspicion concerning corruption at the oil giant. Federal prosecutors are seeking $1.5bn from 6 construction and engineering companies who are said to have bribed their way to huge contracts with Petrobras. www.msn.com/2015/03/03

It’s no different in France where 11 dairy companies have been fined a total of €192.7 million for organising a cartel. www.France242015/03/12 No wonder prices are so high!

So what’s the difference between fraud at the top and fraud at the bottom —–prison?

It needs to be well documented that if politicians do not listen to their constituents then they must accept full responsibility for any downsides in society. They tend to think that every 5 years or so they can tell a different story and blame someone else. They never accept blame themselves. Make them responsible!

Do some good ……join Robin Hood!!!!

Government should benefit the people not those in power

 

 

He’s Here!

 

thCAAXS9NGShush! Don’t make a sound. Don’t stand up! He’ll put you down. Big Brother has arrived. His arrival is much later than envisaged by 1984 author George Orwell, neither did Orwell anticipate that the controlling hand would stem from a democratic rather than a totalitarian regime. Few could have foreseen the rise of the troika, renamed ‘The Institution’.

Poor Greece it doesn’t stand a chance against the might of the EU and its enforcers, the troika, the faceless: the European Commission (E Comm) the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) all unelected. It is their way or the highway.

This is your Europe where democracy does not matter, where decisions will be made for you. The democratically elected government of Greece tried to uphold the principles by which it was elected but has been brow beaten by ‘The Institution’. Greece wanted to opt out of the austerity economic plan followed by the rest of Europe. The new government wanted to reverse the savage cuts imposed on its workers by ‘The Institution’.

As far as the faceless are concerned there is no alternative to their adopted policy. They are wrong, very wrong. I can point them to two Nobel Prize winning economists, a Harvard university economist and a Cambridge university economist who all advocate a positive alternative to the austerity / neoliberal model now in force.

    • J.E. Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality
  • Paul Krugman, End This Depression Now!
  • Dani Rodrik, The Globalization Paradox
  • Ha-Joon Chang, Economics: The User’s Guide

 

Greece did not cause this mess, though the propaganda would have you believe otherwise. What Krugman p177 calls the Big Delusion when he points out that Ireland and Spain both had budget surpluses and low debt prior to the banking crisis of 2008 but ended in the same bog as Greece. So it was not that Greece spent more than it could afford. Krugman p179 goes on to suggest that the political, financial and banking leaders are deeply committed to their version of events. Others may define their logic as ‘groupthink’.

A large part of the blame rests with the introduction of the € euro currency but they will never admit their complicity in creating a mess. At the time of the discussion to adopt the euro many pointed out that while America had a good model, “Europe fell far short of that model”. Krugman p173   Stiglitz p30 is equally scathing in stating that there was no “…political or institutional arrangements to make it work, and they will pay a high price for that failure”. I think we can all agree they are.

Moreover, it’s not just Greece that’s in trouble: Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and Italy are trapped in the same bog. These nations have opted to wield the axe and cut the life blood of so many families by cutting jobs by the thousand, cutting welfare, lowering wages and refusing to increase the minimum wage and allowing privatisation which entails job cuts.

Ha-Joon Chang p105 therefore concludes, “With the austerity budget, the prospect for economic recovery in many of these countries is dim”. That they might even face a ‘lost decade’ as Japan suffered in the1990s and Latin America 1980s. The point is supported by Krugman p186, “…deficit countries have been required to impose…draconian…spending cuts and tax hikes—programs that push them into deeper slumps…” Krugman p42 suggests that the ‘Institution’ should look at the work of past economists e.g. John Maynard Keynes, Irving Fisher and Hyman Minsky to find an alternative to the neoliberal austerity package.

Why Austerity?

The IMF, the World Bank and the Federal Bank of the USA are commonly referred to as the Washington Consensus as these are the guys pushing the neoliberal model, free trade and globalization. Rodrik p171 opines that it is a “damaged brand” and has abundant evidence to support his statement.

The role of the IMF is quite confusing:

  • In the years 1978 – 2009 the IMF found 173 cases of fiscal austerity in advanced countries, “And what they found was that austerity policies were followed by economic contraction and higher unemployment”. Krugman p237
  • In February 2010 the IMF document Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy, suggested that central banks such as the ECB in Europe “might be better to aim for 4% inflation rather than the 2% or less that has become the norm for ‘sound’ policy”. A policy of ‘groupthink’. P161
  • In 2011 a study by the IMF found that inequality in income affects the economy on the demand side and suggests that ‘reduced inequality’, the reverse of austerity, can lead to sustained growth. Stiglitz p114

The conclusion drawn by Stiglitz p288 is that, “The worst myths are that austerity will bring recovery and that more government spending will not”. Support comes from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) “…income inequality has a sizeable and statistically negative impact on growth”. Guardian 14/12/09

Nonetheless we find the IMF as part of the ‘Institution’ that is promoting austerity in Europe. Who are the faceless that they can disrupt the lives of millions and simply walk thILH29564away with their own pockets filled? Stiglitz p290 condemns them as akin to blood letters of the Middle Ages who cut to release bad blood and when the patient didn’t recover argue that more of the same was needed. They are fixed in their opinion. Groupthink!

 

“Groupthink is one of the most dangerous traps in our decision-making. It’s particularly likely because it taps into our deep social identification mechanisms – everyone likes to feel part of a group – and our avoidance of social challenges. But consensus without conflict almost always means that other viewpoints are being ignored, and the consequences of groupthink can be disastrous”. (p137)

Dr Nicky Hayes, Understand Psychology

A telling point by the author comes with the observation, perhaps tongue in cheek,     “…our understanding of what it is and how it happens doesn’t seem to stop politicians and others from doing it”.

The Greek people were not alone in rejecting austerity the Netherlands and France voted out pro-austerity parties in 2012. A year later the Italians did the same. Chang (p106) It will be interesting as other elections come up how the people will respond but will it make a difference. The ‘Institution’ has set its parameters and seems unlikely to budge. Can people power move them? Or are we powerless against the ‘bureaucratic order’. He’s Here. Are we witnessing the start of the overt rule by the faceless? Democracy, write it in your diaries for your grandchildren to read.

Do some good—————–join Robin Hood.

Keep Yanks Out!

 

th1E4V7Y96The question of GM foods is a hot topic again. It has been brought to the fore by discussion of a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a proposed trade agreement between the USA and Europe. This agreement is in keeping with the ultra-conservative economic outlook of neo-liberalism. The tension rose by quite a few notches when the EU approved legislation allowing member states to grow GM crops.

A GM crop, maize was grown in Europe for animal feed purposes. A potato was introduced but was later withdrawn as it was blocked from gaining Europe wide approval. (BBC 14/1/15) A final decision awaits as pressure mounts on the EU ministers to comply with USA wishes.

The power of big business is smeared all over this decision, described as “…a deceitful, messy and unprincipled compromise”. www.theecologist.org/News/   If a member state

what it means for MNC's

what it means for MNC’s

(EU) decides not to grow a GM crop the company can take that nation to court. These Multi-National Corporations (MNC’s) are multi- billion dollar businesses and thus can afford the best legal brains, as well as the money to contest the decision.

Case: Bayer and Syngenta are in court fighting the decision by the EU to ban the bee killing ‘neonic’.             I am not convinced democracy is safe. www.action.somofus.org

America’s MNC’s are poised to flood the European market with their seeds/plants. GM crops are already grown and on sale in America and parts of Asia. A problem for Europe is that it is far behind in research and therefore may become dependent on the MNC’s for their entire product. Of the largest 500 MNC’s 88% are American. David Farnham Human Resource Management

My anxiety is raised by a dispute between Testbiotech and Grace. Grace is an EU research programme dealing with GM crops. The study in question is one carried out by Grace, a 90 day feeding assessment on animals. Grace assures us that the study found nothing to be alarmed about but Testbiotech think differently.

The study over a period of 90 days sought to determine whether feeding GM maize had any adverse effect. The conclusion was that if maize constitutes 33% of the animal’s diet there is no problem. However, I have a few questions that need answered before I can feel assured.

  • cowpat

    cowpat

    Is 90 days a sufficient period to understand fully the gestation of the animal from consumption to the cowpat?

  • Is there any possibility of residual matter remaining in the animal’s gut?

Even at miniscule levels residuals can build up over time. It’s like dust on a mantelpiece, you don’t see the tiny specks but after a while you can run your finger through the dust. Therefore I don’t accept that a 90 day period is sufficiently exhaustive to assure me that I can eat the resultant beef or lamb etc. I am not convinced GM crops are safe.

Furthermore, I am concerned that the Grace study limited the animal feed to 33% of the animal’s diet. What measures will be taken to ensure that such a percentage of feed will be adhered too? We all know that business cuts corners to maximize profits and, that many animals can and are penned because it’s cheaper and helps to fatten the animal. Therefore, many animals can and will be fed a diet of 100% of GM maize. What would be the effect on the animal in such circumstances?

Of real concern is that Grace can openly state that while there has been many studies carried out on GM crops the evidence is, “…contradictory and the quality of research varies widely”. Moreover, “Overall, it’s true, drug company trials are much more likely to produce a positive outcome for their own research”. Ben Goldacre Bad Science p205    I am not convinced I’m being told the truth.

www.gmo-compass.org

What also worries me is that EU ministers have okayed Du Pont Pioneer’s Supercorn (maize) despite concerns of the effects on wildlife such as moths and butterflies. What other wildlife can be affected? (Guardian 13/1/15) Another question, what will be the affect when all our arable land is planted with GM crops?                                                 I am not convinced the environment is safe.

A political battle is brewing and ordinary Joes must be participants if we are to defeat the big boys in their attempt to control agriculture world -wide. This statement may seem a little OTT but the MNC’s: Du Pont, Monsanto, Bayer etc. by controlling the development and the sale of seed/plants they control what is sown and harvested. Ultimately what we eat. It is not hyperbole to suggest that these huge conglomerates can place a strangle-hold on the agricultural market. Once established it is a small step to the corruption of trade practices and in consequence the setting up of a cartel. History illustrates that such a manoeuvre in business is quite common.                           I am not convinced business can be trusted.

Nonetheless, it is heartening that some countries in the EU have a ban on GM crops, e.g. France and Hungary. However, the government in England support the introduction of GM crops. This in part is due to the powerful Lobbying of the industry. (Daily Mail 13/1/15) It would appear that business will not take no for an answer; they lobby to get ministers agreement but threaten court action if a government dare refuse them.            I am not convinced democracy is safe.

In the UK both Scotland and Wales have a ban in place which they seem likely to th5GR2D1P3maintain. Thus GM crops will only be grown in England. However, a problem arises on the question of border contamination (Friends of the Earth). We have no control over the wind or where wildlife may roam. The other dilemma is that once the GM is used the spread will become automatic as the industry will make it cheaper to produce in the first instance to entice farmers and consumers. MNC’s are “able to exploit their market positions and power to achieve greater economies of scale in production”. David Farnham ibid

It is akin to the national lottery UK, whereby in the early days the pay-outs were huge, the cost relative and thousands had several little wins (£10 / $15). Now the price has doubled and the pay-outs much smaller and no one talks of little wins.

Those in favour of the GM crop, www.farminguk.com suggest that there are two varieties of Roundup Ready maize poised for planting as soon as the go-ahead is given. The site quotes government minister, Owen Paterson, it’s a “wonderful opportunity”. Paterson goes on to suggest that GM crops are safer than conventionally produced crops. If Paterson is so convinced, why doesn’t he do something about the poor quality of our food? At least bring it to the peoples’ attention.                                     I am not convinced MP’s listen.

In 1990, a compatriot of his, Tory minister John Gummer made a spectacle of himself by trying to feed his young daughter a beef burger at the height of the Mad Cow’s Disease scandal. I am not convinced my food is safe.

Even more stridently in favour is www.forbes.com (13/1/15) who advises President Obama to dismiss fears about health, the environment and labour as well as market fears about the TPP. Oh, to be so absolutely free of doubt on so many issues. On the other hand one could say, oh, how callous of Forbes to dismiss peoples’ anxieties just to make a profit. I am not convinced when profit feeds their lust.

Unbeknown to us, we may already be eating GM food. Once again we may be getting used as guinea pigs. Once again history is littered by mad science, thalidomide being one of the nastiest. Also, in 2011 in Germany 19 people died in an E.coli outbreak caused by a lax in farming methods. Mad cow’s disease and more recently, 2013, the use of horsemeat in processed food sold as beef and lamb.                                             I am not convinced business can be trusted.

Moreover, of GM crops produced: soybeans 59%; the EU imports 40 million tonnes for animal feed. Of course we eat the animals. Feeling queasy? Rapeseed grown extensively in Canada is used in cooking oil and margarine. Cotton seeds are found in many food products. Are we being treated as ubiquitous morons?                               www.gmo-compass.org “Big pharma is evil: I would agree with that premise”.            Ben Goldacre, op. cit.

I only wish I had the techno skills to begin a campaign on twitter etc.

#I am not convinced…………

I am not convinced GM crops are safe

I am not convinced the environment is safe

I am not convinced business can be trusted

I am not convinced when truth is muted

I am not convinced MP’s listen

I am not convinced democracy is safe

I am not convinced Europe works for me

I am not convinced my choices are free.

Eat well, but carefully. The struggle has just begun.

 

In God’s Name!

thHDQGIV03Recently there has been a rash of suicide bombers and skilled and unskilled terrorist attacks. Over centuries we have witnessed carnage in the name of religion. Today religion stills plays a central role in conflict throughout the world. Or are the true perpetrators the dark deities of money and power.

The world press are talking about France and the atrocities that took place there in the past week, 7th / 10th January. The killing of the satirists of Charlie Hebdo was senseless; the later killing at the Jewish bakery was blind hatred and as senseless as the killing of the police woman. There can be no justification for such murder. It was an apparition of psychological control by outside forces. The problem with belief is that it lives in one season and that season can be determined by the believer.

If it is winter the abstract believer sees only dark and hears only the squawk and the squish of the landscape. Spring with its thrusting energies struggling for life, seems far off. Summer is but a distant lullaby and, autumn with its alluring contrasts, for some, holds only the drawn-out winter to come. Belief can contort all around you until all that you see are hopeless puppets living in a fairy-tale.

I have no doubt that religious belief can bring much joy and satisfaction to some, but the other side of the coin is the construct of man and the lust for money and power that follow as a shadow. It is therefore incumbent upon all who accept their faith as a blessing to openly condemn those who would portray their faith, in such a fashion, as to be mistook as the devil’s own handy work.

While France has captured the headlines there are many other parts of the world where carnage vents its ugly face. Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen have all suffered gravely from similar attacks. The list is long and unfortunately it is a list that quantifies hate.

Over recent months Nigeria has woken to excessive horror. In November 2014 forty-thZC9YPUWLeight (48) were murdered at a school assembly by a child suicide bomber. On New Year’s Eve, in the city of Gombe another child bomber failed to reach her target but killed one soldier and injured another. The next day and yet another child bomber failed to reach the target, a church, but died in trying. On January 9th, a child bomber killed a possible 19 and injured more than twenty in the city of Maiduguri. The following day, in Potiskum in Yobe state two more blasts as two children killed three (3) and caused injury to over forty.

The savagery of these events does not lie only with the innocent ruthlessly cut down but also with the use of children as bombers. These were kids who had no chance of comprehending the complex nature of politics; whose minds had previously been filled with dreams and aspirations, but in the immediacy wanted their mum. Used as cannon balls, as worthless individuals, to perpetrate atrocities on behalf of adults.

Such adults will never know understanding because their belief lives forever in winter. There is no intellectual capacity in the minds of these men, for they cannot comprehend the needs of others and therefore will never fathom the depths of themselves. They are trapped on an endless merry-go-round that never passes go.

In Peshawar Pakistan 150 people, mostly children slaughtered at a school by the Taliban. Why? Do not tell me that you have a ‘cause’. No ‘cause’ would use the bodies of children as a battering ram. Certainly, no ‘cause’ that has humanity. Barbarity is the last recourse of those who intuitively know that they face defeat. The past will not be re-invented and the harder they kick the closer their demise looms.

Likewise in Iraq, a 14 year old child taken from his home in Syria to blow himself up and in the process kill as many others as possible. He probably didn’t know where he was and almost certainly did not understand why he was carrying out this act of terror.

Suicide bombers are fragile beings, usually young and who have been brainwashed or forced by some fear into a philosophy that has closed the door on humanity. Any revolution, any struggle for power should at its bases have the majority as the winners of any outcome. The only alternative is to attempt to impose a dictatorship, a fascist regime.

To murder and to force the scattering of survivors by the razing of 16 villages as at th3R87WKY7Baga, north-east Nigeria, suggests a principle of victory at any cost, whether it benefits the people or not. Victory for the sake of victory has only power and money as a consideration. The ‘cause’ has been lost in the melee of the armed struggle.

Several groups who started with a clear vision have ended up as corrupt as those they oppose. In Peru, Afghanistan, in Nigeria and elsewhere those in opposition have succumbed to criminality through the sale of drugs etc. all in the ‘virtuous’ need to continue the struggle. The use of children and the criminality suggests a weakness. A weakness that oozes from their pores as a sweat would after a 10K run. They have entered and become a part of the world they oppose. They have wandered blindly in and, are unaware that their vision is crumbling.

Moreover, these terror attacks have given new life to weak politicians. Politicians that faced being ousted from office, now stand strong, statesman like, and speak for the nation. They can now revel in the adulation that was never intended for them. Governments are now racing to introduce new laws to curb the terrorist but in doing so will curb the freedom of all. The politicians now demand control over the internet to check our every thought. Big brother will seize the opportunity.

Also, the terrorists have caused a fissure in our society. For those who oppose democracy it is a welcome boost, for those who believe in democracy it is a loss. The anti-Muslim marches in the German town of Dresden that had 200 walkers in October had 25,000 on Monday 12/1/15.

The press don’t help either, so intent are they with their own political agenda. On Monday’s march in Dresden the Daily Mail reported 40,000, the Independent gave the figure of 25,000 and qualified their coverage by informing readers that there were counter demonstrations of 8,000 in Dresden as well as 4,000 in Berlin. However, France 24 news channel suggest that the counter demonstrators equalled 100,000 but gave no evidence for such a claim. Please, don’t try and brainwash me. Perhaps you believe us to be feeble. At a time of heightened tension we do not need such bias reporting as that of France 24. Give us the facts and let us make up our own mind. Freedom of thought!

I have no angst that the French comedian Dieudonne has aired his views and don’t agree with his arrest. We also have TV stations giving air time to al Qaeda claiming to have ordered the killings and in praise of those who carried out the murders. The same piece incites others to do as the French killers have done. (Was this appeasement?) I don’t like anyone promoting murder and would not give them air time. I could never condone the murder of an innocent.

 

Furthermore, many media outlets have refused to show the cartoon that sparked thethXK46FOCW killings. Nor will they show the most recent one produced by Charlie Hebdo. In the eyes of the fanatic division is a weakness. We must surely ask if tolerance has a gate that it will not pass through, especially if that demand for tolerance comes from an intolerant source. And, can we permit religious fanatics to dictate to an increasingly secular society?

I am not afraid of the views others hold as long as they are willing to discuss them rationally and openly and without violence. We learn and grow from such dialogue. I am not afraid because if we both grow then everyone benefits.

Will God end the pain? No. God is in the living not the theory.

thB7HQI3MQJe suis Charlie