Monday, 18 May 2015

Trident.... Tried and found wanting.

Several committed people from the UK are bravely rocking the boat this week, and the boat just happens to be Trident. One is William McNeilly, a whistle blower who  has been serving on HMS Victorious, one of the Royal Navy's four nuclear submarines.  "I am a Strategic Weapons Systems engineer who has sacrificed everything to tell the public how close it is to a nuclear catastrophe."
A short account of security and safety issues recorded by him  can be found at the Nuclear Information Service.  http://www.nuclearinfo.org/  
The article is entitled  'Submariner: Trident is “so broken it can't even do the tests that prove it works”
It's certainly worth reading. He expects to go to prison for making this public.  Incidentally, the original post that he wrote at Scribd  has now been deleted.
The other protesters will go on trial today, following their arrest last year for blocking the gate of Devonport Docks, where the nuclear fleet is serviced. 
They are Theo Simon and Nicki Clarke.  I was privileged to  hear Nicki give a speech at the rally commemorating the fourth anniversary of the disaster at Fukushima, outside  Parliament, earlier this year.  These are people who protest because they care.
Theo explains in his blog that he has been charged with 'interrupting the  "lawful" work on the HMS Vengeance Submarine.' and continues:
'My position is that it is the government who are breaking an international treaty by upgrading Britain’s nuclear arsenal, and that work on maintaining a nuclear weapons systems is itself unlawful.
At my trial three expert witnesses will testify on international humanitarian law, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the threat that holding nuclear weapons poses to our security and safety in the southwest. Because it is an indiscriminate “Weapon of Mass destruction”, the Trident warheads could never be fired without committing a crime against humanity, as set out by the International Court of Justice.'
You can find the rest of his post at Theo's blog: https://theosimon.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/my-case-against-trident-in-plymouth-19515%EF%BB%BF/
 Theo has some kind back up from his neighbour, Michael Eavis, dairy farmer and founder of the Glastonbury Festival, who has offered to help with his costs if he loses the case in court. Michael Eavis has been a life-long opponent of nuclear weapons and Glastonbury Festival has showcased the anti-nuclear cause since its beginning.
Maybe the voice of reason is beginning to be heard, and maybe the tide is turning.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

A spoon

Usually I'm writing about issues, but just for once, tonight I want to write about some of the lovely things my friends do, as well.

It was a spoon, a hand carved pale wooden tasting spoon, the dark rings in the middle of the bowl created by the sapwood going over into the heartwood. At the far end, the finger groove had been carved to allow perfect hand balance when you lifted it.




About six inches of pale English wood, a surprise present from my good friend, Michael Smith, it might not seem much, but there was so much more to it.
Michael's alias is Veshengro, which is is Romany for "man of the woods", woodsman, or forester.  He writes a blog using that name at Green (Living) Review. He has a written book about woodland management, full of interesting facts, and a guide to reusing and upcycling trash, called "Let's Talk Rubbish". Michael is also the brains behind Reuse Central, a collection of ingenious upcycling ideas on Facebook and he works full time... I've never been too sure how he does it all.
I asked Michael how long it took him to make a spoon like this and he replied that they take between two to four hours, all told, to make, at least...
 He wasn't sure exactly what kind of wood he had made it out of, having already sent it to me, but he thought it was probably Serviceberry or Ash.  Serviceberry wood is very strong and Ash is very resilient. I had wondered if it was Sycamore, because of its pale lustre.
The point is, that this wood hadn't been discarded or burned, but turned into something beautiful which I shall treasure and use for the rest of my life and hopefully it will still be in use a generation or so later. All the while it survives, some of the carbon dioxide the tree took in while it was growing will be locked in there.
Another of my friends, Reg Mabbett, also makes thumb sticks from coppiced hazel wood.  The handle of the stick on the right is a traditional design... and the left hand one is a joke on the name, but very good to hold as well.

Carved handles of Reg's sticks
  According to Michael, a properly managed coppiced stool can live for several thousand years, way outliving a single standard tree.
The woods live on if they are properly cared for and aren't destroyed by politicians and developers. Our most treasured woods go back centuries. Ancient woodland in England is woodland that has existed since 1600 AD and some ancient woods may link back to the woods that covered the UK around 10,000 years ago.  Only around two percent of the land area of the UK is covered by ancient woodland and whole communities of animals and plants live there. These woods can be beautiful and peaceful places for everyone to visit.  It only takes weeks for modern machinery to completely destroy them and they needs protecting, especially now. We need the trees as much as they need us!
This reminds me,  if anyone wants to buy one of Michael's spoons, he can be contacted at Green (Living) Review.  I don't have any idea how much he charges for them as mine was a present, but I'm sure he'd be happy to let you know.

Information about ancient woodland and campaigns taken from the Woodland Trust.
https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/
and
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/greenpolitics/planning/11500924/Ancient-woods-face-gravest-threat-for-decades-Woodland-Trust-warns.html

Declared interest:  Michael once wrote a very kind review of one of my books..and that's how we became friends.





 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Remember Fukushima

If you are in or around London on the 4th anniversary of the 11/3/11 disaster, do join us to remember Fukushima. All the dates of events are on the poster and there is a dedicated website with the details www.fukushima2015.com  Please can you let us know if you are coming to the meeting, because we need to know the numbers.  Thanks.



If you are anywhere else in the world, there is a link to other events, on the website and there is another list which I found, on Facebook, courtesy of  "Beautiful Energy : The stand for a nuclear free world."
The list is from Nick Thabit at Fourth Anniversary of 3.11 Fukushima Nuclear Accident Events and Actions Worldwide.
If you can't get to an event, but would like to join in, you can light a candle to link into the Global Candle Chain - 3/11 Fourth Anniversary Remembrance by Beautiful Energy

Monday, 23 February 2015

What does ISIS believe?

  Recently, having heard and read a fair amount about ISIS and what it represents, I came across a scholarly and brave post by two liberal Muslim feminist journalists. The headline of the article in "The Daily Beast" is "Will It Take The End of the World for Obama To Recognize ISIS as Islamic?"
  As a Christian, I find the content important and I would suggest to anyone with an interest in the subject to read it, with the warning that quite a lot of it is based on the murder of the Christians from Egypt. It isn't pleasant reading.
This is the link http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/20/will-it-take-the-end-of-the-world-for-obama-to-recognize-isis.html?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon





Saturday, 20 December 2014

Cosy up

How much notice do you take of your Dad's opinions?  Seriously... or your Mum's opinions or your partner's or your sibling's or even someone you respect who's older than you?
I'm asking, because a very good article in The Ecologist, which I think deserves to be widely read, brings a new light to this question.  It's succinct, readable, and when I got to the section headed "It's the money, stupid" in bold font.... even I was bowled over by the length of the list of politicians.
Head over to "Nuclear power trumps democracy" by Donnachadh McCarthy. He is a former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats. Here's the link http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2587477/nuclear_power_trumps_democracy.html

Well, that's reason enough for me, but there is another cogent article, this time by the editor of the Ecologist, OliverTickell, about keeping the U.K's status as a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) state and about tritium production. It's entitled "Bombs Ahoy! Why the UK is desperate for nuclear power"
I prefer "Peace on earth. Good will towards men." Do some politicians miss out those words when they sing the carol?




Friday, 22 August 2014

Lessons from the past.

Throughout this year's Edinburgh Festival, a play called 3000 Trees was performed at the fringe.  It's based on a man called Willi McRae.  He was a human rights champion and an anti nuclear campaigner. In fact, the play was about the untimely death of William McRae.
By some strange coincidence, there were two plays with the same title, both about the death of Willi McRae, being performed at the festival. One was by George Gunn  and the other by Andy Paterson. 

In the comments below the description of the former play, is a lead to an article in Electric Scotland written by John McGill, Scotland - UN founder and secretary.
 A little way down,  he describes how his own car had previously been shot at  ... An attempted murder and a murder...What else could it have been? This led me on a trail through the reports available on the internet.
The starting point came from the testament by a former Strathclyde P.C.. Donald Morrison,
 http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/210087/I-will-sign-affidavit-tying-MI5-to-McRae-murder
which was recently made more relevant by another article, http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/492477/Police-probing-killing-of-SNP-activist-have-interfered-with-my-statement
One line stood out for me in The Herald Scotland report, which says that the Scottish lawyer had also had a puncture on his way back to his country cottage...which he was never to reach.   If he did have a puncture, had someone fired at the tyre? Was it that which led up to his death? If so, then perhaps John McGill was fortunate that the bullet which hit his car had missed the tyre and hit the body of the car. It was also fortunate, perhaps, that Willi McRae was still there to advise him which police station to go to.
Willi McRae would have been vulnerable while he was changing the tyre.... and it takes time.
It was reported that the damaged tyre was on the back seat of the car, but the rolls of maps tied up in pink ribbons and the spare briefcase which had been seen there by the police constable, were nowhere to be found in the car.
Why would anyone want to murder Willi McRae? It could not have been suicide. Even I understand that people don't shoot themselves behind the right ear and then completely dispose of the bullet casings, wipe the gun clean of finger prints and throw it at least 40 feet out of the car window.
One thing is for sure, he was renowned for his success in leading the successful opposition to the storing of nuclear waste in the hills around Mulwharcher, which led to a public inquiry, and which the protesters won.
"Nuclear waste" McRae sad, during the inquiry, "should be stored where Guy Fawkes put his gunpowder". 
According to The Scottish Express, and other reports, he, himself, was on the verge of being elected  to Westminster on the back of his anti-nuclear campaign.
As I understand it, Willi MacRae was soon to have given evidence at a preliminary hearing which would lead to a  public inquiry into the fast-reactor proposals for a "European Demonstration Reprocessing Plant'' at Dounreay.  The day before the shooting, he had told John McGill about information he had regarding the plans for storing nuclear waste.: "They're going to bury the stuff where the sand never dries!"  John McGill explained that this referred to a proposed underground storage facility at Applecross sands. Willi McRae carried a copy of the Dounreay papers with him at all times, (his office and homes having been repeatedly burgled), but they were not seen by the people who went to assist him, when he was found unconscious in his car.
Another well known anti nuclear campaigner, Hilda Murrell, had been murdered three years before in 1984.  A pacifist and famous rose grower, she was passionately against the dumping of nuclear waste and was due to present a paper at the Sizewell B inquiry entitled "An Ordinary Citizen's View of Radioactive Waste Management".  She was, it has been recorded, very worried that something was about to happen to her.
The U.K. is not the only place that this apparently, happened.  In the USA, Randolf and Joy Thompson, found themselves having to flee Pennsylvania after they had tried to make public the fact that the radiation releases from Three Mile Island were far higher than than the government and industry acknowledged.
http://www.southernstudies.org/2009/04/post-4.html
 All this was a long time ago; one would hope that it could never happen again. One asks "What kind of industry needs to go to such lengths to cover up the truth?"

In a few days' time, the people of Scotland will vote on whether they want to become independent or stay in the union. The country is exceptionally rich in wind and wave power.  If they choose independence they can become nuclear free.
http://www.banthebomb.org/ne/scotlandnato.pdf 

Sources.
Mullwhacher Enquiry, against nuclear dumping there, and joint founder of the "Oystercatcher Movement", against dumping in Glen Etive, was the nuclear lobby's most formidable and feared antagonist in Scotland - See more at: http://www.scottishrepublicansocialistmovement.org/Pages/SRSMWhoKilledWillieMacRae.aspx#sthash.7r3LNoHr.dpuf
Mullwhacher Enquiry, against nuclear dumping there, and joint founder of the "Oystercatcher Movement", against dumping in Glen Etive, was the nuclear lobby's most formidable and feared antagonist in Scotland. - See more at: http://www.scottishrepublicansocialistmovement.org/Pages/SRSMWhoKilledWillieMacRae.aspx#sthash.7r3LNoHr.dpuf
Mullwhacher Enquiry, against nuclear dumping there, and joint founder of the "Oystercatcher Movement", against dumping in Glen Etive, was the nuclear lobby's most formidable and feared antagonist in Scotland. - See more at: http://www.scottishrepublicansocialistmovement.org/Pages/SRSMWhoKilledWillieMacRae.aspx#sthash.7r3LNoHr.dpuf
http://www.electricscotland.com/independence/scotEUMcRae.pdf
http://www.whale.to/c/death_of_william_mcrae.html
http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/aberdeen/the-death-of-willie-macrae-1.688252
http://www.scottishrepublicansocialistmovement.org/Pages/SRSMWhoKilledWillieMacRae.aspx
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/the-mcrae-mystery-960817
http://www.fantompowa.net/Flame/william_mcrae.htm
"Oystercatcher Movement", against dumping in Glen Etive, - See more at: http://www.scottishrepublicansocialistmovement.org/Pages/SRSMWhoKilledWillieMacRae.aspx#sthash.Sas2PZyb.dpuf
 http://www.disclose.tv/forum/willie-macrae-murder-t87205.html
http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2014/07/01/from-the-province-of-the-cat-29-the-struggle-of-life-and-death/
http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/492477/Police-probing-killing-of-SNP-activist-have-interfered-with-my-statement
http://3000trees.com/ http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/210087/I-will-sign-affidavit-tying-MI5-to-McRae-murder
http://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/mar/20/who-killed-hilda-murrell
 http://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/mar/18/hilda-murrell-michael-mansfield?guni=Article:in%20body%20link
http://hildamurrell.org/
http://hildamurrell.org/source-documents/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilda_Murrell
http://www.southernstudies.org/2009/04/post-4.html

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting. A petition to the UN. China's secret state transplant business.

One of the most important petitions I think I have ever come across is the petition to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, calling for the immediate end of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong Practitioners in China.
Incidentally, this isn't just Falun Gong practitioners being persecuted, but other groups including Uighurs, Tibetans and house Christians.
The petition is open for you to add your support until November 30th 2014.  To quote from the DAFOH website, "Between July and December 2013, nearly a million and a half people from 50 different countries and regions signed the petition to call for an end to this unprecedented evil.  On December 13th the EU adopted an urgent resolution on organ harvesting in China."
There is a lot more information and the link to the petition on the DAFOH home page. http://www.dafoh.org/ There is also a very good video.
In May, the International Conference on Organ Transplantation took place in London and  Falon Gong practitioners in the UK gathered outside the conference venue in Westminster to raise public awareness of the way organ transplant operations are carried out in China and to collect signatures for the petition.
As well as the Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting website, there is more information and up to date news at the website of the International Coalition to End Organ Pillaging in China.  I would urge anyone who would like to really understand the issue and not be placated by official statements, to visit their news and articles section... I found them all to be very helpful... but especially the public lecture, given in the University of Toronto by David Matas, a lawyer who knows a great deal about  human rights violations in different countries, including China. The lecture is entitled "Flip flopping in China over sourcing organs from prisoners".
Thank you.