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Friday 27 February 2004 - it's a dirty game, but someone's gotta do it - say's who?

My, Clare Short has certainly stirred up the shits and they don't know how to respond to her admission that the UK and US have been bugging private conversations between Kofi Annan and others. I thought everyone knew bugging went on all over the place, by all the major powers and a few of the minor ones, why else would the UN routinely sweep its offices? Why else would ex-intelligence operators shrug and say, 'so what, why is anyone surprised?' The way the media and most politicians are responding though, you'd think these lilly-white operators knew nothing about it, and furthermore, that it had never entered their heads that that sort of thing might happen. Blair, unwilling to confirm or deny it, just blusters and tries to silence everyone with talk of the necessity for secrecy [and of intelligence gathering from allies as well as 'enemies'?].

Few commentators question the need for the Official Secrets Act, which both Clare Short and Catherine Gun [the GCHQ translater who leaked that the US were emailing the UK about bugging the nations opposed to the war against Iraq] have apparently broken the Act merely by speaking about a matter that is central to the push by the warmongers to rush the world into the trashing of Iraq on a false premise, yet the US has no Official Secrets Act as that would go against the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech which mitigates against government secrecy, and have, nonetheless, managed to have several wars without their security being damaged. But such is the power of the secret state in the UK that this vile infringement to open democracy is talked about as if sacrosanct, something that we had always had and needed if we weren't to be overwhelmed by enemies. What's called a culture of secrecy, especially noticeable when unspeakable things are being done.

The real enemies [of democracy, openness, progress], the politicians, are only too willing to use it to silence anyone who would tell the public what's going on. It threatens their power and their lies and we have seen, with the dropping of charges against Catherine Gun, that they don't have the bottle to persecute someone with a conscience if it means anything secret being revealed in open court likely to embarass them. I do hope this gives courage to others to reveal more of the secrets these shits want to keep from us. They talk of democracy and open government, yet by nature are secretive, manipulative and dishonest. Whatever Clare Short's motives [and there's doubtless some vindictiveness in there] she clearly didn't make it up, and is telling the truth, something this country could do with some more of from politicians.

Blackbird sitting on a newly turned mole hill singing away as if a castaway on an island, though the sea was white under a blue enamel sky, the snow having finally arrived. It flew off when the dogs approached, with their claws leaving neat star-shaped, deep indents in the white stuff. Buds on the trees frozen with surprise, daffodils blooming despite it all. Strange times for humans and other animals, wonder what next week will bring apart from more politicians lies.

Tuesday 24 February 2004 - the death of the seasons

After several weeks of spring-like weather it was starting to get rather too much like summer for February, but now it's flipped back to winter again with heavy frosts, chilling winds and snow threatened for later today. The birds which have arrived six weeks early from North Africa must be finding it hard, and I can hear none of them still singing as they were a month ago as they built their nests in readiness for another year of child rearing. I hope none of them had started laying as this switch back to more 'normal' weather will kill off eggs and young alike. The young depend on a ready supply of insects which have not caught up with the changing temperatures, so no succulent catterpillers around to feed to hungry pink mouths. Plants are a little more robust, many were budding and have now stopped the process in shock and sit there waiting for the warming rays to stir their sap and continue the process. Some will succumb and lose their flowers and therefore their fruit, other will enter into another cycle and produce more flowers when spring comes back. How the insects cope is open to conjecture. We may have a glut of one species or another depending on how their life cycle gels with that of their principal predator. Upsetting the balance causes a chaotic progression down the food chain, ending up with some undesired consequenses from our point of view, and the outcome for food crops in doubt. Anyone under twenty can have very little idea of what seasons are or of how quickly the changes have occurred, this kind of misture of weather patterns must seem normal. Exciting times, best to be prepared for anything. Yet motorists continue to be stranded in snow storms wearing nothing but T-shirt and shorts and with a choc bar their only nourishment. No longer the spirit of self sufficiency and being prepared for anything, these car people fully expect to be rescued by professionals at great expense when the weather comes up and smacks them round the head for being stupid. They didn't expect their car journey to be interrupted, they were 'in the car ad' where life is an open road and the sun's always shining. Might be true of Florida, but not for much longer as half of the UK's aging population seem intent on buying homes there for retiring. Opportunities for growth in the retirement home sector as well as the hurrican survival industry.

Sunday 22 February 2004 - built to last organically

Looking out my window, across the gardens with their trees and bushes, there are in view two houses. Modern, built in the last decade, there's nothing intrinsically unpleasant about them; yellow brick with white painted wood board from the second floor, no chimneys because, of course, they were built centrally heated. I found myself imagining that instead there were two traditional houses for this part of the country; grey stone, black wooden beams and whitewashed plaster in between, their irregular, unsquare forms merging organically with the nature surrounding them. The modern world prides itself on its accuracy and precision, everything is machine made and shaped, no room for error or deviation from the norm, all must look alike and satisfy planning and building regularions. Soulless, they clash with nature, impose themselves on a landscape, at odds with natures curves and chaotic balance. The old houses were not built like that; first the timber was obtained, most likely the dismembered ribs of wooden ships, already old and weathered, warped and settled into a comfortable shape. Using these to form the framework, the house was more or less made up as it progressed, growing organically from the shapes available and fitted by craftsmen who respected it and worked with it to produce a dwelling. Each house is entirely individual. There simply was no standardisation then. These houses are now highly valued and very expensive, yet we can't allow ourselves to build like that now, we have to build these monstrous modern boxes which won't last half as long and are a blemish wherever they spread. All policed by soulless bureaucrats armed with boxes of regulations that can make it almost impossible for a free soul to build something unique, or even just a bit different.

Slowly the facts come to light. For years the received truth has been that Libya, a 'rogue state' is guilty of the shooting in London in which WPC Fletcher was killed and of the Lockerbie bombing in which many lost their lives. With Libya paying compensation to the Lockerbie victims' families it seemed a done deal, despite the doubts that continued about their involvement in Lockerbie and the alternative scenario of a Palestinian terrorist group, with drug involvement with the CIA, being responsible. Now the Libyan Prime Minister has made a statement that the payment was merely to restore the peace, to pay up and be accepted again, and that Libya had nothing to do with either event. Teddy Taylor - hardly a left-wing conspiracy theorist, more a Tory stalwart - on the radio yesterday, spoke of the London shooting and put forward the view that the shots came from the empty building next door to the Libyan embassy, owned by an American company, and backed the Libyan government in its denials, presumably on evidence rather than theory.

I don't agree with those who say they generally prefer the cock-up theory to conspiracy theories, which sounds very rational and sensible on the surface, and infers that conspiracy theorists are out on a limb, a little ridiculous. But time and again, years later, we learn of conspiracies, and I find the precautionary theory of state conspiracy to be a safer option even in the face of overwhelming evidence, if only on the basis of 'you can't believe a liar'. America, being pre-eminent in conspiring around the world to manipulate for its own ends, is therefore a prime suspect in both events, if only of knowing beforehand and doing nothing because it suited US interests. A fact that doesn't seem to have impinged on the news media despite appearing in a TV documentary, is that several locals in Scotland reported seeing several men arrive in a black out large car before any of the rescue teams and departing rapidly with several packages removed from the area of the crash. We know that large drug scams often include radio location devices hidden in the drugs, and there were last minute cancellations by Americans just before the flight left Germany. What could Libya do? Faced with an onslaught of American-orchestrated condemnation and charges against two of its citizens, it eventually handed them over for trial in Scotland, perhaps still believing they would be aquitted. That one was and the other wasn't is ludicrous, the case rested on them working together yet the confused judges found one guilty on the scant 'evidence' presented, but not his co-conspirator. Curiouser and curiouser. The relatives, as much influenced by thoughts of compensation as of justice - the current attitude to any tragedy seems to include huge sums of money these days - seemed to accept this and the money as if everything was settled. The media continued the official line of Libya the pariah state.

Friday 20 February 2004 - inhumanity to man and animal from the bottom of the gene pool

It's extraordinary how anyone takes the goons at Guantanamo Bay seriously, their methods of interrogation, apart from being illigal under international law, are bound to be wildly innacurate as far as gaining intelligence is concerned. Having operated a global kidnap operation with some of the detainees being snatched from countries other than Afghanistan and Iraq, they have treated them to what amounts to brainwashing; dehumanisation, isolation, rewards for information no matter how wild the claims, in the US's own words 'draining them of information' and then treating them like human beings as a reward. In those circumstances, most of us would invent stories if we knew nothing. Faced with an unremitting interrogation, the natural instinct is to do anything, say anything, to make it stop, no matter how what you say will impact on your long term future. 'Evidence' of this kind is always thrown out by a proper court of law, which is why the US government can't allow even its own courts to try them. Yet the UK government insists they will judge the 'evidence' which will doubtless come from the US as if it were real when they decide if the ones being released will face prosecution here. The best lawyer in the UK, Michael Mansfield QC, is on the case, so there's no chance any of it will get past him. Whether they will ever receive compensation for two years illegal incarceration is open to conjecture. Even with a change of administration there would remain a legal minefield not for the faint hearted. Reminds me of 'The Prisoner', a sixties TV drama which owed a lot to Kafka. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chaux'.

But all the nastiness man does to man to my mind pales into insignificance against the harm they do to animals. The Defenders' Environmental Network inform in their most recent newsletter that, thanks to the relaxing of environmental laws in Alaska, 42 wolves have so far been shot dead from helicopters by trophy hunting, so called 'men', so brave they either kill with a high-powered rifle from the air, or chase the wolf by helicopter until it's exhausted then get out and hoot it point blank. This fills me so full of rage thatI would welcome anything which would remove these bottom feeders from the gene pool, aren't there any people in the US who care enough to go out and kill these 'hunters'? At the same time as dedicated people are protecting and reintroducing wolves, the scum are allowed to kill them for sport. The life of any wolf is equal to all the human vermin who hunt them, not just one for one. What a land of contrasts the US is, particularly, it seems, with Bushmonkey rescinding almost all the environmental protection laws. For that reason alone, he has to be stopped next time. Whatever it takes.

Wednesday 17 February 2004 - it's just dirt

Watching the swollen river flow over the past few weeks, brown and powerful, fast and furious, I've been wondering about the material which gives it this brown colour after heavy rains, the topsoil. Wherever there is bare earth, the soil turns to mud and, being a liquid, slowly moves down hill. The lower places become waterlogged and the river banks weaken in places and bits drop into the waters. All of this, fine particles of organic matter, eventually ends up in the sea, and eventually deposits on the sea bed. Of course soil is being created all the time, that's why old ruins are often found deep down in the ground, but if the rate of loss isn't equalled by the rate of regeneration, then there's trouble in store.

Researchers are now reporting a massive global problem of topsoil loss, and according to UN figures an area big enough to feed Europe, about ten times the size of the UK, has been so severely damaged that it can't produce food. Since agriculture began there has been major damage to the topsoil, many civilizations fell into ruin as a direct result of this; Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, the Mayas of Mexico and Iceland. Agriculture depends on deforestation and immediatelyexposes the soil to erosion. Where trees anchor the soil and prevent erosion while adding to it with leaf litter, we have removed most of the Earth's forests either intentionally or by carelessness and now the Earth is losing topsoil as never before. Another effect that can't have figured in the equations of scientists studying sea level rise due to global warming is the effect of all this matter ending up in the seas and displacing water which, as Archimedes discovered, results in a rise in the surface. So on top of heat expanding the water and melted glaciers and polar ice swelling the water volume, there's also topsoil displacing it. As a result of the disrupted weather patterns more erosion is likely to happen from freak weather events, all the forest that burned last summer will now be losing topsoil, many have already resulted in mudslides.

The conclusions of these researchers are a dire warning. To quote one of them; 'There are about a dozen major environmental problems, all of them sufficiently serious that if we solved eleven of them and didn't solve the twelfth, whatever that twelfth is, any could potentially do us in.' So on its own soil erosion will cause major food shortages as less and less land is available to grow food for an ever expanding human population. Large parts of the US and China are likely to suffer major soil problems that will make the 'dust bowl' of the twenties seem insignificant. The world only holds around a year's stores of grain, most of it in the US. The smart governments are getting prepared with expanded and heavily armed police forces and armies.

Our species has always wasted land and moved on. We consume vast amounts of sand, clay, gravel and rock every year, all of them finite resources, we squander and want more. A lot of the forest fires in Europe were started deliberately. A death wish.

Friday 6 February 2004 - local culture, local knowledge

Illegal Chinese immigrants are caught by the tide and drowned while collecting cockles in the middle of the night in Morecombe Bay. The survivors don't speak English and the total number drowned is unknown until/unless the coastguard recover all the bodies. A few years ago this could have been the opening paragraph of a future/sci fi/fantasy novel, but it's the news today. The population seems apprehensive at the increasing level of illegal immigrants, the government seems complacent, appearing to only think of cheap labour, and have done nothing even about limiting the legal migration that is bound to happen when the EU swells soon to include a whole group of east European nations, all much poorer than the existing member states. Most of the other states have set limits on permitted immigrants in search of jobs and a better standard of living. The UK gov is now being woken up to the likelihood that, barred from the rest of the glittering capitalist west, they will decide on the UK if they haven't already done so. The gang masters who profit from exploiting them are really responsible for this tragedy.

For some years now, casual agricultural work like fruit picking has been done by legal and illegal immigrants, usually organised by unscrupulous gang masters and housed in sheds in the middle of the countryside like virtual slaves. The way was made for this by the actions of Social Security nazis hunting 'dole cheats' - people unemployed and on benefit who could make a little extra for a few weeks in the summer to supplement their meagre dole, get the kids some clothes or save for Christmas. TV camera teams followed the chase and showed the downcast 'criminals' once apprehended, giving the message loud and clear to the rest to not even think of it. In came the immigrants and filled the gap. The farmers, not consulted in the first place and lamenting the unwillingness of the traditional pickers to do it, needed to get their crops picked and accepted the situation.

Frequent stories occur of Africans landing in Spain or drowning in the attempt, and not just north Africans, but people from all the countries of the benighted continent. And who can blame any of them? It would have been better if the last hundred years had been spent equalising the finances and development of every nation on the planet rather than theft, slavery and destruction that has been the norm which has brought us to this point. On a national level you might be able to keep the poor in their ghettos, but on an international scale, one way or another an imbalance such as this creates its counterbalance. Under the globalized world economy, jobs haemmorhage to poor countries once they have gathered together enough expertise to offer the same skills for athird of the price, they get richer, we get poorer. Another way of getting a share of the wealth that's denied to them is for people to migrate - it's our natural history. The problem arises when too many people migrate to too small a piece of land where the infrastructure isn't capable of sustaining that increase.

Culture and religion cause further problems of identity, especially when economics drives the migration. Most immigrants to the US over the centuries have wanted to become Americans and were welcomed. Most immigrants to Europe now don't want to be British or French or Dutch, they want to preserve their own cultural identity but benefit from the increased earnings, so there is bound to be friction with the indiginous population whose culture will be perceived as under threat and devalued. The belief in multiculturalism has been misguided and dangerous. The only way immigration can work is through assimilation. That doesn't mean that other cultures are devalued, they have their rightful place, but it's not here. The other way would lead to everywhere in the world becoming very much the same, composed of lots of separate cultural enclaves and with the global brands on display. The only thing then which would be different would be the weather.

If different cultures are to be preserved, it is in their country of origin where that will happen, but not if it is just another culture among many. Then, they are all degraded down to a few icons, and the religion, the most dangerous part of a culture. I don't know what, if any, religion these Chinese had, but they perished on sand banks that locals know intimately and would never venture onto when high tide threatens, it's their culture.

Wednesday 4 February 2004 - the worms turn

What a picture, Bushmonkey; 'I want to get at the facts' slightly puzzled, slightly apprehensive, uncomprehending expression he does so well, 'Saddam's a bad man', looks quizzically at his audience as if for confirmation. So America will have a special investigation on how they got it wrong - well you were all too excited and keyed up at the prospect of a war, and you believed everything which seemed to give you an excuse. Condo-Leeza isn't looking so damn smug any more, more a pinched, angry, furrowed-brow face now. Well, Condo, your slave ancestors must be turning in their graves at the thought of you hanging out with the southern, white, good-ole-boys dropping bombs on people of colour. So now Bush is to have an enquiry the Blair puppet has to do the same. A few days ago it was out of the question and unnecessary, now it's necessary, but not to criticse him or his henchmen, to find out where the intelligence went wrong.

The twisting and turning of these shifty characters is a joy to behold, the lack of control over the facial muscles, the body droop now the arrogant strut has gone. But still they fight back - black is white, Hutton exonerated the government so there's no need to go into all that again, a line must be drawn .... They still seem totally unaware of how they look to the rest of us, that their lies have soured perceptions and they are now considered untrustworthy. Like all liars, they are finding it difficult to come to terms with the inescapable fact that people are unwilling to believe a word they say, that it's difficult to rebuild trust once it has been shattered.

Now demonstators have closed down parliament by shouting 'whitewash' from the public gallery after painting the gates that keep them out of Downing Street white - people's democracy. Blair now has the look of a man at bay, fresh attacks coming from all directions, the agreed government spin just isn't cutting it. The weather, too, is conspiring against them, flooding the west of England and Wales where nothing has been done since the last floods. Now it's emerging that the intelligence community were unhappy at the way the government was 'interpreting' their reports, and it's all down in black and white, written at the time to protect themselves from being made scapegoats, so that's not going to work either. I look forward to the time when Blair is so discredited that he's openly called a liar by those who are still made tentative by libel laws and the expected 'respect' due to a prime minister, in short, when he's given a kicking by all and sundry. All those who saw the mad, staring eyes of grandiloquence when he first got the job; shaking the hands of fans in Downing Street, riding the crest of a wave of egotism, power already corrupting, will be taking quiet pleasure as the rest of the country wakes up to the fact this man is dangerously unhinged and bad news for the UK.

Sunday 1 February 2004 - you can fool none of the people none of the time

Seems the whole of the UK thinks like me that the Hutton enquiry was an outrageous whitewash, it has therefore done more harm to the Blair gang than had been done by their original lies and manipulation to get the country into war. They can't understand why this has happened, and are in a state of shock that, far from exonerating them of all wrongdoing, everyone now suspects them of fixing the enquiry. As is always the case, once the balance shifts from the bullies to the bullied, people are queueing up to take a swipe at them; all the print media across the board are wielding the baseball bat in a pastiche of the nuns in Airplane [the movie] even vicars are laying into them and it can only get worse as they dig themselves deeper into the pit of loathing they prepared so well. Their reaction has been predictable; send out ministers to anyone who'll listen and repeat the agreed spin - 'time to draw a line under', 'the BBC is a wonderful institution we must keep free' ad nauseum. They really seem incapable of understanding how they got to this and why nothing worked and nobody believes a word they say. It's another example of power corrupting, once in thrall to the adrenalin of power, they constantly underestimate people, sneering at everyone from the Iraqis to the Firefighters as inferiors, to be manipulated and lied to but never to treat with respect. Now, they are learning some respect. I hope it hurts.

Meanwhile in the US Bushmonkey opines plaintively 'I wanna find out the facts' re the total absence of any mass destructive and looks around for someone to blame. The head of the CIA knows too much and can't be sacrificed as he'd probably resent it and start talking. Looks like he might blame it all on Blair, who, it must be said, had been banging on about WMD before Georgy had quite worked out where Iraq was, and it could be argued that without his efforts to wind the monkey up into a world-warrior, Bush might have contented himself with Afghanistan.

Surfing for Fun and Profit. For a good laugh, I found this site recently: News Satire Spoof Parody Humour Tony Blair - a UK satire site that's well worth a visit, as are the ads on the left hand side of this page! And there's a new Enigma CD out, details at I'd got used to waiting years between albums and had missed this release by a month.

Several days of heavy rain have swollen the river to an angry brown torrent higher than it's been for a year. My dogs know it's dangerous and haven't ventured in, or near it, for a long time, yet how come four teenage humans didn't have the sense of dogs and thought they'd do a bit of rafting on an equally swollen Welsh river; three made it, one didn't. No respect for nature.




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