Archive for December, 2010
“How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer… Who’d have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?”
Calvin and Hobbes (Bah, Humbug!)
“Hey, since when is Christmas just about the presents? Aren’t we forgetting the true meaning of this day? The birth of Santa?”
One of the Christmas Gifts offered on the Greenpeace website is an ‘arm tube’. You know, what you use to stop the Security Forces dragging you out of your wheelchair. Or into a handy police van. Wonder if they’ve got something in my size to cope with kettling?
Truly these are interesting times.
“The logical end of mechanical progress is to reduce the human being to something resembling a brain in a bottle”.
George Orwell (yes, him again!)
The estimable Mr Blair – Eric of course – features regularly on these pages. He has the dubious distinction of being ‘claimed’ by both ends of the political spectrum. This year’s Orwell Memorial Lecture was given by Ferdinand Mount (man of letters and cousin to one D Cameron). He calimed that Orwell would agree with the current government in opposing: “ID cards, inspectors inspecting every aspect of your work, targets and five-year plans, central control of local councils, uniformity and so on…”
OK. Fine. Let’s now list a few other things Orwell would have opposed:
- raising tuition fees
- cutting the mobility allowance for disabled people
- selling off big chunks of our forests
- reducing the HRMC workforce by 20,000 while cutting cosy tax avoidance deals with big business
- giving free rein to every rapacious company that wants to charge us for healthcare or education.
And as for the banks….
I’ve already claimed Posthumous Green status for GO on these pages. Let me now reclaim his legacy; Orwell’s shade is with the students in Parliament Square, (even though it’s illegal to demonstrate there) and not with the Mounted police galloping in among them!
Another year. Another international summit to address climate change. These negotiations are complex by their nature, so the UK media largely ignored them. On the sofa with the winter lurgy, I found some time to delve into the ups and downs of the Cancun agreement. Here’s my take:
Glass Half full: A Green Climate fund to help reduce emissions and deal with the consequences
Glass Half empty: Administered by the World Bank (?!?!)
Half full: We, the developed world, are to find $100bn per year for the developing world.
Half empty: How? Where from? We are not told
Half full: They removed references to carbon markets (“fine to buy a new SUV because I’ve paid someone to plant a tree in Bolivia”)
Half empty: Markets aren’t prohibited, so they’ll do it anyway
Half full: First international acknowledgement that keeping it to 2C isn’t enough
Half empty: Two degrees? Tuvalu? Too bad.
Half full: Thanks mainly to Mexico, a total shambles was avoided
Half empty: We’re probably on course for a rise of 3.5 to 4 degrees in total. Don’t take my word for it, look up what that means in terms of our cosy little first world lives……
We live in interesting times.
I was outside Halifax Boots yesterday, helping to give out leaflets drawing attention to their slippery tax practices (see yesterday’s posting and Guardian for more details). A policeman turned up but didn’t interfere, and two Security Guards emerged from Boots. One of these was quite unpleasant, accosting passers-by with a bin for our leaflets (most people declined, I’m glad to say) but it was all going well.
Then one of our number, a local teacher, went into Boots. Seconds later he was dragged out again by the Security Guards, as roughly as you’ll see in any night club. There was a melee of limbs and dayglo jackets, and I had a clear view of my colleague being pinned to the ground with the security guard on top of him. It was all over in moments, and happily no-one was hurt, but the whole incident was shocking in every way.
My own role in this was one suitable to a small middle-aged woman: I stood ten feet away taking photos on my mobile (blurred shots of anoraks) and exhorting others to do likewise. Our guy is pressing charges and I’ve offered to be a witness.
I told this tale to a friend last night as we scoffed mulled wine and mince pies. His laconic response? “You can tell the Tories are back in, can’t you?”
Last word to the oh so prescient George Orwell: “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a Boot stamping on a human face – forever”.
Boots the Chemist (as it used to be called) paid just 3% tax last year. I should be so lucky!
Source: Felicity Lawrence, The Guardian