Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 12:12 pm
Christmas Post: Santa and The Children of Yarl's Wood

Part Three

Matthew Norman: Locking up children shames us

The lasting damage caused at Yarl's Wood is apparently not our problem

Thursday, 17 December 2009

As the decade dwindles to its end and we await the avalanche of reviews, could there be a more heartrending snapshot of Noughties Britain than Father Christmas being turned away by guards at an immigration centre's gates?

Were it fictional, the neo-Dickensian tale of how the Rev James Rosental, clad in white beard and lugging his sack of presents for its child inmates, was denied entry to the infamous Yarl's Wood would be as sickeningly mawkish as the death of Little Nell.

The reality is more profoundly nauseating, this vignette capturing enough that is repulsive and depraved about this country to belong in a time capsule, buried in the naïve hope that a century from now our descendants will unearth it and shake their heads in disbelief that it could have happened at all.

Those guards, for instance, are employees of a private company, Serco, which is thriving regardless of fierce, sustained criticism of its running of Yarl's Wood. Only yesterday, our business pages advised that the share is a buy, such is the urge of Pontius Pilate government to wash its hands and outsource its duties to corporate entities whose sole concern is the share price.

That the police arrived to investigate the vicar's mild protests tells another familiar story in an age when heckling ministers and photographing landmarks are offences under under terrorism legislation. Later that day he was again turned away, his pre-arranged visit cancelled on the grounds that his conduct had given "cause for concern". A group of dignitaries was allowed in a while ago, it should be said, but only to inspect what the Home Office deemed suitably sanitised " a literal whitewash, assuming the new schooling area was freshly painted for the visit. Living quarters and general conditions were closed to them, however, and such secrecy covers this place that we're not even told how many children pass through it each year, let alone how they are treated. But the secrecy and the whitewash, twin guardians of Noughties governmental misdemeanour, allow us to make an educated guess.

What we know is that the children of Yarl's Wood tend to arrive there after being arrested with their parents in dawn raids. Many of us will remember momentarily semi-waking in the middle of the night at the tread of a Santa-impersonating parent delivering the stocking to the end of the bed. Here is an indecently perfect perversion of that Christmas vista. Imagine being five years old and waking in the dark to the sound of immigration officers breaking down the door, and being aggressively bundled into the back of a van.

In 2007, a family from Malawi were taken to Yarl's Wood in that manner, the mother refused time to collect life-sustaining epilepsy medication. She and her husband were HIV positive, while their eight-year-old son was expected to develop the illness too. Only the intervention of an Anglican bishop and the resultant media interest prevented him being sent back to Africa to die alone once his parents had predeceased him.

We have heard much from Mr Tony Blair and his successor about their commitment to eradicating African poverty. Not long ago, Gordon Brown congratulated himself on saving 100,000 African children from fatal malaria. Faced with the estimated 1,000 who annually pass through Yarl's Wood, he cares only about burying them from public attention, as if they were radioactive waste, and hurriedly returning them to the poverty, persecution and malarial hell they fled in the misguided belief that Britain was a civilised nation.

Given the evidence that illegal immigrants and failed asylum-seekers with children seldom abscond, and could be tagged at vastly less expense, what specifically concerns him is yet another Noughties curse ... New Labour's desperation to assuage the vicious nasteries of the right-wing press and those who pepper the phone-ins with "They're illegal immigrants so it's not our problem". There could be no more clinically unchristian a sentiment than this distillation of official government policy. If these children will suffer lasting damage, as all the relevant medical and psychiatric experts insist they will, that apparently is not our problem.

That both PMs who have presided over these internment camps style themselves as devoted followers of Christ's teachings is an irony more than adequately observed in the past, but this point cannot be repeated often or crudely enough: the arrest and detention of children, with all its chilling historical echoes, is an abomination. This is one of those rare moral issues that does not bear debate. There is no "one the one hand ...". It is simply wrong. It would be just as simply wrong if their parents were serial killers rather than desperate, vulnerable people whose only offence has been to take Norman Tebbit's on-yer-bike rallying cry to economic migrants to its extreme.

Nick Clegg, leading the political resistance to repugnant policy yet again while David Cameron tactically chooses silence, writes to Gordon Brown urging him to, "stop the scandal of hundreds of very young children, including toddlers, spending this Christmas locked up behind bars". Mr Brown will do no such thing. Even if Joanna Lumley took up the cause, it would take weeks of bad headlines to compel that neurotic ostrich to raise his head from the sands.

Perhaps the alleged Children's Secretary Ed Balls could promise to abolish this obscenity by next Christmas. No one is more ostentatiously moved by the abuse of the young, after all, than Mr Balls. Only last month he apologised for the maltreatment of children in a foreign land. "I think it is important that we say... this is something that we look back on in shame," he said to those forcibly dispatched to Australia and other former colonies as children. "It is right when we look back and see things which we now know were morally wrong, that we are willing to say sorry... It would never happen today."

Don't look back in anger, Mr Balls. Look sideways in self-disgust. The systematic, state mistreatment of children is happening today, and it's happening under your aegis. Say sorry now, or never say sorry at all. Just make it stop.


Part Four

For anyone wishing to appeal on behalf of these children, there is an online petition at


(You have to be a British citizen to sign it)
Please write to your MP if you have the time


I thought I would post this Christmas song I 'adapted' in solidarity with the children of Yarl's Wood. I don't care where these children came from or who their parents are. I don't care how short or long their stay behind bars, abusing children in this way " or any way - is unacceptable and unforgivable. The fact that it is taking place here, in England, makes me feel betrayed by my government.
Their manipulative propaganda is starting to look like a thin layer of icing over a big pile of horse ****.
They betray all who would see children taken from harms way, as well as revealing a cowardly contempt for human rights. I condemn their actions.

As I condemn my own inaction.
If I had the courage of my convictions I would be outside Yarl's Wood right now with a sign reading: Save a Child's Heart and Mind ~ Release Child Prisoners Now! I spend a lot of my waking hours trying to analyse why I'm not active. Why these days I have trouble even leaving the vicinity of my house.
I'm not afraid of trouble, and I doubt very much I would find myself in any. Even if I got myself arrested for protesting, my medical history and treatment for PTSD and depression is all documented and I have one of the most committed and intelligent doctors in all of Britain, a man who would (and has) stood by me through thick and thin. He knows me better than anyone and knows my reasons for feeling anger at the miss-treatment of children is a genuine result of my own experiences as a child. I know what it feels like to be betrayed by adults. It can be soul destroying.
So, why am I sitting here the day before Christmas, typing next to my fire, while innocent children are being traumatised by a private security outfit on British soil?

Well, I've done some protesting on the streets and i've come to the conclusion that one or even one hundred protesters standing outside a prison, will not make any difference. What is needed is an end to this farce that calls itself our leadership.
The Labour party was given a job by the country and it has failed in every way to honour its contract, in fact, it has done the opposite of what it promised us it would do. (Not that I ever voted for them, I hasten to add).
The Labour party has turned our country into a cynical, cold-hearted state that alienates us and divides us on many levels.
Both the Conservatives and Labour voted us into Iraq. All three parties vote to keep us in Afghanistan. All we can do now is appeal to them or sack them.
My first inclination however, is to point out that at times like these, I think it would be wise for those in positions of power " as well as those of us who give them that power - to consider the (full) quote from Friedrich Nietzche :

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

This Christmas Post is all I have right now for the Children of Yarl's Wood. That may change.

Jingle Bells in Hell

Jingle bells
Boys and girls
Locked up Christmas day

Santa's banned
In Eng-er-land
They towed away his sleigh


Jingle bells
Boys and girls
Let them all go free

Let them go
Play in the snow
How happy they could be!

Skating in the park

Getting up to larks

Running wild as a carefree child
And home for tea by dark

Laughing at the sky

Watching clouds roll by

Playing games on the climbing frames
While eating a mince pie


Jingle bells
Little elves
Crying tears of pain

The scary law broke down the door
And stole them all away


Jingle bells
Hide yourselves!
The catcher's on the prowl

He'll lock you in his rubbish bin
And never let you out

Skating in the park

Getting up to larks

Running wild as a carefree child
And home for tea by dark

Laughing at the sky

Watching clouds roll by

Playing games on the climbing frames
While eating a mince pie


Jingle bells
Boys and girls
Locked up Christmas day

Santa's banned
In Eng-er-land

And Christ was born today!

Endymion Christmas 2009

Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 12:23 pm

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Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 12:37 pm
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Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 04:44 am
When you care about human rights and you worry about the way humanity is going, it is easy to feel paralysed by events.
It's too easy to get lost in all the political bull-****.
To think, ' What's the ******* point, trying, hoping?'

Just want you to know. I'm not giving up this thread yet.
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 05:03 am
Lovely to see you, Endy!

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Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 07:38 am
Remember this, Endy?


My son's lapel pin is gone and so is he, but somehow I feel wonderful this morning.

Don't EVER quit writing poetry, honey.
Reply Thu 22 Apr, 2010 05:04 am

Hi Letty " hey, I won't if you don't Smile

Yes I remember. It's a powerful symbol, isn't it? Thank you for posting it.

I had a good day yesterday
Walking home from my neighbour's house, thinking things through, I felt peaceful.
Coming here and seeing your post was like a sign.
You are right, of course. Life has its joys.
Thanks Letty.

Take care and keep up the good work

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Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 06:19 am

Revolution Part II

Heeeeey " we could make up excuses for human abuses!

We could turn a blind eye as a million die

We could tell ourselves war's on the side of the law

And billions for bombs is all right

We could pick we could choose what we read in the news

We could sit back and add up our scores

But whatever we do, if we don't want abuse

We'd better not mention the wars

I said whatever we do

To hell with the truth!

Let's ignore...ignore...ignore...

Endymion 2010
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Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 06:25 am

Intemperate the moon

Jaded as the swollen eye

White-lipped by Morphine's smirk

Dripped silently the room

A stranger's shroud

Numb as stone

Beyond the wall

A taste to quench the nerve

Lines drawn by metal, torn

From memories insane

Sly, consistent pain

You know, I loved before the hate

Configuration blind

Regarding without sight

So falls the striking hand

Dropped zero in the heart

Shadowed flesh

Pinned as moths

Dust coloured under glass

Red crossed by blue, they fly

Mouldering beyond the light

This sly, consistent shame

You know, I loved before the hate

Don't wake me from the ceiling's touch

I never want to leave the dream

Or end the wait

Endymion 2010
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Reply Thu 8 Jul, 2010 03:23 am

Case for permanent Games sites
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Reply Tue 20 Jul, 2010 04:28 am
We Who Advocate Peace

By Camillo Mac Bica

July 11, 2010 "Information Clearing House"

-- They wage preemptive war, occupy and bomb sovereign nations, utilize video-game technology and robotics to murder and then dehumanize hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children as collateral damage. We who advocate peace and justice say that such acts of war and occupation are illegal, immoral and a barbaric and paranoid response to contrived evil . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They chose to avoid military service themselves or had “other priorities” when their Country called, but yet cavalierly send our children, not theirs, to kill and to die in their war for oil and empire. We who advocate peace and justice say that if the threat is real and the peril immanent and grave, then our chickenhawk leaders and their privileged children should be the first to go. Only then will we follow . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They continue to use the fear of terrorism, prey upon the anxiety and distress of the American people post 9/11to “justify” continuing, even escalating, their wars and occupations, and to deny fundamental human liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. We who advocate peace and justice say that the exploitation of a vulnerable citizenry, and the disregard and abuse of basic human rights is Un-American, uncivilized, and a clear violation of the very values they allege to be championing and defending . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They send our military into harm’s way to kill and be killed in pursuit of goals that are ambiguous and ill-defined in an endless war and occupation they sell to the American people and to the world as a response to terrorism. We who advocate peace and justice say that our troops are not cannon fodder; that terrorism is a tactic not an enemy or an ideology; that war, occupation, and the indiscriminate use of violence by the military promotes rather than abrogates the terrorist threat . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They fail to honor their commitment to our Servicemen and Women, “stop loss” deployment after deployment with insufficient dwell time, and provide inadequate resources to meet the medical and readjustment needs of our returning wounded and veterans. We who advocate peace and justice say that providing effective care and treatment for those physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually wounded by war is a moral and legal obligation and should be our first priority. . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They torture prisoners at Abu Graib, Guantanamo Bay and “black site” secret prisons around the world, denying “detainees” even the most basic right of Habeas Corpus. We who advocate peace and justice say that such heinous practices as water boarding and unlawful restraint are immoral, violates the U.S. Constitution and International Law, increases the risk that our troops will be ill-treated and tortured should they be captured, and that those who ordered, endorsed, sanctioned, or supported such methods of torture are hypocrites, deviants, and war criminals . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They refused to meet with and comfort the families of our soldiers wounded or killed in battle, denigrate their memory, sacrifice, and dignity by fabricating heroic fantasies of their death and suffering to increase recruitment and bolster support for their senseless war. We who advocate peace and justice say that exploiting the deaths of our soldiers and the grief and suffering of their families in order to mythologize war and lure other young men and women to slaughter is unconscionable and depraved . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They have and continue to award no-bid contracts to favored corporations for personal and political benefit. Contractors who kill without mercy or accountability, whose greed for profit influences decisions of foreign policy, promotes war, and prolongs quagmire. We who advocate peace and justice say that we must heed President Eisenhower’s warning to beware of the military industrial complex, that such corporate cronyism, war profiteering, and political corruption, is criminal, fiscally unsound, and not in our national interest . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They sell America to foreign investors, waste billions of taxpayer dollars on an ever increasing military budget to wage illegal war and occupation and to furnish the weapons of genocide and oppression to dictators and rogue nations around the world. We who advocate peace and justice say that America must end its preoccupation with militarism and war, use its wealth and influence to protect life and property rather than to kill and to destroy, and become a sane and compassionate voice for peaceful coexistence in the world . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They continue to give tax breaks to the wealthy and tax incentives to the oil industry despite record profits. They bail out corrupt Wall Street bankers but remain apathetic to Main Street workers who lose their jobs and their homes. They “compromised” away meaningful healthcare reform and see fiscal responsibility as cutting social programs such as aid to education, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. We who advocate peace and justice say that benefiting the affluent at the expense of the poor and the middle class is inhumane, short sighted, a violation of trust, and of basic human decency. . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

On “National Holidays” such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, they parade, stage air shows, weapons displays, and celebrate the technology of death and destruction to commercialize patriotism and to glorify war and the military experience. We who advocate peace and justice say that these national holidays are not for celebration, commercial marketing, or deceptive recruitment practices. Rather they are for remembering and for grieving the loss of ALL who were sacrificed to the tragedy and insanity of war . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They refuse to “look back” and to investigate the crimes of those who violated the law and the trust of the American people by choosing war unnecessarily; crimes against humanity that cost billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of human lives. We who advocate peace and justice say that we are a nation of laws to which all are subject equally, that such crimes must be investigated and the guilty held accountable for their transgressions. Prosecute the war criminals! . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They sat idly by as the city of New Orleans and thousands of its inhabitants died; ignore global warming, choosing rhetoric rather than effective action while the gas and petroleum industry continues to profit from polluting the planet and destroying its fragile ecosystem. We who advocate peace and justice say that this indifference to human pain and suffering and failure to defend the planet and its diverse species against ecoterrorism is unconscionable, inexcusable, and ultimately suicidal . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They spout the meaningless rhetoric of shallow patriotism, arrogantly waving the flag of “freedom” or pasting it to the bumper of their gas guzzling humvees, and think it belongs solely to those who unquestioningly beat the drums of war, from a safe distance of course, while their leaders sacrifice lives and treasure and violate the laws of god and of humankind in mistaken wars of choice and greed. We who advocate peace say that all war is anathema and unnecessary war sacrilege and those leaders who dare unleash its horror upon humankind are criminals and those who blindly follow are sheep who fail to understand the moral and legal obligations of their religion, of humanism, and of citizenship in a democracy . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

Camillo “Mac” Bica, Ph.D. is a Professor of Philosophy at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, a former Marine Corps Officer,Vietnam Veteran, and the Coordinator of Veterans For Peace Long Island.
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Reply Tue 20 Jul, 2010 04:31 am

I Have Found the Next Gandhi

by Andy Birnbaum

There is an old saying that if your only tool is a hammer, you see every problem as a nail. So in the current military industrial complex, the government's solution to every problem is to use violence against persons it perceives as "enemies."

For those of us who see the world differently, decisions are not so simple. I have been studying active nonviolence for a little over a year now. I am enthralled with it for a simple reason: it is empowering. Rather than complaining to like-minded friends about the world's problems, I realize I have the power to affect change. All power still resides in we the people, just as it always has. We the people just need to reclaim it.

There are many different definitions of nonviolence. To me, active nonviolence is the means through which we reclaim the power and autonomy we previously ceded to other people and institutions. As the name implies, the underlying behaviors are neither violent nor passive. Examples of nonviolent action include street protests, boycotting businesses that behave immorally, and/or openly disobeying unjust laws. There are tons of possibilities. Unfortunately, we mistake this abundance of options for having none at all. We envy the government because it has only a hammer and foolishly wish our choices were as limited. But we must recognize choice is our greatest strength. Our metaphorical toolbox is empty precisely because it contains every possible tool.

So how do we decide which tool to use? First a disclaimer: I am still a relatively new student of active nonviolence, and hardly an expert. But I am totally enthralled, so here goes:

One of the greatest instances of active nonviolence was remarkably simple: when the occupying British prohibited Indians from producing salt for themselves, Mahatma Gandhi led a march to the ocean to openly defy this ban. The action was effective because everyone understood it; humans need salt to survive, so of course Indians would want to produce it for themselves. The action also presented every Indian with a simple activity (boiling ocean water to produce salt) they could undertake to reclaim their autonomy from the British, thereby allowing the entire nation to participate in the independence campaign.

To offer a second example, Gandhi persuaded Indians to spin their own cotton, enabling them to boycott imported British cloth. What might have seemed like a tedious task (spinning cotton) became a way for Indians to increase their self-reliance and withdraw financial support from the oppressive British empire.

So we can ask ourselves: what is the modern day equivalent of Indian salt (something we all need to survive which the current corporate government does not allow us to produce for ourselves)? What is the modern day equivalent of imported cloth (something we purchase from an oppressive foreign power which we could instead produce ourselves?) And we are obviously not limited to these two issues.

Just following Gandhi's lead, we could stop driving gas-powered vehicles and instead ride bicycles or use public transportation. We could only buy organic produce from local farmers who pay their workers a fair wage. Yes, these actions might seem inconvenient and expensive. But are they really more inconvenient or expensive than asking a fellow human being to risk his or her life in the middle east to secure our ability to drive Hummers? Or to ask our children to be guinea pigs in an experiment to see how genetically engineered crops affect human health long term?

I did not say exercising our power would be easy. I did not say we would not have to sacrifice, and we almost certainly will. But please realize you do have massive power, and myriad constructive options for using it. And many of the options are less demanding then the ones I identified above. It is okay to start small. But please do start.

Relatedly, people sometimes say that difficult times produce compelling leadership. For people on the left, I doubt we'll see a time that calls for leadership more than the present. Our nation has deep problems related to ongoing wars, massive unemployment and devastating environmental disasters. If there has ever been a time that called out for real progressive leadership, it is now.

So where is the leader? When does he or she appear? I have the answer.

The leader will appear this very moment, because nothing happens in the past or the future, only the present.

And who is the leader?

You are.

Think about it. You have been waiting for a leader to emerge, and every other person is waiting for "someone else" too. So please, I am begging you, fulfill your destiny and lead. (I honor the efforts of existing progressive activists, but I suspect they would agree there is room for more leadership).

If you think you are too insignificant to make a difference, you are not only disempowered, you are lying to yourself. If you are physically small, so was Gandhi. And if you suffer stage fright, so did he. So if a physically small man with stage fright could lead the Indians to reclaim their country from the British empire, you can achieve anything using the same nonviolent methods. And even if your journey is long and riddled with setbacks, there is nothing more empowering to a frustrated people than seeing someone trying to affect change.

If active nonviolence makes sense to you, and you are ready to be a leader, here is the next step: you must study nonviolent theory and history. I did my best with this article, but it is only the briefest of introductions. Take some time to read a book or take a class (videos of relevant UC-Berkeley courses are available online). Learn about Gandhi's life, and the lives of other practitioners, such as Martin Luther King and Rev. James Lawson. I know, I know. I have given you this huge build-up about active nonviolence and urged you to take action, and now I am telling you to...read a book? But reading a book, taking a class, or otherwise learning about active nonviolence is one of the strongest actions you can take. It is that fabled first step on a very liberating journey of empowerment.

So please take that first step and study active nonviolence. But hurry.

You are the leader you have been waiting for. There is no one else.

And do not worry if you doubt your own abilities. I believe in you.


Andrew Birnbaum lives in Los Angeles, California.

Published on Wednesday, June 2, 2010 by CommonDreams.org


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Reply Tue 20 Jul, 2010 04:42 am
The world needs whole nations of new Gandhis, if we are to have peace.
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Reply Tue 20 Jul, 2010 04:42 am

“The big fight will be between the Corporations and the Proletariat”
Walter Benjamin

Industrial War – Open for Business and Making a Killing

I believe it was Gandhi who said, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then they lose."

He was talking about his oppressors. He was talking about the British, one of whom I am.

I didn't learn about Gandhi in school. I learned about the Great Crusades, the Holy Wars. I drew pictures of knights in armour, their surcoats crossed with the fluted red. As part of a project, I learnt to sing...'When a knight won his spurs in the stories of old.... he was gentle and brave he was gallant and bold...."

Gentle and brave, gallant and bold. I could aspire to that, I thought.

Yet no one mentioned how the crusader knights (mostly English, German and French) were feared abroad, for pitting infants on the ends of their lances, roasting them over fires and eating them.
In school, the savages were always the brown or black men.

At school I learned about Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Drake and Admiral Nelson. How, by 1884, over a quarter of the planet's surface had been conquered by the British Army. But I wasn't told about the slave trade, the pillaging of many a country's ancient artefacts, their national treasures, their workforce, and natural resources. I certainly wasn't asked to draw pictures of howitzers blowing the arms and legs off grass-skirted tribesmen.

I didn't hear the poems of Wilfred Owen at school, or anything about the Persian oil pipeline in relation to WWI. I learned about the glory of death on a French battlefield. The red remembrance poppy. Rupert Brooke – If I should die, think only this of me...
Sacrifice for the cause.
No one talked of the thousands who fell in front of the machine guns- or survived legless, blind, deaf and sometimes deranged by war, those who returned from France and fell into poverty because they couldn't get work. No one spoke of their families and children baring the weight of their war experience.

At school i learned about Churchill and other heroes of the Empire, whose deeds and words have inspired generations of Englishmen to believe in their own supremacy and the God given right to tell other nations what is best for them. I was encouraged to feel proud that my country had helped liberate the Jewish from Nazi death camps. My leaders were the saviours of the oppressed. And I was proud, baring in mind no one ever mentioned the fact that Churchill was a man willing to inflict unknown suffering on other human beings by testing chemical weapons on Iraqi 'savages'. No one talked about the allied bombings of Germany, the Warsaw ghetto Jews who took up arms against the Nazis while waiting desperate for salvation that never came, the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, or the terrible deaths that followed on from that cruel deed, or Britain's part in it.

Growing up, I was encouraged to curse the Germans because of WWII. Curse the Irish because of the IRA. Curse the Argentinians because of the Falklands. Curse the French because of Agincourt. Curse Pakistanis because 'they've taken our jobs', curse Indians because 'they've taken over our corner shops', curse black men because...well, because they're black.

Being manipulated into a nationalistic hater of all things foreign (other than American), having to swallow the propaganda, through the lies of those who raised me, (as well as those who were raised with me), the media, education and entertainment, I grew up thinking I was on the right side, the side of God. It was only later that I discovered they had lied about Him, too.

Yes, it was a shock to find out that my hero, Winston Churchill, was a miserable, greedy ego-maniac with delusions of white supremacy, who failed the Jewish people of Europe (or at least six million of them) and was comfortable with the subjugation of women, bombing civilians and stealing other people's lands.

It was even more of a shock when I discovered that the 'good guys' out there in what I knew to be an ugly world, were not the great humanitarians I had imagined them to be. That Capitalism corrupts the spirit of democracy. That there are fools in power, too selfish and arrogant to consider the consequences of their rash, self-promoting actions. How dangerous that is.

Of course, Britain no longer rules the waves, or even has much influence in this modern world of empires. Like a fading Olympian, we can barely keep our feet on a world-stage football pitch, let alone straddle the globe. We pass on the baton of supremacy to our eager brother-in-arms, the United States and watch, with something like fearful nostalgia, as they stride over the line we once stepped across. Domination of the world.
(And with more than 700 military bases outside the US – including the biggest US spy base in Europe nestled securely in my own country, the US is probably the most powerful Empire that has ever existed).

History changes the fortunes of men. Once, Englishmen tortured and degraded Irishmen in filthy prisons and got away with it. Now it is the turn of privileged men to torture and degrade Muslim men who live in poverty. Once, it was Nazi Germans persecuting the Jewish, now it is the Israelis turn to persecute Palestinians.
Once the Pakistanis were our friends, now we treat them like our enemies.
Churchill said, “ At the end of war, your enemies become your friends and your friends become your enemies.”
He was a wise old bigot, without a doubt. War does nothing but divide us all, over and over again.

We might have hoped, somehow, that the time in our history, when we enslaved men and women and made them less than human, in order to elevate ourselves, had ended. That following the Nazi holocaust, we might have learnt something about ourselves. Seen the mistakes. The failures of our past leaders. The dangers of power. That we might have moved on from there.

Yet here we are and the teams have swapped around a bit, but still we persist in trying to dominate and degrade one another. To 'win' even when we don't know what it is we are trying to win. To prove ourselves better, more worthy of life than 'those over there'.

Hell, it's almost as if we fear peace itself.

Fear of peace could explain Gandhi's quote. An Empire must fear peace. Fear could be why the war-mongers and those who embrace violence, coldly ignore, ridicule and finally (sometimes) shoot dead the peaceful men amongst us.
But before peace comes unity, and it is unity (of the masses) that they really fear, these mega-corporations that build the cause and tools for war - the richest people in the world, the power and the money.
Fear of unity and peace is why the corporate oligarchy continue to promote war, hatred and competition between us, encouraging us to despise people from other nations. Encouraging our left/right, black/brown/white divides. They make us pliable for war by de-humanizing the weakest and poorest among us. Not just to keep their Industrial War machine intact and the money rolling in, (although I'm sure that is the prime reason) but also because the uber-rich 2% and their cronies need to maintain 'divide and rule' – it's what keeps them safe. They need to encourage disharmony, in order to stop a united proletariat from turning to look too closely at them.

With that in mind, and with the hope that somehow we, the masses, can unite on common ground, not to defeat the oligarchy, but to revolutionise them, we have no choice but to see racists and nationalists, supremacists and the lovers of hegemony amongst us, as dividers - supporters of The Industrial War Complex, their propaganda a craft(y) tool for promoting trouble, suspicion and war. Some (complicit journalists for example) work for the rich war mongers, or at least fall into step with them, but others have been voluntarily recruited, perhaps even unknowingly. They spout war because they have been brainwashed into believing that everyone else is a terror threat out to ruin their country, and they are afraid. Afraid of offering the hand of peace, in case it is (as they have been led to believe it would be) lobbed off.

Meanwhile, Empire has become the privatized, lucrative business of billionaires.

Why should we be slaves of the rich, money worshipers, those who put wealth and success before their humanity? They are today's plantation owners who sit in the white house at the top of the field, as the rest of us struggle to toil on the land. But it is our land, our countries, our world, not just theirs. Right around the planet, we are the ones who have sweated blood, and spilled our guts for our homelands, not they. If we stand by silently and do nothing as they encourage divisions among us, we in turn, encourage them to continue stoking the furnace of war. And who benefits from these wars? Where do all those trillions of dollars and billions of pounds go?
That is why silence is not good enough. Because fighting their wars is leading us nowhere, but to a cliff edge, while they, blind to the consequences, reap their monetary rewards.

Right now, 83 percent of the British public want the troops brought home from Afghanistan. It's true. 83 percent. The latest opinion poll says so. If we live in a democracy, those voices can not be ignored.
But we are ignored. Just as Gandhi said we would be.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then they lose."

Right around the world, people are calling for peace and really, I don't think any of us should feel ashamed for wanting to protect the integrity and stability of our nations. The Industrial War Complex (with their control of suggestion via mainstream media) can mock us and call us unpatriotic if it suits them - but isn't it men who give of themselves without price, who are the true patriots? The Companies who make so much wealth out of war, yet do nothing to endanger themselves in the process - who stir up war in order to benefit themselves, and their patrons, who lie to make wars happen for the economic advantages it will bring them- they are not patriots. They are thieves and murderers and cheats.

They have stolen from their own people, black, brown or white, who have fought and died or been wounded in false and contrived warfare aimed at sustaining and ever advancing the technical and business aspects of war. They have stolen more than the billions of pounds and trillions of dollars poured into their war racket. Their arrogance has defeated us. Their greed has shamed us. And they have taken our pride and our purpose from us.

And let's not forget the most shameful horror – that along with this betrayal - they have overseen the killing of millions of innocent men, women and children.

Britain can no longer afford delusion. The old Empire is over. There is no longer any pride to be had in a superpower bullying a struggling country, invading foreign lands, or threatening people less powerful.
From here on, the true leaders of future plans and projects on Earth will be those who give up the old, imperial ways and turn to the real problems at hand. Our immediate environment, global human and civil rights, mental health and physical well-being. Security from big companies that endanger our lives by destroying our habitat. Encouragement in finding what it is we each have to offer the world. Social development. Real education, based on honesty and hope. A plan for the future.
Sod the rich war merchants who feed off the dead. They've had their time. Two Thousand years of it.
How many more innocent people have to be sacrificed for their greed?


At the turn of the 20th century, 5% of war casualties were civilians * In World War I, 15% were civilians * In World War II, the figure leapt to a 65% civilian death toll, as whole cities were bombed * By the mid-nineties, 75% of war deaths were civilians * Today, 90% of the human war toll are civilians-the majority women and children


War will continue as long as men continue to get rich from it. War will continue as long as we are able to convince ourselves that the murder of civilians is worth the price of 'success'. And until we are brave enough and wise enough to turn around to these rich warmongers, these corporate criminals in a world crying out for justice, and tell them that if they want to go on warring against innocent nations, killing innocent civilians without shame - well... from now on – until there is real cause - they can fight their wars without us.
Why should we suffer social and economical hardships to pay for their greedy ambitions? Why should we kill innocent, poor people, in order to fill the bulging pockets of these cowards?

Endymion 2010


The average age of British soldiers dying in Afghanistan is 22.

The rate at which British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan is almost four times that of their US counterparts, and double the rate which is officially classified as "major combat".

The official classification of "major combat" is a killing rate of six per 1,000 personnel years. For the 12 months up to May, the killing rate for British troops in Afghanistan stood at 13.

During February and May, the death rate of UK military personnel reached 9.9 per 1,000 personnel years compared with 2.7 for US forces in Afghanistan.


Afghanistan is a catastrophy but Obama and Cameron won't admit it

One in four British soldiers in Helmand province has been killed or injured. The army is retreating, effectively defeated. The war in Afghanistan is a catastrophe, but still the warmongers insist "progress is being made".
By Simon Jenkins


The latest opinion poll shows 83 percent of the British public want the troops brought home from Afghanistan, but parliament refuses to act on this overwhelming opposition to the war. On 23/24 July, Stop the War groups across the country will lobby local MPs at their weekly surgeries.


Rally Monday 26 July 7pm: Afghanistan - Time To Go
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL

Speakers include: Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, just released from prison following his court martial for refusing to fight in Afghanistan.

Joe's Letter to Downing street

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to you as a serving soldier in the British army to express my views and concerns on the current conflict in Afghanistan.

It is my primary concern that the courage and tenacity of my fellow soldiers has become a tool of American foreign policy. I believe this unethical short-changing of such proud men and women has caused immeasurable suffering not only to families of British service personnel who have been killed and injured, but also to the noble people of Afghanistan.

I have seen qualities in the Afghan people which have also been for so long apparent and admired in the British soldier. Qualities of robustness, humour, utter determination and unwillingness to take a step backwards. However it is these qualities, on both sides, which I fear will continue to cause a state of attrition. These will only lead to more heartbreak within both our societies.

I am not a general nor am I a politician and I cannot claim any mastery of strategy. However, I am a soldier who has served in Afghanistan, which has given me some small insight.

I believe that when British military personnel submit themselves to the service of the nation and put their bodies into harms way, the government that sends them into battle is obliged to ensure that the cause is just and right, i.e. for the protection of life and liberty.

The war in Afghanistan is not reducing the terrorist risk, far from improving Afghan lives it is bringing death and devastation to their country. Britain has no business there.

I do not believe that our cause in Afghanistan is just or right. I implore you, Sir, to bring our soldiers home.

Yours sincerely,
Joe Glenton Lance/Corporal, Royal Logistics Corps

Reply Tue 20 Jul, 2010 04:10 pm
This Oil Ride



How The Global Oil Watchdog Failed Its Mission

How the IEA was silenced about the future of global oil production.

By Lionel Badal

(postgraduate student at King’s College London)


Big Oil Makes War on the Earth
The Gulf Coast Joins an Oil-Soiled Planet

by Ellen Cantarow


Our Planet, Our People are not Expendable! We Refuse To Sacrifice Life for Corporate Profits

by Stephanie McMillan


Voting Begins on Greenpeace's 'Rebrand BP' Competition


Greenpeace has opened a public vote to decide the winner of a contest to redesign BP's famous green logo. Entrants were asked to come up with a logo that "better reflects the reality of the company's operations in places like the Gulf of Mexico", says the campaign group.

The contest has attracted 2,500 entries. A shortlist has been drawn up and voting is now live at http://behindthelogo.appspot.com/

0 Replies
Reply Tue 20 Jul, 2010 04:12 pm

edgar - i missed your post. Yes - one Gandhi wouldn't cut it right now i don't think

0 Replies
Reply Wed 21 Jul, 2010 04:13 am

Just heard that David Cameron is talking about beginning the withdrawal of UK troops from Afghanistan next year - 2011. Could it be that we actually have a PM with some insight and common sense? Oh man, I am very glad to hear this -
0 Replies
Reply Wed 21 Jul, 2010 06:08 am
Greenpeace begs its funds. BP has hundreds of millions of people throwing their money into its hat to encourage it to try harder to get more oil. Go watch a busy petrol station.

Reply Wed 21 Jul, 2010 08:36 pm
It's a hell of a problem - and the oil is only a part of it. If there was an alternative that could be phased in slowly, not by taking people's cars away from them, but by not making anymore and introducing young drivers to the idea of a different kind of vehicle (like phasing out the old light-bulb) I'm sure it could be done over the next 30 - 50 years
Only problem is - those with the money and power to achieve something like that are not interested. They the ones who are really hooked on oil. I think it's a damn shame that no one seems to want to think about the future.
I still think the trashing of the environment is a psychological blip, possibly connected to our own impending deaths. It's as if we have given up.
Interesting - I wonder why and what has changed.

Reply Thu 22 Jul, 2010 03:24 pm
I think that the enthusiastic adoption of our way of life by people of other cultures and traditions strongly suggests that they would have been just as enthusiastically adopted by any of the cultures we know of unless the knowledge of the methods was repressed. Which implies that nothing has changed but the knowledge. At that point the argument about Galileo takes a turn in another direction. In the Faust story it is Science, and her temptations, which is the Devil. That is why we are called Faustians.

I assume that the knowledge will continue to grow and will eventually result in our dealing with the matter adequately. If not it will be done for us by forces beyond our control. And oil powers the growth of the knowledge. At that point corrupt education becomes a serious issue.

I don't see women going back to washing their husbands underpants by beating them against rocks on riversides although it is possible they might be happier I suppose.


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