Sunday, December 10, 2017

"They said there'd be snow at Christmas and Peace On Earth"

"They said there'd be snow at Christmas, they said there'd be peace on earth" Spare a thought for the 60 million war- and environmental refugees there are in the world at the moment.
What are environmental refugees? Whole populations displaced and on the move as there is no longer water available for hundreds of miles and coastal countries that are now under water during their growing season and have nothing to eat.
The unfair fact is that it is western excessive consumption and fuel-heavy habits and habitats that have caused a lot of it, so I'm thinking I want to support them in some way? Does anyone know of a charity theu know to be doing great work?
Overall, I am hacked off to focus on the fact that all society's necessities and problems are addressed by non-governmental organizations and public money just circulates in an economy of trade deals, massive building and meat and other unethical contractors and of courses weapons testing and building (in Ireland and England, respectively). I thought government was for governance. But maybe it is like that amusing consideration, 'if kings rule kingdoms, just speculate on who rules countries' ?! Makes me laugh whenever I think of that! I went to a talk a couple of weeks ago from a historian Symon Hill on World War 2. He showed that because that war was considered justified against Hitler, somehow every other war since has been considered justified and necessary, by most people. Why complacently accept that when we know that agendas have always been greedy more than protective of democracy? I will attach my transcript of the talk.

Simon Hill, Talk about how we took the wrong lesson from WW2

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Pope Francis, opposes all nuclear weapons
False sense of security, mental support of fear.
The real priorities, poverty, peace, health and rights are relegated. Nuclear bombs would have a catastrophic effect for humanitarian and environmental solidarity – 122 nations signed on 7/7/2017 an agreement that in addition to nuclear weapons being immoral, they should be made illegal. 

Historian Symon Hill Explores How Britain’s Collective Memory of World War Two has become a justification for all wars since

Symon Hill is a pacifist from the Peace Pledge Union and Fellowship of Reconciliation He also teaches WEA – Workers Educational Association - courses. With a focus on the resistance in the 1st world war, he has only recently started his exploration of WW2. History is always an interpretation of the past. A particular motivation to study WW2 were the arguments he had met (and he found that we had all met) as people working for peace.
These included:
Pro-nuclear: “It was the bomb that ended the war” (WW2).
“If there had been no guns, Hitler would have won”
“People like you were responsible for the appeasement of Hitler in the ‘30s”
“You only have the freedom to say that because of brave men who fought for you.” (in WW2).

The overall difficulty is that people, in one way or another, hold WW2 in their memory as a ‘just’ war, a ‘necessary’ war and that there had been ‘no other choice’ but to go to war.

Symon realized therefore the importance of being able to say something convincing about WW2. Without tackling this collective memory, there is a grave risk and indeed evidence that people have come to see all wars in the same light.

We were reminded of all the references, like Allo Allo and Dad’s Army. He noticed that different ages said different things to him about WW2 and that they revealed subtle differences in reasoning.  Older people, who were actually here during the war remember that England was on the brink of invasion and that is why they had to fight. It was described how membership of the PPE (…) went down during the war, not at the beginning of the war. This showed that it was only when England was in imminent danger of being invaded, did people decide it might be necessary to fight.

Younger people describe how we fought fascism and the holocaust.

We are dealing with living memory and collective memory but they all reinforce a narrative that associates war with the defeat of an oppressive and racist regime. Rather than WW2 being understood as an exception, it is seen as representative of war, in general, making it somehow okay.

Interestingly, both anti war and pro war people have used WW2 as justification of war.

Fascists and fundamentalists are different. The British Armed Forces are also different from the British Armed Forces who fought in WW2.

Whatever view of WW2, it doesn’t make the assumption right that all wars are justified.  There is a conflation of all, even though there is no resemblance and no surviving members.

Another area where this happens is in the production of arms. A good example is the BAE who have built tanks during WW2. Employees still see their work as a proud role, even though their tanks are now used to drive into peaceful protests in Bahrain.

These are the inconvenient truths and they create problems for militants and problems for pacifists.

Some people accuse pacifists of being the ones to appease Hitler in the 1930s. Appeasement was an international policy that involved cooperation between countries as a way to avoid another war.  Appeasement was actually driven, though, by the far right.. They had thought that fascism was a good antedote to communism.

There were many atrocities commited by our side too. The bombing of Horishima and Dresden, where many civilians were killed. The UK were still arming Musillini until 1939 and the US were still selling planes to Japan until 1940.

George Paxton wrote a book ‘Non Violent Resistance to The Nazis. One example was Norwegian Teachers who refused to teach Nazi science. They said it was teaching racism as science.

It is hard to say that the UK atrocities were on a similar level to the fascists. Some peace activists were naïve but were also infiltrated by fascists.

1937 there was the white poppies demonstration, to say no war , outside the House of Commons. Chamberlain had sympathy with Hitler. The British Ambassador to Germany stated that the UK would support Germany as long as she promised not to attack the British Empire.

All through the decade of the 1930s, military spending had been increasing.
 Responses we can use: WW2 had nothing to do with war and the armed forces now.
WW2 would not have happened without fascism being actively wanted in place of communism – The UK was not fighting for democracy.
Accept that pacifists make (and made in the past) some mistakes.
 Show respect for those who felt that they had to fight
Non-violent resistance to fascism.

We have our rights due to centuries of activism, NOT because of wars.

Point out the nationalistic narrative, the way we say ‘we’ did this and ‘they’ did that to us. This is an artificial construct of a country. It builds a historical collective memory to justify war.

When shall we ever learn?





Friday, November 24, 2017

MPs Who Voted Animal Sentience Out of Law...and a letter to cut and paste to them

My take on what it means to lose animal sentience from UK Law

THESE ARE THE MPs who voted the sentient beings part of the bill out and declared that animals have no feelings or emotions and so are incapable of suffering.
Is your MP on this list?
Contact them and tell them what you think!
Adams, Nigel
Afolami, Bim
Afriyie, Adam
Aldous, Peter
Allan, Lucy
Allen, Heidi
Andrew, Stuart
Argar, Edward
Atkins, Victoria
Bacon, Mr Richard
Badenoch, Mrs Kemi
Baker, Mr Steve
Baldwin, Harriett
Barclay, Stephen
Baron, Mr John
Bebb, Guto
Bellingham, Sir Henry
Benyon, rh Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Berry, Jake
Blackman, Bob
Blunt, Crispin
Boles, Nick
Bone, Mr Peter
Bottomley, Sir Peter
Bowie, Andrew
Bradley, Ben
Bradley, rh Karen
Brady, Mr Graham
Brereton, Jack
Bridgen, Andrew
Brine, Steve
Brokenshire, rh James
Bruce, Fiona
Buckland, Robert
Burghart, Alex
Burns, Conor
Burt, rh Alistair
Cairns, rh Alun
Cartlidge, James
Cash, Sir William
Caulfield, Maria
Chalk, Alex
Chishti, Rehman
Chope, Mr Christopher
Churchill, Jo
Clark, Colin
Clark, rh Greg
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
Clarke, Mr Simon
Cleverly, James
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Coffey, Dr Thérèse
Collins, Damian
Costa, Alberto
Courts, Robert
Cox, Mr Geoffrey
Crabb, rh Stephen
Crouch, Tracey
Davies, Chris
Davies, David T. C.
Davies, Glyn
Davies, Mims
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh Mr David
Dinenage, Caroline
Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
Docherty, Leo
Dodds, rh Nigel
Donaldson, rh Sir Jeffrey M.
Donelan, Michelle
Dorries, Ms Nadine
Double, Steve
Dowden, Oliver
Doyle-Price, Jackie
Drax, Richard
Duddridge, James
Duguid, David
Duncan, rh Sir Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain
Dunne, Mr Philip
Ellis, Michael
Ellwood, rh Mr Tobias
Eustice, George
Evans, Mr Nigel
Evennett, rh David
Fabricant, Michael
Fernandes, Suella
Field, rh Mark
Ford, Vicky
Foster, Kevin
Fox, rh Dr Liam
Francois, rh Mr Mark
Frazer, Lucy
Freeman, George
Freer, Mike
Fysh, Mr Marcus
Gale, Sir Roger
Garnier, Mark
Gauke, rh Mr David
Ghani, Ms Nusrat
Gibb, rh Nick
Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl
Girvan, Paul
Glen, John
Goldsmith, Zac
Goodwill, Mr Robert
Gove, rh Michael
Graham, Luke
Graham, Richard
Grant, Bill
Grant, Mrs Helen
Gray, James
Grayling, rh Chris
Green, Chris
Green, rh Damian
Greening, rh Justine
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
Griffiths, Andrew
Gyimah, Mr Sam
Hair, Kirstene
Halfon, rh Robert
Hall, Luke
Hammond, rh Mr Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, rh Matt
Hands, rh Greg
Harper, rh Mr Mark
Harrington, Richard
Harris, Rebecca
Harrison, Trudy
Hart, Simon
Hayes, rh Mr John
Heald, rh Sir Oliver
Heappey, James
Heaton-Harris, Chris
Heaton-Jones, Peter
Henderson, Gordon
Hinds, Damian
Hoare, Simon
Hollingbery, George
Hollinrake, Kevin
Hollobone, Mr Philip
Holloway, Adam
Howell, John
Huddleston, Nigel
Hughes, Eddie
Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy
Hurd, Mr Nick
Jack, Mr Alister
James, Margot
Javid, rh Sajid
Jayawardena, Mr Ranil
Jenkin, Mr Bernard
Jenrick, Robert
Johnson, rh Boris
Johnson, Dr Caroline
Johnson, Gareth
Johnson, Joseph
Jones, Andrew
Jones, rh Mr David
Jones, Mr Marcus
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keegan, Gillian
Kennedy, Seema
Kerr, Stephen
Knight, rh Sir Greg
Knight, Julian
Kwarteng, Kwasi
Lamont, John
Lancaster, Mark
Latham, Mrs Pauline
Leadsom, rh Andrea
Lee, Dr Phillip
Lefroy, Jeremy
Leigh, Sir Edward
Letwin, rh Sir Oliver
Lewer, Andrew
Lewis, rh Brandon
Lewis, rh Dr Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian
Lidington, rh Mr David
Little Pengelly, Emma
Lopez, Julia
Lopresti, Jack
Lord, Mr Jonathan
Loughton, Tim
Mackinlay, Craig
Maclean, Rachel
Main, Mrs Anne
Mak, Alan
Malthouse, Kit
Mann, Scott
Masterton, Paul
Maynard, Paul
McLoughlin, rh Sir Patrick
McPartland, Stephen
McVey, rh Ms Esther
Menzies, Mark
Mercer, Johnny
Merriman, Huw
Metcalfe, Stephen
Miller, rh Mrs Maria
Milling, Amanda
Mills, Nigel
Milton, rh Anne
Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew
Moore, Damien
Mordaunt, Penny
Morgan, rh Nicky
Morris, Anne Marie
Morris, David
Morris, James
Morton, Wendy
Mundell, rh David
Murray, Mrs Sheryll
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newton, Sarah
Nokes, Caroline
Norman, Jesse
O'Brien, Neil
Offord, Dr Matthew
Opperman, Guy
Paisley, Ian
Parish, Neil
Patel, rh Priti
Paterson, rh Mr Owen
Pawsey, Mark
Penning, rh Sir Mike
Penrose, John
Percy, Andrew
Perry, Claire
Philp, Chris
Pincher, Christopher
Pow, Rebecca
Prentis, Victoria
Prisk, Mr Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pursglove, Tom
Quin, Jeremy
Quince, Will
Raab, Dominic
Redwood, rh John
Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob
Robertson, Mr Laurence
Robinson, Gavin
Robinson, Mary
Rosindell, Andrew
Ross, Douglas
Rowley, Lee
Rudd, rh Amber
Rutley, David
Sandbach, Antoinette
Scully, Paul
Seely, Mr Bob
Selous, Andrew
Shannon, Jim
Shapps, rh Grant
Sharma, Alok
Shelbrooke, Alec
Simpson, David
Simpson, rh Mr Keith
Skidmore, Chris
Smith, Chloe
Smith, Henry
Smith, rh Julian
Smith, Royston
Soames, rh Sir Nicholas
Soubry, rh Anna
Spelman, rh Dame Caroline
Spencer, Mark
Stephenson, Andrew
Stevenson, John
Stewart, Bob
Stewart, Iain
Stewart, Rory
Stride, rh Mel
Stuart, Graham
Sturdy, Julian
Sunak, Rishi
Swayne, rh Sir Desmond
Swire, rh Sir Hugo
Syms, Sir Robert
Thomas, Derek
Thomson, Ross
Throup, Maggie
Tolhurst, Kelly
Tomlinson, Justin
Tomlinson, Michael
Tracey, Craig
Tredinnick, David
Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie
Truss, rh Elizabeth
Tugendhat, Tom
Vaizey, rh Mr Edward
Vara, Mr Shailesh
Vickers, Martin
Villiers, rh Theresa
Walker, Mr Charles
Walker, Mr Robin
Wallace, rh Mr Ben
Warburton, David
Warman, Matt
Watling, Giles
Whately, Helen
Whittingdale, rh Mr John
Williamson, rh Gavin
Wilson, Sammy
Wood, Mike
Wragg, Mr William
Wright, rh Jeremy
Zahawi, Nadhim

Dear    ,
Was it pressure or ignorance that allowed you to vote to remove the statement of animal sentience out of UK law? I would just like to remind you that your vote went 100% against public opinion and importantly, for your political future, against local opinion. Your constituency is thronging with rescued animals, dogs, cat and horses. Your vote this week went 100% for the main exploiters of animals; companies using animal research, intensive farmers and meat and dairy producers.   

I heard that the government means, one day, to put in even stronger welfare laws: A ban on live export and puppy farms was hinted at and a ban on the ivory trade. This is clearly selective, when the real quality of life problems, for which companies must be accountable, are those of animals in farms and in laboratories. Think for a moment about those lives. Dogs, pigs, sheep, rabbits allowed to live for around six months in total, denied all the 5 freedoms: To participate in behaviours natural to their kind, to have freedom to move around, warmth, food, water and contact with their own kind.

These animals are completely confined in crates being artificially inseminated to produce more meat and having their teeth, testicles and tails cut off without anaesthetic. Or, in the case of lab animals, completely confined in cages, again solitary, with 'scientific procedures'  of increasing severity and toxicity being done on them every day, until they die or are put down. We are aware that the pharmaceutical industry makes billions and some of that goes into the economy but that is all the more reason to protect the animals in their 'supply chains'.

You have robbed the animals of any remnants of legal rights they may have. Advocacy in court, following major breaches of welfare legislation, will be weak and no company or farm will be prosecuted or even fined for their practices. Without the legal statement of sentience there is no deterrent to cruelty and no incentive to improve practices.

May your days be haunted by the UKs 10million pigs, 980 million birds and 2.5million cows slaughtered here every year and your dreams be about the reality of the lives of the 4.2 million animals experimented on in labs every year.

Quality of life, for people or animals, should not be shrugged off to charities to address and the government just pander to the pharmaceutical, arms, chemicals and food trades. And no, people do not believe that the pharmaceutical and food industries are there to provide and care for the population.

Independence from Europe should mean sustainability, extrication from the corporations too and trade deals. Otherwise, corporations will be forming all our new policies and laws to protect their economic interests. As you well know and as they seem to be already doing.

As far as I know, you are a public representative and I urge you to push for the new 'better UK welfare legistlation' to be formulated soon and for it to explicitly recognize all animals as sentient creatures (as New Zealand's government has this week). This would better reflect the views of your constituents.

Yours sincerely, Frances Micklem

Sunday, November 19, 2017

3 part plan for successful activism


It was brilliant to be given the chance to do a talk at the Oxford Vegan Festival. I had said I would talk about animal issues that jointly affect Ireland and the UK. I would include animals in laboratories, puppy farms and live export. I started by giving credit to Oxford for being a leading light in animal-free research because of the Hadwen Trust that started there. It has now moved and is called Animal Free Research but I went on to outline the questions that I put to them:

Thank you for all the work you are doing. Please could you help with any of the following:
1. Is there any list or directory of a) existing medicines that have not been tested on animals b) the conditions that can be treated by them and c) their accessibility (to doctors or on request from patients).
2. Are there vaccines that do not use animal ingredients and are not tested on animals?
3. Are there dentistry alternatives?
4) Are there any common remedies available to the public, from chemists (parallels to say paracetemol) that have not been tested on animals?
5) How would you answer the argument that animal free research methods are 'too expensive'? Are there simulator computer programmes, machines or software that could/should be subsidized to encourage companies to switch?

I said that I had left a piece of paper for people to leave their email addresses if they wanted to hear the answers to these enquiries and I will obviously post them here as well.

I summed up the scale and intractability of the problem in 3 sentences. Ireland’s testing on animals has increased by 800% plus. In the UK, the pharmaceutical companies have an industry worth 16 billion annually. That worth is going to always be a lot more powerful than a wave of public opinion.

In Ireland, when research companies are caught breaching welfare legislation, they are not prosecuted and not even penalized: The cost and responsibility for rescuing the animals if a facility shuts down, goes to the ISPCA, the equivalent of the UK’s RSPCA.

In the UK there is no attempt at accountability at all. The pharmaceutical industry made a statement to the government that, if they did not criminalize animal advocacy actions (under a pretext of economical sabotage), and essentially get pressure groups off their backs, they would withdraw their multi-billion pound industry from the UK. They did not make even an empty promise of better working practice, or higher welfare standards…let alone make a commitment to explore less severe testing methods. Some of the people present did not know about toxicity tests that increase dosage of substances until 50% of the sample group are dead. Then they register that amount as the lethal concentration of the substance. Oh yes, then they put down the survivors as they are too sick to test another product on.

I didn’t elaborate on any gruesome details as everyone there was vegan and were probably aware of enough painful scenarios happening for animals, already. This led on to a suggested 3-part daily plan for activism.

3 part daily practice for activists.
1) Work on inner wellbeing and maintaining it
2) Do a dispassionate assessment of the external situation arising – this could be a local supermarket with factory farmed animal products or the threat of a badger cull mentioned in the newspaper. Or it could be something national or international, like a massive public subsidy going to a cruel industry/sport like bull fighting or greyhound racing.
3) Followed by taking action, with clarity but without accompanying anger.


I gave two examples. As the Brexit revision of UK policies has started, the clause stating that animals are ‘sentient’ has been omitted. This is a very important clause as, in animal cruelty legal cases, there will be no way to win protection for animals if the precedent is not there, that they can suffer.
I was anxious about this but let that anxiety go and contacted the Oxford Animal Ethics Centre where there are some very influential people and asked them to write and insist that the clause be returned to law. I also contacted Compassion In World Farming and found that they had been on the case for months trying to raise awareness that animals’ sentience was at risk of being lost.

This shows how each communication strengthens the network of awareness.

Then I suggested how to tackle the individual response. I suggested that in every shop you visit, you always look for the leaping rabbit on the things you buy. This symbol means cruelty free and not tested on animals. If you don’t see it, ask the shop assistants. Do you have any cruelty free products? Always ask in a relaxed fashion and be faintly surprised and shocked if they don’t have any but talk about it as if the assistant themselves is probably shocked too to find out there isn’t any!!! This conversation will get them looking for the rabbit symbol too and no doubt they will order one or two the following week.  

Looking for ethical sustainable products, writing letters, turning up to vegan information days and rescue fundraising events are all things that can be done a little every day. And then PUT IT ASIDE, live your life with enthusiasm and be satisfied because, once you are vegan, you are already doing a lot. You are making conscious choices all the time, what to eat, to buy, to wear, to visit and to support. You are already educating by your conversations, articulating why you are doing this and that and NOT doing this and that!

However, we are disempowered as activists by any anger or upset we are carrying around. Energetically speaking, we are creating more suffering by reliving it and paying attention to it. Unfortunately, those that might even deserve our resentment for their exploitation of animals don’t ever RECEIVE the resentment. It is only the person carrying the resentment that suffers. It is a big part of the demoralization of our humanity and we must not let ourselves fall for it. Equally, we must not justify, to ourselves even, any lingering upset and anger. We must keep ourselves well and happy. Only that way can we be powerful and purposeful at the same time. This is the greatest danger for vegans that we become de-energized by the magnitude of the problems

I had to rustle up some things to be grateful for and the first was that you can trust yourself once you’ve made that change in your life as you have proved to yourself that you can respond to new information and live according to it, rather than just continue with what you used to do out of bloody mindedness, laziness or fear of change. You have proved as well that you can live with compassion and still do well, without being too ‘go getting’ and risk someone else’s wellbeing.

So I went on to talk about puppy farms and the how and why of export and all the God forsaken creatures that are exported but I will try and remember more about that tomorrow. For today, I think that was the main vision. Be content inside and generate loving feelings amongst your nearest and dearest people and pets. Then trust your intuition that the particular causes you need to pay attention to will show up for you. Then take some action, a little every day. Sign petitions and put companies and ministers under pressure to disassociate from cruel revenue streams.