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The Cost of Technological Progress……

15 May

‘We all love our mobiles, iPads and laptops and most of us would feel lost without them. We also care about our planet, support eco-friendly products and would use them if they met our needs. Everybody loves a bargain, so when the price of technology keeps on falling we upgrade, even if our device is perfectly adequate. It sounds like a panacea; cheap, accessible and green. But as the old saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is……’

 

We all know that global industries are not in business for pleasure. They have one goal and that is to return the maximum possible profits. So a penny saved by the consumer is a penny recouped from somewhere else and that usually involves a human cost along the way……

 

I am writing and administering this blog from a seven year old laptop and, with good housekeeping, it continues to function perfectly. In fact I cannot think of anything I can’t do that a new computer would make possible. The truth of the matter is that we suffer from ‘technology envy’ and the sleek new laptops and phones are more cosmetically satisfying than they are functionally better; but we want one anyway. This applies to TVs, fridges, coffee machines, cars and almost any gadget we own. To supply goods at discount prices savings have to be made……

 

Human Resources, and a ‘resource’ is what we are in the eyes of global industries, is one of the first lines of cost cutting which is why your technology is almost always made in a country with no public healthcare, dilapidated infrastructure, chronic poverty and corrupt officials. For it is in those countries that humans can be bought at the least cost. They work 16 hour days and the concept of health and safety doesn’t appear in the equation. There is no sick pay or paid holidays and the employees dare not challenge the bosses because they are replaceable by the next desperate person……

 

Many companies claim to monitor standards at their far eastern supplier but the reality is that they will be shown a specially set up part of a factory; clean, safe and air conditioned. If they interview employees they are too frightened to speak up. This was brought into sharp focus by the recent collapse of a factory that made clothing for many well known high street brands……

 

The second issue is caused by the technology itself. To make batteries that last longer, motors with more power and the materials that aid miniaturisation we often use what are known as ‘rare earth elements’ such as Boron and Neodymium. By an accident of geology rare earth elements are most common in third world economies. Extracting them requires yet more cheap manpower and extracting them can leave behind toxic chemicals; chemicals that developed nations have strict regulations regarding their disposal. Unscrupulous third world companies simply dump them on the ground or into rivers. Another unfortunate consequence of rare earth elements is their rarity. Hundreds of tons of earth may contain only a tiny amount of the desired element, therefore, extracting them causes the destruction of vast areas of important ecosystems……

 

So, the next time you’re thinking of upgrading to the latest sleek, brushed aluminium mobile phone or laptop, ask yourself if you really need it, because your new phone may be helping to shorten someone’s life, contributing to the extinction of plants and animals, and ultimately halting development of third world countries.

 

And all because multi-national global companies need to pay huge bonuses and increase profits. ‘Sustainable growth’ has to be one of histories most damaging and unrealistic oxymoron ever to have come from a comfortable, air conditioned, over staffed and detached boardroom since ‘think tanks’ came into existence……

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Privacy Issues that Affect You……

29 Apr

Forward C/O 38 Degrees38 Degrees

 

Have you heard about the latest data sell-off? Right now, the taxman, HMRC, is considering a plan to sell our personal tax details to private companies. Our incomes, the amount of tax we pay, and our tax histories could be sold to the highest bidder.

Tory MP David Davis has branded the plan “borderline insane”. But right now, HMRC is thinking about whether to go ahead anyway. If enough of us come together to create a huge petition, it will show HMRC, and the government that we won’t stand for them selling off our tax details.

Can you sign the petition now to demand HMRC rethink these plans?

Only a few months ago NHS England floated plans to sell off our health records. The outcry was huge, with organisations like the Royal College of GPs responding furiously to the idea that individuals might be identifiable from the data. In less than 24 hours, 150,000 members of 38 Degrees pledged to opt out of the scheme. Together, we forced a change of plan. NHS England panicked and paused the sell-off for 6 months.

If we act fast, we can do the same with HMRC. There is already opposition. MPs have criticised the plans. Tax experts have expressed concern, and organisations like Big Brother Watch are worried about “serious risks to privacy.”

A huge petition could make headlines and embarrass HMRC into dropping the idea. Can you add your name now and stop these plans before it’s too late?

Thanks for getting involved,

The 38 Degrees Team……38 Degrees

Click here for the 38 Degrees home page to sign up for the newsletter and add your support (The 38 Degrees membership is often larger than your MPs majority, so together we can effect change).

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Correspondance with the Government……

15 Apr

‘From time to time I like to hear the first hand account of our country’s standing in the world.  The only place from which to get the answers is the Government Ministers themselves.  It’s not a regular habit so I do not feel I am harrassing our Ministers an a daily basis, but for this particular issue I felt I needed to seek clarification’

By Email:

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

William Hague MP

William Hague MP

Dear Mr. Hague

I am writing to express my concerns with the UKs foreign policy and for clarification with regard to its implementation.

The recent issues with Russia, Ukraine and Crimea have led to sanctions being imposed against individuals, including the freezing of bank accounts and limiting travel. There may be other sanctions of which I am unaware but your Government have chosen, quite reasonably, to take some action. A similar state of affairs exists regarding the issues with Syria.

What concerns me is the apparent lack of action when Israel breaches international laws and ignores UN resolutions. The “mainstream” media is undoubtedly biased in the reporting of events in Israel and Palestine and appears to give the impression that Israel acts in a democratic manner, whereas the Palestinians are portrayed as the aggressor and, worse still, that they are some kind of “terrorist” organisation. To anybody with deeper knowledge of the Palestinians position and, based on international laws, it is Israel which is the aggressor, building settlements in occupied territories and applying inhumane and degrading treatment of Palestinians at the checkpoints that they are forced to use, treating them as second class citizens in what is their country.   In contrast, the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are connected by roadways built exclusively for the Israelis, connecting the illegal settlements, further dividing Palestinian land and protected by electrified fences.

When one hears of the horror a Palestinian lady in labour being made to wait at a checkpoint for many hours, only to have her ID papers thrown back into her face, leading to the death of her child which she gave birth to on the roadside. Israelis are simply waved through in their specially constructed roads and one cannot reach any conclusion other than a deliberate action by Israel to further de-humanise the Palestinian people who have already lost 78% of their historical homeland, within living memory of the older residents.

We hear little, if any, sanctions being put in place against Israel. Your Government is proactively involved in arms trading with Israel. It could be British bullets that kill innocent children on a frequent basis. No action is taken against Israel despite UN resolutions telling them they are in breach of international law, and Britain plays a positive roll in supporting the Israelis

One who is suspicious of diplomatic relations can be led to only one conclusion; there are no specific rules by which diplomacy is applied. It as a cabal of nations and you are either “in favour” or “a pariah”. As the eloquent George W. Bush put it, “You are either with us or you are against us”. The convenience of “al Qaeda”, the invisible, non geographical “terrorists” are wheeled out to place the blame upon whenever an incongruent enemy is needed. I do not condone the killing of innocent civilians under any circumstances and that includes the hundreds of thousands of civilian lives, or collateral damage caused by our involvement in the conflicts of the Middle East. “Mission accomplished” is how David Cameron described Afghanistan recently. I have two questions regarding “mission accomplished”; first what mission has been accomplished and was that mission objective we set out to achieve in the originally. By my recollection America began indiscriminately dropping bombs in the mountains to “smoke him [Osama bin Laden] out, followed by a ground invasion to destroy the “al Qaeda” training camps (if one considers some monkey bars and a sheet of camouflage to crawl under a “training camp”).

Put simply, can the Minister explain why some nations are allowed to ignore international laws without redress, whilst others, and there are many, seem to carry one regardless, often with our support. Who decides which regimes we are happy to do business with and which are left out “in the cold”.

If the Minister feels unable to reflect upon these issues and explain the incongruities, I respectfully request that he finds someone who can explain the Government’s logic, up to and including the Prime Minister who is the Commander in Chief of our armed forces.

Yours sincerely

Mr. Stephen P. Walker.

 

‘Ill keep you posted when I get a reply…….’

Euthanasia……

5 Apr

The debate carries on; people continue to suffer……

 

People who find themselves in a position with only one prognosis, whether imminent or in the future, will doubtless be in turmoil. Their thoughts will be for their loved ones rather than for their own predicament, a measure of the bravery shown by many. However, nobody could possibly think less of them for looking inward and thinking about themselves and, those who really care, should, make that known. If they decide that they wish to end their suffering, any caring person who has thought deeply about euthanasia must surely agree with self determination, even if it is at odds with their own personal view or belief.

The person requesting euthanasia has most likely suffered enough.  But to be faced with lengthy legal proceedings, to ensure their loved ones are protected and their wishes are honoured, can only make a difficult and tragic situation even harder for all concerned.

The arguments that legalised euthanasia could leave vulnerable people at risk from some ‘sinister’ party with an interest in getting rid of them, should be immediately apparent to any court.  To deny clear cut cases carte blanch only inflicts further suffering and, I believe, insults the people who have given their request a great deal of contemplation and ask only that their wishes are respected and acted upon, more often than not with the full support of their families.

Legal euthanasia is clearly needed; demonstrated by the number of cases that reach the High Court.  There would not be a sudden tidal wave of people asking for euthanasia but, currently, for the people who have made this difficult choice, please let’s not prolong their suffering with legal nit picking and a parliament who act like a rabbit caught in the headlights whenever euthanasia is debated.

Euthanasia should be made legal and could be easily implemented, with safeguards put in place, ending peoples’ suffering.  Life is precious and euthanasia a difficult choice for anybody to make.

Our political representatives act with much less caution when deciding to wage unnecessary wars which murder thousands of innocent people, so a little more humanity is needed in the euthanasia debate.

Until such time arises and we catch up with countries like Switzerland, The Netherlands, Mexico and Ireland, if you feel strongly enough that you too would want to have self determination, search for and download an Advance Directive.  This will designate a proxy to carry out your wishes and stand as an advocate to your personal wishes, regardless of the inadequate legislation.

I have personal experience of a family member with a terminal illness and, although euthanasia would not have been their choice, faced with the same circumstance, It would have been mine……

 

The lengthy legal process started by the late Tony Nicklinson is still ongoing for other people with the support of Jane Nicklinson, whose love and bravery stands as a testament to difficult issues raised in this article……

Shares in the Planet Soon to hit Wall Street ……

3 Apr

I noticed the mainstream press have been bringing inner city pollution in UK cities under the spotlight.  To bring the figures within ‘safe’ limits the ‘expert’ on the news suggests we walk & cycle to work, tax diesel vehicles & turn off the lights when leaving a room.  If, & it’s a big if, global warming is totally man-made, the action being taken is akin to pissing on a forest fire. However, the ‘green’ taxes being levied on us all are massively disproportionate when making a comparison against the effect they are having in reducing CO2 emissions.

 

I did an astonishing complicated calculation on the back of a fag packet that just happened to be to hand and came upGreedy3 with the following conclusion: If we are paying taxes to combat CO2 emissions, Her Majesty’s Treasury will be distributing it amongst the myriad of measures put in place to that end. Of course monies allocated to the treasury are distributed as the Chancellor, Gideon Osborne, sees fit. Many of the measures put in place and the funds allocated to them are a dismal failure, such as the home insulation scheme and similar projects which have not been taken up by the public, leaving a surplus of cash which has doubtless been used to give the impression that the economy is performing far better than is apparent to most of us. Meanwhile, the ‘big six’ energy companies profits have quadrupled from £230 million in 2009 (when the recession began), to £1.2 billion in 2013.

 

The reason that all attempts to reduce the CO2 emissions have nothing whatsoever to do with climate change is because Global warming is an industry and industries have one objective; to return profits to shareholders, not to save the planet. A function which I’m sure it is achieving because if you happen to be Siemens, or for that matter any other of the multitude of companies offering to smear your roof with ugly, inefficient PV cells, the Government are positively throwing money in your direction.

 

Greedy2Finally, the figures for CO2 reduction laid out in the Kyoto agreement show our country to be 25% under the required quantities. This is nonsense at best and/or an accounting manipulation of the sort Lehman Brothers would be proud. The calculations for CO2 emissions fail to take into account the vast CO2 footprint created by imported goods on their journey from the far east, which by sea is somewhere around 8,000 miles (90% of UK imports arrive by sea). The same applies to the gas which we burn in power generation and domestically; again the CO2 from the journey is excluded. Another accounting trick is to remove CO2 in proportion to wind, water and privately generated PV electricity. But this is another deception. Because power stations cannot simply be turned on and off with the flick of a switch, even when green energy is being fed into the system, the gas and coal power stations continue to pump out CO2.

 

Politicians have done what politicians do, and do well; they have turned global warming into a business opportunity, taxing the public, rewarding the industries with tax breaks and dining out with the lobbyist at the best restaurants at Greedy1our expense. They have little, if any, interest in climate change and contrary to popular opinion there are many scientist who will not support the statement, ‘Global warming is man made’, because, like weather forecasting, the system is so complicated nobody knows for definite whether global warming is natural or partly assisted by man. Science is an evolving subject but it is, unfortunately, funded by governments so if you want that grant you are more likely to get it if you sign up…..

 

They don’t care about smoking, drugs or drinking

They don’t care about waging war on innocent people

They don’t care about starvation

They don’t care about human rights abuses, torture and dictators

They don’t care about you

 

They care about two things: money and themselves

 

They are worried about an uprising against their lies, that’s why they are ordering water canons

 

 

Big Brother – Beware……

18 Feb

The Care Data Project – A Snoopers Charter……BB_Eye_01

During these times of austerity our Government has announced its latest hugely expensive, unnecessary and intrusive IT project, which based on their track record will cost three times as much as has been budgeted for and not work……

The new database will include medical information collected from your GP and hospital records.  It is unclear if this a re-launch of a proposal made at the start of the coalition or something entirely unconnected.  But, like the last attempt, it is an ‘opt out’ rather than ‘opt in’ system.

nhs_logoThe proposed database is intended to improve patient outcomes and, although the data stored will be anonymous, it is not beyond the capability of hackers to trace its source.  It is unclear at this stage who will have legitimate access to the information stored and as we have learnt, it is not beyond major multinational companies to employ dubious and illegal methods to obtain whatever they need……

GPs have expressed concerns over the new database and although it is reported to be ‘anonymous’, the Police can access the database under certain circumstances; no specific details of what circumstances would warrant this……

The Pharmaceutical industry would also have access.big-brother-01

Cost Benefit Analysis……

In yet another disturbing story, the Government is pushing the BMA and NICE to apply a cost benefit analysis to the prescribing of some medications.  There has been talk of withholding medications from older people.  Although it may be beneficial for the patient, their contribution to society may not be as good as that of a younger man with the same condition.  It is almost as if they are regarding us as batteries……

‘Since writing this article is has become clear that this IT project is the one previously……’

 

The original article was entitled ’The Snoopers Charter (Cont’d)’ posted on 28 December……

Putin’s Olympic Shame……

13 Feb

The Olympic Charter……

 

‘The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play……’

The irony of the failure of the fifth Olympic Ring to light during the opening ceremony of the winter games wasn’t lost on me and the thousands of other people disgusted by Russia’s treatment of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender citizens.Olympics-Rings-Malfunction

In a sick game referred to as ‘hunting’, gangs of homophobic thugs, posing as LGBT through social media, lure their victims to a location and systematically abuse, humiliate and torture them.  They then post videos on YouTube which can lead to further attacks and the victims sometimes loosing their jobs.  The police pay little, if any, attention to the assaults causing many abuses to go unreported……

Olympic Athletes’ Protests……

Many would argue that a boycott of the event was appropriate, given the human rights abuses taking place in Russia.  However, the Olympic Games have a history of participants’ protesting and making their feelings known while the worlds’ media watches.  It would be nice to see this tradition carried on into the Sochi Games……

Past Protests……

In 1936 at the Berlin games which Hitler intended to prove Aryan supremacy, Jesse Owens, having already broken five world records in the previous year, won four Gold medals cheered on by German spectators to Hitler’s annoyance.

Traditionally, the organizers of the Olympics have not courted involvement in political issues. But in the case of South Africa’s apartheid, they took a stand. The Olympic Charter states that “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on ground of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”

OLYMPICS BLACK POWER SALUTEIn 1958, a movement began to exclude South Africa from competing in the Olympic Games because of the country’s policy ban on “interracial sport.” It took several years for the IOC to act, but beginning in 1964 South Africa was banned from participation in the global games.

In 1968 Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave the black power salute during the medal presentation ceremony.  They both held their black gloved hands aloft until the United States national anthem had finished.

Other athletes have protested at the inequalities different groups have faced at the Olympic Games and long may they continue……

Sochi 2014……

Rainbow_FlagIn light of the human rights abuses of LGBT and other liberal thinkers based in Russia, including journalist who fail to tow the party line, I hope that the rainbow flag can be seen waving in the crowds and that athletes interviewed for television take a stand against human rights abuses……

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