Archive for August, 2013

Bill Moyers Essay: The End Game for Democracy

August 25, 2013

The commentary is on Washington, but it could be of most places.

The greeks pillaged Troy, carried off the spoils, the Vikings pillaged northern England.

Now we have corporations, with corrupt politicians in their pockets, doing the raping and pillaging, and carrying off the spoils.

We have Cuadrilla drilling for shale gas in Balcombe, with tax breaks courtesy of their friends in government.

We have Bride Hall destroying green space, cutting down trees, for an unwanted 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel in Farnborough, with the local council in their pocket.

Ten Little Soldier Boys

August 24, 2013

Ten little Soldier Boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine little Soldier Boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little Soldier Boys travelling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little Soldier Boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
Six little Soldier Boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five little Soldier Boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Soldier Boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little Soldier Boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two little Soldier Boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.
One little Soldier Boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.

Nursery rhyme, originally Ten Little Nigger Boys, it formed the basis of Ten Little Nigger Boys, a crime novel by Agatha Christie. The title of the book was then changed to And Then There Were None, and the words changed of the nursery rhyme.

And Then There Were None

August 24, 2013

Agatha Christie’s famous detective story without a detective, adapted by Joy Wilkinson, dramatised by BBC Radio 4.

Ten guests are separately invited to an island by a person none of them knows very well, if at-all. Each has been invited on a pretext. When they arrive, it seems they have all been invited for different reasons. Nothing quite adds up.

An anonymous voice accuses each of them of having murdered someone. By the end of the first night, one of the guests is dead. Stranded by a violent storm and tormented by the nursery rhyme ‘Ten Little Soldier Boys’, the ten guests fear for their lives. Who is the killer? Is it one of them?

BBC as usual does not keep on-line, only available for seven days.

And Then There Were None was originally published as Ten Little Niggers (1939), the title referred to a nursery rhyme. The title was changed to And Then There Were None for US publication, and the nursery rhyme changed to Ten Little Indians.

Ten strangers are invited to an island from where there is no escape. Each is complicit in a murder, each dies in a manner suggested in the nursery rhyme. On the table ten soldier boys. Each time one of the guests dies, one of the soldier boys is found smashed.

And Then There Were None is unusual in that neither of her famous detectives makes an appearance. All the more surprising then, that it is her best selling novel. Sales are estimated to be in excess of 100 million, making it the highest selling crime novel.

This Train Rides Again

August 24, 2013

Recreation of one of the Freedom Trains 50 years ago.

Trains, buses, chartered palnes, all headed to Washington for a mass rally on Wednesday 28 August 1963.

It was at this rally, Martin Luther King gave his ‘I have a dream speech’.

One woman on the train spoke of her hopes for a better future for her relatives, “after I am gone.”

In 1963, the legendary American broadcaster Studs Terkel, presented a radio programme, ‘This Train,’ in which he followed African Americans (or Negroes as they were called at the time) travelling on a train from Chicago to Washington. They were part of the March on Washington, which culminated in Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The thousands who took part wanted to achieve jobs and freedom for Black Americans. One woman on the train spoke of her hopes for a better future for her relatives, “after I am gone.”

Jessie Jackson recounts the turning point for him was sat at the front of a bus, and the driver refusing to move until order is restored on the bus. Jessie Jackson thought the driver meant kids on the bus misbehaving, but no, it was that he, a person of colour, had to sit at the back of the bus.

What is shocking, is few in America even know of the March on Washington.

For the march, Washington was in lockdown as no one knew what to expect. All police leave was cancelled, National Guard and Army were on standby. An estimated half a million people took part.

What did it achieve?

Martin Luther King was fighting for equality, equality for all, an end to oppression, an end to the US fighting foreign wars and oppressing people of colour in other lands.

In the few years until his death, Martin Luther King grew angry as he saw no progress. Those who returned home from the march, were set up and beaten.

Fifty years on the US has a Black President, a Black President who is waging wars in foreign lands against people of colour, a Black President who is creating a police state, for every dollar a White man earns a Black man earns 60 cents, the gap between rich and poor is growing.

The march was organised with no internet, no e-mail, no social media, no twitter. I remember in the late-1960s, if you wanted to organise anything, there were no photocopiers, you had hand-operated duplicating machines, you had to cut a stencil, put in the ink. And yet, only a couple of days ago, the excuse of someone for not organising a demonstration, was how difficult it would be, too much effort.

BBC documentary making at its best.

The Aeneid

August 24, 2013
Aeneas' Flight from Troy - Federico Barocci

Aeneas’ Flight from Troy – Federico Barocci 1598

Excellent dramatisation of The Aeneid, the epic poem by Virgil, but once again BBC shoots itself in the foot, as I write, less than 17 hours left to listen to the Part 1 of a two part dramatisation.

BBC is forever plugging, listen again, then when you try, you find no longer available.

The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of 9,896 lines in dactylic hexameter.

At least the discussion on The Aeneid, with Melvyn Bragg and guests, is still avalable on-line.

Charlie’s house: Two month death sentence because the “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”

August 24, 2013
Charlie's house: Two month death sentence because the, "benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside"

Charlie’s house: Two month death sentence because the “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”

Charlie, who built this beautiful straw bale roundhouse, is a young man with a young family and like many finds it impossible to afford a home. In Charlie’s case he had three things going for him. First his father owns a big enough plot of land for Charlie to build a home. Second, the land was right next door to Lammas ecoVillage in Wales where there is plenty of natural building experience, inspiration and community spirit to help Charlie.

Finally, Charlie had been living with his partner Megan in a damp caravan for the past 4 years. With a baby on the way Charlie felt he had no choice but to build his house without the approval of the planning authorities, convinced permission for his home would be refused. The lack of affordable homes and strict planning regulations touches many lives.

Hundertwasser the famous architect, designer and artist wrote:

The individual’s desire to build something should not be deterred! Everyone should be able and have to build and thus be truly responsible for the four walls in which he lives.

Jon Jandai, Director of Pun Pun Organic Farm said at a TED presentation in Thailand:

I want to be equal to animals. The bird makes a nest in one or two days; the rat digs a hole in one night, but clever humans like us spend 30 years to have a house… that’s wrong.

Charlie’s home is designed from the natural resources available on the land rather than by building industry professionals that often specify homes using processed materials with high embodied energy.

This method of building is what SunRay Kelly calls Evolutionary Architecture and what Ben Law teaches to architects who want to learn about sustainable natural building.

It took Charlie a little over a year to build his home with a reciprocal green roof and lime plastered straw bale walls. All in all it cost Charlie about £15,000 ($23,000). Watch this short video from film makers Living in the Future where Charlie tells his story.

Charlie and Megan applied for retrospective planning permission from Pembrokeshire County Council who decided that this wonderful, unobtrusive, sustainable home should be demolished consigning Charlie, Meg and their child back to their cold and damp caravan.

As of the 1st August 2013 Pembrokeshire County Council’s enforcement say the property must be demolished within 2 months because: “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”.

The Welsh government has guidelines for development of settlements in the open countryside called ‘One Planet Developments’. This is the Technical Advice Note 6 (PDF 6Mb) Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities, otherwise known as TAN6 with Tony Wrench’s roundhouse on the cover which was itself once under demolition threat but was eventually granted planning permission in September 2008.

plan of Charlie's house

plan of Charlie’s house

inside Charlie's house

inside Charlie’s house

inside Charlie's house

inside Charlie’s house

Published by Natural Homes.

There is something very very wrong with our corrupt planning system corrupt councilors and officials in the pocket of greedy developers.

It is ok to destroy countryside, level woodlands, for ugly development, but not ok for a house like Charlie’s that has minimal impact on the environment.

It would be difficult to imagine a house as attractive as Charlie’s.

We need more houses like this, not less.

I know of minimal impact houses in Cornwall and Sussex, assuming they are still there. The location is kept secret, as otherwise the too would be under threat as is Charlie’s house.

Charlie’s house look like a house built for a Hobbit.

To claim Charlie’s is harmful to the environment is arrant nonsense. This couple should be applauded for what they have built.

Please sign the petition to save Charlie’s house, calling on the local planning authorities to grant Charlie’s house retrospective planning permission.

inside Charlie's house

inside Charlie’s house

Charlie's house

Charlie’s house


August 23, 2013

Grenade, Alex Boye, featuring Lindsey Sterling on violin.

The sound quality is a bit iffy, but otherwise great.

Masmou3: Noise as dissent

August 23, 2013

As Egypt descends into bloody chaos, where the only space to flourish will be for Islamic terrorists, the streets are no longer safe for protests.

A new form of protest has been developed, masmou3, its symbol a pan.

At 9pm, people open their windows and bang their pots.

It even has a song.

Firgrove Green: Council tree officer did not inspect trees he condemned as unhealthy

August 23, 2013
open green space, rights of way and trees, two days before councillors rubber-stamped to destroy

open green space, trees and rights of way, two days before councillors rubber-stamped to destroy

At the planning meeting in June to decide the fate of Firgrove Parade (destruction of open green space, cutting down of trees, destruction of four local businesses) the planners blatantly lied. They lied about the state of the trees. To be exact, they repeatedly lied on several counts, but pivotal to the outcome, was the lies they told about the trees.

They claimed the trees were unhealthy, were at the end of their lives. They let the councillors believe they were discussing a tree report by their very own tree officer, although no tree report was before them, no tree report was included in the Agenda, even though the state of the trees was pivotal to the decision to be reached that night.

Councillors questioned the integrity of the tree officer, questioned why he was not standing before them to be cross-examined on the state of the trees. One even said, if they had a different report on the trees, they would be reaching a different decision that evening.

The councillors voted to destroy Firgrove Parade, voted to destroy four local businesses, cut down trees and destroy the only remaining green space in that part of Farnborough town centre.

They reached their decision based upon a pack of lies fed to them by planning officials who were determined to push through a development on behalf of Bride Hall. The same developer wishing to destroy The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

The tree report the councillors were discussing, and unbeknown to them as they did not have it before them, was a tree report from the developer Bride Hall.

As a Freedom of Information request has shown, there was no report from the tree officer, as the tree officer never produced one. Nor did the tree officer inspect the trees. The tree officer simply endorsed the tree report from the developer without troubling himself to actually get off his backside and check the state of the trees.

1.    Details of any tree inspection carried out by the Council and a copy of any inspection report prepared by the Council
No such inspection was carried out and there therefore is no such report.
2.    Confirmation that the Council saw Bride Hall’s tree report and any details of any endorsement or comments on it
I can confirm that the Council received and reviewed Bride Hall’s Arboricultural Report (a copy of which I attach).  As is the usual process, the Council’s Arboricultural Officer is consulted in respect of a planning application and their response is included in the report to the Development Control Committee. In this instance, the Council’s Arboricultural Officer reviewed this report responded to the consultation that they had no objection to the proposals.  This is stated in the Committee report (also attached – see page 27).  Beyond this, there are no other endorsements or comments on Bride Hall’s Arboricultural Report.
3.    Details of checks were made for nesting birds
The Council has no such details of checks that may have been made for nesting birds (nor would we expect to given that the responsibility for compliance with the relevant legislation lies with the owner of the land and/or the party carrying out works to the trees).
4.    Notes on any internal discussions on these trees and copies of e-mails
Having reviewed our files, the only information we can find regarding this issue is the Arboricultural Officer’s consultation response which was included in the relevant Committee report.
5.    Notes on any discussion, meeting, telephone call and e-mails between Bride Hall and the Council
Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act (“the Act”) makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit, which for local government is set at £450 (by the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulation 2004, “the Regulations”). This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 18 working hours in determining whether the Council holds the information, locating, retrieving and extracting the information.  Given that Bride Hall own a number of sites in the Borough and have done so for many years and the extremely wide nature of your request, I believe that it would take substantially in excess of 18 hours to deal with your request. Therefore we will not be processing your request any further.

Local people delayed the cutting down of the trees, but all have now gone, bar one. Healthy trees were cut down in a crude attempt to hide the fact the planners lied to push through a planning application on behalf of Bride Hall. One tree remains. Its fate was decided by a nesting bird.

It is reasonable to expect expect all council officials to discharge their duties and responsibilities with due diligence. This would not appear to have been the case with the council tree officer.

The council tree officer endorsed the tree report from Bride Hall without he himself inspecting the trees. This to say the least beggars belief. Far from exercising due diligence, he has shown gross dereliction of duty, misconduct and maladministration.

How can the council tree officer possibly review and endorse the Bride Hall tree report without inspecting the trees it refers to? How does he even know the species of trees or their number is correct, let alone the health or amenity value of those trees?

It is difficult for the liars to keep their stories straight.
The tree officer is forbidden to discuss his non-existent tree report.

Sarita Jones, planning case officer, has claimed tree officer inspected the trees and produced a report. Would not have approved the Bride Hall report without checking the trees.

Jeremy Rosen, temporary borough solicitor, has said emergency Tree Preservation Orders could not be put on the trees as this would stop the development taking place.

Keith Holland, head of planning, said cutting down the trees had nothing to do with the development.

The trees that were cut down, were, contrary to the lies to the planning committee, healthy trees.

Kid President Meets Paulo Coelho

August 23, 2013

Kid President interviews Paulo Coelho.

Paulo Coelho did a shoot at his home in Geneva for a World Humanitarian Day campaign interview segment with Kid President.