Archive for the ‘social justice’ Category

Racist comments on local media

June 10, 2020

Racists wallow in their social media cesspits, reinforce and normalise their racist views then spew it out across social media platforms.

An example of this was a few months ago when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited a detention centre for migrants, the abuse she received in person when she visited was a mere glimpse behind the curtain of what was happening in closed facebook groups, where pictures were being posted calling for her to be raped. Closed facebook groups for past and serving Border Force officials, federal agents, government employees.

In Clear Bright Future Paul Mason touches upon these closed facebook groups where fascists and racists fester.

Black Lives Matter and the racist troll farms are now on steroids. Seeing young black and white march on the streets is fanning their hatred.

Black Members of Parliament have received a torrent of abuse. Dawn Butter has thanked her staff for filtering it out and having to read it.

What is shocking, is what is appearing in local media comments, and I am not suggesting it is the local media, it is the racists commenting on the local media reports of Black Lives Matter protests.

Surrey Live had to issue a warning following its coverage of a Black Lives Matter protest in Guildford. Not that the warning has been heeded. But it is as nothing, the rabid racist comments  on The Lincolnite coverage of Black Lives Matter protests in Lincoln. And just when think cannot get any worse it did when a student had the audacity to speak out about the racism he has suffered.

Local media has to do more to root out this racism. Every single racist comment logged, reported to police and facebook, then those posting the racist comments blocked.

And why does it matter?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tells of landlords in the Bronx who set fire to buildings with families inside in order that they could collect on the insurance, then blame the local community for burning down the buildings.

Doughnut Economics Cyprus

April 27, 2020

A couple of weeks ago the Cyprus finance minister opened himself up to ridicule when he claimed the Cyprus economy was going to shrink by about five percent.

The following week the figure had  been revised to ten per cent, which was at best wishful thinking.

With loss of the Cyprus tourist sector, and anyone who thinks Cyprus is going to see any tourists before the end of the season is living in la la land, the economic downturn is going to be far greater than ten per cent.

The world is heading into economic meltdown far worse than the Great Depression, international trade already down by 30%. IMF has warned the global recession is likely to be worse than the Great Depression, and has urged countries to spend, spend, then spend some more, which is an amazing about turn for the IMF.

To put the Cypriot figures in context, the UK economy is expected to shrink by anywhere between 13 per cent and 30 per cent depending on which model, the assumptions fed into the model. The Treasury has forecast April May June the economy may shrink by 30 per cent.

We can not go back to normal as normal was not normal, it was destroying the planet.

We have been able to hear birdsong, our streets traffic free, our cites pollution free, the skies free of planes. A world few of us will have seen in our lifetimes. In India they are able to see in the far distance the snow covered Himalayas, a sight last seen over thirty years ago,

We were told we could not cut carbon emissions within the timescale required for zero carbon 2035, it was impossible, impractical, and yet we have achieved massive reductions overnight.

Politics is not a race, two or more corrupt  political parties in a race as to decide who gets the opportunity to do the bidding of oligarchs.

Politics is who does what to whom.

We have seen capitalism put into suspended animation.  We are in a postcapitalist world, we have been since 2008. Who decides what the future will look look like once we are through the coronavirus pandemic?

If we look to the UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak  has made billions of pounds available, to furlough workers with the government providing 80% of salary, a week later for the self employed, grants, soft loans to small businesses, all to keep businesses in hibernation,  ready to be woken up.

In the covid-19 pandemic we are living in another now. What we have to do is create our own another now, an alternative reality, a vision of how we wish the world to be. We failed in 2008, we cannot fail again in 2020, we cannot return to what was the norm, as the norm was not normal.

EU failed to deliver on eurobonds, offered loans that put the southern vassal states in debt bondage with austerity to follow.

We have seen post-WWII relentless rise in GDP, or at least up to the 2008, but this rise is not normal, it has been at huge environmental cost, and the increase in GDP has not been fairly distributed, it has been shared with the rich.

If I ask a bank for $100,000 to safeguard an ancient forest, I will probably not get very far. If I ask for $1 million to cut down the forest sell the timber they will happily give me the money.

If I ask a bank for 100 million euros to destroy pristine coastline for a hotel development, bring in dredged sand to create a beach, destroy bamboo groves habitat of  a rare endangered snail, show I will have guaranteed contracts with a big tour company to bring in all-inclusive guests, I will of course not tell them no benefit to the local economy, the bank will hand me the money, or at least they would have pre-coronavirus pandemic.

Destruction of a forest, of a pristine coastline, is not without costs, soil erosion, floods, loss of a carbon sink, species loss, degradation of water supply, loss of inshore fishing and fish breading grounds, which then feeds into ocean acidification, warming climate, rising sea levels, forest degradation, loss of coastline, further loss of fisheries. These costs are dismissed as externalities (a polite way of saying someone else problem).

The standard economic model showing monetary flows between households and businesses, together with flows of capital and goods and services, sometimes expanded to include the role of banks and government, is too simplified, it takes no account of the economy is embedded within society, which in turn is embedded within Gaia.

Never confuse a model with reality, even worse distort reality to reflect the model.

Kate Raworth has drawn a model, that incorporates what went before, but also includes the commons, the flow of energy, flow of materials, and thus more accurately reflects reality.

We therefore have to devise a new economic system, one that sees the poor are not left behind, are not  reliant on food banks, homeless are not living on our streets, whilst at the same time we do not exceed our planetary limits and what we do produce is fair and  equitable.

One such system is doughnut economics. How do we apply it to Cyprus, to the island, to municipalities, to sectors?

Look to Amsterdam, where the city is working with Kate Raworth to devise doughnut economics for the city, a 21st century economic system.

One of the largest sectors in Cyprus is tourism, it cannot be a return to mass tourism which not only is destroying the planet is destroying Cyprus, it brings in the dregs of the tourist industry, all-inclusive hotels with no benefit for the local economy.

Does Cyprus need an easyJet flight every day, sometimes two a day, would not two or three a week suffice, assuming easyJet is in business and will not run out of money by August?

A proposal for a doughnut economy for Cyprus, a broad brush to be expanded upon.

Doughnut economics was developed by Oxford economist Kate Raworth as an antidote to conventional economics which does not reflect the real world and has not served us well.

What is the economy for? Until we can answer that question, how do we know what to measure, how do we measure success?

Economies need to be distributive, regenerative.

Visualise a doughnut. In the centre nothing, this is where resides abuse of human rights, poverty, malnutrition, homelessness, food banks, it is where we should not be. The body of the doughnut is where we wish to be, a circular economy, everyone’s needs met, living within the limits of the planet. Beyond the doughnut, again where we should not be, global warming, species loss, habitat destruction, acidification of our oceans, pollution, rising sea levels.

Kate Raworth has developed a doughnut economics model for Amsterdam, working with the city. Something that should be studied, adapted to Cyprus, but no two places are the same.

For Cyprus we need a doughnut model for the island and for each and every municipality and sector, and the people involved in developing it.

The largest sector in Cyprus is tourism, but it is not in a healthy state, has not been for years, and looking at crude tourist numbers is about as helpful as focusing on GDP to measure economic well being.

One only had to wander through Protaras last year at the height of the tourist season to see all was not well.  During the day, mid-afternoon, empty sunbeds, watersports siting idle. At night, during the evening, bars and restaurants empty.

The last few years many local businesses have gone bust. They finished last season in very poor shape, and many more would not have survived another season.

Tourism has to benefit society with minimum impact on the environment.

Mass tourism is bad for the planet, bad for Cyprus, it is not sustainable.

There is an over-reliance on tour companies, on mass tourism, on all-inclusive hotels.

Cyprus has become the dustbin for the dregs of the tourist industry, all-inclusive attracts the dregs, little if any money flows into the local economy.

Cyprus is not going to see tourists this year, therefore time to reflect, seize the opportunity for radical change and innovation.

Rewind the tourist sector to thirty years ago when Cyprus was a quality destination, attracted quality tourists, when hoteliers took a pride in their hotels, restaurateurs in their restaurants.

Cyprus needs far fewer tourists, quality tourists. There should be no all-inclusive hotels, tour companies should be no more than 20% of hotel bookings (no single tour operator more than 10%), pay promptly at the end of the month (with penalty for late payment).

Encourage long stay, fourteen days and longer, discourage short stay, short breaks, seven days and shorter. Fewer flights for the same hotel occupancy.

The noisy bars bulldoze to the ground.  Restaurants in an attempt to compete with all-inclusive hotels are in a race to the bottom, a race to the bottom no one can win.

What passes as coffee shops is laughable, Cyprus is infamous for bad coffee, coffee shops serving drinkable coffee could count on one hand.

Replace noisy bars with traditional tavernas and coffee shops. It would be difficult to find good examples without visiting Plaka in Athens. Paul’s Coffee Roasters and Lazaris (though not for coffee) near St Lazarus Church in the back streets of Larnaca set high standards, take a pride in what they do, as does Nick’s Coffee Bike outside Larnaca Marina, but these are the rare exceptions, not the norm, oasis amidst the dross. Once the norm in Cyprus, until a race to the bottom to attract custom from all-inclusive hotels, a race no one can win.

For restaurants slow food not fast food, local cuisine using fresh local seasonal produce.  Sea food restaurants overlooking the sea, fresh caught fish, for example Spartiatis overlooking Konnos Bay and Demetrion beside Liopetri River overlooking the sea.

Tourism is more than hotels, it is bars, coffee shops, restaurants, car hire, boat trips, water sports. All of which have suffered in recent years thanks to all-inclusive hotels.

There is a need to improve standards within the tourist sector, hotels, restaurants, bars, coffee shops. How to measure standards?

TripAdvisor is worthless, fake reviews and trolls. Google Maps marginally better. Proposal to tender a contract to assess standards  seriously flawed in a country where everyone knows everyone, someones cousin friend went to school with.

Create an open source open coop collaborate commons platform Booking Cyprus. Charge a small fee to generate a surplus to maintain and improve the platform and fund local community green projects.

There is a need to diversify within the tourist sector.

Diversify away from tourism based on a handful of coastal resorts.

Encourage rural tourism, bookings through FairBnB not AirBnB. AirBnB destroys local communitiesFairBnB works with and supports local communities.

Encourage cultural tourism.

An example would be a week of tango at Grecian Park, not organised by the hotel, they host a week organised by two dancers well known within the world of tango.

A green new deal, use it to kick start the economy. 

Look to what DiEM25 is proposing for Europe. EU needs to issue eurobonds, €500 billion a year to finance a Green New Deal for Europe.

Implement a tree planting programme. Start by planting trees at bus stops for the 101 / 102 bus service Paralimni Protaras Ayia Napa to provide much needed shade.

Pedestrianise the sea front at Larnaca and extend the pedestrianised area into the back streets around St Lazaris Church. Provide an electric shuttle bus service from, Larnaca Marina to Mackenzie Beach.

Cyprus is over-reliant on oil imports, which is crazy in a country with abundant sunshine. Install roof top solar, feed into local community owned and controlled local grids, paid a fair price, consumers pay a fair price, surplus generation fed to other local grids via a publicly owned national grid, any ‘profit’ fed back into the local grid or used to fund local community projects.

The proposed Paphos Marina with facilities for cruise ships should be scrapped. Cruise ships are floating environmental disasters.  Floating all-inclusive hotels that bring no benefits to local economies.

The project in Paphos to create a marina for 1,000 boats plus cruise ships is an example of the insanity that is destroying Cyprus. It should be scrapped.

Cruise ships are nothing more than glorified floating all-inclusive hotels, that cause horrendous damage wherever they dock, with little benefit to the local economy.

The streets of Athens, especially areas like Plaka and Acropli, are clogged whenever a cruse ship docks, causing a problem for both locals and visitors, and they do not spend any money. The tour buses ferrying them around, traffic congestion, noise and pollution.

Venice is being destroyed by cruise ships.

Cruise shop are major greenhouse gas emitters, plus passenger fly to start and end of trip. Cruise ships dump their sewerage and garbage overboard, including plastic.

Will there even be cruise ships? As we have seen floating hell when covid-19 spreads through the ship and nowhere will permit a plague ship to dock.

These floating all-inclusive hotels are now all rapidly returning to port, discharging their passengers and being mothballed. The industry has not just been devastated, it has ceased to function altogether. For it, coronavirus has been the perfect storm. It has gone from being an industry worth $46 billion (£37 billion) a year, with 26 million passengers per annum, to an almost total standstill overnight. The only destination for cruise ships, the scrap yard.

Art and culture should be part of our doughnut.

Art and culture would seem an oxymoron when said in the same breath as Ayia Napa, and yet Ayia Napa has an excellent International Sculpture Park on a hillside overlooking the sea and hosts an excellent Medieval Festival.

How many visitors are aware of the open air theatre during the summer in the grounds of Larnaca Castle?

Cyprus has a democratic deficit which should be addressed. Not only open municipalities to the public, open to public participation, live stream all meetings.

A doughnut may appear to be a simple concept, but appearances can be deceptive. Its power lies in its simplicity.

A lower social bound bellow which we should not fall. An upper planetary bound which we should not exceed. It is also circular, symbolises not only money flowing around the economy, but also symbolises mutual cooperation, collaborative commons.

A simple example will suffice. On changing money in a car hire, we are recommended to take a boat trip. The boat trip recommends a restaurant. The restaurant recommends a vineyard from where they source their wine. To visit the vineyard, we return to the car hire to hire a car. We pass through a lovely little village, learn of a house available through fairbnb should we be tempted to return. At the vineyard, we learn they are renting out a beautiful studio apartment with incredible views of the sea. We find a coffee shop which we have been recommended, and as is the nature of coffee shops, interesting conversations ensue with the owner and barista and fellow coffee drinkers, we learn of many cultural events, an out of the way fish restaurant overlooking the sea and of a taverna  overlooking the sea. We learn Cyprus has much to offer, which we would never have learnt of from tour guides at an all-inclusive hotel. And the local economy has benefited. And maybe we will return one day to explore further.

Salient points of a doughnut economy:

  • GDP is not a useful measure. We cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet. Obsession with GDP has destroyed the planet whilst at the same time creating obscene levels of  inequality. The top richest 1% have accrued more  wealth than the poorest 99%. Uncontrolled growth has a name, cancer.
  • Create, innovate, value human development. With rare exceptions there is a lack of innovation in Cyprus. One bar owner opens a bar with white seats, overpriced drinks, moronic music thudding out. Then more bars open with white seats, overpriced drinks, moronic music thudding out. Those that follow, do not bother to check the first bar always empty.
  • Understand the power of networks, how feedback systems operate.
  • An economic system must be distributive. All must share in the wealth created.
  • Transactions within an economy are not simply financial, nor are the players only government and private sector. The economy also has to include open coops, collaborate commons, each working in loose partnership with each other.
  • Economy has to be regenerative. It is a necessary but not sufficient condition to merely protect the natural world from harm.

The Cypriot economy is moribund if not in free fall, no tourists anytime soon.  The time should be put to productive use to implement a doughnut economy.

It is important public information, in Greek and English, to keep everyone informed, not only locals but also visitors. Then network and share with other municipalities, not only across Cyprus, across Europe.

Friday 13th Pepsi Trump Horror Show

December 13, 2019

The forest was shrinking, but the trees kept voting for the Axe, for the Axe was clever and convinced the Trees that because his handle was made of wood he was one of them. — Turkish proverb

Thursday night exit polls showed a massive swing to the Nasty Party. As the results poured in, exit poll confirmed.  I turned off the coverage, it was too depressing.

A nightmare.

A decade of the Nasty Party — zero hours employment, pay less than living wage, poverty, mass closure of libraries, food banks, serfs working for apps, human robots in Amazon warehouses, class warfare, mass transfer of wealth to the rich, tax dodging on an industrial scale, austerity, neo-liberalism, shock doctrine, NHS on point of collapse, disintegration rail infrastructure.

Labour offered a radical progressive future, a green new deal.

But hey what the fuck, let’s vote for Pepsi Trump.

What went wrong? Why did people on the doorstep say No Jeremy Corbyn.

Why?

Wherever Jeremy Cobyn went, he was greeted to rapturous applause, he related to people, in debates he was calm and measured, had good grasp of the issues.

The problem therefore was not Jeremy Corbyn. The problem was the perception of Jeremy Corbyn.

We had the most vicious smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn. And it was not only the usual suspects, Murdoch and The Scum. It was fake-Left Guardian, too often the originators of the smears.

Then we had back bench MPs who thought they had a sinecure for life, wanted to back to the good old days of corrupt Labour, who spent their time sabotaging Labour, aided and abetted by the media, especially BBC News and fake-Left Guardian only too willing to grant them a soapbox.

Again we have to ask why?

Those in poser were scared shitless of radical change. The Deep State was under threat.

Had Labour a leader who would tinkle at the edges, policies that were businesses as usual, the choice of Tweedledum or Tweedledee but no real change, they would have been happy.

Therein lies the dilemma. Labour must not lose sight of the prize, dealing with tax dodgers, bringing in a fairer society, a green new deal.

In the meantime, take to the streets, direct action, form the resistance.

To those who say it was democracy, I suggest visit an exhibition in Berlin at the foot of the Berlin Wall which drawing upon Nazi archives shows how Adolf Hitler and the Nazis rose to power. Adolf Hitler was elected.

In Hungary and Poland, Fascists have been elected. They are shutting down a free press, destroying the judiciary.

When Pepsi Trump failed to attend the Channel 4 Climate Debate and in his place a block of melting ice, unnamed Tory sources threatened to remove the broadcast licence of Channel 4.

We have had Laura Kaunsberg and Robert Peston act and still acting as Pepsi Trump propagandists, drip drip drip of propaganda from unnamed sources. If not on record then do not regurgitate as news. Otherwise being played like a fiddle.

What of the climate?

Five more years of no action on climate. We have seen COP25 collapse with no firm commitment to cut carbon emissions by the levels required, zero carbon by 2030. The climate will not wait, the planet burns whilst corrupt politicians fiddle. What we can guarantee is cataclysmic chaos, brought about by climate change and the rapid deep cuts in carbon emissions that will have to be made.

The longer we leave action, the greater the impact, the deeper the cuts will have to be. How much more flooding, when do we act, do we wait until London is flooded?

I fear for this country. I also feel ashamed.

I know how they felt in US when Donald Trump was elected.

This article has been expanded on Medium under the same title Friday 13th Pepsi Trump Horror Show.

Extinction Rebellion Lincoln

April 18, 2019

Mail on Sunday saw a ludicrous feature on Extinction Rebellion, they were deluded, they wished to take us back to a fossil free dark age.

No, they recognise we face a Climate Emergency, that a fossil free future is our only future.

London, key points were taken. It was not until the third day BBC started to report.

Police have been deployed to arrest peaceful protesters. Would they not be better deployed to deal with knife crime?

Arresting people is pointless, and on dodgy legal grounds. For every person arrested, two more take their place.

Nothing learnt from Civil Rights protests in US. Arresting people, more take to the streets.

In Algeria and Sudan, the people have taken to the streets, faced down oppression, kicked two brutal dictators out of office.

In Lincoln, on Day 4, a small gathering under a tree in the High Street.

Were they there days before, I do not know.

One ignorant man shouted abuse, hit out at the disruption in London.

That disruption is as nothing when London floods due to rising sea levels.

Extinction Rebellion have taken direct action as a last resort, for far too long our corrupt politicians have been in the pocket of big business, giving the go ahead to fracking, to Heathrow expansion, subsidies to oil industry, go ahead for open cast mining.

Direct action is the only action that has ever changed anything.

It will cost far more not to address climate change to sit back and do nothing.

Protesters in Lincoln were calling on Lincoln City Council to declare a Climate Emergency, as many councils already have, to halt the Western Growth Corridor.

Activists need to seize control of the local Town Hall, to end the one-party state in the pocket of the local coop and big business, follow the example of Madrid, Barcelona and A Coruña, open to public participation, network across Europe with other citizen-controlled Town Halls.

Lincoln and Lincolnshire have an appalling bus service. Try getting a bus to anywhere after 1900 in the evening.

The pedestrianised High Street is not. Lorries drive through any time of the day. No enforcement action, local council and police turn a blind eye.

There is a ban between 1000 and 1600, but no one takes a blind bit of notice.

There should be a ban 24/7, emergency vehicles only. Lorries park on the periphery, deliver by hand cart and trolley. The norm in Europe

Maybe they will, but the protesters should have sat down on High Bridge and blocked the High Street.

Ban wood burning stoves from the city.

It beggars belief we still build new build with no solar panels on the roof.

We need local area power distribution networks, owned and controlled by the local community, into which feed renewables paid a fair price, consumers pay a fair price. Surplus generation fed to other local networks via a publicly owned National Grid. Any ‘profit’ either fed back into the system or used to fund local community projects. Electric cars provide a nighttime base load.

Avoid any corporate chain coffee shops, enjoy specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic in an indie coffee shop. In Lincoln that would be Coffee Aroma or Madame Waffle. Reusable coffee cups glass Keep Cup or bamboo ecoffeecup address symptoms.

The planning application for a drive-thru Costa must be opposed. No one who loves coffee would be seen dead in Costa. More traffic. At a time when we should be reducing our dependency on the car, an application for yet another drive-thru. Local Coop once again acting for corporate chains whilst at the same time destroying Sincil Street. Those who love coffee relax in Coffee Aroma or Madame Waffle with specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic.

Brighton has Hisbe. Lincoln needs a zero waste store.

An animal diet, apart from being nutritionally dense thus better for our health, is environmental sound, grass fed animals are part of the natural cycle, improving the soil acts as a carbon sink.

We need to re-wild.

We have to drastically reduce our emissions of carbon. The longer we delay, the deeper the cuts.

Children are going on strike on Fridays. They question why their future is being destroyed.

We need a Green New Deal.

Read This Changes Everything.

Hacks at failing local rags The Lincolnite and Lincolnshire Echo failed to cover the protest.

Om Nom issue 2

April 5, 2019

I first came across Om Nom during a recent trip to Brighton late last year in Magazine Brighton then again in Infinity Foods. I decided to pick up what was on sale In Infinity Foods, issue No 3.

Issue 2? I checked to find impossible to obtain, long sold out.

Then an idea, Ideas on Paper, always back issues.

Out of luck.

Then another idea, Outpost Coffee. I was in luck, not only a copy, they kindly gave me their copy.

Afternoon Christmas Day, after Christmas dinner, I settled down to read Om Nom issue 2.

Om Nom is a food magazine, ethical food and lifestyle.

What is ethical?

Veganism is not ethical. It is a lifestyle choice. A lifestyle choice bordering on quasi-religious fundamentalism.

If you do not want milk in a cappuccino, fine, but do not expect a quality cappuccino with fake milk. It will look and taste disgusting.

What of soya milk, is it ethical? Where has the soya come from? Plantations where once stood rain forests. Soy can be an allergen. The soy is possibly genetically modified. Soy is bitter and has to have additives to remove the bitterness.

What of almond milk? If California, what of the water used in a state suffering from drought and over extraction of water? Five litres of water for each almond.

If do not like milk, for whatever reason, have single origin V60 pour over.

But if insist on fake milk in a cappuccino, then ask for Oatley not an inferior cheap oat milk, and blend in the pouring jug. It looks and tastes marginally better but is not great.

Yes, we should eat more fruit and vegetables, grains and nuts, less processed food, maybe less meat, but we need to take a whole systems approach, not be the latest bigot in town jumping on the latest fashionable bandwagon, the latest fad.

In many parts of the world, grazing animals is more environmentally sound than growing crops.

https://twitter.com/EricaHauver/status/1109108123573387264

There is nothing intrinsically healthy about a vegan diet, especially when highly processed.

Organic food heavily processed is still heavily processed food.

Fake milks are highly processed, loaded with sugar. Fake meats heavily processed, laced with additives, just for starters, pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, water, yeast extract, maltodextrin, natural flavours, gum Arabic.

Was the demand for vegan sausage rolls from Greggs an indication of how bad their regular sausage rolls?

Then there is the need for supplements, on what is claimed to be a healthy diet.

And what of the environmental cost?

Nitrogen-based fertilisers, pesticides, palm oil, genetic modification, reliance on oil industry, just a few of the issues.

Africa, Europe, Asia, North America was covered in open woodland and grassland, savannah, prairie, across which roamed huge herds of herbivores. Man was a hunter gatherer, ate red meat, ate fat, grains did not form part of our diet.

EAT-Lancet diet for a small planet, almost vegan, good for our health, good for the planet, too good to be true, the wheels fell off within days when subject to proper scientific scrutiny. That promoted by agribusiness should send alarm bells ringing.

Too much fake science. For example a vegan burger compared with a meat burger, the former served with green tea, the latter served with a latte with half a dozens spoons of sugar.

There is no such thing as cheap food, we simply externalise the costs, social costs, human rights abuse, environmental degradation, climate chaos and animal welfare.

A handful of people eating plants does little to address ethics in food production.

It is not ethical when we praise quality but expensive food, nor when we praise cheap substandard food.

It is not ethical when rich folk enjoy food produced by poor folk who get poorer the harder they work. It is not ethical when the rich get richer peddling junk food to the masses.

It is not ethical when we live in a world where McDonald’s, Starbucks and Costa colonise our towns.

Is it ethical to put a brick through McDonald’s or Starbucks?  Or should we create and support alternatives, indie coffee shops, direct trade, serving specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic, local restaurants, the Italian osteria, supporting local producers, serving local and regional dishes?

An act of unbelievable crass stupidity when vegan quasi-religious fundamentalists target Hisbe, an ethical food store. Where next, Infinity Foods, a workers cooperative? Maybe not, Infinity Foods bake vegan cakes and where would we be without vegan cakes? Maybe do something useful, target and shut down McDonald’s or a kebab shop.

Use of instagram is not ethical. Owned by facebook, claim ownership rights to your pictures, act as bait to draw into the facebook walled garden, pictures posted via robot to twitter are not visible on twitter, the pictures could be used to promote something you are opposed to, you would not know as they do not ask permission to use your pictures, complicit in teen self-harm and suicide.

Business model of facebook is to steal and abuse personal data, to manipulate. Facebook are part of a lobbying group opposed to CO2 reductions.

Post pictures direct to twitter, post videos to youtube or vimeo, put a link to videos on facebook, drive traffic out of not into facebook.

Instagram is hosting material that is leading young teens to self harm and take their own lives. A shocking account of how one young teenager was led to take her own life by material on Instagram.

Latest evil of Instagram, complicit in eating disorders.

Anyone encouraging use of instagram, is complicit in teen self harm. People and companies must pull the plug on instagram. Or do they wish to be complicit in teen suicides?

Engaging in a partnership with Tesco is not ethical.

To engage in partnership with Big Business is not ethical. It will be business as usual, at best greenwash.

It is ethical to create and support alternatives, build from the ground up, local, cooperative networks, disrupt, build disruptive business models that topple the existing entrenched order, but not aid, to let their existence continue.

We need to look at the entire business cycle, not focus on one aspect.

The Mylkman delivers nut milk in bottles via bicycle and now electric milk float. That he is using and recycling glass jars from a nearby restaurant is good, also that he is finding uses for the nut waste products, but where do the nuts come from, how are they processed, what happens to the waste?

With every business featured, I would ask are they coops, open coops, do they network with other local businesses, do they accept local currencies, faircoin?

Cheese comes from the milk of ruminants, they process what we cannot eat, turn it into milk, rare breed cows out on pasture, unpasteurised milk, turned into cheese, is a wholesome natural product, without any additives, flavourings, not adulterated in any way. Slow food at its best. Anything else, is not cheese.

If not made from milk, it is not cheese. It is disingenuous to claim threatened when asked to desist on calling a product cheese when it is not cheese.

Chocolate is very strictly defined:

  • cocoa solids – sugar
  • cocoa solids – cocoa butter – sugar – vanilla

Anything less is not chocolate, at least in the US, in EU 5% vegetables oils. Which means cheap crap chocolate substitutes vegetable oils for cocoa butter, the really cheap crap palm oil.

If we have standards for what can be called chocolate, it is reasonable to expect standards for what may be called cheese.

The demand for cashew nuts to satisfy vegans, especially for fake cheese, is leading to appalling working conditions for those in the Third World who shell the nuts

Threatened is when vegan fundamentalists and terrorists send pig farmers death threats. Yes the pigs may be reared in inhumane conditions, and yes that should be addressed.

 

Zero waste is a journey we should all be on.

In nature the concept of waste does not exist either in time or space, the output of one process the input to another.

People walking down the street with coffee cup in hand is a fairly recent phenomena, a recent trend.

Taking a KeepCup to Pret a Manger is not an ethical choice.

Pret a Manger was once part owned by McDonald’s, now 100% owned by German Vulture Capitalists. Pret a Manger even before acquisition dodged tax.

Reusable cups address symptoms not the underlying problem of grab it and go, pointless consumerism.

We need to stop buying stuff we do not need. We buy stuff, own it for six months, a temporary pause from extraction, manufacture, then ownwards to incineration or landfill.

More coffee shops need to follow the example set by Napier Quarter, a coffee shop in Australia that has banned takeaway coffee.

Relax in an indie coffee shop with specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic, single origin coffee, direct trade not the FairTrade scam, transparency, traced back to origin to the farm where the coffee was grown and the best ripest reddest coffee cherries picked, the farmers paid for quality, a higher price than the FairTrade price which is a tiny premium above the price for commodity coffee.

It is indie coffee shops that have led the way with direct trade, compostable coffee cups, keepcup and ecoffee bamboo clones on sale, discount if bring in own clean barista friendly cup. They are leading the way serving specialty coffee in glass or ceramic.

Ask what do they do with coffee grounds? Ask they put out in a strong paper carrier bag for gardeners to carry home.

Small Batch in Brighton have an arrangement where coffee grounds are collected by a mushroom grower Espresso Mushroom Company and used to grow oyster mushrooms. The cycle is closed when Small Batch sell the mushroom growing kits.

Shop in zero waste stores, Hisbe in Brighton which recently celebrated five years, Keep in Farnham, a small room above a vegan restaurant which only opened a few weeks ago.

If shop in Waitrose, harangue the staff and management, ask why fresh produce wrapped in plastic, bananas rotting on the shelves, ask are they still in the environmental dark ages? In M&S individual turnips shrink-wrapped in plastic, coconuts with shells hacked off shrink wrapped in plastic.

In Hisbe, all the fresh produce loose, not wrapped in plastic, pick what you want, pop in a paper bag, weigh, label then purchase.

Bad as Waitrose and M&S are for plastic and over packaging, as nothing compared with Hotel Chocolat with their excessive over packaging and obscene use of plastic.

It was not so long ago buying water in a bottle would have seemed a strange choice when it came free at the turn of a tap. Similarly it would have seemed strange to carry milk back from the shop when it was delivered to the door.

I remember being at my grandmother’s when the milk cart passed by early in the morning, I would hear the rattle of the milk bottles, one of the first sounds I would hear of a morning. It may have even been horse drawn.

I also remember how as children we would knock on doors, and ask for their empties, take to the corner shop and claim the deposit.

We recycle stuff, what of people and places?

There are many abandoned and derelict buildings, abandoned land, people thrown on the scrap heap.

ReSpace puts to use empty and abandoned buildings.

The Hive in Dalston hosted conferences, workshops, small businesses, social enterprises, theatre, music.

A derelict shopping centre in Aldershot could have been reused, but no one came forward to take it on.

Nomadic Community Gardens, a spare bit of land, two people toiling away, bringing back into use. They did not ask for volunteers, the community joined in.

Land in London, ethnic communities, amazing variety of vegetables grown.

A large garden, too much work, people who desire a plot to work, join forces, share what is grown.

The system outlined by Dale Vince of Ecotricty for power distribution is neither green nor ethical. No we do not need large lithium-ion batteries, fields covered in solar panels, crops grown for biofuels.  Lithium is scarce, comes from conflict zones.

We should be creating community owned and controlled local area networks, fed by renewables paid a fair price, mandatory for every new build to have solar on the roof, consumers pay a fair price, any surplus generation fed to other local grids via a publicly owned National Grid, any monetary surplus either fed back into the local grid or used to fund local community projects.

Biodigesters on farms can power the farm, feed into their local grid, the residual waste put back on the fields.

The so-called smart meters being rolled out across the country are anything but smart, all they do is provide real time indication of the electricity we are using.

A real smart meter would enable remote switching on and off of low grade usage. For example an immersion heater for hot water could be turned off to help reduce peak demands, with an override switch.  Electric cars can be charged over night to deliver a base load for wind and wave turbines.

We need heat pumps. All new build should have heat pumps.

Imagine an estate powered by one power station. Build a second estate, conventional thinking is we now need a second power station. No, reduce power consumption of existing estate, build second estate to much higher standards, maybe even a net contributor to the local grid, now not only do we not need a second power station, we have surplus generation from the first, or can be replaced with a more efficient power source, which could be an off-shore wind farm.

We need a Green New Deal. We need a soft energy path, where generation is matched to supply.

Dale Vince owns Forest Green Rovers, a football club he has taken from a village side to the Football League with ambitions to go further.

Classed as the greenest football club in the world. The pitch is chemical free, mowed by a solar-powered, GPS-controlled, robot mower. Real Madrid visited to view the pitch.

A new stadium will be built using wood from sustainable sources, solar power on the roof.  Outside the stadium, charging points for electric cars.

Food served is vegan. Fans come from miles around for the food, not because they are vegan, the food is better than typical football club fare.

Jamie Oliver featured the club for veganuary on his Friday Night Feast on Channel 4.

Veganuary was much hyped, yes a big increase, but a big increase on a small number is still a very small number. The real measure, how many stuck to a vegan diet? A mere 16%, a tiny number on an already small number. Butchers reported no loss of business.

A vegan sausage at Greggs was much hyped. Did sales increase because their sausage rolls were so bad? Bad diet, highly processed junk food, a diet rich in highly processed carbohydrates.

Several of the people featured in Om Nom issue 2 have come from what David Graeber would describe as bullshit jobs. The classic bullshit job marketing. Was it these bullshit jobs that was the impetuous to do something different, to add meaning to their lives, to make a difference? What they fail to comprehend is that it can no longer be Businesses as Usual, we cannot draw from businesses, we have to implement radical changes, there is no Planet B.

Do you have to be a vegan to be an activist?

Do you have to be an activist to be a vegan?

What is an activist? What is activism?

Signing an online petition. Joining a protest. Occupying Starbucks. Refusing to cross the threshold of Starbucks or McDonald’s. Blocking access to a fracking site. Supporting local coops. Relaxing in an indie coffee shop serving direct trade specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic. Objecting to obscene use of plastic by supermarkets. Lobbying politicians. Buying fresh produce off local markets, dried goods from zero waste stores. Objecting to McDonald’s trashing a local pub.

Activism takes many forms. And no, do not have to be a vegan to be an activist.

If we look at meat consumption, be it per capita or per country, it has risen. It would appear the richer we are, the more meat we consume, no meat or little meat is seen as a poor person’s diet. This level of meat consumption is not sustainable.

In 1961, global meat consuption 22kg per capita, 2007 40kg per capita.

There is though a large disparity between countries. India 3.2kg per capita, for Brits and Americans, 85.8kg and 125.4kg per capita respectively.

One of the driving factors was in the USA, post WWII, increased production was going to lead to a glut, people were urged to eat more meat.

But the figures are highly misleading. Meat consumption has risen, but only because of the increase in poultry consumption. This is for the last century. If we go back two centuries, meat consumption, red meat consumption, has declined. If we look at the the historical record, red meat consumption was much higher.

We should also note that if we go back to 1900, consumption of vegetable oil was near zero, if we compare with today. The exception being olive oil in Greece.

But even in Greece, use of olive oil does not stretch back into antiquity. The use of olive oil was cosmetic not culinary.

The Mediterranean Diet is recent, conferences in Mediterranean locations, good food, favourable reports, get an invite for next year, all floated on an olive oil industry slush fund.

No food magazine is complete without recipes. Om Nom is no exception and has a handful of recipes scattered throughout its pages.

They say print is dead. Who they are I do not know. Print is not dead.

What is dead is the rubbish we find in the newsagent, the glossy freebies no one wants, vehicles to peddle crap we do not want, an appalling waste of trees.

Quality print, Om Nom, Ambrosia, Standart, Drift, no advertising, is not dead. Nor the outlets, indie coffee shops, Ideas on Paper, Magazine Brighton.

Om Nom is available as a digital copy, the price is too high. It should be set at one pound, maximum two pounds, made available on LeanPub, set own download format.

Also make Om Nom available on Issuu to browse on-line.

Independent Life is an example of a quality print magazine available on Issuu to browse on-line.

The name Om Nom, I have absolutely no idea. I have asked wherever found, and everyone admits they do not know either. It has been suggested it may mimic the sound of eating.

Big Rock Coffee Company

March 4, 2018

I had never heard of Big Rock Coffee Company until my attention was drawn to a coffee shop hosting a focus group.

Canopy Coffee are looking for keen coffee enthusiasts to partake in a FREE focus group discussion this Wednesday 28th at 6.30pm to give some consumer reaction to an exciting new coffee concept – Big Rock.

When anyone talks of something being exciting, the alarm bells start sounding, worse still a focus group.

Why is everything referred to as exciting? It is PR marketing gibberish, nothing else.

Focus groups are widely discredited.

Why would any reputable coffee shop host a focus group?

Why restrict to the age group 25-40, does no one drink coffee outside this age group? What does it say of the coffee shop?

It took place, the snow was bad. No detailed report posted for those who could not attend or who were barred by the age discrimination.

My curiosity was piqued.

I decided to check out this coffee company, what was special, why did they need a focus group, why not simply sell speciality coffee to discerning coffee shops?

Big Rock is a small single-origin coffee company built on a big idea.

We’re committed to :

1. Providing exceptional quality coffee from single origin sources.

2. Making a big difference to people’s lives by offering stability and hope in an unpredictable world.

We’re honest people with a clear message. We wanted our name to reflect those principles.

It just so happens that we found our first coffee partner on a farm overlooked by a gigantic monolith called ‘El Peñol.’

Marketing hype, tells me nothing about the coffee.

Digging further, more marketing hype, ‘genuinely unique flavour profile rarely found in the UK’ they claim what they are doing is something new, ‘pioneer a new sourcing model directly from his farm’

We’re not willing to compromise and sell Better Coffee using an outdated system which disenfranchises our own farmers. That’s why we created ShareTrade.

And more of the same

Our greatest asset is our direct relationships with individual farmers; the people who’ve planted, nourished and tended their crop – often for decades. So before we started building websites and designing logos, we packed our bags and travelled to the mountains of Colombia.

We learned that the real struggle farmers face is uncertainty. Fluctuating prices and currency exchange rates, insect infestations and plant diseases that threaten their livelihood combine to make coffee farming an extremely risky way to provide for their families. Not only that, some of these problems lead to a lower yield and poorer quality coffee, creating a chain reaction that ends up hurting you, our customer.

The current system seems to work for everyone except the people who matter most- the farmers. There’s so much good work being done by agencies and NGOs on the ground, but we believe the only solution is a total review of the pricing model and striking a mutually beneficial economic deal with the farmers, and a better system of value creation. So we created ShareTrade, a new sourcing model.

NGOs are not doing an excellent job on the ground, they are outsiders, make promises rarely kept, take a few photos with smiling faces to be use for fund raising back home, then depart in their air-conditioned 4x4s, never to be seen again.

NGOs step in, launch projects, outsiders, with no local knowledge, no long term commitment.

As Phil Adams reports, they have a name for these projects in Uganda.

Project has become a dirty word. In Ugandan coffee farming circles it means “fuck things up and take pretty pictures”.

So what is ShareTrade? Is it a coffee crowdfunding, as the name would suggest? Or maybe with all the marketing hype, a scam?

No, it is Direct Trade, but given a different name.

ShareTrade is a new model of cooperation with coffee farmers that recognises and rewards the value they create.

We start with a simple viability price. This price is what’s needed to ensure the profitability of coffee farmers – and take it from us, it’s a lot more than the market price, or even the Fairtrade price. This viability price is guaranteed, come rain or shine (and you need a bit of both.) It’s the foundation that gives our farmers confidence, stability and a basis for committing to their farms and to producing quality coffee.

But a better price and a commitment to investment are just two thirds of what ShareTrade is. The final part is our relationships. We maintain constant contact with our farmers, sometimes as mentors, but mostly as pupils, working together to build a long term system which rewards quality and innovation. And as we look to develop our business and start to make a profit, our commitment is to sharing this with the farmers too.

ShareTrade is the heart of Big Rock – the foundation that lets us accomplish our dream: to bring about deep satisfaction at every level of the coffee chain.

FairTrade is a marketing scam to make smug middle class feel good, nothing more. It pays a tiny premium above commodity price. By not rewarding quality, it maintains growers in poverty.

Direct Trade is about building long term relationships, paying a higher price for quality. Everyone benefits, the growers, the roasteries, coffee shops, those of us who appreciate decent coffee.

Direct Trade offers transparency, accountability, traceability.

No mention by Big Rock of varietals, processing, Q grade of their coffee.

To claim they are doing something new, is disingenuous, it is insulting to the many who have been working hard for many years to establish long term relations to pay higher premiums for coffee, to bring us speciality coffee.

To name but a few, Square Mile, Union Hand-Roasted Coffee, Hasbean, Small Batch, Falcon Speciality Coffee, Dark Woods Coffee, with apologies to the many I have not mentioned.

The name Union in Union Hand-Roasted derives from a union of farmers, roasters, tasters, drinkers and tweeters.

Last week I was contacted by someone who tried to justify drinking at Starbucks because he did not wish to drink coffee at a hipster indie coffee shop. This level of bullshit only serves to reinforce their prejudice.

All Big Rock has done, is renamed Direct Trade, ShareTrade, claimed it is something new, then surrounded it with marketing bullshit.

And no this is not an ‘exciting new coffee concept’ as falsely claimed by Canopy Coffee who hosted the event, which took place during the snow.

Thank you to all the participants for this discussion evening in assocation with Big Rock. Hats off for braving the freeze and the brutal wind chill to talk about all things coffee.

An extremely informative and diverse discussion with lots of opinion and great insight, both in regard to what companies perhaps could be doing and what exactly we all were drawn to as consumers. A big thanks again.

Nothing informative. A detailed report for those who did not or could not attend or were excluded by the age discrimination would have been useful, maybe something to look forward to. The claim ‘what companies perhaps could be doing’ is simply false, many companies are engaged in Direct Trade, working hard to improve the lot of growers, improve the supply chain, to deliver quality coffee.

I have made no mention of the coffee, I have not tried, but Big Rock are not doing either themselves or the farm from which they source any favours with this bullshit. Excellent coffee speaks for itself. It does not need marketing hype or bullshit.

It may well be Big Rock supply excellent coffee. I am more than willing if supplied with a bag, to cup and see how it stacks up in a cup of coffee.

Real Fresh Coffee by the co-founders of Union has a section on Direct Trade, Coffeeography the growers and farms from where Stephen Leighton head of Hasbean sources his coffee,  The Monk of Mokha the risks one Yemeni man Mokhtar Alkhanshali took to bring speciality coffee out of war-torn Yemen.

The Lincoln Coffee Festival kicks off on Wedneday 14 March 2018 at Coffee Aroma  with an afternoon of conversation and book signing with Stephen Leighton. An opportunity to learn about Direct Trade with one of the pioneers of Direct Trade. No bullshit guaranteed.  Chat and speciality coffee served by experts.

End of Capitalism and future of work

November 9, 2017

The State could provide everything.

In Ancient Mesopotamia, the Temple Complex had gardens, farms, workshops, foundries.

In Classical Greece, the State controlled the gold and silver mines, minted the coinage. The coinage used to pay the military who used to pay for provisions. The traders and merchants and farmers used the coinage to pay taxes to the State.

In Medieval Europe the State created and regulated markets through the issue of Charters.

Post-2008, we are now post-capitalism.

We see capitalism has failed, the signs are everywhere, offshore tax havens, food banks, skewed wealth distribution, beggars on the street, wages have flat-lined workers have not shared in the growing economy, pollution, loss of natural habitat, global warming, break up of EU, increasing risk of wars for raw resources, all kept afloat on a sea of debt through quantitative easing.

The market has failed to function.

The market self-regulates and yet it failed to regulate the banks, the banks had to be bailed out by the State.

Price is a signal in the market. If marginal cost of information goods tends to zero, the market cannot function.

Robots can replace most jobs. The only reason they have not so far is because wages have been driven so low.

Classic example is the automated car wash replaced by a bunch of immigrants with dirty rags and a bucket of dirty water.

Worse still, as Paul Mason describes, workers being turned into human robots.

A month ago I met somebody who organizes trade unions at a warehouse. She was getting the minimum wage and worked on a zero-hour contract. The company could call her at any time on a very short notice, or not call her at all. One time they called her by accident. She arrived and they paid her for the exact amount of time it took to get there and then go home. She quit but not because of that, but because they asked her to wear a Go-Pro camera and a GPS unit on her arm to better manage her movements. This use of automation is crazy and it seems obvious that this warehouse could be entirely automated. People don’t need to do this work. They do because wage levels and trade union rights are so minimal in this country it is cheaper to employ a person rather than a machine.

Post-capitalism we could go one of two ways.

A world of Uber, Deliveroo, soul-destroying, temporary, zero-hours McShit jobs.

Or we could have open coops, collaborative commons, a sharing economy.

Companies like Uber and Deliveroo can easily be put out of business. Create properly regulated open coop platforms. If these are developed as open source, they can be replicated, adopted, adapted across other cities.

There is for example a black cab app for London. If open source, other cities can use, if an open coop platform, the taxi drivers have a say in how it is used, share the wealth it produces, if an open coop, those who hail the taxi have a say and share the wealth created, as does the community in which it is embedded.

Collaborative commons should not be restricted to the provision of goods and services, it has to be extended to social and political space. Ordinary citizens have to seize control of Town Halls, open up to public participation, network with other citizen-controlled Town Halls.

Radical Monarchs

January 7, 2017

The Radical Monarchs create opportunities for young girls of color to form fierce sisterhood, celebrate their identities and contribute radically to their communities. — Radical Monarchs

A group of girls, they could have joined the Scouts and learnt how to rub two sticks together, instead they formed their own troop the Radical Monarchs and fight for social justice.

A group of very intelligent girls.

The world needs more of them.

Thoughts of what could be for the New Year

December 31, 2016

As one year fades away and another begins, thoughts of Michel Bauwens of what could be.

Fake McDonald’s coffee news story

December 18, 2016

Only a clown would serve coffee heated to 190 degrees(!)

It hit the headlines a few weeks ago, a young woman had a coffee from a McDonald’s takeaway, her boyfriend drove off, took a corner too fast, the hot coffee was spilled in her lap, she suffered third degree burns. She sued McDonald’s.

The trolls crawled out from beneath their stones, attacked her for her stupidity.

Not a word of sympathy that she had suffered third degree burns.

Only one problem, the story was fake, it had been planted by McDonald’s to distract from the real story.

There was no young woman, there was no boyfriend taking a corner too fast.

There was a 79-year-old lady sat in a car in a car park with her grandson.  She accidentally split coffee in her lap. Nothing more serious than wet stained clothes. Only it was, because McDonald’s delivered the coffee way too hot, scalding hot, as result the lady ended up in hospital with third degree burns, life threatening injuries and nearly died. And as this was the US, a hefty medical bill.

The lady admitted, the spilt coffee was an accident, but it was not an accident the coffee was delivered too hot. That was the fault of McDonald’s. And this was not the only case. Several hundred cases of customers burnt due to McDonald’s serving scalding hot coffee. Clearly McDonald’s were negligent and liable for the injuries, the least they could so was pay this lady’s medical bills. They refused. It was with reluctance the lady sued McDonald’s.

The court imposed punitive damages against McDonald’s.


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