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Showing posts from May, 2011

Dodging the burger won't save the planet by Rob Lyons

Meat is murder, sang The Smiths. But according to a new documentary, the real problem is that meat is killing the planet – and maybe us, too.

Planeat is, pretty much, a 75-minute advert for veganism made ‘independently with absolutely no funding’ in their spare time by Shelley Lee Davies and Or Shlomi. But it’s not all hard polemic. Instead, it weaves in mouthwatering pictures of plant-based food from a variety of plush restaurants in an attempt to persuade you that not only is cutting out the animal-derived foods the ethical thing to do, but it won’t involve wearing a hairshirt, either. Not only will you be saving your health and the planet, but you’ll be discovering a whole new world of eating.
The three pillars of Planeat are T Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn and Gidon Eshel. Campbell is an American biochemist who worked on a 20-year study of Chinese diets and health and later produced a bestselling book, The China Study, which can apparently count former US president Bill Clinton…

These chickens need a shrink.

"Pretty much all commercially raised chickens and eggs have been exposed to modern “factory farming” strategies which in turn endanger their nutritious value by using health supplements which artificially boost development, vaccinations to avoid disease and also antibiotics in order to suppress bacterial infections. In addition, chickens are held inside overloaded conditions that promote anxiety within the flock and lead to severe air and water contamination".

This blog seems to be saying that looking after livestock well, by feeding chickens supplements which have been specifically designed to be as nutritious as possible for chickens, and preventing disease by giving vaccinations, is agribusiness being left unfettered to inflict cruelty on chickens. It is not an uncommon opinion. Reality is the other way around. Intensive farmers are able to prioritise welfare far more than conventional farmers. I've written about this (articl…


Brendan O'Neill in the Telegraph arguing that at least the Christians end-of-the-world predictions offer us an eternal life of living in the clouds if we are Good – the greens implore us to be meek and to recycle and to never go on holiday in return for absolutely nothing.

My Free Society Column - May

Social mobility and the isolated political classWednesday May 18, 2011Jason Smith reads the government’s latest report on social mobility and concludes that it tells us more about modern politicians than the people they try to govern. Nick Clegg’s Cabinet Office report Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers: A Strategy for Social Mobility published in April is an achievement in itself. The ability to write an eighty-seven page document and not actually say anything of substance must be considered an accomplishment of sorts. It has – as all government output must have given today’s managerial-style politics – a liberal scattering of buzzwords: ‘robust mechanisms’, ‘external scrutiny’, ‘leading indicators’. But when it comes to setting out a proposal for making society better, in other words a policy, it falls so short of the mark it’s doubtful it ever crossed the starting line. This is unfortunate because the report is trying to address a real issue. Social mobility in Britain was worse for chi…

A warning to parliament from the Levellers published in July 1646

"We are well assured, yet cannot forget, that the cause of our choosing you to be Parliament-men was to deliver us from all kinds of bondage and to preserve the commonwealth in peace and happiness. For effecting whereof we possessed you with the same power that was in ourselves to have done the same; for we might justly have done it ourselves without you if we had thought it convenient, choosing you (as persons whom we thought fitly qualified, and faithful) for avoiding some inconveniences. But you are to remember this was only of us but a power of trust (which is ever revocable, and cannot be otherwise) and to be employed to no other end than our own well-being".

A Remonstrance of Many Thousand Citizens (anonymous)
An inspiring read I thought given todays MPs just seem to want to control us. A decent reminder that it is supposed to be the other way around.

Next Birmingham Salon discussion: Wednesday 29 June

Film premiere. Sylvia Pankhurst: Everything is Possible
Wednesday 29 June 2011 The Studio, Cannon St, Birmingham B2 5EP. 7.00pm until 8.45pm and in the pub afterwards. Saleha Ali, reporter and documentary filmaker at the development charity Worldwrite, will introduce the film for its Birmingham premiere and answer questions afterwards In feature length essay form, Sylvia Pankhurst: Everything is Possible, traces Sylvia's ideas, campaigns and political life. Researched and filmed by over 100 volunteers, it is packed with facts from primary sources, rare images from museums and archives, interviews with historians and compelling testimony from Sylvia's son Richard Pankhurst and his wife Rita. Sylvia was imprisoned more than any other suffragette for her tireless campaigning and unlike her mother Emmeline and sister Christabel, who dropped the fight for votes for women to support the war effort, Sylvia refused to sacrifice the fight for universal suffrage until it was won. Her opposit…

Birmingham Salon readings Wednesday 11 May

Some links to articles people may find useful for the salon meeting on Wednesday. Hope to see you all there.

Karl Sharro: The Egyptian Uprising: on the universal aspiration for freedom

Karl Sharro: The No-Fly Zone in Libya: Hijacking the Arab Uprisings

Mike Hume on the death of NATO

Brendan O'Neill on Humanitarian War

Tim Black on the hypocrisy of intervention

The struggle for democracy in the Middle East and Africa: Can the Arab movements survive western intervention?
Wednesday 11 May 2011
The Studio, Cannon St, Birmingham B2 5EP. 7.00pm until 8.30pm and in the pub afterwards.

Brendan O'Neill on why you should vote no to AV

If you think politics should be about passion and principle - about having something to say and more importantly having the guts to say it - then go out and vote NO to AV.

Of course, none of us asked for this referendum on the alternative vote.

There were no mass gatherings in Hyde Park. No one chained themselves to railings or threw themselves in front of the Queen’s horse for the Right To Divide My Vote Between Four Or Five Candidates.

Instead, the referendum is a product of elite deal-making between David Cameron and Nick Clegg as they forged their coalition government last year.

But now that we’ve been landed with a referendum for an electoral system that a majority of the public are savagely uninterested in, it’s paramount that we vote NO to AV.

Because AV would accentuate some of the most degenerate trends in politics today.

Through its invitation to voters to express their views about all candidates, it would turn voting from an impassioned statement of political desire or atta…