Thursday, 28 February 2013

Uncomfortable History; Perhaps ...

Today, on the blog Archbishop Cranmer, is an excellent article discussing one of the issues from our British past, that is often cited by revisionists as a reason for denigrating everything "British." I refer, of course, to the slave trade. Brother Ivo points out that as early as William the Conqueror there were laws in Britain forbidding the purchase or sale of "Christians" as slaves. In 1569 a lawsuit resulted from a slave owner beating a man he'd 'imported' from Russia and the judge found against the owner.

I heartily recommend reading the article, Slaves to our Past, in full. It is, without doubt, one of the most balanced and well researched pieces I've read on this topic. Further, I concur entirely with his closing statement -

He [Lee Jasper] should publicly pay tribute to the men (British and African) of the Royal Navy West Africa Squadron which did the dirty work and suppressed the slave-trade. Perhaps Mr Jasper might consider seeking a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize for these truly forgotten heroes, or even establishing a fund and inviting the families on the compensation list to contribute a little for a suitable memorial. We have an empty plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A National Shame?

I recently had to ask a friend why I was seeing so many notices for dogs being stolen and for people out walking their dogs being approached by men posing as 'dog wardens' and trying to 'confiscate' pets. Josephus' wife informed me that it is because there is a rising sub-culture in the UK which engages in dog fighting and they need 'gun dogs' in particular to be sold on to 'sportsmen' as it takes a long time to train a gun-dog properly. Large breeds are stolen to be trained to kill in fights. Other dogs are used to 'bait' the fighting dog and, of course, wind up as its 'prey' victim. Sadly, this is not an isolated problem either. A little digging around on the web shows that there are a lot of dogs 'vanishing' in Britain, but the police don't seem to be interested and the RSPCA, which should be, is too busy chasing Fox Hunts they suspect of killing foxes, or pensioners who can't bring themselves to have beloved pets 'put down.'

One report I found told of a man in a blue overall type 'uniform' approaching an older man walking his two dogs. Identifying himself as a 'Dog Warden' the man first of all alleged that the dogs were fouling the area and had been reported as 'not under control.' He refused to produce any identity or authority - which English Law requires of any person exercising a legal power - and declared he was 'confiscating' the dogs. The owner resisted, and one of the dogs became agitated enough for the man to retreat. The owner was unable to get the registration of the van, but noted it was unmarked. He complained to his Council who promised to 'get back to him' but assured him that none of their employees were involved.

So who was? This report was echoed by others, sometimes with one man sometimes two, the target was usually a youth or a pensioner walking a dog and sometimes the person(s) used threats of prosecution. Now I may be wrong, recent governments have fouled up the legal system so badly its possible I'm no longer correct, but 'impersonating an officer of the law' is a criminal offence.

Some interesting links give an idea of the scale of the problem, starting with this article in the Daily Telegraph. Or Dog Theft Actions website and Dog Watch. And these are just three out of a host from a simple search.

To me the interesting aspect of this is that it is happening in broad daylight and it is certainly not isolated incidents. Some dogs are stolen 'to order' for resale to people looking for a pet as an accessory, Cocker Spaniels are currently favourite. Others are not so lucky, they are stolen for a sport banned in every civilised society. Dog fighting is illegal in the UK, yet it is happening on a scale that suggests it is not just well established, but backed by some serious criminals - yet the police don't want to know and the RSPCA doesn't even show any interest in following up the disappearances. Setting two dogs on one another to fight to the death is obscene in any society, that it is happening in the UK with the tacit conivance of the police and the organisation which receives millions annually in donations to stamp out such cruelty is a national disgrace.

The scum that engage in this cruelty are seldom caught, and even if they are, since their crime is 'merely' animal cruelty, the courts tend to hand out a fine or a slap on the wrist - not a jail sentence intended to punish. To those who argue that jail is not about 'punishment' but 'reform' I should like to compel them to watch some of the sick video footage now available on the internet, or to compell them to deal with the corpses of small dogs torn to pieces as 'bait,' or the maimed larger dogs pitted against others driven mad by cruelty and savage goading.

No, I have no sympathy for those who indulge in this 'sport.' Frankly throwing them into a pit with a hungry and angry bear, tiger or lion would be about right. But I feel that would be inhumane - for the animal concerned.

As long as this activity is tolerated we must consider our society as sick. It cannot continue.

Monday, 25 February 2013

The Illusion of Snow ...

I simply can't resist the temptation to post the following pictures, all of them, you understand, figments of the imagination according to statements made by "Climate Scientists" and breathlessly repeated by earnest "Greens" who all seem to belong to some sort of socialist collective wherever one finds them.

According to a report released in 2001, "snow will be a thing of the past by 2010." That was adjusted to 2012  and now seems to have vanished from the 'Press Releases' since we got snowed out in October/November last year ... Oh, but wait. According to CNN's "Mr. Weather" late last year, the reason we're getting this stuff that looks like snow, feels like snow ... is that the Arctic is "completely ice free" and the entire Greenland Ice Cap melted in 2012 - or 97% of it did.

OK, so the stuff in these photos is an illusion. Now all we need to do is find the magician pulling it off ...

Clearly, if it's produced by some 'sleight of hand merchant' he's damned good - and can probably fix the whole AGW/Climate Change thing with a wave of his hand.

In the meantime will someone please take a blunt instrument to the "Greens" who keep blathering about 'carbon' being such a destructive element? If it were capable of half the things they claim we'd not need all the useless windmills and now the batteries of solar panels, the manufacture of which is doing unbelievable ecological damage in India and China so Greenpeace, Friends of the Eart and all the various "Green" campaigners in the western democracies can get that lovely cuddly feeling as they plug in their additional heaters and boot up their computers or plug in their electric Smart car.

It seems to have escaped their attention completely that all life forms on this planet are Carbon based. Those demanding a "Carbon Tax" should begin by taxing themselves for being carbon based.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The State of Syria.

The State of Syria.

After reading a recent post in the Economist ( Here ) I was prompted to do a little research on what constitutes “Syria”; I was aware that it was a very ancient country in concept, but what rocky roads had it travelled from palaeolithic time until the beginning of the Assad era in 1970?

Well, it turns out to be a lot more complex than I had imagined. Most of the detailed information here is taken from Gill, N. S. (1987) Syria: A Country Study; Ancient Syria Library of Congress. And (Cheating! My paper copy is 15th Edition and therefore missing the modern.) Syria: History Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 22 February 2013.

Ignoring ancient Syria and the times of the Romans, the country first appeared in my historical education as the location of much of the Crusading story, fact, myth or legend. In the 1950s and 60s in English primary schools, this story was heavily wrapped in romance, that of the “Lionheart” particularly and the evils of the Saracen. The political sub-plot was distinctly Christian in its viewpoint and the term “Islam” was never mentioned, although it could have been implied. In the 12th and 13th centuries the Crusader States, particularly that of Antioch were in firm control of much of the geographical area, and the region, commonly known as the Levant, was a rich trading route to Western Europe. By the beginning of the 16th century, however, the Ottoman Empire was firmly in control.

So the Caliphs made way for the Sultans and, again my boyhood memories from reading and from the classroom, required visions of Scimitars, wielded by huge Eunuchs, (no-one explained what they were!) Crafty Vizirs and Harems of diaphanous transparent cloth and luxuriously beautiful women, who could not possibly walk the streets so attired and therefore hid their modesty from prying eyes totally when they left the safety of the Seraglio. I am certain that all of those factors existed at times, however, the Ottoman Empire was a vast and very long-lived political entity and for 400 years held sway over Syria.

On discussing with well versed friends the origins of the first world war, we came to the conclusion that the reason for British fighting German in Belgium as a result of an Austrian dying by the hand of a Bosnian Serb was the withdrawal of the Ottoman influence from the Balkans; it had long served to extend an Levantine finger that effectively separated the Balkans from central Europe. That war itself, effectively ended the Ottoman Empire and in its break-up France and Britain appointed themselves overseers of those parts not included in modern Turkey. The British had influence in Palestine until the second world war, following which they did not cover themselves in glory with the creation of the modern state of Israel and the rump of Palestine,creating tensions that always appear when artificial boundaries are created on religious or racial grounds. (For further research try the partitioning of India to create Pakistan in 1947, the Kashmiri border is still at boiling point, or the partition of Ireland in 1922, “the troubles” still seethe below the surface.)

France gained control of Syria and Lebanon and it is here that we see why the modern country has needed a hand of steel to hold it together. The French realised that Syria was not a single racial or political entity suddenly freed of Ottoman domination; they therefore created a series of states under their mandate. These were, ( see map here) in the north, the huge, mostly desert sate of Aleppo, on the Mediterranean coast, a small Alawite state, capital in Latakia,, Lebanon, capital Beirut. The second large state was Damascus, covering all of the southern part of “Syria” apart from a Druze state in the far south east with its capital in As-Suwaida. Clearly, the French did not see “Syria” as an entity and respected the religious and racial tensions by partition.

However, the story as it unfolded is not as simple as the old history books ( inevitably written by the victors) make it seem; Initially there was an Emir Faisal, then a revolt by Sultan Al-Atrash, then the partitioning.  Not as tidy as the books pretend.

Following the second world war, there was the Arab-Israeli war and I do not propose to discuss that in any detail, the Monk can do the follow-up on modern history as it is responsible for so many of our current problems, however, during my secondary schooling, the phrase “Golan Heights” was constantly heard on the Home Service news and I can assure you that I was not even around in 1948, much less at secondary school. This therefore brings us to 1970 and the rule of Assad. Seizing power in a bloodless coup following the “Corrective Movement” Hafez al-Assad was elected President on a 7 year term after The Provisional Regional Command of Assad's Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party nominated a 173-member legislature, with the Ba'ath tasking 87 of those seats and the remainder being given to minority representatives.

So, the Arab Socialist Ba'ath party appears... what of the Allawite, Sunni, Shia, the Druze, have politics taken over from religious divides, is this why Syria is different from Iraq or Iran? Why is it that the call of the Ba'ath throughout North Africa and the Levant never succeeded in “Arab Unity”? The closest to any “union” is reflected in that Libya is still Libya and I lost my small wagers that following Gadaffi's death, Tripolitania and Cyrenacia would re-appear. Why did Iraq not form a union with Syria in 1963? Why does Jordan still remain “apart”? The tensions between Israel and its neighbours are obvious, there are ancient religious differences, one must never think that Halal and Kosher have any similarity or that Abraham and Moses could stand on either side of any border.

Are we down to the petty sect-style differences of the various branches of Islam, is it really such a powerful divide that mentioning the Prophet (PBOHN) is allowed, if not encouraged, but mention his cousin and a civil war will break out. Were the French in their short-lived and badly managed mandate in fact correct in establishing Alawite and Druze states? The majority in most Middle eastern States, be it Sunni or Shia seem to be ruled by minority, almost high caste Muslim sects, how “Socialist” is that? If Syria continues to tear itself apart as it is currently doing, what will be left? Will the entire state be so fragmented that Lebanon takes over the northern Mediterranean coastline, Iraq occupies Alleppo, Jordan take the Druze and Palestine take over Damascus? I fear that the Israelis might have something to say about that, in fact, they might already be readying an armed intervention, we would be the last to know... After all, they developed their A-Bomb under US scrutiny without being discovered. So, is Syria to be the catalyst for the “Arab Spring” to blossom into a slightly blood-soaked summer, or is it simply the autumn of a state that has hung on since prehistoric times? We wait with interest.

Friday, 22 February 2013

What a difference a a day makes ...

This week has certainly seen some changes in the weather. Earlier in the week we had a thaw and, though a lot of the snow and ice vanished, it still left some cover.  Harry found it disappointing, since it had a frozen crust.

Then, on Tuesday, it snowed again. We got, the Harry's delight, a new covering of the nice, white, fluffy stuff he enjoys and loves to play in. Yesterday we got a little more, but we also got a cold wind, which turned a mild minus 2 degreees C into something a whole lot colder.

And this morning we got up to minus 7*C which even Harry feels is a little on the cool side. It's snowing again, but it could be worse, we aren't expecting the sort of avalanche of the stuff they're predicting for New England this weekend.

It'll be cold at Puppy School tomorrow though ...

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Sometimes you wonder ...

A friend advises me that the Students Union in Manchester recently hosted an ultra-Islamic women's group which was secretly recorded and the video record passed to the Manchester daily. He sent a link to The Spectator Blogs and that made informative reading. Among other things the speakers declared their aim to bring about a fully Islamic State in Britain, complete with Sharia Courts and Sharia Law. This should not surprise anyone, after all, this is out in the open anyway for those who bother to listen.

Nor should there be any surprises in the answers to the questions the person recording the session asked. Gays are "an abomination" and must be killed, adulterers must be stoned to death and so on. It is sad that the Student's Union will allow such views to be aired, but then call for boycotts of Israel and promote anti-Jewish propaganda. They claim to want to be 'inclusive' but apparently that inclusiveness is only for those of whom they "approve." Equally interesting is their response to the criticisms.

Their spokesperson condemns the 'secret recording' and then more or less condones the 'kill the gays' message. I found the response to a question as to whether or not "stoning was a humane punishment" telling. The person chairing the meeting responded by saying

"People have this issue that the punishment, penal code, everything is so completely inhumane, but who even says that these things are inhumane?”

Note that the 'Chairperson' was not one of the Islamic speakers. For me that raises a serious question. What does this presumably intelligent undergraduate think was under discussion here? Getting high on Marijuana? Perhaps he/she failed to actually listen to what was being said, or perhaps, in the manner of those I wrote about yesterday, only heard the bits he/she wished to hear - those parts that fed into his/her 'confirmation bias' that current western society is evil and must be stamped out in a revolution so it can be replaced by this wonderful, perfect, Islamic State.

Is this what the National Union of Students and the Students Unions around the country have brought our Higher Education system down to? God help us all if these morons follow the path the current crop of MPs did - and work their way from Student Agitprop organisers, to Councillors, to PPS and then MP. Sadly, the "Chairperson" in this farcical meeing probably will.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Interesting ...

Recently I read a review for a book I think I might be interested in reading. It is by an investigative researcher who was interested in discovering what leads some people, usually quite intelligent people, to deny the evidence of something which everyone else accepts. One of the examples he gave was a well known British holocaust denier.

He writes that he accompanied this man to Auschwitz and was astonished at the way the man was able to ignore evidence which didn't suit his 'narrative.' The classic example was when they were stood in one of the gas chambers. Mr. Irving spotted a handle on the inside of the door and immediately launched into a denial that anyone could have been unable to simply open the door and leave the room. In this he was ignoring two important points. The handle he was fixated on is fixed. It does not operate the locks. Secondly, all the bars and bolts on the outside of the door were dismissed as 'irrelevant.' According to Irving's 'narrative,' anyone who wished to could have opened the door from inside and walked out.

He remained convinced, and is apparently still convinced, that no one was unable to escape the gas chambers and the barbed wire fences, machine guns, dogs, searchlights and armed guards. Sadly he is not alone in denying the evidence which contradicts his entrenched position. There are many other examples across a wide range of historic events. In investigative circles it is often refered to as 'confirmation bias' where all evidence that doesn't fit the preconceived notion of the researcher is rejected or dismissed and only evidence that supports the favoured position is accepted. Often this is accompanied by the person adpting a position that refuses discussion and ends up in them branding those who dare to disagree with their position as being the person with the problem. This is particularly obvious at present in any debate over anything to do with climate change and research. If something agrees with the "Green" agenda, it is immediately adopted as 'irrefutable proof' but if it challenges it, it is rejected and the authors are vilified.

It manifest itself in the political arena as well, agree with my ideoplogy and everything is fine, disagree and a campaign of vilification commences. I was reminded of this yesterday when I read a 'tweet' fulminating about the use of a 'Photoshopped' photograph of the infamous "Arbiet Macht Frei" sign over the gates of Auschwitz. The published version, which appeared in a small circulation and very left-wing newspaper was used to highlight the 'unhappiness' of a geology graduate who feels she was unfairly treated by being made to work for Poundland instead of sitting around at home watching television on 'benefits' while she waited for 'suitable employment' to drop into her lap. The photoshopped version replaced 'Arbiet' with 'Poundland' and, OK, some might find that acceptable, but I agree with the author of the 'Tweet.' It trivialises the horror that the original sign represents, and this young woman's treatment is in no way relatable to it.

Yet this is something the Left now routinely do and get away with. As the 'Tweeter' points out, had this been done by a Right-Wing organisation the BBC, the Guardian and probably Amnesty International would be screaming from the roof tops. There would be demands for a 'public enquiry,' ministerial resignations and prosecutions. But, done by a Left-wing group, it's 'OK.' There has been no reaction whatsoever from the self appointed 'guardians of political correctness.' Nor do I expect there will be, since the worst offenders of this sort of distorted 'labelling' are all on the Left.

There are many other examples, from those who have convinced themselves that 9/11was engineered by their own government, even accepting photoshopped images of F-16 strike aircraft replacing the passenger aircraft as 'true.' Israel is now routinely painted as an "apartheid" state, yet nothing even remotely like "apartheid" is practiced or even on the legislation there. But trying to tell that to someone convinced of the 'proof' that it is is a waste of time.

It is now suggested that this condition may be a 'pre-programmed' condition in some people. If so, it is a dangerous one, since it is currently fed and reinforced by the current lack of accurate and unbiased reporting in all the news media. It becomes particularly dangerous when Hollywood joins the reinforcement process and produces blatantly biased and misrepresentative fiction abusing facts, personalities and events. It gets even worse when those in power are traduced or afflicted with it. Now, regardless of all evidence to the contrary, they remain unshakeably convinced that their latest policies, ideologies and actions are 'right' and the evidence of injustice, unintended consequences and hardship these are causing are all the fault of something or someone else - usually the victim's own. Which brings us back to Irving's conviction that the inoperable handle on the inside of the gas chamber door would have allowed the victims to leave.

I'm not at all sure how it can be addressed, but it is something we have to deal with, it cannot simply be ignored.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Where does the food come from?

The row over the horse meat in products labelled 'beef' is probably the tip of a very large iceberg, the main problem for most retailers affected being the issue of 'mislabelling.' Nor is it only beef products that are affected, many 'Halaal' products have showed traces of pig DNA, which is most definitely NOT Halaal and never can be. The investigation in the UK and here in Germany is turning up a very convoluted supply chain, and when one looks at it, the surprise should really be why it has taken this long to surface.

Looking at the supply of meat for one of Germany's biggest food chains who have withdrawn a number of their 'Own Brand' products found to have horse meat and not beef in them, it shows up a trail of second, third and fourth party involvement in the supply. The contract for the frozen meals went to a company based in Luxembourg, who ordered the meat from a company in the Netherlands, they placed an order for the meat with a French supplier, who passed an order to a supplier in Cyprus, who placed the order with a Romanian abattoir. The whole being a part of a 'tendering' process engaged in my each part of the chain. As each of the companies involved is within the EU they are, of course, bound by EU regulations which means everything should be documented in accordance with EU Law and it appears that, after a fashion, it was.

The problem, of course, is that once you've reduced a cow or a horse to a carcass stripped of skin, head, hooves and onternal organs, it is very difficult to tell them apart. Add the 'industrialisation' of the process and there are probably very few people on the recieving end who would know anyway. Meat is meat, if the waybill says it's beef, they would accept it as stated. There are, of course, several questions raised by that, but let's start with the supply.

Did whoever supplied this in Romania deliberately 'make up' a shortage of beef with surplus horse flesh? If so that is fraud and needs to be addressed by the relevant police forces. However, a defence would be if it could be shown that in the transmission of the original order, the Dutch for 'beef' became the French 'Boeuf' or something else, and when that, in turn reached Cyprus, was it correctly translated into the Greek equivalent and from there into the Romanian term. If, at some point it simply became 'red meat,' then the supply of horse instead of bovine is not fraud in Romania, but becomes fraud when the intermediate 'suppliers' submit an invoice for 'le Boeuf.'

I suspect this is a problem with all foods sourced in this way. In every case where a translation of the original is required you are likely to run into subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, changes of meaning and understanding. The more languages involved, the worse it will get.

Now the important question is, of course, how does the situation arise in which a country like Germany, with a large agricultural sector, is sourcing meat through the Netherlands, France, Cyprus and Romania? It isn't as if the Germans don't have a meat producing industry of their own. The same applies to Britain. So what is at work here? The simple answer is what economists and accountants like to call 'market forces.' All of these 'suppliers' are part of a chain of people invited to tender to supply a wide range of products which someone else will process and sell under a 'barnd' or 'name' their domestic customer know and recognise. The reason for sourcing materials in this way is equally simple. The accountants in the primary contractor want a 'quality' product at the lowest price so as to maximise the profit. In the bulk food retail industry the 'mark-up' is actually pretty small per item, but large in the greater picture of overall 'turnover.'

So, if the contractor producing the item has to keep his price low, he, in turn, has to find a supply of the raw material which is cheap enough to allow him to make a small profit and so on down the chain. French, German and British beef is not cheap. Among other reasons it isn't is the 'Minimum Wage' and high costs of land, power and feed. Countries like Cyprus and Romania can undercut the domestic suppliers by quite a margin. Add to this the low incomes in most countries of the former Eastern Bloc and one soon realises that, to the majority of their populations, meat is meat. Horse, cow, lamb or pig is all the same - they will buy whatever is available at a price they can afford. It should therefore be no surprise to find that an order for 'red meat' includes a bit of a mixture.

Who should we blame? The manufacturer, the supplier or the seller? If we have to blame anyone we should blame ourselves and the accountants. We are responsible in part because we demand 'cheap' food and varieties of food we can't produce domestically at the sort of prices we are prepared to pay. We should blame the accountants for their acceptance of tenders at prices they must know are barely profitable - after all they are accountants and know the price of everything (whether they understand the value of anything is another question) and can therefore see when a price is cutting things so fine there has to be a suspicious supply chain.

One could also ask why the Dutch comany (or any other) doesn't source the product they want directly from the end source? Again, they must know where the meat ultimately comes from - especially in the quantities involved here. As I said at the outset, there are quite a few questions here for everyone and before we start 'blaming' the supplier, the manufacturer or anyone else, we really do need to look at our own expectations. Is it really realistic to expect the range of things we do, at the prices we pay, 24/7/365? Probably not, but as long as we do, we also need to think carefully about where it all comes from - and our 'regulators' certainly need to look at the conytrols they are supposed to have in place and which have failed so spectacularly here.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

It's right in front of you ...

An article today in the online version of The Spectator says something very important. I won't regurgitate the whole article, you can read it in full under the title Western Feng Shui by Clarissa Tan. She ponders the pre-occupation many in the UK have for things, particularly religious, or quasi-religious, from the Far East and points up how Feng Shui has been 'adopted' by many westerners, perhaps with some strange results from her examples.

Yet she also points out that, as a believer in Feng Shui herself, she find visiting Britain's many ancient churches not just inspiring, but moving in ways she finds difficult to explain. She mentions that, on her first visit to St Paul's Cathedral she felt moved to tears, and I know exactly what she means - I had a similar experience on entering it for the first time. Even now I am filled with awe every time I enter it. That is Feng Shui, that is a building that resonates well-being, purpose and inspiration. I have the same experience and feelings for Tewkesbury Abbey, experiencing a sense of welcome and well-being as soon as I enter it, even when it is dark, silent and cold.

Perhaps it is time we westerners recognised the very real spiritual heritage our forefathers left us, putting aside the pison of the likes of Cromwell, Knox and the iconoclasts and the exclusivity claims of factions and allowed ourselves to feel the influence of our real heritage once more.

Friday, 15 February 2013

From whence the next Pope?

I suppose one really ought to qualify that and say, from whence comes the next Roman Catholic Pope since there are a a couple of others, including the Coptic Pope based in Alexandria. I note that many in the media and on the 'social media' sites are expressing the hope that the next Bishop of Rome will be more liberal and actually allow some changes - like married clergy - to take place. Looking at who is being held up as possible successors, I would say their hopes are likely to be dashed. If anything the successor to Benedict XVI is much more likely to be an arch-conservative.

At present a number of names are being bandied about in the media, and I suspect, precisely for that reason, they are unlikely to be elected. Among those I have heard discussed are the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell, the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Dolan, and the Cardinal Archbishop of Accra in Ghana. From Europe the name in the forefront is the Archbishop of Milan, but, as almost 70% of Roman Catholics are now outside of Europe, I suspect the urge to have someone from the Americas, Africa or somewhere else will be strong.

The choices are still fairly narrow. According to one source, 80% of the current College of Cardinals who will meet to elect the successor, were appointed by either Benedict XVI or John Paul II, neither of whom selected many from the 'liberal' side of their church. This, more than anything else, suggests to me that the next Pope will be a conservative and will, if anything, be even more so than the present one.

That said, there are now pressures building up both internally and externally, for change. Rome may be about to undergo a reformation whatever the flavour of the new Pope is. Externally the fallout of the pedophile scandal continues to rock the heirarchy and the trust placed in the clergy formerly has evaporated. I'm told that a Roman priest wearing his clerical collar in certain parts of Dublin today would be inviting a beating - and not from any Protestant element either.

Since Benedict's reign began there have been moves to roll back the 'open' ideas of Vatican 2, and drag everything back to the 16th Century exclusivism. Benedict states openly that the Lutheran Church is not a 'Church' but a 'movement' a renegade branch of the Roman Church, a stance to Lutheran's resent and deny. He also argues that the Anglican's have no 'priests' (I note he acknowledges their Bishops and Deacons) and therefore, in his view, no 'valid' Eucharist, since they 'make no sacrifice at the altar in the Eucharist.' I would argue that neither do any Roman priests. We, like they, commemorate Christ's sacrifice, an offering made once for all, in the Eucharist. Our 'sacrifice' is our offering of the bread and wine and our worship. The origins of the Eucharist, as Benedict well knows, is the 'friendship offering' described in the Old Testament and still made by Jewish families each Friday evening.

His successor will come under increasing pressure to acknowledge the validity of other branches of Christianity. Though he may continue to resist these, he will not be able to ignore the external pressures from the politicians around the world who will increase their demands that Rome accept the rule of secular laws in every country. This was one of the things which led the English to reject Rome in the 1530s - clergy refused to place themselves under the rule of the King or the English legal system. Routinely their misdemenaours - and there were many chronicled - went unpunished because Rome refused to allow justice to be done. Even in recent times murderers have gone unpunished because Rome has insisted on the 'Seal of the Confessional.' To be fair, on that, the priest is duty bound to urge the confessing person to turn themselves in - but we cannot know whether they ever do.

There will be pressures to allow married clergy, and there will be demands for great lay involvement in determining the future direction of the church. There will be demands for the inclusion of women in priestly roles in line with the secular world. Rome will not be proof against lawsuits for discrimination either.

How Rome will respond will depend on who is elected. If the next Pope comes from Africa, do not expect any liberalisation, in fact the opposite. I do not know any of the other candidates except by reputation - which suggests they are arch-conservatives who will be reluctant to allow any change. They will, however, be sensitive to the political pressures they face in a manner the African Cardinals will not be.

We are promised that there will be a new Pope by Easter. We can but wait and see. For all of Christendom, I pray the next Pope will have the sense to know that Rome must accept the validity of the other branches of Christianity and work with them to build the Church Christ would recognise. At present Rome seems, publicly at least, to regard everyone else as non-Christian heretics to be suppressed or 'converted' while ignoring the wider problem of the growth of Islam and the threat that poses to every Christian community.

We shall see what emerges from the Conclave even now being prepared.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Science and Religion ...

Following on from my post yesterday concerning the debate in which Dr. Dawkins annoyed some of his fellow atheists on the panel, comes this article in the Huffington Post entitled "Celebrating Darwin; Religion and science are closer than you think." It is based on a survey of believers and non-believers across the faith spectrum in the US and would, I suspect produce a valid picture of the religious standpoint on the issue of Evolutionary Theory in most of the world. According to the survey only 11% of US citizens reject Darwinism in favour of the fundamentalist interpretation of Genesis. I suspect that in the UK this figure would be much lower and in Germany/Europe the same as for the UK.

So Dawkins and his fellow travellers in the Humanist, Secularist and other anti-religion groups are labeling ALL believers as 'fundamentalists' who do not accept 'science.' What rubbish.

All major religions accept that scientific research and discovery increases our understanding of creation and though it may, at times, challenge simplistic beliefs, it doesn't undermine it. (The US Baptists are an exeption) The Book of Genesis is an amalgam of several sources, some of them 'folk lore,' some 'historical' and it was the last of the Books of Moses to be written. In fact, since all the first several 'books' of the Bible had to be pieced together after the Babylonian exile and the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the sacred texts, it is probably an amalgam of several Hebrew and Babylonian/Assyrian sources.

What both the fundamentalists and the likes of Dr. Dawkins seem to miss is that the first few chapters are allegorical, not historical. None of the mainstream branches of Christianity claim them to be 'historic records' and nor do the Jews. The description of the sequence of creation, from the creation of light to the appearance of 'men and women' at the end of chpater one is actually a pretty good summary of the Big Bang, accretion of the debris to create planets, the appearance of water, oxygen, plants, animals and humans in an evolutionary sequence. Considering that it draws on sources at least 4,000 years old, that, in my view, is a pretty good effort for people still living in mud huts and tents and depending on their herds and crops for a living.

The story of Adam and Eve (The Hebrew is actually Adama (men) and Eva (women)) and the eviction from the "Garden of Eden" is again an allegorical story to explain how humankind arrived at a state where they resolve issues by conflict, are jealous, suffer from envy and eventually die. "Eden" represents a form of Utopian society, one, by our nature, we cannot remain within and can only dream of achieving again. Dr. Dawkins "Adam didn't exist; therefore everything in the Bible didn't happen" is pretty poor science from one claiming to be a scientist if you ask me.

But then, if you seek to destroy something, the first thing you have to do is destroy the credibility of the thing on which it is founded. Hence, the attacks on the Bible focus on denying that there is any 'evidence' to support its 'historic' elements. In my view then, those that choose to attack Genesis and declare "it's all a fairy story" miss the point. It is. No serious theologian would argue with that, and perhaps that is why Dr. Dawkins ended up offending some of his supposed supporters at the Cambridge Union.

Science and religion are not in conflict. Often they are saying the same thing, just in different ways and in using different paths through 'reason' to get to the same point. This week we mark the 204th birthday of the Rev. Charles Darwin. If it wasn't Ash Wednesday I'd raise a glass to him, he's certainly enlightened my faith.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Learn to debate ...

Seems to be the message of an article from The Spectator this morning. Written by a self professed atheist he takes Richard Dawkins and his fellow militants to task. It must be a bit of a shock for Dawkins to learn that his refusal to acknowledge the good that stems from faith and religious beliefs is now annoying fellow unbelievers. Under the title "Atheists vs Believers" Douglas Murray writes a very good case for a lot more discussion and perhaps some 'listening' from the Dawkins camp. Ironically several of the comments make his case even stronger. Some comments cannot get past Genesis and Adam and Eve. They dismiss everything about faith and religion because, in their view if Adam and Eve didn't exist then all of the Bible is a lie and a deceit to "blind people' and 'prevent them thinking for themselves."

Dawkins and his supporters display an arrogance that I find offensive. I'd find it offensive even if I weren't a committed Christian, which, because I have a faith, is something I have to spend a lot of time finding answers to deep philosophical and sometimes physical questions. This is, apparently, something some of the comments attacking Douglas Murray's article seem to be incapable of themselves. Frankly I find Dawkins and his fundamentalist supporters, many of whom are not, as he is, scientists, as bad as those of a 'militant' religious mindset. Neither is capable of growth, neither is capable of looking outside of their 'received' positions and asking questions about why they believe as they do. This is, essentially what Douglas Murray is saying about Dawkins latest debate in the Cambridge Union where he was pitted against ++Rowan Williams and the Mulsim Scholar Tariq Ramadan. His petulant and sneering - and one gathers simplistic assault - drove Mr Murray to join with the Archbishop and the Muslim to challenge that view.

I have to quote -

The more I listened to Dawkins and his colleagues, the more the nature of what has gone wrong with their argument seemed clear. Religion was portrayed as a force of unremitting awfulness, a poisoned root from which no good fruit could grow. It seems to me the work not of a thinker but of any balanced observer to notice that this is not the case. In their insistence to the contrary, a new — if mercifully non-violent — dogma has emerged. And the argument has stalled.
These new atheists remain incapable of getting beyond the question, ‘Is it true?’ They assume that by ‘true’ we agree them to mean ‘literally true’. They also assume that if the answer is ‘no’, then that closes everything. But it does not. Just because something is not literally true does not mean that there is no truth, or worth, in it.
Schopenhauer said that truth may be like water: it needs a vessel to carry it. It is all very well to point out — as Dawkins did again the other night — that Adam did not exist. But to think that this discovery makes not just the story of Eden but the narrative of the crucifixion and resurrection meaningless is to rather startlingly miss a point. You can be in agreement with Professor Dawkins that Adam did not exist, yet know and feel that the story of Eden speaks profoundly about ourselves.
In my view Dawkins and the militant secularists and atheists in our society cannot bring themselves to debate any longer, so they resort to dogmatic denial and a refusal to 'debate.' They are, in fact, simply manifesting the type of behaviour VC and I wrote about on this blog not that many days ago under the headings "Keep calm .. and admit your don't know the answer," and "The Lost Art of Debate." I commend to my readers, the reading of Douglas Murray's full article. There is a great deal of food for thought therein for all of us.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Sins of the Fathers ...

In studying my father and grandfathers' histories I may have stumbled on something which explains a lot about my childhood relationships with all three and may, in fact, suggest a line of research into the  diverse responses in many western societies of the post-War generations. If someone reading this would like to give me loads of research funding and some research assistants, I'm sure I could develop a credible doctoral thesis on this theme.

Looking back at my father's problems health-wise, in relationships and in his dealings with people generally, I realised that quite a lot of these were directly related to his own childhood and then compounded by his experiences in World War 2 - three years of which were spent fighting the Japanese in Burma, the East Indies and the Indian Ocean. He saw all manner of horrors, starting right at the outset in his basic training when HMS Hecla, a submarine 'mother' ship, arrived in Simonstown after being mined. The Trainees, many of them barely 18, were sent into the flooded compartments to retrieve the bodies that had been in them for almost ten days.

Posted to the battleship HMS Barham, the experience on HMS Hecla was to be repeated when the battleship was torpedoed at Diego Saurez by a Japanese mini-sub and one of Barham's main magazines  caught fire and had to be flooded to save the ship. As she was 'closed up' to action stations at the time, the magazine was manned. The men in it drowned or were burned or both. It was two weeks before the ship could be brought into the floating dock in Durban and, once again, the junior rates got the job ...

My maternal grandfather had a very bad time in WW1, having run away from home to join up aged 15 (his father was Colour Sergeant of the Royal Irish Rifles), he was nearly killed on the first day of the Somme. He survived three days in a shell hole only because his wounds had become infested with maggots. When he and his lifelong best friend were eventually retrieved - having been found by chance by a burial party - they were not considered likely to survive and so did not lose any limbs, which the wounds they had would normally have been treated by amputation. They survived that to be judged 'unfit' for the infantry, but 'fit' to become Gunners. The slaughter of "Flander's Fields," followed by the Irish Civil War, left a deep and lasting mark on "Ada's" psyche, which impacted on his relationship with his daughter (my mother) and later on my brother and I.

The little I know of my paternal grandfather's history suggests that he also suffered a traumatic childhood. His father, an Army officer, was killed in Barbeton when grandfather was barely four years old. His mother's relatives descended on her and their farm like vultures and she, his sisters and himself endured a very difficult time thereafter. His relationship with his children is probably best described as volatile, his childhood compounded by the Anglo-Boer War and his service with one of the regiments sent out to deal with it, certainly didn't sit well with him either.

Based on my own relationships, and knowing my own reaction to many things as a result, I find myself convinced that their experiences have coloured my view of a wide range of matters, from politics, to war, to relationships. It is a matter of fact that I suffer from a degree of insecurity in myself, lack confidence in a number of areas and was a'late developer.' Some of this I have, by sheer 'bloody-mindedness' and at some cost to myself and some of those closest to me, been able to compensate for if not overcome. I know I'm not alone at this, and a great deal I've read recently about the experiences of some of my contemporaries and some of the children of men who fought in the US Forces in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, suggests that many of the social problems and inabilities among many younger folk today to accept discipline, or to accept a different point of view to their own, stem from the traumas their fathers suffered and the damage this did to the relationship with their children.

As I said at the outset, I think there's at least one PhD in this study, possibly several. Now, if someone wants to put up the money, I know several people who'd be interested ...

In Memoriam

Today my mother would have been 87. Sadly she died in 1999 of complications following surgery for a blockage of the small intestine. She was not the easiest person in the world to get along with, having a fiery temper and a very strong will, but she was fiercely protective of my brother and I and did her best to raise us in what she considered to be a proper manner. She did not have an easy life, her marriage was difficult from the start, but she once told us that my father was the only man she'd ever truly loved.

It's a shame that it could not have been what she hoped it would be.

May they both Rest in Peace.
I think they've earned it.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Tax Avoidance Hurts Us All

I read this article entitled "The Economic Case Against Tax Dodging" on the blog Another Angry Voice, with great interest and agree with almost everything the author says. Almost everything. The one thing I disagree with is the suggestion that Central Government can provide anything other than a very narrow range of services such as police, fire and emergency service, health care (with qualification) and defence/security, efficiently. Whitehall is the classic case of a bloated and inefficient bureaucracy, with duplication of activity one of the most rampant causes for the inability to actually deliver anything on budget or within reasonable timescales.

They are the very people responsible for the award of mega million pound contracts to companies that are at the very spearhead of the list of "tax avoiders" which, as the author of the article I've linked to above identifes, costs the UK taxman £120 billion a year. Not only are they avoiding contributing to the National Economy and government, but they are then robbing the taxpayer blind to provide services the Civil Service is contracting out to them while still retaining all the staff they employ to provide the service they no longer provide.

There are two problems here. The tax avoidance by the mega-multi-nationals is one, the incompetence of Whitehall and its refusal to cut out the duplications, the conflicts and the empire building that bloats every Department of State is the other. Even if we could collect half the avoided tax, and reduce Whitehall's bloated budgets by as little as 10% (I know they calim they are doing this - but the real numbers give them the lie) we could get the country out of debt and we could get the economy going again.

Time, I think, to get tough on the tax avoiding and on the bloated Whitehall Mandarins.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

That Wealth Gap ...

We are frequently told that the gap between the "rich" and the "poor" in the UK is widening and becoming a chasm - usually by some extremely well paid and well funded 'researcher' working for one or other of the Left-wing "think Tanks." There is certainly some evidence that the gap between those at the very top of the tree and those at the bottom is getting wider, but this is perhaps a misleading picture, since, at least in western nations, the bulk of the populace do not live in "poverty." The actual spread of "wealth" is quite broad, and the majority of our populace actually live quite well.

The same cannot be said for many other nations, where the gap between "rich" and "poor" is a chasm - with very few "bridges" over which someone from the "poor" end of the scale can get a better share of the wealth. From the online magazine, Financial Management, I learned that the UK, US, Europe and Canada are actually not the worst places even though this is what the propagandists of the Left love to project. To my surprise I learned from their graphic, that South Africa is now one of the worst, with India, China, Argentina, Chile, the Philippines, Brazil, Namibia, Bolivia and several others - interestingly some of the former Communist territories - have much less 'distribution' of the wealth of the nation.

Certainly in the 'developed' nations one of the critical factors that causes this divergence is the penchant of the employers and negotiators of pay rises, to award 'across the board' pay adjustments on a 'percentage' basis. As any school child can tell you (assuming they've actually learned it in today's rather odd way of teaching maths) that 5% of £100 is a lot less than 5% of £10,000. So, the guy on £10,000 is going to get an extra £500 and the guy on the bottom gets just £5. If this is allowed to continue indefinitely, eventually the guy on the top end is earning a disproportionate salary by comparison to the guy at the bottom. However, convincing the middle and top earners to accept an fixed amount across the board is going to take some doing! The fact is that, if everyone got the same amount in their pay rise, the current steep incline between top and bottom would stabilise and the gap would close slowly.

However, the developing world there is another facet to this problem. In recent years we have heard a great deal about how "The 1%" deprive the rest of the populace, but the fact is that the west, roughy 10% of the current world population, are far better off and share a far better distribution of wealth, than the other 90%. Perhaps the most important reason for that is the absence, in most societies outside of what we call the "western democracies" of a large group of "Middle Income Earners." Perhaps this also accounts for the massive corruption in most of those countries where 'favours' are required in order to get some official to do what they are (under)paid to do.

Looking at some of the really slewed imbalances identified by the Financial Management graphic, there is a suggestion that some of the massive wealth discrepancy could be related to the siphoning off of "aid" funds as some are among the poorest nations on Earth. Having visited some of them, I can attest to having seen, cheek by jowl, opulence on an unimaginable scale and hovels with nothing of the modern conveniences and only the minimum of food to eat.

I think, next time we complain about the "Wealth Gap" or see a report of it and about how badly we, in the west, are faring, let's spare a thought for those who live in countries where the distribution of wealth is far, far worse. Yes, we do have people living on incomes below the so-called 'bread line,' but we also have many, many more who live very comfortably, and even our poorest are able to get help which is unimaginable to anyone living in India, the Philippines, or any one of many states in Africa.

Once again, it is a question of keeping things in perspective. Something our politicians and media don't seem to be very good at ...

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Argentinian Dreams ...

I see the Argentine Foreign Minister is in London, and whining about the "Malvinas" again. Funny how this rears its head everytime they manage to crash their economy. I suppose it makes a convenient distraction for their population. Its an old ploy, focus people on an 'external enemy' and distract them from the morons ruining the country from within.

The Argentinian government claims the people living in the Falkland Islands were all "transfered there." It is, he says, an issue of "territorial colonialism." According to this drip, 'not a single country in the world recognises Britain's colonial seizure" of the islands. It seems to have escaped his notice that the people living in the Falklands are, after 180 years now fifth generation "natives" of the islands which were uninhabited when their forebears settled there. If the islands "belong" to anyone it is the people who live there, not a bunch of political pygmies in Buenos Aires or London. Nor is it any business of that utterly worthless organisation based in New York which seems to exist to promote the interests of dictators and propagandists for some of the world's worst terror organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. It is no business of anyone but the Falkland Islanders, only their opinion counts - and they are adamant they wish to remain British.

Whether Buenos Aires 'recognises' the outcome of the referendum the Islanders are holding or not is immaterial. Not least because more recent research shows that the Argentinian cliams are bogus anyway. If anyone has a "territorial" claim, it is Uruguay, not the territorially ambitious Argentinians. However, given that the Islanders have been there for 180 years, I'd say the matter is settled. The islands are theirs. Handing them to a neighbouring state simply because of mythical "history" and geography opens the gates to some more interesting land transfers for the future.

How about Mexico's much more legitimate claims to the territories now called California, New Mexico or Texas? Perhaps we should include Florida? Yes, I can certainly see the US handing those 'back' to Mexico just because the Mexicans want them. After all, they've not been "American" for as long as the Falklands have been British. If one looked closely at present world national boundaries, they've all changed significantly in the last 200 years, so what does the Argentinan whinging suggest about that? Should the Czech Republic give back the Sudeten Province to Germany? Poland hand back West Prussia? Russia give back East Prussia? Albania give back the territory it has been 'given' by the international community in the last 30 years?

None of that is going to happen, so why should the Argentinians have a special case? They don't, this must be treated for what it is, a simple case of making a grab for territory that was not theirs, is not theirs and will never be theirs. It is a distraction to divert their own people from the collapse of their economy and the civil unrest now sweeping their country.

We should not even give their whinging a hearing and we should make it clear to everyone that another little "military adventure" will meet with the same response as it did in 1982. Only the Falkland Islanders have the right to decide who rules them and who controls their islands. No one else.

Monday, 4 February 2013

A question of perspective again?

I came across some very interesting numbers recently on violent crime in the US and the UK. According to the FBI statistics the US police and Federal criminal agencies recorded 1.2 million "violent crimes" which includes all murders, assaults involving violence and weapons and physical assaults, in 2012. With a population of 314 million, this means there were 380 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the population. By contrast, British Police recorded 1.94 million violent crimes for the same period. As the UK population is 63 million, this means we had 3,100 "violent crimes" per 100,000 people - which is, frankly, shocking.

I suspect that the reasons for this discrepancy are much more complex than it appears, though some in the US are already pointing to the ownership of firearms as one reason their "violent crime" statistics are falling while ours are rising. I don't think it is that simple, though I do believe that our lack of a clear-cut right of "self-defence" may be a contributory factor. When a pensioner defending himself from a robber with a walking stick can be charged and convicted of "assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm" because a jury of the robber's supporters felt his response to being relieved of his wallet was "disproportionate," it should be no surprise that people are afraid to retaliate. Frankly, the UK legal system is a mess, with only the criminal element and their lawyers standing to benefit from it.

For me the biggest question is, what are we doing about reducing the violent crime rate? Patently the 'softly, softly,' regime our courts are adopting doesn't work. Patently our laws are being bent and abused by criminals, yet our politicians are afraid to adopt a harder line. We know that juries are being intimidated by supporters of the accused - but we do nothing about it. We know that "suspended sentences" are seldom imposed - a recent report actually highlights the fact that many criminals convicted of violent crimes flout their paroles, flout the threat of suspended sentences and are "given another chance" by soft touch judges.

Perhaps the US arms lobby has a point. After all, a criminal who's been shot dead during his attempted crime, doesn't repeat the offence - ever. No, I'm not an advocate of everyone having free and easy access to a firearm, but it is certainly no coincidence that, since the Blair ban on the ownership of handguns, gun crime in the UK has shot through the roof and is, no doubt, a major factor in the violent crime statistics I've quoted above ...

The question remains, what is being done about it?

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Is actually the 2nd February, and is also called "The Presentation of Christ in the Temple" or "The Purification of the Virgin Mary." It seems to me to have been entirely appropraie for the Old Catholic Church I attend now to mark it with a celebration of "First Communion" for all the youngsters in our community being admitted to the Eucharist. This year it included two adults as well. It marks the start of their journey toward Confirmation, typically at around 15 to 16 in the Old Catholic tradition, and ahead of them lies an interesting few years in which they will learn a great deal about the faith the profess and for which the Eucharist and the receiving of the communion elements is central.

Harry joined us again for the service and behaved perfectly throughout, he actually seems to like the organ. As soon as it starts, he settles down to watch and listen. Today he had a treat though, since, once the service was over, we had a 'bring and share lunch' in the church and he found himself the centre of attention with all the children.

This tradition in this community, of sharing a lunch after the 'Familien Gottesdienst' once a month is a good one, as it carries forward the sense of the 'communion' being more than just the Eucharist, but a continuation of our shared life.

What is, for me, very interesting, is the number of Roman Catholics seeking a 'new' home now with the Old Catholics. It is an interesting situation as the tighter Rome tries to make their grip, the more laity and clergy find they are unable to accept it.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Climate Change; or Power Play?

I have on my bookshelves a serious book written in the 1970s (I'm frankly to lazy to look it out and give date ISBN and so on) which proposed that we were about to plunge into an ice age. Since the late 1980s we've been listening to the ever more desperate Greens as they tell us we're all going to fry, so what is the 'inconvenient truth' of the matter. Several papers, notably NOT reported on by the BBC, Nature or any of the other shrill 'Climate Change' media, seem to suggest that what we have is a natural variation. When the El Nino and North Atlantic Oscillation are in play in one direction, we get droughts, heat waves and mild winters, when La Nina teams up with the NAO and shifts into place on the western edges - we get floods, cool summers and cold winters.

Some of the more laughable things the 'true believers' in Anthropomorphic Global Warming say includes the weather man on CNN recently who told his viewers the reason the Eastern and Mid-Western US was blanketed in snow and freezing was that there was no ice in the Arctic. Where the devil he got that from I'm completely at a loss to even guess, but he did put up a picture, with false colour temperature bands on it, that showed the land masses but apparently open sea. According to his 'explanation' the heat in the Arctic was causing all the cold air to move south ... Frankly, you could not invent this in fiction without someone howling its impossible - so why do they get away with it on TV?

The truth is, that it has nothing to do with 'saving the planet,' it's about power, and who wields it. As the commentator Robert Zubrin put it -

Antihumanism is a belief system which holds that humans are destroyers [whose] activities, aspirations, and numbers must be severely constrained… In the 1970s there was a global cooling trend going on. So the antihumanists said “look, there is global cooling, which is being driven by industry.. Put us in control.” Then in the 1980s the climate began to warm, so they said “look, there is global warming, which is being driven by industry.. Put us in control.” The problem is always different, the solution is always the same [de-industrialization, and:] – put them in control. Its not about weather, it’s about power.

The current row over the prosecution policies of the RSPCA, and the political agenda of its CEO, is a case in point. Reading this man's Tweets and his Blog, you very quickly realise that he is a crusading activist. He wants the Grand National banned, he pursues Hunts and even pensioners are prosecuted for not 'taking proper care' of aging pets. One was recently fined £70 for the 'offence' of not having the heart to have a beloved pet 'put down.' He is defiant in the face of the Charities Commission and evasive in interviews - and his 'staff' in the RSPCA are afraid of him. He epitomises the reason I have stopped all donations to this originally well-intentioned organisation and a number of others now controlled by similar people.

The truth is that most of those who fight for the 'Green' agenda are, at bottom, anti-humanists. They believe that if we all return to the idyll of 'village life' and support ourselves with 'sustainable farming' and 'cottage industries' life will be perfect, peaceful and we'll all live happily ever after. In their minds, the problem is too many people, but the reality is that those who control the organisations they subscribe to, are manipulating everything and everyone to maintain their power base. Zubin, like myself, remembers the 1970s scare stories about the coming Ice Age, now its all about the coming Heat Age.

One thing is for sure, we only rarely, and David Attenborough said it recently, hear the real agenda - population reduction. The question no one wants to address of course, is how do you achieve that without genocide, a pandemic plague or a major war? It simply isn't going to happen and nor is the 'Green Dream' of a return to idyllic village life, cottage industry and 'sustainable' farming.