Category Archives: Sustainable Politics

Merry bloody Christmas

Snow in Cairo. Snow in Jerusalem. Snow in Syria. Snow in Turkey. Informed local opinion says there’s been no snowfall in Egypt for 112 years. As the tweet above notes: no one alive had ever seen snow on the Sphinx before.
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Filed under Oil, Sustainable Politics, War

On 2013

Things that will happen in 2013:

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Filed under Elections, Politics, Sustainable Politics

More rain? Cut flood defences

While Nick Clegg prepares to run a snow job on the people who voted LibDem last time (let me know how that works for you, folks) the rain keeps falling.

This year may be the wettest since records began in 1910.

In London, the Thames Barrier was raised on Thursday morning for the first time since March 2010, to reduce the risk of flooding as water from days of downpours causes high levels further upstream. It will be raised again on Friday morning.

A storm brewing in the Atlantic could bring up to two inches (50mm) of rain and 80mph winds in some areas this weekend.

Provisional figures show that 1.8in (46mm) of rain is needed between 27 and 31 December for 2012 to be the wettest year on record for the UK.
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Filed under Housing, Sustainable Politics

Maldives police: made in Scotland?

Mohamed NasheedI stopped updating my first post about the Maldives two months after I first posted it. I kept fearing I would hear, next, that the President who stepped down rather than make use of the Maldives Police Service (MPS) violently against civilians, had himself been killed.

Mohamed Nasheed, who was his country’s first democratically elected leader, has become a tireless advocate for both environmental action and free elections — two political efforts he ties together.

On 10th December, The Hindu published an interview by telephone with ex-President Mohamed Nasheed, then speaking from Kulhudhuffushi, part of Thiladhunmathi Atoll, in the northern part of Maldives – that is, as The Hindu observes “not far from Indian territorial waters”.

Nasheed said:

“Nothing short of early elections is acceptable to the MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party] … We are very confident that if there is a free and fair election and if I can contest, we will win it handsomely,”

In a telephonic interview, Mr. Nasheed said he was running for presidency again. “The MDP has decided that I should run and the primary has given me an overwhelming support. But there have been so many politically motivated attempts to bar me from contesting because the opposition is fair clear that they will not be able to win against me. We have a lot of support in the country. The violent repression against people has made people look towards us. And I think that the three-and-a-half years of our government we have been able to bring about a lot of transformation of the country and we feel that people like it,” he said. Getting the financial system back on track, reducing reliance on indirect taxes and levy of direct taxes, and putting in place an enormous social protection programme were among his main achievements as President.

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Filed under Human Rights, Justice, Police, Politics, Sustainable Politics

Fly the friendly skies

Non Airport Oeust-AtlantiqueHow far is the government entitled to go in enforcing the build of a new airport?

This isn’t (yet) a question about Heathrow.

Nantes Atlantique Airport (NTE), or Aéroport Nantes Atlantique, is the largest airport in the west of France. It was originally a military airfield before WWII, and was called Aéroport Château Bougon – the nearest city is Nantes, five miles away, and the airport itself is in Bouguenais. The airport’s official capacity is three million passengers a year and in 2011 saw 3,246,226 passengers.

Cheap air travel and millions of air passengers per year cannot continue for much longer. Oil is a finite resource, and it takes a lot of crude oil to produce jet fuel for moden planes. Building big new airports on the presumption that the numbers for travel by air will go on and on increasing is a short-sighted folly.
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Filed under Oil, Politics, Sustainable Politics

World Food Day

925 million people are hungry.

Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes.

That’s one child every five seconds.

There were 1.4 billion people in extreme poverty in 2005.

The World Bank estimates that the spike in global food prices in 2008, followed by the global economic recession in 2009 and 2010 has pushed between 100-150 million people into poverty.

World Food Day - Michelle HenryThis year has been one of the wettest on record. In Edinburgh, we had the wettest April, May, June, and July since records began at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the 19th century. Across the UK:

Potato harvests are down by half in some areas. The NFU’s Scottish cereal survey indicated wheat yield was down by 18% from 2011, winter barley yield down 7%, spring barley yield down 18% and winter oilseed rape yield down 26%.

I’ve discussed this before (Scotland’s Food Programme) and also, for World Porridge Day, how stock brokers gambling on food prices rising is itself creating a bubble of high food prices to profit investors and make people hungry.
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Filed under About Food, Economics, FairTrade, Poverty, Sustainable Politics

Plain as parritch

Today is World Porridge Day – 10/10 every year.

Mary's Meals: A cold volunteer Along at the east end of Princes Street this cold morning, determined to stay till the porridge runs out, were three volunteers for Mary’s Meals, celebrating World Porridge Day and collecting to feed children going to school in Malawi.

Porridge or parritch is a variant pronounciation of pottage – both soup and porridge are, in Scots, plural nouns. The porridge I ate (with raisins and guilt-free for-a-good-cause golden syrup) was probably not the halesome parritch of the Cottar’s Saturday Night. But it was tasty.
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Filed under About Food, Sustainable Politics

Supermarket Food Programme

BBC Food Programme - Big Food Idea The Big Food Idea on the BBC Food Programme is supposed to be for

an innovator who is improving the way good quality food is sourced and sold

But one of the finalists this year is not in that category: Sainsbury’s has been nominated.

Sainsbury’s are tax dodgers and Lord John and Lady Sainsbury have dined with David Cameron in Downing Street and have donated nearly a million to the Conservatives since June 2006. Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover sits in the House of Lords as a Conservative peer.

Conservatives usually claim that they’re the way they are not because they want to make rich people richer and poor people poorer (that’s just the unfortunate side-effect of how their policies of tax cuts for the wealthy, high unemployment, benefits and services cuts for the rest of us, tends to work out). What they want, they usually say (with a nod at Ayn Rand) is to promote self-reliance and personal responsibility.

That even sounds moderately convincing until you take a look at the effect their policies have on children.
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Filed under Charities, Poverty, Supermarkets, Sustainable Politics

Scotland’s Food Programme

What does everyone know about Scottish food?

It’s the haggis. And the whisky. And the deep fried Mars bars.

Scots eat unhealthy food, get drunk, and our iconic national dish is made of the bits of the sheep that you’d have needed to be drunk and hungry to think worth eating.
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Filed under About Food, Bread, Grains, of Edinburgh, Oil, Photographs, Politics, Supermarkets, Sustainable Politics

Maldives are rubbish

The Maldives: beautiful, unspoiled islands surrounded by clear blue water, perfect for diving holidays.

They are 2000 coral islands in the Indian Ocean, only 200 of which are inhabited, 87 of which are tourist resorts. 394,451 people live on 113 islands: 28% of GDP, more than 60% of foreign exchange receipts, and 90% of the government’s revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. It’s a tiny country which, in effect, sells beauty and a dream tropical island paradise to people who are rich enough to pay for it.

The visitor may take the opportunity to stroll through the lanes of the village, observing children playing contentedly beside the wooden huts and village women weaving and creating traditional handicrafts utilizing natural materials such as palm leaves, coconuts and reeds. Visitors can also visit schools and mosques in the idyllic villages. Tourist advert

Iru Fushi hopes to compete with the best that the Maldives has to offer
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Filed under Biosphere, Poverty, Sustainable Politics, Travel