Saturday, June 13, 2009

Quick Update

I just saw that the World Health Organisation has raised the pandemic alert for swine flu to level six - that means its officially a pandeminc. I dont think the death toll from this pandemic will be alarming but the effect on the global economy almost certainly. The effect on international travel alone should give the economy another thumping at the time it can least afford it.

Welcome to the new reality, long term recession, increasing resource scarcity and global instability.

As for me I have been busy, I'm doing a bit of freelance work at the moment but have a huge amount of spare time. So every day I have been working away on practical projects. I'm brewing ciders and beer, I've have greatly improved my baking skills. I've made marmalad and the garden is finally getting into shape after a productive summer.

We set up a fire bath in our yard last week so after a long day working I can take a soak, stare at the sky and drink a bottle of home brew.

I may post more about what I'm up to in future.

Friday, March 20, 2009

White House to Get Organic Garden - WTF

So apparently the white house is going to be getting an organic garden. I'm normally pretty cynical when it comes to things like this for instance I think Obama will be the most hated president in US history. He will preside over period where it becomes clear to the world that the US empire is breaking apart. He will be the one that deploys troops onto the streets of US cities and like Lyndon B Johnson will be seen as betraying a generation of activists hopes.

That said I can' t see much wrong with the white house planting a garden, its a powerful symbolic statement which the world really needs.

From AP spotted on cryptogon

The White House is getting a new garden.First lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to break ground Friday on a new garden near the fountain on the South Lawn that will supply the White House kitchen.

She will be joined by students from Bancroft Elementary School in the District of Columbia. The children will stay involved with the project, including planting the fruits, vegetables and herbs in the coming weeks and harvesting the crops later in the year.

Mrs. Obama spent time earlier this week at an exhibit on rooftop gardening.“We’re
going to get a big one in our back yard, the South Lawn,” she promised the volunteers


Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Over the past couple of years I have spent quite a lot of time on doomer websites learning a whole lexicon of new words. Abbreviations such as TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) and derogatory terms such as sheeple roll off my tongue with the best of them. But first I should explain how I happened to stumble across the doomer community.

Our way of life is completely unsustainable this seems so obvious to me that it barely warrants mentioning. Furthermore I believe that peak oil and climate change mean that we are facing a breakdown of the complex systems we rely upon much faster than most of us realise. So when I worked all this out I started studying organic farming and turning my parents place into a permaculture demonstration site. Next I started looking round for others who were into the same thing. The funny thing was that very few people seemed to be taking food growing seriously. For most people into organic gardening in the west it seems to simply be a hobby. I would go around to the home of a noted organic gardener or permaculturalist and I would see a small garden that would only produce a tiny amount of the food they required.

So after looking for people seriously into creating a different world I stumbled across the doomer and collapse websites. Here was a group of people that take growing food seriously. They also look at the wider picture and openly consider questions such as, if the power goes out how will I get water and how long will the sewerage system keep running. Whilst I don’t believe civilisation will collapse overnight and carry a Bug out Bag with me 24/7 packed with emergency essentials as some of them may I do share a similar outlook about significant disruptions to our society over the few decades.

Of course the doomer community and peak oil nuts such as myself have gotten a tremendous boost from recent geopolitical events. Oil going to $150 a barrel was considered nuts when people like me talked about it in 2005 yet by 2008 it was reality. Talk of tent cities and martial law might have sounded like conspiracy theory a couple of years ago but these sort of things are popping up in the news daily.

Aside from all the other reasons I find doomer sites entertaining and usually a more interesting read than most of the other blogs out there.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bloody People

I was wandering round yesterday having quite a good day when I came across this gull with a hook and lure embedded in its beak. It was obviously in pain and constantly trying to dislodge it from its beak. I don't think I need to remind readers about how the worlds oceans are in the process of collapse, how ninety percent of the worlds large fish are gone etc etc. I find any kind of sport hunting sickening and any form of meat consumption in the modern world requires denial about the pain and suffering inherent in the production of flesh.

I spent ages trying to catch it as it appeared dehydrated and wasn't moving too quickly but eventually it flew off.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reflections On Protest

At the protests I go to I rarely take part anymore and instead I usually take photos or talk to people I know. Its not that I doubt the urgency of the causes we fight for, the vital need to take action like never before or the conviction of everyone on the march or picket. Its just I find our actions unbearably depressing, as the world burns all we can do is march down to the US consulate for the tenth time this year. Most of the time even the cops are bored. Members of the self styled riot squad chat amongst themselves and stroll down the street beside the marchers.

While we are getting hot and angry working up a good self righteous sweat most of the public walking down the street are either bemused or confused by our action. Most simply snap a photo on their cellphone to show to the family later and turn to their friends puzzled as they try and work out exactly what we are protesting about. The hundred or so angry people escorted by police move in a revolutionary bubble down queen street leaving little wake behind them and eventually dispersing to the pub to swap stories about that march when the flag got lowered at the US embassy.

Our pickets and smaller protests seem to offer a better chance to engage the public but the story is the same, a small microcosm of misfits amidst a swirl of shoppers. When a member of the public does come over to talk to us most of us tense up expecting a verbal barrage and are shocked when word trickles over that someone actually supports us.

We seem to be stuck repeating these tiresome actions over and over again knowing that the best possible outcome of our march is 40 seconds of critical coverage on the six o clock news and only then if one of us decides to punch a cop. Most of the time we simply go home and check indymedia to see photos of ourselves and to read an over inflated account of our protest.

I know this is a dark picture of our protests that I have portrayed but its only because I feel stuck. I was still a teenager when queen street filled with 30,000 people marching against the release of Genetically Modified organisms into the New Zealand countryside. I remember standing at the top of queen st and looking down to see it completely filled with people literally as far as the eye can see. We had widespread public support across the entire country, this was a domestic issue not some war in a third world nation or some US backed regime massacring an indigenous minority. Despite all this we lost the GE battle, whilst we aren’t yet growing GE crops in Aotearoa field trials of GE crops are becoming widespread. That movement melted away and despite a lot of training and a lot of work most of the people involved seem to have disappeared.

So as the world economic system is crumbling and tent cities are springing up I’m left wracking my brains as to how to make our opposition to the current system felt. And more than making our opposition felt how do we build a counter culture that rejects individualist capitalism. Surely marching and protests should come from a body of people opposed to the current system rather than being our way we try and build and opposition.

I’ve got no answers but this is something I’m interested in so I might try and work out what’s going on in other countries to resist the current recession and how they are building and organising.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Police Target Political Activists

None of what is in the Guardian article comes as any surprise to me, the police in NZ are doing exactly the same thing through both overt and covert surveillance. While not surprising it does make me angry, it also seems completely stupid and unnecessary. I cant come up with any plausible reason why this level of surveillance could possibly be useful. The level of political crime in the UK and NZ is negligible so this surveillance is complete overkill if the justification is crime prevention. It seems instead that western governments view activist movements as a major threat worth investing huge amounts of resources into. While I only really know what is going on in NZ I disagree with the Guardian that there is more of a focus on monitoring the press than activists. Sure journalists get harassed by cops but what they experience is nothing like the intense personal harassment dealt out to known activists.

For a taste of what things are like for activists in Aotearoa this article is illuminating. For an activists perspective of this kind of surveillance Fit Watch is a great read and I really respect the people that run it.

Thanks to cryptogon for spotting it, link to the full article which has video and audio here

Guardian: Police Database on Thousands of Protesters

Police are targeting thousands of political campaigners in surveillance operations and storing their details on a database for at least seven years, an investigation by the Guardian can reveal.
Photographs, names and video ­footage of people attending protests are ­routinely obtained by surveillance units and stored on an "intelligence system".

The ­Metropolitan police, which has ­pioneered surveillance at demonstrations and advises other forces on the tactic, stores details of protesters on Crimint, the general database used daily by all police staff to catalogue criminal intelligence. It lists campaigners by name, allowing police to search which demonstrations or political meetings individuals have attended.

Disclosures through the Freedom of Information Act, court testimony, an interview with a senior Met officer and police surveillance footage obtained by the Guardian have ­established that ­private information about activists ­gathered through surveillance is being stored without the knowledge of the people monitored.

Police surveillance teams are also ­targeting journalists who cover demonstrations, and are believed to have ­monitored members of the press during at least eight protests over the last year.

Videographer Jason Parkinson and photographer Jess Hurd describe to Paul Lewis how they have been followed by police while covering protests
The Guardian has found:

• Activists "seen on a regular basis" as well as those deemed on the "periphery" of demonstrations are included on the police databases, regardless of whether they have been convicted or arrested.

• Names, political associations and photographs of protesters from across the political spectrum – from campaigners against the third runway at Heathrow to anti-war activists – are catalogued.

• Police forces are exchanging information about pro­testers stored on their intelligence systems, enabling officers from different forces to search which political events an individual has attended.
Lawyers said tonight they expect the Guardian's investigation to form the basis of a legal challenge against the use of police surveillance tactics.