Canadian Political Prisoner Mark Marek

Canadian Political Prisoner Mark Marek – Mark Marek is a prominent Canadian blogger and human rights activist based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His disclosures published on reality news website Best Gore exposed police lies and abuses of power, corrupt politicians enslaving people in injustice at the bidding of bankers, multinational corporations and the international lobbying groups and unconstitutional governments profiteering from endless wars.

 

The Diva Politica

 

Mark Marek’s exposures played a pivotal role in “Global Political Awakening” and motivated populist resistance that dramatically decreased the capacity of world powers to continue imposing control over the masses. His exposures stalled the planned war with Syria and resulted in a number of corrupt officials being fired or investigated.

As a witness to systemic violations of law perpetrated by people with power on innocent civilians, Mark Marek felt obliged to act on his moral duty and blew the whistle on the abusers. Videos obtained from his confidential sources frequently challenged the official version of the story, resulting in mounting pressure from the members of the public and with it, the proposals of new laws and policies that shook the positions of many an established authority.

As a result of exposing these violations, Mark Marek has faced a severe and sustained campaign of persecution, character assassination, arbitrary imprisonment and prior restraint – the most tyrannical form of censorship resorted to only by the pettiest of dictators and police states.

Even though far from an idealist, Mark Marek is still a person with ideals. As a prisoner of conscience, he can not do the things he likes, nor be with the people he loves, but even though they took away his words, they can never take away his thoughts.

Mark Marek was silenced, but his legacy lives on.

He believed in the right of the public to be informed and did not hesitate to sacrifice his life and well-being for this right.

It is within this context that we the people, who owe our awareness to Mark Marek’s belief that things worth fighting for are worth dying for, hereby pledge our support for the public’s right to information and the fight against tyrannical censorship.

We can no longer swim against the unrelenting tide of time. The era of disinterest and indifference is ending. The system of unaccountable and pervasive surveillance and criminalization of political speech is as unsustainable as it is unlawful.

We call upon the free peoples of the world to denounce political persecution of Mark Marek, to support freedom of expression on the internet and the right of each individual to receive and impart ideas and information by any means and regardless of frontiers.

Speaking the truth is not a crime!

FH Analysis Of The Federal Cabinet Shuffle

FH Analysis Of The Federal Cabinet Shuffle – Today Prime Minister Harper announced much anticipated changes to Cabinet following his historic majority government win two weeks ago.

While there were a few surprises, today’s line-up largely reflected the Prime Minister’s commitment to staying the course, continuity, and to finishing the job the Government set out to do well before the recent election campaign.

 

The Diva Politica

 

The new Cabinet is also now more representative of Canada’s important constituencies, and notably brings back to the table the Province of Newfoundland and the City of Toronto. Key changes include:

  • John Baird, arguably the Prime Minister’s most trusted Minister, becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs;
  • Tony Clement, formerly Minister of Industry, gets the very important post at Treasury Board and will be charged with finding savings to ensure the Government achieves its deficit reduction targets;
  • Christian Paradis, the former Minister of Natural Resources, becomes Minister of Industry and further establishes himself as key Quebec lieutenant;
  • Denis Lebel, formerly Minister of State for Economic Development in Quebec, becomes Minister of Transport; and
  • Joe Oliver, the newly elected MP from Toronto, becomes Minister of Natural Resources.

Importantly, the new Cabinet signals a redoubled effort to ensure Canada’s economy continues to grow and prosper.   Trusted Ministers staying on in key economic portfolios, include Jim Flaherty in Finance and Tony Clement moving to Treasury Board to manage the government’s deficit cutting efforts.

British Columbia MP Ed Fast becomes the new International Trade Minister after putting in a strong performance as Chair of the Standing Committee on Justice.

Jason Kenney, who remains as the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, will also take on the important task of Chairing the Cabinet Committee on Operations which provides day-to-day coordination of the government’s agenda.

The new Cabinet also adds several talented rookie MPs and in so doing improves the regional representation around the Cabinet table.

A few names to watch in the new Parliament,  include Toronto Investment Banker Joe Oliver (noted above at Natural Resources), Innu Leader and MP for Labrador, Peter Penashue to Intergovernmental Affairs, and Mulroney era Minister Bernard Valcourt returns to Ottawa, after 18 years, as Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

A complete list of Minister and Cabinet Committees can be found here:

2011 Legislative Outlook
Parliament is scheduled to resume on June 2nd followed by the Speech from the Throne the following day.  The Throne Speech will lay out the Government’s legislative agenda for the weeks and months ahead.

While the Budget and the accompanying implementation legislation will be the focal points of the short session before a summer break, it will also provide the government with an opportunity to begin implementing its campaign commitments.

The Government has already indicated that the Budget will be substantially similar to the one introduced before the election. Once the budget passes the required legislative hurdles, the Government will then quickly turn its attention to the following key areas:

  1. Staying the course on existing commitments to tax cuts and targeted industry spending. A central campaign theme, the Government will continue with previous commitments in an effort to show stable government;
  2. Enhancing the Guaranteed Income Supplement and addressing elder abuse. Changes to the GIS were included in their pre-election budget and are expected to be re-introduced;
  3. Cutting government spending to eliminate the deficit. The Government has committed to cut spending without adjusting provincial transfer payments or reducing healthcare spending – all savings will be found by reducing the size of the federal bureaucracy.
  4. Passing key crime reduction bills as part of an omnibus bill. During the first 100 days, the Government will use its majority to pass legislation that was previously introduced but failed to pass.Long-time Justice Minister Rob Nicholson will shepherd the job through to completion.

Majority Government – What to Expect
Stephen Harper’s long-sought majority Government brings with it absolute control over the legislative agenda for the next four years. With comfortable majorities in both the House of Commons and the Senate, the Executive represented by the newly appointed Cabinet and the Prime Minister’s Office will be able to legislate free of the confines of minority deal-making and compromise.

The Conservative Government will finally be able to carefully plan and roll out its agenda.

Finally, the new majority mandate will also provide the Government with the opportunity to act on issues important to core constituencies within the Conservative Party.

These include eliminating per vote funding for political parties, eliminating the federal long gun registry, taking the exclusive marketing rights for malting barley away from the Canadian Wheat Board, and implementing Senate reform beginning with term limits for Senators.

Fleishman Hillard will continue to closely monitor events around Parliament Hill and will advise as key developments occur. In the meantime, expect a note following the return of Parliament early next month and the first important order of business, The Speech from the Throne on June 3.

2011 Ontario Budget Analysis

2011 Ontario Budget Analysis – Fleishman-Hillard has prepared an overview of the measures contained in the Ontario budget tabled March 29 by Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.

 
The Diva Politica

Overview

The budget delivered by Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan today contains one big message aimed at voters, in anticipation of this fall’s election.

Building on the messaging contained in the Minister’s speech to the Toronto Board of Trade last week, today’s budget positions the government as prudent – one that is focused on eliminating the deficit in due course while safeguarding education and healthcare.

There isn’t a lot of new spending contained in the budget – beyond the initiatives reported in the media in recent days around increased funding for post-secondary education, and breast cancer screening, and a mental health and addictions strategy that will be targeted initially at children and youth.

In fact, in order to show it means business in terms of trimming the deficit, the government intends to keep increases in total program spending to an average annual rate of 1.7 per cent between 2010/2011 and 2013/2014.

This represents half the average annual rate of increase projected for revenues. And in the same vein (and as anticipated), the budget confirms that the deficit for 2010/2011 is projected to be $16.7 billion – $3 billion lower than thought a year ago, largely attributed to lower program spending.

What is news is the announcement of a Commission on Broader Public Sector Reform. This initiative is positioned as central to eliminating the deficit while protecting education and health care. The Commission will be led by Don Drummond (one of the main architects of the federal budget for years), who will be tasked with recommending long-term, fundamental changes to the way government works. Drummond’s mandate will be restricted – his recommendations cannot contemplate increased taxes or lead to the privatization of health care or education.

By ruling out new major tax cuts (such as a decrease in the HST), the budget therefore attempts to position the fall election as a choice between prudent management and what it argues would be across-the-board cuts needed in order to finance such a cut.

The 5 Must Read Sites For Federal Political Coverage

The 5 Must Read Sites For Federal Political Coverage – Continuing a theme begun by my colleagues Matt Salvatore with his piece on the ‘Top 5 political blogs’ and Michael Von Herff’s piece ‘The 10 best tweeters for those following Ottawa’, I’d like to discuss those web sites and blogs that are essential reads for those tracking issues, events and gossip in federal politics.  With election fever increasing in Ottawa over the dog days of summer, good information is essential in knowing what issues are generating coverage.

The Diva Politica
The sites listed below are essential reads for me every day and can be valuable tools for anyone tracking federal political coverage.

  1. National Newswatch – National Newswatch is the absolute ‘must read’ site for political players in Ottawa.  This news aggregator site lists the top stories making news on a daily basis while also linking to the primary columnists with each of the major news organizations to provide a good picture of the news terrain.  As an issue heats up over the course of a day, National Newswatch will almost always be the first site with links to the relevant news stories – providing varied voices on the event so the reader can see the different points of view providing coverage.
  2. Pundits Guide to Canadian Federal Elections– Pundits Guide provides some of the best analysis and information on election readiness and election results for each of the federal parties.  Not only does the site cover nominated candidates but it also provides analysis on the financial health of each of the federal parties as they report their quarterly and annual fundraising numbers.  Pundits Guide understands the nuances of Election Canada rules better than almost anyone on the web and has become a must visit site for anyone hoping to track election readiness.
  3. Inkless Wells – Paul Wells has been one of the best political reads in Ottawa for over a decade – even while he was transferred to cover events in Europe for a short time.  While his weekly column for MacLean’s continues to be the reason why many of us read MacLean’s, his blog musings on ‘Inkless Wells’ provide intelligent, well researched looks at the issues of the day.  He is unafraid to call politicians out when they are underperforming – witness his reporting on Stéphane Dion’s leadership – or report on  less covered national pieces with zeal – like his coverage of the ‘Rights and Democracy’ standoff.  Part of what makes Paul Wells a must read is he understands all aspects of politics – both in terms of strategy to policy development – and this makes his insight especially pertinent to political audiences.
  4. David Akin – David Akin, now with Sun Media, has been one of the best examples of a journalist using social media to both find stories and promote stories he is covering.  Like Wells, Akin is more than willing to delve into research and data to prove or disprove an argument being made by a federal politician.  He is not afraid to ask the tough question at a news conference or call a politician to task when they aren’t well prepared on a specific issue.
  5. Public Eye Online – while BC based Public Eye Online does not look at national stories in the same way Ottawa based journalists do on issues, it is able to provide excellent coverage and analysis of both federal and provincial politics in BC.  Like Pundits Guide, Public Eye Online provides strong analysis on election readiness at both the riding and regional levels.  I began reading the website during a leadership campaign for its unique insight and analysis it provided of the campaign in BC but have continued reading it because it provides analysis of BC issues in a way that is hard to find anywhere else.

To me, my day would not be complete without paying a visit to each of these websites or blogs on a daily basis.  Their combined strength keeps me on top of federal political issues so that I have the information I need to provide my own analysis to our clients.

The Failure Of Public Policy In The Gulf Crisis

The Failure Of Public Policy In The Gulf Crisis – When all the facts surrounding the causes of the Gulf crisis are finally known, there will be lots of blame to spread around. Certainly BP will shoulder the lion’s share, perhaps deservedly. Did they cut corners in a bid to save time and a few million dollars? Were they using technology that was proven in shallow water but not well tested in the mile-deep waters in which they were drilling?

 
The Diva Politica

We likely will come to know much about the immediate causes of this disaster and BP and the entire industry will learn plenty about how to do it better in the future. Likely, regulations for drilling in deep water will be examined and tightened and the world will move on to worry about something else. But, I suspect, the deeper, underlying causes that contributed to this disaster will go unnoticed.

In my view, a good portion of the blame lies at the feet of policy makers in Washington who completely failed to create a coherent national energy policy that would both ensure a secure supply and minimize risk to the environment. An incredible supply of oil is available in the shallow waters off all three coasts of America; caving in to the pressures of NIMBYism, Washington severly restricted drilling in these waters. The risk of spills is greatly reduced in shallow water where technologies have been proven and if a blowout occurs it can more easily be fixed. By forcing oil companies to drill in deep water for oil the country sorely needs, Washington created a scenario that sooner or later would come back to bite them.

While there is lots of rhetoric about a “green energy policy” in Washington, this kind of future is decades away. True renewables (wind, solar, geothermal) today account for about 3% of the global energy supply. We’ll need hydrocarbons for many decades while we move toward a future dominated by renewables. So, how do we get there? It appears Washington doesn’t have a clue. Certainly the 6 month moratorium on drilling in the Gulf won’t help. And those politicians calling for an end to the import of oil from Canada’s oil sands are only adding to the mounting supply problem. Unless Americans want to go back to the horse and buggy era, these guys had better give their heads a shake and come up with a real plan.

Unfortunately, Canadian policians are equally reactive, without a long term plan for Canada’s energy needs. On June 1 the House passed (with 274 votes from all parties) a motion by Alberta MP Linda Duncan calling for a review of all laws and regulations around uncoventional energy development, including oil sands, shale gas and deepwater oil and gas drilling. It’s amazing how quickly they can act when they feel threatened, but how slow they have been to consider a comprehensive energy strategy for Canada.

The one big difference between the oil companies and politicians is in their approach to long term planning; to the oil companies long term plans for large projects can often span decades, costing billions of dollars and causing them to plan far down the road; to politicians long term planning is often trying to anticipate tomorrow’s newspaper headlines.

When the blame is handed out for the events in the Gulf, the policians should be front and centre.

Information For The Voters Of East Bristol

The Green Party

Why did you get involved in politics?

 
The Diva Politica

 

My mum was interested in the Ecology Party and the Green movement in the Sixties and Seventies, so I grew up with that kind of consciousness.

I had an enquiring mind and used to read broadsheet newspapers, so it kind of came naturally to want to change the world for the better. My first foray into politics was with youth CND. I can’t remember whether it actually was the Ecology Party or the Green Party by the time I joined, but I got involved in Liverpool where I grew up.

What connection do you have with Bristol East?

I tend to visit this area with the family fairly regularly for shopping. Sometimes we eat out here. We don’t actually live here, admittedly, but we do feel that we are part of Bristol and this is part of Bristol, so it is kind of part of our lives. We do get our Indian vegetables from Bristol Sweetmart; my wife is quite a renowned chef of Indian food. We’re vegetarian – this is the place to go. We live in Shirehampton, on the outskirts of Bristol.

What do you think are the biggest problems in Bristol East, and how would you address them?

I am somewhat reliant on my colleagues in the Green Party who I’ve spoken to about this [because] I don’t live here. There is a lack of green space, and a loss of green space, and I think that’s something that has to be protected in such a densely populated area as Bristol East. You do get acres and acres of terraced houses, which can be quite a convivial way to live – I live in one myself – but you do need the parks and the green spaces to punctuate this kind of area. It’s no good for these kind of areas to be sold off and disappear, and that kind of space to be eroded.

Then obviously big issues – drugs, prostitution, and crime. The Green Party has quite a liberal policy on drugs. Green Party policy on drugs is to decriminalise their use, and yet at the same time provide a lot of education about how it is very much not a good idea to overuse such drugs and be reliant upon them.

We feel that it is somewhat hypocritical of the establishment to divide drugs between those which are legal and socially acceptable and those which are illegal and less socially acceptable, where in fact nicotine [and] alcohol cause a great many deaths and a great many social problems. As do all drugs if misused.

Prostitution: we have a similar kind of policy of liberalisation – providing some kind of framework for sex workers to operate in a way that doesn’t cause the kind of nuisance, which some residents obviously find difficult to cope with.

Another big problem in this area, as with the whole of Bristol is traffic and transport. Part of the area is divided by the M32 motorway, and the inner ring road as well, it’s all quite heavily roaded and that has quite a negative impact on people. There’s the air pollution, the noise, the disturbance of the mind caused by so much traffic.

That would be addressed by our general policies on transport, whereby we wish to encourage more public transport, and indeed less travelling about unnecessarily through promotion of local economies.

Four more Post Offices are set to close in Bristol East – what impact do you think this will have on community services?

Clearly closure of Post Offices has a very negative impact on community services. The Post Office, along with other services such as libraries, is a focus of the community. It is a very shortsighted view of current government, and the previous one, which treats a public utility like the Post Office in the same way as a profit making company. It’s a natural monopoly and it is a community service.

It’s shortsighted in the extreme to look at it in terms of profit and loss, where in fact it’s something that the community needs. It’s not just delivering letters and paying pensions, it is very important in many ways; from providing a noticeboard for the community, all kinds of things.

It is possible – if there is dynamic commercial management – that the Post Office can find new commercial roles, and indeed be operated in a completely commercial fashion. A lot of people thought when BT was privatised that [it] was a terrible idea, a natural monopoly, or so we thought. As it has turned out I think it has shown some foresight of the Conservative government of the time that with advances in technology it turned out that that was a very good thing.

BT has been broken up and privatised; put in a capitalist, commercial situation, and a lot of good things have come out of that, especially the vibrant competition in telecoms that we now see. It is possible that that kind of thing could happen to some degree with Post Offices.

But I don’t think its clear what those directions are, and I don’t think that its safe to make people travel longer distances away from their local Post Office that has closed when there is nothing clear as an alternative.

If you give corporations and companies greater and greater power, which is what is happening in the world today, that’s what ends up happening, and that how you get completely idiotic decisions being made on a grand scale; everything is reduced to pounds and pence, dollars and euros.

What do you think of the state’s increased involvement in the personal lives of its citizens?

I think it’s a mixed bag really. Take ASBOs for example. In principal they are a necessary evil, if they are used to contain and control people who are making other people’s lives a misery. Yet we see in their execution that they are sometimes being used in completely nonsensical ways.

A woman is being banned from going near bridges and high places. She doesn’t need an ASBO, she needs help; she is suicidal. Another woman, a sex worker, is being banned from carrying condoms on her person…

They can be imprisoned when they are not actually committing a criminal activity that warrants imprisonment. So like a great many of these criminal laws over the past decade, they appear to be perfectly reasonable when they are discussed in parliament, and yet they are so broad that they are encroaching on our personal freedom and inching towards what is a terrible police state.

Take the anti-harassment law, which was originally envisioned as a way to combat stalkers, a way to protect women.

It is now being used wholesale against the animal rights lobby, and not only in defence of individuals but of large corporations. This is something that is absolutely wrong.

ID cards – the Green Party has examined the legislation – our experts have looked at it and decided that it is not much of a deterrent against hardened terrorists, who have access to the ability to create this kind of ID card, and fight this kind of technology. It is just going to be a burden on the ordinary person; it is not going to be that much of a burden on the terrorist.

Smoking in public places: it’s probably a good idea to discourage people from smoking, and to create more smoke-free areas. But let’s not go mad about it. Let’s allow pubs to have a smoking room if they have the area to create one.

What effect do you think Britain’s involvement in the ‘war on terror’ has had on our standing in the world?

The so-called war on terror began on September 11th 2001 with the destruction of the World Trade Centre and the attack on the Pentagon. There are a great many unanswered [questions] about these attacks. I am by no means convinced that the September 11th attacks were committed by independent Islamic terrorists. Take the examples of Pearl Harbour, Project Northwood , and the Reichstag fire that began the terror of Nazi rule in Germany.

These were all false flag operations, which were designed, planned and carried out by an elite in order to promote their own purposes – whether that was to wage war, or to seize power in an apparent attempt to control terrorist forces. Most people of the world – according to surveys which I have read – see the US and George Bush as a greater threat to the world than Al-Qaeda or any other so-called rogue state. I think that by allying ourselves with Bush and the USA the British government has made a grave mistake, and lessened very greatly our standing in the world.

This war against Iraq has been simmering for a decade, and the only reason I can see for it is the depopulation of an oil-rich area. Similarly the war in Afghanistan appears to have had several other causes than the eradication of terrorism, including pipeline deals, and profits from heroin trade going into the US stock economy.

Education in Bristol is doing badly according to various sources, what’s your solution?

It seems to be a decline since there was better education in the past, so it seems to be a fairly logical remedy to return to traditional teaching methods, in which there is a lot more respect for teachers and authority.

Part of the problem of yob non-culture – and it is a reflection of the society that we live in – [is that] there is a need for greater self-discipline, and more of a spiritualization of society, as opposed to the materialistic ethos that is so prevalent. This is something that is at the heart of Green politics. It is not something that is greatly promoted at election time.

We don’t see the Earth as a thing to be exploited; we see the Earth as a living being, and we see all living beings – whether they be plants, animals, or humans – as persons if you like.

Then there is less of an exploitative mentality. There is a great deal of diversity within the Green party, and the Green movement, between spirituality and the answers to the problems of educational underachievement. We are not things; we are spiritual beings. We are all living things.

What would you like to see done about climate change on local and national levels, and do you support the Kyoto Protocol?

Climate change has been noted, discussed, analysed and researched since the early 80s, and its solutions are to reduce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. The Green movement has been around a lot longer than that. If you go back to the writings of Thoreau , for example, then he’s talking about green ideas in the wilds of America in the 18th century. People have lived in an ecologically sustainable way for millennia. It is not a new kind of philosophy.

The Green way of life, which is sustainable, low impact and local, is exactly the solution that we need to climate change. We have been right behind the Kyoto Protocol since its inception. The carbon-trading scheme is a good mechanism by which we can get somewhere.

However, the Kyoto Protocol in itself is not the final solution to anything. It is merely one step towards a saner world.

Each oil field in the world has a lifespan. It starts off producing small amounts of oil or gas, it comes up to a peak, and then after the peak the amount of fuel extracted from that field steadily decreases. It is more or less symmetrical. It is generally accepted that world oil extraction will peak between now and 2010, so whether we like it or not we are going to have to cope with reduced fossil fuel consumption.

The solutions and the philosophy of the Green party, which we have been promoted for so long, are doubly important; not only for reasons of climate change, but also in order to save us from the chaos of a totally oil-dependent society running into a brick wall.
With the pensions crisis and health provision at the forefront of many people’s minds, what future economic policies would help address people’s fears in these areas?

One of the problems is that we have completely disconnected benefits and tax systems. What the government gives with one hand it takes away with the other. So if somebody who is on benefit gets a low paying job, suddenly their free prescriptions stop, and they are asked for more money.

Because they are no longer on benefits, the housing benefit stops, and then all of a sudden they are paying tax; this is the poverty trap. Bad enough that it is a disincentive to work, that it causes resentment amongst the low to medium paid, [who] they see people who have no job or are on benefits earning the same or more than they are.

That’s bad enough, but on top of that there are the endless forms to be filled in, changes in circumstances from week to week and month to month, and it gets far worse for the self-employed, for whom unemployment cannot be so easily defined because they are going through a fallow period in their business.

The Green Party solution is that everybody gets a citizen’s income, whether they are working or not. Children would get a citizen’s income, which would rise from the time when they were a child. You go through life with a citizen’s income, you retire with a citizen’s income (which is set at another level – pension level – because you are not expected to do so much work) and then whatever you do earn on top of this citizens income is taxed.

Simple. One system: tax and benefits integrated, rather than these two systems fighting amongst each other.

There are papers available on the citizen’s income, and it’s costing and so on. It can all be tweaked; re-arrange tax bands. You can gain an enormous amount of money by working against tax evasion from the super-rich, although that really requires international cooperation from all countries because the super-rich tend to be super-mobile.

Considering the high-profile concerns about crime in East Bristol, how do you plan to address law and order?

Personally I am in favour of being quite hard on criminals. For instance, there was a woman being harassed by yobs; they broke her door down, they damaged her cars, they’re making noise outside her house. She called the police supposedly sixteen times and they never came. She shot an air pistol into the ground and she was imprisoned for it. There is something completely wrong with this culture of non-justice, where this kind of thing goes on.

And it relates to later questions of underachieving schools in Bristol and general non-culture. I don’t know if you can even call it a culture of yobbishness, it’s a non-culture. One of those things that the Green Party wishes to address in that way is by making society less materialistic – less driven by this desire to accumulate more and more material things.

One of the factors of crime is this insane desire to accumulate more and more endless economic growth within a limited system. It is impossible and it is mad.

Reducing the materialistic ethos of society – on a material level, a political level rather than a spiritual level, which is to a great degree outside the Green Party’s sphere of influence. This idea that a country’s success is measured by economic growth. There are some Asian countries that speak about Gross National Happiness rather than Gross National Product.

There are ways in which you can measure it – in terms of admissions to mental health treatment, debt problems, various ways – again it is returning to this idea that our lives should not be run by accountants, by simply counting money and material possessions.

Do you think political debate over Europe actually has any effect on East Bristol?

It has an effect on people within the whole of Europe; I wouldn’t say there is any particular great effect on Bristol East. It varies greatly [depending] on the part of Europe you are in; there are some areas of Europe that are deprived, or are seen as deprived and are the recipients of a lot of European grants.

The Green Party is ambivalent to Europe. We’re not anti-Europe, but on the other hand we believe in local economies [and] local democracy far more; there are things which you can’t so on a local level. On my previous job – working with a health, safety and environmental consultancy – there are European laws a processing plant has to obey.

They are passed in national parliaments all over Europe – chemical, gas [and] oil processing plants have to satisfy local environmental agency, or health and safety executive, and meet certain standards. This is the kind of legislation you need to apply on a greater than national level. As I was talking before about the super-rich and their ability to more rapidly from country to country and escape taxation, again that is something you need to do on a greater than national level. So the European Union does have a function.

We just don’t wish it to become the government of a country. You need to achieve the right kind of balance.

East Bristol has a large immigrant population; what are your thoughts on current immigration and asylum policy?

You say [East Bristol] has a large immigrant population; in many cases the population you are talking about is children of immigrants who have come over in the last century or so. My wife is actually an immigrant from Mauritius. The Green Party policy on immigration, which I whole-heartedly support, is that we need a world where free movement is permitted.

There is a lot made of globalisation, of free movement of products and services, and yet when it comes to free movement of people for some reason there is a problem Obviously if you opened up every border post and allowed anybody to go anywhere in the world, a lot of people would leave their god-forsaken hell and move to a richer country.

So that is not something you can implement overnight.

There is also another problem and that is carrying capacity. It is completely unrealistic to hold any view or debate on immigration without a couple of academic studies on the carrying capacity of various lands. That is to say “How many people could Britain or the UK support if there were no oil and no nuclear power?” We know oil has a limited lifetime; it is going to be all gone within the next hundred years. We know that even if you decided that nuclear power is okay, there is a limited amount of uranium in the ground to be mined.

There is a limited amount of fish in the oceans, and if you overfish the oceans there will be no fish. And there is a limited amount of arable land that you can farm. So how can you possibly hold a view on immigration without knowing what the carrying capacity of the country is?

Is there any one single policy you’d like to see carried out in the next five years?

I would like to see all buildings built to the highest environmental energy-saving standards. Not only in conservation of energy but [also] in micropower generation, water heating, space heating, small wind turbines, electrical photovoltaic panels, an enormous amount of insulation, and better grants to allow the retrofitting of such systems and insulation to existing buildings.

That needs to be made mandatory; otherwise builders will simply undercut each other in providing buildings to the lowest possible cost.

A lot of people are going to be put off voting Green because they don’t see the possibility of a Green government at the next elections, so people are going to vote tactically. The point I would like to make is you have had one [mainstream party], you have had the other, there isn’t that great a difference between them when all is said and done, and there isn’t really any point in voting tactically. Whatever you believe in; vote for it.

Let’s get rid of the Census Now

Let’s get rid of the Census Now – As I listen to all the hubbub about the census long form, I can’t stop wondering why we even have a census. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not questioning the need for knowing how many people do in fact inhabit this country of ours, and where they live precisely, and how much money they make, and how many cars they own, and how many bathrooms they maintain in their homes. All these are wonderfully important things to know for a sheer endless number of reasons.

 
The Diva Politica

 

No, what I don’t understand why we need a census to know all this?

Think about it:

Every time you interact with any level of government somewhere in this country, you have to produce some form of photo ID, each of which is linked with each other directly or indirectly, and all of which can be traced back to your SIN, which is given to you practically at birth.

Every single transaction you have with governments at any level is stored on some database on some computer somewhere, and each of these computers is somehow linked to the internet one way or the other.

All these databases maintained by all the different levels of government out there are keeping track of all of our lives on almost a daily basis. Some of us may find that scary and disconcerting, but it is a reality. Even the fact that you right now are reading this blog post is recorded in some database somewhere.

So, why do we need a census?

If we lived in, say, ancient Egypt or Babylonia five thousand years ago, I would understand why we needed census. The fellahin along the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates didn’t have social insurance numbers, photo id’s and microchip readers. In such a world it would make complete sense to employ a small army of scribes armed with papyrus rolls and clay tablets to count the people and tabulate their possessions.

Even twenty years ago, back when 3 ½ inch floppy disks were considered the bee’s knee, and connecting over an acoustic coupler at 300bauds was a mind-blowing experience in global connectivity and speed, it made sense to employ thousands upon thousands of census takers to collect whatever governments needed to know.

But in 2011? Please. Why do we still bother?

Why doesn’t anybody with anything to say on this matter call the whole thing off and instead find a way to connect all those multiple databases with each other and call up the correct data when it is needed?

Instead of relying on data that’s updated every five years, we could have data that’s updated pretty much every day – or at least once a year, in the case of income data from the CRA. And instead of relying on statistical estimates from a mere 20,000 data sets (the Long Form), we would have accurate information down to the last Canadian and legal immigrant with an SIN anywhere in Canada.

Yes, going from house to house and filling out questionnaires has worked well for five thousand years. But so have have horse-drawn buggies.

Let’s get rid of the Census and bring this country into the Information Age – once and for all.

Political Economy for Everyman

Political Economy for Everyman – On the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Today’ of 10 June 2014 Nick Clegg was unable to answer a direct question from the presenter. That question was “What are British Values”!

It is because people like Nick Clegg are unable to answer this question in public that immigrant communities are can appear unaware of the values to which they must aspire if they are to be welcome and productive citizens in England? Nick Clegg’s ignorance, or his fear of upsetting people, are yet one more disgraceful example of how the Westminster elites have let down everybody in the UK over the last 20 – 30 years.

This is not just a moral failure on his part, it also calls into question his ability to fill the post of deputy-prime minister. After all have not his coalition partners called for the compulsory teaching of British Values  in all schools? If he does not know what they are he can only play an obstructive role in their selection.
The Diva Politica

So what are these values? The UK is a union of four nations; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So its values should be the values of each of these nations.

This is of course NOT important since Cameron, Gove and Clegg can only direct what happens in English schools. What happens elsewhere is up to the respective devolved parliaments/assemblies.

Note that a nation’s values are not the same as a nation’s  culture but are a part of it and along with the legal/governance systems and its language are the major creators of the culture. So the culture’s of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all different.

This begs the questions of what is British culture? Is it a combination of all four or is it a selection from each of the four? Unfortunately for the Westminster elites the first is too unwieldy and unmanageable to be workable while the latter would not be acceptable to any of the four nations.

I’m English not Scottish, Welsh or Northern Ireland so I will leave it to them to describe their values for their own education systems. Instead I will describe English values, the values that we should be teaching in England’s schools.

In a previous blog I attempted to describe why it was so difficult to give a neat, simple description of Englishness and explains why we the English are a tolerant nation and the conditions under which that exists. This blog seeks to expand that discussion.

England’s great gift to the world is representative democracy. It is what, in a previous blog, I have called “The Golden Chain, Democracy’s DNA, England’s Gift” . J R Maddicott’s “Origins of the English Parliament 924 – 1327″ is the standard work on the early history. The early Saxon proto-parliaments that he, based on documentary evidence, describes were not in fact the first. Fragmentary written evidence describes similar meetings as early as 620 AD – nearly 1,400 years ago. As such they predate the meetings in the Isle of Man and Iceland by centuries.

As they say, the lack of evidence is not evidence of lack. So we cannot assume that these councils were not a feature of the early Anglo-Saxon period just because there are few written records.

These meetings or Councils were based on an enduring set of values;

  • The king had to consult his  people before making decisions on law and the running of the realm.
  • The bishops, nobles and local theigns (Knights in the Norman terminology) he called to these councils were accepted by all the people as representing them
  • Decisions were made by consensus amongst all those present and not by a majority vote.
  • All, including the king, were subject to these laws “of the Land” a situation unique amongst nation states in those times (England became a nation state in 927 AD when King Athelstan was accepted as the King of All England).

The council meetings were not there to rubber-stamp the decisions of the king. They could and did refuse a king’s request. They had a judicial function, to which the even the king had to submit, no law could be effected without their consent, they could choose between rival claimants to the throne and they could require the new king to sign up to the laws the council wanted. This signing was required of  Ethelred, Canute and Edward the Confessor.

The reason for this was that the Anglo-Saxons had a great respect for the what they called, and we still call, “The Law of the Land”. Note that this was not the law of the king as it was in Europe but was initially the customary law of the people, which later became “The Common Law of England”. “Common” because everybody was judged under it.

We are used to witless Westminster politicians “pulling on levers” that they proclaim will “get things done” but who do not understand that these levers were not connected to anything so leading to yet another shambolic turn of events.

The Anglo-Saxons did things differently. Once a Council had made a decision this would be written up and copies sent to all the shire courts who had the duty to ensure it was followed in the shire. A shire was the “county” of Anlgo-Saxon England.The shire courts themselves had great power, even after the conquest. In 1297 the shire court of Worcester refused to collect a tax because the conditions under which a previous tax had been granted to the king by the “parlement” were not followed by the king.

The shire court was chaired by the eorl of the shire, the bishop of the shire or occasionally by the king’s reeve (sheriff). Each shire had a number of “hundreds”. The Shire court would send the laws to be followed to the hundred court which was the equivalent of today’s district council and was the main court for criminal matters and also judged civil disputes and local governance.

So English values include a particular form of tolerance; a respect for the customs of the past and the law of the land made on behalf of the people by their representatives and by the judges in local courts; a respect for that law and a willingness to abide by the decisions of the courts that were there to protect their rights. But that was not all

Daniel Hannan in his book “How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters” records that the Anglo-Saxon law on property gave the owner the right to do with that property what they wished. The could sell it, they could leave it in their will to a child, Great Aunt Mary or the local cat shelter.

The Anglo-Saxons and his Norman successors were confident in their tenure of land, safe in the knowledge that no king or noble could either take it away from him by force or tell him what to do with it. This could only happen because the Anglo-Saxons were used to making contract freely and deciding disputes about them in the courts.

This was not so in Europe and to this day some states in Europe can still tell you what you can do with your land. Because of this Europe suffers, for example, from many farms that are too small to be economically viable (and thereby need subsidies) because the law stated that each child must get a portion of the father’s land which was subdivided again and again by each generation .

Anglo-Saxon England did not have church law. That was brought in by William the Conqueror who got the Pope’s blessing for his invasion by swearing to implement church law in England if he won.

The Anglo-Saxons treated everyone the same since all were equal under the law, the same law. Nobles did not get the right to hold their own courts and levy their own justice, no matter how arbitrary it was, as they did in Europe.

Nobles had to pay the same tax as as the villein or freeman, unlike Europe where they were frequently given freedom from tax payments. Because of this Anglo-Saxon England whilst being hierarchical was peopled by those who guarded their liberties jealously, had a sense of unity and even a sense of responsibility for each other.

William the Conqueror considered the law of England so perfect that he made it the law of his realm. The Domesday Book, for example, was not done by command of the king but took William two council meetings over a period of months  (they were not yet called parliaments) to get the agreement of the prelates and nobles in 1085. The Norman and Angevin kings that followed persisted in trying to make arbitrary taxation and confiscation of property the norm but the English fought back using the law and eventually triumphed 149 years after the conquest with the signing by King John I of the Magna Carta.

So to sum up here are the English values, the values that were fought for over the centuries and that ended up embedding representative, cabinet, government in Britain today but which also traveled around the world giving people freedom and democracy wherever they took root:

  • The Law of the Land stands above all other laws.
  • all are subject to this law including the ruler.
  • all are equal before this law.
  • The Laws and taxation may only be introduced or amended by our representatives meeting together.
  • The Law of the Land, our Common Law, says what we may not do, but all else is allowed. When something new arises we do not rush to regulate or control it, as they do in Europe.
  • Since this will allow quite large differences in customs with the ever present risk of conflict it is up to all to show tolerance to others who use the English language to describe their ways  in carefully selected non-threatening terms and who agree with and comply with the Law of the Land and the values of England.
  • Individuals have the right to own property and have the right to give or sell it to whom they please.
  • Freedom to make contracts with others that would be subject to the law and not arbitrary confiscation.

Those then are the English values that allowed England to prosper, despite all that happened in the period from around 500 AD to 1707 AD when the Act of Union was passed. These principles now underpin democratic states such as the United Kingdom, Canada, USA, Australia and so on. Those of us who are fortunate, live in nations using these values to govern themselves.

So Mr Clegg British values are actually English values and some of these values are not the same as European values and that perhaps is why you chose not to discus them on the radio!

Should the Community Know Where Pedophiles Live?

Should the Community Know Where Pedophiles Live? – It’s a topical issue at the moment, should the community know where pedophiles live?

 
I find it interesting that the media is pushing for details of pedophiles and their locations to be publicly known. Yes, you have to feel for the victims and no-one wants any child to be sexually abused, but how come the same publicity is not given to murderers or other serious criminals when they are released from prison. Surely, if the community should know the whereabouts of pedophiles, this same approach should be adopted to murderers, people who commit serious assaults, rapists etc.

 
The Diva Politica

How far do we go? For a drink driver who kills a number of people in a car accident, do we take their licence away for life or make sure they never drink again? If sentenced to jail, does the community get told every time he or she drives a vehicle after being released from prison?

Don’t we need some faith in our legal system? If they have served their time, who says they will re-commit. Maybe being in prison has changed their ways.
By releasing details and whereabouts of pedophiles, this could cause violence against them. Violence does not solve violence.

We need a system that provides justice, giving criminals appropriate punishment but giving them a chance to show that they have learnt from their mistake and won’t re-commit. We need to do everything possible in prison to make sure serious criminals don’t re-commit if they are released back into the community.

We need to protect the community but we also need to make sure we don’t encourage further violence. This is a real possibility if families of victims want revenge against the pedophile.

Surely, if victims are told that pedophiles are walking around on the streets, doesn’t this just cause more pain for them and make them scared for maybe no reason at all. There needs to be a focus on trying to get the victims to somehow overcome their ordeal and live a normal life.

Hang Williams Jr. Compares Obama to Hitler?

ESPN Yanks Monday Night Football Intro After Hank Williams Jr.’s Controversial Statement

As viewers of Monday Night Football tuned in Monday night, many noticed the glaring omission of Hank Williams Jr.’s famous “Are You Ready For Some Football” anthem that would always sound out the opening. Williams, the son of Country music legend Hank Williams, appeared on the Fox News program “Fox And Friends”, was asked his opinion about a recent golf game this past July where President Barack Obama had partnered up with Republican Speaker of the House, John Boener in a game against Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio governor John Kasich. Williams stated that he viewed the pairing as “one of the biggest political mistakes ever.”

When asked to elaborate on this thought, Williams went on to say “Come on. That’d be like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu. Not hardly.”

The comment comparing the current President to Hitler built up in controversy, which brought ESPN to their decision to yank Williams’ sports staple hit from their October 3rd broadcast. In a statement given by an ESPN spokesperson on the network’s decision, they stated that Williams was “not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to “Monday Night Football.” We are extremely disappointed with his comments and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast.”

Williams later acknowledged the controversy, stating that his comments were “extreme” and that it was meant to make a point. “I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me. How ludicrous that pairing was. (Obama and Boener are) polar opposites and it made no sense. They don’t see eye-to-eye and never will.”

Williams went on to say that he’s always respected the office of presidency, but added “Every time the media brings up the Tea Party, it’s painted as racist and extremists — but there’s never a backlash, no outrage to those comparisons. Working-class people are hurting and it doesn’t seem like anybody cares. When both sides are high-fiving it on the ninth hole when everybody else is without a job it makes a whole lot of us angry. Something has to change. The policies have to change.”

It’s not been stated whether ESPN will air the opening with Williams’ “Are You Ready For Some Football” again at any point.