Tuesday, 30 December 2014

95% cloudless blue sky all day

For me, THE highlight of 2014 (even better than the glorious April day climbing the best mountain I have ever climbed with Northern England mountaineer, Nigel):

This Weller-Willson winter expedition to Aran Fawddwy was long in the coming but it was a perfect snowy day when it was finally accomplished - on Sunday 28 December 2014.  Also, I am sure, the first time I had been out on my own with just the two of them.

The three of us had a hard, circular walk from Llanymawddwy in the beautiful upper Dyfi valley.  It was made even harder for Tim who trail blazed through the often deep snow all day.  He was wearing a very snazzy black and brown skin layer of string on the front and two other clever materials on back, arms and armpits.  On top, a modern yellow, full zip, slinky top with hood.  To my relief, we chose not to do my suggestion of the straight on, steep rocky and vegetated rib directly above the sharp corner where we left the road for the gate and path.  As it was, we ended in the dark, as we were expecting and, for that reason also chose not to do my other initial suggestion of the final steep hill above Llanymawddwy.  That would have involved, in the light of our head torches, edging round by the forest fence above a steep drop.

On the summit, there was a gentle breeze.  With temperatures already below freezing, it felt even colder so we did not stop around too long.  However, long enough to take in the magnificent views all round.  We saw all the great mountain ranges of Snowdonia thirty miles away - the Carneddau, the Glyderau and the Snowdon massif, itself.  All of them seemed so small and insignificant.  There was a cloud inversion that meant that Bala and Llyn Tegid were both smothered in a lake of cloud.  In places, slightly higher prominences pushed through to make for small islands of land in the sea of cloud.

I think the snow had come two days earlier on Boxing Day, with probably more on the following day, Saturday.  Some of the fences were honeycombed in rime and Tim and Becky sword fought with icicles of ice from the wire.  In other places, grass sticking through the snow was so encased in icy snow that they looked like meerkats standing upright and staring out over the white wilderness.  Going up the first snowy 600m hill there was a huge field of white bumps that looked quite remarkable.  It was the cushion moss that is so common in upland areas; it makes for such a comfortable seat on a warm summer's day.  Tim gave us the footholds in the deep soft snow for me to put my own and then Becky, in the rear, in a perfect, trio line up, marching on.

We got back to the car after more than seven hours of hard walking and climbing.  I foolishly started driving through an enlarging slit of visibility in the windscreen.  Four miles down the road, the Red Lion in Dinas Mawddwy was more packed than I had ever seen it.  So crowded, that we got nowhere near the woodworm eaten table or the shire horse brasses and certainly not the blazing log fire.  Long drinks quenched our thirst before the two hour drive home.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

NOT Second City but Tenth Rate City!


It started with two out of the three city centre Birmingham rail stations being demolished; only to be rebuilt to make for fewer lines and platforms, certainly at Snow Hill.  The third, Moor Street, was closed.

In the 60s and 70s we had the wholesale closure of rail lines as road congestion slowly grew.  More stations were demolished and sites used for other purposes, as we foolishly put all our eggs in the one basket of fine new ring roads and road transport.

In 50 years of urban rail closures, Longbridge to Four Oaks rail line re-opened across the city and the Jewellery line via a re-opened Moor Street Station that was foolishly closed but, wisely was never demolished - thankfully!

Since the 1980s, some of the rail lines have been left unused or underused for Midland Metro trams to further fragment the once unified rail network that once saw only trains.  Trams are now unnecessarily replacing not only trains but buses!  No evidence of even one car commuter switching to trams who could not have switched to the train, if trains had been left on that urban rail line now used by trams.  (The line was closed, presumably, under Beeching and, after some years, eventually re-opened for trams.  Utter incompetence and idiocy!)

In 34 years of fruitless endeavour, only one out of a whole network of tram lines has been opened!  More failure, more negligence and more incompetence.  And, that one line went on a perfectly good rail line, apart from a short section on road!

Trams instead of trains on 11 miles of our crowded rail network, desperate for more capacity (but not even trams on 45 miles of empty, double track rail line in Brum and the adjoining Black Country - I exaggerate not!).

Your city council and PTA/Centro have plumped for Snow Hill Sta to link with New St Sta using trams instead of the nearer Moor St Sta.  This is a piece of idiocy, when all the trains that stop at Snow Hill also stop at the much nearer Moor St!  You could have spent a tiny fraction of the money now being spent linking Snow Hill and New Street stations with trams, on a simple travelator (or moving pavement) to help bridge the distance for passengers travelling between Moor Street and New Street Stations.

Safer movement for all road users, including cyclists - and freeing up the road network - by making:
  1. all the existing bridleways, towpaths and cycle/walkways fit for purpose ie - free of mud, puddles and overgrowing vegetation;
  2. completing white lines on pavements for cyclists by dropping the kerbs;
  3. dropping all the kerbs on access/egress points on the Harborne Line Cycle/Walkway; STILL NOT BEEN DONE!
  4. completing the Bourn cycle/walkway by doing the excellent job that was done there by doing exactly the same with the two rights of way in Woodgate Valley CP - one side of the stream for walkers and horses with a soft surface and the other side for walkers and cyclists with a hard, free draining surface (preferably, a convex rough tarmac surface);
  5. promote walker friendly, super-courteous and responsible cycling on shared routes;
  6. re-open the 38 miles of existing double track, unused or under-used rail lines in Brum and the Black Country to make for more people being able to use the much safer rail network instead of the car or bike - many miles are alongside commuter congested roads, too.  For many decades, this has been totally stupid transport policy by the city council and PTA/Centro who should know better.
  7. fund the Canals and Rivers Trust to help them make all their urban towpaths available for buggies, wheelchairs, cyclists and walkers so that the towpath network is seen as the alternative to the road network for these users that it should be.
All of this really should not need spelling out - yet again!!

Sir Bob Kerslake wrote in a key report on Birmingham City Council, "Get the basics right."  Even the basics are all to pot, as I have shown, here.

Rethink Trident - and our persistent warfare in every year for the last 100 (no exaggeration)!

Trident is too destructive to be of any practical use.
It's a white elephant of white elephants.
It cannot possibly stop the UK from being attacked since plenty of other countries don't have this magnificent weapon of war but, have either NOT been attacked by anyone or, been attacked by us!
The countries with the biggest and most impressive arsenals of war, do the most aggression against weaker counties.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The ultimate challenge of barbarity


Of all the horrors we’ve seen in the international conflict with radical Islam, Wednesday’s massacre at

the army school in Peshawar must be among the most ghastly. When defenseless women and 

children are targeted on this scale, we’ve reached a new level of barbarism.
How did we get here? Without detracting from the attack’s distinctive horror, it stems from a spiral of 

violence and escalating conflict. When did it all start: the Pakistani army’s campaign against the Taliban? 

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? 9/11? The legacy of occupation and empire that stretches back over 

centuries? The causes are endless: perhaps that’s the nature of conflicts. And the solutions are 

doubtful. The Pakistani army may be victorious, but at what cost, and with what consequences? Perhaps 

this war will spread, or merge into the region’s other conflicts; or perhaps the barbarism will just continue 

to escalate.
Reflecting on the conflicts of his own time, the Buddha alighted on a singular term for what he observed: 

proliferation. Causes multiply into diverse effects, especially when ideology and beliefs magnify them. He 

made sense of this by noting the parallel with what happens in our minds: one irritable thought begets 

another, which becomes a compelling narrative about what’s happening; and, soon enough, we act.
This psychological approach led the Buddha to locate the ultimate causes of war and conflict in the 

minds of individual human beings. We’ll do anything to banish unpleasant feelings and put things right 

when we feel they’re wrong, even if that leads us to act in ways we’d otherwise condemn. That’s how 

otherwise decent people come to justify the use of torture.
In the Buddhist view, nothing good can result when we’re driven by hatred, anger and the desire for 

revenge. Blood will have blood. This doesn’t mean that force should never be used or that wars are 

never justified; but it’s a strong caution to check the impulse to act out of anger, to note the 

moral distortion that rigid ideology can bring, and to allow space for other wiser responses that 

come when we put anger aside.
Proliferation ends, the Buddha suggested, when we learn to tolerate pain, rather than reacting to it, and 

when patience and forgiveness give us the mental space to act with love. For me, that’s the ultimate 

challenge of the barbarity in Pakistan. The world is good at creating warmongers. Peacemakers have to 

make themselves.

SELF: The ultimate challenge is not the heroism and the ultimate sacrifice that gets lauded back home 

as you come home in a body bag but: - restraint, the quiet, soft answer that turns away wrath and the 

courage not to retaliate.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Hostility and strong language from Home Farm, Shuckburgh Estate - a rare confrontation

Yesterday, 16 December, I had a great circular walk from Napton on the Hill via Shuckburgh Park.  However, I should let you know that a slim, lithe, tall young man did not call me "a f---ing pleb" but did angrily denounce me and all walkers as "f---ing walkers".  He was young enough or, I am old enough, for him to be my grandson.  He was not, I must hastily add!

From a distance, as I walked up the hill, I looked down as he drove up in his Land Rover, picked up a dead deer by its hind legs and swung it into the back of the pick up.  I carried on into the wood thinking I was on the right of way.  I soon was shouted at - something to the effect - 

"Oy!  What do you think you are doing?  Get out of that wood.  NOW!"

I turned round and saw the same young man, standing by his Land Rover.  I immediately ran down the hill to him.  He was wearing waterproof rubber overalls, the legs of which were bloodied and his bare hands were also covered in blood as he angrily waved them about!

"How would you like it if I wandered round your back garden", he demanded.  "There are pheasants in that wood and you are disturbing them."

He asked for my address, that I meekly gave him and even invited him round to my place for coffee and cake!  I said, 

"Don't you have other walkers who wander off the public right of way because it is not clear where we are allowed to go and when we are trespassing?"

It was then that he called my ilk and me, "f---ing walkers".

I suggested "Get your boss to ask Warwickshire County Council to put in waymarking posts with yellow arrows and some signs".

However, such was his mood and hatred for walkers coming into his territory, I don't think he will want anything that would remind him of the hated walkers!

"How did the deer die?" I asked him.

"I shot it in the head", he replied.

Clearly, he's a marksman - and much else - but there was no rifle that he was brandishing while we were talking.

I went on my way, checked my Landranger map that did clearly show that the path kept out of the wood.  And, I did, too.

For lack of the OS Explorer map and absence of signs and waymarking posts, I also wandered off the path by Halls Barn Farm and the Mr A Burgess, farmer, I read.  In my youth, I helped out Worcestershire CC by putting in these posts - but, no more!

This was a great walk for the interesting features I saw - like collapsing towpath, ancient stocks (for trespassing pedestrians to get pelted with rotten eggs and tomatoes), an unusual walkers' gate and a sometimes fiery beacon - quite apart from the one, even more fascinating, human!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Israel/Palestine = perpetual conflict = 2 failed states, except one is not a state.

Israel/Palestine = perpetual conflict = 2 failed states, except one is not a state.  Neighbours who cannot live in peace and harmony with each other.  Tragic for both.

We either share our limited area of land as brothers and sisters of the one human family or, we perish as fools.  So far, Israel/Palestine are perishing fools.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Make ALL our existing cycle/footways and towpaths fit for use by non-motorised transport - responsible shared use!

Such is the urgency of fighting ever increasing population growth; finite and climate changing fossil fuel burning; rising road and rail congestion; rising greenhouse gas emissions - and, obesity, we really do need to make all our existing cycle/footways and towpaths fit for use by non-motorised transport.

This alternative to the road and rail network for non-motorised transport is already in place but, mainly, well below par.  Especially, along our canals and in Woodgate Valley Country Park that are both ideal commuter routes for cycles.

They are a rip roaring success throughout Birmingham Westside, especially in the evenings when they are teeming with walkers and the occasional cyclist who, rightly gets slowed by all the pedestrians out of their cars and, unbelievably, exercising!

More car commuters could be encouraged to make the switch - but, the existing infrastructure must be made fit for purpose.

Turn the mudways into mud free, puddle free, non motor cycle/walkways and, widened to accommodate walkers and cyclists more safely.

Widened as was done, this year, to repair a wall on the Birmingham - Wolverhampton Canal near the Soho Loop in Hockley/Ladywood.  We now have a slightly lower, waters edge, towpath that cyclists are using and the upper towpath, that is ideal for walkers.  In my opinion, this widening is excellent and might be extended by removing vegetation and doing towpath widening everywhere else - as funding becomes available from abandoning expensive projects that switch only bus and rail users onto trams.

Why not a NE extension to the present, much improved Harborne Line Cycle/Walkway with a cutting dug, to a reinstated cycle/footbridge from the rail tunnel beneath Northbrook Street, across the existing rail bridge supports in the middle of the canal, to the towpath to face Brum city centre?

At the turn of the 21st century, sleek and modern looking cycle/footbridges were built near both Machynlleth and Towyn, way out in the heart of rural Wales to benefit tourism.  These proposals of mine are to facilitate modal shift to reduce chronic and increasing road congestion and to benefit business and the success of our city.  One cycle/footbridge to ease road congestion in Brum is far more important than two, way out in beautiful Wales.

What do you all think - please?!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

e-petition for the Black Country Rail Line


1) After 34 years of trying but failing to get trams, cancel the fruitless endeavour and return existing trains and rebuild the stations.
2) Trams were only for the middle section, anyway!
3) Return, instead, trains to the full length of 13.5 miles of mothballed, double track rail line through three densely populated Black Country boroughs - Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall.
4) It runs alongside or close to commuter congested roads.
5) This forgotten, strategically vital, train line connects at either end with the national rail network.
6) It would relieve some of the chronic road and rail congestion at New Street Station in Birmingham by creating 13 miles of more rail capacity in the adjacent Black Country.
7) It would give rail passengers from all over the UK an opportunity to visit the Black Country (especially, the Museum, Zoo, Canal Trust and Merry Hill Shopping Centre) and give Brum a miss - for once!

“Egypt is fighting a war of existence” - and so is Israel and the West/NATO!

Oh, how we love warring against terrorists - wherever we can continue our killing!

FROM A NEWS REPORT - I have been sent:

"Egypt continues to destroy Hamas terror infrastructure along with homes, but with no world condemnation. Yet when Israel fights a war of defense, it causes an international uproar. Double standard?

Ma’an previously reported that Egyptian troops had demolished some 800 houses in the area, erasing entire neighborhoods in the process.

“Egypt is fighting a war of existence,”  Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared in November.  Egyptian authorities, like Israel, view the tunnels as a security threat and regularly destroy them. The demolition began following a surge of Hamas terror in the Sinai culminating in the deaths of 33 Egyptian military personnel."

The Black Country Rail Line (BCRL) re-opening proposal

The fifty years, mothballed, Black Country Rail Line (BCRL) re-opening proposal:
  1. It runs through three of the four Black Country boroughs and connects with the national rail network at either end - at Stourbridge Junction and Walsall (a major rail hub), via Castle Hill in Dudley.
  2. It is shown on every map of Birmingham and the Black Country, including the Ordnance Survey, the A-Z and Google Maps.
  3. The current proposal to put Metro trams on the middle section only has failed to materialise in 34 years of our councillors and officers trying so very, very hard.  Time, now, to try the simpler and cheaper solution of trains and stations returning, linked to buses to take passengers to and from the trains.
  4. The BCRL will improve capacity on our national rail network more quickly, more cheaply and with less impact on human climate change and resource depletion than HS2.
  5. It will reduce congestion at the UK's foremost rail congestion bottleneck, New Street Station by allowing inter-city and commuter trains to bypass New Street.
  6. It will give choice to car commuters sitting in nose to tail traffic to leave their cars at home and get to work quicker and more responsibly by bus and, train on the BCRL.
  7. We have had hundreds of millions of pounds spent building the Black Country Spine Road and the Black Country New Road and the more recent grade separated junction on the West Bromwich Expressway.  Now, its time for trains to reduce road and rail congestion - and air pollution and greenhouse gases.
  8. I think, Cllr Will Duckworth supports trains and stations being put back on the line from what he told me at the November GP meeting.  He did not realise that it went on to Walsall.
  9. In the last decade, hundreds of people supported my two Downing Street petitions for trains back on our existing 20 miles of double track rail lines that includes the six miles alongside commuter congested Alcester Road and Moseley Road (A435).
  10. Spending £200 m on the 13.5 miles BCRL is more responsible and cost effective than more road building and HS2 to improve capacity.
  11. At a time of supposed austerity, £600 m is being spent on a cosmetic revamp of New Street Station that does not improve rail congestion or, road congestion to the Drop and Go parking (actually, Stop and Crawl through the exhaust fumes polluted tunnel - in peak times).
  12. The two leaders of Walsall and Sandwell councils are sympathetic to having trains returning to the whole length instead of trams on the middle section, only.  I have not yet asked the new Dudley leader, Peter Lowe what he wants.  Birmingham and their leader, Sir Albert Bore, wants more Metro trams, more HS2 and is not interested in the Black Country Rail Line (from his response when I spoke to him on the 5 December at his advice bureau in the Council House).

Friday, 5 December 2014

Do you really want to know who is responsible for Israel attacking Gaza? GAZA!

I have watched the video from Israelvideonetwork.com that explains why this summer's attack on Gaza has been the most justified war, ever.

The video maintains that the Gazans are committing suicide as Israel's massive 50 days of attack kill and injure many thousands of Gazans. Suicide by the people of Gaza because they are sheltering the Hamas fighters who fire rockets at Israel; suicide because the people of Gaza do as they are told by Hamas and put themselves in the line of fire; suicide by the people because they welcome the Hamas rockets being fired from their homes that then get bombed by Israel.

For me, Israel's attack does not comply with Jewish ethics of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth because the Gazan's sub standard rockets into Israel killed or injured no-one before Israel's attack began on the 8 July 2014. Operation Protective Edge was solely about giving everyone in Israel a little peace and quiet from the ineffective rockets that were so noisily shot down by, in contrast, Israel's modern and effective missile defence system, Iron Dome. Operation Overkill would have been a more honest and accurate name that Israel might have chosen. Jewish ethics could do with a wholesale review, methinks!

Walter Parker - war hero

Where are the peace heroes?

A truly great guy but, how sad that making the ultimate sacrifice and being a true hero can can only be recognised when we are killing foreigners in war and then being killed. Unfortunately, the 1st WW was the forerunner for OUR British warfare in many other countries around the world in every single year since 1914 to the present (Guardian 12 Feb 2014 four page spread of dismal evidence). Will we ever learn to use conflict resolution, civil disobedience and non-violent direct action to maintain law and order in the world? I'm no pacifist but, really, violence and killing should only be used as a last resort and not the first! I'm no pacifist because I believe in the United Nations deciding when the West should use its military might to sort out the men of violence and disorder in the world. And that begins with ourselves and, a little humble circumspection may not go amiss!!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Weird logic from the judge over the Mitchell libel case

I, personally, was surprised that Andrew Mitchell lost.  Jeremy Vine said, "Once you see a police officer jailed for pretending he was there and he heard it (the 10-15 seconds row), you then think the whole account must be untrue."  In total, three officers lost their jobs over the fabrications.

The judge said, that the Police were not capable of making up all that Mitchell said in the time that they had.  The BBC journalist reported that the judge thought, "They would have had to instantaneously come up with this conspiracy and they were simply not capable of doing that."  The officers did not have the wit or the intelligence to do so.  The officer was saved by a lack of wit.  The judge thought that the officers were not capable of making things look very bad for Mitchell by inventing the word, 'pleb'.  Therefore, he, Mitchell must have said it.

Giving his ruling, Mr Justice Mitting said: “For the reasons given I am satisfied at least on the balance of probabilities that Mr Mitchell did speak the words alleged or something so close to them as to amount to the same including the politically toxic word pleb.”
How absurd that Mitchell's career has been destroyed by some weird logic by a judge who admits that Mitchell might not even had said 'pleb' but only something close to pleb!

What an absurd ruling when the judge said the Police did not have the wit or the imagination to make up the so inoffensive word, 'pleb' and, therefore, Mitchell must have said it.  In addition, how could Mitchell have said this wicked, evil word, 'pleb' when three out of the four officers lost their jobs and one was even jailed for one year over the whole incident?  Mitchell could not have acted more honourably, afterwards, in quickly apologising for swearing but, not for a word he always maintained he did not say.  It seems inconceivable that, at the same time or, soon after when he realised how offensive the word was to the police, he would not also have apologised for saying 'pleb', if he had actually said it.

What is more, if the Sun maintains that Mitchell said the word, 'pleb',  you can be pretty sure that Mitchell did not say it!

Mitchell was winning in the court of public opinion, said Jonathan Aitkin.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

My first ever train trips to Wales for walking and cycling - in 2014!

I got the train to Porthmadog in North Wales on Monday for only the second time and then cycled to a former colleague's home in Llanrug, near Caernarfon.  In the summer, I took the train to Morfa Mawddach and walked over the mountains to Machynlleth to get the train home.  Two wonderful trips but, the summer was so dry and warm I was able to sleep out without a tent in a graveyard in the church that Mary Jones went to.  Mary was the 15 year old who walked over the hills to Bala to get a Welsh Bible in 1800.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

We don't just hate foreigners ...

who come to England, we kill them even when they don't!

The indigenous population can have as many children as they like but we only want the rich and the professional people to come from outside the UK to boost our population.  The riffraff can stay away, thank you very much!

We are too small an island to have the poor, the environmental refugee or those fleeing war torn areas of the world.  We can carry on getting good economic growth from our climate changing life styles and all our military activities, as well as welcoming the wealthy and well-to-do professional immigrants.

On the other hand, farmers and fruit growers need immigrants to harvest their crops on low wages.  If we pay more to get indigenous people to do the jobs, then prices will rise.  This could lead to more imports of cheaper produce that leads to unemployment, here.

We have every right to execute evil terrorists, whenever we like. So there!

Very many thanks, Tom for all these thoughts of yours, particularly for the following that I do think is true:

"It seems to me that we as humans are a warring breed. The human race has warred with each other since we were created and throughout our evolution. I'm going back to biblical times and Well before. Wars generally speaking are largely about territory, retaining our way of life and reclaiming territory we believe to have been taken from us. Another factor is the need for world domination. Muscelling in on others people's territory and way of life. As a result, people have had to defend themselves against aggressors in order to defend their territory and ways of life which they have worked hard to build."

At its height, the British Empire had world domination of about one third of the known world.  We went to war on 4 August 1914 to make clear to upstart Germany who was the world's ruler - US.  And, now, we remain the world's ruler with the full support of the USA with whom we are in tandem!

Just because we have an innate​ instinct for revenge and violence does not mean we should give in to those instincts.  Should we not have more self-control and resist all our aggressive urges?

I do think that we all have to be far less gullible; far more sceptical about whether it really is necessary, let alone ethical and legal for us to attack other countries.  Don't trust the politicians when they tell us we must go to war.  We should think things out for ourselves.  No blind obedience, please!

It now seems that our declaration of war on the 4 August 1914 was premature, when Germany never had any intention of invading the UK nor, at any time during the four years.  The German leaders wanted to control more European territory, certainly.  (One hundred years on, Germany is now the respected and acknowledged leader of the European Union under Angela Merkel, a right wing politician who is liked by both Europe and Russia.)  We should have lived up to our nickname of 'perfidious Albion' and, yet again, broken our outdated 1839 treaty with Belgium and, secondly, refused to go to the aid of France when she was attacked.  Unthinkingly tying ourselves to an alliance with France and going to war 100 years ago when we had a small professional army (100,000 in the UK), and no conscription was sheer stupidity.  We were very lucky to get away with it - and nearly did not!  Unfortunately, one-sided disarmament and reparations and folly was seen with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.  Even our former Tory leader, Ian Duncan Smith believes that it led to the rise of the Nazis and the 1939 war.

Hence, one 20th century, European, Christian war that led to world war because all these Christian nations had their own colonies all over the world.  And we, clean living Brits were the worst offenders, with the biggest empire ever seen in the history of humanity.  All this, in direct contravention with what our Founder said and did in His temptations before his public ministry!  Every British monarch, for centuries, had been commanded in their Coronation to submit themselves to the "living oracles of God" (the Bible).  Our forbears betrayed Christ and, His life and teaching.  Our Christian nation has engaged in warfare in every single year, ever since (1914).  Shameful!

Now, it seems, our Judeo/Christian based nations are wanting to exterminate every single member of Islamic State.  As if they could!  Israel is engaged in exterminating every member of Hamas by drones that we build, here in the West Midlands (Stafford)  As if Israel could ever bring about such complete slaughter.  We fully support Israel in killing cold blooded murderers without the delay and cost and inconvenience of judicial process.  Never any sanctions against our good friend, Israel.  Then, we bulldoze their homes as further punishment.  We then get all indignant when they try and kill us Brits and Israelis, whether it is in Muslim lands or in our own lands!

For every single year for at least the last one hundred years (Guardian 12.2.2014) we have persistently shown violence to expand our territories or to hold them.  Now, we are reaping what we have sown over our military interventions in the Middle East - more violence from those we have attacked.  In addition, with yet more nuclear weapons as we replace Trident at the cost of £100 billion of irreplaceable resources and gruesome greenhouse gases.  As if a fleet of submarines can stop the rise of Islamic State in Muslim majority Syria and Iraq!  One nuclear warhead from one sub, could wipe out most of humanity.  But that is what most of the electorate think is a very good idea indeed - if it comes to it!

Just because Christian believers, Muslims and the rest are so aggressive and violent, does that give the rest of us an excuse for being equally violent and aggressive, Tom?

Conscience is my god.  But for the children of Abraham (Jews, Christians, Muslims who all have the same God with three names), this is heretical.  At Zion Christian Centre last week, I heard Jeff Lucas, a Christian leader, speaker and author, downplay the importance of conscience as not being adequate when God's Laws and His Will are pre-eminent!

In short, international law and the UN Charter allows nations to defend themselves but not to be aggressors and to attack other nations, as we do.  Therefore, I am not a pacifist although, like Christ, I do believe in non-violent direct action and passive resistance.  Therefore, for me, the COs were the real heroes between 1914 and 1918.  All the others were badly hoodwinked by the politicians who preached patriotism, nationalism and militarism - and the people gladly swallowed the lies.  The politicians told us to: 'Be silent.  Consume.  Die.'  Exactly what happened to so many of them.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

"Lest we forget" ... to keep killing foreigners, so they know who's boss and who is right!

We always remember our own people who have been killed in our hundred years of warfare around the globe.  Now, even more so, perhaps, than we have ever done in the past.  They are our heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  So we laud and honour them on Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day.  Those they killed don't get quite the same attention.  Is that because they had the temerity to kill our armed forces personnel?  In fact, we justify their murder by calling them terrorists to make it easier for us to execute them by fire and flame.  We have every right to do so when they have the barbarity to behead our clean living, honest, democratic, capitalist journalists and aid workers.

We always forget the reasons for our British armed forces going to kill and to be killed.  Isn't it funny that it is always "to protect Britain's vital security interests" or, "to respond to a security threat to the UK".  Yet, how do we end up killing so many?  Perhaps, ten to fifty times the number of our people killed defending our shores!  17,000 UK armed forces personnel killed since 1945.  How many foreigners - whoops, I mean godless Communists and, latterly, terrorists, did they and their comrades kill first?

For every single year, over the last 100 years, we clean living Brits have engaged in warfare, in far off lands (Guardian 12.2.2014).  This has always been with the full approval of NATO and, often with NATO's full engagement, too - and Israel's wars must be included, too over the last 66 years.  And, obviously, they are so essential, so righteous, so legal and moral.  Where has Russia and China been in all this?

From what I gather, since 1945, the track record of Russia and China has been morally superior to that of the Western, capitalist and 'Christian' countries.  From the Suez Crisis, to the Cuban Missile Crisis to all our years of warring in the Middle East to the present, China has been missing and Russian involvement has been much less than the Oh, The Ever So Righteous West!  Cuba was in response to our Jupiter missiles in Turkey on the border with Russia and, Russia's war in Afghanistan was much shorter than all our 13 years (and rising) of wars in that country and Iraq.  China is nowhere to be seen, in comparison with our strutting around on foreign battlefields for every year for at least the last 100 years (and rising)!

This year, I met an Icelandic man who was astonished by the number of war memorials and statues to our war heroes in London.  So many Generals, Admirals and Bomber death dealing Harris.  It never ends but, it has.  Gandhi gets one in Parliament Square, soon!

Yet, we always forget those that they have killed - always killed on foreign shores and never in Britain. 

In answer to this point. All those who died in the two world wars are remembered. No one is forgotten.

Ode of Rememberance:-

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

A reference to all who died.

We always forget the reasons for our British armed forces going to kill and to be killed.
Tim. This is not true. Of course we remember why we go to war.

Isn't it funny that it is always "to protect Britain's vital security interests" or, "to respond to a security threat to the UK".
To answer this point.

We went to war to protect not only our own interests but the interests of probably the rest of the world. We fought against Hitler and the Kieser. Both of whom had the same inclination. World domination. They had to be stopped. And if we didn't stop them, someone else would.

always killed on foreign shores and never in Britain.
We are an island. More difficult to reach. We stop
poeple before they reach us. Except the Romans and the Duke of Normandy. Remember the Spanish. The Germans tried twice and failed.

For every single year, over the last 100 years, we clean living Brits have engaged in warfare, in far off lands.  This has always been with the full approval of NATO and often with NATO's full engagement, too
To answer this point. We have engaged in war fare over the past 100 years, not only to protect our own interests but others too. We fought alongside other countries, all attempting to protect their own interests, land and freedom. Of course NATO was involved. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It's the North Atlantic areas initially that were threatened. The world would come later.

In 2015, STOP voting for the three main war parties whose foreign policies kill, indiscriminately
in the Muslim majority world
Most Muslims are peaceful Poeple. Around 90%. The remaining 10% are Islamic Terrorists hell bent on creating a Muslamist world. And look at the appalling, atrocious, methods they use. They are threatening the entire western world. They have to be stopped. However, this battle will go on for a very long time. Dialogue is futile. They war and kill amongst themselves.

So there you are Tim. The reasons why I wear the blood red badge. You are living in a democracy were you are free to do as you wish. That's what those poeple died for in two world wars. Tom

Friday, 14 November 2014

One illegal and warmongering behaviour leads to yet more of the same

Jews and Arabs have lived together for thousands of years with, it seems, very many more years of peace than war.  For much of that time, Jews have lived outside the Holy Land, after their initial conquest of Canaan, when Yahweh gave them the Promised Land and, then exile to Babylon.

Perhaps, the greatest explosion of mutual killing between Jews and Muslims has taken place since 1948 with the founding of the State of Israel.  That might never have taken place if it had not been for the 1939-45 war that brought the holocaust caused by the West.  Germany was directly responsible but the other Christian Western nations knew what was going on, almost from the outset, in Germany from 1933.

It seems that the State of Israel came about for three reasons:
  1. The 'Christian' Western nations responsible for the 39-45 war and the persecution of the Jews, wanted to salve their conscience and to do something in restitution.
  2. Jews were fleeing persecution in war torn Europe to the land that they had first conquered and occupied 2,500 years, or more, ago.
  3. Because of the terrorism by the Jewish terrorist gangs, the West with the UN, designated a homeland for the Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine.  Now known as the State of Israel.
That 39-45 war might never have taken place if only the British Empire had kept aloof from the 1914 war on the mainland of Europe.  British entry on 4 August 1914 when we were ill equipped, was grossly premature and unnecessary when Britain was never in danger of being invaded between 1914 and 1918.

"Revealed: £4bn plan to get city moving" Post 13 Nov

In nearly fifty years of living and working in Wider Birmingham I have seen umpteen of these magnificent transport plans that promise so much and deliver so little, if anything.

I came to Brum in the 1960s when the Victorian New Street Station had just been demolished and rebuilt to be a virtual underground station filled with poisonous diesel fumes.  In the 1970s, the Victorian Snow Hill Station went the same way - bulldozed.  Realising their error, it was quickly rebuilt but, to only half its former grand size.

In the 1980s and 90s, Midland Metro trams were all the rage but, by 2000, instead of nearly half a dozen new tram lines to replace trains and buses, we had a measly ONE and that was almost entirely built on a rail line that should never have had its trains removed!  Even then, it was never extended to New St Station.  Extraordinary!

In this year of our Lord and Master, Cllr Albert Bore - 2014, we STILL have the six miles double track rail line through Kings Norton, Kings Heath and Moseley without stations or trains.  Nose to tail rush hour congestion alongside an empty double track rail line.  Scandalous!

In addition, we have the 13 miles of the Stourbridge, Dudley, Walsall double track rail line also devoid of trains and stations.  It goes within half a mile of the Merry Hill Shopping Centre, almost next to Dudley Zoo and Castle, very near to the Black Country Living Museum, links with the West Coast Main Line and our precious, one and only tram line at Wednesbury.  Empty of trains; not even any ghost trains.  Fifty years of unparalleled negligence and, after the stupidity of the line being closed in the first place!

The one triumph was the re-opening of the cross rail line from Longbridge to Four Oaks.  Amazing!  How was it done?  Nothing like it has ever been seen since by our pie in the sky transport experts.  But, today things have changed for ever by these same visionary transport officials.  We can now rest happy in our beds knowing that things are looking up - at long last!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Richard Alonzo on Israel/Palestine tragedy

As an atheist I have no religious axe to grind and am I sure would be equally hated by the extremists on both side of the divide be they Zionists or Muslims., But I speak as someone who's father served in the British forces extensively in the Middle East and fought the Nazis for six long bloody years in the 2nd World War.

Your hate filled invective allegedly by an Israeli woman tells us why their will never be justice or peace in the Middle East...

It oozes contempt for the principles my father fought for in the 2WW as enshrined in the UN universal declaration of Human Rights and seeks to poor scorn and contempt on those who would defend those rights...

You are telling us that you are ignorant?

No I am fully aware of the origins of the state of Israel, of the terrorist acts of the Irgun and Stern Gangs, the bombing of the King David Hotel, the kidnapping and hanging of British soldiers with piano wire, the fact that in the two and a half years from 1945 to June 1947, British law enforcement forces lost 103 dead, and sustained 391 wounded from Jewish militants. Eventually forcing the British to withdraw for administering the mandate and UN Resolution 181 recommending the adoption and implementation of the Plan of Partition.

I see no evidence of British forces at the time killing large numbers of innocent women and children in the communities allegedly sheltering the Irgun and Stern Gangs.

I am also aware that this lead to the 1947-48 civil war where both sides (Arabs  & Jews) had considerable blood on their hands averaging between them over 100 deaths and 200 injuries per week. We can of course reel off the tit-for-tat massacres until we are blue in the face, (Deir YassinHadassah medical convoy, etc.) but that will bring the region no closer to peace.

You are telling us you don’t really care about Palestinians or their children?

If you have compelling evidence of Hamas using Human shields bring it the international community, simply saying it does not make it true any more that the accusation that the IDF have taken over people homes and use them as a base of operations while locking them in another room (effectively making them human shields) with out evidence to prove it. Perhasp you can also produce evidence to show how many Hamas fighters were sheltering in the UN buildings the IDF hit? 

You are telling us that you are in favor of genocide?

'If your not for us you're against us' The age old battle cry of the tyrant. 
A classic piece of propaganda, portraying you simultaneously as the victim yet morally superior to everyone else who by showing the slightest concern for the value of a human life other than your own is branded a Nazi.  

You are telling us that you are a racist and a hater.

No, actually I'm telling you that human rights, such as the right to life, are inalienable, universal and applicable to all in all circumstances irrespective of if they are a Jew, Palestinian, Pagan or Atheist. I expect anyone who violates the rights of another individual or who commits war crimes irrespective of their background or cause to face the full force of the law.

You are telling us you are ill-informed, uneducated and/or too stupid or too lazy to read history books?

 See my reply to you are ignorant.

But most of all, you are showing God who you are and the evil that is in your heart?

I'm afraid as an atheist your threats of divine retribution do not move me, however your final line of hate filled invective really says it all.

'Every people who hated Jews eventually became extinct. The Jews survived.'

Which perhaps tells us all we need to know about the latest incursion into Gaza?

Rest assured however nothing will change in your lifetime, the western powers will continue to support Israel until it is no longer in their strategic interests to do so...

Richard Alonzo on the Israel/Palestine misery

It's hard to know where to start with some one who won't even acknowledge the humanity of the other side and their right to exist. Who uses the crimes of others to justify their own. Who takes the word of the Israeli military as gospel. Who  he cites in quoting the militant:civilian 1:1 ratio, when in fact most independent sources put it at 1:3. 

You could also cite international law on the settlements in the occupied territories in violation of the fourth Geneva convention that inflame the situation and Israels refusal to recognize the Palestinian right of return in violation of UN general assembly resolutions 194 & 3236.

I've had similar conversations with people at work along the lines of what if it was your home so lets turn the example of Halesowen on its head. How would you feel if the original inhabitants Halesowen (the Celts) suddenly appeared on your doorstep one day brandishing guns and gave you 24 hours to leave your home and dumped you all in Cradley Heath. Then built a wall around it so you had to endure the daily humiliation of queuing up for hours each day at military checkpoints, to travel to Halesowen to do minimum wage jobs for the people who had occupied your homes, before travelling back home through the same checkpoints again. 

Finally you could tell him that the Bush doctrine, a war on terror, asymmetric warfare using over-whelming conventional force against terrorists has been a total failure. The Taliban still controls larges parts of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya following western military intervention have become failed states and breeding grounds for ever more extreme forms of terrorism. That history tells us it almost impossible to defeat terrorism militarily and despite public protestations to the contrary Government know this and talk to terrorists because all the time because the only viable solution is a political one. 

Here in the UK back channels to the IRA were opened in 1972 almost as soon as the troubles started and remained in place throughout the darkest days of the conflict. That a far more constructive humane and christian response to terrorism is the one shown by the parents of Tim Parry  in the aftermath of the Warrington bombing. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Superb letter from Tim Willson, dated 13.11.2010

Hi Tim,

Very sorry to hear about your accident. And I hope you get better quickly. Becky has told me about your rib too.

I had a very mixed week of weather in Scotland. I walked from Glenfinnan to Roshven (West coast) via a brilliant ridge line just under the Munro height (highest being Rois-Bheinn if you have done it?). It is the area West of Loch Shiel and is called Moidart. This took three days and was very wet and windy. Actually blowing me off my feet and sending me flying at one point. And I had puddles inside the tent by the second night. But when I could see, the views were pretty spectacular. And I didn't see anyone for the entire time.

I then helped the survival expert Leon with the two day mountain navigation course. We were teaching two people (BA Execs no less) and took them up the slopes of Rois-Bheinn and then across and around this area covered with little lochans (South of Roshven village). We camped on a little peninsula sticking out into a lochan and at night all the stars were reflected into the water. Very beautiful and Quiet.

After the course I got a lift back to Fort William and spent the night in the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel. And because of the weather, heavy snow and 90mph winds, I spent the next day and night there too.

Then Tuesday morning I got off early and walked the Mamores ridge all the way down to camp at a little lochan (750m) at the far end of the ridge which is by a Munro which is by itself (I haven't a map with me so cannot give you a name.  SELF: The Munro was Binnein Mor) I did miss out An Gearach and the other Peak which is to the North of the main ridge and requires a detour. But the snow level was about 600m and it was excellent visibility so the views were spectacular. On Wednesday I climbed the Munro (SELF: Binnein Beag) by my campsite lochan, after defrosting my boots which had frozen solid in the night. Then I climbed up Sgurr Eilde Mor (apologies for spelling from memory) to the South, and dropping down the NE ridge to the Bothy in the valley bottom. After a very chilly river crossing there I followed the river eastward to Loch Treig and then walked up to Corrour Station in tim for the 1830 train to Glasgow and my overnight bus journey back.

The last two days were spectacular, especially wednesday, with 360 degree views of snowy peaks and even the Ben itself was cloud free. Probably the best winter days I have spent up there.

I am now recovering with Becky who made a brilliant apple pie (but not quite as good as my Grandma's). Becky also made the best Chilli con carne with sweet potato mash, and ice cream (written under duress!).

Apologies if I have frustrated you, particularly with news of Becky's cooking! Hope your very well (bar injuries) and I'm sure your keeping busy.

Halesowen Wedding by Duncan Cox

I started the day at Becky’s parents house in my parent’s hometown of Halesowen in Worcestershire. The day started cloudy with a promise of bright sunshine for the rest of the day. The weather man lied! There was one moment, all day, where the sun peeped through. I suppose we can be grateful it did not actually rain. Becky’s family were a lovely group of people who kind and loving towards their daughter and attentive to her needs. The house was buzzing with activity as it usually is on a wedding day. Dad busied himself with the catering while the ladies of the house rallied around Becky ensuring her dress was immaculate and the hair & make-up were completed to precision. I was particularly fond of the moment the dress was fastened by the bridesmaids, everything was a little tense as it always is, when all of a sudden, a large mirror appeared for Becky to cast her gaze of approval. The moment the young bridesmaid popped her head around the side is one of the quirky, comedy moments I love to capture. It illustrates the mood perfectly and gives a terrific flavour to the photographs of the bride preparations.
The ceremony was a beautiful service in a modern church a short drive away still in Halesowen, Worcestershire. It was a happy, emotional service with some excellent readings and glorious singing. As a wedding photographer, capturing the moment is paramount in my skill. If you shoot early it does not look quite right and too late, you have missed it. I personally think the moment that defined their wedding for me, was while walking down the aisle with her father. I had taken a few shots of Becky walking towards Tim, but I believe the perfect moment was once the happy couple were along side each other. Becky leaned forward to look deep into the eyes of her husband to be, while completely unaware of her father on her left arm just about keeping his composure. In one photo or one moment, it shows the depth of emotion being experienced in different ways around the room. Wonderful!

My comment on Harry Leslie Smith's piece in the 'Guardian'

from: 'IAdmireAngelinaJolie':
"He has been dead a long time now, but I doubt very much that he would want to lay a wreath at the
Cenotaph. He was opposed to all forms of aggression... and the memorializing of such aggression. The
folly of man is best forgotten." (the comment that 'IAdmireAngelinaJolie' comments on, now:)
Yes. Well. Amos Oz said:The only alternative to continuing the Israeli military operation is simply to follow 
Jesus Christ and turn the other cheek. I never agreed with Jesus Christ about the need to turn the other 
cheek to an enemy. Unlike European pacifists I never believed the ultimate evil in the world is war. In my view 
the ultimate evil in the world is aggression, and the only way to repel aggression is unfortunately by force.
That is where the difference lies between a European pacifist and an Israeli peacenik like myself. And if I may
add a little anecdote: A relative of mine who survived the Nazi Holocaust in Theresienstadt always reminded 
her children and her grandchildren that her life was saved in 1945 not by peace demonstrators with placards 
and flowers but by Soviet soldiers and submachine guns.
This is similar to the non-violent, English Baptist member of a Christian Peacemaker team who was 
kidnapped by al Qaeda in Iraq and then was rescued by the SAS.
I do find it strange that an Israeli peacenik, Amos Oz should write, "In my view the ultimate evil in the world is  
aggression, and the only way to repel aggression is unfortunately by force."
Is not using force or violence, aggression also?  Both Israelis and Palestinians accuse the other of just that -
aggression.  It gets them nowhere but to yet more revenge violence.  Revenge is so sweet for the victim of
aggression.  However, when the victim of aggression hits back, we call that terrorism.  Hence, al Qaeda, the
Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic State, some Palestinians are all terrorists.  Our side - NATO and Israel - 
are the peaceniks, the peacemakers because we use our violence and aggression - whoops, I mean force - 
to bring peace out of aggression by our military might is right!
This is all absolutely absurd.  Better to talk to terrorists, who are people like us and get a negotiated,
permanent settlement - as in N Ireland.  Netanyahu and Abbas may then become the Israel/Palestinian 
Chuckle Brothers like Paisley and McGuinness were in N Ireland.  That is even more absurd!