Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

As the global Occupy Movement enters its next phase, U-Know proudly presents the personal reflections of an individual participant from Occupy Bath and Bristol - including an overview of the movement's origins, actions and future intentions. 


"Listen, the next revolution is gonna be a revolution of ideas." - Bill Hicks

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America's War Against Women

Dorian Cope, March 2012ce

The Republican Party's war against American women’s healthcare and contraceptive rights is an all-out war against women. Birth control freed females at last from the age-old tyranny of enforced, non-stop childbearing. But the Republicans have made their aim clear: to catapult women's rights back by decades – and keep women enslaved as second-class citizens. 

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Creating an Army of Slaves

Merrick, December 2010ce

The Conservatives roll out plans to force benefit claimants to work for what was previously their right, but it was devised by Labour, and the same thing has been happening in prisons for fifteen years. To make people work for the minimum needed to survive with no hope of improvement or ability to leave is simply slavery. As has always been the case, it's a state of affairs that suits the slave owners very well.

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After the 10th November student demonstration against rasing the price of education trashed Conservative Party headquarters, the police - aided by right wing media - were searching for people who were recognisable in the footage. Many of the students were new to protest and had joined in spontaneously, and so were unaware of how the police work. The FITwatch blog, that campaigns against the police Forward Intelligence Team intimidation, published advice. The police had the FITwatch site taken down.

The advice is republished here as part of it going viral on sites all around the world. It remain pertinent for anybody who is ever invoved in any action that the police may want to come and get you for.

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An Economy Not Worth Saving

Dale Pendell, June 2010ce

The over-riding desire to boost economic growth and perpetuate our economy is not only impossible, it is undesirable. If we are to live sustainably, to take what we need without ruining things for those elsewhere and those who come after, we have to stop the obsession with growth and realise that, like any growing youth, we have reached maturity.

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Punish The Poor

Merrick, May 2010ce

As the new coalition government starts its clampdown on benefit claimants, it is apparent that this is a cruel and absurd exercise in blaming the victim. Meanwhile tax evaders, who cost the state many times the amount that benefit fraudsters do, are left relatively unhindered.

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Gay Men are Still Sex Offenders

Merrick, April 2010ce

Even though gay sex is fully legalised in the UK, men convicted are still recorded as sex offenders. A gay man who had a confession beaten out of him 50 years ago is still prevented from doing volunteer work with children or vulnerable adults. Tens of thousands of men's lives are impeded like this, losing job prospects and living with the threat of vigilante violence. The state has deleted some records when individually applied for, but it cannot be fair that we can aoplogise for persecuting gay men yet refuse to erase their convictions as a matter of course.

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Blood on the Summit Floor

Jess Worth, January 2010ce

The Copenhagen climate talks were supposed to deliver a successor to the Kyoto treaty. This was the time and place when the world was meant to come together to make a legally binding agreement to cut CO2 and prevent catastrophic climate change. It failed so badly that many observers believe it would have been better if the talks and their resulting deal hadn't happened at all.

So what went wrong and why? Jess Worth, editor of New Internationalist, was inside the talks and explains what happened and what it means for us all.

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Carbon trading - where high emitters buy and sell permits awarded to them under rules they had a large part in designing themselves - is based on the idea that solving climate change can best be done by trusting the same systems that caused the problem to come up with solutions.

Sandbag, a new environmental organisation, thinks we can accept the paramount profit motive of industry. All we need to do, they say, is make the market a bit more effective.

But the market's belief that we can have infinite economic growth on a finite planet is not only self-evidently insane, it can only be an obstacle to tackling climate change. Sandbag are making themselves apologists for the climate criminals.

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Ground Control

Anna Minton, August 2009ce

The presence of security cameras is meant to make us feel safe, but it actually contributes to fear. We feel that the cameras are there because danger is lurking.

As privatisation has shifted the public mind, we now accept that private companies watch over public spaces, storing the data and we never quite know where or why. This creeping authoritarian approach makes us feel more unsafe, so that although crime is falling our fear of it is rising. The answer we're given is to hand out more contracts to install the very things that undermine our security.

But, just as we rapidly binned the 60s utopian vision of urban motorways and tower blocks, so we can choose to halt the advance of corporate control and build new models of shared public space.

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Plastics are Forever

Alan Weisman, July 2009ce

In just fifty years of mass consumption of plastics, we've managed to inundate watercourses around the world. Just as the ocean grinds rocks into sand, so it is breaking plastics into smaller pieces, making it reach the entire food chain. How long they will take to decompose is unknown, as is what will happen when decomposition releases their chemicals.

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Nothing To See

Merrick, June 2009ce

The proof of the police's commitment to injustice comes in their response to crimes committed by officers. Instead of wanting to understand what happened, to see perpetrators punished and future crimes averted, they close ranks and use lies and aggression to discourage further inquiry.

Their campaign against the documentary 'Injustice' about deaths in police custody, and a strikingly similar one against 'On The Verge', about police harassment of peace campaigners, show that they regard justice as an enemy if it challenges their authority.

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What’s Your Consumption Factor?

Jared Diamond, May 2009ce

Whilst the expanding population is a real concern for the world, it's not just how many of us there are, it's how much we each consume. If we all consumed as much as Americans, it would be the equivalent of having 72 billion of us. The idea that developing countries can some how catch up is cruel hoax, and their trying to do so will be catastrophic. Something's got to give.

As even the renewable resources are running out, western level of consumption will be forced to decline. If we want there to be a safe future for those who come after us, we'll deliberately start that decline before it's forced upon us.

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Police Kettling: The Shadow of Death

Merrick, April 2009ce

The G20 protests saw - once again - a minority of the crowd throwing things at the police, responded to with tactical outbursts of unprovoked police violence against anyone who was within reach.

But just as threatening to the wellbeing of protesters was the tactic of 'kettling' - penning the whole crowd in and refusing to let anyone in or out for hours at a time. Thousands of people were held in continuous sunshine with no water. People with medical conditions who asked to leave were refused.

The police strategy views anyone who would go on a demonstration as a security threat to be contained. It was the same vision they had of football fans in the 1980s, leading them to cause the Hillsborough disaster.

Kettling, and the tactic of batoning large numbers of people over the head, will just as surely lead to deaths.

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On 15th April 1989 a crush at a football match left 96 people dead. Often portrayed by the police and media as an appalling accident or the result of hooliganism, the evidence says otherwise. Chaotic policing and regarding all fans as a security risk, compounded by poor stadium design, led to decisions that made the crush inevitable. The police spent the following years hiding evidence and to this day nobody's been convicted.

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As detailed knowledge of climate change is now commonplace, a high-level panel of politicians discussing it should involve plans for the kind of radical action that the science demands. Instead, and inevitably, it involves contradiction, game-playing, error and lies.

Every time they speak, those whose jobs it is to deliver solutions prove themselves unworthy. The changes we need will only come when we force them into it.

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Geoengineering: Biodiversity Ker-plunk

Merrick, January 2009ce

In our desperation to avoid cutting carbon emissions, all kinds of ineffective schemes are touted; biofuels, carbon offsets, hydrogen powered cars. But perhaps the craziest sounding and most dangerous are 'geoengineering'; altering the planetary systems to reflect the sun or be more CO2 absorbent. Yet as the climate crisis intensifies, the crazier ideas are getting more of a hearing.

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As the world's governments meet in Poland to begin to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto treaty, one aspect is clear. If we are to tackle climate change we have to use methods that actually work.

Kyoto's 'Clean Development Mechanism' - essentially carbon offsets on a grand scale - have not only failed to deliver carbon cuts, but they have created great social injustice.

Writing from the climate talks, Kevin Smith argues that the rich overpolluting nations need to drop their devices to maintain present levels of consumption and act fairly, swiftly and effectively.

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Nuclear is Not the Climate Solution

Merrick, October 2008ce

With the intensifying urgency of the climate problem, the nuclear lobby have repackaged themselves as our saviours. But even if there weren't the issue of deadly waste lying around for millennia, it is far more expensive and far slower to deploy than other solutions to hand. Its new spin is just a push to get us to commit a century of public money to this dangerous dinosaur industry.

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The Truth About GM

Colin Tudge, September 2008ce

The claims and counterclaims about genetically modified crops commonly ignore an intractable truth of modern farming - GM can't be about 'feeding the world' because farming is not about feeding people. It is about making money.

For as long as that is true, farming and the science that supports it are not working for the benefit of humanity but the benefit of shareholder dividends.

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Can Britain Feed Itself?

Simon Fairlie, July 2008ce

At the moment Britain imports nearly 40 per cent of its food, most of its energy and nearly all of its fibre. In years to come we might have to become more self-sufficient. If so, it would not be for the first time. Many people alive today remember the last time the UK had to resort to home production. Could we do it again? And could we do it with organic agriculture?

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Asylum: The Myth of Sharing

Anita Castelino, May 2008ce

We are a society that loudly condemns torturous regimes in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, yet when human rights activists from those countries flee the terror we subject them to degrading treatment.

Even when they're not held in prison conditions, they are denied the right to work, to move house, an education, an income as high as the law says is the minimum for a British citizen to survive on. These conditions are set in a context of suspicion and racism that uses 'asylum seeker' as a perjorative.

Yet there are tales of such resilience that, if only we'd listen to them as people, we could not fail to be moved to compassion. Anita Castelino talked to three asylum seekers in Leeds.

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Its advocates tell us that it can be made from water and gives off no carbon emissions, and so switching to hydrogen powered cars is of vital importance in moving us to a low-carbon society.

In fact, there are serious engineering, safety and economic problems that are insurmountable. But more than this, it's an energy-hungry industry that would actually lead to an increase in emissions.

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As the climate impact of flying moves to the centre of the debate about our choices about sustainability and activists tackle the industry head-on, what are the questions that need answering?

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Shadow of Extinction

George Monbiot, June 2007ce

Our present climate change predicament has precedent. 250 million years ago, a swift series of volcanic eruptions poured huge quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, raising the global temperature by six degrees. Life itself nearly ended, and the biosphere took 150 million years to recover.

Six degrees is the upper end of what's predicted for the 21st century.

We still have time to avert it, but not for long.

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controversial documentary 'The Great Global Warming Swindle' claimed that the theory of human-caused climate change is based on flawed or faked science.

So Cambridge University listed the programme's main claims and got some of the most eminent scientists in the respective fields to explain the reasons for the scientific consensus on global warming, affirming that the programme was wilfully misleading and scientifically pathetic.

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The Climate vs The Market

Merrick, March 2007ce

As it becomes clear that we need swift and drastic cuts in carbon emissions, we are told that voluntary schemes can be enough, and that we should not interfere in the workings of the freemarket in order to achieve cuts. But can it be wise to trust the things that caused the mess to clean it up? Especially if they don't have to and it'll be cheaper not to?

Attacking a huge sweep of Labour, LibDem and corporate greenwash, this article calls for cuts demanded by the science, by the only method that can work.

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How Green is Green Electricity?

Merrick, January 2007ce

All major electricity suppliers offer a green tariff, often more than one. But what is meant by 'green'? What are their different standards? Are the big corporations just greenwashing again? Are the smaller green electricity companies really any different?

This article sifts through the different claims and merits so you can make your mind up.

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Cartoon Stripped Assets

Bill Watterson, December 2006ce

The creator of Calvin and Hobbes explains why he’s never let anyone use it for merchandising. It’s not an essay about cartoons; it’s about integrity, honesty and humanity versus commerce, crassness and exploitation.

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The Lessons of Easter Island

Clive Ponting, October 2006ce

When Europeans arrived on Easter Island, they couldn't explain how the primitive inhabitants had fashoned and erected the famous statues. Stranger, neither could the inhabitants themselves.

Their ancestors had been more numerous and technologically advanced. They took far more from their envoronment than it was able to replenish, and so descended into privation, and violence to fight for what little remained.

Their story is a parable for us. In our society, living beyond our environmental means takes place on a scale much greater than in previous times, and the results will be similarly multiplied. If we don't take advantage of our ability to see the problems coming, we too face inevitable ruin.

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Beyond Hope

Derrick Jensen, August 2006ce

Often hailed as the essential ingredient for activism, hope is actually an obstacle. It is a sign of a vague and unfounded faith that things you have no power over will come out alright. It is the same as the hope of a paradise in the afterlife that made slaves accept their lot on this earth. It is a symptom of the relinquishing of our power as agents of the changes we know are needed. To be effective, we must move beyond hope.

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Workers Beer Company are familiar to those of us who frequent music festivals in the UK. They sell the beer and give all profits away to unions and other organisations they deem worthy.

But the ethics only apply to those they deal with directly. They're quite happy to make profits for companies that are widely boycotted because they fund homophobic, anti-abortion Christian funadamentalists, Bush-loving companies that oppose workers rights and human rights, and push hard for globalisation. What Workers Beer gives with one hand, it takes away with the other.

Breaking Glastonbury's environmental rules, forcing bar staff to wear sweatshop T-shirts that promote WBC's despicable corporate partners and having Page Three 'models' pull pints for promotion in Rupert Murdoch's big seller The Sun; it turns out the ethical image is skin deep.

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Not So Green Peace

Merrick, June 2006ce

Whilst Greenpeace trade on an image of daring direct action to confront governments and corporations that despoil the environment, much of what they do has the opposite effect.

Run by directors whose career paths move directly to the anti-environmental companies Greenpeace should challenge, deals are struck to not obstruct oil companies' property, not to speak out against the largest industrial attack on wild nature in Europe, and instead to strengthen the hand of Europe’s largest industrial CO2 emitter.

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Carbon Offsets Are A Fraud

Claire Fauset & Merrick, May 2006ce

The idea of planting trees to offset the emissions caused by our fossil fuel use seems worthy and responsible. However, it is impossible to really quantify how many trees equals how much CO2. But more than that, the whole idea is erroneous; planting trees does not and cannot offset fossil emissions.

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Climate Change : Time For Action

Merrick, April 2006ce

Climate change is an issue that unites so many people; all around the world people feel as concerned, furious, scared and daunted as we are. We have all the evidence we need that governments are going to block rather than deliver solutions. If we want change, we have to make it ourselves.

This summer sees the Camp For Climate Action, a place to gather those of us who want to kickstart a serious movement for this most serious of issues.

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There are plans to dam all of Iceland's glacial rivers to provide power for highly polluting aluminium smelters. It is the largest industrial assault on wild nature in Europe. Yet, in defiance of their founding principles, Greenpeace won't say anything about it.

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International Womens Day Hijacked by Big Business

Claire Fauset, February 2006ce

After a century of co-ordinated grassroots events, International Women's Day, is being co-opted by corporate power with sponsors HSBC.

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Business Is Good

Douglas Rushkoff, January 2006ce

Corporations are, rightly, commonly held to be primarily responsible for humanity's accelerating decline into suicidal unsustainability.

But a corporation is merely the agreement made by people to behave in certain ways. Their present obsession with short term financial profit is not an inherant part of how corporations need to behave.

It is quite possible for them to reorient themselves towards what their owners and workers most want and do best, and in doing so could stop working against everyone's interests and instead work for the benefit of all.

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You Are Being Watched

Steve Connor, December 2005ce

From 2006 Britain will be the first country where every journey by every car will be monitored. The information will be held in a central database for a period of years. Even the police implementing it don't know the all the reasons why the government want it. Bye bye privacy, anonymity and civil liberty, it was nice to know you.

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Remember Fallujah

Milan Rai, November 2005ce

This is the story of Fallujah, and how it became so famous and so dangerous; how it became a ruined city. It is also the story of how the United States - and Britain - became the problem in Iraq, not the solution.

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The Most Evil Concept Ever

Merrick, October 2005ce

More and more artists of worth are squandering their integrity by selling their music to advertisers. If even Brian Eno will do it, is there any hope left?

Yes there is. Some artists retain their dignity and purpose and refuse to be mere whores at the capitalist gang-bang.

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Got A Brand New Bag

Merrick, September 2005ce

Every year the UK throws billions of plastic bags into landfill sites and watercourses, wasting resources, polluting land, rivers and seas, and choking and suffocating wildlife. In Ireland, and many other countries, bags are now taxed, encouraging people to re-use them and leading to a 90% drop in bag consumption.

There is a Bill before the Scottish Parliament to introduce the tax there, and there is no reason why such a tax cannot be introduced across the UK, except for the fact of the government is in the pocket of the retailers who want to keep us overconsuming, polluting and poisoning.

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Iceland : Dam Nation

Merrick, August 2005ce

In eastern Iceland, one of the largest pristine wilderness areas left in Europe is to be dammed and flooded to supply power for an American-owned aluminium factory. The cost to Iceland's unique ecology is incalculable. It has been deliberately ignored by Greenpeace as part of a deal to promote Iceland as an eco-tourist destination.

But despite the destruction being already underway, there is still a lot that we can do about it.

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The G8: A Study In Power

John Hilary, July 2005ce

The G8 was formed to ensure the world's richest countries stay that way. To decide to 'make poverty history' would be to undo all that it exists to ensure.

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As with all serious problems, human beings can view the challenge posed by the imminent peaking of oil production in three distinct ways: pessimistically, optimistically or realistically.

And even though everyone thinks they understand what those ideas mean, it's surprising how often they get confused with one another.

The pessimists say nothing can be done, the optimists that it will all somehow work out; both perspectives are tricks of denial, and obstacles to us tackling the problem.

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The Ricin Ring That Never Was

Duncan Campbell, May 2005ce

The collapse of the trial of a supposed Al-Qaida gang who were going to poison London exposed the deception behind the terrorism-fear the government deliberately fabricated.

This article by veteran investigative reporter Duncan Campbell was originally published in The Guardian but they have removed it from their website. It is reproduced here because this information belongs in the public domain and should not be subject to government censorship.

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Remembering Rachel Corrie

Merrick, March 2005ce

Despite the way our media tell it, it’s not true that the conflict in the occupied Palestinian lands is an inexplicable ‘cycle of violence’, any more than it was true of apartheid South Africa. If there is to be a lasting peace in Israel and Palestine then South Africa has lessons to teach us.

In the mean time, as this article details, Israeli soldiers kill unarmed Palestinians and westerners and there’s barely a murmur of discontent.

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It's A Fair Cup

Merrick, February 2005ce

What difference does buying Fair Trade coffee actually make? Isn't it a similarly unfair cash crop whether it's Coffee Direct or Gold Blend?

Fair Trade does make a difference, and not just in terms of social justice but in environmental terms too.

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The Protein Myth

Colin Tudge, January 2005ce

One of the most common dismissive worries of vegetarianism and veganism is that such a diet can’t provide a human with enough protein. Colin Tudge explains exactly why we need protein, and how we ended up with the idea that we should have a lot of it, and why it is untrue, dangerous and how in fact a vegetarian or vegan is highly likely to be getting all the protein they need.

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Hosanna in Excelsis

Merrick, December 2004ce

Christmas comes around once more, and with it the traditional carols and other Christian linguistic gobbledegook. Their continued use of incomprehensible terminology saves us from actually understanding what they're on about, and so protects us from becoming involved in their religion.

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Remembrance

Merrick, November 2004ce

Remembrance day is used by contemporary politicians and militarists to justify new wars. In doing so, they betray those they claim to commemorate. But still, collective remembrance is important if we are to escape the cycle of violence, and wearing poppies standing beside those who glorify war is the only conspicuous way we have.

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Simon Mann: A Very English Killer

Merrick, October 2004ce

When he was arrested buying illegal arms in Zimbabwe, the British press told us how 'humane, romantic and English' Simon Mann was.

In fact, he's a corporate mercenary, part of a new generation of colonials using military force to take the natural resources of poorer countries.

Humane, romantic? No, murderous and greedy. English? Yes, very much so.

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The Armenian Genocide & the British Response

Gregory Topalian, August 2004ce

An account of the 1915 Armenian genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire, a crime still denied by Turkey today.

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Lame Deer – Seeker of Visions

John Fire/Lame Deer, August 2004ce

A full-blooded Native American of the Lakota Sioux tribe, Lame Deer's observations on contemporary western life are at once endearingly naïve and vehemently wise-assed, disarmingly straightforward and profoundly clear.

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The Wolf Is At The Door

Merrick, July 2004ce

It’s been said that the war in Iraq and the high price of oil are the same thing – a desperate bid to grab oil reserves as demand starts to outstrip supply and our whole way of life - being dependant on cheap and plentiful oil - collapses.

But isn’t this just another environmentalist scare story? Aren’t they always crying wolf?

With clear, unequivocal admissions from the oil companies and the Bush administration – the very people whose interests lie in denying the problem - that the time of crying wolf is past and the wolf is at the door, we can be sure it’s not just inevitable, it’s starting about now.

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The Future for Aviation

David Archer, June 2004ce

Low-cost flights make country-hopping affordable for pretty much everyone. But while the cost to the passenger is cheap, the cost to the planet is great.

When your seat on a transatlantic flight causes more CO2 emissions than a whole year’s domestic fuel, plane use is at odds with the ecosystem that sustains us.

When the Pentagon identifies global climate change as one of the biggest threats to worldwide stability over the next 20 years, you know we are really in trouble

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We're Out of Control On Drugs

Merrick, May 2004ce

Prohibition of most recreational drugs is expensive in every way. Thugs profiteer, users are poisoned by adulterants, and huge resources pay for the persecution of people who have done no harm to anyone, not even themselves.

And there isn't any evidence to show that this policy has, or ever will, achieve any of its stated aims.

Legalising all recreational drugs is the only sensible response.

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Why I Hate The Police

Merrick, April 2004ce

The account of a brief questioning by police in a country lane whilst visiting standing stones graphically illustrates the same brutal and inhumane mentality common to police the world over.

Enforcing rules with violence but not caring what the rules are, whether they make sense, or whether they harm or hurt. The police are not a barrier between us and violent chaos, they are the snarling weapon of those who repress us, they are a barrier between us and the world we deserve.

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So What WAS The War About?

Merrick, February 2004ce

With the evaporation of evidence for the Weapons of Mass Destruction that were the supposed reason for the war on Iraq, an obvious question is not being asked. If it wasn't about WMD, what was it about?

What could be so important that the politicians with the highest approval rating of their generation would risk their careers and the lives of thousands? What's in Iraq that we could need so much?

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The Smoke Demon

Gyrus, January 2004ce

As tobacco kills a third of its users, the incentive to give up is high. But there is an intensity to tobacco addiction that makes it an emotionally searing experience to stop. This is not just because of the withdrawal from nicotine, but also from the physiological suppression of proper breathing and, thereby, emotional responses caused by smoking. This article gives experience and insight from a writer who has grappled with the demon weed.

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Time to Dispose of Disposable Nappies

Merrick, October 2003ce

Disposable nappies are so common in the west they're thought of as normal. Yet, like so many of our consumer products, they are a recent invention only used by rich nations and are an unsustainable environmental nightmare.

The readily availablealternative, the washable nappy, is not only far better for the environmetn, but far cheaper too.

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Now The War’s Over What’s On The News?

Merrick, September 2003ce

The aftermath of the war on Iraq has seen an avalanche of journalism rebuking the American case and making clear that we were hoodwinked into going to war. Yet the population at large was not hoodwinked at all – we knew at the time it was not about Weapons of Mass Destruction, and we said so loud and clear. That same mass media wilfully ignored us because, well, missiles exploding in Baghdad makes such good TV.

In this essay Merrick gives clear and specific insight into not only the admission by Western leaders that they lied, but how the mass media cannot be trusted any more than the self-confessed liars and murderers we have as leaders.

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Some Are More Equal

Peter Singer, July 2003ce

For decades the animal rights cause has been derided as sentimental anti-scientific nonsense. But increasingly it is being verified and vindicated by science. Peter Singer, author of the seminal book Animal Liberation in 1975, says that as we learn more about animals, so we are compelled to extend rights to life, liberty and protection from torture beyond humans.

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The Attempted Murder of a G8 Protester

7 Irish Activists at the G8 Summit, June 2003ce

As the leaders of the richest countries on earth met in Evian, france to promote the continuing carve up of global resopurces for corporate power, they were met once more by hundreds of thousands of protesters.

A peaceful protest to block a motorway along whaich the politicians were travelling was ended when Swiss police deliberately cut a rope by which a protester was hanging, letting him fall 20 metres on to a hard surface. He was severly injured, and lucky not to have been killed.

This is an eyewitness account of the event.

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Write To A Prisoner, Not Your MP

Merrick, May 2003ce

Wherever there are prisons, there are prisoners of conscience. Whatever your politics and morality, there are people who are in jail for doing things you'd applaud. If their resistance is to continue, they need support from those of us on the outside. If you want to write a letter that gives a real hope of a brighter future then write to a prisoner, not your MP.

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Iraq and Oil: Blairs Personal Message

Tony Blair, March 2003ce

The war for Iraq is war to prolong the supply of cheap oil. The demand for that cheap oil is our way of life, our personal consumption. We can stop the war, or we can have our cheap oil; we cannot have both.

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While mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets are desirable items for Western consumers, they are all made with rare and unrecyclable mineral called coltan. Worse, the massive demand for coltan has been funding the biggest war in African history as militias take it from the rainforests of central Africa, poisoning the rivers with their mining and killing the rare wildlife for meat.

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Dying of Consumption

George Monbiot, December 2002ce

The more we spend, the happier we become. That's the theory behind consumerism, and also behind the festive season's consumption frenzy. During December, the average British adult will spend around £300 on christmas gifts. It is also the peak month for attempted suicide. Consumerism, far from making us happier, poisons our spirits and the earth we live on.

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Alternative Fuel Sources

Merrick, November 2002ce

Fossil fuels are running out at an ever increasing rate. The oil-dependant way of life cannot be sustained for more than a couple of decades. So, what are the alternatives? Car companies promise hydrogen fuel calls as the way forward. But it seems that none of the promised techno-fixes can deliver a fuel supply like fossil fuels, and the scary truth is that when the oil goes, our whole culture goes

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The Essential Job

Merrick, September 2002ce

As the US government - obediently backed up by the UK regime - struggle to get the rest of the world to support a military attck on Iraq, a justification for such an attack remains elusive. The West actively supports many regimes far more armed and dangerous than Iraq.

In this article, Merrick finds the underlying reason for the war is oil supply; and further, the underlying reason for oil being a motive for war is the power all of us in the west give it by using so much of it.

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Defending Forests and Tribes in the Philippines

Philippines Solidarity Group, August 2002ce

The Philippines has some of the most precious natural habitat on earth. It is also home to some of the last surviving gatherer-hunter tribes. And, like so many places of this kind, it is being brutally destroyed at a terrifying rate for comparitively trifling sums of money.

But it is not too late. The tribes have joined forces with other Filipinos and, latterly, westerners, to save what's left and restore what's damaged.

In the West we have disproportionately powerful influence over the forces that destroy natural habitats. Now we have opportunity to directly use that power.

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Has Glastonbury Sold Out?

Lucy Michaels / Corporate Watch, June 2002ce

After a year off, Glastonbury Festival returns this summer, but in a changed form. The partnership with Mean Fiddler - a corporate music promoter widely disliked for its greedy and brutal practices - may well mean that the Glastonbury spirit has been lost.

This article, written with Corporate Watch's typical mix of meticulous research, righteous anger and wit, lifts the lid on Mean Fiddler and its new deal for Glastonbury.

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A Beginner's Guide To Composting

Merrick, May 2002ce

You don't need to be a keen gardener to get the benefit of composting. It reduces landfill waste, production of greenhouse gases, road traffic and fuel consumption. And all for barely more effort than putting stuff in the bin.

In this basic yet comprehensive start-up guide, Merrick shows that environmental direct action begins at home.

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Palestinian Reports, April 2002, Pt 6

Sarah Irving, April 2002ce

Palestinian Reports, April 2002, Pt 1

Sarah Irving, April 2002ce

Sarah Irving went to Palesting in March 2002 as part of a group of international citizens whose presence in Israeli-occupied terrritories would, they hoped, curb the excesses of the Israeli military.

Soon after they arived, the Israelis launched fierce attacks, massacring Palestinians and shooting unarmed peace demonstrators.

Sarah maintained frequent email contact with the outside world. Her reports from Bethlehem - contrasting sharply with the biases of the corporate media - are startling, harrowing and compelling.

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Palestinian Reports, April 2002, Pt 2

Sarah Irving, April 2002ce

Palestinian Reports, April 2002, pt 3

Sarah Irving, April 2002ce

Palestinian Reports, April 2002, Pt 4

Sarah Irving, April 2002ce

Palestinian Reports, April 2002, Pt 5

Sarah Irving, April 2002ce

Give Peat A Chance

Merrick, March 2002ce

Peat moorlands form some of the most rare and precious natural habitats in Europe. As the UK government finally gives some UK peatlands proper protection, the campaign to stop the rapid extinction of these environments - largely for making garden compost for people who 'love nature' - gathers pace.

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Dissent Becomes Terrorism

Merrick, February 2002ce

Despite the fact that flying planes into buildings is already very illegal, the events of September 11th 2001 have given rise to a new wave of 'anti-terrorist' laws. Party politicians are seizing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to push through laws that restrict our liberty in the name of defnding that same liberty. The new definition of terrorism is frighteningly wide, including peaceful protest and even wearing the wrong T-shirt.

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Our Leaders

George Orwell, January 2002ce

Although written nearly 60 years ago, George Orwell’s reflections on political leaders as individuals, and onthe pomposity of the Honours Lists, stay incredibly fresh. And, being Orwell, the directness of the vision and expression are equally striking.

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We Are The War Criminals Now

Robert Fisk, December 2001ce

Everything we have believed in since the Second World War goes by the board as we pursue our own exclusive war. In doing this we voluntarily abandon the moral high ground and become that which we claim to be fighting.

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The Difference Between America and Americans

Lawrence Hagerty, October 2001ce

As the aftermath of September 11th forces the USA to look out into the world, and forces everyone to think about America's role, it is crucial that we differentiate between the brutality of American corporate imperialism and the ordinary people we call Americans.

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Written two days after the planes hit New York and Washington, and as the call for vengeance rises from the Western politicians, this article reflects on how our position on the moral high ground is dependent on not responding in kind.

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From Genoa After the G8 Protests

An activist in Genoa, July 2001ce

In the aftermath of brutal policing methods that tortured dozens of people and killed two others, an activist who was among the anti-globalisation protesters in Genoa wrote this article

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Free Trade Is No Freedom

John Pilger, July 2001ce

In the run-up to the G8 meeting in Genoa John Pilger, one of the great humanitarian journalists, examines the causes of the protests against globalised 'free trade' and finds the authorities' image of it being undemocratic violent protest against legitimate government to be wholly wrong; it is legitimate protest against undemocratic violent government.

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Our Europe, Their Europe

Niki Kortvelyessy, June 2001ce

While the Single Currency debate in the UK keeps to nonsense about the queen's head being on coins and accusations of xenophobia, the real isues get ignored. Why is it that the British have such a reluctance to embrace the idea - popular on the continental mainland - of European federalisation?

This article takes no sides but gives clear insight into the causes of the different attutudes, and spotlights the divergent drives of the European Union as it attempts to raise common standards and rights while pushing for the contradictory goal of greater freemarketeering.

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What Exactly Is 'Hydrogenated Fat'?

Merrick, April 2001ce

We see the words 'hydrogenated fat' or 'hydrogenated vegetable oil' in the ingredients lists on a lot of foods. It's just some kind of vegeatable fat, basically the same as any other, right?

Well, no. It's oil made into a fat that is convenient for processed food manufacturers, but is seriously bad news for our health.

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Miscarriages of justice are sometimes accidents. But in some cases they are the result of deliberate framing by rogue officials. And in some cases they are the result of deliberate framing by many officials.

Mark Barnsley, an anarchist activist from Sheffield, was beaten up by a 15-strong drunken gang in 1994. He was subsequently charged with Grievous Bodily Harm against the gang, the crimes he was a victim of. Despite his appalling injuries, none of his attackers was ever charged.

Conviction of such crimes would get most people a lot of Community Service or a hefty fine, perhaps a short term in prison at most. Mark, a man with no history of violence, got twelve years.

The prison system has given him as hard a time as the rules will allow, and often broken the rules and to make it harder still.

Despite being eligible for parole, he refused to apply because in doing so he would have to concede remorse for his offence; to admit guilt for a crime he did not commit.

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Why GM Food Won't Feed The World

Merrick, March 2001ce

The most powerful thing the pro-GM lobby say is that GM is the only way to feed the starving. Unfortunately for them, they are lying.

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A Crazy Little Thing Called......

Eric Francis, February 2001ce

The idea that there should only be one person with whom you have sexual relations is widely held to be not only the normal and natural, and yet it's a lifestyle few of us actually live out. Although most of us attempt monogamy, most of us have to deal with infidelity.

Superficially it may seem like monogamy is a safe option, but clearly for many people it's a denial of a very real part of us.

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The Case For Medical Cannabis

Anita Roddick, January 2001ce

Cannabis has been used medicinally for at least 5,000 years. It was, and remains, among the most safe, versatile and useful medicinal drugs ever known. Many people suffering from conditions as diverse as multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, AIDS, bulimia, depression and the side effects of cancer chemotherapy find that cannabis is the most effective treatment. Yet in most countries it remains illegal. People who have done no harm to anybody - not even themselves - are prosecuted and punished for the 'crime' of providing themselves with an effective medicine.

In this transcribed speech, Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, presents a powerful case for relegalisation of cannabis for medical use.

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The True Meaning of Christmas

Merrick, December 2000ce

As midwinter approaches and our thoughts focus on keeping warm by any means necessary, so Christmas looms with its tinsel and lights and intoxication. Which is in itself what it's all about.

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The world’s governments have met for grand climate change summits at Rio, Kyoto and now Den Haag (The Hague). Are they seeing the urgency of drastic action to reduce carbon emissions and doing something about it? No, they’re not. The summits are being used as a device to ensure that the rich nations can continue polluting as much as ever but get even richer, and do so at the expense of the poor nations now and of us all in future. Sounds insane? It is. But it’s also true.

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Prague: The True Story

Merrick, October 2000ce

The mainstream media focussed on one or two spectacular incidents within the protest against the IMF/World Bank, and ignored most of what went on and certainly most of what it was about. Written in Prague two days after the event, this article tries to set the record straight(er).

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Why I'm Going to Prague

Merrick, September 2000ce

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are meeting in Prague to plan the next stage of the domination of the world by 'free' market capitalism. As at Seattle last November and Washington last April, there's a load of people going to voice their opposition. I'm one of them. Here's why.

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School's Out

Geoffrey Bax, September 2000ce

'When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all' said Paul Simon, and we all know what he means. The formalised education system gives you two options; get brutal or be brutalised (or maybe both). Who do you know who doesn't have terrible memories of school?

It takes energetic and enthusiastic children and bludgeons them into regimented learning of stuff they don't like and will never need. The real thing it teaches is conformity. If you care about a child enough to give it a home then you should care about what kind of adult it is being made into.

So what can we do? We can educate our kids ourselves. It's not as difficult or complicated as you think, and the rewards are obvious. The schools are no longer the only place to find a ready education - we no longer need what they do, so we no longer need them at all. All that's left is to realise that we don't want them either.

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Enemies of Promise

Conrad Cork, August 2000ce

Most people have the will to creatively express themselves, and all of them are capable of it. However, most of us are actively discouraged by teachers who protect their jobs by making the simple and fluid look difficult and awkward; if you're not a master you might as well not bother.

In this article these attitudes are soundly trounced, and the real point of creative expression - to creatively express - is pushed to the fore.

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Milk : Liquid Meat

Merrick, July 2000ce

Being vegetarian is easily understandable; meat is a carved-up carcass; but milk is just tickling the cow a little so it's OK, right?

Actually no, the dairy industry is simply a branch of the meat industry, and in many ways it's more cruel than raising animals for meat.

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How to Win an Argument with a Meat-Eater

Various Sources, July 2000ce

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." - Albert Einstein

"Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace." - Albert Schweitzer

And for those of you who need further convincing, read on.

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Mayday in London

Kaspar Hauser, May 2000ce

An activist who was in London on Mayday writes about why he was there, what happened and what it means for us, now and in the future.

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Anarchy In The UK

Merrick, May 2000ce

Written the day after the anti-capitalist action in London that saw thousands of people take to the streets and a branch of McDonald's totalled, this article supports anarchy as the solution for a world gone dangerously wrong.

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The Right To Be Offensive

Merrick, April 2000ce

In March the BBC apologised to Christians for a TV comedy that mocked communion wafers. This is capitulation to the same forces that allowed 500 years of the Holy Inquisition. Vigilant defence of our right to mock religions (among others) may be all that's protecting us from a new spree of witch-burnings...

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God, What's The Use?

Merrick, March 2000ce

The Church's support for keeping the homophobic law Clause 28 demonstrates that they're not merely people to oppose; it demonstrates that they are utterly irrelevant to our lives and future.

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In Defence Of Hypocrisy

Robin Fishwick, March 2000ce

We are all hypocrites, and should be proud of it; the only people who aren't are those without any moral stance at all.

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Why Direct Action?

Merrick, March 2000ce

Three years ago the change of government in the UK gave hope to many. The time since then has proven that the only people who can be trusted with people's interests are people themselves.

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