Archive | October 2012

We all have the right to speak our own language

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

I can’t remember when a statement in the Evening Post has caused me more anger than G Levell’s contention that, “Languages other than English are divisive and the cause of wars” (‘English will unite the world’, Have Your Say, 31 October).

Such jingoistic claptrap borders on racism.

G Levell and all the other Welsh haters should note that the ‘UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ defines genocide (in part) as,  “Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities.” (Article 7(a))

Language is an intrinsic part of any culture.  To destroy the language is to destroy the culture.  To seek to do so deliberately is cultural genocide.

If G Levell doesn’t like the fact that Welsh people have the right under international law to speak their own language, perhaps he should consider moving to the USA, which he cites as a “template of this future” and where they have a general tendency to ignore international law.

Although with nearly 15% of the US population speaking Spanish as their first language, that might not be such a good idea!

Yours,

Keith M Ross

Trident: Whose priority is it anyway?

On the very day that middle income families are receiving letters telling them that we can no longer afford to pay them child benefit, the UK Defence Secretary is in Scotland to announce a £350m investment in plans to replace the UK’s nuclear weapons system Trident.  (BBC News: ‘No plan to move Trident from Clyde, says minister Hammond’)

No decision on whether to replace Trident will be taken until 2016 (BBC News: ‘Trident: Nick Clegg warns against ‘jumping the gun’ on decision’).

The Scottish Government, supported by the Scottish people, have stated categorically that they do not want nuclear weapons in Scotland.

Scrapping the Trident replacement would allow us to pay off around half the current deficit, maybe more.

SNP MSP Bill Kidd said: “For the UK government to boast about spending hundreds of millions of pounds on weapons of mass destruction – while at the same time implementing brutal welfare cuts and slashing investment in the economy – is obscene.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself!

Why I’m wearing a white poppy

The Royal British Legion launched their annual Poppy Appeal today.

Money raised from the sale of red poppies helps towards the British Legion’s work “Providing welfare, comradeship, representation and Remembrance for the Armed Forces community.”

As a former member of the Royal Navy having served in Northern Ireland and during the Falklands crisis, I have no argument with that.

But members of the armed forces are not the only victims of war.  The vast majority of victims of war, conflict and military action are civilians not directly involved in the conflict, many of them women and children.

The white poppy, produced and sold in the UK by the Peace Pledge Union, is worn in remembrance of all the victims of war.

In recent years wreaths of white poppies have appeared at Remembrance Day services across the UK, and have been laid at war memorials.

These wreaths bear the inscription:  “FOR ALL THOSE: who have died or are dying in wars; who have died or are dying because resources that could have fed or housed them have been wasted on war and preparations for war; who will die until we learn to live in peace.”

I wear a white poppy because I want to remember all whose lives have been affected by war, conflict and military action – and that includes members of the armed forces and their families.

I wear it particularly for the children who play no part in the causes of war but are it’s principal victims.

Policing for the people, or politicising the Police?

This week we should all be receiving details of the candidates for election as Police and Crime Commissioner for our area.

You may have noticed the ads running on TV dramatically illustrating a number of petty crimes and implying that the new Police Commissioners are going to make all it all go away.

All seems very hopeful, but will Police Commissioners really be able to make that much of a difference?  After all, if politicians were any good at sorting things out most problems would have been solved long ago.

Read More…

A commonsense approach to our energy needs

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

Perhaps Linday D Milsom (‘The reserve is the problem’, Have Your Say, 19 October) is fortunate enough to be able to afford ever-rising energy costs.

With 26% of households in Wales already suffering from fuel poverty, and 5% experiencing severe fuel poverty, many of the rest of us are not.

The commonsense approach would be to break our dependence on expensive imported non-renewable fuels and seek a cheaper, more sustainable solution closer to home.

Investing in “cock-and-bull” green enterprises is not about efficiency, it’s about necessity, and about people in Wales taking responsibility for their own energy needs.

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You’re aiming at the wrong target Dave

Yesterday, at the same time that friends and I were outside the Senedd in Cardiff demonstrating against nuclear weapons, The Times was reporting that Prime Minister David Cameron would support military action against Iran if “sanctions fail to halt the Tehran regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons”.

Mr C argues that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to Israel and a threat to the world.

Just a minute.  Isn’t this the same David Cameron who is telling us that we (the UK) need our nuclear weapons as a deterrent against attack?

Despite their constant denials, everyone knows that Israel has nuclear weapons.  So why don’t their nuclear weapons act as a deterrent?

Something wrong with the logic here Dave.

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United Kingdom?

At the Conservative Conference Prime Minister David Cameron, referring to the question of Scottish independence said, “There are many things I want this coalition government to do but what could be more important than saving our United Kingdom?”

Well I can think of a few things Dave.  How about eradicating Child Poverty and Fuel Poverty, creating jobs, fair taxation and an end to tax evasion/avoidance, reducing carbon emissions.  (All things that the Scottish Government is already trying to do by the way!)

One thing that’s always puzzled me about the independence argument is that if Scotland and Wales are so dependent on England, and couldn’t possibly survive without England, then why are the English so bothered about letting them go?  Surely England would be better off without the burden of supporting the Scots and the Welsh?

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Safe in our hands?

I’ve recently been re-reading the collected essays of E.F.Schumacher (‘This I Believe and Other Essays’; Green Books; 2004) and have been struck by how relevant they still are.

With minor corrections they could be reprinted today and you might think they had just been written.

It just goes to show how little we have learned in the 30 plus years since they first appeared in ‘Resurgence’.

Here’s an example, extracted from ‘End of an Era’ (from a talk given to the Iona Community and published in ‘Resurgence’ Vol 7 No 5, Nov-Dec 1976).

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Renewables are the solution, not the problem

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

Dave Lees (‘Letter fails to convince me’, Have Your Say, 9 October) appears to have misunderstood the reasons for the possibility of electricity blackouts in the next few years.

Rather than the wind refusing “to co-operate”, it is the lack of renewable energy generating capacity in the UK that will lead to the lights going out.

The EU regulations requiring the closure of some of our older and most polluting power stations were introduced in 2001 – more than 10 years ago.  Since then successive governments have failed to address the problem of how to increase demand for electricity without increasing carbon emissions.

This is confirmed by the front page article in The Times on 8 October reporting that, “Seven global electricity and nuclear technology companies are threatening today to withdraw plans for hundreds of millions of pounds of future investment in Britain because of attempts by George Osborne to water down the Government’s green commitments.”

Government failure to embrace renewables in any meaningful way has placed us in this parlous situation, and only an immediate and significant increase in renewables can save us from it.

Yours,

Keith M Ross

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