The smaller we go the greater life’s wonder.


I share just one of 91 extraordinary microscopic pictures of the living world. Each new one in the slide show had me in awe and then at No.13 I gasped, stopped looking and began this blog.

Within the human brain, we know that each tiny neuron is connected through its dendrites, axons and synapses to thousands of other neurons, and that these connections shift as different tasks are demanded of our organism. It’s a staggering scenario, and one I have never really been able to picture. Here we see this for real, in an extraordinary photo of “fresh” brain cells, newly formed from embryonic stem cells. Looking at this cell, I get visual support for a point I make in my book, Sun of gOd, about the bottom-up structure of our own organism. Each single cell in our body contains 5-10 million residents going about their business of eating, excreting, repairing, assessing, co-operating,  communicating with other cells, reproducing and so forth. There is no sign of a gang-leader determining what these individual characters do or when.

Here we see a brain cell looking like a miniature organism in its own right, ready to connect up with up to 10,000 other brain cells and exchange information, make decisions, learn new skills and much much more. Our brain has the structure of something organised from the bottom-up. Off on a wild tangent, looking at these fine filaments makes me wonder if they might also act as antenna connected to the activity of an energetic mind.


Now I want to get back to the remaining 78 photos. SEE THEM ALL HERE

While writing the book to which I refer above, Sun of gOd, Discover the Self-Organizing Consciousness that Underlies Everything, it became increasingly apparent that consciousness had to pervade everything, once we extend its reach beyond the human brain. In the early stages of that recognition came the discovery  of how an animal cell’s inner residents work together.



Aleppo is defended by Assad, not attacked


WAR – what is it good for? The military and weapons industry, of course. That’s what they do. When you have trained to become a chef, architect or musician your natural desire is to have people who want feeding, housing or entertaining. Soldiers are no different. Without wars there is no place to properly test new weapons and the skills of those who are trained to kill people. War is where soldiers get promoted through the ranks. They like it, as do the makers of death-dealing weaponry. So when the military industrial complex has its hands on the controls of a nation we can be horrified, but not surprised, that reasons to make war are fabricated. We don’t want to believe that fellow human beings could behave like this simply to get rich and powerful, but they can, and have done through history. Hundreds of thousands may die and millions be displaced by their crimes against humanity. They don’t care.

The war in Syria was planned long before any shots were fired. It is as phony as the WMD lies that initiated war upon Iraq, and as unrelated to “bringing democracy” as the war that turned a stable Libya into a mess for its people, a training ground for terrorists and a launch point for thousands of refugees fleeing the chaos we brought to the region. The Syrian conflict is NOT a civil war, but a foreign invasion, supported and led by the US, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar and other interested parties.

Most of the news we are fed about Aleppo is lies. Did you know that 70% of its residents supported the Syrian government, according to a rebel commander in 2012? 600,000 residents fled eastern Aleppo to the safety of government secured western Aleppo when the so-called rebels (mostly foreign fighters) attacked in July 2012. The estimated 200,000 trapped in the east today are prevented by the insurgents from fleeing to safety. It is these so-called rebels who turned once-peaceful eastern Aleppo into a war zone, which is why civilians are getting killed. The White Helmets are not what you imagine, either. The so-called Rebels are good at PR, trained by their Western advisors.

We are barraged with talk of nasty “barrel bombs.” These explosives dropped from the air are, essentially, bombs not made by the likes of  LockheedBoeing and BAE Systems. All bombs tend to kill or injure those in a building being destroyed. Respectable branded bombs can cost anything from $100,000 (Hellfire) to $14 million (the MOAB) apiece (average cost of a US airstrike is $2.5 million ). To those at the receiving end, many of the branded products can be even more horrific than barrel bombs.

Top U.S. arms makers are straining to meet surging demand” for their lethal ordnance as a result of the various conflicts supported or prompted by western foreign policy in Syria and the Middle East. Its boom time and they’re lovin’ it. The Syrian conflict could have been over in 2013 had the US and its coalition not actively fanned the flames of war with men and munitions. It is all done for the Syrian people, of course.  Today they are still fanning those flames, seeking to escalate and prolong the conflict.

The western military industrial complex doesn’t really give a damn whether wars are won or lost anymore. When the US lost in Vietnam and abandoned mission in Iraq its generals did not surrender their swords and America was not invaded. Syria is or was a big stepping stone on the road to bringing down Iran. It was all planned ahead and paid for with our taxes.

It was the US that scuppered the recent cease-fire in its desperation to keep the conflict going. They spin their propaganda, demonizing Assad to justify military intervention. The ploy is to protect the Syrian people from his tyranny (ring any bells?). The aim is to prevent him defeating the so-called rebels intent upon taking over Aleppo against the wishes of its residents. That could bring peace – a major setback for Islamic State and the military industrial complex, putting a brake on America’s grand demolition plan for the Middle East.

This gripping piece by Robert F. Kennedy shows us the history of US/Syrian relations and shows  recommended interview clearly explains the situation in Syria.

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This book explores the alternative. It is possible for us to live in peace without slaughtering each other in its pursuit.





Peace in Syria – nearly there?

A cessation of hostilities is set to commence in Syria at sunset on Monday 12th Sept. The US and Russia have come up with a plan. It is excellent news but makes a mockery of the idea that this was a ‘civil war,’ when negotiations take place between outside nations.

In October last year, when Russia entered the Syrian conflict, I predicted that it would bring an end to this horrific war. I re-iterated this in March, when Islamic State were kicked out of Palmyra.  At the time it looked to me as if some key players were primarily interested in conflict and as it Russia actually wanted to end the war, not support the arms industry. It now looks as though they have.

Before Russia, there were countless forces on the scene, like when a bunch of drunks in a club pile into a fight that started between just two of them. When it’s escalated into a brawl it can be difficult to discern who is on what side.  After a year this particular brawl was going nowhere and in danger of fizzling out when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived with sacks of cocaine and a tanker of Jack Daniels – figuratively speaking, of course.

Why was Hillary so keen to stoke-up this conflict, pumping in loadsa money and expertise? Thanks to Edward Snowden we now see that it was being done at the behest of Israel, as a tactical move against Iran. As she put it in her leaked memo, “The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.” The majority of people in Syria supported Assad before this conflict began and still do. Our ‘side’ was against Assad and we were conditioned to see him an insufferably evil tyrant to be deposed, despite the fact that there was no exodus from Syria before this conflict erupted. Now, we should see a reverse exodus as refugees return to their homeland and rebuild, as humans do.

Syria is a beautiful country and the one from which my father’s parents emigrated to America. The images we see are all of death and destruction but much of Syria has not been so terribly affected. Normal street life and night life and village life does go on but pictures of it don’t sell newspapers. Syrians are smart, industrious, and equipped for the task of rebuilding their nation.  Parts of London were obliterated by the Blitz in World War 2 but most of it survived intact and the city rose again. But why do we have to go through this shit?

We have been suffering at the hands of psychopaths who get to the top of our governing system for a few millennia now. The earliest state was conceived as a means to transfer money from the many to the few, because the few have the power to take it by force, having passed laws saying they can. Today’s state still transfers wealth, still upwards, despite a fraction of it getting sprinkled back. Whether by ballot or bullet, how rulers acquire power is irrelevant in the broader scheme of things. If they survived in their seized territory for long enough, Islamic State would get their seat at the United Nations. Rulers will from time to time be fighting over who rules which resources, including us, and when they do, we are the collateral damage. They are not a necessary evil. I feel a rant coming on, but since I wrote a book, there’ll be no need for that.

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From the BBC 

Russia and the US have announced an agreement on Syria starting with a “cessation of hostilities” from sunset on Monday. Under the plan, the Syrian government will end combat missions in specified areas held by the opposition. Russia and the US will establish a joint centre to combat so-called Islamic State and al-Nusra fighters.

The announcement follows talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. The plan would need both the regime and opposition “to meet their obligations”, Mr Kerry said in Geneva. The opposition had indicated it was prepared to comply with the plan, he said, provided the Syrian government “shows it is serious”.

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Very Naughty in Nigeria – In the course of cutting arms deals for Nigeria, $15 Billion was embezzled by those in the administration of Goodluck Jonathan’s government. They got found out, but will there be justice and retrieval? Unlikely. In view of the frivolous, even fictitious, basis upon which some Western nations have launched wars of late, one might wonder whether some of our diplomats’ pockets are being lined? That anyone would countenance the deaths of hundreds of thousands for the sake of their wealth might seem unthinkable to many, but rest assured that it happens. I would not for a moment suggest that Tony Blair’s impressive wealth of £60 million could be connected in any way to his peace efforts in the Middle East.

South Africa – 738 criminal charges against? – Answer: President Jacob Zuma. Seems like he’s losing his grip on power in South Africa as the nation’s High Court has decided that it was “irrational” to drop corruption charged against him in 2009, a few weeks before he became president. His power was enough then to convince the same High Court to drop all 738 charges relating to a multibillion-dollar arms deal. Here we are again, sleazy dealing involving the arms industry. This comes on top of the scandal over his spending of $23 million on private residence improvements, with state funds. Got to admit that Western leaders have more experience at keeping their sleazies under control.

 Obama sends UK to the back of what queue? – We were fed the image of poor old Britain forlornly stuck at the back of the queue, but never clearly told what queue. That would be inclusion in the hugely controversial TTIP deal that gives powers to corporations over governments and could lead to overriding of local regulations against GM foods, farming hormones, and much else besides. 

Someone just leaked the full content of the TTIP agreement, which was being kept totally secret right up to the wire. We can now see why, with the content confirming the worst fears of critics. Many hope this revelation will kill it. Will it?

Luxembourg, the EU, and corporate connivance – In what has been dubbed LuxLeaks, 45,000 pages were leaked by young accountant Antoine Deltour detailing how the government of Luxembourg connived with multinationals to virtually eliminate their tax obligations in Europe. This was back in 2010 and he is now being prosecuted under laws covering industrial espionage. This is appalling, and the sort of stuff we know all to well.

What I find of special interest is that the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker last job was prime minister of Luxembourg, were he had a hand in shaping the tax policies that now enable the corporate avoidance of tax throughout Europe.  That’s politics in the EU, without even an electorate to worry about.

Saving Energy in Venezuela – Public sector workers in Venezuela get a “five day weekend,” working just Mondays and Tuesdays, at full pay, in an effort to reduce electricity consumption. Venezuela is in the grip of a serious energy crisis. Another measure moved the clocks forward 30 minutes to benefit from more useful daylight, saving lighting electricity. Climate, hydro-electrics, under-investment and poor management are contributing factors to the power shortage in this oil-rich nation.

 I’ll close with as quote from Shirley MacLaine.

“It is useless to hold a person to anything he says while he’s in love, drunk, or running for office”

If you want to make sense of these stories, and recognize that war, corruption and duplicity are not an inevitable fact of life then do check out this blogger’s book.

What flavour of sh*t will voters select?


As America decides upon a new leader is it not bizarre to find ourselves debating whether a narcissistic psychopath, with no political experience or corporate sponsors, would be preferable to a bad actress pretending to be human, in the pockets of bankers and corporations? And we’ve still got Bernie in the mix, a man of the people and one just as capable as any to crash the ship of state onto the rocks. Ted Cruz is now out of the picture.

Why all the excitement this time? It’s as though decades of Americans have had the choice of either dog shit or cat shit on their political menu. They’ve come to dislike the taste of both, decrying the evils of the political process while validating it with their vote. This year, for the first time ever, there are two new options on the menu – pig shit and horse manure. The simple logic for many is that however unsavoury these new excrements may be they “can’t be any worse than what we’ve already got so why not?”

Those who hate the straw of horse manure getting caught in their teeth might opt for pig shit, the nutritionally denser option. Those who’d prefer the vegetarian source will opt for horse manure, needing more chewing to extract its nutritional value – but better for the planet. And many will stick with the same old shit, hoping it might taste better coming from a female animal. Some even profess to like their chosen diet and argue its virtues. I like a lot of what Bernie says and some of what Trump says but recognize that words and deeds rarely link together in politics, even when they are heart-felt.

At my Uncle Floyd’s farm in Nebraska (circa 1958) I recall how the pigs lined up behind the cattle, feeding on their waste, while the chickens gathered to recycle the pig’s poo and the chicken shit helped feed the maize that became food for the cattle. Hippie-era Goa was famous for its ‘pig toilets’ (ashrams could identify drug users when the pigs fought over their poo position). The point is – excrement contains nutrients and believe me when everybody else is picking through the shit for something valuable it will seem normal and okay.

I’m just saying that it’s kind of like picking through poo today, searching for something we can eat. Trump doesn’t like the TTIP deal and isn’t in corporate pockets. I’ll swallow that. Hillary Clinton is a woman and has experience in the fetid quagmire of corporate American politics. Most of all, she is not Donald Trump. Bernie Saunders is wise, compassionate, honest and outspoken (note to Brits – even commie-hatin’ rednecks might admire these qualities in what they view as horse manure).

For many today, much of government itself seems generously endowed in bullshit, with politicians consistently ranking as the least trusted of all the professions, below estate agents and bankers. But people are not so much upset about having to search through the bullshit to find things of value, as at the reduction in good stuff to be found, as less and less of our taxed wealth gets sprinkled back in valuable and essential services.

Very few like the wars, corruption, infighting, corporate control, appalling waste, callousness, loss of freedoms and underlying brutality of the state apparatus that rules this nation of people. But they accept it as “the way it is” and hold up gems like worker’s safety and the NHS, building standards and the laying of roads, in the assumption that humanity could never have arrived at those desirable places by any other means. Of course, we the people do all this stuff and get paid for with our own money – you don’t see politicians or civil servant laying roads or performing heart surgery. For decades they never bothered to check whether their vehicle testing data bore any relationship to real life, with Volkswagen or any other vehicle manufacturer.

Before assuming the state to be a necessary evil consider that it was not the state that built canals, railways, the London Underground and laid telegraph cables across the Atlantic; it was people who set up the first charities for alcoholics, the homeless, single mothers; people who created product and service certification standards such as the Fairtrade Mark and Soil Association; people who created wine, airplanes, jewelry, radio, TV, bread, the personal computer, buttons and smartphones. Britain’s Royal National Lifeboat service is charity and volunteer based, as are many of America’s rural fire services.

We complain constantly about out-of-touch bureaucrats making daft rules; spending billions, our billions, on pointless wars, failed NHS projects, obsolete-at-birth nuclear submarines, overpriced rail schemes and a fiscally disastrous nuclear power establishment. We desperately wish that our rulers would stop waging wars and pandering to the power of corporations, bailing out the bankers who supply them with thin-air money. We want them to help the disadvantaged, create rewarding employment, and defend the rights of their people. But when it comes to the crunch, this is not what ruling is about. We keep hoping that some savvy saint will get to the top and transform government into a caring and compassionate enterprise, will make a barrel of rotten apples fresh and crisp again. Dream on.

I am the proud author of a book about all this, and won’t try to summarize it here, but mention that there have been many successful cultures that progressed without a set of rulers setting the rules and telling us what we may or may not think, do or consume. Human civilization and trade preceded the concept of a ruling class, whether in South America or early Mesopotamia, tribal Europe or the Indus Valley. Cities and civilizations developed and functioned in freedom, without rulers, for thousands of years in some cases. You have to create wealth before plunderers arise.

You can imagine how difficult, often terrible, it must have been for those first generations to come under the yoke of a ruler claiming authority over their lives at the point of a sword. Today’s rulers rarely need to wave their swords, such is the compliance of their subjects to be governed, subjects who equate freedom with occasionally having influence over what flavor of ruler they get. This is not democracy, this is not self-rule or true freedom.

History shows us that when people are connected they come up with solutions to life’s social challenges while responding to all sorts of other wants and needs. Today we are more connected, and wealthier, than at any time in human history. We have the tools and the skills needed to govern ourselves from the bottom up, to supersede the power of those giant corporations in bed with government. We need to understand this and realize we are already doing the work we see as essential and still could, even if the inefficient middleman of the state were to crumble in a global financial collapse, as nearly occurred in 2008.

In short, as much as we may think this shit is essential to our lives, we may one day discover that we can live without it. There is another way.



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Politics may look like the only game in town, but it isn’t even the primary one. People are.





Tax avoiders – today’s phony bogeymen


Tax avoidance is not the problem, despite it understandably getting up the noses of those who have no option but to pay in full. Those who can avoid paying tax do so because it is taken by force, as it always has been. Nobody likes being mugged, even when their money feeds the hungry family of the mugger waving a knife. Many of us regularly indulge in tax avoidance when we bring the max of duty-free goods back from our travels. It is neither immoral nor illegal. Yet we have been conned into thinking that eager compliance with legalized mugging by the state is the socially responsible approach.

We are urged to regard individuals and corporations who avoid paying tax as responsible for the failings of our state to provide viable services with the vast sums they already take from us and borrow against our children’s future. The avoiders are made convenient scapegoats, but the real issue is value for money and not insufficient tax. UK Government spending leapt from £341 to £731 Billion between 2000 and 2015 as more was needed to resolve problems often caused by this growing drain of money from the real economy. Inflation in that period would have raised £341 to £517 billion.

It is as though we believed that if only those clowns in Westminster and Washington had enough money they could fund their wars and deliver full employment, no hunger, homes for all, healthy food, safe streets, a clean environment and no potholes in the road. Dream on. That is not what ruling the world is about, though some nations, some of the time, undoubtedly do a better job than others at sprinkling some of their tax harvest back to those it came from.

Taxation arose as the means to support a ruling class and pay for the standing army that secures their power. It’s simple really and the underlying principles of it have changed little in the ensuing years. If anything, release of the Panama Papers affirms this. There have been many variations of how ruling classes acquire their power, whether by the sword, heredity, murder, marriage, hand of God, or a popularity contest usually won by those with most to spend. There have been changes of those behind the scenes directing the hand of the ruling class, whether they be religious zealots, oligarchs, bankers, militaries, corporations or combinations thereof.

Along the way there have been countless varieties of tax and endless rationales for its imposition. The underlying principle, however, was best summed up by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, finance minister to King Louis XIV of France, when he wrote that “the art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least amount of hissing.” Our taxes subsidize tobacco and sugar producers in Europe, while their products are taxed to safeguard our health. We are screwed at both ends and nobody’s hissing.

This idea of taxation being a socially motivated and beneficial transfer of wealth is clever spin that is masking the transfer of wealth from a productive society to the state, those who pull its strings, and those in its employ. Only about an eighth of what is sucked out of the economy gets sprinkled back as ‘benefits,’ reluctantly. The other 87.5% is administered by the inefficient and often ineffective mechanism of the state.

It is the state’s sucking away of our wealth that is the prime underlying factor behind the poverty that leads to homelessness, unemployment, petty crime, hunger and many of the problems we empower the state to take charge of. Half or more of the wealth we generate each year goes to the state instead of circulating freely in our self-built economy. There is plenty of money to take care of the disadvantaged in our society and ways to do so in a caring and connected fashion were the state not in charge, spawning government departments that thrive, expand and depend upon the problems in their care.

It is the state’s oppressive regulation that stifles human enterprise and innovation, creating a playing field heavily tilted towards the major corporations who can comply. The $2.5 Billion it costs to bring a new drug to market creates a ruthless pharmaceutical industry, with a few major players hungry for massive profits on over-priced drugs. Agricultural subsidy and regulation of animal breeds and seed varieties favour those best suited to industrialized farming. Much of our food is anything but safe, though fully compliant with safety regulation. Safe, inexpensive and non-addictive drugs are banned worldwide, while toxic, expensive and addictive ones are widely available, bringing in massive tax revenues (imposed for our health, of course). “Green taxes” are levied to save the planet, which will as like as not be used one day to subsidize fracking and nuclear power.

The disclosures we should be concerned by in the Panama Papers are two, the main one being those rulers and robbers who collude with the bankers to conceal their ill-gotten gains in secret accounts. This goes beyond tax evasion, as one would not expect thieves to declare their stolen loot on tax returns. The other relevant exposure is the sheer hypocrisy of those politicians urging full tax compliance while themselves avoiding or evading it. The taxes they don’t pay, of course, are on money provided by taxes demanded of us.

Don’t be taken in by politicians spinning the Panama Papers into an excuse for their own lamentable failings. However much more money the state could raise through taxation, it would never be enough to reverse the damage done with that they already take.


I am author of The State Is Out Of Date, We Can Do It Better, a book which makes the case for a self-governed world that moves towards diminishing crime, poor health and poverty by more positive means than creating departments of the state that thrive upon their existence.

The issue is not who is in power, how they got there, what they want to do, or why. The issue is whether or not the underlying principles of the state can ever bring us lasting peace and harmony, and what could.

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Forecast – you couldn’t make it up

Osbourne eyes crop

There is just no way to assess the validity of a 200-page Treasury report in which small variations of the forecast assumptions can significantly affect the results. Keep in mind that these assumptions are made by experts who did not forecast the recent collapse in oil prices or the global banking crisis of 2008.

We know that information can be massaged to achieve politically desired results – it’s called “torturing the data until it confesses,” according to New Scientist. Politicians are the least trusted of all professions, with 21% of us doubting their honesty, well below the 37% who trust bankers. We almost expect mendacity from our government, and are tolerant provided it’s been aged before discovery. For a detailed ripping-to-shreds of Osborne’s spurious concoction, check Fraser Nelson’s piece in The Spectator.

I suggest we ignore attempts at forecasting specifics in a fragile scenario where anything could happen, up to and including disintegration of the European Union, with or without Britain included. The refugee situation is already defragmenting parts of it. Several member states are in difficult straits. The Eurozone is in a mess, and who knows what black swan is coming next? No predictions here, just perspective.

Let us put into perspective the pro-Euro camp’s 200 pages of taxpayer-funded fear mongering, suggesting a cost of £4300 per household. Preserving the bankers in 2008 has so far cost the UK £133 Billion – that’s £4926 per household. We were offered no referendum on that, and also made potentially liable for up to £1029 Billion in related guarantee commitments, or £38,000 per household.

We can only sensibly go with our guts on this one and decide which way our instincts point us when not fogged by fear of consequences. We transitioned into the EU smoothly all those years ago and could easily transition out. Had we seen forecasts that this thing called VAT would add 20% to the cost of most of what we buy, the vote would have gone against joining. Leaving will not damage the viability of 64 million people managing to co-exist and provide for each other on a relatively small island. Whether we collapse or thrive will depend on bigger factors than how many layers of government and regulation we want to support.

I have lived and worked in the UK before and during EU membership. Yes it added to the cost and complexity of living, but we endured. If we leave we won’t miss passport-free travel since we never enjoyed it, and will continue to change pounds for euros and use credit cards abroad. I am not being glib, but commerce will work its stuff out if we leave.

Whichever choice we make today we will look back in 20 years and think either that we made the right choice or the wrong choice and which of those we think will be up to all the choices we make between now and then.

 – ••• –

I am author of The State Is Out Of Date, We Can Do It Better, a book which makes the case for increasing self-government and decreasing top-down government by fear. The issue is not who is in power, how they got there, what they want to do, or why. The issue is whether or not the underlying principles of the state can ever bring us lasting peace and harmony – and what could.

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The wheel needs a whole new hub, not just another revolution



Palmyra liberated as war nears end.


Palmyra has been liberated – ISIL defeated. Most of the city’s ancient monuments are still standing. As we approach the end of the war upon Syria, I predict there will be a flood of refugees returning to their beloved homeland by summer’s end. This is a massive psychological defeat for ISIL, and their slaughter in the name of an intolerant god.

From the Independent:
The Isis jihadist group has been driven out of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and government forces have retaken “complete control”, according to state media reports.

In what would be a major symbolic victory over the militant group, Syrian state TV reports quoted a military source saying that the army had recaptured the city with the help of militia allies.

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad had “complete control over the city of Palmyra” as of Sunday morning, the military source said. In a statement aired on Syrian TV, the General Command of the Syrian army said it could confirm “security and stability” had been returned to Palmyra with the assistance of the Russian and Syrian air forces.
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GAME OVER for the war on Syria?

Syria b copy

Back in October, when Russia committed forces to the conflict in Syria, I predicted that “At last there may be an end in sight to the disaster that Western foreign policy has landed upon Syria, formerly one of the most stable and secular nations in the Middle East.” (see that blog here)

Now, just five months later, it looks like an end to five years of conflict may have finally arrived, as Russia begins to remove its forces from the field. This was never an actual civil war, with the fight against Assad’s government being funded by and often fought by non-Syrian interest groups.

During three weeks of a successful ceasefire in Syria, our news media has given more coverage to the refugee crisis than to this positive turn of events that holds the promise of ending that crisis. If this peace holds and settles, it will soon be possible for millions of Syrians to return home and rebuild their nation. Despite all the fervent anti-Assad propaganda fed to our media it is worth remembering that there was no refugee crisis before the war began. The vast majority of Syrians were happy living in beautiful Syria, with a secular government more democratic and uncorrupted than some of our major allies, and more popular than that of Francoise Holland in France.

War is horrendous and in my book (below) I suggest it is possible for humanity to live together in peace and harmony without the need to slaughter each other in its pursuit. But as long as we accept organized killing as a normal feature of civilization, wars will continue to bring death, destruction and anguish. Who is unleashing this and whether it arrives in Hellfire missiles or barrel bombs is not the point.

When we are not destroying things we display a remarkable ability to create them, and the one is not dependent upon the other. Let us hope and pray that this recent ceasefire leads to lasting peace and a return to normality in this beautiful part of the world.

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Thomas Paine, a talk

Thomas Paine Blog Head

I delivered a 20 min talk last Saturday night at the Thomas Paine Hotel in his birthplace, Thetford, to a party of Paine fans who celebrate his birth each year. It wasn’t recorded so I am posting the laptop rehearsal.

at the desk

                                              (click) The final practice run 

NOTE to the video
Thomas Paine, it you didn’t know, was one of the most important characters of the last three centuries, initiating the concept of the nation state, a body of people who governed themselves instead of being ruled by a king or other ruler. As we know, it didn’t quite work out as he pictured it in Common Sense, the book which turned a tax-motivated protest into the American War of Independence, selling half a million copies in the first six months of 1776. He turned the tide of the war from defeat to victory later that year, with a pamphlet that began “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

His next momentous book was conceived while building a revolutionary iron bridge in England, from whence he fled the hangman’s noose to Paris, writing his next major work while immersed in the French Revolution.

In my talk I refer to those two other books.
The Rights of Man  “Man is not the enemy of man, but through the medium of a false system of Government.” – – – “The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.”

The Age of Reason “The word of God is in the creation we behold.”

“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church”

He connects these themes: “It has been the scheme of the Christian church, and of all the other invented systems of religion, to hold man in ignorance of the Creator, as it is of Government to hold man in ignorance of his rights.”

Tom Paine
the after-dinner talk.   click