Bobbing Around Volume 16 Number 4

Deceit is more a cause for compassion than anger.
Peace Paul

Our energy policies rely on vapourware.
George Monbiot

Bobbing Around

Volume Sixteen, Number Four,
October, 2016

Bob Rich’s rave

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bobswriting.com    anxietyanddepression-help.com/    mudsmith.net/    previous issues

*About Bobbing Around
subscribe/unsubscribe
guidelines for contributions

*From me to you
September
RIP Bill Mollison
Buddhism for Christians

*Politics
The terrorist invaders swamping us with Islam
Climate action

*Environment
Indonesia burning, again
Will Oklahoma shake fracking?
Click on the cute baby seal
Soil not as good as we thought at storing carbon
Predictions still too optimistic

*Good news
Sydney is divesting
Why renewables are cheaper
No throwaways in school lunch
Netherlands going coal-free!
Frack-free Victoria

*Inspiring people
Offer of a swap
She is risking 2 years in jail
Listen to this man
The best birthday present
Arctic music
Please read this open letter

*Compassionate action
Nuns show Buddhism in action

*Technology
Cowless milk coming…
…And meatless meat, too

*Deeper issues
GDP and happiness
Octopuses and squids are smarter than you think
Another beautiful post from Peace Paul
Truth about the war on terrorism
A mother is a mother, even if she has 4 legs
No new clothes for a year

*Psychology
Do you have a perfect soul mate?
How to meditate
Am I falling out of love?
Eye obsession

*Health
Getting inked?

*For writers
100 word story contest
Is my writing right for you?

*What my friends want you to know
Run 4 Refugees 16 Oct
Online auction for Tibet Fund
A Bold New Project To Re-Imagine Our Societies
Ending modern slavery
American conservation heroes
How to answer climate denialists
Ocean defenders
Climate Council 3 years old
Is that pill safe?

*Reviews
I am Malala
Solutions: The Palestinian-Israeli conflict made simple by Samer Muala

*Fun
Earth from space, the correct view
What’s on the news?
Quadruped professor


I am responsible for anything I have written. However, where I reproduce contributions from other people, I do not necessarily endorse their opinions. I may or may not agree with them, but give them the courtesy of a forum.


Bobbing Around is COPYRIGHTED. No part of it may be reproduced in any form, at any venue, without the express permission of the publisher (ME!) and the author if that is another person. You may forward the entire magazine to anyone else.

Inuit do not live on the land; we are part of it.
Jerry Natanine


From me to you

September
RIP Bill Mollison
Buddhism for Christians

 

September

I’ve been busy with a major editing job, so haven’t had time for too much else, except sadly noting the insanity that passes for current affairs. The elevator cables have snapped. Our little box is plummeting. Instead of grabbing the emergency brake, politicians and others running the planet squabble about the music.

Meanwhile, August has been the hottest one, ever, the next link in a neverending chain. Unprecedented extreme weather events have devastated many places, but each is treated as a local disaster. Ice is melting where it shouldn’t, and species are dying out at a horrendous rate (“The current extinction rate is approximately 100 extinctions per million species per year, or 1,000 times higher than natural background rates. They also predict that future rates may be as much as 10,000 times higher.”)

If all of humanity went on an emergency footing, if we could deal with each other and nature in a compassionate way, we could still salvage something… perhaps.

I feel very fortunate that I can stave off despair, thanks to my belief system.


RIP Bill Mollison

billm
Bill is one of the co-founders of Permaculture. Mike Stasse has posted a moving obituary for him. I tried to “press” this, but was unable to.

Here is the link.


Buddhism for Christians

If you’re interested in philosophy, and culture comparisons, you will enjoy my conversation with a Christian gentleman. Please read it, and if inspired to, leave a comment. I particularly hope that people with expertise in Buddhism will contribute.


Politics

The terrorist invaders swamping us with Islam
Climate action

 

The terrorist invaders swamping us with Islam

refugees
How can anyone see this and not feel compassion?


Climate action

If it weren’t for politics (i.e., greed), the whole of humanity would be engaged in emergency action to save life on this planet from annihilation. This is why I am placing here rather than under “Environment” a set of slides on “Why is emergency-scale action necessary?” from David Spratt.


Environment

Indonesia burning, again
Will Oklahoma shake fracking?
Click on the cute baby seal
Soil not as good as we thought at storing carbon
Predictions still too optimistic

 

Indonesia burning, again

All I hear on the news is petty politics, while our planet’s ecosystem is being destroyed by big business. As last year, so many deliberately lit fires are burning in Indonesia that people in Singapore and Malaysia have difficulty breathing. Borneo, Kalimantan, and the stolen half-island of Papua are the major locations.

Why? It’s an easy way to clear land (home of amazing animals like orang-utans, and of people who have little power to oppose the perpetrators). The cleared land is then used to grow palm oil, which you will buy off your supermarket shelves in a great number of products, and for wood pulp.

Many environmental organisations are working to have large companies refuse to use Indonesian palm oil. One is Greenpeace, another SumofUs.

It’s your world being destroyed. Do something about it by boycotting products like PepsiCo.


Will Oklahoma shake fracking?

Waste water disposal, a necessary part of fracking, has caused many thousands of earthquakes, but they have been relatively minor. But now, a 5.6 magnitude quake has shaken Oklahoma.

Pay attention, people everywhere. Do you want this in your backyard?


Click on the cute baby seal

Please read this brief but inspiring article in the New York Times.

Climate change is in the head for most people. We look around, and everything is business as usual, in between the extreme weather events that may or may not make it to the news. Wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen moves the issue from head to heart.
paulnicklen


Soil not as good as we thought at storing carbon

This is a pity. Current wisdom is that building topsoil is one of the best ways of removing carbon from the air. New research using radioactive carbon dating shows that current estimates are about 40% too optimistic.

Sorry, the best thing you can do is still to minimise your carbon emissions.


Predictions still too optimistic

The scientific consensus now is that climate catastrophe can be expected within a decade.

Sadly, they are coming closer to my predictions, which are that climate catastrophe can be expected NOW. Indeed, if anyone survives, they may set the date for the start of the end at about the year 2000, it’s just that living inside it doesn’t give us the perspective.

Here is one convenient summary of the new material.
climchange


Good news

Sydney is divesting
Why renewables are cheaper
No throwaways in school lunch
Netherlands going coal-free!
Frack-free Victoria

 

Sydney is divesting

The City of Sydney, NSW, Australia has investments of half a billion dollars. It has decided to refuse to hold any of it in any bank that supports fossil fuels.

Well done, and well done to 350.org who have been publicly credited with moving them that way.


Why renewables are cheaper

This essay in The Conversation refers to Australia, but that’s only an example. The logic applies anywhere.

Please read it, but this table shows it all:

How much does it cost to build new electricity generators?
Capital cost ($ per kilowatt)

Rooftop solar 1,075
Gas 1,181
Large-scale solar 1,342
Wind 2,693
Ocean 2,738
Coal 3,351
Hydro 5,114
Geothermal 5,457
Concentrated solar thermal (with 15 hours storage) 6,256

Nuclear is so expensive, they didn’t even bother.


No throwaways in school lunch

A Canadian school has litterfree lunches.

They have focused on those square boxes of fruit juice, but the idea applies to everything. Whatever kids bring to eat or drink has be in reusable containers they take home with them.

Brilliant education.
rubbish


Netherlands going coal-free!

I have a lot of time for the Dutch. After all, I’m married to one.

An additional reason is that the Dutch parliament has decided to shut down all coal-fired electricity generators in their country.

This will be one country to meet its Paris Accord target.
deadcoalplant


Frack-free Victoria

nofrackvic
Thank you for your previous interest in the Parliamentary Inquiry into
Onshore Unconventional gas in Victoria.

The Victorian Government has decided to permanently ban the exploration and
development of all onshore unconventional gas in Victoria, including
hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and coal seam gas.

Victoria is the nation’s top food and fibre producer with exports worth
$11.6 billion with more than 190,000 workers. The permanent ban on
unconventional gas exploration will protect our farmers and preserve
Victoria’s reputation as a world leading producer of clean, green, high
quality food.

The decision comes after extensive consultation with industry, farmers and
local communities and is based on the best available evidence that the
risks and lack of community support outweigh the benefits for Victoria.

The Government will also legislate to extend the current moratorium on the
exploration and development of conventional onshore gas until 30 June 2020.
This will provide sufficient time for the Government to undertake a program
of geoscientific investigations, resource planning, regulatory development
and community engagement.

These will be overseen by an expert panel, headed by the Chief Scientist
Amanda Caples, and will include farmers and industry, business and
community representatives.


People who inspire

Offer of a swap
She is risking 2 years in jail
Listen to this man
The best birthday present
Arctic music
Please read this open letter

 

Offer of a swap

You’ve got to read this: a distinguished old gentleman is offering to exchange places with a refugee in one of Australia’s concentration camps. He is 88, and happy to go and die there, and so save one person from hell.

If we were all like Jim Macken, humanity would have a future.
jimmacken


She is risking 2 years in jail

Australia has a shameful policy of returning refugees to Sri Lanka, where there is still documented torture in jail for having committed the “crime” of seeking asylum.

Jasmine Pilbrow, only 22 years old has been charged with an offence that carries a 2 year jail term.

She was drawing attention to a Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka being forced to return.
jasminep


Listen to this man

I am not a Catholic, or even a Christian, but I love Pope Francis. Please read his new, inspiring announcement.

Looking after the environment of our little planet is as much a Christian work of mercy as visiting the sick, or caring for destitute people.

“God gave us a bountiful garden, but we have turned it into a polluted wasteland of debris, desolation and filth. We must not be indifferent or resigned to the loss of biodiversity and the destruction of ecosystems, often caused by our irresponsible and selfish behaviour. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.”
sunset


The best birthday present

For his 9th birthday, Carson Boutte wanted to provide food and water to flood victims in Louisiana.

Fortunately, the news went viral, and many others pitched in.

He was made into “something of a hero,” which surprised him. “For his part, Carson doesn’t understand why people are making such a fuss about him. He just wanted to give people in trouble some lunch.”

This is a sure sign of an enlightened spirit: when compassion and empathy are natural.
caeson


Arctic music

Modern composers seem to write music that sounds like tortured instruments to my ears.
Ludovico Einaudi, an Italian composer, has instead created beauty in sound, to honour the beauty of our dying arctic.

This essay from Greenpeace has a video that’s a must-listen, and must-watch.
ludi


Please read this open letter

The President of a religious college in Kansas has demonstrated that he is a true follower of Jesus. Because two of his three children are adopted, and have a coloured genetic parent each, and because this man, Will Jones, actively encourages disadvantaged students to get an education at his college, he has been personally attacked.
Please read his inspiring, truly Christian response.


Compassionate action

Nuns show Buddhism in action

There is a new Buddhist order, only 12 years old. The nuns learn martial arts, and are active in combating human trafficking in Nepal.

Please read this report of a 4000 kilometre bike ride through the rugged Himalayas in order to save girls from being sold.

They even have their own website.

Siddhartha Gautama has told me he approves.
drukpa


Technology

Cowless milk coming…
…And meatless meat, too

 

Cowless milk coming…

You use yeasts to brew beer. Here is a company in California (where else) that has developed a technique for brewing milk from plant products that they say has the same taste and nutritional value as cow’s milk.
It’s not even radical technology. Soon, you may be able to have milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream that tastes genuine, costs the same or even less, and is better from two perspectives: animal cruelty and environmental footprint.
nocowmilk


…And meatless meat, too

In the 1960s, I read a science fiction story by Cornbluth and Pohl, Gladiator at Law. One of its concepts was Chicken Little, a yeast culture that replaced meat.

Here it is, in real life.

In the book, the idea was an evil way of controlling people. In our present world, it may be part of the saving of all complex life on this planet.

And what is better, Chicken Little, or this:
chickenlittle


Deeper Issues

GDP and happiness
Octopuses and squids are smarter than you think
Another beautiful post from Peace Paul
Truth about the war on terrorism
A mother is a mother, even if she has 4 legs
No new clothes for a year

 

GDP and happiness

Cynthia Kaufman writes:

    Economic growth (usually measured in GDP) has come to be the most commonly used shorthand for describing the health of an economy. The oddity of this is apparent in the following two hypothetical scenarios:

    First, imagine a society in which the average workweek is 80 hours. Workers in this society would pay others to care for their children and elders, buy premade food and consume commercial culture for entertainment. They would be stressed out and have high carbon footprints.

    Next, imagine an alternative scenario in which everyone works 20 hours a week. In this scenario, people have time for friendship and time to care for children and elders. They have time to enjoy making things and cooking for themselves and for each other. Most likely they are happier and have lower carbon footprints, as they don’t need to commute as much. They live in communities with stronger social fabrics, and are thus able to develop forms of pleasure that are not related to commercial consumption.

Which of her worlds would you prefer to live in?


Octopuses and squids are smarter than you think

I knew that, because Merlin the alien had told Bill Sutcliffe so. But this article in the Guardian has reported on new research that these beasties can count, and make value judgments.

Longfin Inshore Squid

Longfin Inshore Squid


Another beautiful post from Peace Paul

His theme: “Violence and hatred cannot be overcome by more violence and hatred. Rather, breaking this endless cycle of suffering occurs through love.”

This is of course the theme of my recent writing: Hit and Run (advance reviewers welcome), and the Doom Healer series.

The endless cycle of vengeance only keeps the hatred going. We need love, but note this doesn’t mean approving of evil acts.

In the fourth Doom Healer volume, The Prince of Light, a boy who had been sexually abused by the man who’d killed his mother is finally led to this attitude. One of his teachers tells him: “Son, now you can feel sorry for him. But what happened to him as a kid doesn’t excuse what he did to you as a kid. He had choices. He could’ve chosen to do the opposite, to be a good father to make up for his childhood. So, we don’t excuse him. But we can forgive him.”


Truth about the war on terrorism

Sometimes, a few words can carry deep truths.
gorevidal


A mother is a mother, even if she has 4 legs

Read this beautiful story about a cow. Having been rescued from a dairy farm, where each year she had a baby who was taken for her, she is now hiding her new calf.

What does this tell you about her intelligence, ability to remember, emotions? Is she not exactly like a human would be in her situation?

A recent episode in my Doom Healer books deals with this exact issue.
cowcalf

After I wrote the above, I noticed that this story is about a year old. That does not reduce its validity.


No new clothes for a year

This lady decided she was buying too many clothes, so, as an experiment, she stopped for a year. The experience was so positive, that she has become a campaigner to reduce waste, particularly given the human rights abuses of the clothing industries.

Anyone who has read my essay How to change the world will know that I approve.

For that matter, many of the clothes I wear daily (or put on for special occasions) were bought second hand perhaps 30 years ago!
cindyh


Psychology

Do you have a perfect soul mate?
How to meditate
Am I falling out of love?
Eye obsession

 

Do you have a perfect soul mate?

This short essay from the Relationship Institute of Australia is an accurate summary of the evidence on this question. It cuts away the bulldust and focuses in on the essentials.

“Compatibility” has nothing to do with the longevity of relationships. People in unhappy relationships blame incompatibility — but the same differences exist in contented relationships.

What counts is HOW you handle your differences, and whether you spend the effort and energy in building togetherness.

I have summarised the same evidence in more detail at my relationships page.

I’ve found another take on soul mates, from a karmic viewpoint. This also cuts through a lot of nonsense, and explains that “being soul mates” doesn’t necessarily mean happiness ever after.
soulmate


How to meditate

A nice young person has been accused of having “Antisocial Personality Disorder,” and wrote to me in distress. From what he wrote, I think this was a form of abuse with no basis in truth.

We have exchanged emails about how to meditate. The relevant bit is:

    The weird thing is that when I sit down to meditate, I often find myself imagining my life, how it would have turned out if I hadn’t done certain things. Is this weird? Then there are glimpses when I am totally blank. The odd thing is that even with all the imagining when I look at the time its usually close to half an hour and I feel like the time just flew.

My response:

    This is exactly what meditation does for you. You have described three typical benefits.

    1. It is concentration training. You focus. Lose the focus. Return to the focus, over and over. This is peace.

    2. When you do this, it leaves an empty place for processing sankharas. Your past mistakes revisit you, and you grow. This is why meditation is a path toward enlightenment. Congratulations.

    3. The fact that your perception of time disappears is also a benefit, and shows you are doing it right.

Successful meditation is NOT the absence of thought, but the constant refocusing.


Am I falling out of love?

Me and my boyfriend have been on and off for 4 years. I have never cheated on him but I have seen other people in our off spells. We’re almost to a whole year of being together without splitting up but trouble has started to brew. About a month ago, we had an argument and it ended with him putting his hands on me. Once he put me in a headlock and I passed out, then later he held me by my throat against the wall. Since then I’ve been afraid to even confront him about things for fear that he’ll do it again. And this past weekend I found a message from a girl he used to talk to on his cell phone. It was a simple “?” But what bothers me is the fact that the messages from her that used to be there were deleted. I have caught him on a couple occasions messaging other females. They were just harmless conversations from a male perspective but we women tend to read into things too much. So now I don’t believe him when he says he’s not been messaging this girl. I’m so confused on what to do and how to feel.

I don’t know if my lack in feeling is because of my fear of an argument or if I genuinely have fallen out of love. What do you think? Also, given his past history of talking to other girls, should I just believe him.

My dear, whatever name you put on it, I think at last you have woken up to him. I think you posted this message because you want someone to tell you that it’s OK to break up permanently.

It is more than OK. You owe it to yourself to kick him out and start a new life.

No one has the right to assault another, whether they are married, or in a relationship, or walking along a street. It’s a crime, whether in public, or in your home.

You are terrified of him now. Suppose you live with him for the rest of your life. Is that the life you want for yourself, or one of respect, sharing, equality, decency?

Go find yourself a guy who will love you, and who deserves your love.

Have a good life. You can.
Bob


Eye obsession

I’ve been obsessed with eyes for close to a year now, especially violet eyes. I have written it many times on paper, sometimes filling pages at a time. I have also taken to calling other people (in my head)”violet eyes” as I feel that they are a special type of person. Nothing strange/violent/tragic has ever happened to me.

Why is this happening to me? Why am I obsessed with violet eyes or just eyes in general? Is it a problem if I genuinely believe this?

Dear Fran,

Here is an experiment: Do NOT think of what you had for breakfast today.

What happened? I’ll bet my breakfast tomorrow that you thought of your breakfast. There was no reason to, except that my suggestion that you shouldn’t brought it to mind. You can have fun with any thought, image or idea. The usual example is “Do not think of the word ‘hippopotamus’ for one minute.”

Have you ever noticed how yawns are infectious? You see someone yawning, and your mouth follows. That’s the same thing.

For some reason, which actually doesn’t matter, you got focussed on violet eyes on one occasion, about a year ago. For some reason, which also doesn’t matter, you decided you didn’t want to, and tried to banish the thought. And, as is the case with almost all chronic problems, the solution made it worse. The more you struggled with it, the worse it got, and then you struggled more… Get the concept?

If something doesn’t work, do the opposite. If you can now genuinely and honestly ALLOW yourself to obsess about violet eyes, then either it stays, or it fades away. Either way, it’s allowed to be there, so your distress goes.

But, in fact, my prediction is that the obsession will fade away, because you are no longer feeding it.

This is a recipe for all problems, including major sources of suffering. The problem has two parts:

1. I am obsessing about violet eyes; or my left foot is hurting; or I can’t stand this humid heat…

2. I don’t want it to be like this: I want the violet eyes to go away; or I want the pain to stop; or I’ll go crazy in this heat.

The suffering is from the second part. If I can simply and calmly give permission for the first part to be there, then I am content with things, and I am not suffering. Life can be OK in what is objectively the worst hell imaginable.

I recommend two books, by people who survived terrible events using this tool: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, and Najaf Mazari ‘s The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Let me know how you go with the violet eyes.
🙂
Bob


Health

Getting inked?

Terry Slevin, writing in The Conversation, reviews evidence that several of the substances used for tattooing are carcinogenic.

I’d rather not.

He is careful to point out that there is no known connection between tattooing and cancer, but many of the ink components and solvents have such demonstrated links.


Writing

100 word story contest
Is my writing right for you?

 

100 word story contest

This is an annual contest by Reader’s Digest. Find out about it here.

Deadline is 31st December, 2016, and sorry, this one is only for Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

I’ve tried for a couple of years now, but I’m afraid the judges don’t have my sense of humour. But then, there is no entry fee, and first prize is 1000 American dollars.


Is my writing right for you?

Rhobin Courtright forces me to think about writing once a month. Her topic in September led to a post I am pleased with, and have already had good reactions to.

I discovered how I do my writing. Check out if it will work for you as well, and let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page.


What my friends want you to know

Run 4 Refugees 16 Oct
Online auction for Tibet Fund
A Bold New Project To Re-Imagine Our Societies
Ending modern slavery
American conservation heroes
How to answer climate denialists
Ocean defenders
Climate Council 3 years old
Is that pill safe?

 

Run 4 Refugees 16 Oct

run4refs
It’s not too late to join in the Melbourne Marathon for the ASRC’s biggest community fundraising event of the year

Run 4 Refugees.

Over 450 volunteers, supporters and staff have already signed up to join us on a run or walk to ‘The G’ on Sunday October 16th and we’d love to see you there too.

This year we are hoping to raise $300,000 to support our essential services for people seeking asylum while having a great day out.

Noah and Ruby (age 11) are running again this year and this is why:

“We have so much and it’s great we can do something to help. Plus it’s heaps of fun, you get to run onto the MCG, you get a medal, and its super cool that you raise money for refugees who need it more than we do.”

Ready to sign up?

Step 1 Register for the Melbourne Marathon and select one of these 5 terrific ASRC teams (no password required).

ASRC – Run 4 Refugees 3km
ASRC – Run 4 Refugees 5.7km
ASRC – Run 4 Refugees 10km
ASRC – Run 4 Refugees Half Marathon
ASRC – Run 4 Refugees Marathon

Step 2 Create your fundraising page here and share it with your family and friends so they can support your run.

Once you have created your fundraising page you will automatically receive tips and hints to help you on your fundraising journey. When you have raised $50 you’re eligible for one of our exclusive and highly coveted #Run4Refugees shirts to wear for your training and on the day.

And, for the first time this year, our running shirts are available in children’s sizes, so why not get together as a family or group and join us.

Kind regards

Jo Gumley and Victoria May
Run 4 Refugees 2016 Coordinators


Online auction for Tibet Fund

We are excited to announce that a portion of The Tibet Fund’s annual benefit auction will be held at charitybuzz.com, an online marketplace supporting charitable causes. The auction will run from now through October 13, 2016.

This year, we are auctioning off an intriguing collection of fine and modern arts, photographs, and exciting packages, including dinner with renowned Chef Eric Ripert, Celebrity Chef Todd English and Chef Paul Girard, Acting Master Class and Lunch with Film and television star Michael Imperioli and Sharon Angela, and much more.

Proceeds from this auction will go toward The Tibet Fund’s mission to preserve Tibetan culture & religion and to promote healthy and sustainable development of the Tibetan exile community.

Auction items are available for bidding at https://www.charitybuzz.com/support/TibetFund
dalailama


A Bold New Project To Re-Imagine Our Societies

I am writing to let you know our new initiative.

Radix is a new think tank for the radical centre. Our Board of Trustees spans the business community and senior politicians from all the main UK political parties. The Board is supported by a team of Senior Fellows who are renowned experts in their field.

Our Aims

Radix aims to re-imagine the way government, institutions and society function based on open source participative citizenship. It is a bold project to kick-start the thinking needed for politics to embrace technology, innovation, social and cultural change.

We live in an exciting era fizzing with ideas, dynamism and human potential. Capturing this energy and converting it to political action can only be achieved by engaging with a radical centrism that is bold and that rejects viewing every issue from the limited perspectives of Right and Left.

Find out more

Visit our web site or download our manifesto to find out more.

Contact us if you’d like to be involved in any way. We welcome participation from anyone who can bring ideas and initiatives to improve the way our societies function.

Kind regards

Joe Zammit-Lucia


Ending modern slavery

walkfree
Dear Bob,

Ending modern slavery may feel endlessly challenging, but progress does happen. Click through to see what your voice has already achieved towards the cause of ending modern slavery.

In the last year alone, the Walk Free community has seen positive developments and been instrumental in advocating publicly for these changes. Our 8 million strong community has helped:

  • Establish a global fund for education for children in crisis to prevent child slavery
  • Ensure women in Argentina are better protected from exploitation and trafficking
  • Reduce overseas workers’ vulnerability to domestic servitude in the UK

    The release of prominent anti-slavery activist Biram dah Abeid in Mauritania after two years in prison was cause for a brief moment of celebration. Sadly, since this news broke, 13 of his Mauritanian colleagues have been sentenced to prison, where they allege torture in detention, for standing up to modern slavery. This shows us progress is possible, but we have a long fight ahead.

    In solidarity,

    Eugenia, Zoe, Joanna, Kat and the Walk Free team


    American conservation heroes

    miriamhorn
    The Environmental Defense Fund has published an inspiring book: Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman by Miriam Horn. It brings to life the landscapes and wildlife along a 2,200-mile journey down the Mighty Mississippi River Basin — from the front range of Montana’s Northern Rockies to the vast wheat fields of Kansas and down the river to the Gulf of Mexico.

    Along the way, you will meet five American conservation heroes working to reverse decades and centuries of environmental damage across America’s working lands and waterways.

    You can preorder your copy today through AmazonSmile and select EDF to receive a portion of your purchase.

    Echoing the story-telling spirit of Mark Twain, Woody Guthrie, and Aldo Leopold, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman describes the work of Dusty Crary, Justin Knopf, Merritt Lane, Sandy Nguyen, and Wayne Werner, modern-day conservation heroes from America’s heartland who have devoted their lives to preserving the natural systems that feed the world and make our modern lives possible.

    Through their lives and the challenges they have worked to overcome, readers are introduced to our own history and the story of generations of Americans who settled and worked the land and built communities. These are tales of struggle and survival and ultimately of renewal.

    Today’s generation of ranchers, farmers, and fishermen are innovating and reinventing how humans and nature coexist not only for today, but for all time, to help restore imperiled natural systems and preserve our cultures.

    By preordering your copy today, you can help bring these stories to more people. Book sale proceeds will go back to supporting EDF conservation efforts across these working lands and waterways.


    How to answer climate denialists

    The Climate Reality Project has assembled answers to the 12 most common objections to the concept of human-caused climate change. Whichever side of the debate you are on, you owe it to yourself to read this document. Your life (and that of everyone else on this planet) depends on whether you get it right.


    Ocean defenders

    greenship
    Hi Bob

    20 years ago, a chance encounter with a Greenpeace vessel changed my life. I had been working on a cargo ship, a welcome alternative to the military draft in South Africa where I’d grown up under Apartheid. It was decent, honest work.

    But until I met the Greenpeace crew, I had no idea there was a fleet of ships whose sole duty was to defend our oceans and marine life. It blew me away that such a job could even exist. Today, I’m a Captain on the Esperanza.

    It still blows me away that this job exists. That because of people like you, brave Greenpeace activists and volunteers can go where no one else can, to bear witness, confront environmental crimes and take action to protect our precious planet. Greenpeace’s fleet of ships has been defending oceans since 1971. It’s vital work. But it doesn’t come free.

    Right now our ships need new equipment — from survival pods to high-quality inflatables, warm waterproof jackets and satellite equipment.

    Bob, on behalf of my crew and the entire fleet, I’m asking:
    can you give $30 to help keep us strong and safe at sea?

    You should have recently received a good old fashioned letter in the mail from the team, because I want you to see more of what goes on out here on the high seas and the amazing things your support makes possible.

    Together, we’ve helped to retrieve ‘ghost nets’ from the North Sea — lost trawl nets that become deadly traps for whales and other marine life. We’ve sounded the alarm about Big Oil trying to move in on remote pristine nature reserves. But the achievement I’m most proud of personally is our campaign to kick Shell out of the Arctic. And that’s just one ship in this remarkable fleet.

    Imagine if we hadn’t been there at all.

    Only Greenpeace takes coordinated, direct action all over the world to peacefully defend our planet on land and on the high seas — and we do it without accepting a dollar in funding from governments, political parties or corporate interests. We are 100% independent thanks to your support.

    It’s hard to put into words the gratitude we feel, all of us, for the support you give so we can continue defending our priceless oceans. So thank you, we won’t let you down.

    Yours,
    Captain Mike Fincken,

    PS: As someone who’s been blasted with water cannons, I can tell you that reliable, high-quality equipment makes all the difference in the harsh conditions of the Arctic. A new survival pod can cost $15,000. The inflatables we use to get up to oil rigs and chase after illegal fishing boats can cost $20,000. But you don’t need deep pockets to make a big difference: thank you for giving $30 today.


    Climate Council 3 years old

    Three years ago, Tony Abbott fired the Climate Commission in his first act as Prime Minister.

    Thanks to your generous support, and to thousands of Australians, we bounced back as the Climate Council — a fiercely independent powerhouse for climate science.

    So I thought I’d write you a quick note, celebrating the fact that after three years… we’re still here! (Tony Abbott didn’t last so long…)

    In that time we’ve released 64 publications, generated 20,000 media articles and armed millions of Australians with the facts on climate change.

    We’ve fought countless attacks on climate science, pushed hard for climate action and celebrated progress in Australia and around the world.

    And slowly but surely, momentum is building. We’ve seen a huge shift in public opinion — with a poll released just yesterday showing support for climate action is at its highest level since 2013, despite political uncertainty.

    Public opinion doesn’t change overnight. It’s our work together getting climate change in the press, sharing information online, public speeches and conversations around the dinner table that has lead to the change.

    And while the federal government has been slow on the uptake, towns, communities and businesses all over Australia are stepping up to deliver climate action themselves — pushing forward with renewable energy and leading the way toward a more sustainable future. In the last three years South Australia and the ACT have upped their renewable energy targets, while Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory have introduced targets. There are now more solar panels in Australia than people: 23.2 million!

    But as you well know — the fight is far from over.

    From gutting funding for CSIRO climate research, to censoring UNESCO reports, to renewable energy budget cuts, it’s clear that climate science is still under attack in Australia.

    And without a strong, independent voice for climate science — calling out misinformation and exposing the truth — fighting back would be that much harder.

    Because of you, we’re keeping climate change in the media, and on the political agenda. Just last week we took 3 crews of journalists up to the Great Barrier Reef to show them the long-term impacts of this year’s mass coral bleaching event.

    It’s clear that the federal government is under mounting pressure to deliver strong climate action. Our job is to keep beating the drum loudly, constantly keeping the consequences of climate change — and the solutions — at the top of the agenda.

    Looking back to this time three years ago we have come a long way. After a quick toast to all of us, let’s get right back to work because the next three years will be critical.

    Thank you for being a part of the Climate Council — we wouldn’t be here without you!

    Cheers,
    Amanda McKenzie
    Climate Council CEO
    amandamc
    P.S. We may only be three, but we’ve got BIG plans for the future. Help power our work by making a tax deductible donation to the Climate Council today.


    Is that pill safe?

    recallreport
    With the number of drug recalls issued by the FDA has ballooning in recent years, the number of affected consumers also continues to increase. For example, 64 people died in 2012 from fungal meningitis contracted from contaminated steroid injections. These injections and others like it were eventually recalled. With information like this being more important than ever, up to date news and press alerts on the most recent recalls and warnings is still somewhat of a rarity. Luckily Recall Report was created to provide comprehensive health and safety information relating to dangerous medications and products. As a bonus, it syndicates detailed news and press regarding the latest recalls and safety warnings.


    Reviews

    I am Malala
    Solutions: The Palestinian-Israeli conflict made simple, by Samer Muala

     

    I am Malala

    Everybody knows about Malala. Everybody should read her book.
    Doing so will make you into a better person.

    Naturally, some of it is horrific reading, including natural disasters, the atrocities of the Taliban, and of course the later part reporting on her shooting and recovery. But even these sections are fascinating, informative and inspiring.

    And so much of it is joyful. If a flower could write about her life, this is how she would write.

    Seeing Pushtun culture from within was interesting and educational. And no one reading this book could continue with the delusions of those who see all Muslims as evil terrorists, the Other to fear and hate.

    Malala comes across as a real person, with her faults as well as good points. She is not some saint, up there, but one of us. That means, each of us can be like her.

    Even before reading the book, my often expressed opinion was that her father must be exceptional to have raised a daughter like her. My reading confirmed and even reinforced this. From an early age, he has defied the conventions of his culture, and followed his own light of decency, intelligence and courage.

    I do have one slight disagreement with this young lady. For her, education is the key to everything, for me it is one essential component of several. But that’s fine. I hope her influence only continues to grow.


    Solutions: The Palestinian-Israeli conflict made simple
    by Samer Muala

    If this little book were used as a guide by the decision-makers of our world, we would have a future. Of course, there is too much money to be made from hate and conflict, and people choose to fear the Other, so, sadly, this is not likely to happen.

    Dr. Muala’s plea is for sanity, from a decent man who happens to be ethnically Palestinian, although he strongly identifies with his home, the United States.

    The entire book can be summarized in this quote: “It is easy to imagine a loving God where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side as neighbors without quarrel or fear. It is this loving God who should help guide our path in the days ahead, not men who profess to be versed in religion and then incite hatred through their interpretations of language from centuries ago.”

    Dr. Muala gives a largely accurate, plain-language analysis of the situation in the Middle East. He shows without doubt that the problem is not Israeli vs. Palestinian, not Christian vs. Muslim, but greed and hatred that hurts everyone.

    I commend this book to everyone who would like to see a better world.


    Fun

    Earth from space, the correct view
    What’s on the news?
    Quadruped professor

     

    Earth from space, the correct view

    All the satellite images of Earth show it from an odd angle: the northern hemisphere, and almost always North America.

    At last, I have found the right orientation.
    earthau


    What’s on the news?

    pressrun


    Quadruped professor

    Fair dinkum, there is a four-legged professor at the University of Southern California.

    For furriners, “fair dinkum” is Australian for really, really true.


    About Bobbing Around

    If you received a copy of Bobbing Around and don’t want a repeat, it’s simple. Drop me a line and I’ll drop you from my list.

    You may know someone who would enjoy reading my rave. Bobbing Around is being archived at http://mudsmith.net/bobbing.html, or you can forward a copy to your friend. However, you are NOT ALLOWED to pass on parts of the newsletter, without express permission of the article’s author and the Editor (hey, the second one is me.)

    If you are not a subscriber but want to be, email me. Subject should be ‘subscribe Bobbing Around’ (it will be if you click the link in this paragraph). In the body, please state your name, email address (get it right!), your country and something about yourself. I also want to know how you found your way to my newsletter. I hope we can become friends. Alternatively, you can click to follow my blog, which gets you my other posts as well.

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    • Announcements, but note that publication date is neither fixed nor guaranteed;
    • Brags of achievements that may be of general interest, for example publication of your book;
    • Poems or very short stories and essays that fit the philosophy and style of Bobbing Around;
    • Above all, responses to items in past issues. I will not reject or censor such comments, even if I disagree with them.

    Submission Guidelines

    It is a FALSE RUMOUR that you need to buy one of my books before your submission is accepted. Not that I cry when someone does so.

    Above all, contributions should be brief. I may shorten them if necessary.

    Content should be non-discriminatory, polite and relevant. Announcements should be 100 to 200 words, shorter if possible. Book reviews, essays and stories should be at the very most 500 words, poems up to 30 lines.

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    About Dr Bob Rich

    I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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