Will we be Fishless soon?: Part II

I often see livestock standing happily in rivers and streams. They are innocent, the farmers are not. We learned centuries ago that livestock, particulary dead livestock, in water courses leads to contamination of all water which was once running pure in rivers, streams and freshwater lakes..A sign is dead fish or no fish in water courses.

The excreta (faeces and urine) of mammals and birds are widespread across planet Earth and frequently contaminate water that is used for bathing and recreation, that is treated and distributed for human consumption, and that is used to irrigate crops. The risk that such contamination represents to human health is inadequately understood. It is widely assumed that faeces of animals represents a lesser risk to human health than human faeces because of the ‘species barrier’ and especially the species-specificity of most viruses………Rivers and streams deliver faecal wastes (and the zoonotic pathogens they may contain) to surface water bodies used for recreation, commercial shellfish harvesting and as sources of drinking-water. The transport of faecal material and the fate of zoonotic pathogens in a catchment is not understood with a great degree of certainty.” ¹

While many bacteria occur naturally in the environment and are an important component of many ecosystem processes, some are of concern because they may cause diseases. These bacteria (E.coli 0157:H7, Salmonella, etc.), as well as viruses (enteroviruses, adenoviruses, etc.) and some protozoans (Cryptosporidium, Giardia, etc.), are referred to as pathogens. Most are found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and other warm-blooded animals and are shed in the faeces. One type of bacteria found in the intestines and faeces is Escherichia coli. Most people refer to it as E. coli. It is an important type of faecal coliform bacteria that can help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria within the intestines. ……..as E. coli concentrations increase in surface waters, it is likely that some type of faecal contamination has occurred. When the concentrations exceed water quality standards, people are at a greater risk of coming in contact with pathogens. The most common illness associated with exposure (swimming, ingestion) to faecal contaminated water is gastroenteritis, which can result in nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, headache, and diarrhea. Swimming in impacted waters can also lead to eye, ear, nose, skin, and throat infections and respiratory illnesses. In rarer cases, contaminated waters can lead to more serious conditions such as hepatitis, salmonellosis, or dysentery.” ²

Farmers know:

To –

Keep livestock out of watercourses to reduce bacterial contamination.

Do not intensively graze adjacent to rivers and streams, particularly in the winter or during wet conditions.

Do not feed livestock near watercourses and move feeding sites regularly to reduce poaching.

Do not locate manure heaps where there is a risk of run-off polluting water.

Streams may be on a smaller scale than rivers but the principles are the same and there may be greater opportunities for livestock to access, and contaminate, the water.

Land managers (farmers) know this. We all see water runs off land and flows eventually to the sea. On its way it carries any pollution and living things downstream will ingest the toxins.

Contents of septic tanks are often sprayed on to ploughed fields as fertilisers. I have felt gassed by the odour when this is done on fields near where I have lived. Sewage is meant to be collected by special vehicles which take it to a treatment plant; however, this is expensive and unlikely to be paid for by many farmers, but it should be mandatory and funding applied to support them to do this if they are subsistence farmers.

Where people live, cheek by jowl, due to poverty forcing them into shanty town existences, there is no sanitation and sewage flows along gutters, mixes with mud after heavy rain, flows into streams and rivers and contaminates whole areas. We often see images of flooded homes these days as rains fall more heavily and unexpectedly due to climate change. Anyone caught in flood waters knows how disgusting that water is if it enters homes and lies on farmland.

An immediate clear up after severe flooding is vital to prevent disease. A thorough clean up, restoring safe and hygienic surroundings for all living things. Flood prevention measures must be funded and environmental studies carried out to prevent being overwhelmed in future.

South Africa

Nature cannot rectify the balance if we have poisoned the water. Diseases become rampant. There is a high mortality rate due to intestinal illness. Children rarely reach 5 years old. We allow shanty towns to grow on the edge of impressive cities, where people are discarded just as the waste piles up around them, contrasting with the affluent in the cities with shiny, sanitised, lifestyles..

Skid Row, Los Angeles, USA

Back in 2017 there was an item in an Indian newspaper detailing the lack of care and diligence by those who lived in a gated community as to their responsibilty for the health of a main river and its stocks of fish nearby.

This is not an exceptional narrative. It is all too common.

Within the European Union laws have been made which all states are expected to implement. But, for many reasons, not all do.

The legal requirements for treating wastewater were set out in May 1991 in The Council Directive 91/271/EEC concerning urban wastewater treatment . All member states within the European Union are obliged to follow the directive for treating wastewater, and when countries fail to comply, they can receive court action and or fines all of which we have seen in recent years.

Within the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency attempts to regulate for treating wastewater, here is an extract:

The Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 and its amendments govern water pollution in the United States and are central to EPA’s mission to protect public health and the environment.

Section 405(d) of the CWA requires EPA to:

  • Establish numeric limits and management practices that protect public health and the environment from the reasonably anticipated adverse effects of chemical and microbial pollutants during the use or disposal of sewage sludge.
  • Review sewage sludge (biosolids) regulations every two years to identify any additional pollutants that may occur in biosolids, and then set regulations for those pollutants if sufficient scientific evidence shows they may harm human health or the environment.

An article in Slate.com headlined ,

Trump Removes Pollution Protections for America’s Rivers and Streams

BY ELLIOT HANNONJAN 23, 2020 6:27 AM

Governments will go 10 steps forward and 20 steps back. Deregulation is pushing Clean Water Acts into oblivion. We can only expect more disease as a consequence, but also the death of more ecosystems in what were once pristine rivers and lakes.

Despite horrifying visual evidence, as at Biscayne Bay, Miami in 2020 we do not seem to be be making progress to focus on cleaning up our environment any time soon.

Sewage and other waste kill marine life at Biscayne Bay, Miami, 2020

We have been setting up waste water treatment plants for centuries. We know what to do. Yet we are neglecting many areas of this Planet which can only result in killing ourselves with diseases which will overwhelm us.

If we leave toxins to build up anywhere on this beautiful Planet we will cause many more animal extinctions, including our own.

We MUST CLEAN UP OUR MESS NOW, wherever we have caused it. We have the money, don’t say we don’t. Simply re-direct funds from flag ship nonsense 7 star high life living to essential areas which are already well documented and understood.

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We will be Fishless soon?: Part One

Most of us owe our existence to fish that swam in abundance in rivers, seas and oceans thousands of years ago.

An aboriginal man hunts in a swamp.  He holds a spear in a woomera and he carries a spare spear and a boomerang.  he has an axe in his belt.
SOURCE: news.softpedia.com

We are now responsible for killing fish to the point of extinction; killing the oceanic life, destroying healthy water courses and tipping the balance of our global ecosystem into a death spiral. We all know that, but we keep on pushing the envelope and none of us work hard enough to end this aggression.

As Homo Sapiens we have constantly wreaked havoc on our Planet in an attempt to emulate the self sufficiency of other animals co-habiting this place. Other species had inbuilt weapons of defence, like claws or poisonous sacs to kill their prey. They had protected skeletal coverings, with fur or armoured plates. They had massive teeth and strong jaws to kill in one bite. They could be lithe and fluid like snakes or leopards. They could fly and soar like eagles, yet their eyesight was so fantastic they could spot their prey from a great height and dive accurately to pick it up and escape to their nest on a rocky mountain. Tiny insects could kill us with diseases like malaria, or poison us with a bite like a scorpion. No, we seem to be an aberration, forever compensating for our poor design. We most likely crawled out of a swamp originally, like all living things. We evolved to where we are now; but we do not fit this magnificent planet. We are a swarming disease upon it.

Everything we have achieved has been hailed by us as a breakthrough to aid our survival. Since the first alchemy success of metallurgy to our cars, ships, trains and planes and ongoing technology. We cannot even clean up our mess effectively.

Early metallurgy and poisoning of our environment

We now know that something catastrophic ended the Bronze Age in Europe and researchers are piecing together what that might be. Here is an extract from one piece of that investigation:

A detailed record of historical lead (Pb) pollution from a peat bog in Serbia provides a unique view on the extent and timing of Balkan mining and metallurgy. Evidence of the earliest European environmental pollution is followed by large-scale and sustained increases in the amount of anthropogenically derived Pb after 600 BCE, through the Roman/Byzantine periods, and into the medieval period. Occasional evidence of drops in pollution output reflects the disruptive socioeconomic impact of periods of turmoil. Our data show a trend significantly different to records in western Europe, where Pb pollution decreases dramatically after the collapse of the Roman Empire. These results suggest metal-rich southeastern Europe should be considered a more major player in environmental metal pollution through time.

The Balkans are considered the birthplace of mineral resource exploitation and metalworking in Europe. However, since knowledge of the timing and extent of metallurgy in southeastern Europe is largely constrained by discontinuous archaeological findings, the long-term environmental impact of past mineral resource exploitation is not fully understood. Here, we present a high-resolution and continuous geochemical record from a peat bog in western Serbia, providing a clear indication of the extent and magnitude of environmental pollution in this region, and a context in which to place archaeological findings. We observe initial evidence of anthropogenic lead (Pb) pollution during the earliest part of the Bronze Age [∼3,600 years before Common Era (BCE)], the earliest such evidence documented in European environmental records. A steady, almost linear increase in Pb concentration after 600 BCE, until ∼1,600 CE is observed, documenting the development in both sophistication and extent of southeastern European metallurgical activity throughout Antiquity and the medieval period. This provides an alternative view on the history of mineral exploitation in Europe, with metal-related pollution not ceasing at the fall of the western Roman Empire, as was the case in western Europe. Further comparison with other Pb pollution records indicates the amount of Pb deposited in the Balkans during the medieval period was, if not greater, at least similar to records located close to western European mining regions, suggestive of the key role the Balkans have played in mineral resource exploitation in Europe over the last 5,600 yea
rs.

When we saw dying fish in rivers which we had polluted as a consequence of mining, we must have made the connection then with our activities. Perhaps we simply moved on to a clean, pure place and began our contamination process once again. Over written history, we have reported our habitually repeated mistakes, which is not a sign of a superior intellect.

Our ancestors, who left Africa and moved as small groups of between 20 to 30 people, practised fishing in the main to stay alive. They sought rivers and seashores which were teeming with fish. They used sharpened sticks to spear to fish, stones to smash the head of the fish, and ate them raw. Fish contain goodness which helps our brains to function. Most of us know that goodness is Omega 3. But fish today is contaminated by the consequences of Anthropocene activities, and fish are dying in catastrophic numbers.

This is not news. We have seen warnings for decades.

Factory Fishing:

Trident Seafoods resumes operations at Aleutian plant in Alaska after monthlong COVID-19 shutdown. “The Seattle-based seafood giant halted operations Jan. 21 as the billion-dollar pollock season started and with cod and crab fisheries already underway. Plans to bring in medical supplies — and evacuate at least three sick workers to Anchorage — were complicated by stormy weather that delayed some flights to the Aleutian Islands.”

Dutch supertrawler

Ten supertrawlers, mostly Dutch, arrived in the English Channel, asserting their historic fishing rights, and many stayed for more than three weeks, in unprotected UK waters, prior to Brexit. Marine campaigners protested as such massive ships cause the death of  dolphins, seals and porpoises. Of 18 cetaceans found dead in Sussex since September last year, 15 were recorded when supertrawlers were in the area. The mammals chase the same species of small fish as the supertrawlers catch so are drawn to their nets.

The invasion of supertrawlers, in unprotected waters, and therefore legally allowed, were named by Greenpeace as follows:

ARCTICA – Russian Owned

KAPITAN DEMIDENKO – Russian Owned

KARELIA – Russian Owned

BALTIYSKAYA KOSA – Russian Owned

KAPITAN NAZIN – Russian Owned

ZAMOSKVORECHE – Russian Owned

LIRA – Russian Owned

LAZURNYY – Russian Owned

MAARTJE THEADORA – Dutch Owned

VALERIY DZHAPARIDZE – Russian Owned

NIVENSKOYE – Russian Owned

ANNELIES ILENA – Dutch Owned

YANTARNYY – Russian Owned

KAPITAN SULIMOV – Russian Owned  

KURSHSKAYA KOSA – Russian Owned

WILLEM VAN DER ZWAN – Dutch Owned

NAERABERG – Dutch Owned

AFRIKA – Dutch Owned

FRANK BONEFAAS – Dutch Owned

MEKHANIK SERGEY AGAP – Russian Owned

ZEELAND – Dutch Owned 

HELEN MARY – Dutch Owned

CAROLIEN – Dutch Owned

The factory ships destroy the ecosystems. They exercise brutality as they cut out the ‘by catch’ from their nets. An example would be cutting off the tail of a porpoise and throwing it back in the water. Porpoises drown when trapped in the nets, are cut out and thrown back in the sea. Any tonnage of unwanted fish that is kept might be ground down and used for animal feed. Dead dolphins found washed up on beaches have cut marks on their fins and beaks, caused by cutting them out of the nets.

Fishermen in Dorset have also blamed supertrawlers for “wiping out” fish stocks and killing dolphins, the Dorset Echo reported.

Lloyd Gofton, a Brighton volunteer, said 5,000 dolphin deaths had been recorded in the UK over seven years, up 15 per cent on the previous seven years – but the real death figure was significantly higher because only one in 10 bodies washes up, although not all are caused by factory fleets.

Supertrawlers not only increased the deaths of dolphins, seals and porpoises, but also reduced stocks of their prey fish, he warned.  

Cloaked by the Covid crisis, activities of foreign supertrawlers have caused havoc for the British fishing industry.

Sea Gypsies

There are still humans who fish according to the needs and demand of their local population. They are not wasteful but show respect for the waters where they fish. In our Oceans there remain a small number of sea gypsies who dwell in harmony with the sea.

Bajau child

But deals are done by governments to take the money of corporate fishing businesses to overwhelm the waters near the coasts of poorer countries.

If we slice up the seas and oceans and apply negotiated international fishing rights we end up with supertrawlers casting their massive nets and consequently destroying the fragile ecosystems on which we depend. We humans have no divine right to act as if we own this Planet which has spawned us. We only rule this place in order to destroy it. Even a parasite does not intend to destroy its host.

A single discarded net (and there are thousands left in the oceans and seas) can kill fish over centuries.

Back in 2013 there was a blog on the Chilean overfishing problem, which warned so well of the impending catastrophe caused by irresponsible governments allowing overfishing using supertrawlers.

“What Chilean law sets aside for about 85,000 small-scale fishermen is seldom enough to fill their nets, he explained. So the prospect of a 30-foot-long by 8-foot-wide boat bobbing atop daunting swells in the South Pacific is now a reality for many of Chile’s artisanal fishermen………..The latest government data on fisheries found that over 70 percent of species are overfished, including jack mackerel, hake, sea bass and anchovy.…………Taken as a whole, the downward trend of fish stock in the South Pacific may well signal an alarming harbinger for global fisheries.………….

“It’s true there could be a global concern for the variation in fish stock in Chile and the region because what happens here has repercussions abroad,” said Jorge Toro De Ponte, executive director of IFOP. “Together with Peru, we provide close to 20 percent of the global fish production.”

The permissive fisheries law that allowed for unbridled exploitation can be traced back to 1991 when fish were still abundant and promoting growth was prioritized over environmental concerns. During this period, the Total Allowable Catch system in place sparked a free-for-all, dubbed the “Olympic Race.” A frenetic arms race ensued, characterized by rapidly expanding fleets, racing to capture as many fish as possible before competitors had the chance.

From Wikipedia:

Fishing in Chile is a major industry with a total catch of 4,442,877 tons of fish in 2006.[1] As of 2010, Chile has the seventh largest commercial catch in the world.[2] With over 4,000 km (2,500 miles) of viable coastline, fishing has been a vital resource for small-scale business and family development for hundreds of years. Due to the Humboldt Current, the Chilean Sea is considered among the most productive marine ecosystems in the world as well as the largest upwelling system. Artisanal fishing is practised all over Chile’s 6,435 km long coastline and combines industrial techniques with pre-Hispanic traditions. 

Typical human behaviour is to grab as much as you can when the window is closing for availability and absolve oneself of guilt.

Perhaps if you read this review https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/seaspiracy you might watch this documentary where the review tells us:

From the co-creator who brought you the groundbreaking documentary Cowspiracy comes Seaspiracy, a follow up that illuminates alarming — and not widely known — truths about the widespread environmental destruction to our oceans caused by human behavior. Filmmaker Ali Tabrizi initially set out to celebrate his beloved ocean, but instead found himself examining the harm that humans inflict upon the vulnerable seas. From plastics and fishing gear polluting the waters, to the irreparable damage of bottom trawling and by-catch, to illegal fishing and devastating hunting practices, humanity is wreaking havoc on marine life and, by extension, the entire planet. What Tabrizi ultimately uncovered not only challenges notions of sustainable fishing but will shock anyone who cares about the wonders of ocean life, as well as the future of the planet and our place on it.

As windows of opportunity are now closing on much of the world’s resources, we are grabbing what we can and creating laws to make that possible. We should have stopped fishing in many waters until stocks recovered, but we did not enact laws that would control that globally.

Sometimes the cause of deaths of marine life is contamination from toxins such as plastics, sewage, chemical leaks, oil leaks, mining waste, the list is sadly endless.. I will take a look at some of these in Part II.

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The Impact of Farming on land use: Britain

In the Neolithic Era, (name for New Stone Age which occurred around 4000 – 2000 BC) ancestral farmers of Britons, established farming here which has transformed land usage. When those farmers from southern Europe arrived here 6000 years ago, they must have felt very keen to begin settling in and exploring the landscapes.  

Since tribal humans began farming, they have expanded, often having to fight for territory, and if they lost against others or were victims of some environmental catastrophe, they had to move on in the nomadic style but hoping to find a new place to settle and build a community once more.

Eyeing new land which had not yet been settled has excited the heart of humans since they first understood the possibilities of building communities, then civilisations.

Farming was already advanced in Near Eastern countries and spread to Europe, with the domestication and breeding of animals. Keeping food to hand meant settled communities had food to hand in the form of fresh meat and cultivated crops.

When the first farmers arrived in what is now southern Britain, there were many forested areas. When farming began some trees were cleared to form plots of land to grow the seeds carried by the farmers from their previous homelands.

Fisher-hunter-gatherers had travelled from East to West for thousands of years. They moved along coastlines and major rivers, such as the Danube, along the Mediterranean to the Iberian (Spain and Portugal today) Peninsula and France.

These same routes were used by the Neolithic farmers who arrived in southern Britain around 6000 years ago, and their genetics have been traced back to the Aegean Neolithic peoples. Migrations of farmers were also arriving in the Danish and Swedish areas, having originated in Anatolia.

Since generations of farmers moved toward this land over 6000 years, farming had become increasingly more sophisticated with Europe populated increasingly by farmers who were culturally diversified, but often had language attributes in common. They had domesticated wild animals and bred them into dependent creatures, so they had cattle, pigs, goats ,sheep and poultry. They brought their domesticated animals with them to Britain. Sailing in well built boats enabled them to arrive here and utilise the land most suitable for agrarian activities.

These farmers carried seeds so they could plant crops once the land was cleared wherever they chose to settle. They knew what fertile land consisted of, and understood the importance of seasons, and chose areas close to fresh running rivers..

Creating dwellings to house themselves and their animals required skills honed over centuries, and they must have begun that work immediately along the coasts, rivers and streams.

As human brains grew, we acquired skills of alchemy and worked in Bronze (a combination of tin and copper). The Bell Beaker culture began at the very beginning of the European Bronze Age. Arising from around 2800 BC, these people had originated in the Eurasian Steppe. In their migration their popular culture lasted in Britain until as late as 1800 BC. They were known for creating bell shaped pots, but were also experts in metallurgy and the making of weapons. This was an early example of mass production with an obvious supply and demand ethos.

Bell Beaker pot making, artist’s impression

Farmers then became aware of iron ore and added it to strengthen tools in Iron. The Iron Age in Britain was from 800BC to the arrival of the Romans in 44AD. Just as the farming culture originated in the Mediterranean region, so did the Iron Age developing out of the Bronze Age. It began 400 years before it reached Britain.

The Roman Empire covered 1062 sq miles (275,056.73 hectares). It formed in the years before Christianity, then grew in strength, incorporating Christianity eventually as a useful uniting tool for trade and commerce. It was backed by military strength and Roman warfare became the pinnacle of power during its time conquering tribes of Europe. Successive Popes, when coffers were low, would call on Christians in its realm to fight, for example, the 9 Crusades, and accrued vast wealth in so doing. When the Empire collapsed, there was a void of leadership which caused turmoil throughout Europe. But Christianity continued to spread with the leader of the Church being the Pope in Rome. Most Christian Monarchs in Europe deferred to whoever was the Pope during their reign.

With the Romans gone, the population of Britain would undergo massive change.

The Romans named the Pagan people in the very North of Scotland, The Picts. These people were converted to Christianity around the 6th century, but their Pagan symbols are found throughout Christian literature and icons. “Many of today’s customs used in the Church can be traced back to the 4th century, when Constantine permitted the process of converting the official religion of the Roman Empire from Paganism to Christianity.

Note the word ‘converting‘. Changing the sign on the door is a lot easier, quicker and cheaper than changing the whole building. Christianity was modelled on many customs that were familiar and acceptable to Jews and Pagans at that time, when religion and belief were intertwined with superstition.”

The Picts were descendants of the Iron Age people of northern Scotland, believed to have originated in Iberia as hunter-gatherers, they moved through lower Britain and entered Scotland around 7000BC. Recent DNA tests have proven the Picts were closely related to the Basques of northern Spain. The connections between northern Britain and Celtic Spain are supported by many myths and legends. The dolmens, standing stones and the trail of “cup and ring” designs carved on stones by the prehistoric people of Iberia make their way from Spain and Portugal and northern France to Ireland and Scotland and represent the earliest evidence of the movement of prehistoric man from Iberia to Britain.

Those fisher-hunter-gatherers travelling up the Atlantic coasts of the Iberian Peninsula then along the coast of France, and up the Atlantic coast of Britain, C.15000 to 7500 YA (see Book, The Origins of the British by Stephen Oppenheimer,, 2007) were setting the route for these migrating farmers c.6000 years ago.

Early Stone Age people also came across from the continent of Europe when Doggerland land bridge enabled good hunting until the sea levels rose (c.4000 BC). As long as 900,000 YA, in Happisburgh, Norfolk coast, there is evidence of stone tools and footprints of a Homo antecessor.

It is the genetic information which is now becoming more refined and definitive which is helping us link the New Stone Age era of humans to the beginnings of British ancestry.

It took the advanced Roman culture to record the conditions they found on these islands when they established fortification and control 43BC to 442 AD. Plantations were introduced over 400 to 650 acres, centred upon stone villas. The remaining farmers cultivated their own plots, but also, as serfs, thos of their lord. The rich farmlands bordering the Fens provided grain for the Roman legions stationed in the North. The waterways of the Fen’s were used to transport the grain, but also the innovative Romans built canals to add to transportation routes.

Under Roman occupation, farmers continued to live in their existing villages, hamlets and isolated homesteads. Population density was very low, with only 2 to 5 people per square kilometer. The main obstacles to food production was loss of soil fertility, pests, diseases of plants and animals. Roman influence taught that fields must not be over cultivated and must be allowed to lay fallow for one or more years in order to recover fertility. New tools designed by the Romans were introduced, such as the Sarculum (Roman hoe) and the Roman plough. Romans had perfected the State of the Art farming techniques which they enthusiastically taught and implemented in their newly conquered territories.

During the Roman occupation of Britannia (43 – 410 AD) some people from beyond these shores were already living here as subjects of Rome. Once the Romans went home to Rome, Europe was in turmoil and there was a massive movement of people which historians have called The Great Migration. The best farmland was known to be in Britain, already cultivated under Roman instruction. Thus the vulnerable population of these islands became the target of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes.

Bede, a Northumbrian monk (who documented much of this period), wrote that Anglo-Saxons belonged to the three largest tribes in Northern Germany, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. Other smaller tribes include the Franks, Batavians and Frisians.

Anglo-Saxon Occupation of Britain

During the Anglo-Saxon occupation of Britain, the three invading tribes set about creating their own kingdoms. Pushing the earlier farmers found populating the islands further west into Wales, Cornwall and further north towards Scotland. These were the truly Celtic people from the Iberian Peninsula.

The Angles split up and founded the kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia. They gave their name to Angle-land, which eventually be England.

The Saxons settled in Essex (East Saxons), Sussex (South Saxons), Middlesex (Middle Saxons) and Wessex (West Saxons) which today is roughly Hampshire and Wiltshire. The large Saxon presence in the areas around Wessex, gradually drove out the existing Jutes who had settled there.

The Jutes settled in Kent, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Although, probably because of the dominant presence of Saxons in the area, the Jutes did not remain long in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The Saxons came from the northern Germanic coast line of Old Saxony. The Saxons not only invaded and settled in Britain, but also pushed north over the North Sea, and south west down to the Franks.

The farmers best known for their dramatic raids were the Vikings. Again, they were farmers with warrior attitude. They were not genetically unique to Scandinavia. They not only fought on Scottish and English soils, but also French soils. It was in France that they secured, under Rollo, the area which is now known as Normandy. Viking means North Men, so the land was named Normandy. They were the precursors of William the Conqueror who arrived on Saxon land a couple of centuries later.

We do know that all of the groups of people who sailed from Scandinavia during the Viking Age descended from the people who lived there during the Iron Age (500 BCE to 800 CE). But the genetic data does suggest a few differences. For instance, Viking Age people from Sweden and Denmark have more ancestry in common with Neolithic farmers from Anatolia, who spread west across Europe around 6,000 years ago, than their predecessors did. That suggests the flow of people and their genes from the south and east, moving across the Baltic Sea and into Sweden and Denmark just before the Viking Age..

A couple of centuries later, another Normandy born person, namely William the Conqueror chose to take on the Anglo-Saxon King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Harold was killed. William became King. But he had to deal with constant rebellions from northern forces. He chose to use religion to symbolically dominate the population, changing the structures of the existing wooden churches and replacing them with grand stone buildings and he used Norman priests to dominate the hierarchy.

The Normans built larger stone churches, and constructed basilicas in major towns, like London, Durham and York, which could hold hundreds of people worshipping at one time. One key feature of these large Norman basilicas was the rounded arch, and Norman churches would have been painted inside with religious art. This gave a clear message about the power of the church in people’s lives, and the leaders of the church were usually Norman.

William appointed Lanfranc to reorganise the Church after it had been under Anglo-Saxon rule.

Lanfranc was a very strict leader of the Church and introduced a lot of reforms in the English church. Two particular issues that he wanted to deal with were simony and celibacy.

As William’s new Archbishop, Lanfranc achievements included:

  • simony was challenged
  • stricter obedience from England’s priests to the rules of the Church
  • strong loyalty to both King William and to the Pope
  • substitution of most English bishops with Norman clergy
  • succession of William’s son, William Rufus, when the king died in 1087
  • supremacy of the Archbishop of Canterbury over York
Durham Castle and Cathedral

William the Conqueror, in 1086, ordered that all lands be surveyed in England and part of Wales, and every little detail of property be catalogued so as to assess the value of lands he oversaw as King. This survey became the ‘Domesday Book’. He died a year later, leaving his homeland of Normandy to his son Robert and England to William Rufus.

William used the ‘Domesday Book‘ to place taxes on all his subjects. Now he knew exactly who owned what. This changed the perspective of land and property forever in the country over which he rules, and for successive monarchs. He used these taxes to fund many successful battles against Scottish kings until his armies killed King Malcolm III of Scotland, and one of his sons, and took Cumberland and Westmorland off the Scots, building the Castle at Carlisle to defend against any further claims. Similarly he built castles in Wales to prevent further rebellion from the Welsh, all courtesy of the resented crippling taxes on the English population.

Farmers now worked their own family plot but also worked for the lord over them. All had to pay taxes and fight for the King whenever he bade them do so. Swearing allegiance to King and Country became the expected thing to do, and to also worship at the large churches which no longer took place in small communities, but attracted large numbers to be educated in the Norman Catholic belief system.

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Covid and Capitalism

Around 80% of countries use the Capitalist system. In capitalist economic systems, the state doesn’t provide jobs. The private companies set the eligibility and pick the candidate most suited for them. But in times of recessionunemployment can reach very high levels.

Some countries take responsibility for full employment of their citizens, but operate within a capitalist framework. They may invest income from oil revenues in controversial projects abroad, such as mining, but use the profits to create what seems like an ideal society back home.

Democratic Socialism is a mix of communism and capitalism. Under Covid, the distinction has become interesting as Capitalist countries adopt predictably harsh approaches to those whose jobs have been scrapped, whilst Democratic Socialists support high employment at all times.

But employment of the many for the benefit of the few is a well tested model, whether it be under a communist or capitalist regime. Brainwashing the many to adhere to ‘the rules’ in which ‘the carrot’ dangled is to be able to stay in employment and thus achieve a roof over one’s head and food for the family. Individuals who do not abide by the rules are outcast.

Workers will identify with the trade they are employed in, to stay true and work hard, even if the work is soul destroying and difficult.

People under Capitalism right now are feeling ‘the stick’ as they lose their jobs and positions they have gained through their efforts. They feel like they have been made obsolete. Some want to blame someone, something, anything. They are angry and becoming, in many cases, unstable. Others have worked out how to redeploy transferable skills and have created enterprising employment for themselves.

Capitalism under threat

The Covid 19 pandemic has put the concept of Capitalism under threat. Globalisation may be a thing of the past. Dreams of one day becoming wealthy through the capitalist models of opportunity are being dashed.

Capitalism is built around winners and losers. Those of us who have only known a capitalist system accept we have a seat at the mostly global Casino. We have to play, even if we don’t want to. There is no choice.

Surveillance Capitalism

Stocks and shares rise and fall according to rumour and speculation. Fake news can destroy a business or a person charged with falsified evidence. No one is safe and secure under capitalism, particularly surveillance capitalism. (see The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff)

Climate Change and Human Migration

Around the world we have climate change disrupting the lives of millions of people, forcing them to trek thousands of miles to find food and shelter, and often finding there is no place they are welcome, as the likely nearest places already have problems feeding their populations.

Climate Change and Buried Microbes

Viruses emerge out of melting permafrost which have laid trapped and preserved for thousands of years. Methane flies into the atmosphere out of the ground which was frozen, at greater quantities than all the Anthropocene activities could ever have contributed. The Earth is warming at a much more rapid rate now and than ever before, because we did not respond responsibly to warnings decades ago.

We have a habit of being deliberately ‘slow on the uptake’ if it looks like Capitalism is getting shaky.

Lockdown in areas already suffering poverty

Under lockdown, in some richer countries, we have the dichotomy that people in poor communities already not eating well are not eating at all. Many have never been taught to cook, only re heat frozen foods of which they don’t even care to know what harmful ingredients they might be ingesting. A number have not been taught to cook from raw ingredients, and that lack of skill has gone on for generations since the rise of fast food outlets. During a pandemic this is adding to their misery, for no fast food is easily available to low income families and food banks give them foods which often do not match their usual diet. Even cooking rice or boiling a potato is a mystery to many finding themselves in this dire situation.

4 years ago this site devoted its attention to calculate what global land area would we need to feed the world. We all know we eat too much meat. 80% of arable land is used to grow meat. That is crazy. We must begin to reduce that percentage drastically.

Since poverty might also mean some do not have heating, gas or electricity due to being unable to pay their bills, cooking isn’t even possible were they to try. In freezing winters this dreadful situation is adding to the consequential death toll of the Covid pandemic. These communities have been run down over generations, many since the war damage hit their industries. They have no safety net. This is the result of the winners and losers construct.

Every person requires imaginative education to help them prepare nourishing food, to know where food comes from and which diets will sustain a human, even if the food is cold many simple foods can generate energy and warmth once eaten.

Rolling wars and Covid

In present day rolling war in countries where they have been starving pre Covid, it gets worse even when they thought it couldn’t. Foreign aid is drastically cut (the UK reduced its International commitment), thousands more are starving to death, and if still struggling to survive, they will be cut down by Covid too. These countries have lost their infrastructure through proxy wars.

John Pilger “describes the invisible weapon of past and current wars, and the threat of nuclear war, under cover of the Covid pandemic. This is propaganda, aided by censorship by omission.”

More losers, but those who perpetuate the wars are gambling on winning, and that is their goal, no matter what the human cost.

The mental damage of war, poverty and disease

We humans have been suffering untold levels of grief, sadness, anxiety, anger, and hopelessness as we play our part in the Big Casino. Such feelings can be manipulated by governments and cult leaders.

Algorithms on social media platforms

Social media is one tool which has increasingly played a role with allowing their simple algorithms to multiply negative and irrational thoughts. (Read The Arguments for Deleting your Social Media Accounts Right Now, by Jaron Lanier). Leaders of cults and political power bases can spend money on fake news and cause mayhem amongst the unsuspecting, addicted social media users. Now those users are more vulnerable and susceptible due to the Covid and Economic crises.

Many of us access online news to find out what is going on in the world around us, but many news outlets also trawl social media platforms to get stories for us to read or see on television. It has become an intense cycle of negativity.

Deception

But gullible humans can be easily deceived, and many wars have been fought through sending out false messages about ‘imminent threat’ and creating hatred for those perceived to be the enemy, but only after telling lies and providing false evidence about them. Thus, over the centuries, since warfaring peoples first worked out how to whip up hysteria using propaganda and often religious zeal, many have gone to war and/or committed genocide against innocents because they could no longer think for themselves.

Greed and avarice

Humans have evolved Capitalism through developing modes of trade since Jesus was said to have overturned the tables of the Pharisees. The story was told, a finger wagged, and we proceeded to ignore the warnings – and we evolved greed, avarice and sang the mantra ‘Profit before People’.

Once warned, we thumbed our noses and developed capitalism dependent on credit and ensuring debt, and developing elites who loan the funds. Covid has meant more debt incurred by individuals struggling to survive, they have had to borrow more, but whilst Covid rages, they are receiving demands for repayment and have to seek help as anxiety mounts.

Not just people within countries are convinced that debt is a good thing, but whole nations become indebted to richer nations, making them kneel at the feet of institutions like the IMF. 

Rescuing the hard hit sectors after Covid

The ILO offered analysis and suggestions for preparation for the likely fallout across sectors in the labour market, due to Covid:

The majority of job losses and declining
working hours will occur in hardest-hit sectors.
The ILO estimates that 1.25 billion workers,
representing almost 38 per cent of the global
workforce, are employed in sectors that are
now facing a severe decline in output and a high
risk of workforce displacement. Key sectors
include retail trade, accommodation and food
services, and manufacturing.
X Particularly in low- and middle-income
countries, hard-hit sectors have a high
proportion of workers in informal employment
and workers with limited access to health
services and social protection. Without
appropriate policy measures, workers face
a high risk of falling into poverty and will
experience greater challenges in regaining their
livelihoods during the recovery period.
X Those who continue to work in public spaces,
in particular health workers, are exposed
to significant health and economic risks.
In the health sector, this affects women
disproportionately.

The extract from the above report in 2020, having seemingly been ignored by policymakers, reveals in 2021 the global lack of preparation for the Covid impact. When a person tries to show enterprise and is prevented due to some bureaucratic nonsense, as we saw with the immolation of the young man in Tunisia whose death sparked the Arab Spring, we can see what happens if we do not encourage independent action and thought to generate income. If ever we needed global action to fund the initiative of currently hard hit sectors to regain employment in a Covid-safe fashion, now is the time.

Old hands who know the ropes for generating income:

The Vatican Bank has always relied on it’s believers to contribute generously to its coffers.

“The bank has been caught up in a number of scandals in the past, including the funding of priests caught up in sex abuse allegations and of money laundering for the Mafia and former Nazis.

This is why there are moves within parts of the church to make it more like a normal bank and open up its accounts for greater scrutiny. Protections for religious organisations mean it does not currently face the same transparency obligations as other financial institutions.

An investigation by the Economist estimated that the American Catholic church alone – which has the fourth largest follower base by country, behind Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines – spent $170bn in 2010 on things like healthcare, schools and parishes.

Money flows in from individual donations from Catholics, government grants, the church’s own investments and corporate donors.

According to Georgetown University, the average weekly donation of an American Catholic to the church is $10. There are 85 million in North America, meaning each week the Catholic Church pulls in $850m through donations from individual Catholics.”

Under Covid, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church received at least $1.4 billion in federal COVID-19 relief aid, making it one of the largest beneficiaries of federal assistance during the pandemic.

Because people cannot  call for a priest when dying of Covid, last year in Italy a headline read:

“Catholic Church ‘forgives’ sins of coronavirus patients

The Catholic Church has granted forgiveness — under certain conditions — for the sins of the faithful struck by the novel coronavirus.

A decree published by the Vatican also covers healthcare workers and those who pray for their wellbeing. Relatives who care for their sick family members are also forgiven.

The condition involves the sick saying a certain number of prayers.

Those who pray for the caregivers’ wellbeing must also read the Bible “for at least half an hour”.

The decree was issued one day after Italy overtook China for the highest number of deaths from the new illness.

The pandemic has killed more than 3,400 people in the Mediterranean country.

Vatican City itself has confirmed one infection.

Pope Francis was reported to have been tested for the virus as a precaution after coming down with a cold last month.

The Vatican has never confirmed or denied the report but has stressed repeatedly that the 83-year-old pontiff does not have Covid-19.”

And then we have career politicians:

People have developed ideas to attract money to themselves if they say they will ‘serve the people’ when really, they often end up merely serving themselves, but will tell of the great things they have achieved ‘for the people’. Even Eisenhower who warned of the dangers of ‘the military complex’ were honed by military service and, as such, had to be blinkered to many other aspects of human existence which required attention, for example, Civil Rights.

It is commonplace for politicians to get backing from donors in order to mount their campaign to become a representative of some party or a leader of some country. Nowadays, no individual can hope for a career in politics without massive backing from donors, who are likely to have vested interest anyway and be corporates as well as individuals. They expect a ‘quid pro quo’. Laws can be changed, policies can be adapted to suit, all to the advantage of the donors.

And the ever persistent requests for donations for charities:

Giving donations to charities often only sucks up the money to pay high salaries to those who run the charity rather than use the proceeds responsibly for the given purpose of the charity.

Manipulation of well meaning citizens:

People can be manipulated so easily that there is a disgust by those who do such things toward the easily led majority of well meaning citizens. The manipulators prey on the fears and anxiety which many rightly possess. Once they are led into believing a manipulated action will free them from their fear, they will become evangelistic about the belief and will take that action. Advertising methods use the same ploy. Advertising dominates social media and pays for it, and we use the ‘free’ apps to access the distorted truths.

When those who live in a hierarchical structure are manipulated out of their self development and dumbed down by fake news, they become unable to learn how to distinguish truth from fiction – and their children likewise. Capitalism has exploited that human vulnerability, with the help of religious zealots, and militias drawn from the ranks of those whose brains have been fogged by untruths.

The basic necessities of life for humans is food security and a safe place to live and work.

Covid is yet another challenge which exposes the weaknesses in the way we describe our existence to ourselves.

History reveals the tragedies and our ineptitude as we continue to wreak havoc on this beautiful planet, to cause extinctions of plants and animals and to help generate more diseases for our scientists to frantically try to conquer.

We have the ability and intelligence to rise above this mess and view calmly what needs to be done to rescue the planet first, and maybe we might just deserve to rescue ourselves in the process.

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Covid 19 and food poverty, Britain

Back in 2014 a panel of people came together to put out a report on food poverty impacting on ill health in Britain.

This was an All-Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry on Hunger and Food.

Any country’s government group might have set these lines of investigation, but the history which contributed to the dire straits of a high percentage of their citizens might have been very different.

  1. To understand the extent and geographical spread of hunger and food poverty in this country.
  2. To investigate the underlying causes of hunger and food poverty in this country
  3. To identify the circumstances behind the rising number of people requiring emergency food assistance in this country
  4. To understand the extent, nature and organisation of emergency food assistance schemes in this country
  5. To discover the food choices and other forms of support available to clients when
    using emergency food assistance
  6. To investigate the source of emergency food assistance providers’ supplies –
    how much is supplied by consumers and institutions?
  7. To consider the effectiveness of emergency food assistance in meeting immediate and long-term needs, and the possibility of these schemes becoming permanent features of the welfare state
  8. To examine the effectiveness and sustainability of our food model in providing universal access to healthy, affordable food in this country
  9. To consider approaches to improving household food security in this country
  10. To make recommendations.

Unicef reported in 2017 that 19% of children under 15 in the UK live with adults who struggle to buy food. In January 2019, a group of cross party MPs called on government to appoint a Minister of Hunger! The BBC reported children were so food obsessed they were found rooting through bins at school to find discarded apple cores! Parents arrived with their children at school saying they could not afford to feed their children.

It took a footballer, Marcus Rashford, to fight for the undernourished children of Britain, to overturn MPs decision not to provide free school meals during periods when schools were closed. Rashford also helped build a food resource which would assist parents to feed their children in his local area.

In Britain, our government introduced a rule under Covid restrictions whereby one could only buy alcohol if a full meal was ordered. This led to people meeting their friends to sit down to a meal, ordering drinks, then leaving the food for it to be thrown in the waste. All they wanted was the alcohol. They did not even ask to take home the food to help family or friends, or even to hand it in to a local food bank or distributor of meals to local people in need. This despicable behaviour has caused outrage in Britain.

Many people who have family members who suffer addictions to drugs such as alcohol, cigarettes, opioids, shopping – will know how the addict will spend money on their addiction rather than on food for themselves and their family. In Britain, this adds to the spiral of debt and destruction of family life leading to domestic violence and acts of self harm. Covid restrictions have heightened these mental health problems dramatically. More families are living in great distress and lack of ready food on the table. The above report demonstrates how dire this stress was building up to be to be over many years before Covid struck Britain.

Recently the BBC filmed some of the misery in Burnley, Lancashire:

Today, the BBC highlighted another area in Northern Britain smitten by long term poverty, Gateshead, Tyneside. There are many northern towns in the UK which have never recovered from bombing of their towns and cities in the last war. Funds have always seemed more profitably spent by the Treasury to allocate to southern Britain if more gain was perceived improving roads, housing and generally boosting employment and education chances. The northern areas did not hold much attraction in this respect. However, in order to gain favour with the northern voters, the current government has promised funds will favour the north, but not before the highest number of over 70s people have died from Covid in the UK. These deaths were preventable had funds been made available to northern councils in time to set up a proper response to Covid in their communities. Instead, hungry children have lost their grandparents and the grief of loss is adding to the pain of hunger.

The answer to this problem is the responsibility of all of us, across the globe. We should all realise we have the answer as long as we provide the infrastructure and philosophy to eradicate poverty and stop the relentless punishment and stigma in many societies simply for being born into a life which holds no safety net..

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Opium, Poverty, War and Covid

The poppy is a beautiful flower. No doubt early humans were drawn to its bright colour and, once picked, they used their curious minds to develop uses.

Early evidence of its consumption was found in a Neolithic burial site near Barcelona, where it appears it was used for its narcotic and analgesic effects. The ancient Greeks, who held the opium poppy sacred, claimed it was Demeter who discovered it, with figurines of Poppy goddesses found in Gazi, Crete.

The poppy seeds are used today for sprinkling on food; morphine for serious pain relief and as the addictive street drug, heroin.

Opium was one of many herbal remedies discovered and catalogued by Pedanius Dioscorides.

“He was born around 30 A.D. in the town of Anazarbius in Asia Minor, in present day Turkey.  He started work on De Materia Medica around 50 A.D. and published it in 70 A.D.  Although he wrote his herbal in Greek, it was quickly translated into Latin, and subsequently into Arabic and other languages.  Dioscorides died aroung 90 A.D.

Dioscorides’ great herbal is one of the most popular medical reference works in the history of mankind.  Unlike other medical works by classical authors, De Materia Medica wasn’t rediscovered in the Renaissance because it had never really left circulation.

In sheer scale and thoroughness, De Materia Medica vastly surpassed all previous herbals.  It discusses the medicinal properties of over one thousand natural medicinal substances; most of these are botanical in origin, but drugs of animal and mineral origin were also included.  To put things in perspective, the entire Hippocratic Corpus only mentions about 130 different medicinal substances.  Dioscorides listed over 4,740 different uses for the materia medica in his herbal, and lists over 360 varieties of medicinal actions.”

Today we are familiar with holistic medicine and those who still research and qualify in its study and application know this ancient work of Dioscorides. But Big Pharma recognises the value of this work too and many international modern medicine production facilities still refer to this ancient knowledge within modern settings Derived from opium is the synthetic opiates, opioids.

As various medicines are helping to manage the symptoms of Covid, a vaccine is also being developed at a rapid rate. The richer nations are purchasing millions of batches for their citizens. The aim is to reach all global citizens but the logistics and safe transport requirements will be complex.

Some parts of the world do not have a local hospital, even small communities in the United States, and without even medicines to help them they are fighting against the tide of the virus. In Afghanistan, those areas whose farmers grow poppies are making the opium and using it as the only medication available.

The top countries which grow poppies to fulfill the demand for their use are found at Top Opium Poppy Producing Countries – WorldAtlas

The famous Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent

GOLDEN TRIANGLE –  It is an area of around 950,000 square kilometres (367,000 sq mi) that overlaps the mountains of three countries of Southeast Asia: Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.

The Golden Triangle designates the confluence of the Ruak River and the Mekong River, since the term has been appropriated by the Thai tourist industry to describe the nearby border tripoint of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar

GOLDEN CRESCENT is the name given to one of Asia’s two principal areas of illicit opium production (with the other being the Golden Triangle), located at the crossroads of Central, South, and Western Asia. This space overlaps three nations, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, whose mountainous peripheries define the crescent.

From <https://getorgot.blogspot.com/2016/04/golden-triangle-golden-crescent.html>

And here a piece of what life is like for most Afghans caught between warring factions, their opium they grow is all they can turn to to ease the pain and symptoms of Covid.

“The first item on everyone’s minds is food. Some fear that, as flour prices rise, the small, local bakeries will close. ‘It is better to die of the coronavirus rather than die of poverty,’ says Mohammada Jan, a shoemaker in Kabul. Jan Ali, a labourer, laments, ‘Hunger will kill us before we are killed by the coronavirus. We are stuck between two deaths.’

Even without the disruption caused by the pandemic, nearly 11 million face acute food insecurity, according to UN projections. For the thousands of street children and casual labourers in Afghanistan, no work means no bread. For the poor in urban areas, the main priority will be to feed their families, which means being out in the street, looking for work, money and supplies. People are likely to be more worried about starving to death than about dying from the coronavirus. ‘They are too busy trying to survive poverty and upheaval to worry about a new virus’

With prices of wheat flour, fresh fruit and nutritious food items rising fast and no government control of food prices, there is a real danger of famine. Border closures, intended to restrict the spread of the virus, mean international supply lines of oil and pulses, mostly from Pakistan, will be severely restricted. Even though many farmers are optimistic for this year’s harvest, after plentiful snows and rains this winter, the virus could hit them just as the harvest starts in May.

At the time of writing, there have been 1,019 confirmed corona virus cases and 36 reported deaths, although with limited testing and many not seeking health care when sick, the actual figure must be much higher. The provinces most affected are Herat, Kabul and Kandahar.

The heart of the outbreak is in Herat, the busy border town from which, normally, thousands of Afghans, mostly young men, cross into Iran in search of work. Following fatalities and lockdown in Iran, last week alone 140,000 Afghans recrossed the border into Herat. Some are escaping the coronavirus itself, others have lost their jobs because of the lockdown so they have nowhere to go.

In Herat, a three-hundred-bed hospital has just been built to cope with the new cases. Afghanistan has set up new testing centres, laboratories and hospital wards, even roadside hand washing stations. The World Bank has approved a donation of $100.4 million, to provide new hospitals, safety equipment, better testing and ongoing education about the virus. The first medical packs from China, of ventilators, protective suits and testing kits, arrived in Afghanistan last week.

Many Western NGOs, however, have had to stop work as their staff has been ordered home by their own countries and there is a shortage of doctors trained in the intubation procedures needed to help COVID-19 patients.

Afghanistan’s 1 million displaced people [IDPs] will be disproportionately affected by COVID-19. For those in camps, overcrowding means it is almost impossible to maintain social distancing. Poor sanitation, and scant resources, sometimes no running water or soap means basic hygiene is difficult. For migrant workers, a lock down means both their jobs and accommodation suddenly disappear; they have no choice but to return to their village, causing huge numbers of people to be on the move.

Commentators International Alert and Crisis Group analyse the fall out from COVID-19 pandemic. First of all western leaders, don’t have time to devote to conflict and peace processes, while focused on domestic issues. The UK prime minister has only recently recovered from the virus as I write.

It is thought the COVID-19 pandemic will ‘wreak havoc’ in fragile states, where civil society is not strong. While on one hand there is a sense that ‘we’re in this together’, as we know from our own situation in the UK the virus has also given rise to more surveillance and unusually heavy-handed policing. In a country where ethnic tensions turn into armed conflict, there is a danger that ‘othering’, in which particular groups, such as migrants for example, are blamed for spreading the virus, becomes violent and deadly.

Despite prisoner swaps between the Taliban and the Afghan government completed as a foundation for peace talks, and despite the Taliban joining in the campaign to educate citizens about the virus, attacks such as this one by ISIS, continue. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports 5 covert US air or drone strikes against the Taliban in March, resulting in between 30 and 65 deaths. A month ago, the UN Secretary-General called for ‘an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world’. Ongoing ceasefire and peace negotiations are vital for Afghanistan during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Voices for Creative Nonviolence-UK (http://vcnv.org.uk) is VCNV’s sister organization in the UK. When visiting Afghanistan its members are guests of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (www.ourjourneytosmile.com)

Rich countries also struggle with economies running into deeper debt trying to cover the costs incurred by the consequences of fighting the virus. No nation is escaping the enormous challenges. But humans are the most successful life form since the dinosaurs, yet we have been around for a tiny fraction of the time they endured.

We all may wonder if our ingenuity and stamina will overcome this threat amidst all the other crises such as climate change. Whilst each day unfolds, those of us who witness the human caring and hard work to save lives and not needlessly destroy them, gives us a glimmer of hope for this to be a turning point for the better for humanity.

>

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Poverty and Covid

Worldometer today says today there are 846,886,647 and climbing, undernourished people in the world. But there are many more people who are overweight. Many thousands of dollars are spent in the US on weight loss programs, and very little is spent on feeding those who have found themselves without food today. You need a nourishing diet to protect your immune system, and Covid will seek out those with poor immune systems.

There are 796,928,478 who have no access to safe drinking water, but to fight Covid people must not only have safe drinking water, but a supply of clean water and soap to regularly wash their hands. This issue is being tackled, but not fast enough to save lives.

There is plenty of money in the world but we do not spend it where it is most needed. Covid will overwhelm us if we do not provide suitable living conditions for all members of the human race. Make this a priority and we will destroy this virus before it destroys us.

In parts of the world, it is necessary to shop in markets each day in order to purchase or barter for necessities to provide for each day of existence. These markets have not been redesigned to cater for Covid restrictions, and Covid multiplies in such environments.

Read more at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/17/coronavirus-latin-america-markets-mexico-brazil-peru

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Seems like a good idea to Track and Trace. Then dominate the virus.

Test everyone, then track and trace. Makes sense, but only a small number of the World’s population find themselves equipped to carry this out effectively. We will have unnecessary deaths as a result, and health workers will be overwhelmed. Trust in some systems is ebbing away, whilst others have risen to the challenge.

Take a look:

https://www.exemplars.health/emerging-topics/epidemic-preparedness-and-response/covid-19

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Covid 19 and religion

Humans have adhered to religious beliefs for thousands of years. Many belief systems fly in the face of advice for self and other protection against the current contagious virus.

Here we have an example in the news this month:

Israeli Hasids

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/ukraine-hasidic-jews-belarus-border-pilgrimage-israel-plea-1312126

Christian worship:

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/faith/2020/09/24/to-exempt-or-not-to-exempt-covid-19-exemptions-continue-to-spark-debate-over-religious-liberty-public-health/

UK Statistical analysis related deaths by religion, May 2020

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/coronaviruscovid19relateddeathsbyreligiousgroupenglandandwales/2marchto15may2020

Muslim worship in UK, September 2020

India, Hindu advice:

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/immense-self-discipline-caution-exercised-at-places-of-worship-during-covid-19-pandemic-mukhtar-abbas-naqvi/article32535471.ece#!

Israel advice on Covid and worship:

Buddhist in Thailand:

https://asialink.unimelb.edu.au/insights/covid-in-thailand-failed-and-foolhardy-predictions

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Covid 19 as many countries fight wildfires

As we continue to see the virus take its toll, watching the awful numbers at https://worldometer.pro, there is a background of other disasters for human to grapple with at the same time, such as the earth heating to unbelievable temperatures.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/death-valley-records-highest-temperature-107-years-heat-wave/


Conditions are such that many people will have to find somewhere safer to live. This blog briefly illustrates the wildfire issues.

Trump gave his opinion in an interview, September 2020:

President Trump doubled down on his denial of climate change yesterday by saying that scientists are wrong and claiming that the world will “start getting cooler.”

The remarks, delivered during a brief visit to California to discuss the state’s historic wildfires, run counter to mountains of research on global warming — including reports issued by his own administration (Climatewire, Nov. 23, 2018).

His comments ignored how climate change has contributed to natural disasters as the nation watches uncontrolled blazes spread across the West, causing catastrophic damage and killing more than 35 people.”

https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063713713

and NOAA has appointed “new deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction. It’s not immediately clear what his specific responsibilities are or why he was hired, according to the news site.”  see: https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/516160-delaware-professor-who-has-questioned-climate-science-hired-at-noaa

C02 Coalition are funded to oppose environmentalists

https://neweconomics.org/2020/08/road-to-recovery&sa=D&ust=1598436506209000&usg=AFQjCNF-jBcJBbWOBkj7Y8dBPjHNqHX_og

Ramiro Gomez / Creative Commons

The above map was 2014

And in 2017 https://sciexaminer.com/news/science/nasas-scientists-insinuate-never-seen-connection-wildfire-famine-africa-946.html


As the earth heats due to climate change, this is 2020:

USA https://fsapps.nwcg.gov/afm/

South America https://www.pixalytics.com/heat-fire/samerica-fires-openstreetmap/

Australia https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/12/21/everything-burnish g-australian-inferno-continues-choking-access-cities-across-country


Central Africa https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/27/world/africa/congo-angola-rainforest-fires.html


Expect tens of millions of internal climate migrants by 2050, says World Bank


And wars displace people who flee to places where wildfires are commonplace. Only this time, some of the people have Covid.

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