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News from a World gone mad

yet there is still so much beauty

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March 2016

A MODERN-DAY hermit who built a mud hut after living wild for years is being evicted by officials.

Daniel Pike in his home
Daniel Pike moved into Merry Hill Forest, near Watford, Herts, four years ago after becoming disillusioned with modern life.

The resourceful 28-year-old spent his days building a shelter made entirely from wood and clay harvested from the riverbed, complete with a thatched roof. 

Not stopping there, his Robinson Crusoe-style camp also boasts a bath made from driftwood, a roaring indoor fire, window frames, a seating area, bridge and water wheel which produces clean, filtered water.

After adding solar panels to his roof, the former Tesco Extra worker also enjoys electric lights inside his humble abode.

Daniel Pike in his homeCASCADE

Daniel Pike in his home

Daniel Pike in his homeCASCADE

Daniel Pike in his home

Mr Pike suffered a nervous breakdown and became homeless, and with no other prospects decided to go into the woods.

He said: “When I first saw the land it was bare but I knew straight away it was perfect.

“The main structure took seven attempts and six months to build.

“We belong to the land, the land doesn’t belong to us. I don’t think I’m squatting.”

But officials from The Woodland Trust, who own the Carpenders Park site, have ordered him to go.

The vegan added: “I am not doing any harm to anyone here. I grew tired with modern life.

“I came out to the woods, starting in a tent and decided to build a home. I won’t be leaving.”

He spends his time meditating, growing his own food, and thinking of how to add to his cosy camp.

A hot shower was one thing he missed, but praised the benefits of a simple life, adding: “Through being spiritual, positive and adapting to the changes in life I have managed to get through these hard times and become a better person.

Daniel Pike in his homeCASCADE

Daniel Pike in his home

Daniel Pike in his home

“No one knows I’m here. I am so proud of what I have achieved and feel so lucky to call this place home.”

Partly surviving on food from his nearest shop – two miles away – which would otherwise be thrown away, he is adamant he is staying.

But the Trust has insisted he is getting the boot.

Gareth Hopkins, operations manager, said: “We are aware of the current situation at Merry Hill and have spoken to Mr Pike directly.

“It is a highly unusual situation and one we are treating with care and consideration.

“We are working with him to seek a resolution.”

source Express

Some pictures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baghdad Burning  … I’ll meet you ’round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend…
she was a Iraqi blogger I much admire but who disappeared in 2007’ish today I found a new article that  describes  Iraq from her perspective,an ordinary woman trying to live her life but
making good observations that ought to make everyone think hard.WHY are we doing this?

Baghdad Burning… I’ll meet you ’round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend…

Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Ten Years On…

April 9, 2013 marks ten years since the fall of Baghdad. Ten years since the invasion. Since the lives of millions of Iraqis changed forever. It’s difficult to believe. It feels like only yesterday I was sharing day to day activities with the world. I feel obliged today to put my thoughts down on the blog once again, probably for the last time.

In 2003, we were counting our lives in days and weeks. Would we make it to next month? Would we make it through the summer? Some of us did and many of us didn’t.

Back in 2003, one year seemed like a lifetime ahead. The idiots said, “Things will improve immediately.” The optimists were giving our occupiers a year, or two… The realists said, “Things won’t improve for at least five years.” And the pessimists? The pessimists said, “It will take ten years. It will take a decade.”

Looking back at the last ten years, what have our occupiers and their Iraqi governments given us in ten years? What have our puppets achieved in this last decade? What have we learned?
We learned a lot.
We learned that while life is not fair, death is even less fair- it takes the good people. Even in death you can be unlucky. Lucky ones die a ‘normal’ death… A familiar death of cancer, or a heart-attack, or stroke. Unlucky ones have to be collected in bits and pieces. Their families trying to bury what can be salvaged and scraped off of streets that have seen so much blood, it is a wonder they are not red.

We learned that you can be floating on a sea of oil, but your people can be destitute. Your city can be an open sewer; your women and children can be eating out of trash dumps and begging for money in foreign lands.

We learned that justice does not prevail in this day and age. Innocent people are persecuted and executed daily. Some of them in courts, some of them in streets, and some of them in the private torture chambers.

We are learning that corruption is the way to go. You want a passport issued? Pay someone. You want a document ratified? Pay someone. You want someone dead? Pay someone.

We learned that it’s not that difficult to make billions disappear.

We are learning that those amenities we took for granted before 2003, you know- the luxuries – electricity, clean water from faucets, walkable streets, safe schools – those are for deserving populations. Those are for people who don’t allow occupiers into their country.

We’re learning that the biggest fans of the occupation (you know who you are, you traitors) eventually leave abroad. And where do they go? The USA, most likely, with the UK a close second. If I were an American, I’d be outraged. After spending so much money and so many lives, I’d expect the minor Chalabis and Malikis and Hashimis of Iraq to, well, stay in Iraq. Invest in their country. I’d stand in passport control and ask them, “Weren’t you happy when we invaded your country? Weren’t you happy we liberated you? Go back. Go back to the country you’re so happy with because now, you’re free!”

We’re learning that militias aren’t particular about who they kill. The easiest thing in the world would be to say that Shia militias kill Sunnis and Sunni militias kill Shia, but that’s not the way it works. That’s too simple.

We’re learning that the leaders don’t make history. Populations don’t make history. Historians don’t write history. News networks do. The Foxes, and CNNs, and BBCs, and Jazeeras of the world make history. They twist and turn things to fit their own private agendas.

We’re learning that the masks are off. No one is ashamed of the hypocrisy anymore. You can be against one country (like Iran), but empowering them somewhere else (like in Iraq). You can claim to be against religious extremism (like in Afghanistan), but promoting religious extremism somewhere else (like in Iraq and Egypt and Syria).

Those who didn’t know it in 2003 are learning (much too late) that an occupation is not the portal to freedom and democracy. The occupiers do not have your best interests at heart.

We are learning that ignorance is the death of civilized societies and that everyone thinks their particular form of fanaticism is acceptable.

We are learning how easy it is to manipulate populations with their own prejudices and that politics and religion never mix, even if a super-power says they should mix.

But it wasn’t all a bad education…

We learned that you sometimes receive kindness  when you least expect it. We learned that people often step outside of the stereotypes we build for them and surprise us. We learned and continue to learn that there is strength in numbers and that Iraqis are not easy to oppress. It is a matter of time…

And then there are things we’d like to learn…

Ahmed Chalabi, Iyad Allawi, Ibrahim Jaafari, Tarek Al Hashemi and the rest of the vultures, where are they now? Have they crawled back under their rocks in countries like the USA, the UK, etc.? Where will Maliki be in a year or two? Will he return to Iran or take the millions he made off of killing Iraqis and then seek asylum in some European country? Far away from the angry Iraqi masses…

What about George Bush, Condi, Wolfowitz, and Powell? Will they ever be held accountable for the devastation and the death they wrought in Iraq? Saddam was held accountable for 300,000 Iraqis… Surely someone should be held accountable for the million or so?

Finally, after all is said and done, we shouldn’t forget what this was about – making America safer… And are you safer Americans? If you are, why is it that we hear more and more about attacks on your embassies and diplomats? Why is it that you are constantly warned to not go to this country or that one? Is it better now, ten years down the line? Do you feel safer, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis out of the way (granted half of them were women and children, but children grow up, right?)?

And what happened to Riverbend and my family? I eventually moved from Syria. I moved before the heavy fighting, before it got ugly. That’s how fortunate I was. I moved to another country nearby, stayed almost a year, and then made another move to a third Arab country with the hope that, this time, it’ll stick until… Until when? Even the pessimists aren’t sure anymore. When will things improve? When will be able to live normally? How long will it take?

For those of you who are disappointed reality has reared its ugly head again, go to Fox News, I’m sure they have a reportage that will soothe your conscience.

For those of you who have been asking about me and wondering how I have been doing, I thank you. “Lo khuliyet, qulibet…” Which means “If the world were empty of good people, it would end.” I only need to check my emails to know it won’t be ending any time soon.

– posted by river @ 10:20 PM  find her here River

Chaharshanbe Suri – Ancient Iranian Fire Festival (Photos)

Chaharshanbe Suri is an ancient ceremony dating back to at least 1700 BCE. Iran’s largest dictionary, Dehkhoda, describes it as: “A festival arranged on the last Tuesday evening of the old year, where you light fires and jump over them, to achieve happiness and good health in the New Year.”

The celebration usually starts in the evening and people leap over the flames, singing “zardi-ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye toh az man”, literal translated as “my yellow is yours, your red is mine”, asking the fire to take their pallor, sickness, and problems and in turn give them redness, warmth, and energy.

Traditionally, it is believed that the living were visited by the spirits of their ancestors on the last day of the year. Many people specially children, wrap themselves in shrouds symbolically reenacting the visits. By the light of the bonfire, they run through the streets banging on pots and pans with spoons (“Gashog-Zani”) to beat out the last unlucky Wednesday of the year, while they knock on doors to ask for treats. Sometimes the treat is a mixture of seven dried nuts and fruits (pistachios, roasted chic peas, almond, hazelnuts, figs, apricots, and raisins) and is called “Ajeel-e Chahar Shanbeh Suri”. The practices are very similar to Halloween, which is a Celtic version of similar festivals celebrated throughout the area in ancient times.

Photos: Chaharshanbe Suri in Iran, 2016

Families customarily enjoy snacks during the evening and a supper at night after the end of the festivities. In Ker­man and Shiraz the main dish is usually polow with pasta soup (“ash reshte“); the longer the pasta strands, the better the chances for a long life for each member of the family.

The ancient Iranians celebrated the last 10 days of the year in their annual feast of all souls, Hamaspathmaedaya (Farvardigan). They believed Foruhars (faravahar), the guardian angels for humans and also the spirits of dead would come back for reunion. These spirits were entertained as honored guests in their old homes, and were bidden a formal ritual farewell at the dawn of the New Year. The ten-day festival also coincided with festivals celebrating the creation of fire and humans. Flames were burnt all night to ensure the returning spirits were protected from the forces of Ahriman. This was called Suri festival. Zoroastrians today still follow this tradition.

The celebration was not held on this night before Islam and might be a combination of different rituals to make them last. Wednesday is likely to have been prompted by an Arab superstition where it represents a bad omen day with unpleasant consequences. This is contrary to Zoroastrian cosmology where all days were sacred and named after a major deity. By celebrating in this manner Iranians were able to preserve the ancient tradition. The festival is celebrated on Tuesday night to make sure all bad spirits are chased away and Wednesday will pass uneventfully.

Today, there is no religious significance attached to it any more and is a purely secular festival for all Iranians (Persians, Azerbaijani people, Armenians, Kurdish people, Assyrians, Bahá’í, Jews, Christian and Zoroastrians). The night will end with more fire works and feasts where family and friends meet and enjoy music and dance.

Fire Festival in Sweden
In Gothenburg, Stockholm and Malmö, Sweden they celebrate Eldfesten, a Swedish version of the Persian Chaharshanbe Soori. This year, 2016, is the 25th anniversary of the festival in the city of Gothenburg, where it has become one of the most popular public cultural celebrations in the city. Thousands of people, including non-Iranians, attend each year to celebrate the arrival of spring with crackling fires, music, fireworks and fragrant Persian dishes.

Photos: Eldfesten 2016 in Sweden

Sources: Iran Chamber Society, Enciclopædia Iranica, Wikipedia | Chaharshanbe Suri, IRNA 1,IRNA 2, IRNA 3, IRNA 4, IRNA 5, ISNA 1, ISNA 2, Mehr News AgencyFacebook | Eldfesten 2016,Göteborgs-Posten, goteborg.com

Chaharshanbe Suri in Tehran, Iran – 2016

The Death of Ian Duncan Smith’s Dream  by Ellenor Hutson

Just yesterday, we described the proposed changes to PIP assessment as part of an “unstoppable force of welfare reform”. Since then Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has resigned and the policy has been “kicked into the long grass.”

Events have moved at an astonishing pace, and today we find ourselves covering Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation. Some have described it as a change of heart, and the internet is full of people understandably doubting his sincerity.

Why would he draw the line at PIP cuts, they reason, when he has pushed through reductions to ESA, championed the work programme and staked his reputation on Universal Credit? These are all measures seemingly designed to make life immeasurably more difficult for sick and disabled people.

Photo credit: Roger Blackwell

Photo credit: Roger Blackwell

In fact, IDS is probably completely sincere and no “change of heart” was needed. This is about the death of his dream. In the very first line of his resignation letter IDS stands by his record, stating how proud he is of “welfare reforms” motivated, he claims, by his desire for “social justice.”

The association of Universal Credit, PIP and the Work Programme with “social justice” is one that fills me with anxiety and disgust, but it is completely consistent with IDS’s politics. In his world, people are poor because they are lazy or have flawed characters. Work is the answer and poor people can be bullied into prosperity. This is his idea of “social justice.”

IDS saw the social security system as a barrier to this project: a complex and slow-moving tangle of inducements to sit about and do nothing. He even viewed Tax Credits – brought in, let’s remember, to incentivise low paid work – as part of the problem. Theoretically, it could allow working families could coast along on a minimum of part time work, rather than strive to be more productive.

IDS’s solution was to abolish all means tested benefits and replace them with one “Universal Credit” which would put everyone under the cosh of their own “claimant commitment”, subject to benefit sanctions if they failed to meet its demands. Depending on the claimant’s circumstances this could be anything from occasional work focused interviews to several weeks of unpaid labour.

This regime would apply to everyone: unemployed, low waged, single parents, carers, sick and disabled people. Only the most severely disabled would be exempt. Administration of this “support into work” would be outsourced to private companies under the flagship “Work Programme”

A moment’s thought will tell you that this sort regime is not a “cut”. It is complex to set up and expensive to administer. IDS should not be thought of primarily as a hatchet man. We should think of him instead as a sort of anti-Beveridge.

Sir William Beveridge was the man who, fuelled by personal ambition and indignant at not being put in charge of war production, laid the foundation for the welfare state by massively overreaching his brief to “just do something with workman’s insurance.”

Instead his famous “Beveridge Report” proposed an elegant, internally-consistent system of cradle-to-grave coverage encompassing healthcare, education, social security and legal aid. He is remembered as a hero.

IDS imagined his trajectory in similar terms, except that instead of creating the welfare state, he would take the bloated system that the welfare state had become, strip it down and recreate it as neoliberal machine for behavioural change, priming working class people for their role in a deregulated and casualised economy.

IDS refers to this in his resignation letter:

“A nation’s commitment to the least advantaged should include the provision of a generous safety-net but it should also include incentive structures and practical assistance programmes to help them live independently of the state. Together, we’ve made enormous strides towards building a system of social security that gets the balance right between state-help and self-help.”

IDS refers to his vision being “compromised” and this is exactly right. You cannot implement a punitive welfare panopticon at the same time as budget cuts. His plan is in tatters. So-called “Universal Credit” is now so universal that only 175,000 claimants receive it nationally. IDS himself is bitterly angry that the Work Programme has been “salami sliced” and refers to it in his letter of resignation.

There is also a very telling reference to his team being “pressured in the immediate run up to a budget or fiscal event to deliver yet more reductions to the working age benefit bill.”

This rings true. What kind of a person would invent a new benefit and then cut it, before it has even been implemented, unless external pressure was at work.  IDS has done this twice: with Universal Credit and then again with PIP.

IDS is not concerned about disabled people, but he has not claimed to be. On his own account, he is resigning due to the impossibility of implementing “the government’s vision of a new welfare-to-work system” during a period of self-imposed austerity.

His resignation letter rings true, and cuts to the heart of this Tory government’s failure: needless cuts are even undermining the pet projects of the party’s right wing.

Bella Caledonia

Extremely Abridged Versions of Classic Books

Meet the Surfing Girls of Iran By

surfingirls

They look like female warriors of a legendary tribe that only descend from the red mountains when they sense a truly great wave. But recently, these warrior women with their bright and colourful boards are staying a little longer by the water, tempting their fate a little further as they single-handedly pioneer the sport of surfing in Iran and see stereotypes get wiped-out by their waves.

Konbini-waves-freedom

I think we all have a pretty good idea of the sort of challenges women would face in Iran trying to introduce, let alone excel in a typically Western sport such as surfing.

But it is thanks to these three women, Irish pro surfer Easkey Britton, Iranian pro snowboarder Mona Seraji, and an Iranian diver, Shalha Yasini, that surfing has been born in Iran.

iraniansurfers

Watch how people reacted to seeing  first ever woman surfing in Iran…

French film maker Marion Poizeau, who has travelled to Iran with Easkey several times now, has also been a driving force behind spreading the word of the unlikely surfing scene with her documentary Into the Sea.

“Together they are planting the seed for new opportunities and making history, becoming the first women to surf in Iran.”

Into-the-sea-surfing-documentary-3

“After introducing the three characters, the film reveals their journey to the remote southeastern region of Iran, Baluchistan, where Mona and Shalha are going to learn to surf with Easkey.”

The result is the creation of the first Iranian surf club, Waves of Freedom.

Striving to become a medium to empower those who are most vulnerable in society, in particular women and girls, the club believes surfing is not just a sport but a lifestyle and an art-form synonymous with freedom and creative self-expression.

“Once you get in the water the rules and norms of society dissolve and the power of the ocean to connect and spread happiness is huge,” says Easkey Brittonread the full story at MessyNessy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother Earth

I have not had the heart to post

I have not had the heart to post much in recent days.Feeling to down at the news

filtering in from the world.Wars everywhere,people fleeing for their lives but the world

gives them a cold reception.Those that drop the bombs and get rich on the never ending war,

keep their own population poor and hungry,or in comatose middle comfort.So afraid are they

of loosing  STUFF  that instead they loose their humanity.Instead of seeing people like themselves they only the “other”.Those that stand against the tide are torn apart from strife

within themselves.Fear ,desperation,those in power have no shame,no guilt,no consciousness ,machine like amassing wealth that allows a few privileged to control and play with the lives of millions.

We really have become Airstrip 1 but nobody seems to notice.

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