Keeping An Open Mind: A Healthy Skepticism

One more post before I go off on holiday.

I believe in the after-life, having had direct evidence not just via Spiritualist mediums, but by messages coming direct to me of a deeply personal nature, which have convinced me that they could have only come from one source – people I knew who have died.

I have described some of the most astounding such evidence elsewhere, but here I want to write about keeping an open mind and maintaining a healthy skepticism, because there are always charlatans out to exploit the gullible. They write books, do demonstrations of supposed mediumship, etc. with the main motive of making money. Trying to distinguish between those with a genuine gift of mediumship, and those who are fakes is very difficult. However you develop a sort of ‘sixth sense’, and I am also a good judge of character. If something or someone doesn’t seem quite right, I remain a skeptic until I can be proved wrong. Similarly, if someone is genuine and has a real gift, I can usually tell.

Most mediums are clairvoyants, clairaudients or clairsensitives. This means they see, hear or sense spirits in the next world, and relay their messages to us. These can be very convincing indeed, especially when you are in the presence of a very gifted medium. The fakes will be pretty obvious, as they will say nothing specific, and will just give vague ‘cold readings’ and pick up signs from body language and appearance. For instance, if I were to see a lady in her late 60s looking quite upset, it would be a fair assumption that one or more of her parents had passed over, and that she may have had a bereavement quite recently.

There are also physical mediums, who claim to be able to materialize spirits via a substance called ectoplasm, and they also produce voices which have been recorded on to tape. I have never had the opportunity so far to attend one of these seances, and so I have to admit I remain rather skeptical. I have seen far too many illusionists and ‘magicians’ on stage and on TV to be convinced unless and until I can attend one of these seances, and see/hear someone I recognize and can identify from the spirit world, and whom the medium could have known nothing about.

I have heard recorded voices of famous people who have died, recorded at these seances, and I have to say I am still open-minded as to whether they are genuine. It is all too easy to mimic a voice of a famous person, and this whole area of physical mediumship sits uneasily with me. I cannot say it is all fake done by clever illusionists, but I remain unconvinced to say the least.  If I ever get the opportunity to attend such a seance, I can give a more informed opinion one way or the other.

There are also electronic voices recorded on tape and other recording equipment, known as EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena). I have heard some of these too, and though they remain mysterious, not having experienced any such communication myself from someone I knew means I do not feel qualified to judge whether these are genuine voices of spirits who have passed. They all sound rather indistinct and strange, but that may well be expected due to the infancy of the technology. I am less skeptical about these voices, but still am not convinced. I keep an open mind on this and other electronic and most other physical phenomena of a supposed spiritual nature.

The only physical phenomena in this area I have had personal experience of, or know of friends who have had such an experience, is poltergeist phenomena. Pictures and photos have mysteriously moved, toppled or fallen from their frames at crucial moments for no apparent reason, yet the timing and nature of these events indicated a deeply significant meaning, and really gave little doubt as to who or what was causing them. Again, it is evidence such as this of a deeply personal nature which is most convincing.

So I’m afraid hearing voices on tape claiming to be the spirits of people like Oscar Wilde or Quentin Crisp have not yet convinced me that these are genuine physical phenomena. Take Rory Bremner and a good illusionist, and all these effects, including apports (coins, flowers, etc. apparently materializing from the spirit world) could all be repeated by them, and would involve no paranormal phenomena at all.

What remains very convincing are personal communications from people who were not famous and which contain evidence which would be very difficult, if not impossible, to fake. Also genuinely repeatable experiments into physical phenomena under strict laboratory conditions.

This whole area is now being studied scientifically, so I think any fakes will quickly be exposed as such, and we will be left with the genuine phenomena. I remain very hopeful that we will eventually be able to develop sophisticated equipment which can enable us to communicate directly with the ‘spirit world’ and possibly other quantum universes/dimensions around us, without the need for people who have developed spiritualist mediumship.

Meanwhile, there is overwhelming documentary evidence that we do survive death acquired via OOBEs/NDEs (out-of-the-body and near-death experiences), from clairsensitive mediumship and poltergest phenomena.

The more physical phenomena need further scientific investigation, but may well prove to be the most convincing in the long term if they can be repeated under strict laboratory conditions.

To all my loyal readers:

I’m off on holiday for 8 days, leaving tomorrow, so won’t be blogging till the weekend after next. It’s a 4 nite over-50s break at a holiday camp in Suffolk with my mother, but I’ve also managed to squeeze in Ritchie Gee’s Wildest Cats In Town Xmas Party on Saturday/Sunday at the same holiday camp. Rocky Burnette Trio, Crazy Cavan, Lennerockers – perhaps not the most spectacular line-up, but it beats Bobby Crush and the two surviving Bachelors, which is what we had at previous over-50s Golden Breaks!

 Abnormal service will be resumed as soon as possible!

The Times They Are a-Changing

swiss-cottage.jpg

Cottage Grill restaurant (click on picture to enlarge)

This blog was inspired by a dream I had last night about the High Road, Wood Green, which was the nearest shopping center when I was growing up in the 1950s.

The dream got me thinking about how London has changed almost beyond recognition over the last 50 years or so. In a few areas, the changes are so dramatic that the area is completely different. Two such areas spring to mind immediately: the Elephant and Castle, and Swiss Cottage.

At the Elephant, all that remains of the old is the building containing one of the entrances to the Tube station. Bleak 1960s blocks and a shopping mall have replaced the old. Even the Elephant and Castle pub has been rebuilt in bleak 1960s style. The whole junction/roundabout area reminds me somehow of the Alexanderplatz redevelopment in East Berlin, once the showpiece of the German Democratic Republic. The main difference being the Elephant and Castle doesn’t sport a giant TV tower so, as the East Berliners used to joke, you can go up and watch people jumping over The Wall.

Swiss Cottage is where my father used to have his restaurant (click on picture above). It was modeled on a little Swiss Cottage (rather than an Alpine chalet) and gave the area its name. The building was originally a dairy we were told, when the area around was still fields. It was attached to a farmhouse. Presumably the two-story portion was the farmhouse, and the single-story part the dairy. The restaurant was called the Cottage Grill.

Behind it was a little garage, and then the Swiss Cottage pub, which in the 1950s looked nothing like a Swiss chalet or cottage. It has since been tarted up to resemble a Swiss Alpine chalet, and give the false impression that it was the pub which gave the area its name. In fact the dairy/farmhouse/Cottage Grill restaurant which inspired the name Swiss Cottage was criminally demolished in the mid 1960s. It should, of course, have had a preservation order put on it. There is no other building anything like it in London, or indeed the entire world. Inside it consisted of little rooms on various levels, the front wedge-shaped room (following the road layout outside) was oak-paneled. Now you can’t even see where there was room for this building. The garage has also disappeared, and all you have in front of the pub apart from roads/car parks is an entrance to Swiss Cottage Tube station, created after the restaurant was demolished.

There used to be an arcade of little shops opposite the restaurant which contained the main entrance to Swiss Cottage Tube station. The arcade could be accessed from Finchley Road, or from Belsize Road round the corner. Belsize Road was then a busy main thoroughfare, running into Finchley Road. It had buses, shops and restaurants. Since then huge blocks have been built over the junction, so Belsize Road no longer comes into Finchley Road, but has been turned into a little residential cul-de-sac. The station arcade has also been demolished. The whole area bears no resemblance whatsoever to its former self. All that is recognizable really, beyond the pub, is the 1930s Odeon cinema, and the 1930s block of flats behind it. Everything else has been rebuilt since the 1960s. Only if you turn back along Finchley Road towards Finchley Road Tube station do you see some older buildings on your right. The indoor swimming baths on the left has long been replaced by Sainsbury’s and other shops. Of course John Barnes, the famous Finchley Road departmental store, has long gone. It was on the left just before you reached Finchley Road Tube station.

But even in Wood Green, where I spent my childhood for 10 years from 1951-1961, there are many changes. In the High Road all the old shops have gone, even the big departmental store Bartons. And of course the old Wood Green Empire theater, later a TV studio, has also gone. Further down towards Wood Green Tube station there used to be an old railway line and a bridge going across the road. Nearby was Noel Park station. The line then continued behind the cinema and via a bridge over Station Road, near a fleapit cinema called the Rex (long demolished). The old Wood Green library (now rebuilt) with its green dome was on the corner, opposite the station. Trolleybuses used to use the nearby bus station.

The Noel Park railway line ended one station further on at Palace Gates, which in fact was a few minutes walk from the gates of Alexandra Park. There was yet another railway line which ended just behind Alexandra Palace itself. There was talk in the late 1950s of turning it into a new surface Tube line to Finsbury Park, but this never happened. Instead the lines were dug up, and we used to walk along what now looked like a country lane all the way from Alexandra Park, via Highgate and Queens Woods to Hampstead Heath, barely seeing any houses or streets at all en route.

Back to the High Road area, and the railway bridge has now been replaced by a bridge belonging to Wood Green’s Shopping City mall. The other bridge, over Station Road, used to be so low that the 233 bus from Finsbury Park to Northumberland Park (now renumbered as the W3) had to be operated by single-deckers. The road was lowered under the bridge during the 1950s to permit double deckers to operate on the route.

Recently I took my mother to visit the Bowes Park area a little to the north and to the left of Green Lanes, which is a continuation of Wood Green High Road. You pass the ‘new’ Haringey town hall on your left, which I remember them building in the 1950s, when it was the new Wood Green Town Hall. The old town hall was in the park further up on the right, which was then called Town Hall park.

Turning left up Myddelton Road, you come to a row of shops. This is the heart of Bowes Park, once part of the Bowes-Lyon estate of Queen Mother fame. The Bowes-Lyons, when they permitted residential development, stipulated that there were to be no pubs in the entire area, and there wasn’t at the time when I lived there. You had to go outside Bowes Park to find the nearest one.

The shops in Myddelton Road have all changed now. There were no Greek or Turkish restaurants there in the 1950s. No Greeks or Turks had spread as far out of central London as Wood Green. My brother and I were the first two kids with Greek names in the area, and our name of Papadopoulos was so unusual and caused so much ribbing at school that my mother (English and separated from her Greek-Cypriot husband, our father) changed it to Papard in 1958.

In the 1950s Myddelton Road had a fishmongers, a bakers, Seagrave the butcher (where I was given a little red Coronation Oxo tin in 1953, now long lost like my other Coronation souvenirs) and the Home and Colonial general store. Bowes Park station has also changed beyond all recognition. Like all British Rail(ways) stations it was lit by gas in the 1950s, and of course steam trains used it. Gone is the old covered wooden footbridge with its posters of Diana Dors in her latest film – my grandmother used to call her a ‘brazen hussie’ for her pouting lips poses on these posters. The other side of the footbridge on the left was a little cabin which sold raw cat’s meat – that is meat for cats, and dogs I suppose – a trade which has completely disappeared.

Marlborough Road, where we used to live, looks like a typical Victorian street of which London still has many. You would think little had changed in the last century or so. But to someone who lived there 50 years ago, it has changed beyond all recognition. If you took a photo of the house where we lived, number 93, you wouldn’t recognize it. It could be any Victorian house in London. Subtle changes have made the street almost unrecognizable.

When we moved there in 1951 (my grandparents already lived in the house, we moved in there after my mother left my father) the street was still lit by gas. Milk and coal were delivered by horse and cart. Pale green ‘pig bins’, a left-over from the war, stood on the corner of Manor Road. This was the first recycling scheme, meant for food waste such as potato peelings, and was fed to pigs in the countryside.

Why was number 93 so unrecognizable? First, the privet hedge had gone. Nearly all houses had big privet hedges for privacy in the 1950s. This made the streets look quite different to how they look now. Second, the old multi-colored tiles on the front footpaths had gone, as had the red-colored doorsteps everyone favored. The doors had been replaced, and the old ones with stained colored glass removed.

Politically the area has changed with the London borough changes in the 1960s. Leftwing Labour-Coop MP Joyce Butler represented Wood Green in Parliament. The border between the boroughs of Southgate and Wood Green ran right across Marlborough Road, just a few doors up from number 93 to the north. Now the whole area is in the London Borough of Haringey. Although we had a London postal district – N22 for Wood Green, N11 for Southgate to the north – we came under the county of Middlesex. The London County Council area ended at Finsbury Park, way to the south.

Although the Post Office doesn’t realize it, Middlesex was abolished as a county in the mid 1960s. It now only exists as a postal address. Greater London swallowed up the entire county of Middlesex (apart from Potters Bar), plus parts of Hertfordshire, Kent, Essex and Surrey in the 1960s. Romford moved from Essex, Bromley from Kent, Croydon from Surrey, Barnet from Hertfordshire, and they all became London boroughs. Only the Post Office, and snobs who live in these places, refused to recognize this fact. The Post Office and snobbish locals refused to allow such outlying areas to have London postal districts, preferring to create the completely false impression of places like Pinner and Croydon lying among the pastoral fields of the Home Counties. These and other places, such as Wandsworth and Clapham Junction where I now live, should be told: you are NOT towns, you don’t have ‘Town Centers’ – you are suburbs of London. Get used to it. (The same applies to ‘cities’ like Wolverhampton – clearly a suburb of the Birmingham conurbation, and Salfold, clearly an inner suburb of Manchester.)

The only concession offered by the Post Office was to let Potters Bar, once an outlying part of the old county of Middlesex, now be listed on envelopes as being in Hertfordshire.

So next time you walk down an old Victorian street in London, thinking little can have changed in the last 100 years or so, try to imagine it with gas lamps, privet hedges hiding all the lower bay-windows, and old-fashioned doors with stained glass windows. Then you may get a flavor of how it looked just 50 years ago.

The estate where I now live in Battersea was built in the 1980s. We were one of the first tenants to move in. The complete street layout has been altered. Streets which existed when I first moved to Battersea exist no more, or have been truncated into riduclous cul-de-sacs. McDermott Close, where I live, didn’t exist 30 years ago, neither did any of the other Closes on my estate.

Central London has also had many changes, some subtle, some not so subtle. Take the London Pavilion building for instance, part of the Trocadero site. Apart from once being a famous cinema, I always thought the building was little more than a hoarding for the vast electronic Wrigley’s Chewing Gum and other advertising signs. Piccadilly Circus was a blaze of neon, stretching right down to the Haymarket. You hardly realized there were real buildings behind all those lights.

I wonder how London will look in 50 years from now?

Still in my life/Evidence of Survival

My life-partner, George Miller, passed to the Other Side over 16 years ago now. Since then all our gay friends, except one couple, have been split up by one of the partners passing to the next dimension. For this is what happens when we ‘die’, our eternal conscious entity or ‘spirit’ leaves this universe and moves on to another one alongside our own.

When George and I met, we knew quite a few gay couples, all his friends who later became mine too: Lenny and Frank, Brian and Noel, Tom and Norman. Now Frank, Brian, Tom and I myself are on our own as our partners have passed on.

I have never seriously sought out another life-partner in these 16 years, and my friends on their own feel the same way. We were all with our life-partners many years, and it would be very hard to adjust to a new one at our stage in life.

A year or so after George died, a gay friend remarked that I didn’t seem to need a new life-partner since I felt George was still around and part of my life. There was quite a lot of truth in this, and he is still part of my life today – in the background, helping me in all sorts of little ways. This is what soul mates, close friends and loved ones do – help each other, even if they are living in different worlds.

This week I got a photo of George and myself enlarged on to a canvas frame. It is in our hallway. The photo was taken a few months before George passed over. The council flat we moved into in early 1984 is still very much ‘our’ flat. Although it has been redecorated, new items bought, old ones moved around, it still bears the imprint of George, and I hope always will. His collages are still intact in two rooms, the ornaments and nick-nacks we bought together, under his guidance, are still on display, as are the pictures we put up. Including his Picasso ‘blue period’ print he bought in Paris before I met him, and which has been on the wall of every home he ever had since. I promised him I’d never get rid of it.

Yesterday I had to take my mother to a hospital to get her a new, digital hearing aid. We got one with amazing speed and lack of fuss. There used to be a waiting list of years before you could get these on the NHS, and I expected to have to wait a few weeks at least, but it was handed to her to replace her old analog one as soon as she had completed the hearing assessment.

We went down to the hospital restaurant, and who should be sitting there with her sister but Stevie Welsh, the marvelous Spiritualist who conducted George’s funeral ceremony 16 years ago. He down-to-Earth no-nonsense manner endeared me to her, and also the fact that she knew the relationship between George and myself and very much approved. She saw me wearing a gay badge at the funeral, pointed to it and said: ‘I’m glad you’re wearing that’.

The funeral service was, I’m sure, one George approved of. It had surreal aspects, such as having to arrange it at a jumble sale taking place in the Spiritualist center where Stevie worked at the time. Brian and I went along to arrange the details with her. This would have appealed to George’s sense of humor and of the surreal – go along to a jumble sale to buy clothes, ornaments, etc. and to arrange your partner’s funeral!

Then at the ceremony itself, Stevie opened her address with: ‘I never knew George, but he sounds like a good bloke to me…..’ I loved the informality of it, and I know George would have. So it was nice seeing Stevie again after many years. I don’t know if she remembered exactly who I was, as we only chatted for a few minutes, during which she told me she no longer worked at that Spiritualist center in Stockwell. But it made me feel, in the week I put up that picture of George and myself in our hallway, and on the day I managed to get my mother a better hearing aid, that George was still very much around.

The ease with which I managed to move my mother from Welwyn Garden City, about 25 miles away, to just 5 minutes’ walk from where I live was also astounding. This was 6 years ago, and there is no way she could be living all that distance away from me now. She’d have needed Social Services to be doing everything for her, or alternatively go into a nursing home or move in with me. She values her independence, and likes here little flat in sheltered accommodation just near me. I go in most days and spend time with her, take her out and cook her meals, plus doing shopping, and dealing with her financial arrangements, collecting her pension, etc. I couldn’t have done any of this with her 25 miles away.

Our loved ones never really leave us when they pass over. They move on to better things, but still keep an eye on us. I know this because of the many communications I’ve had from George, and others in the spiritual dimensions, since they passed over.

George has helped me find things, and has immediately answered post-humous letters I wrote him in the months after he passed over. He told me to keep writing these letters, as they keep us near whilst we’re apart. I still write them twice a year – on his birthday and on the anniversary of his passing over.

Some of you reading this will think: ‘what a load of cods-wallop!’. Fine, that is your opinion. Until you have similar experiences, maybe you’ll remain a skeptic. But exciting things are happening on the frontiers of science that many of us are convinced will prove revolutionary. Quite apart from quantum physics validating the very real possibility of alternative dimensions/parallel universes/spiritual dimensions interpenetrating our own universe, evidence of survival is being scientifically tested all around the world.  Only closed-minded skeptics refuse to examine and accept this evidence.

I keep up-to-date with these scientific experiments, which very soon will overturn many people’s beliefs and prove to everyone that the after life exists. When you can pick up a phone and talk to your granny who passed over 30 years ago, maybe even see her on your computer or TV screen, then you’ll know that survival is real.

This is not pure science fiction, or fantasy. The reports I read regularly describe how people are seeing their departed friends and relatives, hearing their voices on telephones and recording equipment, and even having conversations with them. I have to admit I haven’t experienced any of these phenomena myself, but I keep an open mind until I can personally investigate and decide for myself. I have joined a society where I can keep up to date with these experiments, and hopefully have the opportunity to take part. Then I can decide whether they are proof of survival.

Meanwhile I have all the proof I need thru the various communications I’ve received from George, my father, my grandmother and others on the Other Side. All three of them passed on information or referred to certain personal things which amount to proof of survival.

To those who say all such ‘proof’ is really just a never-ending set of ‘coincidences’, I say: fine, believe that if you will. But if you sit 1,000 chimpanzees in front of 1,000 computers and they consistently churn out the complete works of Shakespeare, or even if only some of them do so, I’d say there is more than mere ‘coinicidence’ at work. At some point the never-ending run of amazing ‘coincidences’ is too consistent to be ‘coincidence’.

History of Soviet and Western Hegenomy

Last night BBC4 showed a program on the Hungarian uprising of 1956. This was just the most violent of several attempts to loosen the grip of Moscow in various Socialist countries.

The first Socialist regime to be established after the Soviet Union in 1917, was in fact in Hungary two years later, but it did not last long. The next Socialist government was established in Mongolia, which had recently come under Chinese rule, but had previously been under the dominance of Tsarist Russia.

Mongolia came under increasing Soviet influence, but never became part of the Soviet Union. The U.S.S.R. included countries occupied by Tsarist Russia before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

What is quite significant, is that the Soviet Union, even under Stalin’s autocratic rule, never expanded beyond its borders until the threat from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Fearful of invasion from Nazi Germany, Stalin signed the non-aggression pact with Hitler in order to buy time, and part of this notorious agreement was the division of Polish territory between the Soviet Union and the Third Reich.

This Soviet-Nazi pact was soon broken when Hitler’s troops invaded the Soviet Union. The tide of the war was turned at Stalingrad, and as the Nazi troops were pushed westward, the Baltic Republics of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia were incorporated into the Soviet Union as nominally autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics.

As the Red Army continued to liberate Eastern and Central Europe from Nazism whilst the Western Allies liberated Western Europe, the shape of the post-war world was set, with minor adjustments.

At the various conferences at the end of the Second World War, the three main Allies, USA, USSR and UK, carved up Europe between them. The de facto situation was that the Red Army occupied the Baltic States and much of Eastern and Central Europe, whilst the Americans and British occupied much of Western Europe.

After being invaded by Nazi Germany and losing some 17,000,000 people in the war, the Soviet Union was not about to withdraw the Red Army from Eastern and Central Europe without safeguarding its frontiers. So in agreement with the Western powers at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences, Eastern and Central Europe was assigned to the Soviet sphere of influence. Nominally independent Socialist republics were established, but most came under the direct influence of Moscow.

Only Tito’s Yugoslavia and Hoxha’s Albania really managed successfully to build Socialism independent of the Moscow line. But they had largely liberated themselves from Nazism with their partisan armies, and anyway were far enough away from the Soviet border not to pose a possible threat.

The first unrest in Central and Eastern Europe occurred in 1953 in the German Democratic Republic. It was soon crushed, as was similar unrest in Poland in 1956. However the Polish unrest led to reforms in the Socialist system there. The most violent uprising against Soviet hegemony was in the Hungarian People’s Republic in 1956, following Kruschov’s denunciation of Stalin at the 20th CPSU Congress the same year.

The Hungarians involved in the uprising drew hope from the reforms which had occurred in Poland under the new Gomulka regime, and from the Soviet withdrawal from Eastern Austria the previous year, with an agreement that Austria could remain neutral. Of course Austria did not have a land border with the Soviet Union, but Hungary did.

Nevertheless, the Hungarians involved in the 1956 uprising hoped to achieve withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact and Hungarian neutrality, and reforms of the Socialist system.

However hardliners in the Soviet Politburo finally persuaded Krushchov that Hungarian neutrality and reforms, allowing non-Socialist parties to contest elections for instance, would lead eventually to a capitalist state in Hungary. So the Soviet Union at the invitation of some Hungarian government members, such as Janos Kadar, invaded and deposed the new, liberal Nagy government. Imre Nagy was quickly executed.

Janos Kadar became the Hungarian leader, and gradually over the next decades he rather ironically managed to institute many reforms, and gain considerable independence from Moscow. The same was true of Ceaucescu’s Romania, which although autocratic, refused to support the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechslovakia in 1968 to suppress the Alexander Dubcek reforms.

The  decisive factors as to whether Moscow let one of its satellites go its own way to some degree or suppressed attempts at independence from the Moscow line and reforms of the Socialist system were 

a) whether the country had a land border with the Soviet Union

b) the country’s recent history

and

c) whether the Marxist Leninist Party (which was often an amalgamation of the Communist Party and Social Democratic Party) was in full control, and if it lost control, whether the country would then pose a real threat to the Soviet Union.

The last uprising was in Poland, with the rise of the Solidarity movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This was crushed initially by the Poles themselves under General Jarulzelski. But after the election of the Polish Pope, John Paul II, Solidarity increased its influence again.  Meanwhile, Gorbachov became Soviet leader and started implementing glasnost and perestroika – a reconstruction of the Socialist system and liberal reforms inside the Soviet Union itself.

Encouraged by the knowledge that Gorbachov would not intervene with Soviet troops, Hungary opened its borders to the West for all people from Socialist countries. A lot of these could travel to the West now anyway, due to gradual liberalization back home. But East Germans in particular could not visit the West until they reached pensionable age. However, once Hungary opened its borders, East Germans had an escape route to the West which didn’t involve scaling walls or negotiating minefields. This made the Berlin Wall largely redundant, and it was demolished by Berliners in 1989. The collapse of Socialism thruout Central and Eastern Europe, including in Yugoslavia and Albania, also Mongolia, quickly followed in the ensuing years.

Why did the Soviet Union maintain such a stranglehold on Eastern and Central Europe from 1945-1989, and why did the West not intervene to help the Poles, East Germans, Hungarians and Czechoslovaks when they tried to shake off Soviet hegenomy?

I was in East Germany when the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 took place. Our East German hosts explained why this happened. They told us to just look at a map. If they allowed Czechoslovakia to join the Western camp, the West German revanchists (revenge seekers for defeat in World War II) would be able to march thru Czechoslovakia into the Soviet Union again.

Indeed, Czechoslovakia had land borders with both West Germany and the Soviet Union. It should be remembered that many West German maps and politicians at the time claimed the ‘lost territories’ of pre-First World War Germany in Czechoslovakia, Poland and parts of the Soviet Union (including the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia and East Prussia mainly in Poland, but which also included the now Russian enclave of Kaliningrad in the Soviet Union). To the Soviets, the threat seemed very real.

As to Hungary, they were allies of Nazi Germany in World War II. The Soviets would not have wanted the threat of another Nazi regime on its border there.

East Germany also was seen as a potential threat for obvious reasons. Many former Nazis remained in East Germany, and were even in the Volkskammer (People’s Chamber), members of the National Democratic Party of Germany. They were part of the coalition government which ruled East Germany, but which was firmly under the control of the Socialist Unity Party (the Marxist-Leninist Party, formed from the old Communist and Social Democratic parties).

Poland had a huge land border with the Soviet Union and East Prussia, now mainly part of Poland, was part of the ‘lost’ German territories, so Poland also had to be kept firmly in the Soviet camp, lest the Germans tried to invade the Soviet Union again from that direction.

What can we learn from all this history? First and foremost, that one war begets the next, or at the very least, cannot lead to genuine liberation. Britain went to war with Germany in 1939 ostensibly because Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany. Was Poland free after Nazi Germany was defeated? No, it was under Soviet domination for the next 44 years, as was Czechoslovakia and most of Eastern and Central Europe. Why was this? Because the Soviet Union feared another invasion from the West, in particular from Germany.

It is significant that Moscow never expanded its hegenomy beyond the western borders of the Soviet Union until after it had lost 17 million of its citizens in the war against the German invaders. Only Mongolia, which had historically been a puppet state of Tsarist Russia, came under Soviet influence before the Second World War.

The second lesson to learn from this history is that the Western powers had no intention of ever assisting the peoples of Eastern and Central Europe to free themselves from Soviet domination. They had sat down with Stalin and agreed that these states should be under the Soviet sphere of influence to protect the USSR from any future invasion from the West. In return, the Soviets promised never to invade Western Europe. Both these promises were kept – in fact the Red Army marched OUT of Eastern Austria in 1955.

Thirdly, Soviet hegenomy over Eastern and Central Europe was little different from U.S. hegenomy over states it felt crucial to its own security. The U.S. supported wars, invasions and coups in places like Chile and Vietnam to protect what it saw as its vital interests. It even tried to invade Castro’s Cuba in the infamous Bay of Pigs fiasco. In more recent years we see the hypocrisy of Western proclamations of supporting democratic regimes when autocratic regimes like Saudi Arabia are propped up by the West, but Iraq is invaded not because it was more autocratic than Saudi Arabia, but because the West wanted access to its oil supplies.

Fourthly, we must learn the lesson that no state, be it capitalist or Socialist, should try to impose hegenomy over other states. Both USSR and USA have said in the past to other countries they consider vital to their own security: You can have democracy, so long as it is the kind of democracy we approve of. As American satirist Tom Lehrer put it: ‘They’ve got to be protected, all their rights respected, until someone we LIKE can be elected.’ Of course, all their rights were clearly NOT respected by either the Americans or the Soviets, U.S. and Soviet interests came first and foremost.

So Eastern and Central Europe got Soviet-style ‘Socialist democracy’, which insured the Communist Party or its successor Marxist-Leninist party always remained in control, whilst countries considered vital to USA got Western ‘democracies’ like Pinochet’s Chile, Saudi Arabia’s feudal dictatorship which violates human rights daily, and the Vietnamese were prevented from electing Ho Chi-Minh as the leader of the united country for years by America’s intervention after the French colonialists left. The Americans knew, in genuine free elections, the Communist Ho Chi-Minh would win, even in the South. So they established a succession of puppet dictatorships in South Vietnam, and sent in thousands of troops in a vain attempt keep the Communists out, fearing that if all Vietnam went Communist the rest of Southeast Asia would quickly follow (‘the domino’ theory).

In any future attempts at establishing Socialism, each state, each country must be allowed to go its own way, to find its own formula. Capitalist states must also refrain from trying to impose their will on other countries.

Ultimately, supra-national federations are surely the answer, in which independent countries voluntarily come together, all with equal rights, and with no member state dominating or exerting hegenomy over another. I see the EU as eventually becoming just such a supra-national federation, with a great deal of autonomy and independence for member states. I hope one day a European Socialist Union can be formed, with similar independence and autonomy for member states. And I also look forward to a worldwide federation or confederation of both Socialist and non-Socialist states under the auspices of the United Nations or its successor, which would become a democratic World Government maintaining world peace, whilst devolving power, autonomy and independence to member states and federations.

UFOs: The Secret Evidence

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This progam, shown on More 4 each side of midnight and lasting over two hours, is a repeat of a program which I originally saw last year.

It is very cleverly put together to give the impression that most UFO sightings can be explained away as top secret aircraft being tested by the United States, and that the CIA positively encourage a belief in UFOs as a cover-up for these top secret projects.

My comment is: so what? Is this startingly ‘new secret evidence’ which justifies a two hour program? We already know that the majority of reported UFO sightings can be explained away as conventional and experimental aircraft, weather balloons, meteorites, ball lighting, freak cloud formations, etc.. It is the thousands which can’t be explained away in these terms which are classified as real UFOs.

It is also hardly surprising that the CIA would not announce to the general public reporting UFOs: ”Oh no, that was our latest top secret aircraft on a test flight which you saw’. Of course they would keep shtum, and even encourage the mistaken belief that it was a genuine UFO.

But if you listened carefully to the program, you began to realize that there were a whole host of UFO sightings, and indeed reported alien abductions, which remained completely inexplicable. Indeed one abductee, Travis Walton, was interviewed, and no explanation was given for his experience or that of thousands of others.

Nor was there any explanation as to why USAF pilots have frequently reported UFOs which have been tracked on radar, and why pilots have even died trying to chase them.

Tucked away in the program was an admission that the USAF’s chief investigator of UFOs for their Project Bluebook, Dr J. Allen Hynek, who was skeptical about the existence of UFOs, became a believer after studying the evidence for years, and that some of these reports formed the basis for Steven Spielberg’s fiction movie ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. Indeed Dr J. Allen Hynek made a cameo appearance in the film.

Mention was made of the U.S. Air Force’s 1947 report from Lieutenant General N. F. Twining which came to the conclusion that ‘the phenomenom is something real and not visionary or fictitious’, but left the impression that Twining had concluded the UFOs were probably top secret USAF aircraft he knew nothing about. This is not the case,  and in fact Twining’s report also mentioned ‘the reported operating characteristics such as extreme rates of climb, maneuverability (particularly in roll), and action which must be considered evasive when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar, lend belief to the possibility that some of the objects are controlled either manually, automatically or remotely.’

Twining’s report also stated that many of the objects were ‘circular or elliptical in shape, flat on bottom and domed on top’. As a result of this report, Project Sign was set up to investigate further. ‘The Air Force scientists and Intelligence officers reached this secret conclusion: “The UFOs are spacecraft from a more advanced world, engaged in an extensive survey of our world”.'((Aliens From Space, by USAF Major Donald E. Keyhoe).

In the book Keyhoe quotes named USAF personnel: ‘Col. Joseph Bryan, USAF, Retired, who was Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force during nationwide UFO operations: “The UFOs are interplanetary devices systematically observing the Earth, either manned or remote-controlled, or both. Information on UFOs has been officially withheld. This policy is dangerous.”‘

‘Vice-Admiral R. H. Hillenkoeter, Pacific Commander of Intelligence in World War II and later Director of the Central Intelligence Agency: “The Air Force has constantly misled the American public about UFOs… I urge Congressional action to reduce the danger from secrecy.’ Keyhoe then names other military people urging that the public be given the facts about UFOs.

Keyhoe then describes how: ‘In unanimous agreement, the project scientists and Intelligence officers drew up this TOP SECRET conclusion: The UFOs are spacecraft from another world, observing the Earth for an unknown motive.’

Major Keyhoe continues: ‘On August 5, 1948, a TOP SECRET Estimate of the Situation was delivered to AF Headquarters. The spacecraft conclusion cleared the Director of Intelligence without a single dissent, before it reached the Chief of Staff, Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg.’

Vandenberg refused to release this information to the public and end the continued official cover-up: ‘”The general said it would cause a stampede,” Ruppelt told me. “How could we convince the public the aliens weren’t hostile when we didn’t know it ourselves?”” This was Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, one of the UFO investigation project officers.

Keyhoe goes on, quoting Capt. Ruppelt: ‘”To hide the spaceship answer, the general ordered the secret analysis burned. But one copy was held out – Maj. Dewey Fournet and I saw it in 1952.” (Major Fournet was the headquarters monitor of the UFO project). The existence of the TOP SECRET evaluation has been confirmed in a signed statement by Major Fournet, and by Lt. Col. George Freeman, former UFO spokesman attached to the office of the Secretary of the Airforce.’

None of this was mentioned in the program, which emphasized over and over again that the CIA encouraged belief in UFOs to divert the public, and Soviet, attention away from their top secret military spy-in-the-sky aircraft projects. A double-bluff? Was Major Keyhoe’s book a CIA-sponsored spoof to fool the public into thinking UFOs were real? It seems highly unlikely since the book is relatively unknown to this day.  If the CIA and USAF wanted the public to believe that UFOs were a real phenomenom they would simply issue a statement to that effect. But on the other hand, if a top secret military aircaft is mistaken by the general public for a UFO, of course the USAF and CIA are not going to discourage this belief and admit what it really was.

While many reported UFO sightings were indeed secret military aircraft, the program was disingenious in  giving the impression that successful saucer-shaped aircraft were developed by the USAF and mistaken for UFOs. There were some saucer shaped prototypes, but these were little more than hovercraft, lifting a few feet off the ground.

Most of the mistaken UFO reports which were related to secret military aircraft were of delta-wing high altitude supersonic planes such as the Stealth bomber, virtually invisible to Soviet radar.

The U2 high altitude spy-plane was given prominence as being hidden from the Soviets for years by use of the UFO cover-up story. The idea that Soviet military intelligence would be fooled into thinking a very ordinary looking American spy-plane could be a UFO from Outer Space is ludicrous. Gary Powers was, of course, shot down in a U2 spy plane in the early 1960s, as was mentioned in the program.  If anyone was fooled into believing these secret military projects were UFOs it was the American public, not Soviet intelligence.

There was some evidence in the program that the ‘foo fighters’ reported by RAF pilots over the Third Reich during World War II were probably small German remotely controlled airborne devices designed to harass Allied aircraft on bombing missions.

There was also mention in the program of the Roswell incident and the USAF changing its story three times, and this could have been either a genuine crashed UFO or a top secret USAF military aircraft which crashed.

But to expect us to believe that hundreds of thousands of unexplained UFO reports from all over the world over the last 60 years or so are all down to secret American aircraft is ludicrous. Why would American, British, Soviet and other intelligence agencies spend so much time investigating UFOs if this were the case?

Above all, how could Major Donald E. Keyhoe manage to publish several books quoting top USAF personnel and many reports verifying the inexplicable nature of genuine UFOs and not be sued? How could he describe the start of the UFO cover-up in such minute, documentated detail and get away with it, unless it were true? The only reason Keyhoe was not sued, of course, is because the CIA and USAF didn’t want all this evidence examined in court, because then the UFO cover-up would have been blown apart.

Of course all intelligence agencies will try to use UFO reports to cover up top secret military aircraft, but it is also true that they take genuine UFO reports extremely seriously. These mysterious machines, be they extraterrestial, inter-dimensional (from a parallel universe), or time machines from the future, are constantly invading our airspace, observing our top secret military installations, and possibly endangering our civil and military aircraft. This is why, 60 years on, the official cover-up about the UFO phenomenom, and the seriousness with which it is treated, continues.

The military and intelligence authorities of countries all over the world do not want to admit to the public that they are completely powerless against these mysterious, highly advanced UFOs operating in our skies. Star Wars technology may well be more to do with trying to combat these UFOs than deflecting rogue missiles from some mysterious unidentified source. What is the point when 9/11 demonstrated how a civil aircraft could be mis-used to such devastating effect (imagine if it had been carrying a nuclear device), or indeed a nuclear device in a suitcase? Are we really expected to believe Islamic terrorists are likely to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead at the United States? Star Wars technology, certainly since the ending of the Cold War, makes little sense unless we are thinking about alien invaders, i.e. UFOs,  daily penetrating our airspace.

Choose Your Charity Very Carefully/Housing crisis

Tonight, and once every year, BBC TV has their ‘Children In Need’ fundraising night. Every time I see or hear Terry Wogan or Pudsey the one-eyed bear on the TV raising funds for this charity, I cringe. People seem to go soft in the head when the word ‘children’ is mentioned.

One year I rang the donation number and asked: ‘Excuse me, but where is this child in need we keep hearing about?’ The woman the other end of the line tried to convince me that there were many ‘children in need’ in Britain. What utter poppycock! No child is in need in this country, at least not the kind of need which can be solved by the public throwing money at the problem.

Yes children suffer physical, mental and sexual abuse at the hands of parents, relatives and others, and it is up to the Social Services and government-funded child welfare organizations to protect these children. But when was the last time you saw young ragamuffins running around our streets with no shoes on their feet, dressed in rags and scrambling in the gutters for a crust of bread? THAT is real child poverty, and it simply doesn’t exist in the UK any more. It DOES exist overseas in places like Africa and Asia, but here we have all sorts of safety nets and benefits to prevent extreme poverty like this, especially where children are involved.

I am fed up with seeing parents on TV claiming their families are living in ‘poverty’, when they are getting benefits of hundreds of pounds a week. They ought to be taught to economize. Good, wholesome cheap food can be bought in markets and supermarkets, but many waste money on junk food and ready-made meals which are not only expensive, but bad for their children’s health. At my local market fruit and vegetable stall 7lbs of potatoes can be bought for £1, two cauliflowers for £1 and at the meat stall next door a joint of best topside for just £5, or several huge pieces of frying steak for the same price. Clothes can be bought cheaply at places like charity shops and new clothes from outlets like Primark. Many of those parents who claim they ‘can’t manage’ bring over a hundred pounds of groceries home from supermarkets each week in taxis! I know such a family who are always in debt, and throwing more money at them will certainly not help. Others claiming they are ‘living in poverty’ actually have the expensive environment-polluting luxury of at least one car!

Then there are the various health charities for things like cancer and AIDS research and a host of other diseases, some even raising money for things like hospital Scanners. This is ludicrous! We have a National Health Service funded by the Government thru taxation and National Insurance, and the pharmaceutical companies also spend millions on research so they can make vast profits out of people’s disease and misery. Yet the gullible public are asked to donate money for ‘research’ and hospital Scanners.

What do you think the Government will do if the public are foolish enough to give millions of pounds to health charities? They’ll rub their hands with glee, cut the NHS budget and say: ‘Good, that’s another few million we can spend on Trident missiles and submarines’. No way will I let the Government off the hook like this – they are solely responsible for the nation’s health, and they should be doing all the research in the country’s universities and laboratories, and providing all the equipment such as Scanners which hospitals need.

As for drugs companies, well the more the public give to charities dedicated to research into cures for various diseases, the more profit these pharmaceutical companies will make when drugs are produced, because the public has cut their research costs. All pharmaceutical companies should be taken into public ownership, and all drugs disseminated free of charge. The Government, and taxpayer, HAS to fund all this. It is that simple. Why should the NHS pay billions of pounds to private pharmaceutical companies out to make a profit, when a cooperative or some other publicly owned organization could do the research on a non-profit basis? Obviously it is cheaper for the government themselves to fund all research, and produce drugs on a non-profit-making basis.

So I only give to selected charities such as those providing aid to the developing world, to homeless people in UK and abroad, to animal welfare charities, and organizations campaigning for human rights/against war and weapons of mass destruction, etc.

Even these cause me some qualms, as the Government should be using the vast amounts spent on things like nuclear weapons for helping the developing world and providing cheap housing for everyone, etc.

Even with worthy cause charities/organizations one has to be wary. I have worked for some of these, and many are like wasteful government departments. Millions are wasted on lavish buildings, unnecessary taxi and expensive air fares, first-class hotel accommodation, hiring expensive places for meetings, buying expensive office furniture, etc.

Some of these organizations have very highly paid CEOs and managers, claiming they have to attract the best staff. In my view the best staff in these sort of organizations are those dedicated to the work of the chairty, not those seeking salaries on the scale of CEOs/managers in commercial organizations. These are NOT the kind of people charities and non-profit making organizations should be trying to attract.

So think carefully before you send off a donation in response to some appeal you’ve seen on TV, or in response to some leaflet handed to you in the street or shoved thru your letterbox. And above all, don’t give anything to charities which let the Government off the hook, allowing them to abdicate their responsibilities for the health and welfare of the nation and spend it on other things like land mines and a new generation of dangerous, illegal and totally useless nuclear weapons,  

We are a rich country, and there should be no need for charities to be raising money to relieve child poverty here, to provide cheap (or even free) housing for everybody, or for  research into new drugs or money for essential hospital equipment which the NHS and government-funded laboraties/universities should be providing.

On housing, my view is that the rush to buy is crazy. Everyone should be given a council home to live in when they are old enough to leave their parents’ home, when they get married or enter into a civil or informal ‘living together’ partnership. This should be at low, affordable rents to cover maintenance, administration costs and the building of new council houses. All private landlords not living on the premises should be abolished (i.e. only taking in lodgers should be legal so long as the home is not overcrowded) , and all council house sales stopped. All empty properties should be requisitioned by the Government. That would solve the problem of the homeless and those who can’t afford to buy.

If people want to buy homes for they themselves to live in, then that’s fine, so long as it is not a council property, and so long as they are not just buying property to rent out and make huge profits. But think very carefully before buying a house or a flat. If you have several children, the home will have to be sold when you die in order to give all the children a share. I know several people who have been forced to leave the homes they’ve lived in all their lives when their parents die (and moving soon after a bereavement can be very upsetting indeed, they are two of the most traumatic events in one’s life.)

Had they been living in council properties, the tenancy could have been passed to them, and if this is not the current practice, then it should be. No-one should be forced to leave their home because their parents or partner has died.

If you have no children or dependents, then what is the point of mortgaging yourself to the hilt and then having nobody to leave the property to? If I bought my council flat (which I wouldn’t on principle) I’d leave it to the council (or Shelter) in my Will for those most in need.

What is Democracy?

‘Government of the people, for the people, by the people’ is the classic definition. But even this can mean very different things.

The Western interpretation is a multiple choice of political candidates, most of them members of various political parties, standing for election. The candidates with the most votes get elected, the political party with the most representatives elected to the legislative assembly forms a government, or a coalition government with other parties if there is no absolute majority.

Even within this form of democracy there are many different formats. UK and USA have the ‘first past the post’ system of voting for national elections, in which millions of votes are, in effect, wasted. Under this system voters in the marginal seats decide the government of the day, everyone else’s vote is devalued and most are completely wasted. Once a majority of 1 has been achieved in any parliamentary constituency, all other votes for that candidate, and all votes for other candidates, are wasted. This is far from democratic.

More democratic is proportional representation, where every vote is counted, or the  single transferrable vote system, where electors choose their second and third choices if their first preference is eliminated for getting too few votes.

With ‘first past the post’ you get strong single-party governments, but quite frequently these are not representative of the wishes of the majority. It is very common to get a government formed from a political party which got a minority of the national vote. First past the post only really works when there are just two political parties, and even then it is unfair. Imagine a situation in UK where there are only the Conservative and Labour parties contesting a national election. Say there are 600 constituencies, and the Conservatives win 301 with a 1 vote majority in each. Labour wins 299 with a 20,000 majority in each. It is not hard to see that even in this scenario Labour would be vastly under-represented. Under a PR system the 19,999 wasted Labour votes under ‘first past the post’ in the 299 constituencies they won would  be counted, plus Labour votes in the constituencies they lost, and they would end up with more MPs than the Conservatives.

Then there is the system used in the old Soviet Union and the other former Socialist countries, known as ‘people’s democracy’ or ‘Socialist democracy’. Even within this there were variations. Under the Soviet system there was one political party only, the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union). After the Bolshevik revolution the slogan was ‘all power to the soviets’ or local workers’ councils. The idea was that the people themselves would govern themselves by getting directly involved in the day-to-day running of society. Initially this was to be through the soviets, the Party and the Soviet State. Eventually, once people had got used to governing themselves thru the local soviets, the State would wither away and you would be left with a Communist utopia, so the theory went. A completely self-governing society with no State or artificial regulators. Anarchists believe in the same sort of self-governing society with no State, the main difference being that Communists believed you needed a strong Socialist State machine to crush all opposition to people’s democracy until the working-class were in full control.

In some other Socialist countries, such as the GDR (East Germany) and the CSSR (Czechoslovakia) you had a coalition government led by the Marxist-Leninist Party but which also included representatives of other political parties, trade unons and other political organizations. Basically, the system was the same as the Soviet one – people were expected to join one of the political parties and get actively involved with running society.

In practice the Soviet/Socialist system did not work because opportunists, careerists and criminal elements were the ones who flocked to the ruling political party/parties in droves, whilst the majority of the people remained apathetic. So in no time at all a new ruling class had taken over all the organs of State power, and awarded themselves all sorts of privileges. They creamed off the best of everything for themselves, and since there were no opposition parties they had absolute power, which as everyone knows corrupts absolutely.

The basis of Socialism and people’s democracy remained, and much was achieved particularly in the fields of social security and public services, but once the people let the Party and other State organizations slip out of their control, it was almost impossible to regain it. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat (i.e. rule of the working-class) became the Dictatorship of the Ruling Class, which were the small privileged clique who’d gained control of all the organs of State power.

So we now need to work out a new form of democracy which involves more than the electorate just putting a cross on a ballot paper every 4 or 5 years in a General Election. There have to be opposition parties and genuine free elections; the Soviet and East European experience proved that beyond doubt. There also has to be some form of PR or single transferable vote system so governments cannot be elected on a minority vote.

But we must also try to find some way to get people, ordinary people, more actively involved in the running of society. True democracy is when we govern ourselves, not when we abdicate this responsibility by handing it over to others to represent us.

It takes a very mature society to be truly self-governing, and perhaps the idea is just too utopian. Perhaps it will never happen except in small communities like the Israeli kibbutzim or individual communes of dedicated idealists.

I am not at present a member of any political party because I can’t find one which reflects my views, or which I think I has any chance of becoming a party which reflects my views. It seems in the major political parties, certainly in UK, policies are dictated from the top down, and party members have very little say.

True democracy is when the political parties/organizations have policies which are decided by a majority of their members, and when most people in society are actively involved in these political parties/organizations.

Whether this will ever happen in my lifetime is extremely doubtful. I certainly have little enthusiasm myself for joining any political organization when the odds are so overwhelmingly stacked against me. However, if millions of people decided to get actively involved in politics, then true democracy – people’s democracy – would be possible.

Compulsory Community Service?

With gangs of teenagers roaming our city streets, many involved in drugs, knife and gun crime, is it not time we considered some sort of compulsory Community Service (not military service) for all teenagers of both sexes? Or at least for those in gangs, found in possession of knives, guns and other weapons or involved in muggings and violence?

A year or two’s service to the community, properly supervised, might do wonders to teach youngsters self-respect and to give to the community. There is plenty of work to be done – helping charities, elderly and disabled people, keeping the streets clean and clear of graffiti, etc.. There could even be something like America’s old Peace Corps who went overseas to help people abroad. The youngsters would of course be paid, need not necessarily live away from home (unless volunteering to go abroad of course), and could be given training for their careers after finishing their Community Service.

I do NOT advocate military service as this brings out the very worst in people – teaching them violence, how to use guns and other weapons, it dehumanizes them and tends to produce moral degenerates who rape, torture and murder when they think they can get away with it – such as in wartime situations when law and order has broken down. This is the very LAST thing we want to teach our youth.

The other side of the coin is the need for far far more police on our streets, armed if necessary as in other countries. At one time, decades ago, you couldn’t leave your home without seeing policemen patrolling the streets in pairs. Now you rarely see a policeman, unless they are in police cars dashing by at 60 miles an hour. Or unless there is a big demo or football match, then they crawl out of their police stations like ants out of a disturbed anthill.

Community Support Officers were introduced a few years ago to help the police by patrolling the streets, but it now turns out these officers have very limited powers. When someone was being attacked a week or so ago Community Support Officers reportedly just stood and watched, and said they had no powers to intervene. All they could do was call the real police. A member of the public could do that, or even make a citizen’s arrest if they were brave enough to risk life and limb.

It is ludicrous in this computer age that policemen are locked up in police stations taking hours to write up one report. They should not be swamped with paperwork like this. If this still needs doing in this age of computer technology, then put the Community Support Officers and clerical staff in the police stations to do this work, and put the real police out walking the beat where they are needed.

The Home Office and Government really need to get their acts together to tackle the no-go areas in some parts of our cities, where black teenagers are the main victims of knife and gun crime, and where other people can get caught up in the crossfire.

We cannot let anarchy rule our streets. A combination of Community Service and more police on our streets would be a good start to solving this increasing problem. We should even consider bringing in the Army if necessary to maintain law and order here at home rather than in Iraq where they are seen as foreign occupiers.

I for one would have no objection to being stopped and searched every time I left my home if it made our society safer from terrorists, suicide bombers, muggers, gangs armed with knives and guns, etc.

Remembrance Sunday

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Let’s remember today everybody from all countries who has died, suffered and continue to die and suffer in wars. All the soldiers, civilians (including women and children) and, yes, the animals. This includes the German, Austrian, Japanese and other victims of Allied bombing (including the two A-Bombs) in World War II.

Let us remember what harm all this butchery does to our spiritual development, to Nature and the environment.

Let us remember all the money spent by the world’s governments on arms, which could be put to much better use relieving famine and improving our world instead of destroying it.

Let us pledge to halt the obscene arms trade, which is the real motivation for war and weapons of mass destruction, and which props up dictatorial regimes and encourages terrorism.

Let’s halt the production of all weapons of mass destruction, and indiscriminate weapons, such as nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, all bombs and landmines, hand grenades, machine guns, etc.. Let us also develop non-lethal weapons for use by police and security forces.

Let us find a new way of dealing with the world’s problems, such as an armed international security force under the authority of the General Assembly of the United Nations permanently policing every country in the world, including UK and the USA, to nip any attempts at dictatorship, terrorism or genocide in the bud.

Let all countries contribute to this international security force instead of maintaining separate national military forces.

Let us move forward to a world federation where wars are no longer possible, and where the international security force maintains law and order.

Let us not glorify war, remembering only the dead soldiers from one side whilst preparing to fight the next war.

Let us stop the hypocrisy of politicians criticizing terrorism when they themselves are nuclear terrorists, targeting and being prepared to outdo Hitler by murdering millions of innocent civilians with nuclear weapons. These dangerous and expensive national status symbols are in any case totally useless militarily, as has been demonstrated by all the wars and invasions they have failed to stop since 1945.

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