When Military Police gets ordinary policing powers

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Feldjäger1-1_webWhen the military police is getting ordinary policing powers freedom and democracy are in real peril. It is not just “mission creep”, it is the road to a totalitarian state.

This applies definitely to countries where the military police, up to now, and in recent times, are not, and have not been, part – in some way or the other – of 'normal' policing.

The Italian Carabinieri, the Spanish Guarda Civil and the Dutch Koninklijke Marechaussee, are military police and do perform some – in some cases more than just some – standard policing duties.

In the main, however, whether it be in the UK, the USA, or Germany, to mention but those three out of many, there military police is restricted to matters appertaining to the bases and military personnel only. They have no jurisdiction in other matter and and no powers. Theoretically, that is. I said theoretically because in many instances this division is becoming blurred and military police is being used in a variety of more general policing roles, all in the name of protecting us against the evil terrorist.

In various places where it was not a normal thing for military police to patrol the streets, for instance, things are changing and MPs are beginning to perform roles and duties generally associated only with municipal, county, state, and national police.

Military police is beginning to be used in such roles and duties now, for instance in the three countries above where, by their various constitutions the use of military police in the civil real is expressly prohibited. That that is happening, regardless, therefore, should really give us some serious food for thought as to what direction our respective countries are taking on this road. It should make us sit up and take note, and not just take not but actually protest against this.

Unless a country such as these mentioned is under martial law or, as in France, a national state of emergency (which is, more or less, martial law), the military and military police should, theoretically (ye, I know I keep using this word), not be on the streets, especially not with weapons and live ammunition.

While it is always claimed that the military police (and the military in a direct policing role as in France and proposed in Germany) is to protect us all against terrorist attacks and such it is not only a blurring of the lines that should not be allowed to be blurred, but happening it is and that even and especially in countries where this expressly is not meant to happen.

This is the very slippery slope towards a totalitarian state and to fascism and fascism does not mean the fascism that we, today, associate with Hitler and the so-called National-Socialist German Workers' Party. Mussolini and General Franco. Fascism goes further back in history already and all feudal totalitarian regimes, as well as today's totalitarian regimes are fascist in nature. And, as soon as the very idea is proposed to have the military police (and the military) to police our streets alarm bells should be ringing at the highest possible volume.

© 2017

Can we have too many trees?

Hunting and mountaineering organisations say that plans to increase forest cover in Scotland will ruin the countryside. I disagree.

A couple of summers ago, I strolled through Glen Feshie, wondering why this beautiful corner of the Cairngorms didn’t feel British. Ah, that’s it: little Scots pines poked through the heather alongside baby willows, dog rose, black grouse and other burgeoning signs of life.

I grew up enjoying the bare majesty of the Lake District. Our treeless uplands are, to me and most other people, completely normal. In times of bewildering change, in everything from politics to the climate, we cling to normality. This must be why Mountaineering Scotland has allied with its normal foe, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, to criticise the Scottish government’s plan to increase the country’s forest cover from 17% to 25% by 2050.

The gamekeepers fear losing their normal business of deer stalking and grouse shooting. The mountaineers fret that tourists enjoy Scotland’s normal landscape and not “miles-long wanders through woods”, as Neil Reid from Mountaineering Scotland put it.

Following an outcry from members about this apparent opposition to trees, Mountaineering Scotland has acknowledged that allowing native forests to return is a positive move.

Trees aren’t intrinsically good. Covering another 8% of Scotland with lifeless industrial blocks of non-native plantations won’t meet government goals of enhanced landscapes, richer wildlife or more jobs. Modern mechanised forestry is not a big employer. Arguments about relative tree cover – Norway, the most comparable northern European country, has 33% tree cover; Finland 73% – aren’t totally convincing, as there’s something to be said for abnormality. Perhaps the treeless, denuded Scottish landscape is a unique selling point.

But people fearing the extinction of normality should go for a walk through Glen Feshie (rewilded by the Danish clothing billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, who owns more than 200,000 acres of Scotland – more than the Queen) or visit Trees for Life, recreating native Caledonian forest in the Highlands. These are landscapes bursting with life.

The mountaineers will still have their views (magnificent peaks tower above any natural tree line), and hunters will have more wildlife to kill, if they really must (Finland’s forests support 300,000 hunters; Norway shoots more grouse than Scotland). This new normal will be better for everyone.

Read more here.

6 Ways to Upcycle Milk Containers

Upcycling doesn't solve our waste problem but it does prolong the life of manufactured items and delays their trip to landfill. It also reduces the volume of materials needed for making new items because it allows us to avoid buying new products.

Another important part of upcycling is spending time with these items and reflecting on how our lifestyle impacts the environment. It's important to value the products we use, and in this way we are more likely to purchase only those that we need.

Read more here.


Fiskars_Garden_Action_PowerGearX_Bypass_Pruner (1)smlFiskars, one the UK’s leading gardening tool suppliers, is proud to unveil its exciting new PowerGear™ X range. The innovative cutting tools are a true evolution of engineering and ergonomics, making pruning and lopping easier than ever before.

This brand new generation of gardening tools is surprisingly powerful, with the pioneering PowerGear™ mechanism creating 3x the power in each and every cut, significantly reducing the physical effort needed to prune.

With super sharp PFTE coated precision blades, designed to slice effortlessly through the toughest wood, the PowerGear™ X range is weather resistant, virtually unbreakable and feature a brand new structural 3D soft grip for increased grip and optimal comfort. For the more intensive tasks, a robust aluminium shaft to reduce weight and increase control, complements the lightweight loppers.

Every aspect of design, performance and usability has been considered. Vibrant orange handles increase visibility, making tools easy to locate in even the most overgrown setting. With rivets replaced by bolts, maintenance is easy, increasing tool performance and longevity.

The new Fiskars PowerGear™ X range gives power to all gardeners - whether novice or seasoned.

PowerGear™ X Pruners

With 3x the cutting power of traditionally designed pruners, the new Fiskars PowerGear™ X pruners are easy to use. The patented gear mechanism and impressive power means that bigger, more efficient cuts can be made with a fraction of the effort.

The ergonomic rotating handle follows your hand’s natural clenching motion, reducing stress and fatigue. With a textured soft grip providing optimal comfort, the PowerGear™ X is the perfect pruner for those with large scale pruning tasks, as well as those who suffer from arthritis, rheumatism or carpal tunnel syndrome.

With increased visibility and a new locking mechanism, the pruners are easier to locate and safer to use. The advanced FiberComp™ construction results in a lighter, weather resistant tool, perfect for serious gardeners.

The new PowerGear™ X pruner range is available in Bypass pruner M, Bypass pruner L and Anvil pruner L.

Fiskars PowerGear™ X Hedge Shears

The innovative design for the new Fiskars PowerGear™ X Hedge Shears incorporates ergonomic principles with advanced technology, resulting in a lightweight hedge shear with more balance and control than ever before.

It is hard to believe that the patented gear mechanism can improve productivity so dramatically, but with 3x the power to every cut, this hedge shear cuts effortlessly through growth.

The new soft 3D contoured orange handle provides optimal grip and comfort, reducing fatigue and improving visibility in the garden. Fiskars hedge shears cut along the full length of the blade and the new construction makes it easy for tool maintenance.

The Fiskars PowerGear™ X Hedge Shears are the tool of choice for gardeners that need to take control.

Fiskars PowerGear™ X Lopper

Cutting through tough woody branches should be hard work, but with the new Fiskars PowerGear™ X Lopper, it’s surprisingly easy. The ingenious PowerGear™ mechanism creates 3x the cutting power in every cut, without increasing effort for the gardener. When you take the precision ground stainless steel blades with friction reducing coating into account, and the robust lightweight aluminium handles, it is easy to see why the Fiskars PowerGear™ X Lopper has the best in class cutting power.

The new handle design utilises the soft grip material and with its 3D contour surface increases control and reduces the need for excessive grip, reducing the strain often associated with lopping. The lightweight aluminium shaft results in a tool that can be comfortably used for extended periods. Like every tool in the new Fiskars PowerGear™ X range, the new loppers can be dismantled and maintained with ease, providing gardeners with powerful tools, designed to last.

For more information on Fiskars gardening tools and the brand new PowerGear™ X range visit www.fiskars.co.uk.

Fiskars is a leading global supplier of branded consumer products for the home, garden and outdoors. Products are renowned worldwide for their functionality and cutting-edge design, and the group boasts a strong portfolio of trusted international brands such as Fiskars, Iittala, and Gerber. Our most iconic product, the orange-handled scissors, was born in 1967 and is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary this year. The orange scissors revolutionized the everyday cutting experience, being the first plastic-handled scissors in the world. Fiskars is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki. The group recorded net sales of 768 million euros in 2014, and employs some 4,800 people in over 20 countries. Founded in 1649, Fiskars is Finland's oldest company.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Scientists have long feared this ‘feedback’ to the climate system. Now they say it’s happening

At a time when a huge pulse of uncertainty has been injected into the global project to stop the planet’s warming, scientists have just raised the stakes even further.

In a massive new study published Wednesday in the influential journal Nature, no less than 50 authors from around the world document a so-called climate system “feedback” that, they say, could make global warming considerably worse over the coming decades.

That feedback involves the planet’s soils, which are a massive repository of carbon due to the plants and roots that have grown and died in them, in many cases over vast time periods (plants pull in carbon from the air through photosynthesis and use it to fuel their growth). It has long been feared that as warming increases, the microorganisms living in these soils would respond by very naturally upping their rate of respiration, a process that in turn releases carbon dioxide or methane, leading greenhouse gases.

It’s this concern that the new study validates. “Our analysis provides empirical support for the long-held concern that rising temperatures stimulate the loss of soil C to the atmosphere, driving a positive land C–climate feedback that could accelerate planetary warming over the twenty-first century,” the paper reports.

This, in turn, may mean that even humans’ best efforts to cut their emissions could fall short, simply because there’s another source of emissions all around us. The very Earth itself.

“By taking this global perspective, we’re able to see that there is a feedback, and it’s actually going to be massive,” said Thomas Crowther, a researcher with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology who led the research published Wednesday.

The new study is actually a compilation of 49 empirical studies, examining soil carbon emissions from research plots around the globe. The different studies produced variable results, including some cases in which soils actually pulled carbon from the air rather than releasing it. However, the researchers insist there was a pattern globally that was “predictable”: Soil carbon losses generally tended to track how much warming a region had seen, and how thick the upper soil layer was.

Read more here.

How to Grow Tomato Plants in Containers

tomato growing in containers and pots

Growing In Containers

Container gardening is a great way to garden when you don’t have much space, and tomatoes are the king of containers. The structure and limited space actually encourages upward growth for this vining plant, and when you combine a good tomato pot with a trellis or cage, you have a recipe for successful, tasty tomatoes this summer.

Choosing A Variety

While you can grow your prized heirloom tomatoes in containers with proper care and attention, the varieties that succeed the best in containers are dwarf varieties like grape and cherry tomatoes. Try Tiny Tim, Pixie II, or Florida Basket, which was bred to grow in containers. These smaller tomatoes lend themselves well to vining downward in hanging baskets, but you also can train them upright with the use of stakes, poles and cages.

Determinate Varieties

If you want full-size tomatoes but need the plants to be compact in size to fit within your container, choose a determinate variety of tomato. These stay at a more manageable height and produce their juicy red fruits more closely together, making them desirable for container gardening. However, pay attention to fruit size when choosing a determinate tomato for a container; stay away from giant or jumbo varieties, as these plants will not be able to grow and fruit well within the confines of a pot.

Sun, Soil and Water

Tomatoes grown in containers need the same amount of sun as they would in the garden; be sure to place the container in a spot that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sun during the day. Containers should be well-drained, with plenty of drainage holes. You can use regular potting mix for small containers and hanging pots, but soil needs to be mixed especially for larger containers. It needs to be light, and retain moisture well.

Read more here.

Oslo, Norway, is giving residents $1200 toward purchasing an electric cargo bike


One way to move toward a cleaner, greener city is through offering citizens financial incentives to get out of their cars and onto two wheels.

Getting around on a bicycle can be an excellent way to clean up our daily commutes and errand runs, but sometimes you need a little bit of a boost, which is where electric bikes come in. And sometimes you need a little more space to haul groceries and gear with you, which is where cargo bikes come in. Combine the two, and you've got an efficient and fun way to not only get from point A to point B, but to also get the shopping home in a single trip without having to stack boxes and bags on your rear rack until you're wobbling your way precariously down the road (been there, done that).

The capital of Norway, Oslo, is looking to get more of its citizens out of their cars and onto bikes, and more specifically, onto a set of wheels that is made to haul more than just a single person, in the form of grants covering part of the cost of an electric cargo bike. Last year, the city council offered residents a financial incentive toward buying an electric bike, up to 20% of the purchase price of an e-bike, capped at 5000 kroner (about $600). Now that effort has been extended a bit into an electric cargo bike grant program, which will cover part of the cost of purchase of one of these electric workhorses.

Read more here.

Caffé Nero reports coffee-waste-to-biofuel success, plans expansion

Italian-style coffee shop chain Caffé Nero is looking to extend an innovative coffee-to-biofuel recycling scheme beyond greater London after a successful partnership with recycling company First Mile and technology firm Bio-Bean.

First Mile's chief commercial officer Joe Allen (left) and Caffè Nero's commercial director Matt Spencer (right) are pleased by the success of the ongoing partnership

Nero expects to have converted 218 tonnes of used coffee grounds into 98 tonnes of biomass pellets – enough fuel to power the equivalent of 453 homes – when the retailer reaches the first annual milestone of its partnership with First mile and Bio-Bean in July.

“We are always looking at ways to improve our recycling so we are very excited to be working with First Mile and Bio Bean on this initiative and will seek to extend it beyond Greater London,” said Caffè Nero’s commercial director Matt Spencer.

The ongoing agreement sees First Mile provide Caffè Nero with special recycling sacks for used coffee grounds. These sacks are collected by First Mile every evening and passed onto Bio-Bean for processing into advanced biofuels.

First Mile’s chief commercial officer Joe Allen said: “This service marks another step in our ambition to create a world where you can recycle everything. Waste coffee grounds would previously go to incineration or landfill, and it is fantastic to see Caffè Nero embrace this new initiative and start recycling a significant amount of waste coffee. We look forward to supporting a wider roll-out and working with Caffè Nero on other recycling challenges.”

Caffé Nero reports that London-based Bio-Bean is also now exploring the opportunity to refine the oils within the coffee grounds into bio-diesel for use in vehicles. One tonne of waste coffee grounds creates 245 litres of bio-diesel and Caffè Nero claims that its current annual recycled coffee waste levels would be enough to fuel a complete circle of the M25 3,689 times.

Fellow coffee shop chain Costa Coffee announced the launch of a new partnership with Bio-Bean at the end of 2016, which will see 3,000 tonnes of Costa's waste coffee grounds converted into biofuel.

Closed-loop coffee

Caffé Nero’s coffee-to-biofuel recycling scheme forms part of a company-wide push towards a circular economy after the retailer was singled out by celebrity chef-turned environmental campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his Hugh’s War on Waste TV programme last year.

Nero was recently involved with the #1MoreShot social experiment campaign, which saw 11 giant coffee cup bins placed in Manchester to solely collect paper coffee cups. The retailer has also trained its back-of-house teams to sort through waste before it is handed over for collection, to maximise efficiencies. This behaviour change scheme alone has resulted in over 154,000kg of cardboard and more than a million kilograms of mixed recycling being recovered in London since July 2016.

The group has also been expanding on its broader CSR strategy. Last year, edie reported that Nero was building on its work with the Rainforest Alliance to “move beyond certification” and train-up coffee farmers across South America, having launched a farming community support initiative in Nicaragua in 2015.


Ikea Releases Open Source Designs For A Garden Sphere That Feeds A Whole Neighborhood

It doesn’t even require nails.

If you’ve already constructed Ikea desks and chairs, then it’s time to take your skills to the next level.

This week Space10, Ikea’s lab for futuristic, solutions-oriented designs, released open source plans for The Growroom, a large, multi-tiered spherical garden designed to sustainably grow enough food for an entire neighborhood. Hoping to help spur local growing and sourcing, Space10 made the plans available for free on Thursday.

All it takes to complete the 17-step, architect-designed DIY garden of your dreams is plywood, a visit to your local community workshop, rubber hammers, metal screws and some patience:

Though it’s intended mainly for use as a neighborhood garden in cities, you could also build a Growroom for your own backyard, a spokesman told HuffPost.

Read more here.

Are we in the final stages of capitalism?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

karl-marxThe final stages of capitalism, Karl Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin to consume the government along with the physical and social structures that sustained them. Democracy, social welfare, electoral participation, the common good and investment in public transportation, roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, ecosystem protection and health care would be sacrificed to feed the mania of short-term profit. These assaults would destroy the host.

If all those indicators are something to go by then we are in the last, the final, stages of capitalism as an economic (and political) system. The only worry is that the monster, this dragon, in its death-throes will take many people with it into the abyss. And it will not be the elite, the rich and powerful, unless we do something, but the working class and the poor that will be its victims.

The indicators certainly are all there, and there can absolutely be no denying that, and this includes the destruction of the ecosystem as much as that of everything what makes a society.

When we look at the UK every aspect of what once was, we have to say now, a public service, or at least almost every aspect and everything, is now being privatized our outsourced to private operators.

The postal and telecommunications, water and other utilities, transportation (still called public transport) – all buses, trains and trams – and now they are aiming to sell off the National Health Service in Britain. Capitalism, in its final hour, so to speak, is destroying the state and everything that goes with it, and with it society as we know it.

In its death throes capitalism will also turn into fascism and destroy even the very pretense of liberty. We can very well see that presently in Europe with the European Union (EU) where politicians and others openly talk about democracy being in the way of what they want to achieve and also and especially no longer want to see democracy as a government by the people. They want an elite that rules, without the people getting a looking in. In other words a return to, though a modern version of it, feudalism. Feudalism, on the other hand, is nothing different than fascism.

Fascism is not something that was invented invented by the National-Socialist Party of Germany, that is to say Hitler and his ilk, nor by Mussolini or Franco. It is much older though it may not have been called thus. The authoritarian form of government by emperors, kings, queens and what-have-you, that is to say feudalism, all was and is a form of fascism, as is any other authoritarian and oppressive form of government that predominately benefits one person or a group, whether political or ethnic, or which oppresses other or another ethnicity simply because of ethnicity. Thus, for example, the Zionist state is a fascist state. But I digressed by way of explanation.

In Germany it is always claimed – and that is not the only country that claims such a system – that they have a social free market economy and democracy. But the truth is a totally different one. What Germany has, and in fact all of the so-called free market economies have, is an antisocial dictatorship of capital, of corporations. The free market capitalist economy, we can also call it simply capitalism, is a dictatorship of the corporation and the investors over the masses and nothing else but fascism.

Everything, almost everywhere, is being privatized; health and social care, infrastructure and utilities, public transportation, etc. The services that should be run for the benefit of the population are being turned into profit-making enterprises to fill the pockets of CEOs and shareholders.

Marx' prophesies are on the road to fulfilling itself. The host, as he called it, is being destroyed. The worrying thing, however, is that, instead of heading towards true socialism as the stepping stone to communism we seems to be headed in another direction of a system akin to that of the so-called Third Reich, a pseudo-socialism of the kind that a particular little corporal from Austria and his ilk were preaching.

The growing army of unemployed and homeless are also a sign of what is going on. Some of it, probably, even deliberate to remove – physically – a certain strata of the population in the capitalist countries.

Valueless and useless (useless in the capitalist sense) life has to be eliminated. He who does not work also shall not eat! That were the words of a German government politician only in 2016. workers are no longer needs in such great numbers and thus they have become superfluous and one wants to reduce the population anyway. However, the creation of concentration camps and labor camps they do not dare to consider openly as yet. But death can be made invisible by simple leaving people to starve or freeze to death and thus weather conditions and such can be blamed for their death, not, however, so seems to be the reckoning, the governments. Thus they cannot be held responsible for this and be prosecuted.

Without a lot of money have people have no (political) power and this entire system needs to be turned inside out and replaced. We don't need new governments of a lesser of the two – or how ever many – evils but we need an entire new system and that will not come out of the capitalist one, and also not by giving capitalism a social face, as the social-democrats like to say.

It was the social-democrats, whether the SPD ine Germany or the Labour Party in Britain, and similar parties in other countries, that have betrayed the working class everywhere and sold them down the proverbial Swanee.

But, as Marx predicted, the capitalist system is now in its death throes but is destroying everything with it while it is fighting tooth and nail not to die. Every piece of infrastructure, every public service, including health care, social services, public transportation and utilities, is being sold off to stave off this inevitable death. The capitalist and neoliberal elite are even prepared to start another world war in an attempt to stop that which is already in a coma from dying.

And what does the working class do? Its members are being misled to fight the wrong battles or sit at home being entertained with bread and circuses, by means of the god in the living room, and other rooms in the house and even on their cellphones. No one is going to do it for us and the politicians that want us to vote for them in the elections won't do it either. To bring about the change that must be brought about the working class has to get off its backside and get active. The ways and means may vary but by itself it is not going to happen. The rich, the elite, and those politicians, will never permit their money and power to be voted away in election. It is not going to happen.

Capitalism (as we know it) may be dying and already be in a coma, but definitely in its last throes, but unless we take control of our destiny the outcome may be worse than what we have now. A real system change, as we must work for and achieve, a true revolution, will never be brought about by the ballot box, never. They will never allow it.

© 2017