European Union Parliament votes for a European Army

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

EUArmyNot so long ago when this was being muted by some of us we were being defamed as conspiracy theorists and such, and even in some of the British “mainstream” media after the BREXIT vote and once again we have been proven right, it would seem.

On Thursday, November 24, 2016, the EU Parliament approved the establishment of the so-called European Defense Union. While it may, actually, not be called an EU Army, or European Army, but a European Defense Union it is nothing but an Army and not defensive but offensive – in more words than one – in the same way as NATO was never designed to be a defensive organization but one geared for attack.

An, lo and behold, even the German left party, the one that claims to have its roots in the SED which then became the PDS, Die Linke, is backing this nefarious plan for a European Army, or so it would appear. If that is the case then the Die Linke has shown that it is no longer – if it ever was – grounded in socialism and communism but that it is, like all the others, a neoliberal outfit.

One of the proponents and advocates in that party for an EU-Army appears to be a man called Stefan Liebich who claims in his Wikipedia entry that he was approached at age thirteen by the Ministry of State Security (Ministerium fuer Staatssicherheit - MfS) to work for them (later) as an official operative. He is an active Member of the Atlantik-Brücke, and he is also a member of the Bundesbeauftragter für die Stasi-Unterlagen (BstU). That all should explain a lot, not just about him but of where the supposedly socialist party, Die Linke, is actually located.

The idea for an EU Army, aka Defense Union, is not new and has been stalking the corridors of Brussels for many years. Until now, however, it would appear that Britain managed to block and stifle any advancement of this idea. Those that always voted with Britain in the European Parliament against this now, after the referendum in the UK for leaving the EU seem to have gone a different route and, it would appear, they are gleefully rubbing their hands that the country that used to be throwing spanners into the works of this has now got virtually no say anymore.

Aside from the fact that this so-called European Defense Union is, more or less, a duplication of NATO, but with a couple of fewer members, it will cost the taxpayers in the EU member states, no doubt, dearly and that on top of the costs of stationing US and other NATO country forces in the various countries.

Not that the ordinary pleb in those countries had any say in the decision for the establishment of such a standing European Army. They were kept out of the loop entirely, as is the common practice of EU democracy, where the elite decides, and not the people of the member states, now, more or less, degraded to nothing more than EU regions. The serfs are just the ones allowed to pay with money, sweat and ultimately blood.

© 2016

America’s first sustainable urban agrihood is growing in Detroit

 This week, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) revealed its plans for the first Sustainable Urban Agrihood in the North End.

Wait, an agrihood? It’s an alternative neighborhood growth model, positioning agriculture as the centerpiece of a mixed-use development. There are some agrihoods around the country, but in rural areas. This is the first within a city.

MUFI’s agrihood spans three acres on Brush Street, a few blocks up from East Grand Boulevard. MUFI runs a successful two-acre garden, a 200-tree fruit orchard, and a children’s sensory garden. They provide free produce to the neighborhood, churches, food pantries, and more.

Read more here.

Two-wheel takeover: bikes outnumber cars for the first time in Copenhagen

Denmark’s capital has reached a milestone in its journey to become a cycling city – there are now more bikes than cars on the streets. Can other cities follow?

Bicycle sensors in Copenhagen clocked a new record this month: there are now more bikes than cars in the heart of the city. In the last year, 35,080 more bikes have joined the daily roll, bringing the total number to 265,700, compared with 252,600 cars.

Copenhagen municipality has been carrying out manual traffic counts at a number of city centre locations since 1970, when there were 351,133 cars and 100,071 bikes. In 2009, the city installed its first electric bike counter by city hall, with 20 now monitoring traffic across the city.

Copenhagen’s efforts to create a cycling city have paid off: bicycle traffic has risen by 68% in the last 20 years. “What really helped was a very strong political leadership; that was mainly Ritt Bjerregaard [the former lord mayor], who had a dedicated and authentic interest in cycling,” says Klaus Bondam, who was technical and environmental mayor from 2006 to 2009 and is now head of the Danish Cycling Federation. “Plus, a new focus on urbanism and the new sustainability agenda broke the glass roof when it came to cycling.”

Read more here.

Saving Seeds: 7 Reasons Why and Dozens of Tips for How

Saving seeds can help gardeners save money, grow better crops and become more self-reliant. Learn all about saving vegetable seeds.

The Value of Saving Seeds

When you save your own seeds, you are joining a chain of farmers, gardeners and seed savers that dates back to the Stone Age. All domestic crops were once wild plants that early humans selected to feed themselves or, later, their livestock. Today, gardeners save seeds for many reasons.

1. Money Savings. Every time you buy a seed variety, you invest in your future. For example, I just bought some expensive ‘Midori Giant’ soybean seed, and I feel better about the high price tag because I know I’ll have the variety as long as I continue saving seeds from my plants. (With soybeans, you simply let the last picking dry on the plant and you have next year’s seed.)

2. Seed Security. Hundreds of excellent plant varieties have been discontinued as big corporations have consolidated the seed industry and focused on more profitable hybrids. If you save your own seed, however, you control the supply. I save seed for ‘Miragreen’ and ‘Blizzard’ peas, ‘Lutz Green Leaf’ beets, and ‘Scarlet Keeper’ carrots because these varieties all grow well here in Maine but have become difficult to find in seed catalogs.

3. Regional Adaptation. This is where saving vegetable seeds can get exciting. Most commercially available seed has been selected because it performs fairly well across the entire country if given synthetic fertilizers. (Several companies now offer seeds selected specifically to perform well in organic conditions — but this isn’t the norm.) When you save seed from the best-performing plants grown on your own land and with your unique cultural conditions, you gradually develop varieties that are better adapted to your soil, climate and growing practices.

Read more here.

Less than 5% of UK parents can spot symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning


Lara_s carbon monoxide monsterChildren brought the risks of carbon monoxide to life by drawing what they thought the deadly gas would look like if it wasn’t invisible

  • Shocking new research reveals the risks some UK families are taking when it comes to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning

  • More than a third of UK homes (33.9%) aren’t fitted with a CO alarm - approximately 9 million homes

  • Only 6% of Brits can identify the most common symptoms of CO poisoning

  • One in 10 UK parents wrongly think you can smell a CO leak

  • Only half the UK (51.5%) know that a solid fuel or gas fire can be a potential cause of CO poisoning

  • One in 10 private renters (9.7%) who should legally have a CO alarm, haven’t had one fitted

For this year’s Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week, which ran from November 21 to November 27, npower has released findings from its annual carbon monoxide (CO) research to highlight how at risk the UK could be from CO poisoning. The results show there is a clear disparity between the UK’s awareness of CO poisoning and the UK’s actual understanding of what the symptoms are, which appliances can be a cause and also what people should do if they suspect they are suffering from CO poisoning.

The research also sheds light on how British parents could be worryingly underprepared to spot cases of CO poisoning. Despite 95 per cent of UK parents (95.3%) saying they know CO poisoning can be fatal, less than five per cent (4.3%) are actually able to correctly identify the most common symptoms.

Dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing are the most common symptoms of CO poisoning. But, one in six people (15.7%) think a metallic taste in your mouth is a symptom and one in five (17.3%) think a fever would be a symptom. Further cause for concern is that one in eight of us (11.6%) wrongly think you can smell a CO leak, and one in 10 Brits (10.2%) admit they would have absolutely no idea how to identify a CO leak.

Each year in the UK over 200 people are admitted to hospital with suspected CO poisoning and around 50 people die unnecessarily from it. This new research suggests people in the UK are unaware of what the symptoms of CO poisoning are, so the true number of people affected could potentially be much higher.

Carbon monoxide is completely invisible, it has no smell and no taste, so the only definitive way to detect a leak is with a CO alarm, but despite this only two thirds of UK homes (59.2%) have one installed. The top three reasons people gave to justify not having a CO alarm were: ‘I’ve never had one before’ (28.3%), ‘It’s on my to-do list, I just haven’t done it yet’ (28.1%) and ‘I don’t think I need one’ (22.5%).


Following the results from the research, six children brought the risks of carbon monoxide to life by drawing what they thought the deadly gas would look like if it wasn’t invisible. A group of talented designers then interpreted the children’s drawings to create a series of professionally illustrated characters to give the invisible gas an identifiable persona. npower hopes as many people as possible will share the designs to help increase the UK’s awareness of CO poisoning and reduce the number of completely preventable deaths every year. You can see a video of the children drawing their monsters here: The Invisible Carbon Monoxide Monster.

Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, coal and wood don't burn fully, so incorrectly installed, poorly maintained or poorly ventilated household appliances like boilers, cookers and fires – both gas and solid fuel, can all be causes of CO poisoning.

Between 1995 and 2015, only 35 per cent of deaths from CO poisoning were actually from mains gas appliances or heating. It was in fact appliances that burn solid fuel, portable gas bottles and, petrol and diesel that represented the majority of the remaining 65 per cent. However, when respondents were asked which household appliances could be a cause of CO poisoning, only half (51.5%) know that a solid fuel or gas fire can be a potential cause.

Matthew Cole, Head of Domestic Policy & Social Energy Action at npower commented: “It’s concerning to see these results from our research as they clearly show there’s a serious gap between awareness of CO poisoning and understanding what the symptoms are, which appliances can be a cause and also what people should do if they suspect they are suffering from CO poisoning. We think there’s a real need for the UK’s understanding to be increased to help reduce the numbers of completely preventable deaths from CO poisoning each year and we hope our budding designers will help to do this.”

The research also shows that almost six per cent (5.9%) of us have never had our boilers serviced, which could be around 1.5 million homes. And, one in 10 people who live in privately rented accommodation (9.7%) who legally should have had a CO alarm fitted by their landlord (because their rented home has an appliance that burns, or is capable of burning solid fuel), do not have one installed.

When respondents were asked what they would do if they thought they were suffering from CO poisoning, only two thirds (69.8%) said they would go to hospital. If you suspect you or someone you know is suffering from CO poisoning, you need to turn off the fuel source and get medical treatment immediately.

For more information about carbon monoxide and to find out how to protect your family, visit:

Research surveyed 2,000 people across the UK (conducted by Census Wide), aged 16 and above. Number of UK households estimated at 27,000,000 (source ONS)

npower (Npower Group plc) is one of Britain’s leading energy companies, and is part of the innogy SE group. We serve around 5.1 million residential and business accounts with electricity and gas (As published in H1 Results 2016).

innogy SE addresses the requirements of a modern, decarbonised, decentralised and digital energy world. The focus of innogy’s activities is on offering existing and potential customers innovative and sustainable products and services which enable them to use energy more efficiently and improve their quality of life.

4 myths debunked about outdoor play and children's health

Enough with the old wives' tales that have kept kids indoors long enough! It's time to fight back with facts.

baby in sledThere are all sorts of strange old wives’ tales surrounding outdoor play and children. We shout things at our little ones, warning them of terrible health issues that could arise if they dare go outside with wet hair, with full bellies, with coats unzipped and hats off. These warning phrases have been repeated for generations, and are so ingrained in our minds that many of us younger parents reiterate them, without stopping to question whether or not they actually make sense.

The time has come to debunk these myths, because North American kids and their parents need every bit encouragement to spend time outside — not outdated and unfounded beliefs that make them think it’s not safe.

Read more here.

Is it possible to be a frugal and ethical shopper?

window shoppersThese two values can feel deeply at odds with each other, which can make shopping decisions very challenging.

They say ignorance is bliss and, when it comes to shopping, I have to agree. There was a time when shopping was a pleasurable experience, but that ended once I learned too much. Now, instead of looking at something and thinking, “Oh, that looks nice. How much is it?”, my head is filled with other, competing thoughts: “Where was that made? How was it made? Who made it? What’s in it? How is it packaged?”

Add to that my instinctive urge to be thrifty and frugal, and I’m often left weighing whether or not I should fork out for an expensive item that ticks the ethical boxes (an act which, I could argue to myself, is unethical in itself), or opt for a cheaper item that keeps more money in the bank right now.

Being a conscientious, ethical shopper is a never-ending struggle, but it becomes particularly difficult at this time of year, when it seems the whole world is going crazy for holiday shopping. How does one strike a balance between buying ethically, intelligently, and thoughtfully, while also saving money?

Read more here.

Main Streets matter: Shop local this holiday season

Forget the Internet and the mall. Show support for innovative, independent local business owners instead. It's a win-win situation for all.

Christmas shop windowIf you have not yet finished your holiday shopping — or, like me, haven't even started it — then I would like to suggest a challenge. This is what I’m planning to do, and it would be lovely if more people joined in.

Forget about Internet shopping. Put down your credit card and phone. Close the browser window that’s open to Amazon, eBay, and the like. Put on your boots and coat. Don't go to the mall. Go, instead, for a walk. Head to the main street of your town or city, where glowing shop windows are decorated and lit up for the season. Perhaps there is a Christmas tree somewhere, carols piping softly from a speaker.

Grab a cup of hot cider from an independent coffee shop and let it warm your hands. Relax. This is supposed to be fun, not stressful. This is a time to savor.

Read more here.

GIMA and HTA join forces to purchase The Garden Press Event


GIMA LOGOThe Garden Industry Manufacturers Association (GIMA) and the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) have joined forces to purchase the garden industry’s leading media-facing event, The Garden Press Event.

HTA LOGOFounded in 2006, the event was set up to bring together suppliers of garden products, with trade and consumer editors from both print and broadcast outlets. The only event of its kind for the industry, the Garden Press Event has grown in popularity, with over 110 exhibitors (including a host of international brands).

The show is now set to enter an exciting ‘next chapter’ under the guardianship of both GIMA and the HTA, who together will work to add more content and value for both exhibitors and visitors. Guy Burtenshaw and Sue O’Neill, the original founders of the exhibition, will continue to be involved in the event.

Talking about this exciting development, GIMA’s Director, Vicky Nuttall, said: “The Garden Press Event has continued to cement itself as the go-to annual exhibition for those brands that want to talk exclusively with members of the press as it’s a great way of developing both marketing and PR strategies for the year ahead. Meanwhile members of the press can enjoy uninterrupted time with leading and emerging brands, together generating exciting content for future publications. GIMA has long been a supporter of the show and the opportunities it presents, so we are so pleased to be able to report this latest news.

Echoing Vicky’s thoughts, Carol Paris, HTA Chief Executive, said: “The HTA is delighted to confirm its involvement in the future of the Garden Press Event. We want to retain the values of the show, but also add extra content in turn providing a great opportunity for our members to showcase and promote the garden industry to the media I’ve no doubt that together the HTA and GIMA will be worthy new owners of the event.

Guy Burtenshaw, Director of Media Events, along with journalist Richard Jackson, was inspired to set up an event exclusively for the press in 2006, when the first press event took place. Guy added “We want to say a particular thank you to all of the exhibitors and visitors who have helped to grow the Garden Press Event and make it such a great success over the past 11 years, we now believe the time is right for the event to grow and develop and be ‘owned’ by the industry, and GIMA and the HTA are the right organisations to do this”.

The 2017 event takes place on 16th February at the Barbican (London) and will not be affected by this change in ownership.

Space is still available to book and all enquiries for the time being should continue to be directed via email to or telephone 01243 860600.

The Garden Press Event is the only event of its kind aimed specifically for the industry to showcase the latest products and stories exclusively to the key names in the garden & home press and media.

The 2016 event took place once again at The Barbican Exhibition Halls, and there were a record number of media and garden and home writers in attendance, and more exhibitors than ever, including exhibitors from Holland, Germany and France. For further information contact Guy Burtenshaw on 01243 860600 or email

The Garden Industry Manufacturer’s Association (GIMA) is a dynamic and proactive membership organisation representing the majority share of suppliers and manufacturers operating within the UK gardening industry. Formed over 15 years ago, its goal is to promote the commercial, trading and industrial interests of its members. For further information call the GIMA office on 01959 564947 or email

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is the trade association for the UK garden industry. It helps its members to flourish by representing, promoting and developing the garden industry through their key values; collaboration, innovation, influence and integrity. Its key roles include: provision of advice-based services such as business improvement schemes, briefings and helplines; training, conferences and events for members; market information and research; promotions such as the National Garden Gift Voucher scheme; and working closely with government and the media to influence policy and projects. Find out more at

European Parliament adopts Keith Taylor MEP's report on the potential of ferries and cruises


Logo_greens-efaOn November 12, 2016, the European Parliament in Strasbourg adopted an ‘Own-initiative report’ (INI) drafted by Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England, which explores the potential of Waterborne Passenger Transport, including ferries and cruises, across Europe.

INI reports are important tools for shaping the political agenda; they pave the way for new legislation and explore diverse topics of interest to MEPs and the European Parliament.

Following the vote, Keith, a member of the European Parliament's Transport committee, commented: “I am very pleased that my report has been received so well by my colleagues in the European Parliament. Inland and maritime ferries, as well as cruises and barges, play a crucial role in achieving a more sustainable and efficient European transport sector. Within the framework of this report, I looked at environmental standards, safety and security, cross-border cooperation and competitiveness as well as service quality, passenger rights, and barrier-free accessibility."

"Many commuters in Europe travel by road, creating bottlenecks, congestion, and delays. With its many rivers, waterways, estuaries, long coastlines and islands, Europe’s geography offers extraordinary opportunities for waterborne transport. There are many areas in Europe where travelling by ferry or cruise ships would be more sustainable, easier and quicker. Exploiting this potential would strengthen local economies and help protect Europe’s environment and its citizens’ health."

"This initiative will, hopefully, prompt the action necessary to bring us one step closer to harnessing the huge potential of waterborne transport, which could not only help improve air quality and provide better transport services, but also reduce congestion and CO2 emissions in Europe."


[2] The report was adopted by a large majority: 551 MEPs voted in favour, 62 against, and 82 abstained.

Keith Taylor is the Green MEP for the South East of England and is one of 50 Greens/EFA MEPs in the European Parliament. He sits on the Committee on Transport and Tourism, and the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. He is a member of the European Parliament’s delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council which works to forge greater links between MEPs and parliamentarians in Palestine. Keith is also Vice Chair of the parliament’s Intergroup on animal welfare and a member of the parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights.