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Archive for June, 2010

Hunting Act: DEFRA says Unsuccessful and Unenforceable

June 30th, 2010 No comments

Earlier this year Michael Foster, who was the Labour MP for Hastings and Rye before his defeat by Conservative candidate Amber Rudd at the general election in May, presented a petition of 4,000 names to Parliament in support of the Hunting Act 2004. Michael recently forwarded to me the official response from the now Tory run Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which states:

Observations from the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: The Hunting Act was passed by Parliament in 2004. It has not been demonstrable success and is difficult to enforce. Only three hunts have been successfully prosecuted for illegal hunting. There are many more pressing issues for parliamentary time at the moment, but the Government wish to give Parliament the opportunity to review the Hunting Act and, if it wishes, repeal this legislation. The Government will, therefore, put a motion before the House of Commons on whether the Hunting Act should be repealed and, if the motion is carried, it will bring forward legislation in due course.

The claim that the Act “has not been demonstrable success” is, of course, a matter of subjective opinion. To say that it is “difficult to enforce” should not necessarily make it irredeemable. Should we, then, only pass laws that are only easy to enforce? Of course, more to the point is that not enough law enforcement resources are deployed or it is not considered to be a priority. There is, of course, the socio-economic and cultural context of law enforcement having to ensure a law is obeyed by those who generally are members of the ruling elite who still have disproportionate influence over this country notwithstanding their relatively trivial number.

briefing on the Hunting Act published by the RSPCA showed prosecutions under the Hunting Act compared favorably with other wildlife legislation, including the Badgers Act 1991, Deer Act 1991 and Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996. Further, IFAW identifies more than 100 prosecutions under the Hunting Act. So, we have to wonder why DEFRA chooses only to identify three. 

Yes, of course, there are many more pressing issues. So, why are the ConDems making such a fuss over the repeal of the Hunting Act? What’s next: the return of bear baiting and dog fighting? Back street abortions anyone? Repeal of the right for women to vote? Push the homosexuals back into the closet?

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Goodbye Bill. Hello Steve.

June 29th, 2010 No comments

Gates and Jobs, that is. After decades of working exclusively on PCs, laptops and Microsoft products I took the plunge and placed an order for a MacBook Pro. The decision’s rationale is based on seemingly unresolvable problems with Windows software, not wanting to “advance” to Windows 7, a Dell laptop that has worked well over the last five years or so but has seen better days and an increase in producing creative content of one kind or another. So, presume there will be disruptions to this normal service (such as it is) over the coming weeks but hopefully not too often (Darren: Are you reading this?).  Plus, I’m excited to be taking a course in Social Media Marketing produced by University of Brighton’s Media Enterprise Centre in July.

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More Baby Herring Gull Rescues

June 28th, 2010 No comments
This baby Herring Gull fall off a neighbouring roof today and ended up sitting on the grass outside. This photograph was taken before she was taken to the RSPCA's nearby Mallydams rescue centre.

This baby Herring Gull fall off a neighbouring roof today and ended up sitting on the grass outside. This photograph was taken before she was taken to the RSPCA's nearby Mallydams rescue centre.

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Hare Coursing Ban in Northern Ireland

June 28th, 2010 No comments

The remaining country in the UK to allow hare coursing, Northern Ireland, voted in the assembly on June 22 to ban the bloodsport. The narrow vote — 23 – 18 — was after a seven-hour debate. It is reported that the ban will be in effect later this year. 

Whereas this is a most welcome development and positive news that reinforces the Hunting Act 2004, it’s difficult to understand how such an obvious example of animal cruelty requires a debate the equivalent of almost one working day and received such narrow support.

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Vegan Get-Togethers in Hastings

June 28th, 2010 No comments
One happy rescued sheep says, "Hello!"

One happy rescued sheep says, "Hello!"

The Hastings Environs and Rye Bay Vegans/Veggies group met yesterday for our occasional monthly vegan get-togethers. The theme of yesterday’s meal was the 1970s. So, the menu consisted of sausages and onions on sticks and pineapple and tofu on sticks, avocado and Thousand Island dressing as well as mushroom stroganoff, potatoes with dill and salad. The dessert was a delicious gluten-free Black Forest Gateau. All the food was yummy and vegan, which isn’t very 1970s but there you are. The hosts have three rescued cats, several rescue chickens and three rescued sheep. An enjoyable hot day with great company where none of us had to worry about what we were eating. Or what we said! Any vegans/veggies in the greater Hastings and Rye area interested in joining us, please contact Richard (01424 814895; richiestreamcottage@tiscali.co.uk). Future events include a picnic on the East Hill, Saturday dinner, Sunday afternoon cream tea and scary food on Halloween.

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The Grumpy Vegan recommended reading

June 26th, 2010 Comments off

Burger Queen by Will Self

The other afternoon I was cycling up the Mall when the Queen emerged from the gates of Buckingham Palace, so plumply erect in her customised Daimler that she resembled nothing so much as a cerise pouffe propped up in an old-fashioned Silver Cross perambulator. There was only a smattering of tourists about, but even so, they spontaneously formed a guard of honour and laid on a scattering of applause. […] For Burger King is to McDonald’s as the monarchy is to republicanism; it’s as hard to imagine Betsy 2 noshing on a Big Mac as it is Georges Danton chomping on a Whopper. McDonald’s is the Federation – Burger King is the Klingon Empire; McDonald’s is a postmodern conspiracy to replace the noble and just with hydrolysed corn syrup and styrofoam, while Burger King has the ivied sanctity of a millennium-old Cistercian monastery.

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Baby Gulls — Fifth Photo!

June 26th, 2010 Comments off
Here they are! Five baby Herring Gulls looking at their reflection in a window imagining what 500 baby Herring Gulls would look like.

Here they are! Five baby Herring Gulls looking at their reflection in a window imagining what 500 baby Herring Gulls would look like.

Suddenly you wake up one day to discover there are five — not three — baby Herring Gulls! I took this photograph early this morning. It’s possible that there were always five but we only saw a maximum of three at any one time. It’s also possible the two newcomers, who are slightly smaller, slid down from an adjoining roof. In short, we’ll never know.

More babies are also spotted on other neighbouring roofs. We’re rapidly going into that point in time when the wings of the baby gulls are growing stronger but they’re still not able to fly. I have yet to succeed in capturing a publishable photograph of a baby gull flapping her wings like crazy and getting one or two inches off the ground but no more.

Sadly, as their curiosity grows and their ability to fly increases baby gulls end up on the ground either because they fell off or they tried to fly. Last night we rescued two baby gulls on the ground in our street and took them to the nearby RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre. We were told that they should survive and be returned to the wild. There’s also the National Gull Rescue and Protection group that also deserves our support.  

Although it seems there are less gulls around than previous years, which is a comment I’ve heard made by others who have lived in the Old Town longer than me, they generate an enormous amount of noise with their screeching and squawking. They’re always noisy but they’re particularly so as their babies approach the time when they leave their nesting areas. I’ve grown to like the sound and miss it when I’m elsewhere and no gulls exist.

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The Grumpy Vegan on the World Cup

June 25th, 2010 No comments

Don’t care who wins.

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Ranking Health Care in Seven Industrialized Nations

June 25th, 2010 No comments

In a recent study of health care in seven countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States) the Netherlands ranks first, followed closely by the UK and Australia. The US ranks last overall, as it had in earlier studies.

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The Real Cost of Cheap Food

June 25th, 2010 No comments

Cheap food isn’t as cheap as it would appear, as Felicity Lawrence writes in “Free choice isn’t healthy for the food industry’s menu” in The Guardian recently. Further, the real cost of cheap food in terms of human morbidity and mortality as well as the significant impact on animal welfare and the environment are not born by the food industry but society at large. That’s you and me. She writes,

[T]he National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has concluded that the government could save 40,000 lives and many millions of pounds each year by tackling our junk food industry. […] Treasury estimates calculated that, conservatively, the cost to the health service of diet-related disease was not just millions but £6bn annually, and rising.

She goes on to then frame this within the current context of Britain’s political climate.

… the state could make huge savings if it prevented the cancers, heart disease, strokes, diabetes and obesity caused by poor diet rather than waiting to treat them, just as health experts did with tobacco. But its recommendations have already been overtaken by events. New brooms at the Department of Health have thanked Nice for its pains by suggesting it has overreached itself, and by reverting to the tired old mantra that eating healthily is a matter of individual responsibility and choice.

So much for we’re all in this together! Too right! Deep doo-doo.

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