Stop The Gadhimai Festival

All beings tremble before danger, all fear death. When a man considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill.

All beings fear before danger, life is dear to all. When a man considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill.
Buddha Dhammapada 54

This November in Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha who taught non violence towards all beings, thousands of animals will be slaughtered in the most horrific manner imaginable as part of a ritualistic mass sacrifice. The Gadhimai Festival takes place every five years and is probably the world’s largest mass public slaughter in the name of religion. About 5 million people participate in this hideous festival of barbarity.

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The word festival is inappropriate for what amounts to sickening blood thirsty carnage as more than 250,000 animals are mutilated and beheaded in this horrific massacre.

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Watch the film below. Please be aware it contains violent scenes of appalling cruelty towards animals who are mercilessly sacrificed not only in the name of religion, but also in the name of superstition, fear and profit. It is estimated that during the last festival in 2009 as much as two million Euros was made from killing the animals, which were given freely by poor people who paid an exorbitant price to purchase the animals to offer as sacrifices. Than further money was accrued when the savaged brutalised remains of these unfortunate creatures was sold by religious leaders to meat and hide companies. Many people will spend up to two months wages to buy an animal for sacrifice, after being told by these unscrupulous priests that they must appease the Goddess if they wish to avoid bad luck, or conversely to receive good fortune, relief from ill-health and suchlike.

Believe me the cruelty is shocking. Much worse than you see in the film.

Also note the involvement of children:

Children watching

For more details see my article written after the 2009 Gadhimai festival:
http://www.think-differently-about-sheep.com/The_Gadhimai_festival_Why_it-must-never_happen-Again.htm

More information and shocking photos of this frenzied blood bath of pure barbarism and unfettered cruelty and insanity :
http://www.occupyforanimals.org/gadhimai-festival-in-nepal.html

How the hell can any sane rational person commit such violence, so much suffering to innocent creatures, who not knowing what is about to befall them stand peacefully by.

This year in November 2014 this hideous festival will take place once again and thousands of animals will be brutally slaughtered.

This festival of sickening violence towards defenceless animals has to be stopped.

This is not religion, this is not Hinduism –  you can read quotes from Hindu Scripture in my article mentioned earlier  as you will read there is no place for such brutality in Hinduism – this is appalling and barbaric cruelty, this is superstitious fear exploited by greedy people who will make money from the misery and fear of both human and non human animals as a result of this festival.

Actions you can take

There is a considerable number of suggested actions for you to take, please do not feel overwhelmed just do what you can.

Firstly please sign the following petitions:
http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-animal-sacrifice-gadhimai-festival-nepal-mass-animal-sacrifice

http://forcechange.com/59185/end-gadhimai-the-worlds-largest-animal-sacrifice/

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/436/418/920/stop-nepals-gadhimai-festival-animal-sacrifice/

http://action.ciwf.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=119&ea.campaign.id=29144

Please visit the following website
The following is a website promoting awareness and action against animal sacrifices in Nepal: Stop Animal Sacrifice  http://www.stopanimalsacrifice.org/

The “Stop Animal Sacrifice Campaign” is a 5-year campaign conducted by the Animal Network Nepal aimed at phasing out animal sacrifice in Nepal and the region. Please help this campaign by taking whatever action you can.

Write to Nepalese government officials

Please read the information below and write now to Nepalese government officials, and tell them of your shock that the festival was allowed to continue in 2009, and ask that they intervene and not allow a repeat of this event in November 2014.

Click the link below to e-mail letters to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and to the Ministry of Agriculture Development, Department of Agriculture and The Ministry of Agricultural Development Department of Livestock Services:
http://www.stopanimalsacrifice.org/how_to_help.php
There are template letters included which you may edit and personalise.

Further down you will find further template letters

Please write to Nepal’s Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism and the President of Nepal and other officials now   preparations for this festival are already in progress – ask that they use their influence to stop slaughtering animals at the 2014 festival and adopt a more peaceful alternative. One suggestion has been to substitute fruit and vegetables.

Prime minister Nepal Sushil Koirala
Rt. Honorable Prime Minister of Nepal, Mr. Sushil Koirala
Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers
Singh Durbar
Kathmandu, Nepal
P.O. Box: 23312

Email: info@opmcm.gov.np
Tel: 977-1-4211000
http://www.opmcm.gov.np/en/contact-us-5.html

Minister of Culture, Tourism and civil Aviation
Mr. Bhim Acharya
Honourable Minister Mr. Bhim Acharya
Singha Durbar,
Kathmandu,
Nepal

Tel.: 977-1-4211870, 4211879, 4211607
Fax: 977-1-4211758

E-mail: info@tourism.gov.np, tourismnp@gmail.com
E-mail: tourismnp@tourism.gov.np

website: www.tourism.gov.np

Ministry of Agricultural and co operatives
Minister Mr Hari Prasad Parajul
Hon Minister Hari Prasad Parajul
Singha Durbar,
Kathmandu,
Nepal

Tel: 977-1-4211000
P.O. Box: 23312
Email: info@opmcm.gov.np Ministers:
http://www.opmcm.gov.np/en/contact-us-5.html

Honourable State Minister for Foreign Affairs
Hon Mahendra Bahadur Pandey
Address: Maharajgunj, Kathmandu
Tel: 977-1-4416011, 4416012, 4416013, 4416014, 4416015
Fax: 977-1-4416016
Email: adm@mofa.gov.np

http://www.mofa.gov.np/en/cotact-us-26.html

Nepalese President
President Ram Baran Yadav

Right Honarable President Dr Ram Baran Yadav
Office of the President
Sheetal Niwas, Kathmandu
Fax no ++ 977 – 1 – 4416495

If you have the time please at least write a letter to President Ram Baran Yadav and also to the prime minister and other ministers listed above as I personally consider that a letter is more effective and more likely to be read.

However, e-mail or letter all are helpful ways to let the Nepalese Government know how you feel about this cruel festival. An event that should be consigned to history along with all the other barbarous acts perpetrated upon all animals the world over down through the centuries, including present day factory farming and other atrocities.

Also contact your local Nepalese embassy or consulate in your country:
http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/Nepal

You can find a whole list of other contacts here:
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10202424350983491&id=152547194813334 includes sample letter.

A selection of  sample letters
The above facebook link contains a sample letter which you can send as it is but for more effect please edit/personalise if possible using your own words. But if for some reason you can’t do this please just send it as it is.

You may be angry and outraged as am I, but please try to be courteous in your correspondence. In my experience insults and abusive language only impedes amicable progress.

Below is a another sample letter from the in Kinship Circle’s blog: 11/30/09: How Could They? 250,000 Animals Butchered Alive In Nepal Sacrifice. This was written just after the 2009 festival took place.

“From Kinship Circle:
Nepal’s government upheld the 
( 2009) Gadhimai Jatra mass animal sacrifice, despite strong global protest. On Nov. 24-25, some 250,000 animals were mutilated and beheaded in what may be the world’s largest religious slaughter. We’ve modified our pre-festival sample letter and urge everyone to send comments. This grotesque butchery must end.

The animals and our humanity are the losers following this despicable sacrifice. Scenes such as these defy belief and lead to both despair and anger. Please channel this anger into positive action. Please write to the government of Nepal once more to express your horror and despair at this suffering. Please join the many thousands of compassionate voices from within Nepal and internationally calling for a end to the sacrifices. For the sake of the animals, please be their voice.”

Sample Letter from Kinship Circle

(You will need to edit if possible, this is just an example to give you a few ideas. It refers to the festival of 2009. Note the festival occurs every five years not semi-annually as the letter states.)

The Letter/e-mail:
Honourable Prime Minister and Officials of Nepal:

I am stunned by the magnitude of cruelty in the semi-annual Gadhimai Jatra festival in Bara, Nepal. Fields fill with blood as sword-bearing butchers casually hack apart baby buffalo and their elders. How can Nepal justify the mutilation of hundreds of thousands of goats, buffalo, pigs, chickens, rats and pigeons as “sacrifice” to the Hindu goddess of power, Gadhimai?

The Gadhimai alienates potential tourists, like myself, who object to the senseless brutalization of animals. Furthermore, it desensitizes your own children, teaching them to ignore suffering and celebrate violence.

Please ban all blood festivals. I urge the Nepalese government to enforce stronger animal protection laws that shield animals from all forms of abuse, including grotesque rituals such as the Gadhimai Fair.

The November 24-25, 2009 festival didn’t fail to repulse any human with a conscience. One filmmaker noted that the butchers killed in a frenzy, unable to sever heads quickly. “Baby buffalo searched for mothers. One touched my tripod. That was when I felt I’d pass out if I continued filming. When I left, I had to step over bodies and heads and wade through animal blood…”

As you know, the two-day contest involves men armed with knives who vie to slaughter the most animals. Contestants are awarded a fee for each kill.
Death does not come quickly. Based on the “panchhbali” (five offerings),
competitors slit the throats of five different species. Buffalo take so long
to die that men cut them apart, starting with their back legs.

I am shocked that Nepalese officials not only allow this festival, but also
pay to confine animals before it begins. Religious leaders themselves have
proposed fruits and vegetables in place of animal sacrifice. I respectfully
ask you to embrace this nonviolent option and/or do everything within your
power to permanently cancel the Gadhimai festival.

Different cultures may not understand each other’s customs, but all humans
comprehend cruelty. The world recognizes the Gadhimai Jatra as outright
animal torture. It’s time that Nepal’s government does too.

Sincerely,

Kinship Circle’s Blog: http://kinshipcircle.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/250000-animals-butchered-in-nepal-sacrifice/

Important this is old information on Kinship Circle’s blog and the contact address are invalid. See above for the current contact details of Nepal’s government officials.

A shorter template letter for you to copy or edit from Asia for Animals Coalition:

http://asiaforanimals.com/coalition-voice/latest-news/item/100-mass-animal-sacrifice-at-nepal-s-gadhimai-festival

Please try to use your own words as much as possible the idea of sample letters is to highlight points. But if you really cannot write letters, not all of us can, just copy and paste into your e-mail or word processor if you are sending a letter. Whatever you write even if it is simply a passionate plea of only a few sentences for the festival to never happen again and to ban all animal sacrifices, it will reflect world-wide opinion and the more of us who write persistently the more hope there is that things will change. We have to keep up the momentum, now that this dreadful festival and the daily sacrifice of animals in Nepal has finally received international attention we must never allow it to fade into obscurity.

Write to animal rights/welfare organisations

It may also be helpful to write to other animal rights and animal welfare groups to ask them to get involved, for as far as I am aware only the groups mentioned above and in my article appear to have much information or took much action against this event. I think this is due to the fact that for reasons I cannot understand this festival and its horrendous agenda has somehow escaped international notice. Prior to the festival I had never heard of it despite my having read many books about the culture of Nepal and nearby Himalayan countries.

Here is a short list of Animal rights/welfare groups you may consider contacting to suggest that they take up a campaign to stop this ever happening again.

PETA

http://www.peta.org/

Be sure to contact PETA India –http://www.petaindia.com/

Viva! – Vegetarians International Voice for Animals UK http://www.viva.org.uk/

Animal Liberation Victoria: Fighting for animal rights  http://www.alv.org.au/

The Gadhimai massacre is certainly the world’s most shocking example of animal cruelty, but lets not forget factory farming and the slaughter of about 1,5 billion animals each year when such vile atrocities take place such as tiny male chicks being put through a grinder alive, or chickens arriving at the scolding tank fully conscious to be scolded alive after being improperly stunned or cows hung upside down to have their throats cut having also not been rendered unconscious.Factory farming and the mass slaughter of animals of course continues relentlessly.

Bringing about the cessation of factory farming and the horrendous and inhumane slaughter in the abattoir away from human gaze, which is no less barbaric, is unlikely to end in the forseeable future, but we do have an opportunity to at least bring an end to the Gadhimai festival and save thousands of animals from shocking suffering.

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world. (and) I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Some of the above information and more is included in the following webpages on my website:
http://www.think-differently-about-sheep.com/Useful_Links_Action_You_Can_Take_The%20Gadhimai%20Jatra%20Festival.htm

http://www.think-differently-about-sheep.com/The_Gadhimai_festival_Why_it-must-never_happen-Again.htm

 

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Veal Crates and Plastic Hutches

But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy.
Plutarch

Recently whilst travelling along the north-west coast here in the UK I was shocked to see outside a farm veal crates rather like those you see in the picture below – at least I thought these were veal crates.

hutches

Except these contraptions are not veal crates as I later found out. Veal crates are literally that, crates, like the one in the following photo. Here in this tight confinement this poor little newborn calf  and millions of others like him will remain until they are slaughtered for veal.

veal-crate-calf

The veal crate is a wooden restraining device that is the veal calf’s permanent home. It is so small (22″ x 54″) that the calves cannot turn around or even lie down and stretch and is the ultimate in high-profit, confinement animal agriculture.  Designed to prevent movement (exercise), the crate does its job of atrophying the calves’ muscles, thus producing tender “gourmet” veal.

About 14 weeks after their birth, the calves are slaughtered. The quality of this “food,” laden with chemicals, lacking in fiber and other nutrients, diseased and processed, is another matter. The real issue is the calves’ experience. During their brief lives, they never see the sun or touch the Earth. They never see or taste the grass. Their anemic bodies crave proper sustenance. Their muscles ache for freedom and exercise. They long for maternal care. They are kept in darkness except to be fed two to three times a day for 20 minutes. The calves have committed no crime, yet have been sentenced to a fate comparable to any Nazi concentration camp.

Read More:
http://www.britishmeat.com/veal.html

Apparently veal crates like the one above have been banned in the UK and throughout the EU but are still in use in many countries .

Calves though continue to suffer as they are housed in isolation in these plastic hutches. As with the veal crates a calf will spend his first few months of life in these tiny plastic contraptions away from his mother and other calves until he is eventually slaughtered. These hutches if used in accordance with the animal welfare ruling here in the UK should provide a hay rack and a tiny outside pen as you see in the picture below. Though this picture is from the USA the set up is similar.

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When I first saw this image, I momentarily mistook it for a cemetery, one of those filled with long, neat rows of unmarked graves or “unknowns.” How fitting, then, that what it actually is is a photo of dairy calves in hutches. Calves born to dairy cows are torn from their mothers within hours of birth, in order for humans to steal the milk intended for them. Male calves are sold to auction to be slaughtered for veal or cheap beef, while female calves are typically raised in “calf hutches,” little plastic igloos or dog-house-type structures with a few feet of fenced in dirt in front. They live this way, in complete isolation, for the first 2 to 3 months of their lives. They do not leave the hutches to run or play, and in order to prevent the possibility of young calves spreading sickness amongst themselves (a potential profit loss), they are not even allowed to touch each other. This, during the time when they are most in need of touch, most of all from their own mothers, with whom they would normally be grazing, nuzzling, and experiencing the greatest bond any mammal ever knows.

Read more about these hutches. Though the information included refers to the USA the same applies here in the UK and in many countries around the world.
https://www.facebook.com/AnimalRightsMedia/posts/607121502669363

Plastic Hutches System

Though they are an improvement to the crate system as they let in light and fresh air and allow some small increase in movement, albeit in a tiny pen outside, and the calves are provided with hay and are not standing on a concrete floor, they are nonetheless a cruel confinement. In many countries both veal crates and hutches are used.

The hutches are used for a while before the calves are put into a group pen. The idea is supposedly to help them develop an immune system.

The hutch system is still nowhere near not good enough, conditions for calves need to be vastly improved. Cattle should be in meadows within social groups the mother rearing her calf. Though the obvious solution and the only humane and ethical one is of  course to stop rearing and slaughtering animals for meat and other products. 

The plastic hutches are a small improvement but still inhumane. Going outside is a bit of a stretch and only applies if taken literally for the pen enclosure provides nothing more than a few feet of fenced in dirt, no room to walk let alone run and experience the freedom of movement so vital to the well-being of any animal, most particular baby animals.

Calves not only bake in hutches in the noon-day sun in California, they freeze after winter calving in Maryland. These hutches are for heifer calves on St Brigid’s Dairy in Maryland US. Photos taken after a blizzard in 2010.

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Read more and view more photographs:
https://www.facebook.com/Veal.TheTruth

Here are examples of the measurements of these plastic contraptions – very hot I would think in the summertime anywhere in the world.

For a small breeds :

(mm) L1651 x W1270 x H1270 (“) L65 x W50 x H50

For larger breeds:
(mm)L1956 x W1448 x H1320 – (“)L77x W57 x H52

For 8 calves :
Dimensions: (mm) L3404 x W2184 x H1925 (inch) L134 x W86 x H75

Watch the video to get an idea of how cramped these hutches are:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwcfh9e0OGA – this is a commercial to sell these awful hutches. Notice comments has been disabled. Perhaps they are not too keen to know what people think of their cruel inhumane methods of farming.

I have to say it saddens me greatly to think of these baby animals stuck in these tiny hutches away from their mothers, even though there is more space than the former crates it is still very small and does not allow any real movement of any significance.

Maybe a tiny improvement on veal crates though keep in mind they are not the same thing and the production of traditional veal still requires the poor creature to be stuck in a veal crate in the dark, unable to move. The hutches are still nonetheless a tight confinement for a young animal full of life and vigour. An animal who wishes to run about unrestricted to be with his mother and other calves. Veal crates are usually for male calves only because they are not useful for milk production. Some female calves are also turned into veal because they are not needed for dairy production. The excess dairy calves who are considered to be the wrong breed to be useful for beef production are usually slaughtered for veal when they are between 8 and 16 weeks old.

There was no safe place to stop and there was in any case no one about. But had there been I would have liked to have asked the farmer how he could place into this tight container a thinking feeling living sentient being. A baby calf born only an hour before being torn away from his mother. I would like to ask what kind of person has the heart mind and mentality to commit such a horrendous act of cruelty to a living creature.

Remember veal crates are containers into which is placed a newborn calf that was taken from his mother one hour after being born. This is all this poor animal will see for his or her short and tragic life. For here in this tight confinement the calf will remain until he is slaughtered to provide veal – usually for the more affluent members of our society.

Think before you eat. All meat is inhumane, death is inhumane. To take the life of a sentient being who like you or I wishes to live  – the instinct for survival is of course one of the most powerful instincts found in both human and non human animals. – is a crime, nothing less. The sickening cruelty of veal crates and plastic hutches is shocking in the extreme, it is undertaken to make money and cannot be justified in any way even by many of those who continue with an omnivorous diet.

Veal and beef of course are not the only issue with cattle farming – remember veal of course is a by product of dairying.

Consider the following with regards to the consumption of dairy products

My perspective of veganism was most affected by learning that the veal calf is a by-product of dairying, and that in essence there is a slice of veal in every glass of what I had thought was an innocuous white liquid – milk.
Rynn Berry, quoted in Joanne Stepaniak, The Vegan Sourcebook, 1998

Did you know that our love of milk here in the UK sees an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 male dairy calves shot within hours of birth.

Watch this heart breaking film:

The price of milk, cheese (dairy) and veal – separation of a cow and her calf>

This French video clip (an excerpt form a new documentary by French filmmaker Beatrice Limare called “Adieu, veau, vache, cochon, couvée“) depicts that breaking of the bond between a dairy cow and her newborn calf. There is no physical violence, blood or gore here. Just something perhaps far worse: the psychological anguish of the deepest bond imaginable in the mammalian world: the bond of a mother and child.

Read more:
http://freefromharm.org/animal-cruelty-investigation/breaking-the-mother-calf-bond-the-untold-story-of-milk/
Also read the “about” segment included with the video:

A Calf and a Half’ — Cadbury Milk Investigation — Reality Behind the Ads

 

Finally watch this heartbreaking video From Animals Australia

Hidden camera dairy calf investigation

Is your glass of milk really worth all this sickening cruelty. Look at the faces of these babies how can anyone who wishes to be called human cause them to suffer in this way for a food we do not need. Think about it no other animal drinks milk after weaning and no other animal drinks the milk of another species.

If you are not ashamed to be human than you should be.I often wonder if there are any other living sentient beings in the universe who have evolved to be compassionate and what they would think of our treatment of the other species with whom we share this world.

For almost all of our fellow animals and indeed for many humans this world is truly hell on earth

I hope in time in the not too distant future that we no longer rear animals for food or any other commodity and that we allow them to live in accordance with their nature, free to live as they so please.

Take Action

Stop drinking milk or consuming milk products. Stop eating meat, discontinue the use of animal products such as leather and wool. Go vegetarian,  ideally go vegan

“Animals do not ‘give’ their life to us, as the sugar-coated lie would have it. No, we take their lives. They struggle and fight to the last breath, just as we would do if we were in their place.”
John Robbins

Lack of Toilet Facilities in The UK

In the past decade toilet facilities in the UK have fallen by 40 percent. These important facilities have been closed by cost cutting councils – odd isn’t it how most if not all councils’ increase our council tax yet reduce the services it pays for? Even if there are toilets most are closed by the late afternoon. You will not find a toilet open even in such places as Keswick, a popular tourist town in the Lake District, after 5pm.

440px-Toilet_with_flush_water_tank

While this is perhaps not the most serious of issues in this troubled world of ours it can be and is for may a serious detriment to living a normal life. For many with medical conditions the availability of a public toilet could mean the difference between being out and about and taking a full part in life or being stuck at home or rarely venturing far from home.

Here in the UK one in five people over 40 – about 14 million people – suffer with an over-active bladder and many people suffer with bowel conditions such as Crohns disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (often attributed to stress and anxiety and as such really not helped by worrying about finding a toilet) or the after-effects of bowel surgery. In addition many older people and children need immediate and frequent access to a toilet along with people who may suffer from a temporary health issue such as cystitis for example. Also pregnant women need access to a toilet more often as do mothers with babies who may need to change nappies. Along with the fact that the average person needs to use the toilet to urinate at least every couple of hours. People with some of the above conditions may become anxious and not go out at all or only go where they know there is a toilet and for such people the lack of facilities that do exist there is a 5am curfew – or so it seems

Workers who spend their day outside are facing increasing problems finding a toilet, people who work in our streets such as a postman or women, a policeman or women, a dustbin man are few examples of people who need access to a toilet. Recently workers tarmacking the footpaths were I live were using a bucket to urinate! Few people will allow a stranger into their homes to use the toilet and pubs, cafe’s and restaurants do not allow access to toilets for anyone other than customers.

So there is yet another aspect of life here in the UK that has deteriorated in recent years, another step backwards.

Moreover not being able to find and use a toilet may become in itself a health issue:

The bladder is directly controlled by the central nervous system — that’s why feelings of stress and anxiety can trigger the urge, but it’s also why when you’re holding on to a full bladder you can start to panic. As part of this physiological response, the heart rate starts to rise. That might be OK if you’re fit, but if you’re frail, elderly, have high blood pressure or a cardiac condition, it can put you through a period of high blood pressure which could worsen your condition or even, rarely, trigger a heart attack.

Many people stop drinking or even eating if they have to go out. I often speak to patients who stop drinking water if they know they’ve got to make that visit out. This puts them at risk of dehydration and will only exacerbate their problem, because the urine becomes so concentrated and strong that the bladder wants to get rid of it, and they also become prone to urinary infections.

It’s more than an inconvenience! The lack of public loos is bad for our health
By Karen Logan Incontinence Specialist

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2097420/Its-inconvenience-The-lack-public-loos-bad-health.html

On a personal level I have anxiety about toilets or rather the lack thereof as a result of IBS and over active blader which incidentally seems more overactive as soon as I step out the door because of the anxiety about where or if I am able to access a toilet. And pubs, hotels, restaurants and so on are not in the least keen to let you use their facilities unless you’re a customer. Yes some may allow you to do so but please I like my dignity one should not have to ask for a toilet. There is a card you can request from the Bladder and Bowel foundation http://www.bladderandbowelfoundation.org/resources/toilet-card.asp  to hand to staff in a pub for example and while this is helpful it is still embarrassing. Staff in shops may refuse despite such a card even if you have a disability. Often the excuse is that their insurance would not cover any accidents should such arise, which is unlikely. Yes of course one should not be embarrassed about a normal bodily function, but sadly many people are including myself maybe as a result of all the childish toilet humour that one has to put up with in the UK or humiliations from childhood. Which brings me to thinking of the psychological damage to children who have to go in the street because there are no toilets.

It is not only the council of course in most outdoor shopping centres there’s no toilet block and you have to hope a shop such as Sainsbury’s has the decency to include a toilet. Not all shops do, even major shops such Lidl. Also the tax office and the job centre in some major towns and cities do not allow access to a public toilet! Incredible but true. Try asking for a toilet at the Halifax Building Society and see what a fuss they make. Well at one branch anyway. I was told there was a public toilet in the nearby shopping centre, which on this particular day was closed due to refurbishing. Eventually I was allowed access to the toilet – well it was either that or cancel my appointment – but the assistant went with me and stood outside! Unbelievable , where they thinking it was some sort of attempt to rob the bank. Time all public facilities provided a public toilet. Nowadays I will walk out if the use of a toilet is refused.

This is an outrage in a so-called developed country. The minuscule savings for councils is pathetic in comparison to the harm and detriment to people’ s lives.

An acquaintance of mine has to urinate in the bushes on his way home from work as there are no toilet facilities. Not pleasant at any time particularly after dark on a cold winter’s evening. Even more shocking is the outrage of having to ask for a key at a doctor’s surgery. In one town a doctor’s surgery requires patients to go to the desk and request the key because the toilet is locked to prevent the local people from using the toilet. This is in a town that has no public toilet. This must be a nightmare for mothers with young children or elderly people who might need quick access and have to wait in a queue or anyone who is ill – it is a doctor’s after all.

In many towns there are no pubic toilets at all. To my knowledge in the Northeast the following towns do not have a public toilet Chester-lee-street, Consent, Brandon, Sedgefield and numerous villages the length and breath of the country. In addition many towns that have toilet faculties close them by 5pm or earlier. The railway station at Durham closes it’s toilets after dark before the trains stop running. If you get off the train at Durham at 11pm for example you will not find the toilet open.

A bladder and or bowel problem is a serious blight on your life without the nightmare of not being able to access a toilet and face curtailing your freedom or becoming entirely housebound. Time for councils in particular to provide toilets, night and day and to keep them open all night. This is a twenty-four hour society, people need toilet facilities , a police man/women a fireman anyone who has to work through the night or travel through the night needs a toilet . We pay our council tax after all, approaching £1000 for my family alone annually and many people pay much more.Time to give value for money. I am tired of the well-worn excuse including the austerity nonsense, before this the usual excuse was drug talking. The toilets in central Brighten near the clock tower were closed decades ago because supposedly people were using them to sell and take drugs. And please don’t use the vandalism excuse. The answer to that is more security, more policing.

Also time for shops to provide toilet facilities. Few shops provid a toilet the exception is such as Saintsbury’s Tessco, M&S, B&Q ASDA Ikia, but only the larger stores.   The list of lack of public facilities will amaze you. Even such as English Heritage are happy to charge you £ 6 for Whitby Abbey yet provide no toilet facilities. Yes they quickly point out there is a toilet in the car park run by the council, a rarely in itself but that is no use if you have difficulty walking or you are a child and need to go in a hurry as it is a long walk from the abbey or the museum. The National Trust Houstead Roman Fort have toilets at the bottom of the hill but nothing in the newly renovated museum at the top – a long walk back if you get caught short. Durham park and ride, a new innovation not long constructed, but no toilets. As for disabled toilets what a nightmare! I know of someone who has often lost control of her bladder where she sits in her wheel chair because there are so few disabled toilets in Sussex or Surry and those that are available are closed in the evening.

Also consider the homeless. I recall one time in Glastonbury an altercation between the police and a homeless young women. I don’t know what it was about though I heard the woman complain bitterly that throughout the night she has nowhere to go to the toilet as the toilets in the town are all closed at 5pm. In one market town stall holders have had to make arrangements with a nearby pub to use their facilities because the council knocked down the toilet block to build new council offices. Churches except tourist cathedrals – and sometimes not even than –  rarely provide a toilet. In Cartmel in the Lake District there is no toilet in the church, a tourist attraction and at one time the toilets in the village were closed down and only reopened by the villagers and despite there good intentions are filthy. Petrol stations once provided toilet facilities though not anymore unless you are using a motorway and sometimes not even then. For most of the A 1 north there are no public facilities at all for mile after mile without leaving the road and often not even then. You may even find the frustrating and yes distressful situation of following an old sign saying pubic toilets to find they have been closed down not only wasting your time and  petrol but adding to the misery as you then have to look elsewhere.

Shame on the lot of you, the council, shops, tax offices and other public places, you have no decency to provide a basic amenity yet are quite happy to charge high for your commodities or demand our attendance such as at the job centre or tax office. Seeing people urinate in the street is one of the most shocking of things in the sixth richest country in the world. It really shouldn’t be necessary, because even today we are still one of the most successful economies in the world.

Frankly what with one thing and another the UK is a miserable place to live these days for just about everyone in one way or another.

Action to Take

Right now there are no petitions though there have been in the past with it seems little sucesses. it might be an idea to write to your MP:
http://www.parliament.uk/about/contacting/mp/

Or your local council or even the council of a town city or village that you have visited and been inconvenienced by lack of toilet facilities:
https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-council

We all pay council tax these days, even those who can barely afford to eat or heat their homes and pay their rent, there are few exemptions thanks to the Tory’s welfare reforms. Council tax is high, we at least want what we pay for, a basic and fundamental need – a public toilet. A clean and hygienic toilet not the filthy sinking germ ridden toilets that one is often faced with.

Or write to shops that do not have customer toilets such as Lidel.

I can’t provide a comprehensive list. It is easy enough to select a shop and find the contact details by using your favourite search engine.

Related Links

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-23566810

http://www.europealacarte.co.uk/blog/2007/05/28/lack-of-uk-public-toilet-provision/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10273562

http://www.enfieldover50sforum.org.uk/Research%20into%20Public%20Toilets.htm

Take Action for Tibet: Help to Stop China Using Twitter as a Propaganda tool

Please take action to stop China spreading lies about Tibet. Print Hash Tag Stop #ChinaSpam: https://twitter.com/hashtag/ChinaSpam?src=hash Please send a messages to Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo and ask him to stop his company supporting China’s brutal occupation of Tibet.

Free Tibet has identified a web of more than 100 fake Twitter accounts being used to spread China’s propaganda about Tibet. Tweets are circulated pretending to be from real people and include attacks on the Dalai Lama and news stories from Chinese state media portraying Tibet as a contented Chinese province. Within 24 hours of Free Tibet contacting Twitter, a number of accounts were suspended but many remain and China is still able to use Twitter to tell lies about Tibet.

Please continue reading and send the message by clicking the following link http://freetibet.org/email_targets/2048

As always please edit if you can but if you cannot for some reason just send as it is.

Every message helps in the campaign to free Tibet from the oppression of China. China is using Twitter to spread lies about Tibet and it must stop. It is bad enough that the west, including the UK government of course (no surprises there), does not support Tibet’s struggle for freedom. This shocking state of affairs, when the west openly turns it back on the grave violations of human rights in Tibet, is compounded further when a western based company assists China in this way, it is simply not acceptable and we must speak out.

Also If you have a Twitter account, please tweet Dick Costolo (@dickc) calling for an end to the #ChinaSpam.

Around 100 fake accounts have been identified but hundreds more remain . These accounts are dedicated to attacking the Dalai Lama and spreading false propaganda about Tibet portraying China’s occupation as an idlyll of contentment. One such Tweet attacking the Dalai Lama has been retweeted more than 6,500 times.

Read more and view sample tweets:
http://freetibet.org/news-media/na/free-tibet-exposes-chinaspam-twitter

Please read the detailed dossier submitted to Twitter by Free Tibet: http://freetibet.org/sites/default/files/Free%20Tibet%20Twitter%20Dossier%20July%202014.pdf

Please take action, it is up to us and organisations like Free Tibet to stand up for the People of Tibet as here in the west most countries have turned their backs on the oppression of the Tibetan people and even aid and abet China’s repressive regime either knowingly or unknowingly, as is the case with Twitter. Denied Internet access Tibetans have no voice to tell the world of the their plight under the yoke of China’s domination. Penalties are severe and Tibetans can face a stiff sentence of up to life imprisonment for online or email content criticising China’s regime. Now that the deception is in the open Twitter must act to remove these fake accounts. Some have been removed but hundreds remain, with your help we can persuade Twitter to remove them all. Please take the above actions and also spread the word.

More information:

New York Times article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/22/world/asia/trending-attractive-people-sharing-upbeat-news-about-tibet-.html?_r=0

Free Tibet is a London-based international campaigning organisation, working for the Tibetan people’s right to determine their own future, an end to China’s occupation and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected.

www.freetibet.org

www.facebook.com/FreeTibetOrg

Water Cut off to Thousands of People in Detroit

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”
W.H. Auden

“Creating a world that is truly fit for children does not imply simply the absence of war. It means having the confidence that our children would not die of measles or malaria. It means having access to clean water and proper sanitation. It means having primary schools nearby that educate children, free of charge. It means changing the world with children, ensuring their right to participate, and that their views are heard and considered. It means building a world fit for children, where every child can grow to adulthood in health, peace and dignity.”
Carol Bellamy

Brass_water_tap

Though I had heard about the situation in Detroit regarding threats to cut off the water supply of poor people who cannot pay their bill, when I saw the petition below in my e-mail box this morning I immediately thought of Africa rather than the most affluent country in the world. Sadly although a country may be rich doesn’t mean its citizens are and rather like here in the UK it seems that increasingly more and more people in the USA are sinking into poverty.

However no matter how poor, no one should be deprived of water under any circumstance whatsoever. It is just so shocking that a country like the USA would cut off water to its citizens. Water is a vital resource and no one has the right to deny it to others simply because they cannot pay their water bill. I cannot tell you how utterly appalled I am, I just don’t have the words. It is bad enough when people do not have access to water in Africa, but when water is readily available and has been deliberately withheld it is nothing other than criminal, inhumane and a violation of human rights and the standards of plain decency. The water should be immediately restored. How the hell can those responsible sleep at night knowing the misery they cause.

Water of course is vital in many ways other than hydration. Water is required for so many aspects of our lives and is often taken for granted until it no longer flows from our taps. Maintaining bodily hygiene, cleaning our cloths and our homes and preparing our food all depend on water. Think about it you can’t even flush your toilet! You can’t clean your teeth properly without water. Not only will this effect health and psychological well-being but also people’s jobs and children’s education will be effected. Another concern  is the reports that the city is removing children from homes without water, separating families against their will.

Most of these unfortunate people cannot pay their bills as a result of rising prices, the current economic situation, low wages, unemployment, dependency on benefits as a result of ill-health or disability. I doubt very much if anyone has simply refused to pay. Shocking, just shocking, shame on  Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Clean water is a basic humane right no matter where in the world you happen to live. Whether it is Africa or the USA no one should be denied water because they are poor.

While for householders it takes as little as a $150 unpaid bill to be eligible for having your water cut off, businesses it seems are getting away with unpaid bills amounting to thousands of dollars.

Detroit Average water bill is now $65 a month — much higher than the nation’s average rate of about $40.  Here in the UK my monthly water bill for unmetered water, which means there is no limit on the amount of water we can use, is £24  which is $40 per month.

Please sign the petition:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/942/862/856/detroit-stop-cutting-poor-families-water/?z00m=21278712&redirectID=1410730879#sign

Read More about this situation:
Detroit Shuts Off Water To Thousands Of Broke Residents
http://thesecularjurist.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/detroit-shuts-off-water-to-thousands-of-broke-residents/

Since writing this article the Detroit water department has announced

 “that it is putting a moratorium on turning off anymore households’ water for the next 15 days. The city says the pause is meant to give residents a chance to catch up on their bills, although the payment plans being offered may still be too high for many of the nearly half the city that is currently behind. The average bill in Detroit is $540, and it would take a payment of about $175 to stop the city from turning the water off in those homes. “

http://www.care2.com/causes/detroit-water-shut-offs-are-on-hold-but-for-how-long.html

 

Elephant weeps

An Elephant weeps as he is rescued after forty years of misery.

©Press People Raju the elephant takes his first steps to freedom, after 50-years in chains

Unfortunately in many parts of the world elephants continue to be exploited for entertainment or used as labour. Even if left in their natural environment they are killed and exploited for their tusks. These highly social and intelligent animals are forced to live miserable lives in confinement carrying out tasks or performances to serve and or entertain human beings. Fortunately Raju the elephant was rescued, so great was his relief and understanding of the circumstances he actually shed tears. This poor animal suffered unimaginable misery for fifty years of his life until his rescue.

For 50 years Raju the elephant was held in chains, beaten and abused – a pitiful sight with his legs bleeding from spiked shackles and living on handouts from passing tourists.

Day after day he was forced to hold out his trunk, begging for a few coins, on the streets of India – so hungry he’d eat plastic and paper to fill his empty stomach.

But, last week, a North London-based charity Wildlife SOS stepped in to save Raju from dying in his bonds in a daring midnight rescue operation, finally freeing him one minute into July 4th – independence day.

And incredibly, as the team moved in to save him, tears rolled down Raju’s face, as though he wept in gratitude that he was finally being released.

http://travel.aol.co.uk/2014/07/07/elephant-weeps-rescued-50-years-of-torture-india/?ncid=webmail7

Elephants both in Africa and Asia are on the brink of extinction. Poaching is one of the more serious crimes against these iconic animals. Nonetheless we should not overlook the crime of exploitation for labour or entertainment.

Help Elephants around the world

Please sign the following petitions:

Kenya: Give presidential armed protection to your last ‘great tusker’ elephants.

The largest ‘great tusker’ elephant in Kenya was killed by poachers in late May. Pictured with this petition is Satao, killed only weeks ago in Kenya by poachers for the ivory trade.

The death of Satao, one Kenya’s few surviving elephants whose tusks weigh over 100lbs, has sent shockwaves around the world.

As a consequence, conservationists are asking the Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, to provide armed protection for the country’s remaining ‘great tuskers.’

Read More and sign the petition

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/761/234/291/kenya-give-presidential-armed-protection-to-your-last-great-tusker-elephants/  “Great tuskers” are elephants whose tusks weigh over 100 pounds. These elephants are in extreme danger from poachers.  Sato was the largest “great tusker” on earth before he was murdered for his tusks.

Four decades ago, the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, saved a famous “great tusker”called Ahmed by granting him official protection from poachers. Four armed guards protected him around the clock and he died of old age.

Kenyatta’s own son, the current president of Kenya, should provide the elephants with the same kind of protection his father did four decades ago.

Next is a petition concerning another captive elephant

Urgent! Take Action to Save Lonely, Miserable, Elephant

Imagine, if you can, a youngster, shipped to a strange and frightening place, never to see her family or home ever again. But no alert is ever issued, no reward for her safe return offered. This is because the victim is an elephant, Mali the lone elephant at the Manila Zoo.

This nursing baby was taken from Sri Lanka in 1977 and has spent the last 36 years in a small, concrete pen.

Read More and please sign the petition:
http://www.change.org/petitions/urgent-take-action-to-save-lonely-miserable-elephant

Petition to save the Asian Elephant

The magnificent Asian elephant is of environmental, cultural and spiritual importance. But tragically, this iconic animal is on the brink of extinction due to massive habitat loss. It is simply running out of space and time.

Please sign our petition to make your voice heard by those who can act now before it is too late.

http://www.elephantfamily.org/sign-our-petition

There are many more petitions on-line, enter Elephant petitions in your favourite search engine and please sign as many as you can.

You will find a good selection of information about elephants and actions you can take included in the following:
http://elephantopia.org/

More information on this blog:

https://rantingsfromavirtualsoapbox.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/imagine-a-world-without-elephants/
https://rantingsfromavirtualsoapbox.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/help-stop-the-sale-of-ivory/

 

 

 

Our Plastic Footprint 2

I have written about litter before, in particular plastic, here

Littering is not only about the unsightly mess that greets us whenever we go out and about even in the countryside such as you can see in the photos below. Indeed the most important issue concerning the blight of litter is the effect it has upon wildlife.

Watch the very moving and distressing video below of the consequences of our rubbish ending up in places where it should not be – thrown away or dumped anywhere and everywhere.

You Will Not Believe Your Eyes – Unbelievable Must Watch!

This heart touching video is about an island in the ocean at 2000 km from any other coastline And equally inspiring for both who are careful and careless about environment in any region and In any country all over the world. Nobody lives, only birds and yet, you will not believe what you will see here. Please don’t throw anything into the sea. Unbelievable, just look at the consequences.

One comment on the video asks:

This is truly amazing! I do have one question, could it be that the birds r traveling to different parts of the world, eating this waste, and then bringing it back? I mean, how could that stuff reach that far. Sad to c that this world is so lazy to recycle, and/or dispose of trash appropriately. 😦

The trash gets into our oceans in many different ways via rivers such as the river Swale in the Yorkshire Dales – look at the trash carelessly left by this river in a section of the river that runs through the town of Richmond.

river SwaleJPG

All of it gets washed out into the sea – think this is bad wait to you see further down the trash that is dumped in the Citarum river on the Indonesian island of Java. Trash also gets into our oceans from ships or off shore platforms. It is blown off the land into the sea and yes sadly it is dumped intentionally. Birds are not the only animals adversely affected by trash

In the sea, big pieces of plastic look like jellyfish or squid, while small pieces look like fish eggs, so marine creatures eat the plastic debris mistaking it for food. Marine trash, mainly plastic, is killing more than a million seabirds and 100,000 mammals and sea turtles each year by ingestion and entanglement.

Read More: http://www.projectgreenbag.com/how-does-plastic-get-into-the-ocean/

All along Alaska’s outer coast,

…there are shores strewn with marine debris, as man-made flotsam and jetsam is officially known. Most of that debris is plastic, and much of it crosses the Gulf of Alaska or even the Pacific Ocean to arrive there. The tide of plastic isn’t rising only on Alaskan shores. In 2004 two oceanographers from the British Antarctic Survey completed a study of plastic dispersal in the Atlantic that spanned both hemispheres. “Remote oceanic islands,” the study showed, “may have similar levels of debris to those adjacent to heavily industrialized coasts.” Even on the shores of Spitsbergen Island in the Arctic, the survey found on average a plastic item every five meters.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/magazine/22Plastics-t.html?_r=0

The sea is being turned into one big rubbish dump

There is a “plastic soup” of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean which is growing at an alarming rate and presently covers an area twice the size of the continental United States. The “trash vortex” of an estimated one million tons of trash stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan. The vortex contains everything from footballs and kayaks to Lego blocks and carrier bags. Because plastic is not biodegradable items fifty years old have been found in this floating dump – 90 per cent of all rubbish floating in the oceans is plastic. The UN Environment Programme estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. Mr Moore, a former sailor, came across the sea of waste by chance in 1997, while taking a short cut home from a Los Angeles to Hawaii yacht race. He had steered his craft into the “North Pacific gyre” – a vortex where the ocean circulates slowly because of little wind and extreme high pressure systems. Usually sailors avoid it. He was astonished to find himself surrounded by rubbish, day after day, thousands of miles from land. “Every time I came on deck, there was trash floating by,” he said in an interview. “How could we have fouled such a huge area? How could this go on for a week?”

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/the-worlds-rubbish-dump-a-tip-that-stretches-from-hawaii-to-japan-778016.html

Do read this article Mr Moore warns that unless consumers cut back on their use of disposable plastics, the plastic stew would double in size over the next decade – note the article was written in 2008 so the situation is now most likely worse. Dumping trash particularly plastic is a serious environmental problem.

Plastic is not biodegrdable and will remain polluting our oceans for hundreds of years. Don’t be responsible for the death of millions of animals, stop throwing litter indiscriminately, put it in a trash bin, take it to a designated dump. Stop using plastic bags. Be responsible, garbage is more than unsightly it is a killer. Litter is estimated to kill more than one million seas birds annually and 100,000 mammals and sea turtles each year by ingestion and entanglement. And don’t forget land animals also die as a result of the careless or deliberate discarding of rubbish. Wild birds get their beaks trapped inside can rings and cannot open their beaks and die of starvation, animals get their heads stuck in jars and also starve to death. For more information about the effects of litter on both land and sea animals please read my previous entry here

Look at the photo below in the Durham Dales a wild and remote place designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty AONB

103_9271

Rubbish is thrown from car windows as people travel through the country roads, even walkers throw empty water bottles and cans. Sad they mar the countryside they come to enjoy. Other trash is deliberately dumped by people who are local instead of taking it to the designated council dumps.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA   Above litter discarded on the beach at Winterton Dunes Norfolk UK

This will shock you, if it doesn’t nothing else will:

Once a tropical paradise, the Citarum river on the Indonesian island of Java is now a toxic soup containing dangerously high levels of heavy metals, rubbish and sewage.

slide_345191_3605686_free

Read More and see more photographs:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/04/11/citarum-river-pollution-p_n_5132799.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cuk%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D256981

More information and Action you can take From GreenPeace

What YOU Can Do

We’re all responsible for this mess, and it will take all of us to stop it from getting worse. It’s time to completely rethink how we as a society use (or abuse) plastic.

Here are some things that you can do right now: Every time you see litter, pick it up and dispose of it properly.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — you’ve heard it before, but now you know what happens when you don’t. Be conscious of all that you buy, and be sure to avoid products with excessive packaging, especially in disposable products. Demand more and better recycling facilities in your area.

Take part in local stream, river and beach cleanups – or organize one yourself.

Though these don’t solve the problem, they are very effective at drawing attention to the greater problem offshore.

If you live near the ocean, or a river that drains into it, your storm drains are probably washing garbage right out to sea. Be conscious of potential sources of marine litter in your area. Demand that these are eliminated. Be very conscious of your ecological footprint. Encourage change though your decisions and do no accept the current paradigm of use and waste.

More information: Ocean plastic pollution and how you can help: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/trashing-our-oceans/

Please visit the following website for more ideas

Be a hero – pick up some litter

This is a site for people who want to dosomething about litter. It’s aim is to encourage as many people as possible to pick up litter and promote policies that will stop people littering. In a group or on your own, picking up litter is more than OK, it’s actually an enjoyable, safe and satisfying thing to do.

Five things you can do about litter

Continue reading:

http://www.litterheroes.co.uk/

Related article:

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/oceans/fit-for-the-future/pollution/trash-vortex/

Credit: Winterton Dunes photo: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beach_litter,_Winterton_Dunes_-_geograph.org.uk_-_966905.jpg