The Palestinian Issue – Questions & Answers

Once again, I refer to the website Neturei Karta International, with the intention of spreading the word, and reducing violence where possible. The original text is taken from here:-

http://www.nkusa.org/books/pamphlets/pamphlet3.cfm

Series B – Pamphlet No. 3

Q – Is it true that Neturei Karta International supports Palestinian sovereignty over all of the Holy Land?

A – Our answer is, unequivocally, yes. However, this answer requires some prior explanation. We are an anti – Zionist, Orthodox organization. Our quarrel with Zionism exists on many levels. First, by establishing a state in Palestine which is forbidden according to Jewish law, it denies the Divine punishment inherent in the Jewish people’s exile and seeks to remedy what is essentially a spiritual state by this worldly means. Second, it has devoted much of its energy to the uprooting of traditional Torah faith. Third, it has committed a grievous moral evil in its treatment of the Palestinian people.

Q – What do you advocate?

A – We demand, without compromise, the peaceful dismantling of the Israeli state. As to whether or how many Jews may remain there once this process is completed, that decision is totally up to the Palestinian leaders and people.

Q – Aren’t you afraid what this might result in for the Jews living in the Land?

A – Actually, we fear far more for the Jews in the present hopeless situation. After 53 years, five wars, endless terror and counter terror, innocent civilians dead on both sides, there is no solution in sight. Both the Israeli right and left have failed miserably to rectify this situation. We are offering an alternative to what is clearly a tragic experiment.

Q – But don’t Jews deserve a homeland?

A – No Torah faithful Jew in the 1900 years of our people’s exile believed that we should seek to reclaim the land by military means. Instead, they believed that at the end of days, when the Creator chooses to redeem all mankind then all peoples will join in the worship of Him. This will not require the subjugation or dispossession of peoples. It will be a time of universal brotherhood with its spiritual in the Holy Land. Until then the Jewish people have a particular task in exile.

Q – And what might that be?

A – To accept in faith their exile. And, by word and deed, quietly and unobtrusively, to act as moral and spiritual paragons. And, in general to attend to G-d’s service via Torah study, prayer and good deeds.

Q – How do you view the Palestinian people?

A – They are the victims of the Zionist movement’s moral blindness and obstinate refusal to take into account the existence of peoples other than themselves. The Palestinian people have a right to their homeland. And they have a right to financial restitution for property loss and damages inflicted upon them over the past decades.

Q – What efforts have you brought to this cause?

A – We have frequently published statements in support of Palestinian claims and in sympathy with their suffering. We have joined Palestinians in protest against the abuses that they have been subject to. We have, in general, attempted to maintain a public presence in both the Jewish and Islamic world in order that the venerable tradition of Jewish, Torah based anti – Zionism be not forgotten.

Q – What is your opinion on the peace process, Oslo accords and similar efforts?

A – Any Jewish support for the suffering Palestinian people is a step in the right direction practically and evidence of a moral conscience which every Jew should have. However, we believe that all these plans, although they may be well intentioned, are doomed to failure. Jews are forbidden to exercise political sovereignty over the Hold Land. They are called upon to seek peace with all men. The Zionist enterprise is metaphysically doomed to moral and practical failure.

Q – What should be the Jewish approach to the Islamic world?

A – Jews are called upon to deal ethically and honestly with all men. This is our task as a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Zionism has misled many Jews into acts of aggression against the Palestinian people. Therefore, it behooves all Jews, as best we can, to rectify this situation by seeking peace, reconciliation and dialogue when dealing with Palestinian people and all Islamic nations. This is one of the great spiritual tests confronting the Jewish people – to establish a moral relationship with their Islamic brethren.

Q – Realistically speaking, does your program have any chance of implementation?

A – First, the Creator runs the world and with Him all things are possible. Second, there is a tremendous sense of disillusionment and exhaustion among Jews world wide with the Israeli state and Zionism in general. Many realize that following Zionist principles leads to one dead end after another. They are longing for another solution. Our solution, which is simply the ancient tradition of the Torah, is appearing increasingly plausible to many and may, in the not too distant future, with the help of the Creator, carry the day until then we hope and pray that no more innocent blood be shed, be it Jewish or Arab. We yearn for the day when many will come to realize that the only real path to peace lies in the Jewish people returning to their true task in exile, the undivided service of G-d and devotion to morality, integrity and honesty.

Have a computer? Want to help?

Have you ever aspired to effecting change? It is true that most of us are not able to change very much – it just does not lie within our power. But when we start to add people together to become a group, and exert influence to increase the size of the group, we will eventually reach a point where the group becomes influential in a larger sphere.

Social_media_activist

This is exactly what we are trying to do as Social Media Activists, and the ones I am working with are working for the Green Party. And we want to change the UK for the better!

An astounding 2000+ supporters have already joined this group! If we could triple this figure we could reach millions of voters with our message before the General Election.

facebook-64
twitter-64

Why the Green Party?

Its partly the people, and partly the program they are presenting. Another factor is that the old parties have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that they do not govern in the interest of the people at all, and this means that democracy is not working!

We can do better than that, with the right people in charge. Let’s put them there!

Its time to go Green!

The More I Know about the Greens …

The structure may be a little unusual, in that there are two Deputy Leaders of the Green Party, but when you realise that two heads are better than one, especially when each is covering different aspects of the situation, it all makes perfect sense.

You don’t have to take my word for it!

Shahrar Ali

The second Deputy Leader is Shahrar Ali, and his speech to the Liverpool Conference was as follows:-

“I want to talk about Climate Change and Leadership – Green Leadership.

Warming of the climate system is happening:

  • 0.8 degrees rise in Earth’s temperature since the pre-industrial era.
  • 9 out of 10 of the hottest years on record since 2000.
  • 2 degrees the point at which catastrophic change is more likely than not.
  • Carry on business as usual and we can reach that point by mid-century!
  • (Some say we have already reached the point-of-no-return due to a lag in the system.)

Perhaps these facts are too alarming. Perhaps we’d rather not think about or do anything with them. To the contrary, what’s alarming is the indecision, inaction and bogus priorities betrayed by our leaders.

Climate change denial would have Vote Blue-Go Green-Cameron fly over to the Arctic in 2007 for photo op with huskies. I wonder whether that patch of ice still exists?

Climate change denial would have them plough another £30bn into road building schemes and promote airport expansion instead of affordable public transport and investment in walking and cycling.

Climate change denial would have the government invite tenders for fracking as a viable source of energy generation – fossil fuel intensive, and contaminating the water table.

Climate change denial would have our leaders promote pre-Christmas sales hype in order to boost the economy. What am I bid for flat-screen TV on Asda Black Friday? Carbon production exported to China then imported back here to massage our EU carbon allowances! Riots expected! Cha-ching!

Climate change is a justice issue. 600,000 deaths occur worldwide every year because of it. 95% of these deaths take place in developing countries.

The double injustice of Bangladeshis in low-lying coastal areas being made to suffer the negative consequences of sea-level rises due to the West’s overconsumption – that they are both least responsible for and least able to afford the remedial action to contend with.

Climate change denial is to give ourselves targets and set some new ones when the earlier ones have already been missed. What am I bid? 20% by 2020? 80% by 2050? Using 1980 levels or 1990 levels?

Greens are the only game in town to counteract climate change denial. We’ve been talking about it from the get-go-Green, with joined-up policies on energy generation and efficiency, transport and waste, and doing about it as elected Greens. Our councillors in Kirklees initiated a free home insulation programme for 30,000 homes, reducing energy waste and saving households on average £150 per annum.

The UK is the third lowest producer of renewable energy in the EU. Just look how much unharnessed wind, wave and solar we have at our disposal! Do the real security needs of the UK lie in £100bn Trident renewal? No. Greens say new renewable energy industries could be set up in the same area and use the same skills and resources as the existing arms industries: such as conversion of shipbuilding plant to wave power or aerospace to wind power.

Greens understand that the bottom line isn’t the bottom line. We need to fix the broken economy not round the edges, but wholesale. Currency is a convention that currently exacerbates inequality in society. Labour and ConDems printed money out of a politicised Bank of England – only to ease the bankers and brokers’ liability for their own casino-style fleecing of our savings.

We need a carbon-based currency that promotes stewardship of the Earth in our every transaction, backed up by our responsibility to the other species we share this beautiful planet with and the future generations that aren’t around yet to press their entitlements upon us.

We have presided over the fetishisation of Keynesian economics and pursuit of endless growth like there’s no tomorrow. Yet there is a contradiction at the heart of this goal, even in the reflective minds of those most succumbing to it. The more you earn the more you think you can’t afford what you really need. That can’t be because you don’t have more stuff. It is because you’ve generated increasingly insatiable desires to substitute for the ones that have already been satisfied. For in-built redundancy read in-built neurotic trap. The American dream becomes a nightmare.

What is to be our legacy as a human race? The despoliation of the invaluable, irreplaceable species we share this planet with, including our own? For the sake of austerity debt-finance? There is nothing more painful than an uninhabitable planet.

Green leadership goes well beyond electoral politics and is required now more than ever. It is not practiced only by the named leaders. To the contrary it is lived by us all. We reject the hierarchical structure of leaders and cheerleaders. It is said good leaders create good leaders. This is nearly right – the truth is there is leadership in all of us and we need to create the conditions to help bring that about.

Green politics is a full time job. But not quite a job; it’s a way of life. With apologies to the Working Time Directive, we don’t know how to take time off. We are driven by the need to restore health to this planet. Ours is a collective calling. Therein lies our duty and what kind of leader does it make us? You need only to be Green. Empowerment and Ownership. Not control and power over.

Alice, a new member writes of her first party meeting, “I felt as I was listening that this was a party where the power was surging up from the grassroots, rather than from the top down. . . It’s exciting to think of wave after wave of competent new people coming into the party, and building it up with them.”

I doubt Alice would want the leader who boasts, in 2003, “Even if I’m the only person left saying it, I’m going to say it. I may be wrong in believing it but I do believe it.” Yes, Tony, you were the only person left saying it. There were no WMD, or even weapons-of-mass-destruction-programme-related-activities: add-your-favourite-evidence-base-extension. Blood on your hands. No apology. War crimes tribunal over your head!

Or do you want the leader who claims to want to rise above personal attacks, yet dispenses these on a daily basis upon migrants? Yes, Farage, you are quite right that you would not make a good Prime Minister. If ice-melt causes the Gulf stream to divert and the UK gets plunged into sub-Arctic temperature, we will all be the new migrants.

Or do you want the MPs who won’t get out of bed for less than £69k? Cash for access: Cha-ching! What’s all this about us having to pay more for decent MPs. The opposite is the case. I rather suppose that were you to offer the average national wage, you would get substantially improved intake to Parliament. Let us however attempt job share MPs, to help bring a greater diversity of people into Parliament – on the Eve of International Women’s Day.

Green leaders all around. Thank you Chis Southall in Clacton! Thank you Abi Jackson in Middleton! Thank you Clive Gregory in Rochester! You did the Party proud in unforgiving by-election territory. Good luck Darren Hall in Bristol West! Good luck Lesley Grahame in Norwich South! Good luck Caroline in Brighton! Let’s make it happen!

I was asked by a friend which time and place would I choose to be born into. Let that time be right here, right now!

We cannot change the trajectory of our past, but let us shape the destiny of our tomorrow.”

These people really are making sense!

The Greens are Making Sense!

I have been watching the progress towards the election in the UK with some interest, and am very pleased to see that the Green party is sending an eminently sensible message which is attracting a big surge in party membership.

I find this very gratifying, for there needs to be a valid alternative to the proven failures of the Conservative and Labour parties (New, or otherwise).

And now a name that I am not familiar with comes to the fore:- Amelia Womack, who is the Green Party’s Deputy Leader. After reading the speech she made at the party conference, I am perfectly confident that she is a great addition to the party leadership, which is at the moment predominantly female.

I will let you all be the judge of that. Here is the speech she made at the conference in Liverpool on March 7th:-

Amelia_Womack

“It is a great privilege to be here, as your deputy leader, at the biggest conference this party has ever seen.

And it’s great to be here in Liverpool – Although my initial inspiration about the importance of our environment and communities came from Wales where I was born and grew up, it was right here in Liverpool – where I studied at University – that my passion for environmental and social justice was truly formed.

Just over seven years ago, a bank called Lehman Brothers collapsed on the other side of the Atlantic. Its collapse was due to an unaccountable and broken system in which greed flourished and bankers were answerable to no-one.

Yet, far from triggering a radical overhaul of our economic order, the financial crash was used as a springboard to further the interests of the wealthiest and most powerful members of our society.

Sky high levels of inequality have continued to plague our communities.

Government cuts have hit the most vulnerable, while the richest have become richer.

We now live in a country as defined by our foodbanks as we are by our football – as known for our tax avoidance as we are for our tea.

We live in a country where the majority of people have been forced to pay for a crisis that they did not cause.

And we live in a country where those at the top, and the multinational companies – still don’t pay their fair share of tax – while those at the bottom experience cuts, sanctions and attacks on public services.

Let’s be clear. Times have been tough – and this government has only made things tougher. The so-called good news from this week: that ‘Britain is back on track’ – simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

Average incomes lower than in 2010. Wages for young people down 7.6% since 2007. That isn’t a recovery. That is a resounding failure.

But, we are here today – and in record numbers – because we know that there is hope.

I have hope today, not just because this party offers the bold solutions we desperately need – but also because of all of you who have come to this venue and who will play such a vital part in shaping our policy, debating our direction and building our campaign in the weeks to come.

Because without you, the fifty five thousand members of this growing movement, we wouldn’t be where we are today – higher than ever in the polls pushing to win more seats at the general election and ready to change British politics – and to change it for good.

To those of you who joined recently – and there are many of you here today – Welcome.

Welcome to the fastest growing political movement in England and Wales, welcome to a party that puts you – the members – at the centre of our decision making.

Welcome to the only party fighting in these elections that can truly be called democratic, open, and accountable.

There is much work to be done. At this election we have more doors to knock on than ever before, in more constituencies than ever before. We have the chance of a generation to show that things can be done differently – but we can only do that with the help of each and every one of you.

We won’t win record results at this election through hard work alone. We will win more votes than ever because we are the only party standing for bold steps to cure the sickness in our economy, and in our politics.

At the heart of my politics and at the core of what this party stands for, are certain truths:

– That the market should serve people, not rule over them.

– That public services – Our NHS, Our Universities, Our Schools – should be run for the common good – and that we should pay for them together.

– That the planet is not ours to exploit; we have a duty to protect and conserve it for future generations.

And I have hope today because this Party, and this party only, continues to offer the opposition that others have failed to muster. This moment in our history, when our country runs the risk of being turned over to private interests and sold to the highest bidder – is no moment for half measures.

That’s why we will always be bold in our policies – and be honest about who is going to foot the bill.

That’s why today I can confirm that our manifesto will include a commitment to free Undergraduate University education, paid for through general, progressive taxation. Because when we say that education is a public good – we mean it.

And that’s why our manifesto will be honest about the fact that that we want the richest in society to contribute more. We’re not afraid of speaking about taxation. We are committed to a higher rate of income tax, we are committed to raising more money from corporations and we are committed to using the money raised to narrow the Victorian levels of inequality in this country.

And it’s because we are bold that we will go into this election with a clear commitment to end the multi-billion pound waste of taxpayers’ money that is Trident.

We’re not calling for a review

We do not want a consultation

We want nuclear weapons off our shores and consigned to the dustbin of history.

These next two months are not going to be easy. But if we are to send one message out from this conference, a message to be printed on every flyer, a message to be heard at every door upon which we knock – let it be this; that business-as-usual politics is coming to an end.

Let it be that we will vote for our values, for what we believe in. Let it be that at this election we will not stand by whilst our supporters are told to vote for simply the ‘least bad option’.

The politics of the future does not, and it will not, look like the politics of the past.

Whilst I am filled with hope as I stand here today, I am also fearful. We have emerged from the last crisis a weaker, poorer nation – with our public goods hanging by a thread. But the fact is that the next crisis could be just around the corner.

Despite many tales of lessons being learnt we still have an economy that relies far too heavily on the speculators of The City of London. We have record levels of household debt. And we have the looming threat of a climate crisis.

It is not just the mistakes of the past which need fixing – we need to secure our future too.

We have much to prove. Each of us, whether we’re in conversation with our friends or on the BBC News, we all have a role in showing that this party is the party of hope.

That this party is one which stands for fairness and equality, not just now but for generations to come.

That this party, will never blame a crisis of capitalism on the most vulnerable members of our communities.

We go into this election bigger and bolder than ever before, and with the greatest opportunity in a generation to shake up our political landscape for the better.

I don’t know about you, but I really feel like we are on the cusp of something, the cusp of change, the cusp of opportunity, the point at which business-as-usual politics has the potential to be shaken up like never before. Together, as a growing party, working on the doorsteps across this nation, we can make history.

I am impressed, very impressed!

JUDAISM AND ZIONISM ARE NOT THE SAME THING!

In fact, it is even more complicated than that, with Jews, Israelis and Zionists, with subdivisions in each category. However, as the intention is to try to reduce random acts of antisemitism, we might just find that sticking to just the two classifications will suffice.

The following text, and the title above, are taken verbatim from the web page –
http://www.nkusa.org/AboutUs/Zionism/judaism_isnot_zionism.cfm

We would like to take a few minutes of your time to prevent you from making a terrible mistake that may have disastrous results for many.

You have always without a doubt heard and read much about the political crises in the Middle East in which the State of Israel plays a central role. This is, in fact, an ongoing series of crises with potential to bring the greatest misfortune on the entire world. Tragically many believe that Zionism and Judaism are identical. Thus they conclude that the entire Jewish people is responsible for the actions of the Zionist government and the world crises which emanates from it.

This is a Grave Error!

The truth is that the Jewish faith and Zionism are two very different philosophies. They are as opposite as day and night. The Jewish people have existed for thousands of years. In their two thousand years of Divinely decreed exile no Jew ever sought to end this exile and establish independent political sovereignty anywhere. The people’s sole purpose was the study and fulfillment of the Divine commandments of the Torah.

The Zionist movement created the Israeli state. The latter is a persuasion less than one hundred years old. Its essential goal was and is to change the nature of the Jewish people from that of a religious entity to a political movement. From Zionism’s inception the spiritual leaders of the Jewish people stood in staunch opposition to it.

To this day Torah Jewry remains forever loyal to its faith. Zionists want the world to believe that they are the representatives of the entire Jewish people. This is false! The Jewish people never chose them as their leaders.

The Zionists have deceived many well meaning Jewish people via terror, trickery and false propaganda. They have at their disposal the use of a nearly universally subservient media. Whoever attempts to criticize them puts his livelihood and, at times, his very life in danger.

However, despite the media blackout and easy resort to terror the simple truth remains unrefuted and irrefutable:-
ACCORDING TO THE JEWISH FAITH AND TORAH LAW THE JEWISH PEOPLE ARE FORBIDDEN TO HAVE THEIR OWN STATE WHILE AWAITING THE MESSIANIC ERA!

The Creator gave us the Holy Land thousands of years ago. Yet, when we sinned, He took it away and sent us into exile. Since that time our task is to wait for Him to send the Messiah. At that time, the Creator alone, without any human being lifting a hand or saying a word, will bring us together and take us out of exile. He will likewise establish universal peace among all mankind and all will serve Him in good will.

Some religious Jews, confused by Zionist propaganda quote Biblical verses that state that God gave the children of Israel the Holy Land. They overlook, unfortunately, those verses which say that He took it away due to our sins. They further ignore those prophecies which explicitly describe the last exile’s conclusion as a Divine, not a human process.

The Creator has commanded every Jew to follow the ways of peace and to be loyal to the country where he lives.

Torah true Jewry waits patiently for the Messianic redemption. They have nothing to do with any kind of pseudo “Jewish State” and its aggressions against other peoples. They have a deep sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians who have suffered the most from Zionism’s false teachings and barbaric actions.

The Zionist state is not a Jewish state. The Zionists alone are the only ones responsible for their actions. Authentic Jewry has and will continue to oppose the very existence of this blasphemous state.

May all mankind witness the true redemption.

Copyright 2003, Neturei Karta International

Want your own Owl? Here’s how!

I came across a web page entitled “Owl bar is London’s latest ‘just one thing’ hip bar”, which has a picture of a dear little owl on somebody’s shoulder. It really looked so cute, I wanted a copy of the picture myself, but when I did the customary right-click to start the copy sequence, I had a surprise:-

The picture was suddenly enclosed in a ‘light-box’. Its a relatively new device that enables you to sequence through all the pictures on a web page in turn, without being distracted by text.

In this case, however, there was a problem. Although there was a total of 6 pictures of different owls on the page, somebody had screwed up. Only one picture was available in the light-box – and that was the one I wanted.

Well, I didn’t want a copy of a light-box, just the owl; so I did what I usually do under such circumstances – look behind the scenes.

Although I use Opera, other browsers will have the same facility. “Ctrl – U” (View Source) takes you to a new page where you can see the source code that your browser is rendering for you.

Now we use the browser’s “Find” facility in this page to look for pictures. Its simple enough; you just put the extension for a picture into the search facility – that would be ‘jpg’, ‘gif’ or ‘png’ usually. In this particular page, the ‘Find’ facility indicated that there were 72 occurrences of ‘jpg’. I was lucky, I only had to step through to the third to find what I wanted:- the url of my chosen owl picture!

When you paste this url into a new tab in your browser, you can download the picture alone – no web page, no light-box – nothing. Then your usual right-click procedure will let you save the picture.

Here is the result:-
owl

I think there is something magic about owls, you might even say wizard?

Whatever, they really are a hoot!

The Best Deal in Town!

You may have noticed a new panel in the right-hand column entitled “Like Music?”

I am a recent convert to the wonders of “Spotify”. Its a never-ending source of free music, as long as you are connected to the Internet. It has been available for some time now, of course, but I have only recently (in the last two weeks) decided to see what it is all about.

Well, I’m completely sold!

What’s not to like?

Stream any song, anywhere. Listen to millions of songs on your mobile phone. Browse for a playlist, create your own playlists, search for an artist or a specific track. Skip a song if you don’t like it. Its really easy to handle the program. And if you don’t want advertisements, go for the Premium version!

Spotify

I love music. I used to have about 12 Gigs of it saved on my hard drive. Unfortunately, when the flood hit the computer, the hard drive died, and my music went with it.

I don’t have problems like that any more with Spotify! I don’t have any storage requirement at all, but have free access to millions of songs. And when I found out that I could hook Spotify into my website, I just had to try it out.

Ok, so you may not like the choice of music. No problem, get your own!

If you would like me to change it to a different tune, just let me know! I only heard this one recently, and I liked it straight away. I don’t know if that has anything to do with having read the books. More of this in another post later, perhaps. It seems that the film “50 Shades of Grey” has become rather controversial, there’s already a campaign to boycott the film. We’ll see how that develops, but in the meantime, we can enjoy the music.

Anyhow, if you are interested in getting the App yourself, just click on the picture above, it will take you straight to their website.

Happy Listening!

Too Important to Miss!

This is a real eye-opener. I just had to re-blog it!

App lets you be eyes for the blind

ByBIGAD SHABAN CBS NEWS

Whether he’s making his way down some stairs, or down the block, Julian Vargas can find his way just about anywhere. The 45-year-old has been blind most of his life and enjoys being independent, but says there are moments when he — and others who are visually impaired — need help.

“When we are trying to get some information or detail that’s only available visually, we’ll joke around and say does anyone have a pair of eyes I can borrow right now?”

A new, free app for smart phones, called Be My Eyes, aims to solve that problem. Using a phone’s already built-in accessibility features, blind users can run their fingers over their phone to pull up the app, which then uses the phone’s camera and microphone to get instantly connected to sighted volunteers.

Vargas spent an afternoon with CBS News correspondent Bigad Shaban to demonstrate how it works.

After entering his local pharmacy, Vargas used his phone to access the app, which then started calling volunteer Elvira Medina.

“How can I help you today?” Medina said over the phone.

“I’m not as familiar with the aisles here, so I was thinking you could maybe be my eyes and help me find some things I need?” Vargas replied.

He then pointed his phone’s camera in front of him, as Medina navigated him through the store.

Since the app launched last month, Medina has helped blind users locate medicine, figure out expiration dates, and even learn about art.

“Just someone curious walking the hall, touching a frame and wondering what the picture is,” Medina said. “A guy called me up to see how his sunglasses looked, one day. So I told him he looked great and he rocked them. So, it’s small things like that.”

The idea for Be My Eyes came from a 50-year-old furniture maker in Denmark who started losing his vision.

The service is available in 80 languages. So far, more than 115,000 volunteers have signed up to help the roughly 10,000 visually-impaired people who have enrolled.

If a sighted volunteer happens to be busy when they get a call from the app, they can simply hit a button on their phone so that another volunteer is contacted instead.

Vargas says it’s making an impact you don’t have to see to believe. And as for the volunteers: “They’re giving us something that we need the most at that given second — a pair of eyes.”

To learn more about the app, you can visit
http://www.BeMyEyes.org

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Get the app!

Open their eyes!

Spread the word!

The Death of a Website!

It is sad to see a website change in such a negative way that it becomes an unpleasant experience to visit it. When this happens to a website that was one of the best in its class, it is even more tragic. Unfortunately, exactly that has happened to my favourite news site:-
The Guardian.
Guardian

This is not only my personal opinion. If you go to
“Welcome to the new Guardian website”
the comment labelled “Guardian Pick” says most of it in a nutshell:-

“As a Grauniad reader for over 40 years and a daily website user/consumer, I agree with many of the negative comments, most of which are much better articulated than I could manage. The new design generally feels awkward, unenticing, and hard to navigate – no longer a newspaper with a front page, headlines, and sections any more. I guess that’s the point, but I’m sad to see it go and will undoubtedly spend a lot less time on it after these awful changes. That said, the first thing I was able to find was the crossword!”

And flicking through the 69 pages of comments which accumulated before commenting was turned off, the above comment is accurate, but very mildly stated compared to some.

Where did it all go wrong?

I have tried to pinpoint some relevant factors, as I see them, and will offer them as clues. But first, I need to clarify one point:-

In my experience, engineers want a full set of documentation for anything they are working on in the smallest format possible. The back of a cigarette packet would be good, the back of a postage stamp would be even better!

How is this relevant to a website?

Well, if we think about the home page, and its function, we realise that it is nothing other than a list of contents. It may look a bit fancy to make it attractive, but its function is to convey in the quickest method possible what is available on the rest of the site.

If we couple that with the requirement for minimum area, we end up with a single page, with everything listed on it. Ok, it might well be a long page that you have to scroll down, but the main thing is there is no need to click on anything, or fiddle around. Apart from the scrolling, it is not interactive – it doesn’t need to be. After all, we are not playing a computer game; we are reading a page of text, for goodness sake, interspersed with pictures!

The old Guardian site was pretty well organised. There were three main columns. I would sweep down the page scanning the first column on the left, looking for topics of interest. If I found something, I would load that in a new tab in the browser, and continue on down. When I reached the bottom of the page, I would scroll upward, checking the centre column for items of interest. The third column I could mostly ignore, as I have no interest in sport, etc.

Often I didn’t need to scroll right down the page. The practice of moving older items further down from the top meant that as soon as I had reached an item that I had already seen I could scroll back up again in the next column.

The whole process was quite quick, unless there was a lot of interesting material at one time. But even so, once I had loaded up my various tabs, I could disconnect from the site altogether, and leave it free for someone else.

So right from the start there is a mismatch:- The Guardian wants me to spend longer on their site, and I want to spend as little time there as possible.

While I appreciate that the requirement to present content to devices of differing size and capability may present some problems, they are by no means insurmountable, as we can see by this blog. The theme is designed to be read equally well on a desktop computer, a tablet, or a mobile phone. I don’t have to take any notice of who is using what at all. I just write the content and post it.

The same should be true of the Guardian website, but unfortunately, with the new version, it is not.

The reason for this is that the new site is slanted in favour of the mobile phone, with its very small display area. Containers may be a perfectly good way of dealing with presentation here, but they are certainly not needed for a desktop display, as we already know that a single page presentation offers the best experience. I have no experience of using a tablet as yet, and so will have to reserve judgement on that.

So we see that the limitations of the mobile phone have dictated the format of the whole site, which means that the advantages of having a desktop computer have been thrown away.

While I appreciate the desire to move everything onto a single code base, this does not mean that the data so stored cannot be presented differently for different types of device. The data just needs to be filtered three different ways:- mobile, tablet and desktop.

Much is made of the new faster download time, which might mean that the data is in your computer a few seconds earlier. It does not mean, however, that you will find what you are looking for quicker – you won’t. The difficulty of finding things with the new layout far outweighs the saving in download time.

Note also that although you can’t see everything that has been downloaded on a single page, as before, the data has already been downloaded – even for the sections that you may have switched off because you have no interest in them. This means that you are consuming more bandwidth than necessary, which may involve a cost penalty.

I could continue to pick out individual aspects that cause irritation, but instead I will just state that while a responsive site may be perfect for a mobile, or even a tablet, it is of no value whatsoever on a desktop computer, where instead of helping it can only hinder.

I sincerely hope that the Guardian will realise that there is an easy fix for desktop computer users –
GO BACK TO THE OLD SITE FORMAT!

At one stroke, you will make more than 41 million people very happy!

A Greener World is Coming!

Ofcom’s refusal to recommend air-time for the Green party has caused some major repercussions, among them a boost in Green Party membership of more than 2000 in one day.
Twibbon

The green surge is continuing, with Twibbons being added to people’s avatars for advertising at the micro level.

MyTwibbon

I have my very own Twibbon now.

A Twibbon, however, is no justification for joining a political party – there has to be more than that!

And exactly that is what I found at http://camstocks.org/medic-just-joined-green-party/, which is why I am re-blogging the whole article here:-

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In less than 4 months, the UK will have a new government.

If you believe the papers, the Conservatives will lose seats to UKIP, Labour will edge forward and the Lib Dem’s will be annihilated. We’ll end up with another mish-mash government, punishing the poor and dismantling public services. It doesn’t have to happen that way.

This evening I joined the Green Party.

I had never considered joining a political party until now. That does not mean that I am politically disengaged: quite the opposite. I’ve always tried to stick to debating policy, and keep away from party politics. But today I realised that is not enough; unless there is a change, the pendulum will swing and we’ll have a Labour-led government. Aka, something only slightly better than the current lot.

Here’s why I joined:

I believe in Social Justice, and so do the Greens. The ConDems have proven that they’re about as progressive as Hyacinth Bu-cket, and Labour aren’t far behind. They claim to have reformed, but I don’t buy it.

The Greens are the most trustworthy party for the NHS. Unlike Labour (who want to make the NHS the “preferred market provider“), the Greens have pledged to reverse NHS privatisation where they can. I won’t even bother with the other three parties…

They will stop the cuts and austerity. “Red Ed” wants to carry on…

A genuine living wage for workers. Labour say they will too, but it’s a bit of a joke if we’re still crippled by our rent, health and transport costs and university debt.

University will be free to attend if the Greens have their way. Remember, it was Labour that introduced tuition fees.

The Greens will build affordable housing, rather than demolishing it to rebuild and out-price existing residents, which is what everybody else seems to be keen on.

They will cut subsidies to fossil fuels and fracking, supporting British industry with a wave of new renewable energy projects, and reducing our reliance on imported oil and gas. Denmark and Germany have done it, why are we clinging to the old ways?

Cap bankers’ bonuses. Need I say more? They have a clear commitment to supporting the 99%.

Renationalise the railways, and build local trains and trams. This has been Labour party policy forever, but they don’t seem too keen to act on it.

The Greens are the only party against TTIP, the massive secret trade deal between the USA and Europe, which could leave every Briton £3000 worse off, cement NHS Privatisation and many, many other things…

For balance, here are headline Green Party policies that I do not support:

A blanket ban on animal testing.

Nuclear energy. Nuclear weapons are completely insane, but I think nuclear energy could still have a place in society.

Heard enough? Fancy joining me?

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The above thoughts echo my own feelings fairly closely. I will say that I am very pleased that UKIP has done so well so far. Something was badly needed to shake off the complacency of the old two-party system in the UK, and Nigel Farage was the man to do it. Having said that, I do not see UKIP as a government in itself, as there are certainly aspects of its manifesto that I do not agree with.

The Green party, on the other hand, seem much more realistic, have a professional approach to the problems, and a pretty reasonable manifesto, as far as I could see:-

Housing
Reform housing benefit to give greater help to poorer tenants and to prevent eviction or repossession of either private tenants or homeowners

Cannabis
Possession, trade and cultivation of cannabis would be immediately decriminalised. Trade in cannabis would be examined by a Royal Commission, with a view to establishing a fully legalised and regulated trade

Genetic engineering
Moratorium on the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment and on the importation of food and feed containing GMOs, pending comprehensive assessment of the technology’s safety

Farming
Phase out all “factory farming” and support a transition to small, free-range units, mixed rotational farming and extensive grazing. Would ban battery farming of poultry

Food
Minimise transport of food and other agricultural products by supporting local food distribution and pressing for transport costs, especially air freight, to fully reflect environmental impact

Immigration
Rules would be “based on the principle of fair and prompt treatment of applicants rather than on excluding dishonest applicants whatever the cost to the honest ones”

Railways
Bring railway network back into public hands as franchises expire or if companies break the terms of their agreements

Education
Money would be allocated to schools according to their needs rather than their status. Schools which remain in the private sector would be classed as businesses, have all charitable status removed and pay taxes

Health
Accuses Labour and Tory governments of introducing privatisation by stealth into the NHS. Pledges to “maintain a publicly funded, publicly provided health service”

Energy
Targets and timetables for improving efficiency and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions across all sectors. Wants electricity use to be reduced by a third by 2020, by half by 2030 and two-thirds by 2050

Pensions
End pensioner poverty by introducing a weekly “citizen’s pension” of £170 for a single person and £300 for a couple

Wages
National minimum wage to be lifted to living-wage levels and to reach £10 an hour by 2020. Would also “curb boardroom excesses” by linking salaries at the top of companies to pay at the bottom

Taxes
Wealth tax of up to 2 per cent on the assets of 300,000 people who are worth more than £3m, the country’s richest 1 per cent

Education
Look for the Education.pdf document on their website at http://policy.greenparty.org.uk – impressive!

The choice is ultimately yours, of course, but I have no faith in any of the Conservatives, Lib-Dems or Labour. Cameron cannot be trusted, and constantly makes u-turns. Clegg cannot be trusted either, as he broke a pledge to keep university education free. And Milliband I just don’t see as Prime Minister material. None of these parties will pledge to keep privatisation out of the NHS.

Lets have Spring a little early this year, and make it a greener world now!

I really would like to see somebody commit to getting rid of Trident! Any takers?