Tag Archives: Arms trade profits

Billy King: Rites Again, 317

Billy King shares his monthly thoughts

Hello again – I have a funny-strange attachment to flowers. I look forward to the arrival of certain flowers, daffodils being a particular example partly because they are so significant in spring, and in a very definite kind of way mourn their passing, sad to see them go when they stop flowering. This makes perfect sense in one way and in another, if I am always looking forward to ‘the next’ flowering, this does not make sense because tempus fugit, fecit. Scientists still don’t understand the nature of time and getting our heads around it for ordinary people is a full time occupation, ho ho. Anyway, here are my musings for this point in time –


I received an anonymous letter there some time back. Enclosed in an A4 sized envelope, the contents were photocopied materials with parts marked, seemingly randomly. The address was computer printed, cut out and adhered with clear sticky tape. There was no name or address of the sender. It was also sent to me at at the address of an organisation I am associated with but not the one I am most identified with; no one else at that organisation received a similar letter.

The contents were not the objectionable political views they first seemed to be at a glance – as the letter was passed to me just before the start of a meeting, I didn’t have a chance to study the material in detail there and then though I did remark on its anonymity and my first impression (stated as such) of the contents. In fact the material, while close to conspiracy theory, were not objectionable to me. What was somewhat objectionable was the manner in which I received this missive as an anonymous letter.

There are reasons some things are anonymous, such as candidate identities in exams. This is to create a level playing field and promote fairness so there is less possibility of bias by the person doing the judging, the examiner or marker in the case of an exam. But there is a clear reason for such a process to be anonymous and it is expected to be such. In this case someone was trying to inform me about certain information, and affect my political views, without identifying themselves, or so it would seem. However the haphazard or even random marking of some points in the photocopied documents makes me wonder about the sender’s logicality. I am deliberately not sharing the content of the letter.

This incident is relatively benign, though strange. It did make me wonder though about more aggressive anonymous communications, of whatever sort, which ‘ordinary’ citizens might receive, or media personalities and politicians, particularly through social media. You would have to adopt a thick skin and an effective psychological coping technique. I am fortunately not in that position – it was not a ‘nasty’ letter. Nevertheless I am left wondering as to why I was singled out and what the sender’s intentions were; while I was the only person to receive such a letter at the organisation concerned, the fact that the address was cut out of a computer printed sheet was presumably not only to avoid giving telltale handwriting but it could have been from a sheet full of other addresses elsewhere, people who also received such anonymous material. And some things never get explained.

The strangest thing is if someone had sent me the material with a covering, signed, note I feel I would actually have taken the matters concerned more seriously, and certainly I would have been much less suspicious of the sender’s motivation.

Buy your winter woollies while stocks last

Atlantic currents are what make this neck of the world woods quite temperate (it is other things that can make us intemperate….), what is often referred to as the Gulf Stream – this is part of it but the more comprehensive name is Amoc (Atlantic meridional overturning circulation), a sophisticated interaction going on in the Atlantic. This is what means we don’t have the freezing winter weather of Newfoundland at the same latitude (the system may be running out of latitude…), see e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/feb/09/atlantic-ocean-circulation-nearing-devastating-tipping-point-study-finds?CMP=share_btn_link Amoc is the weakest it has been in a millennium. It is not going to run amock – it is potentially going to shut up shop.

Amoc, which encompasses part of the Gulf Stream and other powerful currents, is a marine conveyer belt that carries heat, carbon and nutrients from the tropics towards the Arctic Circle, where it cools and sinks into the deep ocean. This churning helps to distribute energy around the Earth and modulates the impact of human-caused global heating.”

Arctic and Greenland melt water is seriously affecting Amoc and recent scientific analysis indicates it could collapse in a short period of time and “changes are irreversible on human timescales”. It would have negative effects worldwide and Europe would be colder and less wet. In some parts of the Atlantic the sea level would rise by a metre, flooding many cities.

Like I say, maybe you should stock up on your winter woollies while stocks last. All this is of course brought to you by human action (incompetence?) and the resultant global heating. Oh the irony of that human stupidity, global warming could make us colder in our neck of the freezing woods…..and another thing to worry about as our heating up goes globe-trotting.

Not a Troubles-era loyalist group – but harmful nevertheless

No, it is not a positive entity, a French peace group, the Union Pacifiste de France, or even a Northern loyalist group, the Ulster Protestant Force. ‘UPF’ in this context stands for something dangerous in a different way; Ultra Processed Foods. These are industrially produced fast foods containing lots of additives, emulsifiers, flavourings, saturated fat, sugar and salt.

Research has shown that they are dangerous for human health (if tested on mice, not that I am advocating that, I am sure it would do them harm as well) with 32 negative health effects. See e.g. https://www.irishtimes.com/health/2024/02/29/ultra-processed-food-linked-to-32-harmful-effects-to-health-review-finds/ The findings have been published in the British Medical Journal and are based on pooling research from studies of a massive number of people. One conclusion is that “Greater exposure to ultra-processed food was associated with a higher risk of adverse health outcomes, especially cardiometabolic, common mental disorders and mortality outcomes.”

Still you get totally fatuous and self-interested comments like the CEO of Kellogg’s in the States (earning upwards of $5 million a year) saying poor people could eat packet cereal for their dinner; he certainly isn’t, and analysis showed it wasn’t necessarily a cheap option and certainly not a healthy one.

Removing the health dangers here requires a multi-faceted approach. Indirect state control of what the food industry can produce is only one approach. Education is another necessity including about speedy, healthy and economical food options and food preparation where one prepared ingredient can quickly be turned into another meal, or one dish be used (including being frozen) for several meals. But this is certainly not all. People may choose ultra processed foods for a variety of reasons but poverty and work pressures are certainly a major part of the issue. Dealing with the last requires societal change and greater financial equity. So things are as not simple as telling people their dietary habits are unhealthy.

Down in arms

In these straitened (crooked?) times it is good to see some companies thriving, particularly in a recession-hit country like Britain where Brexit has put a hex on business. Indeed one company has near record profits and its shares have doubled in the last couple of years, since February 2022……..oh wait, what happened then? Oh, yes, the full scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia. And what is the company? BAE. Yes, it’s an arms company and international uncertainty after the wars in Ukraine and Gaza is leading to boom times (literally and metaphorically) for such companies – I am not being serious above in welcoming BAE’s thriving. The arms industry projects itself as productive employers but in fact they soak up massive amounts of government money and produce less employment per unit of money than virtually anything else.

Meanwhile, and shamefully, the Irish arms industry is actively encouraged by the Irish government to develop, and said industry are also adept at lobbying https://www.ontheditch.com/pro-militarisation-group/ And moving a bit north, British Ministry of Defence spending in Northern Ireland increased by 20% in 2023 to £190m, most of that being for the NLAW missile system which is manufactured by Thales in Belfast. INNATE has a new poster available on the arms race https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Arms-are-for-hugging.pdf

That’s your just desserts for now (just deserts are what we get with global heating), and I will see you again in another month, at Easter time, Billy. l