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On this day in 1997: Princess Diana triggers landmine row



Government ministers were angered in 1997 after the Princess called for an international ban on landmines after seeing victims in Angola. With news that a Yorkshire arms broker has been convicted for illegal arms trades and a massive increase in EU arms sales, is it not time that the arms trade is far more tightly controlled and suitable for divestment?

There are three core roles for government; external security, domestic security and the stability of the economy. That first role requires an effective defensive military capability and we need an arms industry to manufacture that capability. Even right-to-bear-arms Americans have a requirement for weapons to be held by a ‘well-regulated Militia’ in their oft-misquoted second amendment (written in the time of muskets), not an automatic weapon free-for-all.

Other nations have a right to defend themselves, too. Selling weapons to our allies to defend themselves against our enemies is realpolitik in action: my enemy’s enemy is my friend – a philosophy that had such disastrous repercussions when we armed Saddam Hussein against Iran.

Where the arms industry crosses the line is in arming the unregulated citizenry with military grade weaponry, or selling arms to countries that use them to oppress their own people or wage wars of aggression. In this feature we’ll focus on the latter.

Selling weapons to enemies has to be a bad idea, as we discovered with Sea Dart surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), Sea Cat SAMs, Blowpipe SAMs, Lynx helicopter and Type 42 Destroyers during the Falklands War. All British manufactured weapons that were used against British troops.

When in 1997, Princess Diana spoke out against weapons that have a tendency to maim or kill the innocent, Conservative ministers were quick to attack her. The junior defence minister at the time, Earl Howe, described the princess as a “loose cannon”, ill-informed on the issue of anti-personnel landmines.

Peter Viggers (now Sir), Tory member of the defence select committee who stepped down in 2010 as a result of the investigation of MPs’ expenses (he’s the Duck Island guy), said at the time, “We all know landmines and other weapons are vicious and nasty. The question is how best to negotiate so they are not used in future. The government’s policy on this has been an extremely careful one and the statements made by the Princess of Wales have not been in line with that policy.”

By December 1997, Diana had tragically died and the Ottawa Treaty, or Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, had been signed by 40 countries, amongst them the UK. To date, 160 nations have signed the treaty, with China, India, Russia and the United States being notable exceptions.

Fast forward 16 years and the EU’s Fourteenth Annual Report on Exports Control of Military Technology and Equipment reveals that in 2011, EU countries licensed arms exports valued at €37.5 billion (£31 billion) – an increase of almost one fifth on 2010. The largest and fastest growing markets for weapons were in the Middle East and Asia, including countries embroiled in the uprisings of 2011, while Saudi Arabia replaced the USA as the largest customer.

Does selling weapons to the Middle East at this time seem like a good idea to anyone?

The report was published on December 14 2012, without a press release from the EU Council or an announcement on the European Parliament website. Groups from the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT) are discussing the report and its shortcomings.

“The report is a huge document, packed with figures, but without analysis of the contents or comparison tables with data from past years”, said arms analyst Giorgio Beretta of Rete Italiana per il Disarmo (Italian Disarmament Network).

Also, as in previous years, the report is incomplete and lacks information on arms deliveries – information which is unavailable in several EU countries, including Germany and the UK.”

He is critical of the lack of transparency in the EU report and of the time taken to deliver statistics, which were already obsolete: “It seems to take a whole year for EU officials to receive and assemble the data from national reports: reports on exports of turnips and potatoes come faster than those of arms.”

Wendela de Vries of the Dutch Campagne tegen Wapenhandel (Campaign Against Arms Trade) expresses the hope that the report – unlike previous years – will be discussed in the European parliament as an issue with huge relevance for human rights, peace and security. She said, “Given that the EU has now joined the ranks of the Nobel Peace laureates, we call for action to close the gap between the EU’s peace rhetoric and its profiteering from war preparations.”

The report reveals that the major EU arms exporting countries in 2011 were:

1. France (€9.9 billion/£8.2 billion) – who sold to Argentina the Exocets that proved so effective against HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War, with the death of 20 British servicemen

2. United Kingdom (€7 billion/£5.8 billion)

3. Germany (€5.4 billion/£4.4 billion)

4. Italy (€5.2 billion/£4.3 billion)

5. Spain (€2.8 billion/£2.3 billion).

These five countries were the source of over 80% of EU military exports.

Other countries also had significant military exports, including Austria (€1.6 billion/£1.3 billion), Sweden (€1.2 billion/£996m), Poland (€849m/£704m), the Netherlands (€415m/£334m), Estonia (€350m/£290m) and the Czech Republic (€346m/£287m).

More figures from the report can be found on Campaign Against the Arms Trade’s website.

The EU Non Proliferation Consortium analyses and produces papers on the EU report. You can read its latest analysis here.

At some point, governments and investors need to decide if manufacturing and selling weapons to regimes in unstable region is worth the short-term profit or be compelled to pay punitive damages to the victims of the weapons they have funded and profited from.

Diana may have caused a political row over her legitimate concerns over landmines, but she probably did not go far enough in her criticism. Sadly, she never got the chance to do so.

Further reading:

Will only unspeakable tragedy make investors see the necessity of responsible investment?

The profits of war

PM is undermining human rights by supporting the sales of arms to unstable regions

Prestigious group of universities granted millions by the arms trade

The sextet of sin: investing in war and death (cheerful headline or what?)

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.


What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?




shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy



Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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