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Your affinity animal

Your affinity animal

Grandpa

My Grandpa was called Fred White. He was a fireman during the second world war and told me how to deal with bullies… he basically told me if anyone hits you bang ’em back twice as hard! He explained to me the different forms of bullying I would encounter in my life and that I was to always stand up for the underdog or those who didn’t have a voice.

My Grandpa loved me, he always made me feel special and that I was his favourite, but then again talking to my siblings he made them feel like that too. I can only ever remember Grandpa being calm, kind and wise. He died when I was 13 but before he died he lived with us so I got to know him really well and Grandpa set my head straight for what life has thrown at me. He didn’t live to see me become a punk in the summer of ’77 but he would have approved. I’m sure of that.

In short, Grandpa was and is the best man I have ever met in my life.

I was adopted back in the sixties into a white family and I was from a mixed-race background. That was a bit progressive back then but my Grandpa always loved me and got me the grey elephant cuddly toy you can see in the picture below.

Ele has been with me throughout my whole life, she is 48 years old and travelled the world with me. She has never been far from my side and now resides in my bed. For my whole life I have loved elephants and been fascinated by them and their society.

Me with Ele in 1964.

First blog

My first blog was about getting prepared for a march through the streets of Manchester, UK in support of captive animals. Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS) does incredible work to free animals in captivity. Between them and the Animal Defenders International (ADI) who investigated the Bobby Roberts Circus and found that Anne (Annie) the elephant was being severely abused and got her freed. This is now an ongoing case against Mr & Mrs Roberts who are currently in the UK judicial system facing charges for Anne’s abuse. Click here for an update.

When I first saw the footage of Annie being abused I felt my heart rip in two. Straight away I set about joining the campaign to not only free Annie but to stop the use/abuse of animals in circuses. I am very tempted to put that footage here, but I won’t out of respect for Annie so I will leave that up to you to search for it, and for my sake I never want to see that footage again or refresh the images that are scanned into my memory. Thankfully there is new film of Annie living in the safari park where she now gets the love and treatment she needs to mend the decades of abuse she endured.

Click below to see Annie in her new home.

Your affinity animal

So you see the reason I was upset over Annie is that I have an affinity with grey elephants, I dream about them a lot and I am so grateful to everyone who was involved in setting Annie free.

Anyway, I just want to say to you that whatever your ‘affinity animal’ is do something to change your affinity animal’s outcomes because as a collective we can change things. To be honest I have quite a few I share an affinity with, and I fight for them all. My Grandpa told me to always speak against what I saw was wrong in the world and for anyone who didn’t have a voice and needed my strength.

Find some organisation today that touches your heart. Trust me they will be overjoyed that you want to help them, and they need you if you have an affinity with their cause.

Thank you Grandpa for all you taught me about being strong and to fight bullies, you will never know the power of the gift you gave me and the passion to stand up for others.

Grandpa and I - 1973

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United Nations Association – UK Cultural Olympiad

Lord Sebastian Coe

Uniting the Nations is encouraging young people to fulfil their potential. I am proud  that with the help of partners such as UNA-UK, we are delivering our vision to use the  power of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to boost participation in citizenship education.”

On 10 March 2012 over 200 students from schools across the UK will come together to discuss the Olympic Truce. Uniting the Nations takes place at the prestigious UN International Maritime Organization headquarters in London.

UN International Maritime Organisation - London

Students will step in to the footsteps of world leaders and represent UN ambassadors in simulated Security Council debates on the UN Olympic Truce resolution.

Currently students are busy preparing for their opening speeches and researching their country’s stance on the pressing issues facing the world today, as well as looking for new diplomatic opportunities for conflict resolution and peacebuilding with their fellow delegations.

The delegates can look forward to speeches by Bill Morris, the London 2012 Director of Ceremonies, and Conrad Bailey, Head of the Conflict Department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. (Taken from UNA-UK website).

And as for me… I’ll be covering this (in role) as the Press Crew on the day wearing UN colours!

This is an amazing honour and I want to thank Phil Mulligan, Ben Donaldson and Patricia Rodgers from UNA-UK for all their help getting me down to London.

Circus becomes animal-free! VICTORY

Circus becomes animal-free! | CAPS. Well done CAPS, you inspire me as always.

This is a VICTORY and it makes the fight so worth while.

The anguish and emotional pain animal campaigners go through is staggering, our hearts are mostly broken at the cruelty our fauna brothers and sisters are exposed to and that abuse hurts us to our souls…

… so when the constant Pink-lobbying works our spirits are refreshed and our smiles run deep. Thank The Creator for Paulo’s Circus and their moral decision and seeing the light.

Captive Animals Protection Society are a Manchester, UK based charity and I support them with all my heart. If you feel moved by animals in captivity please consider financially supporting them or coming with us when we next demonstrate.

Marching with CAPS

Manifesto

Ehrmann, born in Terre Haute in 1872, made his living practicing law and business (deputy prosecuting attorney of Terre Haute at one point, credit manager for a family owned overall manufacturing firm for 10 years). But his real love was writing, especially philosophical poems and plays. He composed “Desiderata” in 1927, he wrote in his journal at the time, out of need to remind himself how he wanted to live his life. (taken from http://peterfox.com.au).

Ehrmann’s Desiderata was his manifesto I guess, and what an important body of work it turned out to be. I love this so much and have it in a book next to my bed.

 Desiderata (Latin: “desired things”)

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy. 

Max Ehrmann 1872-1945

I love the Desiderata, especially the last four lines and it got me thinking, what would happen if I took all my ramblings, ranting, poems, notes, observations from my journal or tweets from my twitter and wrote a Manifesto?

Here’s what I care about, it was compiled in mirror.me and is what I twitter about.

Reflections =:)

Gonna write a Manifesto then, I might as well even though I am no one special or important there’s a manifesto inside of me somewhere that needs to get out into the beautiful world… watch this space.

send a love letter to Earth on 14th February

This Valentine’s day send a love letter to Earth and for the 14th February do something eco like using candles at home instead of the lights.

www.lovelettertotheearth.com

Love Earth this Valentine's day

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Earth Hour 31st March 2012

WWF Earth Hour 31st March 2012, check times and events in your area at www.earthhour.org

 

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Standing so close to the elephant.


DRC map

CASE STUDY – MONUSCO
United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) it appears that some of those involved in trying to make peace and security for the country are standing so close to the elephant all they can see is grey! To really help the DRC it’s time to stand back and change perspective, if you look at the figures below it is clear that a lot of finance is being spent on military efforts as the DRC hold elections but the core cause of the problem is being overlooked and under resourced.

Background and mandate.

A new UN Peacekeeping mission in DRC was initiated in July 2010[i] and authorized to run until 30 June 2012 with an approved budget of $1,419,890,400 (1 July 2011 – 30 June 2012)[ii].

The current strength of the mission and its 54 contributing countries as of the 31 October 2011 are:

  • 18,916 total uniformed personnel
    • 16,823 military personnel
    • 731 military observers
    • 1,362 police (including formed units)
  • 974 international civilian personnel*
  • 2,767 local civilian staff*
  • 595 United Nations Volunteers

*Note: Statistics for international and local civilians are as of 31 August 2011 from [iii].

The mission’s mandate is to ‘to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate relating, among other things, to the protection of civilians, humanitarian personnel and human rights defenders under imminent threat of physical violence and to support the Government of the DRC in its stabilization and peace consolidation efforts.’ (MONUSCO, 2011).

But what does this mean?

“If you come only to help me, you can go back home. But if you consider my struggle as part of your struggle for survival, then maybe we can work together.” — An Aboriginal Woman

When looking at peace and conflict in the DRC one has to ponder on the historical context of the violence and fighting. In May 2007 the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) set in motion a mapping exercise to catalogue the devastation of civil war in DRC[iv], and document the crimes ‘of the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the DRC between March 1993 and June 2003’ (OHCHR 1996-2011). Evidently, as you read this report Human Security features as a remit due to the acts of human rights violations being carried out by the Congolese security forces as well as neighboring Rwanda. This leads one to assume that there is a negative peace with both direct and indirect violence (Gultang) happening in the country today. For further reading see The Human Development Report[v] and the Agenda for Peace[vi].

The OHCHR report cites violations of economic and social rights and the illegal exploitation of natural resources are some the major contributors to the reason the UN Peacekeeping force are still trying to broker positive peace. This brings us back to the core cause of the problems and the catalytic reasons for violence in the DRC.

You may wish to watch the UNEP film below on the natural recourses of DRC before you read on:

Conservation from Chaos – Documentary on the Democratic Republic of Congo

Exploitation of natural resources.

Taking this and appraising it from a human security viewpoint it is easy to see that illegal natural resource exploitation has been a catalyst in driving the country’s civil war.  This has been carefully measured and categorized and several reports have been written to document this, for example the violence linked to environmental degradation[vii], citing the illegal exploitation as ‘the perpetration of massive human rights abuses’

But why has this not abated and why are the military still involved in human rights violations and natural resource crimes?

It appears that those running the DRC under President Mobutu’s kleptocratic management, as well as successive governments (President Kabila) completely failed to include any type of human or environmental security. Militarizing the management of resources (e.g. forestry, mining) and taking this away from civilians destabilized the country to such a massive extent that recovery from this to date has been difficult and in all probability why the UN are still intervening. Freedom from fear and want and the destruction of habitat and infrastructure made a lasting and stable peace hard to achieve. ‘Bad habits’ and corruption it seems are imbued in the mindset of its armed forces and leadership, as this is where most crimes are perpetrated. Civil society is still reeling from the conflicts making civil meta governance a challenge.

Transforming the current situation of illicit exploitation of natural resources, the UN are encouraging the DRC government to comply with the the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and invest the money back into society for health, education and housing. This transformation is being challenged however as there are still ‘customers’ who want under the table resources from diamonds to minerals[viii]. So next time you buy some jewellery or electronics think about where it was sourced.

Concepts of 3rd and 4th generation peace building.

Is the negative peace mainly due to a combination of conflict management and conflict resolution approaches (Richmond, O 2008) driven by a top-down elitism of prescribed official processes as in a 3rd generation methodology?

Looking in on the DRC from the outside it does indeed appear that there is a multiplicity of issues and attitudes that need to be represented at a local, state and regional level to broker a settled peace thus benefiting all people and the environment, however can this 3rd generation style be brought about by NGOs, agencies and actors or should this be achieved by a vibrant civil society (Richmond, O 2008) meeting their own objectives and needs and emancipated from hegemony?

In utopian terms it would be nice to think that governance from the Congolese people themselves could resolve and transform the fragile peace into a civilized, fair and sustainable society. Therefore peace building as an approach has to be employed with sensitivity to civil society’s expectations and needs but mainly it has to encapsulate the political, social and economical development of the DRC. Policy makers encouraging top-down system thinking as well as governance usually drive this. In the DRC however the security forces are undermining peace and committing crimes against different groups causing human rights violations. This is generally due to resource exploitation and continued fighting with neighbouring countries e.g. Rwanda. . 60-80 percent of global reserves of coltan (see reference for further reading/film), used in the manufacture of mobile phones, computers and other electronic equipment are found in the DRC[ix].

Therefore in this instance 3rd generation peace building using coercive conditional relationships may not be the best approach.

A 4th generation way of transforming peace or peace-as-governance (Richmond, O 2008) may be the answer. In short due to the unique nature of a resource rich yet poor nation, reflecting on the past and getting to the root cause of the conflict in this case corruption over the resource riches of the DRC, would allow for post-structural reverse engineering of the complex issues faced. Without putting into the mix matters such as Sovereignty and focusing on the ontological elements of peace instead of just the generic methods deployed as a catch-all by the UN, a stable and democratic liberal peace could be established by creating governance structures and asking why has the current peace failed and what can be done.

Answers on a post card please!

‘Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail’.

H McAlindon

Maybe it is time to hand the reins to UNEP (http://www.unep.org/disastersandconflicts/) and utilize their post-conflict greening peace building and environmental diplomacy toolbox as well as ecosystem management and environmental governance to help the DRC build a green economy for all[x]. Another initiative found in Afghanistan is called No Women No Peace. This campaign’s mantra is ‘peace can only be durable when the voices of women are heard.’[xi] It has enjoyed media and government attention. Maybe this could be rolled out to DRC as the UN mission has only 6 months left (June 2012) to find a peace settlement that can be enduring and inclusive. So instead of sticking a plaster over a deep wound, is it finally time to hand operations over to women and environmentalists?

References:

Richmond, O (2008)  “The Contribution of Peace and Conflict Studies” in Peace in International Relations” p104-114

Johan Gultang http://www.transcend.org/
(Accessed on 05/12/11)

Coltan
http://conflictminerals.org/coltan-learning-the-basics/

http://www.iss.co.za/pubs/Books/ScarcitySurfeit/Chapter4.pdf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OWj1ZGn4uM

http://www.thecongocause.org/mining.htm
(Accessed 11/12/11)

Human Development Report
(Accessed on 27/11/11)

Agenda for Peace
(Accessed on 27/11/11)

MONACO United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(Accessed on 05/12/11)

UN General Assembly Approved resources for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012
(Accessed on 06/12/11)

UN Peacekeeping Operations MONUSCO Facts and Figures
(Accessed on 05/12/11)

United Nations Human Rights DRC: Mapping human rights violations 1993-2003
(Accessed on 23/11/11)

Human Development Report
(Accessed 23/11/11)

United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner – Info Note 5  Violence linked to natural resource exploitation
(Accessed 24/11/11)

United Nations Environment Programme – Environmental Cooperation for Peacebuilding
(Accessed 20/11/11)

No Women No Peace http://www.nowomennopeace.org/
(Accessed 08/12/11)

Being a Vegan

This is what I fell in love with only in Black and White. Picture taken 11 minutes after Apollo 11 launched on 16 July 1969.

My story about becoming vegan starts really when I was five days from being 6 years old in 1969.  After I watched the moon landing I was moved somewhere deep inside of me when I saw the Earth from space. This is my earliest memory, 20 July 1969.

Awesome ~ I was one of the 500 million people who watched this... Wow!

Something woke in me and I started seeing the world around me in a different way, especially nature.

Even then I didn’t want to eat animals but I was forced to and only when I became an adult and after struggling with the whole meat-culture I turned vegetarian 17 years ago.

In June this year I was involved in a facebook campaign against dairy cattle and calf abuse and after learning about it and just how much they suffer, on the 14th June 2011 I decided I could give up dairy once and for all. I am 48 now and only wish I had had the knowledge and understanding years ago, but I was put off by all the negative press and comments about veganism.
This was a hard decision to make to be honest as I am a very keen gym bunny and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get all my proteins from plants and become a ‘Vega’ (that’s what I call myself to people).

I found an amazing book by Robert Cheeke called Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness and I have NEVER looked back. Here’s a picture of me taken in August 2011, I had been vegan for 10 weeks and I think I look fit, well and happy!

August 2011

I contacted Robert and other vegan bodybuilders and you would be surprised how big the vegan bodybuilder fraternity

Robert is an amazing guy & total inspiration to me

is, and at all the vegan fairs in the UK they have a vegan bodybuilding show. I do not feel alone and get encouragement from these amazing guys.

So, within 2 weeks of being dairy free people started saying how clear my skin had become, and the small spots I had on my chest have all gone! So it appears I was a tad lactose intolerant anyway!

What does being a vegan mean to me? I can honestly say that since I have become a vegan my life is better! I have more energy, I am happier as I know that none of my fauna brethren have suffered for me and people tell me I actually glow. I am proud to be a vega and I enjoy educating people about my life-style and positive well-being as a vegan.

And what does the future hold? I am currently doing my Masters in Environmental Governance at The University of Manchester in the UK and I am heading for a career at UNEP in post-disaster and post-conflict environmental recovery and I am interested specifically in peacebuilding (http://www.unep.org/disastersandconflicts/), once here I know I can be an advocate for animal welfare and feel that being a vega tells people that I’m serious.

Medium term though, I had an interview in April 2011 as a volunteer for next years Olympics here in the UK and I have been accepted as an Olympic Games Maker working in the Technology Team. I have already contacted the organisers to tell them I am a vegan and need vegan trainers. That should make them think!  I was also nominated by friends to carry the Olympic Flame when it comes through Manchester in June 2012 and I am through to the final round, I find out in the next few weeks if I am one of 8000 blessed people to carry the Olympic Flame and at that event I hope I get an opportunity to further animal/earth rights.

Finally, to anyone whether vegetarian or meat eaters, it is okay to go vegan, yes you have to change your diet which at first is a bit of a challenge, but the benefits will make you feel so awesome. There is so much help out there, for example https://www.vegsoc.org/ who have people who can tell you about a vegan diet.  We are in an elite group of people with a heart for animals and the planet and the only advice I would give you is never criticise those who aren’t vegan, we are all on a different journey and yeah… take an iron supplement!

I wish you well and if I can help you in any way or offer encouragement please get in touch at email@candacejames.com or @CandaceJamesUK

Have a very happy Vegan Christmas, and may The Creator bless you and yours.

Candy

Animal Altruists.

Marching with CAPS

Will Animal Rights please move to the back“. Yes that is how animal rights is viewed, I had to laugh out loud!

That really was the announcement as we, a smallish group of animal altruists were waiting to start our march on Liverpool Street outside the magnificant museum of manchester science and industry, calling on the Government to put the animals in circus ban into effect.

So at the back of 35 thousand people were about 200 animal altruists who all had their different animal rights mantra. I have to say that it appeared we were the most passionate and consistently loudest during the 2 hour march through the city centre of my beloved and great Manchester. It wasn’t a carnival atmosphere at the back even though there were random people cycling around with loud PA systems playing a mixture of laidback reggae and militant songs… no we were showing images of animal abuse and audio of a fox being killed by dogs and that is never anything to party about is it?

So as the march went on and on my feelings about what I was marching for became hedonistic and I realised I was truly doing this for all the ultra-bullied animals and that gave me an incredible sense of victory. Just being there with my 10 year old ‘mini-me’ I felt completely enveloped with like-minded people all of whom obviously and passionately loved animals as much as I did and who I viewed as Animal Altruists.

I wanted to find out why we do this so I asked Liz Tyson Director at Captive Animals’ Protection Society about the march and events leading up to it.

Liz Tyson Director of CAPS www.captiveanimals.org

“Having worked so hard over the years to see a ban brought in on the archaic practice of exploiting animals in circuses, we all felt that we had reached a true victory as we saw MPs move to support a ban before the summer.

But our victory was short-lived as Defra appears to be pressing ahead with regulation. Regulation is not an option if the aim is to protect animals from further suffering. All regulation will do is legitimise a practice which is no longer accepted by the public, the experts or the politicians.

Only a ban will do. With the success of the campaign earlier in the year, people have been lulled into a false sense of security – just this week we attended the Labour Party Conference and were congratulated by many people who believe a ban is imminent. We need to demonstrate to the Government that we will continue to put pressure on ministers until they do the right thing. It is time for a ban on wild animals in circuses

So we marched on the Conservative conference and shouted our cause a short clip on my YT channel shows us demonstrating at the Gmex http://bit.ly/qJBXYv

Whether or not any of the Tories heard or what we were asking for impacted on them who knows, but I am sure that the victory was ours anyway as we came out on a Sunday to represent our fauna brethern in a show of animal altruism and as we left to meet in the Quakers Meeting House behind Central Library we all had a sense of wellbeing and pumped full of positive endorphines.

We sat chatting in the Meeting House it was evident that people felt elated. The cups of tea and coffee and vegan cakes provided by CAPS were our reward for an afternoon’s hard work.

http://twitter.com/kevupnorth

Kevin Campbell-Wright http://twitter.com/kevupnorth

I got chatting to Kev and he gave me the following short interview which you can see on YouTube at http://bit.ly/pHjQQp

What Kev made apparent is that to be truly helpful to the animal rights cause one has to be fully on board wanting change for the ‘unheard’ and Kev was so determined to see a ban on animals being abused in the circus that he down from Yorkshire  to march for the first time in 6 years with CAPS.

Everyone I spoke to and observed looked like real human beings to me, they cared about abused animals, and gave a voice to animal suffering.

In my eyes every single animal rights person showed true animal altruism and understanding on Sunday and I ask the Universe to bless you, even if we were sent to the back of the queue =:)

BTW … there are more images from Sunday found in Pictures.

March for all captive circus animals.

Getting ready to march for all captive circus animals this Sunday 2nd October in Manchester is my absolute pleasure. We are making our presence known during the Tory Conference so hopefully we will be deemed as adversaries.

If we don’t stand up for our fauna bretheren who will? I am passionate about captive circus animals as we are supposed to live in a civilised western society where over 90% of  British citizens do NOT want to see animals being forced to perform in a circus. It’s time for the Conservative (coalition) Government to be sensible for a change and pass this resolution to ban the use of captive circus animals for all the great Britons who don’t want animals used and abused anymore at the Circus.

I love Captive Animals’ Protection Society as they are truly committed to seeing the ban on the use of animals in circuses and having met them can honestly say this is one of a handful of charities I give my money to… http://www.captiveanimals.org/our-work/circuses.

So if you can be around this coming Sunday 2nd October to join us please come along =:)

So for now, I can make my banner, and yes it will feature some shocking pinkness, and yes it will be cute and non-aggressive but hopefully say a thousand words as I stand shoulder to four-legs with my fauna brothers and sisters.

painting the banner for Sunday

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