Lavender update

We’re nearly at row 90 / 100 and some of the final 10 are being dug up and replanted

Reasons to love Yorkshire 3/many

Yorkshire has the best less than completely diplomatic answer to world peace.

A recent conversation with a guy from Yorkshire who I think has the answer to world peace in a technology tethered world:

“you send so many emails I’ve no idea what the friggin f*ck you are on about”

Rolling and falling

I asked for advice before this session as I have not done for some time and he recommended video – at end of this post. We did 3 basic types – falling backwards and rolling, falling forwards into roll and falling sidewards using pilates/yoga type mats. I did mostly on the grass. This isn’t recommendation – just what we did. I said that the reason we roll is a) to reduce the impact on the body when it suddenly touches the ground in this case and where possible b) to propel back up into fighting form. I was also given this advice:

The key is not to panic and not to hit the ground at 90 degrees. Core strength is also important. Be tense but not too tense.

Falling backwards

Started with rolling backwards on the mat.

  • For more experienced – start from sitting squat and roll back then fall back with arms pushing flat onto mat quite hard before any other part of the body
  • For less experienced lie back on mat, find balance where sacral bones meet the mat then roll back and try to propel forward.

Falling forwards

Initially kneel / on all fours on mat / ground. Lean forward, swing arm and tuck head into chest.

  • For more experienced – try forward roll with arm in as above. If uncomfortable, do full forward roll with both arms, starting from sitting squat or lower. I doubled up the mats and one person did who hadn’t done one for about 40 years !
    • An alternative is one I’ve seen for sambo – where you fall forward onto hands with legs apart so we did low experiment, but focus today was rolling.
  • For less experienced – just bend forward and practice tucking head into chest. Yoga helpful here as well too for the stances which are working towards headstands.

Falling sideways

  • For more experienced – as per falling backwards from sitting squat but with left or right arm down first then optional roll over or propel back up. We didn’t have much time for this
  • For less experienced – sit on mat and then roll back onto left or right arm and try to propel back up


Conservatives never welcome

I can’t make the protest on Friday but the greedy, parasitical politics of cowardice displayed by conservatives worldwide is not welcome anywhere.

The alternative is to align with people who do care, who are proud of their diversity, who are humble, who work hard, who want to represent their country without faux national pride that has hatred and greed on behalf of a few at its epicentre.

I will go and welcome our wonderful football team this weekend if they are back on Sunday.

Climate & environment – international collaboration – smaller organisations

La Via Campesina – peasants’ movement:

CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE):

CliMATES – student, young people and volunteer think tank

Water Justice:



Afrika Global network:

Agro-ecology Learning Alliance – South East Asia:

A UK example of small multi-org projects is

A larger organisation in Russia is ecosystema:

Water sanitation projects update

I met with one of colleagues at Surrey university today. There is a short term probably portable learning project which will be working with a PhD student who is completing research in two countries (both hemispheres) but there may be an opportunity to extend that once the initial design has been completed for those specific outputs.

This could be a pilot but will see as there is no budget for this phase. So the next two weeks will involve scoping, design and possibly some of the development where it can be fitted into evenings in between moving house, feeding chickens, weeding lavender and anything else.

Development of the People’s University module continues to hibernate due to circumstances beyond my control.

Oh and everyone wants to come to Siberia too in September.

Climate change international collaboration

There is a UN Sustainable Development forum this week:

WHO’s vision 2030 for water supply and sanitation


IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

Asean Cooperation on environment:

PEEX – Pan Eurasian Experiment:

Climate change in Russia:

There was an OSCE project:

There is a coalition of some organisations in the UK and elsewhere but they have limited information about their sources of private funding.

For universities in the UK, there is also Natural Environment Research Council: many UK universities have their own research departments or projects too (including Roehampton e.g. resilient ecosystems.

There is also the small Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales (started 1973) which is aimed at communities / members of the public

Unsurprisingly, I found a lot of links to climate change when browsing Russian universities e.g. a joint project with Russian and French scientists

Not specifically climate change but Water Engineering research (academic):

Snap kick and recoil

I have a new attendee at the staff sessions I’m running. They are an older adult with a fairly high fitness level and have dance and some basic body combat experience but also some back, hip, knee injuries. With the dance experience, they are able to naturally kick higher than average new student.

At one point, I was demonstrating the basic front snap kick and pointing out that we snap back kicks in taekwondo. I demonstrated grabbing and holding the leg by catching it with my hand before the recoil and was surprised that they actually fell on the ground backwards and I couldn’t catch them in time. That has never happened before when I’ve demonstrated, others in classes have wobbled but not gone right back over. With the summer weather the ground is quite hard at the moment, so good for demonstration but less good for the hips or attendee!

We spent a few minutes doing a balance & strength exercise – punching in horse riding stance. Will build in more of these – I showed them one of the options for falling backwards after the session.

And the elastic pings

Moving back out a little further into the sticks in the next few weeks – with what will hopefully be the last move for a while, so will be blogging less on a range of topics going forward and focus more on environmental health.

Aiming to start 1st year (over 2 years) of environmental science Bsc via distance / online learning in September on top of job. Apparently the award should be transferable internationally which means I could find a route to a water & env health MSc hopefully. Am meeting water sanitation colleague soon to discuss projects.

My new landlord studied environmental science and now works in hydropower – has offered to dig out some books.

Hopefully will still join the Lake Baikal project and learn lots of Russian water-rated terminology in context.

Then apply it.

New home is nearer my old taekwondo club so will be easier to go back and help out (and hopefully get some training in too). Will still continue with staff sessions at work.

Russian Foreign Policy and Fascism

Finished reading these two which are useful in understanding relationship with both:

Russia’s foreign policy : change and continuity in national identity by Andrei P Tsygankov

Russia and the western far right tango noir by Anton Shekhovstov

The latter recommends and is recommended by self-proclaiming Russia experts who regularly promote their own narrative of Russia that suits their personal, financial circumstances. Shekhovstov also repeatedly and irritatingly refers to Russia as ‘Putin’s Russia’ like so many others. Again – 143 million citizens and the need to constantly refer to just one.

That said, there is useful information about the history of fascist groups in Europe, US, UK and their relationships with both Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. The book focuses mostly on political influence in Moscow rather than former Soviet Union nations and also not on rhe wider causes of fascist thinking such as austerity and financial crashes – the book is exclusive focus on relationships between ‘pro-Kremlin actors and Western far-right activists’. For example far-right Zhirinovsky’s activities and relationships from 1990s onwards.

Shekhovtsov refers to the last 20 (approx) years not as fascist but as

An authoritarian kleptocracy that nevertheless seeks to be a peculiarly Russian form of democracy in order to gain internal and external legitimacy 1

He does not view the EEU vision as that of Russian classical Eurasianism or Dugin’s fascist Eurasianism. This is useful reminder of the need to use terminology carefully and clearly within context. I am increasingly steering clear of Eurasian articles that appear to be rooted within Western fascist thinking even if not displayed that way from the outset.

Of Alices, rabbit holes and royal families underground…

Shekhovstov does look at the influence of Russian media organisations (in the same way that one might look at Rupert Murdoch or George Soros media and their influence) and how views in Russian media (such as left-leaning) can be marginalised due to the amount of coverage given to far-right commentators.

I’m grateful to my university for providing access to the book and to a certain extent to the author for writing about such a difficult topic.

Outside of this book, there’s a growing emergence of views that may show a greater understanding of Russian viewpoints on geopolitics that may be less confrontational, more open and less rigid to ideologies.

Tsygankov reviews the history of foreign policies including

  • statist – not anti-Western but focuses on state ability to govern and preserve the social and political order 2
  • civilisationists – classical Eurasian with a culturally distinct orthodox expanding empire 3
  • realists – non confrontational engagement with West is rational strategy 4

He reviews ideas of pragmatic cooperation but suggests limitations and if I’ve understood correctly – the extreme events of 1990s made it nearly impossible to ‘reformulate its transnational identity’ 5

So I do not interpret that as a Russia wanting to restore the USSR but the sharp break up, the disastrous free market experiment that involved so much pillaging meant there were very little opportunities to work out what post-divorce arrangements could result in beautiful friendships and family relationships continuing to flower. Or less hippyish – finding common ground for security and stability. Russia has more international relations with more neighbours than the rest of us, so they must be figuring out some useful ways of collaboration and cooperation even with its worst relationships.

Mechanisms for sustainable engagement with society are still ‘young’ and I would argue – sincere voices wanting a productive political engagement are frequently drowned out by the better funded far-right (i.e funded by US/UK/EU non state actors and intelligence ‘interests’).

Tsyganov suggests that there is now a challenge of what distinctive identity needs to be preserved with both Western and Asian especially Chinese cultures and media6. And probably a lot more with the World Cup as well as across their own multi-ethnic federation.

So please, with the claims mostly emanating from the US from the loudest voices, investigate and judge for yourself, investigate claims, learn Russian, talk with some of the 143 million – not just parroting or retweeting the US/UK/EU commentators who ‘apparently’ speak for them.

1 Shekhovstov A (2018) p71 Russia and the Western Far Right, Routledge, available as above.

2-6 Tsyganov A (2010, 2013) Russia’s Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity, Plymouth (UK) available as above.

Skripal theory suggestions

I thought I was finished but two things :

a) the World Cup and many countries seeing a more positive image of Russia than experienced previously through the media particularly for UK, EU, US citizens. To put it bluntly, they have previously been lied to – repeatedly.

b) also with the World Cup, the attention seeking behaviour of US politicians and their UK acolytes whose team is not in the World Cup and it’s just possible that Russia’s interest in the US may be affected and possibly not 100% on them.

In particular one blog from a resident in Salisbury who supports most of the policies / ideology of US right – has a theory about the dossier, MI6 and Sergei Skripal’s involvement which led to an incident involving 2 people wearing white gloves and carrying a red bag whom he thinks the Skripals were going to meet in connection with a dossier. I do not think this theory if correct makes it any clearer who benefits. And it doesn’t make it clearer who was best placed to carry out this alleged cause of incident.

As before the police and NHS services are under financial and other pressures and also in Salisbury. The current chief constable who replaced someone investigating paedophilia and in particular Tory politicians, officially started work on the morning after the alleged incident. We also know about conflicting NHS accounts about a poisoning, how it affected the Skripals if it did and treatment as well as source.

One of the founders of the Syria propaganda organisations who is apparently former MI6 and who has made films about chemical attacks calls the Salisbury incident a hoax.

The Skripal incident was used as a justification to expel diplomats and also lead to bombing of Syria.

Both a Navy admiral and an army general appeared in mainstream media saying that Syria shouldn’t be bombed without enough evidence. But one was cut off mid interview which clearly shows government interference.

Government interference. We know Boris Johnson, Theresa May, David Cameron and in the US Obama, Clinton as well as the current White House inhabitants lie all the time. We know that all of those above are giving the US and EU and Nato politicians unprecedented access to secret policing and intelligence far beyond their remit. We know 2 D notices were slapped onto the media. We know Johnson and May immediately suggested the cause of the alleged incident as the Russian government.

The press release from the Navy on the morning after the alleged incident refers to the end of a successful 3 week chemical attack training exercise on Salisbury plain with a key focus being on treatment of casualties. This may explain the presence and availability of specialists at Salisbury hospital and the hazmat suits, closing off areas and other ‘street activity’ i.e. make a nerve agent scenario easier to emerge.

The unusual appearance of the admiral (who repeatedly refers to Russia as a strategic enemy) and the general in reference to Syria above may mean that they know whether the alleged incident in Salisbury was a hoax, a training exercise or an actual incident (of course they would know people who know people and of course if official secrets are involved they are not going to spill them) but like Porton Down scientists, they may be under pressure to maintain a government narrative. But just like doctors, they have to live with their consciences and the limited version of events that the Chilcot report produced will have had some effect on future incidents (but clearly not enough). Former as well as current prime ministers, presidents, foreign secretaries of both UK and US still operate with some powers.

It’s possible that the Russian government knows more about the Salisbury alleged incident that for international security reasons they may not be divulging, however the expulsion and timing of the expulsion would suggest they may feel less than inclined to uphold international security that bites their hands.

Someone who writes in mainstream media says she has a source close to Russian government who says they were were surprised by the incident. Which is more than ‘highly likely’ considering they were in the middle of the Russian presidential election campaign and World Cup preparations. Additionally some commentators have suggested that Sergei Skripal wanted to return to Russia. How would we know and why would we need to know the whims of an ex spy. Most of the world’s population including myself have never seen or heard of Skripal before this year. Just because the Russian government may not be racing to Pulkhovo with a bunch of flowers if he did want to return, doesn’t mean they would ‘off’ him. If he did want to return I’m sure he would be far more closely monitored than he is now.

If he has wilfully taken part in an incident that has damaged the reputation of the Russian government, it still doesn’t follow that he would be assassinated. And to suggest that the possibility damage reputation would not be considered by the Russian government is bizarre.

Some commentators think it was a private incident with links to far-right and ‘Russian speaking’ mafia which narrows it down to all the wealthy people who have ‘business connections’ with mafia who speak Russian in many countries so could theoretically carry out the alleged incident.

Skripal family. There is no reason to believe anyone other than Sergei Skripal’s mother – there could be all kinds of family activity which could be relevant to the alleged incident.

Several Russian and Russian speaking commentators do not find Yulia’s press statements and interview credible in particular the words used and how they were used as well as her physical appearance.

I do think the amount of public interest, the amount of NHS, police and general public will make it impossible for the government narrative to hold – it is simply not credible. Thousands of extra investigators but no perpetrator and no proven evidence.

But anyone advancing a theory that attempts to blame or clear a politician will be looked at through the bias of that person. Let’s hope that those politicians who do know will actually for once face the consequences of their actions.