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.

22 June – Day of Memory and Grief

I’ve nearly finished reading Svetlana Alexievich – The Unwomanly Face of War.

It is harrowing, it also provides a window into grief, hatred, suffering told through many memories and the memories of those who can’t speak about them but they are still present.

“And so.. You never know your own heart. In winter some captive German soldiers were led past our unit. They walked along all frozen with torn blankets on their heads, holes burnt in their overcoats. It was so cold that birds dropped in flight. The birds froze. A soldier was marching in that column…A young boy…There were tears frozen on his face…And I was taking bread to the mess in a wheelbarrow. He couldn’t take his eyes off that wheelbarrow ; he didn’t see me only the wheelbarrow.

Bread…Bread.. I broke a piece of loaf and gave it to him. He took it…Took it and didn’t believe it…He didn’t believe it!

I was happy…I was happy that I wasn’t able to hate.

I was astonished at myself then” 1

1. Alexievich S (1985, 2017)p69, The Unwomanly Face of War, Penguin, available via

Updates – various

Piano teaching – good, now starting to read sheet music without lettering. I skipped over various notation so will find a practice quiz. Once they are happy with reading, will also work on fingering.

Taekwondo – practice fight day this Sunday, will probably be there and hopefully with a student I’ve teaching.

Russian – starting to see daylight with two of cases, pronunciation still dire but will focus more on once sentence structure more solidly engrained.

Now going at end of Aug / early Sept. Lovely Siberian eco project for part of it. My niece has asked me if I’m a near a bear, can I take photo. I asked if a closeup of its teeth before it bites my head off would be ok? Apparently yes because bear less likely to eat phone so she will still be able to see photo.

Also doing a bushcraft refresher – don’t want to be thinking – now how do I do this again when I’m on cooking duty and everyone tired and hungry. Have previously made fires on wet stones by a river in South Wales, so hopefully it will come back….in an age of firelighters….

Have been recommended a new spine exercise. Lie flat on back on floor with knees up and feet on floor. Turn palms up and lie for half an hour. Still continuing with yoga and structural practice.

Web, video conferencing with interactive screen software

After hearing about the Microsoft Surface interaction last week at the NHS-HE forum I decided to play around with one of our portable whiteboards which we use in the labs.We managed a successful test. This means that students can interact with someone or something remotely in another location in real time whilst using the whiteboard for image, drawing, text etc

We couldn’t display a a web conferencing call with video by overlaying one window on top of the other but we tiled it with the whiteboard and you can easily use Alt+Tab buttons to switch between if needed full screen on either. I used mobile phone to check that video call was good enough and provided you have wifi or data connection it was fine. You could use Zoom, Skype or any other web conferencing that has video.

Tile both windows side by side by hovering your mouse down the vertical side of the whiteboard software and e.g. the web conferencing software. Drag them so they both display side by side. The chat window is optional – if you need more space on the whiteboard press X next to Conversation to close it

screenshot of tiled interactive software and web conferencing software

Art Open Studios

The next two weekends are artists open studios where members of the public can wander into studios, see art, art in progress. Some artists do it to encourage people to join their classes or but art, others do for fun.

Carshalton – CAOS

Richmond Art

Lavender update

Kids growing up fast.

Two random ones speeding into summer ahead of the rest.

Bees happy.

Close up of lavender and bee

young bushes

Universal healthcare – reading the small print

Baba presented at #KeepourNHSpublic AGM today with an informed international health policy overview.

A useful reminder that ‘universal health coverage’ is a term that’s useful in some ways but continues to be hijacked since the 1980s by those who want to profit from health rather than support publicly financed, accountable and publicly delivered healthcare.

So the small print is more explicit from the ideology of marketised healthcare including ballooning healthcare costs, regressive tax systems where the wealthy share less and less of the wealth with the less fortunate who may have unexpected and catastrophic health conditions.

Also small state governance, unregulated profiteering, lack of health equity in coverage i.e. everything about the US health system and why attempts to provide socialised, universal health care has failed:

Art Therapy end of year student exhibition

There was a mini internal end of year exhibition for students studying arts therapy on our campus yesterday. I know next to nothing about art therapy but doing some prep work with a colleague for a couple of projects at the mo

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