Avatars for Global Fast in Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners, April 17th

Palestine avatar end administrative detentionGlobal Fast in Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners avatar

A couple of avatars leading up to the Global Fast in Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners on April 17th 2012, Palestinian Prisoners Day. Please feel free to use & circulate. I have made an undated one for use after April 17th.

Thank you to Samidoun for posting this on your site. Find out what you can do to take action for Palestinian prisoners’ rights by visiting their website.

And thanks also to Electronic Intifada for your link:
Amnesty joins global actions on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day with Twitter campaign

Who’s the terrorist?

Whos the terrorist, by Leila la Tres Sage

Inspired of course by the famous EDL idiot. If you don’t know the “muslamic” and “iraqi law” references, then you need to watch this man & marvel at the degree of utter stupidity and hatred we here in England live alongside.

It’s not just a poke at the EDL though; it’s mainly about islamophobia, militarism, genocide, apartheid, colonialism, and western corporate expansion – and the lack of true reporting by the main stream media. I trust my Arabic friends will excuse this sweeping generalisation of the Middle East’s vast variety of cultures, and different political struggles into one drawing, but it was necessary to get the point across – who is forcing their culture on others… who’s the real threat… and who’s the terrorist?

Same planet, different worlds

Same planet different worlds - I need that - iphone bread - leila la tres sage

The other day I asked my son which Mr.Men book he’d like to have next (if he’s good). “Mr.Nobody, Mr.Nosey, and Mr.Rush” came his reply. I said “You already have Mr.Rush, you don’t need a second one”. And then I added “In life, it’s best to help those in need than to buy things you don’t need.” At which point I realised… I’ve become THAT kind of mum. 🙂

My letter to the FCO about Hana al-Shalabi

Here’s the letter I just wrote to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office via their website, urging for the release of Hana al-Shalabi and all the other Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention.

Please feel free to borrow from, or copy this letter.

To whom this may concern,

I am writing in regards to the illegal detention of the Palestinian Hana al-Shalabi by Israel. She is currently being held under administrative detention – kept imprisoned without charge, a practice which is in violation of international laws on human rights.

Israel defends this practice by stating it a 6 month limit to administrative detention, at which time a trial is held. However routinely this process just extends the administrative detention of the prisoner another 6 months.

Hana is currently protesting the only way she can – not through the Israeli justice system, in which she is powerless – but by hunger strike. She is currently in her third week.

We cannot allow this to carry on, uncontested. No country that performs this deplorable practice can be called a democracy. Likewise no country that ignores that their allies are performing this deplorable practice can be called a democracy either.

For the dignity of Hana al-Shalabi, for the dignity of the other 300+ Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention, for the dignity of the Palestinian people… and for the dignity of the British people – by knowing that we are not complicit to this crime through our silence – I urge you to please defend the human rights of Palestinians, and demand the release of Hana al-Shalabi.


earth share by Leila la tres sage

I had a really nice day today. Sledging in the first snow of the season, watching the look of pure joy in the children’s faces… But it’s days like this that hit me hardest sometimes; how fortunate we are to enjoy the simplest pleasures life on this earth has to offer… how so many of us take this gift for granted… how so many people alive are deprived of basic pleasures, basic human rights, and basic necessities.

Days like this I want to create. I want to educate. I want to rattle people’s minds. I feel so angry at how the few who control the world’s resources deny so many the right to enjoy their time on earth. And so angry at those who are so absorbed in the mundane that they refuse to, or simply can’t see the bigger picture.

If you know me, or you’re familiar with my work, you’ll know this isn’t my usual style. But if those kids today taught me anything, it’s that sometimes the simplest things are the most powerful.

MLK in the age of NDAA

MLK in the age of NDAA by Leila La Tres Sage

..When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
Washington DC, August 28 1963 [1]

What were you doing on New Years eve?

Perhaps you were spending time with family and friends, reflecting on the year past, and making plans and resolutions for the one ahead, or letting your hair down and indulging a bit too much.

Meanwhile, President Obama – who had promised to shut down Guantanamo Bay [2] – instead signed the National Defense Authorization Act – the law which now makes it possible to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists without trial, under the usual spin of national security.

But unless you’ve really not been paying attention, you know that anyone bold enough to critise or revolt against America’s corporate and military interests is quickly labeled a terrorist.

Case in point, there are already documented instances of the Occupy movement being labeled as terrorists by America and its allies [3]. Not forgetting the violent crackdown by police all over the world against people peacefully protesting against corruption and inequality. Terrorists?

People protesting against crimes against humanity. Against those profiteering from war, inflicting pain and misery onto billions of people. Terrorists?

People protesting against the plundering of the earth’s resources and the irreversible effects of carbon emissions spiraling out of control. Terrorists?

People standing up against US/Europe-backed brutal dictatorial regimes all over the world… and in the case of Palestine, nothing less than apartheid. Terrorists?

We are not terrorists. We have a dream, where people and the environment come before profit. Where our brothers and sisters all over the world unite as one, demanding peace and equality.

The great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. His strength, courage and charisma inspired a nation, and the world, to demand change. His efforts succeeded, he but paid the ultimate price.

The passing of the NDAA is a blow to the vision that MLK, and all the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement worked so hard to achieve, so that we may have the freedom to live without oppression, irrespective of our beliefs or background.

[1] Transcript of the “I Have a Dream” speech
[2] Obama and Guantanamo: A chronology of his broken promise
[3] Occupy London and Occupy Wall Street on the Terror List

I’m so happy we live in a world without slavery and imperialism

Modern imperialism and slavery, Leila la Tres Sage

This is the version for sharing online. If you’d like to use this in print then do get in touch, as the original version I made is in higher resolution & without pixel fonts.

I don’t watch much telly.

But I turned it on yesterday, and saw a commercial for a sofa company where a woman filled her front room with sofas because at those prices, she’d saved so much money. Am I such an oddball? Does that not scream out that our society is in a really sick state? And by sick I mean that kind of desperate sickness brought on by addiction, where we find joy in bargains, and achievement in spending.

Our consuming habits directly create misery, poverty, disease, famine, rape and war the world over. It’s all well and good pointing the finger at the political and corporate sleazeballs and their addicition to money for wrecking the planet and people’s livelihoods. But none of that is ever going to change unless we STOP giving them our money.

From a practical standpoint, to make any change at all, we need to seriously cut back our consuming habits. To start with, we can all buy less STUFF. STUFF we don’t need, STUFF cheaply made that breaks the next day, STUFF we feel obliged to give as presents, STUFF that fill our houses and our lives with an empty sense of achievement.

The stuff we do buy, we should ensure is ethically sourced and produced. Or bought second hand. Then we need to look after our stuff, so that it lasts longer.

We shouldn’t be afraid to break convention, for example with diamond engagement rings. We’re made to believe that this is a tradition but diamond rings didn’t become common until the 1930s.

Question everything.

DW: “Labor conditions pick away at migrant workers’ rights”
VDare: “An Immigration Patriot Picks Apples And Gives the Inside Scoop On The New Slave Power”

Further reading:
Food First: “Migrant Farmworkers: America’s New Plantation Workers”

Guardian: “Gap, Next and M&S in new sweatshop scandal”
IHS Child Slave Labour: “Children in India Produce Clothes for the Gap”

IHS Child Slave Labor: “Child Slavery Should Not Be Forever” (with further references)
Wikipedia: “Child labour in the diamond industry”
Wikipedia: “Blood diamond”

“Forced child labour in Uzbekistan”, Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights
Cotton Campaign – Stop forced and child labour in the cotton industry of Uzbekistan!
Craig Murray: “Child Slavery in Uzbekistan”

Starbucks Campaign: “Coffee Production and Labor”
Equal Exchange: “History of Coffee in Guatemala”

Salon.com: “Where Computers Go To Die – And Kill”
Greenpeace: “Where does e-waste end up?”
ZDNet : “Is Apple’s suicide factory outsourcing to even cheaper Chinese peasants?”
Triple Pundint: “Report Details Abuses At Chinese Factories That Manufacture Apple and HP Products”
SACOM: “The Dark Side of Cyberspace”

Oxfam international: Chilean fruit-picking workers’ story”
Further reading:
Slave Labour That Shames America

Stolen Beauty
Further reading:
Palestine Solidarity campaign – Fact sheet
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights: Fact Sheet

New Internationalist: “The Looting of The Congo”
Raise Hope for Congo
Enough Project: Conflict Materials
Wikipedia: Second Congo War
Oxfam: “No End in Sight: The human tragedy of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo”

Give the gift of seeing Goldman Sachs cough up £10 million in unpaid tax

If you’re looking for an original idea for stocking fillers this Xmas that’s affordable and will make a difference, then consider this… Donate £1 for each stocking that needs filling to UK Uncut, to help them take HMRC to court over the £10 million in taxes that they let off Goldman Sachs from paying.

Donate on UK Uncut Legal Action’s website (opens in a new window).

Then, after you donate, you can print out these stocking filler cards (9 cards per A4 sheet)

Not With MY Money – Don’t fund banks who deal with cluster bombs

The “Big Four” banks in the UK all hold shares in the arms sector, and have all had dealings with known producers of cluster bombs. There is a link between which institutions we bank with and amuptated children in war-torn countries. If you bank with NatWest / RBS, Lloyds, Barclays or HSBC and want a clean conscience, move your money to an ethical bank, or a building society which puts money back into the community.

The flyer is available to download & print yourself, see the links further down.

Move your money from banks who fund cluster bomb producers

Move your money from banks who fund cluster bomb producers

Flyer download (full colour, bleed & crop marks): Front | Back
Flyer download (black & white, suitable for home printing): Front | Back

Note I’ve designed this flyer independently from moveyourmoney.org.uk. Do pay it a visit though, there’s ample information on just what nasty dealings the big 4 are up to.

Sustainable paper resources – why isn’t anything changing?

Ten years ago I wrote this article on renewable paper sources, posted on the website for my first freelance design business while living in California. At the time, there was real hope in the industry that people would begin to employ these resources instead of relying on deforestation. And my article was by no means revolutionary at the time.

So what’s happened in the last decade? 

Naff all it seems. Printing prices have come down, companies are printing more, and alternative paper sources are still considered inferior by “corporate standards”.

I’m sure there have been significant advances in the last decade, so this article may be out of date in some respects. But enjoy the read, and if you’re a designer or marketer yourself, consider the alternatives next time you organising a print job.


The safeguard of our natural resources is the most crucial factor to the survival of humans and all other animals on this planet.

Cut down all the trees and we have no oxygen to breathe, no root systems to hold soil in place against erosion, no housing for some billion species of animals and insects that play a vital role in the earth’s ecosystems. Trees are sage giants that keep giving and demand little or nothing in return; they provide shade and their presence inspires calm and dignity whether or not we are aware of it.

Conventional paper manufacturers also rely heavily on chemicals to process paper. These chemicals are then released into our rivers, lakes and oceans.

Pollute our waterways and we destroy the diverse plant and animal life that again are a part of the ecosystem we depend upon. We also must spend millions of dollars in the re-purification of this water, which does not always eliminate all contamination. In the end, we feed ourselves toxic chemicals.

We cannot wait until the damage caused to this planet is irreversible. With dwindling forests, melting icecaps and chemicals in most of the earth’s water, we are already overdue.

Many people are skeptical of recycled paper as they have the reputation of looking a little grey, and often speckled. This holds no longer true. The ecologically responsible paper industry has come a long way since then and now produces papers as bright and smooth as any high-end paper product you expect of the conventional companies. The quality usually exceeds the latter because these papers are acid-free, and do not turn yellow after several years. Not only are these results now available at normal prices, many of them have never been a tree, ever!

Paper can be made from any fibrous material. Here are just a few examples of what is available for paper manufacturing:

KENAF – Kenaf is a plant originating from Africa and is a member of the hibiscus family. It is currently being tested as a hopeful alternative to cutting trees. It can grow up to 12-14 feet in as little as 4 to 5 months. U.S. Department of Agriculture studies show that kenaf yields of 6 to 10 tons of dry fiber per acre per year are generally 3 to 5 times greater than the yield for Southern pine trees, which can take from 7 to 40 years to reach harvestable size. Because kenaf is grown for the fibrous stalk, and not the fruit or flower of the plant, insecticides are not required. Because this plant requires an additional 60-90 days of frost-free conditions to germinate, kenaf will never run wild throughout the United States. (1)

HEMP – Being a relative of the marijuana plant, industrial hemp is illegal to grow in the United States. However, while marijuana contains 7% to 10% of THC, hemp contains only .09% of this psychoactive chemical. Furthermore, the mature marijuana looks like a bush while hemp is a stalk that will grow between 6 and 16 feet tall. Hemp will produce 10 tons per acre in 4 months (that’s 4 times more than an acre of 20-year old trees), and can be grown in a variety of climates. The plant resists diseases and shades out weeds so the use of chemicals is not required during cultivation. Additionally, hemp paper can be recycled 7 times versus 3 times for wood pulp paper. It can also serve as an alternative for edible oil, automotive oil, cooking and heating fuel, fabric, medicine and construction beams. It is really in our best interest to legalize the growth of industrial hemp soon! (2)

COTTON – Cotton is the world’s most widely used natural textile fiber, grown in over 70 countries and meeting nearly half of our clothing needs. About 35% percent of the cotton plant is used for fiber. The rest—seeds and gin trash—go into the food chain, either as industrially processed cooking oil or animal feed. Unfortunately conventional cotton farming is extremely chemical-intensive. According to the California-based Sustainable Cotton Project, in the United States, nearly a third of a pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is required to produce the pound of fiber that goes into a T-shirt. Whether cotton paper comes from textile scraps or from cotton linters, the fine fuzz that surrounds a cotton seed, it is important to support sustainable, chemical-free organic cotton farming. Cotton is also often mixed with other recycled paper fiber for a high quality paper type. (3)

OTHER – Many of the fibers left from plants we already grow for food go to waste after harvest, including rice, wheat, sugar cane and coffee. In the United States alone, an estimated 150 million tons of straw goes underutilized each year. In fact much of this waste is burned, only aggravating the pollution. Instead, these remainders can easily and economically be turned into paper. Scrap material such as the leftovers from the manufacturing of denim jeans, or old money can also create tough and beautiful paper products. Our resources are limitless; we just have to sever our dependence on the clearcutting of trees! (4)

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE – Being a safer alternative to chlorine bleach, the use of hydrogen peroxide in paper making could reduce the dioxin-bearing waste into rivers by 80%! (5)

VEGETABLE INKS – Vegetable inks are more biodegradable and produce less solvent air pollution in their manufacture and use than petroleum-based inks. This is safer for employee health and the environment. Commonly used vegetable oils are soybean, safflower, linseed, canola and corn. (6)

As with anything, a big change will inevitably appear to be a major obstacle. But with each step we take, the surroundings become more familiar and soon we are able to look back and laugh at our irrational fears.

We can start as individuals by understanding the source of everything we come across. For example, the fluorescent white junk mail we handle daily; what was it before? What processes were used to make it look the way it does? What resources were used to make this process? What will happen to it when it gets thrown away?

The next step is to re-evaluate our own dependency on paper. Are there things you do that can be handled in a paperless way?

Reuse as much existing paper as possible. Most printouts you handle are still half good! Stack them face down and use them as scratch paper or for in-house prints. If you work in an office, set up a box near printers and garbage cans to catch this paper. If you want your “note pad” to look neat you can always staple a small stack together. Not only will you promote environmental awareness but you will save yourself or your company money.

When paper is totally unusable, then recycle it. If you work in a large office that does not have a recycling program, initiate one! Most cities offer recycling services, and attractive recycling containers are easily available (old crates work great too).

The next time you need to purchase new paper, research not just recycled papers (which should be a minimum of 30% post-consumer content), but tree-free papers as well. Look for companies that offer such products, many of whom will send you samples at no charge. Some even offer a full spectrum of environmentally friendly office supplies, from recycled pencils, computer disks and ring-binders to biodegradable disposable plates for your next company picnic.

Demanding that your stationery and marketing collateral be printed on environmentally-sound products and using vegetable inks is another step you can take to ensure the preservation of our irreplaceable natural resources. This step may prove more difficult as from our recent experiences, conventional printers tend charge more for printing on paper that they believe may not be compatible with more cost-effective printing methods. Be persistent; if a printer refuses to work with the paper you want, find another!

Create the demand!! The more eco-friendly products we support the lower the prices will drop for these items, as retailers will be pushed to buy larger bulk quantities from the manufacturers.

(1) Vision Paper
(2) Ecosource Papers
(3) Watershed Media and Markets Initiative
(4) Watershed Media
(5) Ecosource Papers
(6) University of Vermont Environmental Council

David David David, Out Out Out

Eviction notice on the door of number 10 downing street

Confirmed in the news today that the coalition government has axed 124 Sure Start centres throughout the UK since slithering into power. Presumably because it’s really down to au pairs and nannies to do a better job entertaining children, not the government.