31 May 2008

ANZ Bank Withdrawal from Tasmanian Pulp Mill Disaster

Thanks to Glen...nice to see some eco action in action.....


PRESS RELEASE
Ecological Internet Welcomes ANZ Bank Withdrawal from
Tasmanian Pulp Mill Disaster

May 31, 2008
By Ecological Internet, http://www.ecologicalinternet.org/
and Forests.org, http://forests.org/

Ecological Internet (EI) welcomes news that ANZ Bank of
Australia will not fund the Gunns Tasmanian pulp mill. In a
statement ANZ announced it will not provide finance for the
AU$ 2 billion project to pulp ancient forests for throw-away
paper products, but did not provide a reason for withdrawing.
International environmental protest spearheaded by Ecological
Internet, in support of local protests, certainly played a
major role.

ANZ Bank, and the Australian and Tasmanian governments, have
been targets of environmental protest in country and from
Ecological Internet and other overseas groups for years. Most
recently, in early April, nearly 3,000 EI Earth Action Network
participants from 87 countries sent a quarter of a million
protest emails to ANZ and the Australian government asking
that ANZ withdraw funding. The Australian national government
was also called out for their hypocrisy in supporting
protection of forests overseas to address climate change, but
not in Tasmania. The archived successful alert can be found at:
http://www.climateark.org/alerts/send.asp?id=australia_tasmania_climate

"Thankfully, ANZ Bank has finally listened to its customers
and global citizens sickened by their profiteering from
ancient forest slaughter. They should be commended for
withdrawing from the ecologically disaster Gunns pulp mill.
Now perhaps ANZ will reexamine their lending to notorious
rainforest destroyer Rimbunan Hijau in Papua New Guinea as
well. And Australia end its logging shame by pulling Gunns'
pulp mill environmental approvals, ending this ghoulish
project once and for all," says Ecological Internet President
Dr. Glen Barry.

"It is amazing what global citizens, through participation in
a strong network anchored by a reliable hub, can achieve
together for ecological sustainability. As Ecological Internet
continues to raise funds to meet basic costs for our unique
brand of biocentric activism on the net, we hope this latest
in a string of victories will lead to increased individual and
foundation support for our campaign to end ancient forest
logging."

Ecological Internet stands alone as the only major
international forest campaigning group working to end ancient
forest logging and all industrial destruction of relatively
intact natural ecosystems. We seek permanent protections for
all remaining primary and old-growth forests (with appropriate
compensation and continued small scale use for local peoples),
advocate for ecological restoration and certified management
of regenerating and planted natural forest ecosystems, and
promote local peoples' pursuit of small-scale, community-based
eco-forestry projects based upon regenerating secondary and
standing ancient forests. This is the true path to global
forest sustainability.

###ENDS###
Contact: Dr. Glen Barry, GlenBarry(at) EcologicalInternet.org,
+1 920 776 1075

30 May 2008

CubaSí


In a CubaSí exclusive, Derek Wall, principal spokesperson for the Green Party, argues that to achieve a green planet, we all need to learn from Cuba

We all know about climate change, forest destruction and other ecological threats but in Latin America environmental concern is treated more seriously than perhaps in any other part of the world.

In 2006 I visit Venezuela with my partner Sarah, we were there to see our friend Cesar Aponte who works in the Ministry of the Environment. Although Venezuela is an oil economy and Caracas is a sprawling polluted city, Chavez's government are working hard to promote ecodevelopment. We visited an ecological high school where kids were taught organic agriculture and saw the huge permaculture city farm in Caracas next to the Hilton Hotel.

Venezuela's own energy needs are nearly all from renewables and there is a plan to stop using petrol for cars, new railways have been built and organic agriculture is a big priority. Visiting London Hugo Chavez' praised the congestion charge and defined one person one car culture simply as 'a thing of stupidity.'

There are other examples from the region. The Peruvian peasant leader Hugo Blanco is part of a huge continental ecology movement and Bolivian President Morales is famous for making an inspiration speech on climate change to the UN.
However, ecological concerns have gone furthest in Cuba and the Cuban government have shown a long term interest in ecology. In 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Fidel Castro observed prophetically:

"An important biological species is at risk of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive elimination of its natural habitat: man.
"(...) consumer societies are fundamentally responsible for the atrocious destruction of the environment.

"The solution cannot be to hinder the development of the neediest.”

The Cuban constitution enshrines environmental protection. Cuba has been identified as the one country in the world that has been able to develop in an ecologically sustainable way by the WWF. Uniquely Cuba has balanced a rising standard of living with practices that are ecologically sustainable. While it is pretty shocking for the rest of the globe that no other state has achieved this, it shows just how important the example of Cuba is if we are to meet environmental challenges such as climate change and to deal with global problems of poverty and injustice at the same time. Put most simply to achieve a green world, we all need to learn from Cuba.

Cuba is perhaps most famous for its organic agriculture. During the 1990s the collapse of the Soviet Union meant that the country no longer received cheap oil from Russia. The ‘Special Period’ as most readers know led to much hardship but it also meant that Cuba had to go on a crash course of oil reduction. Non-organic agriculture is heavily dependent on oil, for example, most pesticides and chemical fertilizers are a by-product of petroleum. To survive Cuba had to go organic. Cubans were encouraged to produce as much of their food as possible and to use low impact ecological methods.
In Havana highly productive organic allotments can be found between tower blocks and all sorts of land that would be otherwise unused. Cuba has over 7,000 urban allotments know as 'organopinics' nearly 100,000 acres.

Cuba imported organic expertise from around the global and is celebrated in particular for its use of permaculture. Permaculture uses complementary planting and biological techniques to reduce digging and to make it easier to produce crops. Instead of monoculture where one uniform homogenous crop is grown, interplanting makes it easier to avoid pests and to maintain soil fertility. Organic waste such as vegetable peelings is composted and used to restore soil nutrients. Worm bins are particularly important. The worms accelerate the breakdown of compost, turning waste into horticultural gold.

The special period forced Cuba to go green but in recent years awareness of global ecological problems particularly climate change caused by rising CO2 levels have increasingly motivated the countries environmental reforms. Fidel Castro has been a pioneer of such concern, identifying the ecological costs of neo-liberal globalisation and noting that capitalist economic growth is unsustainable.

By creating unsustainable consumer patterns in industrialised countries and sowing impossible dreams throughout the rest of the world, the developed capitalist system has caused great injury to mankind. It has poisoned the atmosphere and depleted its enormous non-renewable natural resources, which mankind will need in the future.
Please, do not believe that I am thinking of an idealistic, impossible, absurd world; I am merely trying to imagine what a real world and a happier person could be like. It would not be necessary to mention a commodity, it suffices to mention a concept: inequality has made more than 80 per cent of the people on the planet unhappy, and this is no more than a concept. (Castro 2003: 18)
While George Bush has attempted to derail international action on climate change, Cuba has been a world leader. It was one of the first countries to sign the Convention on Climate Change and, its successor the Kyoto Protocol. The country was one of the first to move to low energy light bulbs to cut CO2. While Cuba now swaps oil with Venezuela in exchange for health care, it has developed renewable energy on a large scale including solar and wind generated electricity.

In March this year Jose Manuel Presa, deputy minister of the Basic Industry (energy and mining) told the Cuban Society for the Promotion of Renewable Energy Sources and Environmental Respect that Cuba had saved the equivalent of one million tons of oil in 2006 and 2007. The Cuban government’s ‘energy revolution’ has not only promoted renewables but carefully planned ways of conserving energy. The country is also exporting its expertise to other Caribbean and Latin American countries.

Recycling is also highly developed the country. Virtually all waste is reused both out of environmental concern and ecological necessity. In contrast in Britain low levels of recycling mean that many local authorities risk being fined by the European Union and there is a drive to build new incinerators despite the pollution they produce. Wildlife conservation is also a priority and the country has recently banned the hunting of all marine turtles to prevent extinction.

Many supposedly green solutions have proved to be both environmentally damaging and social unjust. Sustainability must be driven by sound scientific research and a commitment to ending poverty and inequality. One example of a supposed solution, which is neither, is biofuels. While it sounds like an obvious solution to crop energy crops instead of burning polluting fossil fuels, there are a number of devastating consequences. In South East Asia the fastest growing threat to rainforest is from biofuels, with forests being cut down to make way for palm oil plantations.

Fidel Castro has been one of most important critics of this policy pointing out that while biofuels production from waste may make sense, growing crops for fuel will mean environmental damage and lead to starvation as the area used for food production is reduced.

It would be possible to think of areas where Cuba could make more progress, however criticism must be balanced with an understanding that Cuba is unique in its commitment to raising the standard of living of its people, while maintaining environmental quality.

During the 20th century socialism seemed largely divorced from green concerns. However in the 19th century Marx and Engels were already aware of environmental issues including soil erosion, deforestation and industrial pollution. It is fitting that Cuba more than any other country has come closest to implementing eco-socialist policies that can be traced back to Marx and Engels.

The defence of Cuba is vital task for all serious greens. Capitalism is unsustainable, so an eco-socialist model is necessary. Cuba shows the way and its example is already inspiring other countries, particularly in Latin America, to follow a green path.

Castro, F. (2003) On Imperialist Globalization: Two Speeches. London: Zed.

Further information: The Power of Community – How Cuba survived peak oil

Watch this 53 minute DVD for more details on how Cuba coped with the loss of its oil imports overnight and the lessons for other countries. Available from CSC for £12 + £1 p&p

LAMBETH UNISON CALLS PUBLIC MEETING IN DEFENCE OF LOCAL SERVICES

Thanks to James Caspell for this....

Speakers include:
Mark Serwotka – General Secretary, PCS
Alan Walter – Secretary, Defend Council Housing
Heenal Rajani – Lambeth UNISON
Barbara Glosby – Lambeth Pensioners Association
Jean Kerrigan – Former Chair of Lambeth Tenants Council

6.30pm to 8.30pm
Wednesday 11th June
Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton

Not content with transferring management of its council housing to an ALMO despite residents voting against it, Lambeth Council is proposing to give massive private companies ten-year contracts worth over £1.2 billion to run housing services.

They call this "Partnering" – really it is a licence for contractors to line their pockets and decimate the services tenants and leaseholders receive. Hundreds of Lambeth staff could be transferred to private sector firms and services provided away from local, democratic control.

What's more, Lambeth Council are not even intending to give tenants and leaseholders a vote on whether they want this privatisation or not! And officers are refusing to even come up with the costs of providing services in-house through a Direct Labour Organisation.

UNISON members who work for the Council are holding a consultative ballot on industrial action in a bid to stop this privatisation going through. Residents must support them and unite with other public sector workers fighting to prevent the privatisation of the services we rely on!

On 24 April teachers, college lecturers and civil servants were on strike and marched through Brixton protesting against pay cuts. Nurses and local government workers are now balloting on strike action over pay. Private sector involvement is threatening education, health, social care, the Royal Mail, rail and tube, and the civil service, as well as council housing.

Come to this meeting to hear the truth about privatisation. Help organise the action that is necessary if we are to save our services in Lambeth.

CONTACT

For more information please email info@saveourservices.org.uk or visit www.saveourservices.org.uk

My candidate wins the nomination for the Presidency


A black candidate wins the Presidential nomination....a women wins the nomination...my candidate wins.

Yes former congresswomen for Georgia Cynthia McKinney has picked up more than 50% of the Green Party delegates in primaries across the USA so far.

She may not win but politics is about creating a new common sense it is a battle for ideas, Cynthia is 100% anti-war, she wants to withdraw US troops from Iraq, to close all US foreign bases, she wants to keep the 'oil in the soil', she supports real action on climate change and has a long record of fighting for justice and the environment.

Last year she visited Britain, I chaired her meeting at the Brixton Green fair and I urged her to run 'Go Cynthia, go Cynthia' we chanted, she left the Democrats and sought the Green Party nomination.

The US is a corporate dictatorship, voters have no real say...the military-industrial complex, the oligarchy pick the candidates and the Mad Men sell sell...Cynthia can puts some cracks in the spectacle.

Cynthia McKinney is a friend of Chavez and Morales, every vote she gets is a vote for the politics that is transforming Latin America.

Please support her important work.

There is life beyond Bush, Obama, McCain and Clinton...vote Green in November make history.

In fact the mere fact of a feisty African-American women candidate for the Greens is history.

here is an example of her recent campaign work

Dear Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar:

It is impossible for me to say strongly enough how important your efforts are in the Czech Republic to oppose deployment of U.S. so-called missile defense bases. Your leadership is being watched and is appreciated all over the world.

While in Congress I voted against every iteration of so-called missile defense--Star Wars--that was authorized or appropriated. I want you to know that I deeply understand the dangers that will come from a decision to accept the U.S. Star Wars radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland. There is no doubt that a new cold war is underway here that could once again bring Europe back into the middle of another U.S.-Russia conflict.

Your hunger strike in Prague since May 13, and now joined by others including Bruce Gagnon in the U.S., is an important effort to bring this issue to the public consciousness. The American people have been deceived at every turn by this Bush Administration and have yet to learn of the dangers and enormous cost of this new arms race we are creating. Thank you to you and to Bruce for your courageous and determined stand.

Let me assure you that as a candidate for the U.S. Green party presidential nomination, and a former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I very well understand the importance of your citizen action to demand a national referendum in your country on this deployment issue. I also understand your desire to prevent the U.S. from establishing military bases in your country after your long history of occupation by Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Union. I am touched by your desire for real democracy in your country and agree that occupation and democracy are not compatible.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once remarked that the United States was the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet. Sadly, that has not changed. Please know that as I campaign, I will share your stories with those I meet as I cross our nation.

Thank you all again for your demand for peace and democracy.

Cynthia McKinney
Candidate for President of the United States
Green Party

Bolivia under assault from the oligarchy

Please find below a shortened version of the Bolivia Information Forum (BIF) News Briefing covering recent events in Sucre among other developments. The full version can be read on the BIF website at: http://www.boliviainfoforum.org.uk/news-detail.asp?id=39

Best wishes

The Bolivia Information Forum

www.boliviainfoforum.org.uk

enquiries[at]boliviainfoforum.org.uk






BIF News Briefing

May 2008



1. Violence and humiliation in Sucre and elsewhere

2. Recall Referendum

3. International Summit







1. Violence and humiliation in Sucre and elsewhere



Scenes of shameful violence took place in Sucre this week as tensions rose before a planned presidential visit, to coincide with the town’s civic anniversary. On 24 May a number of indigenous peasants from communities around the city came to the centre of Sucre to receive new municipal vehicles, which were to be handed over by the President in a ceremony in the stadium. Instead, the police and military personnel providing security for the event were overpowered by a large group of citizens (mainly youth) and the President cancelled his visit. A number of indigenous people who were to have received the President were taken prisoner by the mob, forcibly undressed, marched to the central plaza and made to kneel and shout anti-government slogans and to burn their ponchos, the flag of the MAS party and the wiphala (indigenous flag). During this ordeal they were subjected to kicks, blows and racist abuse. One of the captives was a rural mayor who denounced the attacks and gave witness to the mayor of Sucre, Aidée Nava, looking on and applauding. Others present were the University Chancellor and national leaders of the opposition, including ex-President and head of Podemos, Tuto Quiroga, Prefect of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa, and Senator Oscar Ortiz. Responses from local grassroots organisations, national and international human rights organisations and the government have been swift and condemnatory and have demanded punishment of the perpetrators.



In another wave of violence, MAS Congress members Cesar Navarro MP and Senator Ana Rosa Velazquez were ambushed by a violent mob as they passed through Sucre airport on their way to their constituency in Potosí, in a manner that suggested forethought and planning on the part of the aggressors.



2. Recall Referendum



As mentioned in the last BIF News Briefing, the recall referendum law passed smoothly through Congress and the Senate. The first usage of this law will be to call for a referendum on the mandates of all of the departmental Prefects as well as the President and Vice President, which will be carried out on 10 August, a few days after Independence Day. The NO vote in the referendum will have to achieve one percentage point more than the proportion of the vote they received in the election which brought them into office, for their mandate to be recalled.



The recall referendum law has been seen as a bold gamble by Evo Morales who is throwing his own political fate in along with those Prefects who he wishes to see put out of office. Among them, Manfred Reyes Villa in Cochabamba will almost certainly lose but Ruben Costas in Santa Cruz looks likely to win again. As for Morales himself, opinions are divided but many see it as a chance to show the strength of his mandate as well as an opportunity to show his responsiveness to the voting public. Though the government has been facing challenging circumstances in a number of areas, among them inflation, climate change-induced natural disaster, political unrest and food shortages, it does look likely that Morales will be endorsed.



The passage of the law precipitated a rupture within the opposition, which initially passed the government-sponsored law rapidly, perhaps hoping to capitalise on perceived momentum following the autonomy referendum in Santa Cruz. It then transpired that the law was agreed to by a group of opposition Senators without the consent of several key opposition figures, including opposition prefects who will be subject to the referendum. This led to angry reclamations within the opposition party, some even accusing others of “political stupidity”.



Government campaigning began on 20 May with the President starting a round of visits to diverse corners of the country and emphasising the achievements of his administration.





3. International Summit



Evo Morales took part in the EU-Latin America and the Caribbean (EU-LAC) summit in Lima. Rifts became apparent during the meeting between those countries (Peru and Colombia) that wish to accelerate a free trade agreement with the EU, and those that wish to advance with more caution (Ecuador, Bolivia). The Bolivian President criticised the attitude of the EU representative, Peter Mandelson, saying that: ‘It’s not possible that he should say to us that either we participate on his terms or are out of the negotiations’. He also added that the free circulation of human beings should be considered as well as free circulation of goods, pointing out the discrepancy of immigration controls between EU countries and Bolivia.



Chilean president Michelle Bachelet met with her Bolivian counterpart at the summit in Lima and both emphasised the strength of the cordial relationship between the two countries, speaking of ‘complementarity’ between ‘neighbouring brother countries’ and the need for advancement on the 13-point plan aimed at restoring Bolivian access to the sea. Chile recently conceded 10 hectares of sovereign land to be used by Bolivia, in the city of Iquique. It is understood that this will eventually form part of the bi-oceanic corridor planned between Brazil and Chile.

Derek Wall welcomes UCU motion on Palestine

As both a member of the UCU and Green Party Speaker, I am very pleased UCU voted for the following motion.

The lie that it was purely supported by the SWP is wrong...Green Party members in the UCU also support it, incidentally while the SWP get a lot wrong, credit for supporting this..

Like the Green Party motion on boycott of Israel, it was passed I believe by more than 2/3rds


Motion:

25 Composite: Palestine and the occupation University of Brighton – Eastbourne, University of Brighton – Grand Parade, University of East London Docklands, National Executive Committee

Congress notes the

1. continuation of illegal settlement, killing of civilians and the impossibility of civil life, including education;

2. humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel and the EU;

3. apparent complicity of most of the Israeli academy;

4. legal attempts to prevent UCU debating boycott of Israeli academic institutions; and legal advice that such debates are lawful

Congress affirms that

5. criticism of Israel or Israeli policy are not, as such, anti-semitic;

6. pursuit and dissemination of knowledge are not uniquely immune from their moral and political consequences;

Congress resolves that

7. colleagues be asked to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating;

8. UCU widely disseminate the personal testimonies of UCU and PFUUPE delegations to Palestine and the UK, respectively;

9. the testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions;

10. UCU facilitate and encourage twinning arrangements and other direct solidarity with Palestinian institutions;

11. Ariel College, an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank, be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure.

29 May 2008

We can stop the third runway ! We will stop the third runway !


Campaign against Climate Change



DEMONSTRATE at HEATHROW



Saturday MAY 31st



Say NO to Heathrow’s 3rd Runway



Say NO to Runaway Airport Expansion



Say YES to saving millions from climate catastrophe



Join a Spring Carnival of Resistance to Airport Expansion



Find out about the Carnival/demo here : http://www.make-a-noise.org



Also more info here : http://www.campaigncc.org/heathrow.shtml



Organised by Campaign against Climate Change, HACAN, NOTRAG , the 2M group, Greenpeace and EnoughsEnough



Supported by: Airport Watch, Campaign for Better Transport, Friends of the Earth, People & Planet, Plane Stupid, Practical Action, Sustrans, Womens Environmental Network, World Development Movement, WWF and Brent, Camden, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lewisham, Merton. Richmond, South Bucks, Sutton and Wandsworth councils.



Assemble at Hatton Cross Underground Station (Picadilly Tube Line) at 12 noon.



Join a ‘Carnival March’ around the airport perimeter to Sipson – the village which would be wiped out

by a 3rd runway.



Help make a giant ‘NO’ and join the fun at the festival in Sipson village



On Monday 25th February there was an indoor Rally against Heathrow expansion in the Central Hall, Westminster, with around 3,000 attending (a second Hall had to be used). This was after many local meetings around West London up to a thousand strong. The movement against the Third Runway at Heathrow is gathering pace….and snowballing exponentially…..



This is not just about Heathrow, this is about drawing a line in the sand against big investment decisions that are locking us into a headlong plummet into climate catastrophe. The huge expansion in aviation, of which the Heathrow expansion is the flagship component, is totally incompatible with winning the battle against climate catastrophe, totally incompatible in fact, with the Government’s own Climate Bill.



This is a battle we need to win – and a battle we can win ! We want to see people coming from all over the country to join the tens of thousands who will be protesting in West London. We want a massive show of force to make sure we win our first big victory in the war to redirect Britain towards a low carbon future. Come and be part of it – join a Spring Carnival of Resistance to the Third Runway, Airport Expansion and the insanity of government decisions that would lock us into climate catastrophe.



We can stop the third runway ! We will stop the third runway !

Jobcentre Plus denies jobseekers informed service user choice

Hi, Derek

I note that the one 'comment' so far arising from my 'voice risk analysis' piece is actually spam :-/

Still, as you were keen to have more contributions from me, here is something else. (I regard this piece as revelatory material that can resource something else, rather than a complete article in itself.)


Jobcentre Plus denies jobseekers informed service user choice

"In 1987 John O'Brien, an American who works for better lives for people with learning difficulties, identified five important things to look for when judging whether a service provision was of a good standard." (http://www.elfrida.com/documents/homelink%20support%20worker.pdf page 4 [Accessed 28 May 2008].) I believe 'John O'Brien's Five Accomplishments' help provide a framework of best practice for services addressed to the requirements of disabled people in general, and will focus here -- with the aid of Accomplishment #1 -- on how some of Jobcentre Plus 'standard practice' actually works against the interests of disabled jobseekers. Accomplishment #1 is 'Informed Choice':

1. Informed choice defines and expresses individual identity. People with learning difficulties should be empowered to make informed choices and to take responsibility for the consequences of their decisions. (ibid.)
When 'confidentiality' is a denial of informed choice and 'service-provider' accountability

Government departments get restructured and rebranded, but many aspects of practice regarding disabled people do not improve significantly -- even with such advances in legislation as the Data Protection Act and Disability Discrimination Act. This fact is exemplified by how the executive arm of government known through the years as the Manpower Services Commission, Employment Service and now Jobcentre Plus have denied disabled jobseekers informed choice and hide behind the word 'confidentiality'.

I first came across such use of the word 'confidentiality' in the fallout from a 'vocational assessment period' at a Manpower Services Commission-run 'Employment Rehabilitation Centre' [sic] (ERC). There in 1978, a six week 'vocational assessment' period proved very disappointing to me, resulting in no follow-up training period to the 'vocational assessment'. I was not allowed unsupervised access to the subsequent report of that 'assessment', and could only see it at the Jobcentre in the presence of a [then named] 'Disablement Resettlement Officer' or their assistant. We were told that the 'vocational assessment' report was "too confidential" for the ERC graduate to have a photocopy of. (Worryingly, the medical reports were deemed "too confidential" for us to have any access to.)

Twenty-one years later I was on a 'Work Preparation Programme' as a disabled jobseeker at Hendon College, funded by Jobcentre Plus. With an end-of-programme review coming up, I was eager to have a copy of the related 'Action Plan' so that I would be better prepared for that review meeting evaluation. To my request for a copy of the 'Action Plan' that I had drawn up with her, my Disability Employment Adviser replied, "It is not standard Jobcentre practice for you to have unsupervised access to that 'Action Plan'. The Action Plan and subsequent report are confidential between the Jobcentre and the service provider." Through the National Bureau for Students with Disabilities (aka Skill) I was advised that I had a right to such personal data by way of the Data Protection Act, and so the college obliged me with a copy of the Action Plan. They also sent programme participants a draft copy of the evaluation report, so that the participant could suggest amendments. But when I wrote my MP Glenda Jackson complaining at the retrogressive nature of Jobcentre Plus 'confidentiality', she replied something like, "What do you expect me to do about it?"

More recently, on New Deal induction with workfare company A4e (Action for Employment), I have noticed that a woeful lack of signposting information has been exacerbated by our being told that the induction packs outlining such matters as 'Terms and Conditions' of the 'Intensive Activities Period' are "too confidential" for us to take out of the building." Further, on the referral form I had reason to object to the absence of any questions regarding my disability access requirements as a New Deal 'beneficiary' [sic].

But I do know from friends who have been on New Deal in the City of Westminster and LB Hammersmith & Fulham that there is a postcode lottery regarding New Deal provision. Their New Deal provider is 'Work Directions' which does not hide behind such 'confidentiality'. Work Directions also provides free mobile phones to its New Deal participants, arguing, "How can you get a job if no-one can contact you?" and free passports to streamline such matters as Criminal Records Bureau Enhanced Clearance checks toward jobs that require such safeguarding measures. Instead of such freebies, A4e offers free debt advice -- while it is bidding to take over delivery of government funded legal advice services for the whole of the UK.
Is it not high time that disabled jobseekers be given more informed choice and such service providers enjoyed less 'confidentiality'? The motto of A4e is 'Changing People's Lives'. I would rather receive more resources and help in making my own changes, thank you.

Alan Wheatley
Disability Spokesperson for London Green Party

Green Party Speaker condemns radioactive Brown


'Gordon Brown looks likely not to be remembered for economic prudence as chancellor or for policy innovation as prime minister. With economic crisis and plunging poll ratings Brown is in deep trouble. As Chancellor he failed to learn the lesson of earlier oil price shocks, the failure of New Labour to invest in renewable energy, public transport, now means that Britain's problems are accelerating economically.

The nuclear solution is uneconomic, unsafe and environmentally catastrophic. Who will pay the £bns of clean up costs? Existing nuclear power stations mean a bill of £70bn, there is no effective let alone economic solution to the waste problem.

On tuesday it was revealed that decommissioning existing nuclear power station now costs £73 bn:
Campaign groups have warned that the cost of decommissioning nuclear power stations was "spiralling out of control" after an official admission that an estimate of £73 billion was set to rise.

The £73 billion figure, published in January, was an increase of £12 billion on the previous estimate made in 2003, but a senior official at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority said he believed the cost would continue to escalate.

Director Jim Morse told the BBC: "I think it's a high probability that in the short term it will undoubtedly go up."


Wednesday Brown proclaims support for more nukes:

He said: "We want to do more to diversify our supply of energy and that's why I think we are pretty clear that we will have to do more than simply replace existing nuclear capability in Britain. We will be more ambitious for our plans for nuclear in the future."

The Business Secretary, John Hutton, called for a significant expansion of nuclear power in Britain earlier this year, arguing it would offer "breathtaking" opportunities for British industry.


Green solutions are possible based on renewables, energy conservation, localising the economy to cut waste, organic food production can also make a huge contribution.

Brown's plans must and can be fought, the alternative is a radioactive future that threatens everyone in Britain.'

28 May 2008

Green Principal Speakers say shift tax burden on to fuel


This was from the Morning Star.

On the road to nowhere
(Tuesday 27 May 2008)
by LOUISE NOUSRATPOUR


GREEN campaigners urged the government on Tuesday to reward responsible motorists by abolishing road tax and shifting the responsibility on to petrol-guzzlers through fuel duty.

They spoke out as road lobbyists and lorry drivers staged a slow-moving protest through London and Cardiff against rising fuel prices and the proposed green taxes on motorists, which spell rising fuel duties as well as higher annual road tax charges of up to £200.

Peter Carroll, one of the hauliers behind the protest, said: "The government takes about 60 per cent of the cost of fuel in tax.

"Buses get nearly all this back in rebates and we want the government to introduce an essential user rebate to help hauliers and save them from going out of business."

However, green campaigners and left politicians distanced themselves from the protesting hauliers' demand for fuel tax refunds for road transport businesses.

Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths dismissed the protest as one organised "by employers and contractors in their own narrow interest.

"What is required in the interest of everyone affected by the rising price of oil is a windfall tax on oil corporations and price controls on food and other essentials."

Green Party principal speaker Derek Wall agreed that a windfall tax on oil companies was needed to invest in renewable energy and public transport.

He added: "While we respect people's right to non-violent protest, we believe that it is wrong to demand a cap on fuel duty.

"The government should get rid of the road tax and introduce transport taxation that is linked to fuel usage to encourage responsible driving."

Fellow party speaker Caroline Lucas MEP added: "The flat road tax on vehicle ownership takes no account of road usage and provides no incentive or reward for making less polluting travel choices.

"A far fairer alternative would be to scrap it altogether and move the responsibility solely onto fuel tax."

Ms Lucas expressed little sympathy for road lobbyists, who she said consistently argue for more road building and more traffic, which means more pollution.

"They have attempted to block every effort to reduce our dependency on petrol. Now the price has inevitably risen and they want the rest of us to pay for it through our taxes or cuts to servcies," she said.

"The answer would be to remove the argument about road tax increases in one swipe and introduce a scheme that rewards those who use less fuel."

Inside the Commons, the government is facing a damaging rebellion from more than 30 Labour backbenchers who have signed a motion against the green taxes.

But environmental group Friends of the Earth spokesman Mike Childs pointed out that, despite fuel price rises, the overall cost of motoring had actually fallen in real terms while the cost of public transport had risen.

"This trend must be reversed," he demanded. "The government must fast-track investment in public transport and backing for smarter cars that use less petrol so our society is not held to ransom by our reliance on a dwindling and insecure natural resource."

27 May 2008

Green Left AGM - forward to ecosocialismo


Green Left AGM saw about 30 of us discuss positively lots of stuff...next mobilisation is for the Heathrow demo on saturday.


AGM minutes 24 May 2008

1.Observers; The meeting agreed to the presence of observers provided that they declared their political allegiances and withdrew for certain items if requested. Observers from Socialist Resistance and the Association of Socialist Greens (Alliance for Green Socialism?) were present.

2.Minutes of last AGM were not available

3.Finances

a)£240 in bank account (now fully operative).

b) £100 owed by M.Sellwood.

c) £50 paid to P.Murry reimbursement for room hire for AGM.

d) From October 1 2008 membership would be on a £5 pa subscription basis and some subscriptions and donations had been received.

e) A vote of thanks to the Treasurer was passed
4. Reports from Committee:

a) Co convenor (P.Murry) reported that he had been mainly occupied with setting up website and blog and database to assist with new membership arrangements Plans for a Birmingham meeting had fallen through but there had been activity in assisting Campaign Against Climate Change TU Group with its conference and other activities.

b) International Report (J.Healy) Concern expressed over Green/right coalitions & alliances in Europe and rise of fascism & xenophobia in Italy.

c) International Report (D.Wall) links with Latin America (esp. Cuba, Venezuela and Columbia) had been maintained.

d) TU liaison S.Tibbles had been working on this via the Green Party Trades Union group and had been elected to exec of Southeast Region TUC and Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom.

e) Political Liaison J.Ennis had been working with J.Healy on translating eco-shopping guide from Italian.

f) Campaigns (Jonathan Essex) Concentrating on preparations for Heathrow demo 31/5/2008, assemble 12noon Hatton Cross tube. Other campaigns to be discussed a campaigns meeting 2-6pm 24/5/2008.

4. European Report(Joseph Healy) Observers withdrew for this item. The full report is available on GL email list.

5. The following motion passed unan nem con
"Gleft/London Federation of Green parties congratulates the Durban dockers of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), and the police trade union (POPCRU) members who supported them for turning away the Chinese arms shipment to Zimbabwe where it might be used to attack trades unionists and others engaged in the struggle for democratic rights in Zimbabwe. We note that such action would be illegal if taken by British Trades unionists and call for a restoration of the rights of British trades unionists to take solidarity action with other groups nationally and internationally."

6.Population /migration The next steering committee would discuss a response to the second draft of the population policy in time for conference motion s deadline 5/6/2008. bearing in mind the following:

"Any population policy is only acceptable if it
A.rejects the notion of setting a target population for the UK
B.calls on gov't to build and adapt ecologically friendly housing stock to be provided affordably on a basis of social need
C.calls for immediate international negotiations on world population size, distribution and migration, in view of the fact that a climate change refugee problem is already starting, adding to the push and pull factors caused by gross international inequality.
D.adopts the " Europe is a continent of migration” (European Green Party : Adopted Paper).”

7. Motion a public statement of support for NUT/UCU/PCS passed unan nem con

“"We support the recent strike action by NUT, UCU and PCS and note that it is absurd to claim that the workers involved were overpaid. We support their struggles for decent pay rates and against the casualisation of their work."

8.Support for Hugo Blanco (see http://www.socialistvoice.ca/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/blanco-indigenous.pdf) . D.Wall described the work of Hugo Blanco and S.American indigenous peoples’ movements . It was agreed that GL contribute funds to the production of HB’s magazine (NB How much?)

9. Anti-Fascism the following motion passed unan nem con



“This AGM notes that the British National Party:
Is a fascist, racist and homophobic organisation that stands for an all-white Britain and the destruction of trade unions.


Stood 119 candidates in the 2005 general election, winning a total of 192.750 cotes, 4 times their vote at the 2001 elections.


Has 21 councillors across Britain; won 130,714 votes, in the London assembly elections, and has now got a seat.


In the GLA elections of May 2008, the BNP in barking and Dagenham ward won 24.75%, with an average of nearly 10% throughout City and East.


The BNP have nationally made only a net gain of ten council seats in this round of elections, which is well short of the three AMs and forty council seats that they predicted.


This AGM further notes


The broadest public coalition is needed to stop the continued rise of the BNP and to stop them from making a breakthrough into mass politics achieved by the far right throughout Europe including, for example the National Front in France and the Freedom party in Austria.


We can help defeat the BNP through funding research into their activities and campaigning against them wherever and whenever they appear and applaud the work of, among many others, the UAF.


This AGM resolves to deepen and braoaden anti-facsist work by:
Continuing to use whatever appropriate methods to stop the BNP
Wherever the BNP have been elected , on the GLA and elsewhere, to publicly discredit them and their race hatred.


Working explicitly with as many others (as possible?) against the fascist threat


Campaigning in our unions for the political isolation and expulsion of fascists


Writing a stronger GPEW anti-fascist policy to submit to autumn conference


developing and presenting policies of the GP which addresses the material concerns of those of the electors currently inclined to vote BNP.”


10 GPTU conference July 12th 10-6, Friends' Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton, Sussex BN1 1AF (10 minutes from Brighton BR), Featuring Caroline Lucas Green Party MEP, Tony Kearns (Communications Workers Union), Kate Greene (Child Poverty Action Group) & Workshops on Migration/ Population policy and International relations (J.Healy) and Future strategies for links between Greens and TUs (P.MacCafferty)


11 Tolpuddle there may be a GP stall this year contact mdouglas@gn.apc.org


12 Compass conference noted


13 Convention of the Left 20-25 /9/2008 GL agreed to sponsor D.Wall’s appearance and other activities contact http://www.conventionoftheleft.org/


14 Green Left members have also been involved in organising the Campaign Against Climate Change Trades Union conferences and organising CACCTU fringes at TU conferences and another CACCTU conference in 2009.

15 Steering Committee elected as follows
CO-Convenors: J.Healy, S.Farrow
Treasurer: S.Bineham
Membership/web Secretary: P.Murry
International liaison: D.Wall & S.Ennis
TU liaison: S.Tibbles
Political/GPRC liaison: A.Hewett
Anti Fascist liaison: P.MacCafferty & P.Cooney
Councillor liaison: R. Phoenix
Media Officer; F.Bakht
NHS liaison: P.Torabi (needs to be asked if he is
willing to occupy this post)
Political education: Sean Thompson:
Liaison with Young Greens: Aled Fisher


NB the meeting decided not to co-opt John Henry Mavin as it was not clear what capacity this would be in and as he was not present to support his candidature. He is welcome to join GL


16AOBs
A)A.Wheatley noted that her had been little or no follow upon the motion on disabled workers rights passed at the last GP conference.
B)J Essex wished opposition to Conservatives and possible \Henley by –election raised.
C)Socialist resistance event. J.Healy to speak
D) Socialist party event. A.Hewett to speak

17)THE MEETING CLOSED

26 May 2008

The Argonomist?

I have heard doubts about Aristide....heard him speak in Liverpool in 1992...500 years of resistance to the oligarchy event...however his removal was at the behest of the oligarchy...down with the oligarchy...this from Socialist Voice


MAY 26, 2008
Web Edition: www.socialistvoice.ca


Haiti and the Politics of Containment

Peter Hallward. Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment Verso Press. 2008

Reviewed by Roger Annis

In April, mass protests against hunger and rising food prices erupted in Haiti and led to the fall of the government. On April 18, Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis resigned following a vote of non-confidence in Haiti's senate. The vote was orchestrated by some of Haiti's wealthy elite, seeking to bring the government of President René Préval more directly under their control.

The story of hunger in Haiti goes far beyond recent hikes in world food prices. The country's crushing poverty — it is the poorest country in the Americas — is the result of decades of exploitation and interference by the world's big powers, principally the United States, with Canada and France increasingly joining in.

This important new book tells that story.

A courageous twenty five-year struggle
against hunger and poverty

In 1986, a popular uprising overthrew the Duvalier family dynasty, one of the most ruthless tyrannies in modern history. Four times since then, in 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2006, the Haitian people have elected governments that promised socially-progressive policies. The first three in fact encouraged and supported Haiti's peasant farmers so that the country could become food self sufficient.

Two of those governments were overthrown, in 1991 and 2004, by Haiti's elite and its foreign backers. Both times, the ousted president was Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a Catholic priest and advocate of liberation theology, now living in exile in South Africa. The U.S., Canada and France directly backed Aristide's overthrow in 2004 by sending thousands of soldiers and police to finish an assault begun by Haitian paramilitaries. The foreign intervention was sanctioned by the UN Security Council.

Peter Hallward's new book tells the tragic tale of 2004. Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment is a hard-hitting and thoroughly-researched exposé of the international conspiracy that led to the latest overthrow of Haitian democracy and sovereignty. The "flood" in the title refers to the political movement and party,created by Aristide and his colleagues, known as "Lavalas," a word in Haiti's Kreyol language that expresses the imagery of the Biblical flood sweeping away an unjust and immoral social order.

Canadian-born Hallward is a professor of philosophy at Middlesex University in London, UK. His book, acclaimed by Noam Chomsky and Dr. Paul Farmer, themselves authors on Haiti, systematically demolishes the lies and distortions that have been spread in the countries of the big-three conspirator governments — the U.S., Canada and France.

The conspiracy was presented as salvation for the Haitian people, as "liberation" from Aristide's allegedly repressive government. Hallward sums up the conspiracy in these words:

"The effort to weaken, demoralize then overthrow Lavalas in the first years of the twenty-first century was perhaps the most successful exercise of neo-imperial sabotage since the toppling of Nicaragua's Sandinistas in 1990… Not only did the coup of 2004 topple one of the most popular governments in Latin America, but it managed to topple it in a manner that wasn't recognized as a coup at all."

Damming the Flood describes the calamitous consequences of two years of foreign-imposed government following the 2004 overthrow, including widespread killings and jailings of Aristide supporters, economic ruin, and deepening misery for the majority of the Haitian population. The book's narrative ends in 2007, but readers will find many keys to understanding the social calamity that continues to unfold, two and a half years after the election of René Préval in February 2006 and four and a half years after the U.S., Canada and France seized effective control of the country.

Préval has disappointed the Haitian masses who voted overwhelmingly for him. He has bowed to demands to surrender Haiti's beleaguered economy to international capital, including privatizations of the few remaining public enterprises. He has done little to stand up to foreign police and military rampaging through the vast, poor neighbourhoods where people cling to the dream of a return of Aristide and the reform policies of his Fanmi Lavalas party.

A devastating account of 'left'
and NGO support to imperialism

Hallward describes the array of domestic and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and "left" parties whose material interests and blind hostility to the post-year 2000 government of President Aristide led them into an alliance with imperialism and the Haitian elite in the 2004 coup. They supported Aristide's overthrow and then became complicit with the massive human rights violations that followed.

The scope of this betrayal will shock many readers. Among the partners in the reactionary alliance against Lavalas are the leaders of Haiti's failed Stalinist parties; former allies of Aristide within the Fanmi Lavalas party; the Communist Party of France; a multitude of NGOs in the U.S., France and Canada, including the not-so-alternative Montreal-based left-media NGO Alternatives; the Quebec Federation of Labour; parties of the "Socialist" International, including Canada's New Democratic Party and France's Socialist Party; and the political/quasi-trade union Haitian grouping known as Batay ouvriye (Workers Struggle).

Hallward also documents the silence or complicity of such agencies as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in response to post-coup human rights violations.

Haiti today

Hallward's book is an emotionally difficult read. It is hard to imagine that a people can survive all that has been thrown its way in Haiti — poverty, political violence, environmental degradation, loss of political sovereignty — only to have its fate largely ignored by "progressive" world opinion. Still, the author expresses cautious optimism for the future.

As demonstrated by the remarkable events surrounding the 2006 election, the popular movements in Haiti retain a strong and defiant capacity to mobilize. New, younger leaders are moving to the fore.

And important lessons have been drawn from the Aristide years. One of the strengths of Damming the Flood is its recounting of Haitian rethinking about the past 25 years. Could Aristide and his movement have taken more decisive measures to counter imperialist sabotage of their social and political project?

The foreign military and political presence in Haiti, a reading of the book suggests, is weaker than surface appearance might suggest.

Hallward to speak in
Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver

Beginning in late May, Peter Hallward, author of Damming the Flood, will speak in four Canadian cities in a stour organized by the Canada Haiti Action Network. Public meetings will take place in Montreal on May 31, Ottawa on June 1, Toronto on June 2, and Vancouver on June 7. Appearing with Hallward in Montreal and Ottawa will be Paul Chery, Secretary General of the Haitian Workers Confederation (CTH). Chery is one of the international guests at the convention of the Canadian Labour Congress to take place in Toronto May 25 to 30.

For details on this speaking tour, visit the website of the Canada Haiti Action Network.

Roger Annis is an aerospace worker in Vancouver and a coordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network.

Carbon Credits are not enough.






Mps have decided that personal carbon credits are the best way of fighting climate change. The idea, which is Green Party policy, is that each of us would hold a kind of carbon credit card. This would record how much CO2 we use. Once we had reached a limit, like a real credit card we would have to pay to get more credit. It is seen as simple, fair and easy to use. Under ‘Contraction and Convergence’ Aubrey Mayer’s scheme, the amount of carbon we are allowed could be reduced, with richer countries converging over time with less developed.

Many Greens love the scheme, we Greens who use less carbon could sell credits to more wasteful folk. Those who are more environmentally friendly would gain cash and the wasteful would be fiscally whipped, so to speak.

On its own, I think sadly the carbon credits would not work. One of my big worries is structure. Unless there is a huge investment in low carbon alternatives, it would be difficult for most people especially the poorest to cut their carbon budget. Transport is the most important source of CO2 for most people in Britain, but unless there is good public transport, stronger local economies, etc….most of us will be locked into a system of waste. I can’t drive so this restricts my mobility, there are no buses into my nearest local town after 7pm. In many parts of Britain there is virtually no public transport.

Positive solutions are actually being dismantled due to neo-liberalism. Boris Johnson the ‘Go green, vote blue’ new Conservative Mayor of London is doubling fares for those on low incomes in London but will make it easier for well off drives to use their cars.

Local schools, local health services and local Post Offices are being shut at an astonishing rate. The Post Office will soon cease to function as a universal service, Thatcherite neo-liberalism has made the European Union open up postal services to competition. They have to make a profit, to make a profit in Britain we have seen deliveries cut from twice to once a day, the end of collections on Sunday and a big programme of office closures.

As Post Offices close people have to travel further to use the postal service and this tends to increase their use of carbon.

Another danger with the scheme is that the well off will buy the right to waste and the poor will suffer, with pensioners suffering from worse fuel poverty.

For carbon credits to work, a major distribution of wealth and power is necessary and all the structures from insulation to public transport to food localisation have to be in place. This to me is what Green politics is about, carbon credits on their own would simply lead to energy apartheid.

Carbon trading is deeply flawed.

The SS in Wootten Bassett




Pasting this from Andy Newman of Socialist Unity ...what if the Nazi's had invaded Britain, inevitably there would have been collaboration...the right wing Vichy regime took over half of France and worked with the Nazis...I guess it would have been the same here. Kevin Brownlow who made the film also put together Winstanley about the Diggers at St Georges Hill, the anarchist-socialist-green commune in the 17th century with a part played by Sid Rawle.


IT HAPPENED HERE
Filed under: Swindon, movies, anti-fascist — Andy Newman @ 12:57 am Edit This

Last Monday at our socialist film club in Swindon we showed “It Happened Here”, the controversial 1960s feature by Kevin Brownlow of what Britain would have been like under Nazi occupation.

The premise of the film is that Britain was conquered in 1940, and the film is set in 1944 when military resistance to the occupation has began to resurface. What makes the film so remarkable is that it is centred around the experience of collaborators, in the fictitious but all too believable, Immediate Action movement, some of whom are British fascists, some of whom are pragmatic people just seeking to work within the existing political framework, and some are ordinary people misguidedly pushed towards supporting the Nazis through having been caught in the crossfire of anti-fascist partisan violence.

Because of course the political lesson of saying “it happened here” is not that Britain could lose a war and be occupied; but that there would have been willing British hands to participate in pogroms of the Jews, persecution of trade unionists and communists, and murder of the sick and infirm. The genius of the film is the mundanity and domestic familiarity of the British collaborators.

In some places the acting is a little creaky, and the film starts a little slow by modern standards, but is has a great deal of verisimilitude, and is actually thoroughly gripping. Indeed, the film had a little too much verisimilitude and was very controversial because it used real fascists to play key roles, and even included a six minute section where Colin Jordan, leader of Britain’s fascists in the 1960s plays the role of a collaborator being questioned about his anti-semitic beliefs. This section was removed from the original cinema release but is restored to the DVD version.

This of course raises the question of under what circumstances it is permissible to provide fascists with a platform to put forward their views. There is no doubt that the six minute section with Colin Jordan makes very uncomfortable viewing. But the overall context of the film is deeply anti-fascist, and exposing the strong sympathy that the then contemporary fascists had for Hitler’s Germany, and the fact that the British fascists in the 1960s were prepared to boast that they would indeed have been collaborators in an occupation, did more to discredit the fascists than build support for them.

25 May 2008

Voice Risk Analysis targets claimants



Had this from Alan Wheatley who does a great job in difficult circumstances as
Disability Spokesperson for London Green Party...I guess other Party speakers on disability or ministers or shadow ministers do not have his experience.


Hi, Derek

Gary Vaux, Head of Money Advice for Hertfordshire County Council, has a commendable piece as ever in this week's Community Care magazine.
http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2008/05/22/108275/voice-risk-analysis-makes-claiming-benefits-more-stressful.html

Government Anti-Fraud Minister James Plaskitt has hailed VRA [Voice Risk Analysis] software as "cutting edge technology" that can curb benefit fraud. Vaux points out that it is by no means foolproof and largely untested. Moreover, there are serious disability equality issues involved, especially where the claimant has mental health problems, learning difficulties, or communication problems. A Scope spokesperson is quoted as highlighting the need for a disability impact assessment on this technology that actually has critics among the insurance industry that the government touts as a major advocate of such 'cutting edge technology' that really relies on human interpretation of stress readings.

Making a claim for benefit is stressful, as Vaux points out. Often the stress is caused by inefficiencies in a system that keeps claimants waiting weeks and months without money they are entitled to from the DWP, while the DWP also gets council housing benefit departments to stop paying money on the claimant's behalf to which the claimant IS entitled. Unlike the disability spokespeople of the 'big three' political parties in England & Wales, I have bitter personal experience of this.
http://theonlygreenroom.blogspot.com/2007/10/benefit-claimants-need-firmer.html. Yet that bitter personal experience has been ameliorated via my regular newsagent reservation copy of Community Care magazine that has an agenda far removed from that of the Daily Mail, etc.
http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2007/05/17/104523/the-growth-in-charities-providing-food-to-poor-families.html
http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2006/11/16/102240/jobcentre-plus-poor-service-continues.html
I have also managed to reframe bitter personal experience into Community Care mag letters page items as an 'expert witness', and an empathic bridge with others whose stories the tabloids would never tell fairly.

When I referred a fellow claimant to my 'Benefit claimants need firmer safeguards, not tougher sanctions' piece on Noel Lynch's blogspot, she replied, "No wonder you was so empathetic" to her case of being kept waiting months for benefit to which she was entitled. (Green Party activists who say there is no point following up Emergency Motion 119 clearly lack true solidarity with benefit claimants.)

Yet when I next come to make a claim for Jobseekers Allowance, I will be less fearful of the Voice Risk Analysis scrutiny. For, following Gary Vaux's advice, I will make my claim on paper rather than over a 40 minute phone call that my short term memory would have difficulties with. Perhaps the Jobcentre managers who insist on claimants making claims over the telephone should themselves be subjected to VRA?
http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2006/07/20/55047/jobcentre-plus-wrong-to-deny-use-of-paper-forms.html

Your comrade

Alan Wheatley
Disability Spokesperson for London Green Party

PS: With reference to your Reading conference speech reference to capitalism as an addiction, I point to the huge bonuses paid to workfare companies for getting individuals off Incapacity Benefit and into paid work. How many jobs could be bank-rolled for that £62K? http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2008/03/12/107551/pathways-to-work-to-help-those-unfit-for-work.html

24 May 2008

Mumia Abu-Jamal celebrates Bob


Well we know the British parliament for £1.80 a pint bitter, expenses for garden furniture and a general attitude of 'fuck the politics where is my lunch'.

To Mumia Abu-Jamal the mother of democracy looks a bit better from the other side of the Atlantic...here he is praising Bob Marshall-Andrews work on an inquiry into the Gulf War....obviously the minority of radical MPS who do work for social change demand our sympathy...Adam Price and the long suffering John McDonnell come to mind...hope to have a few Green MPs in Westminster soon to get involved. But lets face it, Westminister is usually the last place where politics happens...but then again as Mumia reminds us, it looks like the Paris commune compared to the supine US congress.

Bob's campaign work against the Kingsnorth power station is great and he lives in a famous eco-house...right that's enough being nice to members of the Labour Party for this year...on to Mumia....very nice example of Mumia's brilliant political journalism by the way.

A Congress That's More Than A Rubber Stamp
[col. writ. 5/15/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal


As America limps toward the November elections, fatigued by the
exertions of war, numb to the lofty promises of politicians, in dread of the economic
dragons growling on the horizon, the role of Congress could not be more
irrelevant.

That's one of the reasons that GOP presidential nominee, Sen. John
McCain (R. Ariz.) has called for a change in congressional tradition, to one which
allows the President to answer questions before the body.

It reminded me of the March 25, 2008 vote in the British House of
Commons, where members of Parliament debated whether to open an official inquiry
into the reasons for starting the war. Not surprisingly, the vote lost,
largely along Party lines, as the ruling Labour members voted to protect their
party, which sponsored and spearheaded the Iraq War, and avoided a formal inquiry.

Most, but not all.

A dozen Labour backbenchers bolted party ranks to express their support
for an inquiry, in terms rarely heard on this side of the Atlantic.

And even though the inquiry vote failed by some 50 votes, it marked a
period of questioning of the sort that should actually precede wars, not follow
them. Robert Marshall-Andrews, a Labour member of parliament (MP) from
Medway, brought up the infamous Downing Street memo, which told uncomfortable
truths about the then coming war. Marshall-Andrews announced:

"The first is what was revealed in the Downing street
memo of July 2002, reported by The Sunday (London)
Times in an unusual contribution to the debate. It was
recorded that at that meeting in Downing street in July
2002 Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of secret
intelligence or 'C', as he was known, had reported from America to
the War Cabinet,....that:

'There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military
action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But
the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the
policy.'"

According to the then Foreign Secretary, "Bush has made up his mind to
take military action.... But the case was thin."

Ultimately, of course, it didn't matter. Who needs evidence, when you
can make it up?

M. P. Marshall-Andrews then spoke words that will never be heard in the
U.S. Congress:

"The real point of the debate, and of any inquiry that
may be held, is not to learn lessons so that we do not make mistakes again.
That is one reason, but I want an inquiry to be held into the Iraq war because
I want those responsible to be brought to the book and to justice. If
necessary, they should be brought to international justice, but I want us to be
the ones who bring them to it."

At this point, Conservative Party member, Humphrey Malins,
of Woking, joined in:

"I support the honorable and learned gentleman's argument
with all the strength that I can muster, but may I remind him gently that
some Opposition Members at the time took the view that he is expressing? I was
one of those who resigned as a shadow Minister because of the illegal war.
Does he agree that, when we look back at our parliamentary lives, we may well
regard the decision to go to war with Iraq as the worst and most horrible
decision that this Parliament has made?"

Labourite Marshall-Andrews would heartily agree, and he would add:

"Indeed, beside that decision, all our other achievements
and deficiencies -- and there have been many of both--pale into
insignificance. The circumstances and repercussions of what we did then have swept well
past Iraq. As Tacitus noted, one victory can create a thousand enemies, and
that is precisely what happened."

These are some of just a few voices in the Parliament of the junior
partner in the Iraq debacle.

When should we expect such voices in the U.S. Congress?
2025?

--(c) '08 maj

{Source: Labour & Trade Union Review, (No. 187: May 2008), pp.4-5.
[www.ltireview.com].]

Stop biofuel plant in Beckton



Castro phones in latest another green world piece

Well Comrade Castro is the daddy when it comes to biofuel...he has retired as Head of State and seems to occupy himself as a journalist sending in choice cuts for another green world along with comrade Abu-Jamal (he will be blogging on Bob Marshall-Andrews later!)...virtually before any one he condemned biofoolery....

Green fuel...you just grow it, it had me fooled and yes if you are filling up on chip fat, well great.

However like everything it is corrupted by capitalism...the infamous 'green' biofuel boat which I attempted to sink (albeit rhetorically...rather than Captain Paul Watson style) was sponsored by big biofuel companies.

Land which could be used for food is used for SUVs and already people are starving...palm oil production means people are kicked off of their land and forests destroyed.

Instead of public transport, work from home, walking, cycling....it is as always about preserving the conventional economy based on waste...tonnes of metal on wheels whizzing around, there has to be a better way....this is on the campaign against the Beckton biofuel plant.


CAMPAIGN NEWS

Help us stop the UK’S first biofuel-burning power plant!


Dear All,

It’s just over a month since mandatory biofuel blending of 2.5% was
introduced in the UK under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation.
Around 200 people took part in the protest outside Downing Street which
Biofuelwatch organised jointly with the Campaign Against Climate
change, and different groups across the country organised another ten
regional protests.

Yet the message gets more stark with every day: There can be no
workable sustainability criteria for monoculture agrofuels, because
industrial monocultures are inherently unsustainable and because
there is no way of stopping deforestation, land-grabs, human rights
abuses, and all of these lead to increased hunger and accelerated climate
change.

And things are set to get worse in the UK; we may be witnessing the
beginnings of a new use for vegetable oil…large-scale burning in power
stations.

On 4th June, Newham London Borough Council will debate a planning
application made by Blue-NG Ltd for the UK’s first combined heat and
power plant to be run on biofuels. This will be a large plant, burning
56,000 litres of vegetable oil a day. The final decision will be made
shortly afterwards by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation.

Blue NG are planning seven further plants to follow this one.

Blue-NG Ltd. and 20C Ltd. have managed to deceive councillors and
environmental groups alike by disguising the fuel source and they have
failed to engage the local community in the consultation process. This is
of particular concern given the noxious emissions associated with burning
pure plant oils such as rapeseed and palm oil, which are a threat to
public health. In Germany the courts recently ruled against a CHP plant
burning palm oil, forcing it to close for just this reason.

For more information about the Blue NG proposal, click here;
http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/files/thames_gateway_biodiesel_project.pdf

For full details on how to take action, click here;
http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/beckton.htm

If you live in London, then please send an objection to the Planning
Officers, expressing your concern. You can find a draft letter by
following the ‘how to take action’ link above. We are asking only people
from London to send the letters since we are not sure whether lots of
letters from elsewhere will help at this stage.

On Wednesday June 4th at 7pm Newham LBC has their final consultation. If
you are a member of an environmental group or a local person living in
Newham
and would like to give evidence at this meeting then please submit your
concerns as described above and make a specific request to present
evidence at the consultation meeting on the 4th.

There are two protest events run jointly by Biofuelwatch and London Food
not Fuel;

1). Saturday May 31st which includes two activities: There will be a
stall outside Sainsbury's on Myrtle Road, East Ham from 10:30 to 6:30. We
could do with help manning the stall, explaining and handing out
flyers and getting signatures for a petition. This will be followed by a
banner protest from 3:00 to 5:00pm at Newham Town Hall, East Ham on the
Barking Road around the corner from Sainsburys.

2). Wednesday 4th June. The second event will be timed to coincide with
councillors attending the final consultation meeting at Newham Town Hall
on June 4th. The meeting is at 7:00pm so we will be protesting from
6:30pm, Newham Town Hall, High Street South entrance, East Ham.

Please help us STOP the UK’s first biofuel power plant!

CONTACTS FOR BECKTON PROTEST
Biofuelwatch: info@biofuelwatch.org.uk
Deepak Rughani 07931 636 337; Almuth Ernsting 01224 324 797
Food Not Fuel: Maryla 07793 319 141; Amanda Burton 07939 522 966
Clare 07761 111 1325


OTHER EVENTS:

3rd June: The Network for Climate Action has called for a Day of Action on
Food and Climate Change. This has been timed to coincide with the UN High
Level Conference on Food Security, Climate Change and Bioenergy in Rome.
For full details see:
http://daysofclimateaction.org.uk/food.html

6th August: This year's Climate Camp will be held outside Kingsnorth
Power Station from 3rd to 11th August. On 6th August, there will be a Day
of Action against Agrofuels which will be part of (and organised by) the
Climate Camp. For full details, see www.climatecamp.org.uk


HELP NEEDED:

Although we are all volunteers, we do need money for printing and
travel expenses. We also hope to be able to employ an administrator in
future, to help us be more effective. If you can help with a one-off
donation, with a standing order, or with fundraising, that would be great.
See here for details: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/donate.php
or email us at info@biofuelwatch.org.uk .

We also welcome volunteers whether it's for research, outreach,
fundraising, admin, etc. If you have any time to spare and are
interested,
please email us.

Thank you for all your support!

Best wishes,

Biofuelwatch Team.

22 May 2008

Arab Green Parties to meet in Lebanon


had this from Arab Green Parties which is very encouraging...btw I have blogged on Islam and ecology, as you know I have some good friends and comrades who are Sufi strain Muslims (I would certainly like to say a thank you to Zee..if you are reading this thanks Zee).

Of course many Palestians are Christians and guess a fair number would have no religious identification...the great Ralph Nader is of course an Arab-American Green..any way enough of my witterings on to the Arab Green Parties

Tunis 14th May 2008
Peace in Palestine and Irak

Sixty years have passed since the terrorist groups of Haganah, Irgoun and Stern occupied Palestine. The leaders of these organizations and groups were on the lists of known terrorists sought by Great Britain. Other terrorist leaders committed massacres against the Palestinian people at Kafer Kassem and Deir Yassine … forcing inhabitants to leave their homes and lands … Since then, this Arab people has endured sixty years of exile, wars and massacres !!
After the occupation of Palestine when the United Nations Organization created two states, the Hebrew state has continuously meddled in the colonial policies of the great powers. And so the state of generals has taken part in all colonial wars in the Middle East, such as the occupation of Sinaï in 1954 and the Suez and Sinaï campaigns in November and December in 1956 with the French and British armies. The Hebrew state even supported the horrible state of Apartheid in South Africa for decades!!
Following the war in June 1967 and flouting the Geneva accords on conflicts and wars, the Israeli generals massacred Egyptian prisoners and destroyed several Lebanese towns and villages in 1974, 1982 and 2006. The whole world will never forget the massacres of Sabra and Chatila , Tel Ezzaater, Kana and Hammam Chatt in Tunisia … and now Gaza!
Yet despite all these wars, the Palestinian people resisted and gathered their strength right up until the first Intifadha. They have never stopped trying for a just and enduring peace. They succeeded after some difficult negotiations in signing the Oslo accords with the Israeli state’s leaders. But what is left of Oslo!?
Nothing! Arafat is dead, after a long illness, imprisoned in Ramallah. Rabin, the only Israeli general who believed in peace with the Palestinians was assassinated!!
At the meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil of the Global Greens Congress (more than 80 parties and 300 organizations) a motion in support of the struggle of the Palestinian and Iraqi people and condemning the war in Irak was proposed by the Greens party of the United States in agreement with the representative of Green Tunisia, and was adopted.
This support by our national coordinator for the Palestinian and Iraki people was warmly welcomed by congress delegates and in particular by the President of the Brazilian Greens party, our friend José Luiz Franca Penna.
Moreover, the « Global Greens » set up a committee of four Arab Greens parties: Green Tunisia, the Moroccan Greens (Fatima Alaoui), the Lebanese Greens and the Egyptian Greens, to set up the Arab Greens Party. This committee will meet in six months time in Lebanon.
- Peace in Palestine and Iraq
- For a viable Palestinian State
- For the return of refugees and the liberation of all political prisoners (around 11,700).

Abdelkader Zitouni
National Coordinator of the «Green Tunisia» party
Member of the European Greens Party,
Member of the African Greens Federation,
Member of the "Global Greens".
Email : tunisie.verte@gmail.com

20 May 2008



This summer the Camp for Climate Action will pitch its tents outside Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent for a week of education, sustainable living and direct action. Everyone is invited to the camp, which is now part of an international movement, with eight climate camps on four continents planned for this summer. Together, we will show that the blind pursuit of economic growth at any cost is simply insane, and is to blame for the CO² emissions and ecosystem destruction that are causing catastrophic climate change.



Well you could put a rizla paper between my kind of green politics and the politics of the climate camp but it would be a remarkably thin one.

EON's KINGSNORTH power station in Kent will be the site of this summer's Camp for Climate Action, running from 4 th to 11th of August 2008.

The protest will begin with a one-day event at Heathrow, the site of the previous year's camp, before marching across London to Kingsnorth. This is one of eight climate camps targeting coal across the world this summer.

The camp will also challenge businesses set to profit from false solutions to climate change such as agrofuels. A day of action targeting the agrofuel industry will be an integral part of the week long camp.


Our view on the symptoms, science and solutions to climate change
The environmental problem.

Emissions of carbon dioxide, mostly from oil, gas and coal are rapidly raising the temperature and changing the weather. This is happening faster than at virtually any time in the Earths history. Most scientists, and even governments, agree that if we keep to business-as-usual then people, society in general and the ecosystems we all rely on for food and water will not be able to adapt to such rapid changes.

The scale of the problem is mind-boggling: the new report from the United Nations Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change says that if we continue with rapidly increasing fossil-fuel use, global average temperatures may rise by 6 degrees Celsius. The last time this happened was 251 million years ago and some 99% of all living individuals died. We must rapidly and radically reduce oil, gas and coal use.
The social problem.

Almost everything we do produces carbon dioxide emissions: work, travel, housing. To cut emissions, as many scientists suggest, by 90%, means serious changes need to happen. Who is going to solve climate change? The usual answer is either governments and changes in regulations, or individuals affecting companies by changing the products and services we buy. This is not going to work for one simple reason: the world is geared towards the extraction of profit, and increasing economic growth, and not lives of dignity for all. Just ask any of the 800 million people who will go hungry today. Profits come first. With this reality in mind, it's easy to understand why only the rhetoric changes. And emissions keep rising.

We, so-called ordinary people, will have to solve the worlds problems, largely in spite of the actions of governments and corporations. This social problem - the logic of economic growth superseding all else - is not new. The solution - that widespread grassroots social movements are key agents of change - is also not new. There is just a new urgency. We believe that climate change is effectively a referendum on what kind of world we want. A lot is going to change, whether we like it or not. So we'd better be involved in the creation of something much better than the world as it is now. To do this we must search for solutions that both reduce emissions and make our lives better.
Solutions?

Too big a problem? Too small a person? Join with others! The Camp for Climate Action is uniting people into a community taking collective action on climate change. The emphasis is to reduce emissions and have a 'better life' in many different ways. At last years camp, over 600 people converged outside Drax power station for 10 days of living, learning and making decisions together, all powered by renewable energy. The camp culminated in a day of mass action against Drax, which shook up the UKs biggest carbon dioxide emitter, and got the attention of the worlds media.

The camp, "a blend of Glastonbury and open-air science seminar" as The Independent put it, was an incredibly inspiring event that catalysed a new wave of radical action on climate change across the UK. This year, the camps effect will be amplified by simultaneous camps across the US. Who knows what changes thousands converging again will create. See you there?


Dear friends,

The planning for the Camp for Climate Action in 2008 is well under way and
this year its more ambitious than ever.

We aim to educate, inspire, and continue to build our movement, to take
direct action against the forces driving climate change, standing up to
the climate criminals who continue to put profit before the future of our
planet.

We plan to pitch our low-impact camp near Kingsnorth power station in
Kent, the site of the first of a new generation of coal fired power
stations. Many of us will travel to Kent in a carnivaleque caravan from
Heathrow and the site of the proposed third runway. Read all about it
at:http://www.climatecamp.org.uk

To make the camp happen we need more people, energy, creativity,
materials, and cash! Here's how you can help:

1. Donate! - we need to cover the cost of running the camp, from food to
eco-loos, workshops to legal support. Either fill in the attached standing
order form and send it to your bank (you can also do this over the net if
you have internet banking), or, instructions at:
http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/donate.php

2. Participate! - come along from 3rd to 11th August, or get involved
beforehand and help organise the camp. More details at:
http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/getinvolved.php

Hope to see you there,

The Camp for Climate Action 2008

Global Greens defend indigenous people and forests


Well you can sometimes place a rizla paper or may be an entire packet of skins between the position of the Green Party of England and Wales and the global green parties...however some useful stuff here on the climate crisis, glad to see the lucha indigena flagged up for a start:

Global Greens Sao Paulo Declaration on Biodiversity and the Climate Crisis
As adopted 4 May 2008





Ecological wisdom is a fundamental principle of the Global Greens Charter and protecting biodiversity, the variety of life on earth, is a central Green priority.



Biodiverse ecosystems, particularly forests, have a crucial role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating impacts, yet they are almost absent from the climate debate. This is exacerbating the global biodiversity crisis. Natural ecosystems are suffering directly from the impacts of climate change but also from the perverse impacts of measures which are supposed to tackle climate change, for example clearing natural vegetation to plant agrofuel crops.



Oceans cover almost 70% of the earth´s surface and have a primary role in temperature setting and maintaining the earth´s carbon balance. Coastal zones, the transition between oceans and continents, have the highest rates of diversity and biological productivity in the world as well as high levels of endemism. They are under pressure from more and more people living in coastal cities (expected to reach 75% of the world´s population by 2050), industrial development, and over-exploitation of fisheries and other biological resources.



The earth´s remaining natural ecosystems are essential to regulate the climate and keep the planet habitable. Extensive, natural forests are especially valuable: they are stable, resilient, very large carbon stores and must be protected at all costs.



Forest destruction through clearing and industrial-scale logging, the degradation and desertification of shrublands and grasslands and industrial-scale agrofuel production (crops, including tree crops, grown to produce energy) are all contributing to climate change. Emissions from clearing and degradation of other natural ecosystems add to this.



Emissions from forest clearing, industrial-scale logging and ecosystem degradation are at least 25% of the global emissions problem. They demand 25% of the resources and attention.





The Global Greens agree



To propose a common protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: The Biodiversity and Climate Protocol, which recognises the linkages between biodiversity and climate change, specifically the role of terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems in the global carbon cycle, the critical role of extensive natural forests and rangelands in storing carbon and protecting the climate, and the need to protect biodiversity as a key response to climate change;

commits parties to prevent actions under the Climate Change Convention which have adverse impacts on biodiversity;

includes enforceable commitments to (i) protect extensive natural forests and other ecosystems from clearing and industrial-scale logging; and (ii) restore degraded ecosystems; in order to maintain and enhance their vital role in storing carbon and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;

establishes a very large global biodiversity fund to support local communities and all levels of government in protecting, restoring and managing natural ecosystems to conserve biodiversity, store carbon and improve water management.



To campaign for carbon offsets to be excluded from emission trading systems*, and in favour of the establishment of a very large global biodiversity fund. The fund would draw resources from sources including a proportion of the proceeds of emissions trading schemes and carbon taxes, and from the redirection of fossil fuel subsidies.



To oppose mandatory targets and subsidies for agro-fuels, except where their production is demonstrably greenhouse positive, does not impact on biodiversity, and does not compete against food production for land and water.



To campaign for full carbon accounting, measuring emissions and uptake separately, as the basis for determining the climate impact of actions. We reject any assumption that industrial-scale logging in natural forests is ´sustainable´ or carbon neutral.



To work for the protection of forests, especially in Amazonia, as a priority. Forest destruction is threatening biodiversity as well as forcing the Indigenous people of Amazonia out of their lands. The Greens will protect the rights of the Indigenous communities living in Amazonia.



To uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples, women and local communities in forest and ecosystem protection programs.



To campaign against illegal and unsustainable logging by (i) banning imports of tropical timbers, unless certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and (ii) taking action against corruption.



To work for sustainable tourism that provides economic incentives to preserve and protect ecosystems and culture, and creates income for local communities.



To campaign for effective government action at national and international level to protect oceans and their biodiversity.





* Note however that the Global Greens support the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) as a means of promoting climate-friendly technologies as a supplement and not a replacement for domestic reductions