28 Jul 2008

Power, corruption and lies


I have had some quite astonishing news in the form of a series of minutes that have leaked from a secret meeting plotting the take over of a democratic organisation.

Just when you think you are being paraniod, you find you have been unimaginative.

More soon.

27 Jul 2008

In praise of Khalid Hussenbex

I am worried about Green Party of England and Wales finances not just because we face hugely expensive European and Westminister elections over the next two years but also because it is rumoured that Khalid Hussenbex will not be standing for the Green Party Executive.

His post is perhaps more important than any other including Leader. He has been the elected finance officer for a number of years and has brought the finances from red into black.

He is very strict on spending and this is not always popular, I missed the meeting but one prominent member of GPEX walked out of a meeting when finance for an election project was not forthcoming.

We need to nurture our finances, I have been calling for the last two years for a fundraiser and I strongly opposed the creation of other staff posts that I suspect are not sustainable.

Unless you get the money right, you risk falling into a difficult position in terms of resources and politics.

Running a political party is hugely expensive and needs lots of resources.

Politically if you are strapped for cash, corporate finance becomes tempting and then you are lost.

If internal elections costs money, for decades they have been cost free to members, the party simply circulates short manifestos for members...they go to those with cash and before you know it you have the green equivalent of Peter Hain and the dangers of scandal.

I say keep the cash out and here's hoping that Khalid does another year.

Please stand or find some one good to take your place!

A Robin Red breast in a cage puts all of heaven in a rage

More cool Islam, thanks Mahbubul for sending me this.

Originally from here click

‘Going Green’ in the 6th Century

Prophet Muhammad: the Environmentalist

By Sariya Islam

Caring about the environment did not start in the 20th century but it existed 1400 years ago.

Caring about the environment did not start in the 20th century but it existed 1400 years ago. Picture © Microsoft.com


An advertisement created by an organization that works for the environment shows the blood covered body of an injured baby seal. The bright red against the white snow is a jarring illustration of human callousness.



The beautiful blue-black eyes of the baby seal mesmerise the viewer with its silent appeal for protection and justice — an appeal that perhaps is too late, this little seal is already dead. But this little seal is making a wider appeal — one that has implications beyond its own loss of life.



Al Gore's documentary — "An Inconvenient Truth" — is another soul-searching expression of the mess humankind has got itself into.
Can it stir a heart among the humans who took its life? I guess this is what the clamor of voices seem to indicate as people demand a ban on indiscriminate and senseless hunting and killing of animals along with the calls for poachers to face capital punishment.

Maybe the voiceless seal has had its say, and some animals may yet lead a safer life.



Al Gore's documentary — "An Inconvenient Truth" — is another soul-searching expression of the mess humankind has got itself into through its absolute lack of concern for the beautiful blue planet called home.



Natural systems have been destroyed. Pollutants are everywhere — the air, water, and even the soil we grow our food in. Forests are fast disappearing. Magnificent birds and animals have become extinct, and we now have a food chain with missing links.



A list like this can be almost boringly long, a never ending sermon of errors and selfishness. A vicious cycle which if left unchecked will come back in full circle to the very doorsteps of the species that set it off.



And this realisation of the self-destructive capability that uncensored progress has made human beings more cognizant of and considerate for the ecological system that they are part of.



Being concerned with the environment is not just a matter of contemporary significance and it is not a fad that will blow away.
Many environmental problems are irreversible, but a lot can be done and is being done to minimize their effects. Green movements are slowly gaining momentum. People around the world are being more conscientious of the environmental after-effects caused by their actions.



Rallies, public protests and mass e-mails to heads of states and the "let's save the planet" bandwagon means serious business.



But being concerned with the environment is not just a matter of contemporary significance and it is not a fad that will blow away. Rather, it is a legitimate concern that can have far reaching ramifications for all humanity if left unaddressed.



Creating a Balance



Concern and care for the environment is also a teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and therefore a duty on all Muslims.



Prophet Muhammad guided mankind to an ideology in which the human need for development has underpinnings of justice, generosity and good governance. Therefore, human progress must be fair to all concerned, be it man, woman, animal, or plant.



Prophet Muhammad encouraged simplicity of life. This trait is a good example he set for us in "going green". This means no fancy jargon or complex techie thingies that might save energy but cost the world. We should seek just simple doable solutions to problems that were once avoidable but today are at least still controllable. Three paradigms seem central to the Prophet's explanation of humanity's relationship with the environment.



Humility: An understanding that all of creation belongs to God.



Justice: Deeds must be just and fair to all concerned.



Sustainability: Avoidance of all extravagances and measured use of any natural (or other) resource.



A vicegerent has power and authority, but also has responsibility towards every living being it has authority over.
The entire world and perhaps even other hereto undiscovered worlds are God's creation. They are a manifestation of His might, His wonder and His power — not of humanity's doing, but only granted to humans by God in His mercy. And so inherently all of creation must be respected and treated with equity.



Once this concept of respect is firmly grounded in our thoughts, attitudes and actions, we can progress further to realize how respect can ensure that we are just in all that we do.



As per the Quran, human beings are God Almighty's vicegerents on this world and inheritors of the earth. God says in the Quran what it means (It is He Who hath made you (His) agents, inheritors of the earth) (Al-An`am 6:165).



A vicegerent has power and authority, but also has responsibility towards every living being it has authority over, a balance in which the relationship is symbiotic; all efforts are conscientious and any achievements are sustainable.



Even the most taken for granted amenities of life are a blessing from God Almighty, be it the water we drink or the air we breathe.
God says in the Quran what means (And the heaven, He raised it high, and He made the balance) (Ar-Rahman 55:7)



The Prophet has said that "The world is beautiful and green and verily Allah has installed you as a vicegerent in it in order to see how you act …" (Muslim).



The responsibility therefore comes with a test attached to it, a duty to ensure that all deeds must be fair, all acts commendable. It is within this framework that Prophet Muhammad's philosophy of care for the environment can be explored and understood.



Even the most taken for granted amenities of life are a blessing from God Almighty, be it the water we drink or the air we breathe as the water could have been bitter to taste while the air may have been poisonous fumes unsuitable for breathing.



These resources and any other must be used in moderation. Processes must be sustainable, ensuring that our heirs have enough for their use and so forth.



Being Just to Animals



God forbade purposeless killing of any animal or bird, be it as tiny as a sparrow.
Animals and birds form communities like our own and they will be gathered unto their Lord. Any ill-treatment of them will have to be accounted for; any kindness to them will be blessed.



The Prophet has said: "The Compassionate One has mercy on those who are merciful. If you show mercy on those who are on earth, He who is in heaven will show mercy on you" (At-Tirmidhi).



God forbade purposeless killing of any animal or bird, be it as tiny as a sparrow. The only purpose for which an animal may be killed is for consumption. Hunting for sport is classified as senseless and is wrong. If these rules were adhered to, the life of the baby seal in the beginning of the article may have been spared.



Provocation of animals to fight for sport or entertainment causes pain and harm to the animals and was strongly condemned by the Prophet. The matador who infuriates a bull, leading it on a wild goose chase ending in its death, is just as cruel as the people chasing a bull through the streets.



These and other such acts are demeaning to an animal and deny it the respect it deserves and would have no place in an ecologically conscious settings. There is a narration which tells us that Ibn Umar, the son of Umar ibn Al-Khattab who was the second Muslim caliph, stopped some young boys from target practice on a chicken.



Provocation of animals to fight for sport or entertainment causes pain and harm to the animals and was strongly condemned by the Prophet.
In dealing with domestic animals, kindness was the Prophet's way. He narrated stories where sinners were granted forgiveness on account of some trifling act of kindness they may have shown to an animal. Other narrations mention individuals who were sent into Hell as punishment for cruelty to animals.



He said "May Allah condemn the one who branded the donkey" (Muslim) and that it was a sin for a man to imprison animals which were under his power.



It would be interesting to see the response of contemporary battery farmers who breed chickens to live their entire lives in cages so small that they can barely turn around.



In another narration, some of the Prophet's companions captured the chicks of a bird. The irate mother spread her wings and tried to get her babies back. Seeing her, the Prophet asked "Who grieved this for its young ones? Return its young ones to it" (Abu Dawud).



To end, it would be appropriate to illustrate the Prophet's fondness of trees. He said that "There is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable gift" (Bukhari).



He forbade the cutting of trees during war. He has also said that if you are planting a tree and something as serious as doomsday comes upon you, continue planting the tree.



This was the Prophet's way, which requires respect from humankind for the rest of creation that we share this planet with.





Sariya Islam is an Indian convert and has been a Muslim for more than 13 years. She holds a Master's in Business Management and is an experienced Human Resource Professional. She recently quit her career in HR and is now pursuing a PhD on the subject of 'Muslim Women and Integration' and is in the process of gradually making a career shift to Dawah and related activities.

I am only it for the money?

The following news item perhaps indicates greater sensitivity on the part of Channel 4 to the differential between presenters' salaries and those of audience members, than the BBC's sensitivity to how people's TV licence payments are disposed of.

In the July 2008 issue of Mature Times, Terry Waite says that the BBC argument in favour of a radio presenter's three year BBC contract amounting to £18m paid homage to 'the market rate'. Against that backdrop, the current Ceefax page 504 on BBC1 reports:

Vordeman 'forced' to quit quiz

Presenter Carol Vordeman felt forced to leave Channel 4 quiz show Countdown after she was told to take a 90% pay cut, her manager has said.

Agent John Miles said Vordeman, 47 has been told the series survived the death of host Richard Whiteley in 2005, and could "easily survive without you."

Vordeman, a co-host since its 1982 start, said she wanted everyone "to know the truth" about her departure.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said, "We never comment on presenters' salaries."

How will the erstwhile Countdown 'maths expert' who has commented how hard it is for 'us' to keep track of 'our' money without a First Direct loan will be able to survive without the Countdown salary, whatever that amounted to? A lot better on the income from her First Direct ads on TV than pensioner or jobseeker viewers of Countdown, I am sure.

Yet I wonder whether she will tell everyone "the truth" about what she was asked to take a 90% cut from.

Alan Wheatley
Disability Spokesperson for London Green Party,
Jobseekers Allowance claimant and TV Licence payer

26 Jul 2008

Incinerator menace coming to you soon

very interesting to get this, I am not a fan of even incinerators with filters etc..we can zero waste most stuff but the huge march of incinerators across Britain is an untold scandal, that needs action

thanks Rob for this.


Dear Derek

Climbing up cranes in Newhaven shows some last recourse peaceful action, that whilst I have difficulties with such actions, it shows a failure and injusticein the system: proves that that this is a huge local and national issue that won't go way. It shows blatently that there is a huge failure in democracy, sustainable waste "resource" management, planning, permitting and common sense; most of which have largely been scacrificed (15,000:6) gone out of the window from Government, Defra, ESCC (and other WDAs) and now the courts.

Government/Defra/WDAs/Companies like Veolia are bulldozing and ramrodding these silver domes with chimney incinerator schemes through, dressed up as EfW/CHP now. It insults ordinary peoples intelligence with such deceptive euphemisms/accronyns. They are beyond listening and just want their burners, 30 more to deal with 25% of the waste stream. End of discussion. They would promote new emerging EfW residual technology in front of Veolia type incinerator schemes. Government forcing waste authorities into poor solutions have procured into the arms of companies like VEOLIA ES. This company is the TESCO of the waste industry, and you will find it as far as Texas running poor quality toxic chemical disposal facilities, as well as being in league with Belesconi providing incinerator solutions to Naples mafia Total Waste.

I noticed there was no mention of the revelation of the UK's waste incineration proliferation (one could call it a national tabloid taboo issue, equal to nuclear power policy)in any of the national newspapers following this weeks Channel 4 news item of 30 new mega incinertors planned for the UK, and FoE/ UKWIN relevation of 70 more potential sites confirmed on their new interactive incinerator map.

Its of huge public interest. Many industry people in the know such as David Singh, Global Renewables operating MBT UR-3R, Andrew Hamilton, CEO AdvancedPlasmaPower or Peter Jones, Former Director of Biffa warn strongly against incinerators being best technology to do the EfW/CHP job, and prescribe other better more advanced technologies. When these people along with health experts/toxicologist say incinerators are a bad solution. EVERYONE HAS TO TAKE NOTE, and really requestion the incinerator direction, whether in Newhaven, far west as St.Dennis Corwall, or far North as Oxwellian, Dunbar. It affects thousands, if not millions.

SOURCED MATERIAL

You might be interested in the FoE/UKWIN follow up to Channel 4 30 incinerator report,

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1184614595?bctid=1681693531

http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/society/environment/30+new+rubbish+incinerator+plants+planned+for+the+uk+/2351677

http://www.ukwin.org.uk/map/

Please see todays UKWIN/FoE actual/potential incinerator sites throughout the UK; which seems to have caused irritation at Defra.

http://www.letsrecycle.com/do/ecco.py/view_item?listid=37&listcatid=217&listitemid=10222

http://www.ukwin.org.uk/?p=128

http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/13743.html


Defra/CIWM don't mention specifically there are other 3Rs ways, Recovery Parks/AD and more acceptable and flexible alternative residual technologies such as MBT+AD (like Norfolk's SRM/NEWS's AMBT), Autoclaving or limited Gasplasma use(AdvancedPlasmaPower) that do the same job better? Yet Defra is spinning itself out of a specific technology (ie do the public prefer MBT or Gasplasma over unwanted incinerator bids put forward by multinationals like Veolia ES, WRG, Viridor and Sita) debate confusing the incinerator debate with well rehersed landfill pressures, or poo pooing FoE recycling stunting claims.

Waste incinerators, I just don't think we need them. Government,Defra, WDAs and corporates like VEOLIA ES need to think of different differentated approaches and newer emerging EfW/CHP technologies than incineration with filters!

Kind regard

Rob Whittle
NAIL2
Norwich
Norfolk

Support the Tube cleaners' strike - defend workers at Stonebridge

A public meeting called by Brent Trades Councill

7.30pm, Wednesday 30 July
The Community Suite, Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre
Brentfield, Harrow Road, London NW10

Speakers:
Clara Osagiede, chair of the RMT cleaners' grade; Oliver New, RMT exec
and Ealing Trades Council; Dawn Butler MP (invited)

The RMT rep
and another activist at Stonebridge depot in NW London are having their
pay withheld. The cleaning companies are using the vulnerable
immigration status of many cleaners to victimise them for speaking out
and organising. Come and build support for the comrades in the run up
to the next strike.

For more information email petefirmin[at} btinternet.com or ring Robin on 07974 331 053

Keir Starmer is Director of Public Prosecutions


'One of the country's leading human rights lawyers is to become the new director of public prosecutions in a move described in legal circles as bold, exciting and encouraging.

Keir Starmer, 45, who has challenged the government over the reach of its anti-terror legislation and taken on the British military over the abuse of prisoners held in Iraq, will head up the Crown Prosecution Service from November.'

Starmer, 45, who gave free legal advice to the McLibel Two in their struggle against McDonald's during the longest-running English court case, is the head of Doughty Street Chambers. He led the legal challenge in the Lords which ruled that evidence obtained under torture was inadmissible in court. He also acted for two terror suspects in another Lords case last year which declared the control order system for terror suspects was unlawful under human rights law.


I used to do some ecosocialist politics with Keir in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so good news that he has this position. I haven't seen him in years and years but I was impressed by him.

His human rights and Mclibel work has been very important.


Even all the hard and may be seemingly thankless politics may have a positive effect, its networking with good people, campaigning, getting ideas across and learning, the side effects are may be more important than the immediate battles lost and won.



Interview with him at McLibel site
.

25 Jul 2008

Gordon Brown is toast

SNP supporters

Glasgow East result

John Mason, SNP - 11,277
Margaret Curran, Labour - 10,912
Davena Rankin, Conservative - 1,639
Ian Robertson, Lib Dem - 915
Frances Curran, Scottish Socialist Party - 555
Tricia McLeish, Solidarity - 512
Dr Eileen Duke, Scottish Greens - 232
Chris Creighton, Independent - 67
Hamish Howitt, Freedom 4 Choice - 65
Turnout 42.25%

I must admit it I thought Labour would win. Very safe Labour seat, traditional loyalities, that sort of thing.

SNP canvassed with the leaflet with Brown greeting Mrs Thatcher. Traditional working class Labour voters will clearly vote for an alternative to the left of Labour, in this case the SNP.

SNP government is popular, also the Newsnight interview with Margaret Curran about the previous MP's expenses for a home/office must have caused a couple of hundred voters to swing.

Not so good for my sister party, normally Greens are not strong in parliamentary by-elections but we put in strong performances in Haltemprice and Henley.

I think of course that Greens, SSP and Solidarity should at least be talking...three candidates after the same vote...clearly the SSP and Solidarity split is locura, they have the same policies...and I suspect 90% same policies as the Scottish Green Party.

Any way lets watch Brown, looks like New Labour is falling.

A lesson for all those who indulge in politics for cash and career instead of social change and love control freakery almost for the fun of it.

I am moving from anti-capitalismo to becoming a by-election junkie....well I am not moving from anti-capitalism but by-elections are certainly very interesting at present.

24 Jul 2008

ACTIVISTS SQUAT NEWHAVEN INCINERATOR SITE IN PROTEST

Dr Derek Wall said 'Incinerators are a huge threat to health and the environment, I applaud these activists for taking direct action. They deserve our strong support. I know Green Party councillors have been working to stop this menace'

22.07.2008
'Stop Incineration Now!' protestors demonstrate their fury now that construction on the highly controversial incinerator plant has begun.

Activists have taken over the site of the proposed new incinerator plant in Newhaven. They entered the premises under the cover of darkness last night in an organised attempt at non-violent direct action, after resistance through democratic means failed them. Several protestors formed a barricade by superglue-ing themselves to the road in an attempt to prevent vehicle access, whilst on the site itself, other members of the group 'locked-on' to machinery in order to halt further activity. They claim to be exercising their democratic right to protest non-violently in a last-ditch attempt to promote their concerns about the consequences of incinerators on public health and safety.

Amidst a storm of controversy and fierce opposition from local residents concerned about pollution and health risks, construction of the incinerator by Veolia (Onyx) began early in June this year despite the fact that planning permission had not been officially approved and a judicial review of the process was still incomplete. Angry at what they saw as a direct attack on the health of the public and a lack of transparency throughout the planning process, local Newhaven campaign group Dove2000 fought to keep the issue in the public eye and generated 15,000 written objections to the scheme. It claimed that, falling way short of providing a necessary solution to waste management, the plant instead would be responsible for the inevitable contamination of the local area, the release of highly dangerous toxins into the atmosphere and the disastrous consequences of toxic ash disposal.

The devastating health implications for the environment and those living or working within the (10-15 mile radius) fallout zone of the incinerator plant have been well documented by groups like Dove2000, and according to Dr. Neil Catman (former incinerator inspector and internationally recognised expert on toxic waste incineration),

'in licensing these incineration operations, the government is creating zones of sacrifice....I'm not just talking about people getting sick. I've seen them die. If the wind would blow the smoke towards the school on a Monday you'd see the children being at home sick on Tuesday and Wednesday. The schools near the incinerators had the highest absentee rates in the district. I met a lot of these children. I've seen them die of leukaemia, brain cancer and a host of other disorders'.

It is claimed* that incinerators emit some of the most toxic and bioaccumulative air pollutants including acidic gases and fine dust particles which penetrate deep into the lungs causing respiratory disease and asthma; dioxins which suppress the immune system, cause cancer, and pose a particular problem for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers as they pass through to babies, readily reducing the rate of male births, causing hormonal disruption, learning difficulties and behavioural problems. Also emitted are nanoparticles and 2.5 micron particles which are known carcinogens able to migrate around the body, and a variety of dangerous heavy metals which affect the kidney and lungs, cause nerve and brain damage and adversely affect the central nervous system.
* (www.dove2000.org.uk). The decision to use incinerators for burning radioactive waste from nuclear power stations is also being considered.

By last year alone the cost of the project had soared to £145.7 million, with Brighton and Hove City Council and East Sussex County Council having collectively invested at least £2 million in legal fees to bring the project beyond the planning stage. There are a further 100-168 incinerators planned for use in the UK, though it appears that the Stop Incineration Now! network of protestors are determined to assert their belief that this money could be more advantageously spent on recycling initiatives to combat waste management problems more sustainably without creating further environmental problems for present and future generations.

The activists from Stop Incineration Now! continue to occupy the site determined to bring the discussion to the national forum.

# # #

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Francesca Corvino, please call herself on 07828178710 or email Francesca at fmcveigh (at) yahoo.com.

GREENS CALL FOR UNITED STRIKE ACTION OVER PAY

Derek Wall, the Green Party's Male Principal Speaker, has called for trade unions to put increased pressure on the Government and public sector employers by uniting to carry out sustained strike action, in opposition to attempts to impose pay cuts.

Last week over 500,000 local government workers across the country – including care assistants, refuse collectors, cleaners, teaching assistants and social workers - took industrial action because employers are attempting to impose pay cuts. The employers "final offer" amounted to just 2.45 per cent, whilst food prices have risen over 9 per cent in the last year and energy bills by 15 per cent.

In the wake of a national two-day walkout by UNISON and Unite last week, many union activists are discussing the potential for joint action between unions across different sectors.

In Scotland, a local government dispute is likely to lead to strike action, whilst a decision by the National Executive Committee of the National Union of Teachers resolved to ballot for further discontinuous strike action in late September. Civil servants union, the PCS, is also to ballot its public sector membership for twelve weeks of discontinuous action. In June, delegates of the Communications Workers Union voted unanimously for strike action against pension cuts, post office and mail centre closures, and up to 40,000 job losses.

Derek Wall stated, "What public sector workers are asking for is entirely fair – that they are not forced to pay for economic problems which they are not responsible for."

"Many Green trade unionists believe that further strike action must be planned now and should be coordinated between trade unions as far as is possible. We support the widest and broadest coalition of industrial action."

"Sustained and united strike action can force the hand of the employers and overturn their plans to impose pay cuts. All public sector workers deserve a pay rise not only to cover inflation, but to make up for 10 years of below inflation pay deals, which are pay cuts in all but name."

The Green Party has a record of championing trade union activism, from defending attacks on public services to advocating the repeal of the anti-trade union laws introduced by the Conservatives and left in place by Labour. On the London Assembly, Green Party Members were integral in establishing the Living Wage Unit aiming to lift London's lowest paid workers out of the poverty trap.

23 Jul 2008

NO NEW COAL march from Rochester to Kingsnorth power station

Date: Sun 3rd August
Assemble: Rochester Station Car Park 12pm,
Rally starts at 12.30pm,
Set off at 1pm

Listen to speakers from local groups, as well as national NGOs that are working on the issue of coal, talk about why a new coal fired power station at kingsnorth should never happen....

Join the local anti-coal group: Kingsnorth Climate Action Medway (KCAM) in destroying a model power station!

Dress as a dinosaur, a power station chimney or anything you can think of to draw attention to the growing movement that is forming against a new wave of coal fired power stations

Link up with Climate Camp Caravans from London and Brighton on their last day, and cyclists from London and around the country who will join us en route, and once we get to Kingsnorth, walk together with us to the climate camp.

Logistics:
Trains to Rochester take 40-70 minutes from Victoria / London Bridge stations.

If you don't want to walk the whole way, you can get a bus which runs from Strood to Hoo every hour and just join us for the first and last parts.

More info
www.campaigncc.org/kingsnorth.shtml

21 Jul 2008

Alan Wheatley gets tough on James Purnell

Replying to the leak of DWP Secretary James Purnell's latest 'get tough
on claimants' Green Paper
<http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2008/07/21/108900/welfare-reform-green-paper-heralds-tougher-regime-for-claimants.html>,
London Green Party Disability Spokesperson Alan Wheatley said:

"What jobseekers need is more in the way of green lights, not more of
the same draconian measures that make welfare reform the latest frontier
for legalised human trafficking at a time of growing global recession."

The Government proposals include forcing claimants to do four week's
full time work after claiming unemployment-related benefits for over a
year. "That is a move to drive employment standards down and keep the
pressure on keeping public sector pay and standards low.

"Meanwhile, Sky News is more keen to report what the DWP Secretary and
his cronies have to say, than to alert the public to how his department
fails to deliver urgently needed income to genuine claimants. When
claimants receive redundancy money or are in temporary, part-time paid
employment, their Jobseekers Allowance entitlements are rarely updated
on time and this causes hardship and creates a stumbling block in their
career progression while Jobcentre Plus call-centres are overloaded." In
2004-2005, 21 million calls -- 44% of all incoming call traffic -- to
Jobcentre Plus call-centres went unanswered
<http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2006/11/16/102240/jobcentre-plus-poor-service-continues.html>.
What has Sky News and the like had to say about that, and with what size
headlines?

As Noam Chomsky reported in 'The Manufacture of Consent', poor people
have traditionally not had the telecommunications equipment that their
oppressors rely on for promoting their say, and that makes news sourcing
easier. With a computer won in a national magazine competition, London
Green Party's Disability Spokesperson has exercised his Information
Communication Technology skills and reframing bitter personal experience
of system failure, into being Disability Spokesperson for London Green
Party. "The essential data were multiple choice answers, not CV data,"
Alan notes.

That application of his Information Communication Technology skills has
been better for his mental health and continuous professional
development than advice given by workfare provider A4e (Action for
Employment) to long-term jobseekers.

A4e Holloway client advisors say, "The more jobs you apply for, the
better your chances. Ten job applications per day is good." On A4e's
referral form, there is no question regarding the 'beneficiary's'
disability status or access requirements. But is such a lottery-like
approach to jobsearch professional good for even non-disabled jobseekers?

A4e owner Emma Harrison is a multi-millionaire whose business is
expanding globally, as is the armaments exports-like nature of workfare
that the UK's Department for Work & Pensions Secretary wants
British-based companies to be a leading force in. It also offers free
debt advice to New Deal 'beneficiaries' while A4e's delivery of
'Community Legal Aid Centres' threatens the future of Citizens' Advice
Bureaux and prospective impartiality of the advice offered to society's
most economically vulnerable members.

19 Jul 2008

Misión Revolución Energética

CITGO, Embassy of Venezuela and Citizens Energy Launch Energy Efficient
Lighting Program in Houston

HOUSTON – CITGO Petroleum Corporation Chairman, President and CEO
Alejandro Granado, Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II and
Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Bernardo Alvarez joined
today at the home of Houston resident Delores Smith to promote a national
pilot program providing low-income households with energy efficient and
environmentally friendly compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).

In Houston, the program will distribute an estimated 140,000 CFLs
throughout the summer and early fall in 7,000 households -- approximately
one third of the national total.

As with the low-income heating oil program inaugurated in 2005, this
initiative is a partnership between Houston-based CITGO, a wholly owned
subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), and the Boston-based
nonprofit Citizen's Energy Corporation. Together, CITGO and Citizen's
Energy will provide eligible Texas households in Houston and Corpus
Christi as well as nine other cities nationwide with almost half a million
CFLs. The initiative will also include education materials and workshops
to help inform individuals about ways they can use energy more efficiently
and in turn save on their electric bills.

Working with local community groups, the program will distribute light
bulbs and energy conservation educational materials to approximately
23,000 households in the pilot cities. Qualified participants will
participate in energy workshops sponsored by partner organizations. In
total, the pilot program has the potential to save program participants
nearly $15 million and reduce their energy use by 165 million
kilowatt-hours.

"I am proud that CITGO invests over $100 million annually on social
programs to improve the lives of those in need," Granado said. "The
CITGO-Venezuela Energy Efficient Lighting Program will save money for
recipients who struggle to make ends meet while also helping these
communities learn more about energy efficiency and environmental
conservation."

Simple energy-savings actions like those encouraged through this pilot
program can make a big difference. According to the federal government,
if every American home replaced just one light bulb with a CFL, the U.S.
would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year,
more than $600 million annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases
equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.

"The most cost effective and clean energy is the energy we don't use,"
Kennedy said. "We are proud to partner with CITGO Petroleum to help our
most vulnerable households learn ways to use energy more efficiently, and
in doing so, save energy, money and the environment."

The inspiration for the program came from a similar Venezuelan Government
initiative called Misión Revolución Energética.

"This program is a counterpart to our efforts in Venezuela, where more
than 60 million conventional light bulbs have been replaced by energy
efficient ones through Misión Revolución Energética," Alvarez, said. "It
is also proof of CITGO's commitment to social issues, which goes far
beyond traditional corporate social responsibility, and of Venezuela's
commitment to a new progressive model of development to confront the
problems of poverty and environmental damage."



_______________________________________________
The HOV "News" list is used to distribute news and information related to the International Hands Off Venezuela Campaign, as well as other Venezuela-related news and analysis. It's aim is to assist in
building a broad-based, non-sectarian Venezuela solidarity campaign. For more information or to get involved with building HOV in your area, please visit us at www.handsoffvenezuela.org.

18 Jul 2008

Southhall Black Sisters win



The case was brought on behalf of Ramandeep Kaur, 25, who is currently supported by the group, as well as another woman in a similar position.

She was put in touch with its counselors after suffering at the hands of her husband who beat her and threw her out of the house.

She said: "I had no where to go and I just felt like I wanted to commit suicide. I couldn't speak English and I couldn't tell anyone about my problems but I was able to go to Southall Black Sisters.

"Before I met them I wanted to commit suicide, but they gave me a sense of living."
More from the High Court here

Southall Black Sisters who support women from ethnic minorities threatened with abuse have won their campaign, Ealing Council have been trying to cut their funding.

Feisty feminist opponents of fundamentalism and abuse they deserve support.

Their campaign has been succesful which is very good news indeed.

More from my Socialist Unity co-blogger Louise here

Darren Johnson supports RMT action for cleaners

Darren Johnson
London Assembly Green Party Member
www.london.gov.uk/assembly/members/johnsond.jsp

All London workers deserve a living wage
On the eve of a strike by the RMT in support of efforts to secure a living wage for London underground cleaners, Darren Johnson, Green Party London Assembly Member, has called on London’s Mayor to lobby Tubelines, the employer, to follow Transport for London’s lead and pay cleaners of its section of the network at least £7.45 an hour.
Darren Johnson said:
“I fully support the action of the RMT in support of underpaid tube cleaners. Paying poverty wages to workers who provide an important public service is unacceptable. Since taking over the work of failed Tube contractor Metronet, Transport for London has proven that it is possible to pay everyone working on the underground a living wage.”
“Tubelines, and all London employers, should recognise the cost of living and working in the capital by ensuring that everyone who works for them is paid at least the London living wage of £7.45 an hour.”

17 Jul 2008

Early Day Motion
EDM 2039

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS IN PUBLIC SERVICE
15.07.2008


Abbott, Diane

That this House notes that an Islington registrar has won an industrial tribunal case giving her the right to refuse to officiate at civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual and lesbian couples on the grounds of her religious beliefs; further notes that civil partnerships are legally not the same as Christian marriage; further notes that the Holy Scriptures are entirely silent on the question of civil partnerships; notes with concern that the case could set a precedent for any public servant refusing to treat all members of the public equally because of self-defined religious beliefs; believes that no public servant should be allowed to discriminate on this arbitrary basis; and, should this case not be reversed on appeal, calls on the Government to clarify and, if necessary, amend the law to guard the public against discrimination and prejudice by public servants in the future.

Yet another trade unionist murdered in Colombia

Good to see Ingrid Betancourt is free, yes the FARC must end their war and release kidnap victims....is Colombia a state where workers and peasants can live without fear, no it isnt.



This was in the Morning Star, Colombia remains in the grip of death squads....COLOMBIAN opposition party Polo Democratico warned that “liberty and the right to organise still do not exist in Colombia” on Wednesday after the body of Colombian trade unionist Guillermo Rivera Fuquene was found on a rubbish tip in the city of Ibague.

The Workers Confederation of Colombia said that Mr Rivera had disappeared on April 22 in Bogota after he had been detained by police.

He was the union representative for workers at an office in Bogota’s city administration and an activist for the left-wing Polo Democratico.

The confederation confirmed that Mr Rivera had been killed six days after he disappeared.

Polo Democratico revealed that witness statements confirmed that he had been seen with police officers shortly before he disappeared.

The party released a statement which read: “This shows that the official guarantees from President Uribe’s government protecting the lives of union and political activists - their liberty and the right to organise - still do not exist in Colombia.”

Greenest Tolpuddle




18-20 July
This year's Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival should be the 'greenest' yet. The South West TUC has worked hard to encourage people to come by public transport, coach or shared cars. People will be urged to recycle and leave no waste; a wind and solar generator will be tested; all caterers are expected to come with biodegradable plates and cutlery and the new South West TUC Green Workplaces project team will be on hand to give advice. The Tolpuddle Green Camp has had a good response and local environmental campaigners and advice agencies will have stalls.
The cottages and museum have had their insulation improved and solar panels are being fitted.
Derek Wall, the Green Party Principal Speaker, will address the festival and the discussions on the Saturday will include a debate over food production.

www.tuc.org.uk/tolpuddle


'The repression of the Tolpuddle martyrs in the 19th century is the reason for this festival but trade unionists are still repressed even killed for their work in countries like Colombia. I am proud to have been invited to celebrate the spirit of Tolpuddle and to provide the support of the Green Party to workers across Britain, particularly in the public sector who are threatened with pay cuts.

Green politics is about social justice and to create real justice you have to challenge neo-liberalism and give workers rights.

In turn environmental problems are problems that can only be solved with the participation and input of workers. We need green plans where workers helped develop ecological forms of production. We must also remember how green industrial action has brought benefits. In the 1980s sea dumping of nuclear waste was halted after industrial action by the National Union of Seamen.


Of course such action would now be illegal because of Mrs Thatcher's anti-union legislation. Strong unions are essential both to the prosperity of ordinary people rather than fat cats and to protecting the planet. This is why I am proud to say the Green Party supports the campaign for a Trade Union Freedom Bill.'

Dr Wall is speaking at the main rally on sunday at 12 pm .

16 Jul 2008

Vauxhall Green Candidate Supports Local Strikers


Had this from James, Joseph is a good friend, co convenor of Green Left and International Secretary of the Green Party of England and Wales.


Vauxhall Green Candidate Supports Local Strikers


Joseph Healy, the Green Party's Parliamentary Candidate for the Vauxhall Constituency today joined the picket lines in solidarity with Lambeth's local government workers who are striking over a government-imposed pay cut.

Across the country 600,000 local government workers - care assistants, refuse collectors, cleaners, teaching assistants and social workers - are taking industrial action because employers are demanding that they take a pay cut. The employers "final offer" amounted to just 2.45 per cent whilst food prices have risen 9 per cent in the last year and energy bills by 15 per cent.

The Green Party has a record of championing trade union activism, from defending attacks on public services to advocating the repeal of the anti-trade union laws introduced by the Conservatives and left in place by Labour. On the Greater London Assembly, Green Party Members were integral in establishing the Living Wage Unit aiming to lift London's lowest paid workers out of the poverty trap.

Joseph joined strikers at Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton and pledged the support of Lambeth Green Party in their fight for fair pay and against privatisation. Meanwhile local Labour MPs, Kayt Hoey, Keith Hill and Tessa Jowell, were nowhere to be seen whilst several Labour Councillors crossed picket lines.

Joseph, who is an active member of UNITE and Co-Convenor of the Green Party's eco-socialist platform, Green Left, said: "Everyone should be clear that the offer on the table is a pay cut in real terms. The Green Party entirely supports the right for workers to demand fair pay. Gordon Brown's Labour Government appears content to effectively make working class people pay for the country's economic woes, which is simply unfair."

"The Green Party is working with trade union activists up and down the country to build grass roots resistance to pay cuts and privatisation being imposed by Labour, Lib Dem and Tory administrations."

James Caspell, a Lambeth UNISON shop steward added: "It's great that Joseph and other Green Party representatives are joining picket lines up and down the country and showing the sort of solidarity that is entirely lacking from the Labour Government. Britain is crying out for a new left alternative and I am sure that Green activists will continue to play a key part of the workers' struggle for environmental and social justice."

Greens support Unison in Brighton

Lots more from us Greens on the GPTU blog



We had a great show of strength for the local govt strike today; The Royal Pavilion was successfully shut this morning (not sure how attempts to shut it this afternoon went) and both town halls had substantial numbers of pickets. I'd been on a picket from 8am till 9:30ish. There was also a large and very defiant lunchtime march and rally- GP had quite big profile. Cllr Ben Duncan gave speech below; no other political representation on march or at rally- shame the PA didn't work.

5am tomorrow for mass picket at local waste disposal unit and then picketting of all Council offices from 7:30am. Full council being picketted from 3:30pm- Tories charging ahead with the meeting; GP motion down to be discussed; Green councillors respecting picket line fully, expect only scabs to be on Tory benches but won't be surprised if other parties scab too.

Phelim










UNISON RALLY SPEECH – 16TH JULY 2008






Thanks to you all for coming out today in such numbers. I woke up this morning to radio coverage of striking UNISON members in Southampton and Manchester, and I’m delighted that there is clearly as much support for this action here in Brighton and Hove.





My name is Ben Duncan, I am a Green Party councillor and parliamentary candidate for Kemptown. I am honoured to have been asked to speak to you today on behalf of the local Green Party to express our solidarity with you and the action you are taking today and tomorrow.





As we’ve heard, this strike was precipitated by the Government offering local government workers a real-terms pay cut. This isn’t just financially unfair – it’s an insult too.





This makes you just the latest in a long line of public sector workers to face shoddy treatment from this Government.





Gordon brown says we all have to tighten our belts in the face of tough economic times – of rising food, housing and transport costs. He says spending money ensuring wages for some of the lowest-paid keep up with inflation will push that inflation still higher. What nonsense.





The reality is the current economic downturn has been caused by an out-of-control banking industry and an over dependence on ever-depleting oil reserves. So, what does the Gov’t do? It spends £50 billion bailing out the banks, and billions more fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to secure oil reserves. Meanwhile, it says we cant afford to take the economic risk of paying public sector workers the same as we did just a few years ago.





But this isn’t a theoretical argument about politics or economics – it’s about how to keep up with the very real rising costs of living.





And here in Brighton and Hove it’s particularly tough: we live in what has become known as the low-wage capital of the South-East but face some of the highest food and housing costs in the country.





When the Green Party, a few months back, proposed the council pay a living wage of £7 an hour to its lowest paid staff, we learned that this council, in this city, in 2008, pays less than that to 1,150 people. Mostly on casual contracts, we’re talking about cleaners, the lowest grades of library and teaching assistants and stewards at the Brighton Centre, to name just a few. Meanwhile its highest paid managers are taking home six figure salaries.





We think that’s just unacceptable in a fair society, and that’s why we are backing you all the way and are calling on this council, the Local Government Association, and the Gov’t, to reconsider this latest insulting pay offer and give all council workers a fair pay packet in return for the vital work you do in delivering essential services to the people of this city.

UK WIDE ISLAMIC ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP MEETING




With
Professor. Mary Evelyn Tucker and Professor. John Grim of
the Yale University, Institution for Social and Policy Studies.
(The world's two leading eco theologians)
Penney Poyzer (BBC2 series presenter for "No Waste Like Home")

Date: Sunday 27th July 2008
Time: 10am - 5pm
Venue: Muslim World League, 46 Goodge Street, London W1P 1FJ
(Nearest Tube: Goodge Street Station)

One day meeting with all UK Islamic Environmental groups to
discuss activities, future events and strategies. The meeting will
be chaired by Sidi Fazlun Khalid, who is the founder and director
of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES).
Special screeing of IFEESs "Green Medina" campaign in Birmingham

About the speakers:
http://www.religionandecology.org/About/founders.php

http://www.nci-management.com/clients/penneypoyzer.shtml

* All welcome * Organic / fair trade lunch plus tea and coffee

To register or for further enquires about event please contact:
Tel: 07956 983 609
E-mail: info@ifees.org.uk
Website: www.ifees.org.uk

Picket Line blues

Had this comment on a post I put on socialist unity blog...needs thinking about, any more tales from the picket line folks.



I’ve just got back from a half hearted UNISON picket line at a School in Bromsgrove
Worcestershire…[and thankfully their was no sign of any 'royal' family. However, several UNISON members decided to act in an 'autocratic' fashion which I think needs to be discussed.
Despite the fact that the picket was at the rear of the school [the staff car park]
a group of about 20 mainly ‘bad boys’ who are basically ‘failed’ by the school came round nervously and tentatively… Basically they wanted to support the picket and were testing the water. I handed one of the lads a “Offical Picket” sign and offered to take a photo in a light hearted fashion… his face started to beam with a great smile at this moment of ‘inclusion’ ‘recognition’ or whatever when the UNISON rep literally shouted “NO! We don’t want the kids involved”…. ‘especially not them’.

It saddens me deeply, that our schools are tragically continuing to label and engage in heartless ’Skinnerist’ behavioural modification regimes primarily aimed at boys that seem to further undermine their self esteem and drive them onto the margins of the system.

This group of working class lads most of them the product of re combined families with problematic or non exsistent relationships with biological fathers…. relationships with mothers who have exposed them too or committed acts of violence against them… who have been left to their own devises since a very young age… These lads tentatively came towards a group of ‘Strikers’ in the hope that there might be some "common ground" and a chance of solidarity against a system that seeks to crush their spirit and individuality….

and they were rejected and excluded yet again.
This group of lads are all ‘at risk of offending' some of them it is 'rumoured' are already involved in 'gangs' and 'knife crime'.... interestingly enough the 'rumours' are completely unsubstanciated by any evidence.

In my minds eye I imagine another scenario where the overwhelmingly female picket line welcomes the spontaneous act solidarity from the male school students where a discussion about the reality of the world of ‘work’ is initiated and where these lads who have no sense of purpose or hope are give a taste of a future of solidarity in struggle for a fairer more just society.

School Students should be encouraged to organise and to express their feelings and if they want to show support for industrial action by school support staff those staff should welcome them with open arms. Surely this is an issue of 'democratic rights' or are 'democratic rights' the exclusive preserve of those over the age of 18 years??

One of the saddest things about this group of lads who wanted to join the strike… is that they have all been encouraged by their overwhelmingly female ‘educators’ [both qualified teaching staff and Teaching Assistants and 'Behavioural Support' workers to opt out of any academic timetables and literally ‘pushed’ [ie cajolled, manipulated] into ‘construction courses’ where they are given safety boots and farmed out as ‘labourers’ to local building firms when there is no work they are ‘timetabled’ to stay at home [usually alone] killing people on Xbox or Playstation.

Some of them are enthusiastic about the prospect of actually ‘building homes’ especially as most of them live in overcrowded ‘homes’ themselves. However, the sad reality of the currrent recession is that the chances of the these lads actually getting ‘construction’ jobs in the private sector is zero. Some of them express the desire to join the ‘Army’….I have tried to point out that Afganistan is not like ‘call of duty’ on the X Box and that when you are shot you actually do die! [perhaps this desire to 'fight' is not 'reactionary' but a natural reaction to being subjected to injustice?]

Sisters and bothers! Do not be suprised if lads like those who were rejected by a small and rather pointless picket line at a Bromsgrove School end up stabbing someone or joining the BNP. Our ‘movement’ is to a large extent complict in the marginalisation of these lads… 'Feminism' in the way it has been distorted by a triumphant imperialism views lads like those at a Bromsgrove school as ’scum’…. If you treat people like scum don’t be suprised if they treat you like scum in return.


Stop bullying our kids.


Charlotte Badger

Open statement and invitation to the trade union movement from the Climate Camp




climate camp - networking group | 14.07.2008 18:50


An invitation to the trade union movement to engage in a dialogue with the Camp for Action.

As you may be aware the Camp for Climate Action will be happening near Kingsnorth in Kent, august 3 -11th 2008.

The camp is an open event to which all are welcome to attend and debate issues about how we can stop climate change. We will also explore practical examples of how we can live, work and take decisions together, in truly democratic and sustainable ways.

We aim to shut down Kingsnorth power station on the 9th of August for one day. We want to clarify that this action is not against the workers at Kingsnorth, nor does it mean we think the UK coal industry should be shut down overnight. It means we want to show the seriousness of the threat both to humans and our environment, now and into the future. This crisis affects the world’s poorest people first and hardest and is a social justice issue. We feel that we must take collective, political direct action to address it.

We recognise the history of political attacks on the miners and the union movement and we firmly resist that. We recognise the need for jobs, viable communities and a strong trade union movement, and we want a decent, fair and long term deal for all, including miners, energy workers and their communities. We believe we face a common enemy of short-termism, capitalism and the exploitation of people and nature that capitalism inevitably brings.

Coal is currently the dirtiest of the fossil fuels and it is an industry that is going to have to respond to the climate crisis. We are against any proposal that would increase our carbon emissions, as a new power station at Kingsnorth would. Extremely rapid reductions in emissions are necessary if we are not to watch millions suffer and die in the most preventable disaster the world has ever known.

We know much hope surrounds ‘clean coal technology’, but we see a lot of ‘greenwash’ there too. ‘Clean coal’ means many different things and is an idea not a single technology. We know many within the coal industry are pushing carbon capture and storage – CCS – and this is proposed for one part of the new Kingsnorth plant. It may offer solutions but on the scale required it is still only theoretical and will no doubt have many costs. Like many technical proposals its impact will depend on the political context it is used in. We are concerned that it does not marginalise solutions that could have a real impact today, like energy efficiency, renewables, local production, public transport etc. All of these could provide thousands of new jobs immediately, and help make our society healthier.

We don’t have a blueprint for the future but we do have a clear sense of the values which will guide it – environmental sustainability and social justice for all. We locate the roots of climate change within the ideas and practice of capitalism. Consequently we know that we cannot ‘solve’ climate change without addressing the way our world is run for private profit rather than social gain and for endless growth rather than satisfying needs.

We have adopted the model of ‘Just Transition’, in which the needs of workers are paramount within the transition to a new economy: their views are central, there should be adequate retraining where required, there should be no loss incurred. An increasing number of trade unions are adopting this model internationally. There will be ways we can make this transition protect, and benefit, workers and communities worldwide.

Climate change poses a question about our economic and social system. It is in fact an opportunity. The theft of resources, the inequality, the destruction of nature, the abandonment of communities unwanted by big business, the injustice, the poverty, the lack of a real say in our lives – all these can be addressed when we address climate change. As prices rise and people question the reasons for the instability, we will have welcome space to talk about capitalism, social justice and real democracy. It will be an opportunity for groups who were previously unaligned to work together. It will be an opportunity for us to realise the importance and excitement of collective action. It could and should offer the opportunity for the trade union movement to re invigorate itself.

We know we should have made greater efforts to communicate with workers and unions at an earlier stage, and we apologise for that. We hope this opportunity is now here and we warmly welcome a dialogue with all sectors over how we can move forward both fairly and sustainably.

We know there is a proposal for a counter demonstration against the camp. We are concerned that this proposal could give the impression that we are on different sides and be seized upon by government and media to avoid talking about the real political issues we could be addressing. Such a division, real or not, could damage us both, whereas mutual respect and aid could help. We need to engage in a constructive dialogue about the way forward.

To that effect we warmly offer to come to your branch or group to discuss these issues, and invite you to the Camp to do the same.


In solidarity,

Networking group – Camp for Climate Action 2008

15 Jul 2008

Solidarity with Local Government strikers!

EWS FROM THE GREEN PARTY of England and Wales LGBT GROUP



http://www.lgbtgreens.org.uk/



Solidarity with Local Government strikers!

15.7.8



On the eve of the industrial action in local Government, Media Officer for LGBTGreens, Phelim Mac Cafferty stated:

“LGBT Greens wish to commend the sterling work of local govt workers- the emptying of bins, the cleaning of our authority's schools, the conduct of marriages and civil partnerships, the care of our city's parks, the safety of our food and the care of our children in nurseries and schools and so much more is conducted by local govt workers.



Phelim continued:

“It is in the context of inflation (up 4.3%), some fuel bills up by over a tenth, fuel up nearly a quarter, milk 17% and bread 9%, we ask why the Local Government Association has offered a pay 'rise' of 2.45% to local govt workers. This signifies a significant pay cut and comes on the back of 10 years of below-inflation pay 'rises'.



“It is in such a climate that the trade union Unison has called on local govt workers to take industrial action on 16 and 17 July- not because they want to. Many UNISON members are low-paid, part-time women workers, struggling to pay bills - losing two days pay for strike action is not something they are prepared to do lightly. Unison are actually striking because the employers won’t even consider talking to them about a better offer.



“Unison, the largest public sector union, has 600,000 members in local government. Some 40,000 Unite union members in local government will also join the action.



“Greens want to clarify that over 800 local authority senior management earn more than £100,000. Council senior management have enjoyed an average pay rise of 4.6 percent. The salaries of Human Resources directors in local government increased by 15 percent in 2007 – taking their average wage to £73,264.



“We are knowledgeable that the services provided by local govt workers are essential to our community, and that shutting them down for two days will cause disruption. LGBT Greens share the concerns of Unison who are genuinely sorry that citizens will be inconvenienced. However we believe that cities like Brighton are expensive and that the people who keep it moving just can’t afford another pay cut.



Phelim concluded-

“LGBT Greens are concerned that unless local govt workers get a fair settlement on pay, our local community will suffer too. We are deeply concerned that services will simply deteriorate as councils continue to lose committed staff and struggle to find new employees prepared to work for such low pay.”

London pollution levels break safety barrier


I had this from Jean Lambert MEP for London, basically pollution levels in many parts of the city are well over what they should be, my fear is that with Boris the buffon, the only cyclist who is in love with Jeremy Clarkson, emissions will head upwards. He has scrapped increased charges for SUVs, scrapped the pedestrianisation of Westminister and while motorbikes are better than cars...his plan to let them share cycle lanes looks like a step backwards.

It would be nice if the 'green' Tories actually introduces some shallow environmentalism rather than continuing with all the usual locura.

PM10....tiny tiny tiny particles of matter are of course generated not just by traffic but incinerators, those may the reason for the New Cross figure below.

Air quality in London monitoring site here

Any way on to Jean



Government set to further fail Londoners over poor air quality



- Worst sites for air pollution in London revealed



In the light of new research into air pollution across London, Jean Lambert,
London's Green Party MEP, today slammed Government plans to delay meeting
new EU air quality targets [1]. Many sites in London are frequently
exceeding current standards, but instead of tackling the problem the
Government is planning to seek derogations from the EU Air Quality Directive
standards.



"Over 1000 people die prematurely every year in London as a result of poor
air quality, far more than die in traffic accidents. Air pollution is the
invisible urban killer and the Government should be doing everything
possible to clean up the air we breathe," said Ms Lambert [2].



At all but one of the 47 monitoring stations across London the level of
nitrogen dioxide, NO2, consistently exceeds current air quality standards
[3] and the level of PM10 particulate matter is exceeding current standards
at 6 sites [4].



Yet this week, the Green Party MEP for London received confirmation from the
Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that the Government
is likely to seek extended compliance deadlines for the pollutants NO2 and
PM10, which have grave impacts on human health. If the European Commission
approves the Government's request to delay it would allow a further five
years from 2010 for compliance.



Jean Lambert continued:



"I am very concerned that London's air quality is already falling below EU
standards and if the Government is successful in seeking derogations from
the new standards it will take the UK further away from meeting its
obligations.



"Poor air quality presents a major threat to public health and it is
imperative that the Government commits to fully comply with the new EU Air
Quality Directive standards as early as possible."



She added:



"The area around Heathrow is also a hot spot and consistently fails current
air quality standards. The UK Government has no current action plan for
addressing non-compliance and any increase in air and road traffic will
simply intensify the problem and cause greater health problems for local
residents."



ENDS







Notes to Editors



[1] The EU Air Quality Directive



The Air Quality Directive came into force on 11 June 2008. It requires
Member States to reduce exposure to nitrogen dioxide in urban areas. The
limit value of 40 ug/m3 should be achieved by January 2010. Member States
may seek a five-year extension to this deadline but will have to meet
specific criteria for derogation to be allowed.



The standards for NO2 and PM10 will remain the same as current standards,
but the rules will be extended to cover fine particles (PM2.5), a pollutant
with serious health consequences.



[2] Health impacts of NO2 and PM10



Air pollution has impacts on human health ranging from minor effects on the
respiratory system to reduced lung function, asthma, chronic bronchitis,
cardiovascular disease and reduced life expectancy.



Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3) and particles (PM10 and PM2.5) are the
main air pollutants of note in the UK. Of these, particles are the largest
threat to human health they are through to take an average of 8 months off
the life expectancy of the average EU citizen (European Environment Agency),
and to have been responsible for over 1, 000 premature deaths in London
alone during 2005 (GLA estimate).



Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) - A respiratory irritant



Particles (PM10 and PM2.5) - Long-term exposure to particles (especially
PM2.5) is associated with premature mortality, especially from heart and
lung conditions. Recent studies have also suggested that high levels of
PM2.5 in childhood can permanently impair lung function. High levels of
particles can affect asthma sufferers





[3] Twenty worst sites in London for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution, all
exceeding current air pollution standard of 40 ug/m3



Average levels of NO2 recorded so far in 2008



1. Lambeth

Brixton Road monitoring station

221 ug/m3



2. Kensington & Chelsea

Earl's Court Road monitoring station

117 ug/m3



3. Westminster

Marylebone Road / Baker Street monitoring site

108 ug/m3



4. Kensington & Chelsea

Knightsbridge monitoring station

105 ug/m3



5. Kensington & Chelsea

King's Road monitoring station

96 ug/m3



6. Lambeth

Vauxhall Cross monitoring station

85 ug/m3



7. Camden

Shaftesbury Avenue monitoring station

83 ug/m3



8. Sutton

Wallington monitoring station

79 ug/m3



9. Camden

Swiss Cottage monitoring station

77 ug/m3



10. Hounslow

Chiswick High Road monitoring station

73 ug/m3



11. Hammersmith & Fulham

Broadway monitoring station

73 ug/m3



12. Tower Hamlets

Mile End Road monitoring station

69 ug/m3



13. Greenwich

Woolwich Flyover monitoring station

69 ug/m3



14. Barnet

Tally Ho monitoring station

66 ug/m3



15. Islington

Holloway Road monitoring station

66 ug/m3



16. Tower Hamlets

Blackwall monitoring station

63 ug/m3



17. Hackney

Old Street monitoring station

62 ug/m3



18. Hounslow

Brentford monitoring station

62 ug/m3



19. Lewisham

New Cross monitoring station

61 ug/m3



20. Lambeth

Christchurch Road monitoring station

60 ug/m3





[4] Six worst sites for PM10 particulate matter, all exceeding current
standard of 40 ug/m3



Average levels of PM10 recorded so far in 2008



1. Lambeth

Vauxhall Cross monitoring station

61 ug/m3



2. Greenwich

Woolwich Flyover monitoring station

54 ug/m3



3. Bexley

Erith monitoring station

49 ug/m3



4. Brent

Neasden Lane monitoring station

48 ug/m3



5. Westminster

Marylebone Road / Baker Street monitoring site

47 ug/m3



6. Hounslow

Brentford monitoring station

41 ug/m3



For further details about the sites go to
http://www.londonair.org.uk/london/asp/publicdetails.asp?region=0

14 Jul 2008

Saving Bankers While Homeowners Fall

[col. writ. 6/29/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal


Throughout the presidential primaries, while politicians amassed millions from both corporate and private sources, how many times did you hear the sub-prime lending disaster discussed?

Over a million homeowners, most of them Black or brown, faced foreclosures and the loss of their most valuable financial asset, and most politicians passed over it in relative silence, while they begged or lied for votes.

How can this be, unless they, like most pols, were the paid for property of corporations?

When the sub-prime mess hit, in a matter of hours, the Federal Reserve Board's head, Ben Bernanke, slipped $200 billion in government guarantees to keep the mortgage loan industry afloat. Thus, the U.S. government used its power to back the banks' hustling of what were essentially junk bonds.

A fifth of a trillion bucks to back those who ripped off a million people with loans designed to fail; and for those who got ripped off, nothing.

Indeed, the only politician who was attacking this practice was New York's former Attorney General (and later Governor), Eliot Spitzer. But once caught in the web of a hooker's scandal, this threat melted away into mist.

These sub-prime loans, saddled with balloon-like expanded repayment rates, were designed to fail (at least for the borrowers), and these legalized hustles were steered at an astonishing rate, at 73% of high-income African-Americans and Hispanic families. Among white high-income homeowners, only 17% were recipients of sub-primes. Should we chalk this up to coincidence?

This Greed Riot has sent shivers throughout the economy, not just in America, but overseas as well, because foreign companies and governments invested in these junk mortgage bonds.

The foreclosure crisis has slowed housing construction; loans are almost impossible to get, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates banks and investors will lose $1 trillion.

But for nearly a million families their losses will be infinitely greater. They lose their dreams, their homes, and perhaps their very families. How many divorces have been spawned by these foreclosures? How many families have been split asunder? How many suicides?

These things do not fall on the cold pages of a business ledger.

These non economic losses can be traced to pure, unmitigated greed of bankers, investment houses, and the willing blindness of a government addicted to deregulation.

--(c) '08 maj

AN AMERICAN engineering firm involved in building nuclear warheads could become part of a trust running Ossett Schools

Well apologies to Alan Wheatley....I have been slow on this, busy with by-elections, etc!



Hi, Derek

At 19:47:58 +0100 on Fri, 27 June you wrote:

wow this [School row goes nuclear] is a big story, thanks!

I'd be interested to know what you are going to do/write about it elsewhere? )I've seen no reference to the story on your another-green-world blogspot.)

Curiously

Alan

derek wall wrote:

wow this is a big story, thanks!

Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2008 19:47:58 +0100
From: alanwheatley@phonecoop.coop
To: wallddd@hotmail.com
Subject: Fwd: School row goes nuclear

Hi, Derek

I just spotted the following, that I'm sure you will find of interest:
Schools row goes nuclear
Friday, 20 June 2008
AN AMERICAN engineering firm involved in building nuclear warheads could become part of a trust running Ossett Schools.
Jacobs Engineering Group could be involved in the plan by nine schools to link up with businesses to run affairs outside local authority control.
Sally Kincaid, local secretary for the NUT said: "Many people are opposed to nuclear weapons on principal and yet this company would have an equal influence over the education of our pupils as Wakefield Council."
Last year, US firm Bearing Point was dropped as a partner in Wakefield's Aspire Trust. It had emerged the firm was involved in George Bush's election campaign and has contracts in Iraq.
In its Editorial comment the Wakefield Express concludes "Surely this is something that should be decided by parental referendum. Let them vote and decide what is best for their kids."
Wakefield Express article here
http://www.antiacademies.org.uk/index.php?

Your comrade

Alan Wheatley

Festival celebrates murder music

Straight Pride is Homophobic Pride

Organisers are proud to be anti-gay

London - 14 July 2008

A small, self-selected group of reggae labels, promoters and artists
have announced that they will hold a Straight Pride Parade in New York
on 31 August 2008, in defence of homophobia and anti-gay lyrics that
incite violence against lesbian and gay people:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/07/prweb1077774.htm

Commenting on the planned Straight Pride, gay human rights campaigner
Peter Tatchell, a spokesperson for OutRage! and the Stop Murder Music
campaign, said:

"The US is a free country. Let them have their misnamed Straight Pride
Parade. They say it is a celebration of heterosexuality, but really
it's a promotion of straight supremacism. Their parade is driven by a
homophobic agenda. They defend artists who incite hatred and violence
against LGBT people.

In their news release, the organisers promote a song by the singer
Stapler called "Hit Them Hard," which openly advocates violence
against gay men.

"They falsely claim that the Stop Murder Music campaign is an attack
on reggae music. Nonsense. It is an attack on a small number of reggae
singers who have perverted reggae's message of peace, love and
justice. They have betrayed the liberation ideals of the reggae
pioneers and are hijacking the genre to turn it into an anthem of
homophobic hatred and violence. They are encouraging civil war in the
black community. They want black straight people to kill black
lesbians and gay men.

"These idiots don't realise that one of Bob Marley's most famous songs
contains lyrics that send a coded message of support to black gay men.
It's called 'No woman no cry.' It was very popular in gay clubs when
it was first released and it still gets played today. Some gay men
sing along and add the words that Marley dared not himself say: 'No
woman no cry…when you got gay guy,'" said Mr Tatchell.

11 Jul 2008

Earth First! Gathering appeal


The Haltemprice and Howden has both exausted me and inspired me. I want to help more good party candidates at by-elections, Shan was great, good vote in a very Tory bit of Yorkshire....lots of people were inspired by her.

One consequence is I bumped into Colin, who is one of the local DAN activists and as well as the diy direct action/disability campaign mischief and a keen sense of Foucault (politics of Foucault is a debate for another day) and Illich, Colin mucked in with the by-election.

Good approach, a lot of people don't like political parties and are worried about them going the way of El Oligarchy but if you can get involved in elections where necessary that is sound.

Any way he sent me an Earth First! appeal, I used to do a bit of EF! stuff and in UK they have been really great...not like the Malthusian population bombers of the original EF in the US like Dave Foreman.


Hey lovely people,

I'm being a bit cheeky here, basically asking if you are up for taking on
helping in a small or bigger way with the Earth First! gathering this year
which would be really cool. I'm on the look out for people who are up for
sorting out a specific task, you won't have to come to meetings or be on
email lists, that's a promise!(unless of course you have a burning desire
to do so).

It's going to be Wed 27 Aug - Mon 1 Sept, Norfolk, we've got a site (same
as last year's) and quite a few things are already being sorted, though
we need some help. We're on the case with publicity, lots of posters and
flyers are going out, and we're planning to really publicise it at the
climate camp as a place to come afterwards to learn about and plan more
radical direct action.

We've got lots of exciting ideas for the programme, focus on ecological
direct action, practical action skills, ecology and ecological
restoration, field trips, strategy for the apocalypse, planning future
EF! campaigns/actions. If you have any ideas/are up for running a
workshop, let us know.

As ever the collective is too small, and only a couple of us can put much
time in. It would be a massive help if other people could take on sorting
a specific aspect, such as gate or first aid or mediation etc., or just
help spread the word about it.

So please have a look at the list below, have a think if you fancy doing
one of hem or if someone else springs to mind who could and let us know.

Come on, you know you want to...

Your EF! gathering collective

summergathering@earthfirst.org.uk
http://earthfirstgathering.org.uk

10 Jul 2008

GREENS ON COURSE TO GIVE DAVIS A SCARE








The Greens are heading towards their best by-election result ever, beating the 6.1% in Vauxhall in 1989, and in the process giving David Davis and the Tories a scare in the Haltenprice and Howden by-election. The Greens are the main challenger to Davis, challenging his claim to be the defender of British civil liberties.


Dr. Derek Wall, who is campaigning in the constituency today, said


"David Davis is taking the people of Haltemprice and Howden for granted with this stunt, but he may find that he will not have the election completely his own way.


"Many voters find his illiberal stance on 28 days detention without charge, support for capital punishment and support for Section 28 just too much to swallow. The Greens' candidate Shan Oakes is the only option available to those voters.


"There's more to civil liberties than one vote in Parliament; it's not okay for the government to lock you up for four weeks without even telling you what you're supposed to have done. It's not okay to deny you a right to criticise the government within a mile of Parliament. If a child is being bullied for being gay, it's not okay to order his school not to have a policy to protect him.


"There is a real interest in Green Party policies in support of our civil liberties, for the withdrawal of all our troops in Iraq and for growing a green economy. Voters realise that Shan Oakes is the main challenger to David Davis and Green Party support is growing rapidly."

Catholic Church slams 'too gay' Cuba


Matthew Stiles sent me this on the socialist unity blog..thanks Matthew. A good change in Cuba, although I am disappointed there was no pride march in Havana, right lets get back to the by-election campaign.


The Catholic Church seems to think that the Govt is too pro-gay. From Associated Press:
Cuban church protests support for gay rights

Jun 24, 2008

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba's Roman Catholic Church on Tuesday protested the communist government's growing support of gay rights, including a daylong event raising awareness against homophobia and a law allowing sex-change operations.

"Respect for the homosexual person, yes," said an editorial in Palabra Nueva, the monthly magazine of the Archdiocese of Havana. "Promotion of homosexuality, no."

The editorial signed by magazine director Orlando Marquez referred to activities held May 17 by Cuba's Sex Education Center, which is directed by Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raul Castro.

The center also announced this month that the health ministry has approved a law authorizing government-paid sex changes for 28 people who have undergone extensive study after requesting the surgery.

Prejudice against homosexuals remains deeply rooted in Cuban society, as in much of Latin America. But the government has steadily moved away from the intolerance of the 1960s and 1970s, when homosexuals hid their sexuality for fear of being fired from work or even imprisoned.

Cuba's parliament also is studying proposals to give gay couples the same benefits as married couples.

9 Jul 2008

Ruth Kelly delays Heathrow decision

I am in Haltemprice and have canvassed for eight hours, Shan Oakes is a brilliant Green Party candidate, I am so pleased to be up here and trying to persuade the voters for her.

The Green Party is best at the grassroots...anyway John Hunt just sent me this, thanks John, John is another grassroots green party good person


Having received a request from a local journalist for a comment on
Ruth Kelly's announcement that she's delaying a decision on Heathrow
expansion from August to the end of the year, here's the soundbite
I've sent. Please reuse and recycle anything that seems useful. --


Although the G8 summit in Hokkaido has agreed only a 50% reduction
of global emissions by 2050, [described by Oxfam as "tepid"], it must
slowly be dawning even on the ultra-obstinate Ruth Kelly that the
prospects of climate change, peak oil, and impending national and
global recession are not auspicious for any expansion of aviation.

Aviation is not the sole climate change bogey: but it is the sector
with the fastest rate of growth of emissions. We must begin to wean
ourselves from our addiction to flying, and, more generally, from
profligate squandering of our planet's diminishing resources.

We might suppose that, as the mother of four children, Ms. Kelly
would wish to bequeathe more to her offspring and their generation
than a destitute and inhospitable planet, inhabited by nations
warring over water, food, and fuel. Has she finally had a Damascene
revelation?

As Secretary of State for Transport, Ms. Kelly and her successors
must plan, in collaboration with Cabinet colleagues, and in
consultation with the general public, how, as a nation, we will
manage the weaning process, developing appropriate infrastructure to
support a sustainable lifestyle.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4100061.stm
Profile: Ruth Kelly


www.thelondondailynews.com/heathrow-decision-delayed-p-934.html
Heathrow decision delayed


www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/display.var.2386200.0.0.php

Kelly's delay: A 'runway wobble'

8 Jul 2008

Thanks to Philip Leicester

Loughborough Greens

for giving me this link....we in the Green Party need to be thinking more about ecology...although I guess internal democracy is going to be a very very big issue for us!

Any way...10 minutes out of the house and off to Haltemprice for the by-election, Shan Oakes campaign has energised more people especially from outside the Green Party than I have seen for years...really glad to be supporting her.

right on to the agro pain


Allotment holders and vegetable growers across the country have been reporting crops failing and being killed following the addition of manure to the land. Some crops, like potatoes are very badly effected whereas others are less affected.

It appears that the problem is linked to a new herbicide (a hormone weedkiller) aminopyralid being used by the farmers.

The most sensitive crops affected are:

Potatoes,
Tomatoes,
Peas,
Beans,
Carrots,
Lettuce
The list is not exclusive - these are just the plants most affected .

My understanding is that the product is licensed for use on grass land but is not licensed for use on wheat etc although anecdotal evidence suggests it is being used on cereal crops despite licensing restrictions.

You will appreciate that I am being careful what I say about a product that a large chemical company has spent more than $80 million bringing to market with a large and powerful legal department.

The active chemical, aminopyralid, is present in:
Banish
Forefront
Halcyon
Pharaoh
Pro-Banish
Runway
All are marketed in the UK by Dow AgroSciences Ltd

6 Jul 2008

200,000 sterilized in Peru in 2000


I have been blogging a population control discussion on socialist unity, very good to see this response from Phil...have a look at what he is saying, I think that population control politics can end up being pretty nasty.

More than 200,000 people in rural Peru were pressured into being sterilised by the government of former President Alberto Fujimori, an official report has revealed.

The Health Minister, Fernando Carbone, said the government gave misleading information, offered food incentives and threatened to fine men and women if they had more children.

Poor indigenous people in rural areas were the main targets of the compulsive family planning programme until 2000, when Mr Fujimori left for Japan amid mounting corruption allegations against him.

Mr Carbone said there was evidence that Mr Fujimori and a number of high-ranking ministers could be held responsible for "incorrect procedures" and "human rights violations".





Thanks, Derek for posting a link to my articles. They were a slightly hurried attempt to summarise the situation and to suggest that a socialist alternative needs to address the issue of resources, without falling into the traps of the population controllers. I should add that I have been criticised for not concentrating enough on how population control programmes are an attack on women and their right to control their bodies. This criticism is probably justified. What is interesting in reading population controllers stuff is that the racism and class prejudice jump out at you (e.g. the quote from Jonathon Porritt from the Ecologist on Africa, for example), but the underlying context of arguing for a programme to control women is (of course) never made explicitly and it is fairly easy to “miss the wood for the trees”.

Since writing the article, I have read Matthew Connelly’s book “Fatal Misconception” on the development of the population control movement from the 1800’s. Its account of the Indian and Chinese programmes has led me to be even more convinced that there is no such thing as a “voluntary population control” programme, in the sense that, if there is a government foreign agency or NGO advocating/organising such a programme, it will inevitably end up using using coercion, or at the least bribery - and pretty early on at that.

The interview with Betsy Hartman is interesting too: in fact it was this interview that led me to start looking into the latest round of population control propaganda (and its new context, climate change), but I had forgotten that I had read it! So it is useful to be reminded of its existence!

Some words on the Optimum Population Trust. I recommend visiting their web site. These people are not on the fringes of society, as a look at their supporters and officers shows. I debated population with a member of the OPT at the recent Campaign Against Climate Change conference in London. The workshop was obviously self-selecting, in that it was only likely to attract people who thought population was a burning issue, but I was shocked at how closed many of the participants’ minds were on the issue. None of the advocates of population control addressed my arguments. A member of the Green Party held up a map of the diminishing land per head in Africa over the last forty years (or whatever), making it clear that the problem was “too many Africans”, without addressing at all questions of land ownership (including for women, who do most of the agricultural labour), crops for exports and that labour power could be used to rebuild the environment in Africa. He then stated that the eugenic practices of the Nazi era were over: I pointed out the Fujimori had had sterilised 200,000 native Americans in Peru in 2000. Of course, this outlook is not the official policy of the greens (now).

If people are interested in reading about reactionary environmentalism, I can recommend TC Boyle’s novel The Tortilla Curtain. This curtain refers both to the US-Mexico border and the class divide between middle class eco-reactionaries and the super-exploited immigrants of California.