30 Sep 2008

Derek Wall speaks at Liberation AGM



Liberation have a proud history of solidarity with anti-colonial national liberation movements....so very pleased to be invited, I am certainly aiming to talk about the indigenous resistance to rainforest destruction in West Papua and in Peru, as well as the work of people like Roberto Perez in Cuba in promoting an ecosocialist economic alternative...both perspectives are vital to tackling climate change.



Liberation has for 50 years campaigned against neo-colonialism, and today resists the “new world order” of neoliberal globalisation led by the United States and EU governments.

'an new era of love and utopia' say East Berkshire radicals


Liz from Windsor sent me this, thanks Liz.


Dear Comrades,

Just a reminder that as the equinox passes and the days lengthen we still have what must be the zillionth Anarchist Bookfair to look forward to (see below). If it turns out that the credit crunch kicks in and world capitalism has already imploded by then, ushering in an new era of love and utopia, we can get together and celebrate with a veggie curry at the 'eat-all-you-can' in the time-honoured fashion.

Love S

http://www.anarchistbookfair.org/

Introduction
As capitalism collapses around us in the market of ideas the anarchist pound is buoyant and the 27th Anarchist Bookfair is back at Queen Mary College in London’s East End. A big thank you to everyone who helped make last year’s bookfair run smoothly and to you all for respecting the space. This year we have 38 meetings, 90 stalls, an all day cabaret starring assorted ranters, poets, singers and comics; all day film showings and, two kids spaces.
This year the lay out will be a bit different. Stalls will be split between the Great Hall and the Octagon room, which means that there will be more space and the whole bookfair will be wheelchair accessible. This year we have also arranged for some signers and touch typists to be available for deaf comrades who want to attend and participate in meetings. Please contact the info stall for details and for wheelchair lift passes.
This programme should give you an idea of what’s on and when, but things never go completely to plan, so please bear with us if the odd meeting, film or cabaret performance has to change on the day. All the up to the minute information will be available at the Bookfair Information Stall and on our website. Please respect the space, and remember that the whole venue, including the outside areas, are non smoking.
Next to the Octagon room will be an all day tea, coffee and snack stall (until 6pm) so people wont’ need to treck over to the Curve cafe for a quick drink. The Curve cafe will be available for hot meals, drinks and snacks from noon to 4pm.
The creche will be signposted, and the ‘older kids room’ is also in the basement below the Octagon Room.
We have loads going on - see the rest of the website, for a run down of the meetings and other events.
Please don’t forget this is all organised by a small collective. This year, more than ever, we need your donations to break even – the room and table hire have gone up and we are over a grand down again. So chuck us your spare change when you pass a bucket being rattled. We hope you find the day useful and enjoyable and come out feeling inspired.

28 Sep 2008

London Islamic Network for the Environment news

well happy Eid...good to get this from LINE who do some great work, very pleased to link them up with Corner House.


Peace everyone,

LINE had no monthly forum in September because of Ramadan, but as the month comes to an end, we would like to invite you to mark your calendars for some exciting activities in October. Below are three notices: the Oct monthly forum; info about Fast for the Planet, inc main event; a link to an update on the Thai village struggle.

Wishing you a blessed and joyous Eid!


1) The London Islamic Network for the Environment (LINE) Monthly Forums invites you to:

SKILLS-SHARING WORKSHOP & 'WHAT MAKES COMMUNITY?'

This will take place on Sun 12th of Oct 2008, from 2.15pm to 4.45pm, at the London Mennonite Centre: Address:14 Shepherds Hill, London, N6 5AQ. Nearest Tube: Highgate (Northern line): 5 mins walk: (Take the Archway Road exit). Full details will be emailed via LINEnotices soon. In the meantime, you can see them posted at: http://www.lineonweb.org.uk/Action/Monthly%20Forums/2008/mf_Oct2008.htm

(Please note that this forum is aligned to Fast for the Planet, offering an opportunity for some of the suggestions mentioned on the 'participate' page of the website).

--

2) FAST FOR THE PLANET: Main Event: London

Co-organised by LINE (London Islamic Network for the Environment) and St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace.

You are invited to a transformative approach to caring for the planet... This call to 'Fast for the Planet' is intended to encourage a deeper action towards caring for the environment. The concept recognises the essential need for personal, community and economic transformation in engaging with the ecological challenge. It includes the use of fasting and attempts to engage people with their hearts, minds and bodies. There are a number of different ways in which you can participate in the Fast. Please consider the options posted on our website http://www.fastfortheplanet.net/Participate/participate.htm You're also invited to join us for the main event to break fast with others on:

*Date: Sun 19th Oct 2008
Time: 4pm to 8pm at St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, 78 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AG
(Please register interest in attending via the website).

*Although there is a main event on Sun 19th Oct 2008, Fast for the Planet is essentially a concept. The concept embodies values that will be exercised before and beyond any one event, and weaves together a range of supporting values into a more coherent whole. Moving away from: Through Fast for the Planet, we are expressing an intention to move away from our collective submission to: i) corporate domination; ii) consumerism; iii) the dominant, interest-based and fictitious monetary-system; iv) and of course, our dependence on fossil fuels. Moving towards: Simultaneously we are strengthening an intention that moves us towards: i) activation of more of our inner resources and human potential; ii) simplicity, sharing and community building; iii) economic systems that are nurturing to life, soul and community; iv) non-polluting energy, and sustainable use of the earth's resources.

For more info (incl. fast times for main event, pre-event suggestions etc..): Website: www.fastfortheplanet.net ; Tel: Muzammal: 0845 456 3960 (local rate); Helen: 020 7496 1610

--

3) THE STRUGGLE OF SOUTHERN THAI MUSLIM VILLAGES AGAINST A GAS-PIPELINE PROJECT
by Chana activists and others

LINE has been involved with helping highlight this struggle: through an article in LINE Leaf, as well as a public meeting in Central London. An updated comprehensive account of the struggle (in words & pictures: 2002-2008) ) is now available on the Corner House website: PDF format. http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/summary.shtml?x=562324 ..this link takes you to the abstract, and the pdf version can be downloaded from this page)

-----

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

If you like what we do and would like to support LINE's work with a standing order or one-off donation, please go to http://www.lineonweb.org.uk/Finance/donate.htm
Any contribution, however small, is always appreciated.
__._,_.___

LINE is the UK's first local Islamic environmental group. We hold open monthly forums in central London. We engage in a transformative approach, and our activities include deep dialogue, educational talks and workshops, climate change campaigning, and nature outings. Find out more about us by visiting our website: http://www.lineonweb.org.uk

You can subscribe to LINEnotices by sending a blank email to: LINEnotices-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

After short while you will then receive an email with simple instructions that you will need to follow to complete the process.

Capitalism = waste, proclaims journalist


Nevertheless, waste is integral to what Robert Reich, in his most recent book, calls "supercapitalism". Unchecked supercapitalism produces waste as inevitably as it produces inequality, job insecurity, loss of community and so on. We are rapidly reaching the point, long promised by futurologists, where we throw away clothes after wearing them once, and we already dispose of many electrical goods as soon as they go wrong.

The average British household currently spends a mere 60p a week on repairs. The economic logic is impeccable: the goods are made in countries where labour costs are low, while repairs have to be carried out here, where costs are high. But even when goods don't need repairing, we still throw them away. Supercapitalism's brilliant answer to increasing durability is to elaborate and refine so that goods feel obsolete almost as soon as you buy them. Even environmentalism has been turned to supercapitalism's advantage: always buy a new machine, you are told, because it will be more energy-efficient than the old one.


Nice to see this from Peter Wilby
...contrast to the normal spiked-on line/Nick Cohen trajectory of the former green radicals (?) who proclaim nuclear power...

things are just so desperate we need free public transport, a post-capitalist economy and renewable energy along with a permaculture revolution...fast breeders can feck off...

Rejecting the abomination of garbage



Just back from seeing 'Wall-E' with my kids at Bracknell Odeon...the fat corporation owns the cosmos and they have trashed our home planet.



Would recycling prevent this? Some radical green voices argue that recycling is not enough, a reformist solution...dug this out from US Green mag Synthesis/Regeneration.

I think greens need to be thinking hard and while I think socialism is necessary to ecosocialism, the left often just paint themselves green rather than engaging in fundamental debate.

Recycling leaves the garbage problem untouched in the same way that energy efficiency leaves our energy policies and practices unaddressed. When I screw in an efficient light bulb, I am glad to be using less electricity to illuminate my writing desk, but I don't fool myself that I'm saving the planet. I know that my act frees up more kilowatt-hours to be sold at rock-bottom rates to corporations that manufacture throw-away frou-frou or fashion statement cars. Similarly, when we dutifully recycle metal (and I do so, when possible), we help manufacturers save energy and increase their profit margins.

However, we do nothing to alter the monstrous system that lavishes incentives on production of waste. Adding a nasty re-refining process (and calling it recycling) to a nasty mining process does not get us out of our tragic loop: wreaking havoc so that we can "grow" the economy at a dizzying and unsustainable level. This is the lesson I take from Paul Palmer's heartening work. In his own words,

The basic problem that has always plagued recycling is that it accepts garbage creation as fundamental. Zero waste strategies reject garbage creation as a failure, actually an abomination that threatens the planet ..." [30]

27 Sep 2008

Green Tories branded with mark of Sita.


The press pass that gets me into the Conservatives' Birmingham conference shows that the Tories are supported by a load of old rubbish. All the Conservative conference passes come on lanyards, the fancy name for the ribbons used to hang ID cards around delegates' necks, paid for by French waste firm SITA.

is what Solomon Hughes article in the Morning Star (they are not quite open source yet so no link) tells us, yes SITA who are keen to expand 'energy from waste', incineration to you and I, has branded the Conservative conference.

So Tory green plans are officially out of the window and yes Zac Goldsmith is part of a party which labels all conference passes with the mark of a company dedicated to taking more of rubbish and burning it.

I think ironically that the thing that really flagged up my worries about incinerators was reading about the dangers from the tiny particles they release in Lomborg's 'The Skeptical Environmentalist'.

A Green tory future will be one of more incinerators.

In short all three major parties are shaped by the needs of their sponsors, huge corporations who will continue to drive us to a more polluted, more violent and more unequal future.

Individual members of these political parties are often sincre but the parties are vehicles for corporate misrule...corporations with plenty of cash to push their agendas and to shape public opinion.

UK anti-incinerator network here

Health effects of incinerators here.
By the way I think the Green Party of England and Wales should make anti-incinerator campaigning a big issue, along with carbon sanity, challenging fuel poverty and looking towards some sane mutual based economics to clear up the banking crisis....

26 Sep 2008

'the very existence of the human species at risk'

ADDRESS BY THE HEAD OF
THE CUBAN DELEGATION
TO THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 63RD SESSION OF THE
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 2008



Mr. President:

We are living a decisive moment in the history of humankind. The threats looming over the world put the very existence of the human species at risk.

The promotion of peace, solidarity, social justice and sustainable development is the only WAY to ensure the future. The prevailing world order, unjust and unsustainable, must be replaced by a new system that is truly democratic and equitable, based on respect for International Law and on the principles of solidarity and justice, putting an end to the inequalities and exclusion to which the great majorities of the population of our planet have been condemned.

There are no alternatives. Those responsible for this state of affairs, the industrialized nations and, in particular, the sole superpower, have to accept their responsibilities. Fabulous fortunes cannot continue to be wasted while millions of human beings are starving and dying of curable diseases. It is not possible to keep on polluting the air and poisoning the oceans; this destroys the living conditions of our future generations. Neither the peoples nor the planet itself will permit this without great social upheaval and extremely serious natural disasters.

Mr. President:

The wars of conquest, the aggression and illegal occupation of countries, military intervention and the bombing of innocent civilians, the unbridled arms race, the pillage and usurping of the Third World’s natural resources and the imperial offensive to crush the resistance of the peoples who are defending their rights, constitute the greatest and most serious threats to peace and international security.

Concepts such as limitation of sovereignty, pre-emptive war or regime change, are an expression of the desire to mutilate the independence of our countries.

The so-called war on terrorism or the false promotion of their freedoms, are an excuse for aggression and military occupation, for torture, arbitrary arrests and the denial of the right of self-determination of peoples, for unfair blockades and unilaterally imposed sanctions, for the imposition of political, economic and social models that facilitate imperial domination, in open disdain for history, cultures and the sovereign will of the peoples.

The gap between the rich and the poor widens with every passing day. The very modest Millennium Development Goals constitute an unreachable dream for the vast majority.

While a trillion of dollars is spent on weapons in the world, more than 850 million human beings are starving; a 1.1 billion people don’t have access to drinking water, 2.6 billion lack sewage services and more than 800 million are illiterate.

More than 640 million children lack adequate housing, 115 million do not attend primary school and 10 million die before the age of five, in most cases as the result of diseases that can be cured.

The populations of the South are suffering with increasing frequency from natural disasters, whose consequences have been aggravated by climate change. Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and other Caribbean countries are examples of that. Let us make a plea for solidarity especially for our sister country of Haiti as it faces its dramatic situation.

The rise in oil prices is the result of irrational consumption, strong speculation and imperial war adventures. The desperate search for new sources of energy has pushed the criminal strategy driven by the United States government to transform grains and cereals into fuel.

Mr. President:

For a large part of the Non-Aligned countries, the situation is becoming unsustainable. Our nations have paid, and they will continue to pay the cost and the consequences of the irrationality, wastefulness and speculation of a few countries in the industrialized North who are responsible for the world food crisis. They imposed trade liberalization and the financial prescriptions of structural adjustment on the developing countries. They caused the ruin of many small producers; they denied, and in some cases destroyed, emerging agricultural development in the countries of the South, turning them into net food importing countries.

They are the ones who maintain obscene agricultural subsidies, while they force their rules on international trade. They set prices, monopolize technologies, impose unfair certifications and manipulate the distribution channels, the financing sources and trade. They control transportation, scientific research, genetic banks and the production of fertilizers and pesticides.

Mr. President:

We have not come here to complain. We have come, on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned countries, to demand and defend the vindication of thousands of millions of human beings who claim justice and their rights.

The formula is not difficult nor does it require great sacrifices. All we need is the necessary political will, less egotism and the objective understanding that if we do not act today, the consequences could be apocalyptic and would affect the rich and poor alike. For this reason, Cuba once again calls on the governments of the developed countries, on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned countries, to honor their commitments and, in particular, Cuba urges them to:

• Put an end to the wars of occupation and to the plunder of the resources of the Third World countries and to free up at least a part of their millions in military spending to direct those resources towards international assistance for the benefit of sustainable development.
• Cancel the foreign debt of developing countries since it has been already paid more than once, and with this, additional resources would be released that could be channeled to economic development and social programs.
• Honor the commitment of directing at least 0.7% of the Gross Domestic Product for Official Development Assistance, unconditionally, so that the South countries would be able to use those resources for their national priorities and promote access of poor countries to substantial sums of fresh financing.
• Direct one-fourth of the money that is squandered each year on commercial advertising to food production; this would free up almost 250 billion additional dollars to fight hunger and malnutrition.
• Direct the money being used for the North’s agricultural subsidies to agricultural development in the South. By doing this, our countries would have about a billion dollars per day available to invest in food production.
• Comply with the Kyoto Protocol commitments and set commitments to reduce emissions more generously starting in 2012, without wanting to increase restrictions for countries that, even today, maintain per capita emission levels that are much lower than those of the North countries’.
• Promote the access of the Third World to technologies and support the training of their human resources. Today, in contrast, qualified personnel from the South are subjected to unfair competition and incentives presented by discriminatory and selective migratory policies applied by the United States and Europe.
• And something that is today more urgent than ever, the establishment of a democratic and equitable international order, and a fair and transparent trading system where all States will participate, in sovereignty, in the decisions that affect them.

Moreover, it is our deepest belief that solidarity between peoples and governments is possible. In Latin America and the Caribbean, ALBA and PETROCARIBE have demonstrated this.

Mr. President:

The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries has remained faithful to its founding principles.

We support the cause of the Palestinian people and their inalienable right to self-determination in an independent and sovereign State, with its capital in East Jerusalem.

We support the cause of all those other peoples whose sovereignty and territorial integrity is being threatened, like Venezuela and Bolivia, and we endorse the right of Puerto Rico to be independent.

We condemn the imposition of unilateral coercive measures in violation of International Law, and attempts to implant a single model for a political, economic and social system. We object to the negative practices of certifying countries according to the patterns and interests of the powerful. We strongly oppose political manipulation and the application of double standards in the matter of human rights, and we reject the selective imposition of politically motivated resolutions against the member countries of the Movement.

The establishment of the Human Rights Council gives us the opportunity to open up a new era in the promotion and protection of all human rights for all, on the basis of international cooperation and constructive dialogue. Those who caused the demise of the old Human Rights Commission are now trying to disqualify the Council because they have not been able to bend it to serve their own self interests. They refuse to participate in its work to escape the scrutiny of the international community in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism.

The legitimacy of the Council does not depend on the perception that the Empire has about its work, but on its capacity to discharge its mandate with the strictest adherence to the principles of universality, objectivity, impartiality and non selectivity in the treatment of human rights issues.

The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries will continue to defend the interests of the Third World and promote the building of a world which is more just, more democratic and with more solidarity.

Mr. President:

Cuba has had to pay a very high price for the defense of its independence and sovereignty.

The heroic people of Cuba have endured the longest and cruelest blockade in history, imposed by the most powerful nation on Earth. Despite the fact that this Assembly has repeatedly and resoundingly pronounced itself in favor of ending this genocidal policy, the United States government has not only ignored the will of the international community, but in marked disregard of the same, has gradually intensified its economic war against Cuba.

Never has the foreign policy against a country been armed with such a broad and sophisticated arsenal of aggressive measures in the political, economic, cultural, diplomatic, military, psychological and ideological domain.

Cuba has just been lashed by two intense hurricanes which have devastated its agriculture and seriously affected part of its infrastructure and damaged or destroyed more than 400,000 homes.

Allow me to take advantage of this opportunity, on behalf of the Cuban government and people, to thank all those countries, organizations and persons who in one way or another have honestly and sincerely contributed with resources or moral support to the reconstruction efforts undertaken by my country.

That stands in contrast with the position of the United States government which continues to ruthlessly apply their blockade.

Cuba has asked for no gifts from the United States government. It has simply asked and asked again that it be allowed to purchase in the United States the materials that are indispensable for the reconstruction of homes and power grid and that US companies be authorized to grant Cuba private commercial credits to buy food. The answer has been negative, and it has been accompanied with an attempt to manipulate information in such a manner that the government of the United States seems to be concerned for the wellbeing of the Cuban people while the government of Cuba is perceived to be turning down their offer.

If the United States were really so concerned for the Cuban people, the only moral and ethical behavior would be to lift the blockade imposed on Cuba for the last five decades, in violation of the most elemental rules of International Law and the Charter of the United Nations .

This irrational policy has a clear aim: to destroy the process of profound revolutionary transformations undertaken by the Cuban people from 1959, in other words, trampling on its right to self-determination, wresting away its freedom and its political, economic and social conquests and plunging it backwards to its former neocolonial status.

The Bush administration intends to justify the intensification of its policy against Cuba by turning once more to fraud and deceit, with the cynicism and hypocrisy that characterizes it. Its determination to dominate and re-colonize Cuba is being presented, no less, like an endeavor to liberate and democratize.

Who, other than its accomplices, recognizes that the United States government has any authority in this world in the matter of democracy and human rights? What authority would such a government claim, one that hunts down and cruelly mistreats the illegal migrants at its southern border, that legalizes the use of torture and keeps in concentration camps, such as the one installed in the territory illegally occupied by the U.S. base at Guantánamo, people who have not been proved of or even charged with any crime?

What respect is due to a government that attacks the sovereignty of other States using the excuse of the fight against terrorism, while at the same time guaranteeing impunity to anti-Cuban terrorists?

What kind of justice can be promoted by an administration that illegally keeps imprisoned five Cuban patriots who were only seeking information to prevent the actions of the terrorist groups operating against Cuba from the United States?

Mr. President:

Cuba appreciates the solidarity which it has received from this General Assembly in its fight against the blockade and the aggressions which it has had to confront for almost five decades.

Cuba reaffirms its unyielding decision to defend its sovereignty and independence.

Cuba reaffirms its will to carry on, together with members of the Movement for Non-Aligned Countries, in the battle for a better world, where the rights of all peoples for justice and development are respected.

To conclude I would like to recall the words of the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, comrade Fidel Castro Ruz: “A world without hunger is possible (…) A just world is possible. A new world, which our species eminently deserves, is possible and will become reality”.

Thank you very much.

24 Sep 2008

Friends of the Earth Rejects Forest Stewardship Council

Thanks to Dr Glenn Barry for this

- Major victory for Ecological Internet's campaign to end
ancient forest logging as key response to climate and
biodiversity crises

September 23, 2008
By Earth's Newsdesk, a project of Ecological Internet
http://www.ecoearth.info/newsdesk/


glenbarry@ecologicalinternet.org

(Earth) -- Friends of the Earth (FoE) is the first major
international NGO to confirm they no longer support Forest
Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, which falsely
suggests primary and old-growth forest logging is desirable
and even sustainable. This is a major victory for those
including Ecological Internet (EI) and FSC-Watch[1] who have
courageously taken on large environmental interests using FSC
to greenwash ancient forest destruction.

FoE pioneered timber certification during the 1980s and was
one of FSC's founders, but FoE International in Amsterdam has
confirmed that it is now "reviewing" its membership of the
organization. FoE UK announced on their website[2] they are
"deeply concerned by the number of FSC certifications that are
now sparking controversy and threatening the credibility of
the scheme. We cannot support a scheme that fails to guarantee
high environmental and social standards. As a result we can no
longer recommend the FSC standard."

"FoE is to be commended for their courage in admitting all
forest certification schemes including FSC are failing
forests, climate and peoples globally. FSC plantation and
ancient forest logging standards have been shown to be a fraud
-- business as usual forest destruction. We welcome reports
that other European NGOs may follow FoE's lead, and demand
that Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace and WWF stop their
stonewalling and follow suit, or face escalating disruptive
protests" warns Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet's
President.

EI has long sought protection for all the Earth's remaining
primary and old-growth forests. These efforts were stymied by
large environmental bureaucracies falsely suggesting cutting
carbon and species rich, centuries old trees is an
environmental good. It became obvious the world's forests
could only be protected, and global ecological sustainability
achieved, if groups supporting FSC were confronted. Our
protest campaign launched last year, assisted by recent
overwhelming ecological science showing old-growth forests
continue to store and remove carbon and are essential to
fighting climate change[3].

More Information:
[1] For more information see http://www.fsc-watch.org/
[2] See their statement at:
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/faqs/sustainable_timber_fsc.html
[3] See earlier EI release at:
http://forests.org/blog/2008/09/feature-old-growth-carbon-
find.asp

###ENDS###

Dr. Glen Barry is a global spokesperson on behalf of global
environmental sustainability policy. Ecological Internet
provides the world's leading climate and environment portals
at http://www.climateark.org/ and http://www.ecoearth.info/
Dr. Barry frequently conducts interviews on the latest
climate, forest and water policy developments and can be
reached at: glenbarry@ecologicalinternet.org, +1 (920) 664-
1965.

DISCUSS RELEASE:
http://www.rainforestportal.org/issues/2008/09/friends_of_the_earth_rejects_f.asp

23 Sep 2008

'I still think getting born right is important.'

We should all remember Sally Willington who died this month...


In 1960 our founder and President, Sally Willington, wrote to a national newspaper about her distressing antenatal and birth experience. A deluge of complaints from other women followed, and AIMS was born.


1977 - Constitution

In 1977 Jeremy Faull won the first Green County Council seat whilst Jonathan Tyler contested the Party’s first parliamentary by-election in Walsall North. At the annual conference in Birmingham the newly elected Executive Committee comprised: Jonathan Tyler (Chair); Sally Willington (Secretary); Peter Sizer (Treasurer); John Davenport (Membership Sec.); David Fleming (Press), Nicholas Hildyard (Policy/publicity); Ron Andrews (Editor of Good Earth); John Luck (Elections Co-ordinator); Steve Lambert; Jonathon Porritt and David Taylor. A motion inviting Teddy Goldsmith to become President was signed by 11 members but not put to the vote. The first Ecology constitution, drafted by Tyler, was ratified after amendment. Membership had risen to around 400.


A sad loss, she was virtually a founder member certainly very active in the 1970s in the Ecology Party, I didn't know about the Prevention of Cruelty fo Pregnant Women.

I have the great honour of working with the AIMS organisation - AIMS
(founded in the UK Sally Willington, now AIMS Australia Hon. President)
campaigned many years ago in the UK to have all fathers given the right to
attend the births of their children.
So, according to the above statement, as a father who has seen all three of his children born, I owe her something big.

This is what Steve Lambert posted....it has taken a little while to filter through to me:


I am sorry to report the death on 6^th September of Sally Willington, a
very long-standing member.

I imagine her name will not mean anything to most members in London
these days but she was a major figure in the early days of the party, in
London and nationally as National Secretary on the National Executive
Committee, forerunner of GPEX. In fact she had an influence on our
society much wider than the Green/Ecology Party.

She was the founder and President of AIMS, the Association for the
Improvement of Maternity Services (originally known as the Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Pregnant Women). Their website
(http://www.aims.org.uk) has a lot more information and a very
illuminating article written by Sally just last year about why she
started it.

Sally was also a major inspiration behind TOES, The Other Economic
Summit, which was established in the mid 1980s to campaign against, and
provide an alternative to, the prevailing self-satisfaction and delusion
of the formal superpower summits of the day. This grew out of the party
to involve many alternative thinkers across society. It eventually
developed into the New Economics Foundation! The anti-globalisation
movement of today probably owes her a lot.

Sally was a woman who made sure her views were noticed, inside the party
as much as outside, but often left you feeling that she was dissatisfied
with the progress that had been achieved. After many years tireless
working for the party she ‘retired’ to join her daughter in Australia
but worked for the Greens there as well. Eventually in quite poor health
she returned to the UK to live in Cornwall. I was very pleased to see
her a few years ago making the effort to attend one of our conferences
in Weston super Mare where she was able to chat about the early days
with Clive Lord, another of our pioneers.

Sally was a great campaigner; without her influence the party would not
be as effective as it is now. Her funeral takes place on Monday 22^nd
Sept in Tavistock. I hope the party will be able to pay a more
substantial tribute to her in due course.

Steve Lambert



This is Sally Willington's article on birth and progress for women:

Beverley Lawrence Beech and Sally Willington

AIMS Journal, 2007, Vol 19 No 2

AIMS chair Beverley Lawrence Beech shares her thoughts on the changes that have and have not happened over the years

The women’s movement has fought long and hard for emancipation in the work place but, apart from a few notable exceptions it has had little to say about emancipation in childbirth.

In employment, women have gained a considerable amount of ground and, more often than not, work on an equal basis with men. The pendulum of women’s employments rights has advanced so much that women now feel under pressure to work right up to the beginning of labour and then to return to work as soon as possible after the birth of their baby. The right of the baby to have the constant attention of its mother in its early years is ignored or trivialised.

Charlotte Williamson, in her article, points out that radical patient groups (like AIMS) have fought long and hard to bring policies and practices into line with wider social values and aspirations. Caroline Hollins Martin in her article describes how difficult it is for a midwife to respond to women’s choices in the face of ‘guidelines’ that are often cast in stone or directives from above; and Julie Trottier discusses the difficulties women face asserting themselves in pregnancy and labour. The current system of centralised maternity care is patriachial in that it empowers men, male systems, technology and drug companies and trivialises women’ views and opinions. The research evidence showing better outcomes when a woman is cared for in a small midwifery unit, accompanied throughout her labour by a midwife she knows is ignored and instead the propaganda focuses on the illusion of ‘choice’.

As AIMS is approaching 50 years of campaigning for better maternity care we asked our President, Sally Willington, to describe the beginnings of AIMS and give her view of what has changed over 50 years.

Fifty years ago my daughter was born in Baghdad where my husband was working for a mapping firm. By 1958 we were back in England and expecting our second child. I booked a home birth but unfortunately ended up in hospital for six weeks with recurring haemorrhage. I lay there miserably waiting and observing what went on.

Once released home with a new baby and a toddler who barely recognised me I wondered if other mothers had similar experiences. So I wrote a letter to the press. For nine months none of the newspapers published it. Birth was not a subject for polite conversation in the 1950s. So, when The Observer asked for letters on new subjects I wrote them a new one under my grandmother’s name asking their readers about uses for Rosemary and other Herbs and the whereabouts of walnut trees. I knew these trees were rare and protected. So I sat back and waited.

Sure enough, an organisation called Men of the Little Trees was very cross indeed. The Observer’s editor phoned me to say he’d worked out that I must be the same person who kept writing about the maternity services and that if I would dictate another letter to placate the Men of the Trees and assuring them I was not a timber thief he would in return print my original letter on maternity care. A few days later on April 1st The Guardian printed the same letter as follows: - ‘...In hospital, as a matter of course presumably, mothers put up with loneliness, lack of sympathy, lack of privacy, lack of consideration, poor food, unlikely visiting hours, callousness, regimentation, lack of instruction, lack of rest, deprivation of the new baby, stupidly rigid routines, rudeness, a complete disregard of mental care or the personality of the mother. Our maternity hospitals are often unhappy places with memories of unhappy experiences. They are overcrowded, understaffed and inhuman. Improvements will involve some rebuilding (more money) and an entirely new attitude to be taught to trainee-midwives. If anyone else agrees with me and thinks that something should be done, I hope they will write to me and join the SPCPW . (The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Pregnant Women).’ Many Guardian readers thought it was an April Fool’s joke.

Sad, isn’t it? Nothing much has changed. Not only do we still have dirty hospitals but also deadly infections - which means that hospital is the last place for mothers and babies to be.

Much later, my innovation of ‘Fathers-in-at-the-Birth’ was not only to combat loneliness in labour but also I hoped they would lobby for more staff and new clean maternity wards. I hoped they would be outraged as taxpayers about the state of our NHS with its old plumbing, dirty lavatories, poor food and staff shortages. The nursing press said I was perverted to want men in maternity hospitals ‘but doctors were different’! ‘Fathers-In’ has been nominated as ‘the social revolution of the twentieth century’. Fathers have testified to bonding with their children. All good. I needed them ‘in’ because of complaints by mothers that they had been assaulted by midwives when alone. If complaints were made to management the conclusion was that the mother was drugged and could not remember what happened. I needed a witness.

Birth then, as now, was not regarded as important. Recent reports about maternity care and care of the elderly and disabled make me despair of my fellow citizens. Getting born right is a good start for good health.

The latest Reports (2007) on the state of our maternity services make me feel as if I have drowned and see my former life passing before my eyes – nearly 50 years of struggle by and on behalf of mothers. Why don’t we learn? Why do we have such short memories? Why, given the opportunity, are humans cruel to other humans? I named AIMS originally as The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Pregnant Women. I sometimes wonder if we should have changed it? New members ask why the AIMS logo is a candle. Because, ‘it is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.’ Because actively trying to change things for the sake of other mothers, if not for ourselves, is better than sitting on our hands and doing nothing; because many candles make a bright light; because candles are put on birthday cakes.

AIMS spread rapidly and Groups sprang up all over Britain. We visited Holland (good, sensible maternity services). We ran a competition for midwives (How to Recruit and Retain More Midwives). We did surveys and we lobbied. In 1985 the AIMS Journal reviewed our First 25 Years and quoted on the front page some words by Harold H. Francis, Consultant Obstetrician at Liverpool Maternity Hospital: -

‘The natural childbirth groups fail to understand that the practice of medicine consists of the recognition and correction of the shortcomings of nature and nature is a bad midwife. … Some of the 1% of women who still have domiciliary deliveries do so as a protest against authority.’

Men like this had seized power over midwives’ skills. Obstetricians were a lowly, less well-paid profession than other physicians and they wanted their own kingdoms and respect. They laid down the rules and they trained new doctors. Midwives who are practitioners in their own right were reduced to consultants’ handmaidens. Only a short step more to declaring birth as an illness, caesareans as ‘normal’ and anyone who wants home births is as out of date as having your tonsils out on the kitchen table. Reasons for birth in hospital included the unhygienic state of British households. What a change! Now it is hospitals that are unhygienic and unsafe for birth.

The recently published Recorded Delivery (2006) Survey is worrying. Changing Childbirth we lobbied for and won in 1993. Yet now nearly another 15 years on, nine years of a Labour Government and its promised reforms and cries of ‘Education! Education! Education!’ The quality of maternity care has always varied according to where you live. No sooner had AIMS identified a ‘good place to give birth’ than reports varied again. So we hoped all AIMS suggestions, petitions, writings and lobbying would mean that when it was time for our grandchildren to be born maternity services would have improved. There would be choice, listening to what women say, being treated with kindness and respect. Now turn back to my original letter – so long ago. Have I lived in vain? No. I still think getting born right is important.

Prescription Charges - almost but not quite


This is a media release from Swindon TUC (its also Green Party Policy)



Prescription Charges - almost but not quite



In his speech to New Labour's conference today Gordon Brown announced that:

* From next year cancer patients will not have to pay for prescription charges;
*

Over "the next few years" savings from the NHS drugs budget will be ploughed back into free prescriptions for people with "long term conditions".

The first is a welcome step in relation to what has long been a national scandal, though it should not be forgotten that it has taken Brown 11 years to do it, and not without the pressure of a political crisis in which he is fighting for his survival.

The second of these promises appears conditional on the level of savings.

It should be borne in mind that the government is estimated to receives only £430 million this year from prescription charges. Recently it stumped up £50 billion for Northern Rock and even more recently £100 billion for a bunch of spivs in the city to cover their "toxic loans".

I don't know how much of the £430 million is comprised of prescriptions from cancer patients, but if you take away the receipts from them and people with chronic illnesses there would be barely any income left.

To maintain prescription charges for whoever might be left in England simply does not make sense. Therefore we should continue to press for abolition in England. Far from being a "gift" from Gordon, his announcement makes a nonsense of his government's refusal to follow Scotland and Wales in abolishing prescription charges for the whole UK.

Visit: http://abolishprescriptioncharges.wordpress.com

Threat to Democracy in Latin America

On 10 September, the president of Bolivia declared the US ambassador to
Bolivia persona non grata. On 11 September (the 35th anniversary of the
military overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile) the president of
Venezuela asked the US ambassador to Venezuela to leave the country.

President Hugo Chavez believed he was facing the possibility of an
imminent coup d'etat in which he accused the United States administration
of being involved. President Evo Morales believed that his government was
facing serious destabilisation which was also being fomented by the United
States. A third country, Paraguay, announced ten days previously that they
had detected a conspiracy involving military officers and opposition
politicians

Latin America now faces its most serious crisis since the re-introduction
of democracy at the end of the 20th century.

The plot against democracy in Venezuela centred on a conspiracy, revealed
in telephone conversations between senior military officers broadcast on
national television, to assassinate the democratically elected head of
state, President Chavez.

In Bolivia, the separatist prefects of the five eastern and southern
departments, (whose ringleader Ruben Costas, the prefect of Santa Cruz
department, recently met with the US Ambassador), have begun a campaign of
violence and economic sabotage designed to destabilise the democratic
regime.

These events demonstrate unequivocally who defends democracy and who
threatens it in Latin America today.

We are appalled by the failure of much of the international media to
provide accurate and proportionate coverage of these events.

We call upon democrats throughout the world to rally to defend democracy,
social progress and national independence in Latin America and to condemn
these conspiracies against democracy and human rights.

We call upon the European Union and European governments to adopt a policy
independent of the Bush administration in the US and unequivocally condemn
all attempts to overthrow democratically elected governments in Latin
America.

Signatories:

Harold Pinter
John Pilger
Bruce Kent
Victoria Brittain
Tony Benn
Ken Loach
Gordon Hutchison, Sect. Venezuela Information Centre
Jean Lambert MEP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Bill Etherington MP
Ian Gibson MP
Harry Cohen MP
Bob Abberley, Assist Gen. Sect. Unison
Gail Cartmail, Unite the Union, Assist. Gen. Sect
Les Bayliss, Unite the Union Assist Gen. Sect.
Bob Crow, Gen. Sect. RMT
Kelvin Hopkins MP
Bill Wilson MSP
Cllr. Salma Yakoob
Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead
Billy Hayes, Gen. Sect. CWU
Keith Norman, Gen Sect. ASLEF
Gerry Morrissey, Gen Sect. BECTU
Bill Greenshields, President, NUT
Andy Bain, President TSSA
Doug Nicholls, Nat.Officer Unite
Geoff Shears
Michael Dereham
Kaveh Mussavi
Diana Raby
Derek Wall
Steve Cottingham
Joni McDougall, Internat Officer GMB

22 Sep 2008

Oil up to $120 today

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7630513.stm

I am surprised by how volatile the oil price is and you can't just say peak oil 'there you go'

I am assuming that producing companies will invest in oil pushing up supply (yes I know at some point this may not work...but there is a lot of very dirty in the world still ready to come out and compleatly fuck up the atmosphere).....and economic recession will depress demand for the black stuff.

however the US bailout (I don't think this will work to stop financial markets sliding) is being seen as leading to higher demand in the global economy and therefore more demand for the black stuff.

OPEC is cutting back supply (Ben you were right about this!) and the hurricanes do seem to have hit production in Texas and in gulf of Mexico.

What away to run a planet...lets go oil free....what will oil prices do tomorrow?

Canada's Election and the Climate Crisis: Five Parties, No Solutions

SEPTEMBER 21, 2008
Web Edition: www.socialistvoice.ca


Canada's Election and the Climate Crisis: Five Parties, No Solutions

By Ian Angus

For the environment, there's good news and bad news in Canada's current federal election campaign. Good news: for the first time ever, climate change is a central issue in the political debates. Bad news: despite much sound and fury, none of the major political parties is proposing effective measures for dealing with the climate change crisis. The differences between them amount to "Don't do anything" versus "Don't do much."

When Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party took office in January 2006, they promptly cancelled existing environmental programs and planned to ignore the environment from then on. Only a massive public opinion shift led them to awkwardly don green garb in 2007 and announce a new "Turning the Corner Plan" on greenhouse gases.

There wasn't much to the plan — a detailed review by the respected Tyndall Institute concluded that greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decade would be the same, and might be lower, if the Conservative plan didn't exist at all. The Tories' close alliance with the Bush administration and its drive to block any international agreement on emissions targets shows just how misleading their green rhetoric was.

Now, with a recession looming, the Conservatives are fighting this election as the "party of free enterprise, free markets and free trade" — which means returning to their previous anti-environmental positions. Harper demagogically promises to defend economic growth, while charging that the Liberals "jeopardize our economic growth with new taxes and threaten to impose new trade barriers in their Green Shift Plan."

Harper signalled his new direction most clearly by promising a 50% reduction in federal taxes on diesel and aviation fuel. That's a $600 million fossil fuel subsidy to industries that generate 10% of Canada's greenhouse gases. If the Conservatives are re-elected, no one should be surprised if they use "economic growth" to justify backtracking even on the feeble environmental measures they introduced in the past 18 months.

The opposition

Polls show that the environment and climate change still rank very high as voter concerns, so the Tory policy shift offers an opportunity for the opposition parties to mobilize that concern in support of a strong pro-environment program. Unfortunately, none of them proposes effective measures for dealing with the crisis. The "solutions" they offer amount to little more than crossing their fingers and hoping that the problem will go away.

All four mainstream opposition parties — Liberals, New Democrats, Bloc Québécois and Greens — have embraced the currently trendy economic theory that the way to fight global warming is to "put a price on carbon." Corporations and consumers emit greenhouse gases, the theory says, because doing so doesn't cost them anything. If government imposes a cost, companies and individuals will seek alternatives — they will try to reduce or eliminate their emissions in order to reduce their costs.

The Liberal Party is the prime defender of this approach. The cornerstone of its election program is the "Green Shift Plan," which they say will "shift Canada's tax system away from income and towards pollution." They promise to phase in a $40 per tonne tax on greenhouse gas emissions over four years, and to reduce corporate and personal income taxes by an equivalent amount. As a result, businesses will be "encouraged to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they emit into the atmosphere," while consumers will be motivated to insulate their homes and find other ways to make less use of fossil fuels.

The Liberals say they will begin the tax shift immediately. They also promise an emissions trading scheme for corporations, including caps on emissions — but say it "will take several years to build."

The New Democratic Party argues, correctly, that the main effect of the Liberal tax plan will be higher prices for working people. Instead, the NDP wants to launch a cap-and-trade program quickly. They have provided few details about their program, but they have made positive statements about the Western Climate Initiative, under which several provinces and U.S. states propose to regulate emissions while allowing corporations to continue polluting by purchasing emissions credits from the government, other corporations or Third World countries.

The NDP website says its plan is "in line with" a similar scheme implemented in Europe. It is silent on the fact that the European system has produced windfall profits for energy companies while having no effect at all on emissions.

The Green Party and Bloc Québécois propose variants on the two main themes. The Greens want a cap-and-trade program for large corporations, combined with a shift from income taxes to carbon taxes for consumers. The Bloc favours cap-and-trade, organized on a province-by-province basis.

Will market solutions work?

There is much more than this to each party's program, and each party promises a different set of reforms and subsidies. But underneath those variations in style and detail, the opposition parties are united in seeking to use capitalist methods to solve a problem that is inherent in capitalism. "Putting a price on carbon" — directly through taxes or indirectly through a cap-and-trade scheme — means depending on the magic of the market to reduce emissions.

At best, that's wishful thinking.

Consumers can only make significant emissions cuts if affordable low-emission alternatives are actually available, which they are not. In practice, the main effect of pricing carbon (directly through a tax or indirectly through emissions trading and regulations) will be to increase the prices of essential products for which there are no alternatives — especially food, transportation and housing. Workers and farmers, already hit by declining real incomes, will have to tighten their belts until those magical new products arrive, if they ever do.

As for corporate polluters, it's hard to believe that anyone who follows the business news can still claim that markets and "price signals" are an efficient way to get good results. Yet such claims are still made: Hot Air, a recent book co-written by two leading Canadian economists who favour putting a price on carbon, offers a typical justification:

"Using market-based policies is the best way of accomplishing this objective, because taxes and emissions trading schemes send the same financial signals to all firms and individuals, encouraging them to seek the lowest-cost actions that lead in turn to lower overall costs for society."

Two points need to be stressed.

First, to these economists, "lower overall costs for society" doesn't mean fewer droughts, floods and giant storms, less damage to crops, or fewer climate refugees and climate-related catastrophes. It only means lower spending by capitalists. For them, the cheapest solution is the "most efficient," even if it increases human misery.

Second, and more important, the economists' unstated assumption is that the "lowest-cost actions" will reduce emissions. But real-world experience shows that long before they change their business methods, corporations will opt for a very different set of "lowest-cost actions," including:

*

Lobbying and economic blackmail. Whoever wins the election will be subject to intense pressure from the major emitters, demanding special treatment, arguing for delays and exemptions, and threatening layoffs and shutdowns if their interests aren't given priority. Past experience says they'll succeed in watering down legislation, if they don't block it completely.
*

Cheating and lying. A recent study found that the methods used by Canadian and U.S. oil refineries to calculate greenhouse gas emissions dramatically understate what's really happening. Actual measurement at an Alberta refinery found that it released 19 times more benzene, 15 times more hydrocarbons, and nine times more methane, than it reported to Environment Canada. The oil industry's response? Rather than changing its emissions measurement procedures, it demanded that the government suppress the tables showing the dramatic difference between reported and actual emissions.

The plans proposed by Canadian political parties all rely on self-reporting by the polluters, for whom lying is often the lowest-cost option. Even if they are caught, investigations, trials and appeals can win them years of delays.
*

Cutting wages. The tried and tested corporate method of dealing with higher costs is to shift the burden onto workers, directly through pay cuts and longer hours, or indirectly by outsourcing work to countries where wages are lower.
*

Gaming the system. Every corporation employs teams of lawyers and accountants to figure out how to get around regulations and avoid paying taxes. These scam artists are undoubtedly already working on legal ways to minimize the impact of any emissions policy — without actually reducing emissions, of course.
*

Passing the costs on to consumers. If the increased costs imposed by carbon taxes or trading can't be evaded, corporations will increase prices. The only barrier to such increases is competition, and the biggest polluters have very few competitors.
*

Shifting investments elsewhere. Capitalists don't just need profits — they need a rate of profit that matches or exceeds the rate they can make elsewhere. If the carbon rules cut into their profits, they will move their money elsewhere, to other industries or other countries. If that happens, just watch how fast the politicians back down!

In short, big industry will do everything in its power to block or minimize any restrictions on business-as-usual — and they will do their utmost to avoid or delay complying with laws that do get passed. Pro-capitalist economic models never take those factors into account.

But that isn't the biggest problem with the programs of the opposition parties.

Even if their programs are implemented exactly as proposed, and even if there is 100% compliance, and even if the regulations and "price signals" produce the promised results, emissions will not come down fast enough to head off dangerous climate changes.

The most aggressive "put a price on carbon" plan proposed in the influential book Hot Air will, the authors say, reduce emissions to 50% below the 2010 level, by 2050. That's far less than what's needed — but none of these programs is nearly that aggressive.

Declare a climate emergency!

The starting point for any serious effort to combat climate change must be recognition that this is an emergency. The world's leading climate scientist, James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute, says that unless decisive action is taken quickly, "it will become impractical to constrain atmospheric carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas produced in burning fossil fuels, to a level that prevents the climate system from passing tipping points that lead to disastrous climate changes that spiral dynamically out of humanity's control."

A growing number of climate scientists believe that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has already passed the safe level. Modest targets such as reducing emissions to 25%-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 are not just inadequate — they are, Hansen says, "a recipe for global disaster."

A government that really wanted to deal with climate change would declare a Climate Emergency. It would learn from the experience of World War II, when Ottawa forced through a radical transformation of the entire economy in a few months, with no lost jobs or pay cuts.

Internationally, it would campaign for a tough global climate treaty with teeth, focusing on cutting rich industrial nations' emissions and transferring clean technology to the Global South.

Regardless of what happens in international negotiations, Canada must unilaterally adopt a goal of a 60% overall emissions reduction by 2020, and a 90% reduction by 2030. Those reductions can be achieved through government measures such as these:

*

Set hard, rapidly declining ceilings on emissions produced by the largest companies. Expropriate any company that doesn't comply.
*

Put all power industries under public ownership and democratic control. Begin phasing out coal-fired plants immediately and stop building new ones. Invest heavily in non-fossil fuel sources such as solar, wind, tidal and geothermal.
*

Stop all new development in the Tar Sands and rapidly phase out existing operations, including restoring of the land as closely as possible to its previous condition.
*

Redirect all military spending and the federal budget surplus into public energy-saving projects such as expanding mass transit and retrofitting homes and office buildings. Former tar sands workers and redeployed soldiers can play key roles in this effort.
*

Retool auto plants to focus on building mass transit, wind turbines and other green technologies.
*

Expand and upgrade transit systems so that all urban residents can use them easily. Make all public transit free.

The climate crisis will not respond to modest goals and incremental tinkering — what's needed are emergency measures to drive current greenhouse gas emissions towards zero as rapidly as possible. Unfortunately, in this election, modest goals and incremental tinkering are the best that Canadian politicians are offering. There is no sign that any party recognizes how serious the problem actually is, let alone that emergency action is needed.

Ian Angus is Editor of Climate and Capitalism and an Associate Editor of Socialist Voice.

* * * * * * *

21 Sep 2008

Greens benefit from imploding Labour (in Australia)


Natalie Bennett argues that 'hard work is needed in Brighton Pavilion' on the basis of today's poll.

For details of how to get involved in electing Caroline Lucas, click here.

Some good news from Green Left Weekly:

AUSTRALIA
Greens gain from ‘imploding’ ALP

20 September 2008


Max Phillips, a newly elected Greens councillor in Marrickville and the Greens’ campaign coordinator for the September 13 NSW local government elections, puts the swing to the Greens down to the state Labor government’s implosion.

Developer donations to Labor, and the ALP’s pro-developer laws, were crucial to the Greens winning broad support, Phillips told Green Left Weekly. The widespread opposition to the state government’s moves to privatise electricity also helped the Greens, he said.

In Marrickville and Leichhardt, traditionally ALP strongholds, the Greens out-polled Labor. In Marrickville, the Greens received 40% of the vote compared to Labor’s 29%. In Leichhardt, the Greens received 46% compared to Labor’s 25%.

Phillips said the Greens had also firmed up support outside their inner-city stronghold. There will be more Greens councillors in North Sydney, Lane Cove, Willoughby and Hornsby councils, and in the Blue Mountains, and Manly and Warringah on the northern beaches.

The Greens also increased their regional representation in Wagga Wagga, Armidale, Coffs Harbour, Orange, Yass and Byron Shire where popularly elected Greens mayor Jan Barham received more than 50% of the vote.

The Greens are now demanding that the NSW government review six major residential development decisions given the go-ahead by the former NSW planning minister Frank Sartor. The new minister, Kristina Keneally, has so far refused the Greens’ demand for an independent review of Sartor’s decisions that were favourable to ALP donors. According to the Greens, nearly $900,000 was donated by these developers to the NSW ALP.

The Greens are also calling on the state government to repeal the pro-developer planning laws and ban corporate donations to political parties.

Convention of the Left


I enjoyed visiting yesterday, although weary from going to Manchester and back in a day.

There is clearly huge electoral space on the left, with the Lib Dems moving right ward, there is no clearly articulated alternative to the madness of the market. Creating an electoral alternative is vital but difficult, clearly the Green Party when compared to the rest of the left in England is doing something right, we have elected councillors, MEPS and GLA members...the Ken-green coalition nearly beat Boris, everywhere else Labour unsurprisingly saw a huge drop in support.

Nonetheless the Green Party is not quite poised for Westminister government, although with some hard work we could pick up three MPs at the next General Election.

The trade unions continue to support New Labour, the bad experiences of the Socialist Alliance, Respect, the Socialist Labour Party mean that creating a left of Labour party does not look easy.

However I think on the 90% we do agree, we can at least be working locally...there have been unity projects...think for example of the Chesterfield Socialist Conference in the 1980s.

The convention was lively, certainly Tony Benn, John McDonnell and Lindsey German had interesting things to say when I listened to them, at least some links are being made.

It's very rare for me to praise a speaker from the SWP like Lindsey but I thought what she had to say was apologetic, positive and modest....I am hoping the far left can start being more plural and less dogmatic, we shall see...the SWP have a bad reputation for trying to take over everyone's campaigns....Martin Empson who I know and is also from the SWP was also excellent, talking about how in Manchester Greens/SWP/campaigners in general work together and noting how although the media was obssessed with bankers losing their jobs, no press for 850 (!) council workers facing sack in Oldham...generally the discussion was good.

It was very nice to chat to Tony Benn and John McDonnell....the Labour Party is firmly on the neo-liberal right but there are still some lovely people in it!

I was warmly greeted by the guy who edits Workers Power and by Mark Fischer of the CPGB, both organisations are bit outside my political orbit, although I did debate with John Cornford of the CPGB/Weekly Worker last summer...particularly good to bump into Andy and Chris from Green Left and lots of Green Party members and Diana Raby whose book 'Democracy and Revolution' I am encouraging people to take a look at.

Here is a report from the Morning Star...and I am back on wednesday night in Manchester, hoping to get to Roberto Perez's meeting in Friends House where the Convention is being held...before I debate with George Galloway, Lindsey, etc.




Uniting to find a new way forward
(Sunday 21 September 2008)
by LOUISE NOUSRATPOUR in Manchester

LOUISE NOUSRATPOUR hears the Left's plot to rally together an alternative to Labour.

The aim of the Convention of the Left is to unite against a resurgent Tory Party and a growing BNP, filling the vacuum left by new Labour's abandoning of the working class.

With delegates from across the left debating issues of peace and socialism long abandoned by new Labour, the event is intended to offer a stark contrast to the official Labour conference taking place just down the road in Manchester.

That point was driven home by a banner on display after Saturday's 5,000-strong anti-war demonstration.

It bore two clear messages - one reading "war," with a blue arrow directing people to the Labour conference in the GMEX Centre, and the other saying "peace," with an arrow pointing to the convention hall in Friends Meeting House, where convention delegates joined a lively debate on practical policies to counter new Labour's agenda of war and neoliberalism.

Opening the session, event organiser John Nicholson said that the four-day convention was about "developing practical policies through discussions and contributions from all, not just a panel of the usual suspects."

He stressed that the aim was not to form yet another left party but to unite the movement around the big issues agreed by all.

As the global economy took a nosedive last week, the bourgeois media was nervously asking whether "the end of capitalism" was near.

But a Respect activist pointed out: "Capitalism will not collapse on its own accord because the state will always step in to rescue the system at the expense of the working class.

"We have to bring it down and this convention can be an important step towards that direction."

Indeed, only a few days ago, the US government effectively nationalised AIG for $85 billion in public money and Britain has pumped billions into the finance sector to bail out City gamblers.

While governments use taxpayers' cash to fund bankers' greed, the fat cats are busy sacking workers, cutting wages and slashing pensions lest the self-made crisis eat into their profits.

John McDonnell MP warned: "In my constituency in west London, unemployment is already rising, wages are being depressed, homelessness is at a crisis point and more and more refugees are being deported.

"Enough is enough. We have a historic opportunity to recreate the left and put progressive policies into practice."

Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German also said that, rather than debate "whether to create a new workers' party," the convention should focus on "practical solutions to help the working class defend itself against the economic crisis and imperialist wars."

Andy Smith of Permanent Revolution said that the convention must analyse the reasons why Respect collapsed "or we run the danger of repeating those mistakes."

One activist, only introduced as Tariq, said: "I've just come back from Pakistan, where bombs are going off all the time.

"It is the duty of the left in this country and internationally to unite, because we cannot have peace here when bombs are dropped on sleeping children elsewhere."

Green Party representative Derek Wall summed up the meeting with a quote from an anarchist song: "Even though we disagree, we have a common enemy and that is capitalism."

19 Sep 2008

Uganda human rights LGBT appeal

had this from Peter....he works very very hard on these campaigns.

anti-asylum sentiment kills....anti-LGBT kills...please take action.

Dear Friends,

URGENT ACTION - Uganda

Please support this appeal on behalf of our arrested and harassed LGBT
brothers and sisters in Uganda.

This appeal is being coordinated by the International Gay and Lesbian
Human Rights Commission.

Below is the latest information on the homophobic witch-hunt in
Uganda, and a sample letter you can send to the Ugandan President and
others (their email addresses are below).

International solidarity works, as we know from the global campaign
against apartheid in South Africa.

Thanks for your support for our Ugandan LGBT friends.

Peter Tatchell, OutRage!, London


Uganda: Action Alert-Demand An End To Official Harassment of LGBT Activists

September 19, 2008

INTERNATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

Uganda: Action Alert-Demand An End To Official Harassment of LGBT Activists

SUMMARY

In what appears to be an all-out effort to silence the sexual rights
movement in Uganda, police have again arrested high profile members of
the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, this time
two male-to-female transgender gay men - Georgina (aka) Oundo George
and Brenda (aka Kiiza). According to Sexual Minorities of Uganda
(SMUG), two men who identified themselves as police officers, but were
not in the customary Ugandan Police uniform arrested both men at the
home of Georgina on Wednesday September 10, 2008.

Georgina and Brenda were held at Nabweru Police Post for a full week
without access to lawyers or to bail. They were never brought before a
judge, even though Article 3.9 of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that, "anyone arrested or detained
on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge."
Article 23 of the Ugandan Constitution requires that an arrested
person must appear before a judge within 48 hours of arrest.

Brenda and Georgina report being beaten, kicked and hit with batons
around the legs and ankles during their detention as interrogators
demanded that they provide information about the names and addresses
of other LGBT activists. Brenda and Georgina were finally released on
September 17, 2008, but have been required to report regularly to the
police station. They have been accused of "spreading homosexuality,"
though no such crime exists under Ugandan law. "Carnal knowledge
against the order of nature" is punishable by up to life imprisonment
in Uganda.

Among the rights violated in this most recent incident are:

The right to liberty and security of person; freedom from arbitrary
arrest or detention
The right to freedom from torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
The right to freedom of expression

ACTION

IGLHRC requests that its members send appeals to Ugandan authorities
as quickly as possible:

Demanding an end to the harassment of Oundo George and Kiiza through
the requirement that they report to the police on a regular basis.
Calling on the Ugandan government to immediately end illegal arrests
and detention of LGBT individuals and human rights defenders.
Asking for a repeal of Section 145 of the Penal Code Act of 1950,
which ostensibly criminalizes homosexual acts.

Please feel free to cut and paste from our letter (below) and send
faxes and e-mails to the following officials:

President
Yoweri Museveni
Parliament Building
PO Box 7168
Kampala, Uganda
Fax: + 256 414 346 102
Email: info@gouexecutive.net
Salutation: Your Excellency

Inspector General of Police
Major Kale Kayihura
Police Headquarters
PO Box 7055
Kampala, Uganda
Fax: + 256 414 255 630
Salutation: Dear Major

Minister of Justice
Hon. Makubuya Kiddu
Parliament Building
PO Box 7183
Kampala,
Uganda
Fax: + 256 414 234 453
Email: info@justice.go.ug
Salutation: Dear Minister

COPIES TO:

Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission
Margret Sekagya
P.O .Box 4929, Kampala,
Uganda
Fax: +256 414 255 261
E-mail: uhrc@uhrc.ug
Salutation: Dear Chairperson
COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of Uganda accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND COPIES OF ALL APPEALS TO IGLHRC SO THAT WE CAN TRACK THE RESPONSE:
E-mail: aro.africa@iglhrc.org
Fax: +27.21.462.3024, fax

SAMPLE LETTER

Your Excellency President Museveni,

I am writing to you to express my concern about the unwarranted arrest
and arbitrary detention of two lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
(LGBT) human rights defenders in Uganda on September 10, 2008. George
Oundo and Kizza Brenda were held in detention for eight days without
going before a judge. Article 23 of the Constitution of Uganda makes
it unconstitutional to hold a suspect for over 48 hours. Furthermore,
it is my understanding that these two individuals were arrested and
detained solely as a result of their sexual orientation and gender
identity

The continuous violation of the basic human rights of lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender people perpetuated by the Ugandan government
is of great concern. I understand that Uganda is party to various
regional and international human rights covenants such as the African
Charter on Human and People's Rights and the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, both of which condemn arrests based on
arbitrary categories such as race, ethnicity, political belief and
sexual orientation, among others.

I would ask that your government ceases and desists from harassing and
arresting LGBT people simply because of their sexual orientation and
gender identity and end the harassment and intimidation of LGBT human
rights defenders. I would also urge you to consider the repeal of
Section 145 of the Penal Code Act of 1950, which criminalizes
homosexual acts. Such laws have been declared a violation of the
rights to privacy and equality by the United Nations and have caused
great pain to many of your citizens.

Sincerely,

Paula Ettelbrick

Executive Director
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Cc: Major Kale Kayihura, Hon. Makubuya Kiddu, Margret Sekagya

BACKGROUND

In the past five years, there have been nearly a dozen arrests of LGBT
people on charges related to homosexuality in Uganda. Authorities have
harassed LGBT human rights defenders in their homes and in public and
fined a private radio station that broadcast a program on HIV
prevention among men who have sex with men. In July 2005, Uganda's
Parliament passed an amendment to the constitution making Uganda only
the second country in the world to use its supreme law to outlaw
marriage between people of the same sex. In 2007, a coalition of
religious leaders marched through the streets of Kampala demanding the
arrests of LGBT people with one cleric even calling for the "starving
to death" of homosexuals. Buttressed by the official homophobia of the
state, the Ugandan media has published lists of gay men and lesbians,
leading to physical violence, loss of employment and the curtailing of
educational opportunities for those LGBT people who were named.

On June 4, 2008, Usaam Mukwaaya, Pepe Julian Onziema and Valentine
Kalende, were arrested and charged with criminal trespass while
peacefully attending the HIV/AIDS Implementers Meeting in Kampala. The
arrest of the activists was condemned by local and international
organizations, including UNAIDS, as well as by the U.S. government.
Usaam Mukwaaya was rearrested on July 25, 2008 on his way from Friday
prayers and was detained and tortured for several days.

IGLHRC is deeply concerned that this increasingly clear pattern of
abuse - arrest, mistreatment in detention, and then release - is a
systematic attempt to silence the Ugandan LGBT, feminist and human
rights communities through constant harassment. There have also been
reliable reports that authorities have a list of LGBT leaders
including addresses, photographs and other personal information. Some
activists have fled into neighboring countries to escape arrest.

======================================

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is
a leading human rights organization solely devoted to improving the
rights of people around the world who are targeted for imprisonment,
abuse or death because of their sexuality, gender identity or HIV/AIDS
status. IGLHRC addresses human rights violations by partnering with
and supporting activists in countries around the world, monitoring and
documenting human rights abuses, engaging offending governments, and
educating international human rights officials. A non-profit,
non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with
offices in Cape Town and Buenos Aires. Visit http://www.iglhrc.org for
more information

email: executive_director@iglhrc.org
phone: 212-268-8040
web: http://www.iglhrc.org

The Mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights
Commission is to secure the full enjoyment of human rights of all
people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis
of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression
and/or HIV status.

--
Peter Tatchell is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East
www.greenoxford.com/peter and www.petertatchell.net

PETER TATCHELL HUMAN RIGHTS FUND

Donations are requested to help Peter Tatchell's campaigns promoting
human rights, democracy and global justice. Peter is unpaid and
receives no grants. He depends on donations from friends and
supporters.

Please make cheques payable to: "Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund".

Send to: PTHRF, PO Box 35253, London E1 4YF

To download a donation form or a standing order mandate, go to
Donations at: www.tatchellrightsfund.org

For information about Peter Tatchell's campaigns: www.petertatchell.net

Capitalism in crisis: more banks on the way out


This was all obvious in February, may be before....finance capitalism is about ever more esoteric forms of gambling...the UK under Gordon Brown has been about the primacy of banking....now the debts are being called in.

These were my thoughts in the spring still current today...


The global economy is on the edge of a cliff. Recession is on its way, which could mean a return to millions of unemployed, widespread house repossessions and growing poverty. The reasons for this crisis are complex in some ways, simple in others but the jargon of the economists mystifies.

I will try and cut through misleading appearances and get to the essence of the matter.

1% of American families were involved in some stage of home repossession in 2007. That's 2,203,295 individual cases.

9.5 million Britons currently have debt problems.

As we know, a French trader lost $3.6 bn a couple of weeks ago, enough to have paid off the credit card bills over here.

Northern Rock collapsed, in the first run on a bank in decades.

The British government has spent £40bn bailing out Northern Rock and has acquired liabilities of £100bn. This has pushed government debt beyond his golden rule sum of 40% of GDP limit set by Gordon Brown.

It started with the sub prime market, and free market globalisation is pushing it in our direction. Sub prime is jargon, and economics is all about jargon which hides simple truths.

Sub prime mortgages are simply high interest rate mortgages for the poorest American homeowners - those who risk not being able to pay.

Loan shark finance for the post-modern age.

Northern Rock went under partly because of securitisation - more jargon - it means debt that has been split up into bits and sold on. In this case sub prime debt.

Increasingly, everything is financialised. Private pensions, endowment mortgages, insurance policies - you name it - is based on shares, bonds, bills, options, derivatives and securitisation.

Who's heard of credit-default swaps? You will soon.

One commentator noted, "Credit-default swaps are a kind of insurance against default, arranged between two parties. One party, the seller, agrees to pay the face value of the policy in case of a default by a specific company. The buyer pays a premium, a fee, to the seller for that protection.

"This has grown to be a huge market: the total value of all CDS contracts is about $450 trillion. Some studies have put the real credit risk at just 6% of the total, or about $27 trillion. That puts the CDS market at somewhere between two and six times the size of the U.S. economy."

To survive economically, all of us are, although most of the time unaware, caught up in an increasingly mysterious and esoteric financial web. With privatisation and an increasingly economically insecure society, financialisation is likely to accelerate. If you put money into Northern Rock as a saver did you expect it to be tied up with mortgages in Florida?

George Soros, the billionaire financier, a man often more critical of capitalism than myself, believes that there is a 50/50 chance of the British economy moving into recession. Soros is also saying that the present crisis is the worst since the 1930's.

To keep the increasingly risky and unreal economy afloat we have to keep on consuming. If we spend less then unemployment rises, homeowners who lose their jobs can no longer keep up with mortgage payments, houses are repossed, credit card debt cannot be paid, and the vicious spiral of negative economic growth leads to poverty and mass unemployment. The system eventually rebounds but with a huge cost in insecurity and human misery.

To keep the system afloat we have to exploit each other and our environment.

A healthy modern capitalist economy is like a system of hard drug addiction. We have to work harder and consume more, to avoid the pain of economic cold turkey. The only solution, it seems, is to increase the dose. But increasing doses only brings relief in the short term. Long term it increases tolerance, which can only be met with larger doses.

The economic approach of Gordon Brown is to simply up the dose with more privatisation, more insecurity, more consumption and more free market globalisation. New Labour's approach- inherited from the Tories - is to make the interests of the City pre-eminent.

It isn't just human beings who feel the pain, its the rest of nature, as well.

Which is where rainforests come in.

More consumption, more free trade and fewer barriers to corporations means the forests come tumbling down - cut for palm oil for biofuels and processed food.

Every time you eat margarine you risk killing a monkey, and all in the name of oil exploration and mines for new minerals and metals.

Oil addiction means that our leaders are going to be tempted to the likes will Iraq and, increasingly, Iran, causing more chaos.

But hey, the arms industry likes to have their products tested!

We have an economy which is irrational and unecological, which increasingly no one understands and is, increasingly, no fun.

The psychologist Oliver James shows that with higher GNP, mental illness rises, and we catch a disease called Affluenza.

We have to create an economy that gives access to things we all need, from warm homes to healthy food to secure pensions, and creative good work in secure posts without the ever increasing overuse of resources.

At this conference, we are going to debate recession and policies to deal with it. Yes, you can pump up the economy with spending on good things like renewables, but we also have to make our economy more stable.

We need to reduce the dose, improve security and put people and nature in charge of society. At the moment we act as if were part of some insane religion that makes us sacrifice our children for a golden idol covered in dollar signs.

We need to tackle housing, and stop the attack on social housing. We ceased building council houses in the 1980's, and that has created speculation in the housing market and a new sub prime rental sector where landlords prey on homelessness. The British economy is fueled by housing insecurity - homes are no longer primarily considered places to live in, but now thought as financial instruments.

From cutting super-bonuses that inflate house prices in London, to dealing with empty homes - 870,000 last time I looked - to building low impact homes that don't sacrifice the environment, we need to creating greater council housing capacity. We can take the pressure out of the housing market,give people security and make the economy more stable.

Not easy but essential.

And we have the policies.

We need proper pensions and welfare so people feel secure.

Our revolutionary basic income scheme would help massively. Well where would the money come from?

Trident is £70bn.

The billions spent on nuclear power.

The billions spent on war in Iraq.

Then there is all the waste, from ministerial limos to lack of insulation.

£40bn on Northern Rock was money down the toilet but there was no question the government simply paid it. New priorities are necessary.

We need an economy that is based on what is good and useful, and not on simply piling up piles of money.

Why not make goods to last longer? Why not cut advertising? Why not create sustainable energy? Why not have local economies? Less is more.

We need work-sharing and democratic control of the economy. Democracy used to be dismissed as mob rule and was condemned by the 18th century equivalents of the Daily Mail and Express as a recipe for chaos.

We need a democratic economy.

Companies can instead of issuing shares and having by law to maximise profit, whatever the consequences, can be run by mutuals with the cash going to workers. The best example of this is the staff policies of the John Lewis Group, who own Waitrose.

What about ZOPA - a peer to peer bank, where borrowers and lenders pick their own interest rates? How far away is that from sub prime.

In Venezuela I met workers who run their own factories and saw massive permaculture city farms. We need to put ordinary people in control of the economy, we need to think rationally about what to produce. The economics of free software and social sharing is sweeping the world.

In the 1970s the visionary trade unionist Mike Cooley, together with fellow workers from Lucas Aerospace, produced detailed plans to build road rail buses, kidney machines and renewable energy systems instead of weapons. We need such green plans for people-orientated production.

You know this. Its all in the Manifesto for a Sustainable Society.

The 1980s could have been about this kind of grassroots economics Instead we had Thatcher who, fueled by oil wealth, embarked on an economic experiment that has made Britain technically richer but socially poor, more unequal, less democratic and more insecure.

I am, as you know, an out-of-the-closet socialist, but if socialism means central-control then count me out. Its inefficient and undemocratic.

Whatever you call it, we can have an economy that meets human need and not the greed of a few. It's about being on the side of ordinary people, and not about making the economy more market-based that ultimately only benefits the super rich.

And I suppose, unless they go into space with Richard Branson in his biofuel tourist rockets, will even destroy their future.

It is about a different kind of property rights. Property rights are the long DNA of any social system. We need property rights that preserve ecology and local control.

So, there is much to do, but to achieve what we want we can't simply dream.

We need to win. As I constantly say, it's a battle of ideas - to show that radical green politics is asking the right questions and coming up with solutions.

We need to use direct action to slow and reverse the damage.

We need to elect greens.

It's about reclaiming space, ideas, direct action, and elections.

I am going to be working to elect our first Green MP Caroline Lucas in Brighton. This year I will be at the climate camp again. I am going to be opposing the Lisbon treaty which will impose a more neo-liberal Europe, and I am going to be fighting biofuels and climate change.

Time is very, very short. We need to be working with others, to take the wider view.

I have been talking to John McDonnell, the Labour MP. He's going to the climate camp and supports direct action, and that's good. I have been asking Trade Union leaders like Matt Wrack and people like the Venezuelan Ambassador, Samuel Moncada, to speak to us. And they tend to say yes.

We need dialogue and the big vision to save planet earth. We all need to get stuck in and build a bigger, stronger, more realistic but more radical Green Party.