27 May 2009

Free software pact

http://www.freesoftwarepact.eu/signatories

Caroline Lucas and myself are the only MEP candidates to sign in the UK!

Spread the word...

Bull fighting, no gracias

Choose life
Sunday 24 May 2009
Derek Wall
Morning Star.


I am very much on the election trail at the moment as a European election candidate.

I have been out and about on the party bus in Berkshire where I live, appeared at a couple of hustings, most notable for the fact that UKIP has not wanted to debate the fact that its former MEP Ashley Mote was imprisoned for fraud and joined a fascist group in the European Parliament with Mussolini's granddaughter.

I have also been answering an awful lot of emails. In fact, I have had well over a 100 emails as part of a League Against Cruel Sports campaign to end EU support for bullfighting.

I am well aware that readers of the Morning Star are not too impressed by party political pleadings. I had assumed this would not be a party political matter.

I naively thought that all candidates of all parties in the election would oppose cruelty to animals. After all, it's ethically wrong and hardly a vote winner.

In fact, Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan seems to be quite keen on a bit of bullfighting. In a newspaper article entitled In praise of bullfighting a couple of years ago, he defended this "sport."

Hannan argued that it is a fair contest between matador and bull, a lucha or struggle between man - women killers are rare - and beast.

He argued that Europhiles want to abolish bullfighting because it is "traditional" and they have no respect for real cultural diversity.

Hannan conjured up Hemingway, Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde to suggest that, "when the sword plunges, the crowd is left feeling purged - cleaner and nobler than when it entered the arena."

It's not difficult to debunk Hannan's arguments, which are essentially based on the fact that cruelty for pleasure is acceptable.

While I am not sure that all on the political right would share his enthusiasm for bullfighting, his take certainly has support within the political right. The left have not always been champions of animal welfare either.

Trotsky was a keen hunter, although I suspect he was more concerned with lunch than the thrill of the chase. Engels was a member of his local fox hunt in Cheshire, although he told Marx that this was to keep his cavalry skills up in case he was required to fight in a British revolution.

One of the reasons why I am a member of the Green Party is that the green movement has always promoted the welfare of all life rather than just humans.

I strongly believe those on the left should support animal welfare. The exploitation of animals for pleasure and profit seems to me to go together with the exploitation of other human beings for self-interest. Surely compassion for other species is bound up with compassion for other human beings.

One reason why both swine flu and the potentially far more dangerous avian bird flu have arisen is factory farming, where chickens and pigs are dosed with antibiotics because they are crowded so closely together in the name of profit. Antibiotics and antivirals breed resistant bugs that threaten humanity.

Equally, if we look at vivisection, pharmaceutical companies are motivated not by love of humanity but love of their margins. Animals are slaughtered in tests to produce new drugs to mimic existing patented products.

Scratch the surface most apparently complex ethical debates around animal welfare and human benefit and you soon find a profit motive that serves neither humanity or other creatures.

Hannan overlooked the fact that increasing numbers of Spanish voters find bullfighting appalling.

According to a Gallup poll in 2006, identified by Green MEP Caroline Lucas in an excellent article on her vigorous work to end this cruelty, 70 per cent of Spanish citizens either find the activity cruel or have no interest in it. Yet the Spanish government still subsidises bullfighting, as does the EU.

While Hannan defends the sport as an even match between matador and bull, the process is pretty sick.

Lucas writes: "The 'show' begins when the bull enters the arena and is provoked into charging several times, before being approached by picadores, men on blindfolded horses, who drive lances into its back and neck muscles.

"The matador appears and, after a few forced charges, tries to kill the bull with his sword. If he misses, he stabs the submissive animal on the back of the neck until it is paralysed. The idea is to cut the animal's spinal cord, but, if the matador botches the job, the bull may be fully conscious while its ears or tail are removed as trophies."

In Cuba, despite Hemingway's love of the sport bullfighting was banned long ago. Bullfighting has also been "traditional" in Venezuela, although it has now been banned by the mayor of the capital Caracas.

Hugo Chavez's United Socialist Party has also lined up on the side of animal liberation and is working to ban bullfighting in the whole country. There is a slogan that goes "Human freedom, animal rights! One struggle, one fight!"

Which pretty much sums up my attitude.

www.league.org.uk

Green Left economics meeting at Housemans tonight

Green Left, the anti-capitalist current in the Green Party, has just published a new pamphlet, which is to be launched at Housemans Bookshop in London at on Wednesday 27 May. Entitled Countering the Crisis, the pamphlet gives an ecosocialist response to the global recession and the threat of climate change.

The pamphlet has two main sections; the first provides an analysis of the current crisis and shows how it is the inherent instability of the financial system that is the prime mover of the credit crunch rather than just the sleight of hand of a relatively tiny number of spivs and hucksters. It points to the phenomena of the financialisation of capitalism - the shift in gravity from production to finance – and suggests that this has been the key factor in the development of asset bubbles and the growth of the increasingly more arcane and risky financial schemes which have triggered the collapse of markets throughout the world.

The second part sets out some proposals for dealing with the twin crises – financial and environmental – that confront us. Central to these is the demand for a massive redistribution of wealth and power. One of the key factors in advancing the financialisation of the economy has been the dramatic redistribution of wealth away from wages as a percentage of the GDP. Therefore, there is an urgent need to redistribute wealth away from corporate profits and towards wages and income; not only because justice demands it but also because it makes sound economic sense.
The pamphlet points out that many of the points it makes have been made elsewhere on the left and that and a number of manifestos round which to organise have been issued, most importantly The People’s Charter. It is vital that we start to draw together these strands of opposition to the current system in order to enable the development of a genuinely grass roots movement. Realignment of the left (and that includes the Green Party as well) now becomes an urgent necessity for its existence and an essential precondition for the development of a new mass party of and for working people.
The pamphlet will be launched with a talk by its author, Sean Thompson, at Housemans Bookshop, Caledonian Road (near Kings Cross Station) at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 27 May.

25 May 2009

1ST OXFORD WORKING CLASS BOOKFAIR

1ST OXFORD WORKING CLASS BOOKFAIR
SATURDAY 20TH JUNE, 11 am - 6 pm at Ruskin College, Walton Street, Oxford

Supporters of the event include Oxford & District TUC & local IWW

Books, talks, badges, workshops, posters, postcards, DVDs, CDs, music, culture, short films, magazines, lectures, warm atmosphere, fellowship, meet new people, education, entertainment, magazine, newspapers etc. To book a stall/more info. email us!

Includes 100th Anniversary of 1909 RUSKIN COLLEGE STRIKE meeting, the first radical student uprising in English history that saw students breakaway to form radical & anti-capitalist educational networks such as the PLEBS LEAGUE and CENTRAL LABOUR COLLEGES + Talks/workshops on anti-fascism & anti-racism, situationism/dada/surrealism, anti-capitalism, people’s history, trade unions, war, peace & empire, radical bookselling, bash the rich marches, psychogeography, feminism & women’s equality, social ecology, popular & radical education, poetry/culture/art, music etc

Speakers include -

COLIN WAUGH Radical educator/FE teacher, active on the Post 16 Educator journal, recently author of pamphlet on the 1909 Ruskin College Student Strike & Plebs League
IAN BONE English anarchist associated with Class War group. In 1984 he was labelled ‘the most dangerous man in Britain’ by a British tabloid newspaper & was involved in the legendary Bash the Rich marches on wealthier areas of England such as Kensington, Henley-on-Thames & Hampstead.
RICHARD SEYMOUR Author of ‘The Liberal Defense of Murder’, a searing critique of the B52 liberals and pro-war left & the brains behind Lenin’s Tomb, one of the best-known political blogs in Britain, listed in 2005 as the 21st-most-popular blog in the country.
ANDREW BURGIN Radical seller/collektor of books, badges, posters, pamphlets & other emphemera. As press officer for the Stop the War Coalition he has worked particularly closely with the Military Families against the War campaign. He has also been linked to the Public Reading Rooms in London . . .
JUDITH ORR Author of ‘A Rebel’s Guide to Women’s Liberation’
MALCOLM HOPKINS Our man from Housemans, London Town’s oldest radical bookshop who boast the largest range of radical newsletters, newspapers and mags of any shop in Brtain! He also does talks on situationism, dada, and surrealism - top bloke!
Cllr JOHN TANNER Lefty Labour Councillor supports good causes like the Palestinians and anti-fascism - top bloke!
DAVID RENTON Independent writer & historian. Written extensively on the history of anti-fascism including ‘When We Touched the Sky’ a history of the Anti-Nazi League & ‘Red Shirts & Black’ (Published by Ruskin College Library) the story of how the facist Blackshirts were driven out of Oxford in the 1930s.
CIARAN WALSH IWW/Wobblie Member involved in Traveller education. ‘The IWW is a union unlike any other. It is a grassroots, democratic and militant union that seeks to organise ALL workers in ALL industries in ALL countries’ … Sounds like a good idea!
PETER DWYER has done many silly and good things including working with NGOs and the labour movement in South Africa and speaking at World Social Forums in Rio, Mali and Kenya. During the daytime he teaches radical economics at Ruskin College
GUY DEBORD Sadly Monsieur Debord can’t make this festival, but we have received a copy of The Society of the Spectacle - The Movie that will receive a free screening and Ruskin College premier during the course of the bookfair
LUCY PARSONS once described by the Chicago police as ‘more dangerous than a thousand rioters’, Parsons died in 1942, she will be brought back to life for one day during the bookfair with a public reading of her infamous address To Tramps

Also for OUR FRIENDS IN THE NORTH, there is another WORKING CLASS BOOKFAIR THE WEEK BEFORE IN SUNDERLAND!
http://workingclassbookfair.vpweb.com/

For more info. - www.oxfordworkingclassbookfair.blogspot.com or oxfordworkingclassbookfair@googlemail.com

Talking to a faith community in Ascot

Well been a bit busy to blog..

yesterday I talked to members of the Church of England in Ascot about the financial and environmental crisis....not part of my party political work.

Very good level of understanding from the audience who took part.

I suspect that members of the faith community are often ahead of political parties when it comes to ecology, social justice, etc.

There is also a possibility that they may be able to do some solidarity work with indigenous people in West Papua.

Interesting the West Papuans are mainly Anglicans..

I am not a believer and yes of course religions can be regressive and intolerant...however a lot of very good work is being done by the faith communities, and of course liberation theology is at the root of a lot of good work being done by Latin American leaders.

very nice to have the invite, I am more often talking to liberal Muslim groups and while I am not a Catholic, several of my family are, so nice to engage with a different audience and one that impressed me with their knowledge and commitment.

They were interested in looking at ethical investment and how to work with different faiths...talked to them about Hugo Blanco, Jerry Hicks and Roberto Perez as people I have had the pleasure of working with.

Green Party London Euro Campaign Bus Tour

Advisory

Green Party London Euro Campaign Bus Tour


Jean Lambert, London's Green Party MEP for the last 10 years,
will be touring the capital this Friday and Saturday on the Green Party's Euro campaign bus.

The bus is naturally run on used chip oil, supplied by UpTown Oil, based in Southwark.


Friday 29th May

10am, Sipson Village (Heathrow), with John Stewart (HACAN ClearSkies)

1245pm, London Metropolitan University, Holloway Road

3pm, Westminster, Millbank

530pm, East Side, Waterloo Bridge, Critical Mass cycle event


Saturday 30th May

10am, Uptown Oil, refueling of the bus (King James St, Southwark, SE1)

11am, Brixton, leafletting of Brixton Market

1230pm, Lewisham (New Cross Gate)

events on Sat afternoon: Whitechapel,
a bike escort through Hackney, and in Haringey


John Stewart, from the HACAN ClearSkies campaign group against Heathrow expansion, will be at the launch event in Sipson on Friday morning.

Mark Thomas, comedian and activist, will be available on Friday afternoon (location to be confirmed, either at Westminister/South Bank).

Jean Lambert, London's Green MEP will be on the bus and available for interviews throughout her two-day tour.

Media contacts for the entire tour:
Georgina Bloomfield (07988 790 889) and Scott Redding (07906 316 726)

Further details and timings to follow.


==

From Green Party press office, 020 7561 0282.
Published and promoted by Tracy Dighton-Brown for the Green Party of England & Wales, both at 1a Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ.

--
Scott Redding
Press Officer
Green Party of England and Wales

22 May 2009

Official IDAHO Report - 2009

Forwarded by Peter Tatchell on behalf of IDAHO


Official IDAHO Report - 2009

17 May 2009 - International Day against HOMOPHOBIA & TRANSPHOBIA

MEDIA RELEASE

The fifth International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, an initiative launched on May 17th 2005 by activist Louis-Georges Tin, saw an amazing outburst of activities around the world. The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) Committee reports on its global site www.idahomophobia.org.

"Actions were reported in more then 50 countries", said Joel Bedos, coordinator of the IDAHO Committee, the NGO promoting the Day worldwide. "This shows just how strong the global movement is."

ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex
Association, a world-wide network of national and local groups with more than 700 member organisations from every continent and representing 110 countries, has been involved in the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia with the IDAHO Committee since it was launched in 2005.

"We chose this Day," say Gloria Careaga and Renato Sabbadini, ILGA's
Co-Secretaries General, "to launch the third edition of the World Report on State Sponsored Homophobia. With this report ILGA wants to name and shame the States which at the end of the first decade of the 21st century still treat their LGBTI citizens like lesser persons, unworthy of consideration.

"The actions undertaken by activists and the majority of our members all around the world on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia have been an important occasion to remind civil societies and Governments of the situation of lesbians and gays in 80 countries in the world, where homosexuality is considered a crime and of the fact that in 5 of them, i.e. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Mauritania and Yemen, homosexuals risk the death penalty. ILGA is now working on a State sponsored transphobia report, which we hope to publish by November this year."

Nicolai Alexeyev, organiser of Slavic Pride in Moscow, speaking after his release from a Russian jail said, "We launched the first Moscow pride and the first IDAHO international conference in 2006 with Louis-Georges Tin, who was with us, on the streets confronting homophobic attacks.

"Since then, we have always been together, working for equal rights in the world. IDAHO breaks down isolation, makes people feel stronger, and sends a powerful signal to all homophobes and transphobes around the world that they are facing not just a handful of activists but millions of people across the globe."

This ambition to get activists in different countries together is Joel Bedos' main driving force.

"This year we have got a really large alliance of major regional and international NGOs, including ILGA's Trans secretariat of course, together to launch a large international campaign against Transphobia. The appeal has been signed by 300 organizations in more than 75 countries, 3 Nobel Prize winners and many international institutions and celebrities and we are now launching it on our websites for citizens all over the world to join in with."

Most amazingly, this campaign already has led France to announce an historic decision to become the first country in the world to stop classifying Trans people as 'mentally disordered' as the World Health Organisation's guidelines still demand. Also, on May 15th, the Dutch parliament organised a conference on LGBTI rights, celebrating IDAHO, and the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, Maxime Verhagen announced that the Government will change the law that still requires transgender people to undergo irreversible surgery before granting them a new identification document. He acknowledged that the current law violates principle 18 of the Yogyakarta principle: the right to be protected from medical abuses.

The report, presented on Saturday 16 May at the Axel hotel in Barcelona with the help of Coordinadora Gai Lesbiana and former ILGA co-Secretary General Jordi Petit, was prepared by Daniel Ottosson. The report and a map showing the results of the study at a glance can be accessed on www.ilga.org.

"Such an international campaign is one of the added values of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, and we are glad that the IDAHO Committee has provided the initial impulse. It has galvanised us into action and helped us to network with other Trans organisations in other countries. We are definitely stronger together" says Liesl Theron from Gender DynamiX, a South African Human Rights organization promoting freedom of expression of gender identity in Africa.

The IDAHO committee hopes that the Campaign against Transphobia will be just as successful as the one that it launched back in 2006 when an international petition calling "for a universal decriminalisation of homosexuality" drew incredible support from several Nobel prize winners, many high profile politicians, actors, intellectuals, etc, and contributed to the French government taking the initiative that resulted in last year UN Statement on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity -a historical achievement indeed.

On this year's International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, the French, Dutch and Norwegian governments organised a World Congress to follow up on this Statement, with a very active participation of the IDAHO Committee along other civil society actors. This congress got many activists from all over the world to meet and strategise the future.

Getting people around the globe together is indeed a shared passion. Kenneth Tan, founder of the first social gay and lesbian network Gays.com, is a happy man: "The community based video that we did this year in partnership with the IDAHO Committee has already been watched by 200,000 people. The idea was to get individuals from a lot of different countries to come out and say they were proud. The result is exactly what the Day means: a celebration of both diversity, because we are all unique, and unity, because there is something that links us all together."

Diversity is certainly the motto: In mainland China, a bike rally celebrated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, while in Hong Kong, the IDAHO Coalition protested against homophobia in front of the Government Headquarters. Says Connie Chan, who has been coordinating actions in Hong Kong for many years: "The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia Committee and participating organisations around the world have given us inspiration and momentum for action."

Derek Lennard, IDAHO-UK Coordinator said "In the UK we now have over
100 events and initiatives to mark IDAHO -in 2005 we had five. It is very exciting to see this network get bigger and bigger and to see the very broad support it now receives in the UK".

While marchers took it to the streets in all major Turkish cities, UK police stations flew the rainbow flag. While in Cameroon, brave activists faced the hostile crowd on a radio programme, a Church service to mark IDAHO was held in Belfast's oldest church. Iran's gay students wrote an open letter to the Students' Union, and in Singapore, the Pink Dot festival was the first-ever event to speak openly about gay and lesbian rights.

The Council of the EU, in a historic statement published on May 17th, declared "Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is incompatible with the basic principles on which the UE is founded". In a surprisingly progressive move, this Statement was supported by countries outside the EU such as Turkey and Ukraine.

"Everywhere we see things moving. Even in Russia where the IDAHO Committee co-organised the first Pride in 2006, things will change. This is why we created this Day in 2005 and we are so happy to see all these actions take place around the globe. We hope that the sum of all these individual energies will increasingly be visible to the world. Because we are so many and so full of hope and energy, that we can really change the world," says Louis-Georges Tin.

Press contact

Louis-Georges Tin

IDAHO Committee
+33 (0) 6 19 45 45 52

lgtin@idahomophobia.org


Protests on the 2009 International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia - 17 May

A FEW EXAMPLES...

CHINA & HONG KONG · "Love is not a crime, hate is not a family value" chanted IDAHO coalition marchers as they headed to the Governments Headquarters demanding equal rights for LGBT people.

They called for legislation outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and for same-sex couples to be included in the law on domestic violence. Spokesperson Connie Chan reports: "Protesters laid down in a symbolic die-in action to signal their disappointment at the treatment they get from the Hong Kong authorities."

In the meantime in Beijing, organisations Common Language and Aibai Culture and Education Center organised "Rainbow in Motion", the Beijing Multi-campus Bike Ride to celebrate gay pride, raise awareness of LGBT rights and introduce IDAHO to the LGBT community and general public of mainland China.

FRANCE · In France, hundreds of events where organised all over the country,
where IDAHO enjoys a growing visibility. In Paris, Trans People from all over the world joined French Trans activists and LGBT organisations to "Shout Out against Transphobia". On that day, the Health minister announced that France would be the first country to officially stop applying WHO classification of Trans People as "mentally disordered". 27 cities organised debates, film screenings, parties, exhibitions and other political and cultural events, including a National Conference on Transgender and Transexual issues at the French Parliament.

TURKEY · Hundreds of people marched in Ankara and other major cities in the country for LGBT rights. Homophobia and Transphobia have risen dramatically over the last year with dozens of people brutally murdered and police harassment is growing.

ILGA · The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex
Association published on IDAHO the third edition of its report on State Sponsored Homophobia.

The report surveys legislations criminalising consensual sexual acts between persons of the same sex in private over the age of consent in all countries in the World. With this report ILGA wants to name and shame the States which at the end of the first decade of the 21st century still treat their LGBTI citizens like lesser persons, unworthy of consideration.

UK · Amongst many initiatives across the country, dozens of police stations raised a gay rights banner to mark a day of action against homophobia. The organisations raising the rainbow flag high were taking part in The Lesbian and Gay Foundation's "Flying the Flag" campaign. In London, an IDAHO party launched Day in Hand community project. This campaign's aim is to inspire and support same-sex couples who want to hold their partner's hand in public.
www.adayinhand.com

EUROPEAN UNION · To mark IDAHO, the European Union issued a strong
statement calling for renewed mobilisation against homophobia and transphobia.

The Statement, warning that "discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity is incompatible with the basic principles on which the UE is founded", was also supported by other States, including Turkey and Ukraine, two countries who did not sign up to the UN Statement last December supported by now 67 countries and calling States to fights discrimination on these grounds.
www.consilium.europa.eu

SINGAPORE · IDAHO 2009 went down in History as the Pink Dot festival
united a 2500-strong crowd celebrating the freedom to love. The organisers of the event, pinkdot.sg, say the event was held to commemorate love in all forms and between people of every orientation. The city-state still has a ban on homosexual sex that has been in force since its colonial days under the British. According to Jack Soh of pinkdot.sg, "It was not a protest or a political rally. The event was for Singaporeans in general - to affirm our respect for diversity and the freedom to love, regardless of sexual orientation." http://www.pinkdot.sg

TRANSPHOBIA · 300 organisations from 75 countries, 3 Nobel Prize winners and intellectuals, artists, politicians from many countries ,supported the International Appeal against Transphobia and for the Respect of Gender Identity launched by a group of large regional and international Human Rights and LGBT Rights organisations. The Appeal was launched on the eve of IDAHO and is now opened to signatures by the public.

A FEW MORE EXAMPLES...

INTERNATIONAL · To coincide with IDAHO, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the World Congress on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. This congress originated from a joint decision by the French, Dutch and Norwegian governments. Its aim was to reflect on future strategies to take the LGBT agenda forward within the UN. Ministers from 15 countries, including 3 African countries, and more than 80 representatives from NGOs from all World regions debated during the day-long congress to elaborate recommendations for all stakeholders.

RUSSIA · Once again Gayrussia tried to organise a Pride march in Moscow on IDAHO. This year, the date coincided with the Eurovision song contest in the Russian capital, which drew increased media attention on the event. In spite of much public attention and support, Moscow authorities cracked down on demonstrators and arrested many members of the group. Gayrussia founder Nicolai Alexeyev promised to hold on to the slogan "Gay Equality; No Compromise" and plans actions for IDAHO 2010.

More information on www.idahomophobia.org


BACKGROUND to IDAHO

In August 2004, Louis-Georges Tin, a French university lecturer, campaigner for Black and LGBT Rights, and chief editor of the Dictionary of Homophobia launched an appeal for a universal recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). He proposed that this day be fixed on May 17th, to commemorate the World Health Organisation decision to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders.

By May 17th 2005, as a result of a year long campaigning effort, 24000
people worldwide and reputed international organisations like ILGA, IGLHRC, the World Congress of LGBT Jews, the Coalition of African lesbians, to name but a few, had signed the IDAHO appeal. In May 2005 already, IDAHO saw some action take place in more than 40 countries in the world. The first LGBT events ever were organised in Congo, China, Bulgaria. Josepp Borrell, President of the European Parliament made a statement supporting the IDAHO and invited Tin to the conference the EU Parliament organised for IDAHO 2006.

By that time a new campaign had been launched by the IDAHO Committee calling "for a universal decriminalisation of homosexuality" and on May 17th 2006 it had attracted support from several Nobel Prize winners (Desmond Tutu, Amartya Sen, Elfriede Jelinek, Dario Fo, José Saramago), artists (Merryl Streep, Cindy Lauper, Elton John, David Bowie), intellectuals (Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Bernard-Henri Lévy), NGOs (ILGA, FIDH), politicians, etc...

In July 2006, the Montreal Conference on LGBT Human Rights, organised in the wake of the Outgames, included in its final declaration a strong recommendation to all Governments to recognise May 17th as the International Day against Homophobia.

For IDAHO 2007, the IDAHO committee and Gayrussia co-organised the first GayPride in Moscow, preceded by an International IDAHO conference that brought together many activist, organisations and politicians from around Europe and North America.

At that time, IDAHO had been officially recognised by the EU Parliament, Belgium, the UK and Mexico and organisations in more than 50 countries in the world celebrated IDAHO. Costa Rica, the Netherlands and Luxemburg soon joined the list of countries officially recognising the Day.

On IDAHO 2008, as a result of the actions coordinated by the IDAHO committee, the French Government also recognised IDAHO. Rama Yade, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights, announced France's intention to launch a UN initiative towards the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

During the second semester, Civil Society organisations, including the IDAHO committee, ILGA, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, ARC international, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and many other groups from the global South and East worked towards this initiative that eventually resulted in the December 2008 UN Statement read at the General Assembly by Argentina and supported by now 67 countries. This UN Statement was one of the elements in a long strategy of LGBT advocacy at the UN, a strategy that was discussed on IDAHO 2009 at the World Congress against Homophobia and Transphobia, that the IDAHO committee, as part of a central working group, helped shaping.

Urgent appeal from Climate Camp legal team

Hello all from the Legal Team.

We've been busy since the G20 camp, and we've got 4 bits of important
information for you: Panorama, Kettling, Money and The Legal Process. The
outline is below and you can find full details on the new Camp Legal Team
pages on the Camp website (blue button on the left navigation bar)

1) PANORAMA
Is searching for Kingsnorth climate camp attendees featuring in legal
team's film on seizures to get their written consent so can show bits of
the film. So, PLEASE look at http://climatecamp.org.uk/node/580 to view
the images. We have not found contact details for 3, 5, 6, 9, 10,13, 19,
20, 22, 23, 24,25, 29, 30 (need email)37, 41, 43 (need email).
We'll need to know WHICH picture number they are, contact phone and/or
email. Email legal[at]climate camp.org.uk

2) KETTLING
We need legally aided litigants (savings less than £300, on income related
benefits or less than approx £630 pmth after property costs and travel to
work costs, and no property) for important legal challenge to
kettling of climate camp. We have some but a few gaps. So did you want
to leave the kettle for some good reason and could not, but asked and were
refused, or were assaulted whilst in the kettle, but had left before the
final clearance?

3) MONEY
We need to raise £40,000 quickly to challenge the kettling. We still
don't know we will be able to progress it but if we don't the money will
be used to fund future cases. It may seem a lot (and it is!) but we think
we can do it - small amounts from lots of people will get us to this
target. See the Climate Camp website to donate to this appeal. For now
you can send cheques or bank transfers - please follow the instructions to
mark the payment 'legal appeal' so the finance people know what it is for.

4) The LEGAL PROCESS - update
You can still complain to the IPCC (but it will get referred to the Met
and then is likely to be about Direction and Control which they don't have
to investigate so don't). However we are told the HMIC may be interested
in hearing about your experiences for their review of the G20 policing:
The Review Team, Ashley House, 2 Monck Street, London SW1P 2BQ, Tel:
0207-035-2182, Email: thereviewteam@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

21 May 2009

Seamus Milne on the political crisis

Purge the professionals and let party democracy breathe


This meltdown creates opportunities as well as dangers. But more than technocratic fixes, we need real political choice

Seumas Milne guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 20 May 2009 21.30


What started as a political scandal has tipped over into a full-blown ­crisis of Britain's entire political system. There's no doubt that the Commons Speaker's resignation was long overdue. But if MPs imagine that by scapegoating Michael Martin for their own scams they will appease popular ­revulsion, they are dreaming. The drip-drip revelations of help-yourself entitlement have only entrenched a gulf between the political elite and the public that's been widening for two decades: the product of narrowing political choice, professionalisation of politics, shameless government ­deceit about war and peace, and devastating financial collapse.

Now both Britain's governing and business classes are discredited. And what the Daily Telegraph, orchestrator of the expenses leaks, yesterday called "a very British revolution" is going to have to go a good deal further than a change of guard in a largely ceremonial post of fake feudal flummery to steady the horses. Gordon Brown seems at last dimly to perceive what has to be done. For a fortnight he has lagged one step behind David Cameron in response to the exposures: whether over apologies, sanctions on MPs or demands for repayment. On Tuesday he was given a "kicking like he's never had before" by Labour's national executive over his failure to act, as one member put it.

Now he has moved to suspend some of the worst offenders, pushed ahead plans to end parliamentary self-regulation, set up his own "star chamber" to investigate his errant parliamentarians, and declared that "many" MPs will have to stand down as a result. But the public doesn't want apologies, cheques or promises of further inquiries – it wants heads on a platter without further delay. That's why the only way to restore some confidence in Labour MPs – the most damaged by the scandal – is to drive through a sweeping round of reselections by local parties.

To avoid the kind of stitch-ups by regional officials which have packed parliament with New Labour clones, the normal procedures would have to be opened up. But putting all but the most blameless MPs through a process of reselection would offer the chance both to revive local democracy and replace some Tweedledum career politicians with more independent, rooted and working-class candidates.

It should also put the Tories on the back foot. Cameron would feel obliged to follow suit – and risk not only losing close allies in the process, but also a backlash from local Conservative associations, who have made it clear they have no appetite whatever for deselecting MPs, however outrageous their second-home arrangements. But Brown is still balking at sacking his communities secretary Hazel Blears for her expenses profiteering, letting it be known he has "full confidence" in her while at the same time describing her behaviour as "totally unacceptable".

A purge of miscreants, however, is clearly not enough. What has become a crisis of democracy can only be overcome with a programme of democratic reform. Both Brownite and Blairite members of the cabinet are now talking about launching a constitutional convention to reshape the whole political structure, covering everything from an elected Lords and independent select committees to electoral reform and an overhaul of party funding.

Anything that cracks open the system and dispenses with perennial British complacency about the "mother of parliaments" has got to be welcome. But technocratic fixes won't by themselves solve the problem. Unless parliamentary democracy is about choice, it's meaningless. The legacy of New Labour is a contest over the narrowest of political and economic options, presided over by highly centralised party machines, where internal democracy has withered and party members have drifted away.

There is no reason why any of the reforms being discussed would automatically overcome that dismal inheritance. Unless new parties are able to break the existing political monopoly – a mountain to climb under first-past-the-post even in current circumstances – that would require an end to authoritarian party control, space for internal pluralism, and the local right to choose election candidates freely.

For Labour in particular, such an upheaval would mean a reconstitution of the party. But without a profound change in the kind of people who are chosen as MPs and a reconnection between electors and elected, underpinned by a right of recall, this crisis of representation will not be overcome.

Nor is there any reason to think that calling an early general election – as now demanded by Tories and Liberal Democrats – would lance the boil. Until the parties have themselves cleared out their more sleazy incumbents, the most likely outcome would be a string of corruption referendums, rather than contests over programmes and policies, with a proliferation of celebrity and clean-hands candidates delivering a Tory landslide on a historically low share of the vote.


The political crisis ­triggered by the Commons expenses scandal is itself linked to the economic crisis that preceded it. Both are the product of an economic model that brooked no alternative, was built on greed and drove people to see themselves as ­consumers rather than citizens. And just as in the case of the economic crash, the constitutional meltdown creates opportunities as well as dangers for progressive and radical politics.

By bringing to a head long-running alienation from mainstream politics at a time when the economic system is seen to have failed, the crisis offers a chance to bust the cosy political cartels that have underpinned it, and create new alliances for a real change of direction. Everything is potentially in play, including the survival of the parties in their current form. If Brown were able to seize the moment, the government could shape the direction of reform.

But there is also a risk that disgust at the antics of the political class can feed a reactionary mood that rejects the idea that politics can improve people's lives and embraces the call for a small state at a time of retrenchment. Not surprisingly, the atmosphere in Downing Street is febrile. As one close ally of the prime minister told me yesterday: "There is a dangerous void. If the governing elite doesn't grab the opportunity, the people will overthrow them."

20 May 2009

Caroline Lucas MEP on expenses

In the Green Party we are interested in using trains to improve public transports, most politicians in contrast are more concerned with the kind of trains that transport gravy...this is from Caroline Lucas's office on her expenses and approach to reform of EU MEP expenses.

In contrast to Caroline, one South East MEP Ashley Mote from UKIP was sent to prison for benefit fraud...any way green should be the automatic alternative to greed on June 4th.

Incidentally if elected I will publish my expenses, I live in a mobile home by the way I will continue to live in it if elected and no it does not have a moat. I have plenty of friends in Brussels, I am sure one of them would rent me a spare room.

There is detailed information available via Caroline's website at http://www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk/euro-parliament/#pay



The Green MEPs were amongst the first to make this information publicly available, and last year took the decision to have their annual accounts fully audited. The auditor’s certificate is available via Caroline's website too. You can also see a breakdown of how she has spent her general allowance in the past year and information about her travel expenditure. She is in the process of compiling the records for previous years, and this will be available shortly.

In the past, Caroline has not published a detailed breakdown of her staff costs because this would involve divulging private information about what individual employees are paid. However, in the light of the increased interest in these issues, she is now working on presenting broad information about what salary bands her staff are working within, and this will be on her website shortly. She can confirm that all staff costs are met by the £12,000 per month allowance, that she does not employ any members of her family, and that she has 3 full time and 4 part time members of staff.

Caroline owns one property, which is her family home. MEPs receive a daily allowance, when they attend official meetings in Brussels or Strasbourg, to cover accommodation and food. No receipts are required since this is a lump sum payment (298 Euro), made if MEPs sign the official register. During official plenaries of the Parliament, the amount is halved if a Member is not present for 50% of the roll-call votes.


The Green MEPs use a service provider (the Green MEP Trust) to manage their allowances, to ensure proper accounting for the public money they receive from the European Parliament. This is an independent body, administered by a voluntary board. MEP staff are employees of the Trust, and salaries are paid direct from the European Parliament.


As a member of the cross-party Campaign for Parliamentary Reform, Caroline has long called for the introduction of an efficient and transparent system for reimbursing members’ expenses. For example, as long ago as 2004, she demanded that there should be an obligation on MEPs to provide supporting documents for at least 50% of the General Allowance. The majority of members of the two biggest parliamentary groups, the Conservatives and Socialists, blocked this proposal.

Thanks to the pressure brought about by the Greens and others, the rules for MEP travel allowances will be changed as of July 2009, so that MEPs will be reimbursed for the actual cost of a journey, rather than on the basis of a lump-sum. Greens argued that this change should have been introduced years ago, but again, other parties have blocked their proposals.

Caroline has also been in the forefront of the campaign to abolish the European Parliament’s monthly move to Strasbourg, which is both hugely costly and environmentally damaging. You can see her report on this at http://www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk/2007/04/12/test-report-1/



The Green Party also has proposals for how the Westminster system could be improved, which we hope will go some way to renewing confidence in the political system. You can read more about these in Caroline's article about the recent expenses debacle at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2009/may/15/green-westminster-mps-expenses

Hustings in Oxford nextweek

Well another husting next week.

The British political establishment is crumbling with the expenses scandal and happily the Green vote is rising.

Unhappily the right wing vote is also rising for UKIP and the BNP.

Also the economic catastrophe and the environmental crisis are in danger of being ignored.

Any way if you are free next tuesday come along to the Oxford husting and insult me in person or ask me something tricky.

Hustings for the European Elections 1.00 to 2.00 pm Tuesday 26th May at St Michael at the North Gate, Oxford.

18 May 2009

Only Cure for a Dying Earth May Be a Stewardship Revolution

If we mean commons, this is a non violent revolution I could support!

EARTH MEANDERS 2.0
Only Cure for a Dying Earth May Be a Stewardship Revolution

May 17, 2009
By Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet
Earth Meanders come from Earth's Newsdesk, http://www.ecoearth.info/newsdesk/
http://www.ecoearth.info/earthmeanders/

If Gaia, the Earth System, is alive, then it stands to reason she can die. And the fact Gaia has not yet succumbed in past mass extinctions is no indication, and certainly no guarantee, that when hit simultaneously, in a geological flash of time -- with climate change, deforestation, toxics, soil loss, scarce freshwater, dead oceans and more; caused primarily by over-population and inequitable consumption -- that Gaia will not pass from being.

The degree to which humanity has changed Gaia's balance ecologically is clearly known by global change and ecological science, yet it is not well appreciated by most of the masses and ruling elite. Until it is, humanity and our sister species are careening towards global ecosystem collapse, where one day soon we will wake up on a toxic, largely lifeless planet and it will be too late.

If all entreaties to power to pursue necessary policies to avoid global ecosystem collapse continue to be rebuffed, there is a long tradition of protest culminating in revolution to draw upon as inspiration for a Stewardship Revolution. We need to steel ourselves to the possibility that environmentalism in the face of continued neglect by the ruling elite has become a battle for shared survival of our and all being.


Can the Earth System Collapse into a Lifeless and Uninhabitable Biosphere?

It is now generally accepted that the Earth System -- the sum total of natural life-giving ecosystems into the one biosphere, sometimes referred to as Gaia -- can in some important aspects be viewed as alive. This includes the ability as a super-organism to self-regulate its internal environment. Thus nutrients and energy flow between seas and forests, from water to oceans, and back again, in the (until now) seemingly endless rhythms of natural life. This habitat is our and all life's home.

When you study, research and observe these issues for decades, as I have, it becomes apparent that like any biological system, the Earth can die, and is already needlessly and prematurely dying now. I will not review the voluminous ecological science that indicates that uniformly global ecosystems are in decline and have already started to collapse. Google searches on "ocean dead zones", "water scarcity", "ecosystem collapse" to say nothing of "deforestation extinction" and "abrupt climate change", make this abundantly clear. I have spent a lifetime building environmental search and news tracking portals including http://www.ecoearth.info/ that catalogue and make accessible what is known about Gaia's looming demise.

Or you can walk outside and note how many native plants you see, what percentage of your landscape is intact ecosystem, what is required to make your water drinkable, and note changing seasonality. And if you are truly interested in your and your children's survival you may even read! Start with "Limits to Growth", move towards the "Millennium Ecosystem Assessment", and continue by getting a degree in ecology and/or global change. Most of what is necessary to diagnose Gaia's condition and propose sufficient, transformative ecological policies is already known.

I am frequently derided for saying the Earth is dying, as doing so will only cause despair. My response is that ecological truth exists, and it will be impossible to solve merging global eco-crises without an accurate assessment of the severity of the matter. Those that resist this ecological knowledge do so out of dogmatic ideologies, of which they may not even be aware. They are cut off from the web of life and unaware of the essentially ecological nature of being.

It is particularly troubling that so many people find comfort in the far from certain notion that "Earth will survive" no matter what after humanity's own demise. Given evolution is not guided by purpose, there is no such guarantee. Any one of the past five mass extinctions could have ended with a loss of complex or even all life. Because life has survived mass extinction to evolve again into ever greater diversity and complexity does not mean it necessarily will do so.

This is particularly so when, as now, not only are species becoming extinct, but the biogeochemical nature of Earth's environment is fundamentally shifting and may move outside the bounds of what is habitable. Gaia is now being bombarded by major biological and ecological change, in a never before seen barrage in all manners of ecological decline, and at an unheard of rate of change.

Both lands and seas have been, and continue to be, scoured of their unique life. The current atmospheric composition is historically unprecedented, threatening long-established climatic patterns. Gaia's lifeblood, water, is treated as a bottomless sewer. Ancient soils are eroding, countless species passing, remaining ecosystems are accumulating dangerous nitrogen; and all this is occurring within a toxic soup of untested chemicals that may have unknown deadly synergies.

Most of these profound biogeochemical changes have occurred in a mere 300 years. Today's Earth system is struggling under the pressure of 7 billion super-predators and their billions of livestock, which have and continue to grow at a super exponential rate. Under the dominant growth paradigm, each of these unique individuals want and expect ever more consumption, procreation and money/power; which can only come at the expense of more ecosystem loss. At some point, like a shirt having pieces cut from it, this will prove to be too much, and the fabric of being will fall apart.

Something has to break under such a scenario, and unfortunately it is global ecosystems which are required to make Earth habitable. Systems theory shows definitively that exponentially growing systems in positive feedback eventually tear themselves apart and collapse. Technology extends but does not eliminate limits to growth. Given widespread dismantling of the ecosystems that have made Earth livable for eons, who is to say that Earth dying is not a distinct possibility?
As a Conservation Biologist, I could spend my life writing scientific papers to illustrate these points, typing as Earth burns, knowledge that already exists, and will not be much read. Alternatively, I could join with other scientists in a controlled experiment on our one shared biosphere -- essentially what is proposed by geo-engineering solutions to climate change -- and see if dismantling ecosystems one by one and haphazardly eventually leads to destruction of the biosphere.

Or as a Political Ecologist, I can trust a lifetime of ecological learning and intuition, and the findings of thousands of eminently more qualified scientists, and work together with others that have been similarly ecologically enlightened to promote the sufficient social change and personal transformation necessary to reverse ecological decline. I have chosen the latter. Please join us.


Can We Discuss Escalating Earth Protest and If Necessary a Stewardship Revolution?

I strongly believe we need to steel ourselves to the possibility that Earth has been so buffeted by humans that it is dying. And if this is the case, then we are in a fight for our lives and need to act with the requisite courage and resolve to ensure Earth and all creatures' existence continue. Once having realized a state of ecological awareness, together we can will a just, equitable and sustainable Earth and society into being.

My scientific prediction that Earth is dying could be wrong. Regardless, clearly there is going to be mass starvation, chronic water shortages and major flooded cities as a result of climate change and attendant ecological crises. This is established fact that is indeed already happening. The death of hundreds of millions if not billions in the coming century is bad enough and should warrant some serious policy changes. Whether Gaia and humanity actually die, or just wish they had; clearly profound changes in birth rates, equitable consumption and use of natural resources -- a Stewardship Revolution -- is required if Gaia is to be stabilized and restored, and descent into an apocalyptic dystopia avoided.

Americans, the French and much of the world have a long and illustrious history of revolutionary thought and action that is celebrated to this day. Revolutionary wars were fought to establish liberty and freedom, that however incomplete, nonetheless largely banished monarchial tyranny (excepting the last U.S. President). There are periods in history where questions of survival and justice required conflict for what was just and true, and sometimes just what was necessary to survive.

Both Gandhi and King brought a powerful new tactic of non-violent struggle to social movements. And indeed we should use these tactics, but not necessarily exclusively as these are different times with different imperatives and constraints. The extent of the necessary social change, intransigence of ruling elite, and severe time constraints whereby past certain tipping points it is too late, are unprecedented.

What I am proposing is a serious dialogue to consider whether escalating protest actions may be required to transform and, if necessary, overthrow the global political and economic systems that are liquidating life-giving ecosystems for a throw-away consumer society for some. It is possible to envision a radicalized ecological sustainability movement that would move through an escalating series of protest actions -- from civil disobedience, through sabotage, and if need be violent acts of revolution -- until necessary changes for our shared survival like ending coal, tar sands and old forest logging occur.

The seeds for such a movement are already there as increasingly creative, and at times militant, protest is occurring globally, for example against coal and whaling. This would need to be grown as a movement as rapidly as possible, helping distraught and soulless consumers to reconnect with Earth. This is where the non-violent mass sit-ins, occupation of buildings, obstruction of loggers, whalers and miners would occur. We all hope mass mobilization of global citizens solves the problems.

Yet, global ecological crises are so acute, and so immediate, that it could be made known that if initial peaceful protest fails to immediately achieve ecologically sufficient action, that some in the protest movement would escalate to sabotaging equipment and property used to dismantle ecosystems. It would seem evident that surgical strikes against property of known people and organizations profiting from and causing a dying Earth would be far preferable to any sort of indiscriminate terrorism, which should be avoided.

Clearly global ecological sustainability rises to the level of inalienable rights and duties that must be defended at all costs. No ecology, and there is no economy, art, sport or anything else. An Earth insurgency with the globe as its battlefield may become necessary, and should be planned for along with other tactics. Industrial society is far more fragile than it appears. The history of past and ongoing insurgencies shows that a couple tens of thousands of dedicated Earth insurgents -- after due warning that continued governmental failure would be met with resistance -- could certainly find a plethora of soft targets in the industrial growth machine.

A leaderless movement of autonomous cells committed to defending their bioregion would be virtually impossible to stop, could significantly raise the price of ecocide, and just may pull the Earth eating growth machine down. What a life to be had: by day agrarian, relocalized democracy; and at night ruthlessly destroying the destroyers. This could not be merely tokenism; it would be about ending the disease of tar sands, coal, old forest logging and elite rule and inequity based upon plundering of natural ecosystems.

As a last ditch effort to save Gaia and ourselves, a Stewardship Revolution would need to be swift, lethal, relentless and uncompromising to succeed. As with any insurgency, people could choose to partake to the level with which they feel comfortable. If conditions continue to worsen ecologically and the Earth slaying elite remain intransigent, some may choose to carry out targeted, well-conceived violent actions. Others may limit themselves to providing support and comfort for those carrying out the fight, as well as helping those displaced from industrial society to reconnect to the land.

I do not condone nor do I mean to imminently incite such actions, but the point is the Earth is dying, and there is no sufficient plan to stop the ecocide. The idea of a Stewardship Revolution deserves at least to be considered. The time may be now to issue a warning to governments that failure to aggressively and ambitiously act on climate change at Copenhagen at the end of 2009 will mean radicalization of resistance to the status quo Earth destroying economic and political systems.

Earth and humanity, both of which I love very much, are dying; and all free thinking men and women of good faith should be willing to consider all alternatives necessary to save our and posterity's being. And thank Gaia for previous revolutions, which in my country give me the freedom to academically think and write these thoughts. Discussing requirements for actions to achieve global ecological sustainability is not a thought crime. It may be the only way home to global ecological sustainability.


Gaia willing, Dr. Barry will be further elaborating on these ideas in the forthcoming book "New Earth Rising" coming soon. Discuss this essay at: http://bit.ly/dying_earth

Greens soar on MP expenses scandal

In a YouGov poll to be released tomorrow (Monday 18 May), 34% of respondents said they would either definitely be voting Green or would consider voting Green. This is the highest percentage ever to indicate potential support for the Greens.

Interestingly, the largest group who would consider switching were LibDem voters. It's far more common for the Greens to attract former Labour voters, who were the second largest group considering switching. Also interesting was the fact that around one-fifth of those considering switching were Conservative voters - the group normally the least likely to switch to Green.

**Potential Green surge?**

With the expenses row in full flow, and UKIP considered unlikely to benefit from voters' anger at other parties' sleaze thanks to its own frequently-criticised record, the Greens are not ruling out a potential surge like that in 1989, when 2.2 million Britons voted Green in the European elections.

But even a much smaller swing from the big three could be enough to win new Green seats in several regions, as well as holding the party's existing seats in London and the South East.

**Green support in general polls jumps from 6% to 11%**

A general voter-intention poll this week for the _Sun_ newspaper found that 6% were definitely intending to vote Green.

But in a poll commissioned by UKIP and published today, the Greens are showing on 11% - enough to win seats in several regions beyond the existing seats in London and South East.

The Greens have pointed out that they are often underestimated in opinion polls ahead of European elections. For example in 1989 pre-election polls were showing the Greens on 7-8%, but the actual Green vote turned out to be 15%.

**Greens determined to deny BNP leader a parliamentary seat**

In the North West the Green campaign includes an especially strong element geared to keeping BNP leader Nick Griffin out of the European Parliament. In the North West, the big three parties are expected to take seven seats - and the eighth will almost certainly go, as usual, to the highest-polling of the smaller parties. So if the Greens finish ahead of the BNP, the Greens will take the eighth seat and Nick Griffin's electoral ambitions will be thwarted.

Peter Cranie, top Green candidate in the North West, commented:

"This 34% is the best indication we've ever had that people would consider voting Green.

"And the other poll showing us at 11% is extremely encouraging, not least because the Greens have always been underestimated in polls before Euro-elections. In 1989 we were showing at 7-8% but we got 15%. And we only need about 8% in some regions to win seats

"We do expect that the current disenchantment with the big three parties will prompt more people to take a second look at the Greens. Our Euro-election broadcast has been very well received and we believe our million-jobs manifesto is going to strike a chord with a lot of people.

"When it comes down to it, we're the only party in this election that (a) isn't mired in sleaze and (b) is putting forward a positive vision."

He added: "There is still a lot of speculation about disillusioned Labour voters voting BNP as a protest. But I really can't see why left-of-centre voters would want to vote for the extremist far right.

"And it would be too ironic for UKIP to pick up votes off the back of other parties' sleaze."

**Greens hit the mark with campaign themes**

The poll also asked which issues the Green Party should focus on in its campaigning. The top two answers, both on 40%, were economy and environment/climate change - the two issues the Green Party had already selected to focus on for the local and European elections. The party's Euro-election manifesto was titled _"It's the economy, stupid"_ - a tongue-in-cheek reference to US President's Bill Clinton's election-winning watchword and to the Greens' belief that only massive investment in green industries can tackle climate change.

**Notes**

1. The YouGov poll regarding voter intentions was commissioned by the Green Party and asked only about whether respondents would consider voting Green.

2. The exact question regarding campaign themes was: "Thinking about the next twelve months which three or four of the following areas do you think the Green Party should make its priorities for campaigning? [Please tick up to four options.]"

3. The YouGov poll surveyed 2,046 adults in Great Britain.

URL: http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2009-05-17-poll.html


Published and promoted by Tracy Dighton-Brown for the Green Party of England & Wales, both at 1a Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ.

8 May 2009

Free Heroin for the power hungry says Mumia

EMERGENCY RALLY FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL 5/8/09
4-6 PM, ADAM CLAYTON POWELL, JR. STATE OFFICE BLDG.
163 WEST 125TH ST., HARLEM USA!
******************************


A Party of One
[col. writ. 4/30/09] (c) '09 Mumia Abu-Jamal


That great observer of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville noted that U.S. political parties were like nations at war with one another.

While that's certainly true when it comes to the average rank-and-file party members, who work, sweat, bite and fight against their political opponents for ascendancy, the same cannot be said of those at the highest levels.

That is but one lesson to emerge from the abrupt party-shift of U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, who, up until til quite recently was the senior Republican senator from Pennsylvania, and among the institution's longest-serving.

Facing an increasingly difficult primary election in the fall, he ditched the party on which he has run and won (as a senator) for almost 30 years, and cast his lot with the opposing majority party (Democrats)

Political pundits and talking heads went almost apoplectic in their overheated responses and predictions. "Earth-shattering!", said one. "An earthquake!", said another. In moments, they counted his votes on Democratic bills and proposals that had yet to be written.

The truth was quite simple: he wanted to win re-election, and he couldn't do it in the GOP.

It's often been said that the Senate is a millionaire's club; but it's more. It's one of the most exclusive clubs on earth. It's only 100 men and women, who are essentially princes and princesses of power. In each U.S. state, only 2 people can sit in the Senate, and once in, it's quite difficult to lose an election. Because Specter had an irritating independence streak, his upcoming Republican primary would've been among those seen as unsure.

Richard J. Needham said, "Power is a drug on which the politicians are hooked."

Power. That's it.

Specter, who has spent his adult life as a prince, didn't feel like giving up that incredible power. And his switch virtually insures that he won't have to.

By switching parties he gives the Democrats one vote closer to a bulletproof majority -- to 60 votes with which they can virtually run the table (assuming former comedian Al Franken can hold his lead over the GOP's Norman Coleman). By so doing, he virtually insures that his former party-mates will be powerless, as without 41 votes, they can't stage a filibuster - or effectively block any legislation.

He therefore becomes the most powerful member of that body, for his vote becomes crucial.

The great wit, Alexander Pope said, "Party-spirit...which at best is but the madness of many for the gain of the few."

Arlen Specter is a Party unto himself.

--(c) '09 maj

6 May 2009

Debate with me in Oxfordshire

As you can see this is a press release from the European movement, come and here me debate if you live near Culham!

08/05/2009 19:00 - 21:30
ES Culham: Schuman Hall
PRESS RELEASE from the European Movement Oxfordshire Branch

The Oxfordshire Branch of the European Movement is organising an "Any Questions on Europe" panel of European Parliament candidates this Friday 8th May at the European School in Culham. Sparks are expected to fly as candidates from the political parties compete for support in this Open Public meeting, answering questions from the audience which they have no notice of.

This event will follow the format of a similar event in Oxford a couple of months ago, chaired by the branch president, Lord Hurd of Westwell, which was considered to have been entertaining and a good example of knockabout political debate. Students, parents and staff of the European School are expected to attend and participate in the event on Friday.

On this occasion the chairman will be Oxfordshire resident Lord Jay of Ewelme, former British ambassador in France and Head of the Diplomatic Service. A cross-bench member of the House of Lords, he is chairman of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, and is a director of various companies and charities.

The members of the panel so far confirmed will be:
James Elles MEP (Conservative)
David Grace (Lib Dem)
Philip Vander Elst (UKIP)
Dr Derek Wall (Green Party)
Labour have promised that they will be providing one of their candidates to participate in the event, but have yet to provide a name.

The meeting starts at 7.00 p.m. at the European School, Culham.

For further information, please contact the chairman of the Oxfordshire Branch, Alan Armitage, on 07799-892385 or oxford92@aol.com

ends...

Notes:

The European Movement was founded in 1948 by Winston Churchill, as a membership organisation helping to promote the unification of Europe through provision of education and information. It is non party-political, and now operates across the 27 member states of the European Union. The Oxfordshire Branch provides speakers to schools and other educational institutions in the county, and holds public meetings typically four times a year. Recent speakers have included Lord Kinnock, Chris Huhne MP, James Elles MEP and Prof Kalypso Nicolaidis (Director of the European Studies Centre of Oxford University).

James Elles was was first elected an MEP for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire in 1984. He was Vice-Chairman of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament 1999-2004 and was Conservative spokesman for Budgets in the European Parliament 1994-2000.

David Grace is now based in Somerset, but previously worked in Brussels within the institutions of the EU advising individuals and organisations on regional and environmental matters. He is on the Liberal Democrat list for the South-East.

Philip Vander Elst is a freelance writer and lecturer. A former officer of the Oxford Union, he has worked on the staff of the Centre for Policy Studies and the Institute of Economic Affairs, and has been a Director of the Freedom Association. He is No.4 candidate for UKIP in the South East Region..

Dr Derek Wall is an experienced Green political campaigner, published author and journalist. He was Male Principal Speaker of the Green Party of England and Wales. He describes himself as an eco-socialist and stresses the importance of combining electoral politics and non-violent direct action (NVDA) to effect change.

5 May 2009

May Day -- for the Many!

May Day -- for the Many!
[speech writ. 4/30/09] (c) '09 Mumia Abu-Jamal


Ona Move! LLJA!

As May Day is celebrated by some, others focus on the minor notes played by immigrants, and the song they sing is one of anger, hatred and division.

But that's because they're being played by the corporate media, and the corporate-driven state, and the siren's song of nationalism.

May Day should be a day of workers celebration; but what's there to celebrate today? Joblessness? Foreclosures? Homelessness?

May Day would be a day of celebration if workers organized across national borders. Imagine if the UAW (United Auto Workers) joined not only with auto workers in Canada, but in Mexico as well. Wouldn't it be more powerful today, than it is?

But the crippling of unions can be traced to the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) pact, pushed and sold under Bill Clinton, a base betrayal of millions who voted for him from labor, to serve corporate greed.

NAFTA shipped manufacturing jobs to places where labor was cheaper, like Mexico. It also opened up Mexican markets to U.S. businesses, thus driving these markets out of business, and fueling the immigration north for millions of Mexicans seeking jobs.

When labor organizes globally, it protects jobs globally.

NAFTA globalized capital -- why not globalize unionized labor?

Until this happens, workers will continue to lose jobs -- and social power!

Ona Move! LLJA!

Thank you!

1 May 2009

ECOSOCIALISM - FOR A SOCIETY OF GOOD ANCESTORS!

My good friend Ian Angus will be speaking in Britain on 12 September

ECOSOCIALISM - FOR A SOCIETY OF GOOD ANCESTORS!
(Part One)

By Ian Angus

[Ian Angus was a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads: Fighting for Socialism in the 21st Century conference , in Sydney Australia, April 10-12, 2009. The event, which drew 440 participants from more than 15 countries, was organized by Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. The following is Ian's talk to the plenary session on "Confronting the climate change crisis: an ecosocialist perspective." He has lightly edited the text for publication.]

The world is getting hotter, and the main cause is greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity. Enormous damage has already been done, and we will have to live with the consequences of past emissions for decades, perhaps even centuries. Unless we rapidly and drastically cut emissions, the existing damage will turn to catastrophe.

Anyone who denies that is either lying or somehow unaware of the huge mass of compelling scientific evidence.

Many publications regularly publish articles summarizing the scientific evidence and outlining the devastation that we face if action isn't taken quickly. I highly recommend Green Left Weekly as a continuing source. I'm not going to repeat what you've undoubtedly read there.

But I do want to draw your attention to an important recent development. Last month, more than 2500 climate scientists met in Copenhagen to discuss the state of scientific knowledge on this subject. And the one message that came through loud and clear was this: it's much worse than we thought.

What were called "worst case scenarios" two years ago by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change actually understated the problem. The final statement issued by the Copenhagen conference declared: "The worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realized …"

Nicholas Stern, author of the landmark 2006 study, The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change now says, "We underestimated the risks … we underestimated the damage associated with the temperature increases … and we underestimated the probability of temperature increases."


Seventeen years of failure - with one exception

Later this year, the world's governments will meet, again in Copenhagen, to try to reach a new post-Kyoto climate treaty. Will they meet the challenge of climate change that is much worse than expected?

The politicians' record does not inspire hope.

Seventeen years ago, in June 1992, 172 governments, including 108 heads of state, met at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

That meeting produced the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the first international agreement that aimed "to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a low enough level to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." In particular, the industrialized countries promised to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels.

Like the Kyoto Accord that followed it, that agreement was a failure. The world's top politicians demonstrated their gross hypocrisy and their indifference to the future of humanity and nature by giving fine speeches and making promises - and then continuing with business as usual.

But there was one exception. In Rio one head of state spoke out strongly, and called for immediate emergency action - and then returned home to support the implementation of practical policies for sustainable, low-emission development.

That head of state was Fidel Castro.

Fidel began his brief remarks to the plenary session of the 1992 Earth Summit with a blunt description of the crisis: "An important biological species is in danger of disappearing due to the fast and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions: mankind. We have become aware of this problem when it is almost too late to stop it."

He placed the blame for the crisis squarely on the imperialist countries, and he finished with a warning that emergency action was needed: "Tomorrow it will be too late to do what we should have done a long time ago."

After the 1992 Earth Summit, only the Cubans acted on their promises and commitments.

In 1992 Cuba amended its constitution to recognize the importance of "sustainable economic and social development to make human life more rational and to ensure the survival, well-being and security of present and future generations." The amended constitution obligates the provincial and municipal assemblies of People's Power to implement and enforce environmental protections. And it says that "it is the duty of citizens to contribute to the protection of the waters, atmosphere, the conservation of the soil, flora, fauna and nature's entire rich potential."

The Cubans have adopted low-fertilizer agriculture, and encouraged urban farming to reduce the distances food has to travel. They have replaced all of their incandescent light bulbs with fluorescents, and distributed energy efficient rice cookers. They have stepped up reforestation, nearly doubling the island's forested area, to 25% in 2006.

As a result of these and many other projects, in 2006 the World Wildlife Federation concluded that Cuba is the only country in the world that meets the criteria for sustainable development.

By contrast, the countries responsible for the great majority of greenhouse gas emissions followed one of two paths. Some gave lip service to cleaning up their acts, but in practice did little or nothing. Others denied that action was needed and so did little or nothing.

As a result we are now very close to the tomorrow that Fidel spoke of, the tomorrow when it is too late.


Why Cuba?

The World Wildlife Federation deserves credit for its honesty in reporting Cuba's achievements. But the WWF failed to address the next logical question. Why was Cuba the exception? Why could a tiny island republic in the Caribbean do what no other country could do?

And the next question after that is, why have the richest countries in the world not cut their emissions, not developed sustainable economies? Why, despite their enormous physical and scientific resources, has their performance actually gotten worse?

The first question, why Cuba could do it, was answered not long ago by Armando Choy, a leader of the Cuban revolution who has recently headed the drive to clean up Havana Bay. His explanation was very clear and compelling:

"This is possible because our system is socialist in character and commitment, and because the revolution's top leadership acts in the interests of the majority of humanity inhabiting planet earth - not on behalf of narrow individual interests, or even simply Cuba's national interests."

General Choy's comments reminded me of a passage in Capital, a paragraph that all by itself refutes the claim that is sometimes made, that Marxism has nothing in common with ecology. Karl Marx wrote:

"Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations."

I've never known any socialist organization to make this point explicitly, but Marx's words imply that one of the key objectives of socialism must be to build a society in which human beings work consciously to be Good Ancestors.

And that is what the Cubans are doing in practice.

The idea that we must act in the present to build a better world for the future, has been a theme of the Cuban revolutionary movement since Fidel's great 1953 speech, History Will Absolve Me. That commitment to future generations is central to what has justly been called the greening of the Cuban revolution.

The Cubans are committed, not just in words but in practice, to being Good Ancestors, not only to future Cubans, but to future generations around the globe.


Why not capitalism?

But what about the other side of the question? Why do we not see a similar commitment in the ruling classes of Australia, or Canada, or the United States?

If you ask any of them individually, our rulers would undoubtedly say that they want their children and grandchildren to live in a stable and sustainable world. So why do their actions contradict their words? Why do they seem determined, in practice, to leave their children and grandchildren a world of poisoned air and water, a world of floods and droughts and escalating climate disasters? Why have they repeatedly sabotaged international efforts to adopt even half-hearted measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions?

When they do consider or implement responses to the climate crisis, why do they always support solutions that do not work, that cannot possibly work?

Karl Marx had a wonderful phrase for the bosses and their agents - the big shareholders and executives and top managers and the politicians they own - a phrase that explains why they invariably act against the present and future interests of humanity. These people, he said, are "personifications of capital." Regardless of how they behave at home, or with their children, their social role is that of capital in human form.

They don't act to stop climate change because the changes needed by the people of this world are directly contrary to the needs of capital.

Capital has no conscience. Capital can't be anyone's ancestor because capital has no children. Capital has only one imperative: it has to grow.

The only reason for using money to buy stock, launch a corporation, build a factory or drill an oil well is to get more money back than you invested. That doesn't always happen, of course - some investments fail to produce profits, and, as we are seeing today, periodically the entire system goes into freefall, wiping out jobs and livelihoods and destroying capital. But that doesn't contradict the fact that the potential for profit, to make capital grow, is a defining feature of capitalism. Without it, the system would rapidly collapse.

As Joel Kovel says, "Capitalism can no more survive limits on growth than a person can live without breathing."


A system of growth and waste

Under capitalism, the only measure of success is how much is sold every day, every week, every year. It doesn't matter that the sales include vast quantities of products that are directly harmful to both humans and nature, or that many commodities cannot be produced without spreading disease, destroying the forests that produce the oxygen we breathe, demolishing ecosystems, and treating our water, air and soil as sewers for the disposal of industrial waste.

It all contributes to profits, and thus to the growth of capital - and that's what counts.

In Capital, Marx wrote that from a capitalist's perspective, raw materials such as metals, minerals, coal, stone, etc. are "furnished by Nature gratis." The wealth of nature doesn't have to be paid for or replaced when it is used - it is there for the taking. If the capitalists had to pay the real cost of that replacing or restoring that wealth, their profits would fall drastically.

That's true not only of raw materials, but also of what are sometimes called "environmental services" - the water and air that have been absorbing capitalism's waste products for centuries. They have been treated as free sewers and free garbage dumps, "furnished by Nature gratis."

That's what the pioneering environmental economist William Kapp meant nearly sixty years ago, when he wrote, "Capitalism must be regarded as an economy of unpaid costs."

Kapp wrote that capitalism's claims of efficiency and productivity are: "nothing more than an institutionalized cover under which it is possible for private enterprise to shift part of the costs to the shoulders of others and to practice a form of large-scale spoliation which transcends everything the early socialists had in mind when they spoke of the exploitation of man by man."

In short, pollution is not an accident, and it is not a "market failure." It is the way the system works.

How large is the problem? In 1998 the World Resources Institute conducted a major international study of the resource inputs used by corporations in major industrial countries - water, raw materials, fuel, and so on. Then they determined what happened to those inputs. They found that "One half to three quarters of annual resource inputs to industrial economies are returned to the environment as wastes within a year."

Similar numbers are reported by others. As you know, about a billion people live in hunger. And yet, as the head of the United Nations Environmental Program said recently, "Over half of the food produced today is either lost, wasted or discarded as a result of inefficiency in the human-managed food chain."

"Inefficiency" in this case means that it is no profit to be made by preventing food waste - so waste continues. In addition to exacerbating world hunger, capitalism's gross inefficiency poisons the land and water with food that is harvested but not used.


Capitalism's destructive DNA

Capitalism combines an irresistible drive to grow, with an irresistible drive to create waste and pollution. If nothing stops it, capitalism will expand both those processes infinitely.

But the earth is not infinite. The atmosphere and oceans and the forests are very large, but ultimately they are finite, limited resources - and capitalism is now pressing against those limits. The 2006 WWF Living Planet Report concludes, "The Earth's regenerative capacity can no longer keep up with demand - people are turning resources into waste faster than nature can turn waste back into resources."

My only disagreement with that statement is that it places the blame on "people" as an abstract category. In fact the devastation is caused by the global capitalist system, and by the tiny class of exploiters that profits from capitalism's continued growth. The great majority of people are victims, not perpetrators.

In particular, capitalist pollution has passed the physical limit of the ability of nature to absorb carbon dioxide and other gases while keeping the earth's temperature steady. As a result, the world is warmer today than it has been for 100,000 years, and the temperature continues to rise.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions are not unusual or exceptional. Pouring crap into the environment is a fundamental feature of capitalism, and it isn't going to stop so long as capitalism survives. That's why "solutions" like carbon trading have failed so badly and will continue to fail: waste and pollution and ecological destruction are built into the system's DNA.

No matter how carefully the scheme is developed, no matter how many loopholes are identified and plugged, and no matter how sincere the implementers and administrators may be, capitalism's fundamental nature will always prevail.

We've seen that happen with Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism, under which polluters in rich countries can avoid cutting their own emissions if they invest in equivalent emission-reducing projects in the Third World. A Stanford University study shows that two-thirds or more of the CDM emission reduction credits have not produced any reductions in pollution.

The entire system is based on what one observer says are "enough lies to make a sub-prime mortgage pusher blush."

CDM continues not because it is reducing emissions, but because there are profits to be made buying and selling credits. CDM is an attempt to trick the market into doing good in spite of itself, but capitalism's drive for profits wins every time.