31 Dec 2007

2008: Year of the Frog

will produce a cheesy statement of what I want to see in 2008 (capitalism, biofuels and frequent flying being out...ecology, social justice, home cooking and sharing in!)

But for the time being pop a cork to the year of the Frog...to be honest we need a whole ecosystem approach especially stopping habitats from being bulldozed (palm oil no thanks)

Frogs are lovely though are they not? The beauty above is one I guess you can lick to get high, a better alternative than hard drugs or synthetic magical compounds..

The giant monkey frog of Peru is known for its mind-altering skin secretions. Shamans in the Amazon rain forest have used this species in hunting rituals. Like other amphibians from around the world, the giant monkey frog is threatened by climate change and habitat loss. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

Scientists say that without quick action, one-third to one-half the world's frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians could disappear.

The coalition, dubbed "Amphibian Ark", is calling 2008 "The Year of the Frog" in an effort to raise awareness on the plight of dying amphibians, at least 165 types of which are believed to have gone extinct since 1980. Amphibian Ark is seeking to raise $50-60 million as part of a 5-year $400 million Amphibian Conservation Action Plan to establish captive breeding programs for the 500 most threatened species.

While scientists have yet to identify a smoking gun, climate change, pollution, and the emergence of Chytridiomycosis, a deadly and infectious fungal disease which has been linked to global warming and is blamed for one-third of amphibian extinctions since 1980, are the leading suspects for the observed decline.

Although researchers don't yet know the origin of the parasitic chytrid fungus known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, the disease is highly transmissible and spreading fast: the fungus is now found on at least four continents and was recently reported for the first time in Japan.

Akbar Ganji on Iran, WMDs and human rights.

Excellent report translated from Farsi from the key Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji on the socialist unity site...will the US attack Iran with nuclear weapons, unfortunately they could be just mad enough to do so.

Mobilising against war in Iran is essential...

Preventive wars are said to be critical wars of last resort, directed at a “gathering threat” that might in the future dramatically change the balance of power to the advantage of the enemy. There are fundamental doubts about the justifiability of preventive wars, but even if we accept that such wars are justifiable in exceptional circumstances, such circumstances do not exist today. Even if the Iranian government is trying to produce nuclear weapons—despite its claims to the contrary—expert assessments put that goal at least five years away. In the meantime the international community can use non-military options to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. In the words of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s director-general, Mohamed ElBaradei, I don’t see a military solution of the Iranian issue

More here

30 Dec 2007

Stop the clear cutting of Woodlark Island for biofuel

Well if it was all from the not so ample (or ample) arse of the Captain of the Earthrace who would complain, unfortunately the cheapest biofuel is from palm oil and the world is going through an orgy of forest destruction to get it. Everyday new reports come in of forests which are to be clear cut to make way for biofuel plantations, animals under threat and local people rioting to save their lives in the forests.

Papua New Guinea's government were up for the ethical politicians of the year 2008 award for their historic support for climate action...famously jeering the US delegation at Bali and shaming George Bush into support for climate action. Well they have blown their chance, tragically the PNG government have given the go ahead to log Woodlark Island for biofuel.

I am very pleased to have found the Rainforest Portal, there is more obviously to campaigning than sending letters, but the portal flags up all the current threats to rainforests and allows you to take action.

Here goes:

ALERT: Papua New Guinea's Woodlark Island Rainforests to Be Cleared for Oil Palm Agrofuels

TAKE ACTION: The PNG government continues to approve rainforest destruction and diminishment even as they vocally seek to be paid with carbon market funds for their "protection". The oil palm biofuel industry -- the scourge of Asia and the world's rainforests -- is continuing to expand into Papua New Guinea (PNG). Malaysian company Vitroplant has been granted necessary permits by the PNG government to begin clearing 70% of the rainforests on biodiversity rich Woodlark Island, some 60,000 hectares, in order to establish a massive plantation of oil palm trees.

Expansion of oil palm plantations at the expense of primary rainforests runs contrary to PNG's government public support for preserving rainforests for climate and other benefits. An oil palm plantation on Woodlark Island will endanger the island’s flora and fauna, cause environmental upheaval, and result in drastic cultural change. The islanders of Woodlark have worked hard to draw international attention to this issue, and have issued an appeal for the support of international NGOs and citizens to pressure the government to withdraw the project.

There is another excellent report here:

While obviously concerned about environmental damage, Dr. Damon is even more worried about how the palm plantations will affect the unique island culture. He describes the island as one in which humans and animals have lived together in synthesis for millennia. The Woodlark Islanders live off subsistence gardening, herding wild pigs, and occasional hunting. Dr. Damon states that while the islanders are also dependent on rice from abroad, "there remains on the island something of a unique example of a regional social and ecological system that supported human and other life for 2000 and more years." While the island appears wild, few places have been untouched by humans: "areas regularly cut for gardens—fields—were systematically marked by much higher stands of forest that were to be left uncut. There the [Woodlark Cuscus] slept during the day; and there they would be sought the few months of the year when they were valued for their meat and fat; pigs and fish, of course, were vastly preferred... People regularly burned small plots of that larger area to maintain small meadows. These meadows were places for wild pigs to hang out during droughts or floods, tend their young, and hide from humans when the latter sought them for food... Both the high forests and these meadows are associated with sago orchards, which also seem wild, but which are also part of a management strategy effected on this island. The sago was also cut and harvested so that roughly two meters of each tree cut would be left as food for the 'wild' pigs." These management practices of the island’s resources, which may seem unconventional, have left a healthy population of cuscus, wild pigs, humans, and the forests that contain so much other bio-diversity.

29 Dec 2007

General Strike in Pakistan

I have been sent this eye witness report, I am not an expert on Pakistan although I do celeberate the sufi movement in the country which involves tens of millions, perhaps the majority of the country.

I would also like to blog on the green movement in Pakistan, if you are involved in the Pakistan environmental movement I would love to hear from you.

Any way this is a report from the Pakistan Labour Party on the aftermath of the killing of Bhutto protest sweeps the country:

Report from Pakistan: Benazir Bhutto assassination sparks mass protests
By Farooq Tariq

Farooq Tariq is General Secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan and Secretary of the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee (Peasant Coordination Committee).

December 29, 2007 (7am)—Pakistan has never seen so many people protesting in streets all over as been the case during the last two days. They were all united across Pakistan to condemn the brutal murder of Benazir Bhutto. The news was heard with a great shock and there was an immediate mass anger erupted in all parts of Pakistan. December 28 was the first day of a general strike called by many groups ranging from political parties to various professional groups.

Most of elections posters, banners, flags and billboards of Pakistan Muslim League (PMLQ) were the first victim of the mass anger. PMLQ is a General Musharaf creation after 1999; a major split from the Pakistan Muslim League. The rest is headed by Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister. PMLQ has shared power with General Musharaf since 2002 and is comprised of the most corrupt feudalists, capitalists, former army generals and black marketeers.

Mass Reaction

PMLQ had spent billions on these advertising materials, and all that was gone within few hours of mass reaction. It was very proudly claiming that it has done the homework. The work to remove all this anti-people election material was done with utmost sophistication. None of Pakistan Peoples Party or Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz election material was removed.

Then it was the banks, mainly in Sind. They were attacked, and the buildings were burned in many cities of Sind. Most of ATM machines were destroyed. In some places, people were lucky to bring some money home. Banks had made unprecedented profits during the last few years. There was no free banking any more as had been the case earlier from sixties.

Hundreds of private buses were burned in all parts of the country. The fares had gone too high during Musharaf's eight years of rule. There were no more public buses. Most of PMLQ government ministers had their own bus companies and were making huge gains out of mass poverty.

There were also incidents of burning of railway trains in Sind. According to Daily Jang, 28 railway stations, 13 railway engines, and seven trains have been burnt, resulting in over three billion rupees [$50 million] loss. The rail fares were increased by many folds by Musharaf regime in a bid to reduce the railway losses. It has been partly privatized as well. The whole rail system has collapsed since the night of December 27. Thousands of passengers are on the railway stations waiting for restoration. There is no sign of restoration for some days. Pakistan International Airlines PIA and two private airlines, Air Blue and Shaheen Air, have cancelled all their domestic flights on the name of "rescheduling." The staff did not turn up.

Thousands of private cars have been damaged all over Pakistan by the angry mob, mainly youth. They were showing their anger on the car companies' (mainly Toyota, Suzuki and Honda) unprecedented profits during the last few years. Many leasing companies have robbed the growing middle classes by offering cars with abnormal prices, while the massive majority of population have no more subsidized public transport.

The houses and offices of PMLQ politicians, local government's mayors and administration are the other victims of the mass reaction. They have either been burnt or damaged.

Over 100 people have so far died in the incidents relation to mass protest, either by police or by cross firing of different groups during the last 40 hours.

Slogans against Musharaf and Washington

Thousands and thousands have raised slogans against Musharaf regime and American imperialism after the death of Benazir Bhutto. The anger was accumulated during the last eight years and was manifested after this unthinkable incident. This was a response of the masses to the strict implementation of neoliberal agenda, which resulted in unprecedented price hike, unemployment and poverty. The anger that was to be shown in boycotting or participating in the elections has come out early after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

There is a great anti-Musharaf consciousness all over. It is been shown in different ways in different part of the country in different degree. The so-called capitalist economic growth under Musharaf has left millions in absolute poverty. There was no "Pakistan shining" as was propagated by the dictatorship all the times.

The 2007 has been a year of mass awakening. It started with advocate [lawyer] movement after the removal of chief justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan. The chief justice Iftikhar Choudry said a big "No" to resigning under pressure by the Generals. He was removed only to be reinstated on July 20 after a massive movement of 80,000 lawyer's community. They were joined by political activists from almost all political parties but not by the masses. The masses only welcomed the chief justice from the side roads and did not participate in the movement in real terms.

Musharaf got himself elected as president for the second five-year term in a "democratic manner" by a parliament elected for one five-year term. He was still wearing a military uniform when elected as "civilian" president. His theme was "elect me president for the second term and I will take off uniform after taking oath as civilian president."

Lawyer's movement

The November imposition of martial law on the name of emergency was used to remove the rather independent top judges of Pakistan. It put restrictions on the media, and over 10,000 were arrested. Musharaf got himself duly "elected president" and took off his uniform after removing the top judges. His hand-picked judges gave him all the necessary backing. He was helped in this process by Benazir Bhutto, who was forced into (in Tariq Ali's word) a "forced arranged marriage" by U.S. and British imperialism. In this unholy alliance, every one was cheating everyone with utmost honestly.

The general elections were announced for January 8 and the emergency lifted after the large-scale repression and removal of independent judiciary. The regime was happy that everything is going according to "plan." The Pakistan Peoples Party of Benazir Bhutto and Muslim League Nawaz and Quid Azam (PMLQ), the three major parties, had agreed to participate in these fraudulent elections. The religious fundamentalist political alliance MMA had split on the question of participation in elections. One major part of MMA had gone to contest elections.

The campaign for and boycott the election had started when the religious fundamentalists struck and killed Benazir Bhutto on December 27 evening. The "plan" was shattered into pieces. It was big blow to agreed terms and conditions of various participating parties in the elections. It was not a bump on the road but a total destruction of the road of conciliations and compromises.

The murder of Benazir Bhutto is a double-edged sword. While it is big blow to the plans of British and American imperialism, it will also be no celebration for the religious fundamentalist forces. The initial anger has gone against the military regime and its crony politicians. It can go against the both. No party will be able to celebrate the shocking killings.

But Musharaf regime has understood this clearly and now is trying consciously to put the direction of the movement against the religious fundamentalists. Last night on December 28, in a two-hour press conference, a military brigadier representing the government named Baitullah Mehsud, an Al-Qaeda associate in tribal areas of Pakistan, as the one who carried out the attack.

Foolishly he tried his best to prove that Benazir Bhutto was not killed by a bullet but by the lever of sun roof of the bullet proof car while Benazir Bhutto was waving to crowds outside after the bomb blast. What difference it makes, if it is proved that Benazir Bhutto is killed not by the bullet but by another way? Not much.

The military brigadier's explanation did not satisfy the angry journalists who asked him again and again about the connections of secret intelligence agencies of Pakistan with Abdullah Mahsood. The question of why Mahsood released quietly over 200 Pakistan army men on the day of imposition of emergency, who were kidnapped by his group a week earlier, went unanswered. The military Inter Services Intelligence ISI has a long-time relationship with the religious fundamentalist groups dating back to eighties, when imperialists and fundamentalists were close friends.

Volatile, dangerous and capricious

It is very volatile, unstable, unpredictable, explosive, dangerous, impulsive, fickle and capricious political situation. It never happened before in many years that mass reaction has erupted to this degree.

The general strike was a total success. All roads were empty. No traffic at all. All shops were closed. All industrial and other institutions were completely shut down.

After the initial inhibition to curb the strike, the regime has now issued strict orders to kill anyone on the spot if it is "looting" anything. It has called the regular army in 16 districts of Sind and paramilitary forces elsewhere in Pakistan.

The regime has so for not postponed the scheduled elections but it is very difficult to hold elections in this situation. Muslim League Nawaz and several other political parties have already announced to boycott the fraudulent elections.

Labour Party Pakistan is demanding an immediate resignation of the Musharaf dictatorship and formation of an interim government comprising of civil society organizations, trade unions and peasant organizations. This is to hold free and fair general elections under an independent election commission. It is demanding an immediate restoration of top judges and investigations of the murder of Benazir and others in this and previous bomb blasts by these top judges. As part of All Parties Democratic Movement, LPP is supporting a three-day general strike and linking it to the overthrow of the military dictatorship. It is asking all parties to reject the general elections fraud on January 8 and to not participate in these elections.

Dogs in danger, coyotes under threat.

I read in the New Scientist about a plan to kill coyotes 'who do $40 million worth of damage' in the US by poisoning them with chocolate...the black stuff kills pets but apparently our faster metabolism can deal with the nasty chemical compound, more here...'Just 240 grams of unsweetened dark chocolate contains enough methylxanthines to kill a 40-kilogram dog, about the size of a German shepherd.
Pest control...the real pests are cutting down the forests for biofuel! (not that I advocate poison as a conservation method even in the case of the government of Papua New Guinea).

My partner's dog tucked enthusiastically into the giant toblerone (which it got hold of while no one was looking) without any obvious ill effect...but your have been warned don't leave your dairy milk around for the pets. Also have a look in a report in Scientific America which is more cautious here

Alison sent me this (below)...thanks Alison....nasty world isn't it...can you believe using live cats and dogs as bait.

Founder member of Greenpeace Paul Watson now heads the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society notorious for confronting the Japanese whaling fleet as they conduct their crucial 'scientific' research. I met one of his crew last year, just before he sailed for Antarctica - talk about live your passion. They have offered various rewards for crimes against sea-life - the fishermen here must be commended for being particularly inventive! Be grateful the pics are blank!

€1,000 (Euros)

For the first successful conviction of a fisherman using a dog or cat as shark bait and €200 for each conviction thereafter
Dogs and cats are also involved in an assault on nature, this time as victims and as bait. On the French island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean, fishermen have been using live dogs and cats as bait for sharks.
This practice is specifically outlawed by French law but the law, as in many places throughout the world, is ignored by fishing communities who apparently believe they are above the law.
The dogs and cats have hooks passed through their snouts or through the tendons in their legs and the hooks are attached to lines and rods. The hapless animals are then tossed into the water where their struggles attract sharks.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has sent a message to the police in La Reunion offering a reward of €1,000 (Euros) for the first successful conviction of a fisherman using a dog or cat as bait and €200 for each conviction thereafter.

The following letter was sent to the Chief of Police on La Reunion Island:

To: The Police
La Reunion Island
The international Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is offering a reward of 200 Euros to any police officer who successfully enforces the law prohibiting the use of dogs and cats as bait for the catching of sharks.
The Society is offering a reward of 1,000 Euros for the first conviction and 200 Euros for each conviction thereafter.
The reward will be paid upon the successful conviction of any person found guilty of using dogs or cats as bait in shark fishing as defined by the laws of France that specifically outlaw this practice.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society wishes to advise all police captains that they may submit the names of officers who have arrested suspects for using dogs or cats as shark bait and that the reward will be paid directly to the officer or officers upon a successful conviction.

dog with hook through nose small dog with hook in foot and leg small dog with hook in foot

La Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Internationale offrira une récompense de 200 Euros à tout officier de police qui renforcera de manière efficace la loi interdisant l’ utilisation de chiens en tant qu’ appât pour attrapper les requins.
La Sea Shepherd Conservation Society offrira une récompense de 1000 Euros pour la première inculpation et 200 Euros pour chaque suivante.
La récompense sera versée au terme de chaque inculpation réussie de toute personne reconnue coupable d’utilisation de chiens en tant qu’appât pour pêcher des requins. Comme il est clairement specifié par les lois de la France, cette pratique est absolument interdite.
La Sea Shepherd Conservation Society tient à informer tous les capitaines de police qu’il pourra s’avérer necessaire de fournir les noms des officiers
ayant arrêté les suspects responsables de l’utilisation de chiens en tant qu’appât à requins. La récompense sera versée directement à ou aux officiers responsables de l’inculpation réussie des dits suspects.
Captain Paul Watson
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The Iceman cometh: A reveiw of Cool It

Lomborg is an unusual climate sceptic because he believes humans are contributing to global warming. In fact, he accepts most of the science behind the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But - and here is the twist - he does not believe that science justifies the degree of concern expressed by the panel and many others. from here

Lomborg believes by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, "probably we can save about 0.06 bears per year." Seriously. As we'll see, Lomborg suffers from an inability to even imagine the possibility of thresholds or tipping points, beyond which irreversible and catastrophic change occur.

Bjorn Lomborg, the great skeptical environmentalist, has an unusual position on climate change. Unlike the Marlboro men and women he does not deny the science behind the IPCC report and with such a prominent opponent of the green movement saying that climate change is occuring, the deniers seem defeated.

What he does argue, to simplify, is that climate change does not matter. It is the old opportunity cost argument, if you spend money on Y you can't spend it on X. World hunger, water shortages and HIV could be tackled if the money spent on preventing climate change was spent on these problems, according to Lomborg. Nuclear weapons, advertising and global tobacco cash could, he forgets to add, be spent instead.

Power and politics are not something he discusses, its a neutral world of cost benefit analysis...that the strong fuck over the poor is not on his agenda. For example, a free/open source software approach to patent medicine is key to helping Africans.

He says some wise things about coastal management, pointing out that removal of mangrove swamps makes 'natural disasters' worse...but ecology is not really an area discussed...the book can only defend the indefensible of 'do nothing/very little' if it tackles head on all the positive feedback mechanisms such as methane from melting permafrost that would create run away climate change. I read the whole book but found no detailed account of feedback mechanisms....they are what makes climate change potentially so devastating.

Lomborg's thesis cannot be defended but his life work by shouting 'do nothing' feeds back into the lack of serious action that he notes is occuring to deal with climate change. Skeptics are skeptical of efforts to deal with climate change arguing that they are irrelevent. The lack of real action is of course a product of the discourse of the skeptics. You can't tell people loudly to do nothing and they complain when they take your advise.

Cure, he argues, such as flood defence, is better than prevention. Imagine Lomborg's approach to cancer...it is the logic of the butcher, even conventional economists are better than this, take a look at any weeks edition of the Economist, I may disagree with their solutions based on carbon markets but even they are saying don't dump global projects to tackle global warming.

Does Lomborg discuss the importance of defending rainforest people who live well and preserving these vital ecosystems...no. I bet he is cheering on the mining corporations, loggers and palm oil plantation people.

Commons regimes as a mechanism for creating prosperity and ecology...no he ignores this area as with many others.

this is un cosa de tonto (a thing of foolishness).

So lets break out the cream pies, Lomborg in this book is probably too marginalised to be dangerous but who knows....he still deserves another pieing.

For a very detailed critique of his crappy book look at Gristmill, Lomborg starts off with the polar bears arguing that they are in no danger from climate change, the critic picks him up on this:

'Paddling across the ice, polar bears are beautiful animals. To Greenland -- part of my own nation, Denmark -- They are a symbol of pride. The loss of this animal would be a tragedy. But the real story of the polar bear is instructive. In many ways, this tale encapsulates the broader problem with the climate-change concern: once you look closely at the supporting data, the narrative falls apart.'

Doubly ironic, then, that the polar bear is doomed thanks to people like Bear Lomborg, who urge inaction. Lomborg says (p. 7) polar bears "may eventually decline, though dramatic declines seem unlikely." Uh, no. Even the Bush Administration's own USGS says we'll lose two-thirds of the world's current polar bear population by 2050 in a best-case scenario for Arctic ice.

How will the bears survive the loss of their habitat? No problem, says Lomborg, they will evolve backwards (p. 6):

'[T]hey will increasingly take up a lifestyle similar to that of brown bears, from which they evolved.'

Seriously. Yet, Wikipedia notes:

According to both fossil and DNA evidence, the polar bear diverged from the brown bear roughly 200 thousand years ago; fossils show that between 10 and 20 thousand years ago the polar bear's molar teeth changed significantly from those of the brown bear.

Doh! Lomborg is giving the bears a few decades to undo tens of thousands of years of evolution. In fact, most experts do not believe the bears can survive the loss of their habitat:

Dr. Andrew Derocher, Chair of the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union (a group whose work Lomborg cites), says:

No habitat, no seals; no seals, no bears ... At the end of the day, the sea ice is disappearing. Take away the habitat and the species follows shortly thereafter (or before).
The 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, (a group whose work Lomborg cites), says:

The survival of polar bears as a species is difficult to envisage under conditions of zero summer sea-ice cover.
A 2004 Canadian study finds:

[G]iven the rapid pace of ecological change in the Arctic, the long generation time, and the highly specialised nature of polar bears, it is unlikely that polar bears will survive as a species if the sea ice disappears completely.
And thanks to delayers like Lomborg, the ice will probably be gone long before the USGS projects, perhaps even by 2030.

But Lomborg believes by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, "probably we can save about 0.06 bears per year." Seriously. As we'll see, Lomborg suffers from an inability to even imagine the possibility of thresholds or tipping points, beyond which irreversible and catastrophic change occur.

More debunking here

28 Dec 2007

Debal Deb: At last a real green!

It's time we reconsidered the existing paradigm of development. The world has been talking about sustainable development. But as one of India's leading ecologists, Debal Deb, says: "It is common understanding among natural scientists that if development means unlimited growth in production and consumption of materials, sustainable development is an oxymoron. That's because unending growth of anything in the universe is impossible - except perhaps the universe itself."

The paradigm is marked by 'free market' rightest who ignore environmental problems even global warming and proclaim the demand for 'liberty', forgetting the corporations fence us all in, what liberty when Ayn Rand's boys and girls sell their butts to giant power magnets...not much!

The alternative is an environmentalism of you guessed it corporations, where environmental 'solutions' like carbon trading and biofuels are used to maintain super profit and Al Gore becomes the new Gandhi.

So the real alternative, grassroots eco development by local people, based on need not greed is forgotten and yes a lot of my work involves fighting for a Green Party based on decentralisation not top down personality politics. Capitalism, yes it isn't fit too eat.

So lets celebrate the work of Debel Deb one of the important people on the planet who campaigns for ecology.

He has an Ecology PHd and on a tiny farm in West Bengal, he has preserved over 500 types of rice.

This article in China Daily outlines his idea of ecodevelopment very much local ecosocialism based on respect for nature.

Josh Kearns visited him and has blogged this amazing account, it is a indeed a wicked world where biofuel boats claim to be green and that fraud Al Gore gets a Nobel Prize instead of Debal Deb:

Debal is confident he has collected every folk variety of rice that still grows anywhere in West Bengal, and several varieties from other locations around India as well. Every year, Debal and his team of farmer/researchers (none of whom have a degree in science or have even been to college) plant out all 542 varieties in 2 meter by 2 meter plots on 1.5 acres of paddy land. As the plants develop, they painstakingly record 35 different phenotypic or morphological characteristics for each variety.

They’re also doing research on a number of techniques that may produce higher yields of rice grains, or result in breeds that can better withstand drought or flooding. Their experiments are showing folk varieties to out-perform Big Agriculture’s so-called high yielding varieties along a number of dimensions. And they are conducting ecological studies of rice ecosystem food webs, observing all the insects, snakes, birds, lizards and other creatures that coexist with the rice.

Their data and conclusions from the various experiments is widely published in the peer-reviewed and popular literature. It is also incorporated into the information commons Debal has set up to protect the rice varieties from biopiracy by corporations like Monsanto. (Monsanto has a habit of taking folk knowledge, patenting it, and selling it back to the people who developed it through the generations for a sizeable profit.)

The accomplishments of the farmer/researchers at Basudha would be impressive coming from a university. But coming from this small plot of land, in the middle-of-nowhere West Bengal (the farm isn’t even connected to the electricity grid, let alone do they have a laboratory), and being produced by a motley group of local peasant farmer-boys led by one wild-eyed, nearly pennyless anti-globalization activist, their work is downright phenomenal. For science of this caliber and relevance to come out of such humble circumstances is nothing short of a miracle.

Basudha is a thriving example of democratic science – science by and for the people. A big reason Debal has no funding (outside of a few private donations from friends here and there) is that getting science like this funded is damn near impossible. You see, Big Science is bosom-buddies with Big Agriculture; and this kind of grassroots, democratic science-for-the-people is not what Monsanto is interested in funding.

More from Josh's blog here.

There is another very nice blog account of his farm here:
When we arrived at Basudha after our arduous journey, we were greeted by Dr. Debal Deb and Rahul, an Indian gentleman who has been doing work in sustainability for many years and is currently traveling all over India. We had a delicious breakfast of fresh puffed rice cereal, tiny sweet bananas and jagary, which is a candy made from boiling sugar cane. It was all very tasty. The cook, Hanu, is very nice and cooks wonderful food that is all local and organic, everything is from the farm except for the potatoes.

He is of course politically active and has supported the struggle at Nandigram, where the Communist Party government of West Bengal has been trying to kick peasants off of their land for a car factory (not unusually for palm oil for biofuel boats)

The valiant struggle of the peasantry in Nandigram against the acquisition of their land and homesteads for the proposed chemical hub SEZ has drawn nationwide attention. Despite the massacre of March 14 and the continuing reign of terror unleashed by the police and hired killers of the ruling party in the state, Nandigram has refused to surrender. On the contrary, it has sparked unprecedented mass protests across West Bengal and elsewhere. People’s movements in various parts of the country against the forcible acquisition of farmlands, forests and other natural resource base of the poor in the name of SEZ and for the so-called industrial projects have also drawn inspiration and sustenance from Nandigram. No wonder, Nandigram has become a major focus of people’s resistance against the neo-liberal agenda that seeks to establish the hegemony of global corporate capitalism.

More here

Deb has written lots of papers and is particularly critical of 'developmentalism' prefering 'get off our backism' so to speak, this cheeky essay introduces some deep ecology from Indian poet Tagore...here

27 Dec 2007

Bhutto killed

Chilled to hear while blogging the forest item that Benazir Bhutto has been killed, I guess the Pakistan secret service with their long links with Islamic fundamentalism have a murky hand in this.

How tragic for the people of Pakistan and how depressing that all we hear about Pakistan is bloodshed, fundamentamentalism and US backed dictatorship.

Election rallies seem to be regular targets in the country...also a good illustration that al-Qaeda is more of a danger to ordinary citizens in Pakistan, than you and I or the tube.

Uganda's rainforests to be axed for biofuel

So the captain of the Earthrace has liposuctioned the fat from his ample arse to run his biofuel boat (I think he got the idea from Fight Club)...however the reality is that forests will be cut and energy crops grown on them massively reducing the rich biodiversity of the forests.

Earthrace is a tawdry way of legtimising the destruction of our beautiful planet for speed, mobility and corporate goals.

In Uganda the President has announced planes to cuts the forests to grow sugar cane to produce biofuel.

all very Vietnam rhetoric..we had to destroy the Earth to save it.

The real need for a localised economy, good public transport and more use of the net rather than driving more and more is ignored...the needs of the great car economy are literally more important than global ecology.

My challenge to all the would be green politicians is that they should oppose enclosure and work to protect the forests, the people and animal species

In Gramscian terms the modern Prince i.e the political agent of necessary change is the social movement, on the streets protesting and building alternatives.

Indigenous struggle is the thing and Green Parties need to be supporting it....last time the President tried to attack the Mabira forest there were huge protests.

KAMPALA, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni on Friday revived a controversial plan to hand over a swathe of rainforest to a local company to be destroyed and replaced with a sugarcane plantation.

Enclosure and burning with some sub-Mugabe threats: "This issue should be resolved," Museveni said. "If we do not industrialise, where shall we get employment for the youth? I will mobilise the youth to smash ... these cliques obstructing the future of the country."

On wonders whether this is 'development versus the environment' or development of bank balance of elites versus sanity.

Corruption surely not in Uganda!
After trying to find some Ugandan cash we were heading for ‘Garden City’, a large and very new shopping centre, built and owned by Janet Museveni the wife of the current president. The fact the source of the building funds have yet to be disclosed and the site for Garden City is smack in the middle of protected wetlands just adds fuel to the already fanned corruption debate. notes a blog diary of a journey through the country

26 Dec 2007

Earthrace: Sink the biofuel nightmare!

The only hemp in the boat is in the floor of the wheelhouse (for no other reason than this is where there is the least stress and was the ideal place to put this novelty and totally pointless adition). The ice-cream containers were donated by a school near the boat yard where Earthrace was built and were used as containers to keep small amounts of epoxy resin in as the boat was being fabricated. They are not part of the boat.

Had this from Martin...thanks Martin!

Biofuel from used chip fat is one thing but biofuel is about the dominance of palm oil, a crop which kills the rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia, is the number one threat to Orang Utans and shifts forest dwelling people off of their land.

There is blood in the tanks...very proud the Green Party of England and Wales opposes biofuel...corporate non solution of choice to climate change.



On December 27th 2007 at 2.30pm, swimmers and a land-based team will approach the boat where it is docked at the QEII Pier, North Greenwich (by the 02 Arena) and peacefully attempt to highlight that this boat, running on 100% biofuel is not (as its owner claims) good for the environment.

The race website proclaims that the boat is "racing round the world for a better planet" and that "with its net zero-carbon footprint" it will "increase awareness of the environment and the sustainable use of resources."

Two of the sponsors of the record attempt, Caro Diesel and Fortrek, are strong promoters of palmoil-sourced biofuel, with both companies having operations and links in Malaysia and Indonesia - the world's leading producers of palm oil, a well known environmentally-destructive crop. The Indonesian Government in particular has been pushing palm oil plantations for years, with little or no control or concern over environmental degredation. In 1997/98, so much forest was cut down there to make new plantations that the resulting burn-offs affected the whole SE Asia region. The released CO2 estimates of this environmental disaster have been calculated as 40% of the worlds total CO2 output for the period from burning fossil fuels. Likewise, Indigenous peoples have been forcibly removed from their land throughout SE Asia to make room for this latest oil industry craze.

The Earthrace boat itself runs on biofuel obtained from sources such as rapeseed and soy crops. As a result of these crops becoming common as a fuel source, fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide use has dramatically risen in the agricultural sector worldwide due to the fact that crops previously marked as being for food will not be eaten and are therefore not subject to such strict controls. In Mexico, the price of maize, another staple food crop now used for fuel, has doubled this year, causing food riots. The US buyers of the maize continue to burn the fuel obtained from this food in their heavy and fuel inefficient cars.

Biofuel is now lauded by both the British and American Governments as an environmental saviour. The facts show that it is anything but. A gallon of biofuel is more damaging to the environment than a gallon of fuel obtained from more conventional sources. This smokescreen is an attempt by the US and UK Governments to ensure that car use and associated revenue continue to grow, with consumers conned into thinking they are doing the right thing by using "Green" biofuel. As long as these myths continue, the world will not put enough resources into truly viable alternative energy and fuels.

Martin Wyness
marty1111 (at) btinternet.com


The boat has usually received worldwide praise for it's green credentials and much confusion now exists, resulting in articles appearing stating that the boat is environmentally friendly because it is made from recycled ice-cream containers and the hull is made from a naturally grown Hemp composite. The facts are the boat is made from oil based epoxy resin, carbon fibre and kevlar sheeting over a 40mm thick closed cell foam core. The only hemp in the boat is in the floor of the wheelhouse (for no other reason than this is where there is the least stress and was the ideal place to put this novelty and totally pointless adition). The ice-cream containers were donated by a school near the boat yard where Earthrace was built and were used as containers to keep small amounts of epoxy resin in as the boat was being fabricated. They are not part of the boat.










I Dr Wall am not literally but only metaphorically calling upon readers of this blog to sink the biofuel earthrace boat...sometimes I worry that readers take my musing too literally, honey can can you put David on hold while I finish the blog, tell him its important.

24 Dec 2007

Death of a radical economist

Sad to hear that Andrew Glyn has died. He certainly would have provided useful analysis of the apparently mounting evidence for likely economic recession.

This is from an interview with Rob Hoveman courtesy of Socialist Review, Rob left the SWP as part of the RESPECT fallout recently, bumped into him with Hiliary Wainwright at the RR conference. Credit to both SWP and Rob for running this interesting interview.

Andrew Glyn was in the 1970s the main economist working with the Militant tendency who have know evolved into the Socialist Party (in the UK).

Wiki oracle says

I am intrigue to find that he was also a supporter of that staple of Green Party economic policy the basic income scheme...via this rather critical review of his 2006 book 'Capitalism Unleashed' here.

Capitalism cannot survive without every increasing growth, which is one of the reasons it is unsustainable, yes it is innate exploitative and yes there are alternatives...however we need to ask the difficult questions of where specifically we are economically at present, which Glynn always attempted to do.

In particular, as he puts it in Capitalism Unleashed, "having beaten off the challenges of the 1970s the capitalist system in the North has not reached the 'end of history' where growth and stability are assured."

He singles out three major problems for world economic growth over the next few years. Firstly, productivity growth is likely to slow over the next few years with the secular shift towards services where it is more difficult to innovate. An ageing population compounds the problem.

Secondly, there are likely to be increasing environmental constraints on the world economy. Already there is evidence of this in rising oil prices and depletion of other essential materials.

Thirdly, the benefit to the North from low wage production in China will decrease as wages inevitably rise in China, as the precedents of history suggest always happens as labour reserves dry up.

Some thoughts from Glyn's comment is free piece on global inequality here:

It is not too far-fetched to imagine a long period of investment stagnation in the industrialised countries, with "emerging markets" being so much more profitable. This could bring intense pressure on jobs and working conditions in Britain and elsewhere. Even sectors where relocation was not possible, like retailing or education, would be flooded with job seekers. The bargaining chips would be in the hands of capital to a degree not seen since the industrial revolution. Fluctuations in labour's share being confined to the range of 65-75% could disappear too, with Marx's rising rate of exploitation re-emerging, a century and a half after he first predicted it.

Could the economy become ever more dependent on the luxury consumption of the wealthy, who receive a disproportionate share of the higher profits? Alternatively, would taxation of profits be increased to expand government services such as health and education? With recent trends in favour of the wealthy intensifying, the fundamental issue of who gets what could no longer be confined to hesitant debates about minor changes in the share of taxation in national income, or adjustments to the top rate of income tax.

However it is worth noting his comments on the Japanes Uno school from the SR interview:

"The world economy is too complicated and there are too many different causal factors. I don't believe, as I used to, that Marx's concepts should be applied too literally to economic data. I prefer the view of the Japanese Uno school that Marx's analysis should rather inform one's way of looking at the world and the questions one asks. The first volume of Capital, for example, provides a brilliant framework for understanding what is happening in China today."

23 Dec 2007

Save the Woodhead Tunnel

Do they give a toss...probably not!

Save the Woodhead Tunnel//Climate Change Demonstration
1pm Saturday 12th January 2008

A chance for a low carbon rail link between Manchester
and Sheffield
will be forever lost due to the National Grid's plans
for the Woodhead
Tunnel. The Government could and should stop this plan

Demonstrate at Woodhead Tunnel, Woodhead, Glossop.
Accessible by car from the A628 or by walking or
cycling from Hadfield
Station (6 miles along the Transpennine Trail).

More info: savethewoodheadtunnel.blogspot.com

20 Dec 2007

Golden Compass: Anti-Narnia

Well as I said went to see the Golden Compass with my kids last saturday and I can't say it was the best thing we have ever seen, Beowulf was better for a start and I think post The Lord of the Rings trilogy you can have enough vaguely mythic entertainment.

Still good fun and a nice treat to take children too. I guess the main political message is its comment on 'gyptians' whose boat yard was modelled on the Jehrico boat yard which is under threat so that developers can build luxury blocks of flats on it....enclosure, enclosure, enclosure, the walls go up at their command, as usual. At least Philip Pullman the author of 'Northern Lights' from which the Golden Compass is adapted has been protesting about this issue.

Is it anti-religious? If religion is defined as the practice of hierarichal organisations who will surpress science to maintain their rule, well then yes. And the obvious target of this Richard Dawkins style childrens' epic, a kind of anti-narnia, is the Papacy.

It is wider than this and is tale of opposition to all forms of unthinking imperialist and manipulative power structures, ones that lie and silence opponents who proclaim the truth...and we all come across some of those.

I think to say it is a rationalist film, given all the monkeying around with daemons, magical polar beers and fairy dust, might be putting it a little strong.

The film contains strong female role models, other than Nicole Kidman seems to be evil!

For me religion is not automatically 'bad' but to really mean something (to me at least) it has to be based on a strong foundation of doubt.

Doubt everything said my two favourite prophets here and here.

Anyway popular culture is always political, always about reproducing or challenging common sense, that used by kids especially so.

Here are Philip Pullman's words on the boat yard:
I`ve also been involved in the fight to save a boatyard on the Oxford Canal, in that part of the city called Jericho. The people involved asked me to help because of the gyptians in His Dark Materials. There`s been a boatyard on that site for over a hundred years, but the site itself belongs to a body called British Waterways. They sold it to a developer who wants to put up houses on it. Oxford City Council refused planning permission for this development, because (among other things) they recognised the need for the boatyard to continue; and the developer, Bellway Homes, appealed against their decision. So this week there`s been an inquiry at Oxford Town Hall, with high-powered lawyers for both the City Council and Bellway Homes putting their case and cross-examining witnesses.

It seemed to me and some others that the case for the boatyard itself was being lost along all the other arguments, so I wanted to help. The point is simple: this boatyard is the only place for many miles around where narrow boats can be lifted out of the water for repairs and maintenance. They need to have this done every four years or so in order to be certified as fit for use. In Oxford there are 120 or so residential boats, so there`s more than enough work to keep the boatyard in business. British Waterways and Bellway Homes deny that this lifting-out facility is needed, and say that if they provide a few limited amenities on the site, it will be enough - but it won`t. The 120 people and their families who currently live on the water will either have to sell their boats and find somewhere ashore, or move somewhere else; so for the sake of 46 new homes, the planned scheme will destroy 120. It doesn`t make any kind of sense.

What is sense in economic terms is often sadly nonsense in human terms!


COUNCILLORS THROW OUR BOATYARD PLAN...found this from my friend and Green Party councillor Sushila.
Describing the proposed four-storey buildings as "absolutely hideous", councillor Sushila Dhall said: "They are completely out of keeping with anything that's ever been there." from here

19 Dec 2007

Salaam Bethlehem..last few days

had this from Palestine Solidarity...

UK Tour: Riding Lights' play "Salaam Bethlehem" until 21st December

08 December 2007

UK Tour: Riding Lights play "Salaam Bethlehem"

"Pray for us, visit us, tell our story,"-

Riding Lights Theatre Company does just that!

Visit the website: http://www.ridinglights.org

In May 2006 Riding Lights Theatre Company, a professional touring company noted for their eclectic range of productions, visited the dwindling Palestinian Christian community in Israel. Their visit was supported by Lightline Pilgrimages with the aim of the visit being not to find new routes to the Middle East peace process but simply to hear the remarkable stories of some very remarkable people whose message was simple 'Pray for us, visit us, tell our story.'

From this visit Riding Lights' latest play Salaam Bethlehem was born.

'It's 2006 in Bethlehem and life is getting harder for the Mansour family. While dwindling numbers of tourists still make it through the checkpoints, the grip of the separation wall gets tighter, wages are frozen and travel permits refused. Even Ibrahim's special vitamin deliveries from the States are hardly good news of great joy. Despite increasing restrictions, the warmth and vitality of daily life in the West Bank continues, until long-buried secrets and the consequences of forty years of frustration threaten to tear the family apart. Salaam Bethlehem invites you to experience the hopes and fears of Bethlehem's Christian community and to look with them beyond the wall to a time when..."

"I went to Salaam Bethlehem with many sympathies for the Jewish people and half-expecting to be beaten over the head for that. What I saw and heard was an incredibly powerful and multi-faceted treatment of the huge problems in Israel and Palestine. Sensitive and sympathetic but also provocative, it opened up all sorts of issues and questions for me. I thoroughly recommend that people see it."

The Revd Roger Simpson, Vicar, St Michael le Belfrey Church, York

Salaam Bethlehem is a fascinating, lively and moving encounter with people whose witness in the land of Jesus's birth is something for which the worldwide church should be profoundly grateful. They have a crucial voice within the cacophony of tragedy and recrimination in the Middle East. This compelling, inspirational performance aims to establish a profound and enduring relationship between the audiences in the UK and the Christians in Bethlehem and other parts of the Holy Land and to highlight how the challenges they face have significant implications for the worldwide Christian community.

For more details, venues and to book your tickets now visit www.salaambethlehem.com or telephone 01904 613000

Homo Consumens

I was going to blog a bit on the virtues of disobedience and thought of Erich Fromm who was an inspiring ecosocialist writer before the term was coined, famous for his books like To Have or To Be?

Neil Clarke of course had an excellent Comment is Free on him here.

found this passage on the web but it is better on the evils of a society obssessed with consumption, rather than consuming we are consumed by the addictive system...

Well something else to chat about next time David Cameron phones....seriously I think all sorts of unlike people can see that every increasing economic growth...does not neatly increase prosperity, is ecologically suspect and diminishes 'happiness'.

Cameron has argued:

It's time we admitted that there's more to life than money, and it's time we focused not just on GDP, but on GWB - general well-being," Cameron will say.

"Well-being can't be measured by money or traded in markets. It is about the beauty of our surroundings, the quality of our culture, and above all the strength of our relationships.”

the obvious response is when pensioners throw things at him because they have no buses or proper social services cos of the Thatcher legacy...Trade Unions? Trident? Neo-liberal globalisation?

Even Protestant work ethic obssessed Labour figures are saying interesting things.

Labour Lord and economist Richard Layard:
points out that while wealth is a factor in happiness, it is subject to diminishing returns, with happiness failing to keep pace with the growth of income, notably in the prosperous postwar years. Economics, he argues, has focused too exclusively on wealth maximisation.

This might look like a critique of the monetarist Chicago school, but Layard notes that both Milton Friedman and Gary Becker were well aware of other considerations: "They believed very strongly that economics was a potentially positive force in dealing with problems like family breakdown and suicide. Their fatal flaw was a belief that all human interaction could be reduced to the exchange of value."

If adopted as a governing principle, happiness would create some striking changes: "We would need to drop gross domestic product as a measure of progress, to start with."

More here

All well and good but A) Gordon Brown is 'Mr higher growth marketisation at any cost' and there are slightly sinster aspects to the Layard approach in terms of his take on therepy (as I understand it...I do to read carefully and critique).

any way lets get some seasonal good cheer from Dr Fromm...

Homo Consumens

Erich Fromm (1900-1980) was a prominent sociologist and psychotherapist and one of the leading critics of late capitalism. Modern life, Fromm thought, is not propitious for the development of human potentialities. In it the profit motive reigns supreme; all things become commodities, including roles and personalities; people accommodate themselves unthinkingly to an overly commercialized and acquisitive social order; work for many is sheer tedium; and the incentives merely to fit in and become like everyone else are too great to be combatted. These ideas are fleshed out in books such as The Sane Society, Man For Himself, Escape From Freedom, and To Have Or To Be?

According to Fromm, one of the symptoms of our collective pathology is the constant urge to consume stuff. We consume everything "with voracity -- liquor, cigarettes, movies, television, lectures, books, art exhibits, sex; everything is transformed into an article of consumption." Behind this consumptive frenzy, he thought, lies an inner vacuity, an incapacity of people to be autonomous, to be truly productive citizens and unique selves. The perennial challenge is to imagine an alternative existence for ourselves -- one that is ever more intelligent, humane and compassionate.

The passages below have been culled from On Disobedience And Other Essays (Seabury Press, 1981) and On Being Human (Continuum, 1997).

"Modern society creates a type of man whom I have earlier called the homo consumens -- the consumer man whose main interest becomes, aside from working from nine to five, to consume.

"This is the attitude of the eternal suckling. It is the attitude of the man or the woman with the open mouth who consumes everything with voracity -- liquor, cigarettes, movies, television, lectures, books, art exhibits, sex; everything is transformed into an article of consumption.

"Certainly, for those who sell all these articles, there is nothing wrong with this. They try to promote the consumer spirit as much as they can; but, if I may apply some knowledge of my own profession, there is something very deeply wrong with this, because we know that behind this urge to consume there is an inner vacuity -- a sense of emptiness. There is, in fact, a sense of depression, a sense of loneliness. We find the clinical evidence for this connection in the fact that, very often, overeating and overbuying are the results of states of depression or intense anxiety...

"What we feel as freedom is, to a large extent, the freedom to buy or to consume; that is to say, to choose between many, many different things and to say: 'I want this cigarette. I want this car. I want this thing rather than another.' Precisely because many of the competing brands are not in reality very different, the individual feels the great power of being free to choose. I think many people, if they were honest with their concept of heaven, would imagine heaven to be a tremendous department store in which they could buy something new every day and perhaps a little more than their neighbors.

"There is a certain sickness in this drive for ever-increasing consumption and the danger is that, by being filled with a need for consumption, the person does not really solve the problem of inner passivity, of inner vacuity, of anxiety, of being depressed -- because life in some way doesn't make sense.

"The Old Testament warns that the worst sin of the Hebrews was that they had lived without joy in the midst of plenty. I am afraid the critics of our society could also say that we live with much fun and excitement but with little joy in the midst of plenty...

"What is the opposite of the consumer? What is the opposite of the empty, passive person who spends -- or as I would say, wastes -- his life by killing time?

"This is very difficult to describe, but I would say, in a general way, the main answer is to be interested. Unfortunately, we use this word so often that it has lost a great deal of its meaning, the meaning being how its root is defined in Latin: inter-esse, 'to be in' something; that is to say, to be able to transcend one's ego, to leave the narrow confines of my ego with all my ambitions, with my pride of property, with my pride of what I know and my family and my wife and my husband and my and my and my. It means to forget all these things and to reach out to both that which is opposite me and that which is in front of me, whether that is a child or a flower or a book or an idea or man or whatever it may be.

"Interest means to be active, but to be active in the sense of Aristotle or in the sense of Spinoza, and not to be active in the sense of modern busy-ness where one must do something all the time. Any person who can sit for an hour or two and do nothing is probably more active, in this sense, than most of us are when we are doing something all the time; it is, of course, much more difficult. It is a real problem for the older person to be capable of being active in this inner sense rather than in the outer sense."

(On Disobedience And Other Essays)

17 Dec 2007

Green Tory Coalition

I have obviously rejected this as well...but curious to be asked!

Greens need to ally with Parties who oppose unfettered free market policies, which means we are likely to be pretty lonely...while I support the confidence and supply deal with the SNP and Scottish Greens, too much of a Trump Salmond love in could put this under threat.

Conservative support for Trident and war in Iraq are just two of dozens of policies that would count them.

Surprised though how many people in other political parties beat a path to our door, obviously we are having an effect!

Kennedy rejects deal here.

Still spooky to have Cameron on the phone....do I get a conference invite, soon it wont be just the left, I really will have spoken to every political party outside the far right!

Boycott Israeli goods

“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
- Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949
Boycott Israel
Please continue to protest the supermarkets mislabeling of stolen goods
One way in which the supermarkets attempt to misinform consumers who would boycott Israeli product is to mislabel produce sourced from Israeli settlements. Waitrose admit that they label all produce from the occupied territories as 'Produce of West Bank',Goods carrying this label are almost certainly settlement goods not Palestinian goods. In a recent ITN report Sainsbury and Tesco's, when confronted about this, admitted 'mistakenly' mislabelling settlement produce in the past and undertook to label settlement produce ' West Bank ' in the future. Labelling settlement produce ' West Bank ' misleads the consumer and denies them the choice between Palestinian goods (of which there are almost none) and settlement goods. It undermines the boycott movement by making Israeli and settlement goods harder to identify.
As it's Christmas, a lot of our last minute purchases will be perishable and luxury goods, this constitutes a major part of settlement production. The products listed below are all made in Settlements on the West Bank or in The Golan Heights and branded as made in Israel. Don't support Israel's ecenomy this Christmas.

* Tivall (West Bank) (Sainsbury's Meatfree Hot Dog Sausages and Vegetarian Sausages)
* Carmel (West Bank) (Organic Fruit and Veg sold in most Supermarkets)
* Tomer (West Bank) (Organic Fruit and Veg sold in most Supermarkets)
* Beigel and Beigel (West Bank) (Sweets and Pretzels etc)
* Agriver/Flowersdirect (West Bank) (strawberries sold in Aldi), but also other berries, cut herbs, pomegranates, figs, peppers, passion fruit, plums, carrots, cut melons, cut mangos and many other products.
* Wines
o Barkan Wines (West Bank)
o Galil Wines (The Golan Heights) (Waitrose, Sainsbury's)
o Palwin Wine (West Bank) (Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose)
o Carmel Wine (West Bank) (Smithfield Wines, Manchester)
o Tishbi (The Golan Heights) (Smithfield Wines, Manchester)
o Binyamina (West Bank/Golan) (John Lewis, Waitrose)

These are just a small selection of the illegal goods exported from Israel, feel free to add to this, it is just our attempt at increasing awareness.. Distribute to as many as possible and if you're looking for fresh produce, Always Buy Local.
For more information please visit

We want the Israeli authorities to make a distinction possible by stating clearly whether a certain product is imported from Israel or from an Illegal Israeli Settlement.
You can help a lot by writing to your store management, demanding this marking and by constantly asking the storekeeper for the exact origin of such products ·
Please write to DEFRA and ask them to take action against the labeling of settlement goods as 'produce of West Bank ' by supermarkets:
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Nobel House
17 Smith Square

Tel: 020 7238 6000 (switchboard).

· Write to Tesco's an Sainsbury's and tell them that packaging goods 'produce of West Bank' instead of 'produce of Israel' is replacing one misleading label with another:
Company Secretary
Baird Avenue
or call them on 0800 50 55 55

Company Secretary
Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd
33 Holborn
or call them on 0800 636262

· Waitrose also admit labelling settlement produce as ' West Bank '. Please write to:
Ms Margaret Casely-Hayford
Company Secretary & Director of Legal Services Waitrose
John Lewis Group Partnership House
Carlisle Place

16 Dec 2007

Tommy Sheridan arrested for perjury, SNP/ Trump 'smells'

Tommy has now been charged according to the BBC..watch this space for further details.

The beeb say:

Former Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan has been charged with perjury in connection with a police inquiry, his solicitor has confirmed.
The investigation came following Mr Sheridan's defamation case against the News of the World.

Mr Sheridan, 43, had earlier been detained in Edinburgh and a search of his Glasgow house carried out.

His lawyer, Aamer Anwar, confirmed to BBC Scotland that he had been charged but would be released.

Mr Sheridan was driven to Edinburgh's Gayfield police station on Sunday, after he was detained by police officers outside a radio station where he had been presenting his Citizen Tommy talk show.

While this stuff is good for gossip even if proven, I am more shocked by the SNP love in with Donald Trump who wants to build his mega golf complex on a site full of wildlife.

Trump deal 'smells of sleave' also from BBC

Big ugly motored by cash wins most times?

Tommy Sheridan arrested

Tommy Sheridan former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party arrested, from the Herald...this one will run and run, set ups from the establishment have been common, think of the constructed Arthur Scargill mortgage affair and Galloway forgery found in Iraq linking him to payments for Oil (a false document aimed at attacking him as an opponent of the war).

If we go back a little further let us not forget the strange case of Victor Grayson

Grayson threatened to expose Gregory in 1920 when he announced: 'This sale of honours is a national scandal. It can be traced right down to 10 Downing Street and to a monocled dandy with offices in Whitehall. I know this man and one day I will name him.' Grayson disappeared soon after that. He was last seen being taken into a house owned by Gregory. His body was never found, but most historians reasonably conclude that Gregory had him murdered.

Equally the left have had their corrupt souls as well...still shows if you have one charasmatic figure then they can either FCUK up or be picked off.

Tommy Sheridan was today charged over allegations of perjury.

The former Socialist MSP was held in Edinburgh this afternoon after finishing his radio Talk 107 radio show.

Lothian and Borders police have been investigating whether witnesses lied during Mr Sheridan's defamation action against the News of the World.

advertisementThe flamboyant former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party won £200,000 damages after the newspaper accused the Glasgow MSP of taking part in orgies and cheating on his wife.

The News of the World described the jury's verdict as "perverse". Prosecutors ordered police to carry out a criminal investigation into allegations of perjury during the defamation case.

The Procurator Fiscal at Edinburgh instructed Lothian and Borders Police to begin criminal investigations in October.

Officers detained Mr Sheridan in the car park at the Edinburgh radio station.

Mr Sheridan had been the leader of the Scottish Socialist Party in the Scottish Parliament but the party then split during the defamation action. Many of his former colleagues were hostile witnesses.

He went on to lead the Solidarity party but neither he nor his former colleagues were returned to Holyrood in the May 2007 elections.

Lothian and Borders police confirmed a 43-year-old man had been detained in a perjury inquiry.

Well we see the State is a nasty old thing but politicians even radical ones are fallible human beings as well, so we shall see how things unfold.

BAE is a bigger deal than Sheridan, look how little attention this case gets...one law for the corporations may be?n More from my friends at the Corner House.

Robert Nairac here by the way

15 Dec 2007

Dr Wall's diary

Post 800 from me.

A day off of politics cooking with my kids and watching 'The Golden Compass' distracted by the fact that one of the characters seemed to be played by Toby Abse.

Fuel protest does not seem to have had an impact, in Essex, another protest consisted of a single pensioner. Well OK last week I went on a biofuel protest with three other people but the fuel blockade gets a bit more tabloid support than most of my projects.

Cooking the vegan Christmas Pudding by the way, revisionist that I am I suspect the cake may have an egg in it, well readers here is a challenge mail me with your vegan recipes and I will test them.

Vegan Christmas Pud, its the high brandy content that matters....recipe here...use it every year.

You get a good flame with a bit of vodka poured on top when it comes to the day...

Here is the recipe I have open sourced from, although I go for something higher proof than sherry:

Christmas Pud (Vegan Family Recipe)

12oz/350g sultanas

4oz/120g glace cherries, halved

10z/300g ground almonds

4oz/120g plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp mixed spice

8oz/230g dark brown molasses sugar

4oz/120gsoft, fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs

8oz/230g vegetable suet

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp black treacle

4 floz/125ml/half a cup soya milk


soak the sultanas in plenty sherry

Grease a 2 pint pudding basin. Put the soaked fruit, cherries and ground almonds into a large bowl. Add the flour, salt, spices, sugar, breadcrumbs, suet, lemon zest and juice, treacle, soya milk and 4 tbsp sherry. Mix well to make a soft mixture. Spoon into the basin, cover with two layers of greased foil and tie down. Steam for 4 hours. Cool. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper and two layers of tinfoil. To reheat steam for three hours as before. (I have to say that when I make it I prick the pudding and feed some more sherry or brandy into it...) and don't forget that after it is reheated pour MORE brandy over it and set it on fire.

More VEGAN PORN for you to lust over here

So why the name Vegan Porn? The site creators are trying to become the number one Google hit for "porn", and thus expose millions of porn seeking web surfers to veganism and animal rights.
it is said.

By the way you should have made both the cake and pud a couple of weeks ago...you do need to be feeding them with more alcohol.

My excuse is da Greens who keep me busy with the Principal Speaker stuff.

Tofurky site is here on Turtle Island, cool! Wonder whether you can buy it in the UK!

They say

Turtle Island Foods has been providing premium quality soy products at affordable prices since 1980.

From our home on the banks of the Columbia River we manufacture Tofurky, Tempeh and other innovative soy products.

Our goal is to produce alternatives to meat products of uncompromising taste and texture that are made from traditional soy foods like Tofu and Tempeh, not solvent extracted soy powders, isolates and concentrates. We are certified organic processors (by Oregon Tilth) and Kosher Approved (by KSA).

Wonder whether there is a low air mile version for those of us in Kent and Berkshire.

14 Dec 2007

Bolivia: Resist the right wing

Dear friend,

Ahead of the declaration on autonomy set for this weekend by a number of provinces in Bolivia opposed to the progressive government of Evo Morales and its ambition to share that country's wealth more equally, please find an article from this week's New Statesmen that looks at what is going on in that country.

Please circulate.


Bolivia's splitters
Hugh O'Shaughnessy

Published 13 December 2007

Evo Morales' opponents are pushing to break free of him and his pesky drive for a better deal for the country’s poorest, the indigenous peoples, writes Hugh O'Shaughnessy

Bolivia’s white and near-white minority have been content to lord it over the Aymara and Quechua majority for nearly five centuries and see no reason to change.

And certainly not now, just when the money is beginning to flow in from oil and gas exports. Just when a traditionally bankrupt country has a balanced budget and a surplus on its foreign trade. Just when the Cruzeños, the respectable people in the self-regarding city of Santa Cruz, capital of the oil belt, are beginning to be able to afford their first Mercedes.

When the Spaniards arrived in the sixteenth century in what is now Bolivia, they overthrew the native peoples and their Inca empire, enslaving not just the Aymaras and Quechuas but Guaraníes, Chiquitanos, Ayoreos, Baures, Canichanas and twenty other races.

Merely because a poor itinerant Aymara trumpeter like Morales got a thumping majority in the 2005 presidential election is, for them, no reason to weaken the established order. Good grief, no.

If the poor benighted cholos and collas – the Bolivian equivalents to words like 'niggers' and 'coons' - learn to read what will they not demand, say the Cruzeños and their allies?

Bolivia’s legitimate, president meanwhile presses on with the new constitution - fairer to the dispossessed majority and the indigenous peoples - that he was elected to enact.

The right-wing majority in the upper house of congress, sabotaged the drafting but, in the absence of the opposition, this was adopted last month.

Opposition leaders thereupon called for civil disobedience, challenging the government for control of the streets, airports and oil and gas fields.

For good measure they have brought back the red herring of transferring the government and parliament from the country’s largest conurbation, La Paz, to the small rural Sucre, seat of the supreme court and the Bolivia’s official capital. That sort of sabotage would equate to transferring Whitehall and the British parliament to Old Sarum or Thetford.

And the Cruzeños and their allies are not alone. The Bush government has been alert since before the presidential elections, worried by Morales’ refusal to accept the US line on the outlawing of coca bushes (he is against the production of cocaine but utterly refuses to outlaw the leaf whose mild narcotic effect has been a harmless comfort to the inhabitants of the High Andes for millennia before the Europeans arrived).

Washington also fears his relationship with Venezuela’s President Chávez and the Cubans whose provision of free basic health care and ophthalmic surgery has understandably been immensely popular in Bolivia.

Before Bolivians voted in 2005 the US ambassador in La Paz warned them that if they elected Morales they would lose Washington’s cash and goodwill. Last month the President had to warn the US envoy not to meddle again in Bolivia’s internal affairs.

Morales, who is challenging the opposition to overthrow him in a referendum, has called for a cooling off period over Christmas. He must meanwhile keep a sharp eye on some US troops stationed in Bolivia. But he can count on the EU and on the South American presidents who met last weekend in Buenos Aires and who are backing him against those who would bring him low.

fuel demonstration by Green Party

Location: Fawley Refinery, SO45 1TX

Date: Saturday 14th December 2007

Time: 12:00 noon

Fawley Refinery Demonstration
Fuel taxes are needed to combat climate change

The Green Party are to demonstrate at Fawley Refinery main entrance (SO45 1TX) on Saturday December 14th 2007, starting at 12 noon, to counter the fuel protesters who plan to be at refineries on the same day. These fuel protestors are chiefly hauliers and farmers who want cheap fuel prices to continue.

Fuel taxes not only serve to dissuade people from excessive vehicle use, but can provide money for effective public transport and renewable energy projects to help fight climate change, if they are invested properly. Some taxes, such as this, are fully justified and may need to be higher. We must reduce our fossil fuel usage and also encourage the development of alternative fuels. Over-use of fossil fuels is a major cause of climate change and pollution, and our current dependency upon them cannot be sustained as the finite natural resources run out.

It would be am enormous mistake to keep fuel prices cheap. The hauliers and farmers who are calling for this appear to want to continue to pay low prices and hence to waste scarce resources, pollute our planet and make climate change even worse. Reducing fuel taxes would be disastrous for our long term future.

Fuel protests are taking place around the country this weekend at the "high" cost of petrol. The reality is that the cost of motoring has declined under Labour, and the Green Party believes that the price of fuel should reflect all of its environmental costs.

John Spottiswoode, spokesman for South West Hampshire Green Party said “Unfortunately we need to pay a lot for fuel as it is a key element of global warming and tax is one way to tackle this problem. Taxes provide us with a vital impetus as we go 'cold turkey' to cure our addiction to cheap fuel. We must encourage alternatives, which means funding the good and taxing the bad fuels. Renewable energy can be used for ever, but fossil fuels will either run out or poison our planet all too soon.”

"We can't keep using the car for short trips to the shops and expect carbon emissions to drop. If we have cheaper petrol, people will drive more and emit more carbon. Instead, we need government support for EU-wide targets on car emissions, as well as investment in a range of sustainable public transport options. Are we really serious about reducing our carbon emissions? If so we must tax fossil fuels heavily. We have to do it for the sake of our planet and our own future.”

“With the UNFCCC in Bali finishing this week, are we going to rack up our CO2 emissions yet again with ever increasing fossil fuel usage? The government needs to stand firm on these issues if we are to reach emissions targets set out under Kyoto/UNFCCC, and match rhetoric with action. "

“'Whilst the Green Party respects the hauliers' right to protest, we have urged them to do so in public spaces such as towns and cities, rather than by causing mass disruption at refineries. By ignoring this, the hauliers are refusing the public the right to voice their opinions, either through support or objection to their protest. The Green Party therefore feels it is necessary to stand up for the significant part of the population who wish to see action on climate change, but we stress that we do NOT plan to disrupt fuel movements in any way.”


Notes for Editors:

* Fuel Protestors are planning protests at refineries across the country on Saturday.

* Rebecca Lush Blum (Campaign for Better Transport) wrote in the Guardian 13th December 2007: "High prices are down to oil scarcity, wars in oil-producing countries, global inflation and oil company profits, not high taxation. The real cost of motoring has declined since 1997, while public transport fares have rocketed. Tax as a percentage of the fuel price has not been this low since 1993."

For more information please contact:

John Spottiswoode, SW Hants Green Party

14 Evelyn Crescent, Southampton, SO15 5JE

Email: john.spottiswoode at btinternet.com

13 Dec 2007

English Collective of Prostitutes

Increasing numbers of people have been pressing for an end to the criminalisation of prostitution. Together with the Royal College of Nursing, Women Against Rape, National Association of Probation Officers, church people, residents from red light areas, anti-poverty campaigners, drug reformers and others, we have formed the Safety First Coalition. But the government continues to target sex workers and increase criminalisation.

More from English Collective of Prostitutes here

Article from Socialist Unity here

Barack Obama ahead?

Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House suffered a serious setback yesterday when her main Democratic rival, Barack Obama, took a poll lead for the first time in New Hampshire, a key early state.

I think for the moment I am continuing to back Cynthia McKinney partly on the shallow ground that I have met her and she is a nice person!

Obviously if Nadar gives it a go I may consider backing him, I don't think he is green enough or red enough, however he is a stunning speaker and is the one person who can really articulate some kind of basic radical ideas into the horrible right wing arena which is US politics (by and for billionaires).

An Alice Walker run would be good, Green Party intervention is vital because the Democrats remain pro war and pro corporations and essentially pro climate change.

Vote splitting, well a huge number of voters don't, the Democrats have in the past lost elections without anyones help and we do need some radical ideas in US politics, it frankly makes the UK look like Venezuela.

Other news, Obama has over taken Hiliary is the big news

Mumia discusses his prospects here....nice to have guest poets from him this week.

* The Obama Factor: Can a 'Brotha' Win? ** [col. writ. 11/27/07] (c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal ** * * *

While the US presidential election is a year away, the first wave of primaries, less than seven weeks away, will go a long way towards determining who will be the final candidates for the election of Nov. 2008. The presence of Barack Obama, poses a powerful political conundrum. Initially, some wondered, 'Is he Black enough?' This question pitched, in part, because of his biracial background, as the son of a white Kansas mother, and a Black Kenyan father. The question really gets to the central Black concern - does he 'get' it? Does he know what our lives really are?

It is an historical oddity that he emerges as a quite serious presidential candidate in the same year, the same election, as the well known wife of a former president, Sen. Hillary Rodham-Clinton (D. -N. Y.), is widely regarded not merely as the front runner, but as the heir apparent of the seat vacated by her husband, Bill, some 7 years ago. The early primaries, in the predominantly white Northeast and Midwest, will tell the tale.

In Iowa, according to early reports, Obama is leading Clinton, albeit barely. The question that really dogs the Obama campaign isn't 'is he Black enuff?', but 'can he win?' Several weeks ago the Washington Post printed a piece on musings by Black women in a South Carolina beauty shop. South Carolina is particularly relevant because it is, of all U.S. states, the blackest state, with its 30% population, and nearly 50% of the state's votes. A young Obama volunteer speaks with a 50ish accountant, who expresses a view that goes much farther than the Palmetto State: "I'm voting for him. I'm old school, I know what's going on. He's trying to take this country someplace it's never been before. It's going to take a lot for him to win, I know that. /I know the system is not set up for him to win/. It's going to take a miracle and a lot of prayers for him to win. If you can get us to vote....."

A recent poll released by the Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies found that, among African-American potential voters in the primaries and caucuses, Sen. Clinton has a 84% favorable rating; versus a 10% unfavorable rating. For Sen. Obama, the favorable rating is 74% versus 10% unfavorable.*2

There are a number of reasons for this surprising development. It boils down to name recognition, and simple electability. Hillary has been, in a sense, a known quantity, for over a decade. With the exception of Chicago residents, Obama was virtually unknown 4 years ago. When he spoke at the 2004 Democratic Convention, he emerged, if not a star, then certainly a known and appealing character. That was only 3 years ago. And remember the words of the sister in the beauty parlor, getting her hair done, "...the system is not set up for him to win." That point of view has resonance because the majority of Black voters are Black women; some 80%. How women go almost always determines who will sit in the White House, and since 1950, the /majority of Americans are female/. That doesn't mean they always, or often come out to vote, or even that they favor women, but when women vote, they make the difference.

In 1980, Reagan got 46% of women's votes, to Carter's 45%; in 1984 Reagan received 56% of the women's vote; in 1988, Bush I got 50% of the women's vote; in 1992, Clinton received 45% of the women's vote; and in 1996, he got almost 10% more, with 54%. According to U.S. Census projections for 2000, there were 7 million more females in the population, than males (of course, distributed over all age groups.) With the 2000 election decided by less than 200 votes, it's clear that very few votes can change the outcome. --(c) '07 maj

{*Sources: William, Krissah, "A Candidate to Dye For." The Washington Post {Nat'l Wkly. Ed.} Oct. 22-28, 2007, p.19; Dr. David Bositis, Joint Center for Political & Econ. Stud., Survey of African-American Voters, Press Conf., 11/27/07, C-SPAN, 9:30 a.m. EST, Nat'l Press Club, Wash., D.C.; The World Almanac - 2001 (Mahwah, N. J.: World Almanac Books, 2001), pp.372,40.}

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