31 Aug 2008

Obama - Biden? Change? Not So Much

I am looking forward to Mumia's take on Sarah Palin the Alaskan right wing enigma...here goes on Biden, more power to neo-liberal globalisation I guess.

[col. writ. 8/23/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal

The choice of Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden as the Vice Presidential pick of Sen. Barack Obama (D.IL) and his presidential campaign challenges the central theme of the run, and suggests that the constant critique of inexperience is finding its target.

For, no other analysis makes sense.

Biden is a likable guy, but his past presidential runs have had all the oomph of a ham sandwich. He has been a Washington insider for several generations!

He hails from the tiny state of Delaware -- with perhaps 3 electoral votes. As a state that has been safely in the Democratic column since 1992, it brings Obama no more that he needs to corral the electoral votes required to prevail.

Also, Biden, for all of his vaunted foreign policy experience, voted for the Iraq War, despite all the evidence to the contrary. If Obama's star has risen because of his anti-Iraq War rhetoric, how does it help to choose a neo liberal hawk as his number two?

More to the point, Biden doesn't close Obama's perilous Hillary-gap, that of white women amped about the opportunity to make history. That's why I wrongly suspected he'd select Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas, to give added oomph to the campaign of change.

But, in opting for Biden, Obama chooses not too much change (or more change than many Americans are able to tolerate).

For Biden is as much a part of the Washington establishment as the Washington monument.

Biden is a central character in the so-called Washington consensus, the brain trust that found Iraq war acceptable, that supported globalization, that lives off of the cream of corporate largess, while the average person lives a life of quiet desperation, in the hung for rent, for food, gas, for a better education.

Change has never seemed so much the same.

--(c) '08 maj

30 Aug 2008

‘People are pissed off with us.’

More from New Labour here.

I once did a Red Pepper Labour Party conference fringe meeting in Brighton, I am not quite sure why I was asked I have never been a Labour Party member or had much connection with the Party.

The audience confessed how they had been variously demoted from positions as councillors and carved up in various ways by the Blairites but admitted that mostly because New Labour had put the party in power, they would stick with the project. Given Labour's long years of defeat in the 1980s they had a point perhaps.

Neo-liberalism has never been about power for 'labour' and now it has run out of steam for the 'third way' supporters and no longer even provides electoral success for career politicians.

What happens next?

My feeling is that Crudas and Compass will make the party just about acceptable to some on the left and to the unions to keep the show on the road, after election defeat, thus blocking the creation of any real left alternative.

Perhaps I am being pessimistic but may be we on the Left of the Greens, in Respect, the ideologically imaginative in Plaid, etc, etc, etc, etc right down to Permanent Revolution and Workers Power...are going to have it tougher too.

Well how will we socialists in all our diversity react to the defeat of New Labour by recession and the right?

Perhaps the dog years of New Labour provided a window of opportunity which will close with Conservative success in the next General Election?

Or am I having a rare moment of undue worry....we certainly need to discuss all this and debate practical strategy for advancing beyond the present market based madness.

Peak Oil may be a myth.

Yes, Hubbert was right about US oil, yes supply of a finite resource will eventually disappear in useable forms.

However oil reached around $150 a barrel this summer because of economic reasons not simply exhaustion of reserves.

From OPEC to speculation to lack of refinary capacity to conflict in the Middle East a host of factors has been driving the price up, I guess it could fall below $100.

I suspect it will never be cheap and yes oil addiction is unsustainable as I constantly argue, however like Schnews I think the effects of burning oil on the global biosphere are more of a threat than 'peak oil'. If we really were running out of oil the world would be a safer place.

Venezuela's large reserves explain why Chavez is always being attacked....the US want a tame government who will supply cheap oil to keep their SUVs on the road.

On to Schnews

God isn't Schnews good, I which could expand to a 100 page weekly glossy then I could use it to replace the Economist, diy anarchists they do seem to be the thoughtful and organised part of the green and red movement. Please send them your cash if you have any to spare, if you want to donate go here.



From Transition Town workshops to the city slickers at the Financial
Times (to over-excited pieces in ill-researched journals like
SchNEWS), there’s been more and more interest in ‘Peak Oil’. Perhaps
it’s got something to do with the price of a barrel reaching $140+
(down to a mere $115ish at the mo), and more noticeably for most,
petrol at the pumps is at record highs. Not to mention UK power
companies pushing the burden on to punters with up to 35% price

So, is the reality of scarce energy really beginning to hit home? Is
the oil now running out?
The basic premise is what’s known as Hubbert’s Peak. Oil, a finite
commodity with an ever expanding demand, will reach its halfway point
somewhere in the early 2000s (now) and from then on will irreversibly
decline. Hubbert developed his theory in the 1950s when he predicted
that America’s domestic oil would peak by the mid 70s. In the mid-80s
they realised he was right. Since then others have taken his
predictions and expanded them to fit the whole globe, where the
consensus has been for a peak in the first decade of the 21st

Scary stuff, and not just for gas guzzling SUV drivers but for all of
us; it’s oil that fuels the equipment that sows and reaps our crops
(and makes the pesticides to slowly kill us with blemish-free uniform
produce) and oil that fuels the trucks that drive the food to our
shops. Add to this plastics, fertilisers, and all the other by
products it becomes easy to predict apocalypse if the pumps ever run
dry (see SchNEWS 499).

Something like this actually happened not so long ago, back in the
‘90s, in that wacky dictatorship called North Korea. The
industrialised and oil dependent nation found itself without petroleum
after its sole provider - the Soviet Union - collapsed. The result was
that, far from western eyes, over a million people died as the
infrastructure collapsed. And, so warns the Peak Oil doomsayers, this
could happen on a global scale.


All of this has some anarcho-primitivists jumping with glee at the
prospect of the imminent collapse of earth-raping industrial
capitalist society. But, before you stock up on tinned goods, shotgun
cartridges and bottled water, here’s a few things to consider:

Firstly, there’s no oil shortage. This may come as a bit of a
surprise to all those who’ve been watching the prices rise and rise.
As the Saudis recently pointed out to outgoing President Bush -
pumping more oil won’t lower the price. Actually, there’s a glut of
oil in the supply markets. The Iranians (one of the oil nations
pumping under their maximum capacity) have tankers full of the stuff
that they just can’t shift because no one wants it. What’s lacking is
refining capacity.

While oil use in the US has increased 35% in the last 30 years, no
new refineries have been built to keep up with demand. The ability to
turn oil into petrol, diesel, aviation fuel etc is massively
underdeveloped by the oil corporations, who generally like to keep
refining to ‘safe’ (i.e. Western and friendly) countries. By
artificially creating a bottleneck in the amount of usable oil, the
price just goes up and up, leading to massive profits for the oil
business as this nice little scam can keep functioning. Exxon Mobil
made profits of $11.8 bn in the last quarter alone, and the other big
five oil companies are making similarly obscene dosh. The scam has
worked pretty well so far.

The predictions of world oil reserves are based on proven, reachable
oil. This is a tricky concept because, as it turns out, there’s a
whole lot of ‘unproven’ marginal oil that’s already making its way on
to world markets. The most known about of these are the tar sands of
Alberta, Canada. Until very recently (when the technology became
economical on a large scale) these were considered ‘unproven,’ yet a
lot of these are now making their way to the US (and world) oil

The tars sands, also known as bitumen, are a very dirty form of oil,
one that’s very expensive, polluting and energy hungry to exploit and
process. It takes the equivalent of one barrel of oil to extract six
barrels of oil from the tar sands. They also happen to be located in
an area of unspoilt natural wilderness, but hey, what profitable
minerals aren’t these days? Canada’s tar sands contain an amount of
oil in excess of that under Saudi Arabia’s sands. And exploiting them
is fast becoming its most profitable activity.

Venezuela has similar deposits of bitumen in Orinoco, and
significantly larger than Canada’s. They’re estimated at around 260
million barrels (i.e. another Saudi Arabia) on top of the 80 million
or so of ordinary oil. They’re easier to exploit than Canada’s and are
barely touched. It’s no wonder that the US has got such a keen
interest in the actions of Venezuelan President, Hugo the Chavmeister.
Industry experts had been saying that these areas will become among
the world’s future energy heartlands, but that until oil was worth
over $40 per barrel it was too expensive to develop. Oil’s now worth
over $100 and will be so for some time to come, so go figure.


A real danger of Peak Oil, or rather, the fear of peak oil, is that
it risks handing states and corporations even more planet-wrecking
power. If people believe the oil is running out, then pressure from
consumers and businesses alike is to find more at any cost. This is
already being written into the US election strategy of the
republicans, where John McCain is promoting drilling in the Arctic
Circle as a way out of the energy ‘crisis’.

This could lead to a seriously deadly irony: The warnings of Peak Oil
by environmentalists could lead to the erosion of the public’s
psychological barriers protecting the few remaining areas of
wilderness left. There’s oil in unknown (but quite possibly huge)
quantities in Greenland, as well as plenty in Alaska, where the Bush
junta has already green-lighted the destructive process of exploring
and exploiting. The Russians have laid their claim to their chunk of
the Arctic Circle too, with an eye to expansion for more oil.

And, in a genuinely insane piece of economic logic, as global warming
melts the Arctic’s frozen seas, the previously unreachable oil
reserves that lay under the ice become more exploitable, and, as they
are burned, yet more undersea oil becomes available. Or if that runs
out there’s always the Antarctic…

And if these reserves still don’t prove to be quite enough to satisfy
demand, there’s always ole king coal. China, main producers of the
world’s plastic consumer tat, is rich in coal but virtually empty of
large oil deposits.

To keep their economy expanding at its current pace they are building
two coal fired power stations a week. However, they need oil as well
for their cars and trucks (and tanks). As oil’s expensive and foreign
suppliers can be notoriously unreliable (they haven’t as yet turned to
Amercian-style invasion of oil producers) what they really crave is a
domestic source of oil, which they don’t have.

Or at least didn’t, until they turned to the combined wisdom of the
Nazis and the apartheid-era South Africans. Both the Nazis during the
war and the South Africans during sanctions found it hard to import
oil. Luckily for them a German scientist found a way to turn coal into
synthetic oil, known as the Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis. It’s a very
energy hungry process (of course) and needless to say massively
polluting (obviously) but it does mean that, even if oil is tricky to
get hold of, you can just magic some out of coal - kind of like a very
dirty alchemy that’s bad for the planet.

China has already constructed its first huge synthetic oil refinery
in Chinese Mongolia.


The current cost of oil, often mistaken as a indicator of its
scarcity, is actually driven by far more complex forces.

As a commodity like any other, it’s traded on the international
markets via brokers. In recent years the power of the cartel that set
the price of oil, OPEC, has been significantly reduced, and now it’s
the speculators that call the shots on its price (more or less - OPEC
still caries a lot of weight, but it’s a player now rather than the
whole game). That means that, as long as the price of oil is rising,
speculators will push the price even higher.

It’s estimated that as much as 60% of the price of today’s oil is
pure speculation. To give an example of the logic of nonsense
capitalism: Today oil is worth, say $125 a barrel. As the price is
going up, you, a speculator, figure that if you buy some at that price
today, you can sell it in a week or two for $135. Because you’re
buying oil, other speculators have more confidence the price will
continue upwards, so they’re happy to pay $130 after you.

This continues until no one who actually needs to use oil for their
cars, homes or businesses etc. can even afford to refill their zippo
lighters, at which point the entire economy crashes, taking the price
of oil with it.

In fact, herein lies one of the central flaws in the theory of peak
oil - supply and demand: that fundamental essential of capitalism. If
the price of oil goes up as its demand goes up (and its availability
goes down) then at some point it will be too expensive for oil based
industrial capitalism to afford. At that point we enter a new
depression/recession. Businesses collapse, people can’t afford to run
their cars, factories grind to a halt and so on. The effect of a
depression means that, with the entire economy in free fall, the
demand for oil drops. As the demand drops so does its price, until at
some point people can afford to buy it again, and, hurrah, capitalism
reasserts itself (albeit in a leaner, less carbon-heavy form).


The truth is that the oil has already peaked for Western
multinationals. In the 70s, major Western oil giants controlled over
half the world’s oil, they now only own 13%. As Arjun Murti, an energy
analyst at Goldman Sachs puts it: “What we have now is geopolitical
peak oil.”

There’s plenty of oil left, but it’s all in either politically
unstable / US-unfriendly states (Iraq, Iran, Russia) or difficult and
expensive to get at (the Arctic, Canadian tar sands). These
alternative sources of fossil fuels could keep us going well into the
future, past our lifetimes and maybe even that of our grandchildren.
The problem is: exactly that. The effect of burning a trillion tons of
coal and perhaps a trillion barrels of oil is that the planet will
burn up faster than a petrol-soaked moth near a candle. The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the world’s leading
authority) predict a global temperature rise of at least 3°C by 2050,
with further predictions that CO² and climate temperatures will rise
and rise.

Mother nature has been steadily locking away excess carbon under the
ground for the last three billion years in order to maintain a steady,
liveable temperature for all of us life-forms. Suddenly, us wayward
children have begun reversing the process, sticking it back in the
air. In the process we’re experimenting with the atmosphere on an
unprecedented scale, causing massive changes to the climate and
biosphere, driving many species to extinction on a par with the
extinction of the dinosaurs.

The real problem isn’t that we’re going to run out of fossil fuels.
The problem is what happens when we don’t...

29 Aug 2008

Green Party Conference and other events.

Party conference is next week

In SOAS in London.

Green Left have a fringe on 4th Thursday at Bolivar Hall, 54 Grafton Way on the 'Greening of Latin America', Roberto Perez will be speaking, he is of course the famous permaculturalist from Cuba in the 'power of community' DVD.

Hugo Blanco's son Oscar has also kindly agreed to talk briefly about the situation in Peru, where the indigenous have won a major victory to protect their land and the rainforests.

Our second fringe is on Palestine/anti-Zionism with the Jewish Socialist Group and Palestine Solidarity on the friday night at SOAS.

See you next week for these.

Or if you are Brixton on sunday head down for the Urban Green Fair, lots of good stuff to do...I am talking about John Pilger's film 'The War on Democracy' standing in for my friend Pablo Navarette who helped make the film, in one shocking scene his father talks about being tortured after the coup against Allende.

The US continues to war against democracy in Latin America but the CIA are being turned back!

27 Aug 2008

Pakistani Democracy -- and Ours

[col. writ. 8/18/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal

With news of the abrupt resignation of Pakistani general-cum-president, Pervez Musharraf, comes the stark realization that, in Islamabad, democracy means the power of the people over that of a dictator.

It also means that Pakistanis so believe in their Constitution that they were willing to confront a military dictator who violated it.

Musharraf, buffeted by the bellows of opposition, chose to switch, rather than fight. He knew that parliamentary opposition parties were intent on impeaching him for violation of the national constitution.

They protested in the streets from the elites to the poor, and Musharraf threw them into jails. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated under suspicious circumstances.

Some 7,000 miles away, another president violates the constitution at will, and breaks both statutory and international laws on torture, secret prisons, renditions, illegal detentions, wiretaps -- and on and on. But,of course, in this other democracy, the constitution is an historical artifact, held under special glass in a vacuum of a special gas, something to be worshipped from a distance, while violated daily.

And the national legislature? They favor false stability over all things -- and when the party in opposition recently gained the majority, they immediately announced impeachment was "off the table."

In a nation based on precedent, this means every president -- from now on- can feel free to violate the constitution at will. He - or she - can go to war on a whim - or lies. She may order her subordinates to torture, to kidnap, to break any law with impunity, and be sure that she is protected by precedent.

The political classes have decided that the only avenue left for the people is every four years or so, during an election where millionaires are the candidates. In the meantime, anything goes.


In the US, democracy is a word that we throw out to justify armed invasions and illegal violations of international law -- it has no intrinsic meaning.

In Pakistan, democracy is thriving and alive. It marched in the streets, it spoke in the courts, and it ran in the actions of Parliament, demanding impeachment.

In democracy, it seems, Americans have a great deal to learn.

--(c) '08 maj

Solidarity with Harry's place

lets be honest much of the stuff on Harry's place I disagree with however that is not the point.

I am horrified by the fact that a legal threat is being made to shut the blog down and I think it is important to spread the word and give a bit of solidarity.

My friend Phil over at Socialist Unity takes up the story:

Never in a million years did I think such a title would appear on this blog, especially considering the “history” me and “Harry” had way, way back in the early years of the UK Left Network. But now I feel compelled to stand with Harry’s Place.


HP is under attack - and not for the first time. The (hopefully) temporary stand-in while HP is off the air takes up the story:

Harry’s Place may be removed (or rather have it’s DNS disabled) after a ‘complaint’ to the company that our domain name is registered with. We assume after threats were made on the weekend that this ‘complaint’ originates from Jenna Delich or her supporters. Though we have not yet seen the complaint submitted, we assume it runs along the lines that pointing out that Ms Delich linked to the website of a known neo-Nazi figure and former Ku Klux Klan leader is defamatory. This is extraordinary since Ms Delich has not denied that she circulated links to David Dukes website. There would be no point since the evidence is in the public domain. Nevertheless, a malicious complaint has been made to the company hosting our DNS.

More background is available courtesy of Modernity Blog here, here and here.

Personally, I have very little time for the politics peddled on HP. Warmed over social democracy plus humanitarian imperialism plus trenchant Zionism do not suit my radical palate. But they have as much right to push their rubbish politics as any other blogger, regardless of how distasteful they can be at times. So down with the complaints, the writs and the threats of court action, and away with those of censorious intent. If you’re stupid enough to make the kind of mistake Jenna Delich did, then you should take the blowback on the chin, not scrabble around for a lawyer’s letter.

In the immortal words of the HP masthead: “Liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear”.

26 Aug 2008

Notes on Peru struggle from Ian Angus

this is an intro to the Hugo Blanco piece below from Ian Angus in Canada via Socialist Voice, joys of globalisation this is all cooperation from those of us in London, Weston-Super-Mare, Canada and Cusco!

Don't forget the joint Green Left/Bolivarian Embassy of Venezuela rally on the latin american green process next thursday 4th September at Bolivar Hall, Grafton Street.

Hugo Blanco on the
Indigenous Struggle in Amazonia

Introduction, by Ian Angus

On August 22, Indigenous people in the Amazon rain forest areas of Peru celebrated a victory in their struggle against laws that promote privatization of communally owned land.

Last October, the country's right-wing president, Alan García, outraged Indigenous communities by saying their refusal to permit exploitation of timber, oil and minerals on their lands was a result of "taboo, laziness, indolence or the law of the gardener's dog that says: `If I don't do it, no one can.'" Garcia continued:

"In addition to real peasant communities, there are artificial communities that have title to 200 thousand hectares but farm only 10 thousand hectares, leaving the rest idle, while the people, who live in extreme poverty, look to the state for help."

"The anti-capitalist communist of the 19th Century, who disguised himself as a protectionist in the 20th Century, has in the 21st Century adopted the cloak of environmentalism. But always anti-capitalist, anti-investment…"[1]

García's neoliberal goal is elimination of Indigenous communal property rights in the Amazon basin, releasing this environmentally sensitive area for development of timber, oil and minerals with an estimated value of 3.5 billion dollars.

Under Peru's 1979 Constitution, communally-owned land could not be sold. That clause was removed by the notorious Fujimori government in 1993; the only remaining legal protection was a law that requires a two-thirds vote of the community involved before land could be sold or leased. This year, García took a further step towards privatization, reducing the requirement to a simple majority vote. He made the change unilaterally, using powers granted to him by Congress to implement the recently-signed free trade agreement with the United States.

On August 9, the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, some 700 members of the Aguaruna Indigenous community occupied an oil pumping station in the Peruvian Amazon region, demanding repeal of the new laws and restoration of the provisions of the 1979 constitution. Similar occupations, road blockades, and strikes quickly spread across the forest regions of Peru, involving some 12,000 people in 63 communities.

There were clashes between police and protestors in a number of areas, including the city of Bagua Chica, where urban dwellers joined with Indigenous forces to expel the police from the town. On August 18, García declared a state of emergency, suspending civil liberties, banning public meetings in three provinces, and sending in 1,500 armed soldiers.

García refused to negotiate with the protestors, but growing popular outrage forced members of Congress to intervene. On Friday, August 22, the Congress voted 66 to 29 to disallow García's decrees. It remains to be seen whether the repeal will hold, since under the constitution García can send the law back to Congress with revisions, and he still has emergency powers. Nevertheless, news reports say that there has been widespread celebration in the forest areas.

The following statement was distributed in Peru by supporters of the newspaper Lucha Indígena (Indigenous Struggle) , shortly before the Congress vote. It was written by Hugo Blanco, the legendary peasant leader in the mountainous Cuzco region. For more information about Blanco and the Indigenous movement in South and Central America, see the links at the end of the article.


Translation Note: In this article, Hugo Blanco uses the phrase "Buen Vivir," which translates literally as "Living Well" but implies much more. A central concept in the Andes Indigenous world vision, it has been defined by Bolivian president Evo Morales as "Thinking not only in terms of income per capita but of cultural identity, community, and harmony among ourselves and with our Mother Earth."

Rosalia Paiva, the Quechua liberation activist and author who suggested this quotation from Morales, adds the following information:

"Our brother Hugo, in writing of Buen Vivir, is referring to Sumak Kausay or Allin Kausay. This was a central element in the lives of our Inca ancestors. Allin Kausay means to live in harmony with yourself, with the natural world, and with society. Allin means `splendid,' Kausay means `life,' or, better, `existence.' Allin Kausay is composed of a diversity of factors including knowledge, ethical and spiritual codes of conduct, the relationship with the environment, human values, and the vision of the future. In this sense, it is a category that is in constant development in the life of Andean/Amazonian peoples. For more on this, go to http://mamapacha.org/allinkausay.html."

No compromise in defence of Mother Earth, indigenous kick corporate arse in Peru

Oscar who lives in the UK kindly translated this from his father Hugo Blanco, I must admit so much so called environmentalism and green politics is very very indirected. Some one says I have a plan or a scheme or an ideology to save the world. 'Vote for me and I will make history, buy my organic washing up liquid'.

lets face it all is good or most is quite good but for no bull shit action to save the planet, the indigenous in Peru win the price.

To fight climate change we must fight the enclosure and destruction of the planet, the indigenous are also educating the Latin American left about ecology.

If there is a vanguard for sanity on our planet it is amongst the indigenous. We need to be showing solidarity, learning and yes we need to elect real greens and yes we need to organise protest and yes green trade unionism is vitally important.

However something is stirring in the forests....any way enough of me, on to Hugo!

Clash of cultures
Clash of philosophies

The philosophy of “progress”, the doctrine of “the dog in the manger” of Alan García
Against the philosophy of Good Living, a doctrine of solidarity and respect for the environment

Since many millennia back, the rainforest has been inhabited by native communities who have been educated by the rainforest in how to live in it, as well as with it.
They have domesticated vegetal species, adapting them for human consumption, like the papaya or the cassava. They know how to cure themselves. The world learnt from them the use of the quinine, which saved the life of the future Sun King of France. They taught us the use of cat’s claw and many other natural medicines. They know how to cultivate the land without killing the thin and fragile layer of fertile soil: they cut a small space, in which they grow diverse species, with varying texture and life cycles, they copy the environment. After a certain time they give that space back to the rainforest and start growing somewhere else.
They do not need predatory cattle, but they fish and hunt.
They do not separate work and rest. They set out on excursion, and if they find anything to hunt, they hunt. They collect wild fruits and vegetables, and when they pass their cultivated land, they collect whatever is ripe, and if there is any work to be done or anything to plant, they do it.
They are not “owners” of the land, they are its children.
Five centuries ago came the European invaders, and since then they and their descendants have been penetrating and killing the rainforest.
The first great invader-predators were the rubber hunters, and then came the big landowners, who cultivated the rainforest with a predatory agriculture and even more predatory cattle. Then followed the gold diggers and woodcutters and now devastatingly the hydrocarbon extractors.
The intrusion of capitalism contaminated many natives to a greater or lesser extent; others flee any contact with the civilisation that kills their environment, forces them into subservience, kills them or contaminates them with unknown illnesses.
Now the invaders are assaulting the rainforest by extracting oil and gas, but also with the cutting for cattle, cutting for wood and cutting and burning for agricultural products introduced from elsewhere.

To kill the rainforest is to kill its native communities.
The invaders legalise the aggression by using “laws” declared by them without consultation of the natives, to justify their behaviour.
They “recognise” that the surface belongs to the native communities, but not the subsoil, which belongs to the “State” of the invaders.
Alan García says that the natives are “the dog in the manger”, that doesn’t eat the hay nor let others eat it. García says that access has to be given to the multinationals. Lately he has declared a number of executive laws, ordering “unproductive” land to be taken by the state, obviously in order to give it to big companies so that they can destroy the rainforest by driving “progress”, driving the “legal” destruction of the rainforest.
Those who believe themselves to be white, discriminate against the Andean Indians. The native Amazonians are discriminated by those considering themselves to be whites, ‘Creoles’, non-natives; by Andeans and Andean Indians

It is these ‘ most discriminated of the discriminated’ who are showing the majority of the exploited population of the country, how to stand up to the attack of capital, to Alan García and his other servants. They have risen in many parts of the rainforest, peacefully and plentifully stopping the destruction of the Amazon. They have paralysed hydrocarbon extractions and electricity production.
The government has declared martial law in these areas.
It has sent in armed police to respond to this “illegal” activity, but the natives have disarmed them peacefully.
There are confrontations with the police in various areas.
There is public military training of attacking the civilian population with dead and injured as a result.
The natives want to be the owners of their own future. It is up to them to decide what to take with them from their past and what they can learn from others.

What they teach usQué nos enseñan
- That it is not enough to refute the validity of the laws of the oppressors, but that it is necessary to respond with actions.
- That we should act simultaneously in various areas
- That it is possible to disarm repressive forces.

How will the struggle continue?It depends on the actions of the rest of the exploited in the country and the solidarity from abroad.
If we leave them alone, Alan García will probably have them killed as his long criminal history shows us.
If we join their struggle, they will win and their triumph will be ours. They will encourage the spirit of the poor of Peru and they will drive us to follow in their footsteps.
We also prefer the Good Living, not the Amazonian way, but our own way. Although we cannot yet outline it, we know that it will be based on principles of collectivism and solidarity;, on our past, our cultural heritage, and love and respect for the environment whose children we are.
We are also sure that this way is contrary to the supposed “progress” that causes global warming and the extinction of the human race, as well as:
The poisoning of water and soil, by multinational corporations, extracting hydrocarbons and metals.
The poisoning of rivers, lakes and seas by other industrial activities.
The destruction of the ozone layer, which protects us from ultraviolet radiation.
Nuclear energy.

Let us support the culture of life for which our Amazonian brothers are struggling!
Let us destroy the culture of death of the multinational corporations and their servant Alan García!

Hugo Blanco - August 2008

25 Aug 2008

Lucha Indigena defeat Alan Garcia's plans to destroy the Amazon

As part of the 'free trade' agreement with the USA, Peruvian President Alan Garcia had argued for new laws to make it easier for corporations to take communal land belonging to the indigenous for mining and oil extraction.

Over the last week the indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon with the support of workers in major cities took direct action in protest at this move. Garcia is still threatening to mobilise the army against the indigenous.

But the Peruvian congress has repealed the law that would have made it easier to take the land because of the protest.

Lets be clear, climate change can only be defeated by stopping the extraction of fossil fuels and preserving carbon sinks. The most important task serious greens have is to defend the indigenous in their global fight for ecology! Their fight for the forests.

Particularly in Latin America the indigenous are arguing for their right to develop ecologically to gain prosperity via sustainable and socially just principles.

They are winning victories....when we fight for ecosocialism for a future for coming generations, we must defend the indigenous.

In Peru at least por ahora as they say a victory has been won.

Salute to Hugo Blanco and all those who proclaim Lucha Indigena in Peru.

Lucha Indigena site here!.

The struggle obviously has involved a very very diverse and large number of organisations and communities..

More here on the events:
Thousands of Indians celebrated in the main plaza of Bagua, a Peruvian jungle city where protesters had clashed with police on Wednesday.

"This is a new dawn for our people and for all Peruvians who wish to develop in liberty, not in oppression," Alberto Pizango, president of the Peruvian Jungle Inter-Ethnic Development Association, said.

Economists estimate around $3.5bn worth of timber, mineral and oil products are locked in a 92,000-square km region of the Amazon basin.

Protesters feared the laws, which made it easier for mining and energy companies to buy communally owned land, would lead to a land grab, especially in the Amazon rain forest.

Indigenous leaders said they were never consulted about the laws and that they were intended only to benefit a free trade agreement Peru has signed with the United States.

'Historic mistake'

Friday's vote was a major defeat for Garcia, who decreed the laws under powers congress awarded him to bring Peruvian law in line with the free-trade pact.

Around 12,000 Peruvians from 65 indigenous tribes had occupied oil and electricity plants in the Amazon basin from August 9, before agreeing to suspend their protests late on Wednesday after the head of Peru's legislature agreed to hold a vote on the laws.

Garcia's administration insists the development laws were aimed at improving the livelihood of indigenous communities by developing their farming, livestock and mining activities, and integrating the tribes into the country's economy.

He said on Wednesday that it would be "a very serious, historic mistake" to revoke the laws.

"If that were to happen out of fear of protesters, fear of unrest, Peru would someday remember it as the moment when change came to a halt and hundreds of thousands of people were condemned to poverty, exclusion and marginalisation," he said.

The president now has 15 days to sign the laws' repeal or amend them and send them back to congress, which can then override his vote.

24 Aug 2008

Cynthia McKinney my kind of Green candidate

Hey Derek. I hope you're doing well. I just wanted to send this your way. A California Hip Hop group called Some of All Parts has just released a pro-Cynthia McKinney/Rosa Clemente, pro-Green Party song. Here is the video:

Take care,

20 Aug 2008

pioneer of gay law refom Leo Abse dies

Very sad to hear about the death of Leo Abse, 'My partner's father, Leo Abse, died last night. He passed peacefully away
in his sleep at the age of 91, so it could have been a lot worse', according to Jane Ennis, who emailed us just now. He was a Labour MP who created some big and positive changes. The one positive bit of the Blair regime was constitutional change that produced PR for some elections, the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, London Mayor, etc. The big achievement of the Attlee government was the welfare state and particularly the NHS.

Wilson's government in the 1960s produced a sexual revolution but it was driven by Leo who created the bill that legalised homosexuality and back bench MPs.

I run into to Toby Abse his son, his partner Jane is one of my comrades in the Green Party and Green left.

Toby teaches at Goldsmiths, where I am a visiting lecturer and he is a stalwart of the Ecosocialist International, Jane and Toby, myself and my partner Sarah enjoyed getting together in Paris last year for a meal mid way through the discussions.

I run into Toby at lots of green leftish events.

I have never met Leo, I get the impression that he was a solid Labour MP for many years and I think I am right in saying he was a bit of Freudian and wrote numerous books.

He will be missed, condolences to Toby.

19 Aug 2008

Greens support RMT

‘full support’ for RMT strike action in Tubelines: Green Party Trade Union Group
Green solidarity with public transport workers
Greens question Tory transport policy for London. BT way this release was put together by Phelim Mac Cafferty from GPTU

The Green Party Trade Union Group fully supports the 1,000 Tubelines’ workers who intend to start the first of two 72-hour strikes, after the company tabled a poor offer on pay and conditions.

In line with trade union legislation, the RMT gave notice of their industrial action last Wednesday but have neither heard from Tubelines’ management, not Chief Executive Terry Morgan.

RMT members voted by a margin of three to one to take strike action over pay, pensions and travel facilities. The RMT’s general secretary. Bob Crow, has made the comparison with Metronet where workers doing exactly the same job as those who maintain track and trains for Tubelines on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines, have been offered higher pay rates, a superior pension and better travel facilities.

“While the management of Tubelines has put much effort into scapegoating the RMT in this dispute by calling their action ‘political’, they haven’t bothered to sit down and negotiate a settlement. The only guarantee of a quick resolution to this crisis is for Morgan and co to sit down with the RMT and listen to the grave concerns the RMT have about the pay settlement for their members in Tubelines.” Stated Pete Murray.

Meanwhile, the break-down in communication between the management and unions has taken another turn for the worse with the resignation of Tim Parker, Chair of Transport for London. Parker’s resignation is the third resignation, as Darren Johnson, Green GLA member stated "Tim Parker is the third key figure to resign in less than four months, reflecting the rushed nature of appointments and giving an appearance of chaos in the new administration. Londoners deserve a
better deal from the man they have entrusted to run their city."

Principal Speaker Dr Derek Wall said of RMT's Bob Crow 'Buy the man a drink'.

The Battle of Chile

Hi everyone,

This Wednesday (20th), instead of our weekly meeting, we will be screening
the first part of the excellent documentary "The Battle of Chile" at
Bolivar Hall. In this film, director Patricio Guzmán captures and
analyses with a surgeon's precision the dynamics of the revolutionary
process that brought Allende to the presidency, his relationship with the
Chilean masses of workers and poor peasants, and the destabilising actions
of the Chilean counter-revolutionary forces aided by the helping hand of
the US administration in the events that led the failed attempted coup of
June 29th. The parallels with Venezuela could not be clearer.

6:45 PM, Bolivar Hall, Grafton Way W1 (nearest tube, Warren Street), free
entry, hope you can make it! More info:

Best Bolivarian wishes!
HOV London

16 Aug 2008

Cold War 2: A new game with added blood

I have just overheard on Sky News -- transmitted over Five TV -- that the Russian incursion into Georgia is reminiscent of the Cuba Crisis of the early 1960s.

I wonder how many Sky News viewers know or remember that the siting of Soviet missiles on Cuban soil was a consequence of American missiles being placed in Turkey beforehand?

I also note that Poland has just signed up to siting Nato missiles on its soil. Perhaps the Polish parliament had that matter on their agenda before the Russians came down so heavily on Georgia?

Alan Wheatley

A good point Alan, Putin's Russia has abused human rights and fought a very nasty war in Chechnya, when do we hear the West complain, ironically when Georgia launches an attack and the Russians respond.

Looks like Bush has restarted the Cold War

14 Aug 2008

Greening Latin America event

‘Greening Latin America’ 7pm to 9pm, Thursday 4th September,

Bolivar Hall: Embassy Of Venezuela
54 Grafton Way
W1 5AJ
Chair: Joseph Healy, Green Party of England and Wales International Secretary


Roberto Perez, Cuban permaculturalist who launches his British tour .
Dr Diana Raby, Lecturer at the Institute of Latin American Studies (University of Liverpool)
Nestor Lopez, from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Dr Derek Wall, Green Party Principal Speaker

‘This meeting will show case the progress being made in Latin America with an emphasis on Cuba and Venezuela in dealing with climate change, biodiversity and range of
environmental issues. It will examine the lessons in terms of politics and environmental policy that both the Green Movement and the wider left in Britain can learn from the Latin American experience.’

Organised by Green Left

13 Aug 2008


26th to 28th September, Manchester
All Welcome!

Climate Camp 2008 was an amazing achievement, but we still have a long way
to go if we're going to halt devastating climate change.

All are invited to the first Post-Climate Camp National Gathering, to be
held in Manchester from the 26th to 28th of September. The gathering will
offer a chance to reflect on where we are at, and decide where we go from

Crash Space will be available. More details to follow very soon.

Any queries, email process@climatecamp.org.uk

Stop the neo-nazi march in Berlin

I am forwarding this message from Priya Shah, one of our Euro candidates in
London, and a young Green activist on immigration and anti-racism issues. I
will write to the Mayor of Berlin and German embassy on behalf of the
national party but it would be good if members could also address their
protests to these authorities.

Joseph Healy
International Coordinator

Dear All,

The Neo-Nazis have announced that they will march on 23rd August to protest
at the proposed building of a Hindu Temple in Berlin. They have decided to
march through the largest immigrant district of Berlin (Neukoelln) ending at
the proposed site as they believe that "symbols" of this nature attack
'German' culture.

Curiously this ignores the fact that the swastika is an ancient hindu symbol
which was hijacked by the Nazi Party as its' official emblem. It's ironic
that the neo-nazis themselves don't see this 'foreign symbol' as an attack
on their fragile identity and may even use it during the march.

We stand in opposition to the objectives and attitudes of this march and
stand in solidarity with the immigrant communities of Berlin. We seek to
take action to minimise the negative impacts of this march.

If you would like to prevent this from taking place, please contact the
following German departments/contacts to let them know that it won't be seen
lightly by the international community:

Mayor of Berlin: Klaus Wowereit

Der Regierende Bürger-
meister von Berlin
- Senatskanzlei -
Rathausstr. 15
10178 Berlin
German Chancellor: Angela Merkel
Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel
Willy-Brandt-Straße 1
10557 Berlin

German Embassies in US:

German Ambassador to UK
Minister Plenipotentiary Dr. Eckhard Lübkemeier,
London Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
23 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8PZ

Tel. 020 7824 1300
Fax. 020 7824 1449 They have a form on the website but bureaucrats HAVE to
do something with a real piece of paper!



Many thanks for your solidarity,

Priya Shah

12 Aug 2008

Climate camp 2? August in Norfolk with EF!

Earth First! Gathering...if you liked climate camp, you will love EF!

Sort of green revolutionery direct action no leaders revolt for planet earth, social justice, etc.

Earth First! is about direct action to halt the destruction of the Earth. We believe we can make a real difference by doing it ourselves rather than relying on leaders, governments or industry. Direct action is at the heart of it, whether you're standing in front of a bulldozer, shutting down an open-cast mine or ripping up a field of GM crops. We're a loose network of people and campaigns coming together for ecological direct action.

Join us for 5 days of workshops, networking and planning actions. The gathering is also a practical example of low-impact eco-living and non-hierarchical organising. It's run without leaders by everyone who comes along, so come prepared to chip in!

I have a bit of form with EF!

here is their review (well Do or Die!) of my review of them:

Earth First! and the Anti-Roads Movement: Radical environmentalism and comparative social movements

by Derek Wall

Routledge, London, 1999 / ISBN 0-415-19064-9

Yes, it's another expensive academic book about ecological direct action, but the difference is that this one's actually quite good. For one thing the author, having been involved in some of the events he describes, knows what he's talking about. Also, by largely basing his book on interviews with people with a long term involvement, it's (sometimes depressingly) accurate - although albeit in a dry academic way that fails to get across any of the passion, excitement or anger behind events.

Wall begins by taking a look at what he considers the history of similar struggles in the past; from Victorian conservation societies, through the early 1970s upsurge in green concerns that led to the formation of Friends of the Earth (FoE) and The Ecology (later Green) Party, to the 1980s peace and animal rights movements and the massive increase in 'green' concerns around 1989. Whilst acknowledging that many people in Earth First! (EF!) feel more of an affinity with the broader history of "popular protest, revelry and riot" (p.18), Wall argues that this obscures "the distinctive nature of modern activism" (p.19). In many ways this is true, EF! is - at least in some respects - the bastard offspring of middle class single issue campaigns like the peace and green movements. However much we'd like it to be it's not the latest upsurge of class struggle from the line that includes the Luddites and so on. Thankfully EF! has cast off a lot of the problems inherited from its 'parents' and has tried to consciously place itself in this tradition of struggle, but it's as well to be aware of these issues as they're bound to have an influence for years to come.

The book provides a detailed history of EF! in Britain (and a briefer account of similar movements in other countries) from the early rainforest actions funded from donations by eccentric billionaire Sir James Goldsmith to increasing involvement in anti-road campaigns. Also of interest is the early conflicts between 'militants' and 'moderates' within EF! - largely around the issue of sabotage. "It is only a minor simplification to suggest that those activists drawn from the peace movement saw EF! (UK) as a means of promoting mass NVDA [non-violent direct action] of a largely symbolic form, while those from an animal liberation background regarded EF! as a vehicle for more militant tactics" (p.55). Moving through the various anti-roads campaigns, Wall gives a detailed account of all the major conflicts - Twyford, Solsbury Hill, M11, Pollock, M65 etc., quoting heavily from various interviews to give a good impression of what was going on.

Relations with other groups are also discussed, including largely uncritical alliances with rich country landowners and Militant at different times, but largely focussing on EF!'s bumpy relationship with FoE and Greenpeace. From an initial position of hostility, these mainstream green groups increasingly began to accept direct action tactics (although Greenpeace had long practised a very controlled, media centered corruption of direct action) - perhaps looking for credibility in the youth market. Despite this, public arguments still broke out over various acts of sabotage such as the Newbury Reunion Rampage. In one interesting section Charles Secrett (FoE director) actually comes out in favour of sabotage; "certain types of damage to property...[like] pouring sugar into a bulldozer [which is] going through a SSSI - I [don't] have a problem with that." (p.86) Obviously he still can't stomach militant mass action though, condemning the arson at Newbury, and being especially disturbed by people targeting the media for acting as stand in police evidence gathering teams, "You can't come into an event like that...hitting a BBC cameraman just because he was filming what was going on". (p.86)

One particularly interesting section of the book is on 'activist involvement' and looks at how and why people became involved in EF! and similar groups. Through comparing interviews, peoples' gradual involvement and strengthening ties to the network are seen. Many of the interviewees were previously members of green groups (FoE, Greenpeace, The Green Party) or other political organisations (e.g.: Marxist groups) but became frustrated with them and felt more attracted to EF!s less formal organisation and emphasis on direct action. 'Biographical availability' is also seen as an important factor - people who get involved usually have plenty of spare time and few commitments (mostly with no kids and on the dole or students). This exclusiveness is reinforced with the culture of the movement, a double edged sword that creates "a greater capacity for collective action, greater tenacity...greater satisfaction from movement participation" (p.165), but also "higher degrees of membership coercion, narrowing the number and range of people who will participate". (p.165) Obviously the challenge now is to build and sustain a culture of resistance (as opposed to a subculture of lifestyle) that still manages to be as inclusive as possible.

Related to this are Wall's ideas about how the movement as a whole grows (or doesn't). He argues that external factors, like how open or closed to influence the ruling political system is, strongly affects the forms that any resistance takes. Britain is seen as a fairly 'closed' system - parties in power often have large majorities and freedom to act, while minority parties which could gain some power under a proportional representation system are blocked. This makes confrontational action outside of the parliamentary system easier to start. Also 'costs' in terms of the level of state repression are fairly low, although increasing constantly (and of course they're only low as a result of the relative impotence of the resistance here). In contrast many other European countries try harder to keep grievences within the system, but crack down harder on whatever refuses to be contained. He argues that the wave of green concern in around 1989 seemed like an 'opening' that green groups felt they could use - they were better received by the powers that be, which encouraged them to become more 'mainstream' i.e: moderate and professional. However they still failed to get any access to real power, which disillusioned many of their members and left the field open for more militant ideas to grow, "the turmoil within the Green Party is simply one symptom of a wider crisis. Other signs include...the haemorrage from FoE of local members who are frustrated by the restrictions placed on them by the leadership and are attracted by the more confrontational direct approach of anarchist influenced groups." (p.120) He argues that this is a gap EF! formed and grew to fill. Another important element he identifies is finding 'mobilisation targets' where real, but so far vaguely expressed, concerns and desires people have can 'condense' into action - roads was one such issue and resulted in a wave of ecological direct action.

Overall this book has a lot of interesting points to make about EF! and the wider movement, despite taking an odd view of this wider movement. By trying to fit it into a 'green' pigeonhole Wall sidelines the fact that we often have more ideas in common with radical unionists than Greenpeace. If it's often dry and dispassionate, that can also help in taking an 'objective' look at who we are and where we're at. In many ways it makes a good companion to Kate Evan's Copse, which gives the 'subjective' side of events and a real sense of what it all felt like at the time. One major gripe is the price - sixteen quid for a paperback is ridiculous. One to get on the buy none, get one free offer at all major bookshops I reckon!

11 Aug 2008

Carry on camping

Climate Camp: everywhere, all year round

Climate Camp worked by flagging up the locura of building a new generation of coal fired power stations. I marched to the power station on saturday.

The police told us if we didn't move on at 1.30 we would be charged by horses, have dogs set on us and batoned...fuck we must have been doing something right.

Some people even got over the fence. The policing as we all know was hugely excessive...found a great bit of analysis here.

The truth of social movement using direct action is a simple one. Powerful vested interests construct a managed democracy. Conventional politics as some one told me Chomsky said is usually the 'periodic ratification of elite decision'.

More accumulation of wealth and power for the few.

Direct action is a way of exerting counter power, from the suffragettes, revolts against land enclosure and all the rest, counter power is necessary.

Climate camp did this.

It also provided an inspiring example of real green ideas in action, the energy was renewable on site and powered a tv station by solar. The camp organised consensually, an example of real participation, almost unknown in our bureaucratic society.

The camp was fun and really showed that something else was possible.

Thanks by the way to the 50 of you who showed up to my 'anti-capitalist and green economics' workshop for you passionate intelligence...the quality of the debate was very very high from what I saw.

I wish more people could have seen it, I was only there for a few hours on wednesday, saturday and sunday (never get a train via Paddock Wood to Strood on a sunday...it is a very long rail).

It really built capacity, people involved loved it and will be back for more, lets face it a lot of political activity especially party politics is capacity diminishing. People trust political leaders, eventually get betrayed and lose much of their capacity for getting politically involved.

I think people should keep up the involvement, it was a bit of utopian space that can be stretched over wider surfaces.

Earth First! gathering at the end of August, looks like a way of camping, being self-managed, going to lots of workshops and learning, etc, etc. http://www.earthfirstgathering.org.uk/2008/front.html

Earth First! Summer Gathering
27 Aug - 1 Sept 2008, Norfolk

5 days of workshops, skill sharing and planning action, plus low- impact living without leaders.

Meet and share skills with others who care. Plan actions and campaigns. Have fun. We've got over 80 workshops, planning, strategy and 'Where Next' sessions planned, get in touch if you want to offer a workshop!

* Share and learn skills for kick-ass direct action
* Network your campaign against ecological destruction: open-cast mining, genetic engineering, agrofuels, dam-building, hunt-sabbing, climate actions, pipeline resistance, anti-nuclear campaigning, road stopping, anti-whaling, town centre gentrification, squatting, rainforest protection and much much more.
* Think and learn about eco-centric ethics and alternatives to the corporate world of greed and exploitation.
* Find strategies on how to bring about radical change.
* Practical skills for ecological restoration and sustainable living including field trips and hands-on work

We are a diverse community with a wide range of approaches to our action, so there should be plenty to interest and inspire everyone whether you have been active for years or are completely new to it all.

Yes I am in the Green Party and work with governments on occassions, in the great debate with John Holloway I am a believer in taking state power and being aware of state structures. I am not an anarchist.

Yet lets face it the anarchistic diy direct action movement in Britain is/has been hugely exciting, dynamic and 'professional'.

Professional in the sense of being well organised rather than 'professional' as in being in it for the money.

So do take a look at Earth First! if you have not already done so....we need far more local groups to build this kind of activism.

Glad to see so many Green Party at the camp, wandered around with John Hunt in particular on saturday, but we should be really working to get more bodies along and do more work to promote the camp, Earth First!, the social movements...

Like wise very nice to see Alan Thornett, Roy Wilkes, John Singa and all of my other good amigos on the left.

Had some great discussions with people as well...any way people get ready, where are we camping next year....here the camp could be permanent at Kingsnorth

pasting this in from the camp ttp://www.climatecamp.org.uk/home:

It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of huge institutions such as energy corporations and governments. But the Climate Camp has shown that we don’t have to feel that way. This weekend, we proved our power.

Today, we learned that - despite E.ON’s bluster that the power station had been running normally all weekend – we most definitely succeeded in disrupting its operations. We learned this from a most unlikely source: the police.

On Saturday, four bold rebel rafters got very close to the power station water intake pipe before being boarded and captured. They were arrested and charged with aggravated trespass and, according to their charge sheets, “they did an act, namely disrupting the running of the power station by causing the water inlet cooling system to be shut down.” That doesn’t sound like E.ON’s claim of “business as usual” to us!

Despite the fact that we had publicly announced what we were going to do months in advance; despite E.ON spending millions on extra security, and the Government spending millions on policing; despite the extra fences, the smear campaigns, the scare stories, and the most repressive and
heavy-handed policing of peaceful protest for many years; despite all of this, we got over the fences, disrupted the power station, and massively embarrassed an international energy giant. We outsmarted 26 police forces to run the biggest climate camp ever. We covered the river in boats,
filled the streets with people, covered the power station gates with banners and hit at least eight other targets with autonomous actions. We flooded the national, local and independent media with our stories and messages. E.ON and the Government threw everything they could at us, and
they still couldn’t hold us back.

We’re just ordinary people with a cause. And we proved our power – not just to the outside world, but to ourselves. Now we know what we can do, and our movement is stronger than ever. If the Government gives Kingsnorth the go-ahead, we will be back to stop it.

Why not join us? The Camp for Climate Action is an open and welcoming network.



Date: Fri 15th Aug
Time: 6.45pm - 8.30pm
Venue: Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place, London W1H 4LP (nearest tube: Edgware Road or Marble Arch)
Map: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4GGLF_enES208ES209&q=W1H+4LP&um=1&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&resnum=1&ct=title

Speaker: Larry Lohmann (The Corner House)

The struggle of Muslim villagers in southern Thailand to resist the construction of the Trans Thai-Malaysia gas pipeline and various spin-off industries illustrates some of the ways in which ethnic, religious and environmental conflict are closely connected. While Thai elites and international investors (including most, prominently, the UK's Barclays Bank) portray the project as 'socially responsible', the protesting villagers have increasingly turned to Islamic principles of waqf - land designated as given over to God and therefore available for common use - to articulate and organize opposition.

About the speaker:

Since 1997, Larry Lohmann has worked with the Corner House, a small research and solidarity organization based in Dorset (www.thecornerhouse.org.uk). In the 1980s he lived and worked in Thailand, mostly working with local development and environment organizations. Larry is co-author of Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatization and Power (2006), Pulping the South: Industrial Tree Plantations and the Global Paper Economy (1996) and Whose Common Future? Reclaiming the Commons (1993) and co-editor of The Struggle for Land and the Fate of the Forests (1993). His articles have appeared in numerous journals including Race and Class, Science as Culture; Accounting, Organizations and Society; New Scientist; Red Pepper and Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars. Lohmann has degrees from Cornell and Princeton and has been a scholar in residence at Yale and the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation.

Websites / More info:
City Circle: http://thecitycircle.com; Tel: 07980 834 340
LINE (London Islamic Network for the Environment): http://www.lineonweb.org.uk ; Tel 0845 456 3960 (local rate)

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

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

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

8 Aug 2008

'possibly involving monkeys'

I went to the horse hospital in Bloomsbury for Mark Steel’s book launch yesterday. On the face of it the premise of the book is a bit sad in both senses of the world, all about his mid life crisis, he is now 48.

But don’t let this put you off, it is very funny and honest and good to read, I would challenge anyone to put it down. it’s a best seller already but seems squarely aimed at readers of Socialist Unity blog. The premise is that 99% of us have had a bad relationship break up and that political parties are a bit like relationships.

Mark was in the Socialist Workers Party from the age of 18 and divorced them last year. Bad break up but who hasn’t been there. I certainly can’t say it has been orgasmic bliss every day from the last nearly 30 years of my life with La Verde. In fact in 1990 I walked out the door for an extended liason with Earth First!

Obviously I need my next book to be a humour filled account of the internal politics of the Green Party, SOC and the vegan freemasons of Gaunts House included….well no, not really but no party is perfect all the time and pretending perfection is worse than being honest about potential faults.

Mark is obviously well aware of how hard it is to break up with close comrades and I guess a lot of people have at one time been in the Socialist Workers Party and gained friends and inspiration from it but at some point eventually come away frustrated and angry. I don’t want to get into the particulars of the SWP, in different ways think of how horrible it must have been to have been in Party X and to feel it is not longer what you joined. There are a great many examples that don’t need spelling out.

I think the big danger is that people can leave political parties and stop doing politics. I was surprised when I asked him to find that Mark is no longer a member of any political party. But hey when E.P.Thompson left the Communist Party in 1956, was he down hearted (probably!) but he wrote some of the most important books on socialism, kick started ecosocialism with his work on William Morris and was a main mover in the peace movement.

Mark is certainly active, he did a recent gig for Respect Renewal. In February he was the second most exciting speaker I have heard at party conference, the first of course was E.P. Thompson who spoke in Malvern in 1982 to the Ecology Party conference. His books, broadcasting and stand up are all putting forward the socialist message. Well I am not sure which out of ‘Contempt’, ‘Spartacus’ or ‘Burn’ is my favourite Marxist movie but Mark gains the award for best socialist stand up from me.

I think it is important to build political parties, I believe in ecosocialism without apology so I am a dedicated Green, however in an era where political parties are weak and the grassroots is strong (at least at climate camp), Mark’s message of activism even if it is not in a formal political party is one that needs to be heard.

He notes, ‘the very worst course of action in these circumstances would probably be to start up a new far-left socialist group […] apart from anything else, there are no names left as every permutation ot the words socialist, communist, worker, power, party and group has been taken. So a new group would need a random word thrown in and have to call itself something like the ‘Socialist Perpendicular Party.’

The personal stuff includes Mark’s ill fated attempt to understand enter the world of grime:

One sign that, despite being 40 or over, you're still in touch with today's youth to a certain extent, is to realise you're not in touch with them at all. For example, because I have some flimsy knowledge of contemporary rap, I conducted this conversation with the teenager who works in my local grocery shop. "Ah, you listen to hip-hop, don't you? Have you heard the latest Lowkey album? And the first Plan B?"
"Man, I never knew you play that shit, right. Yeah Lowkey bruv, he's sick. He was wiv Doc Brown's crew init, but you feel Lowkey man, you must know Cuba Ranks you get me, you know who had beef wiv Fat Joe?"
"No. No, I don't know Cuba Ranks."
"You know bruv, he produced for Kalashnikov, used to MC at the Brix Club init."
"Eh, oh I think I know, no I don't."
"You don't know him? Bruv you must know, he left Asher D's label saying he didn't check for him when he mixed wiv Skinnyman's crew."
"I'll just have a box of Weetabix and some hummous please."

Lots of thought here on the RESPECT split but it is a problem wider than any one political organisation.

The road to this madness involves a thousand incremental steps. You accept that the most important issue of the day is to win this localised feud, so you justify making outlandish accusations, no matter that they’re starkly opposite to everything you said six months earlier. Then if some people wonder what on earth you’re doing, they have to be denounced in glorious prose, possibly involving monkeys and anyone who objects must be unmasked as a stooge. Until eventually you’re like those warring next-door neighbours on television who insist it’s obviously utterly reasonable for them to poison the other one’s fish’

No ecosocialist would use the term 'monkeys' in the above manner, we love monkeys and believe they should have human rights, poisioning fish would be inappropriate on environmental grounds...may be sicking up in breakfast cereals would be a more acceptable metaphor.

Well can we do politics withour poisoning the fish, etc, I hope so.

Conviction for obstruction over turned

Dan Viesnik a green activist (who left GP after the leadership referendum) won his appeal today against his conviction for obstructing the police at an anti--arms fair demo in Downing St last September. Dan will be issuing a press release giving further information soon.

More details when I get it but hope for I guess a lot of people going to Kingsnorth tomorrow.

Shame he left the party over the Leadership vote, we lost a few good people and I hope they come back....

Climate camp at lego land

I guess that to be fully realistic they would have needed to put in on the lego police and nobody would have that many bricks.

Well it wasn't me officer....but I live about 1/2 mile away from Legoland, eco revolutionary action is a bit sporadic around here...Whigs and Hunters by E.P.Thompson is a classic which looks at the fight against enclosure in the Windsor Forest and there was a bit of 19th century hunt sabbing in Berkshire as well.

There was before I lived locally tree sitting to stop the Royals cutting down some of the oaks....

So went to Mark Steel's book launch yesterday, great...free comedy, free beer and I am in his book being harangued by Cllr Rania Khan, 'hoo, hoo'...more on this later.

And see you tomorrow and sunday at the climate camp, unless there is a road blog at lego land to stop me getting to the train station, of course.

7 Aug 2008

Has Gordon promised £3 million to repress climate camp

A magical evening at the climate camp. Most hilarious moment was surely the announcement that the student climate action cafe has hundreds of free condoms and nobody is taking them. Don't let anyone doubt the seriousness with which us campers treat stopping E.ON! Later there was a Latin America theme to entertainments, with live music, Bolivian dancers and DJ's until powerdown. The Bolivian dance troupe told us their story of fighting water privatisation right through to the election of Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia. The key? We have to not just march or take action for a day, but for weeks and months at a time. Food for thought in terms of stopping Kingsnorth being built.

Climate Camp was fun when I visited yesterday. It is stunningly well organised and shows that living green and working with participatory ways of doing things works. Renewable energy and low impact living work. The atmosphere is great.

I talked at a Latin America workshop yesterday with Bolivian and Ecuadorian speakers, Andy Higginbottom from Colombia Solidarity http://www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk/ spoke as well. To get us in the mood the police helicopter regularly flew over our discussion tent, drowning our Andy's accounts of repression in Colombia. The earth is being despoiled to get hold of resources, a capitalist economy wastes them at dizzying rates and indigenous people and the environment are on the front line of the damage. The Latin American left in government across most of the continent have some awareness of the environmental problems inherent in this model but are still largely locked into an ‘extractive model’. However in most states there is now some break on mining but Colombia and Peru are clearly trying to maximise foreign mining investment and the people/environment bear the brunt of this.

It was a very wide ranging discussion, there was plenty of debate and disagreement but no intolerance, anarchists, greens, socialists, well just people talked and learnt and feedback. I think the inclusive culture here has a lot of say to the traditional left and those who like to have top down political change rather than participation. Nice to meet the guy who had been to barrio 23 in Caracas….

Anyway while I was blissed out by the camp, the policing was as we know over the top I got searched by scary men snapping their latex gloves, which unless you enjoy that kind of fun, is a little distressing…I didn’t see any one physically assault. Norman Baker MP nearly got pepper sprayed on Monday and the police regularly move against the camp.

There are over a 1,000 cops, the FIT are out in force, it is like a huge military exercise. Petty restriction is the name of the game, the shuttle bus for example was impounded yesterday, on trivial grounds. Everyone is searched. The rumour is that Gordon Brown has personally promised £3 million for the policing in a number 10 show of official strength.

To be honest, in my early 40s and 5ft 5 I look like Mike Tyson compared to many of the campers, police in riot gear threatening young women in flora dresses, is loco. One person told me that he had seen a cop with tears streaming down his face after one confrontation, I don’t know what the police have been told to encourage them but it is not exactly a threatening environment.

However non violent direct action is a threat to conventional power structures and hypocracy. The over reaction will produce a Gandhian gain. I am not especially an advocate of Gandhi but embarrassing an over the top opponent is clearly part of what he aimed for and is occurring at the camp. The police bill will haunt Brown I am sure of that.

Do visit. You can get a bus from Strood to Hoo St Werburgh, which is about ½ mile away they go regularly. Or cycle, although your bike lock will be impounded, so lock up somewhere secure away from the site. Or I reckon if you are fit it would take 1hr half to walk from Strood rail station.

Great to see the climate change showing the way in lots of ways. Don’t knock it, go along and try it.

"This guide is published by the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit, AKA NETCU, and, as it states on the inside cover, is not to be released to the public - even under freedom of information requests" but was found by the climate camp and can be read here. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/08/405393.html

More ‘single issue extremism’ as the feds might say another time.

5 Aug 2008

Mahbubul sent me this, thanks....a whole lot of cool Islam out there that people don't know about!

How Islamic inventors changed the world

From coffee to cheques and the three-course meal, the Muslim world has given us many innovations that we take for granted in daily life. As a new exhibition opens, Paul Vallely nominates 20 of the most influential- and identifies the men of genius behind them.


Saturday, 11 March 2006

The Independent

1 The story goes that an Arab named Khalid was tending his goats in the Kaffa region of southern Ethiopia, when he noticed his animals became livelier after eating a certain berry. He boiled the berries to make the first coffee. Certainly the first record of the drink is of beans exported from Ethiopia to Yemen where Sufis drank it to stay awake all night to pray on special occasions. By the late 15th century it had arrived in Mecca and Turkey from where it made its way to Venice in 1645. It was brought to England in 1650 by a Turk named Pasqua Rosee who opened the first coffee house in Lombard Street in the City of London. The Arabic qahwa became the Turkish kahve then the Italian caffé and then English coffee.

2 The ancient Greeks thought our eyes emitted rays, like a laser, which enabled us to see. The first person to realise that light enters the eye, rather than leaving it, was the 10th-century Muslim mathematician, astronomer and physicist Ibn al-Haitham. He invented the first pin-hole camera after noticing the way light came through a hole in window shutters. The smaller the hole, the better the picture, he worked out, and set up the first Camera Obscura (from the Arab word qamara for a dark or private room). He is also credited with being the first man to shift physics from a philosophical activity to an experimental one.

3 A form of chess was played in ancient India but the game was developed into the form we know it today in Persia. From there it spread westward to Europe - where it was introduced by the Moors in Spain in the 10th century - and eastward as far as Japan. The word rook comes from the Persian rukh, which means chariot.

4 A thousand years before the Wright brothers a Muslim poet, astronomer, musician and engineer named Abbas ibn Firnas made several attempts to construct a flying machine. In 852 he jumped from the minaret of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba using a loose cloak stiffened with wooden struts. He hoped to glide like a bird. He didn't. But the cloak slowed his fall, creating what is thought to be the first parachute, and leaving him with only minor injuries. In 875, aged 70, having perfected a machine of silk and eagles' feathers he tried again, jumping from a mountain. He flew to a significant height and stayed aloft for ten minutes but crashed on landing - concluding, correctly, that it was because he had not given his device a tail so it would stall on landing. Baghdad international airport and a crater on the Moon are named after him.

5 Washing and bathing are religious requirements for Muslims, which is perhaps why they perfected the recipe for soap which we still use today. The ancient Egyptians had soap of a kind, as did the Romans who used it more as a pomade. But it was the Arabs who combined vegetable oils with sodium hydroxide and aromatics such as thyme oil. One of the Crusaders' most striking characteristics, to Arab nostrils, was that they did not wash. Shampoo was introduced to England by a Muslim who opened Mahomed's Indian Vapour Baths on Brighton seafront in 1759 and was appointed Shampooing Surgeon to Kings George IV and William IV.

6 Distillation, the means of separating liquids through differences in their boiling points, was invented around the year 800 by Islam's foremost scientist, Jabir ibn Hayyan, who transformed alchemy into chemistry, inventing many of the basic processes and apparatus still in use today - liquefaction, crystallisation, distillation, purification, oxidisation, evaporation and filtration. As well as discovering sulphuric and nitric acid, he invented the alembic still, giving the world intense rosewater and other perfumes and alcoholic spirits (although drinking them is haram, or forbidden, in Islam). Ibn Hayyan emphasised systematic experimentation and was the founder of modern chemistry.

7 The crank-shaft is a device which translates rotary into linear motion and is central to much of the machinery in the modern world, not least the internal combustion engine. One of the most important mechanical inventions in the history of humankind, it was created by an ingenious Muslim engineer called al-Jazari to raise water for irrigation. His 1206 Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices shows he also invented or refined the use of valves and pistons, devised some of the first mechanical clocks driven by water and weights, and was the father of robotics. Among his 50 other inventions was the combination lock.

8 Quilting is a method of sewing or tying two layers of cloth with a layer of insulating material in between. It is not clear whether it was invented in the Muslim world or whether it was imported there from India or China. But it certainly came to the West via the Crusaders. They saw it used by Saracen warriors, who wore straw-filled quilted canvas shirts instead of armour. As well as a form of protection, it proved an effective guard against the chafing of the Crusaders' metal armour and was an effective form of insulation - so much so that it became a cottage industry back home in colder climates such as Britain and Holland.

9 The pointed arch so characteristic of Europe's Gothic cathedrals was an invention borrowed from Islamic architecture. It was much stronger than the rounded arch used by the Romans and Normans, thus allowing the building of bigger, higher, more complex and grander buildings. Other borrowings from Muslim genius included ribbed vaulting, rose windows and dome-building techniques. Europe's castles were also adapted to copy the Islamic world's - with arrow slits, battlements, a barbican and parapets. Square towers and keeps gave way to more easily defended round ones. Henry V's castle architect was a Muslim.

10 Many modern surgical instruments are of exactly the same design as those devised in the 10th century by a Muslim surgeon called al-Zahrawi. His scalpels, bone saws, forceps, fine scissors for eye surgery and many of the 200 instruments he devised are recognisable to a modern surgeon. It was he who discovered that catgut used for internal stitches dissolves away naturally (a discovery he made when his monkey ate his lute strings) and that it can be also used to make medicine capsules. In the 13th century, another Muslim medic named Ibn Nafis described the circulation of the blood, 300 years before William Harvey discovered it. Muslims doctors also invented anaesthetics of opium and alcohol mixes and developed hollow needles to suck cataracts from eyes in a technique still used today.

11 The windmill was invented in 634 for a Persian caliph and was used to grind corn and draw up water for irrigation. In the vast deserts of Arabia, when the seasonal streams ran dry, the only source of power was the wind which blew steadily from one direction for months. Mills had six or 12 sails covered in fabric or palm leaves. It was 500 years before the first windmill was seen in Europe.

12 The technique of inoculation was not invented by Jenner and Pasteur but was devised in the Muslim world and brought to Europe from Turkey by the wife of the English ambassador to Istanbul in 1724. Children in Turkey were vaccinated with cowpox to fight the deadly smallpox at least 50 years before the West discovered it.

13 The fountain pen was invented for the Sultan of Egypt in 953 after he demanded a pen which would not stain his hands or clothes. It held ink in a reservoir and, as with modern pens, fed ink to the nib by a combination of gravity and capillary action.

14 The system of numbering in use all round the world is probably Indian in origin but the style of the numerals is Arabic and first appears in print in the work of the Muslim mathematicians al-Khwarizmi and al-Kindi around 825. Algebra was named after al-Khwarizmi's book, Al-Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah, much of whose contents are still in use. The work of Muslim maths scholars was imported into Europe 300 years later by the Italian mathematician Fibonacci. Algorithms and much of the theory of trigonometry came from the Muslim world. And Al-Kindi's discovery of frequency analysis rendered all the codes of the ancient world soluble and created the basis of modern cryptology.

15 Ali ibn Nafi, known by his nickname of Ziryab (Blackbird) came from Iraq to Cordoba in the 9th century and brought with him the concept of the three-course meal - soup, followed by fish or meat, then fruit and nuts. He also introduced crystal glasses (which had been invented after experiments with rock crystal by Abbas ibn Firnas - see No 4).

16 Carpets were regarded as part of Paradise by medieval Muslims, thanks to their advanced weaving techniques, new tinctures from Islamic chemistry and highly developed sense of pattern and arabesque which were the basis of Islam's non-representational art. In contrast, Europe's floors were distinctly earthly, not to say earthy, until Arabian and Persian carpets were introduced. In England, as Erasmus recorded, floors were "covered in rushes, occasionally renewed, but so imperfectly that the bottom layer is left undisturbed, sometimes for 20 years, harbouring expectoration, vomiting, the leakage of dogs and men, ale droppings, scraps of fish, and other abominations not fit to be mentioned". Carpets, unsurprisingly, caught on quickly.

17 The modern cheque comes from the Arabic saqq, a written vow to pay for goods when they were delivered, to avoid money having to be transported across dangerous terrain. In the 9th century, a Muslim businessman could cash a cheque in China drawn on his bank in Baghdad.

18 By the 9th century, many Muslim scholars took it for granted that the Earth was a sphere. The proof, said astronomer Ibn Hazm, "is that the Sun is always vertical to a particular spot on Earth". It was 500 years before that realisation dawned on Galileo. The calculations of Muslim astronomers were so accurate that in the 9th century they reckoned the Earth's circumference to be 40,253.4km - less than 200km out. The scholar al-Idrisi took a globe depicting the world to the court of King Roger of Sicily in 1139.

19 Though the Chinese invented saltpetre gunpowder, and used it in their fireworks, it was the Arabs who worked out that it could be purified using potassium nitrate for military use. Muslim incendiary devices terrified the Crusaders. By the 15th century they had invented both a rocket, which they called a "self-moving and combusting egg", and a torpedo - a self-propelled pear-shaped bomb with a spear at the front which impaled itself in enemy ships and then blew up.

20 Medieval Europe had kitchen and herb gardens, but it was the Arabs who developed the idea of the garden as a place of beauty and meditation. The first royal pleasure gardens in Europe were opened in 11th-century Muslim Spain. Flowers which originated in Muslim gardens include the carnation and the tulip.

LGBT asylum petition

LGBT Greens launch petition to push Urgent review of Home Office approaches to LGBT asylum

Calls for instruction, training and guidance for all asylum staff


Phelim Mac Cafferty, media spokesperson for LGBT Greens stated:

“After much campaigning on the issue since the cases of Iranian LGBT asylum seekers Pegah Emembakhsh and Mehdi Kazemi came to light, we have got clearance from the web team on the Prime Minister’s website for our petition.

“We now challenge the government to start treating LGBT asylum seekers with the fairness that they deserve. These are people who’ve often fled persecution, rape and torture who flee to our country and our response is to lock them up like criminals. We say enough is enough of this inhumane policy- we need to stick our necks out now and stand up for LGBT asylum seekers.”

The full text of the petition is at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/lgbtasylum/ and below-

In the light of the cases of Pegah Emembakhsh and Mehdi Kazemi, Iranian LGBT asylum seekers, who sought asylum in the UK , we call upon the Prime Minister for an urgent review of the services provided for all LGBT asylum seekers. In particular we think that the following are needed for fair treatment -

1. Compulsory training for all asylum staff on sexual-orientation and trans-awareness.

2. Explicit instructions to all immigration and asylum staff, and asylum judges, that homophobic and transphobic persecution are legitimate grounds for granting asylum.

3. Clearer and up-to-date guidance from the Home Office for asylum judges to reflect the accurate scale of LGBT persecution throughout the world using expert information from NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

4. Legal-aid funding for asylum claims needs to be substantially increased.

Imperialism Is the Arsonist: Marxism’s Contribution to Ecological Literatures and Struggles

Derek Wall ’s article entitled  Imperialism Is the Arsonist: Marxism’s Contribution to Ecological Literatures and Struggles , argues that Ma...