Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Nafferton Green Party councillor explores energy scheme

from Driffield Times, Dec 09.

Mike Jackson, Nafferton, (and also East Yorkshire Parliamentary candidate) proposes a new energy efficiency scheme, where residents may get external funding.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Justice for Jane, sacked after 31 years.


PCS has launched a campaign to defend a rep sacked from her job at Land Registry in Weymouth. Jane Brooke's only offence appears to have been to make an industrial injury complaint against her employers.

Surveillance was conducted on six members of staff at the Weymouth Office in breach of both the Data Protection and Human Rights Acts. The Land Registry pursued this seemingly dubious investigation, conducted a hearing in breach of its own procedures and then acted as both prosecutor and judge.

As a result of this process Jane was summarily dismissed. She was given five minutes to collect her personal effects, while a senior member of staff stood guard. Having worked in the same office for 31 years with an unblemished record, this is absolutely devastating for both Jane and her colleagues.

Her union, PCS, are building the campaign to defend Jane and demand her re-instatement.

Messages of support should be sent to Jane via justiceforjane@pcs.org.uk

The top 10 stories not brought to you by mainstream news (US)

Project Censored: The top 10 stories not brought to you by mainstream news media in 2009 (indyweek.com)

Torrents are bringing down the movie industry? Hollywood eyes record $10 billion box office for 2009... (reuters.com)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Why be worried about Prince Charles?

Today's Guardian's story about Prince Charles writing letters to Government Departments is a storm in a (bone china) teacup. Why make a fuss about it? PC poses no threat to what's left of British democracy. I see him as being a 'particularly famous person' and I'm therefore more interested in what he says in the light of its impact on public opinion. PC is often voicing the views of his charities. There's no doubt he makes some very good points - about the appalling implications of genetic modification ; about the need for healthy communities; about climate change, sustainability, buildings, human abuse of nature and so on. Yes, PC does have more opportunity than many of us to see the bigger world picture (and that's not to say everything he says is right) so his personal view is worth hearing... and given the same weight as anyone else's.

Greens say that the constitutional functions of the monarchy should be abolished and the House of Lords be replaced with an elected chamber. This would leave PC as a public figure much as he is now. As several people have already said above, why are govt depts so worried about it? I suggest its because his views on the big issues like GM are opposed to the grey political parties' 'Save the Corporations and Save Us' stance.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Susan, Beverley, and the Polar Bear Rap

Susan the Polar Bear joined our mini 'Copenhagen' demo with some young activists in Beverley, Saturday.

Susan performed her own Polar Bear Rap which was very popular with some of our younger citizens who joined in enthusiastically. She also invited people to the Greens' fundraising bash at Hodgson's, (Flemingate, Beverley) on Tuesday 15th December 7.30: The Harri Watts Band, Knu, veggie pie and pea supper and a quiz - all for a fiver (£6 on the door). All welcome.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel.

Hull Daily Mail: River Humber Coal

Shan Oakes said: “Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel. Clean coal technology and Carbon capture has not been tested on a wide-scale commercial basis.

“It is expensive and requires a long-term commitment. We should be investing in renewable energy – we have the technology and we have this gigantic estuary that we should be harnessing the power of.

“Reverting to old fossil fuels just is going backwards. We need to be vigilant that companies do not see the Humber as a backwater where they can get away with doing things they couldn’t elsewhere.”

Shan Oakes is Press Officer for the Hull and East Riding Green Party.

East Riding Mail

Cllr. Mike Jackson, Nafferton, letter in Driffield Times

"We're one less campaigner now."

Many people have heard by now of the tragic death of Ray Jessop on Monday in a fall while at work.
Ray ran the Animal Rights stall at Hull Green Fair and at Beverley Green Fair. Ray delighted in hippiedom and loved his music, his reggae, and ska, and dancing at Payback at the Adelphi. We remember his long black hair, his piercings, his oversize inserted earring, his strange choice of drinks, his easy humour, his enjoyment of green festivals, his love of going out with his mates, sometimes turning up for nights out in a dress!
Ray was also my only company, sometimes, on trips up to Menwith Hill - to support CAAB's efforts to get rid of the leading American spybase there. He was always delightfully suspicious of coppers and many of the powers that be.
Ray was a pagan, and had he lived in the country rather than off Anlaby Road, would have been as at one with nature as he was at one having a drink down at Pave. Ray was a regular supporter of our Hull Palestine Solidarity group and at the protests in Hull at the start of last year.
Ray lived out his values, was not only a vegetarian but a vegan, and committed to a number of causes. He had a zest for life, both for getting much enjoyment from it and doing his bit to help protect other beings whether human victims of war or whether animal vicitms of abuse. He will be sadly missed.
We're one less campaigner now.
Martin Deane, Hull Greens

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Hi from Love Music Hate Racism, Sunday 29th, Hull City Hall

Hiya! Come see the Transition Hull stall at City Hall for "Love Music Hate Racism"!!

Why not say Hi to Transition's Vicky or Lausanne and find out what we're up to next!?!

Cheers, Martin Deane

Friday, 20 November 2009

GP Meeting, Beverley Fundraiser, Regional meet

Green Party meeting
Last Thursday of the month -
Thu 26th Nov, 7.30pm,

King's Head, High Street, Nafferton.
Details of lift on Hull 471467, Beverley 862085.

Regional Meeting York.
Phone 471467 if interested.

Green Fundraiser - Pie and Peace night - Raise the Roof!
Hodgsons, Beverley, Dec 15th, 7.30pm

No tuition fees at Danish educational institutions

"There are no tuition fees at Danish educational institutions." Actually you get payed ~$1,000 each month for studying. (su.dk) - Green policy seeks to reintroduce grants at university. We're essentially a rich country and we prize education. However, given the billions spent rescuing banks from their own greed, the billions spent on war, the billions promised to Trident, and the billions the nuclear power industry is likely to cost us, it would be nice is there were something left by the time we get some Green MPs. - md

Russia confirms death penalty ban (news.bbc.co.uk)

2010 Sweatshop Hall of Shame

The official inductees of the 2010 Sweatshop Hall of Shame are: Abercrombie and Fitch, Gymboree, Hanes, Ikea, Kohl’s, LL Bean, Pier 1 Imports, Propper International, and Walmart (laborrights.org)

That's firstly a US list (although Walmart owns ASDA) but UK suppliers aren't immune and we need to be aware that Fair Trade, let alone organic, suppliers need to be sought out. But don't despair, there are many Fair Trade suppliers now so it's worth browsing around -

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Odds are you didn't have flu or swine flu!

Interesting Brasscheck replay of a few (US) news reports - saying actual analyses of cases shows extremely few of those cases thought to be swine flu by doctors, actually were.

In other words Obama's declaration of a national emergency was not warranted. Meanwhile, Brown has spent over £500 million (the exact figure not released!) on Baxter's and GSK's vaccine for this "pandemic". The debate about the nature of H1N1 DNA still remains -see Swine Flu Virus Created from Pig Vaccine? - All this, along with Baxter's delivery in March of an incredible 72 kilos of vaccine contaminated with (deadly) live bird flu virus (difficult to catch but 70% fatal!) to labs in Europe for use on people. The entire episode stinks. We've been played by the pharmaceutical industry. - md

70,000 blast government for targeting ordinary people for the rich

Dublin, Ireland brought to standstill. 70,000 blast government for targeting ordinary people for the rich (irishcentral.com) - Damn right. Shame it's just Dublin. - md

In a dramatic intervention, the US ambassador in Kabul warns against sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan. (news.bbc.co.uk) - Obama is planning to send 40,000 more. Idiot. - md

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Protection for children under five overturned by MPs

Hull and East Riding Green Party: Next Meeting
7.30pm, Thu 26th November
King's Head, Nafferton

URGENT -- please take action by the end of Wednesday

Welfare Reform Bill -- protection for children under five overturned by MPs

MPs supporting the government tonight brutally overturned the amendment won in the Lords, which protected single parents of children under five from losing benefit for not doing "work-related activity". Single parent families could have their benefit cut by 40%. This is an outrageous attack on single mothers who are looking after children full-time. 236 MPs voted against the government, and some made clear that mothers’ caring work is a vital contribution to society. It should be recognised not penalised.

Please write to the Lords who backed the amendment to urge them to keep this important protection for children, and let them know the strength of feeling in the community on this issue. Personal statements from mothers, fathers and carers are most convincing.

Lord Freud, the Conservative Lord who led on this amendment, will raise it again when the Bill goes back to the Lords on Thursday at 11.30am. We have another chance of defeating the government on their uncaring policy.

Fax number for the Lords: 020 7219 5979 (mark for the attention of the Peer you are writing to.)

(As time is short, please send your letters direct, don’t rely on us to forward them, but do send us a copy at womenstrike8m@server101.com
Fax 020 7209 4761)

Please write to:


· Chris Scott
Conservative Office, House of Lords – has undertaken to pass on emails received by end of Wednesday.

· Lord Freud
Fax: 020 7219 5979 – mark attention Lord Freud
Tel: 020 7219 4907

· Lord Taylor of Holbeach CBE
Tel: 020 7219 4051

· Baroness Morris of Bolton OBE
Tel: 020 7219 5353

Liberal Democrats

· Baroness Celia Thomas
Tel: 020 7219 3586

· Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope
Fax: 020 7219 5979 – mark Attention Lord Kirkwood
(no email)


· Lord Northbourne
Tel: 020 7219 3884
Fax: 020 7219 5933

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The problems with Ed’s Energy plans

Labour plans to build a number of nuclear reactors around Britain. Martin Deane, of Hull and East Riding Green Party, responds:

“With serious, nationwide, energy conservation we could really cut our fuel consumption and our fuel bills. With real investment in green energy – that’s all sorts of renewables - we could create jobs and renew manufacturing. That's the Green Party's New Deal.

“It’s actually energy conservation – not nuclear power - that’s the top priority for Britain now. If we all use less – by good insulation, high standards in low power goods, the less it will cost us and the less we’ll have to make.

“Now, when it comes to making it, all the major sources have major drawbacks. Nuclear power is not immune. But renewables, especially wind, has a number of plusses which this government is about to ignore, bigtime."

Martin Deane highlights the following problems with the government's nuclear policy:
  • What about pollution costs? The pollution from nuclear reactors can’t all be dumped on countries we don’t like, as depleted uranium. There are also CO2 costs all along the building of hi-tech nuclear plants
  • Where is our energy security? Britain is almost wholly dependent on foreign resources for power – oil, gas, coal, uranium.
  • Nuclear power gets many subsidies and incentives. Where are the incentives for wind power? – Vestas moved to America!
  • Labour is friends with big business – nuclear is definitely that. - It even has its own armed police force, costing £57 million a year.
  • The huge hidden costs could mean the destruction of the Kalahari environment and millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions a year (Observer)
  • The plans are huge, expensive and hi-tech, needing huge areas of uranium mining – when half the usable world’s uranium could already be gone.
  • And the Tories will do much the same.

“It’s no secret that Labour is friends with big business – and nuclear power is big business. Increasing control and ownership of all this energy production will go to largely foreign businesses. Haven't we seen enough energy price rises? And where’s our input? With present Labour policy it will be lucky if Parliament gets a say, let alone you or me.”

“There are alternatives to nuclear power - and which are non polluting - and which have a very low emissions footprint - and whose technology is relatively simple - and the energy is naturally renewable! Look at what Green councilllors have achieved in Huddersfield: created hundreds of jobs through energy conservation and renewables, saved ordinary people over £5 million on fuel bills, and lowered emissions. Who in Hull wouldn't want that?"


Martin Deane

Hull & East Riding Green Party

Radioactive waste to be put in £18bn hole - Times Online

Monday, 9 November 2009

Coming Events

Hitchcock's Green Meal
Weds. 11 Nov. 8pm
A GP fundraiser, about 25 signed up so far. Come join us!
Vegetarian fare, Afghan and Palestinian food theme.

Hull Green Fair
Sat .21 Nov, 10-4pm
Lots of stalls, homemade food, teas, organised by Friends of the Earth.

Green Party Meeting, Hull and East Riding
Thu 26 Nov, 7.30pm
Nafferton/ Driffield, TBC.


Government's chief scientist backs David Nutt on cannabis - Telegraph (telegraph.co.uk)

Friday, 6 November 2009

Wow - but be careful now... GM kids, tsk.

Scientists reverse engineer HIV, use it to deliver gene to two children that cures them of their neurological disorder: inserting healthy genes into living children... (medpagetoday.com) -

Meanwhile - Nanoparticles could damage DNA at a distance, study suggests (guardian.co.uk)

Global oil production plateau since 2005

So global oil production is on a plateau since 2005.
Soon, like next year, we can expect a decline in global production.
The IEA revised it's figures last November - DOUBLING the decline rate.
It went from 3.7% per year to 6.7% per year.
100 / 6.7 gives 15 years.
Ie, all the usable/reachable oil is gone in 15 years. That's 2024.
So maybe we should, just possibly, a little bit maybe, value renewables and value public transport.

- Martin Deane, for Hull North 2010

Unlimited Money For Wars and Wall Street

Dennis Kucinich "Why Is It We Have Finite Resources For Health Care But Unlimited Money For Wars and Wall Street and Insurance Companies? (youtube.com) - Dennis Kucinich is probably the most left-leaining, progressive in the House. Tells it as it is.

Senator Bernie Sanders introduces "Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act" in 2-pages (commondreams.org) - can't come soon enough, America!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Czech leader signs Lisbon Treaty (news.bbc.co.uk) - Boo. We don't support the Lisbon Treaty. Given a referendum Britain would have turned it down completely. It's undemocratic. It's a stitch-up. Once again we are going to have to fight the big banks and corporations and their political representatives - because they are certainly not the people's representatives. - md

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Deane: Alan Johnson out of order making cannabis Class B

"The Labour Party - in its death throes - is thrashing around for what remains of the right-wing vote by reclassifying cannabis as Class B", says Martin Deane of Hull Green Party, speaking on the recent government sacking of drugs adviser Prof. Nutt.

"Instead of sacking his adviser, the Home Secretary should be using the Professor's scientific advice. Professor Nutt should be reinstated immediately."

"Instead of becoming even more right wing, Labour should be adopting radical and progressive views such as those of the Green Party - views supported by the vast majority of the public as well as by science.

"Like the attrition against asylum seekers - which pretends to be tackling immigration - Alan Johnson is out of order demonising cannabis and pretending government is really concerned about the toll that drugs take on Britain.

"Cannabis is being made Class B by a Class D government. This was a decision out of pure political expediency."

Martin Deane


Hurrah! We get something back. Sort of. -
UK High street banks to be broken up (telegraph.co.uk)

Cynthia McKinney, leader of the US Green Party, tells of her journey

Death Penalty World Map [pic] (upload.wikimedia.org)

US Net Neutrality - House, Senate get separate bills to kill net neutrality - Things are looking bleak. (arstechnica.com)

No surprise here - More Americans Prefer Public Option to Bipartisan Bill (blogs.abcnews.com)

"The Obama administration has essentially adopted the position of the Bush administration in these cases, even though candidate Obama was incredibly critical of both the warrantless wiretapping program and the Bush administration's abuse of the state secrets privilege" Change? (news.yahoo.com)

As it gets worse over there, so too will it here - Big banks will not be forced to downsize and the public will be the last to know when they fail, a controversial bill unveiled by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Congressman Barney Frank proposes....

Thursday, 29 October 2009

The tale of Amendment 3, Marine Reserves Bill

To those who have followed the Marine Reserves Campaign in recent days, I posted the following today on the Marine Reserves Site:

The tale of Amendment 3 – The Report Stage 28th October, 2009

Monday (26 Oct) saw the last debate on the Marine Bill after 11 months of debate in both Houses. The last action, at 10 pm, was a division of the House on Amendment 3, proposed by Katy Clark MP.

The vote was lost (For 158, Against 246)

There were various amendments introduced by the government, and not voted on. So there will be a little time before we see the complete picture.

Hansard records the following: (27 Oct)

Nick Herbert (Con): …I am disappointed that, as a consequence of lack of time at the end of the debate, there was not more opportunity yesterday to discuss all the concerns about MCZs, particularly the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Ms Clark).

The Minister advanced technical arguments why a power could not be given to the Secretary of State to designate a marine conservation zone for the protection of a whole ecosystem, but as Friends of the Earth said, that power could have been used to restrain damaging activities where a whole ecosystem could be put under threat. Given that the amendment created only a power, not a duty, I hope the Government noted the force of the argument.

Mr. Gummer(Con): Is it not disappointing that on two occasions, once today and once yesterday, when the Government have done so much on the Bill, they failed to understand that giving a commitment such as protecting an ecosystem is crucial for people outside to believe that we understand how all this works? To deny that is to say something very old-fashioned—that we can pick bits out and defend those, without understanding that the ecosystem as a whole is what we ought to be concerned to preserve.

Nick Herbert: I agree with my right hon. Friend. It was a shame that there were, apparently, reasons, I believe they were largely technical, why the amendment could not be accepted. It created a power for the Secretary of State to have regard to the issues of a whole ecosystem. It is true that rather too much of the work of nature conservation is process-driven, so we have to remember that creating a marine conservation zone is not an end in itself. We should be focused on outcomes and should, therefore, be looking for tangible results from the designation of those protected areas.

- The Tories supported the MARINET amendment. It is clear from this that we may have lost the vote – but did not lose the argument. The new role of the Campaign will be addressed in a later post. Watch this space.

Bill Rigby, Beverley


Letter to the Inde: No flap over Sharia Law demo?

Dear Sir,

Whilst considerable heat has been released into the intellectual stratosphere following the appearance of Nick Griffin on BBC television's Question Time, I do not seem to have noticed any protest about the public platform afforded to those Muslims who demonstrated today in order to demand that Shari'a law beinstituted in the U.K.- a law which, according to reports, would insist that all British women wear the burqa, and which would stone to death those involved in non-marital sexual activity.

Moderate Muslims do not promote these aspects of Islam, but I fear that the advocation of stoning, at least, can be found in the Q'ran. (Forgive me if I am wrong.) Whatever the truth of the matter, such views are as abhorrent to me, as a free UK woman, as the views of the BNP, but I do not hear the flapping in the left wing chicken coop. Naturally, people will say that there is no chance at all of Shari'a Law taking over Britain, and that is undoubtedly the case but the expression of such attitudes should surely produce some comment at least. Or are we too polite, too afraid of causing offence to one group of extremists yet descending like a pack on another?

Yours faithfully,

Susan Harr, Hull


UK Government's chief drug adviser has claimed ecstasy, LSD and cannabis are less dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol. (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Carl Sagan: Pale Blue Dot

On November 18, 1992, more than 1,600 scientists, including 104 Nobel laureates, from around the world endorsed a warning... (webdigger.org)

UN flew in starving African kids to be part of staged 'feeding exhibit' for G8 wives on camera (abovetopsecret.com)

Obama declares a national emergency over H1N1 swine flu - meanwhile 62% of Americans have no intention of getting it anyway (latimes.com)

John Prescott Climate Champion...

We had a great time at the Guildhall Climate Day in Hull yesterday!

Stealing the show with a late entry was former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. Prescott gave a vigorous account of his involvement with global climate change policy, from Kyoto to upcoming Copenhagen. Again and again he mentioned the importance of fairness and justice in what should come out of Copenhagen and mentioned the dangers of intransigence (especially from the American Congress which has to approve any international agreements). A number of times he praised the example of leadership that Britain was giving by sticking to its Kyoto targets, something only France and Germany have also achieved.

Prezza was a bit cavalier with figures, quoting America at 20tCO2 per head and a total of 20Gt - but the computer says no. (Current US figures are 25tCO2 per person, for a total of 7.5Gt.)

A number of questions sought to breach the bluff, breezy, congenial exterior but few could gain purchase... The Green Party's Shan Oakes brought up the third runway at Heathrow, which government supports but green campaigners nationwide have been campaigning against (hence the UK scoring poorly on the transport indicator below).

So how are the G8 Countries really doing? (Animation)

From 2008 to 2009, the UK has slipped from being number 1 to number 2, second to Germany.

So far we're good at keeping our Kyoto targets and curbing our emissions re. GDP, but we're not yet set for our overall target for 2050.

But we're so-so at -
  • lowering the 10 year emissions trend
  • the adoption of renewables (75% of wind applications are being fought and lost)
  • emissions per head, household and services policy,
  • leading negotiation
  • electricity and nuclear policy
  • renewables policy
  • industrial policy
What Britain is poor at -
  • curbing our emissions per head which are still high. (Prescott would immediately answer but look at America and China who account for half of ALL emissions between them. Ok, America is way out in front with 25 tonnes CO2 per person, China way behind per head at 6tC02 (UK is 11t)).
  • CO2 emissions per unit of electricity
  • energy efficiency in industry
  • transport policy
The emphasis on justice is very helpful. But 9 million die from hunger a year, and another 9 million die from simple diseases. So what makes us think we can solve any climate problem in a fair way? As I wrote in my prepared words, I'm sure we CAN solve these problems, but I'm not sure we WILL.

(In fairness - to the truth - nobody brought up Iraq, and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths that ought to be on the conscience of every public representative who voted for it, let alone the carbon footprint of war, unnecessary or not. The massive use of deplet6ed uranium - a leftover from the nuclear industry. The growth of incinerators in Britain. Our actual rate of recycling.)

Meanwhile, while we all worry abourt energy and CO2, let's ask our MP's to vote for Amendment 3 for the Marine Bill this Monday. If you don't know why then watch The End of the Line, Channel4. We could solve this problem too. But I'm not sure we WILL...


Endless war in Afghanistan is an absolute necessity. Health care for Americans is a luxury that can wait. (salon.com)

Friday, 23 October 2009

Unite Against Fascism Demo, Hull.

A UAF demo was held in Hull to mark the BBC Question Time decision to give the BNP a platform on its flagship politics slot.

A good 50 supporters turned out at the BBC on the evening. I went to support and met a number of old friends who have campaigned on many issues over the years. The demo was well-supported by a good crowd of young people from the Warren Youth Centre across the road. The last thing Britain needs now is an empahasis of extreme right politics. - MD

Public must learn to 'tolerate the inequality' of bonuses, says Goldman Sachs exec (guardian.co.uk) - Yeah, when Hull freezes over!

1 shot of gene therapy and children with congenital blindness can now see. (eurekalert.org)

The Ethiopian government has asked the international community for emergency food aid for 6.2 million people. (news.bbc.co.uk)

Should an elderly relative become mentally incapacitated, through Alzheimer's or whatever, this is how government can get your money, since 2007.

Hull Greens at UNA Climate Change Event, Saturday.

IEA oil decline estmate jumped from 3.7% to 6.7% last year.

George Monbiot talks to Fatih Birol, IEA, about the implications of this.

IEA oil decline estimate slides from 3.7% (2007) to 6.7% (Dec 2008) after studying 800 oil fields.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Hull and East Riding Greens update :-

  • Hull Uni Amnesty meets: TUE 20 OCT, 6.15pm, Wheatsheaf, Hull Uni. Upcoming Hull protest on Burma. ( Facebook )
  • THU 22 OCT: Hull Anti-Fascist Rally, BBC Queen's Gardens, 5PM.
  • THU 22 OCT: Hull Uni. Amnesty @ Adelphi, De Grey Street - benefit gig
  • Note: London Afghan Demo (Sat 24th): Hull minibus UNLIKELY as only 4 takers so far.
  • SAT 31 OCT: "The End of Suburbia" - Hull Transition Initiative, at the Boulevard Village Hall, from 3pm, presents a free film, "The End of Suburbia". With refreshments.


Asylum-seeker deported from UK: 'They gave me $100 and told me to fend for myself in Baghdad' (independent.co.uk)

Stay classy Republicans! With three out of four Senate Republicans voting in favor of rape, we can be sure that rape is a Republican value. A big thank you to these Senators for protecting liberty, and freedom (including the freedom of companies to cover up rape!) (republicansforrape.org)

Come visit the country that was too extreme, too controversial and too scary to make it into 'SiCKO.' (youtube)

Pfizer to pay $1.3 billion criminal fine for mis-branding its drugs (naturalnews.com)

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Grave mistake to attack Afghanistan in 2001

Having read Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's article "I'm sorry, but I was wrong to support the war in Afghanistan" (24 August), I would stress that the gravest mistake was to attack the country in October 2001.

I was working in Qatar at the time of the twin towers attack; for the next three weeks, westerners got a lot of sympathy from Muslims in the Middle East. I recall being stopped in the street by a middle-aged Arab and his wife: "We are so sorry about the American attack," they said. "So sorry."

During that time I hoped that the sabre-rattling American administration, with its frontman Bush, would climb down from its threats of revenge. However, vengeance it was to be; and immediately the first bombers went in, the atmosphere changed. Westerners were spat upon in the street, taxis refused to pick some of us up, and two Scandinavians were stabbed in the suq – mistaken for Americans. The American school had to be defended with tanks.

At a time when the west, and primarily the US, could have garnered sympathy and even support from the vast majority of Muslims world-wide, it chose to go down a path which has wreaked the damage we are now seeing, in both poor beleaguered Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Susan Harr


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Beyond the "tragedy of the Commons"

Why the Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to a Political Scientist (ecopolitology.org)

'I Will Not Sign Lisbon Treaty' - Czech President (timesonline.co.uk)

The Final Word About the Swine Flu? US government has successfully pulled off the fear propaganda campaign of our time... (westernfrontamerica.com)

Visiting Christiania in Copenhagen

Yesterday we visited Christiania, an amazing example of alternative living. Look them up.

Leif's Seven Year Vigil

Today we met a guy Leif Poulsen, www.fredsvagt.dk who has been on a daily anti war vigil outside of the Parliament for seven years, protesting against the Afghan war. He is in touch with Brian Haw and we said we'd show the photos to Brian.

Biking in Copenhagen

This morning we got a call from Peter Levy's team, asking for an interview on BBC Radio Humberside to talk about fining people who put the wrong stuff in their trash. So we went to the Copenhagen city department which looks after recycling to see what happens here - and took the call for the interview (as you can see).

By the time they rang, they had changed their mind and wanted to talk about proposals to make people pay to drive on motorways! Anyway we had an opportunity to say we were here for a European Green Party conference and how we had come by train, and how great the biking is here.

We took the opportunity to talk to their bike people and came away with all sorts of ideas and contacts for Hull and York.


Monday, 12 October 2009

Hull and East Riding Green Party Meeting, Oct 29th.

Hull and East Riding
Green Party Meeting
Thursday Oct 29th, 7.30pm, at Pearson Park Hotel

Right in the parish! (with refreshments available and disabled access). We intend to meet on the last Thursday of the month for regularity. Venues will change so keep your witz about you. If you are in Hull North, and unsure if you're on the voting roll, then get in touch and I can tell you. (07812 838701).

All welcome for a good debate.

Britain has worst quality of life in Europe, study says. (telegraph.co.uk)

Bill Moyers on PBS describes just how bad the US financial situation is for ordinary people. And why. Britain take note.


UNA Hull - Climate Day at the Guildhall, Oct. 24th

At. 24th Oct, 10am - 4pm, Guildhall, Alfred Gelder Street, Hull.

with the Lord Mayor.
Stalls from One World Fairtrade Hull, Hull Friends of the Earth, Hull Transition Initiative, Hull Greens, with ongoong presentations on different issues through the day.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Weds. 11th Nov, 8pm onwards.
Yes, it's another excuse to go to Hitchcock's! And there can never be too many of those!

We've booked 15 places at £15 a head (a significant portion of this goes to the party, thankyou Jane and Bruce!). Places will fill up fast so get in touch quick. I will look to extend this if needed. The food theme for the night will be based on Palestinian and Afghan food, in honour of our two long-standing campaigns on those issues. Hitchcock's is a vegetarian restaurant at 1 Bishops Lane, High St, Hull. It is an upstairs venue where people can bring their own drinks, a corkage fee may apply. - Hope to see you there!

The public could earn cash by watching CCTV cameras at home. The website will offer up to £1,000 if viewers spot crimes in progress. (news.bbc.co.uk)

The cycle supporting the arms trade must stop

A Message from Hull and East Riding Green Party to BAE Systems
30 SEP 2009
The Greens have always worked for Justice and Fairness and we want to get this message across for the general election - as emphasised at our Conference.
Greens are batting for fairness for people and planet, for the workers, and no other party is doing that. Labour have failed dismally over the last 12 years.
Freedom and justice are worth fighting for. Unfairness in the UK is rife. Take the issue of recent unjust unwinnable wars - totally supported by Labour and Tories. Iraq has already been withdrawn from. Our Afghanistan resolution at Conference says we want an immediate withdrawal of all UK forces, withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, and a regional agreement with Afghanistan's neighbours (Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), together with Russia and China and the UN, to hold a peace conference with the aim of establishing a new Afghan government which will have the support of the Afghan people.
If the UK wants to deal with problems of refugees and alienation in our society we have to sort out our policies with our allies not only on Afghanistan but also Palestine, Somalia & the Horn of Africa.
In the context of a global reduction of war - which surely we all want - there will be a reduced need for armaments. At the moment there is a vicious cycle of political and economic pressure supporting the arms trade which supports war which supports the arms trade and so on. This cycle must stop.
Our policy is to redirect the valuable skills of the armaments industry towards progressive manufacturing - such as the complex machinery required to extract energy from the tides, the waves and of course wind.
As things stand, the UK has no manufacturing capacity in any of these areas, despite the fact that it’s a certainty that such technology needs to be on stream in a very short time. Despite the fact that the British Isles are very windy and surrounded by sea, there are zero turbines manufactured in Britain now.
The Vestas issue (600 jobs lost) illustrates the confusion successive governments have created. For decades it should have been clear that the UK should be developing and making alternative energy technology, low energy houses, trains, for example - and not buying from abroad. That's more important than an economy which is dependent on arms.
Other EU countries, including Germany, are making large scale joint investment in solar energy designed to harvest the energy in the north African Desert - an essential complement to the intermittent supply which wind energy on its own will provide. The UK is absent from this consortium.

But what does Government do? - In a policy supported by the Tories, it gives a £1 billion subsidy per year to the arms industry.

BAE is the main recipient of this subsidy, and yet BAE has already shed many hundreds of jobs in the region in the last two years. We are told there used to be 8,000 people working at Brough - now it’s 1650. As a single product manufacturer it is just as vulnerable as the car manufacturers at Cowley, Luton and Longbridge. BAE Brough, this key plant, will be the first to suffer if they're making something that no-one wants, and with no plans for retooling.
If there is a lessening of tension in the world - and let’s hope that there will be - are we ready to reap the benefit of any ‘peace dividend’? No. It seems that the old-style politicians in this country (aping the United States) lack imagination. They assume the economy needs continuing war and quest for oil, even though there is a sane, sensible and peaceful alternative.

The Green New Deal promotes green jobs, greening the economy, green energy, modifying existing houses, and public transport development. Greens would address financial injustice: eg. limit bankers’ bonuses and close down offshore tax havens, since tax evasion is, in effect, white-collar crime.
The Greens are clear about supporting ordinary people, workers, whilst challenging big business when it exploits people and planet.

Shan Oakes:
Parliamentary candidate for Haltemprice and Howden
Tel: 07769 607710

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Not So Stupid | Hull CAAT Meeting

Quick reminder about 2 meetings today -
"Not So Stupid" @ 2pm-4pm, Boulevard
Village Hall, Boulevard, Hull
A follow-up to the screening of Age of Stupid this week.
The Story of Stuff / Discussion on consumerism, climate change, oil decline.
By Transition Hull

Hull CAAT meeting, 2-4pm, Friends Meeting House, Bean Street.
Particularly after this weeks' encouraging news, as below.

In case you missed yesterday's encouraging news...

Fraud office seeks BAE's prosecution over bribery

The Guardian's comment pages, from today and yesterday, are also
worth a look especially in tackling the issue of arms industry jobs...

BAE immunity for jobs' sake? Yeah right
Mark Thomas

BAE's government-backed rip-off
Clare Short

The SFO is right to pursue BAE
Lord Goldsmith

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Pack Rats and the Demise of Petra

A cautionary tale worthy of Jared Diamond's "Collapse". The question for today is: How close is humanity to global collapse?

IN 1849, a group of hungry gold prospectors were crossing the Nevada desert when they noticed strange glistening balls of a gummy substance littering the top of a cliff. The men had not eaten a proper meal for days, so they ate the sweet‑tasting spheres. In a few minutes, all were violently sick, though each managed to survive the ordeal.

Now this faintly distasteful story has one interesting feature ‑ it is the first recorded inter­action of man and pack rat mid­den. Today, pack rat middens, as we call these shiny spheres, are widely known among scien­tists because of their power to shed light on our remote history ‑ from the dawn of modern humans, 40,000 years ago, right up to relatively recent events, including the fall of the Byzan­tine empire.

It all sounds very peculiar, so let us take a look at the creature responsible: the pack rat, or the wood rat, or Neotoma, of which there are 22 different species. Pack rats can be pale buff col­our, grey or reddish brown, with white undersides and feet. They measure from between nine and 19 inches in length. They are found throughout North and Central America in a range of habitats, from deserts to forests and mountains. They sound fairly ordinary creatures. However, the pack rat has one particular habit that makes it quite distinctive ‑ its nest‑building habits.

Scientists have discovered that pack rats protect them­selves by building dens out of any debris coming their way—twigs, fragments of food, pieces of plant and waste products of other animals. Pack rats live in these dens which fill up with their excrement and become saturated with their urine.

This latter, fairly disgusting addition crystallises and cements the den into a bricklike consistency. It then becomes a midden. The miners' reaction to these gummy balls is therefore not surprising. However, their scientific importance was only recently appreciated, when researchers discovered, in Nev­ada again; an old pack rat mid­den filled with fragments of juniper, a plant that not grown there for thousands of years.

So they dated the midden and found that it was 9,300 years old! Yet inside it were the per­fectly preserved remains of the plants and animals that had thrived in that area many mil­lennia ago. For thousands of years, the pack rat has been creating perfect time capsules of past life on Earth. Essentially, the pack rat col­lects detritus for several months from land in a radius of about 50 metres round its den. This material is then preserved in crystallised urine, creating tiny archaeological treasure troves.

Studies of these have already produced one learned tome – Pack Rat Middens, edited by Julio Betancourt, Thomas Van Devender and Paul Martin (University of Arizona Press) – which covers an enormous range of midden investigations: from the reasons why mainland America’s big mammals became extinct 11,000 years ago to alterations in the intensity of cosmic ray bombardments over the past 20,000 years. In addi­tion, reports on middens made by other small mammals are included in the book.

Most intriguing are those chapters that concentrate on the very specific uses of middens, such as the study of the fate of the ancient Byzantine city of Petra, in Jordan. Anyone who has seen the Steven Speilberg and George Lucas film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade will recall the vast, magnificent facades of Petra among which Harrison Ford and Sean Con­nery search for the Holy Grail.

Petra was once a thriving Neolithic village before it became one of the richest cities in the Roman, and later the Byzantine, empires. Then it was abandoned and was not rediscovered until 1812. The question that archaeologists have puzzled over is this: what caused the collapse of Petra?

The solution, decided three researchers from Arizona—Patricia Fall, Steven Falconer and Cynthia Lindquist—might lie with middens. However, as there are no pack rats in the Middle East, they had to search for another, similar den‑making animal, and selected the rock hyrax, of the Procavia family.

The rock hyrax ‑ a rabbit-­sized herbivore ‑ creates mid­dens similar to those of pack rats, and the contents of these fossilised dens were studied by the Arizona scientists for three historical periods: AD300, 500, and 900. These dates roughly correspond to three crucial moments in Petra's history: its Roman heyday, the flowering of its Byzantine phase -and its post-­imperial collapse.

Each midden from these epochs yielded more than 100 plant species and studies of these painted an all too clear picture of the fate of Petra. In the early samples, pollen found in middens came largely from the oak and pistachio trees that once formed vast forests throughout the Mediterranean. But by AD500, these had died out and most pollen came from shrubs, herbs and grasses. By AD900, even these plants had virtually disappeared.

The culprit? Mankind, of course. Two thousand years ago, primitive farmers began clearing land and started cutting down trees for firewood and house construction. With the arrival of the Romans, defores­tation increased dramatically.

Then the Romans left and Byzantine Empire took over. It too collapsed and the inhabit­ants of Petra were left to strug­gle alone in a devastated landscape. They turned to intensive grazing, letting their goats loose to eat their way through every shrub, herb and piece of grass. In the end, only sand dunes were left.

In short, Petra flourished because the city was built in prime, verdant real estate. It collapsed because its inhabitants utterly destroyed the country­side around it and eventually brought themselves to the point of starvation. The shining des­ert round Petra is man made.

It is a depressing but impor­tant story, given our present fears about the environment. The people of Petra were fairly unsophisticated by today's stan­dards but still managed to wreck their local ecology in spectacular fashion. The power of twentieth‑century science is potentially much more destructive.

We clearly have many lessons to learn ‑ and some of these are coming from the very humblest of Earth's creatures.

Robin McKie