Tuesday, 30 January 2007


This is a long posting, but well worth reading and filing. As someone who has campaigned for many years against GM food, I have seen similar lies propagated by the pro-gm lobbyists. Pro-vivisection lobbyists use similar tactics.
Well done to the people on gmwatch for producing these awards.

PANTS ON FIRE AWARDS - 2006http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7495 In 2006 French demonstrators faced gunfire during one anti-GM protest and protesters have faced violence and intimidation on other occasions, while scientists critical of GM have faced gagging, vilification and even dismissal. But in 2006, as in previous years, the GM lobby did its utmost to put a very different story into circulation. This involves manufacturing attacks on farmers, laboratories and scientists, while claiming it is GM opponents that engage in disinformation and cause appalling suffering in the developing world. But those who have really suffered - like the Bt cotton farmers in India who've taken their own lives after their GM crops failed - have been the victims not of opposition to GM but of the cynical campaign of hype orchestrated by promoters of this technology. This is why countering the massive and deceptive push behind GMOs helps defend the interests of the poor, who also suffer when valuable development resources are diverted as a result of GM industry spin and the disinformation disseminated about more productive alternatives to GM agriculture.So here's our pick of some of the most outrageous lies, disinformation, PR chicanery and unfounded abuse smelted by the GM lobby in 2006.


*BIGGEST PACK OF LIES - 2006*The award goes to: Dr C Kameswara Rao, Executive Secretary of the Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education (FBAE) of India for the following: "In the event of Golden Rice, research laboratories, trial fields and even scientific workers were attacked, striking such a fear that led to hiding a handful of prototype Golden Rice seed in a bombproof bunker in an unspecified place in Switzerland." Read the offending articleFrom verbalism and vocalism to vandalismhttp://www.fbae.org/Channels/Views/from_verbalism_and_vocalism_to_vandalism.htm GM Watch comment http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7244

*MOST MISLEADING HEADLINE - 2006* The award goes to:Farmer quits GM trial after phone threats This was the headline that topped an article by The (London) Guardian's science correspondent, Ian Sample. Sample ran with the story without managing to confirm with anybody other than GM industry sources that these threats had actually occurred. The UK farming press subsequently reported that, according to the police, no such threats had been made.Read the offending article http://www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,,1973379,00.html GM Watch commenthttp://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7422 http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7400

*FAKE GENOCIDE AWARD - 2006*Genocide deniers may be about as despicable as it gets in the disinformation stakes, but what about those who manufacture fake crimes against humanity? The 2006 award for spreading such disgusting smears goes to: CS Prakash's AgBioWorld for persistently posting on its AgBioView list articles with claims such as:"In Zambia, where people are starving to death, Greenpeace unleashed their political agenda and probably killed many people." (Why We Need Genetically Modified Crops - Hegemony in Science)http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7174 "Already, alarmist groups have exacted tragedy as the price for their exaggerated fears and peculiar reasoning - once by persuading the president of Zambia to decline genetically modified corn from the United States during a famine." (As millions starve, alarmists block famine solutions) http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7330 There was no tragedy in Zambia when it rejected GM food. Non-GM food was substituted instead. The Zambian Red Cross is unequivocal about this, "We didn't record a single death arising out of hunger." (GM lobbyists' lies over Zambia)http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7092But the material posted by Prakash on AgBioView has included claims by GM lobbyists that "perhaps as many as 20,000 Zambians died" (Roger Bate, American Enterprise Institute) and that "you're talking about literally crimes against humanity" (Willy DeGreef, former Head of Regulatory Affairs at GM giant Syngenta).http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7092 For moreFake Blood on the Maizehttp://freezerbox.com/archive/article.asp?id=339

*PROPAGANDA LAB AWARD - 2006* This award goes to Dr Douglas Powell and his co-authors for: Powell D.A., Blaine K., Morris S., Wilson J., Agronomic and consumer considerations for Bt and conventional sweet-corn, British Food Journal, Vol. 105, No. 10, pp. 700-13. To understand why, we can do no better than turn to New Scientist. Controversy over claims in favour of GM cornNew Scientist (vol 190, No.2553), 27 May 2006, p7http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9235-controversy-over-claims-in-favour-of-gm-corn.html A leading researcher into scientific ethics is calling for the withdrawal of a paper published in the British Food Journal two years ago purporting to show that consumers preferred genetically modified to non-GM sweetcorn. The study, carried out at a farm store in Canada, claimed that sales of the GM crop were 50 per cent higher. The journal later awarded the study a prize as its "most outstanding paper" of 2004.Now the campaign group GM Watch has published a photograph that it says shows a large sign suspended above the non-GM corn during the study that asked: "Would you eat wormy sweet corn?" The GM corn, it claims, was labelled as "quality sweet corn". The paper (vol 105, p700) claims that the corn was marked simply as either genetically engineered or regular.If this is the case, "it is grounds for the journal to retract the article", says Richard Jennings, who studies research conduct at the University of Cambridge. Journal editor Chris Griffith of the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff has refused to withdraw the paper, but says he is willing to publish a letter condemning it followed by a response from the lead author, Doug Powell of Kansas State University.For GM Watch comment and a photo of the "wormy corn" sign:http://www.gmwatch.org/p1temp.asp?pid=72&page= 1For related correspondence in the British Food Journal:http://www.foodsafetynetwork.ca/en/article-details.php?a=3&c=9&sc=62&id=897For a GM Watch profile of Doug Powell:http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=257 GM WATCH AFTERWORD: Just imagine photographic evidence emerging of a bunch of anti-GM scientists running this experiment with a sign asking "Would you eat mutant sweet corn?" over the GM corn. Not only would the paper in which they'd failed to disclose this be withdrawn post-haste, the researchers' careers would suffer terminal damage. But running a propaganda lab seems to be fine and dandy as long as your findings support GM. They'll even give you an award.At least now the researchers have got an award they deserve!

*KILLER HYPE AWARD - 2006*The award for the ruthless promotion of corporate interests with total disregard for the consequences, goes to Monsanto and its subsidiary and sub-licensee seed companies for their use of every PR trick in the book in the pushing of Bt cotton to small farmers in India. The consequences of their actions were writ large in 2006, particularly in the main cotton growing belt of Maharashtra. This is where - with the industry pulling out all the stops, and callous and corrupt local and national politicians joining in the chorus - more farmers were persuaded to opt for Bt cotton than anywhere else in India. And they paid a terrible price. As farmer suicides spiralled, even the Bollywood star paid by Monsanto-Mahyco to hype Bt cotton in Maharashtra disassociated himself from the company and its product. Relevant quote: "Most suicide cases relate to those farming families which have run up huge debts because of the high cost in using the expensive genetically-modified cotton seeds, which have to be bought every year. Crop failures in this situation, therefore, leave farmers with debts they are unable to pay and [they] are then hounded by loan sharks." (All in a day: Six farmers commit suicide, The Times of India) http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/2047898.cms See also the reportEVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK - THE MARKETING OF BT COTTON IN INDIAhttp://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=5741 And a truly heart-breaking article by India's leading development journalist on the failure of this year's Bt cotton harvest in Maharashtra.http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7430

*ORGANIC SLANDER AWARD - 2006* Goes to the journal Nature Biotechnology for an editorial which trumpeted the need for a constant repetition of "basic truths" in order to establish "the facts" and counter the "myths" about the hazards of GM food, while basing itself on a lie.The editorial contrasted the publicity surrounding the E. coli O157 contamination of spinach in the US with that over the GM contamination of US rice. The truth of the E. coli outbreak, claimed the editorial, was that organic spinach apparently caused significant numbers of people to get sick and some possibly to die. Yet the publicity surrounding this calamity was very moderate and restrained, the editorial claimed.But the journal's editors had bought into an anti-organic myth and had failed to establish the facts. There is NO scientific evidence that organic spinach caused anyone to get sick or die! All 13 of the bags of spinach found to contain E. Coli O157 came from conventional farms - not one was organic!In other words, the Nature Biotechnology editorial bases its rallying cry for truth on scare-mongering and baloney about organics. And this is just the latest episode in a long-running campaign to smear organic food and farming, in which GM proponents have played a leading role.http://www.gmwatch.org/p2temp2.asp?aid=7&page=1&op=1 Read the offending articleWhy Silence Is Not An OptionNature Biotechnology, October 2006 Vol. 24 (10), Page 1177 http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=7243

Monday, 29 January 2007


I did my first auction of 2007 yesterday. I conduct the monthly auction at South East Auctions in Paddock Wood in Kent – a very good auction. It was great to be auctioneering again after the Christmas break. We had about 120 buyers there with 740 lots. The pace was hectic with several people bidding on nearly every lot. I aim to do 120 lots per hour – two per minute. It was six hours non-stop selling at a high level of alertness but I finished within three minutes of schedule!
Not many people can achieve that rate of selling for such a sustained length of time, and without a toilet break, but of course, I have conducted over 2,000 auctions. Being a politician also helps, with the ability to keep the crowd happy.

Sometime, I must blog about the history of auctions. I occasionally lecture on the subject, usually entitled ‘2,500 years of auctions – from Ancient Babylon to Internet Auctions’
Auctions were very big in Roman times. They had bankruptcy auctions, Government surplus auctions and even a buyers premium and export licences. The earliest known auctionrooms has been found in Pompeii. At one stage the whole Roman Empire was put up for auction!

I do frequent charity auctions. My most recent one was at the Christmas Without Cruelty Fayre. The prize piece there was a pipe from Tony Benn, mounted on a plaque with a photo of TB smoking the pipe. My friend Shahrar Ali, Policy Coordinator of the London Green Party, bought it. The previous year the prize lot was Miss England’s bikini.

Charity auctions are now huge business in the USA. Recently, I read that the 2006 turnover was estimated to be $37,000,000. I love doing these auctions. They are not as fast as commercial auctions and you can have a great deal of fun. My biggest auction was for ‘Action for Kidz’ It was in a colossal tent in Battersea Park. The tent was so big that we had to have spotters at the back of the hall with light wands! The first lot was a holiday in Hawaii and it sold for £10,000. My warm-up act, that night, was Ben Elton. I bumped into him later and he said to me ‘If everyone in the Green Party could talk as good as you, I would have to consider joining’

Saturday, 27 January 2007


Advance notice of a great new book by Brent Green Party member Miles Litvinoff anf published by Pluto Press which is located just up the road from The Green Room.
By Miles Litvinoff and John Madeley
256pp Published 26th February 2007 / £7.99 •A popular book about a key subject for consumers everywhere •Sales of Fair Trade products are rising by over 40% every year •A book designed to inspire people •Shows how individuals can make a difference •Highly accessible format, short informative chapters •Release timed to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight 26 Feb - 11 March 2007 ‘A lively, accessible and inspiring survey of how fair trade is bringing new hope to poor producers around the world.’ Paul Chandler, Chief Executive, Traidcraft ‘The best and most comprehensive guide around to the principles and practice of fair trade.’ Joanna Blythman, food writer and campaigner ‘This well researched, balanced and inspiring book is a great guide to how and why the empowered individual can make a difference.’ Craig Sams, founder of Green & Blacks. Fair trade is a growing global movement but why is it so important? 50 Reasons To Buy Fair Trade shows how consumers can benefit both people and the planet and can improve and even save lives. Read this inspiring guide and start helping to change the world today. Based in the UK, authors Miles Litvinoff and John Madeley have a long history of involvement in fair trade and the global justice movement. 345 ARCHWAY ROAD, LONDON, N6 5AA TEL: 0208 3482724 FAX: 0208 348 9133 www.plutobooks.com For further information contact Helen Griffiths at heleng@plutobooks.com or 0208 374 6424

Friday, 26 January 2007

Dirty Tricks.

Anyone who has ever seen footage from the Australian Parliament will know that they do politics slightly differently there. To say that it can be more lively than we are used to would be an understatement. However I was still shocked to hear about the alleged dirty tricks carried out against the Green Party last year.

To summarise the story:

A religious sect (the “Exclusive Brethren”) placed ads attacking the Green Party’s policies on improved rights for transgender and intersex people saying that they would “ruin families”. Whether due to these ads or not the Green Party did not perform nearly as well in the election as they had been polling earlier in the campaign. The accusation now is that the ads were in some way related to the Liberal Party because the advertising agency responsible for them sent the invoice to the Liberal Party rather than the religious sect. The Exclusive Brethren and the Liberal Party put this down to an administrative blunder and say that anyone who believes there is a connection is a conspiracy theorist.
Well I for one look forward to more facts on this being uncovered.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Observer Ethical Awards.

The Observer newspaper is running an ethical awards competition for the second year running, asking readers to vote for their choice in a number of categories - ethical retailer, campaigner, or project of the year, for example. Those shortlisted will be judged in April by a panel of experts and previous award nominees, including female Principal Speaker Sian Berry. The award for the ethical politician of the year will be decided by readers' votes alone before the closing date of March 2nd.

I will be voting for Caroline Lucas.

Caroline has been Green Party MEP for South-East England since 1999. Last year particular achievements included winning record-breaking support amongst MEPs from all parties for a Written Declaration proposing a ban on seal fur imports, having parliament adopt her proposals for tackling the aviation industry's contribution to climate change, and successfully campaigning on a wide range of issues including peace and human rights, animal welfare, consumer and health protection, and international trade.

In 2006 she was shortlisted for the New Statesman's 'person of the year' poll, and came out top of a study of British MEPs' public profile. She received the RSPCA's 'Michael Kay' award for services to European animal welfare, and she is a member of the decision-making National Council of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/ethicalawards

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Green Party leader appointed to important Northern Ireland position.

Just a few days ago I wrote about the Green Party in Northern Ireland and its hopes for an electoral breakthrough in the upcoming Assembly elections. Well it seems that the co-Leader of the Northern Ireland Green party has been given an extremely important job even before the elections are called – this report tells how the co-Leader, Kelly Andrews has been appointed to the extremely important Parades Commission. The Parades Commission is the body which attempts to bring peace between communities in conflict over contentious parade routes.

First of all I would like to send my congratulations to Kelly. Secondly, and most importantly, I wish her all the best in this very difficult yet absolutely vital job – she may need the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job in this role.
A little part of me also wonders what effect this might have on Green Party chances in target constituencies such as North Down and South Down. I guess it can only be positive, firstly at least people are hearing of the Greens at all in the context of Northern Ireland, it can be very difficult for minor parties there to stand out from the more established ones. Secondly it reinforces the image of the Green party being a moderate, cross-community party and this is a key message they will have to get across to be successful.

Green Budget Success.

Fantastic news from City Hall yesterday - Green Party members on the London Assembly secured crucial commitments in the Mayor’s budget resulting in millions of pounds being earmarked for measures to tackle climate change. With £47 million being invested in green projects this truly is a ‘green budget’ and puts London on the road to becoming a green city.

The reason we can celebrate these advances is because the Green Party has two members on the London Assembly and, crucially, Ken Livingstone needs their support to get his budget approved. Doubtless if the Green Party votes on the Assembly were not so crucial or if there were no Green Party members on the Assembly at all then we would have heard a lot of hot air about climate change but no substantial action. The Green Party members on the Assembly were able to make sure that concrete plans were put in place to back up the fine rhetoric we are becoming so used to. Well done to Darren, Jenny and the whole team at the Assembly who I know have worked extremely hard on this.

So what will we get for our money? A selection of the projects are listed below:

- £8 million to improve the energy performance of London’s buildings
- £8 million (£25 million over three years) to TfL to establish a climate change fund (to support energy efficient technology)
- Over £20 million to boost levels of walking and cycling in London (so tackling air pollution, congestion and public health as well as climate change!)
- Project to promote decentralised energy (where the real progress on tackling climate change can be made)
Please e-mail me if you would like to see the full 22-page letter and agreement from Ken Livingstone.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Save Borough Market

Borough market is London's oldest market. It was established on the south bank of the Thames when the Romans build the first London Bridge and people have been trading on this site for over 2000 years. For any of you that haven't been, it's a beautiful undercover food market and a truly wonderful part of London's history. http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/index.php .Anyway, a bright spark has decided to run a railway line through the roof of the market, which will also involve knocking down 23 of the beautiful listed and unlisted buildings in the closely surrounding area. They already have planning permission, but are waiting funding and there is a strong local campaign to put a stop to it. If, like me, you know and love the market in its present state, please sign the petition to prevent this from happening. The plans, photographs and the petition are on the following site: http://www.sabmac.co.uk Unfortunately not a lot of people are aware of it so please sign it and pass it on to anyone else you know who loves this great bit of London heritage.

Scary data - London Air Pollution.

Look away now if you do not want to be horrified by some scary-looking data on the level of air pollution in London last year.

This link shows a map of London’s air pollution monitoring stations. Each station is represented by a circle - if the circle is green then the air pollution recorded there during 2006 was within acceptable limits – if it is red then the air pollution recorded at that site was unacceptably high during 2006. If you live in London be sure to look up the figures for your nearest monitoring station.

Clearly we have a significant problem with air pollution in London. It is also – without exaggeration - a deadly problem; every day Londoners die due to the polluted air we breathe. I’m proud of the record of elected Green party representatives (particularly on the London Assembly but also in Europe and on local councils) in tackling this problem. The Green party has strongly supported London’s ‘Low Emissions Zone’ and efforts to curb the traffic and congestion which is the source of much of the pollution. We would obviously like to do much more. Locally in Barnet we have been trying to get the Council to adapt our monitoring stations so that when air pollution levels exceed recommended levels the monitoring stations give a visible sign (a flashing red light perhaps) to indicate this. That in itself will not tackle air pollution but it will at least raise awareness amongst local people of the risk and then hopefully help build a consensus to support the policies we need to solve the problem.

Monday, 22 January 2007

Being 60.


Saturday was my 60th birthday. It actually amazes me that I am that age. I definitely do not feel it! I’m much fitter now that when I was 50 and more stamina than when I was 40.

It also set me thinking about my parents, both deceased in recent years. My father frequently mentioned that January 1947 was one of the coldest ever, with snow and frost. I was born in a nursing home in Limerick City, so my father had to cycle a round trip of 40 miles every night. It wasn’t considered unusual in those days. It does not seem to have done him any harm – he lived to be 90! In that spring he sat a tree to commemorate my birth. I did not know this until about ten years ago, when my mother told me that as a kid I had a great affinity with the tree. It is now huge.

We had a good bit of a ‘bash’ at the nearby Winchester Hotel, which is a lovely old pub with original décor. They also put on a great spread of food for £50. I was delighted to see so many old friends and acquaintances. Hostess for the night was my daughter Michelle - the light-of-my-life, who will have some good news for me in July. Estimates that from 75 to 150 people turned up. It was a pleasant night of booze, good conversation, networking and almost no speeches. Naturally there was a Green Party table and several people joined up.

We had two cakes. One bought by Michelle and the other hand baked by my co-chair of Barnet Green Party, Gardi Vaswani. Michelle’s cake came from London Cakes, which is apparently a group where you order centrally and the cake is baked locally.

I had several interesting and thoughtful presents, but the one that caused the most attention was from Steve and Jean Lambert MEP and was an original front page from the Today newspaper for June 16th 1989. The banner headline was 2 MILLION VOTE GREEN. Hopefully, it will not be long before we see a similar headline.
I ended the night editing my statement for selection to the Green Party List for the London Assembly elections.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Bad and good examples.

A lot has been made about Prince Charles’ green credentials because of his decision to fly to the USA to pick up an environmental award. (He’s not just flying to the USA – he’s booking out the entire first class / business class section of the plane for his entourage!) Just like Tony Blair it seems that, despite recognising the threat of climate change, Prince Charles can’t quite seem to tone down his personal flying habits. If you’re looking for a public figure who gives a much better example to follow then have a read of the Herts Advertiser's account of the visit of Sian Berry, Green Party Principal Speaker, to St Albans to help raise funds for the local branch of the Green party. Fair play to Sian and well done to the St Albans Green party on their successful fundraiser too.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Taking the pizz

From a correspondent: "The other day I rang-up and complained to Asda that their pizza packaging said ' Bigger pack better value'. It was actually just a bigger cardboard box - the pizza was knocking around inside. Unfortunately 99% of people just presumed it meant bigger pizza -! Taking the pizz a what?"

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

London Pub Walks

A friend of mine has produced a book on London pubs called ‘London Pub Walks’. It is an excellent handy-size guide.
Author Bob Steel, is a long-standing London Green Party member. Its 150 pages, very readable and attractively presented, published by Camra at £8.99 and has been highly praised by The Evening Standard and others. I don’t know why someone hasn't produced such a guide before.
Go to Bob’s site www.aletrails.com

A passing fad?

William Eno is known as the "Father of Traffic Safety." He originated stop signs, one-way streets, taxi stands, pedestrian safety islands and traffic rotaries.
Funny enough, he considered cars a passing fad and never learnt to drive.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Greens to make advances in 2007.

Over the weekend I spoke to Green party friends in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Each of them mentioned the campaigning they are doing as they face important elections during 2007. As I reflected on the conversations afterwards I was struck by the promise that 2007 holds in store for the Green party and the potentially huge advances the various Green parties in these islands could make.

In the last Scottish Parliament elections the Green party made stunning gains to go from 1 seat to 7. It is difficult to predict how well the Scottish Greens might do in this year’s election but most reasonable polls (see this summary) show them winning around 6%, 7% or 8%. In the real election those levels of support should see the party retaining its current seats as well as challenging in at least the two regions (Central and West) where they currently have none. Obviously even a small dip in support in particular areas could see a seat lost in any region but overall I think there’s good reason to believe that the Scottish Greens will return with up to 10 seats. Whether the Green Party result is enough to see aspects of the manifesto implemented by the government will depend on other factors – principally whether the parliamentary arithmetic dictates that the grouping with most seats needs Green Party votes to survive confidence votes and get its budget passed.

The Irish Green party is also hoping to build on impressive gains in their last election. Good poll ratings seem to indicate that the Greens have a very good chance of returning each of their outgoing TDs. As well as that they are challenging strongly in constituencies like Wicklow, Galway West and Carlow / Kilkenny as well as a number of Dublin seats. The Irish Green party could easily return to the Dáil with 8 or more TDs. Again the chances of Green party policies being incorporated in the programme of the incoming government depends on the performance of the other parties. Given poll ratings and other factors it is difficult to see the current governing coalition of Fianna Fáil / Progressive Democrats holding on. If they don’t and Bertie Ahern wants to remain as Taoiseach he may well turn to independents, Labour or the Green party for support (probably in that order of preference for him). If he cannot form a government then the alternative coalition of Fine Gael / Labour will have won and they will definitely require Green party support to form a government.

Events in Northern Ireland over the next few days will determine whether Assembly elections will proceed. At stake is not simply the formation of a government but prospects for a lasting peace. I’m sure everyone is hoping for a successful outcome. If elections do go ahead then the Green party will be standing and confident in its chances of winning a first seat on this body - possibly in North Down or South Down.

The Green Party has not made a breakthrough in the Wales Assembly yet and will be hoping to put that right this year. The reason there has been no breakthrough so far is because the threshold for getting into the Wales Assembly is tougher than the other elections I’ve spoken about. However support for the Green party has been growing strongly for some years – hopefully by enough to see a first Green Assembly member.

I wish my friends and colleagues in each of the parties the very best with their campaigns. Readers might like to get in touch with any of them to see if there’s any support they can offer (I’m sure they never turn down donations!). Don’t forget there are important local elections in England too - I’ll go through my thoughts on Green party prospects in these at a later date.

Monday, 15 January 2007

Improved bus service?

I received the following police report to-day. All I can say is that the bus service must be great in Cricklewood if armed robbers are using it as a get-away.

Armed Robbery
A male was concerned in an armed robbery at McDonald's in Cricklewood Broadway whereby a firearm was produced and discharged into the counter. The suspect made off with £3,000 and made good his escape on a route 189 bus.

Sunday, 14 January 2007


A man went to church one day and afterward he stopped to shake the preacher's hand. He said "Preacher, I'll tell you, that was a damned fine sermon. Damned good!" The preacher said, "Thank you sir, but I'd rather you didn't use profanity." The man said, "I was so damned impressed with that sermon I put five thousand dollars in the offering plate!" The preacher said, "No shit?!"

Saturday, 13 January 2007

I have spent quite a time over the last few days listing our books on the ABE Books website. We now have over 500 listed. Have a look:
There is a huge variety including some quite scarce and unusual publications and even some vintage newspapers.
Of course, this is only the fraction of the stock on display in The Green Room. In particular, we have a good section on graphic design.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Greenest airline in Europe:-)

Early candidate for the most audacious scientific claim of the year has to go to this Ryanair press release titled “Ryanair is Europe’s Greenest, Cleanest Airline”.

Surely there should be a prize for the person who can debunk the most egregious claims in this little gem of a press release? You’ll have to do a little thinking though because Newsnight were first out of the traps to counter a lot of the spin in their programme last night.

Newsnight got an expert to search around Ryanair’s website to show that far from having “delivered a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions” as they claim Ryanair’s CO2 emissions have approximately trebled over the same period! Ryanair had somewhat naively allowed a previous version of their press release into the public domain which showed that the original claim was they had delivered a “50% reduction in per passenger CO2 emissions” – a very different story and even these figures could not be backed up by Newsnight’s expert.

Aviation campaigner John Stewart of HACAN emailed me to point out that the claim that “the Stern Report has confirmed that aviation accounts for just 1.6% of global green house gas emissions” is also pure spin as Ryanair conveniently forget to mention that, because aircraft emit CO2 higher in the atmosphere, the greenhouse effects are 2-4 times greater. Stern says the true contribution of aviation to global warming is 3-6% and it is rising fast.

As to being the “greenest airline in Europe” - I get the feeling that this must be up there with “kindest dictator of the 20th century” in the annals of dubious accolades.
I hope writing negatively about Ryanair does not attract undue attention from them – they do have prior history in seeking to silence websites that dare to speak critically of their record. Do email in any further thoughts on Ryanair’s claims and I will update and maybe even produce an “honest” version of the press release.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

The ultimate war crime?

From "Seeds of Justice" by Jeffrey M. Smith
"On May 23, 2003, President Bush proposed an Initiative to End Hunger in Africa using genetically modified (GM) foods. He also blamed Europe’s “unfounded, unscientific fears” of these foods for thwarting recovery efforts. Bush was convinced that GM foods held the key to greater yields, expanded U.S. exports, and a better world. His rhetoric was not new. It had been passed down from president to president, and delivered to the American people through regular news reports and industry advertisements.

The message was part of a master plan that had been crafted by corporations determined to control the world’s food supply. This was made clear at a biotech industry conference in January 1999, where a representative from Arthur Anderson Consulting Group explained how his company had helped Monsanto create that plan. First, they asked Monsanto what their ideal future looked like in fifteen to twenty years. Monsanto executives described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson Consulting then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it. They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct.

Integral to the plan was Monsanto’s influence in government, whose role was to promote the technology worldwide and to help get the foods into the marketplace quickly, before resistance could get in the way. A biotech consultant later said, “The hope of the industry is that over time, the market is so flooded that there’s nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender.” The anticipated pace of conquest was revealed by a conference speaker from another biotech company. He showed graphs projecting the year-by-year decrease of natural seeds, estimating that in five years, about 95 percent of all seeds would be genetically modified.While some audience members were appalled at what they judged to be an arrogant and dangerous disrespect for nature, to the industry this was good business. Their attitude was illustrated in an excerpt from one of Monsanto’s advertisements: “So you see, there really isn’t much difference between foods made by Mother Nature and those made by man. What’s artificial is the line drawn between them.”

ORDER 81: Re-engineering Iraqi agriculture.
The ultimate war crime: breaking the agricultural cyclehttp://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=SMI20050827&articleId=870Iraqi Government Urged to Revoke "Cynical and Wicked" Patent Lawhttp://www.i-sis.org.uk/GMiraq.php

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Religious scaremongering

Looking at the scenes outside Parliament last night where hard line religious groups held a 'torch light' parade to protest against new laws designed to protect lesbian and gay people from discrimination, it got me thinking that it’s amazing how different faiths can unite in hatred, but not in love and tolerance. Nearly all religions preach ‘love your neighbour’ but religion has been the main cause of war and bloodshed through the ages. These people are just using religious texts as a cover for their homophobia, you can use the bible to condone or condemn just about anything.

Here is the text from a scene in the West Wing when Bartlett attacks a Dr Laura type character:

Bartlet: Good. I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination.

Jacobs: I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President, the Bible does.

Bartlet: Yes, it does. Leviticus. Jacobs: 18:22.

Bartlet: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?

While thinking about that, can I ask another?

My chief of staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it okay to call the police?

Here's one that's really important because we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point?

Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side-by-side?

Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?

Think about those questions, would you? One last thing, while you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits.

(Note from Noel: If anyone requires the biblical chapter and verse for the above, I can supply them)

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Lone demo at Parliament Square.

As most readers will know, the Government brought in a regulation requiring all protests at Parliament Square to have a special licence.

However, it is much easier for a lone demonstrator to get a licence. Comedian Mark Thomas came up with the wheeze of having mass lone demos to bring the legalisation in disrepute.

Next one is Wednesday January 17th.

Choose your ISSUE , bodge or create a banner ( fancy dress or felt pen on a paper bag , it's the thought and the turning up that counts ), and come and join Mark Thomas for an hour Mass Lone Demo Parliament Square WEDS 17th January 6pm-7pm.

SHORT NOTICE THIS TIME !Applications in ON Weds 10th. Jan 5.30-7pm or before, Charing Cross Police Station.
Please contact Tricia if you want to download a form.tricia_bird@yahoo.com.

Monday, 8 January 2007

Things to ponder on.

1. Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail. 2. If you don't have a sense of humour, you probably don't have any sense at all.
3. Seat belts are not as confining as wheelchairs.
4. A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you're in deep water.
5. Why is it that at class reunions you feel younger than everyone else looks?
6. Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job.
7. There are no new sins; the old ones just get more publicity.
8. There are worse things than getting a call for a wrong number at 4 AM. It could be a right number.
9. Be careful reading the fine print. There's no way you're going to like it. 10. After a certain age, if you don't wake up aching in every joint, you are probably dead.


GREEN Party Euro-MP Caroline Lucas is in police custody today after she was arrested this morning during a peaceful demonstration against the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons arsenal. She was arrested and charged shortly after 10am this morning for breaching the peace when she was sitting in the road blocking the entrance to the Trident nuclear submarine base at Faslane, Scotland.“The irony is extraordinary,” she said shortly after her arrest. “I have been arrested for breaching the peace when I am peacefully trying to drawattention to the immoral, illegal and counterproductive breach of the peace which is Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system.“What’s more likely to cause a breach of the peace – sitting down in a road or stockpiling 200 nuclear warheads, each which a destructive capacity 18times greater than the bomb which killed 200,000 in Hiroshima?” Dr Lucas was taking part in a day of action alongside some 60 MPs, MEPs and councillors – from a range of green and left-leading political parties – as part of Faslane 365, a one year continuous peaceful demonstration against Britain’s arsenal of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Dr Lucas, who is a co-founder and Co-President of the European Parliament’scross-party peace initiatives group of MEPs and a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s decision-making National Council, said:“Britain’s Trident nuclear warheads are deadly weapons of mass destruction which cost billions and are completely irrelevant to global geo-politics today.” “Elected politicians from a wide range of parties joined hands today to blockade the Trident nuclear submarine base to show our collective opposition to this nuclear folly - and the Labour Government’s unlawful plans to replace and upgrade it,” she added. Dr Lucas has been arrested at Faslane before: following a peaceful sit-down outside the base in 2001 she was also charged with breaching the peace. Despite arguing that she intended exactly the opposite – to prevent a breach of the peace and a greater crime taking place – she was convicted. An eventual appeal to the European Court of Human Rights was declared inadmissible in 2003. “Last month Tony Blair said he wanted to replace Britain’s nuclear arsenal but, in the face of strong parliamentary and public opposition, reduce it from 200 warheads to about 160: 1,280 times as much destructive power as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima rather than 1,600. This symbolic gesture will, of course, make little practical difference at all.” “There is simply no legal, moral, military or economic case for the Government to replace Trident. If the Government has billions to spend on protecting security, it shouldn’t gamble it on chasing Cold War shadows but listen to its own advisors and instead use the cash to tackle the real security threats we face today: terrorism and climate change.”

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Your age by chocolate.

This seems to work:-)

1) pick the number of times per week you would like to eat chocolate. If you are greedy and go into double figures add the two numbers so you get a number between 1 and 9.
2) Multiply this number by 23.
3) Add 54.
4) Multiply it by 505.
5) If you have already had your birthday this year add 1756.
If you have not had your birthday yet add 1755.
6) Now subtract the four digit year you were born.
7) You should now have a three digit number. The first digit of this is the original number you chose. The next two digits are your age.

On the subject of birthdays, one of my big ones is on January 20th. We are having a bit of a get-together. If you would like to attend, please drop me a line and I will send details. Warning: there will be a whip-around for Green Party election funds.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Any fundraising ideas??

I convened and attended a London Green Party fundraising meeting on Thursday night. We need to raise a minimum £110,000 for next year’s GLA elections and £30,000 for the Euros in 2009. Things are progressing well, but if anyone out there has any great fundraising ideas, please let me know.

Friday, 5 January 2007

Urban Myth

I see from Jim Jay’s Blog that The Sun, yesterday had a headline ‘SWAN BAKE. Asylum seekers steal the Queen’s swans for barbecues’
This headline has been popping up for years. I have even being told by people that ‘a friend’ or a cousin’ etc had seen the bones. This got to such pitch that in 2004, when I was on the London Metropolitan Police Authority I asked the police to check it out. The answer came back ‘there has never been a case of swan killing’ This is what is known as an URBAN MYTH, but of course, that never stopped papers like The Sun publishing this thinly disguised racist drivel.

Thursday, 4 January 2007


GREEN Party Euro-MP Caroline Lucas will risk arrest for the second time when she joins some 60 MPs, MEPs and councillors at a blockade of the Faslane base of Britain’s ‘Trident’ nuclear submarines. The elected representatives – from a range of green and left-leading political parties – will blockade the naval base as part of Faslane 365, a one year continuous peaceful demonstration against Britain’s arsenal of nuclear weapons of mass destruction.Dr Lucas, who is a co-founder and Co-President of the European Parliament’scross-party peace initiatives group of MEPs and a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s decision-making National Council, said:“Britain’s trident nuclear warheads are deadly weapons of mass destruction which cost billions and are completely irrelevant to global geo-politics today.”“Elected politicians from a wide range of parties are joining hands on Monday (January 8th) to blockade the Trident nuclear submarine base to show our collective opposition to this nuclear folly - and the Labour Government’s unlawful plans to replace and upgrade it,” she added. Dr Lucas is risking prison by returning to Faslane: during a peacefulsit-down outside the base in 2001 she was arrested for breaching the peace. Despite arguing that she intended exactly the opposite – to prevent a breach of the peace – she was convicted. An eventual appeal to the European Court of Human Rights was declared inadmissible in 2003.“Last month Tony Blair said he wanted to replace Britain’s nuclear arsenal but, in the face of strong parliamentary and public opposition, reduce itfrom 200 warheads to about 160: 1,280 times as much destructive power as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima rather than 1,600. This symbolic gesture will, of course, make little practical difference at all.”“There is simply no legal, moral, military or economic case for the Government to replace Trident. If the Government has billions to spend on protecting security, it shouldn’t gamble it on chasing Cold War shadows but listen to its own advisors and instead use the cash to tackle the real security threats we face today: terrorism and climate change.”She will be joined on Monday by fellow Green MEPs Jean Lambert (London), Luisa Morgantini (Italy), Gisela Kallenbach (Germany) and more than 30Westminster MPs, as well as member of the Welsh Assembly, ScottishParliament and local authorities across the UK.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Why patio heaters are bad for the environment.

In 2005, liquid petroleum gas (lpg) patio heaters were estimated to have been responsible for 22.2 ktonnnes of CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to the emissions of 4,526 Range Rovers. Emissions for 2006 were projected to increase by 23% . The proliferation of these devices in restaurants up and down the country indicate that this will not be a unique year but an annual trend. The rate is also likely to increase greatly in the coming year as smoking ban comes into effect. The reason that they are so bad for the environment is that a 13kg bottle oflpg produces 38 kg CO2. Used in a patio heater, it will heat 25m2 ofoutside floor area for about 12 hours but if it is used inside it would last 10 times longer. In other words lpg patio heaters are ten times less efficient than indoor heating. Even worse that the lpg patio heaters are the electric patio heaters which are starting to become popular in restaurants. They produce over 90 times more CO2 compared to using lpg to heat the inside of buildings.
The individual impact of a 2 hour meal under an lpg patio heater is 6kg but every diner is encouraging this needless and conspicuous waste.
Thanks to Chit Chong for this information.

New arrivals in the Green Room

A few interesting items which have just arrived for sale:
  • A prop rifle from the film 'The Four Feathers' That film was on TV a few nights ago.
  • A parcel stamp from the famous (or infamous) West Clare Railway. This railway was made famous by Irish songwriter Percy ffrench with his song 'Are you right there Michael, are you right, do you think that we'll get home before the night?' The railway company sued for libel. ffrench turned up late for the hearing. When the judge asked why he should not be cited for contempt, he answered 'I came on the West Clare Railway' - case dismissed! ffrench also wrote the popular song 'The Mountains of Mourne'
  • A piece of the Iron Curtain. Short strip of barbed wire form Hungary, mounted on a plaque.

Monday, 1 January 2007

Political Compass

There is an interesting political 'tool' called the political compass. (Have a look at http://www.politicalcompass.org/ ).This presents a nice two-dimensional graph plotting communism to neoliberalism on the left-right axis and authortarianism to anarchy on the vertical axis - giving a nice 'spread' of results that seem to tell one so much more than the single left-right axis does.

Happy New Year everybody!