Saturday, 31 January 2009

* Hunger Strike in Parliament Square.

In the face of zero mainstream press coverage, Maria Gallestegui is
into the third week of her hunger strike at Parliament Square in
solidarity with the people of Gaza.

This week she staged a one-woman protest inside the gates of Downing St - which is
legal because she'd registered her intentions with the police prior to the event in accordance with SOCPA laws.

Standing outside the door of No.10 as cabinet members came and went, she demanded, in her own words "they they lift the blockade... (bring) an end to the arms sale to Israel... and (hold) a war crimes tribunal".

Hear her commentary at

Friday, 30 January 2009

*Protest about the human rights violations currently taking place in Sri Lanka

Jean Lambert MEP:

I am appalled by the human rights violations currently taking place in Sri Lanka. I have been informed by aid workers that hundreds of civilians have been killed in the last week and the fear is that this situation could become far worse than the recent dreadful devastation of Gaza.

On Thursday next week, a resolution on Sri Lanka is due to be debated in the European Parliament at the request of the Green MEPs. I also call on the UK Government and the international community to respond immediately to help the many innocent people caught in the crossfire.

I will be attending the protest this Saturday in central London to demand action to alleviate the suffering and provide emergency medical supplies and humanitarian aid, which have so far not been forthcoming. This war demands the attention of the press and world leaders and I will be doing all in my power to raise the alarm and involve decision makers in finding a peaceful outcome.

The protest will take place on Saturday 31 January. Meet at 12 30pm at Pimlico Station, rally begins at 1:00pm at Millbank.

*New blog.

A good friend of mine, Joseph Healy, has joined the blogsphere. His first blogs are on Peter Tatchell and the Manchester Left Conference.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

*Mayor’s budget – mean not green

By Darren Johnson AM

With the economy in trouble it is natural to expect the Greater London Authority to tighten its belt and limit spending. What London does not expect is a budget with no provision to safeguard the capital from the global recession. Savings need to be made, but not to health, housing, equalities, the environment and social inclusion.

Boris Johnson has cancelled the Green Homes Service, a scheme that could provide valuable jobs for Londoners in these precarious times. A project moreover, which, with its commitment to insulation and renewable energy would help to drive down our household fuel bills.

The Mayor has also cut the funding to the London Cycle Network Plus by £10 million. The completion of the scheme would not only save people money by encouraging them to cycle, it is also essential to the safety of cyclists throughout the capital. The establishment of cycling routes through roundabouts and dangerous junctions is a project that will save lives and is all the more necessary with imminent introduction of Velib in 2010

Boris Johnson has cut funding for work on equalities. In one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world that is still blighted by unacceptable gaps between rich and poor, this vital work needs to continue. In a time of recession it is the poorest and least socially integrated that are likely to be hit the hardest.

The Mayor has also reduced funding for rape crisis centres, turning his back on one of his election pledges despite a 16% increase in the number of reported rapes last year.

Boris Johnson has not just cut valuable projects to make savings, however. He has increased the economic burden on the average Londoner. Despite his promise of a zero increase to the council tax precept he has raised public transport fares above the rate of inflation, costing a typical working household an extra £180 a year. The Mayor today told me that this was a necessary increase fares due to a “hole” in the Transport for London budget. What he fails to realise is that this is a hole he himself has created through his expensive plans to phase out bendy buses and his decision to drop plans for an emissions based £25 congestion charge for gas guzzling vehicles.

It is easy to complain about all of these things. But alone in the Assembly, today, only the Green Party Group produced a detailed, costed alternative to the Mayor’s budget. While we do not dispute that some key savings need to be made, the Green budget proposals reverse the damaging cuts to essential work on the environment, equalities, housing and health. Our proposals increase the funding for completion of the London cycle Network, provide much needed investment for work on safer streets and public transport as well as reducing fares. This would be funded by cancelling the Mayor’s expensive plans to phase out bendy buses, reinstating plans for a £25 emissions based congestion charge and increasing the standard congestion charge top £10. In order to create new jobs and cut household fuel bills we are proposing to re-instate and expand the Green Homes Service and invest in wind energy schemes and a household insulation programme.

While the Mayor is proposing cuts and fares increases to deliver a zero council tax increase, the Greens are proposing a very modest precept increase of just 7 pence per week for a Band D council tax payer to help deliver a fairer, healthier London.

What Londoner’s need is a capital that is not over-dependent on the financial sector; an economy unaffected by fluctuating fuel prices and a budget that will help to lead our city out the recession. The Mayor’s budget has failed on all fronts. Despite his green rhetoric and promises of a more affordable city, Boris Johnson’s policies will make London more expensive and more polluted.

Monday, 26 January 2009

*Greenvision song contest 2009

Greenvision song contest 2009

The European Green Party is launching a campaign song competition for the 2009 European Parliamentary campaign. This campaign song competition is open to everyone and anyone (individual singer-songwriters or bands) who feel they have enough talent and inspiration to compose a campaign song for the European greens for the coming election campaign.

More information:

Sunday, 25 January 2009

*McDonald rubbish.

The Keep Britain Tidy campaign revealed last week that a staggering 29 per cent of all litter on the streets of Britain was McDonalds waste.

* Wanker of the week.

From SchNews:

Wanker Of The Week - Dr Simon Festing

"These [SHAC] sentences signal the end of the long dark era of animal rights extremism,"
- Dr Simon Festing, January 2009, Research Defence Society

"We have many different cells which work on our own style of tactic. At the moment our main strategy is to take the fight to them as much as possible."
- Dr Simon Festing, January 1996, Friends of the Earth spokesman - Third Battle of Newbury.

Hey we all lose some of that youthful idealism when the grey hair
starts to sprout but it takes a special kind of wanker to move from
pushing direct action to actively agitating for activists to receive
harsh prison sentences. This not-so-good doctor has really pulled an
ideological handbrake turn - from defending the natural habitats of
animals to promoting caging and torturing them. Maybe he just grew
tired of the disapproving looks and snide asides at family dinners -
his father, a certain Michael Festing, works for the UK Animal Procedures Committee and is highly involved in the pharmaceutical and animal testing industries.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

*Vote Peter Tatchell and Caroline Lucas - Observer Ethical Awards

Take 10 seconds out of your busy day to vote for Peter in the
Observer's Ethical Awards, Campaigner of the Year section, and for
Caroline Lucas MEP for Politician of the Year.

To cast your vote for Peter, just follow the link below, fill in a few
basic details and vote away.

Note: You first need to give and submit your details (which also enters you in a prize draw), then the website takes you to the voting section.

Deadline is 9 March 2009, but best to vote now before you forget.

Previous winners of campaigner of the year include Make Poverty History and Huw Fearnley Whittingstall, so Peter will be fine company.

Just to repeat what we already know, Peter has been campaigning for human rights rights for over 40 years. He was a leading activist in the Gay Liberation Front in London in the early 1970s. In 1990 he was one of the people who co-founded the queer rights direct action group OutRage!.

He's also campaigned on a wide range of other human rights issues since the late 1960s: against the death penalty and the Vietnam War, and for Aboriginal rights in his homeland of Australia; plus campaigns against nuclear weapons, apartheid, the Iraq war, and his two attempted citizen's arrests of Zimbabwe tyrant Robert Mugabe in 1999 and 2001.

As the Green Party's human rights spokesperson he has challenged infringements of civil liberties, and he has worked in solidarity with the freedom struggles in Baluchistan, Sindh, Iran, West Papua, Somaliland and Palestine.

So, get voting and tell you friends:

Friday, 16 January 2009

*Help re-elect London's Green MEP

"In 1999, Jean Lambert was elected as London's first Green Party MEP - and in 2004, she was re-elected with an increased share of the vote. On June 4th 2009, she faces re-election again - but due to EU enlargement, there are less European Parliament seats to go around in the UK, and more votes are needed every time to achieve re-election.

The work of the European Parliament can sometimes feel remote from people's everyday experience - but nothing could be further from the truth. Much of the UK's environmental, social and human rights legislation is now decided at an EU level, and the often unheralded work of our MEPs makes an enormous difference to the shape and impact of those laws. Jean has been tireless in working for social justice, environmental sustainability and peace - as recognised by the fact that she was named
Justice and Human Rights MEP of the year in 2005.

Among other issues, Jean has focused on trade union rights, fairer treatment for asylum seekers, and the abolition of the UK opt-out to the Working Time Directive. She has been a prominent voice in proving that Green issues are not confined to the environment, but are concerned with building a more fair and just society. There is little doubt that she is one of the most progressive voices anywhere in UK politics today.

And now, she needs YOUR help! To continue her excellent work in Europe, Jean needs to get the message out to millions of Londoners - and she can only do that if progressive voters spread the word, volunteer, and donate to her campaign. She isn't funded by corporations, lobbyists or millionaires - instead, her re-election campaign is relying on the efforts of ordinary Londoners.

Could you spare £10/£20 to help re-elect one of the UK's most effective and progressive politicians?

Or perhaps you could spare an hour or two to volunteer with the campaign?

If you'd like to donate online, please, visit

and if you'd like to volunteer in any way,
contact the campaign at, and keep in touch with
developments through Facebook at

Jean can keep changing things for the better - but only with your help!

In addition, London Green Party is currently fighting a crucial by-election in Stoke Newington Central, a ward within Hackney Council. The election for this WINNABLE seat is on January 29th, and the ward has a high proportion of Green voters, so work done here will also help in the Euro Elections too. If you can help with door-knocking or leafletting, please do contact the candidate Matt Hanley on 020 7812 9063 or at matt.hanley [at] For more about the campaign, visit"

Thursday, 15 January 2009

*Does animal testing help human medicine?

33 facts to consider:
1) Less than 2% of human illnesses (1.16%) are ever seen in animals. Over 98% never affect animals.
2) According to the former scientific executive of Huntingdon Life Sciences, animal tests and human results agree "5%-25% of the time."
3) Among the hundreds of techniques available instead of animal experiments, cell culture toxicology methods give accuracy rates of 80-85%
4) 92% of drugs passed by animal tests immediately fail when first tried on humans because they're useless, dangerous or both.
5) The 2 most common illnesses in the Western world are lung cancer from smoking & heart disease. Neither can be reproduced in lab animals.
6) A 2004 survey of doctors in the UK showed that 83% wanted a independent scientific evaluation of whether animal experiments had relevance to human patients. Less than 1 in 4 (21%) had more confidence in animal tests than in non-animal methods.
7) Rats are 37% effective in identifying what causes cancer to humans - less use than guessing. The experimenters said: "we would have been better off to have tossed a coin."
8) Rodents are the animals almost always used in cancer research. They never get carcinomas, the human form of cancer, which affects membranes (eg lung cancer). Their sarcomas affect bone and connective tissue: the 2 are completely different.
9) The results from animal tests are routinely altered radically by diet, light, noise, temperature, lab staff and bedding. Bedding differences caused cancer rates of over 90% and almost zero in the same strain of mice at different labs.
10) Sex differences among lab animals can cause contradictory results. This does not correspond with humans.
11) 75% of side effects identified in animals never occur.
12) Over half of side effects cannot be detected in lab animals.
13) Vioxx was shown to protect the heart of mice, dogs, monkeys & other lab animals, yet was linked to heart attacks & strokes in up to 139,000 humans.
14) Genetically modified animals are not like humans. The mdx mouse is supposed to have muscular dystrophy, but the muscles regenerate with no treatment.
15) GM animal the CF- mouse never gets fluid infections in the lungs - the cause of death for 95% of human cystic fibrosis patients.
16) In America, 106,000 deaths a year are attributed to reactions to medical drugs.
17) Each year 2.1 million Americans are hospitalised by medical treatment.
18) In the UK an estimated 70,000 people are killed or severely disabled every year by unexpected reactions to drugs. All these drugs have passed animal tests.
19) In the UKs House Of Lords, questions have been asked regarding why unexpected reactions to drugs (which passed animal tests) kill more people than cancer.
20) A German doctors' congress concluded that 6% of fatal illnesses and 25% of organic illness are caused by medicines. All have been animal tested.
21) According to a thorough study, 88% of stillbirths are caused by drugs which passed animal tests.
22) 61% of birth defects were found to have the same cause.
23) 70% of drugs which cause human birth defects are safe in pregnant monkeys.
24) 78% of foetus-damaging chemicals can be detected by one non-animal test.
25) Thousands of safe products cause birth defects in lab animals - including water, several vitamins, vegetable oils, oxygen and drinking waters. Of more than 1000 substances dangerous in lab animals, over 97% are safe in humans.
26) One of the most common lifesaving operations (for ectopic pregnancies) was delayed 40 years by vivisection.
27) The great Dr Hadwen noted "had animal experiments been relied upon...humanity would have been robbed of this great blessing of anaesthesia."
28) Aspirin fails animal tests, as do digitalis (heart drug), cancer drugs, insulin (which causes animal birth defects), penicillin and other safe medicines. They would be banned if vivisection were believed.
29) Blood transfusions were delayed 200 years by animal studies.
30) The polio vaccine was delayed 40 years by monkey tests.
31) 30 HIV vaccines, 33 spinal cord damage drugs, and over 700 treatments for stroke have been developed in animals. None work in humans.
32) Despite many Nobel prizes going to vivisectors, only 45% agree that animal experiments are crucial.
33) The Director of Research Defence Society, (which serves only to defend vivisection) was asked if medical progress could have been achieved without animal use. His written reply was "I am sure it could be." Thanks to VIN for this list

Monday, 12 January 2009

*Barnet Council leader "raised cluelessness to an art form"

This is from Barnet Council Watch a blog worth reading

Congratulations to Mike Freer, leader of Barnet Council, who has been named Banker of the Year by Private Eye magazine in their Rotten Boroughs Awards 2008.

The citation reads: "One man who raised cluelessness to an art form was the Tory leader of the London borough of Barnet, Mike Freer. He told councillors that he couldn’t be blamed for the council losing £27.4m in dodgy Icelandic banks because he had never bothered to review the council’s investments. Ever. And in a former life he used to be, er, a banker. Quite.”

*To thwart the sale of Utah wilderness to big oil, a student bid for it at auction - and won

To read the full story, go to my auctioneering blog -

Sunday, 11 January 2009

*New Society.

Green Atheological Society

“Towards a Peaceful & Sustainable World”

When all else is stripped away: false faith and beliefs, greed, egotism, and destruction of the natural environment, what is left is an absence of belief and an application of pure reason. Words are only words but, for the time being, we shall call this concentration of reason 'Green Atheology’.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

*Hunger strike.

78 year old prisoner Ronnie Easterbrook is now entering the third week of a hunger strike. Already in failing health due to previous protests, this may be his final act against a judicial and penal system that he believes has unjustly imprisoned him for 20 years.

Ronnie was convicted of armed robbery and attempted murder in 1988 after a failed robbery on a wages van. A police informant, Seamus Ray, set the job up and duly tipped off the police. The gang were ambushed by armed police and one was killed. Ronnie, one other robber and a police inspector were wounded. The shoot-out was filmed by a Thames TV crew.

Easterbrook claims the police were operating a 'shoot-to-kill' policy, but he was not allowed to use this in his defence. Although he wanted his barrister to focus on police tactics the request was refused on the grounds that a political defence was not permitted - the rules have since changed. He was forced to represent himself, and
ended up with a "whole life" sentence.

Ronnie"s tariff has been reduced from whole life to 12 and a half years but he won"t apply for parole because he doesn't recognise thelegality of his sentence and demands a fresh trial. After 20 years inside (eight years beyond his sentence), in a last desperate bid to draw attention to his case, Ronnie has embarked on what could become a death fast - if the authorities fail to act. His case is not one that attracts automatic sympathy, but at the age of 78 it is time to let him go home to his family.

Send a postcard or letter of support to Ronnie, this will also let the prison authorities know he is not isolated and people are aware of his situation: Ronnie Easterbrook (B58459), HMP Gartree, Gallow Field Road, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 7RP

(From SchNEWS)

Friday, 9 January 2009


The Gates Foundation is awarding $5.4 million which will be directly
devoted to political and lobbying activities (and probably diplomatic
and economic blackmail as well) designed to break down regulatory
resistance to GM crops in Africa. This is absolutely amazing. The
Donald Danforth Centre is located in St Louis, the home of Monsanto.
And guess which corporation is the only non-university partner, and
which presumably provides most of the funding for it? Got it in

Quote: "The funding will help the centre secure the approval of
African governments to allow field testing of genetically modified
banana, rice, sorghum and cassava plants that have been fortified
with vitamins, minerals and proteins............."

*What You Don’t Know About Gaza

Interesting factual article from the New York Times

What You Don’t Know About Gaza
Published: January 7, 2009

NEARLY everything you’ve been led to believe about Gaza is wrong. Below are a few essential points that seem to be missing from the conversation, much of which has taken place in the press, about Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

Ronald J. Cala II

THE GAZANS Most of the people living in Gaza are not there by choice. The majority of the 1.5 million people crammed into the roughly 140 square miles of the Gaza Strip belong to families that came from towns and villages outside Gaza like Ashkelon and Beersheba. They were driven to Gaza by the Israeli Army in 1948.
THE OCCUPATION The Gazans have lived under Israeli occupation since the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel is still widely considered to be an occupying power, even though it removed its troops and settlers from the strip in 2005. Israel still controls access to the area, imports and exports, and the movement of people in and out. Israel has control over Gaza’s air space and sea coast, and its forces enter the area at will. As the occupying power, Israel has the responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to see to the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
THE BLOCKADE Israel’s blockade of the strip, with the support of the United States and the European Union, has grown increasingly stringent since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006. Fuel, electricity, imports, exports and the movement of people in and out of the Strip have been slowly choked off, leading to life-threatening problems of sanitation, health, water supply and transportation.

The blockade has subjected many to unemployment, penury and malnutrition. This amounts to the collective punishment — with the tacit support of the United States — of a civilian population for exercising its democratic rights.

THE CEASE-FIRE Lifting the blockade, along with a cessation of rocket fire, was one of the key terms of the June cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. This accord led to a reduction in rockets fired from Gaza from hundreds in May and June to a total of less than 20 in the subsequent four months (according to Israeli government figures). The cease-fire broke down when Israeli forces launched major air and ground attacks in early November; six Hamas operatives were reported killed.
WAR CRIMES The targeting of civilians, whether by Hamas or by Israel, is potentially a war crime. Every human life is precious. But the numbers speak for themselves: Nearly 700 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since the conflict broke out at the end of last year. In contrast, there have been around a dozen Israelis killed, many of them soldiers. Negotiation is a much more effective way to deal with rockets and other forms of violence. This might have been able to happen had Israel fulfilled the terms of the June cease-fire and lifted its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

This war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets. Nor is it about “restoring Israel’s deterrence,” as the Israeli press might have you believe. Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”

Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia, is the author of the forthcoming “Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East."

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

*Mayor lets down householders

The London Mayor today confirmed his support for two existing schemes intended to improve the energy efficiency of commercial and public buildings: the Green 500 schemes aimed at occupiers of buildings and the Better Buildings partnership targeted at owners/landlords of commercial buildings.

However, the flagship London Green Homes Service has been dropped. This service was designed to help Londoners cut climate emissions and fuel costs by making their homes more energy efficient. This was confirmed yesterday by LDA chief executive, Peter Rogers, under questioning by Darren Johnson at the Assembly's budget committee.

Darren commented,
"While I am pleased the Mayor and London Development Agency are
working to improve energy efficiency in the commercial and public
sector, I am absolutely dismayed to hear that the Green Homes
programme is to be axed. Londoners desperately need help, advice and
support to make their homes greener. The Green Homes programme needs expanding, not disbanding.

With London facing a big freeze, there couldn't be a worse time to scrap the programme. With nearly one in ten Londoners facing possible job loss and far more facing financial hardship, we need the Green Homes programme more than ever.

A London wide programme to insulate and draught proof every London home over three years, and fit energy saving equipment, such as solar water heating, over 15 years, could create up to 17,000 new jobs for builders, joiners, plumbers, electricians, roofers, heating and structural engineers and builders' supply merchants."

Monday, 5 January 2009

* New Year text message.

I had an interesting one which read "To all my friends who sent me good luck for 2008, it did fuck all. So for 2009, could you please send money VODKA or vouchers (not Woolworths). Thank You."

I have no idea who sent it.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

*10 word philosophy

Well worth having a look at this site:

The 10 word philosophy stuff is fascinating and fits with the need for a
snappy and coherent pitch.
(Thanks to Stuart Jeffrey for the link)