Monday, 28 January 2008

*Shell ditched as sponsor of top wildlife photographer exhibition in face of widespread protest

Shell’s two year tenure as sponsor of the Natural History Museum’s
‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ exhibition has come to an end. A
determined, creative two year national campaign, coordinated in part by
the direct action group Rising Tide and its Art Not Oil (1) campaign,
helped to force the NHM to ditch Shell.

Using a combination of creative direct action (2) and a ‘Shell’s Wild Lie’
exhibition (3), Rising Tide has been pressurising the Museum and partner
BBC Wildlife magazine to acknowledge that one of the world’s largest oil
companies is not a good sponsor for an exhibition that has become a
powerful testament to the beauty, diversity and fragility of the natural

This campaign, and the significant public pressure it mobilised, has now
paid off.

London Rising Tide’s Chris Hyde said: ‘We are delighted that the Natural
History Museum has seen sense and bid farewell to Shell in what must rank
as the most absurd and appalling sponsorship deal ever seen. Now it’s time
for the Museum to turn down cash from climate-destroying companies like
BP, BA and Shell , and for cultural institutions across London and the
UK to do the same.'

'The oil industry is destroying our future, as well as the habitats and lives of
countless living beings and habitats right now. For that reason, and because this
victory has shown what climatically conscious grassroots art can achieve,
we will be keeping up the pressure with our Art Not Oil campaign.’

Contact:, 07708 794665

Sunday, 27 January 2008


There is a saying in Ireland "A dumb priest never got a parish" It means if you don't talk you don't get!

After we sold the dino egg in The Green Room, I put out an appeal for another, and lo-and-behold we received one in yesterday's post. See photo above. It's a Hadrasaurus, but smaller than the previous one. The interesting thing about this one is that you see some of the outline of the fetus.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

*National Advice Network warns government of ‘disaster about to happen’

Advice UK, the national network of independent advice services, has written to Phil Hope, our very own ‘Third Sector’ Minister, to warn of the damaging consequences that the Government’s Legal Aid reforms is having on advice services, which “….are being forced into rushed and unwanted mergers in order to compete to retain their existing funding.

Their main competitors in the new national market are multi-million pound national private-sector organisations such as Capita and A4E.

Where third sector bodies are unsuccessful in bidding for the new larger contracts (now containing their existing funding) they stand to lose so much of their income that they will almost inevitably have to close.

Where private sector bidders are successful they will be one step closer to realising their obvious interest in securing as large a share of the new national market as possible.” Full text of this punchy letter from Steve Johnson, Chief Executive of Advice UK on

I worked at an independent community advice centre for six years. The general public are generally not aware of the great work done by these agencies. Some of the stories were heartbreaking, but we managed to solve most. However, don't expect the same level of service from the likes of Capita.

*Musharaff's limo ambushed in London

Peter Tatchell yesterday celebrated his birthday by making a brave and dangerous protest against oppression.

Protest against Pakistani dictator

London – 25 January 2008

President Musharraf's limousine was forced to halt in Park Lane,
London, tonight (25 January), when human rights campaigner Peter
Tatchell ran in front of his car in protest at the Pakistan dictator's
"suppression of democracy and human rights."

The ambush happened outside the Hilton Hotel Park Lane, as the
President's motorcade drew close to the hotel, where he was scheduled
to speak.

"To avert police attention, I stood inconspicuously at a bus stop
reading a newspaper, waiting for Musharraf's motorcade to arrive,"
recalled Mr Tatchell.

"When the police motorcycle escorts drew level, I ran out into Park
Lane and straight in front of the President's car. It screeched to a

"I unfurled a placard protesting against Musharraf's massacre of
civilians in occupied Baluchistan. The placard read:

"Stop Pakistan Massacre of Baluch people."

"Musharraf could clearly see the placard. He did not look pleased.

"His driver tried to back up and drive around me, but I ran in front
of the limousine again, forcing it to halt once more.

"I could see Musharraf shouting something at his driver. Perhaps he
feared that I was an assassin or a suicide bomber.

"The limo reversed again and tried to swerve past me. I blocked it for
the third time.

"Musharraf and his colleagues look very agitated.

"Eventually, police motorcycle escorts ran over and dragged me away
from the bonnet of Musharraf's vehicle.

"They pulled me across the road to the central reservation in Park
Lane, where I was pinned against the railing.

"Shortly afterwards, the police let me go and I joined the main
anti-Musharraf demonstration outside the Hilton Hotel, organised by
lawyers protesting against the arrest of fellow lawyers and supreme
court judges in Pakistan.

"Although my placard specifically condemned Musharraf's human rights
abuses in Baluchistan, I support all the people of Pakistan who are
struggling against dictatorship and for democracy.

"It is shameful that the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is
entertaining Musharraf at Downing Street on Monday. He is siding with
a dictator against the people of Pakistan.

"Musharraf is guilty of crimes against humanity, including the
indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas in Baluchistan, using
weaponry supplied by Britain and the US.

"Pakistani human rights groups say his regime practices detention
without trial, torture and extra-judicial killings.

"Musharraf is a criminal. He should be arrested by the UK authorities
and put on trial in The Hague," said Mr Tatchell.

Peter Tatchell has written an article for The Guardian newspaper in
London, condemning the Musharraf regime. Read it here:

Further information:

Peter Tatchell 020 7403 1790

Peter Tatchell is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East and

Donations are requested to help fund Peter Tatchell's campaigns promoting
human rights, democracy and global justice. Peter is unpaid and
receives no grants.

To continue his human rights work, he depends on donations from
friends and supporters.

Please make cheques payable to: "Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund".

Send to: Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund, PO Box 35253, London E1 4YF

To download a donation form or a standing order mandate, go to Donations at:

To email PTHRF:

For information about Peter Tatchell's campaigns:

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

*Disabled people excluded from social networking

By Mithran Samuel on Community Care Magazine.

Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites are "locking out" disabled people through their access requirements, breaching disability discrimination legislation.

That was the key finding from a study by AbilityNet, a charity that helps disabled people use computers and the internet through adaptive technology.

Kath Moonan, AbilityNet's senior accessibility and usability consultant, said: “With a disabled population of some 10 million potential users, these sites are inadvertently imposing a ‘technological lock-out’ on those who have most to gain from social networking - arguably the most socially excluded members of the community.”


It found that people accessing Bebo, Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo and YouTube had to first identify a "captcha image" - a display of distorted letters or words which can only be deciphered by human beings, not software.

However, this barred people with dyslexia, other learning disabilities or visual impairment from using the sites.

Yahoo and Facebook offered disabled people an alternative but these were unusable in practice, AbilityNet found.

After registration, disabled users faced further barriers. AbilityNet found that disabled visitors could not use many of the functions on the sites, including watching videos, because these were not compatible with assistive technologies, such as screen reading software used by blind people.

Monday, 21 January 2008


Last week I had three meetings on Sunday, Wandsworth Green Party on Monday, Barnet GP on Tuesday and Brent GP on Wednesday night. Conducted a charity auction in The Royal Geographical Institute on Friday night, then all day Saturday at our Candidate Training Day.

Today (Sunday) is a quite day, only the Londoncoordinator bulletin to get out and a few dozen e-mails to answer as well as running the Green Room, of course. We open 7 days per week.

Only 103 days to the London Assembly elections.

*Honeybees may be wiped out in 10 years

Honeybees will die out in Britain within a decade as virulent diseases and parasites spread through the nation's hives, experts have warned.

Whole colonies of bees are already being wiped out, with current methods of pest control unable to stop the problem.

The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) said that if the crisis continued, honeybees would disappear completely from Britain by 2018, causing "calamitous" economic and environmental problems. It called on the Government to restart shelved research programmes and to fund new ones to try to save the insects. Tim Lovett, the association's president, said: "The situation has become insupportable and the Government is unwilling to take steps to avoid disaster.

"We're increasingly unable to cope with threats as they arise. No bees means a huge cost to agriculture, without touching on the ecological and environmental issues. We're facing calamitous results."

Last year, more than 11 per cent of all beehives inspected were wiped out, although losses were higher in some areas.

In London, about 4,000 hives - two-thirds of the bee colonies in the capital - were estimated to have died over last winter. Of the eight colonies inspected so far this year, all have been wiped out.

Friday, 18 January 2008

*Take action to protect your local voice

The Government wants to push through plans for nuclear power stations and airport expansions, by stripping you of your rights to a say in these major developments.

Under current Government proposals, you would no longer have a right to appear in person and have your say in a meaningful way.

An "Infrastructure Planning Commission" (IPC) will take decisions on the construction of major infrastructure projects. The Commission would be unelected and unaccountable, even to Ministers.

The individual's right to be heard in person at inquiries into major infrastructure projects must be upheld and Ministers must remain accountable for these decisions.

The proposed National Policy Statements will also gravely endanger our ability to cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

We need a planning system that puts sustainable development at the heart of decision making on major infrastructure projects such as power stations, airports and roads.

Write to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government asking her to rework the Planning Reform Bill.

Go to

for suggested letter which can be sent by email if you’re short of time.

Thursday, 17 January 2008


Getting Overheated is a long and interesting entry in Stephen Fry's blog.

Here is part of it:
So we’re down to this thought. One is free to make the entirely valid observation that one cannot know for certain whether the scientific doom-saying on the subject of the planet, its rising temperature and the dire climactic and other consequences is true. One is free to observe that in the past scientists have been wrong. One is free to observe inconsistencies, evasions, exaggerations and discrepancies in the supposed ‘one-voice’ clarion cry emanating from the scientific community, environmental journalists, the green movement, the carbon off-set industry and others. In other words one is free to do nothing.

Ye-es but … you see the one overwhelming fact about the great climate debate is what’s at stake. Not scientific reputation, not the fortunes and comforts of capitalists and their populations, not pride or reputation but our very civilization.
So let’s break it broadly down to three responses to such a cataclysmic prophecy of doom.

There is Response A. Type A believes the preponderance of established scientific evidence. Whether Type A believes it because they are equipped to do so, or whether they believe it because they are gullible, or whether they believe it because they are stupud, or whether they choose to/pretend to believe it because they are anti-progress, anti-capitalist, anti-global economy, communist, hippy or anarchist is neither here nor there. They believe or profess to believe that there is a pressing threat to the continuation of human life on this planet such as we have known it since the earliest civilizations began to build harbours and ports on the edges of the land. It’s a big deal.

Then there is Type B. Type Bs do not believe this. They think the evidence is wrong, misinterpreted, flawed, misrepresented, unconvincing, not to be acted upon. Type A will call Type Bs “deniers” which irritates them with that suggestion of holocaust denial, not to mention its accompaniment of that special whiff of sanctimonious self-righteous and political correctness that many Bs observe will always hang about your classic Type A. Type B believes the evidence is either manufactured, ignored or slanted. They believe that the whole eco industry and the thousands of academic departments which have sprung up have a vested interest in those alarm bells. They think it’s political correctness, a new orthodoxy, liberal, bossy and dishonest.
Finally there is Type C, the category into which Jim falls. Type C says: “I cannot possibly know. I hear this from one side and that from another. Both seem convinced, both seem to be marshalling impressive technical figures to their side. I cannot make a judgment.”

Obviously there are views that shade between the three categories but in essence you either believe, deny or sit on the fence.

The consequence of these responses runs something like this: A, the believer, will, or at least should, attempt to do something about the threat they believe in: I mean, look what’s at stake, how can they not? In his or her small way they should support green initiatives through the ballot box, attempt to leave less of a carbon footprint in their personal lives, make environmental restitution for jet travel and other apparently deleterious activities through carbon offset schemes and the like. All very baffling, bewildering, embarrassing, inadequate, shambling, liberal and possibly useless no doubt, but the planet’s in danger so surely, (wringing of hands) we should try? By planet, I mean planet-as-we-know-it, of course. It is obvious that the good old earth will carry on a-spinning whatever happens to its ozone layer and climate systems.

B meanwhile will carry on as if nothing is different, for as far as he is concerned, nothing is. Bs only wish they could survive long enough to see the smug self-righteous sorrowful smile wiped from A’s face when in a hundred years it is made plain that there never was any great threat to the climate, to the environment or the ecosystem and that at worst it was a conspiracy of anti-capitalists and at best a muddled, credulous screw up.

And C? The Jims of this world? Well they, of course, are functionally exactly the same as B. They do not know. Case isn’t proven, so why should they vote for massive changes to the way the world does business, massive alterations to the convenience and pleasures of our way of life, just on a 50/50 hunch?

Ah, but that’s the point. It’s what’s at stake that matters in a bet like this.
If B is wrong and there really is a threat of the kind A claims, then not doing anything about it will destroy human habitations, make extinct many species, and fundamentally alter our habitats around the planet.

But if A is wrong and actually there is no threat, then acting as if there was will have what consequences? It will have saved fuel bills all over the world, reduced noxious emissions which, even if one doesn’t believe in global warming, are unpleasant pollutants in anyone’s reckoning, and slowed down the day when we find that the fossil fuels have run out. Action would have given us more time to find alternatives. To be fair, it will also have slowed down world growth and inconvenienced all of us in our personal lives and if A Types do turn to have been wrong they may well owe the world an apology and it’ll be red faces (and a brake in the inexorable rise in world economic growth and fuel mineral use) all round.
But surely that’s a small price to pay for backing a losing horse when the stakes are the planet itself?

Doing nothing risks everything and gains comparatively little, doing something risks comparatively little and gains the whole world. Surely you’d have to be an idiot not to back the believers in this instance.

I’ll restate it once more just to be clear.

For the eco-believer it’s no-lose situation: we all survive if they’re right and we’ve acted on their belief, we survive if they’re wrong and we’ve acted on their belief. Whereas for the eco-denier we survive if they’re right and we’ve done nothing but we perish if they’re wrong and we’ve done nothing.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008


Please consider signing this petition:

Every night, a huge amount of energy is wasted in lighting shops, depots and offices for no useful purpose.

This waste of energy is damaging to the environment and represents a significant financial cost. If there were a night time blackout for lighting emissions (say between the hours of 1am and sunrise) this would save huge amounts of energy and resources.

Clearly there will be examples where lighting is required through the night, but where a health & safety or security need is not demonstrated then a ‘black-out’ practice should be adopted.

*Dr. Pusztai

There is an interesting interview with Dr. Pusztai in the Guardian. See details below.

He is one of my great heroes. Without him we would all now be eating GM food. I met him when I organised a conference on GM food at City Hall. He is a gentle, slightly shy person and a real gentleman. When he speaks, you know that it is the voice of a true scientist, unlike some of the pronouncements of the pro-GM spokespeople. Dr. Pusztai started his career under a Stalinist regime but it is ironic that he was treated much worse in the UK.

A podcast of this interview can be heard at

Arpad Pusztai: Biological divide
The scientist at the centre of a storm over GM foods 10 years ago tells
James Randerson he is unrepentant
The Guardian, January 15 2008

Monday, 14 January 2008

*Brian Haw Assaulted.


During the freedom to protest assembly this afternoon, London Mayoral candidate Brian Haw (who was peacefully filming events in Whitehall) was violently attacked by a territorial support group policeman who lashed out at him, smashing his camera into his face and causing a deep cut. Police then arrested Brian for an unspecified public order offence and further assaulted him in a police van.

THE SOCPA legislation will soon be applied to all of the UK, and furthermore, anyone who opposes government policy will be labelled as extremist, and liable to arrest, detention and prosecution UNLESS everyone gets involved.

The US is just about to pass a law that will criminalise all dissent, and are also on the verge of bringing in the draft......UK is not far behind as they are fully committed to the war in Iraq and elsewhere, known as The War Against Terror (TWAT!)......... get busy folks!


Please consider signing this petition that
was created by Ashley Gunstock of Waltham Forest &
Redbridge GP.

Ashley is co-director of The Green Room.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to
re-designate Wanstead, Snaresbrook & Redbridge tube
stations into Zone 3, where they rightfully belong.

In view of the fact that Wanstead, Snaresbrook and
Redbridge Central Line tube stations (presently having
Zone 4 status) are geographically situated in Zone 3 -
and that as other stations on the underground system,
with Zone 3 status, lie further from central London
than these three in the London Borough of Redbridge -
we call for Transport for London to re-designate
them from Zone 4 into Zone 3.

Saturday, 12 January 2008


With the GLA elections now less than 15 weeks away, things are hotting up. This last week I had a meeting of the Fundraising Group on Monday night, the Editorial Board of London Green News on Tuesday night, attended Greenwich Green Party on Wednesday night and Harrow Green Party on Thursday night. There was a discussion with activists, last night, and I have three meetings tomorrow – 10am, 1.30pm and 5pm. All of this on top of calls from members and officers as well as press and other organisations.

I’m delighted to report that our elections plans are going well and we are on course to take four seats in the Assembly. This will be a relief, as I’m No. 3 on the Green Party List :-)

Next week looks like being equally hectic as I am booked to visit Wandsworth and Barnet Green Parties, meet CPRE and on Friday, conduct a charity auction supporting lions in Africa, plus the Training Day on Saturday.

Because I was in Harrow, I missed most of the Mayor debate on ITV. Contrary to statements in the Evening Standard, Ken seemed to be doing well, Borris was filibustering and Paddick seemed at sea and needed his notes to make a one minute set-piece speech.


Today in the Green Room we sold our 80 million year old dinosaur egg. I was sorry to see it go, as its display in our front window was a talking point. There is little pedestrian traffic in this stretch of the road, so we rely on having items that will enhance our word-of-mouth publicity.

This is the third dino egg that we have sold since opening in 2005. If anyone out there has a spare, could they donate it to us??

Among the donations just in is a set of 19th century chocolate wrappers, a Masonic pocket watch and an unused tube of chocolate body paint.

As always, we open seven days per week.

Friday, 11 January 2008

*BAE's bad value

Barnet Greens highlight BAE's bad value
(From the Barnet Green Party website)

Barnet Council pension fund's £3 million pounds worth of shares in weapons maker BAE Systems would have doubled in value to more than £6 million last year if the fund had sold them and bought stock in wind turbine makers instead, Barnet Green Party has revealed.

BAE Systems gained 16 pct in 2007 but Vestas Wind Systems, the world's largest wind turbine maker, saw its shares soar 131 pct, taking its market value to a mighty 13.4 billion euros, fast catching BAE.

Fund managers can no longer claim that they can't invest ethically because they get better returns in unethical stocks such as BAE. In fact that excuse has been false for a number of years.

BAE's recovery takes the shares only fractionally above above where they were 10 years ago, whereas investments in Vestas have multiplied 33 fold in value since the company was first listed in May 1998.

Not all ethical or environmental stocks have had as a stellar a trajectory as Vestas but in recent years the sector has consistently performed as well as or better than the broad market. Over the past five years the Stoxx European sustainability index has climbed 61 pct, compared with a 46 pct gain by the Stoxx 50 index of European blue chip companies.

Even in Britain alone, where the ethical and environmental sector is relatively small because of lack of government encouragement, the FTSE4Good UK 50 index has kept pace with the benchmark FTSE 100 both during 2007 and over the past five years as a whole.

According to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Barnet Council's pension fund held shares worth £3,255,178 in BAE Systems in mid-2007. Barnet Green Party is once again calling on the fund's managers to sell that immoral stake and invest the money in ethical companies.

There is every prospect that 'green' industries will continue to grow strongly in Europe as governments step up their spending so that 20 pct of energy comes from renewable sources by 2020, a target agreed by all 27 European Union countries including Britain.

Germany has already created an estimated 200,000 jobs in industries that help fight climate change and Britain could do the same if the government and investment managers such as those who control Barnet Council's pension fund woke up to the economic opportunities of these new technologies.

"Personally, I believe BAE should convert its factories to the manufacture of wind turbines, solar panels and marine power machinery," said Barnet Green Party member Andrew Newby, who compiled the figures. "You never know, 'British Airpower Equipment' could even end up making more money than the group does from its current evil products."

Saturday, 5 January 2008


The fastest eco boat on the planet will attempt to break
the round the world speed record using fuel made from human

Pete Bethune of New Zealand and his wife mortgaged their
house in order to facilitate Earthrace, the most advanced
eco boat in the world right now.

Earthrace is fuelled on 100 per cent biodiesel and has a
net zero carbon footprint. The attempt to circumnavigate
the globe will begin from Valencia in Spain this year. The
not-for-profit project aims to promote awareness of the
environment and the sustainable use of resources.

Demonstrating further commitment to the cause, Bethune
underwent liposuction and donated enough to produce 100ml
of biofuel, while two other, larger volunteers also had
the procedure, making a total of 10 liters of human fat.
This in turn produced seven liters of biofuel, which could
help the boat travel about 15km.

Sounds very eco-friendly, but I'd hate to smell the

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

*Northern Rock.

From the OUCH disability blog.

Here on Ouch, we sometimes have a little saying: "disability is in everything". It allows us to take that sideways look at the subject that has become so characteristic of your favourite disability website. But even we didn't imagine that it would somehow feature in the ongoing news story of the troubled Northern Rock bank and, in turn, the global credit criss that has been hitting the headlines almost daily since September. However, it seems that we were wrong.

A story tucked away in the Business section of The Guardian today reveals that the offshore trust that owns three-quarters of Northern Rock's assets was originally set up to benefit charities - in particular, a small organisation for children with Down's Syndrome. So small, in fact, that it's run from a semi-detached house on the outskirts of Newcastle. Curiouser and curiouser.

Yet Down's Syndrome North East - or DSNE - remained completely in the dark about their role in all this. Whilst the volunteer-run charity was getting by on small donations, little did it know that it was supposed to be one of the beneficiaries of a trust whose turnover ran into billions (yes, I said billions) of pounds.

Since this story came to light, Northern Rock has promised that the charity will receive a donation in the future - but nothing has been forthcoming yet due to further complexities in the situation.

If, like me, you're not particularly up to speed in your knowledge of the intricacies of financial institutions and markets, this can appear to be a rather bewildering report, but it's definitely one worth reading. And it certainly goes to prove, once again, the old Ouch belief that disability really is in everything.