Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Vote Green This Thursday!

Whilst many of us across Britain do not have the opportunity to vote this Thursday, those who can vote in the elections in London and selected Councils in England and Wales have a chance to both improve their local political situation and send a message to the main political parties. This is particularly the case where people have the opportunity to vote Green. London Green Mayoral candidate Sian Berry and the candidates for the London Assembly have been working very hard to get the message across and this has been noticed and commented on in the mainstream media including favourable mentions in the Observer and the Independent.

Of course, now the Greens are steaming ahead, and particularly as they are steaming ahead on a popular left-of-centre agenda combining sustainability and social justice, the slagging and smearing will start in earnest, particularly from the far-from-squeaky clean Lib Dems who see the Greens as a direct threat. (A quick glance around the blogosphere and Internet shows this is already well under way.) However, every attack from the Lib Dems about how "leftist" the Greens are exposes their own unattractive drift to the right under "Cleggeron" and the Orange Bookers. It also gives the Greens the opportunity to set out just how our media-neglected social and economic policy agendas are based around social justice rather than the corporate welfare and schmoozing of the "big three". This will further help the Greens to move into the political space vacated by New Labour and build a stronger new base of support.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekly Links 27/04/08

A very busy week this week in the run up to May Day and the elections, but just enough time for a quick run around this corner of the blogosphere......

Plenty of stuff on the coming elections, particularly those in London.

Derek Wall at Another Green World pointed out that the Observer newspaper Leader this weekend, whilst ultimately backing Ken Livingstone, has favourable comment on the Mayoral campaign of Sian Berry and suggests a first preference for her!

Derek also blogged on the record of the Greens on the London Assembly.

Andy Newman at the Socialist Unity Blog has had a post critical of the SWP's Left List leaflet in London and another post praising the strategy of the Greens.

Stroppyblog highlights the News Of The World story on the far right candidate in the London Mayoral elections.

The Lenin's Tomb blog made a relatively rare excursion into environmental topics this week with observations on the implications of the latest news and predictions of Arctic thawing. He then spoils it in the comments by the usual predictable green-slagging, oh well, you can't have everything.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, Anton Vowl at Enemies of Reason blog this week reported on the strange tabloid story of the mutant squirrels and the unpleasant undertones in the reporting. Always a pleasure to end, News at Ten style, on a fluffy animal story.....


Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, April 25, 2008

Last Few Days Of Election Campaigns

We are now inside the last week of campaigning for the London Assembly and Mayoral elections and local elections in some of the local authorities in England and Wales.

The media are predictably concentrating on the battle between the "big beasts" in the London Mayoral election, but there are battles going on around England and Wales that are intensifying as May 1st looms.

Here is a guide on how and why to elect more Greens in London.

Sian Berry's excellent Mayoral campaign continues, with growing support and endorsements.

Siân Berry for Mayor of London. Vote Green. Change London for good.

The Vote Green Party site has the brilliant election broadcast video and a tool for locating your Green candidates around the country.

Left Greens Jim and Peter set out the electoral arithmetic for the Left in London on the Socialist Unity blog and argue the case for the left to boost the Green vote to defeat the far right.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Support the Teachers!

Teachers around the country are on strike today over the miserable pay deal offered by the government. They deserve the support of all other workers fighting the advance of neo-liberalism and marketisation. The teachers union, the NUT is mourning the death of its' General Secretary that happened a short while ago, but they are in militant mood. Many teachers that I have spoken to have grievances far beyond the miserable pay deal - in particular the unending tide of bureaucracy and form filling that afflicts much of the workforce in Britain under this hybrid government that is economically neo-liberal and temperamentally Stalinist.

The importance of this dispute and the education sector as an organised part of the labour (small l !) movement is shown by the hostile response of the media (some of whose wet-behind-the-ears journos seem to regard strikes as archaeological novelties from before the age of cosmopolitan consumerist indifference) and the comments of the less guarded representatives of the ruling class like the Daily Telegraph editorial staff and leading Tory back room boys - one of whom has called for the NUT to be "smashed like Thatcher smashed the miners" in order to open the way to the sunlit uplands of a fragmented, part-privatised education system primarily serving the interests of corporations and the right-wing individualist elements of the middle class.

A sweep of the Brit blogosphere on the issue also reveals the deep current of hatred and authoritarianism that runs barely concealed beneath the surface of Jeremy Clarkson land. Whatever working people do that annoys some of these right wing reactionary bloggers has a good chance of being a positive thing in my book.

Beyond this defensive action on behalf of the teachers is the need for a vision of an education system that meets the needs of young people and helps integrate them into a caring and progressive society, rather than treats them as little more than production units and statistics. We need an education system that is a co-operative endeavour between students, teachers and the wider community, not one that is chiefly about churning out dubious data to cover the government of the day's political back. Young people are not lumps of wood to be shaped impersonally into "competitors" in the global marketplace, they are human beings. The fact that the human needs of young people - for companionship, love, goals, common purpose, identity, belonging - are often not being met in the home, in society or in the target-terrorised education setting is one of the main factors in the social problems faced in many parts of Britain. These are the social problems about which all the media and politicians love to alternately wring their hands and sound off about (usually ineffective) crack-downs. The irony is that if those working at the coalface of education, youth and social issues and the young people themselves were consulted in a meaningful way then solutions to many of the educational and social issues affecting young people in this country would become clear very rapidly. The problem is that those solutions would not fit into the neo-liberal economic straitjacket that has been accepted across the political establishment. The tragedy lies in the widespread belief that as Thatcher said "There Is No Alternative", and the opportunity lies in the likelihood that in the bleak economic times to come this belief will be tested to destruction.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Celebrate England's Glorious Tradition (Of Rebellion!)

Today, April 23rd, is England's National Day - though sometimes you wouldn't know it and I am typing this before going to work - the refusal of the British establishment to grant a holiday on this day perhaps qualifying as a minor example of what the old English rebels used to call the "Norman Yoke". Appropriately for a country of many inflowing races, religious and secular currents and cultures the Saint celebrated was a foreigner and is shared with such places as Georgia, Russia, Portugal, Greece and Catalonia. (Incidentally, the Catalans, I believe, have the delightful tradition of giving their loved one a book and a rose on this day) The day is also the alleged birthday/death day? of England's most famous playwright William Shakespeare, though what can be said about this elusive figure with confidence is a matter of historical controversy.

It seems to me that the National Day of England offers an opportunity to celebrate some of the better political examples of English history and some of the heroes and fighters that offer lessons for today. Ironically many of these are what the current establishment would term rebels and malcontents, even "traitors" - but as a Republican and a seeker of freedom and equality claims of treachery to most of the gangsters and tyrants that have sat on the English and then British throne should probably be seen as a plus point, and at least understandable.

So, from the legendary Robin Hood, who stole from the rich to feed the poor, to John Ball, Jack Straw, and Wat Tyler and the revolting peasants who rose against the first Poll Tax, right through to the Poll Tax rebels of more recent history, there is an honourable history and romantic legends of revolt, rebellion and resistance.
Let us today remember the known and unrecorded fighters who strove for an England that was fairer, more just and more free. Let us remember:

The Peasants' Revolt

John Lilburne and the Levellers

Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers

The Western Rising

Tom Paine

William Godwin
and Mary Wollstonecraft


The Corresponding Societies

Jeremiah Brandreth
and the Pentrich Rebels

The Chartists

The Co-operators

William Morris

The Suffragettes
, particularly Sylvia Pankhurst

The Syndicalists

The squatters after the Second World War

The Miners' Strike

The Poll Tax Revolt

I'll be celebrating 'em all with a pint of English Ale or Porter and perhaps watching a multinational Mancunian team play a multinational Catalonian one!

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Global Warming Primer

Today's Independent newspaper in the UK has a free booklet in its Science Made Simple series on "Global Warming" by Mark Maslin, Director of the UCL Environment Institute. Mark Maslin is a leading palaeoclimatologist and is the author of the book Global Warming : A Very Short Introduction.
The Independent also has a thoughtful editorial on the dilemma posed by the recent onshore windfarm decision in Scotland.
However, in the interests of "balance" the Independent still gives room to the tedious contrarian (from a clan of tedious far right neo-liberal contrarians) Dominic Lawson, to rant on in the same vein as his father about the global conspiracy and how everyone else are idiots, fools and dupes - and all the world needs is more markets, more competition, more red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalism. Yeah, right. We still remember Lawson senior's disastrous term under the Iron Handbag......

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekly Links - 20/04/2008

This week Duncan Money reports on the latest inanities of the leadership of the Oxford Union.
Labour Left bloggers continue their fight against the direction of the party that holds them captive, now in the face of the latest 10p Tax row, commented on by Dave Osler. Susan at Grimmer Up North reports from the coal face.
Derek Wall this week blogged on the campaign of Noel Lynch to join the Greens Darren Johnson and Jenny Jones on the London Assembly.
Green From Below commented sensibly on the latest bad news from European Green parties.

British Politics

The British campaign for the abolition of the monarchy, "Republic" held their Spring Conference in Cardiff this weekend and launched their new campaign to Challenge The Oath.
Republic have also launched a new Republic Scotland website.
Left wing Republicanism should perhaps be centre stage in any new vision for these islands - perhaps Paul Kingsnorth could consider this in the light of his interesting article in the New Statesman this week about the Left and an English Civic nationalism similar to those present in Scotland and Wales. This forgotten initiative from a few years ago may contain ideas towards such a vision.

Preparing for May Day
The London May Day March this year assembles at Noon at Clerkenwell Green on May 1st, and veteran socialist Tony Benn is due to speak at the rally in Trafalgar Square.

A lot of "May Day" events elsewhere in Britain actually take place on the weekend following, or on the Bank Holiday Monday. In the West Midlands, however, the local General Membership Branch of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) are holding a May Day event on May Day itself. They are showing films at the Lamp Tavern, Digbeth from 8 'til late, including Chaplin's Modern Times, the film "An Injury To One" about the slaying of union organiser Frank Little in Montana and film from Birmingham Indymedia on recent social and industrial struggle in the West Midlands. More here.

In the East Midlands, meanwhile, the traditional Chesterfield and District TUC May Day march, rally and celebrations in the market place take place on Bank Holiday Monday, 5th May from 10.30am. Nottingham's May Day march is on Saturday 3rd May.

In the USA there will hopefully be workplace action against the continuing war on May Day.

Unions and Work

Here is a report on the National Blood Service Demo I mentioned last week.
Meanwhile the international solidarity action of the South African dock workers was an example for us all this week.

Green Politics
The Biofuels issue is getting more coverage, particularly as the evidence grows for what Greens, Ecosocialists and many other commentators suggested was likely to happen - food prices pushed up and the poorest hit hardest.
South East MEP Caroline Lucas this week slammed the latest "Green" credential claims of David Cameron and his Tories.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cohn-Bendit and the Hamburg Greens - Traitors.

There is no point in beating about the bush, in apologetics or justifications. The actions of the Hamburg Greens in allying with the CDU and of the egotistical careerist Cohn-Bendit, sucking up to the detestable reactionary Sarkozy, amount to treachery. This is one of those moments - like the Czech Greens backing the siting there of tracking radar for the USA's missile programme and the Irish Greens compromising over Tara and US "Security" flights to get a small say in the administration of the dubious reactionaries of Fianna Fail - it is one of those moments where, like George Orwell's farm animals, we look from pig to man and from man to pig (from dubious opprotunists to slimey reactionaries) and have difficulty in telling the difference.

So I will not mince words - these people are traitors to the original ideals of the Green movement. Those of them that are veterans of 1968 have jettisoned the good things of that epoch (idealism, concern for others, suspicion of hierarchies and the establishment) and kept the negatives (egotism, selfishness, arrogance, a weakness for sucking up to authoritarians and dreaming of a well-ordered Utopia - EUtopia?). They are no longer worthy of being described as of the "left", and like the bought-and-paid-for-apologist for a US and European Imperial New Order, Joschka Fischer, they are now best classified as part of the enemy.

It is time for a fightback. It is time to say no more right shifting, pro imperialist, pro corporate Europe, arrogant stuffed shirts. Like Lou Reed said, "Stick a fork in their asses and turn 'em over, they're done"

The Green Left are organised in England and Wales and the Ecosocialist International is now in operation. Links need to be built across the green movement in the whole of Europe and across the world to forge a united resistance and opposition to the bureaucrats and timeservers, the "Opera Class" Greens as a German journalist called them. A global recession is in the offing, major resource crises and massive climate related problems are growing. The existing ruling class will respond by making the majority population - the poor - pay, by drawing up the drawbridge on "fortress Europe", by insisting on poll-tax like "equal sacrifices". They will seek to divert unrest into attacking scapegoats, and build war and terror hysteria to advance their aims. Fischer, Cohn-Bendit and the reactionary "Blue/Black Greens" are already well advanced in apologising for the current and coming excesses. Such people are living proof of the corruption inherent in our existing power structures.

There are plenty of us who are not about to leave the Green movement to the careerists and reactionaries - and we are not about to leave and join the authoritarian left, we are radical democrats and left-wing greens, not Leninists - it is the careerists who now demand expulsions, who seek top-down discipline and Europe-wide "Party Lines" based on their agenda. But we will fight for the original radical left vision of the European Green movement in a democratic way, because that original radical left, democratic and egalitarian vision is now more relevant than ever. It is those who are tying their chariot to Corporatist Euro-Federalism, to NATO imperialism and rampant neo-liberalism who are out of step, it is they who are aligning themselves with what is about to fall rather than what is about to rise.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Further Stern Warning On Climate Change

When the Stern report was published back in 2006, many in the Green movement pointed out that Stern's assessment of the risks erred on the conservative side, and that his suggested remedies were a combination of similarly conservative steps and fashionable "market based" solutions like Carbon Trading. It seems that, at least on the analysis of the challenge and threat, Stern has come around to a view a little closer to his critics at that time:

"We badly underestimated the degree of damages and the risks of climate change," said Lord Stern in a speech in London yesterday. "All of the links in the chain are on average worse than we thought a couple of years ago."

More from Danny Fortson in the Independent here.

Yet despite his reassessment of the situation, Stern is still in favour of the "market solutions" (free market economics and neo-liberal globalisation are a large part of the problem) and expensive nuclear technical "fix" (I have less problem with his call for more investment in developing Carbon Capture and Sequestration and renewables)

Will Stern's words have any effect this time? It is sobering to recall George Marshall's account of some of the response to the original Stern Report.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Links and Green Books

I have added a few new links to my links column, the first being Skeptical Science, an interesting and useful site set up by John Cook, an ex-Physicist who majored in Solar Physics at the University of Queensland. I have added it to my resources section. From the site intro -

Scientific skepticism is a healthy thing. Scientists should always challenge themselves to expand their knowledge, improve their understanding and refine their theories. Yet this isn't what happens in global warming skepticism. Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports anthropogenic global warming and yet eagerly, even blindly embrace any argument, op-ed piece, blog or study that refutes global warming.

So this website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?

My other new link is in my left parties and blogs section, where I have added the very brave young anti-fascist Duncan Money's blog - Nation of Duncan.

Sian Berry's book, 50 Ways To Save Water And Energy is getting a boost from her high profile during the London election, which is a very good thing as the book promotes things that individuals can do to help save the planet, whilst also usually saving money - and Sian's profile shows that it is not all just about individual action, collective and political action are essential.

The Green Party Political Broadcast for the local elections aired on TV last night, and very good it was too. The Greens also have this excellent website up and running for the local elections -

Back on books and Lancaster Green Party City Councillor Anne Chapman has a book out entitled Democratizing Technology, published by Earthscan, which looks at risk, responsibility and the regulation of chemicals.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Italian Election : Anti-Politics and Reaction Hand in Hand

The Italian election results show a depressing picture of decline for the left and resurgence for the right, compounded by a weary anti-political mood. The Italian Green vote, whilst not large originally, appears to have declined very slightly, whilst the votes of the left parties they allied with in the "Rainbow Left" coalition declined precipitously.
More from Jim at Daily (Maybe) here.

The left in Italy have probably pleased no-one. First they cooperated in the centre left government coalition and lost lots of support due to the perceived compromise of principles, then they united outside the centre left coalition and lost support from those who favoured a more "popular frontist" strategy.

As ever, anti-politics and weariness and cynicism has fed not as anarchistic elements would wish into mass revolt, but mass abstention and disengagement, leading to a victory for a corrupt and reactionary right. This all brought to mind a discussion on Indymedia recently where "Stargrave" answered the arguments of abstentionists and immiserationists regarding their non-voting in the forthcoming London election which could see the victory of reactionary Tory Boris Johnson and the election of the first fascist assembly members:

It seems to me that the original post is arguing for a tactic and this position is being opposed from either a strategic or dogmatic position - i.e."Don't vote ever" or even the immiserationist "Let the right gain power as it will radicalise people". (a ridiculous strategy which current conditions in much of the world and the judgement of history have shown to be suicidal)
People need to get out of their bubbles and look at the effect of actions and tactics in the real world.
We DO NOT live in a society where there is a mass movement against capital, we ARE NOT on the verge of revolution. If that was the case then abstentionism might be arguable (though if it was the case there would probably arise an electoral expression of the movement that people might consider voting for) This is not to say we should not be building a mass movement, merely to state the FACTS as they stand.
We live in a situation where the global economy is taking a nose dive, ecological and social problems are escalating, and the main people benefitting from the growing alienation and disillusionment are the far right. To ignore this, and think that lifestylism or hiding in a purist ghetto are adequate responses is, quite frankly , juvenile and foolish.
To posit false choices "either vote or organise" is dishonest - why cant people vote (as a tactic, not a strategy - without buying into the "vote for this party and everything will be OK" arguments) to dinminish the chances of the fascists gaining a strategic advantage. As someone said above, the fascists gaining seats gives them further legitimacy, which means more sympathisers come out of the woodwork, more feel free to openly support them and their influence on the direction and tone of politics increases.
The mainstream parties and fascism are NOT the same, as anyone who has engaged in physical anti-fascism or studied history should know. From the point of view of the struggle, the more the fascists gain power and legitimacy, the more difficult it becomes to unite working people, the more organising is obstructed, the more repression comes down on our head and the more dangerous it becomes for people to express views in favour of our side.
The mistake made here by many has been made in France and Italy - where the far right now has a hold in many areas that were formerly dominated by the left. The rise of the right cannot be fought purely in physical terms, when they seek the "legitimate" route. If you do this you then become seen in the eyes of many of the working class as the "illegitimate" ones, attacking "freedom of speech" and promoting violence - as ridiculous as this may seem in the face of the rise of fascism. This is not to say that there is no place for physical anti-fascism - again it is a question of *tactics*, not strategy or principle.
So vote as a tactic, organise as a strategy. Look at the consequences of your actions and arguments.


The Italian election victory of Berlusconi et al adds further weight to the argument put forward by Stargrave, I hope those who plan to abstain or even worse, vote for the right in the misconceived hope of "punishing the imperfect left and provoking a popular left reaction" are paying attention!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekly Links - 13/04/2008

Peace Movement
One of the biggest UK news stories this week has been the stunning victory at the High Court of The Corner House and the Campaign Against The Arms Trade against the Government over the dropping of the BAE-Saudi arms deal inquiry. This has excited much comment across the blogosphere and elsewhere, and is now putting pressure on Gordon Brown to answer serious questions.
CAAT have announced a demonstration outside the BAE AGM on 7th May. They also have an online petition to the Prime Minister. Here is how the High Court victory was reported on the CAAT blog.

Meanwhile, in Wales a demonstration is scheduled for Saturday 26th April about the privatised St Athan Military Academy. Assemble at 1.30pm on the lawns opposite Cardiff City Hall for a March at 2pm.

Workers' Struggles
The teacher's strike planned for 24th April is gaining momentum, and Stroppyblog lists some of the marches and rallies planned around the country on the day. The Green Party Trade Union Group blog has a report from the recent NUT conference by Phillipe Harari, which concludes "this was a great Conference, showing the NUT at its best – united in fighting for a fairer education system within a fairer society."

The Blood Service Workers' demo at the NBS HQ in Watford took place on Friday.

Here are photos from other actions during the ongoing campaign.

In Health, there is much disquiet over the behaviour of Unison representatives in the lastest negotiations, particularly New Labour candidate-to-be, Karen Jennings - more from Martin Wicks' blog here, and Gill George (Unite union NEC member) here.

Green Politics
Green Party Mayoral candidate Sian Berry has blogged her reasons for standing on her New Statesman blog. Her percentage in the opinion polls has significantly improved since the start of the campaign.

Rupert Read has recently blogged a summary of the Norwich Green Party manifesto for the local elections there, where the Greens are challenging to become the main opposition Party. The London Greens also launched their manifesto this week.

London Green MEP Jean Lambert this week called for action on human rights in Bangladesh to ensure free and fair elections there. Green Human Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has been speaking out on the situation in Zimbabwe, China and Tibet. Renegade Eye has stimulating posts on Zimbabwe and Lebanon.
Indymedia has a report that armed Canadian coastguards have stormed the Sea Shepherd ship, (in the area to obstruct the seal cull), and arrested the crew. Indymedia also has more news on the repression directed towards Mexico's indiginous community in the Oaxaca area.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, April 11, 2008

Quick News Round Up

French students are turning out in increasing numbers on demonstrations against the conservative government's plans for "reforms" and cuts in secondary schools. Some banners on the latest demos referred to the events of 40 years ago, reading "This year May came one month early" and "Faut-il un nouveau Mai 68?"

A series of events around squatting and autonomous spaces in Europe started today, as reported on Indymedia. Indymedia also carries reports of more repression and violence in Oaxaca.

Three deaths this week of people prominent in their own fields on the progressive left in Britain -
Greg Tucker - Socialist RMT activist
Tim Beaumont - the Green Party's representative at Westminster
Steve Sinnott - General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers
Rest in Peace, Comrades.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Humans and Habitats Conference

A major conference linking human rights and the environment is to take place at the London School Of Economics on Saturday 26th April. The collaborative event - Humans & Habitats: rethinking rights in an age of climate change is supported by the LSE's Centre for the Study of Human Rights, The Guardian, Human Rights Watch and Friends Of The Earth.

Human rights naturally focus on the inherent dignity and worth of the person. In the past they have prompted democratic reform and inspirational documents such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Since the 1970s the environmental movement has highlighted the impacts of human activities on the biodiversity and habitats on which we all depend. This has lead to global environmental principles such as those contained in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.

The two movements share concerns about current economic paradigms; quality of life; the necessity to find solutions to these problems; and a strong desire to safeguard the health of the planet for future generations. Both face a common challenge in the form of climate change and its impacts on people. The task is to find real solutions to climate change that respect human rights and prevent the worst off from facing even greater hardship. How can the two movements work together to achieve this?

In this major public conference the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, in partnership with Friends of the Earth, Human Rights Watch and the Guardian, presents a thought provoking event exploring opportunities for change and connections between people and the planet.

Tickets are £10 waged, £5 unwaged, and the deadline for registrations is 18th April.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Selbourne Moves On To Peddle Reaction In The Guardian

After exposing his agenda and prejudices badly in the Spectator the other week, the apologist for authoritarian nationalism David Selbourne has moved on to the Guardian to peddle a watered-down-for-liberals version of his reactionary garbage. The differences between the two articles (no respectful quoting of Cromwell in full-dictator-mode in the Guardian!) simply illustrates Selbourne's opportunism and the nakedness of his agenda. By conflating concern for civil liberties and human rights with neo-libertarian market fetishism Selbourne dishonestly tries to discredit completely legitimate concerns by association with a powerful, but fortunately now struggling, destructive cult. Fortunately, as in the Spectator, Selbourne gets a good thrashing in the comments, for his dishonesty and incoherence as much as his sheer malevolent wrongheadedness.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"Emissions Targets Not Good Enough" - Top NASA Scientist

A top climate scientist from NASA has said that the targets set by the European Union (amongst the more ambitious ones currently being aimed for) are insufficient to forestall catastrophic climate change. Dr James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York called for far more stringent targets:

Hansen says the EU target of 550 parts per million of C02 - the most stringent in the world - should be slashed to 350ppm. He argues the cut is needed if "humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed". A final version of the paper Hansen co-authored with eight other climate scientists, is posted today on the Archive website. Instead of using theoretical models to estimate the sensitivity of the climate, his team turned to evidence from the Earth's history, which they say gives a much more accurate picture.

Debate has ensued upon this, with Leo Hickman at the Guardian somewhat unfairly linking it to James Lovelock's recent "we're all stuffed so we might as well eat, drink and be merry" type arguments. Hansen and the other scientists are hardly arguing from that viewpoint, after all, but merely presenting the science and suggesting the scale of the challenge and the appropriate targets.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, April 07, 2008

Greens Prominent In Protests Against Repression In Tibet

Greens in Britain and France have been prominently involved alongside the Tibetan exile community in protesting against the repression directed by the Chinese State against the people of Tibet. The Olympic Torch carrying events in both London and Paris were heavily disrupted by protestors and both occasions became heavily policed, and occasionally hilarious farces. More from the BBC on the French events here and the London events here.

Prominent UK Green and Human Rights activist Peter Tatchell was amongst those arrested in London. In Paris, Green Party activist Sylvain Garel was grabbed by security near the torch, and Mireille Ferri, a Green vice-president of the Paris region, was arrested while carrying a fire extinguisher!

We must show solidarity with all those under attack from the Chinese State, including human rights and environmental activist Hu Jia, who has just been jailed for three and a half years for keeping up his fight for what he believes in.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Challenging The Market In Education Conference

An important conference organised by the UCU and NUT education unions is coming up in May - I am pleased to play my part in circulating the following information :

Challenging the Market in Education Conference

A Conference entitled ‘Challenging the Market in
Education’ is to be held on Saturday 17 May 2008 at the
Conference Centre, 27 Britannia Street, London, WC1X

This conference is organised by UCU and supported by
the NUT and will include contributions from experts in
the field including Professor Dexter Whitfield,
European Services Strategy Unit, Professor Ken Spours,
Institute of Education and Professor Roger Seifert,
University of Keele.

The conference will also feature workshops led by
activists on:

Resisting City Academies
The marketisation and privatisation of higher
The Skills Agenda, Train2Gain and private providers
Building grassroots responses and organising around
Using the political process to challenge the market
Defending quality and advancing an alternative vision
of education

Challenging the market is a major conference open to
union activists, MPs, councillors, journalists and
anyone interested in the impact of marketisation on

We hope this conference will be a significant step in
developing the unions’ and activists response to the
encroachment of the market and of privatisation in

We want as many people as possible to get the chance
to attend this conference so please circulate this

Space is limited so register now to avoid
disappointment. *CLICK HERE TO REGISTER*:

Teachers in the NUT are due to strike over pay on Thursday 24th April.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Weekly Links - 06/04/08

Jim, at Daily (Maybe) this week launched a survey of readers of his blog on the British political situation and also linked to the "Vote Match" site for the London Election.
On that subject, Liam Mac Uaid this week reported on his left group's statement on the London Mayoral election - calling for a first preference for Sian Berry, the Green candidate.
Duncan Money, one of the bravest current anti-fascist bloggers, reported this week on the latest foot shooting incident of one of the far rightists in London.
In a week that has seen day after day of barely concealed tabloid joy at stories which gave them the opportunity to play on the meanest and basest prejudices, Anton Vowl at Enemies Of Reason took a look at the pit of stench that is the current worst offending tabloid, The Express. At Obsolete, Septicisle also looked at the influence of the tabloid scum on topics such as privacy/data theft and cannabis classification.
Meanwhile, from Ireland, there is comment on Cedar Lounge Revolution blog in the wake of the Bertie Ahern resignation announcement.
From the US, Renegade Eye started a debate on Obama and US foreign policy on Monday.
Finally this week, news that the lefty blogger responsible for high traffic UK blog Lenin's Tomb is going into print.

Rising Tide called a day of action on polluting energy companies failing to address the challenge of climate change on April 1st, entitled "Fossil Fools Day".
There were a series of actions around the country, including in Nottingham, where E.On were targeted and blockaded, and in London where the Football Association were targetted due to their acceptance of prominent sponsorship by E.On.

Green Politics

Just love those Sian Berry posters!
The Green Party of The United States this week posted election news from Illinois and Wisconsin.
English Green MEP Caroline Lucas this week led a delegation to talk to EU Commissioner (Environment) Dimas about illegal logging and deforestation.

Labour News
Various interesting stories highlighted on Labourstart this week - amongst those catching my eye were a large protest against low pay and corporate greed in Slovenia, continuing industrial unrest amongst Nike workers in Vietnam, and repression of workers struggles in Egypt.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, April 05, 2008

April Industrial Worker Highlights Green Unionism

The April issue of the IWW (Industrial Workers of The World) newspaper, the Industrial Worker is now out and highlights green syndicalism/unionism in a centre spread.


* Puerto Rican teachers defy government
* Scottish college sacks Unison steward, cuts jobs
* Maquila workers denounce NAFTA

Featured Articles:

* Metro Lighting a scab business
* Green unionism
* Review: End of America offers no alternatives, ignores unions

Part of the green spread is a Dan Jakopovich article - Dan has had articles published in British IWW publications and the online US Green discussion journal Synthesis/Regeneration.

As part of their campaign against cuts and closures in the Blood Service in Britain, the IWW are supporting a demonstration outside the National Blood Service HQ in Watford on 11th April :

All-out for big demonstration at Blood Service HQ in Watford! IU 610s, other wobblies and supporters will be visiting the offices to cause a fuss and demand that the head honchos revoke their damaging proposals, democratise the service, and are called to account for their shoddy and dangerous policies.

Bring noise-making implements, banners, placards and loads of friends!

There is also an IWW supported public meeting in Leicester this week (9th April) about the campaign to oppose closures and cuts in Adult Education in Leicester which I blogged on a while ago.

It is good to see the rapidly growing British Isles organisation (BIROC) of the IWW getting stuck in with high profile campaigning. BIROC is happy to be hosting the first IWW General Assembly to take place in Europe, in London this summer.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, April 04, 2008

Greens Launch May Local Election Campaign

The Green Party of England and Wales have launched their local election campaign for the May 2008 local council elections.

The Green Party has launched its campaign for the May 1st local elections, with Caroline Lucas MEP, Cllr Adrian Ramsay and Cllr Darren Johnson AM paying a visit to Parliament.

The local elections are widely seen as a barometer of support for the general election, and, Greens are set to make gains that will demonstrate that they are on the road to Westminster. Both Caroline Lucas and Adrian Ramsay will fight seats in which the Greens already lead Labour on local vote share, having overtaken them since 2005, and Darren Johnson has slashed the Labour lead in Lewisham Deptford.

The Green election campaign will promote 5 key policies to promote social and environmental justice, including free school meals and free insulation.

After the Westminster launch, Caroline Lucas and Adrian Ramsay made their way to Norwich, where they will launch the campaign to make the Greens the second party on the council, a position they missed out on last time by just one vote.

Caroline Lucas said of the launch: "Green councillors have already introduced life-changing and life-saving measures like free insulation, and 20mph zones. By voting Green on May 1st, you can vote for more socially and environmentally just, more democratic and more competent local government.

"When people elect Greens, they like what they get. That's why we're constantly gaining more councillors, and it's why we'll make big gains next month.

The local elections coincide with the London Mayoral and Assembly Elections where the Green campaign is well underway, with Sian Berry, the Green Mayoral candidate, beginning to forge ahead of the "others" in opinion polls in an election which has so far been treated by the media as a battle between the big three parties. Sian's posters are really good and can be downloaded for your own blog, website, networking site etc here.

More on the Greens' local councils campaign launch from the BBC here.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Lancaster University Study Debunks Key Climate Sceptic Argument

A major study by Lancaster University Scientists has seriously challenged the contention of Climate Change "Skeptics" regarding the effect of the interaction of solar activity on cosmic ray intensity. A theory around this, based on the work of Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark at the Danish National Space Center (DNSC) formed a centrepiece of the polemical contrarian TV documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle.

According to the BBC :

The research contradicts a favoured theory of climate "sceptics", that changes in cosmic rays coming to Earth determine cloudiness and temperature.

The idea is that variations in solar activity affect cosmic ray intensity.

But Lancaster University scientists found there has been no significant link between them in the last 20 years.

Presenting their findings in the Institute of Physics journal, Environmental Research Letters, the UK team explain that they used three different ways to search for a correlation, and found virtually none.

More from the BBC here.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Britain Today?

Another day slaving in part of the bureaucratic nightmares that are the number crunching, data-creating, target-chasing, semi-privatised, quango-fied torture instruments that were previously known as "public services". Life in Britain today, under a government that happily mixes nannying, patrician Fabianism with management psycho-babble and an almost messianic religious reverence for the "transformative power" of markets increasingly resembles the description of the "age of bureaucracy" in Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's great comic masterpiece, The Illuminatus! Trilogy:

Appendix Gimmel : The Illuminati Theory of History

(The Fourth Stage)

This is the age of bureaucracy, and to live at this time is, as Proudhon said, "to have every operation, every transaction, every movement noted, registered, counted, rated, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, refused, authorized, endorsed, admonished, prevented, reformed, redressed, be laid under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, exhausted, hoaxed, and robbed." The governing I Ching hexagram is 47, K'un, oppression or exhaustion, the dried up lake, with the usual reading of superior men oppressed by the inferior. This is the time when homo neophobe types most rigorously repress homo neophile types, and great heresy hunts and witch trials flourish. This correlates with the number 8, signifying the Last Judgement, because every citizen is to some extent a state functionary, and each is on trial before the jury of all. The traditional Chinese associations with this hexagram are sitting under a bare tree and wandering through an empty valley - signifying the ecological havoc wreaked by purely abstract minds working upon the organic web of nature.

The 16th Tarot trump, The Tower, describes this age. The Tower is struck by lightning and the inhabitants fall from the windows. (Cf. The Tower of Babel legend and our recent power failures.) The traditional interpretations of this card suggest pride, oppression and bankruptcy.

This correlates with Libra, the mentality which measures and balances all things on an artificial scale (Maya). Typical Libras who have manifested Beamtenherrschaft characteristics are Comte de Saint Simon, Justice John Marshall, Hans Geiger, Henry Wallace, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kenneth Galbraith, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., John Dewey, and Dr. Joyce Brothers.

In Beamtenherrschaft ages there is ceaseless activity, all planned in advance, begun at the scheduled second, carefully supervised, scrupulously recorded - but inevitably finished late and poorly done. The burden of omniscience on the ruling class becomes virtually intolerable, and most flee into some form of schizophrenia or fantasy. Great towers, pyramids, moon shots, and similar marvels are accomplished at enormous cost while the underpinnings of social solidarity crumble entirely. While blunders multiply, no responsible individual can ever be found, because all decisions are made by committees; anyone seeking redress of grievance wanders into endless corridors of paperwork with no more tangible result than in the Hunting of The Snark. Illuminati historians, of course, describe these ages as glowingly as Zweitracht epochs, for, although control is in the hands of homo neophobe types, there is at least a kind of regularity, order, and geometrical precision about everything, and the "messiness" of the barbaric Verwirrung ages and revolutionary Unordnung ages is absent.

Nevertheless, the burden of omniscience on the rulers steadily escalates, as we have indicated, and the burden of nescience on the servile class increasingly renders them unfit to serve (more and more are placed on the dole, shipped to "mental" hospitals, or recruited into whatever is the current analog of the gladiatorial games), so the Tower eventually falls.

(p752-3, Raven Edition, Robinson Publishing)

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Weekly Links 01/04/08

Various posts worthy of note from fellow green and left bloggers over the last week:

Green Party London Mayoral candidate Sian Berry turned her spotlight on the Liberal Democrats' candidate Brian Paddick in her New Statesman blog.

Derek Wall has been supporting the campaign of Bristol Green Party Councillor Charlie Bolton and others against the destruction of the Bristol-Bath cycle route.

Peter Tatchell continued his coverage of events in Pakistan-controlled Baluchistan.

Caroline Lucas commented on the Canadian seal cull.

Jim at Daily (Maybe) blogged on the situation in Tibet and the debate in the West.

Molly at Gaian Economics commented on the Tata motor industry take-over.

Green From Below picked up on the Qollasuyo Declaration on climate change from the Climate and Capitalism blog.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,