Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Weekly Links 30/06/2008

Green Politics

Following the Green success in the Henley By-election (beating the Labour Party and the BNP to come third) the Green campaign for Howden and Haltemprice is well under way. Support Shan Oakes campaign here.

Indymedia has some pictures from the 23rd Green Fair in Sheffield, which seems to have been a success and avoided the rain.

The latest from the National Blood Service Campaign is a big rave fundraiser being organised in London. More details here.

Meanwhile preparations continue for the wave of public sector strikes planned for Britain on the 16th and 17th of July.

The transport union, the RMT, have spoken out in favour of high speed rail links as an alternative to airport expansion, such as that planned for Heathrow. Workers in the RMT are also involved in a dispute involving cleaners on the London Underground, supported by the Campaign Against Tube Privatisation, who have a blog here.

Finally, a delegation from the IWW International Solidarity Commission is in Japan at the moment and are blogging their visit at

Interesting pieces on blogs this week include Aled reporting that the Unions have severed all links with the New Tory Mayor of London's de-gutted "Rise" festival, Septic Isle of Obsolete commenting on one year of Gordon Brown as PM, Janine of Stroppyblog on the RMT AGM, and Jim of Daily (Maybe) reporting on the Liberal Conspiracy blogging caucus.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Support Persecuted Turkish Conscientious Objectors

The following is an action alert I received regarding Turkish conscientious objectors and their treatment by the Turkish state.

Action Alert: Mehmet Bal arrested & tortured

Turkish conscientious objector Mehmet Bal was arrested on 8 June 2008. He was held in custody in Beşiktaş Military Prison where he was beaten by duty officers, and denied water and toilet facilities. The next day, he was sent to the Hasdal Military Prison, where his hair was forcibly cut; the officers in charge incited other prisoners to "do what is necessary"; prisoners beat him with sticks that were almost half a metre long and thick as a human wrist. When he passed out from the beatings, he was dragged into cold showers so that he could regain consciousness and be beaten again.
After the attacks, Mr Bal was taken to Gümüssuyu Military Hospital. Although he could not move his neck, legs and arms from the beatings, he was not admitted to hospital, but taken back to prison on a stretcher. He is now in Adana Military Prison, hundreds of kilometres from his home in Istanbul. His “crime” – refusing to kill.

Turkey has a long history of persecution and torture of political prisoners in particular, including conscientious objectors. Even after release, COs remain “deserters” and their persecution may never end. The right to conscientious objection is not legally recognized.[1]

Osman Murat Ülke was imprisoned seven times for a total of more than two years between between 1996 and 1999. Halil Savda, a Kurdish CO, has been in jail since 27 March 2008, sentenced to 11½ months for refusal. Additionally, he has been sentenced to six months under Article 318 of the civilian penal code [2] for publicly supporting two Israelis who refused to serve in the war against Lebanon in 2006.

Mehmet Tarhan, a Kurdish gay CO, was imprisoned for 11 months in 2005-6, during which time he was tortured, including by an attempted lynching. In January 2006, in Mr Ülke’s case, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Turkey for the repeated arrests of COs and for making COs lead semi-clandestine lives, amounting to “civil death”; and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe time after time condemned Turkey for its human rights record. Due to international pressure, Mr Ülke and Mr Tarhan now are out of prison, but could be rearrested at any moment. Turkey promised to legalize conscientious objection but has done less than nothing. Michael Kalmanovitz from Payday which has campaigned with Mr Ülke, Mr Tarhan and Mr Savda said: “COs in Turkey are the tip of a huge anti-militarist iceberg, with perhaps half a million men refusing the draft. The Turkish military, backed by the US, does not hesitate to use torture to try to break their resistance; it needs men to serve in its decades-long war against Kurdish people, a war which is now spilling over into Iraq. We in the international anti-war movement must support Mehmet Bal and other COs. Soldiers’ refusal is vital to ending war. ”

Payday is asking people urgently to write to the Turkish authorities and Members of the European Parliament (see model letter ) to demand:

o Mr Bal’s torture and ill-treatment, including attacks or intimidation by staff and other prisoners, must end now;
o He must be given an independent medical examination and appropriate treatment promptly;
o There must be an immediate investigation, prosecution and punishment of prison staff and prisoners who organised and perpetrated the attacks;
o His immediate and unconditional release.

Furthermore, we demand that the EU make a precondition of any talks about Turkey’s entry into the Union the immediate end of the persecution of conscientious objectors and the recognition of the right to refuse to kill. All of us must have the right to refuse to kill, to live in a world free of war and dictatorship, a world which invests in caring, not killing. Refusing to kill is not a crime and this protection of human life must be supported, not punished.

NOTES [1] Turkey does not recognise the right to conscientious objection, in violation of article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights, and article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of which it is a signatory. [2] “Persons who give incentives or make suggestions or spread propaganda which will have the effect of discouraging people from performing military service shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of six months to two years. If the act is committed through the medium of the press and media, the penalty shall be increased by half.”

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, June 27, 2008

Henley By-election Result

Congratulations to Green Party Candidate, Mark Stevenson who has come third out of a field of twelve candidates in the Henley By-election, defeating the ruling Labour Party, the far-right BNP and the populist-right UKIP!

Result as reported by the BBC
* John Howell - Conservatives, 19,796 (56.95%, 3.46% increase on 2005 general election share of vote)
* Stephen Kearney - Liberal Democrats, 9,680 (27.85%, 1.84%)
* Mark Stevenson - Greens, 1,321 (3.80%, 0.54%)
* Timothy Rait - British National Party, 1,243 (3.58%)
* Richard McKenzie - Labour, 1,066 (3.07%, -11.68%)
* Chris Adams, UK Independence Party, 843 (2.43%, -0.07%)
* Bananaman Owen - Monster Raving Loony Party, 242 (0.70%)
* Derek Allpass - English Democrats, 157 (0.45%)
* Amanda Harrington - Independent (Miss Great Britain Party), 128 (0.37%)
* Dick Rodgers - The Common Good, 121 (0.35%)
* Louise Cole - Independent (Miss Great Britain Party), 91 (0.26%)
* Harry Bear - The Fur Play Party, 73 (0.21%)

This gives the Greens a very good start on the campaign for the Howden and Haltemprice By-election, where Shan Oakes is challenging David Davis.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Curiouser and Curiouser

Those who have been following the curious story of the alleged Police provocateur on the recent anti-Bush demo in London will be interested to know that the story has taken a new twist with the intervention of George Galloway and a letter to the Home Secretary naming the alleged perpetrator.
The story seems to have originally emerged on the website of the Daily Mail of all places!
More from Socialist Unity Blog here.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tatchell Urges Mandela To Speak Out On Zimbabwe

Human rights campaigner and Green Party Parliamentary candidate Peter Tatchell has urged Nelson Mandela to speak out on the situation in Zimbabwe ahead of his birthday concert in London.

"Mugabe has murdered more black Africans than the British during
the period of colonialist occupation of Zimbabwe. He has murdered more
black Africans than the evil apartheid regime in South Africa.
"His slaughter of 20,000 civilians in Matabeleland in the 1980s was
the equivalent of a Sharpeville massacre every day for over nine
months. Once a freedom fighter, he is now Ian Smith with a black face
– only many times worse.

People around the world, including Zimbabweans, supported Nelson
Mandela's freedom struggle against apartheid. It is now time that
Mandela reciprocated this solidarity by calling for an end to Mugabe's
beatings, torture and murder. He should call for new,
internationally-supervised free and fair elections.

Other African leaders, including Thabo Mbeki, also need to speak out
against Mugabe's despotism. The people of Zimbabwe deserve a
democratic, representative government that ensures equality and
justice for all its citizens. These were the goals of the African
liberation movements of the last 60 years. They are still worthy goals
today," said Mr Tatchell.

More here.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

European Leaders' Contempt For Democracy

The following was included in the latest mailing from the I Want A Referendum campaign. The quotes from European leaders are very telling and similar in tone to the recent arrogance and bigotry displayed by the so-called "Green" Cohn Bendit.

EU leaders carry on with Lisbon Treaty regardless of Irish no vote
On 12 June, voters in Ireland rejected the EU Lisbon Treaty by 46.6% to 53.4% in a national referendum. Turnout was relatively high, at 53%.
However, despite the resounding no vote, EU leaders meeting in Brussels last week decided to press ahead regardless, agreeing that ratification of the Treaty should continue in other countries. They also agreed that Irish voters should eventually be asked to vote again, until they say 'yes'.
Despite claiming that they want to "respect" the Irish no vote, EU leaders across the whole of Europe have no intention of doing so. They are determined to press ahead with the Lisbon Treaty.
Here are just some of the extraordinary reactions to the Irish vote from Europe's leaders:

"They [the Irish] are bloody fools. They have been stuffing their faces at Europe's expense for years and now they dump us in the s***."
- Nicolas Sarkozy, French President (Times, 20 June)

"The Lisbon Treaty is not dead... It is imperative that they vote again."
- Valery Giscard d'Estaing, former French President and author of the EU Constitution (RTL, 19 June)

"I don't think you can say the treaty of Lisbon is dead even if the ratification process will be delayed."
- Jean-Pierre Jouyet, French Europe Minister (Reuters, 16 June)

"I am convinced that we need this Treaty. Therefore we are sticking with our goal for it to come into force. The ratification process must continue."
- Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister (Reuters, 14 June)

"Of course we have to take the Irish referendum seriously. But a few million Irish cannot decide on behalf of 495 million Europeans."
- Wolfgang Schaeuble, German Interior Minister (Deutsche Welle, 15 June)

"We think it is a real cheek that the country that has benefited most from the EU should do this. There is no other Europe than this treaty. With all respect for the Irish vote, we cannot allow the huge majority of Europe to be duped by a minority of a minority of a minority."
- Axel Schäfer, SPD leader in the German Bundestag (Irish Times, 14 June)

The Treaty "will be applied, albeit a few months late."
- Lopez Garrido, Spanish Europe Minister (Forbes, 15 June)

"The Treaty is not dead. The Treaty is alive, and we will try to work to find a solution."
- Jose Barroso, European Commission President (Press Conference, 14 June)

To see more, click here:
This is an extraordinary refusal to accept the democratic will of the people. Ireland has been the only country allowed to have a referendum on the Treaty, and has said no. By the EU's own rules, the Treaty can only enter into force if all 27 member states have ratified it. Therefore, the Treaty should now be dead. It is completely unacceptable that other countries are continuing to ratify the Treaty in the hope of forcing Ireland to vote again, under pressure from the prospect of 26 other countries having ratified it. EU leaders are proving once again that they are simply unable to take 'no' for an answer.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekly Links - 22/06/2008

UK Politics News Stories
Lots of interesting, if sometimes a little depressing, stuff being reported this week. It seems all the millions spent by the climate change denial industry and the busy beaver efforts of their conspiracist right-wing errand boys on blogs and comments sections have not been in vain as a majority of Brits still "doubt the evidence" on climate change. Semi-reasonable comment (albeit from his establishment viewpoint) from Andrew Rawnsley here, but as usual the cynics, pessimists, liars and fascists are out in force on the comments section.

Meanwhile there is to be a much trumpeted "Green Energy Push" in Britain, but George Monbiot has picked out some of the flaws in the plan and its likely implementation. One thing I picked out was the lack of mention of the potential use of biogas from anaerobic digestion of food waste etc - let us hope that this is not a further signal of government "capture" by the big waste companies eager to incinerate 50% of Britain's waste and call this "sustainable" and "green" energy from waste. These firms have just managed to get the tame elements of the EU to pass legislation favourable to their plans in the face of Green opposition.

UK Royal financial reports are due out in the next few days, with the monarchist spin machine presenting it as "value for money" - the campaign group Republic is ready with the facts and arguments for an end to expensive and undemocratic hereditary offices of state. Republic are also running a campaign to challenge the oath of allegiance to the monarch.

It is the British Isles Regional Organising Committee (BIROC) of the Industrial Workers Of the World (IWW) meeting this weekend, with preparations well under way for the international General Assembly of the IWW in London at the end of August. Before then, Wobblies internationally will be involved in a mobilisation to highlight the union-busting tactics of Starbucks. IWW members at Starbucks branches in the US have been under attack and now the IWW is linking up for action with the Spanish CNT union and the international organisation they are affiliated to the IWA/AIT (International Workers' Association) as a CNT member in Sevilla has been fired for union activity. The day of action is scheduled for July 5th.

It was the British public services union, Unison, conference this week and as well as warning the governing Labour Party over local government workers' pay they passed a motion on the situation in Palestine.

The RMT (transport) union has its' conference in Nottingham this week and there is a fringe meeting put together by the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group at 1.10pm at the Rope Walk Pub on Derby Road.

Green Issues

Despite all the campaigning by green groups over battery recycling the British authorities have failed to act and now face penalties under new EU legislation.

There is impressive mobilising and campaigning going on against incineration in various parts of the world, including the Basque country where 2000 demonstrated on the streets of San Sebastian last week. There was also a protest in Barcelona, Catalonia, where three weeks ago 1,000 people marched against a project from the Lafarge cement plant to burn different types of waste, including sewage sludge, tyres and solvents. The local "platform" against incineration also collected 6,200 signatures against this project.

Human Rights
The campaign for the freeing of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine continues, with a new petition. The speech given by actor Danny Glover at a vigil for the campaigner, and for freedom for Haiti is on You Tube here.

There is a demo supporting the long suffering opposition to the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe in London on Monday 23rd June. More from Action For Southern Africa here.


Aled has a blog piece on Paul Mobbs' Energy Beyond Oil.

Derek reports that the Greens are likely to run a candidate in the Howden and Haltemprice by-election to give a voice to all those who support the former MP's stance on 42 days detention but vigourously oppose him on just about everything else and so could not bring themselves to vote for him. By voting Green people will be able to register opposition to the detention without trial moves without allowing a socially reactionary and economically neo-liberal Tory to present his party as the sole guardian of our rights and liberties. Elsewhere, Labour Left Dave Osler has taken Tony Benn to task for backing the Tory campaign.

Jack Ray is following the European football, Liam MacUaid and Dave Osler reflect on the anti-fascist event in London on Saturday, and the Socialist Unity blog reports on a call for the abolition of prescription charges.

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

Friday, June 20, 2008

New Labour's Dr Pangloss

It seems New Labour, in the electoral doldrums, with core voters deserting it and a whole host of economic and political problems to cope with, has its' very own Dr Pangloss who thinks we should all be happy smiley people grateful for our marvellous situation.

The Government Minister Tom Wood has opined on his blog that
'We live longer, eat healthier (if we choose), have better access to forms of entertainment never imagined a generation ago (satellite TV, DVD, computer games), the majority of us have fast access to the worldwide web, which we use to enable even more spending and for entertainment. Crime is down.'

He cannot understand why we are all so grumbly and "miserable".

Now some of this may well be true, for some people, particularly those who, a little research tells us "earn £92,100 as a junior minister and claimed £153,862 in expenses last year." Yes, life is good for such people. But does it not tell us a great deal about the mentality of New Labour that they are so out of touch with the struggling elements of the electorate in crime ridden estates, struggling to cope on benefits or two or three inadequately paid insecure jobs? More than this, even if Mr Wood is referring to the relatively prosperous elements of our society that the government has electorally pandered too, he surely must be aware, as many of these people are, that we are living on borrowed time in the face of looming economic, ecological and resource crises?

The Panglossian optimism and the failure to appreciate why so many are disgruntled reveals the vulgar materialism at the heart of New Labour - give the proles bread and circuses (or all day drinking and Big Brother on a big flat screen TV) and they should be happy! The likes of Wood seemingly cannot understand that humans cannot "live by bread alone" - there is a huge crisis of meaning, a huge deficit of purpose and a massive democratic deficit and disempowerment in Britain, and across much of the world now that neo-liberalism is being imposed or embraced by so many of the powers that be. Many of us cannot accept that the main purpose in life is to accumulate ever more gadgets, and to constantly remould our personal image to compete in some race that never ends and no-one wins. The destruction of much of the trade union tradition and the manufacturing base of the country have taken away the purpose of collective organisation and solidarity, the sense of belonging in many communities. There is a spiritual crisis, whereby the old religions have ceased to have authority and power (quite rightly, as they were more and more regarded as intellectually unsustainable and blatant servants of a particular section of the ruling class) but those communal, humanistic and democratic successors to religious communities and sentiments have not been allowed to flourish in the face of the imperatives of totalitarian and atomising capitalism.

More amazing still is that this enthusiastic former Blairite who voted for the Iraq war and sits in a government that has just started the process of introducing 42 days detention without charge cannot see that a climate of fear and hatred does not lead to smiley-happy-grateful citizens - either amongst the general populace or (particularly) amongst the target section of the community. His government wants us to live in fear and suspicion of our neighbours - and despite trumpeting about low crime feel they have to create ever more criminal offences (was it 3000 and rising?) and regularly announce (usually ineffective) headline grabbing "tough initiatives" and "clampdowns".

Despite all this, I think Mr Wood is wrong - most people are not miserable, those of us who can (and that is not all, even in this rich country) try to enjoy life and the benefits we have based on hard work and the hard work of our ancestors - no, what people are, is not miserable, but ANGRY. Angry that we have a bunch of incompetents at the helm in hock to the most right wing of US Presidents, state-building Eurocrats, nuclear energy companies, biotech firms and global media corporations - a government that worships the free market such that they know the price of everything and the value of nothing, a government that has mortgaged our children's future through expensive PFI and PPP schemes. Angry that every initiative, good or bad, is choked with bureucracy and red tape that confuses the public and demoralises the workers tasked with implementation. We are angry that we have a government that participated in launching an illegal war, sees fit to ignore and override public opinion in a patrician manner and runs shy of electoral contests that it knows it will lose. That 's how grateful we are!

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bloated Plutocrats Urge Restraint

Grim economic news in Britain today over soaring food and fuel prices and inflation. The refrain from the media commentators and the politicians is the same as ever - "restraint" in working people's pay claims and the monetarist obsession with controlling inflation by forcing working class people to pay for every market difficulty, failure, crisis and slump.

We shall now see whether Thatcherism and its' Blairite continuation have really achieved a permanent hold on the perception of economic interests amongst working people. It has long been encouraging that whilst the yellow media have a certain hold on perception of some political issues like immigration, they have long failed to hoodwink huge numbers over basic economic interests - witness the failure of the Poll Tax. Some of the media even joins in populist attacks on "fat cats" (particularly politicians) awarding themselves huge increases whilst expecting others to cope with rises that do not match inflation.

The attempt by New Labour to force public sector workers to accept pay deals below the real rate of inflation - in the face of massive increases in food and fuel costs - is an attempt to make workers pay for the crisis. It is imposing pay cuts on hundreds of thousands of low paid workers. The rising costs are also impacting heavily on pensioners and claimants, but the government can only continue wittering about welfare "reform". Anger is rising. The Government are widely despised over a whole range of unpopular policies.

All this is a curtain raiser for a longer term and deeper crisis brought on by climate change, resource scarcity and global conflict. The rich and the ruling class the world over will seek to make the poorest and most vulnerable bear the heaviest burdens in this new era. On our side we must begin to organise and fight back. The demand for a "JUST TRANSITION" (to a lower carbon, lower energy, more sustainable and more localised economy) is beginning to be heard more widely - though like "sustainability" the phrase means different things to different people, and we should not expect too much of the TUC, tied as they are to the same Government that is adamant (even at the beginning of the downturn and first ripples of the economic and social Tsunamis to come) that the TUC's members must pay a disproportionate price. Work can be done inside TUC unions, but the task is larger than getting union bureaucracies to voice some watered down demands.

As ever, working people and communities need also to organise independently of political and economic bureaucracies, use their own tactics and strategies and raise their own demands. The rich history of struggle represented by the likes of the IWW is there to be discovered by a new generation.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, June 16, 2008

Weekly Links - 16/06/08

Pictures of Green Left reps at the "unwelcoming" event for George Bush in London are on the Green Left blog here.

Last week's issue of the online journal Climate and Capitalism contains some interesting pieces.

After linking last week to James Caspell's blog, this week I am happy to be able to link to the blog of Aled Dilwyn Fisher, the excellent LSE SU General Secretary-Elect and Green Party & Green Left activist. Aled has posted this timely corrective to some of the less critical responses to the David Davis campaign. I have added Aled's blog to my links column.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Support Bhopal Campaigners!

I have reported before on the campaign by survivors of the disaster at Bhopal in India, including their recent march. The campaign has now entered a new stage with a hunger strike.

This week campaigners were subject to vicious treatment by security forces, as detailed in this action alert -

9 JUNE 2008. 11 a.m.
Plainclothes policemen and women and some uniformed police today beat up Bhopal survivors and their children inside the parliament street police station.
16 year old Imran was belted by policemen, including Yad Ram, a uniformed policeman from the Parliament Street police station. The belting has hurt his eye, and he has been taken to the hospital. Other policepersons whose names are known include Suraj Bhan, Mallik (a tall, big-set cop), Mahendra (in plainclothes), and the gun-toting Yad Ram.
27-year old Vikas was set upon by 13 policemen. Irshad, 20, was also beaten up badly. The police did not spare the kids. The youngest padayatri, 11-year old Yasmin, 6-year old Nagma, and 24-year old Meera More were also beaten by the police when they tried to prevent the police from dragging Rachna Dhingra, a padayatri, into the lock-up. Seeing the girls come in aid of Rachna, Plainclothesman Mahendra Singh screamed: "In Kaaliyon ke kapde fado." (*Tear the clothes off these blackies).*
All the while, the older women were forced into police lock-up.
Since the time that they were picked up from the Prime Minister's Office for demonstrating in a high-security area, senior police officials have talked tough. Callers who spoke to Mr. Nand Mohan, Deputy Commissioner of Police said the top cop said the Bhopalis will have to face the consequences this time. The Prime Minister's silence on the matter of demands has prompted the Bhopalis to protest in front of his house two times.
Mr. Muthukumaran, Director of Public Relations, Prime Minister's Office did not know that Bhopalis were being beaten up at the parliament street police station for a mistake of his boss, the Prime Minister. However, when intimated about it, he said: "I have heard about it. It is shameful. I have informed the authorities, and we'll see what can be done."
This is not a matter about a few angry policemen. The policemen had nothing to be angry about the Bhopalis. The rot spreads far higher.
With nine Bhopalis, including two women (Rachna and Meera) who are to go on a hunger strike tomorrow, please begin a neend udao.
Call the below people, and demand that a full-blown enquiry affixingresponsibility for today's deplorable incident is conducted:

Deputy Commissioner of Police Nand Mohan: +91 9818099041
Assistant Commissioner of Police Gurdeep Singh: +91 981033880
SHO Avinash Diwedi +91 9810046832
Muthukumaran. Director, Public Relations, PMO: +91 9871990019

for more information, visit
Nityanand Jayaraman
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

In Britain protests are being directed to the High Commission of India in London -

We are asking people to protest about the beating, arrest and detention of vulnerable children, women and men protesters which started on 9 June, to the High Commission of India in London:

High Commissioner Shiv Shankar Mukherjee

High Commission of India

India House




Tel: 020 7836 8484

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, June 13, 2008

Three Cheers For The Irish "No" Voters!

A big thankyou - from all lovers of real democracy and opponents of the arrogant European elite - to the Irish voters who torpedoed the Lisbon Treaty today!

In the face of an almost united political establishment (only Sinn Fein, non-parliamentary elements of the Greens and tiny fringe parties associated themselves with the No Campaign, whilst the Yes Campaign had the support of both opposition and Government - including the increasingly treacherous parliamentary leadership of the Irish Greens) a majority of voters decided to vote in favour of Irish independence and neutrality and against the nefarious plans of the European Business elite, their paid political agents and the useful idiots dreaming of a continental "social democratic" utopia.

The immediate response of representatives of the European political elite in both EU structures and the supine governments that have refused to give their voters a say on the re-badged Constitution has been illustrative of the arrogance and contempt for democracy that is becoming ever more evident to ever wider swathes of the European population. If the elites try to soldier on with the treaty ratification process in national parliaments and upper houses they will hopefully face a rising tide of anger.

The duplicity of the framers and promoters of this Treaty and its' previous incarnation as a Constitution are now legendary. Within the Green movement we have recently witnessed the contempt of the bureaucrats and "celebrities" of the European Green Party for views that contradict their dangerous mix of opportunism, bureaucratic utopianism and barely concealed desire for a new "Euro imperialism" to rival that of other power blocs. The appalling self indulgent sell-out and ex-radical Cohn Bendit apparently called the Irish "No" side "losers". I could not think of a better description of that vain, ageing egotist, perhaps now better described as "Danny the Brown" rather than "Danny the Red" given his support for creeping authoritarianism and corporatism.

Fortunately the majority of the English and Welsh Greens are on the same side as the majority of people in both Britain and Ireland and are resolutely behind ex Green MEP McKenna and the Irish No campaign. Green Left will continue to support demands for abandonment of the Treaty, and will continue to link with those radical and left elements in European Green Parties that wish to depose the bureaucrats, warmongers, timeservers and sell-outs that have brought our movement into disrepute.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

42 Days

Who, say 15 years ago, would have thought we would have a British Labour government, yes, a Labour government scuttling round begging for the votes of Ulster Loyalists, a Tory mouthpiece of Catholic reaction and a recent convert to the hard right populism of UKIP to get passed a bill to introduce in Britain the possibility of 42 (yes 42!) days detention without charge. Strange Days indeed. An appropriate moment, perhaps, for some of the last remaining principled and civil libertarian holders of Labour Party membership cards to tear them up and resign (as commentator Conor Foley announced in the Guardian yesterday that he was doing).
So the ratchet of reaction, corporatism and authoritarianism moves up another ratchet. (Although it could happen that the dogs breakfast of moves and concessions that this new detention legislation represents could get into all kinds of trouble once it moes out of the Commons into the Upper House and the Courts) We await the result of the Irish vote on the Lisbon Treaty to see whether any obstacles are going to be thrown in the way of this authoritarian corporatist process on a larger European scale.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Ecosocialist Blog

A big welcome to the Ecosocialist blogosphere to James Caspell whose blog is entitled "La Lutte Continue!"

James' latest post covers the Labour Government yet again acting against the best interests of agency workers.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, June 09, 2008

Weekly Links - 09/06/2008

Another quick few links this week :

Here is a short experimental film on the subject of wind turbines from Duncan Kenning, a fine art student at University College Falmouth in Cornwall. Yeah, yeah, we know they won't solve the energy crisis alone and will not give security of supply/baseload etc, but I'm getting a bit tired of the "they are a useless waste of money" brigade. Latest is Noel Edmonds (yes, that Noel Edmonds! The poor man's Jeremy Clarkson - or the rich(er) man's Jeremy Clarkson given his penchant for choppers and fat cheques from his TV employers?) who is mouthpiece for something called the Renewable Energy Foundation, and has a doom and gloom piece in the Daily Mirror. Now Noel makes some worthwhile points, but I am a little concerned about where he is coming from and where he is going! REF have form, uniting all the opponents of wind energy around a dubious negativist prospectus. I am no fan of the energy companies and corporate spin, but the agenda of many of the "private backers" of REF is all too transparnet and none too appealing either. Like the larger debate on climate change, the wind energy debate in the popular media is unfortunately now a minefield of competing corporate interests, reactionary agendas and conspiracism.

In the blogs this week, Jim reflected on the candidacy of Barack Obama, as does Septicisle at Obsolete whilst Derek saw his ascension in a more critical light.
SUB have a report on the Keep Our NHS Public AGM from Norma Turner, World By Storm started a debate on this week's Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. (I'm for a No, but at least this appears to be a civilized debate. We shall see what happens later this week!)

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Nuclear Errors

The ill-advised rush towards a new generation of nuclear reactors in some parts of Europe (usually justified on grounds of emissions reduction or energy security, and conveniently ignoring reference to the unsustainable, hazardous nature of the energy source and its' uselessness in countering the decline of oil stocks/soaring oil prices) has hit further problems, as noted by Greenpeace:

French nuclear safety agency stops construction of 'flagship' nuclear reactor

The French nuclear safety agency, ASN, has ordered construction to be suspended on the new nuclear reactor being built in France – the same model that would most likely be built in the UK.

Flamanville's construction in northern France has run into the same kinds of problems plaguing the ongoing construction of the only other European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), Olkiluoto 3, in Finland.

The move by ASN follows the agency's discovery of chronic problems affecting the quality of construction work since building work commenced on Flamanville 3 in December 2007.

ASN's call to halt construction follows a series of letters from the agency to Flamanville's construction manager. In the letters, ASN inspectors highlighted a range of problems including non-conformities in the pinning of the steel framework of the concrete base slab, incorrectly positioned reinforcements, and inadequacy of technical inspections by both the construction companies and Electricité de France (EdF).

Inspectors also uncovered inconsistencies between the blueprint for reinforcement work and the plan for its practical implementation. The incorrect composition of concrete had been used, that may lead to cracks and rapid deterioration. Samples of concrete were also not collected properly, according to ASN.

Cracks have already been observed at part of the base slab beneath the reactor building. The supplier of the steel containment liner reportedly lacks the necessary qualifications. Fabrication of the liner was continuing despite quality failures demonstrating the lack of competence of the supplier. As a result, one-quarter of the welds of the steel liner of the reactor containment building were deficient.

Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace's nuclear campaign, said: "The only two EPRs being built today are construction fiascos. The one in Finland is years behind schedule and billions over budget and only six months into the project in France building work has come screeching to a halt.

"This reactor design is fast becoming a by-word for incompetence, massive delays, spiralling costs and dodgy engineering. We only have a limited time and budget to stave off the most catastrophic effects of climate change and we should stop pouring money down the nuclear black hole."

Olkiluoto has been under construction for three years but has been blighted ever since the concrete was poured. Poor quality concrete, bad welds on the containment liner and low-quality reactor components are among its problems. The schedule for completion has been put back by more than two years and costs have nearly doubled to over Euro 5 billion.

Meanwhile, events in Slovenia have shown up the problems with the current generation of reactors in Europe :

A leak of coolant prompted Slovenia to completely shut down the reactor at its only nuclear power plant.

The European Commission said parts were still cooling after the shutdown, but the situation was under control.

It said there appears to have been no discharge into the environment at the Krsko plant, which supplies energy to Slovenia and Croatia.

The Commission alerted all 27 EU member states under its Ecurie early warning system for nuclear emergencies.

Slovenia's nuclear safety chief Andrej Stritar said there was a water leak from the primary circuit inside the containment area.

He said operators had shut down the plant safely.

"Situation is under control," he said in a statement. "The plant is in stable condition. There is no off-site impact and there is no need for off-site protective measures. "

The Krsko plant has a US-made pressurised water reactor.
Source - BBC

This comes in the wake of power cuts in parts of Britain after various nuclear and coal fired plants here shut down due to problems and maintenance. Gordon Brown, the beleaguered British Prime Minister has been loudly trumpeting his intention to ride roughshod over any objections to his leading the country down the hyper-expensive route to new nuclear plants. Maybe he feels he has to match the rhetoric of the reactionary regime in Italy. The following was an article by Alessandro Barbera in La Stampa:

Rome - Ever since 2001 there has been a breach among the centre-left parties. At that time those who favoured nuclear power plants were in a minority and afraid to come out into the open. During the electoral campaign, the option got into the programme of the Party of Freedom [PDL], and Giulio Tremonti [current economy minister] envisioned the building of nuclear power plants on the coast of Balkan countries. Now, seven years after the formal motions and 21 years after a referendum in which the Italians said no to the nuclear option, the new development minister, Claudio Scajola, definitively breaks the taboo at a meeting with Italian industrialists: "Before the end of this legislature, the cornerstone of a series of new power plants will be laid. Italy needs a shift in the energy field. And the shift must be made with determination and a sense of responsibility. Only nuclear power plants make it possible to have large-scale and secure energy at a competitive cost and with respect for the environment."

It is too soon to talk about sites, or investments, but there are already plans. The third Berlusconi government relies on third-generation power plants . These are not yet "at zero risk," but according to specialists, they come very close to it. It is this type of power plant that, under an accord the Prodi Government signed in Nice last fall, ENEL [Italian Electricity Corporation] has started building on French soil along with the EDF [French Electricity Corporation]. It is called the Evolutionary Power Reactor, and the first one is being built at Flamanville, Normandy. The real model of what the Berlusconi government proposes lies further to the north: at Okiluoto, Finland, where the Green-backed conservative government has said yes to the construction of a power station financed by a consortium of electric enterprises which have acquired exploitation rights in advance.

As was to be expected, major companies like ENEL, ENI [Italian Oil Corporation], or Edison [second largest energy company in Italy in the field of electricity and natural gas] say they are ready right away. On the other hand, thanks to an amendment passed by the then Berlusconi Government, since 2004 only ENEL invests in nuclear power plants outside Italy. Now, following its takeover of Spain's ENDESA [National Electricity Enterprise], ENEL is among Europe's major builders of nuclear power plants: it owns nine working power plants and is building five more. ENEL Deputy Manager Fulvio Conti is sure that five years would be enough for one to be built in Italy. Deputy Minister for Productive Activities Adolfo Urso, who had favoured nuclear power plants all along, is more cautious: "Let us say that, what with projects and licenses, it will take up to seven years."

If the Union of Christian Democrats and Centrists [UDC], through its secretary, Lorenzo Cesa, says that it has "all along been for" a return to nuclear power, the centre-left says no to Scajola's statement. For the first time in a long time, opposition to nuclear power plants runs from the Democratic Party [PD] to the Communist Renewal, and comprises the Greens, the World Wildlife Fund, and all the environmentalists. "At last the government has said something that will make it lose votes," Veltroni's [PD chairman] right-hand man Ermete Realacci says. Roberto Seta, the PD's man in charge of the environment, is even more explicit: "It is an old, ideological, unrealistic, and unpopular proposition." In the PD, however, there are people who, like Pierluigi Bersani, speak in a different tone: "It is the Prodi Government that has taken the first steps towards third-generation nuclear power stations," people on the staff of the former prime minister say. Actually, in the PD's programme there is a yes to this type of technology which, however, will not be available according to specialists, for another 15 years. Theoretically speaking, though, science may shoot ahead: yesterday, for example, Il Sole 24 Ore on-line recounted a successful experiment of cold fusion at Osaka University: the dream of all environmentalists. However, a possible nuclear power plant is the one Scajola proposes. It remains to be seen whether the cornerstone of a nuclear station will really be laid in Italy. Urso safeguards himself: "Let us not forget that, two years ago Albania, was available for this project."

Source: La Stampa website, Turin, in Italian 23 May 08

It seems once again that the ruling class of Europe are reaching for an expensively marketed technical fix that will not only not solve the most pressing energy related problems, but will create and sustain a whole series of new and continuing problems like waste disposal, security of supply, runaway costs, lack of resilience and vulnerability to attack.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Utah Phillips

Sad news that the great IWW activist and songwriter Utah Phillips has died. More from David Rovics Songwriter's Notebook Blog here.

Here is the official family obituary posted on the IWW website.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Fascist Attack in Huddersfield

An anti-fascist has been attacked by fascist thugs on her way to work in Huddersfield. Here is the statement from Kirklees Unity:

Kirklees Unity Statement:

On Friday morning a young female student was attacked on her way to work by three armed members of the far right. They pulled her to the ground, kicked her repeatedly in the ribs and slashed at her head with a knife. Whilst attacking her they called her “A Dirty red” and “Filthy lesbo”, the latter being a reference to the victims sexuality.

She suffered a fractured rib and severe bruising, but given the severity of the assault the injuries could have been far worse.

The attackers singled out this student because she campaigns on her campus to drive out the BNP. The victim is also a member of Unison and the NUS.

They knew her name and route to work, and deliberately targeted her to intimidate her and others campaigning against the far right.

The incident has been reported to West Yorkshire Police and they are currently investigating the attack.

More from Workers' Liberty here.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 02, 2008

Greenman's Holiday

One of he surest things about going on holiday is that you will have a lot of catching up to do when you get back - hopefully normal service will be restored on the blog soon!

In the meantime, the Guardian devoted today's leading article to the subject of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) - here is the link.

Labels: , ,