We wished you Peace, (Heddwch) in 2016... perhaps, now it's time to WAKE UP! Diego Maradona in Cuba to Take Part in Fidel Castro Tribute
Argentina''s former soccer star, Diego Armando Maradona, is in Havana, to participate in the tribute to Fidel Castro, historical leader of the Cuban Revolution.
'I am coming here to be with my second father, with the legend going away from us, but he is leaving such a clear legacy, that we cannot betray it. Those who think Cuba is getting weaker because the greatest is now gone, are making a complete mistake,' he noted.
'Cuba must get stronger,' said the former world soccer star --- who also said that 'Fidel is still inside our heart, he is ours.'
Maradona, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, as sports ambassador of this Arab country, talked about his relations with the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, and commented that, at a hard time in his own life, the Cuban revolutionary fighter opened up the doors of socialist Cuba, for him.
'He advised me on what I could do... to recover from drugs use,' Maradona said.
Maradona highlighted Fidel Castro's leadership, not only in Cuba, but also at world level, saying Fidel was 'a true leader.'
He took the chance to send a very sincere greeting to the whole Cuban people, to tell them --- his heart is with the Cuban people.
'I am a Cuban soldier, before I am a soldier of President Macri. My heart, and all of my body and blood, I would give for the Cuban national flag, for Cuba, for Fidel, and for Che Guevara,' he stated.
Fidel Castro's ashes, after he died on November 25, at the age of 90, are being transferred from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, east of Cuba, to where the ashes will arrive, on Saturday.
"With the full consent of the Cuban leadership, on May 11th of this year, our country has not only resumed work in Lourdes electronic centre, but also placed the latest mobile strategic nuclear missiles "Oak" on the island. They didn't want to do it the amicable way, now let them deal with this," Putin says.
The US & UK are trying to destroy Syria & lying about their war aims & crimes ! It was the UK elite who began it: a vile crime against humanity. (go to our Peace Page: scroll down to 'Latest News' for confirmation and further details.)
The news most see is massaged by an elite which NEEDS death and destruction (the BBC's Deputy Head, for example, is the ex head of BAE, the UK's near monopoly arms exporting company).
Wales is in a unique position to stop the US, UK, Germany and France's immoral arms industry by breaking their moral strength...
but our activist movement leaders in Wales too often are based in the cities, and play at truly opposing, yet do not commit with passion, or show courageous solidarity.
We need a strong committed Peace Movement in Wales, which is not afraid to challenge the Guardian-reading middle-class "leaders" --- who keep backing the elite's wars in the name of a fake "humanitarianism".
Please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and we can hold a meeting to found a valleys led Peace Movement, that walks the walk.
Genuinely, I am baffled as to what's
hard-left about Corbyn's #10Pledges
- If wanting this makes me hard-left
then count me in.
It isn’t that John McDonnell WON’T intervene if
Hilary Benn is deselected as an MP – he CAN’T
It’s bizarre to have to point this out – especially in response to reports by newspaper journalists who should know this --- but John McDonnell has NOT refused to intervene over Hilary Benn’s future as a Labour MP.
The Shadow Chancellor simply has no power to do so. As he made perfectly clear in his Radio 5 Live interview, Parliamentary candidates are chosen by Constituency Labour Parties.
So Rajeev Syal’s article in The Grauniad, for example, is misleading. I’d like to say I hope that this is not deliberate, but it still reflects on the [lack of] professionalism of the author, says Mike Sivier.
It doesn’t matter whether close allies of Jeremy Corbyn stay angry with Mr Benn after he sided with the Conservative Government over the air strikes and Syria, or any involvement of his in the attempted ‘Chicken Coup’ over the summer.
If it is true that supporters of Mr Corbyn have been elected as officers in Mr Benn’s constituency party, Leeds Central, then they can propose any action they see fit – within party rules.
That includes deselection of an incumbent MP, so he may not stand as a candidate in a future election (it would not affect his position as an MP in the current Parliament).
And it is important to clarify that, if anyone has “taken over” positions in Leeds Central CLP, they would have done so by democratic means.
I question why Rajeev Syal mentions that Patrick Hall, a vice-chair of Leeds Central CLP, who has spoken against Mr Benn, is a national executive member of the Labour Representation Committee, described as “a radical grouping” chaired by McDonnell.
What’s the implication?
Mr McDonnell will not influence any decision on Mr Benn’s future in any way. If Leeds Central CLP deselects Mr Benn, it will be because Leeds Central Labour members wish it.
Source: John McDonnell won’t intervene if Hilary Benn faces deselection fight | Politics | The Guardian
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UK's Labour leader attacks May
in party policy conference
Xinhua - Jeremy Corbyn, the politician at the centre of a civil war within the main opposition Labour Party, spoke on Saturday of how the party had become too complacent about runaway levels of inequality in Britain.
In a keynote speech at a Labour Party national policy conference in Leicestershire, Corbyn, twice elected to lead Labour --- despite most of the party's MPs disowning him --- referred to how people's faith in politics had been rocked, by a failure to deliver change.
He said telling people their continued prosperity depended on remaining in the European Union "simply didn't resonate widely enough when so many people didn't feel they were sharing in that prosperity in the first place."
"Did the nearly one million people on zero hours contracts, or the six million paid less than the living wage, feel they needed to vote in to be better off? Or did they just simply not trust politicians and business people who have let them down," he said.
"We've seen a similar phenomenon in the US, since last week's presidential election, as we saw after Brexit: an appalling rise in hate crime:saying anything to win a vote, has consequences on the ground," the Labour leader added.
Attacking PM Theresa May's government, Corbyn said many people are fearful of the future under the Conservatives.
He said the Conservatives under May are "taking Britain backwards and failing to meet people's needs and aspirations."
"When it comes to Brexit, we respect the decision of the British people. But we will hold the government to account over its shambolic approach, put jobs and living standards first, & oppose any attempt to water down workers' rights or environmental protection,"said Corbyn.
Corbyn said it was down to Labour to restore hope, and give people the chance to take back real control.
Meanwhile, a group of politicians from the ruling Conservative Party, on Saturday, called on PM Theresa May to abandon the upcoming Brexit appeal due to be heard next month, in the UK's Supreme Court.
Sir Oliver Letwin, former head of the government's Brexit preparations, and two former law officers said the case shouldn't go to the Supreme Court.
They have called instead on May's government to bring a bill to parliament to start the Brexit process -- as quickly as possible.A government spokesman responded, by saying that the government would robustly defend its position at the appeal against the ruling saying May could not trigger Brexit, without parliamentary approval.
Corbyn coup 2.0 has just been fixed, and guess who’s leading the charge? by Carlyn Harvey The group Labour First's keynote speaker is none other than Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson.
A party within a party
Luke Akehurst is the Secretary of Labour First, a group which “exists to ensure that the voices of moderate party members are heard”. He is a fervent critic of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
He advises members on Constituency Labour Party meetings. He urges CLPs with more than 500 members to opt for “a traditional delegate-based General Committee structure” for meetings. Rather than ‘all-member meetings’.
The meetings must discover and choose "moderate" delegates for conference, to ensure 'Progress' policies there.
Essentially, following the failed Labour coup this summer, Akehurst plans to ensure the system is set up, so that Corbyn & his 300,000+ supposedly ‘hard left’ supporters – can’t get anything done.
Watson’s appearance at their events is not surprising. The Deputy Leader infamously tried to explain away the immense support for Corbyn as a result of “Trotsky entryists” twisting the arms of voters. He also made false claims about the Corbyn-supporting group, Momentum.
The Telegraph went so far as to label Watson a “skilled political assassin” for his moves against previous Labour leaders. Blair’s demise, for example, has been attributed to his efforts.
So seemingly, the Corbyn coup 2.0 is on its way. But the plot of 2.0 is more nuanced than the last attempt at an all-out overthrow. In a recent article for LabourList, Akehurst noted that “politics is a marathon not a sprint”.
And now, the long game of his ‘moderate’ cause is absolutely clear.
source - The Canary
Vox Political adds:
Forewarned is forearmed. Labour Party members who support democracy, now know what's being planned --- and can act against it.
A good pre-emptive strike would be to call a vote that confirms your CLP will continue to have all- member meetings, ensuring that any ‘delegate- only’ vote, can't take place for several months. A debate on this topic should help flush out the ‘moderates’ in local party structures, too.
Those of us who support the rule of the majority should also consider our own nominations for delegates to the party conference next year --- starting now. These people need to start building support across branches, to ensure Labour First is foiled when it really counts.
Labour’s power struggle can only end -- if grassroots members lay down the law
It seems clear that the Labour Party’s right-wing has turned its back on democracy and is now doing everything within its power to hinder Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
That is no way to behave, in a party of government. Labour can't oppose the Conservative government if its once-favoured few are determined to throw a spanner in the works every five minutes.
They need to be shown that this behaviour will not be tolerated.
This Writer's already shown the way - my CLP has passed a motion calling for the National Executive Committee to nullify the decision to introduce 15 rule changes at once, because Paddy Lillis prevented conference delegates from voting in the proper manner.
The vote may be voided because what followed was the will of Mr Lillis – not conference.
Further, similar, motions are on the way from other constituencies, I understand.
Now, we have information that conference was misled about the package of rule changes in 3 important ways – further invalidating the vote.
All those involved need to face party disciplinary procedures. They should be removed from positions of responsibility, as they clearly cannot be trusted to fill them in a responsible way.
It's for the members to ensure that this happens, through the National Executive Committee.
If you’re a Labour party member (if not, join!), then it’s essential that you move a resolution in time for your next monthly CLP meeting, demanding the annulment of this completely illegal power-grab, which cannot be allowed to stand, and the immediate removal of the 2 extra ‘crowbarred’ members, from the NEC.
New evidence has emerged that confirms not only the desperate lengths to which the plotters were prepared to go in order to nullify a huge democratic landslide, but that they acted in an unprecedentedly illegal manner. A new Left Futures article reveals that it wasn’t only at the Conference that the rules were ignored and broken, but also that:
contrary to what was claimed at the Conference, the CAC (conference arrangements committee) had not been sent a package of rules by the NEC, but a list of individual rule changes to be voted on by delegates
that a staff member misled the CAC by advising them that it was a package deal
that there is no precedent whatever for rules being forced through as a ‘take it or leave it’ package at an annual Conference – which means that delegates were lied to from the platform when it was claimed this was standard practice
It’s clearer than ever that the right-wingers of the Labour party have no intention of ‘unity’ or ‘pulling together’ and that the words are regarded merely as convenient cover for their continued attempts to control the party by undemocratic means. Expulsion is the only real remedy.
Source: We told you so – new evidence confirms NEC power-grab rule package illegal | The SKWAWKBOX Blog
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Que sera, SERA? Is this the Labour right’s latest bid to stifle Jeremy Corbyn?
The enemy within Labour is still very much alive, it seems, despite all the false pledges for unity we’ve heard since the end of September.
The latest scheme, if you can believe it, involves infiltration of Constituency Labour Parties via third-party organisations, like in the example suggested by the Skwawkbox blog, SERA (Socialist Environment and Resources Association, now styling itself SERA Labour Environment Campaign).
The idea, it seems, is to pack this organisation, which is affiliated to Labour, with people who oppose Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, policies and followers – and embed representatives of it into each CLP in order to obtain an automatic seat on the CLP executive.
This would give them influence over, for example, selection of council & Parliamentary candidates.
Labour is an umbrella organisation with many different unions and socialist societies (like SERA) affiliated to it. It is possible to be delegated to a CLP from local branches of these affiliated organisations.
SERA is already packed with members of Progress, the representative organisation for Labour’s hard right-wingers.
So instead of harmless, uncontentious environmentalist members, it seems SERA may be a front for the right-wing, pro-austerity, anti-Socialist Progress party-within-a-party.
Skwawkbox has this to say:
‘Forewarned is fore-armed’, as the saying goes. With a huge majority among Labour’s grassroots membership supporting Jeremy Corbyn, Progress’ successful use of SERA as a ‘trojan horse’ to access the levers of local power and selection depends on those members remaining ignorant of the plan. If they can pose as harmless, uncontentious environmentalist members looking for influence for wholly benign purposes, there is little to prevent SERA CLP affiliates from winning approval for attempts to gain permanent places on CLP executives.
But if those same members are aware that SERA is becoming/has become a front for the right-wing, pro-austerity Progress ‘party within a party’, those attempts can be fought and defeated.
So two things are key: inform and combat. Share this information so that people are ‘forewarned and fore-armed’; and if/when SERA initiates moves to gain influence over local Labour groups and committees, prevent them.
[Source: Next big threat from #Labour right – the Trojan Horse you’ve never heard of | The SKWAWKBOX Blog]
An additional article adds:
To counter this, it is important that Corbyn supporters in the party also do this. Go along to your local union branch and get yourself delegated to your constituency party. Some CLPs have regular delegate-based General Committees that run the CLP and select the MP. Others have ‘all member meetings’ that are open to any member, with just one delegate-based AGM per year.
But that AGM is vital to electing CLP officers and ONLY DELEGATES from Branch (ward) Labour Parties and affiliated unions and Socialist Societies can vote or select the MP.
If your union is NOT affiliated to Labour (mainly white collar unions like NUT), the traditional route for getting delegated to your CLP is via one of the Labour-affiliated Socialist Societies, such as SERA.
Join one of them and get delegated to your CLP from the local branch. For example, members of the NUT cannot get delegated to their CLP because this union is not affiliated to Labour. NUT members traditionally get around this problem by getting delegated to their CLP via the Labour affiliated society the Socialist Education Association which IS affiliated to Labour.
To find out if your union is affiliated to Labour see here:
Practical steps that supporters of Labour as a genuine alternative to the toxic right-wing consensus can take to neutralise another Progress attempt to commandeer the party away from the burgeoning democratic movement.
[Source: Important: more info on Labour right SERA threat and what to do about it | The SKWAWKBOX Blog]
This may be a false alarm.
But if you are a left-leaning member of Labour, can you afford to ignore it?
As the Skwawkbox says, forewarned is fore-armed.
If you are a Labour member, please share this with your colleagues.
(source - Vox Political)
Angela Eagle’s smear campaign against Labour members is about to blow up in her face by James Wright (source The Canary)
Angela Eagle MP’s apparent smear campaign against her own Constituency Labour Party (CLP) members was reinvigorated recently across the mainstream media. An internal party report has backed her claims that she was subject to homophobic abuse by Wallasey CLP.
But a number of Eagle’s CLP members aren’t having it. They are taking action in the form of a crowdfunded campaign to sue the ex- Labour leadership hopeful for defamation.
Numerous Wallasey CLP members are truly outraged at Eagle’s claims, which they say amount to allegations of hate crimes, along with the implication that local officers may have facilitated such ‘abuse’.
One local party member told SKWAWKBOX:
Angela appears to have forgotten that Parliamentary privilege (protection from legal action for MPs under certain circumstances for things said during parliamentary proceedings) does not extend to party hearings or things said outside official proceedings at Westminster. She's therefore liable for defamation of character if she makes untrue accusations and is not simply free to make things up for whatever purposes she has in mind. We’ve been slurred as a group, but also as individuals, as the expulsion and other sanctions threatened by Angela against members, clearly show.
A number of Wallasey CLP members are presently taking legal advice with the aim to sue the Labour Disputes Panel and Eagle personally. The planned crowdfunded campaign was inspired by the five Labour members who took legal action against the party for arbitrary, mass disenfranchisement of 130,000 members, in the leadership election.
Trumpeted in the mainstream media, the internal report supports all of Eagle’s claims of abuse. But, like her original allegations, it offers no evidence.
Back in mid-July, Eagle faced a no-confidence vote from her CLP that was expected to be carried by a landslide. A meeting the week before, had set the tone, as her CLP passed “a motion of support for Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party.. with an overwhelming majority”. But just before the no- confidence vote was undertaken, the Wallasey MP claimed she had received homophobic abuse from members. As a result, CLP meetings were suspended, meaning the vote couldn't take place.
The report calls for the suspension of Wallasey CLP to continue. Yet it gives no evidence for allegations of any homophobic abuse, other than claims some unnamed members have “truthfully” confirmed it.
But the chair of Wallasey CLP said that Eagle wasn’t even present at the meeting in question, and denied that any such abuse took place. Shocked at the allegations, the chair’s daughter (who is gay) penned an article in the New Statesman --- stating categorically that no “complaint of homophobia” was “raised in her absence”.
The report also deals with a separate allegation made by Eagle. She suggested that a brick was thrown through her constituency office window as part of a string of incidents carried out in J eremy Corbyn’s name, in response to her leadership challenge against him. Again, the report offers no evidence that a brick was directed at Eagle, or that it was politically motivated. But it concludes that accusations she has been lying are “categorically untrue” and says it is “highly likely” it was politically motivated. On the contrary, video shows the broken window was on a communal stairwell.
And while the Companies House register shows that 5 businesses operate out of the same address as Eagle’s office, the Labour report says it’s only the party and the building’s landlord there. But, again, no evidence to prove this assertion is offered.
Furthermore, there was no political messaging or any indication it was a Corbyn supporter.
Eagle’s record on the truth
If Eagle is twisting the truth when it comes to these allegations, it wouldn’t be the first time she appears to have fabricated abuse. In mid-July, she claimed a hotel had cancelled a Labour meeting because it had received threats. But a statement by the hotel later, revealed that it was cancelled only because the company was unaware of the “nature” of the meeting.
More recently, she suggested Jeremy Corbyn was supporting her allegations against her CLP members. In reality, as the fine blog SKWAWKBOX shows, he opposes them.
Eagle’s record on the truth is quite rocky. She needed virtually no evidence to vote for the Iraq war, and now she appears to need none to demonise her own party members.
Fortunately, grassroots members are taking action. Let’s hope the crowd- funded campaign is up and running soon.
More excellent coverage on this here:
"If this is really the report on Labour’s investigation of Wallasey CLP, it is twaddle."
Machine Grinds Socialists by Charley Allan
General secretary Iain McNicol still refuses to reveal how many people were unfairly robbed of their right to vote, on top of the 130,000- odd members disenfranchised just for join- ing after the retroactive January freeze date.
In August, the party admitted that 1% of the eligible membership had already been purged -- and that this number was likely to rise, but some estimates put the final count at 5 or even 10% --- democratic decimation.
Shadow minister for diverse communities, Dawn Butler told McNicol weeks ago that she was “increasingly concerned over reports that black and minority ethnic members of the Labour Party are being purged for dubious reasons,” demand- ing a breakdown of the numbers.
So far, she’s had no response -- and neither has new national executive member Claudia Webbe, who has called for a “detailed inquiry into the Labour Party’s handling of suspensions, expulsions, special measures, etc and the perception that the rules applied are not consistent, fair, proportional or reasonable.”
Webbe warns McNicol of the “growing resentment of what some regard as mistreatment and abuse,” adding:- long-standing members “feel particular- ly hurt, isolated and confused by the exclusion” and “fear the party has turned its back on them.”
This is certainly true from what I’ve seen online.
Facebook groups are full of furious purgees wondering what to do, frustrated by the stone-walling they’ve received from the party bureaucracy and lack of public support from the leadership.
Bravely taking the initiative is Glynis Millward, a civil servant suspended in September, for alleged “involvement in activity in breach of Labour’s rules regarding recruitment.”
Millward denies any such thing and in the absence of credible evidence is suing McNicol in Nottingham County Court for lost membership fees & “tangible recognition of the distress caused at being unable to vote in the leadership election.”
The distress in question, goes far beyond disenfranchisement, though. In her official report, Shami Chakrabarti describes the “inevitable shame and opprobrium” that comes with suspension — and purged members are further punished by being firmly locked out of any local party democracy for the foreseeable future.
Labour Against the Witch Hunts, which was set up over the summer by a wide spectrum of anti-purge party activists, and has now morphed into the Campaign for Natural Justice, points out that Chakrabarti calls for a “moratorium on the retrospective trawling of members’ social media accounts and past comments” — the method by which most evidence was gathered.
That’s how they caught me — and I’ve just received details of the four tweets I sent that led to my suspension.
As suspected, my dig at lawsuit-losing ex-donor Michael Foster for confusing his apartheid-Israel analogies was top of the list - though it’s unclear whether my offence was criticising a prominent party member or using the hashtag #AntizionismIsNotAntisemitic.
The second tweet involved writing the retrospectively proscribed word “zio” -- not as an insult, but as part of an academic discussion with a fellow Jew about examples of false anti- semitic accusations.
Although I disagree with Chakrabarti’s claim that this word is “a term of abuse, pure and simple,” it's clearly quite rude - as I pointed out in my tweet — and unhelpfully lumps left- and right-wing zionists together.
Third was a Red Labour retweet, pointing out that “Chilcot revealed Hilary Benn is at fault for the post-war failures in Iraq” — in other words simply reporting the news, although perhaps the #ChickenCoup hashtag got under someone’s skin.
And finally, my favourite: “Confused by #LabourCoup? Wonder why Blairite hooligans would rather smash up @UKLabour than let @jeremycorbyn win?” with a meme of Tony Blair’s famous quote about not wanting “to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform.”
So there we have it. Take the piss out of Blair and his henchmen — “hooligans” referred to trouble at the Euro 2016 tournament — quote Chilcot or even begin to discuss anti-semitism? You’re out.
And thousands more have been suspended for far less. We just want justice, whether through the party’s procedures or, if need be, through the courts.
In its latest letter, Labour let the cat out of the bag by referencing evidence used “to revoke your voting rights” — no mention of my suspension.
The purge was dreamed up as a desperate dirty trick to steal the leadership election, but the consequences of culling up to 10 per cent of the party -- the most militant 10th in all likelihood -- will be felt for a long time.
Local Labour parties will be left to deal with the fallout -- the national executive is said to be sending out lists now.
Whatever happens next, we must make peace within the party,but it just won’t be possible, without justice for the purged.
Chat to Charley on Twitter, @charleyallan.
________________________________ Fightback against undemocratic Labour Party changes starts here
This Writer’s local Labour Party branch had its first get-together after the embargo on meetings was lifted, and it was incendiary.
I won’t tell you the exact number of people attending, but it was more than usually attend meetings of the Constituency Labour Party.
Why so many?
They were angry – and with good reason.
Over the course of a long summer, they have been dismayed to see their democratic rights as members eroded, or removed altogether, by the self-interested actions of privileged members of Labour’s National Executive Committee, and enacted by the party secretary. They want payback – and who can blame them?
So the meeting agreed to send 2 motions to the Constituency Labour Party, to be ratified there before going on to the appropriate authorities.
The first “notes with alarm the imposition of new rules of conduct by the National Executive Committee which were said to be intended to prevent abusive behaviour between members, but seem to have been used as a tool to purge people from the party prior to the leadership election, by suspension or expulsion. There seems to have been no rigid standard, and the NEC ‘panels’ enforcing the new rules seem to have relied on their own arbitrary prejudices.
“This means that people have been purged for things they have said on social media in the distant past that do not relate to their political lives in any way. Some have been purged over previous support for policies put forward by other parties – but why should they be barred from Labour just because they have come here from another political organisation? Others have been purged for reasons that can only be described as ridiculous – such as the person who expressed her support for a particular rock band in a forceful way. All of the letters notifying members that they are no longer members, had Iain McNicol’s name attached to them.
“As general secretary, Mr McNicol has a legal responsibility for the Labour Party and must ensure that everything done by the party is legal. He has not ensured that the processing of complaints against members has achieved an acceptable standard and – because this directly relates to the leadership ballot – this means he has not ensured that the processing of ballots to members has been carried out properly.
“We therefore call for a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Mr McNicol and demand his removal from the post of general secretary of the Labour Party.”
The second calls on the NEC “to nullify the recent vote at party conference on a package of 15 rule changes, including the addition of Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour representatives to the NEC, on the grounds that Mr Paddy Lillis, who was chairing the conference at the time of the vote, prevented members from voting on the changes in the proper manner.
“On Sunday, September 25, Mr Lillis refused calls by members for a proper debate and ballot on each individual NEC rule change and called a vote by a simple show of hands on the Conference Arrangements Committee’s report, that said the NEC’s proposals would be packaged as one ‘take it or leave it’ bundle.
"Forcing the vote to be by show of hands only, meant there was no proper oversight. Although the numbers of hands for and against were clearly closely-matched, Mr Lillis called out “overwhelmingly carried” and moved on, ignoring demands that he abide by the rules and carry out a card vote that would be properly monitored and counted.
"If a single delegate requests a card vote, then it must take place, so this was a clear breach of the voting rules.
“The following day, delegates against asked for ‘reference back’ – a proper debate and vote – on the ‘pre-pack’ of the rule changes, and again, Mr Lillis refused.
“On Tuesday, September 27, the vote on the packaged rules was scheduled to take place. Once again, many delegates stood to denounce the pre-pack as anti-democratic and demanded both a proper debate and vote on each change and that each decision should be made by card vote. Mr Lillis and the CAC chair dismissed demands that the rules of the Labour Party be followed, insisting on only a show of hands – even when a member of the NEC itself, Christine Shawcross, spoke to remind him that the party rules state, unequivocally, that if a delegate requests a card vote, a card vote must take place.
“The show of hands was again hard to judge, but Mr Lillis simply said it was clearly carried. The vote then took place in the early afternoon. Because the Unite union had a number of rule changes it wanted included in the bundle, delegates from the UK’s largest union were instructed to abstain, meaning that the eventual vote (which was always going to be by card) was won by a significant majority that does not reflect conference’s feeling on the individual rule changes or the manner in which they were presented.
“The decision to allow the rule changes cannot be allowed to stand as Labour Party voting rules were broken on at least two occasions. As they stand, these rule changes are unenforceable and no party unit is obliged to abide by any decisions made under them. According to party rules, the NEC is authorised to adjudicate in disputes that arise at any level of the party and, according to party rules, the NEC must find that the vote on the new rules was carried out improperly and should be rendered null and void.
"We call on the NEC to do so, at its earliest opportunity.
“Note: As this matter concerns the rule change which allows representatives of Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour to sit on the NEC, it is clear that they have a conflict of interest and may not vote on it.” Undoubtedly members of other Labour party branches and constituency organisations across the UK, would like to consider submitting their own motions or supporting these.
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Another Labour MP tries to subvert party democracy to stop herself being deselected
It will be very hard for Louise Ellman to make her complaint against her own Constituency Labour Party stick.
Sure, Angela Eagle was successful in having her Wallasey Constituency Labour Party suspended over allegations of intimidation & homophobic language.
But look at the reaction: It was very quickly revealed that there was no weight to the allegations, and she had done it, to prevent the CLP holding a meeting at which she was to be deselected, meaning she would no longer be eligible to stand for election as the constituency’s MP in the future.
In short, Ms Eagle betrayed Labour Party democracy for the sake of her career, and it is impossible to view Ms Ellman’s action in any other way.
She alleges anti-Semitism by Momentum members; and this is now a fixture of the narrative against the Corbyn-supporting organisation in the Labour Party. None of the claims have yet been proven true (for example Vicky Kirby, suspended from the party twice, over (justified) anti-Semitism claims, was not a member of Momentum).
Ms Ellman herself wouldn’t be Jewish, by any chance? I don’t know this, so let’s look it up… Yes she is, according to Wikipedia, anyway.
The allegation refers to a CLP meeting in April. Why has she waited so long to make her demand? It seems it can only be because of the claim last week, that Momentum activists want to deselect her.
So, again, we have a sitting MP – who, incidentally, opposes Jeremy Corbyn – acting in the interests of her own career, rather than that of the political party she claims to represent.
Her claim that Momentum was trying to “take over party structures” is risible. As Momentum consists of Labour Party members, its structures are also their structures. Therefore there is no need for them to attempt any kind of takeover.
If she means Momentum members were taking over officer positions in her CLP – it is their democratic right to stand for these positions, if they choose to do so, and Ms Ellman has no right to try to prevent that.
So now it seems she's trying to undermine local democracy in, not one, but two distinct ways. What a charmer she turned out to be.
I don’t believe a word of her claims and, possibly, neither should you.
Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman has called for her own constituency party to be suspended, so an investigation can be launched into allegations of “entryism” and anti-Semitism.
A complaint was made to party bosses --- after a Riverside Labour party meeting in April at which anti-Semitic remarks were allegedly made.
And last week an internal party investigation claimed far-left activists from Momentum had been trying to take control of the Riverside party to deselect local MP Ms Ellman.
The allegations have been strongly denied by Momentum, the left-wing group borne out of Jeremy Corbyn’s successful campaign for the party leadership last year.
Ms Ellman:- “I was appalled to read of the extent of Momentum activity within Liverpool Riverside CLP. There is clearly evidence of an organised attempt by this group to take over Labour Party structures.”
LABOUR SPIES BLIND TO VILE ANTI-CORBYN ONLINE ABUSE by Luke James Star Parliamentary Reporter
Abuse and threats aimed at Jeremy Corbyn have been deliberately “ignored” by Labour officials.
Officials overseeing the party’s “purge” have been presented with evidence of members who barracked the Labour leader online with terms banned by the party.
But they have been accused of prioritising a witch- hunt against Mr Corbyn’s supporters amid a red scare over far-left infiltration.
“People who would refer to Owen Smith as a Blairite were purged,” a source says.
“Anyone who said they had previously supported or voted for the Green Party was purged.
“But anyone who calls Jeremy Corbyn a c**t or any other foul word — they are fine.”
Labour says all evidence of abuse passed to it has been reviewed by the national executive committee and action has been taken where culprits can be identified.
The source works at one of two offices where a small team of staff trawl through social media posts of Labour members and supporters.
They revealed that a 250-page file containing screenshots of online abuse aimed at Mr Corbyn, compiled by members of the public was received by the office, but promptly shelved.
The document seen by the Star includes repeated calls for the Labour leader to be shot and hanged.
Mr Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell are compared with cancer and aids, while count- less racist remarks are aimed at shadow health secretary Diane Abbott.
Over half of the comments were made by people identified as Labour members, according to the source.
One Twitter user even posts a photo of his Labour membership card with a message saying: “id rather slit my throat than vote for Scum like Corbyn (sic).”
One user called John Ferrett, who identifies him- self as a Labour councillor, labels Mr Corbyn a “traitor.”
Other abusive posts were made by users with an Owen Smith leadership campaign banner on their photo.
High-profile opponents of Mr Corbyn’s leadership are also named in the document.
It shows John McTernan, former political director to Tony Blair, calling Mr Corbyn a “traitor” on Twitter last month.
Former Blair spin doctor Alastair Campbell asks one Labour supporter: “Have you always been a twat or just since Corbyn?”
Serving Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop brands the journalist Owen Jones an “idiot”, & Momentum organiser James Schneider, an “entryist.”
The Star revealed in July how anyone found using terms such as “traitor,” “scum” or “scab” would be banned from voting in the leadership election.
The source said the document was flagged up to managers, but then: “It was put to one side and ignored … 250 of pages of abuse has just been ignored.
“They say they will try to do the Jeremy Corbyn abuse after the Owen Smith abuse.”
A total of 3,107 people, mostly new members and supporters, have been stripped of their votes for using the terms or previously expressing support for another party, Labour have confirmed.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has accused officials of operating a “rigged purge” that has targeted the left of the party.
The source claimed that the majority of staff members tasked with searching out and reviewing reports of abuse “were quite vocal Owen Smith supporters.”
But a Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party has a robust validation process for all votes in this year’s leadership contest --- to ensure every vote cast is eligible according to the Party’s rules and agreed procedures.
“The speculation that huge numbers of applicants have been denied a vote has been wildly exaggerated.
“Less than 0.5 per cent of the total electorate in this contest have been deemed ineligible to vote in this validation process.”
Now Labour employees are demanding a place on the NEC – despite already having representation there
This is getting silly.
After Labour’s National Executive Committee decided that the party’s Welsh and Scottish organisations deserved a place each at its meetings, employees have demanded a say as well.
They say Labour would be hypocritical to deny worker representation after the Tories have promised to put ordinary employees in company boardrooms.
But Labour’s NEC already has worker representation. The committee has 12 union members, who speak for eight unions including Unite and the GMB, which represent Labour employees.
This seems to be nothing more than an 11th-hour attempt to stir up more hostility against Jeremy Corbyn, using specious reasoning, as usual.
If these people really want to fend off a possible purge of party staffers (for what reason? Have they been acting against the party’s interests?) then it has backfired badly – like all the other attacks on Mr Corbyn.
Instead of innocent victims, they come across as no better than the other liars and manipulators we’ve seen over the last three months.
Not only that, they have undermined the bids to put Welsh Labour and Scottish Labour representatives on the NEC.
How, you ask?
It seems clear: these people are trying to stack the NEC with people who oppose Mr Corbyn. That’s not a good enough reason to have them.
Labour staff are so worried about being sacked they've demanded their own places on the party’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee.
They say it would be hypocritical of the party to refuse them after it said employees should sit on company boards.
A submission asking for places for staff on the committee, and seen by the BBC, said: “It is disappointing that while the Tory prime minister has promised worker representation on company boards that Labour Party workers are currently unrepresented on their own executive.”
Refusing the places would be “deeply hypocritical”, the submission said.
It demands 2 new seats on the NEC, for Labour staff who are trade union members, in addition to the position already reserved for the party’s general secretary.
Labour’s staff are represented by the GMB and Unite unions.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been asked for reassurances that a clear out of staff, will not take place.
A staff member said: “We have years of experience and expertise, and they belittle us at every opportunity.”
(originally in Vox Political)
Labour elite hate mass membership so much, they hand an entire city to the Tories! by James Wright Labour elites have handed the Tories more power on a major city council --- after 3 councillors were suspended over an anti-Corbyn conspiracy theory that Bristol Labour is in the “grip of the hard-left”.
Labour in Bristol
All three of the suspended councillors have been vocal supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. This will add to the claim that Labour was executing a “rigged purge” of Corbyn voters in the leadership contest.
In 2016, the party won a slim majority of 37 out of 70 seats in Bristol. But after suspending 2 councillors this week, and another earlier in the month, Labour is now left with 34 – one short of a majority.
So Labour has gifted the Conservatives, who came second, more power in the city.
Long-standing campaign officer for Bristol West, Andy Burkitt, was also suspended.
The latest suspensions come after Channel 4 aired an undercover documentary showing a national organiser of Momentum claiming that a pro-Corbyn campaign group was “running” Bristol Labour.
Shadow Defence Secretary Clive Lewis has dismissed claims from the media, and Corbyn’s opponents, that Momentum is a “rabble” of hard-left entryists. The MP for Norwich South deemed them “red under the bed scare stories” designed to damage the Labour leader.
Hard-left infiltration in Bristol?
Back in Bristol, a Labour Party spokeswoman said that there were rules preventing her from commenting on individual membership issues and that it was up to the person suspended to reveal why.
But The Canary spoke to one of the suspended councillors, Mike Langley of Brislington East, who said he had not yet been given a reason for his suspension.
The working class, life-long trade unionist said he suspected it's because of “rumours” that the Bristol Labour Party is in the “grip of the hard left”, which he said is entirely untrue.
The other two suspended councillors, Harriet Bradley and Hibaq Jama, were not available for comment at the time of writing.
But recently, Jama, of Lawrence Hill, expressed support for Corbyn at a rally. She had previously criticised Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire over suggestions that male refugees should be taught ''integration lessons'' in equality. Meanwhile, Bradley of Brislington West has spoken out in favour of the incumbent on social media. She also reportedly backed calls for democratic elections to choose Labour candidates for the next general election.
This is called ‘deselection’ by Corbyn’s opponents.
Langley was one of 403 Labour councillors to sign a letter backing Corbyn, which suggested:
...that those MPs who have embarked on this indulgent course of action will reflect on their behaviour & turn their fire on the real enemy --- the Tory Party.
If Momentum isn’t ‘hard-left’, why is it portrayed as such?
The suspensions of Langley, Jama and campaign officer, Burkitt, came straight after the release of The Battle for the Labour Party, the Channel 4 documentary that even Corbyn’s opponents described as a “weak” hatchet job.
The TV documentary claimed that Momentum is using Bristol as a “blueprint” to “flood” the party with its members.
Momentum is an open and democratic group with transparent funding. But Owen Smith condemned the organisation, saying:
"There is nothing comradely about setting up a party within a party. Still less in trying to use our movement as a host body, seeking to occupy it, hollow it out, until it’s outlived its usefulness, when you throw it aside like a dead husk."
The ex-leadership challenger has never made any remarks about Saving Labour, which coordinates attacks on Corbyn and keeps its funding secret. The organisation on the Labour rightwing could equally be described as “a party within a party”.
Politicians & pundits smear Momentum because it represents a shift of power from themselves (individuals and leaders) --- to ordinary people.
It appears that some politicians fear the movement coalescing under Corbyn so much -- that they are willing to hand the Tories more power, in order to discipline their own councillors, for supporting it.
You wonder which side the Labour Party's elite, are truly on. Please get Involved!
Rhondda Records exists to express the Rhondda's vision --- when it was confident, powerful, caring, and socialist.
A Rhondda very aware of the media's poisonous tricks -- how they con working class people into attacking each other, or racial groups, or, often, even their best allies and friends... instead of seeing their real enemies:--- an elite who hate the very idea that working people can think, create, or achieve a fairer society.
Thatcher said her proudest achievement was Blair and New Labour - who parachuted in careerists and expenses fiddlers - to stop local Labour members having a say, and who made genuine socialist MPs leave the Labour party in disgust and many members and voters to despair... and the young to stop voting.
Jeremy Corbyn is being attacked because he's trying to reverse all that New Labour corruption --- that's why membership is flooding in all over the UK - watch this video in Kilburn, London: don't believe the dripping poison of the media and the corrupt MPs -- and understand Jeremy's role !
John McDonnell revisits his childhood home
Labour & Jeremy Corbyn Could Win The Next General Election, Because Of Housing Crisis. Millions feel a ‘sense of unfairness’
Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey:
“Even David Cameron’s inner circle now admit that the Conservative failure on housing is a huge liability for their party, with the public.
”The Tories are right to be worried. Their 6 years of failure has seen the housing crisis get worse on all fronts directly as a result of Conservative policy decisions.
“Homelessness has doubled, investment in afford- able homes to rent and buy has been slashed, & the number of young home-owners is in freefall.
“Things can be different. Labour will invest in thousands of new affordable homes to rent & buy, and fix the mess left by Tory Ministers.”
During his leadership campaign, Corbyn unveiled a radical plan to build a million new homes in five years, with at least half a million council homes, through a public investment strategy.
He also pledged: “We will end insecurity for private renters by introducing rent controls, secure tenancies and a charter of private tenants’ rights, and increase access to affordable home ownership”
Corbyn has repeatedly made housing a priority at Prime Minister’s Question time. In September he attacked Theresa May, for suggesting that housebuilding was higher under the Tories than Labour.
He also countered her claim that the Tories had delivered on a promise to “one-to-one replace” council houses that would be sold under Right to Buy. Corbyn said they had only replaced one in five.
On Thursday, Shelter revealed a spike in the number of children facing homelessness this Christmas.
Jackie Walker’s crowdfunded action means Labour’s general secretary is facing TWO legal cases against him by Mike Sivier.
It’s turning into a bad autumn for Labour Party general secretary Iain McNicol.
First he incurred litigation by party member Glynis Millward, on grounds that he excluded her from the Labour Party leadership election for no reason.
Mr McNicol’s name was on a letter of suspension she received --- for taking part in “recruitment” practices prohibited by the party. Except, of course, Ms Millward has never done so.
Part of her case is that Mr McNicol breached Data Protection law by combining publicly-held social media information with privately-held Labour Party data, in order to reach his conclusion.
Then he was forced, as party treasurer, to pay a £20,000 fine after the Electoral Commission found major irregularities in Labour’s declaration of its spending on the 2015 general election – including the cost of that monumental embarrassment, the ‘Ed Stone’.
Now Jackie Walker is crowdfunding a legal case against Mr McNicol, again over a breach of Data Protection law.
Ms Walker, a lifelong anti-racist campaigner and socialist, was suspended from the Labour Party in May amidst allegations of anti-Semitism. She was reinstated but has been suspended again after apparently being “set up” at a training event organised by the Jewish Labour Movement during the party’s national conference in September.
She writes: “I was suspended from the Labour Party in May of this year, amidst what appears to have been a breach of Data Protection law, by Iain McNicol, as General Secretary of the Labour Party.
“This is my campaign to raise money in order to bring legal proceedings against Iain McNicol for this serious breach of data – briefing a major community media publication or other parties before informing me of my suspension from the party. This is not acceptable in his position as General Secretary of the Labour Party.
“As General Secretary, Iain McNicol is directly responsible for the damage caused to me, my family and friends.
“I was suspended for the alleged (subsequently cleared) charge of antisemitism. As a Jewish person, whose partner is Jewish, this was heart-breaking.
“Since May I have continued to be targeted by the media, in print, online and in other places.
“Currently I am suspended for questions asked at a training session on ‘Confronting Antisemitism & Engaging Jewish Voters’ at this year’s Labour Conference, after being unethically filmed by a Jewish Labour Movement campaigns officer who is also a Labour councillor. It seems this training was not a ‘safe space for all Jews’ by any means.
“As soon as the first article was released before my notification had even arrived, trolls circled for the kill, posting spooky blacked up faces (and worse) to my Facebook account. The community & national newspapers led the attacks, querying my Jewish identity (a racist move in itself), my work as an anti-racist activist and my political commitment.
“When my suspension was lifted things got worse. Indignation at my alleged breach reached the heights of irony, when Nigel Farage, anxious not to miss out on the fun being had by among others, the Spectator, a number of Labour MPs and officers of the Party... dedicated an article in Breitbart and a good dose of righteous indignation on national TV, to publicly calling me out as a racist.
“The widespread hate campaign against me led to public abuse, strangers shouting ‘racist’ as I walked to the tube. With the murderous racist political discourse now taking the place of debate, I became conscious I was recognisable on the street.
“My story is just one of many where Labour members have found themselves in a similar position. While this may not be the only case where a breach has occurred, as I was abroad at the time, it may well be the most provable.
“We invite anybody who has a personal interest in this case, or the wider public, to contribute.”
Solicitor Martin Howe, representing Ms Walker, added: “Jackie Walker has faced a barrage of hurtful, threatening & nasty abuse since the private details of her investigation by the Labour Party over alleged anti-Semitism was leaked to the press before she even knew of her suspension by the Party.
“This apparent breach of her private data has had a devastating impact on her public and private well-being and has led directly to her being pre-judged & unfairly cast as a racist -- before she was given any opportunity to tell her side of the story.
“Data Protection laws are there to protect all of us and any breach is a very serious matter.”
Anybody wishing to support Ms Walker financially can do so, by visiting the Walker v McNicol page on the CrowdJustice website.
Ms Walker is hoping to raise £10,000. At the time of writing she has already raised £7,260, with 28 days to go.
If you would like to contribute to her fund, details are on the web page.
Source: CrowdJustice – Crowdfund public interest law
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Neil Clarke in Sputnik says--"KEEP LEFT"
They may have lost the leadership vote --- but the Labour right have been working behind the scenes to keep their control of party machinery.
Changes to Labour's internal rules were passed by the conference - tipping the balance on the party's NEC against the Labour leader.
We've learnt too how Labour "centrists" had been working for months to make sure that "decision- making delegates" at the conference were not Corbyn supporters.
Instead of trying to placate those hell-bent on destroying him, Corbyn could be better off rewarding those who have shown him great loyalty.
He could fight to ensure that good, decent democratic socialists, purged by Labour's Compliance Unit, are reinstated.
He could support the return to the party fold... of his old friend and fellow anti-war campaigner George Galloway, who was harshly and unfairly expelled from the party, in 2003, on account of his outspoken opposition to the illegal Iraq war.
Galloway is a superb orator, has a huge following on social media and could be a tremendous asset to Labour.
At the same time, Corbyn could go on the offensive against his enemies, and support the deselection of those Labour MPs who arrogantly refuse to respect the views of party members.
If Corbyn stays radical and commits unequivocally to a clean break with a phoney elite-friendly consensus on economic & foreign policy, and keeps his promise to give more power to members, he has a fighting chance of becoming the next Prime Minister.
If he banks to the right though, and decides to "play it safe" in order to appease the Bitterites, then he'll definitely lose, & a historic opportunity to reshape British politics for the benefit of the 99%, will have been squandered.
Follow Neil Clark on Twitter@NeilClark66
You can read the (much longer) full article on Corbyn here:
The Labour Party Purge And The Cost To Its Unity (first appeared in the Star)
All sides of Labour’s civil war need to compromise after Corbyn’s win, but purged members have the right to demand justice, writes Charley Allan.
Every Labour member should celebrate Jeremy Corbyn’s crushing victory, no matter which way they voted.
By increasing his mandate to 62%, as YouGov predicted perfectly, Corbyn has put to bed the debate about who should lead the party into the next general election --- making him “politically bomb-proof,” according to the BBC.
Any other result would’ve been a disaster. Despite promising to unify Labour, a win for Owen “who?” Smith only offered an escalation of its damaging civil war.
The draconian purge of Corbynistas, in which thousands of members - including me - were disenfranchised on trumped-up abuse and disloyalty charges, would’ve robbed a Smith leadership of any legitimacy before it began.
And even a narrow Corbyn win would only have encouraged his enemies to step up their sniping and sabotage.
Instead, the great survivor is stronger than ever, leading many “centre-left” Labour MPs to wonder why they went to war in the first place.
Indeed, why launch a poisonous and pointless challenge at a time of national political crisis, a week after their colleague had been gunned down in the street by an alleged far-right terrorist?
The referendum result gave Blairites the perfect pretext for their long-planned coup, coincident- ally letting the Tories completely off the hook.
By blaming Brexit on Corbyn instead of Boris Johnson or David Cameron, they did incalculable damage to the Labour brand - all part of their master plan to prevent it becoming a mass movement.
And the centre-left was soon swept up in the whole sordid affair, “seduced by sinister forces” to quote Unite leader Len McCluskey.
By co-ordinating their resignations for maximum effect, the shadow cabinet thought they could humiliate Corbyn into throwing in the towel.
When that didn’t work, the party machine tried to stitch-up the leadership election, but first it banned all local meetings - democratic martial law depriving the rank and file any say in what was about to happen.
General secretary Iain McNicol did his best to bully the party’s ruling body into denying Corbyn the right to automatically defend his title.
Helped by a whole heap of legal advice, Corbyn defeated this dirty trick at a crunch meeting, but McNicol still managed to impose a six-month membership retrospective freeze date - unprecedented in party history - after Jez had left the room.
And it was McNicol who later led the appeal against the High Court decision to give new members back their vote.
Re-disenfranchising them wasn’t enough - McNicol wanted to see the five brave members behind the crowd-funded case made bankrupt by paying the party’s legal fees.
Fortunately, almost £100,000 flooded in from supporters within a few hours of the court ruling, easily covering the costs.
Like last year, McNicol has used the party’s compliance unit to stop as many Corbynistas from voting as possible, trawling their social media for Green retweets and words like “traitor.”
But this summer’s contest has seen the purge taken to a whole new level, with massive numbers of members - we don’t know how many yet - suspended and even expelled from the party for the flimsiest of reasons.
And at the bottom of every purge letter is McNicol’s signature. As boss, the buck stops with him.
My own letter is similar to countless others I’ve read on Twitter.
McNicol warns me that members “must conduct themselves in a calm and polite manner and be respectful to each other at all times” - a bit rich given the public abuse Corbyn has suffered from his own MPs.
It’s especially insulting for him to personally suspend me straight away - without any hearing until after the election - because of “the urgency to protect the party’s reputation.”
Judging from the number of suspended members who say they’ll never come back to Labour after their mistreatment, it’s McNicol and his fellow witch-hunters who have really brought the party into disrepute.
And this is the same man who claimed 4 years ago: “As long as I am general secretary, a fixing culture will not be tolerated,” adding that he’d ensure “the party understands its role in internal elections and administrates them fairly, never interfering in them.”
Corbyn says he wants to “wipe the slate clean” in the interests of party unity - and his supporters would be wise to forgive their fellow “Labour family” members for foolishly following the coup plotters.
But what about those of us who have been thrown out for simply supporting Corbyn - will we have our slates wiped clean, too?
The centrists must also compromise, which means an end to indulging the right wing’s obsession with regime change.
Corbyn has won fair and square, twice, and his critics need to start showing him some serious respect.
The party machine can’t carry on undermining Corbyn by “working to rule” - but there should be no retribution or redundancies, even at compliance. Staff were only obeying McNicol’s orders.
Instead, additional roles should be created throughout the organisation, filled by a new generation loyal to a leader whose primary job is changing the culture of despair.
But an apology won’t be enough for members who saw their votes cynically stolen by McNicol.
We want justice - and as the popular Corbyn-themed meme points out: “You come at the king, you best not miss.”
Or to put it another way, it’s time to cut off the head of the snake.
When members can quote the Red Flag again, with- out fear of reprisals, the public might finally believe Labour has truly changed.
Until then, people are right to wonder just how much the party bureaucracy really cares about democracy.
Most members will never trust McNicol again, in any case, making him quite unfit for purpose.
And if the left must learn to turn the other cheek, its “loyal opposition” within Labour should stop propping up this lame duck. That’s just the price they have to pay for unity - and for us all to put the purge behind us.
Chat to Charley on Twitter: @charleyallan
The latest twist in the Labour ‘purge’ istruly astonishing by Steve Topple
Original article in The Canary, here: http://www.thecanary.co/2016/09/21/latest -twist-labour-purge-truly-astonishing-images/
In an extraordinary twist to the ongoing Labour Party ‘purge’, one member is taking drastic action. She’s summoning the party to court over her suspension, in a move which could set a legal precedent for thousands of expelled members. What’s more, this member knows her stuff; she’s a legal advocate for a large public body.
Labour in the dock, again
The party member, whose identity The Canary is protecting but will call ‘Jane’, made the move after she was suspended on 9th September. The reason initially given was the blanket, nondescript “breach of recruitment rules” many members have been accused of.
She immediately issued a “Subject Access Request” (SAR). This is a legal mechanism everyone is entitled to use, which forces a company to release all the information it holds on you.
Jane believes that her suspension may be due to a Facebook page she was involved in. As The Canary reported in July, a Just Giving page, which had been set up to financially support people who were having to re-register as Labour supporters, was shut down. She donated, and believes this may be the reason for her suspension.
On 11 September, Jane sent Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) an email. She also rang Labour’s legal department, and was told that someone would call back. But no one ever did. Jane then formally told Labour’s legal department of her intention to take them to court:
In an odd twist, Jane was repeatedly told that she would still have a vote in the leadership contest.
But the vote never arrived.
Labour has still taken her membership money and has not said how it got her anonymous Facebook details. Speaking to The Canary, she said:
I’ve been a full Labour member for about 16 months. The ‘evidence’ against me consists of… an extract from a Facebook conversation. When it gets to court, I intend pointing out that Principles One & Four of the Data Protection Act [DPA] have been breached. This renders them liable to a fine from the Information Commissioner’s Office. I will also be requesting tangible recognition (compensation) for distress & inconvenience caused by not being able to vote, when I was told by them (twice) that I could.
Principle One of the DPA relates to using information about a person fairly and lawfully. Principle Four is about keeping personal information accurate and up-to-date. What Jane is saying is that Labour has breached its “contract” with her, as she never did give permission for the party to use her details... other than to contact her. Furthermore, it made no effort to check the information it had was actually hers, before suspending her.
If Jane is successful in her case, this could, in theory, set a legal precedent. That would mean that hundreds, if not thousands, of other suspended members could take legal action.
Carry On Purging
Meanwhile, the apparent anti-Corbyn ‘purge’ has continued, in Labour. Countless members have got in touch with The Canary to tell their stories.
One bizarre tale is of a member who had the same names as a Canadian citizen (living in Canada). They were suspended because their Canadian counterpart sent a tweet to one ‘John Tory’. Tory is the Mayor of Toronto --- and the Canadian tweeter was congratulating him on his recycling tariff.
But Labour banned the UK member, stating he'd shown support for another party. Obviously, a Labour “bot” had seized on the word “Tory” mistakenly.
Another member had his application rejected for the same reason as Jane. He had joined the party as a registered supporter, got his membership card, went to a local meeting, voted in the leadership election, and then had his membership rejected.
The reason was that he had tweeted support for the idea of lending people £25 to join as a registered supporter. But Labour rejected his membership after nine weeks, which appears to break the party’s own rules (which state that provisional membership lasts eight weeks and people can only be rejected during this time).
Corbyn, of course, has now won. But what this process has shown is the Labour Party’s dis- regard for its members. Labour elites should rightly be proud that the party is now the largest in Europe. But instead, they’ve seemed hell-bent on allowing only the purest of the pure (by their standards) to be members.
Where membership numbers and members’ morale, stands after this year’s conference, is still to be seen. But if Jane is successful, the Labour Party could have a long few months of court cases ahead of them.
Note: Please remember that all comments made on social media, are done at your own risk.
– If you feel you’ve been ‘purged’, take this online survey:
Labour purge numbers simply don’t add up by Charley Allan (first appeared in The Star)
I'm still trapped in “purge-atory” — neither banned from voting in the Labour leadership election, nor given a ballot paper, allegedly because of admin. error.
And I’m not alone. Although Labour has rubbished online claims of up to 100,000 missing ballots, it refuses to reveal the real number.
Why not? It knows exactly how many people are in my position - we’ve been calling, emailing and filling out forms enough, asking what’s happened to our votes.
Why weren’t our details given to Electoral Reform Services, which is running the election, in the first place?
How many names were originally sent to the company? How many members have asked for their ballots to be reissued? How many have actually received reissued ballots?
A panel report presented to Labour’s national executive committee (NEC), didn’t answer any of these questions -- but claimed that 3,107 “rule-breakers” have so far been purged.
Its numbers don’t really add up but the party refuses to discuss them directly — instead referring me to the Press Association’s summary which gives the same total.
The reports claimed that the NEC was still considering another 1,616 cases.
I never had a chance to ask Labour my other questions, such as why hasn’t the full purge list -- with names and reasons -- been given to Jeremy Corbyn or the NEC, as requested?
And who selectively leaked the most “extreme” cases of social-media rudeness --- much of which, hardly qualifies as abuse?
How can the party retrospectively proscribe words such as “traitor” when Corbyn opponents including former Blair official John McTernan and Portsmouth councillor John Ferrett, have called their leader the same, on Twitter, without losing their right to vote?
Why didn’t the NEC follow Shami Chakrabarti’s advice --- to “uphold the strongest principles of natural justice” by giving purged members full reasons for their disenfranchisement --- plus the right to a speedy appeal?
What’s the logic behind expelling members for year-old retweets in support of another party’s policy, while letting a Labour lord get away with giving millions to the Lib Dems?
Does the published purge figure include members who have cast a ballot -- only to see it taken away for unspecified “comments made on social media” -- as experienced by Isle of Wight pensioner and life-long Labour voter, Jacqui Bartram?
How did the six-month retrospective membership freeze date, discourage “entryists” — as claimed in court — when the door was wide open to anyone who could afford £25 for a vote?
And on the subject of entryism, when will Ashfield MP Gloria de Piero be sanctioned, for encouraging Sun readers to sign up to the anti-Corbyn struggle?
Meanwhile, some good news. Michael Foster, the party donor who called Corbynistas “nazi stormtroopers,” was finally suspended for abuse; though he’s comically complaining that “the rule of law is being ignored” - while two high-profile members have had their votes returned.
Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the BFAWU bakers’ union, and Harrow councillor, Pamela Fitzpatrick, both had their suspensions lifted --- without any appeal hearing. And some Scottish Labour members were saved by the grace of their own general secretary, who didn’t take kindly to London’s heavy- handed approach to an “autonomous” party.
But what about members without as much clout? Draper advises them to write directly to general secretary, Iain McNicol, and the party’s Compliance Unit — the beefed-up band of “witch-hunters” who are still advertising for more staff.
McNicol staked all his political capital on this corridor coup --- and the left’s clean sweep in recent NEC delegate elections, means his position is more precarious since the party conference ended.
His most recent show of contempt for members... involved giving the green light to conference’s official brochure, which featured three photos of deputy leader Tom Watson but none of Corbyn.
This pathetic picture-purge, sparked the inspired #JezSelfie hashtag, which soon started trending on social media.
Unity is now THE game in town... for true Labour: let the rest go purge themselves.
You can chat to Charley onTwitter: @charleyallan
IF - YOU THINK you HAVE BEEN UNFAIRLY BARRED:
“Any member who is suspended & intends to appeal the decision should throw in a ‘Subject Access Request in accordance with the Data Protection Act’ --- for ALL data that the Labour Party hold on them.
The Labour Party are Data Controllers and therefore have to, by law, provide you with all material/information they hold on you.”
If anyone is in contact with anyone who was barred from voting --- please can you pass this info on:
The Labour leadership election was under the jurisdiction of the electoral reform services.
If you were unfairly deprived of your vote you can call them on 0208 365 8909 and lodge your complaint, and inform them of your Data Protection request.
The notification letters barring new members did not give a clear reason, or information on how to appeal, so Vox Political suggests that anyone in this situation, could also contact Liz Davies here: http://www.whycantivote.com
She is a barrister --- who can advise members on what to do.
Corbyn pledges to banfracking as part of Labour's new green agenda
To read Jeremy Corbyn’s environmental and energy manifesto statement in full, please go to our One Union Page. ____________________________________
Saving Labour? The secretive battle to oust Jeremy Corbyn – BBC News Reg Race is a 'co-ordinator' of the group campaigning against Jeremy Corbyn.
At least, that's what a report ‘Saving Labour’ by the BBC’s Ross Hawkins, has concluded.
Reg Race is said to be co-ordinating a project to collect information on Labour members who are willing to attack Jeremy & his supporters... but that doesn't mean he is the one behind it, as no such information is available.
Meanwhile, the organisation has been collecting data on people sympathetic to its cause – which may be used for ''other purposes'' after the leadership election, we are told.
If these people admitted who they were and what they're doing, perhaps their behaviour might be more acceptable – but they won’t.
Supporting MPs, donors, and trade unionists, are all staying anonymous for the time being.
One wonders how these people would react if it was revealed that there was a secretive co- ordinating hub of Corbyn supporters, working to spread their influence across the UK.
Reg claimed Saving Labour recruited over 120,000 registered supporters & affiliated union members to vote anti Mr Corbyn, using online advertising.
The group, he says, has amassed details of 60,000 people on its own database, in just two months. There are plenty of numbers, but virtually no names.
In his first broadcast interview, he told Radio 4’s Today programme, he has the support of trade unionists - but will not say which ones.
Nor will he name MPs or donors; those will be published by the Electoral Commission, in the fullness of time, he says.
Why the secrecy?
“There’s a group of us and lots of us don’t want to be out there in terms of the media, because they are in relatively vulnerable positions,” he says.
“Data's absolutely crucial in these races,” says Tom Flynn, Saving Labour’s full-time digital campaigner. “This was set up as a way of trying to get good data on those Labour people who would like a change of leadership.”
That data – contact details of sympathisers who have a vote in Labour contests, could have an interesting future.
A Saving Labour supporter, Graham Jones MP suggests it may even play a part in trying to get rid of Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey.
The data, the money, and the intent of those trying to wrestle back control of the Labour Party from Mr Corbyn, will not expire, now the win for Jeremy has been declared.
They failed this year, but they will try again.
It will have to provide a list of its supporters & funders to the electoral commission, now the leadership election is over, and must provide its first 3 monthly accounts and audits.
For a company that is supposedly all about “savinglabour” it is trying very hard to hide who is behind it.
Momentum, by the way, had to have its books audited early after a complaint "was raised".
Reply bladeofgrassuk on September 3, 2016 at 2:49 pm
This is a survey that they have sent out to all their supporters. They are hoping to set up local anti-deselection groups nationwide. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/53G2PLD
The goal of the groups will be to protect MPs parachuted into “safe” Labour seats, from being democratically removed from office for their role in the right-wing coup.
It is worth mentioning that these groups have managed to avoid appointing a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act, and so are not subject to the DPA of 1998.
Reg Race? Could this be the same one?
‘Reg Race, the former Labour MP and close ally of socialist firebrands Tony Benn & Ken Livingstone, has been paid millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money as a result of regulations brought in by New Labour ministers. The union man-turned- consultant has also become a substantial Labour Party donor and is one of the biggest backers of Alan Johnson’s bid for the party’s deputy leadership.
Mr Race’s company, Quality Health, is one of a select band of “approved contractors” that health trusts must hire to conduct patient and staff surveys.’
Jeremy Corbyn was torn to pieces over not wanting to go to war if a NATO member was attacked (by Russia, the question implied).
There seems to be a mistaken idea that preferring negotiations and a peaceful approach to international relations, to a kneejerk war which could so easily go nuclear - leading to the end of life on this planet - can be compared to Chamberlain's appeasement before World War 2.
Yet the NATO treaty itself, is not, as some Tories have tried to make out, a simple case of rushing to war, if one of NATO's states are hit.
Article 5 of the Washington Treaty envisions the support of other NATO members, in the case of external aggression, it's true, but...
The response measures are left at the discretion of member states --- it can be a mere diplomatic note of support - without providing any real aid.
Labour Pledge We Will Bring Back Student Grants And The £30 EMA
Labour will reverse the abolition of student grants and the education maintenance allowance (EMA), if it wins the next general election, the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, stated.
The Tories replaced maintenance grants for poor university students in England with repayable & often crippling loans, and the EMA, a £30-a-week cash payment helped 16 to 18-year-olds to stay in education --- but was cut by the Tory/LibDem coalition government.
Now Labour vows to reinstate the policies, which will support over a million students, & says they will be paid for, by increasing corporation tax by less than 1.5 per cent.
Ms Rayner: “While the Tories continue to burden our young people with debt, the Labour Party is committed to investing in our young people.
“It is only by investing in education, that we can ensure that all our young people, whatever their background, are able to succeed in whatever they aspire to.”
A DREAM COME TRUE
Support for Jeremy Corbyn from Tyrone O’Sullivan, a fourth-generation south Wales miner, who led a workers’ buy-out of Tower Colliery, to save it from closure.
"I’ve been close to Jeremy since the miners’ strike. Knowing the man, knowing his abilities and his education, it was a dream come true for me when he became leader. His ideas and values are more necessary, here in south Wales, than probably anywhere else in the country. He wants victory for Labour, but only under our terms - for a change."
O’Sullivan, a lifelong Labour member, says Jeremy is the only true socialist, Labour have had as leader, ''for 20 or 30 years''. ************************************** CHILCOT REPORT: SOME MAIN POINTS:
1) "Military action was not a last resort".
2) UK government "undermined the authority" of the UN security council.
3) Weapons of Mass Destruction presented "with a certainty that was not justified".
4) UK forces were "ill-prepared".
5a) "The government failed to achieve its stated objectives."
5b) Post-war planning: Blair "should have known what might happen".
6) Chilcot says Blair also "overlooked the threat the invasion would pose to Britain."
Blair to Face Law
The former prime minister has been put on notice by families of dead servicemen, that he will face legal action, for his part in the illegal Iraq war.
They are being crowd-funded now, and have raised so much money, that Blair is probably heading for a big fall...
Shadow Commons leader Paul Flynn: the Iraq Inquiry's findings are an "utter condemnation" of his terrible decision --- and his prosecution should now be given "serious consideration".
Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond: "I would like to see Blair investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC), for the crime of a war of aggression, and face parliamentary action to stop him holding public office ever again."
A former British ambassador to the UN: "The UK was pushed into entering this military action, too early."
Stop the War Coalition Convener Ms German: “This is an incredibly damning report for Tony Blair. It will not call for legal sanctions, but it says that Blair is culpable for the war, in many ways.
“He needs to be driven out of public life. He is still part of the Labour Party. We need to make sure that truth & justice prevails. There must be legal action against Blair, & he should no longer be considered fit for any office.”
CND general secretary Kate Hudson: “The report shows that Tony Blair had no respect for cabinet procedure, no respect for Parliament, & no respect for international law.
“Chilcot reveals the evidence that must now be used to bring Tony Blair to justice. This is our demand. Only when justice is served, can we prevent disasters like the Iraq war from ever happening again.”
Iraqi journalist Juma al-Quraishi: "Everyone who took part in the war against Iraq should be condemned, either Britain, or others."
Baghdad resident Ali al-Saraji: "Ex-UK prime minister, Tony Blair, destroyed our country. From 2003, to now, our country has been the scene of destruction, killing, massacres, explosions and sectarianism."
A defiant Blair refuses to accept accusations from service families that he was wrong and reckless, and he insists that he would make the decision again, 'come what may'.
Families of some of the 179 military personnel killed in Iraq, say the former PM is "a terrorist".
Jeremy Corbyn has offered an apology, on Labour's behalf, for the"stain on our party and our country".
PONCY LABOUR MPS PROBLEM?
A huge drop in working-class Labour MPs, caused a massive drop in support among voters with similar backgrounds, reveals research seeking to explain why support has dwindled in the party’s heartlands.
The study says past leaders like Kinnock and Blair made a concerted effort to pick “more and more middle-class candidates to run for office, during the 80s and 90s, as part of an effort to rebrand” -- which had initial successes at the ballot box.
But this “conscious electoral strategy” stored up problems, as working-class voters who initially, just didn’t vote in response, now seek an alternative.
The solution?Trust each constituency to put forward its own candidates, and don't impose ‘party-approved’ choices who can't do the job.
Today, December the 3rd, is the United Nations'
International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), 2016
How you can commemorate it today in your local community:
Observance of the Day provides opportunities for collaborative and inclusive events by all stakeholders - Governments, the UN system, civil society, and organizations of persons with disabilities - to focus on the inclusion of those with disabilities in society and their development, as beneficiaries... and as agents of change.
Organize: Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns supporting the themes of IDPD 2016, to discuss and share ways of including and empowering persons of all abilities to develop & be fully included in their local communities.
Celebrate: Plan and organize performances everywhere to celebrate contributions made by those with disabilities as agents of change in the communities in which they live. Celebrate those with disabilities by creating opportunities to help realize their potential: through music, sport, academia, or interpersonal skills.
Take Action: A major focus today, is practical action to realize the objectives of the Day, for persons with disabilities & their communities. Highlight best practices --- and think of good recommendations for your local politicians businesses, academic institutions, cultural centres and others. Work to ensure that your activity leaves a legacy and brings about lasting change.
"Let us work together for the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities, in an inclusive & sustainable world that embraces humanity in all its diversity."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Figures released by The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that UK pensioners are 4th worst off.... out of all of the countries in the European Union.
Third Of Domestic Abuse Starts During Pregnancy by Lamiat Sabin
Up to 60% of women who experience domestic violence, are abused by their partners while pregnant, a midwives’ union says -- as a new campaign is launched to combat the problem.
Nearly a third (30 per cent) of abuse cases are triggered by pregnancy, and existing violent behaviour escalates, when the victim is expecting a baby, according to statistics provided by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).
The report shows that this is due to a partner’s inability to cope with their jealousy and anger, towards an unborn child.
Domestic violence has overtaken gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia as the main cause of foetal death, as pregnant women are more likely to be hit on the abdomen by a partner or ex.
The risk of severe violence appears to be greatest after a child is born, the report adds.
The data used in the Domestic Violence and Pregnancy report, published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, were drawn from victim admissions to A&E.
It is likely that the prevalence of violence against women and their unborn and newborn children is under-reported --- since many expectant and new mothers find it difficult to seek help, the RCM said.
Midwives play a crucial role in identifying abuse, by being alert to unexplained injuries and causes of damage to a baby, RCM policy adviser Janet Fyle says.
The RCM joined government, domestic abuse charity SafeLives and other organisations, in launching 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Violence Campaign, which runs to December 3.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow minister for women and equalities, Sarah Champion, made a joint statement to mark the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.
They said: “We must support the incredible work of women’s organisations who provide essential, life- saving services to survivors.
“It is unacceptable that these specialist organisations who support women and girls have seen resources decimated in the name of austerity.”
A Labour government would introduce statutory, age-appropriate school lessons to teach children about healthy relationships and friendships, and also how to identify abuse.
Mr Corbyn and Ms Champion condemned the “unacceptable” government cuts to women’s aid charities and vowed that Labour would increase funding.
Earlier this month, ministers launched a temporary £20 million pot of funding for refuges and domestic violence support services, which have to bid for a share of the money.
(source Morning Star)
More need, less money: older people are missing out on the care they need by Ignacio Amigo
There are currently 1.2 million older people in the UK living with some basic need unmet. That’s 48% more than six years ago. Basic needs include things such as getting out of bed, washing, or going to the toilet.
Those are the shocking findings of a new analysis by Age UK, a charity dedicated to the elderly.
Of those 1.2 million older people, about 40% do get some kind of support, but the support is insufficient. This often means that carers are only available at particular times of the day. The rest – almost 700,000 people – don’t get any help at all.
Age UK also highlights the dramatic situation of the 291,400 older people that have three or more needs unmet. Of those, more than 20% fall into the group that receives no help whatsoever.
Carolyn Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, has asked the government to pledge giving social care priority in the forthcoming Autumn Statement, which will be published on 23 November.
The numbers shown by Age UK should come as no surprise, after years of budget cuts. A recent BBC analysis showed that spending on care for people over 65 has dropped by 20% since 2004. Over the same period, the proportion of people over 65 in the UK has increased another 20% [PDF, page 4]. This means that there is now less money to treat more people.
In fact, in the last few years, there has been a great reduction in the number of older people receiving care from the state. While in 2009 there were more than 1.1 million people receiving care funded by local authorities, that number fell to 853,615 by 2013/2014 [PDF, page 16].
Ruth Thorlby, Deputy Director of Policy at the Nuffield Trust, sums up the situation perfectly:
The number of older people needing care is increasing and yet we are continuing to put less money in. Unmet need is rising, many providers are threatening to pull out of contracts, the wellbeing of carers is deteriorating, access to care is get- ting worse. A Government that wants to create ‘a country which works for everyone’ --- should not tolerate the oldest, most vulnerable, falling in to a social care system, riddled with holes.”
Poor people are being hit harder
The lack of care funding is not affecting everyone equally. A recent report by The King’s Fund warns us, that a change in the care providers’ business strategy is taking place. Due to the reduction of fees paid by local authorities, as well as other increasing pressures, many care providers are concentrating on people who can pay for their own care. This is creating a ‘two-tier’ system: one for people with higher income, and one for those who rely on local authority-arranged care.
The report puts it boldly [PDF, page 5]:
Access to care depends increasingly on what people can afford – and where they live – rather than on what they need. This favours the relatively well off and well informed --- at the expense of the poorest --- who are reliant on an increasingly threadbare local authority safety net – especially if they live in areas where local authorities have been least able to sustain spending levels – and who are at a higher risk of declining quality and provider failure.
The reports concludes [PDF, page 82] that long-term policies, along with a mechanism to secure cross- party consensus, on some shared principles, are urgently needed. Policy-makers should take note.
source The Canary
Shadow employment minister demands action as child poverty hits 3.9 million
From her website:
Shadow Employment Minister, Margaret Greenwood MP, called on the Government to take urgent action to tackle child poverty after figures released by the End Child Poverty campaign revealed that in some parts of the UK, nearly half of children are living in poverty.
“3.9 million children in the UK are living in poverty and that includes 18,000 children in the Wirral. Children in the UK are now twice as likely to be poor --- as our pensioners,” said Ms Greenwood.
“In every part of the country, there are children who are growing up in poverty and having to do without.
“That means going without all sorts of things, including food. Some will be wearing shoes that don’t fit, clothes that aren’t warm enough, and going to bed hungry. This is wholly unacceptable, and the government needs to take urgent action.
“Millions of families are struggling to meet basic household bills as a result of low pay, insecure work and the lack of affordable housing. On top of that, food prices are expected to rise in the coming year.
“Cuts to Universal Credit are going to hit the poorest families hard. A single parent family would have to work an extra 2 months each year, to make up the money they will lose as a result of these cuts. Clearly that is impossible.
“Where a family has to move to cheaper accommodation, children may also have to move schools, causing disruption to their friendship groups and their education.
“Family tensions caused by money worries are easily transmitted to children --- even though that would be the last thing that parents would want.
“The Prime Minister said on coming to power that her Government would be on the side of families just struggling to get by.
“I am calling on the Government to live up to its rhetoric by reversing cuts to Universal Credit in the Autumn Statement.”
You can find more information on the Child Poverty campaign at
The Trussell Trust reports that food bank use has increased again this year. Food parcels were given to 519,000 in the 6 months to the end of September, which included 188,000 children.
source - Vox Political
WALES TO SUFFER AS TORIES CUT RAIL ELECTRIFICATION
Rail Minister Paul Maynard’s decision to 'defer' electrification of the Great Western rail line from London to Wales, is a blatant failure to honour a general election manifesto pledge.
His assertion that new rolling stock can “bring in the benefits expected by passengers” with- out “costly & disruptive electrification works” is a pathetic joke.
The new trains were originally intended to run on electric alone, but have been ''amended'' to provide a diesel back-up, which Maynard now says is ''the way ahead'' for GWR.
This breaks government commitments to reduce global warming emissions and makes a mockery of the disruption that many areas have already suffered, through their preparatory work for electrification.
Ministers still set greater store on the austerity agenda of cuts, than on public investment for economic growth and prosperity.
GWR was to deliver customer improvements by 2019, but has now kicked completion of the electrification project, originally meant for 2018, to a faraway 2024.
If such projects are postponed, costs rise. The price of GWR electrification was £874 million in 2013 -- and is now estimated at £2.8 billion!
Upgraded, efficient, safe, environmentally sound, affordable rail networks, are not an optional extra in a modern economy.
In Europe, massive public investment in rail has delivered for passengers.
Margaret Thatcher’s preference for private cars, followed by John Major’s decision to fragment and privatise British Rail, leaves the UK and Wales decades behind...
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald demands that the government reverse this decision and keep its election promises.
Tory austerity cuts ‘systematically’ violated rights of disabled Britons – UN
The United Nations accuses the Conservative government, of violating the human rights of disabled people by cutting welfare provision.
A report by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities criticizes the reforms brought in by the former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
The committee says the cuts and caps to welfare introduced under the guise of austerity, “gravely or systematically” violate disabled people's rights.
UN committee members visited the UK in Oct. 2015 on a fact-finding mission. Their report was based on over 200 interviews and around 3,000 pages of evidence.
The committee says Britain should establish a watchdog to assess the impact of policy changes on disabled people’s lives.
It also criticizes the distorted representation of disabled people in the UK.
“Persons with disabilities have been regularly portrayed negatively as being dependent or making a living out of benefits, committing fraud as benefit claimants, being lazy and putting a burden on taxpayers, who pay ‘money for nothing,’” the report says.
The government is also attacked for its cuts to housing benefits, that cause high levels of stress and depression, the report says.
Ministers had not factored disabled people’s needs into reforms, while programs to encourage them to find work had “no visible impact,” with many now driven into debt or forced to use food banks.
Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) founder Linda Burnip told the Guardian it “came as no surprise to anyone who's followed the stripping away of disabled people’s rights over the last six years.”
“The United Nations has found today that there is reliable evidence showing the Tory Government is responsible for grave violations of the rights of disabled people, under its failing austerity plan,” Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams says.
“The UN report confirms that, despite Theresa May’s warm words, the Government is failing sick and disabled people.
“Labour will transform our social security system to ensure that, like our NHS, it is there for us all in our time of need.”
The government said in a statement: “As a strong parliamentary democracy, where the voices and opinions of disabled people are represented and listened to, the UK is a place where disabled people's rights are respected, promoted and upheld.”
The Benefits Cap Has Now Come Into Force. Desperate People Are About To Become More Desperate Still by Charlotte Hughes
The new benefits cap has now come into force. Myself, other activists and politicians had tried desperately to warn the public about this, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears in many cases.
I suppose it’s easier to run away from reality, to try to carry on as normal and ignore the fact that this is happening.
The enormity of the situation has now hit people very hard.
As a community activist, I started to receive emails from worried people in the early hours of yesterday morning and this continued throughout the day.
Questions such as: “How will I manage?” “I’m scared I’m going to lose my home,” “We can’t afford to eat and pay the rent, what shall we do?”
Make no mistake, this is going to be devastating and these are the questions that thousands and thousands of people were asking themselves yesterday, and they will continue to do so.
The government stated that it has implemented the benefit cap because it wants to make unemployed and sick people think more about the cost of things. It wants them to be more in line with people who are working.
Theresa May was quoted as saying that this will provide “good value for money.”
I say that making the poorest suffer is never good value for money. You quite simply can’t put a price on a person’s life. It’s unconscionable to do so.
How will the new benefit cap affect people? Basically, unemployed and people claiming employment and support allowance who are not in the support group are expected to pay the shortfall in their rent. Deciding between eating, keeping warm or paying the rent is an impossible choice to make.
There’s a massive misunderstanding among the media and society that claimants receive all the money that they are entitled to in their hands. They don’t.
Most of their money goes to pay their landlord their rent. With social housing being in very short supply, more and more people are forced to go to the private rented sector and many are already paying a top-up rent.
Having to pay a now impossible amount will see tenants being evicted, having to rely on homeless shelters which are already full or being housed in B&Bs which are usually in a state of disrepair.
If a tenant falls behind with their rent and gets evicted, the local authorities will see them as making themselves intentionally homeless and therefore have no statutory duty to house them. Whether single, a couple, or with children — the situation is dire.
The pressure that will be put on foodbanks will be unprecedented. They find it hard enough to cope already, so how will they be able to cope with more and more people coming to them?
They rely on donations, many probably made by the very same people that are now being hit by the benefit cap now. In effect, the amount of people able to donate will drop as well.
This will also have a direct effect upon the NHS and related services. More and more people will become ill and admitted to hospital with malnutrition-related diseases. And now winter is here, people will suffer from more cold-related illnesses too.
It has been estimated that as many as 88,000 families will be affected, including a quarter of a million children — which is the equivalent of 350 primary schools all being faced with homelessness by the new benefit cap.
It’s horrific. It can never be seen as good value for money. It’s inhumane and we need to start raising our voices more.
source - The Morning Star
How did we – the British people – ever come to accept such laws as reasonable?
An elderly couple who have been by each other’s side for 70 years are being ‘forced apart’ by social services – as they ‘don’t meet the criteria’ to live together.
Jessie and Ray Lorrison, of South Shields in South Tyneside, have spent nearly every day of their lives together since they first met in 1946 – but have now been told they must live separate lives.
Ray, 95, is living at Westoe Grange Care Home in the town, while his heartbroken wife Jessie, 88, is in hospital after being told she ‘does not meet the criteria’ to join her husband.
A South Tyneside Council spokesperson said:"The Council is not able to comment on individual cases, however any decision on care and support for an individual is based on their own needs and is made in line with the Care Act."
Another statement is that this is NOT an unusual case. Social Services do this to almost ALL frail couples as they enter hospice care.
Despicable, obscenely cruel, gob-smackingly vile... that's the UK's Social Services!
As Labour gets fined over election expenses Tory election fraud scandal is being ignored by Steve Topple source: The Canary
It was revealed on Tuesday 25 October that the Labour Party had been fined over undeclared election expenses.
The Electoral Commission fined the party £20,000 for not submitting numerous expenses from the 2015 general election, including the infamous ‘Ed Stone’. But it begs the question — just what is happening with the so-called Tory election fraud scandal?
Hitting brick walls
The Commission found that the Labour Party had not declared £123,748 of expenses in last year’s election campaign. These included an 8ft stone tablet which had Labour’s key pledges carved into it – the missing costs being £7,614. A further 33 receipts were missing from the campaign, plus 49 for transport costs.
The party’s General Secretary, Iain McNicol, committed two offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act in relation to the missing payments and the missing invoices. The £20,000 fine is the highest in the Electoral Commission’s history.
And while the commission said Labour had co-operated throughout the inquiry, it criticised the party for not giving the requested information in a “reasonable time frame”.
But while Labour has been held to account over what could be considered fraudulent expenses, the Conservative Party’s alleged election fraud appears to have been kicked into the long grass.
As The Canary previously revealed, the Electoral Commission and police have been investigating allegations that tens of thousands of pounds that should have been declared as expenses locally, were in fact, paid for nationally.
These expenses fell into 2 main areas: the use of hotels for campaign staff, and the so-called Tory “Battle Bus” – which ferried activists up and down the country. If they should have been declared locally, this would mean that the Tories had breached spending limits in at least 29 constituencies.That, in turn, may well put the legitimacy of the 2015 general election result into question.
In June, 18 police forces across the UK had been given, or were seeking an extension to, the time limit for the investigations related to election expenses. David Cameron’s Conservative government was the first government in UK history to face police investigations into alleged electoral fraud.
One such example was in South Thanet, where Craig Mackinlay is the Conservative MP. The party is accused of spending around £20,000 on Mackinlay’s 2015 campaign which was not only not declared as national or local spending --- but was not declared at all.
In June, Mackinlay attempted in court to block a police investigation into the matter. But the judge threw the case out, ----- saying that the alleged fraud was on an “unprecedented s cale” and the police investigation was of “very significant public interest”.
Tory pork pies?
David Cameron, when he was still Prime Minister, went on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show to defend Mackinlay’s court action. Marr asked:
Did you authorise the payment of a very expensive QC to go to Kent Police, and try to stop them extending their investigation? Because that looks like a cover-up.
In an attempt to deflect from his own apparent involvement in the “cover-up”, Cameron said:
This is all being handled, I think quite properly, by the party Chairman, and I’m very happy that what we did was right and we can answer all the questions that we’re being [asked].
Since then, the investigations appear to have gone quiet. As The Guardian reported on 29 July, police forces are applying for a year’s investigation extension, but no conclusions have been drawn yet.
The judgement over the Labour Party’s transport costs now shines some light into the severity of the allegations about the Tories. The Electoral Commission said it didn’t suspect an offence had been committed regarding Labour busing activists up and down the country. The fact that the Commission has not yet dismissed the same allegations against Conservatives could well mean there is a case to answer.
Crash the campaign bus: The Blairites’ plan B
With the botched coup simply bolstering Corbyn’s position as leader, Labour rightwingers look ready to commit an ultimate betrayal, says Charley Allan.
The term “Blairite” is often misapplied, leaving some centre-left Corbyn-sceptic MPs unfairly tarred by Tony’s toxic brush.
Within Labour, it’s normally meant and taken as an insult, which is why the “B-word” has been banned along with “traitor” — using either online can see you summarily suspended.
But there are some politicians who still wear this particular label with pride.
Step forward Baron Peter Mandelson, New Labour architect and by far the best spin-doctor Blair ever had.
Mandelson has long opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership — he even tried to pull the plug on last year’s contest by putting pressure on all the other candidates to resign en masse at the last minute.
He still insists that “unelectable” Corbyn can’t be allowed to lead the party, but his latest solution is sure to send shivers down centre-left spines.
At a Royal Television Society conference, the political “prince of darkness”, was asked about the possibility of a snap election.
“Bring it on,” he replied. “I get up every day and pray that will be the case.”
And the reason for such enthusiasm? “So we can deal with the awful situation in the Labour Party earlier than 2020.”
Just to be clear, “awful situation” is code for “Corbyn’s leadership” — as is “deal with” for “bring to a brutal end.”
Mandelson is openly calling for a speedy general election loss to dislodge Corbyn as leader — and it’s not the first time the Labour right has been caught committing such a betrayal.
Back in August, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told the Sunday Times: “I’ve had very senior Labour MPs come to me and they've begged me to push for an early general election to finish Corbyn off.”
He said they’d told him: “Put us out of our misery — it would be a mercy killing.”
And according to the Telegraph, the MPs “warned the only way to rid the party of Mr Corbyn would be if Labour is ‘wiped out’ at a general election -- proving his unpopularity with the public.”
Make no mistake, Blairites really are praying for Labour to lose a snap general election, just so they can topple their twice-elected leader.
It’s the abuse of the power to ban that has caused such bad blood in recent months. It must be tackled head on before Labour can move on.
Will there now be thousands of disciplinary hearings, costing who knows how much of our precious party resources?
Maybe we’ll see a mass amnesty in the spirit of clean slates — though that runs the risk of laying bare the right’s dirty tricks.
However this is resolved, we still have to deal with the “detrimental effect” and “inevitable shame” of our suspensions, which is why there needs to be a full investigation into what happened and who is to blame.
At the very least, seeing the back of general secretary Iain McNicol — who purged us all personally using powers given to him by the NEC — would help draw a line under the whole debacle.
It makes no sense for the centre-left to keep supporting the same people who led them up the garden path this summer, unnecessarily turned their own members against them, and now threaten to “destroy the village in order to save it.”
Let’s pray they wake up, before it’s too late.
Chat to Charley on Twitter: @charleyallan
Tory Boundary Short-Changers The Conservatives are hardly even bothering to pretend that they are cutting the size of Parliament to make the distribution of seats fairer.
The vanishing constituencies are almost all Labour ones, with Wales — where over a quarter of seats are to be eliminated — London, the N-East & N-West England all taking significant casualties.
By contrast most Tory areas get off lightly, with the true-blue Isle of Wight even due to nab an extra seat --- despite having too few people to merit it.
This could be defeated --- with a UNITED LABOUR PARTY !!!
But unfortunately, there are "entryist" MPs who, for decades, have been groomed by CIA cold war relic organisations -- like the Atlantic Council -- and are now trying to misdirect the Labour Party towards cuts, a militarised police, and a US war agenda... - and their anti-Corbyn coup is hobbling Labour.
‘How Can I Deselect My Labour MP?’ A Short Guide to Reselection and Democratic Accountability by Eric Sim, excellent free advice here:
http://novaramedia.com/2016/07/13/how-can-i- deselect-my-labour-mp-a-short-guide-to- reselection-and-democratic-accountability/ CHRIS BRYANT - SUPPORT THE MEMBERS' LEADERSHIP CHOICE & POLICIES - OR GO!
Chris Bryant, the Rhondda's dodgy MP, was on TV -- as soon as the PLP coup started -- telling us that Jeremy MUST go, because it was the ONLY way to act in the Labour Party's interest...
Chris Bryant's voting record: from TheyWorkForYou.com
On Tuition Fees:
On 27 Jan 2004: Chris Bryant voted in favour of university tuition fees increasing from £1,125 per year, to up to £3,000 per year.
On 31 Mar 2004: Chris Bryant voted to allow university tuition fees to increase from £1,125 per year, to up to £3,000 per year.
On 31 Mar 2004: Chris Bryant voted for the introduction of variable university tuition fees (top-up fees) of up to £3,000 per year in place of the previous fixed fee of £1,250 per year.
On 31 Mar 2004: Chris Bryant voted to allow university tuition fees to increase from £1,125 per year to up to £3,000 per year, and to make other changes to higher education funding and regulation arrangements.
On 14 Sep 2004: Chris Bryant voted against: the immediate abolition of all tuition fees, the re-introduction of maintenance grants of up to £2,000 for students from low-income homes, and changes to the country's higher education system.
On 14 Sep 2004: Chris Bryant voted to reject the Liberal Democrat policy of abolition of tuition fees.
On 25 May 2016: Chris Bryant was absent for a vote on Queen's Speech - Forcing Schools to Become Academies - Further Rises in University Tuition Fees
On Human Rights:
Consistently voted for introducing ID cards
Almost always voted for requiring the mass retention of information about communications
Generally voted for mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities
On the Environment:
Generally voted against greater regulation of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract shale gas
On Special Interests:
Almost always voted against limits on success fees paid to lawyers in no-win no fee cases
Generally voted against a statutory register of lobbyists
On War or Peace:
Generally voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas
Consistently voted for the Iraq war
Consistently voted against an investigation into the Iraq war
Generally voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system
On 2 Dec 2015: Voted to support UK airstrikes in Syria [without UN authorisation]
On 2 Dec 2015: Voted to support UK airstrikes in Syria [without UN authorisation]
Generally voted for more EU integration
Chris Bryant Labour MP From Wikipedia
(aka 1962-1986: Mr Christopher John Bryant 1986-1991: The Reverend Christopher John Bryant, 1991-2001: Mr Christopher John Bryant, 2001-: Mr Christopher John Bryant MP.)
Born in Cardiff, to a Scottish mother & a Welsh father, Bryant grew up in Cardiff, Wales (where his father worked for 5 years), and Cheltenham.
He was educated at Cheltenham College, an independent school for boys in the spa town of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, where he was captain of the school swimming team, and Mansfield College at the University of Oxford, where he graduated in 1983, with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in English. This was later promoted to a Master of Arts degree (MA (Oxon)), as per tradition.
After completing his first degree, Bryant began training to be a priest in the Church of England at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, in Oxfordshire. There, he obtained a degree in theology.
Although a member of the Conservative Party, and an elected office-holder in the Oxford University Conservative Association, he joined the Labour Party in 1986, after leaving Oxford.
He was ordained deacon in 1986 and priest in 1987. He served as a Curate at the Church of All Saints, High Wycombe, from 1986 to 1989; then as a Youth Chaplain in Peterborough, as well as travelling in Latin America.
In 1991 Bryant left the ordained ministry, after deciding that being gay and being a priest, were incompatible. Statements made by Richard Harries, then Bishop of Oxford, also influenced his decision.
After leaving the priesthood in 1991, Bryant worked as the election agent to the Holborn and St Pancras Constituency Labour Party, where he helped Frank Dobson hold his seat in the 1992 general election.
From 1993, he was Local Government officer for the Labour Party; he lived in Hackney and was elected to Hackney Borough Council in 1993, serving until 1998. He became Chair of the Christian Socialist Movement.
He is both a member of the Labour Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East. From 1994 to 1996 he was London manager of the leader-grooming "charity", Common Purpose.
He was Labour candidate for Wycombe, in the 1997 general election (he lost by 2,370 votes), and Head of European Affairs for the BBC, from 1998.
His selection for the very safe Labour seat of Rhondda, South Wales in 2000, shocked many people given Bryant's background – gay, an ex- Anglican vicar, and someone who was a Tory, while studying at Oxford, and a member now, of the Henry Jackson Society 'think tank' --- described by The Guardian newspaper as 'neoconservative'. It is pro-US, pro-NATO and pro-military intervention, as well as being fundamentally anti-socialist.
Fifty-two people applied for the candidature and a local councillor was hot favourite to win, before Bryant was parachuted in.
In 2004, a photograph of Mr Bryant in his underpants, which he had posted to a gay dating website, was published in 'papers.
When an interviewer suggested he was a 'disgrace to the Rhondda', he replied: "They can't get rid of me."
His pay, allowances and some expenses:
The basic annual salary for an MP, from April 1st, 2016 is £74,962. MPs also get expenses: to cover the costs of running an office, employing staff, having some- where to live in London, plus, in their constituency and travelling between Parliament and their constituency.
His MP's expenses story:
Chris Bryant changed second home twice to claim £20,000: the deputy leader of the House of Commons, "flipped" his second home twice, in 2 years, allowing him to claim almost £20,000 for renovations and fees.
Chris Bryant, MP for the Rhondda, split over £92,000 of expenses between 3 properties in Wales and London --- within five years.
In 2004, he attempted to claim £58,000 to overhaul his second home in Wales, after allegedly complaining that properties in his constituency were "terrace or mine owners' houses".
Mr Bryant, a former Church of England clergyman, wanted the money for a new bathroom & kitchen, and to demolish his conservatory. He'd bought the detached house for £97,500, under a year earlier.
He submitted a claim to the Commons fees office for £58,493.26 --- almost 3 times the annual maximum. He noted that the claim exceeded his allowance.
His alleged justification was disclosed... in correspondence between Commons officials. By email, an official wrote: "He had problems finding a suitable property because in the Rhondda there is a choice mainly of terraced property or mine owners' houses." When approached by the Daily Telegraph, Mr Bryant said: "I have never said or thought anything of the sort".
In all, he successfully claimed over £13,000 for renovations, repairs & appliances, in 2004. Along with other bills, his annual claim was £20,902.
In April 2005, he flipped his expenses to his flat in west London, which he bought for £400,000 in April 2002. He also claimed £630 a month for mortgage interest, along with other bills. After claiming over £3,600 over 3 months, he sold the flat in July 2005 for £477,000.
Mr Bryant used his profits to buy a more expensive flat in west London, which was valued at £670,000. He immediately flipped his second home expenses there, claiming almost £6,400 in stamp duty, legal fees and mortgage fees, incurred in the purchase.
He then began claiming interest of £1,000 a month on the mortgage. He also claimed a further £6,000 a year for the flat's service charge and ground rent.
In all, he claimed £92, 415 in second home expenses, from 2004 to 2009.
Mr Bryant said at the time: "I moved flat in London, so as to be closer to Parliament."
Research by Channel 4 News in 2015 found that at least 46 MPs had this kind of system in place – a move one Labour backbencher described as “a new fiddle”. Channel 4 reported then:
“Our investigation found that many of the MPs bought their London properties with the help of the taxpayer, when a previous expenses system allowed them to claim back mortgage payments. But when those claims were banned, following the expenses scandal, they switched to letting out their properties, in some cases for up to £3,000 a month. They then started claiming expenses for rent and hotels in the capital.”
Among those identified was Chris Bryant, shadow leader of the House of Commons. He had already bought a penthouse in London back in 2005 and claimed around £1,000 a month in mortgage claims under the old system.
But after the expenses scandal, he started renting the property out. It’s since been advertised by estate agents as having a private lift and a porter, with rent at about £3,000 a month. Meanwhile, Bryant moved into a new flat;- claiming his own rent on expenses.
UK police will soon start bagging people’s heads during arrests
Metropolitan Police officers will soon be able to use specially designed bags, known as spithoods, to cover suspects’ heads... during arrests and in police stations.
The mesh bags are used to restrain suspects and protect the police from those who might try to bite or spit at them. The Met insists the hoods prevent exposure to diseases and serious infection.
In a pilot scheme starting in October, 32 custody units, will receive material and training, on how to use “spit guards.” Their application on any suspect will be recorded under “use of force.”
Spit hoods aren't to be used on the streets initially, so as not to incense the public, but details on their use after the pilot scheme expires, have not been provided.
The measure has been controversial with human rights groups, which say the use of spit hoods is “an alarming development" and "cruel and degrading.”
The device may breach suspects’ rights, with some police chiefs suggesting the hoods resemble the trappings adopted at Guantanamo Bay. Even the Met was once opposed to them.
“A spit hood is a primitive, cruel and degrading tool that inspires fear and anguish,” says Liberty's director, Martha Spurrier.
“We have seen many cases where the police use them unnecessarily and without justification, including on children and disabled people.
“Police have the power to use force against citizens when they have to – using handcuffs, arm restraints, leg restraints, pepper spray, batons. The suggestion that officers need to be able to cover people’s faces and heads is as far-fetched as it is frightening. Spit hoods belong in horror stories, not on the streets of a civilized society. We urge the Metropolitan police to think again.”
TORY PARTY MEMBERS DISAPPEARING!
Tory party membership, is now below 100,000 for the first time. The Tory Party is disappearing.
It'll be weird, having thousands of Young Corbynites canvassing - and all the Tory party have is a few imported American nut-jobs.
How will that play in the marginals?
Remember - there are still 19 police forces investigating 32 Tory MPs for election fraud.
Police investigate ‘hidden payments’ to Northampton South MP’s fund
VoxPolitico - This story seems to be separate from the wider issue of alleged election fraud by many Conservative candidates. [ed. See articles below]
Apparently the donations come from 1st Land Ltd, a firm at the centre of an inquiry into the disappearance of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
Hidden payments - totalling £30,000 - to a Tory MP’s general election campaign are being investigated... by the police.
Auntie BBC has already established that the money for David Mackintosh’s Northampton South fighting fund, in 3 (three) £10,000 donations, was disguised -- in terms of who made them.
The Electoral Commission passed their file on the case to the police.
Mr Mackintosh, ex-leader of Northampton council, welcomed the investigation and “will co-operate fully with police”.
“I'd no reason to believe that the donations --- were from anyone other than the named donors,” he said.
Labour promises to rescue communities and industry by Peter Lazenby
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell unveils plans to pump billions of pounds of investment in to the UK’s regions, to boost industry and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
He pledges radical changes, including giving workers the right to sit on company boards and funding for co-operative enterprises - proposals similar to the Bullock Report - commissioned by Wilson’s government.
Mr McDonnell says a Labour government will create a publicly controlled investment bank - and similar banks for Britain’s regions - with access to £500 billion, to boost industrial development and jobs.
McDonnell says his investment plans will help those communities “left behind”, by Osborne’s austerity campaign, which hit the UK’s worst- off areas (like Wales valleys) the hardest.
“Today, I want to announce a major new commitment, from Labour, to the British people, a policy that will form the lynch- pin of everything else we do, to rescue Britain’s communities from decay and to rebuild Britain’s industries after years of neglect,” he said.
“George Osborne leaves behind a legacy of failure. We’ve got public services cut to the bone and in some cases, beyond.
“We’ve got a million people using foodbanks -- in the sixth-richest economy in the world. And investment has fallen, dragging down productivity.
“Our economy has become far too dependent on low-paid, insecure work, as a result.
“Worse yet, spending cuts have hit the places least able to cope with them, the hardest. The UK has the worst regional inequalities of any current member of the European Union.
“Our country needs a programme of economic transformation.
“That must start with addressing the funding imbalance, and delivering the investment needed, to kick-start high-quality growth.”
Mr McDonnell pledges:“On coming to power, Labour will set up a National Investment Bank and a network of regional banks, whose aim is to help mobilise £500bn into the economy --- and transform Britain.
“A national investment bank, managed independently of government ---- can raise the financing needed to deliver infrastructure on this scale.”
He says the plans will create 100,000 well-paid jobs in the north-east alone.
43 year old former soldier dies in Wales --- after police Taser him
A former soldier who served in Iraq & Afghanistan has died after being tasered by police in Llanelli. The man had reportedly been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The victim, identified as 43-year-old Spencer Beynon, was tasered after officers were called by a woman who was “concerned” about the welfare and behaviour of the man, who appeared injured and was acting erratically.
Beynon was a former member of the Royal Welsh Regiment and had served in the Army for 15 years.
The UN has already told the UK to ban police Taser use on children – but what about other vulnerable people?
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched an inquiry into the incident.
Local councilor Robert Davies says Beynon was “a nice guy” who “always had time to say hello, very pleasant.”
"I think he found it hard coming out of the Army. So many of our soldiers who serve the country, are forgotten about."
Nia Griffith, Labour MP for Llanelli, & Lee Waters, Labour Welsh Assembly member for Llanelli, say in a joint statement:
"We are both extremely concerned about reports of the police Taser shooting incident in Llanelli, and would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the man who died."
According to government statistics, police in England and Wales used Tasers more than 10,000 times in 2014 – a 2 percent increase over the previous year. From 2013 to 2014, Taser use rose by 3 percent.
UK police used stun guns on 407 minors, --- despite the United Nations warning.
Housing Associations: Friend Or Foe?
A fascinating article for many [formerly known as] RCT Homes tenants, in the Rhondda --- and throughout Rhondda-Cynon-Taf:
More Tory election fraud allegations: MPs failed to declare online ad costs
Two more Tory MPs face fresh allegations of fraud for failing to declare the cost of running negative campaign ads online, as police forces across the UK, continue to probe the election spending of Conservative candidates.
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd and Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills apparently used local versions of national online advertisements designed by ad firm M&C Saatchi, but failed to declare the ads in their election spending returns, the Daily Mirror reports.
The Tories paid the ad agency, which has worked with the party for 35 years, £395,575 (US$580,000) for advertising costs in the run up to the 2015 election.
A ‘wrecking ball’ video ad created by Saatchi, --- and declared by the party under “national spending” --- was altered slightly and used by both Rudd and Mills on their YouTube channels for local campaigns.
Rudd posted a version of the same ad on her YouTube page, on March 29, 2015, with the slogan changed from “Recovering Economy: Don’t Let Labour Wreck It” to “Unemployment down by 1,921 in Hastings & Rye since 2010.”
The ad does not appear in Rudd’s campaign election spending return.
Mills, already being investigated by Derbyshire Police --- for failing to declare the cost of the 'battlebus’ filled with party activists --- also ran a local version of the ad, on his You Tube page, but didn't report paying for it.
Mills is one of 28 Conservative candidates under investigation for having written off as national spending the cost of transport and hotel rooms, for hundreds of activists bused in to rally more support in highly contested parliamentary constituencies: allegedly breaking legal spending limits.
An Electoral Commission spokesman says:
“Our guidance explains that candidates need to make an honest & responsible assessment, as to whether expenses were for their election, or whether it was for promoting the national party.
“If used in a constituency, and only promoting the national party and national policies, then that should count as national party spend.
If the cost promotes both the local candidate & national policies, then a portion of the cost should be allocated to the candidate’s spending limit, & a portion towards the party’s national spending limit.”
Neither MP responded to the Daily Mirror’s request for a comment.
Exposed & Investigated: UK Tory Election Fraud
Seven police forces in the UK are looking into claims the Conservative party failed to report large sums of money it spent during its election campaign in 2015.
Apparently, according to Channel 4, which investigated alleged election fraud, the UK's ruling party failed to report up to $288,000, spent on MPs and local candidates in 33 elections --- which should have been declared in the party's local spending.
Some of the undeclared expenses included hotel bills, plus the cost of transporting activists in highly contested areas of the UK, to aid the Tory campaign.
Under electoral law, breaching spending limits is a criminal offence.
In a statement, the Conservative party blames the omission of the hotel costs of people bussed in to help campaign --- on an "administrative error."
Following the exposure by Channel 4, investigations have been launched by seven different forces, including the Greater Manchester Police, Devon and Cornwall, Northamptonshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, West Yorkshire and Gloucestershire.
Two police forces, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, say that they are seeking to extend their one-year time limit into the investigation into these improper electoral expenses.
It's expected that other forces will now follow suit. Come on, Wales' police!
Meanwhile, accusations are emerging that this alleged fraud, carried out by the UK's ruling party, has been ignored by some of the UK's mainstream media.
Fostered UK children often denied mental health treatment
UK Children in care often have no access to mental health services, a report says.
UK lawmakers have found that children in care are often denied access to any mental health services because of their 'unstable' placement.
The House of Commons education committee says in a report that a “significant number” of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), fail to provide support for young people -- for not meeting diagnostic thresholds, or for moving placements, 'too often'.
The report also says that the current methods of assessing the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people who enter care often do not "identify those in need of specialist care and support.”
Around half children in care, have a diagnosable mental health disorder, while one in 10 kids out of care, has such a health condition.
The report is based on evidence from a group of service users and experts involved in the social care system, that says initial health assessments on children who enter care are "highly variable and often poor."
A 16-year-old girl in foster care told the committee that she had waited for over two and a half years to access services --- as she moved 13 times in that period.
The committee was told that CAMHS are often not willing to begin treatment for children who move placement.
This, as official guidance says that “looked- after children should never be refused a service, including for mental health, on the grounds of their placement."
Neil Carmichael, education committee chair, says local authorities are responsible for the welfare of children in care, noting, “in spite of this duty, it is clear that many looked- after children in England are not getting the mental health support they need.”
"We recommend children in care be given priority access to mental health assessments & never refused care based on their placement or severity of their condition,” Carmichael adds.
A government spokesperson further stresses that children in care often have traumatic experiences --- and need to receive the necessary support.
"That's why we're putting a record £1.4bn into children and young people's mental health, and investing in better links between these services & schools,” he adds.
UK women given tents and sleeping bags instead of homes when released from prison
Women released from UK prisons, are being issued with tents and sleeping bags because of "accommodation shortages" reports state.
A report carried out last November shows 103 prisoners were discharged from HMP Bronzefield, Surrey in 2015 with nowhere to live.
The figures appear to echo further analysis that female prisoners are in an increasingly precarious position when they are released.
The number of women leaving jail with a secure place to go, fell to around 88% in 2015, down from 95% the previous year.
The report found that Bronzefield performed well overall, but said “the prison had issued tents to 2 women who were released with- out anywhere to go to - and the chaplaincy often gave out sleeping bags.”
Prison director Charlotte Pattison-Rideout said the private jail works with local authorities to house those released --- but that the shortfall “affects the whole of the prison estate.”
In a statement on the revelations, Labour’s Shadow Prisons Minister Jo Stevens lauded the progress which had been made, but said it's “absolutely staggering that women seem to have been released from prison ------ with nothing more than a tent or a sleeping bag.
“This is astonishing and a far cry from the safe and secure accommodation needed, to assist them in the rehabilitation process,” she added.
A 2013 report by the Howard League for Penal Reform, warned that homelessness is a key driver in re-offending among former prisoners.
It also found the uneven spread of housing meant that “to be accommodated, women were removed from their original home communities.”
Former foreign secretary urged Britain's departure from EU to "protect our NHS"
Brexit will protect the NHS from interference by the "dysfunctional European Union", the former Labour foreign secretary said.
Lord Owen said that successive governments have accepted an EU market in health, which has now become entrenched in the NHS.
The peer, who campaigned as health minister to remain in the European Economic Community in the '75 referendum, launched Vote Leave's 'Save our NHS' campaign.
"The EU/Eurozone from 1992, in marked contrast to the old European Community of 1975, creeps into every nook and cranny of our life.
Before the vote, he pointed out: "It is now becoming entrenched in the NHS, and this June we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity --- to get it out."
"Now is the time to take back control from the EU and protect our NHS for future generations.
"We are agreed in Vote Leave that whatever our political views on the present marketisation of the NHS, decisions on the NHS should, for the future, be for the UK Parliament and devolved administrations to take.
"It should not be a decision for the European Commission, or the European Parliament."
He argued that leaving will mean that our NHS would be free from any competition-, or-market-led involvement brought in by the European Commissioners.
"Thereafter, UK legislation will govern the NHS in future and, as a consequence, we can take back control & protect the NHS from the EU."
English Junior doctors struck over contract row
Junior doctors across England began a 48-hour strike in a long-running dispute with the UK government, over working conditions.
The walkout, was the 4th industrial action by junior doctors to date against proposed amendments to their contract --- which will see a "change" in pay and working hours.
5,000 procedures & operations in the state-run National Health Service (NHS) in England, were "postponed" due to the work stoppage.
The UK’s Department of Health says that approximately 25,000 operations, have now been cancelled, since January.
"Doctors have a very real concern ---- that the imposed terms will stretch existing resources too thinly - and threaten the quality of patient care," says Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patient Association advocacy group.
UK's top cop tells banks not to refund cyber-crime victims, even as online defenses declared useless
Banks shouldn't compensate customers who are victims of cyber-crime because it “rewards” them for sloppy internet security, the UK’s highest- ranking police officer says.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan- Howe, says banks should refuse to reimburse people who fail to update anti-virus software and tighten their passwords.
His remarks come days after internet security firm Webroot warns that traditional computer defenses are “useless” in the face of modern cyber-attacks.
Hogan-Howe compares refunding bank customers who are victims of cyber-crime to rewarding “bad behaviour.”
“If you're continually rewarded for bad behaviour, you will probably continue to do it ---- but, if the obverse is true, you might consider changing behaviour," he tells the Times.
“The system is not incentivizing you to protect yourself,” Hogan-Howe says.
"If someone said to you: 'If you've not updated your software, I will give you half back', you would do it."
Hogan-Howe’s comments are criticized as “misjudged” by Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group, Which?.
"The priority should be for banks to better protect their customers, rather than trying to shift blame on to the victims of fraud,” he says.
Cyber-crime is the fastest growing economic crime in the UK, says a report published last month by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which measured a 20% rise, since 2014.
Internet security firm Webroot describes 2015 as a “record year for cyber-crime”, in a recent report, which labels traditional computer defenses as “useless.”
More malware, malicious IPs, websites and mobile phone apps were discovered in 2015 than in any previous year, Webroot Chief Technology Officer, Hal Lonas, says.
“The continued onslaught of hacks, breaches, and social engineering scams, targeting individuals, businesses, and government agencies alike, has caused many in the security field to ask if it’s truly possible to defend against a persistent attacker,” he adds.
“We conclude that we can only succeed by being more innovative than our criminal opponents.”
Lonas says the vast majority of malware and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs), have become polymorphic, with 97% of malware morphing, to become unique to an endpoint device.
“By changing attributes to evade detection, polymorphic threats pose a major problem for traditional, signature-based security approaches, which often fail to discover singular variants,” he says.
Lonas believes organizations & corporations need to invest in next-generation security, to protect themselves and 'their' customers.
UN tells UK toban police Taser use on children – report
The United Nations will tell the UK to ban police Taser use on minors, after figures reveal a 38% increase in the use of stun guns on under-18s over the last year.
The UN will confront the UK in Switzerland later this year, over violations of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, which the UK signed in 1990, the Independent on Sunday reports.
In 2008, the last time the UK was admonished for allowing Taser use on children,the UN called on ministers to “put an end to the use of all harmful devices on children.”
However, since that first hearing, police use of Tasers has been steadily on the rise.
Tasers, which were first introduced in England & Wales in 2003, as part of a 12-month trial for firearms officers, send 50,000 volts through a "target", overwhelming the nervous system.
Police use of the powerful stun guns jumped from 6, 238 incidents in 2010 to 9,196 in 2014.
Carla Garnelas, co-director of the Children's Rights Alliance for England, calls for an out- right ban on the use of Tasers on children.
“The use of Taser on children, is a breach of their human rights,” she tells the Independent on Sunday.
“UN bodies have repeatedly called for the UK government to ban their use on children, highlighting the serious risk of physical and psychological harm they pose, yet the use of Tasers on children continues. We want to see a ban on Taser use on children.”
A Home Office source tells the Independent:
“Tasers provide police with an important tactical option when facing potentially physically violent situations, and this government is committed to giving officers the necessary tools to do their job.
“All officers trained in the use of Taser must consider the vulnerability of the individual, and factors such as age and stature, form part of this assessment.”
UK Press seen as most right-wing in Europe
Media bias against Corbyn
UK campaign Media Reform Coalition (MRC) says media ownership, relates closely to media bias.
MRC warns of the media outlets’ monopolization of debate in the UK, & a risk of undue influence on politicians.
It says that Jeremy Corbyn has been exposed to a high degree of right-wing media bias, since being voted in as leader of the Labour Party. Right-wing bias was apparent in most coverage of his first week in power, states the campaign group.
A report conducted by MRC, a revised version of which was published in early January, finds that large sections of the UK press appeared to deliberately undermine the newly elected leader, straight after his landslide victory.
The study examined 8 national daily papers and their Sunday sister papers, spanning 494 news, comment and editorial pieces.
It found that 60% of the stories were framed in a negative manner, while 13% were seen as positive and 27% were seen as neutral.
In the Murdoch-controlled Sun and the Sun on Sunday, 32 out of 36 news stories were hostile to Corbyn, while 50 out of 52 in the Daily Mail & the Mail on Sunday, also gave negative coverage.
Given that these right-wing tabloids have the largest & second largest share of circulation in the UK, their agenda-setting influence is noteworthy, says the MRC.
The group’s report also finds that 100% of the editorials in the Sun, Mail & Express, framed Corbyn’s first week as Labour leader, in a negative light.
'Risk of undue political influence'
The study’s release follows remarks by the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, urging Labour to commit itself to reforming the UK media landscape --- and to examining how to break up the existing concentrations of media ownership.
MRC Chair Dr Justin Schlosberg welcomed McDonnel’s comments at the time.
“In a democracy, newspapers have every right to take a partisan line, but what concerns us are the skewed ownership structures under- lying this kind of political intervention.”
“The risk of undue influence on elected politicians is high, and it is hard to see how democracy can flourish when the mass channels of debate are monopolized in this way.”
“Let’s not forget that Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of this country’s main opposition party by 250,000 people, which is 100,000 more than the number of people who elected David Cameron as leader of the Conservatives. It is surely a problem for all of us, when the newspaper owners are actively seeking to undermine a democratic mandate of that scale.”
Tory MP Geoffrey Cox says Sorry --- 'Forgot' £400,000 Of Income
The millionaire Tory MP was told to apologise for failing to declare £400,000 of income – by blaming it on his being too busy setting up his law firm in Dubai and Mauritius.
Geoffrey Cox, a practising barrister and the highest earning MP in Parliament, stunned colleagues, by suggesting that he had not noticed the money going into his account ----- as his clerk was ill.
Standards watchdog Kathryn Hudson published a scathing report on Mr Cox’s failure to register his full earnings, stating that he had committed "a serious breach" of Parliament's Code of Conduct.
But the Commons Standards Committee – that Mr Cox used to sit on and was forced to resign from – decided only to ask him to apologise.
No further sanction is to be applied.
LONDON - THE WORLD CAPITAL OF FRAUD
City fraudsters stole from Nepalese soldiers through £50m Ponzi scheme
White-collar criminals operating in the City of London used a Ponzi scheme to pilfer £2.4 million from 450 Nepalese citizens --- including many retired Gurkha soldiers who invested their life savings in the scam.
The fraudulent funds, which were managed by City firm CWM FX, attracted £50 million (US$73 million) from unsuspecting investors promised a monthly 5% return. The foreign exchange trade platform the financial firm used, was licensed by the financial regulator of Cyprus, allowing it to operate in the UK under EU regulations.
CWM acted as the online forex trading partner of Chelsea Football Club while the scam was active, giving the firm a veneer of respectability. It also offered a range of foreign exchange services and employed a small group of traders.
Police probe investigators say computer records suggest the firm made the majority of its income from the scam. Police report they have enough evidence uncovered, to present to prosecutors.
City of London police are calling for the Nepalese victims who invested in the scam to come forward.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Manley says it's vital that the voices of the victims targeted by the scam, are heard.
“My concern now is that the voices of the majority of victims will not be heard in the judicial process -- if they do not come forward very soon,”he tells the Financial Times.
“They are also missing out on receiving the financial advice and psychological support that is available to them, at what will be a very difficult time.”
JEREMY LOOKING FORWARD...
“We’ve beaten the government back on tax credits, which has helped 3 million people not have £1,200 taken off them in April. “We’ve beaten them back on police cuts & we’ve beaten them back on Saudi Arabia” (The government was forced to shelve a contract to provide prison services to the Saudi regime, after Corbyn raised it in his conference speech).
“We also had a very good result in the Oldham by-election. The activity level of local parties is huge --- and it’s completely contrary to everything the media are saying.” There was no period in the last parliament where Labour had the government so consistently on the back foot. “We’ve increased membership to nearly 400,000 -- we have the biggest, most active membership ever in my lifetime.”
He’s proud as “our campaign for the leadership did bring a lot of people into politics who have never been involved before,” and says he was knocking on doors with new members, that morning.
On reports of Tory politicians bullying staff: “The Tories should learn from the CWU, [postal workers’ union] who have a hot- line for reporting bullying & harassment.”
Jeremy has worked closely with the CWU, championing its People’s Post campaign, “which is about protecting the universal service obligation on the Royal Mail and stopping them from introducing a two- tier workforce.”
He’s announced his commitment to take Royal Mail back into public ownership.
“I want to see public control because postal services are fundamental to our communities.
“Postal delivery workers are actually part of the community, and they do a lot of good work beyond delivering letters. “Workers are very nervous of what’s coming with further privatisation of the Royal Mail --- after shares were sold well below their value. It’s an absolute rip-off.”
But wouldn’t renationalising Royal Mail fall foul of EU competition law?
“I’m quite prepared to challenge EU competition law & EU directives on public ownership and state funding. “Other governments in Europe challenge it. It’s kind of weird that the British government doesn’t. “Germany, & particularly Italy, have intervened to take parts of their steel industry into public ownership --- and we should be prepared to intervene where necessary. “We’ve already lost a lot of steel capacity in Britain. If we’re going to have a manufacturing base, we’ve got to have a steel industry.” The Tories' treatment of the coal industry - he spoke the day after the “tragic” closure of Kellingley colliery - suggests it doesn't share his concern for the UK economy.
What about countries like Greece, where the EU has actively prevented a left-wing government from fulfilling any of its electoral pledges?
“I wouldn't join the eurozone or the European Central Bank. I voted against Maastricht [in 1992] because it was a Europe based on free-market economics rather than on social security and workers’ rights.”
“Yes, the Central Bank has treated [Greece] disgracefully. I had a very useful meeting with the prime minister of Portugal on Thursday, and he has invited me and John McDonnell to go there & hold meetings in support of their programme of anti-austerity. “We’re building an anti-austerity coalition across Europe.”
NO FOOL LIKE A CORBYN CRITIC
Rochdale's MP, Danczuk, has been a prominent campaigner against child sexual exploitation, and played a role in exposing the late Sir Cyril Smith, as a pedophile.
The MP is also a vocal critic of Labour's leader Jeremy Corbyn. He recently told Sky News he would “probably give Jeremy a 'D', if I had to score him.”
He also served as a Labour Party whip, but is now suspended, after allegedly having a text conversation with a 17 year old, Ms Houlihan, during which, he said he was “horny”... and then asked her if she wanted “spanking.”
Houlihan told the Sun she feels duped by the MP.
“When I first got in touch, I never expected the messages to get so graphic. At the time I played along with it, but now I feel like he duped me. I was keen for a career in politics - and he is a very high-profile MP - and I was in awe of him,” she says.
Majority of tased people by UK police - mentally ill
A new report indicates that over two-thirds of the people tasered by UK police, from 2010 to 2014, were mentally ill.
Police stun gun use increased over the period, from 6,238 incidents in 2010 to 9,196 last year, and there has been a corresponding rise in the number of cases involving mentally ill people, from 2,737 in 2010 to 4,200 in 2014, the news- paper The Independent reports, citing Home Office figures.
The latest statistics were released in response to a Freedom of Information request made by the website The Justice Gap.
It reveals that in 67% of cases where tasers were discharged, they were fired at people identified by officers, as mentally ill.
In cases where weapons were drawn, aimed, but not fired, are included, mentally ill people were the target in only 45% of 'incidents'.
US guards with guns ---- at UK airports
The UK plans to allow armed US guards to 'help provide security' at its airports, the UK's media report.
The Daily Mail 'paper reports that “US border guards” will have the power to search holidaymakers.
It adds that the plan is still being discussed by Washington and London, adding that the US Department of Homeland Security aims to introduce this, at airports world-wide... including in Heathrow and Manchester.
The measure is meant to reduce the risk of IS terrorists flying to the US, the Daily Mail adds.
Guards from Customs & Border Protection would carry out immigration and customs checks, before passengers board.
They would be given diplomatic immunity - so they could not be prosecuted for any crime committed in the UK,the Mail adds.
Other reports on Sunday say that the UK's armed police could also get greater legal protection if shooting suspected criminals.
This comes, because David Cameron ordered a review of current laws after mass shootings in Paris last month, the Sunday Times reports.
Unlike most forces around the world, the UK's police are not routinely armed, and currently just over 2,000 of London's 31,000 officers, are able to carry guns, says the AFP.
The Sunday Times cites a senior government source, stating that Cameron is prepared to change the law, to give the armed officers greater protection against prosecution.
"Terrorist incidents both at home and abroad have shown very clearly the life-and-death decisions police officers have to make in split-second circumstances," the source says, according to the newspaper.
Jeremy Corbyn 'publicly-run Royal Mail' vow on National Postal Workers Day
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he wanted a publicly-run Royal Mail --- when he met staff on one of the busiest postal days of the year.
Talking to Communication Workers Union members in London, he pledged to support its campaign, to preserve the UK's universal service of deliveries, to its twenty-nine million homes and businesses.
The union fears there will be an attack on Royal Mail workers' terms and conditions --- under a review next year, by the industry's regulator.
Mr Corbyn told workers gathered in a carpark at the huge Mount Pleasant site -- that he will organise 2016's Opposition Day debate in the Commons, to support the CWU's campaign.
"I want to see a publicly-run Royal Mail --- with protection for workers & the service," he said and, "Labour will be doing our very best to support & protect your conditions."
Mr Corbyn called on Conservative MPs to support the campaign, warning:services to rural areas will be among those under threat by any changes such as increased competition, with other companies taking over the so-called "final mile" deliveries to houses.
General secretary Dave Ward:
"The CWU is campaigning hard to protect the terms and conditions of our members, at the same time as preserving the service that we provide to the public & businesses.
"Royal Mail may have been sold off on the cheap, but the service is and always will be, the people's post."
UK police investigating MPs expenses claims
The UK police say the expenses claims of 2 UK lawmakers are being investigated over possible criminal offences.
The case has reminded the public of the memory of the 2009 scandal, which damaged UK citizens’ trust in elected politicians.
London's Metropolitan Police say they are investigating 2 complaints referred to them in March by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). This body has been set up, to oversee the expenses and business costs of Members of Parliament.
"I have felt it necessary, for the first time during my term of office, to refer requests for investigation received from IPSA to the police," says the IPSA's Peter Davis, in an annual report.
The names of the politicians have not yet been disclosed.
Police say a third IPSA referral resulted in a lawmaker's employee receiving a caution, in April, for fraud by false representation.
METRO “FUTURE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT” IN SOUTH WALES
The proposed Metro transport scheme for South East Wales, represents "the future of public transport" in the region, according to first minister Carwyn Jones.
The project aims to increase the speed & frequency of public transport across South Wales, through a combination of heavy rail, light rail and bus rapid transit, plus other infrastructure improvements, and integrated ticketing.
The rail part of the Metro, part of the All-Wales rail franchise, would be run and managed by a not-for-dividend company being set up by the Welsh Government to operate a rail franchise on its behalf, after 2018.
First minister Carwyn Jones has launched a campaign to raise public awareness of the Metro project, ahead of consultations early next year, and he states:
"The Metro project represents the future of public transport in South East Wales, which will provide faster journey times and more frequent services, covering a greater area. It is an ambitious project linking people and jobs across South Wales in a fast, efficient and environmentally positive way.
"The Metro is far more than just a transport project. It will be a catalyst for transforming the economic and social prospects of South East Wales and the country as a whole."
Tories Back Off on Tax Credit cut
Controversial cuts to tax credits won't go ahead, Chancellor George Osborne announced, in his Autumn Statement. He said the benefit system is “being phased out anyway” to make room for a Tory Universal Credit payment.
Conservative MPs welcomed the decision. Many in Osborne’s own party rebelled and voted against the cuts.
Labour MPs are crediting staunch opposition by their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for the U-turn, with many claiming the move as a victory for Labour.
Green MP Caroline Lucas tweets:“Scrapping changes to tax credits v welcome - now must overturn rest of cruel welfare policies, & get a real living wage.”
UK Government Splashes Out --- $18 Bln on 138 F-35 Fighter Jets
As pensioners face more hard times ahead -- under the UK's New Austerity Plan to cut public spending -- the UK government is set to unveil plans to buy 138 stealth fighter jets, for £12bln [$18 bln].
The UK government is planning to spend £12bln [$18 bln] on 138 F-35 fighter jets --- as part of a 'new defense' strategy.
Chancellor George Osborne tells the state run BBC that, as a result of the government's new Strategic Defense & Security Review, by 2023 the UK will have 24 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, and two new aircraft carriers.
In the summer, the chancellor pledged to push UK defense spending above inflation --- to meet the NATO target of 2% of GDP each year on defense, up to 2020.
"By 2023, we will be able to have these jets -- some of the most powerful in the world -- the F35, on the decks of these carriers, & Britain, second only to the United States, will be able to project power abroad in order to defend ourselves at home," says Osborne.
The UK press reported on Sunday that - over a longer period of time - the UK's Royal Air Force will order 138 of the F-35 fighter jets.
The UK is also expected to purchase new reconnaissance planes, reversing an earlier decision in 2010 to scrap the latest generation of Nimrod maritime surveillance aircraft.
The announcement of "extra investment" in surveillance planes, comes as the UK's armed forces are being aided by French, Canadian and US patrol aircraft, in their fruitless search for a Russian submarine 'reportedly' in its waters, 10 days ago.
NOTE WELL ----- Google F-35 -- and see what a turkey it is.
1,500 of UK's care homes to close by 2020:- back to 1970's geriatric wards for UK elderly?
A new report says about 1,500 of UK care homes will close by 2020 because of the financial crisis.
The report released by the think tank ResPublica says the National Health Service (NHS) will be left with an annual bill of $4.55 billion after 37,000 care home beds disappear over the next five years.
The report also finds that elderly patients are likely to be left with no choice but to stay in hospitals, where they would take up one in four beds.
Media reports say the UK is already facing a hospital bed shortage.
According to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD), it is the second worst in Europe.
The report adds that the number of people aged over 85 in the UK, is set to rise by nearly 2 million in the next 20 years.
Meanwhile, the care sector will have a shortfall in funding of £1.1 billion by the 2020/21 financial year, with £382 million linked costs associated with introducing the national 'living wage'.
Anti-austerity bloc brings down Portugal's government
Portugal’s pro-austerity government is forced to resign by a leftist anti-austerity block, despite being sworn in only two weeks before.
Proposals to continue austerity policies were blocked in parliament -- backed by mass public anger -- forcing the government to dissolve.
Moderate Socialists worked with the Communist Party & radical Left Bloc - to form a majority that has voted down any fresh austerity proposals.
After the October 4th general election, the anti- austerity leftist majority was openly prevented from forming a government, by the president, who cited ‘the national interest’.
Portugal took a €78 billion 'bailout' in 2011 and since then, has spiraled into an austerity dead- end, fueling mass social unrest and emigration.
Sweeping cuts and increased taxes led to huge street protests and strikes. Unemployment hit 17.7%, in 2013.
Anti-austerity supporters are celebrating the fall of the right-wing administration.
The attempt to sideline anti-austerity politics is sending shock waves through Europe, but is being largely ignored in Brussels --- where protecting shaky austerity plans from any democratic upheaval, seems paramount.
While the socialist party has argued it will respect the policies of the Eurozone... the PS will now be working with two parties that want to repeal pro-market reforms.
In fact, Portugal's communist party has openly campaigned to leave the Euro.
If Labour Party MPs ALL vote against austerity cuts -- with the socialists in the Scottish Nationalist Party and in Plaid Cymru -- the UK's government too, will fall.
POST OFFICE BANK APPROVED
As the US, UK, Netherlands & others in the West, 'privatise' their citizens' Post Ofices...
Russia’s government approves the creation of a huge new bank, based on the country’s postal service:- a move that will eventually form an institution with more retail outlets than all other Russian banks combined.
The new entity, called Post Bank, is a joint venture between Russian Post, and one of Russia’s largest lenders, the state-owned VTB Bank.
Post Bank is being established, in part, to provide banking services across Russia’s far-flung, near-empty regions, and to help Russia's pensioners.
VTB will fuse one of its subsidiaries, Leto Bank, into the new institution. The partners say that the new institution will begin giving out loans as early as January 2016, with a pilot project to be launched in Moscow this Autumn.
Over the next 3 years, the bank will open outlets in no less than 15,000 Russian Post offices. After the initial rollout the bank should start operating in all 42,000 offices of the national operator.
Once it is completed, Post Bank will have more retail locations than all the other Russian banks combined, says Russian banking portal Banki.ru.
UN probes UK's disabled rights violations
The UN is to send a delegation to the UK as part of an inquiry into the “grave and systematic violations” of the rights of disabled people --- allegedly taking place under London’s austerity measures.
A visit of the UN Committee Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is taking place at the request of the campaign group, 'Disabled People Against Cuts' using a legal mechanism known as the Optional Protocol. The request was made at the start of 2012. Britain is the first country to face a high-level inquiry by the UN committee.
“This is the first time any country has been investigated by the UN using the Optional Protocol so it will be, if nothing else, a very historic event,” Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts says, adding that the process is “long and arduous,” with strict rules for proof of any claims.
News of the investigation was leaked back in September. UN inquiries are usually "confidential", but UNCRPD confirmed it would be visiting the UK, after the revelation.
“The inquiry follows a string of scandals involving disabled people in the UK, including a rise in hate crimes, which have been overlooked by police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS),” former director of prosecutions, Lord Kenneth MacDonald, says.
Disabled people have been affected by cuts, nine times more than most other citizens, according to a report by the Centre for Welfare Reform, in 2013.
A “massive shot in the arm” for people resisting austerity...
Jeremy Corbyn has the biggest mandate in UK political history. Mr Blair won with 57% of the vote when he was elected leader in '94, but Mr Corbyn beat that, with 59.5%.
And now, for a second time, with 62%!
The left candidate won a majority of more than 170,000 over second-placed Andy Burnham, who polled 19%.
Yvette Cooper, viewed as the right’s best hope of beating Mr Corbyn, was third with 17%, & Blairite Liz Kendall won just 4.5%.
Moments after being named Labour leader, Mr Corbyn said: “The fightback of our party... now gathers pace.”
“We go forward now as a movement and a party, bigger than we’ve ever been, stronger than we’ve ever been, and more determined than we’ve ever been.”
“Our party is going to become more inclusive, more democratic, and we’re going to shape the future of everyone in this country.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey:
“Voters can now look at Labour and see, unquestionably, that it stands for fairness, justice, peace, and strong communities.”
“It is the party of hope, ready to take on a government hell-bent on making life worse for ordinary people.”
Transport union RMT - unaffiliated to Labour - said the result's a “massive shot in the arm” for people resisting austerity and attacks on trade unions.
The Islington North MP won huge majorities among affiliated and registered supporters, but was also most popular among full party members. Of 245,520 party members voting, 121,751 of them voted for Mr Corbyn.
John McDonnell MP, chair of the Corbyn campaign, says it's “the greatest victory for the left that we’ve seen in decades,” then adds: “I just wish, I just wish Tony Benn had been here to see it.”
“Because all through those dark years when the left were isolated and there was no discussion of socialism, and people were giving up on the Labour Party, it was people like Tony Benn & Jeremy who kept the flame alive.”
A Tory insisted Mr Corbyn’s victory's a “serious risk to our nation’s security, our economy’s security, and your family’s security.”
(think he meant to say "my family's security.")
White supremacist jailed for life over Lee Rigby revenge attack
Zack Davies, a far-right white supremacist who used a machete and hammer to attack an Asian doctor in a Welsh supermarket, has been jailed for life.
‘Ill UK children used in tests with tainted blood’
Report says the NHS used sick kids as guinea pigs in the 1970s.
A Sunday Express report says sick children were used as guinea pigs - as the NHS said chimps were 'too expensive' for such tests.
Hemophiliac children were injected with “extraordinarily hazardous” blood products to see how infectious the products were, despite health authorities knowing for years, that they were potentially fatal.
Over 2,000 people died from blood products tainted with viruses... including hepatitis C and HIV, in the 70s and 80s, the report adds. Many more are, today, as a result, terminally ill.
It says some clinics urged by officials to inject patients with the blood were overruled, if they raised objections, the report adds.
The revelation is contained in a dossier of evidence obtained by campaigners fighting for a full, fair settlement, for the victims of the worst treatment scandal in NHS history.
The Express says government health advisers ignored over a decade of warnings.
Anna O’Leary, journalist and political commentator, says the NHS was aware of what it was doing - and did not really care about their patients.
“There is a complete policy of silence around what goes on. Nurses are not allowed to blow the whistle on doctors.”
As early as 1975, they were told that the blood from the US would lead to 50 - 90% of recipients developing hepatitis, with half of the cases proving fatal.
The report points to a letter to a UK health official in the '70s, where the authority was warned of the danger of using US-pooled plasma from high-risk, paid “skid row” donors.
The plasma, referred to as Factor VIII, was “extraordinarily hazardous,” but was thought to be a miracle treatment for hemophilia, in which the blood fails to clot properly.
But demand by far outdid supply and most of it was imported from America, where, in contrast to European practice, companies paid donors for blood -- an incentive which drew drug users, prostitutes and alcoholics.
Despite officials being warned about the potential risk in 1975 and again in 1976, this was not passed on to its users, and more than 7,500 patients were infected.
By the late 70s, experts finally accepted the link between Factor VIII and hepatitis.
But government advisers still pushed the 'treatment'.
A public health warning was eventually issued in 1981 -- but did not ban use of the US product.
Instead, Factor VIII was heat-treated, in the hope of destroying the viruses.
UK MPs plotted coup against Corbyn --- before he won the leadership race.
As MP's were seeking nominations to enter Labour's leadership race, all commentators in the UK, said it was impossible for veteran far left politician, Jeremy Corbyn, to get the needed signatures. When he did, it started a political earthquake for the Labour party.
Jeremy Corbyn went from an unlikely candidate to front runner.
Jeremy Corbyn enjoys huge grassroots support, but not with some Labour MPs, who were said to be planning a coup against him, "if" he won the Labour leadership race !
One unnamed Labour MP told media several days before that first vote:
"We cannot just allow a party, a credible party of government, to be hijacked in a Summer of madness. There would be no problem in getting names. We could do this, before Christmas."
Another unnamed Labour MP said that his victory would cause "deep unhappiness" among the current shadow cabinet - and that most would refuse to work with him.
Experts say this indicates the main current problem for labour. Politicians to the right of the party were battered at the general election, but where the grassroots say they want to return Labour firmly to the left of politics, the elite in the party are unhappy.
UK TORY/LIBERAL SPY LAW 'UNLAWFUL'
The UK's High Court ruled that emergency data retention and surveillance legislation the coalition government introduced was "unlawful".
The law was just the latest government & intelligence legislation deemed as illegal.
The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, DRIPA also had to be overturned because judges ruled it as 'inconsistent with existing EU laws'.
The ruling was seen as a victory for the Labour MP Tom Watson & Conservative MP David Davis, who brought the claim.
They argued that the law violated article 8 of the EU human rights act -- by letting police and intelligence services, spy on citizens without any proper safeguards.
The government had to replace that law, by the end of March, in 2016.
‘UK royal household could face child abuse inquiry’
A report says the UK's royal family may be investigated as part of a pedophilia inquiry.
Justice Lowell Goddard, New Zealand judge and Chair of the ‘Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse,’ did not, at first, name the royal family, in a list of institutions to face its probe of historical crimes.
However, a later inquiry statement confirms that the monarchy will be “within the scope” of the inquiry, RT reports.
The probe may take up to five years and cost £100 million, as the authorities will reportedly investigate every level of UK society, including local authorities, police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the National Health Service, the media, and the armed forces.
“There is no limit on the types of institutions that fall within the terms of reference. The monarchy is an institution, and it runs a number of other institutions, all of which are potentially within the scope of the inquiry,” the judge in the case is quoted as saying.
The royal household has come under scrutiny in recent years, following several allegations of child sexual abuse.
Prince Andrew came under the media spotlight in January after being accused of having forced sexual relations with a US' teenager, who was underage at the time.
He was named in court papers related to an ongoing civil case, by Virginia Roberts, 30, against convicted billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, in the US.
Several UK government figures who were prominent in the 1980s, have since faced allegations of sexual impropriety.
Poor care for UK dementia patients
A new study in the UK slams its social and health services for leaving 75% of dementia patients at the mercy of friends and family, for care.
The survey by the Alzheimer's Society spoke to over a thousand family doctors & found they're not keen on referring people with suspected dementia, if they think support services are not in place.
The Alzheimer’s Society chief executive, Jeremy Hughes: “Our survey gives a stark view from the doctor’s surgery, of people with dementia left struggling in the aftermath of a diagnosis. They can need a lot of help to live well with dementia. Families & friends are a vital source of support, but they mustn’t be relied on to do everything. As dementia takes hold, people with dementia and their carers, look to statutory services to give them the backup they desperately need to cope.”
The number of people suffering with the illness is currently 850,000, but that's expected to rise to over a million by the year 2021, and double, to two million, by the year 2051.
Now the NHS is being criticized, with over half of the doctors in the latest survey thinking the NHS has failed to do enough to help care for people suffering with the debilitating illness.
Cuts to local authority funding, means many suffering in the country, are not getting the care they need.
Deputy Chair of the British Medical Association's General Practitioners’ (GP) committee, Richard Vautrey: “GPs are increasingly frustrated that, due to excessive cuts to local authority funding, some of the most vulnerable people in society are not receiving the level of care & support they deserve. The increasing emphasis on diagnosing dementia, hasn't been met with proper services for patients once they are diagnosed.”
The Alzheimer's Society is now calling for all those diagnosed with dementia to have someone advise them on their illness & for a single point of contact to help carers.
‘Child abuse in UK massively covered up’
A rights campaigner in the UK says child abuse is massively covered up in the country.
“We believe that -- in the UK at the moment -- a massive cover-up in every area involving child abuse, goes, pretty much, right to the top,” says Chris Wittwer, a campaigner with the 'UK and Ireland Database'.
Wittwer: “Several lords and MPs have been put in the frame for abusing children--- no arrests have been made.”
The campaigner refers to “massive pedophile rings” and thousands of child abuse cases in the country over the past years, adding, “For the last 10 years I’ve been naming and shaming the pedophiles on my website in the UK, for child abuse.”
His remarks follow a report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary --- which took a sample of 600 inquiries, and found that over a third of abused children were not looked at, to a good enough standard.
Dru Sharpling, who headed the inspection says:
"We found limited evidence that the police listened to children, and poor attitudes towards vulnerable children persisted in some teams. We also found that investigations were often inadequate, with insufficient action taken to disrupt & apprehend some perpetrators."
The figures were much worse when it came to investigating online abuse, where it found that --- in a national sample --- 124 cases were not investigated properly.
The police’s national spokesperson on child protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey:
“The scale of child sexual abuse is staggering. By the end of 2015, we anticipate that police will be investigating 70,000+ cases of child sexual abuse, an increase of 88% from 2012.
“We have got to fundamentally change our approach to policing, so that our absolute focus is on working proactively with other agencies, to protect the public from harm committed on or offline.”
The report criticizes police forces for target driven policing, which many feel, means the protection of children is not being put first. Also, the report suggests there needs to be an overhaul of the way police deal with all cases of child sexual abuse.
Heart attack survivor fighting for his life has benefits axed
A 58-year-old man, who's been seeking work for over a year, had his benefits axed when a major cardiac arrest left him unfit to attend a Jobcentre appointment.
Officials stopped David Duncan’s jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) --- after he suffered a severe heart attack which landed him in emergency surgery.
Despite having had two stents inserted and life-threatening blockages removed from his arteries, Duncan received little sympathy from Jobcentre staff.
“I suffered a major heart attack – but apparently that isn’t a good enough reason for missing an appointment at the Jobcentre in Dunfermline,” he told the Daily Record.
Duncan went public with his grievance, as the Conservative Party announced plans to push ahead with savage welfare cuts.
Casting aside the quarter of a million campaigners who poured into London recently demanding an end to austerity, Chancellor Osborne and Work & Pensions Secretary Duncan-Smith, vow to slash a further £12 billion from welfare spending.
Members of “Economists Against Austerity” say deep spending cuts are a choice, not a necessity. Downing Street is misleading voters about a need for austerity because the government can borrow capital at historically low rates, the bloc says.
“The effects of austerity cannot be over- stated,” Jo Michell, lecturer in economics at the University of the West of England (UWE), says to RT news.
“Despite claims that we're all in it together, the burden of austerity has been dispro- portionately placed on the shoulders of the least well off & the most insecure,” he says.
He condemns the demonization of benefits claimants and says the last government’s “attacks” on the disabled were “inexcusable.”
Duncan, from Dunfermline in Fife, Scotland, has been seeking a job since he was made redundant from his position in a local bank.
He had never missed a bi-monthly Jobcentre appointment until suffering a heart attack in his home on Saturday June 13th.
Duncan, a bachelor, was rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where medics immediately performed emergency surgery.
The 58-year-old contacted Jobcentre staff early the following Monday, to notify them of his circumstances.
He was told his benefits would be axed -- because he was unable to attend his next appointment. This decision was influenced by his not completing a mandatory entry in his diary, to show he was looking for work, the Jobcentre said.
Duncan was unable to fill in his diary on Sunday as intended, owing to his medical emergency, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. He was told he would have to switch from JSA to employment and support allowance if he was unfit to work for over 13 weeks.
Still recovering from his surgery, Duncan was forced to spend over an hour on the telephone as Jobcentre staff altered his claimant status.
Other claimants who have had benefits sanctioned because they failed to show up to appointments, include: a man who was hit by a car and rushed to hospital, a homeless youth with reading difficulties, a man who was attending a job interview, and a man who visited his dying mother, in hospital.
Disability rights campaigners in the UK have repeatedly warned that cuts made since 2010 have ruined the welfare state and severely hurt the most vulnerable members of society.
This month, over 58,000 people signed a petition demanding the release of figures detailing the number of disabled people who have died within 6 weeks of having their benefits cut. The government has sought to block their publication.
The London People’s Assembly’s End Austerity Now demonstration started in the City before heading to Parliament Square, as Glasgow’s rally took place in George Square.
Singer Charlotte Church led London’s anti-cuts chorus, alongside Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, & Unite leader Len McCluskey.
Organisers say the post-election protests were the biggest since a TUC demonstration in 2011 saw 500,000 people take to the streets.
More than 250 coaches were booked to bring people from across the UK, for the rallies. Resistance to Tory cuts won’t end.
People’s Assembly national secretary, Sam Fairbairn:
“Each day we’ll have a different themed protest depending on what they’re going to discuss at the conference,” Mr Fairbairn explains. “That’s going to sustain the momentum.”
Official figures show that the Tory Chancellor is set to borrow three times more than he planned, in the year.
He's on course to borrow £75 billion instead of £20bn, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady says it shows the Tories have been forced to “bail out his failed economic plan.”
But she warns: “Rather than learning from his mistakes, the Chancellor is about to embark upon a fresh round of savage cuts.”
Green MP, Caroline Lucas, called on MPs from all parties --- to oppose his plans:
“It’s time for all of us who oppose the government’s self-defeating austerity programme to work together.
“So my challenge here today to all MPs who call themselves progressive, and especially to those in the Labour Party, is this: Vote against further austerity, protect our public services, and defy your leadership --- by voting down the savage welfare cap.”
Pope Considers Youth Unemployment a Social Plague
Pope Francis says youth unemployment is a social plague and the symptom of a serious breakdown in contemporary societies.
Meeting with members of the Italian federation Knights of Labour, the Pope says he feels that the phenomenon is affecting young people by depriving them of an essential component for personal fulfillment.
But it also has negative consequences for the business community, he adds, as they lose the opportunity to receive input from a renewed work force.
According to the Bishop of Rome, 'the world of work should be prepared and waiting for young people willing to participate and emerge'.
But what happens in reality is that young people often receive the message that they are not needed, he warns.
Francisco stresses the value of work to involve people and charge them with responsibilities, stimulating entrepreneurial capacity, creativity and commitment.
According to the Pontiff, this has positive effects on future generations, as it leads society to look forward, and to offer opportunities, which means hope for the future.
Experts concerned about growing steroid use
Health experts are warning against the long term side effects of using anabolic steroids.
The number of men using anabolic steroids in the UK, is reaching staggering proportions.
According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, nearly 60,000 people a year, take them. However those working with steroid users say the numbers are significantly higher. Professor Julian Baker from the University of the West of Scotland is an expert in steroid use and thinks the number of steroid users is underestimated.
“There are needle exchanges in Cardiff and Glasgow which say they’ve seen a 600% increase for steroid users over 10 years. The real figure is definitely in the hundreds of thousands,” he says.
“The vast majority of people we see use steroids for image reasons. It’s mainly to show your muscles going out. It’s linked to images of lean physiques with big arms. That’s the kind of look the young lads like. It used to be much more limited; only the really big, muscular guys went anywhere near steroids. Now it can be anybody who goes to a gym and speaks to people. The network of supply and demand is very advanced,” says Graham Beeny, who works for a Manchester steroid clinic.
The effects of steroid use can be quite negative. The HIV infection rate amongst steroid users has now reached 1.5% -- that's just as high as those that use heroin.
Other side effects include roid rage which leads to extremely aggressive behaviour in those that take the drug. Another big concern is the age of steroid users in the UK.
Reports suggest some children as young as 13 years old, are using the dangerous drug.
Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP is taking an anti- austerity message to the heart of Westminster.
The SNP leader again rules out any deal with the Conservatives and offers, instead, to still beat the Tories, by forming a united coalition government of all parties who oppose cuts:
Scottish Nationalists, Irish socialists from Northern Ireland, the Green party MP, and the Labour party and Plaid Cymru's MPs.
UK Protesters Occupied Parliament Square, Calling for Proper Politics
As election campaigning by the 'main' political parties in the UK reached fever pitch -- over on Parliament Square, the "festival of democracy" ran for several days. Their message was clear:
"Reform of party funding, so that members of parliament act in the interests of those who elect them rather than the one percent who bankroll them."
"Major democratic reform of the media — to break the stranglehold of vested interests.
"A fundamental overhaul of lobbying & the way powerful economic interests inhabit the corridors of power within government.
"Proportional representation so everyone's vote counts.
"MPs should not have conflicts of interests from either paid employment or corporate shareholdings.
"And a citizen-led constitutional convention for real democracy."
5 years ago, in the 2010 general election, only 44% of people aged between 18 and 24 voted. 76% of people aged over 65 did.
Occupy Democracy activist George Barda says:
"Democracy means more than putting a cross on a ballot paper every 5 years. History shows us that the extension of our democratic rights has not been led by politicians, but has been forced onto the agenda by the actions of mass movements such as the Chartists and the Suffragettes. We are asking people to join us and help build such a movement."
This is a movement supported by comedian to political commentator and anti-capitalist Russell Brand, who has shown students at the London School of Economics a private showing of his latest film "The Emperor's New Clothes", about the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
Russell Brand's YouTube channel, The Trews, has over a million subscribers.
'Tory scorched earth policy': National Health Service signs biggest-ever privatization deal
The National Health Service (NHS) has agreed its largest ever deal to privatize services in an attempt to tackle the increasing backlog of patients waiting for surgery, scans and tests. Critics say the move is undemocratic and threatens care standards.
The deal, worth up to £780 million, will see 11 private firms perform heart and joint surgery, carry out scans and provide diagnostic tests for patients from mobile medical facilities.
NHS Supply Chain secured the deal, which marks an increase in the number of mobile units being used for procedures. Local NHS trusts will be able to buy in the services if they are suffering a backlog.
However, the move now allows the health service to rapidly buy in private services, causing concern among supporters of continued public ownership.
Labour's Andy Burnham, says the contract shows “chunks” of the health service are being sold off. The Dept of Health, claims it doesn't mean an increase in levels of privatization.
“It is outrageous that large chunks of the NHS are being parceled up and sold off without the permission of a single person in this country,” Burnham says.
“The country has never given its approval for the NHS to be bought and sold in this way.
“This sounds like a race to the bottom. It’s clear that quality isn't a deciding factor, when people with poor care records are winning contracts,” he says.
Some private companies involved in the deal have previously faced criticism for providing substandard care for patients in hospitals and care homes.
The Guardian calculates the 4-year deal can secure firms maximum profits of £780 million, with five national contracts of £240 million, £160 million, £240 million, £80 million and £60 million, respectively.
It's the largest private deal since Virgin Care was awarded £500 million in 2012 to provide community services in Surrey until 2017.
Dr Jacky Davis, founding member of Keep Our NHS Public and author of NHS for Sale:
"What we are seeing now is Tory scorched earth policy -- pushing through their biggest ever NHS privatisation deal."
"Jeremy Hunt insists they aren't privatising the NHS but this is just nonsense." she adds. "Private firms don't want to run most of the NHS because they can not make a profit. But just look instead at profitable areas, where they are running up to two thirds of the services. These include community services and the diagnostic tests and elective surgery involved in this massive contract. This is privatisation by any definition."
Davis says another Conservative government is going to "be the end of the NHS".
A spokesperson for the Department of Health calls the suggestion of greater privatization “nonsense.”
“Use of the private sector in the NHS represents only 6% of the total NHS budget: an increase of just 1.7% since May 2010.”
Vanguard, one company involved in the recent deal, lost one hospital contract, as it emerged that their surgeons had performed “rushed” operations, and patients had serious complications.
They are now facing legal action over a series of eye operations at Musgrove Hospital in 2014.
Another company, Circle, controversially pulled out of the running of Hitchingbrooke Hospital following a damning report into levels of care. Circle was the first private firm to manage an NHS hospital.
Employees from British Museum Strike against Privatization
The Public & Commercial Service Union (PCS) says, in its statement, that the 250 employees there, oppose attempts to charge for the guide service and for public educational courses at a centre belonging to the British people.
UK ministry bid for deal with Saudi prison service...
was defeated by Jeremy Corbyn's new Labour party in united action.
CO-OP STORES IGNORED AS UK FOOD STANDARDS DROP
Only the few intelligent customers who appreciate what the Co-op does to keep food standards safe, shop there now.
So many claim it's "too expensive" and shop elsewhere, as a tsunami of cheap adulterated food hits the UK public...
A newspaper report shows that over a third of food & drink sold in the UK is mislabeled.
According to the report, run by the Guardian, food samples taken recently show the huge scale of cheating and misrepresentation.
Citing laboratory tests, it says consumers are being sold food including;- mozzarella that is less than half real cheese, "ham" on pizzas that is either poultry or “meat emulsion,” and frozen prawns that are 50% water.
West Yorkshire’s public analyst, Dr. Duncan Campbell, says of the findings:
“We're routinely finding problems with over a third of samples, which is disturbing at a time when the budget for food standards inspection and analysis, is being cut.”
“Consumers deserve to know what they are buying and eating and cracking down on the mislabeling of food must become a greater priority for government.”
A year ago, DNA tests proved that foods advertised as containing beef in the UK & across Europe, contained undeclared horse meat.
UK Students Demonstrated Against Cuts
4 people were arrested as thousands of students marched through London to stop education cuts, tuition fees and student debt.
The Free Education march was held against tuition fees of up to £9,000 (11,800 dollars) a year at universities in England.
It was backed by groups including the National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts who want free higher education.
The demonstration was scheduled to finish earlier but some marchers stayed in central London: there were clashes with police.
Officers forced them back and arrested 2 people for affray, while two others were arrested for assaults on police officers.
Student groups from universities across the UK joined the march against tuition fees, student debt and spending cuts.
The march was supported by groups like the Student Assembly Against Austerity and the Young Greens.
UK parents hit by government cuts in legal aid
Official figures show that 20,000 UK parents were all forced to represent themselves last year, before family courts, after government cuts to legal aid.
According to the report, for the first time over half of the parents, or 58%, went to court with no lawyer to fight their cases in 2013/2014.
The increase in such cases follows the Tory government's decision in April 2013, to cut legal aid for most private family law issues.
The government argued at the time, that cutting legal aid to family law would result in parents solving their disputes through mediation, rather than through the courts.
However, the newly-released figures show family courts in England and Wales dealt with 19,140 more unrepresented parents compared to the previous year.
80% of UK school buildings ‘crumbling, beyond their life cycle’
The Government must invest more in building schools, as almost 80% of today's buildings shouldn't still be in operation say architects.
Children across the UK are being failed by four-fifths of schools which are “beyond their life cycle,” and 75% of existing schools still contain asbestos, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) claims.
With 250,000 extra school places needed by September, the current wave of new designs is not big enough to prevent overcrowding, the society for the architectural industry’s “Building Better Britain” report argues.
“Overcrowding in narrow corridors exacerbates bullying and harassment, fewer social areas outside classrooms limit students’ abilities to socialize,” the report adds.
The standard “baseline” designs are 15% smaller than those built under the Labour government’s “Building Schools for the Future” program, the group says.
The report says the next government must increase the cost per square metre of new schools by 20 percent.
“The new schools being built aren’t fit for purpose and will certainly not stand the test of time.”
“Years of underinvestment, coupled with the recent changes to school building, rebuilding and refurbishing programs, have left us with crumbling schools which fail those trying to learn and teach in them,” the report says.
The government’s school building scheme is slammed by teachers’ unions, who condemn the health and safety standards in schools and the low morale they cause.
“Getting rid of the Building Schools for the Future program was clearly a huge mistake,” a spokesperson for the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the UK’s largest teachers’ union, says.
“While the Education Secretary throws money at free schools and academies, many schools are being left in a dilapidated state or built where they are not needed,” the spokesperson says.
“The NUT has been at the forefront of campaigning about the presence of asbestos in our schools. It is outrageous that something which poses such a serious health threat to staff and pupils is still in place in so many schools.
“When the conditions of school premises have gone way beyond cosmetic damage and now pose a real health and safety issue, it is poor for the morale of both pupils and the community.”
London hit by anti-austerity rallies Thousands of people gathered on London’s streets to demand that the UK government’s austerity cuts in public spending, come to an end.
The protests started outside the BBC's offices in London as the general public, politicians, union leaders and celebrities were brought together by the People's Assembly campaign group.
Demonstrators marched towards the House of Commons, demanding “No more austerity,” & an alternative to “greed and selfishness.”
People's Assembly spokesperson:
“It is essential for the welfare of millions of people that we stop austerity cuts, before they do lasting damage to people's lives and our public services."
A protester told media that it's frustrating, and that “People want to work here if only they'd pay a decent wage. I can't always pay my way, if I go out with friends.”
"If I needed to pay lots for a prescription it would be hard. And I might have to move soon, but nothing is affordable,” she said. On the same day, members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) went on strike in protest against the government’s plans to raise their pension contributions & the retirement age from 55-60.
This strike was the 14th since industrial action over the long dispute began, last September.
‘Govt has failed’: Poverty doubles in UK over last 30 years
The number of Britons living in poverty has more than doubled over the past 30 years, a report has revealed.
About one in three UK families now live below the breadline --- despite the UK's economy doubling over the same period.
UK child death rate second worst in western Europe, say experts:
Study finds only Malta has more deaths of children under five.
1,000 NHS PATIENTS die EVERY MONTH from ACUTE KIDNEY FAILURE - KILLED by DEHYDRATION and POOR CARE.
A study by kidney disease experts and Insight Health Economics, reveals now thatacute kidney injury (AKI) causes between 15,000 - 40,000 excess deaths every year, and this could be avoided if staff ensured that the sick are hydrated.
The study also finds that AKI is five times more prevalent in English hospitals than previously thought.
“We know that at least a thousand people a month are dying in hospital from AKI due to poor care,”Professor Donal O’Donoghue of Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, says.
“These deaths are avoidable. This is completely unacceptable and we can’t allow it to continue,” he adds.
He stresses that good basic care, including elementary checks by doctors and nurses, could save these lives and save millions of pounds for the NHS.
Health economists say AKI costs the NHS over £1 billion every year, adding that simple improvements in basic care could save this money and, more importantly, also save thousands of lives.
The NHS has been failing patients and losing public trust, since a damning report showed that 1,200 patients from January 2005, to March 2009, died at Stafford Hospital alone - due to poor care.
Experts believe the government’s cuts to the health service harm hospital care and patient safety at NHS units.
There are no figures given for Wales.
BRECON BISHOP BASHES BEDROOM TAX
People marched in London, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and other cities, as part of a national day of action against the "Bedroom Tax" policy.
They called on the government to stop the implementation of a law that cuts housing support to the poorest households.
In Cardiff, capital of Wales, dozens of people gathered outside City Hall to protest against the controversial law.
“The bedroom tax disrupts lives, breaks up families and divides communities. It cuts people adrift from important bits of their personal and family story,” John Davies, the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, told the crowd.
He also added,“Cutting their benefit, if they stay put, achieves nothing just. It simply creates more poverty and risks deeper social problems.”
The legislation, brought in by the Lib Dems and Tories, reduces housing benefit for those with "spare" rooms. It's widely unpopular because millions already struggle with poverty.
SOLICITORS UNITE WITH PROBATION OFFICERS
Criminal solicitors and probation officers in Wales and England have staged another strike to protest at changes introduced by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), including cuts to legal aid fees.
The 48-hour strike affected magistrates and crown courts in major cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds.
According to the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association (LCCSA), police stations also faced delays, due to a decreased number of solicitors working.
The strikers assembled at Westminster for a rally, and afterwards marched to the Ministry of Justice.
Based on the ministry's plans, most probation work supervising low or medium-risk offenders are to be "outsourced" to private firms and voluntary groups.
“The government plans to outsource 70% of the probation service are untried and untested,” says Ian Lawrence, gen. sec. of the probation officers' union Napo.
Solicitors say that those accused of crimes could be at risk of miscarriages of justice if they do not have access to a “decent” lawyer, because of the legal aid cuts.
“The MoJ is taking a gamble on outsourcing supervision of the most persistent offenders on release from short-term prison sentences,” says Nicola Hill, president of the LCCSA.
The LCCSA estimates that two-thirds of legal aid firms will close if the cuts are enacted - a total of 1,000 across Wales and England.
CUTTING THE OLD
Hundreds of thousands of older people in the UK have been left without state-funded social care in the past 4 years as a result of council budget cuts and rationed services, a new study shows.
According to the report by the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation think tanks, 245,855 fewer elderly received help with carrying out everyday activities such as bathing, dressing and eating in 2012-13, compared to 2009-10, showing a 26 percent drop.
The report also finds that the number of vulnerable elderly people receiving the "meals on wheels" service has fallen by 59% over the same period.
The study also finds that spending on home and day care services and meals by councils has fallen by 23% and 46% respectively, in recent years.
"Our analysis paints a picture of increased rationing of social care by hard-pressed local authorities in response to deep cuts from central government, despite the growing numbers of older people in the population,” says Holly Holder, a co-author of the report at the Nuffield Trust.
She also notes that “without adequate data to assess” the effects of cuts, “the National Health Service (NHS) and government are 'flying blind' managing demand and planning for the future."
A separate analysis by the Care & Support Alliance, comprising seventy charity organizations, predicts that thousands of venerable people will lose out on publicly-funded social care in the UK...
Earlier, the Age UK charity said that spending on social care for the elderly has fallen by 1.2 billion pounds since 2010, despite significant increases in the number of people aged 65 or over in the UK.
MENTAL HEALTH LOCK-UP
Tens of thousands of vulnerable mentally-ill patients in the UK, are being imprisoned in "care homes", a House of Lords report says.
According to the investigation, carried out by a committee at the UK’s House of Lords, people with "mental illness" are being forced into care homes against their will, and those safeguards brought in to protect patients... are now being used to oppress them.
"The evidence suggests that tens of thousands of people are being deprived of their liberty without the protection of the law, and without the protection that parliament intended,” says the committee's chair, Lord Hardie.
The UK government passed a Mental Capacity Act in 2005, to protect those suffering from mental illness.
However, the Peers group finds that vulnerable adults are being failed by the legislation, and call for a new system to be drawn up "from scratch".
Top barristers and solicitors working in the Court of Protection, also warn that UK mental health patients are denied human rights by some judges.
They say the “marked variation” in judges’ willingness to consider patients’ wishes, amounts to a violation of their rights.
UK IS NOT A DEMOCRACY AT ALL
PM David Cameron reneged on his pledge --------- to let voters recall disgraced MPs.
As part of the "coalition agreement" of 2010, the PM pledged to bring in "early legislation" to allow voters to force a by-election, in an attempt to deal with voter anger over the MP's expenses scandal.
"Bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing, & having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents," read the coalition agreement.
Last year, Cameron watered the proposal down to stop attempts to remove sitting MPs.
Liberal Democrats then accused the PM of blocking the bill from inclusion in the final Queen's Speech of the Parliament.
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, a staunch supporter of the bill, comments that voters will feel deceived by the government. (Lol)
"Parties can stuff their manifestos full of clever promises, but if voters don't believe them, they may as well present blank sheets," he tweeted.
"Goldsmith blamed Deputy PM Nick Clegg for failing to properly support the measure, and branded the Lib Dems as "revolting".
You CAN NOT remove your MP ! (THAT's NOT democracy)
BEDROOM TAX REFUNDS OVER COCK-UP
Tens of thousands of people may have been wrongly identified as being eligible for the bedroom tax in the UK, housing experts say.
According to a report by The Guardian, a recently discovered error made by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) may have impacted as many as 40,000 people, forcing some to be evicted or move to smaller homes.
Although the DWP says a “small number” of people, an estimated 5,000 working-age tenants were affected by the mistake, housing experts say the figure could be as high as 40,000.
An error in legislating the implementation of the “spare room subsidy” has caused tenants to be exempt from the law.
People impacted by the loophole received reduced benefits since last April. They could now be entitled for refunds worth on average at least £640 per claimant.
The department says regulations will be "amended" to close the loophole.
The "bedroom tax" was introduced in April, 2013 as part of UK government reforms to the country's welfare system. It refers to a cut in housing benefits for claimants whose homes have a spare room.
Under the law, tenants who receive housing support lose 14% of benefits if their home has a spare room and 25% if they have more than one extra room.
In September, the United Nations Special Investigator on Housing, Raquel Rolnik, called for abolishment of the bedroom tax.
UK ROTTING FROM BENT MPs
Another ex-Labour MP is convicted in court for false accounting over parliamentary expenses.
Denis MacShane, ex-Rotherham MP, faces prison for making bogus expense claims of £12,900.
He pleaded guilty last November to having filed 19 fraudulent invoices in a 3-year period between January 2005 and January 2008.
During the hearing at the Old Bailey, in November, he said he used the money to fund trips to Europe.
The guilty plea comes after 4 years of scrutiny into the lawmaker’s use of MP's allowances.
The Times recently stated police have failed to pass on evidence to prosecutors about a number of fraudulent expenses claims by MPs and peers.
If you know that your MP fraudulently claimed, it is your duty to press for charges to be made, and - if the police in your area do not - then they are also criminal and deserve to be rooted out.
According to a study for the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL), faith in MPs in England dropped to just 20% after 2010... and has not risen since.
Only 27% see MPs as “dedicated to doing a good job for the public”, down from 46% in 2008, a year before it emerged that dozens of MPs "misused" expenses.
THE STINK OF HYPOCRACY
According to a two-year investigation, conducted by Bedfordshire University for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, children as young as 11 are being sexually assaulted by other gang members, as part of UK gang "culture".
The study focused on “chilling” abuse in gang-associated contexts, but the researchers say abuse is “widespread” and deeply institutionalised in the UK.
“We have found shocking and profoundly distressing evidence of sexual assault, including rape, being carried out by young people against other children and young people,” says the deputy children’s commissioner, Sue Berelowitz.
The research suggests that the scale of sexual assaults indicates a “deep malaise” within UK society.
A recent report by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), entitled “The Foundations of Abuse,” found that UK children are still not safe from sexual abuse in institutional settings, such as schools, care homes and churches.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) also warned in October that child victims of sexual abuse in the UK do not get the support they need to give evidence in courts.
The charity says less than 25% of the 23,000 child abuse cases in the UK last year, resulted in prosecution.
CRIME, DAMN CRIME, AND CRIME STATISTICS
Police in England and Wales regularly manipulate crime figures in order to meet targets and distort the realities about police performance, serving and retired officers tell MPs.
According to the Public Administration Select Committee (PASK) of the House of Commons, statistics on crimes are routinely falsified to showcase police performance.
PASK is tasked with considering the quality and standards of services provided by civil service departments in England and Wales.
“This is a really savage thing to say, that we cannot trust our constabularies' leadership to measure their own performance,” says Committee Chair Bernard Jenkin, adding that he is "shocked" that these offences occur "on such a wide scale."
Retired and incumbent police officers disclosed some of the methods applied to skew information, which included devaluing crimes to unimportant ones or encouraging victims not to file complaints.
Metropolitan Police Constable James Patrick, who is now awaiting disciplinary proceedings due to the publication of a whistleblowing book, told the committee about the data manipulation.
He was seriously concerned about the distortion of information after joining the police in 2009, and finding that robberies were logged as "theft snatch”, to appear less serious.
He also found other discrepancies between the numbers of reported crimes and those finally recorded.
“Burglary is an area where crimes are downgraded or moved into other brackets, such as criminal damage for attempted burglaries, or other types of thefts,” Patrick says.
“Things were clearly being reported as burglaries --- and you would then re-run the same report after there had been a human intervention - a management intervention - and these burglaries effectively disappeared in a puff of smoke.”
Patrick also said he analyzed the registration of sexual offences... and found that in 80% of cases, they were incorrectly recorded as “no crime.”
LOW PAY UK NOT OK !
Traditional households with fathers as sole breadwinners, are now the biggest group living in poverty in the UK, a study shows.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that a third of all the 1.3 million families with children living in poverty in the UK are “single breadwinner couple families.”
The report also says that the risk of slipping below the poverty line is higher for children in families where only one parent works.
"Our low pay jobs market means many families reliant on a single breadwinner, find it hard to make ends meet,” says JRF policy & research manager, Katie Schmuecker.
She calls for government to tackle the barriers that prevent people from going to work, including unaffordable childcare and the lack of financial incentives to work.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says that UK household’s are “under pressure” as they now spend far more on "fuel and essentials".
The ONS reveals that the proportion of UK families’ income accounted for by expenditure on essentials increased from 19.9% in 2003, to 27.3% in 2013.
NHS "DOWN TO THE BONE"
A report shows that the Tory’s drive to implement harsh cuts to the NHS has caused a shortfall of nearly 20,000 nurses and is putting patients at risk.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) reports that there are 19,526 full-time nursing posts vacant as a result of the government’s drive to cut "costs" by 20 billion pounds by 2015.
According to officials, the number is equivalent to a shortage of 125 nurses... at every hospital.
Peter Carter, chief executive at the RCN, warns frontline staffing levels are “down to the bone.”
“With rising demand for healthcare services, workforce shortages will have significant implications for staffing levels & the ability of providers to deliver safe, good quality care for patients,” the report reads.
The RCN and patient groups, urge ministers to impose “safe staffing” rules that would set mandatory minimum staffing levels at hospitals.
Labour's shadow health secretary:
“This report shines a spotlight on the true extent of understaffing in the NHS. David Cameron has left the NHS facing Accident and Emergency crises, with thousands fewer nurses.”
The report comes at a time when the UK government is facing increasing pressure to reinvest the surplus generated by the NHS every year.
The Foundation Trust Network wants the 600 million pounds under-spent by NHS England by March, to be used to help A&E departments under strain.
Experts predict that the NHS could experience its toughest winter ever, as there are mounting pressures on services and widespread shortages of consultants.
The latest figures show that there has been a 44% increase in patients waiting over 4 hours in A&E between April and October of this year, compared to the same period in 2011.
The NHS medical director, Professor Bruce Keogh, presented a report on November 13th, in which he calls for radical changes to the way the NHS provides urgent and emergency care, aimed at tackling an “inexorable climb” in A&E attendances.
BEATING UP THE WRONG GUY
A former child protection officer says UK police threatened him - to stop his investigations into child abuse by high-profile MPs, in 1990.
Chris Fay states he was threatened with a gun to his head, to avoid probing allegations surrounding Elm Guest House in Barnes, where young boys were allegedly taken to be abused by a VIP pedophile ring.
According to Fay, members of Special Branch routinely warned him, his colleagues, & even the victims, when the story broke in the early 90s.
“At one point they had me up against a wall by my throat with a gun at my head telling me in no uncertain terms that I was to back away if I knew what was good for me,” Fay says.
“I was told by the police implicitly, ‘We do not want you to come to us with big names’,” he adds.
Fay, who worked for the National Association of Young People In Care, attacks the Metropolitan police for “physically” stopping the victims from speaking with the group and says that they acted like “gangsters”.
“I witnessed Special Branch officers manhandling them [the victims] and turning them away with a warning to keep their mouths shut. It was blatant,” says the 67 year-old child protection officer.
Campaigner Bill Maloney also accuses the police of protecting high-profile criminals, saying “police cover- ups to protect the wealthy” should stop immediately.
The British police have so far declined to comment on Fay’s remarks.
The next step could be to expose the scapegoating by the UK state of the abused victims themselves..
Current social work practice theory is that those who are abused, inevitably end up abusing others.
This travesty is being taught NOW at the highest ideological levels by social worker courses and to first degree and post-graduate students.
They even pervert the defence mechanisms postulated by Freud, as "evidence" to look for when "assessing" those to be scapegoated.
'Innocent until proven guilty' ?
Not when police and social workers collude to scape-goat those who dare to open their mouths against the UK state's injustices !
More like 'stitched up' in the UK !!!
ABUSE OF ELDERLY RISE "DISTURBING"
The number of reports of elderly & disabled abuse in the UK has jumped by 28%, a charity warns.
According to Age UK, the analysis of data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows cases of alleged abuse against people of 65 or over up from 82,000 to over 105,000 in 2012-2013.
70,000 plus cases were reported for investigation last year, of which 25% related to physical abuse, 35% to neglect, and about 18% to financial abuse of vulnerable old people, the charity says.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK describes the figures as “disturbing”:
“Any abuse of older people is unacceptable and we need a zero-tolerance approach to any abuse, whether through neglect, financial manipulation or physical or mental cruelty,” she says.
A Department of Health (DoH) official says elderly people should be protected and that they should not face abuse in their homes, or in a care setting.
HSCIC figures show that in 37% of reported cases the alleged abuser was a social care worker.
PRESENT CUTS NASTIER THAN UNDER THATCHER
The UK government’s welfare cuts and changes to taxation have encouraged economic inequality so intensely that they amount to ‘speeded-up Thatcherism.’ The divide between rich and poor is widening faster than in the 1980s, says a new report.
The slashing of UK welfare benefits and simultaneous cuts in tax credits, means that inequality will have soared twice as fast by 2015, than it did under Margaret Thatcher, says a new Fabian society report.
Working-age families with children will be particularly hard-hit in the coming years, says the report, written by economist Howard Reed. He lays out the impact of Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition policies on household income, drawing the conclusion that the poorest families in the UK, are on a path to losing some 12 percent of their average income.
A MEDICAL EPISODE IN ENGLAND
Police in England have again tasered a young man to death before trying to arrest him, for what they describe as ‘having a knife’ in his hands inside his own home.
The 23-year-old man, named locally as Jordan Begley, had a "medical episode" after being fired with the stun gun on Wednesday evening in Gorton, Manchester.
An unidentified friend of the man told the press that eight armed police officers attended Begley after responding to a 999 call in Beard Road which said there was a man with a knife.
"They turfed his mum outside and then went in”, the friend said. "There were about eight armed response officers who went in”, he added. "He didn't have a knife though. I know for a fact he would not have had a knife”, noted the friend.
A police cordon surrounded 10 terraced houses at the end of Beard Road & a forensic tent was erected.
"I saw the lad being brought out the house and put in the ambulance. Paramedics were working away on the CPR with the doors open”, says neighbour Kirstie Porter.
"Everybody was out in the street, all the neighbours. There was police everywhere, loads of vans turned up, there was police all over with guns all over.
"The ambulance was there for about 5 or 10 minutes and then it drove off.
"His mum and brother were sobbing in the street", added Kirstie.
Another woman, who did not wish to be named, said: "There's a lot of bad boys around here, but Jordan was one of the good guys."
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: "Police received a 999 call reporting a disturbance on Beard Road in Gorton where there was a man with a knife.
"Officers were dispatched immediately and arrived in eight minutes.
"On arrival, a Taser was discharged to detain a 23-year-old man.
"At this time it is unclear what happened, but at some point afterwards the man suffered a medical episode.
"Paramedics performed first aid on the man at the scene before he was taken to hospital where he sadly died."
ORGANISED WORKERS LEAD FIGHT TO SAVE NHS
Pro-NHS campaign Health Emergency chair Geoff Martin:
"This is a welcome move & the message has to be rammed down this government's throat -- that the dismantling of the NHS, through the twin attack of cuts & privatisation, will be met by all-out resistance.
"It's equally important that Labour isn't let off the hook either.
"Much of the demolition programme for the health service started under the last government, & has been seized on by the Con-Dems."
Mr Martin warns Labour: "Grandstanding on the back of public outrage at the attack on the NHS would be pure political opportunism."
UNISON SAYS 'WE ARE MOVING LABOUR TO ACT'
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis warns Labour that his union will keep criticising the Labour party... until it offers credible alternatives to austerity. "People will not vote Labour mainly because they oppose what the Tories are doing," he tells the Morning Star.
"We want a Labour Party that has policies that resonate with our people."
Mr Prentis says that stopping NHS privatisation by replacing the health Act, ending cuts to local government funding, and rolling back anti-trade union laws, are to be Unison's key demands for any future Labour government. Mr Prentis says Unison is ready to lead a wave of anti-austerity actions, including demonstrations in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
"I think there's a groundswell now of people who want to show their opposition - just like they did to the poll tax."
People's Assembly Offers Renewed Hope
Celebrities rally behind campaigners to launch the historic People's Assembly initiative -- in a bid to replace austerity with "common sense" politics for the people.
In the face of the government's "organised mugging," journalist, Owen Jones, vows the People's Assembly will be a "formidable, broad coalition" that will reach out to communities across the countries of the UK.
He says: "There is lots of anger, lots of fear and not a lot of hope, but that's what we're going to give people."
Comedian Mark Steel appeals to people who "shout at George Osborne when he's on the TV or radio" to join the People's Assembly.
"Instead of just swearing at the TV, people should do something because the government is getting away with saying there is no alternative to the cuts."
Fellow comedian & disabled activist Francesca Martinez adds that the assembly represents a "common sense" politics approach, compared to the Tory government's "radical" agenda.
The assembly is backed by major trade unions representing millions of workers, including the public-sector union Unite, civil servants' union PCS and the National Union of Teachers.
Unite director of policy Steve Turner says the UK will lose crucial public services that "our grandparents fought for" unless people resist the government's "extreme ideological" attacks.
He says his union is committed to "building a mass movement against the cuts" because the "answer to what the government is doing is not austerity-lite."
The People's Assembly seeks to provide an alternative democratic forum to Westminster, which organisers say has "failed the people it's supposed to represent."
But that isn't stopping many progressive MPs from putting aside party differences, to give their support.
Left Labour MP Katy Clark says the People's Assembly can give people the "confidence to believe that the cuts are not necessary."
Green MP Caroline Lucas describes the People's Assembly as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to unite against this reckless administration and expose the lie that there is no alternative to cuts."
She says the assembly will"create political space to put forward alternatives to austerity"and outlines her vision of a "labour- intensive, green economy."
SHOCK GROWTH IN TASERS
Plans to give London officers over 50% more Tasers are raising concerns over police methods, as fears grow around the unnecessary use of stun guns, an inquiry reveals.
A 66% increase in Taser use has been reported.
The number of officers issued stun guns in London’s Met will increase from 800 to almost 1,300, opening up a debate in the force over 'mission creep' risks of using Tasers for minor violations, the Guardian reports. The plan will see 40 officers per borough issued Tasers, says a new inquiry report by the London Assembly.
The decision puts the Met on an equal footing with other police forces in the UK that already have an increased number of stun guns in their units. The Sussex police force will also be extending its use of Tasers and is currently training more officers, while West Yorkshire police have been noted for their extensive use of Tasers over the past two years.
The firing of stun guns in the UK is also on the rise:
Tasers were discharged 1,371 times in the year ending March 2011 ---- a 66% increase over the previous year, according to freedom of information requests obtained by the Guardian.
Tasers are electroshock weapons, shaped like pistols, that disrupt voluntary control of muscles --- by jolting the victim with 50,000 volts of electricity.
When Tasers were first introduced in the UK, only officers with firearms training were permitted to carry them; now, an officer only needs to pass a 3-day training course to be armed with one.
These changes have prompted concerns over how Tasers are being used. Met data reveals that half of those Tasered last year were black. Also, the total number of people Tasered between 2008 and 2011 with emotional and mental health problems, rose from 20% to 30 percent.
The rate of youths being Tasered has risen as well: Between 2008 and 2011, 61% of those Tasered, were under 30 years old.
There are concerns in the Met that the Taser might "become a compliance tool," the Guardian quotes deputy chief constable, Simon Chesterman, telling the assembly.
Chesterman says these types of weapons have been used to enforce submission, including: forcing a person out of a car, or getting consent to have fingerprints taken.
The Met had previously tried to limit police use of Tasers, but the London mayor’s office insisted on the expansion, saying that the devices could protect officers. Amnesty International argues Tasers are potentially lethal, and that stricter rules should govern their use.
Amnesty also criticizes the plan to increase issuance of Tasers and says it might negatively impact policing methods in the UK, as Tasar guns are portable, easy to use and could cause "severe pain at the push of a button, often without leaving marks."
There is also evidence linking being hit by a Taser to long-term health issues like heart failure.
A study by the journal Circulation has connected Tasers to irregular heart rhythms, which at times lead to cardiac arrest.
It analyzed eight cases of people who were Tasered & went into cardiac arrest, opening up a wider debate around the safety of the electric stun gun.
Seven of the people in the study died, and one survived.
Wales losing to South East England
Health inequalities between South East England and Wales are growing, a new analysis of census figures shows now.
The percentage of people with at least "good" health has risen dramatically in London and the south-east of England but has fallen again in the north, the midlands, and in Wales.
People in the north of England and Wales are also much more likely to have disabilities than people living in the affluent South East of England.
Experts at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) believe the figures are further proof that healthy young people are moving out of the UK's poor areas to find work in London.
Socialist Health Association director Martin Rathfelder says health funding is following these people, further cutting funding the services for disadvantaged communities in Wales.
Mr Rathfelder says that "the fundamental issue is not about the health service, it's about economics. The people who are left are mostly unwell or older people, and their children have gone to the south-east because that's where the work is."
Unite's head of health Rachael Maskell says A&E closures tend to be in the most deprived communities, bringing an added risk to the very poorest in our society.
Ms Maskell warns that unequal health service provision will be rigged even more in favour of England's wealthier communities under Con-Dem government funding plans which come into effect in April.
"The most affluent areas will have a population which will attract greater funding due to longevity and thus be able to propagate this trend," she states.
KICKING THE POOR
When asked how much of the UK welfare bill is spent on the unemployed, the average poll respondent, fooled by constant media spin, said 41%. The real figure is 3%.
The overwhelming majority of the welfare budget is spent on pensioners, children, the disabled and the working poor. As a percentage of the entire public spending budget, the amount spent on unemployment, is under 0.75%.
Instead of blaming the 1%, the UK public is conned into scapegoating the vulnerable...
TORIES TO PRIVATISE OFFENDERS' SUPERVISION
Con-Dem Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announces plans to sell off the probation service to privateers.
Mr Grayling says he is looking to outsource supervision and rehabilitation programmes for all but the most high- risk ex-inmates to charities and private companies across both England and Wales.
The plan cuts an estimated 70% of the Probation Service's core work, with contractors paid by results, in a manner similar to the Con-Dems' controversial work programme.
Mr Grayling - who has no legal training or experience in the justice system - says his plan is a "rehabilitation revolution."
NAPO's assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher, speaking earlier, called the decision "astonishing":
"You're looking at 6,000 to 7,000 jobs lost because they want to make a profit out of punishment - ultimately it will put public safety at risk."
Mr Fletcher says the service has met all its targets and last year won the British Quality Foundation Gold Award for Excellence.
"This move, therefore, is purely ideological", he says. "There is no plan for dealing with the escalation or decline of risk of individual offenders.
"If this plan proceeds it will be chaotic and will compromise public protection," he states.
Labour MPs scorned those Coalition MPs who couldn't even turn up to debate, and SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs were outraged.
Justice unions parliamentary group chair Elfyn Llwyd calls these plans "a triumph of ideology over common sense," and secretary John McDonnell says the scheme is simply a pretext for privatisation...
"This has nothing to do with tackling crime but is simply opening up the service to profiteering companies like G4S."
In Wales, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM demands that London give up the legal right to shape social services in Wales, and allow the Welsh National Assembly to decide.
Former probation officer Ms Wood says the changes are too risky, and give greater reason to devolve custodial powers.
"Rarely has the quality of a service been improved through privatisation and, with the Probation Service, the risks are too high." There is now "an even greater reason to devolve custodial powers to Wales," she says.
FIRST WOMAN IN CHARGE OF TUC: 'TORIES DETERMINED TO BE NASTY'
The TUC's first female general secretary, Francis O'Grady, attacks the Tories for their "vicious spiral" of spending cuts hitting low-paid workers & jobseekers.
She says the coalition reduced living standards for some of the poorest people in the UK, via welfare & benefits cuts, & failed to offer any vision for the economy, or hope for the future.
"In short, our economy is sick & the government's medicine is not working," she says.
"We were told short-term pain would deliver long- term gain, yet all we see are nasty side effects -- with no sign of a cure.
"What is worse is that we now seem to be locked into a vicious downward spiral of cuts. They are not working, so the government cuts even more."
She says the Tory policy of cutting the living standards of the poorest and most vulnerable in society while "attempting to tar them all as scroungers" is the "very definition of a party determined to be seen as nasty."
And, she says, it will further depress demand and weaken the economy.
"People on the breadline spend every penny of their income, and mainly spend it in the local economy, while those who will benefit from the cut in the 50p tax rate coming this year, are as likely to save it, or take it offshore."
Ms O'Grady urges the government to change course, abandon its austerity programme, and boost industry.
She says it is vital to create decent jobs and apprenticeships, and workers should be given a say on bosses' salaries -- through staff reps on pay committees.
"This all adds up a very different approach to the economy and a challenge to all political parties, employers and indeed unions."
"My strong belief is that when we look back at the period from the 1980s to the 2008 crash, historians will see these times as exceptional times, as damaging in their way, as the 1930s.
"What will dismay them most, is how slowly we are building a new economic model to replace the one that fell with Lehman Brothers.
"There is surprisingly broad consensus that we need real change."
KINGDOM OF UNEQUALLED PRIVILEGE
Official figures show that the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland & Wales, is the most unequal place in Europe --- and the wealth gap between the UK’s rich & poor, is twice as wide as any EU member state.
An analysis by the Office for National Statistics reveals that some regions in the UK are up to 10 times poorer than London, using Gross Value Added (GVA) measures.
The poorest areas are West Wales and the Valleys and the Wirrel, with just £11,000 in GVA per person compared to the inner-London figure of £111,000.
LEFT GOVERNMENTS GIVE SECURITY (Right "gives" racism, immigrant scapegoating and gangs)
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa highlights Community Police Units which open a new era regarding security in Latin America, he says.
The president opens another integrated centre in Ambati, capital of Chimborazo province, & tours the first (rebuilt) railway, made in 1908, which he calls the most beautiful in the world.
Nearly 1,800 CPUs will be built in the country & are essential for bringing police closer to their communities, plus supplying more patrol cars, communication equipment and other resources.
Ecuador's taxes are being used to fight crime, guarantee secure safe urban areas, plus improve education, health, and roads, and reduce poverty.
Over $100 billion USD will be invested in the coming years to reach these goals, and raise the wellbeing of all Ecuadorians, says Correa, referring to pending social investment there.
In the country's history, such a huge investment in security has never been made, he says, with such a territorial analysis aimed at protecting Ecuadorians. He says the ECU 911 Centres will save thousands of lives.
Quito & Guayaquil have national security centres and 13 regional centres, with the best integrated emergency assistance system in Latin America now, in which a large number of institutions are participating, says Correa.
Police assistance arrives on average within two minutes in the places where these centres are operating, he says, in 68% of the country. These centres are scheduled to reach the entire nation.
The most unsafe countries in the region have rightwing governments, he points out. Correa highlights that this is, and will be, a country with open doors, requiring entry visas for citizens of only 10 countries.
MAKING THE MULTINATIONALS PAY UP ON TAX !!!
Protestors turned Starbucks into refuges, crèches and homeless shelters in protest against the impact of the cuts on women.
Sarah Greene, a UK Uncut activist: “It is an outrage that the government continues to let multinationals like Starbucks dodge millions in tax yet cuts vital services like refuges, creches & rape crisis centres. It does NOT have to be this way. The government could easily bring in billions that could fund vital services,by clamping down on tax dodging.”
Responding to Starbucks’ announcement that it won't claim tax deductions in the UK, on a range of its tax arrangements, Hannah Pearce, a UK Uncut supporter:
“Offering to pay some tax if and when it suits you doesn’t stop you being a tax dodger. This is just a desperate attempt by Starbucks to deflect public pressure --- hollow promises on press releases don’t fund women’s refuges or child benefits."
“We need the government to force Starbucks and every other tax dodging company to pay their fair share, instead of cutting welfare & tax credits for single mums and disabled women. People are angry, this weekend 44 actions took place in Starbucks stores in towns and cities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. People transformed Starbucks stores into refuges, crèches --- and other services threatened by the Government’s unjust and unnecessary cuts.”
A spokesperson from Global Women’s strike, one of the women’s groups which supported the action:
“Women – in families, homes, communities and jobs – bear the brunt of austerity. At our Women’s Centre we see more women cut off benefits, losing their jobs, being made homeless and going hungry.
Already, 3.5m children live in poverty, 1 in 5 mothers skips a meal to feed her children, & many walk miles to get food handouts -- as they can’t afford bus fares.
"Women are also expected to pick up the pieces as services disappear or turn people away, saying they are overwhelmed.
Asylum seekers were the first to be made destitute, and this is now becoming the norm. Victims of rape and domestic violence are particularly affected as more will be forced to stay in violent relationships, to keep a roof over their heads.”
Starbucks has come under fire after a Reuters investigation disclosed that the company had paid no UK corporation tax for last three years --- despite reporting sales of £1.2bn. 
The company is reported to have filed accounts saying the companies UK operations were making a loss, while reporting strong UK profits to investors.
Campaigners have highlighted research showing that women will experience a disproportionate impact as a result of the government’s public spending cuts. 
Women are bearing the brunt of cuts to public sector jobs, wages, housing benefit, childcare, and pensions. 
Additional hardship on women is being caused by the government’s decision to cut £5.6m from violence against women services, £300m from Sure Start centres & a further £10 billion in benefit cuts.
Every day 230 women are turned away from refuges as a result of government cuts to women’s services. 
Sheena Shah, a UK Uncut activist:
“Women have had enough of being attacked by a cabinet of out of touch millionaires.
“The government’s savage austerity plans are pushing the cause of women’s equality back decades.
“Welfare, healthcare, Sure Start centres, childcare, rape and domestic abuse services are being cut and female unemployment is rocketing. Benefits cuts are forcing women to choose between heating the house and feeding the family. No one should have to make these choices.”
07415 063231 | 07572 594128
AN ENTIRE GENERATION LEFT TO ROT
Unemployment among UK youngsters has shot up by 279% nationally, compared to the 2011 figures... with the region-based figures even more shocking.
Long-term youth unemployment for 18 - 24 year olds has soared by 706% in the South West, 476% in the North East and 264% in the South East, The Daily Express reports.
At least half of the 1 million jobless youth have been searching for work for at least six months.
The TUC, representing 6 million UK workers says:
“Government economic strategy is holding young people back. It's time for a new plan that invests in their futures, rather than stunting careers, before they have barely begun,” says TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber.
SAVE ALL THE CHILDREN
The charity organization Save the Children, which normally focuses on hungry children in Africa and South America is now to raise funds for hungry children in the UK.
Save the Children says its decision follows findings that many children’s families in the UK now, cannot afford regular hot meals, warm clothes and shoes.
The charity says it is to raise £500,000 to help with this alarming poverty, that's “tearing families apart.”
“No child should see their parent going hungry or start the new term without a warm coat & with holes in their shoes. Poverty is tearing families apart, with parents buckling under the pressure of mounting bills and children seeing their parents argue more about money,” says the charity’s chief executive, Justin Forsyth.
“That’s why for the first time in our history we're launching a UK appeal. We need to help poor families survive the recession,” he states.
RAISE RETIREMENT AGE EVEN HIGHER SAYS IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) calls on the UK government to raise the retirement age again - to ''save the country from financial ruin''.
The US-based organization also warns that the UK's national debt will ''spin out of control'' if the average lifespan in the UK, increases by only 3 years more than estimated. It says the “financial implications of people living longer than expected, are very large,” and could ruin public finances, as the cost of pensions and healthcare rises.
In a report into the “longevity risk”, the IMF urges governments to take action "immediately" to handle the problem. It suggests a further raise in retirement ages, higher contributions from both employers and workers, and lower payouts.
and the Labour Party's rightwing eat this guff up, and WANT this!!!
IT'S NOT WHO VOTES THAT COUNTS - BUT WHO COUNTS THE VOTES !
As our masters follow the US on everything... from police being armed to postal votes, etc, spare a thought for the consequences, PLEASE !
A new study by the Pew Centre finds that one out of every eight voter registrations in the United States is invalid. According to the survey, over 1.8 million dead US citizens are enrolled as active voters...
The study by the non-partisan think tank also finds that US electoral systems “are plagued with errors and inefficiencies that waste tax- payer dollars, undermine voter confidence, and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity of our elections.”
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************************************************* BULLY FOR BULLYING BULLIES
A survey reveals that workers in the UK are more likely to experience bullying by bosses or colleagues than any workers in the world.
The survey by recruitment company Monster shows that 7 in 10 workers admit to being bullied at work in the UK.
It found that a quarter of UK workers find bullying and cruel jibes so upsetting it dramatically affects their work performance.
The research finds that many European workers also suffer badly from workplace bullying, with a staggering 83% claiming to be victims of physical or emotional bullying at work "at some point".
The number of workers who complain about bullying in the US, is 65%, and in Asia, 55%. The survey shows that Spanish workers are most likely to be physically attacked, while Dutch workers are the most likely to be driven to tears by work bullying.
Belgium has the lowest rate of workplace bullying, with just 38%.
"Employers are responsible for a worker's health, safety and welfare while at work and should provide an atmosphere where people can get on with their job," says Alan Townsend, Chief Operating Officer, Monster UK & Ireland.
"All companies should ensure they have clear policies & procedures for employees that are followed through by management. This can prevent potentially dangerous outcomes, such as, poor workplace morale, lost productivity, litigation, & health costs," Alan adds.
These findings follow a previous study by Staffordshire University Business School which discovered that 14 million UK employees in the UK are bullied at work.
Lucky them! In the valleys, we're happy if we can find a job to be bullied in !
DIE YOUNGER IN WALES THAN IN RWANDA
Rates of mortality in the poorest areas of Wales are higher than in some crisis-hit African nations, official figures now reveal.
According to records released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the death rate in some parts of Wales is as high as 1,500 deaths per 100,000 people in one year.
Bryncethin in Bridgend, south Wales, comes top of all areas in both England and Wales with the highest rates of mortality, with 1,499 deaths per 100,000 people in 2009.
Whittington in Oswestry is second with 1,468, third, Portrack & Tilery in Stockton-on-Tees, (1,422), then Gwersyllt West, Wrexham (1,419), Offa, Wrexham (1,297), and Grosvenor, Wrexham (1,284.)
The mortality rate in Rwanda, in central & eastern Africa, is 1,427, and in Botswana, in southern Africa, it's 1,452, the UN's WHO reports.
Health experts believe that the data reveals problems in 'post-industrial' areas, including mining valleys or dockyards, that have been neglected for decades.
The experts stress that elderly people who have had to endure hard manual work, will die sooner, while youngsters often turn to drinks or drugs due to high rates of unemployment.
They also say poor diets and pollution affect the lives of those living in the crisis hit areas.
UK PRIVATISED SCROOGES
Railway bosses have ordered ticket office workers not to help disabled people plan their journeys, transport union TSSA says.
The TSSA says disabled passengers can no longer get direct help at stations but are being told to call a new phone service, used by most train operators.
"It is simply disgraceful that train companies are charging the most vulnerable people in the land for a service that should be free,"
general secretary Manuel Cortes says:
"Previously our booking office members were only too willing to spend as long as it took, helping the disabled plan what can be complicated journeys, given that they have to be met at each stage of their journey. Now that has all been stopped by Scrooge bosses. Ordinary passengers are used to being ripped off by these profit- chasing cowboys, but even they will be shocked by this latest cynical penny-pinching move."
The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) admits that some calls are now being charged at local rates, but insists that the service is more efficient & "significantly improved."
AND WHERE IS WALES' BLOSSOMING...?
Imagine the Rhondda using wind and sun energy to create new rate and rent free business units, that encourage new enterprising companies, which pay well and market under a "brand" with a superb reputation for quality.
Everything to help hitting the ground running, with hot-desking, science, and agriculture, to to employ our youth.
Russian/Scottish scientists hail long-range secure quantum communication system.
A group of scientists from ITMO University in Saint Petersburg, Russia, has developed a new approach to constructing quantum communication systems for secure data exchange.
The experimental device based on the results of the research is capable of transmitting single-photon quantum signals across distances of 250 klmtrs or more, which is on par with its cutting edge analogues, the ITMO press-service says.
"Now researchers are on a mission -- to create a fully-fledged quantum cryptographic system, that will generate & distribute quantum keys and transmit useful data simultaneously", ITMO says.
Information security is becoming more and more of a critical issue not only for large companies, banks and defense enterprises but even for small businesses and individual users.
But the data encryption algorithms we currently use for protecting our data are imperfect - in the long-term, their logic can be cracked. Regardless of how complex and intricate the algorithm is, getting around it, is just a matter of time.
Unlike algorithm-based encryption, systems that protect information by making use of fundamental laws of quantum physics, can make data transmission totally immune to hacker attacks, in the future.
Information in a quantum channel is carried by single photons that change irreversibly if an eavesdropper tries to intercept them. The legitimate users will instantly know about any kind of intervention.
Researchers at the Quantum Information Centre of the International Institute of Photonics and Optical Information Technology at ITMO Uni., Russia, along with their colleagues from the Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh, have devised a new way to generate and distribute, quantum bits.
This makes it possible to share quantum signals --- via optical fibres --- 250 kilometers in distance.
"To transmit quantum signals, we use the so- called side frequencies," says Artur Gleim, head of the Quantum Information Centre at ITMO University,
"This unique approach gives us a number of advantages, such as a considerable simplification of the device architecture and the large pass-through capacity of the quantum channel. In terms of bit rate and operating distance our system is comparable to absolute champions in the field of quantum communications."
According to Robert Collins, research associate at the Institute of Photonics & Quantum Sciences at Heriot-Watt University and one of the authors of the study, this may become a pivotal point for the whole field of quantum communication and cryptography:
"Down the track, this new approach can enable smooth coexistence of numerous data streams with different wavelengths in one single optical cable. On top of it, these quantum streams can be fed into the already existing fibre optic lines --- along with conventional communications."
The research paper is published in the Optics Express journal.
Scottish universities are to be congratulated for their strong & growing links with Chinese and Russian universities....
What a shame, that Wales is lying low --- with academics too scared to break from US military research.
ROGER WATERS TO MUSICIANS:- "BOYCOTT ISRAEL"
Roger Waters formerly of Pink Floyd, in an open letter, calls on his fellow musicians to boycott the Zionist Israeli regime and follow the example of the cultural boycott against the ex South African Apartheid regime.
“Given the inability or unwillingness of our governments [to act] …. I write to you now, my brothers and sisters … to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel,” Roger Waters says in his letter.
Waters says the Zionist regime has been found guilty of major breaches of human rights and the international law by international organizations, UN officials and the International Court of Justice.
He touches on two such cases, saying the regime has been identified as perpetrating the “crime of Apartheid”, including in a statement on March 9th, 2012 by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the “crime of ethnic cleansing” including in East Jerusalem (al-Quds).
Waters adds that he has been a member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the Israeli regime’s occupation of the Palestinian lands and Tel Aviv’s violations of Palestinian human rights for seven years, and now wants other musicians to also join the anti-Israeli front.
“Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”
The former Pink Floyd Musician also says he has recently faced a boycott by the US media after his November 29th, 2012 address at the UN on behalf of the Russell Tribunal.
In the address, he sought accountability for the Zionist regime’s violations of the international law and the lack of United Nations resolve that prevents the Palestinian people from achieving their inalienable rights, especially the right of self-determination.
AT THE FACTORY
browse venues in Wales
Cash tickets from:
The Factory, Porth Instrumental Music, Penygraig Spillers Records, Cardiff
Indulge in a delicious cake and a cup of tea while enjoying music and sing-along songs from fantastic Welsh musicians.
The Cultural Services Booking & Information Line:
08000 147 111 or book online at
Mid Rhondda Modelling Club...
7pm - 9pm
Tonyrefail Comprehensive School Mid Rhondda Modelling Club
has been running for over 30 years.
We meet on a regular basis
& enjoy making models for display.
We encourage both Gentlemen
and Ladies to attend, and also young people aged 12+.
However, Young people under 16, must be accompanied by an adult.
£1 contribution every week. Under 16's free
Telephone Mr. Davies on 01443 686658
Comedy In The Laughter Lounge
The Park & Dare Theatre, Treorchy.
COMEDY IN THE LAUGHTER LOUNGE
Join us once a month in the intimate setting of the Laughter Lounge for some top notch comedy with some of the biggest and brightest rising comedians on the circuit.
Laugh? You'll snort like a pig!
Hilarious - TimeOut.
MAN by Steve Cutts
The Bee Cause
Dear Ray Poet,
Did you know that it’s been three years since bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides were restricted across Europe? This is brilliant news and it couldn’t have happened without hundreds of thousands of people like you speaking out.
But sadly it’s only a partial ban, and doesn’t cover some of our most important crops such as wheat. So our bees are still facing the threat of toxic neonicotinoids (neonics) in our fields every day.
The scientific evidence against neonics is piling up. Just three months ago, an independent study spanning 17 years showed that exposure to neonic treated oilseed rape crops can be linked to the decline of wild bee species across the English countryside.
Shockingly, this year we also learnt that neonics can poison the wider countryside. Wildflowers surrounding some crops have also been found to have high levels of neonics in them, meaning there’s no safe place for our bees to go.
It gets even worse - our government has the power to temporarily lift the ban at any time and Brexit could mean the restrictions are scrapped altogether. We must make sure the UK government backs a ban on these toxic pesticides on all crops, permanently.
But there is some good news - bees are getting lots of support from people like you and me. And we’re not alone. Did you know that 81% of the public are in favour of maintaining the current EU ban on bee-harming pesticides?
I’m hopeful that I can write to you again next year to let you know that neonics are a thing of the past.
Together we’ve got the power to reverse bee decline.
Best wishes, Emi and the Bee Cause team
P.S Ask your friends and family to sign the petition too via the share buttons below.
We send communications to our supporters who have opted in to receive emails from us.
Friends of the Earth Limited. Reg. No.1012357. Friends of the Earth Trust. Reg. No.1533942. Charity No.281681.Both incorporated in England and Wales. Both registered office: Friends of the Earth The Printworks 139 Clapham Road London, SW9 0HP United Kingdom
North Dakota Pipeline: Activists vow to stand ground
The protesters fighting to block the Dakota Access Pipeline vow to stand their ground despite growing calls for them to leave and threats of prosecution from law enforcement.
Since late summer, protesters have stood beside members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota who believe the $3.7 billion pipeline project, which would move 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day across four states, would affect its drinking water supply and place communities at risk of contamination downstream from oil spills.
Standing Rock Sioux Chair Dave Archambault says the protest will go on despite protesters having been ordered to vacate the area where they are camping by December 5.
"We're in for the long haul," says Chase Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux.
The US Army Corps of Engineers has warned that activists who refuse to leave could face arrest. But, after the statement's release, officials backtracked, saying they've no plans to forcibly remove those who stay.
Now, a week before the deadline, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple has ordered protesters to clear out immediately, citing reasons other than trespassing:-- harsh winter conditions.
In a statement, he said the protesters' temporary dwellings have yet to be inspected and approved, and failure to do so, poses serious public safety concerns. He added that first responders would no longer provide emergency services to those who remain.
Morton County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Maxine Herr said the authorities will "passively" enforce the governor's order for protesters to vacate. Earlier, she had said law enforcement would immediately start blocking people & supplies from entering the protest campsite.
She later amended that statement to say that anyone who enters the area does so at their own risk and will be subjected to penalties.
There will be no road block, but anyone entering the area will be told that they are trespassing, and penalized.
Iron Eyes says it's just like the wild west:
"You've a government agency trying to declare us as trespassers on our own treaty land and threatening to penalize us, criminally charge us and possibly forcibly round us up, if we don't return to the reservation."
The pipeline was originally in an area that did not cross Native American reservations. The current proposed route, however, would take it through four states, stretching 1,172 miles to connect areas with oil in North Dakota to southern Illinois.
It will cut through the Sioux Tribe's reservation, and the tribe says it could potentially destroy sacred lands and prevent access to clean drinking water.
Over the months of protest, the tribe has been joined by multiple groups and activists. They maintain that they have been peaceful, but at times, violence has erupted.
Morton County Sheriff's Office said protesters set fires, as officers tried to disperse people with tear gas, rubber bullets and cold water sprayed from fire engine hoses.
Archambault says the accusations against the protesters are false, and that it's the police who are being violent.
"They are the ones who bring the aggression," he said. "They're the ones who are using weapons."
He says the letter from the Army Corps will only make things worse.
"By sending out a letter saying you have until December 5," he says, " It just escalates and causes more concern for everyone's safety."
Scientists Turn Sewage into Crude Oil
Prensa Latina - US scientists have developed a technique that can turn sewage into biocrude oil.. in a matter of minutes, the Pacific North- west National Laboratory (PNNL) announces.
The technique is called hydrothermal liquefaction, and mimics the geological conditions required to create crude oil. What takes Nature millions of years to do, can now be achieved in a few minutes, PNNL says.
By using hydrothermal liquefaction, human waste can be turned into simpler chemical compounds. The material is pressurized to 1,200 Kg per sq. inch, and then goes into a reactor system, operating at about 350 degrees Celsius.
In a few minutes a material similar to petroleum is created, but with a small amount of water & oxygen mixed in. This biocrude can be refined using normal petroleum refining techniques.
Cuba Only Country in the World to Achieve Sustainable Development
Cuba has been declared, this week, the only country in the world to achieve sustainable development, according to a report which the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) publishes every two years.
The WWF document, presented in Beijing, China, noted that, if things continue as they are now, humanity will need to use natural resources & energy, equivalent to two Earths --- by 2050.
This is a vicious circle, as poor countries produce much lower per capita damage, to nature, but as they develop (and China and India are following this trend) the rate rises to unsustainable levels for the planet.
And, within this panorama, Cuba stands out for its favorable indicators, and although the text clarifies that this does not mean that the tiny Caribbean nation is perfect; it's the only country that complies with those conditions.
The WWF has played a key role in fostering an international environmental movement, combining growth and development -- and Cuba's currently the most evident example.
On several occasions, the UN Development Program (UNDP) has recognized that Cuba is a benchmark for the continent regarding the integration of policies and actions for sustainable development.
UNDP's deputy resident representative in Cuba, Claudio Tomasi, told Prensa Latina that the country's development scheme combines its economic approach, with a social and environmental component through comprehensive programs, that save effort & funds; with higher results.
Historic deal reached on a New Marine Sanctuary in Antarctica!
24 countries and the EU, agree to create the world’s largest marine reserve in the Antarctic Ocean by the frozen continent.
A deal to make Ross Sea, in Antarctica, the world’s first large-scale marine park in international waters, was reached on Friday, Oct. 28th, in Hobart, Australia.
The agreement comes after years of diplomatic wrangling and high-level talks between the US and Russia --- which have rejected the idea in the past.
The new marine reserve is located south of New Zealand, in a vast pristine area, which is cold & largely untouched by humans. The reserve will cover 1.55 million square kilometers.
Some 1.12 million square kilometers of the reserve will be a no-fishing zone. The Ross Sea one of the world's most ecologically important oceans.
Decisions on Antarctica need unanimous support among a 25-member commission, involving the US, Russia, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the EU, a hurdle which had left past efforts unsuccessful.
This week, in a rare show of unity, the 24 countries and the European Union, agreed on the deal !
“To get them all to align - especially in the context of divergent economic interests - is quite a challenge,” said Evan Bloom, a director at the US State Department and leader of the US delegation at the event.
“This decision is very important not just for the Antarctic --- but for efforts to promote world marine conservation,” Bloom said.
In a statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry said it “will safeguard one of the last unspoiled ocean wilderness areas on the planet -- home to unparalleled marine biodiversity & thriving communities of penguins, seals, whales, seabirds, and fish.”
Scientists & activists have described the agreement, as a historic milestone in the global efforts to protect marine diversity. The sanctuary will cover more than 12% of the Southern Ocean.
The Southern Ocean around Antarctica is one of the most diverse, fragile, & poorly studied ocean ecosystems on Earth.
The Antarctic Ross Sea is home to over 10,000 species -- including most of earth’s penguins, whales, seabirds, giant squid, and Antarctic tooth fish -- and is one of the world’s most ecologically-important marine areas, and the healthiest remaining marine ecosystem on the planet.
Globally averaged concentration of CO2 reaches alarming level in 2015: WMO
Globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2)in the atmosphere reached the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million for the first time in 2015 and surged again to new records in 2016 on the back of the powerful El Nino event, according to a report released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on October 24th.
WMO released its annual "Greenhouse Gas Bulletin" ahead of the United Nations climate change negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco, to be held from November 7 to 18, providing a scientific base for decision-making.
The report said CO2 levels had previously reached the 400 ppm barrier for certain months of the year & in certain locations but never before on a global average basis, for the entire year. Monitoring systems predict that CO2 concentrations will stay above 400 ppm for the whole of 2016 and not dip below that level for many generations.
The growth spurt in CO2 was fueled by the El Nino event, which started in 2015 & had a strong impact well into 2016. This triggered droughts in tropical regions and reduced the capacity of "sinks" like forests, vegetation & the oceans, to absorb CO2.
These sinks currently absorb about half of CO2 emissions but there is a risk that they may become saturated, which would increase the fraction of emitted carbon dioxide staying in the atmosphere, states the report.
"The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action with the Paris climate change agreement. But it also makes history as marking a new era of climate change reality, with record high greenhouse gas concentrations,"said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas."The El Nino event's disappeared. Climate change has not."
The report highlighted there was a 37% increase in radiative forcing; the warming effect on our climate - because of long-lived greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (N2O) - from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities, between 1990 and 2015.
In 2015, globally averaged CO2 levels were 144% of pre-industrial levels.
In 2015, global annual average CO2 concentrations, reached 400.0 ppm.
People of Earth: We Survived the Hottest September Ever, Again!
Last month was the hottest in recorded history, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).
"September 2016 was the warmest September in 136 years of modern record-keeping," the GISS said on Tuesday. According to meteorological records, 11 of the past 12 consecutive months since October 2015 have hit a new record, with the exception of June 2016, which previously was considered the hottest June on record but turned out to be "the 3rd warmest June behind 2015 and 1998 --- after additional temperature readings from Antarctica."
GISS director Gavin Schmidt explained that monthly rankings are sensitive to updates & though newsworthy, are not as important as long-term trends. "Monthly rankings, which vary by only a few hundredths of a degree, are inherently fragile," he said. "We stress that the long-term trends are the most important, for understanding ongoing changes that are affecting our planet."
September 2016's temperature, was 0.004 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous warmest September of 2014: 0.91 degrees Celsius warmer than mean temperatures for the month from 1951-1980, according to the GISS statement.
Climate scientists have shown how global warming is human-caused, due to greenhouse gases emitted in various ways, including via carbon dioxide, the byproduct of internal combustion engines that burn fossil fuels.
Other emissions contributing to greenhouse effects include gases used in refrigerators, methane, nitrous oxide from fertilizers, and chlorofluorocarbons, which are currently banned in much of the world.
Deforestation is an important factor in climate change as well. Water vapor works as a feed- back mechanism to the greenhouse effect, according to NASA.
While much of humanity attempts to mitigate the effects of climate change by limiting its emission levels, some scientists suggest that it is too late to stop global warming.
James Hansen, a US climatologist & former NASA scientist, claims it's highly likely that the goals of the Paris agreement emissions accords limiting average temperature rises --- will not be achieved.
Experts push for strong measures to save Ozone Layer
They made the call during the opening technical session of the 28th Meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP28), in Rwanda's capital, Kigali.
The Montreal Protocol treaty is a global agreement that protects the ozone layer, by phasing out the production of substances responsible for ozone depletion and climate change.
It was first signed on September 16, 1987, and is widely considered to be one of the most-effective multilateral environment treaties ever negotiated. It's the only treaty in the United Nations system to which every country is a signatory.
The UN Environment Program, says that HFC emissions are growing at about 7% per year. If the current mix of HFCs is unchanged, increasing demand may result in HFC emissions of up to 8.8 gigatons of CO2 equivalent a year, by 2050.
‘By 2050 half the forms of life we know will be gone’ – conservation biologist
Humanity should start saving nature and switch to 80% renewables by 2030, otherwise the Earth will keep losing species, and within 33 years around 800,000 forms of life will be gone, conservation biologist Reese Halter, underlines.
Humans have changed the Earth so much that some scientists think we have entered a new geological age.
According to a report in the Science Magazine, the Earth is now in the anthropocene epoch. Millions of years from now our impact on Earth will be found in rocks - just like we see fossils of plants and animals which lived years ago- except this time, scientists of the future, will find radioactive elements from nuclear bombs, and fossilized plastic.
Reese Halter: "First of all, imagine you’re back on the football field. Each year in America - America alone - we throw away the equivalent of one foot- ball field, 100 miles deep. That is the first thing. The second thing is, we’ve entered the age of climate instability. That means, from burning subsidized climate-altering fossil fuels, our food security is in jeopardy.
"The third thing that is striking, is we’re losing species a thousand times faster than in the last 65 million years. At this rate within 33 years, by mid-century, that means 800,000 forms of life, or half of everything we know, will be gone. The only way we can reverse this, is to do things: save nature now, our life support system, and we do this, by switching to 80% renewables, by 2030.
"It is a WWIII mentality. In America we have the technology; we have the blueprint. We lack the political will just right now. But in the next short while we will, because it is a matter of survival."
"As I said, we’re taking 160% more than mother Earth can sustain, with 7.4 billion people. The way to do it --- is to pull it back to 90%. If we were a big bathtub, the ring would read: toxicity, toxicity, toxicity.
"We’ve got to peel that back -- because what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves."
Taken from RT interview
ENJOYING THE HEATWAVE?
Global Warning as Rapid Temperature Rise Steers Humanity Toward Catastrophe
Global warming, rising at an unprecedented pace, is threatening the Earth, and humanity’s place upon it with disaster, according to Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Beginning in October 2015, each month has set a new heat record --- and July has been the warmest month since global temperature observation began in 1880.
The speed of rising temperatures is much higher than in the last millennium, according to data obtained by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), demonstrating that warming rates over the past 100 years are about 10 times faster than the century that preceded it.
"In the last 30 years we've really moved into exceptional territory. It's unprecedented in 1,000 years. There's no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century, in terms of the inclination (of temperatures)," Schmidt told the Guardian.
For the next 100 years the prognosis isn't good... According to NASA, the pace of increasing temperatures will be at least 20 times faster than the historical average.
Last year, the international community agreed to a 1.5 degree Celsius limit at a landmark Paris climate accord. As Schmidt pointed out, keeping temperatures within this limit will require rapid & significant cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, a global economic shift that --- given current attitudes & habits, is arguably an impossible goal. But, according to climate scientists, exceeding the temperature limit set at the Paris talks will bring dire outcomes.
Sea level increases as a result of melting polar ice, drought, and other severe weather conditions, will lead to catastrophe for island nations & developing countries. Finding a way to shift the dependence of the developed world away from fossil fuels is of the utmost importance, according to climate experts.
New Study Shows Controversial Pesticide Linked to Massive Bee Die-Off
A new study published this week shows that pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics, are probably linked to the decline of wild bee populations.
Published in the Nature Communications journal, the study examines the wild bee population relative to the use of the controversial neonicotinoids in the 18-year span of 1994-2011. Researchers discovered that extinction rates for bees, parallel the use of the pesticide on plants -- and this is found throughout the country.
One of the co-authors, Dr. Nick Isaac:
"The negative effects reported previously, do scale up to long-term, large-scale multi-species impacts that are harmful. Neonicotinoids are harmful -- we can be very confident about that -- and our mean correlation is three times more negative for foragers, than for non-foragers."
The 34 species analyzed in the study, saw a 10% population drop across the board, with 5 of the species seeing a decrease of 20% or more, and the most-impacted group seeing a 30% drop. Researchers say this indicates that half of the population decline could be attributed to the use of neonics.
"Historically, if you just have oilseed rape, many bees tend to benefit from that because it is this enormous foraging resource all over the country -side," said Dr. Ben Woodcock, lead author of the study. "But this correlation study suggests that once it’s treated with neonicotinoids up to 85%, then they are starting to be exposed and it's starting to have these detrimental impacts on them."
"Our results suggest that sub-lethal effects of neonicotinoids could scale up to cause losses of bee biodiversity. Restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids may cut population declines."
Friends of the Earth (FOE) environmental group have launched a petition calling on the Ace and True Value hardware companies to stop carrying the pesticides, as consumers grow ever more conscious of their devastating impact.
FOE said, "If these garden retailers don't act fast, they'll lose customers. A new poll shows that 66 percent of Americans prefer to shop at Lowe's and Home Depot, because they've committed to stop selling bee-killing pesticides."
In a separate study, the group found that toxic chemical use is declining in the US, with 23% of plants in the nation testing positive for the chemicals, a decline from 50% two years ago. FOE credits the drop in numbers, to hardware stores stopping selling products that contain harmful pesticides, including neonicotinoids.
"It's nice to see the use of long-term data to look at trends in pesticide impacts over a longer time scale."said Dara Stanley, plant ecology lecturer at the National University of Ireland Galway...
"That is something that has been missing in the debate on bees and pesticides so far, and there have been many calls to look at the effects over time."
The BIG lie about Jeremy Corbyn is that there is NO economic plan - there is --- it'sGREEN
Below are just 8 0f the 10 pledges:
1) My over-arching commitment will be for Britain to take the lead in developing the clean Energy Economy of the future.
2) As leader I would establish an Energy Commission to draft a fundamental shift in UK energy thinking.
3) The Commission will be tasked to produce a route-map into tomorrow’s ‘smart energy’ systems that will:
• Deliver more, but consume less
• Use clean energy before dirty
• Put energy saving before more consumption
• Use smart technologies to run localised storage, balancing & distribution mechanisms, • Shift the costs of grid access and grid balancing from clean energy across to dirty
• Be open, democratic, sustainable and accountable (in ways that today’s market is not).
4) The Commission to be charged with bringing new partners into energy policy making. These will include:- local authorities, communities, energy co-operatives, & ‘smart’ technology companies, that are already working on tomorrow’s ‘virtual’ power systems and new energy thinking.
5) As leader I will conduct a root & branch review of energy market subsidies; moving away from the notion of everlasting hand-outs; instead, using public support as ‘transition funding’ that transforms Britain’s energy infrastructure.
6) I will expect the energy industry, not the public, to meet the costs of their own clean-up.
7) I will look to re-define the roles of Ofgem, the National Grid and the Competition and Markets Authority, to promote a genuinely open, competitive and sustainable energy market; one in which there are more players and clean energy choices than we have today.
8) I will examine ways to allow communities to be owners of local energy systems, with the right (as in other parts of Europe) to have first use of energy they generate themselves.
EU approves imports of genetically modified Monsanto soybeans
The European Commission has approved the import & processing of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, after debates over glyphosate herbicide’s safety, delayed the introduction of the genetically modified soybean variety, for months.
“Today the Commission authorized three GMOs for food/feed uses (soybean MON 87708 x MON 89788, soybean MON 87705 x MON 89788 & soybean FG 72) --- all of which have gone through a comprehensive authorization procedure, including a favorable scientific assessment by EFSA,” the European Commission statement reads.
Following the Commission’s approval Monsanto’s GMO soybeans are now authorized for use in the feed of animals and in human food --- but not for planting in the EU. The authorization is now valid for 10 years but the EU warns that “any products produced from these GMOs will be subject to the EU’s strict labeling and traceability rules.”
Although Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans are tolerant to glyphosate and dicamba herbicides, the use of dicamba herbicide over the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans remains in a late stage of the Environmental Protection Agency review and is not currently approved by the EPA.
Dicamba was first approved in 1967 & has been linked to high rates of cancer & birth defects in the families of food growers say the government and other scientific studies. Consumer, health, environmental, and farmer advocates, have all fiercely opposed the new Xtend system, over health and environmental concerns.
Europe is the second largest soybean customer as it relies on soybeans to meet demand for meat and dairy products. The entire bloc produces less than 1 million tons of soya a year, yet imports around 35 million tons, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.
France has banned plastic bags?
While some countries like France have opted for a ban, others like Ireland and the UK have introduced plastic bag charges in an effort to minimize their use.
It is estimated that 100 billion plastic grocery bags are used across Europe per year, with 8 billion ending up as litter.
Depending on the type of plastic, these bags have been estimated to take between 100 & 500 years to decompose in the environment, where they pose a great risk to wildlife.
According to a study published in the peer- reviewed journal, PLUS ONE, in December 2014, there are a minimum of 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the world's oceans.
Because plastic takes so long to decompose, much longer than an animal does, one piece can kill several living creatures.
In Sept 2015 Australian scientists estimated that as many as nine in ten seabirds have plastic in their gut, & that increasing rates of ingestion mean that this figure will reach 99 percent of all species by 2050 --- unless there is more effective waste management.
Health Risk: Scientists warn that people are ingesting plastic by eating ocean fish.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: India to Build Roads of Plastic
The government of Maharashtra state in India has decided to kill two birds with one stone. Plastic waste now will be used with asphalt to improve roads’ durability and reduce soil pollution at the same time.
Plastic bags & pouches, bin linings, household goods, bottles and bottle caps in Maharashtra, get a second chance to serve a good purpose as the state government plans to use plastic waste along with asphalt, to build roads.
Delhi's Central Road Research Institute studies revealed, that plastic waste added to asphalt makes road building cheaper & better quality.
Added in small doses, 5-10% of the weight of the asphalt (3-6 kg of plastic for every 100 kg of tar), it helps to improve stability, strength, fatigue life and other desirable properties of the road material.
"Such roads will have higher resistance to deformation and water induced damage, increase their durability & strength, and ultimately, dispose of plastic waste in a larger amount to save pollution,"say the recommendations of the institute to the Maharashtra government, adding:-"The use of waste plastic thus contributes to the construction of green roads."
As a survey conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board in 2015 says: the plastic waste generated in 60 of India's cities, is estimated at over 15,300 tons a day and over 6,100 tons remain uncollected, as litter.
World's biodiversity drops below "safe" levels: study
Xinhua - Changes in land use have caused global biodiversity to fall below what's considered to be "safe" levels & threatens efforts toward long-term sustainable development, a new study reveals.
The study, published in the US journal Science, studied 2.38 million records of 39,100+ species at 18,600 sites ---- to estimate how biodiversity in every square kilometre of land has changed ---- since humans modified the habitat.
For 58.1% of the world's land surface, where 71.4% of the human population live, the level of biodiversity loss is substantial enough to question the ability of these ecosystems to support human societies, it found.
The loss due to changes in land use puts levels of biodiversity, beyond the recently proposed planetary boundaries: an international frame- work that defines a safe operating space for humanity.
"This is the first time we've quantified the effect of habitat loss on biodiversity, globally, in such detail and we've found that across most of the world, biodiversity loss is no longer within the safe limit suggested by ecologists," the lead researcher, Tim Newbold, from University College, London, says, in a statement.
"We know biodiversity loss affects ecosystem functioning, but how it does this, isn't entirely clear. What we do know, is that in many parts of the world, we are approaching a situation where human intervention might be needed to sustain ecosystem functioning," he says.
The study found that grasslands, savannas and shrublands were most affected by bio- diversity loss, followed closely by many of the world's forests and woodlands.
It suggests the ability of biodiversity in these areas to support key ecosystem functions, such as the growth of living organisms and nutrient cycling, has become increasingly uncertain.
The researchers also found that biodiversity hotspots - those that have seen habitat loss in the past, but have a lot of species only found in that area - are now threatened... & show high levels of biodiversity decline.
Some high biodiversity areas, eg Amazonia - that haven't seen land use change - have higher levels of biodiversity ---- and more scope for proactive conservation.
"The greatest changes have happened in the places where most people live, which might affect physical & psychological well-being.
To address this, we would have to preserve the remaining areas of natural vegetation & restore human-used land," adds Dr Newbold.
Expansion of Transgenic Seeds Stopped in Guatemala
Prensa Latina - Indigenous communities, ancestral authorities and social organizations celebrate today in Guatemala, the suspension by the Constitutional Court (CC) of the agreement giving a green light to the expansion of genetically modified seeds.
This victory, which had much to do with the work of the Winaq deputy, Amilcar Pop, is seen by wide sectors, as an important step in defending the natural resources and autochthonous seeds of the indigenous peoples of this country.
The CC of Guatemala notified, on June 17th, the provisional suspension of Decree 6-2014 Protocol of Nagoya (Japan, 2010), dealing with Access to genetic resources and the equitable distribution of the benefits arising from its use.
This treaty is questioned by civil organizations and the ancestral authorities --- because of the procedure used in its approval, in Guatemala's Congress --- as a matter of national urgency.
Also, the treaty did not gain the two thirds of the vote required by the Political Constitution (1985) and the organic law of the legislative power:- despite which, it was implemented.
The Nagoya Protocol, legitimised after 6 years of negotiations within the context of the 10th Conference of the Parts of the agreement on Biologic Diversity, pretends to promote new biotechnology for food production & genetic modification, as a benefit for natives and creoles.
This ruling -- by Guatemala's CC -- forces the National Council of Protected Areas to now suspend all actions oriented to compliance, on Guatemalan territory.
One Third of 'Dead Zones' in World’s Oceans Around United States - Kerry
Roughly a third of all 'dead zones' in the world’s oceans, are in or around the US, Secretary of State, John Kerry, reveals.
Sputnik -One third of the 400 "dead zones" in the world’s oceans depleted of oxygen, are in or around the US, Kerry informs a classroom discussion in Silver Spring, Maryland.
"We have 166 dead zones in the United States. The largest dead zone of all is about 5,000 square miles down in the Gulf of Mexico, where the Mississippi River comes out," Kerry said on Wed- nesday in remarks published by the US Department of State.
"There are now over 400 dead zones on a global basis and they’ve gone up every single decade, for the last decades. What does that tell you? It tells you that we’re not solving the problem; it’s getting worse, not better," Kerry explained.
Which sea is the most heavily polluted in Europe? The North sea ---- around the UK.
TTIP risks to health & environment, US pressure on EU revealed in secret docs leaked by Greenpeace
The controversial trade deal between the EU and the US could affect public health, human rights, internet privacy & the environment, badly, Greenpeace says, citing leaked negotiation print. The US is pressuring the EU over the deal, the text appears to show.
The 248 pages of classified negotiation papers on The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) were released by Greenpeace Netherlands on Monday, May 2nd.
“This treaty is threatening to have far-reaching implications for the environment and the lives of over 800 million citizens in the EU and US,” a Greenpeace statement says.
The TTIP is “about a huge transfer of power from people to big business,” according to the group.
Greenpeace says the papers’ authenticity is confirmed by an investigative research team consisting of Rechercheverbund NDR, WDR und Süddeutsche Zeitung, media outlets.
The US is blocking European car exports into the US, to force the EU to buy more environmentally risky US farm produce, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported, after analyzing the documents.
The deal will result in abandoning long- standing environmental protections, Greenpeace says, adding:
“The US demand for a ‘risk based’ approach aiming to manage hazardous substances - rather than avoid them - finds its way into various chapters. This approach under- mines the ability of regulators to take preventive measures, for example, regarding controversial substances like hormone disrupting chemicals,” the statement reads.
Greenpeace has been worried that the negotiation papers do not mention the General Exceptions rules, that would allow nations to regulate trade --- “to protect human, animal and plant life or health" or for "the conservation of exhaustible natural resources."
“The omission of this regulation, suggests both sides are creating a regime that puts profit ahead of human, animal & plant life and health,” Greenpeace says.
“Whether you care about environmental issues, animal welfare, labour rights, or internet privacy, you should be concerned about what is in these leaked documents. They underline the strong objections civil society and millions of people around the world, have voiced.”
Cecilia Malmstrom, a European Commissioner for Trade, blogs, saying the documents “reflect each side’s negotiating position, nothing else.”
“It is only normal that both parties in a negotiation want to achieve as many of their own objectives as possible. That does not mean that the other side gives in to those demands. That does not mean that the parties will meet halfway,” she adds.
EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero also dismisses Greenpeace’s report: “We have made crystal clear that we would not agree on any- thing that implies changes of our regulatory regime on GMOs.”
While the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and Europe is set to create the world's largest free trade zone, many Europeans worry the agreement will elevate corporate interest, above any national interest. TTIP opponents say that cheaper goods and services ----- will only hurt the EU & help the US.
Europeans argue that international corporations will be given power at the expensive of small/medium-sized businesses. Secrecy around the negotiations has also produced fierce criticism.
Just a day before Obama's visit to Germany, thousands of anti-TTIP protesters hit Hanover's streets.
According to a new survey by pollsters YouGov -- on behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation -- only 17% of Germans say that TTIP is a good thing --- down from 55%, two years ago; & in the US, only 18% of people now support the deal, compared to 53%, in 2014.
Plant-based motor oil introduced in Iran
The fresh brand was reportedly synthesized with the use of environmentally friendly extracts from plants.
The new class of bio-based oil is said to improve engine performance and increase motor age, plus making it run cleaner.
It will, additionally, reduce sedimentation in the motor, which causes gradual engine power loss.
Officials, who attended the unveiling ceremony, hail the company’s latest effort as a step toward to a healthy environment, Iranian reports say.
Studies show bio-based oils cause a reduction of at least 80% in greenhouse gas emissions -- compared to similar petrol-based synthetic oils.
A US report in 2013 said 40%+ of the pollution in US waterways ---- came from used motor oil.
BRICS bank approves first loans, $811mn investment in renewable energy projects
The BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) has approved its first package of loans worth some $811 million. The four projects in Brazil, China, South Africa and India, are all in the renewal energy development sphere.
The decision to approve the first loans, which are to be handed out in tranches, was passed by the NDB, at the board of governors on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank spring meetings in Washington DC, RIA reports.
The NDB decided to provide $300 million to Brazil, $81 million to China, $250 million to India & $180 million to South Africa. The bank estimates that renewable energy field projects with a combined capacity of 2.37MW, can help reduce the amount of harmful emissions by 4 million tons annually.
“There are many more new projects in the pipeline including projects from Russia. They're at various stages of consideration or appraisal,” the NDB spokesperson says.
The ministers also discussed creating a credit rating agency of their own, to tackle western dominance in this sphere.
“Deliberations were held on the efficacy of establishing a New Development Bank Institute and BRICS rating agency,” the Indian media releases said:
“It was decided that a technical working group, will examine the issues in detail.”
The New Development Bank created by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, started its operations in July, 2015, with an initial authorized capital of $100 billion.
The goals of the bank --- with its headquarters in Shanghai, is to fund infrastructure projects in the emerging economies, for sustainable development.
Whey To Go! UK Homes to Be Powered By Cheese
Protein from cheese residue, like the stuff used in energy supplements ---- will be used to power the UK's gas grid and a creamery factory in the north of England. The plant in Cumbria will be the first in Europe to turn cheese waste into bio-methane.
Clearfleau, the firm behind the project, is to use bio-methane gas to power 40% of all homes in the local area; the remaining gas will go back to power the creamery itself.
Lake District Biogas will run the First Milk Aspatria plant for 20 years and will be the first Anaerobic Digestion (AD) dairy plant in Europe to put bio-methane in the gas grid ----- generated by cheese.
The very core of both Obama’s ‘trade’ deal with Europe, TTIP, and his ‘trade’ deal with Asia, TPP, is to sign away legislators’ power to protect the electorate -- from harmful additives, toxic water and foods and air, unsafe cars, and to preserve the environment for themselves and future generations – and more.
At its core, it transfers national sovereignty to a worldwide dictatorship of international corporations (via three-person corporate- accountable panels of ‘arbitrators’, whose rulings are non-appealable and are not required to adhere to any nation’s laws (– it’s shocking, but true).
China proposes $50 trillion global renewable energy network
The company running China’s power grid is proposing a $50 trillion global electricity network --- to tackle pollution and climate change. If it goes ahead, the network would use advanced renewable solar & wind technology, and be operating by 2050.
Beijing’s network will be the world’s biggest infrastructure project, if given the green light. The State Grid has signed a memorandum of understanding, already, with Russia's energy grid Rosseti, Korea’s Electric Power and SoftBank Group of Japan.
According to State Grid’s Chair, Liu Zhenya, the planet is facing "three major challenges", which are:- energy scarcity, environmental pollution and climate change.
Liu adds that smart grids, ultra-high voltage (UHV) grids and clean energy are the only way to a green low carbon, economical, efficient and open energy system, with sustainable supplies.
Liu adds that the global network, could boost the share of clean energy to 80% of world consumption --- displacing fossil fuels as the main energy source.
"China is already the biggest country in the world for wind, solar power generation & also UHV grids. And it has scale, so we can learn many things from China's success. Also, by interconnecting, we can help each other on supply and demand,"SoftBank CEO, Masayoshi Son, tells the Global Times.
"It's a brilliant plan. It might encounter difficulties during construction --- but it is possible," Xue Jiancong, spokesperson for China Merchants New Energy Group, a leading renewable energy company, tells NBC News.
The major barriers for the project “are institutional, not technical,” the former US energy official David Sandalow, tells the Wall Street Journal.“It is an open question, whether national governments will be open to such a revolutionary idea,” he adds.
Saudi Arabia to set up $2 trillion mega-fund for post oil era
The world’s largest crude exporter, Saudi Arabia, plans to create a huge sovereign wealth fund for the country’s most prized assets, to prepare for the post oil era,says the Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as cited by Bloomberg.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) will eventually control over $2 trillion, & help the kingdom shift away from oil, which has seen falling prices strain Saudi Arabia's finances.
The Prince says that the wealth fund already holds stakes in companies, such as, Saudi Basic Industries (the world’s second-biggest chemicals manufacturer) --- and in National Commercial Bank (S. Arabia’s largest lender).
“Undoubtedly, it will be the largest fund on Earth,”says the prince.“This will happen as soon as Aramco goes public.”
As part of the new strategy, Riyadh plans to sell shares of state-owned energy company Saudi Aramco ----- and transform it into an industrial conglomerate. The sale of the company is planned for 2018, or even a year earlier.
“IPOing Aramco & transferring its shares to PIF, will technically make investment the source of Saudi government revenue, not oil,”the prince says, in an interview at the royal compound in Riyadh, on Thursday.“What is left now is to diversify investments. So within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil.”
According to the fund’s sec. general, Yasir Alrumayyan, PIF is expected to raise the proportion of foreign investments to 50% by 2020... from the current 5%.
The kingdom is highly dependent on oil revenues, & is suffering a record high budget deficit, which is expected to reach $87 billion, this year. The crude oil price crisis has had an impact on the economy, as oil sales account for almost 80% of the country’s revenue. Saudi Arabia’s foreign reserves fell to $640 billion last year, from $737 billion in 2014.
In January Riyadh outlined an ambitious economic development plan -- aimed at dramatically reducing dependence on crude prices. The authorities intend to restructure the economy by investing more in other sectors, particularly in healthcare, tourism and IT.
The government has also announced plans to liberalize the market in order to attract foreign investors.
“It is clear Saudi Arabia needs to reform, diversify, and re-energize its economy, but this will involve more than just increasing investment in non-oil industries,” a professor of security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, Paul Sullivan tells Bloomberg. “One cannot order economic reforms like a ten course dinner.”
TEPCO Starts to Freeze Soil at Fukushima Nuclear Plant
Prensa Latina -Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) started work on Thursday to freeze soil around the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, in an operation to slow the pace of increase in radioactive water there.
The measure is expected to reduce the amount of groundwater flowing into the facilities every day to about 50 tons, from 100+ tons, currently.
TEPCO required a Nuclear Regulation Authority permit that took two years, since the directors feared environmental damage.
To freeze the soil, special coolant under 30 degrees centigrade, is circulated through pipes driven into the ground around the 4 reactors at the plant -- which was heavily damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
TEPCO experts explain that the Nuclear Regulation Authority has approved the operational start of frozen soil shields -- on condition that the work is done in stages and results will start showing in 45 days.
We’re #1! Carbon dioxide is at its highest rate -- in 66 million years
After February’s most abnormally warm month on record, a new study in National Geoscience shows humans are releasing carbon dioxide at a rate 10 times faster than at any time in the past 66 million years.
Carbon dioxide is necessary for the Earth, but the study by Richard Zeebe of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Andy Ridgwell of the University of Bristol, and James C. Zachos of the University of California Santa Cruz, explains that “The Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), is known, at present, to have had the highest carbon release rates of the past 66 million years.”
The PETM refers to a period 56 million years ago, when ''something'' caused the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, to spike at levels higher than today’s.
This caused Earth to warm, its oceans to acidify, & a mass extinction of animal and plant species.
This is important, because the PETM took place over a long period of time.
Zeebe's team gathered their information on the PETM by examining a deep core of ocean sediment from the New Jersey coast... which was used to analyze ratios between isotopes of carbon & oxygen, and could consequently determine how atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have influenced temperatures.
Scott Wing, a paleobiologist and curator at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, told Mashable:
“If the rate of PETM carbon addition was a tenth of our rate, then the future will likely be much more extreme than the PETM, in many ways.”
Mashable reports that the PETM is believed to have lasted more than 4,000 years, with a maximum emission rate of 1.1 billion tons a year. Today, emission rates are estimated to be closer to 10 billion tons per year.
So what does this mean for planet Earth? Well, it’s hard to say, because the PETM occurred very slowly, and there is no analogue to be drawn between today’s high carbon dioxide emission rates, and those of the PETM.
“... Unfortunately, because we’re doing it so fast, our conclusion is that the rate of acidification will be much more severe in the future, and also that the effects on the calcifiers are likely to be more severe than what we see during PETM,” Zeebe told Mashable.
Tory inaction on emissions ‘insults people dying from air pollution,’ say green lawyers
Green campaigners are suing the government for failing to meet EU air pollution limits in UK cities.
Environmental law group ClientEarth issued a fresh legal challenge on March 18th, after accusing the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), of delaying stricter pollution laws.
The government is legally required to meet EU targets on the toxic gas NO2, which is thought to kill about 25,000 people in the UK each year.
ClientEarth have asked the High Court to now urgently review Defra’s plans to tackle the gas - which is emitted from vehicles, and industry.
A lawyer for the group says the court could force the government to rewrite its policies to counter pollution.
“The plan they came up with [in Dec 2015], was just not good enough. It was a plan for a plan... These are classic delaying tactics. Meanwhile, thousands of people are dying,” ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews says.
“Government has been delaying for years. This challenge will force a full legal examination of Defra’s plans.”
ClientEarth’s case concerns 15 cities & regions across the UK, including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.
Scottish and Welsh ministers, the Mayor of London, and the Department for Transport, will also be served with papers.
The group claimed victory last April, when the UK Supreme Court, ruled the government had failed to meet EU pollution limits.
Alan Andrews, a lawyer from ClientEarth, says the government plans, were an insult to those dying from air pollution.
“As the government can’t be trusted to deal with toxic air pollution, we are now asking the court to intervene, and make sure it is taking action,” he says.
“It is a disgrace that we have had to take further legal action, to force the government to protect our health.
“The government’s plans were an insult to those being made sick and dying from air pollution and failed to consider strong measures ----- to get the worst-polluting diesel vehicles out of our towns and city centres."
In January, London exceeded its EU air pollution limits for the entire year in just 8 days, according to London Air Quality Network.
High levels of toxic gas are emitted from diesel exhaust fumes. A new study says that exposure to the fumes, can significantly impact people with asthma.
Researchers at Imperial College, London, have found that both during and after a 2-hour walk along the city’s busy Oxford Street, volunteers experienced increased asthmatic symptoms including reduced lung capacity and inflammation in the lungs.
‘Climate Emergency’: Scientists Stunned by February Temperature Records
Experts warn that we may be nearing a tipping point that could trigger a massive, apocalyptic temperature increase.
This weekend NASA released data showing that February 2016 was not only the hottest February in recorded history, but soared so far past all previous records, as to cause scientists to describe it as "an ominous milestone in our march towards an ever-warmer planet."
The average global surface temperature for February was 1.35°C warmer than the average for the month, as measured from 1951 to 1980.
The previous record, 1.14°C above the 1951-1980 baseline, was set one month earlier, in Jan. 2016.
According to meteorologists Bob Henson & Dr. Jeff Masters, founder of the popular Weather Underground meteorological website, NASA's report is a "bombshell."
The meteorologists worry that Earth may have passed a critical tipping point, with "February 2016 soaring past all rivals, as the warmest seasonally adjusted month in 100 + years, of global record-keeping."
Stefan Rahmstorf, of Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, Germany, describes the development by using cataclysmic terminology.
"We are in a state of climate emergency now," says Rahmstorf, adding, "the new figures are quite stunning --- and what we are seeing, is completely unprecedented."
Generally, scientists caution against highlighting a one or two month temperature spike, particularly in an El Niño climate cycle, as Earth is experiencing this year. However, the climate data reported, is so extraordinary, many scientists believe it warrants serious alarm.
Temperatures reported in February 2016 exceed even the "super" El Niño of Feb. 1998 -- by 0.47°C.
Climatologists believe this string of monthly temperature records will continue, with record readings in the months and years to come, due to an increased concentration of carbon in the global atmosphere, that, in turn, will drive higher longer-term temperatures.
What many scientists fear, beyond a gradual rise in temperatures, is reaching a tipping point, a full- scale melting of the polar ice caps --- which would release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas with roughly 80 times the impact on world temperature as carbon dioxide.
If the ice caps melt, scientists speculate that it could trigger a rapid, potentially apocalyptic temperature hike.
Pope Francis Calls to Address One of the Greatest Crises
Prensa Latina - "We can no longer remain silent before one of the greatest environmental crises in world history", pope Francis said on Monday, 15th of February, during a mass held in Chiapas, Mexico, before indigenous communities.
Francis criticized the irresponsible use and abuse of natural resources.
"We grew up thinking we were the world's owners and were authorized to plunder it, he emphasized.
The Pope presided over the mass in the main indigenous languages of Chiapas: Tzeltal, Tzotzil and Chol. The liturgy included readings, prayers and hymns in those languages.
Francis said indigenous communities have much to teach mankind, as they know how to relate harmoniously with nature.
He denounced how, in a systematic and organized way, indigenous peoples have been misunderstood and excluded from society, over the course of history.
"Some have considered your values, culture and traditions to be inferior", he emphasised. "Others, intoxicated by power, money and market trends, have stolen your lands, or have contaminated them."
UK closes its oldest nuclear reactor after 45 yrs of operation
The UK closed its oldest nuclear reactor, Wylfa 1, after nearly 45 years of operation, Reuters reports, citing operator Magnox.
“Wylfa Nuclear Power Station closed down, marking the conclusion of Magnox reactor generation in the UK,” the company says.
The 490-megawatt nuclear reactor in Wales was scheduled to shut in September 2014, but operations were extended.
Wylfa 1 started operating in 1971 next to its twin Wylfa 2 reactor, which was permanently shut down in April 2012.
‘Cut antibiotics use in livestock to avert superbug catastrophe’ – UK health review
Urgent cuts must be made in the use of antibiotics in livestock farming, as misuse of the drugs, risks sparking a global public health crisis, a UK- government commissioned review says.
World governments need to reach internationally agreed targets, to reduce the use of antibiotics -- if medicine is to retain its effectiveness in killing bacteria.
The review, led by former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill, suggests countries follow the lead set by Denmark and the Netherlands.
Denmark uses an average of less than 50mg of antibiotics a year per kilogram of livestock – a figure O’Neill says “may be a good starting point for such a target.”
“Denmark has shown that a very productive farming industry can be sustained alongside relatively low levels of antibiotic use,” the review says.
In many countries the majority of antibiotics are used in livestock, not in humans, the study finds.
In the United States for example, over 70% of medically important antibiotics are used on animals, while humans use 30%.
“This creates a big resistance risk for everyone,” O’Neill says. “It’s time for policy makers to act on this.”
Infectious disease expert and Wellcome Trust director, Jeremy Farrar, says urgent action is needed, to combat a future crisis.
“We can now be certain that the health of live- stock animals, and how we care for them, is inextricably linked to our own health and the effectiveness of medicines we rely on every day,” he says in a statement.
“We need international governments, policy makers and the agricultural industry to coor- dinate their actions, and set tangible targets for the reduction, & better use of, antibiotics in animals.”
The review’s recommendations come amid global alarm over the discovery in China of a gene dubbed MCR-1, that makes bacteria resistant to even the strongest antibiotic.
Professor Timothy Walsh of the University of Cardiff’s Institute of Infection & Immunity told the BBC last month, that the world is on the cusp of the “post-antibiotic era.”
“All the key players are now in place to make the post-antibiotic world a reality,” he said.
“If MCR-1 becomes global, which is a case of when not if, & the gene aligns itself with other antibiotic resistance genes, which is inevitable, then we will have very likely reached the start of the post-antibiotic era.
“At that point if a patient is seriously ill, say with E. coli, then there is virtually nothing you can do,” he adds.
Putin wants Russia to become world's biggest exporter of Non-GMO food
Russia could become the world's largest supplier of ecologically clean & high-quality organic food, said President Vladimir Putin on thursday. He also called on the country to become completely self-sufficient in food production by 2020.
"We are not only able to feed ourselves, taking into account our lands, water resources. Russia is able to become the largest world supplier of healthy, ecologically clean and high-quality food --- which the Western producers have long lost: especially given the fact that demand for such products in the world market, is steadily growing,"said Putin, addressing the Russian Parliament.
According to the President, Russia is now an exporter, not an importer, of food.
"10 years ago, we imported almost half of our food from abroad and were dependent on imports. Now Russia is among the exporters. Last year, Russian exports of agricultural products totalled almost $20 billion - a quarter more than the revenue from the sale of arms, or one-third of the revenue from gas exports," he said.
Putin said all this makes Russia fully capable of supplying the domestic market with home- grown food by 2020.
In September, the Kremlin decided against producing food products with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Russia imposed an embargo on the supply of products from the EU & US, in response to Western sanctions. When Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber, Russia's authorities banned fruit, vegetables, & poultry from Turkey, as from Jan. 1st.
Botswana Sells UK Company Right to Drill for Shale Gas in National Park
Sputnik — Botswana's government has recently sold the rights to the UK owned Karoo Energy company, to frack for shale gas in the Kgalagadi transfrontier park, the Guardian newspaper reports.
The Kgalagadi park is among Africa's largest conservation areas.
Record radiation at Fukushima power plant could kill person in under 1 hour – reports
Deadly radiation levels of up to 9.4 Sieverts per hour have been recorded at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant --- enough to kill a person in less than an hour, if directly exposed, Japan's local media report.
The mortal radiation reading was taken in a small room, using a remote-controlled robot, where a pipe leads to the containment vessel of No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, JIJI Press reports, citing Tokyo Electri c Power Co (TEPCO).
The reading of 9.4 sieverts (Sv) per hour was taken during the September 4-25 checks.
According to the operator, the highest levels of contamination were measured on the floor. TEPCO did not offer any further details. The company is about to start a decontamination process, it hopes to complete by December.
Immediate radiation exposure around the Fukushima nuclear power plant after the deadly incident reached 400 millisieverts (mSv) per hour in places.
One millisievert is a thousandth of a sievert, therefore the new 9.4 Sv reading is 23.5 times higher than the radiation level recorded in March, 2011.
Just to compare, the typical average dose for a person is about 0.0036 Sv. per year.
Combined career exposure limits for NASA's male astronauts --- by the time they are 55 years old --- is 4.00 Sv.
Early last week, a government commissioned study, said that nearly 40% of those involved in the emergency assistance operation at Fukushima's plant in March 2011, suffered from radiation exposure, exceeding the yearly public norm.
A magnitude 9 earthquake triggered a tsunami that struck Fukushima on March 11, 2011. The disaster caused a triple meltdown at the plant, where so far almost 45,000 workers have been involved in a clean-up & decommissioning effort that is expected to cost billions of dollars and take about 40 years.
Fukushima – a Hushed Up Catastrophe
“Its against international law to dump radioactivity into the sea, but that is precisely what is happening on a daily basis,” says Dr. Keith Baverstock, former regional adviser for Radiation and Public Health, World Health Organization (“WHO”), speaker at the Citizen-Scientist International Symposium on Radiation Protection, in October, 2015.
As intimated by Dr. Baverstock, inexplicably, Fukushima is immune to international law, standards, and conventions, and nobody cares enough to do anything about it.
Japan’s PM Abe (61), a graduate in political science from Seikei University, is reopening nuclear power plants as quickly as possible.
Dr. Baverstock, “I’m really appalled at the way the international system has failed. Quite frankly, we don’t get anything through the media. There's no general understanding of the situation here in Europe, because the media are not putting this view forward. In fact, I think many people would be very surprised, that it was still a matter for discussion. They would be even more surprised to learn that it’s still an ongoing accident, and that it hasn’t terminated yet… and they would be more surprised to learn that nobody knows how to stop it.”
Abe's administration established a very tight news blackout and instituted severe secrecy laws --- to prevent the truth from getting out.
Information about the meltdown is controlled via biased sources. Dr. Baverstock underlines:
It is imperative for “the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to have its role clarified. It cannot continue to be the promoter of nuclear power and the organization that is involved for safety. So, the failure of the IAEA to respond, in this particular instance is very good ammunition to move towards getting that view heard at the UN General Assembly, and that will be something which politicians have to do. There are some politicians who are sympathetic to the view expressed here.”
Of course, it's only too self-evident that PM Abe is preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and posturing to re-open nuke facilities. As of 22nd October, 21 of Japan’s 43 operable reactors, are undergoing NRA safety reviews.
Already, Kyushu EPC’s Sendai 2 nuclear power plant restarted last week, supplying electricity to the grid. It’s as if nothing bad has happened.
Corium is a lava-like radioactive hot molten mix of a nuclear reactor core formed in a meltdown.
The corium is missing at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant No. 2. Nobody knows where it is. Nobody knows! Better yet, or rather worse yet, finding No.2’s melted core is an ongoing challenge.
What if the corium leaked or leaks into the ground, beneath the reactor’s final cement & steel containment vessel, the last line of defense? Answer: Nobody knows because it has never happened before.
Cesiun-137, deadly to all Earth's life forms, and one of many dangerous isotopes, is water-soluble --- and makes its way into soils and waters --- and quickly becomes ubiquitous in the ecosystem; that’s what happens: “ubiquitous in the ecosystem.”
Afterwards, an exclusion zone is established to keep everybody out, due to excessive levels of radiation. When Ihor Gramotkin, director of the Chernobyl Power Plant, was asked how soon Chernobyl's reactor site would be inhabitable again, he replied: “At least 20,000 years.”
Yet the Abe government is already, now, moving people back into some of the 4- year-old exclusion zones of Fukushima.
200 US sailors of the USS Reagan have a pending lawsuit against TEPCO, et al and say young sailors are already enduring leukemia, ulcers, gall bladder removals, brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, thyroid illness, stomach ailments & other complaints, unusual in such young adults.
The sailors served in “Operation Tomodachi,” providing humanitarian relief after the March 11th, 2011 Fukushima disaster -- based upon assurances that radiation levels were okay.
According to the plaintiff’s attorneys, more sailors are now in the process of coming on board, as a storm of nuclear radiation after-effects, spreads through the ranks.
Belgium to power 170 trains with wind energy
Xinhua -- Belgium has inaugurated a project to power 170 trains by wind energy -- with the first seven of the 25 turbines having entered service on Saturday, 25th October, local media report.
Sudpresse newspaper group says turbines will be built along the main rail line from Leuven to Liege, generating enough power for every high- speed and local train using the line.
The number of trains to be covered by the wind project, represents about 5% of the country's total rail traffic, Belgian railtrack operator Infrabel says.
Belgian broadcaster RTL reports that once all 25 turbines are operating, they are expected to produce 35,000 megawatt hours -- enough energy to power 10,000 homes.
About two-thirds of the produced electricity is needed for the rail line and the surplus will be added to the domestic electricity supply grid.
Philippe Van Troeye, production director at Belgian energy firm Electrabel, tells media:
"Wind energy, like solar power, is intermittent, but it will play a more and more important role in our energy provision, in the future."
The Bee Under Frosty’s Bonnet
This article appeared first in the Morning Star.
Peter Frost reports on how relentless and secret lobbying of the Tory government by agribusiness has brought a banned bee-killing poison back to our countryside.
Do you remember that once David Cameron vowed that his government would be the greenest ever? Well that is just one more velvet glove that has been discarded to reveal yet another Tory iron fist.
Cameron’s Tory government along with its most un- green minister to destroy the environment Liz Truss has caved to pressure from agrochemical farming's lobby & agreed to let bee-harming pesticides back into the UK's fields this autumn.
Truss and her team at Defra have ignored the overwhelming science showing neonicotinoids harm honeybees, bumblebees and many other pollinators and beneficial insects.
After months of secrecy the government has agreed to let farmers in some parts of England sow seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides.
They claim it is only a temporary measure, but in fact it's much more likely to become permanent and nationwide.
Friends of the Earth bees’ campaigner Paul de Zylva, tells the Morning Star:
“It’s scandalous that the government has caved in to the National Farmers Union (NFU) pressure and given permission for some farmers to use banned pesticides that have been shown to harm our precious bees.
“Ever more scientific evidence shows just how dangerous these chemicals are to bees & other pollinators — they should have no place in our fields and gardens.”
Dr Lynn Dicks of the University of Cambridge:
“We now have robust evidence that neonicotinoids have a serious impact on free-living bumblebee colonies in real farmed landscapes.”
The government has been negotiating with the agrochemical industry in secret... It continues to refuse to make publicly available the NFU application - and even suppressed the notes of its expert advisers’ meeting.
Public pressure finally got these released and published but surprise, surprise, they say nothing about the alleged scientific basis for the decision.
Truss and other ministers promised that decisions would be science-based. But how can we believe them if the secrecy continues?
The government tell us that this use of chemicals is only a limited and temporary permission for one crop in a particular areas of the country, but we know the NFU continues to lobby for the extension of use for these poisons, that we know, kill bees.
These neonicotinoids are banned all over the EU and there’s more than enough evidence to make the ban permanent here in Britain.
For instance the ingredient allowed under this change of mind by Truss and the government -- clothianidin -- was tested in the recent study......... It showed that bumblebees in landscapes with clothianidin-treated oilseed rape produced only a third as many queens as those in landscapes treated with other — non neonicotinoid — insecticides.
The NFU and the industrial farming lobby continue their campaign to get the ban lifted all across the UK. Commercial beekeepers are deeply worried both about crop pollination and honey production.
Public pressure, protest demonstrations, online petitions, have all shown the government, that most people are totally opposed to the industrial farming lobby and to their poisons.
The lack of government transparency shows how much pressure it has been under from members of the public who are totally opposed to the use of neonicotinoids.
Countries Confirm Presence at Climate Summit in Bolivia
In Morales' opinon, there is a world environmental movement for the 'Pachamama', or 'Mother Earth'.
The conclusions of the 2nd World Summit in October on the Rights of Mother Earth --- in Cochabamba --- will be presented to the next UN Conference on Climate Change, slated for Paris on November 30 - December 11 this year.
Scotland is the latest nation to ban cultivation of genetically-modified (GM) crops, also known as GMOs – genetically-modified organisms.
Scotland is taking advantage of EU regulations which permit it to opt out of being forced to let GMO agri-business gain access to Scotland.
In its decision, the Scottish National Party (SNP) government in Edinburgh has broken with the Tory government in London, which has allowed the production of GMO crops.
Opponents of GM foods argue that, although the European Union law allows some nations to opt out of growing GM crops, it lets others permit GM companies into their agricultural sectors, thus circumventing the current GM bans in Germany, Italy, and France.
Scottish government official statement:
"The Scottish Government believes that GM policy in Scotland should be guided by what is best for our economy, & our own agricultural sector, rather than by UK priorities. There is no evidence of a significant demand for GM products, by Scottish consumers. To grow GM crops in Scotland, would damage our 'clean and green' brand."
To stop a contamination of Scottish crops by English GM seeds, a strict agricultural inspection regime must be established on the English-Scottish border, a thing that's music to the ears of pro-independence Scots, and a nightmare for the English, who want to preserve an increasingly- unworkable "United Kingdom".
The only Scottish MEP on the EU's agricultural committee, Alyn Smith of the SNP, says Scotland wants to have a reputation for growing and exporting natural foods, not these adulterated GM products.
Smith says, while the SNP favors "carefully regulated research and development of GM foods", it does not want to jeopardize Scotland’s role, as a producer of natural quality foods.
One effect of the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) --- if the UK accedes to the TTIP --- will be that Monsanto could sue Scotland before an ISDST... and potentially scrap Scotland’s GMO farming ban.
The role of the TTIP... is to circumvent national sovereignty & put corporations - like Monsanto - over the will of elected governments & the people they govern.
In addition, under free trade agreements like the TPP, articles like this, criticizing Monsanto, could result in costly lawsuits against both author & publisher, brought before ISDSTs.
Constitutional guarantees of the freedom of the press & speech in the US, & other TTIP signatory nations are abrogated by "free trade" agreements designed to put the rights of multinational corporations above nations, states, provinces, counties, municipalities, and individual citizens.
Russia and France ban the cultivation of Monsanto’s GM products, including corn. Monsanto corn has been found to cause cancerous tumors in laboratory rats.
Yet the proto-fascist government of Ukraine welcomes Monsanto & other GM companies with open arms. At risk, is Ukraine’s large wheat-growing industry.
Perhaps nothing shows the link between neo-cons and GM foods, better, than the US neocons' support for the Ukrainian government & its dangerous agricultural policy, which aims to benefit Monsanto, & destroy the individual Ukraine farmer.
The Monsantos made much of their fortune via the transatlantic slave trade. From its roots in trading in African slaves, Monsanto now trades in adulterated food products and in pesticides shown to be harmful, not only to humans, but also livestock and bees, and other beneficial insects, and to bird populations.
Monsanto’s first major Frankenfood offering was saccharin, a derivative of coal tar, and which was sold to the Coca Cola Company.
Saccharin has been shown to cause bladder cancer in humans.
After President Obama’s trip to his dad's homeland in Kenya, 7 Kenyan MPs from parliamentary committees dealing with Agriculture, Livestock & Cooperatives, Education, Research and Technology, Health, the Environment and Natural Resources, Finance, Planning and Trade, introduced legislation to lift Kenya’s ban on GMOs.
Kenya succumbed to the desires of a US president, more interested in protecting the profits of Monsanto -- whose initial financial backing came from a family of slave traders -- than in the health of the people of Kenya.
Earth closer to 'irreversible changes' as humans cross 4 of 9 planetary boundaries
Earth is slipping towards the “danger zone” as humanity has crossed 4 of the 9 environmental phases (so-called planetary boundaries) moving closer potentially “irreversible changes,” a new high-profile study claims.
A combination of factors, including climate change, shifting agriculture patterns & other activities that cause biological and chemical changes to nature (not least of which is the use of fertilizer), have got us closer to “the danger zone” from which there’s no return, a study in 'Science' claims.
“We’re running up to and beyond the biophysical boundaries that enable human civilization as we know it to exist,” says the co-author of the study, Steve Carpenter, who's director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Limnology.
Carried out by 18 leading experts in their fields, the study entitled ‘Planetary Boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet’ points out that human activity is changing the planet's functions, destabilizing complex interactions between people, oceans, land, and atmosphere.
"For the first time in human history, we need to relate to the risk of destabilizing the entire set," one of the authors of the study, Professor John Rockstrom of Stockholm University, tells the Thomson Reuters Foundation. His colleague, Professor Will Steffen, believes that “past a certain threshold, curbing greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, or land-use change may not reverse or even slow the trends of Earth System degradation, with potentially catastrophic consequences.”
The report is based on the 9 ‘boundaries’ idea that originated in 2009. Each phase stands for boundaries, within which, humanity can live sustainably and what that would entail.
The nine planetary boundaries:
1. Climate change
2. Change in biosphere integrity (biodiversity loss and species extinction)
3. Stratospheric ozone depletion
4. Ocean acidification
5. Biogeochemical flows (phosphorus and nitrogen cycles)
6. Land-system change (for example deforestation)
7. Freshwater use
8. Atmospheric aerosol loading (microscopic particles in the atmosphere that affect climate and living organisms)
9. Introduction of novel entities (e.g. organic pollutants, radioactive materials, nanomaterials, and micro-plastics).
Each is marked by an irreversible change to our environment and, once reached, is followed by a period where we can either act or let it all slip further. And, “given the pace of change, we can no longer exclude the possibility of reaching critical tipping points that could abruptly and irreversibly change living conditions on Earth,” the report says.
Back in September, a WWF report said Earth has crossed 3 of the 9 identified "planetary boundaries,” which, it said, are “potentially catastrophic changes to life as we know it.”
The 3 extreme danger points crossed:
Biodiversity, Carbon dioxide levels Nitrogen pollution from fertilizers.
Scientists consider climate change as at the top of this list of planetary boundaries, the researchers believe.
"We are at a point where we may see abrupt, irreversible changes, due to climate change," Rockstrom says, referencing particularly the danger of the melting Arctic ice sheets, which releases large amounts of greenhouse gases.
According to the study, our planet has been in a “remarkably stable state” for 12,000 years. But this changed roughly 100 years ago, says Carpenter, who adds “everything important to civilization” occurred during that precise time – from agriculture to the industrial revolution.
The paper will be discussed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, next week, presented as a wake-up call to policymakers.
It will also be incorporated into the UN’s upcoming global strategy in September, for when the current Millennium Development Goals expire.
A forum on ecological development in southwest China's Guizhou Province
Under the theme "Embracing New Era of Eco- civilization", Eco Forum Global in Guiyang City, Guizhou's capital, saw 1,700 plus delegates from across the globe discuss topics like: sustainable development, climate change, & green energy, to finance, says the forum organizer.
The environment is at the highest ever place on China's agenda, Du Qinglin, vice chair of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said in a speech at the opening ceremony.
China is trying to find new growth in eco- friendly industries, create sustainable urban patterns, control pollution and cure China's environmental damage, Du says.
"We expect to nurture a new competitive edge and new sources of national strength through green development. Going green will be China's new path to tackle the economic new normal," he says.
The event is China's latest effort to enhance awareness to protect the environment, after a growth-at-all-costs economic model fueled decades of explosive growth --- but tainted much of the country's air, water and land.
Environment Minister Chen Jining said: "the Chinese environment is reaching, or has reached, its limit -- due to years of sprawling development at the price of the environment".
The Chinese government has promised to take "more forceful" measures in the next five years to protect the environment and promote green development.
6th mass extinction already here as species disappear 100 times faster - study
The world is on the brink of its 6th mass extinction, as animals are disappearing 100 times faster than previously, scientists warn in a new report. They say humanity could be among its first victims.
According to Princeton, Stanford and UC Berkeley scientists, rates like these haven't been seen since the last age of the dinosaurs, some 66 million years ago. Paul Ehlrich of Stanford says the data “shows without any significant doubt, that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event."
Data demonstrates “without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event,” Ehlrich, whose work on species disappearance, dates back to 1980, says.
The report has been drawn to counter critics who believe the data is exaggerated. Ehlrich and co- authors seek to demonstrate, using conservative assumptions, that the new phase is already well under way, seeing as they are “far above the ‘background’ rates prevailing in the 5 preceding mass extinctions.”
The background rate is the normal rate of disappearance between mass extinctions.
“If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself will likely disappear early on,” lead author Gerardo Ceballos, of the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, says in support.
But the background rate is difficult to estimate, so scientists had to improvise with techniques. Humanity has gaps in its knowledge of what happened over Earth’s 4.5 billion-year lifespan.
The team used a past extinction rate that was twice as high as the estimates widely used in previous studies, and compared that rate to the most conservative estimates. In this way, they brought the two approximate rates as close to each other as possible – the current and all- time background rates.
The researchers argue that if the past rate was two mammal extinctions out of 10,000 species over 100 years, the “average rate of vertebrate species loss over the last century is up to 114 times higher than it would be without human activity --- even when relying on the most conservative estimates of species extinction.”
They add that their “calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis because our aim was to place a realistic lower band on human impact on biodiversity.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature backs up the alarming news, giving a threat level of 26% for mammals and 41% for amphibians – Elrich calls those making it into the statistic, “the walking dead.”
“Averting a dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services, is still possible through intensified conservation efforts, but that window of opportunity is rapidly closing,” the scientists say.
There is a man-made causal chain that leads to biodiversity reduction, habitat loss, deforestation, overexploitation of resources and other evils. As species disappear, so do key ecosystem services provided by bee pollination, as well as wetlands water purification. The researchers say we stand to lose many of those biodiversity benefits within three generations. As Ehlrich puts it, “We are sawing the limb that we are sitting on.”
The authors hope their study, published in Science Advances, will serve to influence policy and propel conservation efforts forward before the changes become completely irreversible.
China Makes First Electric Plane for Passengers
Prensa Latina - China has produced the first electric planes for passengers in the world with an airworth- iness certificate, according to official media.
The BX1E has a wingspan of 14,5 meters and a load capacity of 230 kilograms. This artefact can reach an altitude of 3,000 metres, they say.
The energy load is completed in 2 hours, allowing the flight to last from 45 minutes to an hour, at a speed of 160 kilometres per hour, notifies news agency Xinhua.
The plane is designed by Shenyang Aeroespatial University and the Academy of Aviation Liaoning.
The first two airplanes have already been delivered, to Liaoning Ruixiang General Aviation Co., Ltd.
The BX1E can be used in training pilots, tourism, meteorology and emergencies.
Each can be sold for around 163,000 US dollars, states this official press organ.
G7 Group Agrees to ‘Decarbonize’ Global Economy by End of Century – Merkel
Sputnik –The G7 group of the world’s leading industrialized nations has agreed to replace oil, gas and coal, with alternative energies by the end of the century, to reduce global carbon emissions, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, says after the 'summit'.
“We are committed to the fact that during the course of the century we want to see the decarbonalization of the world economy,” Merkel tells media reporters commenting on the results of the two-day G7 summit in Germany’s Bavaria.
The G7 nations have also agreed to raise funds for climate change mitigation, Merkel says.
“It will be one of our goals by 2020. We want public and private sources to allocate $100 billion every year,” she says.
The G7 leaders agreed that the world should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 70% by 2050, the German chancellor adds.
Ahead of key climate talks to be held in Paris in December, the group is committed to the goal of keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius, by the end of the century.
The statement comes a month after Merkel pledged to make every effort to achieve a global climate change agreement during a UN conference in Paris.
The 21st UN Climate Change Conference is due to be held in Paris, in late November and early December. The Paris deal will replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which failed to agree on legally binding and universal agreements on climate for all nations of the world.
G7's "ambitious" climate targets another empty promise?
The Group of Seven (G7) leaders say they are to fill a gap in financial support for developing countries to address climate change, and seek a phase-out of fossil energy globally, within this century.
Although the "club of rich countries" describe this commitment as "ambitious", analysts say -- considering their past real actions -- that what G7 vow now, could be just another empty promise.
G7 say they will continue their efforts to meet their previous commitment to provide 100 billion US dollars a year by 2020, from both public and private sectors, to developing countries, to help them battle against climate change.
Other targets: to seek world decarbonization over the course of this century:- to cut carbon emissions by 40 to 70% by 2050 compared to 2010 levels and transform their own energy sectors, by 2050.
"Urgent, concrete action is needed to address climate change," said the G7 leaders in their communiqué, asking "all parties" to share the task of emission cutting.
Environmental activists, however, say the G7 need more actions than words.
"G7 leaders still aren't spelling out how they will keep their vow to deliver 100 billion US dollars in climate finance by 2020 and failed to commit to provide more of this money from public funds -- a vital foundation for success in Paris at the end of the year," states Oxfam: "Developing countries need a credible financial roadmap, not a set of accounting tricks."
"Developing countries are ready to move fast & far on renewables, but they need finance and technology from rich countries to do it. We need to see more concrete commitments for immediate action," says Samantha Smith, leader of WWF's Global Climate and Energy Initiative.
The developed countries, including the G7, promised in 2009 to increase climate cash support to developing states to 100 billion US dollars a year by 2020. A clear roadmap to meet this commitment, however, was never provided.
The Green Climate Fund, by June 3rd, has only 59% of the total pledged money delivered. No promised money was transferred from Canada, Italy or the United States.
"We urgently need a roadmap to the pledged 100 billion US dollars. These (G7) countries still have plenty of opportunity between now and Paris to step up to the plate," says Anoop Poonia from Climate Action Network, S. Asia.
Finance & allocation of emission reduction responsibilities are two of the key issues in ongoing tough climate negotiations within a UN framework, towards a new global climate deal, which is set to be made by the year's end, in Paris.
Analysts say the G7 countries themselves are not making enough efforts to phase out fossil fuels and cut emissions.
"G7 leaders have indicated that fossil fuels are on their way out. However you wouldn't know it by looking at the national emissions reduction pledges they have put on the table for the crucial climate conference in Paris," says Oxfam's spokesperson Jorn Kalinski, "They must now live up to their own rhetoric and kick their dirty coal habit."
In Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), or climate actions it was willing to take under the new climate deal after 2020, officially submitted to the UN, Canada pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels -- by 2030.
The vow was criticized by environmental groups pointing out that the target was just equivalent to 14% below 1990 levels, a more commonly used base year to calculate emission reduction.
A similarly weak pledge was planned to be submitted by Japan, whose PM Shinzo Abe announced earlier this month that Japan was willing to reduce carbon emissions to 26% below 2013 levels by 2030. But when compared with the 1990 levels, the target means Japan would only cut its emission by 18% -- by 2030.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN scientific body, says developed countries must reduce their emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The EU, which had already reduced its carbon emissions by 19% from 1990 levels in 2013, insisted during the ongoing UN climate talks in Bonn that it was only willing to to further reduce its emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020.
"We are looking for more than 'hot air'. We are looking for real action from this summit," said Adrian Lovett, Europe Executive Director of international campaign group "One" which floated huge balloons depicting G7 leaders on Sunday when the summit started.
"'Hot air' can mean empty promises...when it's all talks, and no action," he said then.
1000s in Ecuador plant nearly 650,000 trees --- in one day!
Thousands of people in Ecuador have cooperated to plant 647,250 trees in one day -- setting a new world record in reforestation, says the president.
President Rafael Correa says several different species were planted during the day and that reforestation efforts were carried out all over the country, which prides itself for its diverse geography from its Pacific coast, high Andean peaks, and low Amazon basin.
"I've just been informed that we have broken the Guinness record for reforestation," Correa announced in his weekly address to the nation.
Environment Minister Lorena Tapia tweets that 44,883 people participated in planting the trees on more than 2,000 hectares of land.
Environmental scientists believe planting trees is helpful in offsetting carbon buildup -- as they sequester carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere and help to reduce global warming.
Guinness officials say the previous record was set by a group in the Philippines, just last year.
And in Wales? All we get is broken promises to plant native trees - and garbage planted by the Forestry Commission!
NASA: Major Antarctic Ice Shelf to Disintegrate Within Few Years
For the last 10,000 years, the Larsen B Ice Shelf has clung to the edge of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Two-thirds of it collapsed in 2002, and according to a NASA study, the rest could break away and disintegrate -- by 2020.
The Antarctic continent has a number of huge ice shelves which hug the land’s perimeter. Some are over half a mile thick.
With rising global temperatures, they are melting quickly. According to some estimates a complete disappearance of Antarctica’s ice could result in a sea level rise of 240 feet.
According to a new NASA study based on radar information and airborne surveys, one of those ice shelves will melt completely in just 5 years.
While most of Larsen B Ice Shelf collapsed in 2002, the rest still covers approximately 625 square miles.
"These are warning signs that the remnant is disintegrating," lead author of the study, Ala Khazendar's statement says. "Although it’s fascinating scientifically to have a front-row seat to see the ice shelf becoming unstable and breaking up, it’s bad news for our planet."
"What is really surprising about Larsen B is how quickly the changes are taking place," Khazendar says. "Change has been relentless."
The ice shelves serve a specific purpose on Antarctica, stopping massive glaciers in the continent’s interior, from sliding into the sea.
Without Larsen B, many of those glaciers will slowly creep into the ocean.
"This study of the Antarctic Peninsula glaciers provides insights about how ice shelves farther south, which hold much more land ice, will react to a warming climate," states Eric Rignot, the study’s co-author.
Pope’s Top Adviser: Climate Skeptics Don't Want to Pay For Ruining Earth
One of Pope Francis' advisers says climate change denial, is a phenomenon rooted in, and fueled by, capitalism.
In the US, global warming denial is typically a belief of the far right, despite all scientific evidence, and the religious fundamentalists and conservative talk show hosts, all push the idea that the majority of scientists are 'bought off' by green technology business people, left think tanks, and governments.
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, one of Pope Francis’ closest advisers, thinks the answer lies in capitalism.
“The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that does not want to stop ruining the environment, because they do not want to give up their profits,” Cardinal Rodriguez says, reports the Boston Globe.
His words are a reaction to lobbying by some US groups, to the Pope’s planned encyclical on climate change.
The Pope's encyclical is timed to coincide with the UN climate change summit later this year, and a UN-sponsored agreement on Sustainable Development Goals.
Apparently it is designed to encourage the world's Catholics to recognize and fight climate change.
Although the encyclical has not been released yet, the Heartland Institute, a think-tank controlled by Charles & David Koch is already "lobbying" the Vatican with the message: “there is no global warming crisis.”
Yes, the same Koch brothers who own Koch Industries, a big energy company which could suffer financial losses -- if strict environmental legislation arrives.
“I have already heard criticism of the encyclical” Rodrigues says, calling it “absurd” to reject a document which has not even been seen yet.
A survey published in 2013, of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers, found 97.1% of the world's scientists agreeing - that climate change is real, and is being caused by human activity.
Study Links Swarm of Quakes in Texas to Fracking
With real time monitors, scientists have linked a swarm of earthquakes west of Fort Worth, Texas, to nearby natural gas wells & wastewater injection.
In 84 days from November 2013 to January 2014, the area around Azle, Texas, shook with 27 magnitude 2 or greater earthquakes, while scientists at Southern Methodist University and the US Geological Survey, monitored the shaking.
It's an area that's had no recorded 'quakes for 150 years on faults "inactive for hundreds of millions of years," says SMU geophysicist Matthew Hornbach.
When the volume of injections decreased significantly, so did the shaking. The scientists conclude that removing saltwater from the wells in the gas production process and then injecting that wastewater back underground, "represents the most likely cause" for the swarm of 'quakes, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
The scientists determine this based on where and when the quakes happened; computer models that track pressure changes; and company data from near- by wells.
Hornbach says the timing & location of the quakes correlates better to the drillings & injections, than any other possible reason.
"There appears to be little doubt about the conclusion that the earthquakes were in fact induced," USGS seismologist Susan Hough, who wasn't part of the study team emails. "There's almost an abundance of smoking guns in this case."
Russia To Start Producing Ecologically Clean Wheat
Scientists at Nemchinovka Scientific Research Institute of Agriculture in Moscow, a well known scientific breeding centre, have produced a kind of winter wheat which is supposedly superior to all types of existing wheat, in that it can grow in less fertile regions with cool climates - and still provide higher yields than those grown in more favorable conditions.
Protein content in the new varieties is two times higher than most wheat on the market.
Breeders at Nemchinovka believe that the new varieties of wheat will be able to solve a major agricultural problem: the quality of grain, globally, is on the decline.
“Currently, in the developed world, the average yield of winter wheat is 90-100 hundredweight (hundredweight = approximately 45 kilograms) per hectare,” Bagrat Sandukhadze, a famous breeder, and head of the Laboratory of Winter Wheat Breeding at Nemchinovka, tells RIR.
“What’s more its protein content is only 8-9%, which doesn’t make for good bread.” he says. Nemchinovka varieties can produce 100-120 hundredweight per hectare --- with a protein content of 17% and a gluten content of 30% or more.
Sandukhadze (& his colleagues) have created 15 new varieties of winter wheat to grow in the “Nechernozemye” zone - a vast territory of the European part of Russia from the Arctic Ocean to the forest-steppe zone in the south and from the Baltic Sea to western Siberia.
14 have already obtained patents & copyright certificates... "The brilliant breeder, Professor Sandukhadze, can essentially provide quality wheat to feed the entire non-Black Earth area of Russia," says Valery Charushin, executive director of the Demidov Scientific Foundation and Chair of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Margarita Shipitsyna, a member of the coordinating council of the Russian Guild of Bakers and Confectioners and director of research at Russian Recipe, says that genetically modified varieties, presently occupy about 70% of the world's fields.
Experts believe that, due to the high yield, these new Russian varieties are a worthy "response to GMOs."
"Growing good varieties of food grains with strong genes lets you save the environment & is 10 times more profitable than investing in chemicals that stimulate growth, or in genetic engineering,” says Sandukhadze.
“Professional selection is worth a maximum of millions, yet technological factors lead to billions in costs & degrade the environment.
In Russia, there are 40 million hectares of vacant land, where you can grow a good eco-friendly grain and ensure the health of the nation."
Shpitsyna adds that, despite the success of breeders, Russia still has to solve some problems associated with land quality...
"In order to get a good healthy bread, Russia needs to revive quality control, which was systematically carried out in the Soviet era. The quality of food grains in Russia has significantly decreased. There are new diseases in the grains."
The breeding of new varieties has taken Sandukhadze 47 years. Breeding winter wheat in non-fertile zones with wet and cool climates, was started by Soviet breeders, way back in the 1930s.
Sandukhadze already belongs to the third generation of researchers.
Winter wheat varieties by Sanukhadze in recent years are now cultivated throughout Russia and abroad. The Moscow 39 variety is considered particularly unique and is sown in Canada, Austria, Turkey and other countries.
"When this strain was tested at an international competition in Canada, between 1999-2002, it was recognized as best, for its combination of high yield & grain quality,” Sandukhadze says.
“This wheat can grow in any weather due to its special genes & durability. It is frost-resistant, disease-resistant & has a unique grain quality and good baking qualities.
For his achievements, Sandukhadze won the prestigious Demidov Prize in February 2015. It's the first time since the award’s inception, in 1832, that it has ever been awarded to a breeder.
This article originally appeared in full at Russia Beyond the Headlines
GMO Lies: Study Shows How Pesticide Use Soars with more GMO Crops
And it is killing the pollinators.
Remember claims that genetically modified foods would result in less pesticide residues? Well, those promises were baseless.
What's really happened is that a huge increase in bee-toxic neonicotinoids has replaced those chemical insecticides used previously --- and especially in GM corn and soy crops.
34−44% more for GM soybeans and 79−100% for GM corn in 2011 alone.
Biotech has caused an almost 100% increase in chemical pesticides --- in just a few years.
Ms Douglas, graduate student in entomology at Pennsylvania State University & an author of the study, comments:
"The application of neonicotinoids to corn seed & soybeans has driven a surge in crop-land treated with insecticides, ever since the mid-2000s."
No wonder the bees and butterflies are dying.
Over 40 million hectares of land are doused in neonics and the now limited availability of any neonicotinoid-free seed, means US farmers, are running out of other options.
Bt crops ARE a pesticide. The Bt toxins are inside every fibre of the plant once it grows, and insects that eat them end up with their gut exploding in a quick and painful death.
Monsanto’s Bt toxins don’t just kill insects. They are also harming human embryo cells.
E Toxin Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has also been found in the blood of pregnant women and baby’s umbilical cord blood supply.
Yet still, Monsanto asserts that all their pesticide in the form of Bt crops are safe.
Straight from Monsanto’s Pages:
“Are foods & ingredients developed through biotechnology (or GMOs) safe to eat?
Yes. Plants and crops with GM traits have been tested more than any other crops — with no credible evidence of harm to humans or animals.
Smog-beater: First hydrogen powered tram developed in China
Trams fueled by hydrogen could soon be appearing on the streets of China. The country has mastered the technique of using this clean energy source, which has been widely used elsewhere for cars and other forms of mass transport.
Air pollution killing Europeans en masse, says environment body
Hundreds of thousands of Europeans may face a premature death over the next two decades because of toxic air, a new major report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) warns.
In 2011 alone, about 430,000 people died prematurely from air pollution.
A five-yearly environmental study, State of the Environment Report for 2015, blames governments for inaction, and calls for changes in policies and technologies and lifestyles. The European Union will need new, radical policies to safeguard the environment by 2050, experts say.
"We need to start now," Hans Bruyninckx, head of the EEA, tells Reuters.
The Copenhagen-based EEA says Europe has increased waste recycling & cut greenhouse gas emissions by 19% since 1990. The EU plans further emissions cuts of 40% by 2030.
Despite these gains, however, Europe "still faces a range of persistent and growing environmental challenges," including global warming, chemical pollution & extinctions of species of animals and plants.
“Despite considerable progress in reducing the discharge of pollutants into Europe's waters in recent decades, nutrients, pesticides, industrial chemicals and household chemicals continue to affect the quality of surface, ground and marine waters. This threatens aquatic ecosystems and raises concern about potential human health impacts,” it states.
Air pollution causes damage to human health through direct exposure (via inhalation) or through exposure to contaminants transported through the air, deposited on plants and the soil.
Vehicles, power plants, agriculture & households all contribute to Europe's air pollution, the report’s authors state, adding that transport remains the main contributor to poor air quality levels in cities and the related health impacts.
Exposure to environmental noise is estimated to contribute to at least 10,000 premature deaths due to coronary heart disease and strokes each year.
Chemicals from pharmaceuticals, personal care products, & other consumer products can have a range of negative effects on the environment and on human health.
Endocrine disruption, which impacts the body's hormonal system, is of particular concern, says the study, which points out that potential human health impacts of these chemicals are “poorly understood,” especially as people are exposed to mixtures of chemicals, or when exposure occurs in pregnant women and small children.
Europe will scarcely manage to realize its target of "living well, within the limits of our planet" by 2050, according to the report, given that most Europeans have been using more than four hectares of the planet's resources each year - more than double what rates as a sustainable ecological footprint.
The European Commission has estimated that a shift to a greener, low-carbon economy by 2050 will require investments of an extra €270 billion a year, or 1.5% of the EU's GDP over the coming decades.
The EEA says Europe could benefit economically from greener cities, industry, transport and agriculture.
"This is not a threat to well-being. For Europe this is a major opportunity," Bruyninckx says, adding that 2050 green goals are closer than we think, given that Europeans born today will be 35 in 2050, with over half their expected lifetimes ahead of them.
According to the report, EU citizens live longer than in many parts of the world. Life expectancy at birth in the EU-28 member states exceeded 80 years in 2012, and is higher for women.
The gap between the lowest life expectancy in the EU (68.4 years for men in Lithuania) and the highest (85.5 years for women in Spain) is considerable, however.
The share of the older population in all the member states has been increasing recently.
The current proportion of people aged 65 yrs and over, already exceeds 17.5% and is projected to be 29.5% by 2060, says Eurostat.
Fracking moratorium rejected by MPs
There was a vote on fracking in the UK's House of Commons, at which, Greenpeace held a protest, out- side Westminster Palace.
MPs overwhelmingly rejected a bid to suspend fracking for shale gas.
But the government agreed to Labour proposals for 13 new conditions to be met, ere shale gas extraction occurs.
During a Commons debate, ministers also pledged an "outright ban" on fracking in national parks.
Earlier, a committee of MPs called for a moratorium on the practice, on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change.
The Environmental Audit Committee also warned that there were "huge uncertainties" about the impact on the environment, of fracking.
In the Commons, committee chair, Joan Walley, backed an amendment tabled by a cross-party group of MPs calling for fracking to be suspended for 30 months... while assessments are carried out.
But the measure did not attract front- bench support and was defeated by 308 votes to 52.
A Labour amendment was added to the bill, to cheers from opposition benches, which will impose 13 tests to be met, before fracking can take place.
These include environmental assessments -- and the need to consult residents on an individual basis.
Labour and other MPs tabled amendments to allow the change to be made, so Energy Minister Amber Rudd told the House that the government will remove the provision that shale gas exploration will be allowed in such areas, only in "exceptional circumstances".
She later said there will be an outright ban in "national parks, sites of special interest and areas of national beauty".
Mass extinction in Earth’s oceans probable --- comprehensive study
The first comprehensive ocean study has determined that ocean life faces mass extinction from human activity.
But the record damage is still reversible – unlike our impact on land... US scientists say that the effects "can be" mitigated.
"We’ve known for a while that sustainability will become impossible with our lifestyles. Although most of Earth is covered in water we are hugely reliant on, many practices cause unprecedented damage to marine biology:-- coral reef damage, resource mining, fish farming, construction work, chemical pollution, the depletion of bio- resources, unintended species migration, global warming, military drills – to name just a few.
Drs. Malin L. Pinsky, Stephen R. Palumbi, Douglas J. McCauley and colleagues from the University of California have examined hundreds of sources, including fossil records and statistics on shipping and seabed mining to inform their study, published on Thursday in the journal 'Science'.
“We may be sitting on the precipice of a major extinction event,” McCauley says.
“If by the end of the century we’re not off the business-as-usual curve we are now, I honestly feel there’s not much hope for normal ecosystems in the ocean,” Palumbi says.
One conclusion is that oceans have until now, largely evaded the damage we'd caused to life forms on land. But after 1800, industrialization accelerated land extinction, plus, the stage was set for irreversible water damage.
“Current trends in ocean use suggest that habitat destruction is likely to become an increasingly dominant threat to ocean wildlife over the next 150 years,” the team says in their study.
And because oceans are a fluid mechanism - more difficult to monitor accurately - some places could be far worse off than others.
Fishing, for example, has affected 20 million square miles of ocean already, altering the continental shelf.
Seabed mining contracts are an especially huge change: the area went from 0 square miles in the year 2000, to 460,000 in 2014.
The US Navy alone, kills or injures 1,000s of whales and dolphins, during its drills.
Humans have caused a 40% decline in coral reefs worldwide, which consequently leads to habitat destruction for marine species.
Some migration may result in the arrival of predatory species to ecosystems that are not prepared to accept them, etc, etc.
But everything is feeling the impact of polution and overheating...
“If you cranked up the aquarium heater & dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,” Pinsky says. “In effect, that’s what we’re doing to oceans.”
And it starts on land for many marine animals: some lay eggs – like sea turtles; seabirds nest in cliffs, and so on. Some ocean species have already become extinct, due to land activity.
“But in the meantime, we do have a chance to do what we can. We have a couple of decades more than we thought we had, so let’s please not waste it,” Palumbi says. "I fervently believe that our best partner in saving the ocean is the ocean itself.”
McCauley explains that if we severely limit the industrialization of Earth’s water, we could let species recover – much more so than we ever could on land, where damage is irreversible in many places.
“There are a lot of tools we can use,” he says. The team believes that designing an approach with climate change in mind would be the way.
It’s about considering how & where species can escape rising temperatures and lower pH levels.
As we learn that some areas are affected more, one chance may be to limit industrial operations to some areas, while allowing others to recover.
“It’s creating a hopscotch pattern up and down the coasts to help these species adapt,” Pinsky says.
World’s soil may be degraded in 60 years: UN
All of the world's top soil could be gone in the next 60 years if the current rate of degradation continues, a prominent UN official says.
Nearly a third of the soil across the world has already been degraded, & it takes 1,000 years for 3 centimeters of top soil to be generated, Maria-Helena Semedo of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told a forum marking World Soil Day in Rome on Friday.
"Soils are the basis of life. Ninety-five percent of our food comes from the soil," Semedo said.
Experts say chemical-heavy farming methods, deforestation, which raises erosion, and global warming are the main causes of soil destruction.
"We are losing thirty soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming," Volkert Engelsman from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements told the forum.
"Organic may not be the only solution but it's the single best (option) I can think of," he said.
Soil is a significant factor in absorbing carbon and filtering water, FAO says.
Soil degradation causes a vicious cycle, in which less carbon is stored, the world gets hotter, and the land is further eroded.
Japan: Big Hole in Ozone Layer A hole in the ozone layer, which started to grow in early September, reached 23,400,000 square kilometers on October 1st, report Japanese scientific institutions.
That's equivalent to 1.7 times the Antarctic's surface - and it almost equals last decade's measure, says Japan's Meteorology Agency.
Despite the volume of gases in the air shrinking due to the fulfilling of international regulations, it will still be midcentury before the ozone layer hole recovers to the size it was in 1980, says researcher Atsuya Kinoshita, from Japan's Meteorology Agency.
According to medical sources, the ozone layer prevents harmful ultraviolet rays coming to earth, from the sun.
Long exposure to electromagnetic radiation can cause skin cancer, and other problems.
Venezuela Rejects Unipolarity at Environmentalist Forum
Capitalism, which destroys the environment and is headed by the United States, will be challenged now from South America, the Venezuelan Vice President for the Social Area, Hector Rodriguez, predicts, at an environmentalist forum.
Venezuela supports the consensus against unipolarity, defended by the meeting 'Social PreCOP on Climate Change', which was held in Margarita Island, says the Minister, who is also the Minister for Education.
Our Government supports the central purpose of the meeting - to boost the world mobilizing towards a new multipolar world, he says.
The participants analysed experiences, capacities and efforts to save the planet, and proposals were presented, to add them to the global political agenda.
Social PreCOP, which gathered representatives of 40 States in Venezuela, was the world's first gathering to bring both Governments and social movements face to face on the issue, he said.
The objective of the meeting was to highlight the social dimension of the debate on climate change and establish the foundations of an alliance between people and Governments, to face the threats that hover over humanity.
Delegates issued a document containing their proposals, which was then discussed at a round table with ministers in charge of the issue, said the organizers.
Greenpeace anti-fracking protesters block Chevron shale gas exploration
Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the gates of a Chevron shale gas exploration well in Romania --- to protest fracking there.
Activists from Romania, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Germany came to the Pungesti site, wearing bright yellow jackets and holding banners reading "Pungesti- anti-Chevron quarantine area" & "Stop fracking."
US energy major Chevron began work on the exploration well in the village of Pungesti in eastern Romania in December. An exploration start was postponed several times by protests.
88% of world’s oceans covered by plastic junk – study
At least 88% of the surface of the world’s open oceans is polluted by plastic debris, says a new scientific report.
The findings raise big concerns about the safety of marine life and how this ocean litter may now be affecting food chains.
US pressures El Salvador to buy Monsanto's GMO seeds
As a precondition for authorizing $300 million in aid, the US is now pressuring El Salvador to buy genetically modified seeds from Monsanto, instead of non- GM seeds from local farmers.
According to Sustainable Pulse, a website covering developments related to GM organisms and sustainable agriculture, the US will withhold $277 million in aid through the Millennium Challenge Compact --- if El Salvador refuses to purchase GM seeds from the biotech company Monsanto.
The president of El Salvador's Centre for Appropriate Technologies (CESTA) criticizes the US negotiating position and says the US should back away from its demand.
“I'd like to tell the US Ambassador to stop pressuring the Government to buy ‘improved’ GM seeds,” CESTA president Ricardo Navarro says, adding that it would hurt the local economy & only aid US companies.
Navarro then singles out Monsanto: “There's a harmful corporation on Earth called Monsanto. It's truly disturbing, that the US is trying to promote them.”
In March, France banned the growth and sale of the company’s insect-repelling maize seed MON 810, just a few days before it was revealed that insects in the US were developing resistance to the crop.
El Salvador passed a law in September 2013 banning glyphosate in Monsanto’s Roundup pesticides, as well as dozens of other agricultural chemicals.
Similar proposals are being considered in Brazil, where the country’s prosecutor general recently urged the National Health Surveillance Agency to “reevaluate the toxicity of 8 active ingredients suspected of causing damage to human health and the environment,” including glyphosate and seven other chemicals.
Glyphosate, research shows, becomes extremely toxic to humans, as it mixes with natural metals found in soil.
Other reports link glyphosate to a fatal kidney disease that has killed thousands of people in El Salvador and Sri Lanka, & could also help explain similar situations in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and India.
Chernobyl memories fade? Kiev turns blind eye to disaster-risk in nuclear deal with US
The coup-imposed government in Kiev has resurrected a contract with a US company to supply fuel to Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, despite the fact that using US fuel rods was banned in 2012, because of a dangerous incompatibility.
In April 2014, shortly after the armed coup, Kiev signed a new deal with the US’s leading nuclear fuel producer, Westinghouse Electric Company, instead of the Russian TVEL company that has been supplying fuel rods to Ukraine for years.
Ukraine’s 4 nuclear power plants constitute a huge part of the country's energy system. The country’s 15 nuclear reactors produce at least 50% (over 13 megawatts) of all electric power generation in Ukraine.
All nuclear fuel for Ukrainian reactors (worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year) has been produced in Russia, which also recycles Ukraine’s nuclear waste.
Moreover, Russia’s Rosatom state-owned nuclear monopoly is currently constructing a nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Ukraine, where nuclear fuel rods will be assembled using uranium enriched in Russia.
Ukraine has relied on Russia in all atomic matters – but since the coup the US has muscled in on the relationship.
The Westinghouse Electric Company has been trying to ‘ease’ the former Soviet-bloc country's energy reliance on Russia and enter the market in Eastern Europe for over a decade.
Back in 2012, the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attempted to convince Czech leaders to pick Westinghouse as a first nuclear fuel supply partner instead of Russia, which would create thousands of new jobs in the US.
Westinghouse has tried supplying nuclear fuel to Energoatom nuclear power generating company, in Ukraine before...
In 2005, six experimental Westinghouse fuel assemblies, adopted for use in USSR- developed reactors, were tried at the South Ukraine plant in one reactor, together with Russian fuel rods.
Though nuclear engineers were skeptical of the pilot probe, the government of ex president Viktor Yushchenko signed a deal in 2008 with Westinghouse on fuel rod supply, despite the fact that American nuclear fuel is significantly more expensive and technologically different.
Russian nuclear fuel rods are hexagonal in section, while US fuel assemblies are square.
Despite experts' fears, 42 fuel assemblies were loaded into three reactors at the South Ukraine nuclear power plant for a standard three-year period of commercial operation.
When, in 2012, the time came to replace the fuel assemblies, Ukrainian nuclear engineers found that Westinghouse assemblies deformed during exploitation and got stuck in the core.
Energoatom accused Westinghouse of producing poorly engineered assemblies, and Westinghouse countered, by accusing the Ukrainian engineers of installing the rods badly.
After this, the use of US nuclear fuel was banned in Ukraine, while the fuel rods were returned to the producer ‘to get fixed’, and Russian experts were summoned to help with the repair of the equipment, produced in the USSR.
Energoatom Company lost approx. $175 million.
Similar problems with Westinghouse fuel assemblies occurred at a number of other USSR-constructed nuclear power plants: NPP Krško in Slovenia, NPP Loviisa in Finland and NPP Temelin in the Czech Republic.
All these countries opted to return to time-proved fuel assemblies produced by Russia’s TVEL Company.
Now Ukraine appears to be ready to fall into the same trap twice.
The coup-imposed Kiev regime has renewed the 2008 nuclear fuel deal till 2020, to replace 25% of the Russian-made fuel rods, with an option to “provide more if needed,” reported AP in April - all for the sole purpose of ‘diversifying’ supply.
What happened back in 2012 at Zaporozhskaya NPP could have ended with another Chernobyl, because having unextractable fuel assemblies loaded means a potential loss of control over the fission processes inside the reactor.
But the new Kiev authorities, supported by Washington, are making every effort to cut Ukraine’s ties with Russia, so moving from Russian nuclear fuel to US assemblies is attractive to A. Yatsenyuk’s coup regime, despite the 2012 incident.
Worse, Westinghouse won’t recycle its fuel rods when they ‘burn out’, so Ukraine will spend even more budget money to prepare special storage facilities for nuclear waste.
Westinghouse has its eyes on a bigger prize...
“This move by Westinghouse is really to secure not just a fuel contract, which will go on for many years, but to put its foot in the door to build a fuel fabrication plant in eastern Ukraine. And that’s what’s most important and that’s what they’re after,” John Large, an independent nuclear analyst from London, tells RT news.
Experts warn that nuclear power plants should not undergo such drastic transitions.
“A nuclear reactor demands a coherent structure of operations. The active reactor core is the most dangerous when it comes to the impact it may have on people and the environment. All reactors differ in smallest details, and toying around with them leads to no good,” Evgeny Akimov of the International Union of Nuclear Energy Veterans warns.
If something goes wrong, Kiev may find they face all the consequences alone.
“As far as I know, Westinghouse signs contracts in which the company bears no responsibility, so the burden will lie with Ukraine,” states Rafael Arutyunyan, nuclear security expert & professor at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.
Kiev’s actions are being dictated by politics and corruption rather than risks, even when the severe consequences may affect not just Ukraine, but the entire European continent.
When the Chernobyl tragedy occurred in 1986, it was by pure coincidence that Ukraine’s wind direction, usually directed to Europe, changed, sending most radioactive fallout in the direction of Russia and Belarus.
In this over-politicized case, European capitals would do well to understand how the wind blows.
FRANCE INSISTS ON "NO GM"
France’s lower house of parliament has passed a law prohibiting genetically modified (GM) maize from being grown, citing environmental concerns.
The law can be applied to any GM strain that is adopted at EU level.
The law follows a decree halting the planting of Monsanto’s insect-resistant maize MON810, which will be allowed for cultivation in the EU, Reuters reported.
But if any strain of GM crop is adopted in the future at EU level – including Pioneer 1507, developed by DuPont & Dow Chemical, it will be banned in France.
Pioneer 1507 could be approved by the EU later this year, after 19 of the 28 EU member states failed to gather enough votes to block it.
The law adopted now by France's lower house (National Assembly) is similar to one rejected by the upper house in February, which was seen as "unconstitutional."
“It's essential today to renew a widely shared desire to maintain the French ban. This bill strengthens the decree passed last March by preventing the immediate cultivation of GM & extending its reach to all transgenic maize varieties” Jean Marie Le Guen, the minister in charge of relations with the EU parliament, told the National Assembly.
The current Socialist-led government in France, like the previous conservative one, has opposed the growing of GM crops after public suspicion and protests by environmentalists.
Le Guen called for an EU system that would make sure that the decisions of member states not to adopt GM, couldn't be challenged legally.
A debate on the future of EU policy is going on at EU level, with the European Commission suggesting an opt-out to allow individual countries to ban GM crops.
The French ban on GM maize will now have to go to the Senate for approval. However, even if it is rejected again, the National Assembly will have the final say.
France is against genetically modified crops, but the UK argues that without them, Europe risks becoming a “museum of world farming.”
Spain also says its own farmers have to be able to compete with those outside the EU – many of whom are growing GM crops.
GM crops, though still unpopular in Europe, are widely grown in the US & parts of Asia.
Rotating crops beats agrotoxins as crop-eating insects beat GM
For thousands of years, farmers beat pests by rotating their crops, or placing them next to plants which kept the insects away.
Then came the wonderful world of agrotoxins.
But the bugs beat all that GM biotechnology could throw at them. Now, the latest advice to farmers is... go back to rotating crops.
UN warns world to produce 60% more food by 2050... or face mass unrest.
Political turmoil, social unrest, civil war, terrorism - all could be on the table unless our world boosts food production by 60% by mid-century, the UN’s hunger fighting agency warns.
The world’s population is expected to hit 9 billion people by 2050, which, coupled with a high calory intake by increasingly better off people, is likely to drastically increase demand in the coming decades, says Hiroyuki Konuma, assistant director- general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, for the Asia-Pacific region.
This, at a time when the world is investing less in agricultural research, raises fears among scientists that global food security could be imperiled.
"If we fail to meet our goal, and a food shortage occurs, there will be a high risk of social and political unrest, civil wars and terrorism, and world security as a whole might be affected," Reuters cites Konuma as saying at a regional food security conference in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
A leaked draft of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report, says climate change alone could cause a 2% drop each decade, this century. In the past 3 years, Australia, Canada, China, Russia and the US, have all suffered big flood and drought induced harvest losses.
Our reliance on an ever smaller group of crops is also leaving global food supplies increasingly vulnerable to price inflation, insects and disease.
"As the global population rises and pressure increases on our global food system, so too does our dependence on global crops and the production system that feeds us,” Luigi Guarino, of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, told the BBC earlier this month.
"The price of failure of any of these crops will become very high."
Progress is been made to stop global hunger: with vegetable production in Asia & the Pacific, where over three-quarters of all vegetables are grown, increasing by 25% over the last decade.
The FAO estimates, however, that 842 million people in the world remain undernourished, and two thirds of them live in the Asia-Pacific.
One in four children under the age of five is stunted due to malnutrition.
To combat the problem, the UN body outlines two primary options: increasing arable land areas, and increasing productivity.
Environmentalists also urge better food distribution methods. In February, the FAO, World Bank and World Resources Institute estimated that the world "loses" 25 to 33% of all the food it produces – nearly 4 billion metric tons.
More efficient agricultural production, better food storage, and more biologically diverse, local food systems, which are less vulnerable to global changes, are also proposed, to help tackle the growing threat of food insecurity.
EUROPE SPLITS AGAIN ON GM CROPS
The European Commission is set to authorize the growing of genetically modified maize on EU land, despite 19 member states voting against the move, highlighting the “absurd” rules of weighted votes in the EU.
In a debate on Tuesday, 19 EU member states indicated they would vote against authorizing genetically modified maize because of health and environmental concerns and opposition in the European Parliament.
But because of the EU's "comitology rules", their votes will be insufficient to overturn decisions by bigger member states who want insect resistant Pioneer 1507.
The UK & Spain both spoke in favor of GM crops, while Germany abstained. France is staunchly against their introduction.
European health Commissioner Tonio Borg says the commission is now legally bound to approve the crop, and Borg insists that extensive research since 2001 shows that the crop is safe.
The UK argued that, without GM crops, Europe risks becoming “the museum of world farming,” and that there is a clear scientific case for GM, while Spain said its farmers need to be able to compete with nations that grow GM produce.
DuPont, which jointly developed Pioneer 1507 with Dow Chemical, says in its statement that the EU has a “legal obligation to itself, to its farmers & scientists and to its trade partners” to support the approval of agricultural advances.
France however, warns that if the EC goes ahead with the introduction of GM maize, it risks fuelling even more euroscepticism, by granting approval in the face of fierce opposition.
Thierry Repentin, the French EU affairs minister:
“We have a majority against it, so I don’t understand how we can approve this. Even more so ahead of EU elections. This is dangerous to the image of the EU institutions, it will fuel the idea that Europe doesn’t work or works badly.”
Italy calls the outcome “indigestible” and Hungary calls it a showcase of the “European absurd”.
The Green group in the European Parliament says there is now no democratic mandate for giving a green light to GM maize. The environmental groups Greenpeace & Friends of the Earth say Pioneer 1507 harms moths & butterflies & is designed to be resistant to a kind of weed killer about to be phased out anyway, on safety concerns.
Marco Contiero, Greenpeace agriculture policy director:
“Approval by the Commission would be irresponsible because of the environmental risk, untenable because of widespread political and public opposition, & legally compromised, because the Commission has forced it through without the required consultation.”
Borg says the EC might compromise, and revive a separate proposal that would allow individual member states to ban GM crops while other countries could approve them.
He appeared to back down then...
“This file took thirteen years to come to fruition, I am cautious about giving timelines,” he said.
THERMAL POWER - THE NEGLECTED GIANT?
China and Russia are to build the world’s biggest thermal power plant with an 8 gigawatt capacity.
The Erkovetskaya TPP project in Russia’s Amur region could cost up to $24 billion, and will export energy to China where domestic demand is high.
The plant will be developed by Eastern Energy Company, a subsidiary of Inter RAO, the Russian state-run power utility, Vedomosti news reports.
The plant will supply 30-50 kilowatts per year - 5% of the Russian Federation's total production, General director of Eastern Energy Company, Mikhail Shashmurin says.
Sergey Beiden from Otkrytie Financial Corporation estimates the total cost at between $12.5 - $24 billion, reports Kommersant,
To deliver the energy to Beijing, where demand is strongest, 2,000 km of transmission lines will need to be installed.
Green Routines launches Wales' first Solar PV cooperative at The Senedd
US emits 50% more methane than EPA reports - study
The US is responsible for 50% more methane, a heat- trapping gas, than previous government estimates, a new study finds.
Methane is the most abundant global warming gas, and is 21 times worse than carbon dioxide at trapping heat.
The study estimates that in 2008, the US spewed 49 million tons of methane into the air, more than all the carbon dioxide pollution from cars and other vehicles --- in six months.
The figure is way over the 32 million tons estimated by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Most of America’s methane comes from Texas, Oklahoma & Kansas via livestock - cows, especially their manure, are twice as bad as originally thought - but also from leaks while refining and drilling for oil, the National Academy of Science says in its report released Monday.
Experts called this study of methane emissions the most comprehensive yet - given that the gas is difficult to track and measure.
The study was based on about 13,000 measurements from airplane flights and tall towers, the most used in any such research, the AP reports.
LOSS OF AMAZON RAINFOREST GROWS SHARPLY
New data released by the Brazilian government shows that deforestation in the Amazon has increased by nearly a third over the past year.
According to Brazilian government figures just released, satellite data for the 12 months to the end of last July, shows a 28% increase in deforestation compared to last year.
The study also shows that approximately 2,256 square miles (5,843 square km) of land has been cleared during the period, an area roughly the size of the US state of Delaware.
Scientists and environmentalists say the trend marks a reversal in gains against deforestation in Brazil, though other Amazon countries have also witnessed a rise in deforestation since 2011.
The reason is unknown, but experts attribute it to government infrastructure projects, environmental policy and a rise in demand for soybeans and other Brazilian farm exports, which encourages ranchers to clear private land in the Amazon.
“You can't argue with the numbers,” says Marcio Astrini, a coordinator with Greenpeace, adding, “This is not alarmist - it's a real and measured inversion of what had been a positive trend.”
The Amazon rainforest covers territory belonging to 9 nations, with over 60% in Brazil, followed by Peru with 13%, Columbia with 10%, and minor amounts in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
Mass rally staged in Australia for climate change action
Thousands of Australians gathered to call for action on climate change across the country as the PM moved to abolish carbon tax.
GetUp, the group organizing the countrywide event, estimates that 60,000 people turned out to protest.
Australia has just had the hottest 12 months ever recorded, which triggered massive bush fires in New South Wales.
HUNGER STRIKE FOR CLIMATE SENSE
Hundreds of activists from different NGOs joined a hunger strike on the second day of talks at the UN Climate Change Summit.
Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network International and one of the hunger strikers, told media that organizations away from the summit and other well-known individuals, joined in the voluntary fasting as well.
The strike was in solidarity with Naderev Saño, the Philippines' representative to the summit, who stated at the event's inaugural meeting that he was going on hunger strike until the conference was over and agreements made on concrete action to fight climate change.
"I'm overwhelmed by civil society's solidarity all over the world, especially from young people," Saño says.
He also highlights the urgent need to take action to tackle global warming & prevent "natural" disasters.
THROW AWAY LIVES
One point three billion metric tons - that's how much food that we waste each year, China Daily reports.
As this massive wastage of food occurs, 840 million people experience chronic hunger on a daily basis. Many millions more suffer from "silent hunger" - malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.
The economic cost of waste is $750 billion a year, based on producer prices; if we consider retail prices and the wider impacts on the environment, including climate change, the figure is far higher.
As governments preach austerity, it's hard to understand how a hemorrhage of money like this could go neglected. Yet in some places, the volume of food wastage is rising.
A new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, published at a Green Growth Forum now on in Copenhagen, highlights a troubling aspect: the negative consequences on the environment and natural resources we all need to simply survive on this planet.
When food is wasted, energy, land and water resources that went into producing it are also squandered - while at the same time large amounts of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere during the production, processing, and the cooking of food.
We simply cannot tolerate the waste of 1.3 billion tons of food every single year - a third of world food production.
This is why seriously cutting down on food loss & waste is one of the five elements of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Zero Hunger Challenge is a major focus of the UN High Level Task Force on Global Food Security.
We are working together within the UN system & with a broad coalition of partners to rise to the challenge, that also calls for 100% access to adequate food all year round; to eliminate childhood stunting; to make all food systems sustainable; & to end rural poverty.
To begin with, food loss and waste needs to be seen as a cross-cutting policy issue, rather than a lifestyle choice to be left in the hands of individual consumers.
The world needs to wake up to the need for policies on food waste and losses, that look at all stages of the food chain, from production to consumption.
In most developing countries, post-harvest losses can reach as high as 40% of production.
Especially in these places, investment in infrastructure for transportation, storage, cooling & marketing of food is badly needed. Training farmers in best practices also has an important role to play.
In developed countries, food retailing practices require a rethink. For example, rejection of food products on the basis of aesthetic concerns is a major cause of waste. Some supermarkets are already relaxing standards on fruit appearance, selling "misshaped" items at reduced prices and helping raise awareness that "ugly does not mean bad." More approaches like this, to find markets or uses for surplus food, are needed.
Both businesses & households should monitor to see where & how they waste food & take corrective steps - because prevention of waste is even more important than recycling or composting.
Unlike the mindboggling figure of 1.3 billion tons, these simple steps are easy enough to grasp - and within the reach of each of us. The world has enough on its plate but food wastage is something we can all do something about now.
Jos Graziano da Silva is director-general of UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and Achim Steiner is executive director of UN Environmental Programme. The two organizations are founding partners of the Think Eat Save - Reduce Your Foodprint campaign launched earlier this year.
STOP FRACKING NOW
A new US report shows that fracking for shale gas generated 280 billion gallons of toxic waste in 2012 - containing cancerous and radioactive substances.
Fracking one well, can use 2 to 9 million gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals, and 'though most of the water used then returns to the earth, it contains both radium and bromides, it says:
“When bromide in wastewater mixes with chlorine (often used at drinking water treatment plants), it produces trihalomethanes, chemicals that cause cancer and increase the risk of reproductive or developmental health problems”.
It also finds that 450,000 tons of air pollutants can potentially be produced in one year by the practice.
Environment America, who published the report, calls fracking “highly polluting” and notes growing numbers of documented cases of illness as a result. As well as cancer, toxic substances from fracking chemicals and waste water can cause endocrinal, neurological and immune system problems.
“The numbers don't lie — fracking has taken a dirty and destructive toll on our environment. If this dirty drilling goes unchecked, these numbers will only get worse,” John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America says, in a post-publication news release.
Fracking extracts oil and gas by injecting water to break rock formations deep underground and its use in the US has rapidly risen recently - despite scientists warning about the climate- damaging methane or radiation its use brings. Over 80,000 US wells have been drilled or endorsed across 17 different states since 2005, and the report says that 360,000 acres are "damaged" as a result – the highest being in Texas, where 130,000 acres are calculated as "damaged".
While this figure includes land cleared for roads, well sites and pipelines, among other technical processes, the report states that “the total amount of habitat and landscape affected by fracking is much greater.”
This report comes after the publication of research from Duke University in the Environmental Science and Technology journal.
That team analyzed water and sediment samples from the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility, Indiana County, Pennsylvania, showing radium 200 times greater than samples taken upstream from the plant, and far higher than permissible under the Clean Water Act.
Radium is a radioactive metal that can cause diseases like leukemia and other ill effects, if exposure occurs over long periods of time.
The uncertainty over fracking is making house prices fall. The report cites a Texas study finding, that homes worth $250,000 but within 1,000ft of a well, have lost between 3% to 14% of their value.
Another reason for the decline in property values, could be the increased chance of earthquakes. Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Colorado have had earthquakes after fracking's well wastewater disposal.
Environment America’s report suggests that damage from fracking is on a scale “unimagined” a few years ago and says:
“banning fracking is the prudent and necessary course to protect the environment and public health.”
The report strongly advises that US states take the initiative now and ban the practice.
NOT IN ROMANIA, CANADA!!!
Thousands of Romanians staged a new day of protest against a controversial Canadian gold mine project, by forming a human chain around the parliament building.
The chain stretched 7 kilometers around parliament. People chanted, “United we can save Rosia Montana.”
“Only pressure on the streets can force politicians to stop this project - which is very dangerous for the environment,” said protester Stefania Iordache.
The crowd was acting against government support for a plan by Canadian Gabriel Resources, to mine in the village of Rosia Montana, in Transylvania region.
Protesters say the project - which would become Europe’s largest open-cast gold mine - will damage the environment, as the Canadian company plans to destroy four mountain tops and wipe out three outlying villages in the area.
The project would also involve using an average of 12,000 tons of cyanide a year, to mine approx. 314 tons of gold and 1,500 tons of silver.
Protests erupted on September the 1st, after the Romanian government OKed a draft law granting 'national interest' status to the Canadian project.
The government approved it, after it received a bigger stake in the project by the Canadian company, which has waited for 14 years to gain an official permit for the mine. The recent weeks of protests forced the Romanian government to postpone a vote on the bill in parliament and PM V. Ponta agreed to form a special committee 'to examine' the project.
El Salvador Opens Bio-fertilizer Plant in Cooperation with Cuba
The first bio-fertilizer plant in El Salvador, built in collaboration with Cuban scientists, is opened by VP Salvador Sanchez Ceren, in La Palma municipality, 80 kilometers from the capital, San Salvador. "The Cuban and Salvadorian people share knowledge and wisdom, because knowledge isn't the property of individuals, but humanity -- and that is what the Cuban government has shown," the Salvadoran vice president says.
The bio-fertilizer plant's main objectives are to positively influence crop yields and grow healthy products for human consumption.
The project also has the collaboration of the Tri-national Trifinio Plan Commission, administered by El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, which seeks to protect natural resources and work in harmony with nature.
The Salvadoran vice president stresses the importance of replacing utilitarian & predatory policies, with new organisations, to promote social and economic relations which focus on gender equality, equity, and justice, while also preserving natural processes and biodiversity, and thus, contributing to 'ecological balance'.
"Poop-power is taking human waste by-products and extracting the energy from the waste, and using the energy for useful things," Michael R. Hoffmann, a professor at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), explains in Beijing.
He was at a next-generation toilet campaign launched in China last week, and promoting his own design.
His dream is that one day all faeces can be disinfected and processed into hydrogen for electric power generation.
His whole toilet unit includes processing machinery and a storage tank for hydrogen and is designed for 40 uses per day.
The 70-year-old's vision is that one family will be able to sustain their daily electrical needs using their own excrement and reuse the water they urinate after processing in their bathroom.
Each family will need just one next-generation toilet, says Hoffmann, winner of the "toilet revolution" campaign held by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last year.
"The whole unit will cost the same price as an iPhone and you can charge your iPhone with your own poop-power," says the professor.
The toilet hasn't been fundamentally changed in 200 years after its invention in 1775, until the likes of Hoffmann created "toilet 2.0."
He came up with the new idea in 2011 when he was attracted by a US military toilet project.
The military was interested in independently operated toilet systems to be used by troops in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
"They didn't want to have to use fuel power generators. They wanted something that would be self-contained," Hoffmann says.
The military finally dismissed his toilet idea, but The Gates foundation then came up with a similar idea.
The Foundation defines a "next-generation toilet" as one which is waterless, hygienic, not needing any sewer connection or electricity, and costs less than five US cents per user, per day.
"Although we can fly people to the moon, 40% of the world's population, 2.5 billion people, practice open defecation or lack adequate sanitation facilities," says Dr. Doulaye Kone, senior officer of water, sanitation and hygiene at the Gates foundation.
Even in urban areas, 2.1 billion people still use toilets connected to septic tanks that are not safely emptied, or use systems discharging raw sewage into open drains or surface water.
The Foundation has extended its "toilet revolution" campaign to China, kicking off with a competition and with grants of 5 million dollars to encourage Chinese talent to reinvent the toilet.
"Imagine - each person discharges 1.5L urine and 300g of feces per day, and if you multiply the number of people of Beijing, how much stuff has to be processed on a daily basis," Hoffmann says.
Processing today's raw toilet-generated sewage is a huge project demanding huge facilities, yet instead, his small invention could do the job within each home, he says.
Hoffmann has been dealing with human waste for about 20 plus years. "If you want to study something, you have to invite it into your lab. Yes, all my students and even my brave wife have contributed to my research," he says.
Sometimes, the experiments went wrong. "Yeah, people made mistakes and they forgot to do something. And it just ran out on the floor. They had to clean up the human waste with their hands," the professor says, pulling a face.
Hoffmann says his invention is expensive, as research has cost a lot. He has been seeking partners in China to manufacture the product in large numbers, which would reduce costs.
He has introduced it to industry companies and toilet designers in Beijing, calling his presentation slides the "shit show."
He asked the audience to "put our shit together" for the new "poop-power."
The Caltech team are also trying to work with an electric car company... on battery applications.
"In the future, maybe you can power your car, with your own poo. If you feel your production is not enough, you can invite some of your friends to watch television at your home," he suggests.
JAPANESE AUTHORITIES "DEVOID OF RESPONSIBILITY"
The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant admits - for the first time - that its reactors are leaking highly contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, admitted the leakage to oceans for the first time since a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami damaged the plant’s reactors in 2011 !!!
The operator made the acknowledgement after steam was seen at one of the plant's reactors.
TEPCO is under criticism for delaying the announcement, since experts had strong suspicions about a possible leak for most of the time they have spent completely denying it.
Previously, the company denied all reports suggesting that ANY contaminated water was leaking into the ocean.
TEPCO spokesperson Masayuki Ono, says that radioactive water leaking from the wrecked reactors is likely to have run into underground water systems, before joining the ocean, and "might" be the result of initial leaks to the underground system, spotted way back in 2011.
Ono adds that officials believe now a leak is "possible", as underground water levels "fluctuate in accordance with tidal movements and the rate of rainfall".
The plant operator says the number of plant workers with thyroid radiation exposures exceeding threshold levels for raised cancer risks, is "noticeably" higher than early reports.
On March 11th, 2011, a 9-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that inflicted heavy damage on the six-reactor Fukushima plant. Cooling systems of the plant’s reactors were knocked out, leading to meltdowns and the release of radioactive material.
Last July, a Japanese parliamentary panel said the crisis at Fukushima nuclear plant was a “man-made disaster” and not only a result of the tsunami.
Their report criticizes “governments, regulatory authorities and Tokyo Electric Power” for being devoid of “a sense of responsibility to protect people’s lives and society.”
NO MORE GMOs IN EUROPE?
Monsanto drops bid to approve new crops in Europe
The world’s largest seed corporation says it has dropped its bid to get more genetically modified crops onto the European market, after wide-spread popular opposition. The biotech giant says it will expand its share of the natural seed market instead.
“We will no longer be pursuing approvals for cultivation of new biotech crops in Europe. Instead, we will focus on enabling imports of biotech crops into the EU and the growth of our current business there,” the US- based company says in an email statement.
Pending applications for GM crops – 6 types of corn, a soybean variety and a modified sugar beet – will be withdrawn shortly, the biotech giant states.
Currently, only 2 GM crops are approved in Europe, the MON810 maize and a modified potato created by BASF, a German biotech company. However, much of the allowed genetically modified produce is delivered to Europe as animal feed.
Europe has long expressed its concern over the effects of GM food produce on human health.
Several EU member states, including France, Germany, Austria, and Spain, have banned cultivation of genetically-modified crops.
French scientists from the University of Caen released a study showing rats fed on a diet containing NK603, a corn seed variety, resistant to Monsanto's Roundup weed-killer, along with those given water mixed with the product at levels permitted in the US, died earlier than those on a standard diet.
Protests against Monsanto are frequent, all over the world.
Monsanto Video Revolt beats a corporate media blackout on GMO foods, to bring the issue to the world’s attention. The campaign was announced by the Global Healing Centre, Natural News and Natural Society, which have united to counter GM produce & the huge amounts of poisonous herbicides and pesticides, poisoning the planet.
In May, an estimated two million people, many in Europe, turned out for global anti-GM rallies.
In the UK, a YouGov poll shows that only 21% of the UK's people favour growing GM crops, with 35% opposed.
Yet senior officials in the UK have been stepping up their efforts to get large-scale farming of genetically- modified crops in Europe. In June, the UK's present Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, asked the EU to loosen controls, or risk being “left behind.”
Monsanto says they will invest in its European non-GMO seed business instead, to boost sales.
The company’s seed business in Europe accounts for over 98% of its $1.72 billion turnover in Europe.
"Conventional seeds is the area where we are focusing at this time in Europe, & we are funding the business in a way that we haven't done for more than 15 years," Monsanto’s President and managing Director for Europe, Jose Manuel Madero, says to Reuters.
The corporation is already investing $300 million to boost its seed production in France, Romania, Hungary and Turkey, with a mind to cashing in on "several hundred million dollars" more over the next five years, Madero says.
A significant part of that cash, an initial investment of $150 million, which could double to $300 million within a few years, is to be directed to Ukraine, a major global grain producer. Monsanto stresses that the total area sown with its seeds in Ukraine doubled between 2012 and 2013.
LATIN AMERICA AND CHINA LEAD
The 2nd International Summit on the Environment (CIMA) was held at Guayaquil city, in Ecuador, and aims at promoting businesses which work in unity with environmental protection.
The Guayaquil's Convention Centre hosted some 30,000 visitors, about 103 speakers, a business conference, the Latinoamerica Verde Awards for bio-entrepreneurs, and eight specific forums.
The CIMA also included Academic Forums for female leaders, visionary entrepreneurs & those responsible for policies and laws on environmental protection.
Swiss President Ueli Maurer, Dominican PM Roosevelt Skerrit, Tongan PM Siale'ataonga Tu'ivakano and Thai Deputy PM Nivatthamrong Boonsongpaisal, attended an ecological forum in China, a spokesperson says.
The Eco-Forum Global was held over three days in Guiyang, capital of south China's Guizhou Province, says Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying.
UK THE DIRTIEST POLLUTER
The UK government is violating EU air quality law by producing the highest level of NO2, judges rule.
The UK's High Court rules that the coalition is in breach of an EU directive which puts limits on nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a colorless, odorless gas made by burning fuels, which can cause respiratory conditions, leading to early death.
Judges asked the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for guidance on what action needs to be taken. However, an immediate improvement to air pollution was delayed.
Air pollution kills almost 29,000 people in the UK each year --- according to a body which advises the UK government. Before deciding on further action, the High Court has referred a number of legal questions to the ECJ, and they could take up to 18 mths to be answered.
The case was filed against the government in 2011 by the firm ClientEarth. Alan Andrews, a lawyer at the firm, says the High Court could eventually force the UK government to take certain steps to improve air quality, but doesn't have the power to issue fines.
The environmental law firm wanted to force the government to come up with an air quality plan to comply with EU limits on N02, by 2015.
Via the EU directive, member states are supposed to have complied with limits on NO2 in 2010, but the deadline can be extended by five years if a plan to deal with high levels of NO2 is delivered.
Court documents show 40 of the UK’s 43 air quality zones exceeded the limits, and the government’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says 23 zones might comply by 2015 and 16 between 2015 and 2020, while London is not expected to comply until 2025.
“This historic ruling marks a turning point in the fight for clean air & will pile the pressure on,” says James Thornton, chief executive of ClientEarth, referring to the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
“He must now come up with an ambitious plan to protect people from carcinogenic diesel fumes,” --- largely blamed for creating NO2, he says.
Salmon Confidential How Government Cover-Up on Fish Farming Threatens Your Health, and the Entire Ecosystem
Ben and I watched it on Sunday.
We actually didn't intend to watch it, but I plugged in a new set of speakers for my computer, and opened a link in a mercola.com newsletter to test the sound, and we were enthralled by this brilliantly presented extended report: The problem, analysis, solution is very clearly laid out, leading to an uplifting and inspiring result.
Salmon Confidential is a new film on the government cover up of what is killing British Columbia’s wild salmon.
When biologist Alexandra Morton discovers BC’s wild salmon are testing positive for dangerous European salmon viruses associated with salmon farming world- wide, a chain of events is set off by government to suppress the findings.
Tracking viruses, Morton moves from courtrooms, to British Columbia’s most remote rivers, Vancouver grocery stores and sushi restaurants.
The film documents Morton’s journey as she attempts to overcome government and industry roadblocks thrown in her path and works to bring critical information to the public, in time to save BC’s wild salmon.
The film gives surprising insight into the inner workings of government agencies, as well as rare footage of the bureaucrats tasked with managing our fish and the safety of our food supply. >>> more
'Keystone' Species Missing in Action by the Millions
Wild Salmon Declines Traced Back to Salmon Farms
Lethal Salmon Virus in Every Region with Salmon Farms
Buying Salmon Infected with Dangerous Fish Viruses
Farmed Fish Pose Health Hazards to Your Health
Buying Local Increases Food Safety and Food Security
• Salmon Confidential draws back the curtain to reveal how the Canadian government is covering up the cause behind British Columbia’s rapidly dwindling wild salmon populations:
• In British Columbia, pacific salmon are an essential species for the ecosystem. They fill 100s of streams and rivers, feeding hundreds of species, including humans.
Since the early 1990’s, salmon numbers have rapidly dwindled, coinciding with the introduction of farmed salmon pens.
• Fish farms breed pathogens that can spread like wild fire and contaminate any wild fish swimming past. Wild salmon that died before spawning have tested positive for a number of salmon viruses, including the highly lethal “salmon influenza”
• Farmed fish, purchased in stores around British Columbia have tested positive for at least three lethal fish viruses, including the dreaded ISA virus (aka salmon flu), salmon alpha viruses, & Piscine reovirus, which causes salmon to have heart attacks, barring them swimming upriver.
• I recommend buying locally-grown foods & wild fish only.
Fish farms are breeding grounds for disease & toxic waste, and produce fish of inferior quality. Due to the dramatically increased disease risk—a natural side effect of crowding— these animals are further contaminated with drugs, and in the case of salmon, synthetic astaxanthin, which is made from petrochemicals that are not approved for human consumption. >>> more
Excerpts: "The position of government and corporations is identical. Democracy is slipping away. ... The level of carelessness is unforgivable.... The government is not doing it. Someone has to! We must step up to support politicians who are stopping that... Department of Wild Salmon: That's us!"
And an exemplary statement of Canadian government official position on the findings: "...not designed as a public document. That's one of the drawbacks of releasing it to the public." Dr. Gary D. Marty, British Columbia Fish Health Vet.
It was edifying to see the faces of the many bureaucrats who've submitted to telling lies. The camerawoman did a brilliant job focusing on their eyes - watching them glaze over when they lied. I felt sorry for them, and very glad for the people who pursued the truth and came up with the best solution possible: Department of Wild Salmon: That's us!"
— the local communities taking responsibility for overseeing the protection and health of a wild salmon habitat themselves. They show how they can turn this around.
Queen Elizabeth 1st took a bath once a year – whether she needed it or not.
Many people now take 2 showers - a day. This is very relevant to our current stage of consumption.
Consumption of our resources such as water, land, clean air and fossil fuels is now at an unsustainable level. At the time of Elizabeth 1 the world population was about half a billion. Today it is 10 billion. That is a lot of showers.
Clearly there have been many improvements since the year 1500: we are now more hygienic, warmer, better fed and more healthy, but the way we have gone about improving our lifestyles has come at a price. And although we might think everything is quite expensive enough already, we are not actually paying the full price.
A full price would include the cost to the environment. Trees don’t bill us for their loss of forests, endangered animals do not bill us for their loss of habitat. The oceans ask no price for the pollution humans pour into them, and the air will not send us an invoice for the extra greenhouse gasses it has to endure.
If the fish and whales took us to court for murder of their family members, we would at least have more life left in the sea.
In 1972 a group of eminent scholars, called the Club of Rome, published a book called Limits to Growth. They spent years pulling information together, then modelled it to create a future trend scenario. Their conclusions were that we were using up the natural resources of the planet too quickly, and if we did not change our ways, collapse was inevitable. Limits to Growth was an early warning siren. Sadly few people listened.
In essence, they estimated that if human beings continue to consume more than nature is capable of providing, global economic collapse and abrupt population decline could occur at around 2030.
In other words humans are taking too much, and not giving enough back, and sooner rather than later there is going to be a very big problem.
Governments baying for economic growth at all cost are digging us deeper into the quagmire. They pursue this because they measure success in money, not in wellbeing or protection of the ecosystems on which we all actually depend in order to stay alive.
Ever more dangerous and unwholesome methods are being used to extract fossil fuels. Tar sands are huge wasters of energy and put more CO2 into the atmosphere in their extraction than when they are burnt. Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing – pumps toxic chemicals into the ground to release small pockets of gas, deep sea oil drilling has an abysmal record, but still they do it,
But there's another way of doing business. Growth is still possible, but only if we invest in technologies like renewable energy supplies, allocate money for innovation and research so that we can overcome our dependence on dirty fuels and convert to clean energies such as wind, tide & sun. We need to stop wasting so much, & stop polluting the air with CO2 and poisons from incinerators and dirty industries.
We need to reuse more of what we have, and recycle more of what we need, such as metals and plastics. Recycling leaves more in the resource pot for the next generation.
If you had the choice between a car burning fossil fuels, and a long and healthy life for your children, which would you choose?
From 1970 to 2008, the biological resources of our planet shrank by 28%. The main consumer? The USA.
Living Planet's specialists at the World Wide Nature Foundation studied over 9000 mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians, Vesti.ru reports. The report sayss if the whole world used our natural resources like Americans use them, we would need 5 planets to sustain the Earth.
Yet the USA is only 5th on the list of countries that extravagantly uses the world's natural resources for its own population.
First are Qatar, Kuwait, The United Arab Emirates and Denmark. After the USA? Belgium, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands... and Ireland!
Researchers also note that small plastic particles now present a serious threat to sea life as they are entering animals' respiratory and digestive systems.
10% of fish caught in areas close to the islands of rubbish around the USA & Hawaii have plastic in their stomachs, says ECO portal.
Europe lifting anti-Russian sanctions
Finland’s trade minister Kai Mikkanen says that the country is going to resume the trade and economic relations with Russia, that stopped in 2014.
Kai Mikkanen said that, despite the importance of maintaining European unity, Finland is interested in co-operating with its neighbouring country, on several issues.
He noted, ''We have a 1,300 km common border with Russia, so we have many issues that have to be dealt with, from time to time''.
Earlier, Norway announced plans for resuming cooperation. In addition, France's Minister of Finance, Michel Sapin, is now in Moscow. His visit symbolizes Paris's desire to expand trade relations with Moscow.
Oil Prices Surge As OPEC Reportedly Reaches Deal to Cut Production by 1.2 Million Barrels
Nov. 30 -The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has agreed to cut supply by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) versus the current 33.64 million barrels, according to Bloomberg. Crude prices soared almost 8% on the report.
Bloomberg quoted a delegate in Vienna, asking not to be identified as the decision has not been made public yet.
As of 1:30pm GMT, Brent crude was trading nearly $4 higher above $50 per barrel, while US crude benchmark WTI was above $48.
The deal came after weeks of negotiations, as S Arabia, Iraq & Iran fought for the very last barrel of production. This is the first coordinated cut from OPEC in eight years.
According to Bloomberg estimates, the deal allows Iran to raise production by 200,000 bpd from the current 3.7 million.
The agreement also expects non-OPEC countries to cut about 600,000 pbd.
Russia ready to cut production by 300,000 barrels per day and join OPEC agreement
TASS - Russia is ready to join OPEC's production limiting agreement and cut its production in the first half of the year by 300,000 barrels per day, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said. "Russia is ready to join the agreement for stabilization of the situation on oil markets. According to results of our proactive talks with key OPEC and non-OPEC countries that lasted several months, Russia will reduce production by up to 300,000 barrels in the first half of 2017 in a phased manner within tight deadlines, on the basis of technical opportunities," he said.
Russia will comply with its voluntary oil production limiting, on condition that the OPEC adheres to its agreement, the energy minister said:
"Our negotiations with non-OPEC countries also make it possible for us to expect that a range of countries will join the agreement, with the overall production limiting contribution, up to 300,000 barrels daily.
Russia’s voluntary limiting is linked to adherence by OPEC to the level of 32.5 mln barrels daily, adjusted for Indonesia, and to maximized participation by non-OPEC countries."
Trump is meeting with an ex-bank CEO who wants to abolish the Federal Reserve and return to the gold standard source Novorossia Today: November 29th, 2016
As President-elect’s Donald Trump’s transition rolls on, much more attention is being paid to possible selections for a variety of high-ranking positions, and to meetings, that might help decide these appointments.
On Monday, Trump will meet with John Allison, the former CEO of BB&T bank, and of the libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute.
There have been reports that Allison is being considered for Treasury secretary.
On the campaign trail Trump has questioned the future of the Federal Reserve’s political independence, but Allison takes the rhetoric a bit further. When running the Cato Institute Allison wrote a paper in support of the abolition of the Fed.
“I would get rid of the Federal Reserve because the volatility in the economy is primarily caused by the Fed,” Allison wrote in 2014 for the Cato Journal, a publication of the institute.
Allison said that simply allowing the market to regulate itself would be preferable to the Fed harming the stability of the financial system.
“When the Fed is radically changing money supply, distorting interest rates, and over- regulating the financial sector, it makes rational economic calculation difficult,” he wrote. “Markets do form bubbles, but the Fed makes them worse.”
Allison suggested that the government’s practice of insuring bank deposits up to $250,000 should be abolished, and the US should return to a banking system backed by “a market standard such as gold.”
Allison also argued for higher capital reserves of up to 20% of assets at banks. On the other hand, he also argued that the government should repeal three of the broadest banking regulations.
“We should raise capital standards, but it's more important to eliminate burdensome regulations:- including Dodd-Frank, the Community Reinvestment Act, and Truth in Lending,” Allison wrote. “About 25% of bank personnel costs relate to regulations. Banks cannot pay the regulatory costs and have high capital standards.”
This is similar to Trump’s desire to roll back regulation -- including Dodd-Frank -- on the financial institutions, though he has since backtracked somewhat.
It is unclear if any of Allison’s policy views will ultimately be a part of Trump’s plans, but given the unconventional nature of his ideas, the meeting is notable.
Russia's 'Syria countersanctions' will hit the West below the belt
The West and Russia are entering the third year of a war of sanctions. Washington threatens to impose new sanctions against Russia, this time for Syria. Russia will take "painful measures" in response, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, says.
Pravda.Ru offers a list of counter sanctions that we compiled on the basis of experts' opinions.
1. Russia's first answer would be the abolition of neo-liberal economic policies and a transition to a new economic development strategy. This can block Western influence channels on our country & thus become the most asymmetric, but tough answer, to any new Western sanctions, noted Ruslan Dzarasov, Doctor of Economics, head of the department of political economy, at Russia's 'Plekhanov' Economic University.
The expert noted that"we continue to adhere to the export growth model, taking capital to the West and forming a budget on the basis of financial interests of capital rather than domestic consumers."Russia, the expert said, should introduce a combination of state planning and a market sector,"similar to what the USSR was doing during the 1920s."
"The state should ensure the financial transparency of corporations, expand the rights of trade unions and workers, strengthen social control over big business, & show influence on the formation of prices in the economy, to stop price disparities in favour of the mining export sector, and to the detriment of manufacturing industry," Ruslan Dzarasov told Pravda.Ru.
2. Russia could refuse to save its reserves in US dollars. Russia doesn't take first place in terms of dollar savings in the world - but it could still give a serious blow to the Western financial system, Dr Valentin Katasonov, Economics Professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Finance, and head of Russia's Sharapov Economic Society, told Pravda.Ru.
"A lot of Russia's liabilities in national gold and currency reserves, are denominated in US dollars. Should they be put on the market --- the dollar will suffer greatly," leading expert at the Union of Oil and Gas Industrialists, Rustam Tankan said.
Noteworthy: some private Russian companies have already abandoned the US dollar in their activities. Megafon, one of Russia's 3 leading cellular providers, converted about 40% of its dollar deposits to euros & Hong Kong dollars. The company transferred the funds to major Chinese bank accounts. Norilsk Nickel took similar measures. The Hong Kong dollar is a Chinese foreign clone of the dollar, and the US is unable to impose any sanctions on this currency.
Russia has started abandoning the US dollar as a reserve currency, by opening a Raw Materials Exchange in St. Petersburg, where Russian energy carriers are traded in rubles.
3. Russia could freeze US investors' assets in the Russian economy."Foreign citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries of our shadow holdings. There are 'tricky' financial mechanisms in the timber industry, for instance," Igor Gerasimov, a member of the Committee for Business Security at the Chamber of Commerce, and security expert, told Pravda.Ru.
The shadow mechanism works as follows... A wood-working firm does most of the work, while most of the profit goes to a "general contractor." The latter pays the company a relative price for production, & a minimum profit. Most of the profit goes to specific individuals, to the accounts of foreign companies. Therefore, Russia could adopt laws over the nationalization of natural resources & city-forming enterprises,said Igor Gerasimov.
4. The State Duma of the Russian Federation has already discussed a draft law to relieve both state-run and privately-owned Russian companies of $700 billion of debts... which are held by Western banks in countries now threatening sanctions on Russia.
5. Sanctions in the field of high technology, will be no less sensitive."Russian titanium will stop arriving at European companies, and this will certainly be a very significant act of pressure on our partners,"Alexei Mukhin, general director of the Centre for Political Information, told Pravda.Ru.
Boeing & United Technologies, as well as Europe's Airbus Group, purchase most of their titanium from Avisma, a Russian company, which happens to be the world's largest titanium producer. Yet this covers only about 30% of their needs. The US, however, is entirely dependent on Russia for its rocket engines. RD-180 is a 6-ton liquid rocket engine, with a thrust of 400+ tons. The US has used Russian rocket engines since 2000. The US Congress passed a budget which provides for the allocation of 100s of millions of dollars... to buy an "unlimited" number of RD-180 engines.
6. Russia's sanctions against Western airlines would lead to their elimination. A great deal of airlines fly across the territory of Russia and save a lot of money on this, chair of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, Andrei Klimov, told Pravda.Ru.
"If all of a sudden, the Russian authorities try to do something in this field, it will generate huge profits to companies from such states as the United Arab Emirates, & at the same time, it will cause serious financial damage to German, French and other air carriers," said the expert.
7. Many large companies in the West have strong lobbies in legislative authorities. Therefore, the input of targeted sanctions... under the pretext of rules and regulations violations, would be a very strong response. Starting from 1 Nov 2016 Russia banned imports of salt from the EU, the US, Canada, Australia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Albania and Ukraine.
On 15 February 2016, Russia banned imports of soybeans and corn from the US, including through third countries. Russia still imports various US food products, spending millions of US dollars a year (PepsiCo, Starbucks, Cargill, McDonald's), pharmaceuticals (Pfizer), cosmetic products (Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson), plastics, machinery, textiles, footwear, auto- mobiles (Ford, General Motors), as well as products under a "secret code" worth $554 million --- in the first half of 2016, alone.
Lyuba Lulko Pravda.Ru
World Central banks get rid of US securities Thursday, 20 October, 2016
The number of US bonds decreased dramatically last week (27.5 billion dollars). This decline is the biggest this year. As a result, the value of US securities has fallen.
Now their total cost is about $3 trillion. This is the lowest level in five years.
China & Saudi Arabia are the leaders among those countries which are selling US bonds.
IMF heralds catastrophe for major banks of EU and US Source: REX
The International Monetary Fund said in a report published on October 5 that a significant number of major banks in the wealthiest countries of the world are so weak that neither the growth of the world economy nor an increase in interest rates will help them solve their problems.
The problematic credit organizations include one- third of Europe's banks with assets totaling $8.5 trillion and a quarter of US banks with assets worth $3.2 trillion.
According to the IMF, the financial stability now depends on how well financial institutions can adapt themselves to the new era with tougher regulation and supervision, restrained growth and low interest rates.
Experts note that despite an improvement in the structure of bank assets and equity indices, low profitability remains a significant problem, that can not be solved through cycles of economic recovery.
The report, in particular, draws attention to the euro-zone banks, profits of which, have halved, since the average levels of 2003-2006.
Experts believe that Europe lags behind the US in terms of the disposal of bad loans. Both the IMF and the European Central Bank see loose monetary policy as the main cause of bank problems.
IMF experts also remained concerned about the financial stability of Japan and China. At the same time, experts point out decreasing pressure on emerging markets, against the backdrop of higher prices on raw materials and a certain stabilization of the Chinese economy.
Vietnam joins Russia-led free trade zone
A free trade agreement between the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and Vietnam takes effect now with its ratification. The deal opens the EEU's market of 181 million people to Vietnam.
The EEU countries – Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan – get the opportunity to sell goods in Vietnam on a preferential basis.
The free trade deal covers more than 90 percent of all goods traded between the EEU & Vietnam. It will save exporters from the EEU about $40-60 million in the first year. Vietnamese companies can expect savings of up to $5-$10 million a year.
With the deal Hanoi expects to significantly raise its foreign trade. Trade with Russia is expected to more than double to $10 billion by 2020.
"Specific conditions will be created for Russia in order to increase the supply of its products on the Vietnamese market. It concerns not only high value-added products, but also agricultural produce, consumer goods and so on," said the Russian Trade Mission in Vietnam.
Russia’s exports to Vietnam, include, nuclear reactors, mineral fuels, oil and its distillation products and fertilizers. Imports from Vietnam include electrical machinery, boilers & knitwear.
In terms of the agreement, Russian automotive companies GAZ, Kamaz & Sollers will be able to create joint ventures to produce buses, trucks, special vehicles, and passenger cars. The localization of production is expected to reach 40 to 50 percent over the next decade.
Vietnam signed the free trade zone agreement with the EEU in 2015, becoming the first non- regional country to join the bloc.
More than 40 countries and international organizations, including China, Indonesia, Israel and Iran, have expressed interest in a free trade deal with the bloc.
Establishment of the EEU was signed by the presidents of Russia, Belarus & Kazakhstan in 2014. Armenia & Kyrgyzstan, joined later.
The bloc was designed to ensure the free movement of goods, services, capital and workforces, between member countries.
WESTERN BANKS CRACKING
4 of the biggest banks are reported as going down: HSBC, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo, are all reported by eminent experts as "about to fail."
Chinese yuan becomes IMF reserve currency, first new addition since 1999
The Chinese yuan is now added to the IMF reserve basket, becoming the first currency to be added to the list since the emergence of the euro in 1999.
The official entry brings to a close, at least partly, Beijing’s years-long struggle for international acceptance on the sort of level enjoyed by the US dollar. The currency now joins the big four: the US dollar, the euro, the yen, and the UK's pound.
The decision means the Chinese yuan will now be used as one of the International Monetary Fund’s lending currencies, in emergency bailouts. This sort of internationalization is in line with China’s wish for an increase in the legitimacy of its currency.
The move also evidences China’s growing role as a power to challenge the global economic dominance of the United States.
The IMF has fixed the relative amounts of the five main currencies in its basket for five years, based on the exchange rate of each, over the last three months.
Deutsche Bank to fight US $14bn claim
Deutsche Bank says it will challenge a $14 billion claim by the US Department of Justice on alleged mis-selling of mortgage-backed securities during the 2008 financial crisis.
“Deutsche Bank has no intent to settle these potential civil claims anywhere near the number cited. The negotiations are only just beginning. The bank expects that they will lead to an out- come similar to those of peer banks which have settled at materially lower amounts,” Deutsche Bank says in its statement.
No details on the case have been publicized. Yet reports say sales of mortgage securities before the 2008 financial crisis, lie at the heart of the case.
The claim against Deutsche Bank far exceeds its expectations that the DoJ would look for a figure of only up to 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion), Reuters reported.
European stocks wrapped up in negative territory on Friday in reaction to the case against Deutsche Bank. Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays both fell over 5%, while Credit Suisse and UBS fell over 3%. French lenders BNP Paripas and Societe Generale both fell over 2%.
Deutsche Bank’s shares stumbled 8.5%, wiping off roughly €1.5 billion from the German lenders’ market capitalization.
Other big banks have reached deals in recent years with US authorities over their mortgage activities in the run-up to the financial crisis. Earlier in 2016, Goldman Sachs agreed to pay $5.1 billion to settle claims on its dealings.
Russian oil transport monopoly to stop oil exports via domestic Baltic ports by 2018
Xinhua - Russian oil pipeline company Transneft is planning to stop Russia's oil exports via the Baltic ports by 2018 and redirect the routes to Russian ports, the Russian presidential web- site reported.
"Last year, around nine million tons were shipped through Baltic ports, while this year, the figure was 5 million tons. By 2018 we will reduce this flow to nil and will direct it to our ports instead - as we have surplus capacity," said Chair and President of Transneft, Nikolai Tokarev, at the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to Tokarev, the company will redirect oil freight flows from the Baltic ports of Ventspils and Riga, in Latvia, to Russia's own Baltic ports of Ust- Luga and Primorsk, along with the construction of oil transport routes.
Transneft is a Russian state-owned transport monopoly and the largest oil pipeline company in the world. The company is operating over 70 thousand km of trunk pipelines, and transports about 90% of the oil produced in Russia, to various destinations.
HBOS banking group on long- awaited trail for £35 million scam
A group of HBOS bankers in the UK are on trial charged with conspiracy to corrupt, fraudulent trading & money laundering, at a London court.
The London-based Southwark Crown Court will host the first trial of bankers to come from the financial crisis in 2008. 2 former senior HBOS managers and 6 other defendants, will appear in court.
The heavily postponed trial was originally scheduled to start at the beginning of the year. The defendants were initially charged in 2013.
Those charged also include bankers David Mills & Michael Bancroft, as well as their wives, who are accused of giving money & “numerous high-value gifts” to HBOS managers in exchange for favours.
The alleged scam was exposed by Thames Valley Police after a two year investigation code-named Operation Hornet.
HBOS collapsed in 2008 and was bought by UK- backed Lloyds TSB. A former head of corporate lending, Peter Cummings, was fined £500,000, and banned from the banking industry.
The British government bailed out Lloyds at the height of the financial crisis in 2008 at a cost of some £20 billion, handing the state a 43% stake in the bank.
Banking giants reverse predictions of post-Brexit ‘Brecession’,proving it was the Remain Camp, who lied:
Two of the City’s biggest powerhouses have scrapped their predictions: of a post-Brexit recession which would see the UK economy collapse, following the EU referendum - and now envisage better-than-expected results in the third financial quarter.
But investor Jim Rogers warns that the US policy of printing money will soon hurt us:
"You should be very worried. There's going to be a serious economic crisis --- in the next year or two. We all are going to pay a horrible price for the artificial money coming out of America, and other central banks. We’re all going to have a huge problem. Be worried, be worried."
US's "INVISIBLE" EARNER ON THE LINE
The TRIPS agreement, which the US presented as a "free trade" agreement, is currently facing an update; TPP, the "Trans-Pacific Partnership."
Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), lie at the heart of the World Trade Organization. Its champion was then-CEO of Pfizer, Edmund Pratt.
Mr Pratt wants to prohibit people in the third world from using their own raw materials & pharmaceutical knowledge, in their own laboratories and plants, to cure and treat their own people's diseases.
He wants to force them to buy from Pfizer or die trying. Millions have died as a result of the success of the TRIPS "free trade" agreement and the WTO.
It concerns the monopolies and exclusive rights we know as copyrights, patents, trademarks, and so on.
As people in the US started shunning Detroit's cars in favor of Toyota, policymakers in the US realized that the country's age of industrial competitiveness had effectively come to an end.
They sought new ways to enrich the US by redefining "value,” "industry,” and "production" with contracts that made sure the US kept being paid by the world.
As TRIPS was negotiated, every interest in the US - Hollywood, the record industry, cars - all benefited.
This new Wiki-leaked agreement also has little to do with free trade, but with the upholding of exclusive rights and monopolies.
Building on the previous TRIPS agreement, TPP, the "Trans-Pacific Partnership," strengthens it, despite the rest of the world's aspirations, seen in this introductory paragraph...
"The objectives of this chapter are... to maintain a balance between the rights of intellectual property holders and the legitimate interests of users and the community in subject matter protected by intellectual property; to protect the ability of Parties to identify, promote access to and preserve the public domain; ensure that measures and procedures to enforce intellectual property rights do not themselves become barriers to legitimate trade."
The US position opposes all of this. There "shall only be" exclusive rights, typically held by the US.
The US even seeks to give Hollywood the right to shut people off from the internet without due process; yet this outrage is obscured in legal terms such as "injunctive relief" or "liability conditions".
Copyright & patent monopolies, by definition, are the opposite of free trade and the rights now being proposed by the US are monopoly rights which will prevent free trade.
This is similar to the land rights and trading monopolies forced by the British Empire, on its unwilling subjects. And just as disgusting.
China welcomes Canada's decision to apply for AIIB membership: Xi
Xinhua - Meeting Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau, Xi says China is willing to improve communication and coordination with Canada, protect an open & inclusive multilateral trade system with the country and deepen cooperation in areas such as climate change, peacekeeping and marine protection.
This is the first official visit by Trudeau since taking office in November 2015. His father, former Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau, was the first Canadian PM to visit China, after the establishment of diplomatic relations.
After his stay in Beijing, Trudeau flew to Hangzhou, to attend the G20 summit.
World seeing‘greatest monetary policy experiment in history’- Rothschild
Low interest rates, negative yields on government debt & quantitative easing, are part of the biggest financial experiment in world history, and the consequences are as yet, unknown, says RIT Capital Partners Chair, Lord Rothschild.
“The six months under review have seen central bankers continuing what is surely the greatest experiment in monetary policy in the history of the world. We're therefore in uncharted waters and it is impossible to predict the unintended consequences of very low interest rates, with 30% of global government debt --- at negative yields, combined with quantitative easing on a massive scale,” Rothschild writes, in the company's semi-annual financial report.
The banker says this policy has led to a rapid growth of stock markets --- US stocks have grown 3-fold since 2008 - with investments growing and volatility remaining low.
However, the real sector of the economy didn’t enjoy such profits, as “growth remains anemic, with weak demand and deflation in many parts of the developed world,” says Rothschild.
The billionaire stresses that many risks remain for the global economy, with the deteriorating geopolitical situation. Among those risks, he includes the UK's vote to leave the EU, the US' presidential election & China's slowing economic growth. Another risk is global terrorism, which Rothschild says is a consequence of continuing 'conflict' in the Middle East.
A Bank of America Merrill Lynch report in June, shows interest rates in developed countries, in particular America’s 0.5%, are now at their lowest level in 5,000 years.<