Home » Posts tagged 'united kingdom'

Tag Archives: united kingdom

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

We’re Asking One Question In Assange’s Case: Should Journalists Be Punished For Exposing War Crimes?

We’re Asking One Question In Assange’s Case: Should Journalists Be Punished For Exposing War Crimes?

This is a speech I gave yesterday at a demonstration for Assange with the Socialist Equality Party Australia.

Tomorrow in the UK a judge will start the process of answering a very important question. It’s a question that many of us knew was the heart of this debate back in 2010, ten years ago, when this all started. It’s a question that they have been obfuscating, bloviating, huffily denying, smearing, gaslighting, and distracting from–basically doing anything they can to hide it from view.

It’s a question that they don’t want the public to know that we are answering. A question that goes to the heart of democracy, and to the heart of the role of the fourth estate, journalism. And that question is this:

Should journalists and publishers be punished for exposing US war crimes?

And, ancillary to that question: should we allow them to be punished by the very people who committed those war crimes?

Is that something that we want for our world, ongoing? Because our answer to this question is going to shape our society, our civilization, for generations to come.

There is no coming back from this for a very long time should the answer be, “Yes! Yes, it’s fine, war criminals should go ahead and punish journalists for publishing true facts about their war crimes.”

If we allow the answer to be yes, then we’re stuck with the endless stupid wars that everyone wants done with, from Melbourne to Kabul, from Sydney to Syria–right across the world people are done with these stupid wars for profit.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Burning Trees For Heating Won’t Help With Climate Change: UK Think Tank

Burning Trees For Heating Won’t Help With Climate Change: UK Think Tank

coal

A suggestion by the UK Committee on Climate Change to burn more wood and plant replacement trees as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels has drawn criticism from think tank Chatham House, which says this is hardly the best approach to reducing emissions.

“Expanding forest cover is undoubtedly a good thing, if you’re leaving them standing,” energy expert Duncan Brack told the Daily Telegraph. However, Brack, who served as special adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, suggested that burning wood for heating was not the most sustainable way forward. Calling wood burning a carbon neutral process is “highly dubious,” Brack added.

These claims, according to the Telegraph’s environment editor, Emma Gatten, rest on the assumption that the carbon footprint of chopping down trees and burning them is offset by planting new trees to replace them. This assumption excludes the fact that older trees absorb more carbon and that it takes time to replace a forest.

“You can leave trees standing and they will continue to absorb carbon for decades,” Brack says. “But the biomass industry implicitly assumes that forests at some point stop reach a saturation point for carbon intake and can be harvested and simply replaced.” 

The benefit of planting trees to mitigate the effects of climate change has been put to the test on a wider scale as well. A study released last year found that reforestation could work, but it had to be done at a massive scale.

We need to plant 25 percent more trees than there are on Earth right now, or more than half a trillion in total, the study found. This would reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by a quarter, erasing 20 years of emissions. Yet it would not solve the climate problem on its own, without a sustained effort to cut emissions, commentators on the study said.

UK Researcher Predicts Over 250,000 Chinese Will Have Coronavirus In Ten Days

UK Researcher Predicts Over 250,000 Chinese Will Have Coronavirus In Ten Days

When it comes to estimating the human capital and potential fallout from a highly contagious epidemic, arguably the most important variable is the R0 (“R-naught”) value of the disease, which represents the average number of secondary cases arising from an average primary case in a entirely susceptible population. That’s the technical definition, a simpler one is that the R0, or basic reproductive number, of a contagious disease is the number of cases that a case of the disease generates over the course of its infectious period in a susceptible population. The higher this number, the more dangerous the disease, the more lethal the outcome.

Some indicative R0s are 0.9 – 2.1 for the common flu while the 1918-1919 pandemic-causing Spanish flu was estimated to have ranged from 1.4 – 2.8, with a mean of 2. Some other notable R0s are shown below, and note that SARS was between 2 and 5:

So what about the R0 of 2019-nCoV, also known as the coronavirus that has claimed over three dozen lives in China and infected (at least) 1,000 people? Naturally, since the disease is most active in China which is notoriously opaque especially when it comes to matters that can cause a mass panic, the best one can do is guess, and that’s what the World Health Organization did yesterday when it issued a statement on the coronavirus epidemic with the following projection:

Human-to-human transmission is occurring and a preliminary R0 estimate of 1.4-2.5 was presented. Amplification has occurred in one health care facility. Of confirmed cases, 25% are reported to be severe. The source is still unknown (most likely an animal reservoir) and the extent of human-to-human transmission is still not clear.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Media’s Deafening Silence On Latest WikiLeaks Drops Is Its Own Scandal

Media’s Deafening Silence On Latest WikiLeaks Drops Is Its Own Scandal

This is getting really, really, really weird.

WikiLeaks has published yet another set of leaked internal documents from within the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) adding even more material to the mountain of evidence that we’ve been lied to about an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria last year which resulted in airstrikes upon that nation from the US, UK and France.

This new WikiLeaks drop includes an email from the OPCW Chief of Cabinet Sebastien Braha (who is reportedly so detested by organisation inspectors that they code named him “Voldemort”) throwing a fit over the Ian Henderson Engineering Assessment which found that the Douma incident was likely a staged event. Braha is seen ordering OPCW staff to “remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever” from the organisation’s secure registry.


Minutes from an OPCW meeting with toxicologists specialized in chemical weapons: “the experts were conclusive in their statements that there was
no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure”.https://wikileaks.org/opcw-douma/#OPCW-DOUMA%20-%20Release%20Part%204 …

View image on Twitter

The drop also includes the minutes from an OPCW toxicology meeting with “three Toxicologists/Clinical pharmacologists, one bioanalytical and toxicological chemist”, all four of whom are specialists in chemical weapons analysis.

“With respect to the consistency of the observed and reported symptoms of the alleged victims with possible exposure to chlorine gas or similar, the experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure,” the document reads.

According to the leaked minutes from the toxicology meeting, the chief expert offered “the possibility of the event being a propaganda exercise” as one potential explanation for the Douma incident. The other OPCW experts agreed that the key “take-away message” from the meeting was “that the symptoms observed were inconsistent with exposure to chlorine and no other obvious candidate chemical causing the symptoms could be identified”.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Zero carbon Britain: Rising to the climate emergency

Zero carbon Britain: Rising to the climate emergency 

A new report out today from Rapid Transition Alliance founding member the Centre for Alternative technology (CAT) looks at how the UK can cut energy demand by 60% and reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions using current technologies, without relying on unproven carbon capture.

By modelling the changes needed to energy, buildings, transport, industry, diets and land-use, ‘Zero Carbon Britain: Rising to the Climate Emergency’ clearly demonstrates that we already have the tools and technology needed to play our part in leaving a safe and habitable climate for our children and future generations.

Addressing climate breakdown

People all over the world are feeling the effects of climate breakdown, from unprecedented heatwaves, droughts and massive wildfires to some of the most damaging floods and storms ever seen. The warnings from the scientific community are now becoming real life experiences.

The current UK greenhouse gas emissions target of net zero by 2050, though ambitious in comparison to some other countries, does not offer rapid enough reductions to provide a good chance of avoiding extremely dangerous climate breakdown. Neither does it adhere to what might be termed the UK’s ‘fair share’ of the remaining global carbon budget.

Zero Carbon Britain and… A series of independent thought papers on rising to the climate emergency PDF document, 4 MB Download  

By making changes to our buildings, transport systems, land use and behaviour, and by investing in a variety of renewable energy technologies, we can achieve a zero carbon transition while building in a wide range of additional benefits.

CAT’s new report provides a blueprint to open new conversations around the scale and speed of change we need to deliver if we are to rise to the climate emergency. It can be used as a template to help citizens and local and national policymakers develop and deliver zero carbon action plans.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will Julian Assange Die in Prison?

Will Julian Assange Die in Prison?

Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court on April 11, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is suffering significant “psychological torture” and abuse in the London prison where he is being held, and his life is now “at risk,” according to an independent UN rights expert. A senior member of his legal team believes Assange may not live until the end of the extradition process.

Assange mumbled, stuttered, and struggled to say his own name and date of birth when he appeared in court on October 21. The Wikileaks founder is being subjected to long drawn-out “psychological torture” as he battles to prevent his extradition to the United States where he faces a slew of espionage charges, warns Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

“Unless the UK urgently changes course and alleviates his inhumane situation, Mr. Assange’s continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life,” Melzer said in a statement on Friday.

“His physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration,” writes former British ambassador Craig Murray, who was present at the October hearing. “When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both… his difficulty in making it was very evident; it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought… Until yesterday I had always been quietly skeptical of those who claimed that Julian’s treatment amounted to torture… and skeptical of those who suggested he may be subject to debilitating drug treatments.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Immediate moratorium on fracking in England because of tremor risk

Immediate moratorium on fracking in England because of tremor risk

pnr 190805 Ros Wills 2

Gooseneck at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 5 August 2019. Photo: Ros Wills

After seven years of promoting fracking, Conservative ministers have withdrawn their support and blocked the prospects of a shale gas industry.

The UK government has issued an immediate moratorium in England because of the risk of earth tremors. Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already issued measures that amount to moratoriums on fracking.

In a statement released just after midnight, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), said new scientific advice concluded that it was not possible with current technology to predict accurately whether fracking would cause tremors and how big they would be.

Opponents of fracking described the announcement as a victory for communities and the climate but called for a full, permanent ban. IGas, the only industry representative to respond to our invitation to comment, said it was confident it could operate safely and environmentally responsibly. The industry organisation, UKOOG, later said fracking was a long-standing technology and the UK had a world-class shale resource.  Full reaction

Ministers said they had based their decision on a report by the industry regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA). It had been investigating earth tremors caused by fracking at the UK’s only shale gas site, at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, operated by Cuadrilla.

The report looked at the impacts of fracking the PNR1z well in autumn 2018, which caused more than 50 tremors. The OGA is also examining 134 seismic events caused by fracking the second well, PNR2, in August 2019. They included the UK’s largest fracking-induced tremor, measuring 2.9ML. The British Geological Survey said this tremor was felt by several thousand people, while several hundred reported damage to homes. The OGA suspended fracking within hours.

pnr 190826 uwtoc-2
Campaigners outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, 26 August 2019. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK Gov’t Halts Fracking In England Ahead Of General Election

UK Gov’t Halts Fracking In England Ahead Of General Election

The U.K. fracking industry has grounded to halt as the British government ended its support for the controversial practice of extracting oil out of the ground, reported Bloomberg.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government announced Saturday that all new hydraulic fracturing wells would be banned. The country’s only active site in northwestern England would be immediately shut down.

The move to ban fracking across the country, which involves injecting water and sand into oil wells at high pressure, was followed by the Oil and Gas Authority publishing a new study that concluded there are severe hazards for people living around fracking sites. Some of the pollution risks were toxic water and earthquake-related damage.

Johnson’s administration banned fracking just weeks ahead of a general election. His party is attempting to win over voters in rural areas in northern England, where much of the fracking sites reside.

The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, cheered on Twitter about the fracking prohibition, though he said it was only a “temporary pause” and “an election stunt to try and win a few votes.”


The Conservatives’ 𝘁𝗲𝗺𝗽𝗼𝗿𝗮𝗿𝘆 pause of fracking is an election stunt to try and win a few votes.

Boris Johnson described fracking as ‘glorious news for humanity’. We cannot trust him.

Labour would ban fracking. That’s real change.


Britain’s business and energy secretary, Andrea Leadsom, said after reviewing the Oil and Gas Authority’s report into fracking-related risks, “we can not rule out future unacceptable impacts” that fracking has on communities.

Seismic activity around a fracking site near Blackpool, a seaside town on the Irish Sea coast of England, operated by shale gas group Cuadrilla Resources, was suspended in August after earthquakes spooked residents.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Finding our common ground and common purpose

Finding our common ground and common purpose


We are living in extraordinary, stormy times. In the political sphere, a sixteen-year-old girl speaks truth to powerful global leaders in New York; in the UK, the Supreme Court finds our Government has acted unlawfully in the proroguing of Parliament. In spite of all the promises and declarations, the planet is still set for 3 degrees of global warming above pre-industrial levels, sending us more rapidly towards the tipping point for our climate and all life on earth. We are travelling through unchartered territories. Tribal and polarised politics shape the public discourse. It can feel profoundly unsettling. Where on earth is the solid ground from which we can find common purpose and make the urgent progress we need on the really critical issues facing us?

In July 2019, The RSA Food Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC) published a series of important reports. Funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, this two-year independent inquiry helped to shape a new vision for safe, secure and sustainable food and farming systems and a flourishing countryside. Initially focussed on matters raised by the Brexit vote, the inquiry quickly turned its attention to the urgent issues that transcend Brexit: the crises in climate and nature, health and wellbeing and rural communities. For eighteen months, we worked with business leaders and academics across different sectors, and with citizens in their communities around the UK, to arrive at the recommendations in our report, Our Future in the LandThe report garnered widespread – and cross-party – backing, both for our recommendations and for the process by which we arrived at them. We were determined that the many and diverse perspectives we’d heard through our inquiry were respected, and that everyone who’d given their time, experience and expertise to us so generously would see their voices in our reports. And make no mistake: this is contested territory.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – October 21st 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge  – October 21st 2019 

“If you wake up on a Casper mattress, work out with a Peloton before breakfast, Uber to your desk at a WeWork, order DoorDash for lunch, take a Lyft home, and get dinner through Postmates, you’ve interacted with seven companies that will collectively lose nearly $14 billion this year.”

It’s a big week for markets with the ECB meeting, some critical Q3 stock numbers and a host of things to worry about in terms of economic releases and the continuing slowing of the Chinese economy. Its all critical stuff for the bond market – which I reckon is a ticking time-bomb. But more about that later… For stock markets, the quote this morning sums it up – the mood is changing: forget the disruptive tech unicorns and focus on fundamentals. But, first up we really can’t ignore the Brexit mess in the UK.  Saturday’s SNAFU gives investors another chance to load up on Sterling.  At some point Brexit will be fixed.  It might be messy. 

Brexxxxxxiiiiitttt….. 

I am sure foreign readers are wondering how the Mother of All Parliaments is making such a Horlicks of the Brexit negotiations.  It really doesn’t look good does it?   On the other hand, it does show the vibrancy of our political process, and the fact individuals can force it to change. It’s just a shame so many of these individuals seen to be self-seeking egotistical numpties of the worst kind – but even Oliver Letwin has a mother that probably loves him.  

The reason Brexit is so messy is simple. It boils down to weak government – which is a recent thing here in the UK. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pesticides in the Dock: Ecological Apocalypse But Business as Usual

Pesticides in the Dock: Ecological Apocalypse But Business as Usual

Photograph Source: United States Department of Agriculture – Public Domain

In a new paper published in King’s Law Journal –  ‘The Chemical Anthropocene: Glyphosate as a Case Study of Pesticide Exposures’ – the authors Alessandra Arcuri and Yogi Hale Hendlin state:

“As the science against glyphosate safety mounts and lawsuits threaten its chemical manufacture’s profits, the next generation of GMO crops are being keyed to the pesticide dicamba, sold commercially as XtendiMax® – and poised to be the next glyphosate. Regulatory agencies have historically been quick to approve products but slow to reconsider regulations after the decades of accumulated harms become apparent.”

They add that the entrenched asymmetries between public and ecological health and fast-to-market new chemicals is exacerbated by the seeming lack of institutionalised precautionary policies.

According to environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason, these ‘entrenched asymmetries’ result from the corporate capture of key policy-making bodies and their subversion by agri-food oligopolies.

In her new report, ‘Why Does Bayer Crop Science Control Chemicals in Brexit Britain’, she states that Bayer is having secret meetings with the British government to determine which agrochemicals are to be used after Brexit once Britain is ‘free’ of EU restrictions and becomes as deregulated as the US.

Such collusion comes as little surprise to Mason who says the government’s ‘strategy for UK life sciences’ is already dependent on funding from pharmaceutical corporations and the pesticides industry:

“Syngenta’s parent company is AstraZeneca. In 2010, Syngenta and AstraZeneca were represented on the UK Advisory Committee on Pesticides and the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Foods, Consumer Products and the Environment. The founder of Syngenta, Michael Pragnell CBE, was the Chairman of Cancer Research UK (CRUK) from 2011-2017. CRUK started by giving money (£450 million/year) to the Government’s Strategy for UK Life Sciences and AstraZeneca provided 22 compounds to academic research to develop medicines. AstraZeneca manufactures six different anti-cancer drugs mainly aimed at breast and prostate cancer.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A Society Is Only As Free As Its Most Troublesome Political Dissident

A Society Is Only As Free As Its Most Troublesome Political Dissident

You wouldn’t know it from any western mass media reporting as of this writing, but musician Roger Waters is about to perform the iconic Pink Floyd song “Wish You Were Here” in front of the office of British Home Secretary Priti Patel in order to draw attention to the persecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Earlier this year, billionaire Richard Branson staged a “Live Aid”-stye concert in Colombia near the Venezuela border with the purported goal of helping the Venezuelan people. In reality the stunt was nothing other than a ploy to advance the entirely false narratives that President Maduro was blockading bridges and turning away all foreign aid, and the funds raised ended up being embezzledby the Trump-backed regime change opposition group led by US puppet Juan Guaido. The British mass media, however, went absolutely bananas over the story. Each word in this sentence ishyperlinked to a different story about the concert from mass media outlets in the UK alone. And that was a concert on the other side of the planet, while the Assange event is happening right in London, in front of the office of a prominent British official, featuring one of the greatest British rock musicians of all time.

This discrepancy tells you everything you need to know about the so-called “free press” in western society, and indeed about western society itself.

This discrepancy tells you everything you need to know about the so-called “free press” in western society, and indeed about western society itself.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Elites “Going Rogue” Suggests The Global Neoliberal Architecture Is Collapsing

Elites “Going Rogue” Suggests The Global Neoliberal Architecture Is Collapsing

Listen carefully. That is the sound of going rogue – and bond yields further through the floor.

Yesterday UK PM Boris Johnson announced he is going to prorogue–or close–Parliament, meaning that when MPs come back to sit next week they will only do so briefly, and will then not return until 14 October, when there will be a new Queen’s Speech to launch BoJo’s slate of legislation as the new PM. So far, so technical. Yet what this effectively means is that there will be a very narrow window next week, and then a slightly larger one in the final two weeks of October, for Parliament to act to prevent Hard Brexit on Halloween.

This is explosive and unprecedented stuff, politically. The British constitution is largely unwritten and so allows wiggle room, and the government insists they have checked the legality of all they are proposing; nonetheless, as the press and opposition note, it smells awful. This is clearly a case of Erskine May (the ‘parliamentary bible’ that looks and sounds like it belongs in a Harry Potter tale) turning into Erskine Maybe or Erskine Might.

Indeed, BoJo is being accused of a “coup”, a “constitutional outrage”, an “abomination”, and of being a “tinpot dictator”, though this being the UK, perhaps that should be “teapot”; but there is not just tea but a genuinely revolutionary atmosphere brewing. Bob Kerslake, former head of the civil service, is quoted in the Guardian as stating:

We are reaching the point where the civil service must consider putting its stewardship of the country ahead of service to the government of the day.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mass Surveillance: NJ Cops Turn Individuals’ Phones Into Spying Devices

MASS SURVEILLANCE: NJ COPS TURN INDIVIDUALS’ PHONES INTO SPYING DEVICES

It’s for their own good, of course! A New Jersey police department has unveiled technology that will allow 911 operators to stream video from callers smartphones.

For the time being, callers have to turn on the live video stream, meaning they are consenting and giving the police permission to see what’s happening as they call. This is the first step to automatic surveillance upon calling people who are assumed to be there to help. According to RT, the technology allows the 911 operators to use the phone’s camera and microphone. This is the first step down a very slippery slope.

Police Drop “Crime Prediction” Software, But Not Because It’s Orwellian

911eye, developed by Capita Secure Solutions and Services in conjunction with West Midlands Fire Service in the UK, represents a step toward a terrifying surveillance infrastructure that can turn any internet-capable device into a remote-activated surveillance tool. West Midlands Police were the first to embrace “pre-crime” technology in the UK, developing the National Data Analytics Solution to sniff out potential offenders and divert them with ostensibly therapeutic “interventions.”

If the fact that it was developed by the people behind the real-life version of ‘Minority Report’ isn’t enough reason to give 911eye a wide berth, take a look at Carbyne911, one of its competitors. Funded by deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein through former Israeli PM Ehud Barak, Carbyne911 markets itself as the solution to mass shootings. The program – founded by current and former Israeli intelligence personnel, which isn’t at all worrisome given that this country spies on the US so extensively it scares Congress – lets emergency dispatchers commandeer the camera and microphone of any internet-capable device within a certain range of the person who made the call. –RT

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Boris Johnson, GMOs and Glyphosate: Irresponsible, Negligent and Criminal?

Boris Johnson, GMOs and Glyphosate: Irresponsible, Negligent and Criminal?  

Photograph Source: Richard Humphrey – CC BY-SA 2.0

In his first speech to parliament as British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said: “Let’s start now to liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti-genetic modification rules and let’s develop the blight-resistant crops that will feed the world.”

Johnson reads from a well-rehearsed script. The ‘GM will feed the world mantra’ is pure industry spin. There is already enough food being produced to feed the global population yet around 830 million are classed as hungry. Feeding the world effectively, sustainably and equitably involves addressing the in-built injustices of the global food system.

The never-ending push to force GM on the public under the guise of saving humanity is a diversion that leaves intact the root causes of world hunger and undernutrition: neoliberal deregulation and privatisation policies, unfair WTO rules, poverty, land rights issues, World Bank/IMF geopolitical lending strategies and the transformation of food secure regions into food deficit ones, etc.

Even in regions where productivity in agriculture lags behind or concerns exist about climate change, numerous high-level reports have recommended that (non-GMO) agroecological practices should be encouraged to enhance biodiversity and deal with food and climate crises.

However, pro-Brexiteer Conservative politicians talk of the essential need for Britain and the world to adopt GM is little more than an attempt to justify a post-Brexit trade deal with Washington that will effectively incorporate the UK into the US’s regulatory food regime. The type of ‘liberation’ Johnson really means is the UK adopting unassessed GM crops and food and a gutting of food safety and environmental standards.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase