Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Tuesday, 21 April 2009


Caroline Lucas, Green MEP to co-host Parliament visit by Billy Bragg

Green Euro-MP Caroline Lucas will take to the platform alongside legendary musician and activist Billy Bragg at a press conference in the European Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday 22 April), to protest against proposals to extend copyright for artists and musicians which could see them lose considerable power to large corporate record labels.

The European Commission is proposing extend the term of protection of copyrights and related rights for performers and phonogram producers from 50 years to 95 years. Billy Bragg has voiced his support for a Green call to amend the controversial legislation and give the rights of ownership back to performers after 50 years.

South East Green Dr Lucas and other MEPs, together with Billy Bragg and a number of industry figures, will outline their opposition to the Copyright Term Extension Directive at the press conference in Strasbourg tomorrow between 3.30pm and 4pm.

Dr Lucas MEP said: “It is clear that action is needed to better reward performers for their work, but this legislation is absolutely not the solution. Copyright extension effectively allows the state to give powerful corporations a free rein to increase their profits – to the detriment of performer rights and artistic creativity.

“The Commission claims that the proposal would benefit both performers and record producers, but it is unlikely to do either. This legislation is framed to profit owners of the rights to music and not the performers. In fact it is estimated that under this law, 80% of profits from copyright deals would go to the media conglomerates and most of the remainder to the biggest recording artists.

“We’re talking about a gigantic windfall for a few multinational companies, taking millions of pounds from the pockets of consumers and giving it to the record labels. Also, the artistic cost of making songs from the last 50 years public property, thus allowing endless sampling by DJs and other artists, must be taken into consideration.

“The UK Greens are committed to a system known as Creative Commons, which offers a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors and artists. We want to encourage innovation and prevent large corporations from controlling and benefitting from our cultural legacy.”

Dr Lucas MEP concluded: “The European Commission is seeking to rush these proposals through Parliament without adequate scrutiny by MEPs, and the only people who look set to benefit are the corporate profiteers.

“At tomorrow’s press conference, I will call on my fellow MEPs to vote down these proposals and pave the way for fairer and more progressive legislation which will give greater power to the artists and performers themselves.”

Friday, 17 April 2009

MPA meeting on policing of G20 protests – open to public.

Date: Thursday 30th April 2009

Venue: City Hall, 2nd Floor Chamber

Time: 10.00am (advisable to arrive earlier due to large numbers expected)

This meeting will be attended by members of the Metropolitan Police Authority including Jenny Jones, Green Party Assembly Member, who has been leading calls for a review of ‘kettling’ and a thorough review of public order policing.

The meeting will aim to hold the Metropolitan Police to account for their behaviour and tactics deployed during the G20 Summit protests.

The public are invited to attend the meeting, and there is no need to book. This is a chance to ensure that our concerns are properly addressed and could help avoid a repetition of the dreadful circumstances that led to an innocent man’s death on April 1st.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

40% of marine catch called unintentional

About 40 percent of the global marine catch is caught unintentionally, a study group of the global conservation group WWF said Wednesday, estimating the amount is at least 38 million tons a year.

A paper issued by the group said unintentionally caught fish and other marine animals are "either unmanaged or unused" and should be considered bycatch, which occurs because most fishing gear is nonselective and fishing fleets can catch marine life other than the targeted species.

Collateral damage: A dead shark is entangled in a
fishing net off Tanzania in this undated file photo.

Bycatch is "an issue of critical ocean conservation and resource management concern," the paper said.

"The extent of bycatch . . . is revealed as potentially so serious that it must become a major political, management, sectoral and environmental focus, bringing its implications to the fore as a conservation/food security imperative," it said.

Robin Davies, a group member, called for the need to develop fishing equipment that curbs bycatch and urged Japanese to pay attention to how fish are caught.

The estimates in the paper were worked out by mainly using data available for 23 major fishing countries, including Japan, between 2000 and 2003. It also included data on global shark and tuna fishing.

The results identified 38.5 million tons of annual bycatch, which represents 40.4 percent of the estimated annual global catch of 95.2 million tons.

The paper also showed about 90 percent of marine life caught in shark fin fishing is bycatch.

Japan's bycatch rate is 13 percent, lower than the global average, it said.

The figures should be seen only as "indicative minimum bycatch estimates" because several sources of potentially large amounts of bycatch have not been estimated due to data deficiencies, the group said.

Large-scale bycatch of turtles, seabirds and other species is not usually quantified, the paper said.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

What the Tories don’t want you to know about hunting

From Chris Gale of the Stop Cameron Campaign:

The Stop Cameron Campaign is a UK wide network of animal welfare campaigners and other concerned members of the public who are determined to do everything to highlight Cameron's pledge to repeal the Hunting Act.

The press does not report the full extent of Cameron's agenda and his close links to the Hunting fraternity. As a result the public are to a large extent unaware of the Tory leadership's pro hunting agenda. Repeal of the Hunting Act would take place very quickly following a Tory win. It would be a simple Bill to annul it.

Some 50% of Lib Dem MPs are also pro hunting so would vote with the vast majority of Tories to fully re-legalise the barbarity fox, stag and deer hunting with dogs and hare coursing. The clear majority of the public are horrified when they find out the truth about Cameron and his pro hunt agenda. We have also linked scores of people, often who have never taken part in politics before, with anti hunt MPs to assist with leafleting etc in marginal seats.

The hunt fraternity (the Countryside Alliance and their front organisation called 'Vote Ok') has placed liaison officers within virtually every Tory constituency association in the country. Their job is to coordinate grassroots activity to ensure the removal of as many anti hunting MPs as possible. They do this in the background, never advertising their presence. At the last election, it was noticeable that in some constituencies the Tory election expenses returns were quite low, in at least one case this was where 'Vote OK' had been very active doing the work normally done by regular Tory campaigners. The Countryside Alliance has a Chief Executive, Simon Hart, who is a Tory Parliamentary candidate (and a key ally of Cameron) in a key marginal.

I am writing to ask for your help in altering me to Tory events within your areas. The more notice the better. Please also see 'How you can help' on our website.

Chris Gale National Organiser-Stop Cameron Campaign Tel 01249 529218443751

Comedian and campaigner Mark Thomas gives strong endorsement of Green Party

And a comment posted on You Tube:

Ask an artist what happens when you mix Liberal yellow with Green.. you get a PALE version of green.

When you mix Tory blue with Green you get Turquoise. ie Tories like Cameron.

And when you mix Labour 'red' with Green you just get a muddy sort of 'Brown'!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

La revolucion energetica: Cuba's energy revolution

By Laurie Guevara-Stone,

April 2, 2009 -- A new revolution is sweeping the island of Cuba, which is making massive progress on energy efficiency and renewable generation. Indeed, such is the success of the two-year old program on this small island of 11 million people, that many other countries could learn from its efforts to be energy independent and curb climate change.

Just a few years ago Cuba's energy situation was bleak. The country had 11 large, and quite inefficient, thermoelectric plants generating electricity for the entire island. Most of the plants were 25 years old and only functioning 60% of the time. There were frequent blackouts, especially during peak demand periods. There was also a high percentage of transmission losses along the electrical distribution grid. To add to the energy crisis, most Cuban households had inefficient appliances, 75% of the population was cooking with kerosene, and the residential electricity charges did not encourage conservation. In 2004 the eastern side of Cuba was hit by two hurricanes in a short period of time, affecting transmission lines and leaving 1 million people without electricity for 10 days. All of this in the face of the overarching drivers of peak oil and climate change, made Cubans realise they had to make energy more of a priority. Thus, in 2006, began what Cubans call la revoluci├│n energ├ętica -– the energy revolution .

Cuba’s recent energy revolution has helped it become a true model of sustainable development. The 2006 Living Planet report assesses sustainable development by using the United Nation’s Development Program’s (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) and the ecological footprint. The HDI is calculated from life expectancy, literacy and education, and per capita GDP. The UNDP considers an HDI value of more than 0.8 to be high human development. An ecological footprint, which is a measure of demand on the biosphere, lower than 1.8 global hectares per head denotes sustainability. The only country in the world that meets both of the above criteria is Cuba. ``Cuba has reached a good level of development according to United Nations’ criteria, thanks to its high literacy level and very high life expectancy'', explains Jonathan Loh, one of the authors of the report, adding: ``While the ecological footprint is not large since it is a country with low energy consumption.''

The statistics are impressive, the country is currently consuming 34% of the kerosene, 40% of the liquefied petroleum gas(LPG) and 80% of the petroluem (gasoline) it used to consume before the implementation of the energy revolution a mere two years earlier. Cuba's per capita energy consumption is now at a level one-eighth of that in the US, while access to health services, education levels, and life expectancy are still some of the top ranking in the world, as Table 1 below shows.

Small budget, big results

How does a country with a per capita GDP one-tenth that of the US, have the resources to carry out such a radical change in energy consumption, without sacrificing their high social indicators in health and education?

To understand Cuba's energy revolution one must understand some of the history of energy production and consumption in Cuba. Prior to the 1959 Cuban Revolution, 56% of the country was electrified. With the socialist revolution came a push to electrify even the remotest communities. By 1989, 95% of the country was electrified –- mostly with cheap oil traded for sugar with the Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 caused the bottom to fall out of the Cuban economy. Having to buy oil on the world market meant that cheap electricity was a thing of the past. Food, petrol and oil all became scarce as the US made matters worse by tightening its economic blockade. Both the 1992 Cuba Democracy Act and Helms-Burton law passed in 1996, target foreign investment in Cuba, seeking to undermine Cuba's international access to capital, and making much needed resources hard to come by.

The years following the Soviet collapse and the intensifying of the blockade were known as the ``Special Period'' because Cubans had to tighten their belts and learn how to produce basic requirements such as food, medicines and energy, both locally and sustainably.

In 1993, a National Energy Sources Development Program (Programa de desarrollo de las Fuentes Nacionales de Energia) was implemented to reduce Cuba's energy imports and obtain maximum benefits from domestic energy sources. The document proposed that the first national source of energy should be efficiency.

After the National Energy Sources Development Program was adopted, Cuba embarked on a drive to save energy and use more renewable sources of energy. All rural schools, health clinics and social centres in the country, not previously connected to the grid, were electrified with solar energy, and today 2364 of the solar electric systems on the island are on rural schools. Making lights, computers and educational television programs accessible to every schoolchild in the country; this program won Cuba the Global 500 award from the United Nations in 2001.

However, despite all their efforts, 10 years after the program was implemented, Cuba still had an energy crisis on its hands. So in 2006 the energy revolution took some of the most drastic steps any country has taken to date.

A five-point plan

Cuba's energy revolution has five main aspects: energy efficiency and conservation; increasing the availability and reliability of the national electric grid; incorporating more renewable energy technologies into their energy portfolio; increasing the exploration and production of local oil and gas; and international co-operation.

Understanding that the first step in an energy revolution is not to look for more ways of generating energy, but to decrease energy demand, Cuba began a program to change over to energy efficient appliances. As then-President Fidel Castro explained in a May 2006 address to the Cuban Electric Utility company (UNE): ``We are not waiting for fuel to fall from the sky, because we have discovered, fortunately, something much more important –- energy conservation, which is like finding a great oil deposit.''

The program to allow people to switch their incandescent bulbs to more efficient compact fluorescents, free of charge, was met with complete success. In six months over 9 million incandescent light bulbs, close to 100% of the bulbs used in the whole country, were changed to compact fluorescents –- making Cuba the first country in the world to completely eliminate inefficient tungsten filament lighting. Furthermore, millions of energy efficient appliances were sold to Cuban consumers, including almost 2 million refrigerators, over 1 million fans, 182,000 air conditioners and 260,000 water pumps.

At the same time, efficient electrical cooking appliances were introduced. Almost 3.5 million rice cookers and more than 3 million pressure cookers were sold to families in the push to have people switch from kerosene to cooking with electricity.

And one of the best ways Cuba managed to encourage conservation was its new residential electrical tariff structure. Prior to 2006, Cuba's highly subsidised electricity was sold very cheaply, which did not encourage conservation. The new tariff structure allows people consuming less than 100 kWh per month to stay at the current extremely low rate of only 0.09 pesos/kWh (0.38 US cents/kWh). But for every increase of 50 kWh per month the rate skyrockets. And consumers using over 300 kWh per month must pay 1.30 pesos/kWh (5.4 US cents/kWh). In terms of US dollars, this is still significantly less than consumers pay in the United States, but it is over four times what large energy users were paying previously.

Cuba also embarked on energy savings measures in the state sector. All water pumps in tall buildings and aqueducts were changed to efficient pumps. The 40 W fluorescent tubes used in many government offices will be changed to 32 W bulbs with electronic ballasts, and inefficient refrigerators and air conditioners have been replaced with more efficient models.

Power to the people

A revolution cannot truly be called revolutionary without the support of the masses. Cuba's energy revolution is no exception. In order to involve the general populace in the effort to save energy, an ambitious energy education initiative was put into place. The Programa de Ahorro de Energia por la Ministro de Educacion (PAEME) is a national energy program implemented by the ministry of education in 1997. Its objective is to teach students, workers, families and communities about energy-saving measures and renewable sources of energy.

In schools, the energy theme is present in many different disciplines. Students learn about energy issues not just in physics but in economic classes, environmental courses and health curricula as well. (See also

PAEME has also held energy festivals for the past three years, educating thousands of Cubans about efficiency and conservation. The festivals are targeted towards students and are filled with young children expressing their thoughts on energy savings through songs, poetry and theatre. It starts in each Cuban school where the children with the best energy efficiency projects go on to the festival at the municipality level. Then the best move on to the provincial level, and from there on to the national level. ``UNE decided that the festival is not a typical competition, but something like an energy efficiency carnival, with the most outstanding students of the country'', explains Teresa Palenzuela, a specialist with UNE. In the national festival, where the public lines up for blocks to enter, the students exchange experiences and share knowledge without declaring any winners.

In order to get the word out to even more of the population, the mass media was employed. For instance, you never see advertising for commercial products on Cuban highways, instead scattered across the country are dozens of billboards promoting energy conservation. There is also a weekly television show dedicated to energy issues, and articles appear weekly in national newspapers espousing renewable energy, efficiency and conservation. In 2007 alone there were more than 8000 articles and TV spots dedicated to energy efficiency issues.

Fair distribution

Despite these efforts, saving energy was not enough, and in 2005 blackouts were still common. Furthermore, Cuba had a very old and inefficient electrical distribution grid to deal with. The Cuban government realised that one of the best ways to provide for energy security was to move towards decentralised energy, and thus it began the move towards distributed generation. Employing this concept means less vulnerability to natural disasters or foreign invasions which might affect electricity to a whole section of the country. The strategy also diversifies energy sources, while making it easier to ultimately change to alternative sources of energy in the future, such as those produced more locally and sustainably.

In 2006, Cuba installed 1854 diesel and fuel oil micro-electrical plants across the country, representing more than 3000 MW of decentralised power in 110 municipalities. This virtually eliminated the blackouts that plagued Cuba in 2004. In fact, in the years 2004 and 2005 there were more than 400 days of blackouts greater than 100 MW that lasted at least an hour. In 2006 and 2007, there were three, all of which were in 2006. This is a better rate than in most industrialised countries.

In addition to the new plants, they also installed more than 4000 emergency back-up systems in critical areas like hospitals, food production centres, schools and other sites key to Cuba's economy. This represents 500 MW of emergency back-up power.

Furthermore, Cuba embarked on an impressive plan to fix its existing electrical transmission network. It upgraded more than 120,000 electrical posts, over 1 million utility service entrances, almost 3000 kilometres of cable and half a million electrical meters. The overall effect of this program meant that in 2005, while the country needed an average of 280 grams of oil to generate one kWh of electricity, in 2007 this figure had fallen to 271 grams of oil per kWh. While this might seem like a small saving, it translates to thousands of tonnes of imported oil annually. In 2006–2007 Cuba saved over 961,000 tonnes of imported oil through its energy saving measures.

Incorporating more renewables

Although incorporating renewable sources of energy into the energy mix has been a priority since the early 1990s, the past two years have seen even more growth. Currently 100 wind measuring stations are being installed in 11 different provinces of the country and two new wind farms have been built, bringing the total wind energy installed in the country to 7.23 MW. Also in development is the country’s first grid-connected 100 kW solar electric plant.

Furthermore, 180 micro-hydro systems, harnessing energy from water in streams and rivers, are installed around Cuba, 31 of which are grid connected. And the number of independent solar electric systems in rural areas of the country has risen to more than 8000, with a plan in place to use solar panels and other renewable technologies to electrify the remaining 100,000 houses that don't yet have access to electricity. This year will also see the addition of 300 biogas plants, which are using animal waste to create cooking fuel.

Sugar, Cuba's main export crop, also produces electricity. In sugarcane factories around the country the bagasse, which is the residue left over after the cane is processed, is burned and turned into useable energy to power the plant and to feed the electrical grid. Sugarcane biomass facilities currently have an installed capacity of 478.5 MW.

Cuba is also making progress on liquid biofuels such as ethanol. Usually involving the use of food crops like corn, the official stance on biofuels is that ``Cuba does not support the idea of converting food into fuels, while more than 800 million people suffer hunger''. Nevertheless, there are some liquid biofuel pilot projects. The best example is the cultivation of Jatropha Carcus, which produces a non-edible oil, and which thus does not compete with human food production.

In 2007 a national group aimed at supporting and promoting the accelerated development and penetration of renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency was created. The 14 commissions of this group, covering all types of renewable sources of energy and efficiency, have a government mandate to study better ways to introduce renewable energies into the country.

`Doctors of the Soul' help the energy revolution

The island has exported its energy revolution to other countries as well, in the framework of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). ALBA emphasises the fight against poverty and social exclusion. For instance, after Cuba worked with Venezuela on an energy-conservation campaign, Venezuela reported savings of 2000 MW of power. Cuban scientists and technicians have also provided and installed over 1 MW of solar electric panels in Venezuela, Bolivia, Honduras, South Africa, Mali and Lesotho.

To carry out their ambitious energy conservation plan, Cuba relied on its small army of trabajadores sociales or social workers. Formed in 2000, Cuba's social workers are made up of youths who have the task of bringing social justice to the island in many different spheres, including labour, education, culture, sports and the environment. Along with working with people with disabilities, the elderly and people convicted of crimes, the latest job of the social workers is to help carry out the energy revolution. Since 2006, 13,000 social workers have visited homes, businesses and factories around the island replacing light bulbs, teaching people how to use their new electric cooking appliances and spreading information on saving energy. The social workers also worked with the ministry of agriculture to help save energy in the sugarcane harvest, and work in the transportation sector to achieve more efficiency in the national bus system.

The social workers attend a school where they receive classes in politics, social communication, energy and sustainable development, with the objective of creating values and convictions which should characterise a social worker. They are also taught to replace light bulbs and to explain the need for saving energy.

Furthermore, under ALBA, the social workers also travel to other countries to help implement energy saving programs –- such as in Haiti where they visited over 93,000 houses and installed more than 2 million energy efficient light bulbs. Similar to Cuba’s medical program, which has more than 20,000 doctors working abroad to help with health crises, the social workers are travelling around the world to help in the energy crisis. Fidel Castro, who founded the program, refers to the social workers as ``Doctors of the Soul''.

``We need a global energy revolution '', says Mario Alberto Arrastia Avila, an energy expert with Cubaenergia, an energy information centre in Cuba. ``But in order for this to happen we also need a revolution in consciousness. Cuba has undertaken its own path towards a new energy paradigm, applying concepts like distributed generation, efficiency, education, energy solidarity and the gradual solarisation of the country.’

The rest of the world should follow Cuba's lead, for only a true global energy revolution will allow us to seriously confront the dire environmental problems that the world now faces.

Friday, 3 April 2009

G20 Protester's death - the eyewitness account


G20 Protester's death - the eyewitness account

by Martin Baxter in London

Witnesses to the death of a man during yesterday’s G20 protests in the City of London have called for an official enquiry into the incident after seeing what they believe was a murder on the streets of London.

Ian Tomlinson, 47, was apparently on his way home from work as a newsagent, and allegedly collapsed and suffered a heart attack during the protest.

The allegations were made after the widow of the man today lead a march for her partner who she said “died for the crimes of capitalism.”

One female witness who wished to remain anonymous talked of “police brutality and heartlessness” and directly implicated members of the police force in the “murder” of the protester who, in tributes left outside the Royal Exchange in the city, was described as a “hero.”

She spoke of the “unwarranted” attack made by “masked policemen in riot gear.” After being struck in the head by a police baton she said the man was then bloodied and left unconscious on the street.

Ian Tomlinson collapsed in St Michael's Alley close to the junction of Birchin Lane and Cornhill at 7.30pm.

She said the police had formed an “animal pen” around the protesters to contain what was slowly becoming a heated encounter.

In a statement made on behalf of the dead man's wife, witnesses were urged to come forward and give statements to expose what was called “the failures of both the police and members of the media in the accurate reporting of yesterdays incident.”

Today’s memorial procession began just metres from the RBS headquarters in The City, that has in recent times become the symbol of corporate capitalism, culminating in a gathering of over 200 protesters, journalists and passers-by who joined those in grief for the man described as a “brother of the revolution.”

A police spokesman said officer sent in police medics through the cordon line and into St Michael's Alley, where they found a man who had stopped breathing.

The officers then apparently took the decision to move him as, during this time, a number of missiles ,believed to be plastic bottles, were being thrown at them."

The death has since been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

A spokesman said: "IPCC investigators will be assessing the circumstances throughout the day. They will be examining CCTV and attending the post-mortem this afternoon, as is usual in cases of this nature.

"When all the available information has been assessed, the IPCC will make a decision about the level of involvement it needs to have in progressing the investigation into this case."

Witness statements regarding the tragic death of Ian Tomlinson

Various participants in the City of London demonstrations on April 1st have come forward as witnesses to the collapse of a man later identified by authorities as Ian Tomlinson. Four different university students witnessed the collapse of Mr. Tomlinson. "He stumbled towards us from the direction of police and protestors and collapsed," said Peter Apps. "I saw a demonstrator who was a first aider attend to the person who had collapsed. The man was late 40s, had tattoos on his hands, and was wearing a Millwall shirt."

While the first aider was helping the man, another demonstrator with a megaphone was calling the police over so that they could help.

Natalie Langford, a student at Queen Mary, said "there was a police charge. A lot of people ran in our direction. The woman giving first aid stood in the path of the crowd." The running people, seeing a guy on the ground, went around them.

Another demonstrator had already called 999 and was getting medical advice from the ambulance dispatcher. "Four police with two police medics came. They told her [the first aider] to 'move along'.", said Peter Apps. "Then they pushed her forcibly away from him. They refused to listen to her [the first aider] when she tried to explain his condition."

The first aider, who did not wish to be named, said "The police surrounded the collapsed man. I was standing with the person who'd called 999. The ambulance dispatcher wanted to talk to the police, the phone was
being held out to them, but the police refused."

Another witness, Elias Stoakes, added "we didn't see them [the police] perform CPR."

Other people who had tried to stay with the collapsed man were also pushed away.

All of the witnesses deny the allegation that many missiles were thrown.

According to Peter Apps, "one bottle was thrown, but it didn't come close to the police. Nothing was thrown afterwards as other demonstrators told the person to stop. The person who threw the bottle probably didn't realize that someone was behind the ring of police." All the witnesses said that the demonstrators were concerned for the well-being of the collapsed man once they realized that there was an injured person.

Natalie Langford said "when the ambulance arrived the protestors got straight out of the way."

These witnesses are happy to give media statements.

They can be contacted through this press liasion email:

See video of two of the witnesses giving their statement.

People need to support factory occupation in North London

Had this from Howard, thanks Howard....its all happening in the UK at present...

Please forward this to all your lists IMMEDIATELY

Workers at Visteon factory Enfield London have seized control of the factory following major lay-offs and need help to resist eviction expected from 10am either tomorrow or Saturday.

This is the beginning of the workers revolution and we must support it and build links betwen it and the Green revolution.

The factory has formerly manufactured car parts, but it could be used to make wind turbines.

If we hold this factory, others will follow. If not, a huge opportunity and momentum will be lost.

They need NUMBERS and they nees them NOW

Factory is on Morson Road. 5 mins from Ponders End rail station - cross footbridge, take main rd twds Central London, Morson Rd on left, factory at bottom end.

For more info call mobile phone in factory - 07799 896 466.

Bring everyone you know and please try to arrive for 10am tomorrow.

Love Howard

Witness report from G20 at EXCEL - 2 April 2009

The following report was sent to me from a fellow Green who attending the G20 protests at EXCEL yesterday.

After spending about an hour and a half at Excel, where there was a small STW demo, but not much sign of further protest, I joined the solidarity vigil outside Bank at 1pm this afternoon in memory of the fallen comrade who lost his life last night.

The vigil was quite an emotional occasion. I met up with some comrades who had been at climate camp last night and had witnessed first hand the events as they unfolded. Their stories I hope will be told, as they underline our worst fears about the oppressive and provocative tactics of the police. I salute the bravery and resolution of the climate campers, their courage should be an inspiration for us all. I heard emotional accounts of what really happened leading up to the tragic death last night. The story not told by the press or the police was that the protester was being chased by police dogs, fell and cracked his head. My thoughts are with his family and friends, and also with those who had witnessed the tragedy.

The vigil was well attended with a good few hundred people paying their respects, and placing personal messages on the boarding placed around a piece of architecture(?) outside the Bank. There was also a bit of a feeding frenzy of press and photographers, obviously looking for another bloody story and maybe some more confrontation between protesters and police. Eventually it appeared that the police might be looking for the same - their response was, like the previous day and in particular in the context of why we had gathered there today, wholly inappropriate.

A minutes silence was held, well observed by all who sat down, downed flags and removed hats to remember the fallen comrade; during the 'silence' the air was punctuated by the sound of police sirens and a helicopter hovering overhead. This was a sign of things to come.

Soon we were kettled in as police encircled the gathering. Police cossacks appeared in a show of force, but left after a while. Some mourners were becoming agitated, and there were chants of 'shame on you' aimed at the police. But there was no violence. However, eventually the police dogs were brought out as an intimidatory tactic, walked around the kettle for a bit then vanned off again. I could later hear them further up the road so I can only assume that other protesters were being harassed elsewhere.

Eventually some protesters decided to leave, but were being searched by the police as they left. The police closed in the kettle as people left and a few of us were left in a small space as the majority succumbed to the search in order to leave. 20 of us remained and sat down refusing to have to be searched. We calmly and peacefully discussed what we would all want to happen, a consensus was reached that we would all refuse to leave if we were to be searched and that we would be prepared to ba arrested. By this time we were just encircled by City of London Police, whose 'superior officer' was invited into the circle to address us. He informed us that a section 60 was in force in the City until 6am. After further discussion we decided that we would all be prepared to stay there until 6am. Further negotiation was attempted to allow us water and toilet facilities, but the request was refused.

By this time a small crowd was beginning to form around us and some people lobbed in some food for us, which was gratefully passed around. It was approaching half past five by now, and more people were gathering outside us, and a few pictures were being taken - the press vultures were still circling (apologies if anyone finds that description speciesist). Bemused city workers leaving work were curiously looking in, and taking a few of their own snaps for the family album. Then, all of a sudden the head copper came and told us that the police were going to let us go without being searched. Just like that. The police dispersed. We cheered and hugged one another as we realised that we had won. We gathered for a group photo and a wall of cameras recorded our joy for posterity. My fear is that this story of peaceful demonstration will be less than a footnote to the last couple of days as the press don't seem to want anything other than bloody anarchy and violence to scream out from their headlines.

But we will not forget. As we will not forget the fallen comrade to whom we dedicate this small victory for the right to peaceful protest without intimidation and fear of reprisal, violence and infringement of civil liberties. In what some still call a democracy. The tactics of the police seem to be increasingly aggressive and antagonistic and must be challenged. And let us not forget that the struggle goes on, the neoliberal overlords whom the police are defending are still making imperialistic decisions which affect all of our lives, for the worse, and that the mortal threat of climate change hangs heavy over us all. We should all take heart and courage and build momentum, to carry on the struggle, in memory of he who gave his life last night defending the right to protest, for a better future, and for all the countless forgotten victims across the globe who suffer and perish at the hands of capitalism each and every day.


Further to this I read in the press that the man was "walking home from work".

What is the truth?

Victim at G20 troubles "was not a protestor"

A man of 47 who died during G20 riots in the City was not a protester but became penned in by police, it emerged.

Ian Tomlinson was thought to be on his way home after work when he bec­ame 'kettled at the Bank of England' with hundreds of others, said protest organiser Marina Pepper.

He reportedly suffered a heart attack and collapsed near Cornhill at 7.30pm during Wednesday's unrest.

Police said they were pelted with bottles by protesters as they tried to reach him and give him first aid.

But other witnesses have said demonstrators alerted officers to the emerg­ency and allowed them to carry him back to their lines.

Mr Tomlinson helped out at a newsagent near Monument Tube station and was a quiet, harmless man who liked to sit and chat, said friends.

'He was a gentleman and he never hurt anyone. He was a really nice fella who just minded his own business,' said a vendor.

Another friend, a building manager who worked on nearby Fish Street Hill, added: 'He was king of the hill – king of Fish Street Hill. That is my tribute to him.

'He was a real gent, we will all miss him,' he added.

'He came from a large loving family and will be sadly missed by us all,' his family said in a statement.

His death has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which will decide if it should investigate.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

WDM banned from G20 by Downing Street

e-mail sent to Green colleague of mine, Councillor Romayne Phoenix:

WDM banned from G20 by Downing Street

Dear Romayne,

Today I was going to bring you news and updates from the G20 conference
taking place in London. As the leaders of the rich countries of the
world meet, I was hoping to provide commentary and promote WDM's
message of justice for the world's poor. WDM believes that any solution
to the global financial crisis needs to put people first.

However Downing Street have other ideas. Yesterday WDM's accreditation
was withdrawn at the last minute. The reason is unclear but a member of
the accreditation team told us that the decision came after the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office had received a note from 'Number 10' to decline
my accreditation.

I am outraged that we have apparently been banned at last minute from
attending the G20 summit. I hope it's not what it appears to be - an
attempt to stage manage events and prevent voices of dissent and
disagreement from being heard.

Benedict Southworth

Please take action now:

We've collected together some online actions that you can do:

The G20 are using a system called Yoosk to ask questions - vote for our
question about why we've been banned to be answered by Gordon Brown
(this worked on Youtube before)
You'll need to register on the website - our question can be found
here (further down the page - click on the vote icon to vote)

Visit the official G20 summit website and leave feedback:

If you're on twitter, please send the following message (this informs
Downing Street, as well as the official bloggers at the summit)

@downingstreet bans @wdmuk from #g20 conference at last minute - our
#g20voice has been silenced. Why? please RT

And there is the officially syndicated bloggers including the likes of
Bob Geldof (who have been funded by Downing Street) G20 Voice - please
comment and ask why we have been excluded.

Visit for a full list and updates if we
have any.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Fifth Horseman. Blue: Police Provocation

With over two million people now unemployed in the UK, climate chaos, rising inequality and the banking system in meltdown, everyday people seized the opportunity today to express their dissatisfaction to world leaders gathered in London for the G20 summit. Young, middle aged and elderly from all walks of life gathered to protest peacefully for change. Four marches took place to represent the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Red horse against War, green horse against Climate Chaos, silver horse against Financial Crimes and black horse against Land Enclosures and Borders. But the smiling faces that started marching cheerfully were carried away on a glum shuffle of frustration and despair. Some that were even broken and bloodied. Hopes dashed by violent and provocative tactics used by police in their attempts to contain demonstrators.

Myself and other Greens, including Cllr. Romayne Phoenix, joined the “Green Horseman” and peacefully left Liverpool Street. The march progressed, good humoured and with a carnival spirit accompanied by cheers from workman and passersby. Frogs, Pandas, Chickens and even the Cat in the Hat danced merrily along to cycle sound systems and drummers. We marched on into Princes Street and as the last of the line passed in we heard the wail of sirens behind. A line of Police rushed in behind to seal our flanks, swiftly followed by the Police vans emanating their wail.

The march paused for a moment. It was quite obvious that one could not leave through the Police line behind. “So”, we all thought. “This must be a tactic to keep the march moving”? As we could only move forward, the march carried on stopping and starting, due to the sheer volume of people, until we reached the Bank of England. Here we met with other Greens including Shan Oaks, Parliamentary Candidate against David Davis in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election. The atmosphere was calm and peaceful.

After a while, some of our party wanted to join the protest at the US embassy however, as it was now 1pm, we’d missed the start time. Instead we decided to head for Trafalgar Square and the STWC rally at 2pm. We looked for a quick exit. All exists seemed to have large crowds who where prevented from moving by lines of Police and Police vans. Very few people occupied Mansion House Street, so that’s where we headed, only to be greeted by a Police line. We approached them and asked to leave but were refused and told we could not leave until a Senior Officer had instructed the Police. Despite speaking, and making protestations to, the officer in charge, it was quite obvious we would not be allowed to leave. Several members of the crowd pointed out that the Police tactics were inflammatory, that they wanted to leave, and the Police tactics would obviously cause a panic. All protests were ignored. Cllr. Phoenix asked under what pretext we where all detained only to be told, “We don’t need one”.

The crowd hunkered down and decided to grin and bear it. Another crowd was opposite, again corralled by the Police. The crowds waved and cheered to each other to keep up moral. We where later joined by another Green, Payam Toyabi, from Tower Hamlets. Payam told us that he’d not been on any of the marches but decided to come along to the Bank of England. Despite entering easily, he was unable to leave from where he had entered and soon after joining the crowd witnessed a mounted police and baton charge. This police action then provoked the smashing of a window in the Royal Bank of Scotland. We had now been held for over an hour and continued to request release, only to be refused. We pointed out that pregnant women and children were being detained and requested for these to be allowed to leave. Again, we were refused. Requests for food and water where also refused.

Occasionally, Police in riot gear would be marched through the crowd opposite who would then stand facing the crowd for a couple of minutes and wade back in again. This was obviously an attempt to provoke the crowd into reacting. (We where told that we would be held as long as the senior officer thought the crowd was a threat. So when they’re quiet, provoke them with riot Police to agitate them and then you have a reason to hold them longer). People around me felt panicked, trapped, distressed and wanted to leave. Several girls behind me were obviously very afraid and wanted to leave. They didn’t want this; they had come to protest peacefully. A smartly dressed boy in his twenties was becoming very agitated and panicked. He approached the line and asked to leave but was refused. Moments later, in a blind panic, he rushed through the line. He was handled roughly by several officers including, I was shocked to see, one of two police medics! After several minutes the crowd was being pushed from behind. The only place to go was forward, into the police line. The numbers of people pushing forward in a non-violent way overwhelmed the police and some of the crowd was able to leave the area. Some protestors remained behind, unable to leave after the line regrouped and I understand that they were allowed to leave at 6:30 after having been forcibly detained by the Police for over 5 ½ hours without food, water or toiletry facilities.

I will be writing to Green Party Assembly Member and member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Jenny Jones, to describe my personal experience of police violence and inappropriate tactics urge any other protestors present to do the same. The tactics used by the police caused widespread mayhem and panic and served to provoke a response allowing them to justify further detention. During the time that I was detained I spoke to Lawyers who advised that this incident should be followed up.